Author touts joy of writing letters in new book | Every day

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Maurertown author Elizabeth Cottrell has a secret formula for writing notes and letters from the heart.

Using the acronym NOTES, she said the five keys to finding the right words are to write “natural,” as if speaking to the recipient; be “open” using your heart and mind; “say” specifically what you want to say, “understand” what the recipient is going through, and “share” a memory or example.

Here are some tips she uses in her book, “HEARTSPOKEN: How to Write Notes that Connect, Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire,” slated for publication July 15.

“It feels so much like a ministry to me, a movement,” she said.

Cottrell, 72, has blogged for many years and started thinking about including the information in a book about 10 years ago, but didn’t get to work until she was stuck at home for the COVID-19 pandemic. Her daughter pointed out that her suddenly empty schedule presented her with a great opportunity to write a book.

For Cottrell’s birthday, her daughter volunteered her time each week with an accountability coach, who called regularly, asked how the book was progressing and encouraged Cottrell to stay on task between phone calls.

“It was such a lovely gift from my daughter,” she said.

The book took him about a year to write and put together his blog posts. Then she spent nearly a year scouting for publishers before signing with Koehler Books in Virginia Beach, which publishes fiction and nonfiction and has also published books by other local authors and friends of Cottrell. .

The foreword to the book is written by Woodstock author Jason Wright, who wrote ‘The Wednesday Letters’ and ‘The Wedding Letters’, both of which describe characters finding joy and peace through writing letters as well as ‘reading the letters their loved ones wrote to each other. years.

“I was so happy,” Cottrell said. “He just said, ‘Yeah, I’m in.'”

Although she grew up writing notes and letters to various people and enjoyed receiving letters in the mail, Cottrell said her passion for the art of letter writing really grew about 25 years old when she received a thank you note from someone she sent her condolences to. letter to.

This is what she calls her “conversion story” in her book:

“A letter from a stranger was the lightning bolt that forever changed my appreciation of the potential of personal notes; from that day forward I saw them as a force for good in the world,” she writes.

“The letter was from a woman devastated by the loss of her son:

“I really appreciated the letter of encouragement you sent to my son’s fiancee after my son killed himself. She shared it with me, and it happened during one of the most hardest and most trying times of my life. I know I have read your note more than 25 times and it was a lifeline that kept my spirits up.

Cottrell does not remember what she wrote in that condolence letter.

“[ButIknowitcamefrommyheartandcarriedagenuinedesiretocomforther”shewritesinherbook“Whatthatdidformepersonallywasjustmakememoreofanotewriter”[Maisjesaisquecelavenaitdemoncœuretportaitunvéritabledésirdelaréconforter»écrit-elledanssonlivre”Cequecelaafaitpourmoipersonnellementc’estjustedefairedemoiunrédacteurdenotes”[ButIknowitcamefrommyheartandcarriedagenuinedesiretocomforther”shewritesinherbook“Whatthatdidformepersonallywasjustmakememoreofanotewriter”

Now she hopes to inspire others to write letters that do the same for others, whether they send thanks, grief or congratulations.

In addition to her own experiences, Cottrell drew on advice that members of her Facebook letter-writing group, Heartspoken Life, have offered over the past four years.

“How to encourage children to write notes. How to reach out to people in difficult situations,” she said.

“People talk about the power of that visceral reaction to hold the letter, to recognize the handwriting, to feel that person’s presence if it was someone they knew,” she said.

Cottrell also researched what other experts said so she could include details like etiquette and mannerisms.

“But what I really wanted with this book was to convince people of the power of this as a tool for nurturing relationships,” she said. “It’s just a simple, overlooked way to reach people.”

“HEARTSPOKEN,” named after Cottrell’s blog and Facebook group, is available for pre-order at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and bookshop.org. For more information, visit heartspoken.com/book or facebook.com/HeartspokenLife.

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