When We Look

Beyond the leafless trees, you might recall …

the path to the mountain top.

You know somewhere in your mind the map remains.

You’ll remember the way and the stories.

Photos and Words by Rebecca T. Dickinson


When We Write Letters, Part II: Cover Letters to Magazines

Courtesy of http://ja-nae.net/blog/the-power-of-letter-writing/how-to-write-a-letter.

I read today story collections are almost extinct.

Few people read stories.

An agent would be a fool to represent it.

I am one of the only writers at a writing group that puts some focus into story composition; not just a novel.

Yet, many literary magazines, ezines and blogs fight to keep this art alive. In the fight and competition there exists promising new writers and emerging authors.

Before you send your story, you must come face-to-face with another almost vanished art. You need to send a cover letter.

It sounds corporate. A cover letter sounds too business-ish. Some of you feel the tie squeeze your neck, or those closed toe shoes suffocate your toes.

The reality is a cover letter helps show off who you are. While some magazines place less importance on a letter than others, most publications like a cover letter.

A cover letter hows:

  1. Shows You Care.

    Mention something about the magazines. Publications prefer you to read back issues and stories on their website. If you cannot afford a subscription for whatever reason, at least research a magazine’s website. Read about the editors and their assistants.

    You’ll find answers to these questions:

    What is the page or word limit?

    Is the publication mostly student run?

    Do they like satire, children’s stories or do they despise stories about dogs, etc.?

    Think of looking at a website as getting to know the magazine.

  2. Introduces You: Do not worry if you’re an unpublished writer. All I had going for me in the beginning was the fact I worked as a staff writer at a small community newspaper in the middle of North Carolina. It was a start.

Mention your experience. If you’re a cop, be proud you’re a cop. Tell what kind of cop you are, unless you’re a top-secret investigator or undercover officer.

A cover letter need only be a half-page to one page. Make sure you address the specific magazine or editor. If you’re story is nonfiction, you don’t want to send the story to the fiction editor.

Unlike a query letter in which you focus most of your attention on your concept, a cover letter to a magazine offers you more page room to introduce your experience and what you know about the magazine. It also doesn’t hurt to mention your word count.

Every letter is different.

Every writer takes on a different vision.

You’re polished story is most important, but once again go old-school and draft a letter.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Related Articles



Friday Night Simple Samples: Elliot McSwean, Finding Cinderella

If Mom put as much thought into my birthday parties as she did for my three sisters, kids at school might pick me third or perhaps second when we played basketball. My two older sisters and I believed Mom treasured Jillian the most since Dad’s first words after her birth were, “Alright, that’s it.” The preschool teacher mourned for two years about the fact Dad got something called a vasectomy.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

from The Adventures of Elliot McSwean: Finding Cinderella

©Rebecca T. Dickinson, 2012-2013. All rights reserved

When We Wrote Letters

Courtesy of http://christianschoolstoday.com

We forget history inspires.

We forget it lends something to writing, but history also asks something of us.

History asks us to dig. It might require you to search through old papers or your memories.

I remembered a time when letters were still important, and then I recall they are still important.

We write letters in:

  • Emails
  • to Potential employers
  • Queries to agents
  • Cover letters to magazines

And, there is more.

Writers are never done with letters. They write in journals to themselves or send mail the old fashioned way to grandparents, parents and friends.

Letters are also sent to them.

Sometimes letters remind you of what you wish to forget.

In 2011, I dug through old papers in a box placed in my office. I was searching for previously published articles. I came across old letters instead. They sat in a pile. Some had yellowed with the passing of time, and others felt like they had just come through the mail.

My grandmother’s scrawled handwriting appeared on a few. Wide bubble letters showed up on others, and I recognized the handwriting.

It was writing I hadn’t seen in years. The penmanship belonged to a face I had not seen in years.

Most of the letters were cards with words of support. In one letter, she wrote:

“I knew you’d get into the Governor’s School. Congrats!!”

In another she wrote, “I’m sorry for what happened. You’re my best friend. I hope you forgive me.”

I could not tell you now what her apology was for; only that it was probably some teen girl drama long ago forgiven and forgotten. The letters continued with support of my writing, or how she missed me when I went to camp.

Most of the cards were written between the ages of 13 and 16.

The closest person I ever had to a sister was the letter writer.

As I continued to read, I began crying. I wanted to burn and bury everything related to my middle and high school years. I had despised how naive I was. I hated how easily fooled I was, but were those the real reasons I wanted to get rid of every memory?

The worst part about being best friends is that you know exactly where to cut the other person. You know how to fight, stab and shoot every bullet of hurt into your friend.

When battles turn into a war, a time comes when it no longer matters how many years the two of you were best friends.

Only later do you realize that the heartbreak you cause each other is greater and more painful than wounds an ex-boyfriend gives you.

In college, the letter writer and I both changed. I was trying to figure out who I was, and she was doing the same. We were working to become independent and to prove we could be someone.

Boyfriends, identity crisis and a new life in college opened the gates to war. We threw everything we had at the other: poisoning other friends’ minds against one another and lying about who we were. No one made the other girl look worse than her best friend.

In the years to come, I wanted to forget everything. I wanted to burn every connection to her. I suppressed every urge to write about our friendship because the pain was too deep. A crater was left in my heart.

After all the drama, I still loved my friend who wrote me letters.

When her letters resurfaced, I swallowed my pride. I sent a simple hello on Facebook. She replied and told me she had been sad not to be with me on the day my son was born.

When we met for the first time in four years on Christmas Eve, a place in my heart came to life again.

It was strange, eerie and something never before experienced.

The letter writer and I met each other as women.

Things can never be as they once were, but history must hit us on the head so we take a gamble on a new future.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Today’s post marks the one year anniversary of A Word or More.

Courage to Face the Ocean

Journalists require the who, what, when, where and how.

Writers need inspiration.

Inspiration does not need to be place and time, but a photograph, portrait or a beautiful memory painted in the mind. Writers will work with it.

Sometimes the task seems too big and rejections too many. We do not realize all we need is the courage of a single child.

Photos and Words by Rebecca T. Dickinson

The Mommy Scribbles: How do Mommy writers manage time?


Courtesy of http://www.strandbooks.com/resources/strand/images/.


The debate about whether working mothers or stay-at-home moms are better parents continues on television.

The world is large enough for all mothers. Homemakers who write and working parents who write all have a place with their words and children.

I have been a homemaker and writer and now a working mom and writer.

Some people will treat your writing as a cute hobby you do in your spare time.

Many mothers and fathers have written for years. It is one passion that will not go away when the baby cries.

The miracle work, beyond parental discoveries, begins with how writers manage their time.

The reality:

Characters and stories speak in your mind. You feel like a crazy person. You need to jot  your idea on paper, a napkin with a spotted chocolate stain or your hand.

There is not enough time when your child is shouting, “Mommy, look,” to find anything else, but you still got to write it.

You Try:

You learn to find quiet time separated from everything else in your busy schedule. It might be night-time, early in the morning—or if your child is still young enough—during their nap time.

Perhaps your children have reached an age when they’re doing homework after school and you’re with them. Write while they work.

If you’re at work, maybe you have an extra hour or half-hour during lunch.

An editor who worked with me during the early stages of Sons of the Edisto said, “If you love something enough, you will make time for it.”


One of the most difficult tasks is to take yourself seriously. Only when you take yourself seriously as a writer will other people begin to consider you, the writer, in a thoughtful manner.

That means giving something up.

This week I had to reiterate to my parents that I could not continue to co-teach Sunday school. My mother has not been happy with my decision and now believes I cannot commit.

If you read last week’s goal list, you know I want to accomplish much in writing. I work two—soon to be three—part-time jobs, cook, spend as much time with my son as possible and write.


The great thing about being a parent is you can look in front of you and find inspiration.

A boy and girl in about the fourth grade waited in line for the bathroom at a restaurant today. They began talking to me. The little girl waited, and the boy tried to distract her with an arm raising contest. Each one told me why they would win.

“You should have a staring contest.”

They loved the idea, and turned to the mirror behind them. The kids stared at their reflections.

“How will you tell whose winning?” I asked.

“I know I’m winning,” the boy said. “I haven’t blinked.”

Every person has different ways of managing time. I am still learning mine with an ever-changing schedule.

When do you write?

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Writing Goals in 2013

A writer begins with more than one goal.

Goals for a writer’s blog cover more than one territory. They could be, in the words of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Lord Elrond, “scattered, divided, leaderless.”

Each writer’s personality, style and multiple goals are their own. It is up to us to pull those ideas together.

If you are ADD, like me, organization becomes a greater challenge.

When I began A Word or More almost one year ago, I knew I wanted to share knowledge about the literary and writing industry, books, my book, a little cooking, travel writing and photography.

That is a lot, but they are all experiences about which I know.

Writing goals in 2013:

  • I will write 1 post a week.

    Family, work and the writing demands of two books requires more time.

  • Share more photos.

    I am an amateur photographer. Every other week, I want to post one or two pictures.

  • Write Essays, Get Money

    “Rebecca, there is no money in writing.”

    I’ve been accepted to graduate school at Winthrop University for an MAT in English. School does not pay for itself. I will spend more time writing clear, concise; and hopefully, good essays for scholarships.

  • Complete 2 Books

    If you read A Word or More regularly, you know I am married to a book entitled Sons of the Edisto. I am also completing a nonfiction project, private by contract.

    Both manuscripts are in the editing stage. Little time is left for a working mother.

    I continue to share background stories: The Bannisters: A New Beginning.

  • “Dishes Take 5 Minutes”

    I left out a popcorn bowl and forgot to wash it. My parents and brother forgot to wash the dishes piled by the sink.

    “What’s the point?”

    My husband said, “Nothing, including Bible study—and I will upset you—writing, is more important than the five minutes it takes to clean the dishes.”

    I raised my eyebrows at him.

    Writing takes time and at certain points in the process there is nothing more important, to me, other than our son and being on time for work.

    Balancing time will be at the top of my goal list.

  • Get Published Again

    I set a personal goal in 2011 to be published in a creative publication once. I was published three times then and twice in 2012. Back then I was a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer and sometimes substitute teacher. Due to scheduling, not as many submissions will go out. The magic number 1 remains my goal.

  • Expand Knowledge of the Industry

    Sons of the Edisto has been a long term project. In that time, I set a goal to learn about the publishing industry, how to write a query and always look at agents and publishers’ tastes and backgrounds. I will continue with this goal. Perhaps by the end of the year I will have sent my first query letter for Sons of the Edisto.

  • Get Twittered

    Since beginning my writer’s account on Twitter, I am learning how to receive and share valuable information. In other words, “How will this help people.” Not “I’m in Myrtle Beach.”

  • Read

    I am slow reader due to time. I want to read more blogs. I want to read more books. I fall asleep with a book on my stomach.

    The goal remains the same.

    Time management will change.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

More Articles about Writing, Goals and Doing it All:

Into Darkness – I Thought I Could Do It All

My Son

Giving the Publisher What They Want Dernit!

Start Your Year off Writer: Query Tips

Thank you to Ezines and Publishers in 2011 and 2012:

Blue Ridge Literary Prose, By The Drink, December 2012

Telling Our Stories Press, IMPACT, We Never Said Hello, 2012

paniK: Candid Stories of Life Altering Experiences Surrounding Pregnancy, Grass from the Grave, Help Inspire Others Project, 2011

The Copperfield Review, Out with the Old, 2011

Dew on the Kudzu, The Way Things Are, 2011