Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Writer's Voice Entry: Query and first 250 words of Truth in Dreams

Hello! I am excited to post the query letter and first 250 words of my new novel, Truth in Dreams. I look forward to any comments and suggestions from my readers.


Dear Writer's Voice Editors, 

When cosmopolitan Margaret Whitefield moves to a small town, the last person she expects to meet is a woman as miserable in her marriage as she is, but on their daughter’s first day of kindergarten, Margaret meets Hannah Lively. Friendship blooms for this unlikely pair, and soon they confide in each other why they don’t leave their husbands. Shy scholarly Margaret has the financial means, but she is emotionally devastated by her daughter’s battle with cancer, and her own mother’s emotional detachment. Hannah has dreamed her whole life of leaving this little Appalachian town behind and she almost made it, but an unplanned pregnancy destroyed her dreams of a college degree. It isn’t until the friends make a pact to leave their husbands when their daughters graduate from high school, that they discover there is indeed, Truth in Dreams. 

Margaret and Hannah’s journey of self-discovery is rife with mystery and superstition. Hannah’s grandmother, called Granny Zee, is renowned for the curative remedies she makes from the mountain plants, and fabled for her ability to speak to spirits. Hannah is in fact, from a long line of Appalachian granny witches and midwives. When Margaret can no longer excuse her daughter’s bizarre ability to find lost things as coincidence, it is Granny Zee who recognizes the child’s gift - what the mountain people call, the second sight. Granny helps the child to understand her abilities, just as she teaches Margaret and Hannah how to heal the body and the spirit.

Truth in Dreams (109,000 words) is a savory dish of women's fiction that sits in that sweet spot between literary and commercial fiction. I am a sixth generation Appalachian living in the coalfields of southwestern Virginia. My grandmother was an herbalist and her mother was a midwife, and both were known in these mountains as healers. All of Granny Zee’s remedies and recipes have been gathered from my family and other folks from central Appalachia.

I am a hybrid author, traditionally and independently published, just waiting for an agent who will foster my literary debut! My first novel, Mama’s Shoes was published by Writer’s Digest as the result of winning their Pitch2Win Contest in 2011. Mama’s Shoes was awarded the WD Mark of Quality and was runner-up for Foreword Magazine’s 2012 Book of the year. As a result, I was a panelist at the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York. I have an established audience, website, blog, and social media presence. Endorsements from authors Lee Smith (Guests on Earth) and Amy Greene (Long Man) grace Mama's Shoes cover. I have had numerous short stories and nonfiction published in anthologies and periodicals. I currently direct the Writing Center at the Appalachian School of Law, and I am a teacher-consultant for the Appalachian Writing Project at UVA-Wise.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Rebecca D. Elswick

                                                                   Truth in Dreams

Margaret Whitefield faltered when she saw the long hallway. The worst days of her life had begun just like this – a seemingly harmless journey down an ordinary hallway. Margaret sighed. Why should today be any different?
Addie tugged at her mother’s hand. She half-stepped half-skipped along the corridor. Her Tinker Bell backpack swished back and forth on her thin shoulders. Addie pointed at the bright posters, decorating the walls of Coal Valley Elementary School, but Margaret noticed none of them. She couldn’t stop watching parents say good-bye to their children.
Mother and daughter located the kindergarten classrooms at the end of the hall. A menagerie of brightly colored animals bloomed on the walls, and the entire area vibrated with childish voices. Addie’s teacher stood at the classroom door. She welcomed Addie and introduced herself as Miss Hall. While she talked, Margaret put her hand on top of Addie’s head and smoothed her short flyaway hair. It was beginning to grow faster, but the color was lighter than the chestnut brown it had been before the chemotherapy.
Miss Hall assured Margaret her daughter would be fine and then said a firm good-bye. Margaret crouched down and hugged Addie.
 “Let go, Mama. You’re smushing me!” Addie giggled.
Margaret stood and tried to plant a kiss on top of Addie's head, but she ducked and skipped through the door with a, "Bye, Mama." Margaret raised her hand to wave, but Addie didn't look back.



  1. This sounds really interesting. Good luck!

  2. Very nice! Looks like a really good read!

  3. Good luck in the competition! A lot of other entrants are hanging out at #TheWVoice, btw – join in the fun!

  4. I love the query and the world you've created here. I studied at UVA and Virginia Tech and ventured into the hills from time to time (once virtually kidnapped for an evening of storytelling by a campfire). Your prose is marvelous and brings me right into this tale. I can't wait for the opportunity to read the whole thing. Good luck!

  5. great opening page. good luck moving forward!

  6. There isn't a woman out there who hasn't entertained these thoughts at some point. I love that these women find each other when they both need that support to make a tough life decision. Well done.

    1. Thanks Dawn! When I wrote this book, I was thinking about the fable "City Mouse. Country Mouse." The characters Maggie and Hannah are city girl, country girl, and I wanted that to be part of their discovery - that women from all walks of life share the same hopes and fears, and have the same dreams. Without their friendship, they would never have the guts to follow their dreams.

      I read your query and love the premise! "Coop" sounds like an awesome character and I loved the metaphor of the car - woman! Good luck to you!