Margaret Terry is the author of Dear Deb: A Woman with Cancer, A Friend with Secrets, and the Letters that Become Their Miracle.
At Write! Canada 2012, Margaret will be part of a panel called “Roadblocks, Detours, and Acts of God.”
How long have you been attending Write! Canada and what was your best experience there?
This will be my fourth conference. I’ve had many wonderful experiences at each one–mainly because the people who give their time to making it successful care so much about each person who attends.
The volunteers and organizers all want us to be successful. They work hard at matching us up with people in the industry who can help us reach our writing goals. And the faculty are stellar: literary agents, publishers, editors, and writing coaches.
The 2006 conference was life-altering for me. I had a 10-minute interview with an agent from California who offered representation and sold my manuscript to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group eight months later. She also introduced me to the editor of Today’s Christian Magazine who bought an article from me while I was still at the conference!
At Write! Canada 2012 you are part of a panel called "Roadblocks, Detours and Acts of God.” What has been your biggest roadblock in your writing and how did you overcome it?
My biggest roadblock is me. Allowing life to get in the way of writing, feeling not good enough, being distracted by everything from dirty dishes to Facebook. And the way I overcome them is by staying in this chair and doing what I’m doing now. I write. The detours and acts of God are different. They are things out of my control; things God gives me to shake me up or wake me up that make me pay attention and be a better writer.
You have a background in journalism writing for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Hamilton Spectator and Today’s Christian Magazine. What types of articles did you write and how has your journalism background helped you write a book?
I’m not a journalist at all; I write personal stories. I’m just lucky that the stories I’ve submitted were liked by the editors who read them. Or, they were timely. On Father’s Day, the Hamilton Spectator published a story I wrote about how playing cards every Monday with my 80-year-old dad helped me learn to love him again after a 20-year estrangement.
Your book Dear Deb: A Woman with Cancer, A Friend with Secrets, and the Letters that Become Their Miracle will be released by Thomas Nelson, October 9, 2012. Give us a short synopsis of the book. How did you come to write it?
Dear Deb is a collection of letters about living that were written to a dying friend. It’s a celebration of life even when the odds are stacked against it.
When my friend Deb announced she had inoperable lung cancer, I agreed to send her encouraging words. I began with hopeful sayings like those plaques in stores that say "Believe, Hope, and Love Never Fail," but when her health declined rapidly, those words felt hollow.
That’s when I started writing about the things we’d share with a best friend over time. I wrote Deb about my getting caught shoplifting, about being a single mom, and about how it felt to return to church after a 25-year absence.
Since we had never shared childhood stories, I told her about my mother’s mental illness and how it shaped my life. When Deb responded, “No matter how sick I feel, your letters give me something to look forward to,” I kept writing. She shared her letters with friends and family and in three months they were being read in seven countries.
Margaret Terry was interviewed by Linda Jonasson of the Write! Canada PR team.