Happy New Year from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, Deb Haggerty. I met Deb recently at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where she was representing the publishing house she owns, Elk Lake Publishing. Since I know many of her authors—and quite a few are CAN members!—I was delighted to meet her in person. And now I’m delighted to interview her.
Welcome to CAN, Deb! Please tell us about your book, These Are the Days of My Life.
Days is a series of articles I wrote about various aspects of my life. I never wanted to write a book, but I enjoyed writing vignettes for other people’s books. Our CAN president, Angie Breidenbach, suggested I make my own compilation. I exclaimed to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!”
I’m glad you listened to her! What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book.
I was amazed at the things I’ve gone through and how many stories/articles I’ve written over the years. Days only has about half of them. Many of the articles are business articles. And many have been repurposed for different audiences. Rereading some of the stories was so poignant, “My Mother’s Hands,” and yet, I laughed out loud at some of the things we did. “Light That Fire!” is a good example.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope the people who read the book are inspired by the situations I went through and encouraged to keep on through the trials that will come because God is faithful—he will never leave nor forsake us. You truly can “count it all joy.”
Knowing the stories of our hard times can inspire is such a blessing. What’s your favorite story in this book?
Probably the story “Foos Ball, Food Fights, and Fun!” That story is about when I first met my husband’s kids. I was terrified, especially when Roy and James went off to play a game, and I was left with Jill. You’ll have to read the story to see how I survived!
What was the hardest story to write?
The hardest story was “Coincidences? Not a Chance!” about our son, James, who was killed in a freak auto accident when he was twenty-four. We miss him terribly still even though it has been almost seventeen years since he died.
Oh, what a difficult experience. I’m so sorry for your loss. And this makes your answer to this following question all the more poignant—what themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
My life verses are James 1:2-4—you’ll see in all my signatures the first part of those verses, “Count it all joy …” I have learned to count it all joy through the trials of my life. This joy carries through my writing. I would be nowhere without Christ at my side.
What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
My ideal writing place and actual writing place are the same. At my computer desk in front of a big picture window looking out on beautiful Boot Pond. I can’t think of a more beautiful or inspiring place to write (or edit).
That sounds lovely! What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
I wish they knew how much work writing is—getting the idea, writing a rough draft, and another, and another. Editing, editing, editing, writing a semi-final draft, sending the manuscript off to a professional editor (and let me tell you, even editors need editors!), writing a proposal (the worst part is the synopsis), sending out the proposal to publishing houses and/or editors who handle your kind of book. Rejections, rejections, rejections—sometimes, if you’re lucky, they tell you why and give you some tips to improve. Getting the manuscript back from your editor and fixing the things they felt were wrong. And then, if you get accepted, going through the whole process again (the editing and rewrites) with the publishing house.
When I was a professional speaker, the in-house joke, which had a good dose of reality, was “Don’t quit your day job for at least seven years!”
Amen to all that! Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
When I had breast cancer, I sent out “Updates from Deb” to my friends, who sent to friends, who forwarded to other friends. I received a note from one friend who said, “My mother has breast cancer and has been terrified. I’ve been sharing your updates with her and now she is no longer afraid because she knows what to expect. Thank you for being so open and honest about what you’re going through. Mom and I are forever grateful.”
How lovely! Do you have an unfulfilled dream?
The only thing left on my “Bucket List” is to ride in a hot air balloon. I went skydiving when I was sixty-five.
I love that! What ministries are you involved in, and why?
Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. is my ministry. I bought Elk Lake in 2016. I feel strongly God called me to this. When I got breast cancer, my speaking gigs basically tanked—folks didn’t want to see a bald female speaker on the platform. I whined a lot the next sixteen years asking God why he was wasting the experiences and abilities he’d given me. After I bought the company, I heard him say, “This is what I have for you that uses all these things. I want you to come alongside the authors I give you and help them get the words I’ve given them out to their readers in the most professional manner possible.” So Elk Lake is a ministry for Roy and me.
What do you read for pleasure?
What are you reading right now? I love to read thrillers and mysteries. The last thriller I read was Capsized by Death by Catherine Finger [Sarah’s note—Catherine Finger was featured on the CAN blog only two weeks ago]. Catherine is one of the authors God brought to me. We republished her first two books and have originally published her last two. I do read a lot of books—my alter ego is as a Christian book reviewer—I review books on my blog, PositiveGrace.com.
Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
Coki the Dog is our adorable thirteen-year-old miniature dachshund. Although she is old and gray, we still call her our puppy. She loves to be cuddled and insists on sitting on my lap when I’m working. I’ve worked out a way to balance the keyboard on her back and my desk so I can still work!
How cute! Please tell us about your next project.
As a publisher, I get more joy from coming alongside my authors and helping their words soar, and then helping their books fly off the shelves. I have no intention of writing another book, but the Lord may have other ideas.
He often does! Thank you for sharing with us, Deb!
Writing for Him,