Stretch Your Boundaries

It’s not quite the end of the year, but I had an event in my life a week or so ago, that had me re-evaluating my year a little early. I lost a close friend/neighbor. One moment he was here and in the next – he was gone. Kind of like this year. Am I happy with my year? If I disappeared off planet Earth tomorrow am I happy with what I’ve done with my life?

I’ve certainly stretched myself this year. I chose self-publishing when I finally hit the wall of rejection one too many times. I’m not a masochist but up until self-publishing became a viable option, there were little in the way of choices for writers like me.

My first book - and first cover!

But taking this pathway meant I had to open up to my basic fears – of not being good enough, more rejection, outright laughter and horrible reviews – and that’s just for starters. This year has seen more Internet disasters than ever and I was terrified of becoming another one. Then there’s the massive learning curve. Not being flush in pocket, I had to learn to do everything myself.

Not only was the formatting a massive headache but I chose to start with nonfiction. There was nothing easy about charts, bullets, numbered lists, graphics for the basic beginner. What I do have in abundance, are kids. :) And some are at an age to actually know more than I do – and not just think they do! :) :)

With my oldest son’s help, we dove into the formatting nightmare until we had it beat. Then came covers. GULP! I’m artistic and one of my sons is artistic – but that one isn’t computer wise or great on patience. LOL. Photoshop is my program of choice, but the learning curve for that software is sufficient for complete Graphic Designer degrees – and not something I was going to master overnight – or over a half a year. Particularly when I wasn’t doing covers all the time – only when a book was ready to publish.

My first anthology - with my first short story

Then there’s the whole aspect of when is a book ready? I’d always wanted an editor – but there are good editors and not so good editors. Just because I wanted an editor wasn’t going to guarantee me a good one! Without funds to spend, I had to rely on my tried and true writer friends – and found they were not a second best choice at all – I wouldn’t be here without them. I just can’t see the mistakes. I’m a fast writer, but a slow reviser (is that even a word? Lol)

Then another huge stretch was the type of writing/revising I was doing. I published three nonfiction books (and a 4th compilation this year), 2 romantic suspense novels, a 3rd going up in the New Year, two YAs with a 3rdgoing up next week, 2 short stories in anthologies, and one novella – also being released next week. Up until this venture, I’d never written a short story or a novella. They weren’t difficult, but they weren’t comfortable the first time either!  Then there’s that whole mess called promo – but I won’t even go there right now. Suffice to say I had a lot of stretching to fit that social networking persona.

My first comedy - my first novella - my latest cover!

As I look back on this year I realize how much I’ve grown as a person, as a writer. I’ve become more sure, more settled, more comfortable in who I am. Should I disappear from planet earth tomorrow, I’d be leaving behind a legacy of published books and a system in place that my kids know to follow to get the other dozen books published and the royalties rolling their way.

I’d be leaving a piece of myself behind in every written word. A piece that after growing to fit my new world – I’m proud of.

If I do disappear tomorrow, I have a few words of advice for you all. If there’s a slice of life that you’d like to try,  but it scares you or looks too hard – ahead and reach for it – stretch a little – it’s so worth it!

 Where and how this year did you have to stretch?

About Dale Mayer

Dale Mayer writes romantic suspense, with or without paranormal elements like TUESDAY'S CHILD (2011) and now young adult books in various genres like DANGEROUS DESIGNS (2011). Writing stabilizes her in a life gone wild! The other stabilizers? Cheesecake and her four cats! Of course, she's dreaming to think she'll get a piece cheesecake once her four kids find out she's been baking!
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16 Responses to Stretch Your Boundaries

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Dale, you’ve done a LOT. And I would never call you slow at anything.

    I’ve certainly stretched myself with self-publishing, too. One of them is putting together the anthology, along with Misty Evans. It turned out to be an amazing experience, and I’m glad that I did it.

    • Dale Mayer says:

      Hi Edie,

      The anthology is a good example. We walk into these projects and think, no big deal – how hard can it be. Lol. As you found out there were layers upon layers of things to do get that package together. It’s dynamite and worth every hour you, (all of us) spent on it. But it did help you stretch!

      I’m so glad you took that project on! You did a beautiful job!
      Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Hide’n Go Seek receives an AWESOME rating!

  2. Misty Evans says:

    Dale, you’ve done an amazing job with everything this year. Congratulations on all the hard work and success. I don’t know when you slept. LOL.

    Like you, I’ve found self-pubbing to be an incredible opportunity and a demanding one. This past year, I had to put nose to grindstone and do more writing/editing/promoting than I’ve ever done before. Definitely stretched myself and was rewarded with a great opportunities (like working with Edie on the Entangled anthology). If I died today, I’d be happy knowing I gave it all I had and enjoyed my life.

    I love this quote by Winston Churchill and I think it’s appropriate to this discussion: “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

    Ain’t that the truth?

    • Dale Mayer says:

      Hi Misty,

      I think that’s one of the biggest differences with the self-publishing route – we did so much MORE writing/revising/editing/promo. The opportunity is there now where it wasn’t before. There’s no limits to this new vista. I’m certainly not against traditional publishing, but I am enjoying my new world!

      Love the quote! That is so good – I’m going to print it off and put it up where I can see it! Thanks for posting that – and enjoy stretching next year – there’s no limit to where we can go!
      Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Hide’n Go Seek receives an AWESOME rating!

  3. Amy Atwell says:

    Wow–such inspiration! Dale, you’re right, you have certainly stretched beyond your comfort zone and conquered so many new things! I also delved into self-publishing this year, but I bartered for formatting and I hired a cover artist. Whew! However, I’ve spent much of this year chasing a whole ‘nother squirrel, so to speak. I’m developing an online resource library for writers, reached out to over 1,500 reviewers to build a searchable database, and everything is poised to launch in January. I had a steep learning curve that included forming an LLC, mastering at least 3 new softwares, expanded my knowledge of html and more.

    I think continuing to challenge ourselves is what keeps us fresh and feeling young. Now I just need to challenge myself to get out of the chair and exercise!

  4. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Amy,

    You have certainly stretched this year – it’s amazing when we look back on the year isn’t it. How far we’ve come. How different the scenery around us today versus a year ago. How unique our mindset now compared to then. I’m loving it!

    And you’re right, these changes, in my case, have kept me at the computer and my lifestyle has become more sedentary. Another direction we can work on stretching. Personally yoga is probably a good stretch for me :) I’m looking forward to getting back to it in the New Year!

    I wish you such a great 2012 Amy with your company!
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Hide’n Go Seek receives an AWESOME rating!

  5. Dale, After enjoying your first Tuesday’s Child, I can attest to the fact that all your hard work has been well worth the effort. Ditto on everything already said … keep moving and stretching :)
    florence fois`s last blog was …Happy Chanukah …

  6. I’ve had a lot of the same experiences as you, not losing a neighbor, but with the publishing world. I never, ever thought I’d self publish, or even epublish. I def. learned to keep an open mind and not judge. That’s my big lesson for the year.

    As much as publishing still gets me down and tests me at times, I try to really think about what matters. When I’m on my death bed, will that bad review matter? Will my sales numbers matter? And I know they wont, that the only thing that will matter will be my family and in particular my son. So I do try to remember that and try not to take any publishing problems to heart, although its hard at times!

    • Dale Mayer says:

      Hi Lori,

      It’s interesting how much the stuff that bothers us on a day to day just falls away to where it belongs – as insignificant! It’s hard to keep our eyes forward but I think in this industry, we have a future now and the horizon is ahead of us – looking better than ever!

      Here’s hoping you have a wonderful year as a best selling author next year!
      Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Hide’n Go Seek receives an AWESOME rating!

  7. Mary Jo says:

    Dale,

    You wrote my story with this post–though I’m not nearly as prolific or organized and I’m still battling with some of the tasks of indie-publishing. But while I don’t know you, Edie Ramer is a dear friend of mine and she spoke of you highly when she gently pushed me on this path.

    Thank you.

    • Dale Mayer says:

      Hi Mary Jo,
      I’m glad you can resonate with my words! It’s been such an incredible year I can’t believe how far so many of us have come and the changes in our industry. I have to admit, that for the first time I’m excited to be an author.

      Edie is a sweetheart and a dear friend and I’m glad she nudged you in this direction. It’s very empowering – when you get past being terrified :)
      Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Hide’n Go Seek receives an AWESOME rating!

  8. Liz Kreger says:

    Geez, you make me feel like a piker, Dale. You’ve accomplished an incredible ton of stuff this year. I’m no techno-challenged that I wouldn’t know where to begin when it comes to self-pubbing. It’s like trying to repair my car. I hire people to do that. When it comes to formatting and cover art, etc., I’m afraid I’m one to hire people to do those things. Fortunately, I’m in a position where I can do that. If I wasn’t, I’d be right behind you muddling my way through it.

    Can’t come close to you when it comes to accomplishments of 2011, but perhaps this coming year will be different. :cool:

    • Dale Mayer says:

      Hi Liz,

      If I were in your position, I would celebrate still being on planet Earth and realizing how much just arriving at this date, in good cheer, full of inner strength IS a major stretch.

      Our accomplishments might be different but yours are as just important and worth, in my eyes, so much more! Here’s hoping you a wonderful holiday season, and may next year bring you good health!
      Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Hide’n Go Seek receives an AWESOME rating!

  9. Good post, Dale. You’ve been a busy bee! Congrats on all of your success this year. Here’s hoping 2012 is a profitable year for you.

    2011 went by in an emotional blur for me. I’m going to very happily kick its ass into the past!

    • Dale says:

      Hi Karin,

      I can relate to the blur part, I’m sorry you had so many emotional hits this year. I’m looking at 2011 as being a year of trying something new and 2012 as the year of establishing a foothold, gaining that bit of stability in this new world.

      Here’s hoping it’s a great 2012 for you!

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