Gayle Slate – Dana’s Legacy From Heartbreak to Healing

What is your recent book?

Dana’s Legacy: From Heartbreak to Healing – Strengthening Families of Children with Disabilities

Tell us something about yourself.

I am originally from Los Angeles and have lived in Del Mar (SanDiego) California for 18 years. I am a retired psychotherapist (2003) who has worked for over 38 years counseling families and their children with disabilities. I am married 56 years to my husband Don and have had 3 children, Dana, who died in 1970 at 14, Scott, 51(Candice), father of Samantha,15, stepfather of Mason, Carter and Kelsey, 12,10 and 7, respectively, and Heidi(Steve), mother of Matthew,13 and Daniel 9. I have written many articles over the years in journals and magazines about parenting a child with disabilities, siblings, a child’s self esteem, couples and marriage. I created and facilitated an early childhood center for kids with disabilities for 15 years. I also conducted seminars at UCSD to better the relationships between professionals and parents of children with disabilities.

What inspired you to write this book?

My life experience as the mother of Dana who was born with cerebral palsy. Her life and death inspired me to choose my work, to go back to school to become a psychotherapist to help families and their children with disabilities. I worked with almost one thousand families for 35 years. In addition to this work, I founded a national organization “Kids Included Together”, that trains after school social and recreational programs to include children with disabilities with typically developed children. It is in 24 states and serves the USNavy worldwide.

How did you choose the title?

“Dana’s Legacy, From Heartbreak to Healing, Strengthening Families of Children with Disabilities” says exactly what we, as parents felt, and what I ultimately did to help those with sadness and suffering. It says it all.

How did you know you wanted to write this book?

I discovered some amazing things about enduring traumatic experiences in life and felt that this book had to be written not only for families of children with disabilities, but for anyone who experiences hardships and trauma in their lives.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t? If you are alive, you are bound to go through some serious bouts of bad stuff! I really wanted to get the word out to people to help them understand more clearly what is involved. It is an emotional, but helpful read, according to those who have read the book. My book has won 2 awards as finalist in San Diego Book Awards and Indie Excellence Book Awards.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?

You bet! I loved writing the book. Writing came easy. I didn’t struggle with the writing as I did in trying to find a publisher. That was really awful. No one wanted to publish it. Most felt it too much of a niche book, but when a publisher did accept it, I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. They did a beautiful job with the design of the book and they have been mostly helpful, but they do not market the book. I have learned that most publishers do not market their clients’ books, unless they are a sure sell. So, my current vocation is as a marketer, which takes enormous time and effort. No wonder publishers don’t want to market books. At least the book is award winning.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing and publishing?

Although you feel your book is great and will win awards and people will clamor to buy it, that’s not generally the case. Talk to more successful writers about the real story and what you will have to do to first find a publisher and then market the book. It’s always helpful to join a writer,publishers group as I have here in San Diego. Whether you publish the book yourself or not, It is a very expensive undertaking. Your expenses will run into the thousands, so if you don’t have the money, be realistic. It will take a pretty long time to get the word out. One way is to go on Twitter and Facebook and other social media to hurry the process along. I have a weekly blog that I frankly don’t know how many read them. I have written over 50 and have included other’s blogs as well. YOU HAVE TO BE PATIENT and PERSISTENT. Over time, I believe it will pay off as I THINK it has for me. I wish you all luck!