How a Writer Experiences Near Death

I almost died this month. Dramatic, I know, but still true and I can't find a way to say that sentence without the drama except for not using !!! which somehow just makes it even more dramatic. Anyway, I didn't see any lights or even feel a disconnect to my body. I didn't feel fear or any emotions, really. What I felt like was a character in a story. And for a writer, that is a very scary way to die.

I blame winter for the accident, yet at the same time my winter clothes probably saved my life. You see, the door was stuck at the top of the staircase and I yanked on it to pull it shut over the snow. (Another blizzard, who cares anymore we live in a snowy hell). And in my large winter boots (they are too big so I can add extra socks), I lost my footing or my balance, not sure but my hand slipped from the handle (I was wearing those penny gloves) and I fell straight back, down six steps hitting my head on the bottom and probably along the way down, not sure as the head hitting part was not recorded in my brain. Yet the fall back I get to relive over and over again. Arms up, and poof!

From the looks of my clothing, my jacket cushioned the fall and took the punishment. My gloves, although partially to blame, must have stopped some of the impact to my hands as I tried to grab for anything from this realm or another to stop the inevitable. I did slice a part of my hand, nothing serious, I promise. And my toque must have sheltered my head from several of the impacts because it was ripped from head and beside me.

So as I laid staring up at the ceiling, my first thought was that I was dead because no one would survive that. So I got up and looked down at myself, expecting to see a body there all mangled and me invisible looking down at it. (Perhaps I should lay off the paranormal books for a spell.) Obviously, this was not the case and left me feeling confused. Was I really alive? For real? How? Why? (The why part sounds like a strange thing for me think, now, but in the moment, I had a plot running through my head and when a character survives such a fall and just jumps up, there is a why to answer. Why leave this idiot alive... oh because there is a nasty doom awaiting her.)

And so on my feet, I had a blinding pain in my lower back which meant I was alive and still feeling shit and not a character in a book, so I went to close the door. Because yeah. Then I realized my phone was not with me and went to get it in case I had a delayed reaction to death and decided to let someone know I was dead after the fact. (Made sense in the moment.)

And so I took a moment to sit down, phone in hand and gauge just how serious this was. Was I maybe dead and just thought I was alive and this was some alternate universe? (Seriously, I need to cut back on the sci-fi, too.) And so I let my husband know, my boss, and called the hospital for an appointment. Which was stupid and the doctor gave me heck for that, saying that when you fall down steps that is an emergency and you don't make appointments, you go straight there. Yes, that makes sense now. In that moment, I wasn't sure if I was immortal or not and an ER in a blizzard was really pushing my luck. I mean in any good thriller, you know that the victim survives the weirdest fall then dies in a blizzard on the way to the ER. (I am seeing now that perhaps I need a book intervention?)

Anyway, I did have a concussion which explains why I was acting so weird. I am sore now in places meant to remind me that I am in fact alive.

What bothers me is that I don't feel this euphoric energy to go out and enjoy life, perhaps this will come after the pain lets up and hope sizzles in. I don't feel this impending doom that life is too short, perhaps because I have lived many lives in this short one through the eyes of authors and through my own imagination.

I stare at myself in the mirror and I wonder how and why. I look at others and wonder what is their story and how will it end? I do see the world differently, but more like stories with beginnings and ends.

The doctor said the concussion would last weeks, but I still wonder how did I survive something like that and why am I still here? I still feel like a character in a story that is being written by a savage lunatic. And for a writer, that is a very scary way to live.

Have you ever escaped death only to wonder how or why? What was your experience like? And where should I move to escape this snowy hell?  

What Exactly Am I Doing?

So this year I did a few different types of book signing events instead of going to libraries and Christmas parties like I'd done in the past. Just to try something different.

I attended a Tradeshow and sat in the doorway at a few very large and incredible groceries stores and I went to the kickass bookstore of Chapters in Regina.

Each one was a fun event, but they were costly, as I don't live in these cities and had to travel, sometimes stay the night, eat, shop, and whatnot. I enjoyed meeting the helpful and very patient and supportive staff at each location. I do have to admit that these events are stressful beforehand. Mostly because I'm never sure what to expect, being green and all. I found having my hair cut before helped so it was easy to do, and thankfully I tried my pants on the week before and discovered that I must have tossed them in the dryer by mistake because they were way too short! (unless I grew?)

Someone told me to get my nails done, since this is what people are looking at while you sign, but this isn't something I usually do and well... it felt awkward and unnatural and was more stressful so I didn't do that again. No one looked at my hands. While I signed, they picked up another book and read the jacket of that one, too. Or they collected bookmarks. Or they told me a joke.

Of course, I did my research and read about the tips other authors had and kept the attitude that each event was more about visibility and promoting myself, not about selling books (but that is a plus if it happens). Which was great but then when someone would ask what this book or that book was about, I would draw a blank. I read Ghosts on the Prairies 70 times. I know every word by heart. So why couldn't I stumble out the basic plot in the moment? Urgh. So to solve my sudden stupidity, I had rack cards made with the Whispering Stories on one side and the Sacred Land Stories on the other, and a quick little blurb about them that sums up what each one is about. This helped target readers to the books they wanted, but I found the covers also drew them in. Teens went straight for Can't Dream Without You and men for Ghosts on the Prairies. Which, of course, makes sense since those are my target audiences, but it was still fun to see how well the covers and titles worked to lure people to pick them up.

I got told I was living the dream by a guy, who apparently was considering quitting his job to do what I was doing. I wished him luck. My thoughts were somewhat more on "What exactly AM I doing?" 

I was told by someone who I talked to about each book in great detail that she was going to go to the library to borrow them tomorrow since she was too cheap to buy them (her words, not mine). I smiled and thanked her because maybe she'll like them and recommend them to someone else. It felt like time well spent.

I watched a wife drag her husband from my table. Twice. I decided if he sneaked over a third time I was giving him a copy of Ghosts on the Prairies, since he was drooling for it.

I watched a teen drag his mother to the table. She let him buy Can't Dream Without You and damn, did he ever look like he was about to read the most forbidden book ever written.

I was asked for directions, for a cart, for peanuts that were on sale, and I had to fix a rug that got caught in the door. A gentleman thought I was with the Salvation Army taking donation for Christmas. I ate waayyyy too much fudge at the Tradeshow and was buzzed up for hours. Not even sure how we got home.

I bought chocolates for the staff at Chapters because they had suffered an event that day and were still awesome. For those of you who don't know Chapters--wow. All I can say. The place is where I want to work, sleep, eat, and visit if I ever move to the city.

Here are a few pictures of me at some of the places. I didn't get one at Estevan where I was at the big and incredible Southern Plains Co-op Food Store. It was after a snow storm, which gave me a lot to talk about with the customers and staff. Plus, I met this incredible man who told me the greatest stories and totally made the day!

Me at my first Tradeshow. Saw a lot of familiar faces that day! I also brought the  historical magazine I worked on for the Community Center as this was a great place to promote the research into the local history that I love and do.
Me at Chapters.
The morning got off to a bad start as the place was closed due to an event. So I didn't get in and set up until 2pm, which was when I was supposed to be leaving. The incredible staff let me stay as long as I wanted and I saw and met so many people, and best of all, I was standing in front of a Harry Potter display and my bestie came to share the day!  

NOW! THE BEST PART is that they put my books on the shelf. That's right, my friends, my books are at this awesome store, on the shelf and selling. I have no words to describe how weird it felt to see them on the self.

Me at Save on Food in Regina. It was New Year's Eve and busy, but many people took a moment to chat.

So what tips do you have for hosting such an event where you have to stand for hours on unfamiliar ground, meet people, chat with strangers, and talk about yourself and your work?