Monday, September 13, 2010

My Big Break, Finding my readership

Julie Painter

March 30, during my shower, I performed a pratfall worthy of Chevy Chase. The EMTs responded in ten minutes. After they draped me with a beach towel and loaded my crisp bones onto a backboard their only comment was: "You are certainly the cleanest patient we transported tonight." They were gentle and no nerve damage was added to the misery. Fortunately, nothing else that surgery, rebuilding and/or rehabbing couldn’t fix was permanently ruined. But this accident cost me an arm and a leg—no weight bearing for six weeks. I felt like a two-legged table.

The reason I’m bringing this up is not to get sympathy cards, but to say one blessing that came from this was learning where my reader market is. While I luxuriated in discomfort, CNAs, aides, social workers, occupational therapists and physical therapists bought my books.

"Oh, Mortal Coil’s about murder in a nursing home. I gotta read that one."

My husband kept a fresh supply of my titles on the bureau for any visitor or employee to peruse and purchase.

"I looked you up, nice Web site."

"Oh, You’re the writer?" an aide asked as I struggled out of bed transferring with the help of three people, one of whom I’d been instructed to step on, one to haul my now infamous prat, and one to drink coffee and advise.

I was not in sales mode with my fanny hanging out of the "costume" they provided, but I had to prove to one and all that I was not so depressed that I couldn’t sell books. If you’re suspected of being depressed in rehab, they order the psycho evaluation, which at my age is an Alzheimer’s test. (I passed with 100% accuracy.) I chatted up my books, gave out bookmarks so they could look up Champagne’s and my Web sites, and I made nice.

The night shift was different, all business about my business, or so I surmised. One of the nurses, whom I sent directly to Carnal Passions for "relief," quit her job and became an in-home nurse’s aide. When she arrived at our house six weeks later for my first bath back at the scene of the crime, her first words were: "Who would have thought the bedpan lady would turn out to be an author."

Mothers’ Day eve, due to a medication error, I went from unbearable itching into anaphylactic shock. One of my night heroes, an experienced male CNA, didn’t even ask permission. "You’re goin’ to the hospital, girl." He went out in the hallway and dialed 911. I’m considering writing his life story, "Man Enough to be a nurse." All he was missing was his Harley.

Life threatening emergencies are the hard way to sell books and study character motivation, but one has to look on the sunny side. Even my hairdresser knows for sure. One of the employees from the rehab’s business office told my hair stylist that she knew who I was. "That’s the author."

My hair heroine informed her: "Yes. And she has another book, Tangled Web." (Now in paperback.)

Authors, keep your books at the ready. Like the Boy Scouts; "Be prepared!" Another bit of advice: Install grab bars in your showers and above your bathtubs. The characters you save will be your own.

Julie Eberhart Painter
Mortal Coil and Tangled Web are available in print and in Amazon’s Kindle Store
Julie is a author


Allison Knight said...

Oh, so sorry to hear such a tale. Hope you are doing much better now. However, you're right about the nurses, rehab, etc. Even my doctors have my cards and have taken info home to their wives.

Take care. I can appreciate the grab bar bite.

Victoria Roder said...

I'm glad some good came out of your unfortunate accident. I'm glad you didn't lose your humor, thanks for sharing.