Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Gratitude in the Time of COVID
by Saralyn Richard

I was rocking along, teaching my creative writing and literature classes, volunteering at the doctor’s office, working on a couple of local boards of directors, and preparing for the launch of my newest mystery, A Palette for Love and Murder.

Invitations were out; books were in place at the various bookstores; my remarks were outlined; supplies and equipment were ordered; wardrobe was planned; refreshments were purchased and baked, some tucked away in the freezer. Events on social media were growing in numbers of RSVPs.
Out of the blue, everything came to an abrupt stomp on the brakes. To avoid colliding with a major health threat, would a gathering of friends and supporters need to be adjusted, or even postponed? As more and more dire predictions screeched in, the answer became a resounding yes. Suddenly all of the planning of the past year had to be unwound, one event at a time.
Like a full-term baby, A Palette for Love and Murder was delivered on time, though its audience, and even its author, were preoccupied with more pressing issues. Issues of social distancing and isolation, like gathering food and toilet paper and hand sanitizer, drove all thoughts of reading a new mystery novel aside. Staying healthy, staying safe—those were, and still are, the priorities.
Yes, it was disappointing to have my book launch turned upside down, but it was one of those things, like hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes, beyond my control. As the days have gone by, with the real-live horror of this deadly pandemic playing on our screens, and people we know and love being affected in increasing numbers, any single person’s disrupted plans seem insignificant.
Still, there are many silver linings, many reasons to be grateful. People have turned to technology to remain connected. People have been reading books to educate and entertain themselves, and to escape into a happier place. Families have been forced into spending quality time together. Many thousands of first responders and front-line workers have emerged as heroes in helping humanity weather this crisis.
Turning my attention away from my new book, I began looking for a way to share my real-live Old English sheepdog, Nana, and the children’s book she narrates, with parents and little ones in need of literary diversion. Along came Frank Billingsley, the KPRC Houston weather man, who invited Nana and me into the studio for the reading of Naughty Nana. These plans, too, had to be altered, as social lockdown grew stricter, but through the magic of Zoom, we were able to connect remotely and broadcast the event from two locations. Please share this link with anyone you know with youngsters in pre-K through third grade. https://www.click2houston.com/features/2020/03/25/storytime-kprc-2s-frank-billingsley-reads-a-childrens-book-by-local-author/?fbclid=IwAR39p2ov2h06UdNkpcFANboVgUNLP_F4qSYNK52vqayNG4W7h2qONSYHgHQ
And if they would like the book and literacy materials aligned to their children’s grade levels, they are available at http://palmcirclepress.com/bookstore/

I’m grateful for the camaraderie and helpful spirit that has emerged among neighbors and co-workers. Most of the people I’ve encountered have exhibited a selfless concern for others in their daily activities.
I'm especially grateful for social media at this time of social isolation. Facebook, specifically, has allowed for many otherwise impossible connections, including these:

1. My dear friend in hospice has been able to hear the many expressions of love and fond memories of her friends and relatives, and she has responded to them.

2. My friend who is hospitalized with COVID has been able to connect with friends who are praying for her recovery.

3. My neighbor shouted at me from across the street this morning, while I was walking my dog, "
Congratulations on your new book!" I guess the book launch didn’t completely evaporate, after all.

My neighbor’s greeting hit me in just the right spot. We may be isolated, but we are not alone. And for that I am grateful.

Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, is a writer who teaches on the side. Her books, Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, and A Palette for Love and Murder, have delighted children and adults, alike. A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Reviews, media, and tour schedule may be found at http://saralynrichard.com.


#gratitude #COVID #KPRC #booklaunch #childrensbook #Houston 


  1. said. We’ll get through this together. Technology is helping us stay connected during this bleak time of isolation. Lots of inner thoughts to write about. ~Minette Lauren

  2. Thanks so much, Minette. Grateful for connections, both in person and virtual.