Hurray for In-Person Events
by Saralyn Richard
When the pandemic hit hard in March, 2020, I had just
released A Palette for Love and Murder, and I had a full calendar of
events for promoting it. Launch parties, bookstore talks, organization meetings,
book clubs—all had been carefully lined up, taking many hours of contact,
follow-up, baking, and swag-shopping.
Then, one by one, in an exorable, painful march
through the calendar pages, each event was canceled. The book came out with a
sigh instead of a bang, and it had to find its readers through different,
mostly virtual, channels.
I’m not complaining. As Bogey says in Casablanca, “It
doesn’t take much to see that the problems of [one little book doesn’t] amount
to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” Like everyone else, I learned to
pivot. I jumped on Zooms, Skypes, and FaceTimes to beat the band.
A Palette for Love and Murder
found its audience, and so did A Murder of Principal, which came out the
following year. Again, Zoom was my best friend, and by then I’d learned a lot
of hacks for having a successful virtual book launch.
Fast forward another year, and I’ve been vaccinated
three times. I have a stylish array of masks for every occasion. Taking baby
steps, I’ve graduated from small, masked gatherings held outdoors to larger,
masked gatherings held indoors. This week, I actually went to my first indoor
gathering where no one was wearing masks.
I thought I might freak out, because I’ve become
somewhat of a germophobe, and the threat of the omicron variant is raising
those same old fears. But when I arrived at the Bay Oaks Country Club and saw
the elaborate table settings, the skirted book-table where I was to autograph
books, and especially the fifty-one smiling ladies welcoming me as a guest
speaker, a particular joy bubbled up inside me, and I wanted the afternoon to
keep going on forever.
Virtual meetings are great. I wrote a post about them several
months ago. They break down barriers of time and space and allow for valuable
human interaction. I taught and enrolled in classes, attended book clubs, and
went to conferences virtually. I enjoyed these so much that I truly repressed
the fact that they are a pale substitute for the real thing.
I’m grateful to Sheryl Lane of the Bay Oaks Country
Club Women’s Group for inviting me to speak at their December luncheon meeting.
We had this engagement booked for more than a year before we could actually
make it happen. Sharing book stories with people who love books is something
akin to heaven.
Of course, we all need to be mindful of and practice
healthy habits and mitigate risks wherever we go, but right now, I’m clinging
to the thought that more joyful reunions like this one will be in my future.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and safe holiday
season and new year.
best-selling author, Saralyn Richard was born with a pen in her hand and ink in
her veins. Her humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children’s book pull
back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses
and disadvantaged urban high schools.
A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery
Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature at the
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Her
favorite thing about being an author is interacting with readers like you.