It’s surreal how much has changed here in the US since just last week’s blog. Even for a writer, it’s hard to put it into words.

I’m still a journalist, although that is no longer my profession, so I still feel the need to read and research and learn everything I can about a major event. Which means right now, I’m not sleeping as well as I should be because I’m up late reading news reports and press releases from the CDC, WHO, and the Oregon Health Authority.

In many ways, for me, dealing with crises as a journalist is far easier. I have a role, a purpose, a focus.

Without those, I feel powerless. And although this is a very different type of global event, it reminds me of two other times in my life.

The first was as a child, when the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl melted down. Radiation poisoning was terrifying, and we didn’t know how it really worked. I remember worrying that we would all die slow, painful deaths. It was the ‘80s. There were no parenting blogs to read back then about how to talk to your kids about disasters. So, I just wrote my fears in my diary (which I still have), and eventually, the crisis passed.

The second time I felt that type of fear was September 11th and the days following. I was in close proximity to the epicenter of that event, in northern New Jersey. Everything stopped there, just like it’s stopping now. But what I remember most was the fear that hung in the air. The streets were mostly empty, but shopkeepers with anything other than pale white skin were hanging American flags in their windows to prevent retaliation for the terrorist attacks. I was terrified for them because people weren’t rational. We all feared another attack. And everywhere you went the streets were lined with missing posters. The faces of the dead, we came to realize. In one nearby town, half of the adult population died that morning. It was like walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

I still cannot talk about that event or remember it without crying.

I was not a journalist then. But I became one a year later. I used my master’s thesis research to help me deal with that event. I needed to understand how our media coverage of violent political acts against civilians was approached, particularly in the decision to use photos of bodies on the front page of the newspaper. I had a very hard time with the use of those types of images before I conducted my research. I had a much better understanding of it by the end. Knowledge, as they say, is power.

So, as the world as we knew it continues to change in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I lean on knowledge (from medical experts, in this case) to get me through. I also know I need a purpose.

I’m no longer a working journalist. I’m a book publisher. So, what I can do now is help provide escape and distraction from the sometimes worrisome new reality we’re all facing. As we all adopt social distancing protocols and figure out how to work from home while entertaining our children who can’t go to school, we need to focus on those things we can still do rather than what we can’t.

We can still interact with friends and family face-to-face thanks to modern technology such as FaceTime, Skype and other services. We can catch up on movies and TV shows we’ve been too busy to watch until now. And we can read. We should read. We can transport ourselves to different worlds, different realities, different times, through books. And we can learn new skills in our newfound spare time.

So, starting this week, WMG will be launching our Stay Inside and Chill weekly newsletter, which will feature new deals on WMG products every week, including books and online lectures and workshops. And you’ll get two free books just for signing up: Life of a Dream: An Earth Protection League Novel by Dean Wesley Smith and Hidden Charm: A Fates Universe Novel by Kristine Grayson.

Sign up here to start receiving the Stay Inside and Chill newsletter. (And if you’re already signed up for our regular WMG newsletter, don’t worry, you will automatically start receiving the Stay Inside and Chill newsletter AND the free books.)

I hope this helps you find a respite from the challenges of our new world. Stay healthy everyone!

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.