As well as a novella, I’ve published a short story for an Amazon writing contest. If you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, it’s FREE; it’s also FREE for the next five days (as part of a promotion). Here is the synopsis for “Out of Eden”: How did Cain meet his wife? Where was the Land of Nod? Did Cain ever find grace? “Out of Eden” is a shaggy god story that answers these questions while leading one to question what might have been. A shaggy god story is a science fiction story that attempts to explain biblical concepts with science fiction tropes.[…]den+sarah+richards&qid=1655532985&sprefix=%2Caps%2C214&sr=8-1

Fiction Friday: Poetry Based on the Book

Like the Fifties,
marriage was the answer to an unexpected pregnancy,
even as adoption was the only answer to an unwelcome one.
A nonmember marrying his pregnant lover
was considered taking responsibility,
but Tony saw adoption as his way of shirking that responsibility.
He would give up a piece of himself—
a piece of his future—
to preserve the elevated status he held in the eyes of his parents.
He could give his child to LDS parents,
only for them to fall out with the Church,
& go another way,
& for the Mormons,
any other way would never be as good as their way.

If his mother ever discovered that Tony had broken the law of chastity,
it would dash her world of crystal palaces & marble temples to pieces.
I prayed it wouldn’t get out that I was seen walking with Tony
or I’d become a pariah in the Church.
Kath was only given a pass for liking him
because she was the only black person in the ward
& they didn’t want to alienate her,
for the Mormons collected minorities like others collected dolls.

As Moses’s mother had placed her son in a basket to protect him,
with the faith that whoever found him would raise him well,
Tony would let his child go off into the Deseret sunset.
He raised his head then,
not looking at me but out there,
as if the answer were written on the wind.
And then he murmured:
“Just as a man rejects his calling to serve a mission,
and is responsible for all the souls he could have saved had he gone,
I will be responsible for all those I bring into the world.”
I wanted to tell him that he was doing the right thing,
although I knew that would be no comfort to him,
for it would be known that he had done the wrong thing
for which he would now have to do the right thing.
In the eyes of the Church,
the act of fornication would never be made right,
regardless of the result,
however precious that result might be.

An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

Micropoetry Monday: Faith


For they had supposed He was
John the Baptist,
but people did not return,
only to die countless times
as recycled souls;
they passed from this life once—
as one-of-a-kinds—
to live forever.

She did not find her future in the stars,
nor her fortune in the earth,
but her faith in the One
who parted the two.

When he was a boy,
he enjoyed his boyhood,
learning from his dad
what it was to be a man.
When he sowed seeds of legitimacy,
rather than wild oats,
he traded in his Xbox
for a toolbox,
& showed his daughter
how men should treat her
by how he treated her mother.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
—St. Paul, First Corinthians

Fiction Friday: Poetry Based on the Book

The idea of living in a home for unwed mothers,
of passing one’s child off as their sibling,
or that having a baby out of wedlock
would hurt a woman’s chances of marriage
was so foreign to me,
reminding me not of another place
but another time.
Living the Mormon life was like living in the Fifties,
or how I imagined living in the Fifties was.
Yes, they were a peculiar people,
who wore the cloak of victimhood
like a medal of honor.
They had been persecuted,
just as Jesus had.
Joseph Smith had been jailed,
just as Jesus had.
And they called themselves saints,
even as Jesus had been the saintliest of all.

In the Mormon Church,
one was born without sin,
but in the Catholic Church,
every child was born in sin—
passed down from the mother
like some debilitating disease,
thus, the necessity for infant baptism.
But what of those unborn
who could not be sprinkled with holy water—
who had thrashed around in amniotic fluid?
Did they atone for their original sin
with their life—
or just their chance at it?
I didn’t know it then,
but I would come to know God’s infinite grace
for those who had sinned
& those who had been sinned against,
as I was the latter,
who then became the former.

The Schafer home was a Mormon version of the Cleavers.
Pictures of Jesus & the various temples around the world
hung in leather frames on the wall,
giving them the importance of a museum painting or an ancestral portrait.
The Saints may not have worn Jesus’s corpse around their necks like the Catholics
or covered their cars with Bible quotes like the Deep South Protestants,
but their houses were a shrine to the Mormon Jesus,
to Joseph Smith,
& to everything that told anyone who entered
that they were a latter-day saint
in this new dispensation.

An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

*Fiction Friday: Micropoetry Based on the Novel

Every Mormon a missionary
meant that every deed had an angle—
some were acute,
& others, obtuse,
but a negligible percentage was just right.
In the Catholic Church,
helping the poor was their way of showing
how great God was,
but performing acts of service in the Mormon Church
was to show how great the Church was.
Including Books of Mormon in military care packages
seemed like taking credit,
for the ubiquitous Bible spanned all other Christian denominations
so that no one church could claim it exclusively.

Unlike the Catholic Church with all its pageantry,
its stained glass windows & ornate architecture,
& the Baptist Church with its ultra-modern megachurch facilities,
the Mormon Church was spartan in comparison,
for they claimed to believe in truth, not traditions.
The Mormon meetinghouse was a building that looked like any other,
save for the crossless steeple & the sign with Jesus’s name on it.
The Mormons had convinced me for a time
that spending money on large & fancy buildings
would be put to better use to serving the community,
but then I remembered Jesus & the woman
who poured expensive ointment on His head,
& one of His disciples chastising her,
stating that such could have helped the poor.
That was when I saw these uniquely & fearfully made buildings
as honoring the One for whom they were built.
It was in this way that these churches were akin to the Mormon temples
that the brethren & sisters called God’s house—
these temples for whom entrance was available to the few
who passed the LDS litmus test.
Many would say the Mormons
were better than the Baptists,
but it was only because they had to be.

I was an eavesdropper,
a voyeur,
but the romantic scene made me ache
to share such intimacy with a man.
I had once fancied myself as a nun,
for I had believed that to be a woman’s highest calling;
now I fancied myself as a married woman,
surrounded by large brood,
for in the Church,
married motherhood was a woman’s highest calling.
Like the sinners they were,
my friend & the one she loved retreated further into the dark,
for what they had done could never be brought to light.

The game room at the end of the hall
was like the light at the end of a very long tunnel,
& down the rabbit hole, I went,
feeling like Alice,
getting larger as I drank from the vial
that would not cure my curiosity
but make me crave to satisfy it more.
Mick & Mart,
always the players,
never the spectators,
had monopolized the ping pong table for an hour
before I realized Kath & Tony had disappeared.
I knew they hadn’t gone outside to play
Ultimate Frisbee in the parking lot
but had gone somewhere in secret to play other games.

Though Kath was the only woman,
Tony treated her like the other woman
because she was “The Other.”
For her,
he jeopardized his soul for entrance to celestial heaven
& his grand standing in the community.
His parents were uncomfortable with the idea of biracial grandchildren,
for Green Haven was predominately White, Protestant, & Republican,
& those who fit into all three categories tended to be
the most prosperous citizens.
He was a giant frog in a small pond,
having hopped from lily pad to lily pad;
he wanted to become the prince of Green Haven,
& I knew he wasn’t sure he could do that
with a wife of known African heritage.
Though Kath’s skin was fairer
& her hair lighter than mine,
it was what was under the skin
that had defined who she was in it.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.