#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

I’d idolized David,
for I’d been as Mary Magdalene—
seeing my salvation in the form
of a man who spoke not in parables
of the everyday man,
but in the philosophies of the enlightened man.

Like most women,
I blamed the woman—
my mother—
for her adulterous affair
with the man I loved.
She was the seducer,
& he,
the charmed participant
under her hypnosis.

For Christians, the Bible was the once upon a time,
the happily ever after.
For Mormons, it was only the story of God’s reign as God,
the story of this earth—the planet He had created,
a planet that belonged to him only because He had earned it.

The words of this modern Prophet with the middle initial
were underlined,
like scripture—
words that had become like newsprint
left on the sidewalk in the rain.

While he lived,
my father had been a stranger to me,
but as he lay dying,
& I beheld my co-creator;
I experienced an intimacy for him,
if not with him,
for the first time.

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#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

Mormoni

One could have worth
without being worthy,
for worthiness was measured
in deeds—
done & undone—
& how many days till one’s
last repentance.

Mother had spent her life atoning for her adulterous sin,
but it was David who ultimately paid for it—
a sort of accidental Christ.

Caitlin was a candy-colored musical,
Mother, a film noir,
but I, I would become the Greek drama
that would unfold with each retelling.

According to Mormon doctrine,
King David had been barred from the celestial kingdom forever,
but my David had sent no man to his death
for coveting another man’s wife.

Mother spoke of the beach—
that place we seldom went to.
She spoke of a memory there,
of her wishing not to die,
but for another man to die,
so that she could live with another.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

Catholicism was the older sister of Mormonism: The Catholics had their pure nuns, touched by none, the Mormons their women, touched by one.

David’s face was bathed in beams of light, looking like one of those angels on Christmas cards. It was his face that eclipsed the moon.

I called God as my witness that night at St. Mary’s, that David & I would be static characters in the dynamic play we were being written in.

Though we were all invited—we could not enter heaven unless we brought the temple recommend, or invitation— which is how Brother Wiley put it.

The scent of the man David was like incense to my soul. I breathed him in. There was a very visceral part of me that wanted to take him in.

Even as Mother & David belonged together, so did David & I, in our own way—in a way the 3 of us together never could.

The man I thought was Jesus told me He’d been waiting for me all my life, & led me up the aisle like a bridegroom—the moonlight, my veil.

Sweet spices permeated me as His spirit entered. The olfactory sense was the closest thing to omnipresence a mortal could impose on another.

This rapture didn’t spirit me up to Heaven, but rather, gave me a sense of belonging on earth I had never felt before.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

Mother was a Mormon in faith & works, whereas I was not. Yet long after I left it, my works (or lack of sin) would become acceptable to it.

Marriage was akin to a conversion, & then there was a process to keep it. There was no once married, always married—it was never my salvation.

I had always imagined Adam & Eve & all the others to be mere symbols, or representations of the best & the worst traits that human beings possessed.

Mormons loved stories even as Jesus loved parables. There were conversion stories, faith-promoting stories, & stories of Joseph Smith’s birth, life, ministry, murder, & his role in the life to come. He was a god, even as God was God.

The Mormons had their mottos: “Modesty is the best policy” (which was always directed at the ladies) & “I didn’t promise it would be easy; I only promised it would be worth it” (or so they said Jesus said).

How Mormons were supposed to live was outlined to the smallest detail—to keep everything as uniform as the concourses of the angels in Heaven.

Tony, Mart, & Mick thought of themselves as “The Three Wise Mor-men,” but Kath, Leann, & I saw them as The Three Stooges—an unholy trinity.

As Mother played the piano, I looked out of the corner of my eye at Brad’s profile, and saw the story of my life—watching men watching her.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

Life as a Mormon had a sameness to it—a consistency I found comforting. A part of me felt I had come into the world belonging to the Church.

My friends in the Church had had a life prior to Mormonism, & so a part of me wondered if the Church was simply a gathering place for like minds to meet.

“Only the true Church would tell you to go to the Source, instead of asking you to take their word for it,” was Mother’s testimony.

There was going to be a talent show at the ward Christmas party, & it was then I looked in myself & saw I was but a consumer of talent.

My mother had become, in many of the brethren’s eyes, a woman of great piety—a saint—but not in the Catholic way.

Mother had dethroned Sister Wiley with her lowly humility to become God’s Royal Highness.  To be a queen, she had to first be a servant.

Sister Wiley’s star was dimming, even as Mother’s was burning brighter, becoming a red giant. The Church was a black hole swallowing her up, turning her into one, for no light could escape her.

Caitlin had woven herself into the fabric of the squares with the Green Haven Ward, sometimes keeping us in stitches.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

She chose to give David time only, for she would have more time with him than she ever had with Patrick, but as recompense, Patrick got time & all eternity.

“For time & all eternity” had replaced “till death us do part”. Becoming gods & goddesses had replaced becoming sexless angels.

I wanted Mother to marry David so I wouldn’t lose him if I married, for there was a part of me that knew it was I who I kept him with us.

I could not reconcile the two becoming one flesh if a third was in the mix, but then, didn’t many wonderful things have more than two components?

I never understood why someone could only have one father & mother, but numerous children; one spouse, but numerous siblings.

As a veil was placed over a bride’s face, even had a veil been placed over our consciousness at birth, so we would live by faith, not memory.

They spoke of forever families, of gods & goddesses, of spirit children conceived in celestial terms.  David said it sounded like a Greek myth.

If Mother married David, I would need never worry about losing him, for he would be ours forever.

David was perfection personified, & Mother acted like it was a sin to see only his goodness–goodness that did not abase itself to piousness.

“You’ll always be his biggest advocate,” Mother said, stroking my cheek with her finger, “just as I knew you would be, for he is your whole life.”

Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #11. Theme: Description + Sample Query Letter

mag

For this challenge, I decided to write a poem based on the protagonist in my book.  This story has, in part, been told through the lenses of poetry and short story.  Perhaps, one day, it may even be the inspiration for a song (as long as I get a royalty deal, a la “Mr. Wonderful”).  Since Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature, music lyrics are considered as such now (according to my English Composition II professor).  Though this poem is a stand-alone work, the query letter below it will add context.

Katryn

Her face and figure were such
that they blended into the backdrop
of the Deep South like white-lily camouflage,
but when she spoke her mind,
she found her way into the crawl space
of their hearts.
Like a thorn,
she would prick those hearts,
this Queen of the least of these,
placing them in a waking sleep—
unlike that of Princess Aurora’s—
her words echoing
in their chambers.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2016-november-pad-chapbook-challenge-day-11

~

My debut novel, “Because of Mindy Wiley”, begins at what Katryn Nolan refers to as the summer of her Mormon soldier. 

Katryn is a teen when she falls in love with a Mormon missionary, which leads to her joining the LDS Church—and enters an insular world of peculiar people.  It is within the Church that Katryn finally experiences belonging outside her close-knit family, and yet it will be her mother’s involvement in it that will lead to its destruction.

Born into a well-bred, artistic family, the Nolans (and the man David, with whom Katryn’s mother is attached) are considered outsiders in their small Southern town, where few move out, but fewer move in; where the heat and humidity is like another force of gravity, where the air is as thick as the azaleas that burst into bloom every spring, and where time seems to pass just a little bit slower.

Yet never does Katryn question why her mother and stepfather chose this enclave that is as foreign to them all as the Mormon Church.

Overloved by her stepfather, but underloved by her mother, Katryn never grasps why her mother won’t marry the man she has idolized ever since he came into their lives.

Neither does she question why her father was barred from being buried in the Catholic cemetery, though it seems no one in the town remembers him.  Who is the mysterious couple that Katryn and her stepfather see, that Katryn’s mother must never know of?  And why does her mother, who was a concert pianist, never touch it anymore? 

Never, does Katryn question anything, for life is idyllic in Green Haven, despite their outsider status.  It is only after her mother joins the Church that she begins to change, and long buried family secrets begin to come to light, ripping off the shimmering facade that was the Nolan family.  Blinded by years of fanciful storytelling, Katryn must sort through the mystery that surrounds her life, to know who she can trust…and who would do her harm.

My love for crafting stories on paper rather than with paper dolls began as soon as I learned to write.  Cutting up every paper in the house had served as my creative outlet before then.  I have lived in Pensacola, Florida, almost all my life, where churches outnumber bars, where the air is as thick as molasses in January, and where the summer weather is as volatile as the preachers of the Pentecostal meetinghouses–much like the town of Green Haven in my book.

Having grown up in a Southern town situated in the buckle of the Bible belt, and having been a practicing member of the Mormon Church for several years, has given me great insight, knowledge and experience of what it’s like being a convert to a religion in a region that is somewhat intolerant to that religion.  Having grown up Protestant, but with no inclination to go around declaring myself saved, one could say I was an outsider even on the inside looking out, much like Katryn Nolan.

The completed manuscript is available upon request.  Thank you for your generous time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Cordially,
Sarah Lea Richards