“Why I Don’t Hide My Freckles Anymore” is a compilation of essays about beauty edited by my friend, the amazing LaNae Valentine, director of Women’s Resources and Services at BYU. Not only is my essay included, it’s also the title of the book.
I’m thrilled to be part of this terrific anthology, which includes essays that will make you cry, laugh, and think about what beauty really is. It also includes a poem by my own sister, Elaine Rumsey Wagner, about my grandmother, entitled “Truth Beautiful.”
These short blurbs made me reconsider the power of words, and how we use them to judge or validate each other. These words have lasting effects. Almost every story had a moment where the writer was told that she was not beautiful, and she believed them (mine included). But almost every story also portrays the path the writer takes to reclaim her beauty, realizing that beauty is not dependent on a flippant and untrue remark.It made me want to speak more carefully to my own daughters, and make sure that I tell them, every day, that they are beautiful.
A friend of mine recently said, “Whenever God wants to change the world, he sends a child into it.” While this statement is particularly relevant at Christmas, I thought about how it was true in my own life, and how the birth of my youngest daughter transformed my world this year.
I also remembered this statement when I read Starchild’s Birth by one of my favorite former students, Adam McLain.
In this serial short story, Adam creates a new technological Eden with the birth of a genetically engineered child. And it changes the world. Drastically. Whether God is a participant in this creation is a crucial question, and we as readers, along with the main characters, must grapple with the implications. It’s an intriguing world that left me eager to read more. And more is coming. Adam plans to release a new story each month.
Right now, Starchild’s Birth is available on Amazon for 99 cents. It’s a great deal for this thought-provoking read. Click Here to find it on Amazon.
Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “The beginning of an epic saga of short stories, Starchild’s Birth introduces us to a cast of characters that are about to change the universe. Join Nathan Hale, a scientist, as the two most important events of his life happen and Starchild, a creation with the power of a god, is born.”
Here’s Adam’s introduction to his project, Saga of the Starbirds.
This is my first foray into the world of electronic publishing. I’m excited that I’ve been able to share it with you. Yes, it’s short. It’s meant to be that way. Starchild’s Birth is the beginning of an epic saga chronicling the mythos of a universe I’ve created. The Saga of the Starbirds will be published periodically from December 2, 2013 to December 1, 2014, with a story coming out the first Monday of every month.
I find it really exciting. With the creation and mass reception of e-books, we can now return to how books used to be published. Publishing periodically is in the way Charles Dickens and others published their works in a time when magazines and serial publications were a popular medium. I’m not going to do this with all my short stories and novels, but I felt it would be great for this series.
The Saga of the Starbirds follows different characters and the adventures they have in the new universe created by Starchild. Some of the short stories will be fun, others will be thought-provoking or plot-driven, developing characters in the long run. There’s an overarching story to the entire series, which you’ll be able to follow as the stories are published.
I really hope you enjoy Starchild’s Birth. It’s the first of the prologue trilogy. The next part, Starlight’s Sunset, will be published January 6, 2014, chronicling what happens after Starchild remakes the universe, followed by the final part of the prologue, Starfrost’s Sunrise, February 3, 2014. There are some very exciting things to happen in this universe, so stay tuned!
A year ago today, I, along with the rest of the nation, watched in horror and disbelief as tragedy unfolded in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. I was 9 months pregnant and emotional anyway. That day, my husband didn’t hesitate; he drove to the elementary school and checked my two girls out of school. He knew I needed to see them and hug them, just to reassure myself that there were okay.
This day was almost exactly a month after the release of my novel, “The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume” which is set in an elementary school. My heroine is a first grade teacher.
No one thinks that becoming a teacher is a dangerous career choice. At least, we only consider it financially dangerous (no one ever went into teaching for the money). But I don’t think we can deny it any longer.
On the one year anniversary of Sandy Hook, we saw a school librarian in Colorado run away from the high school, trying to draw the gunman away from the rest of the students. The Arapahoe County Sheriff said, “The teacher exited the school immediately, which was, in my opinion, the most important tactical decision that could have been made.” Earlier this year, we witnessed teachers in Moore, Oklahoma, who shielded students from deadly tornadoes with their own bodies. Teaching is dangerous. Teachers risk their lives to keep our children safe. Like firefighters and policemen, teachers are heroes who are just doing their jobs.
My heart breaks for the families that spent an entire year without their sons and daughters. That day, I knew that many of those parents already had Christmas gifts wrapped under the tree, bearing the names of those who would never come home. But this year, I know what those parents would want us as a gift from each of us. Newtown itself has asked us to honor the victims by doing acts of kindness this day, and everyday. Kindness, reads a sign in Newtown, warms your soul.
Emilie Parker was one of the children who died that day. A blue-eyed blonde, she looks much like my own daughters. In fact, in one of her photos, she wears a pink sweater from Old Navy that hangs in my Sasha’s closet. Emilie has ties to Utah, where I live, and her face, for me, is the angel face of the tragedy.
Her family recently posted a video about Emilie, remembering her life full of love, color, selflessness, and joy. In this video, her mother declares, like Longfellow, that evil didn’t win that day–that goodness, light, and God’s love is so much grander than evil and darkness.
That day, and today, the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s classic hymn ring in my head:
“And in despair, I bowed my head. There is no peace on earth, I said. For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep. God is not dead, nor doth he sleep. The wrong shall fail. The right prevail with peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
God isn’t dead. He is real, and because of Him, we have hope: hope in his birth, hope in his resurrection, and hope in the goodness of mankind. We can show peace on earth now, by honoring the memory of the victims through acts of kindness, the same acts they would have done if they were here. That will be my Christmas gift to Sandy Hook this year. I’d love to have you participate with me.
I'm a writer, mother, wife, and teacher. By day, I teach Honors writing classes at BYU. By night, I write fiction and creative non-fiction. In between, I do laundry, stop fights, french braid hair, lose my sanity, and rarely cook.