By Tilynn King / Staff Writer / Twitter: @grownlilies

Former newspaper reporter Wendy Thomas Russell signed copies of her book, “Relax, It’s Just God: How and Why to Talk to Your Kids About Religion When You’re Not Religious,” on Friday, Oct. 16.

She spoke in the Marian Sims Baughn creative writing center in P104 to a group of about 10 people and discussed how the book was written.

Russell was inspired to write the book after her then 5-year-old daughter hopped in the car after school and said, “Mommy, you know what? God made us.”

Russell said she didn’t know what to say. “I had to confront my fears, worries and my own biases. It was a genuinely emotional moment for me and what does a writer do with a genuinely emotional moment? They write about it.”

The author grew up in a small town in Missouri. She was raised in what she calls a “Christian-light” home, growing up reading and idolizing Mark Twain, William Shakespeare and trumpet player Louis Armstrong. Her parents were readers and writers and gave much-needed support in Russell’s writing endeavors.

Russell started writing poetry and short stories in journals and diaries at age 7. Her first diary, which she brought for display, dated back to April 1, 1985.

Russell majored in journalism at the University of Nebraska. She said she realized there that the best way to make a living from writing was through journalism.

It took Russell four years to write the book. “I had other projects I was working on.

I was raising a kid and it’s hard work writing a book.” She started a blog titled “Relax, It’s Just God” around the same time she began the book.

Elizabeth Sarvis, from learning and academic resources at LBCC, said, “I love these events. We hold one every semester. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and to meet these authors.”

Another audience member, Stephanie Burnham from the English Department, said, “I was drawn to the book because I too am a secular parent who has a 4-year-old who’s at the age where she’s asking questions. I had a similar experience and wasn’t sure how to respond. So I saw this event, decided to come down to check out the book to see if there were any useful tips for handling my own upcoming child and her questions.”

In closing, Russell said, “I’m really proud of this book. I’m proud to have written something that I believe is useful to others. I’m proud of being another voice for the secular families in need of new voices.”

Russell hosts a blog called Natural Wonderers for the Patheos Faith Network, is the co-founder of an independent publishing company, Brown Paper Press, and she writes an online parenting column for the PBS News Hour.

“Relax, It’s Just God’ is available for purchase on amazon and Barnes & Noble.