Four months before my second book, THE MINOR MIRACLE comes out (May, 2024), I am excited to start sharing all the stories behind this story.
Before this book ever got a contract, threads began weaving together to pave a way to THE MINOR MIRACLE’s publication. I could go way back to 2012, when Rebeka Uwitonze came from Rwanda to live with our family for a year.
While she was with us, I signed with my agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, who was well aware of all that was going on in my “personal” life as I continued to pursue a book contract in the children’s publishing world. Those worlds were intricately connected in ways I didn’t realize until much later.
When two of our projects failed to sell, Alyssa suggested I tell Rebeka’s story, and so I partnered with this Rwandan girl in 2017 to tell the story of how she spent the first seven years of her life crawling, and eventually taught herself how to walk on the tops of her feet.
At age nine, Rebeka left her family and home to fly across the ocean to live with our family while she had surgeries to correct her clubbed feet. Alyssa was right. It was an incredible story that I was uniquely suited to partner with Rebeka to tell. We knew we’d want a sensitivity reader, and I found the perfect person on my first research trip to Rwanda. While there, I stayed in the ANLM mission house alongside a group of teachers from the US who were there to work with Rwandan teachers on curriculum. One of those US teachers was a woman named Bunmi Ishola.
Bunmi grew up in Texas and Nigeria, and was kind enough to give HER OWN TWO FEET a sensitivity read before Rebeka and I published it. At the time, Bunmi was teaching middle school in Texas. Her feedback was important and valuable, and we thanked her at the back of HER OWN TWO FEET in the acknowledgements.
I went on to work on other manuscripts, continuing to submit to publishers, looking for that perfect fit that would lead to my next contract. Meanwhile, Bunmi changed careers and started working in the publishing world. See how the threads are coming together?
Several years and many submission later, still pursuing the perfect fit for my next book, Alyssa had an idea. My work could easily bridge to a faith-based publisher. And so we submitted to a new round of editors, including Bunmi who was now at the faith-based imprint of Penguin Random House, Waterbrook/Multnomah.
I had no idea that chance encounter in Rwanda would lead me to my next editor, a beautiful partnership that has resulted in another book we’re both proud of. And in a way, isn’t that a Minor Miracle? The way those threads, that didn’t seem as if they’d ever intersect, are woven together to make a new a story, the story behind the story? It’s a reminder to me to walk through life with anticipation, recognizing that minor miracles are happening all the time—incredible connections that may take years before they become apparent. I look forward to seeing them, and sharing them, with readers.