This morning, I signed a contract with Park End Books for a story called Little Lost Nun. I’m very happy!
Little Lost Nun began as a short story, nearly a decade ago. I set myself the task of writing about a conflict in which there is no antagonist. I remembered a professor of Romantic Literature telling our class at university that “the bad guy defeats the good guy” is not tragedy, not in its purest form. He said real tragedy is a conflict between two people who are good but still in conflict because of something inherent in their nature or situation. The “good guy against the good guy” is far more tragic. This perspective has remained with me, and sometimes haunted me, ever since.
I don’t mean to say Little Lost Nun is a tragedy. It is not! But it begins in a conflict between two protagonists. The antagonist has very little to do with it.
That was the original short story, and I shared it at a women’s retreat I lead at a parish on Tacoma, WA. We spent the day talking about my professor’s definition of tragedy and exploring the larger question of whether tragedy is possible to a Christian mindset. For example, how does a belief in the resurrection impact our ideas about what is tragic? It was a fascinating day.
The little nun stayed with me after the short story was written. I revised her story once or twice, and it began to seem that it was more than a short story. It wasn’t a picture book, but there wasn’t much scope for it as anything else unless it was longer. I began to wonder what the story would be if it were longer.
First, I tried it on as a part of the Sam and Saucer series.
No, it wasn’t part of the Sam and Saucer series.
The little nun sat on my desk, in my files, at the edge of my imagination. Months passed.
One day, I wrote her story without attaching it to any other story. I freed it from Sam and Saucer and the idea of a picture book. That went much better.
But it’s still not a conventional story. It’s a story for children, but also adults. It’s sad but also happy. It needed a good home, and no home presented itself to me for a time.
I wrote some other books and finished them. They got contracts, and I felt that my desk was cleared and I could move on to the next adventure.
But the little nun was still there.
Sometimes, the answer to things pops up right in front of you.
Not long ago, Summer Kinard, one of my co-authors for Seven Holy Women, launched a publishing company called Park End Books. I was happy about that. We need more publishers who are friendly to Christian books from an Orthodox perspective. So much of Christian publishing in the United States is heavily Protestant, and many secular publishers aren’t open to books with even subtle Christian themes.
Park End Books began releasing titles soon after launch. The covers drew me in, and I was impressed with the books’ creativity and innovation.
Just as I was deciding that Little Lost Nun would likely never find a home, I happened to read the Manuscript Wish List on the Park End website. It struck me immediately that this might be where my little lost nun belonged.
I’m grateful to say that Park End Books agreed with me – hence signing the contract this morning. I’m looking forward to this project very much – to the editing, the polishing, the enchantment of watching art and design added to the story, and that moment that never grows old when I get to hold this story in my hands as a published book.
In the meantime, I drew a little nun of my own and took her out in the sunshine for pictures to celebrate the occasion.
May God bless the work of our hands and hearts and words.