UCA alumna publishes children’s book

Leigh Anne Fortner, a two-time UCA alumna, has recently published her second children’s book, with the proceeds earmarked for an Arkansas-based charity.

Titled “Mariposa,” the book is about a tiny seed growing in the desert and its determination to survive in spite of the odds. Proceeds from the book will benefit Our House shelter in Little Rock.

Leigh Anne Fortner

Leigh Anne Fortner

Fortner said becoming an author was not initially one of her aspirations. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech pathology from the UCA College of Health and Behavioral Sciences and practiced as a full-time speech pathologist from 2012-2015. She went part-time when her first child was born in 2015 and decided to stay home after the birth of her second child in 2019. The idea for her first book, “The Light,” came to her clearly and suddenly in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the inspiration came flooding into my brain, I knew this story was something special and something that needed to be shared,” Fortner said. “Looking back, I can see how my love for children, reading countless bedtime stories to my own kids, studying childhood development and language acquisition in college and even a commitment to community service throughout my life have prepared me for this journey. Now, I have the writing bug and have many more stories to share!”

“The Light” explores themes of grief, hope and love. She initially donated $2,600 from book sales to Vine and Village in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2022, all net proceeds from ‘The Light’ are donated to The Call, a non-profit organization that provides support for foster and adoptive parents in Arkansas. 

“When I first wrote ‘The Light,’ the entire world had shut down due to COVID,” Fortner said. “We all had a feeling of helplessness. I wished I could help but since I wasn’t a scientist or medical professional, I had no clue what to do. When the idea of the book came, I thought it would be great to share the proceeds to help in my own small way.” 

Fortner is currently working on a third book called “Ripples,” which is a story of change and hope from a child’s perspective. She was inspired to write this book after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Fortner’s illustrator Anastassiya Selezneva, a former UCA student, has family in Ukraine. 

“This is a special story for us,” Fortner said. “The illustrations will have lots of yellow and blue. The money from this book will go to an organization called Liberty Ukraine.”

Fortner’s books are available on her website and with most online book retailers.