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Arkansas mom creates children's book during pandemic to spread hope

In the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many picked up new hobbies, including one Arkansas mom took that time to write a book.

CONWAY, Ark. — One year ago, many people were stuck at home dealing with fears brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In that time, many picked up new hobbies — bird watching, puzzles, maybe some DIY around the house. And one Arkansas mom took that time to write a book.

"Last March when COVID hit and everything started shutting down, I was just feeling sad and I just wanted to help and I was like 'what can I even do to help?'" Leigh Anne Fortner said.

That's when Fortner, a speech-language pathologist and mom of two from Conway, started writing.

"I had really never wanted to be an author, never thought about writing a book," she said.

But that's exactly what she did. Her debut children's book is titled "The Light."

"I knew there was going to be a lot of grief and sadness and loneliness," she said. "I was just feeling that and I wanted to give a way for me to talk about it to my own kids."

Anastassiya Selezneva, a mom and graphic design student at the University of Central Arkansas, illustrated the book.

"There is hope and love and goodness all around us," Fortner said. "For me, that love is through Christ and that's what this book ultimately leads up to. But even in our darkest times, you can look out and you can see something good."

Fortner hopes to extend that goodness, as 100 percent of the book's net proceeds will go to Vine and Village, a Little Rock non-profit helping people with their spiritual, social, and economic needs.

"I'm lucky to have a house, and my husband has a job, and this is one way that I can make an impact," she said.

"The Light" is available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


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