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This adorable little bug is my daughter, Alyssa Dean. She was born June 20th, and she’s fussing right behind me while I’m typing this. Hold on — brb.

Okay, she’s cool now playing with her kick n’ play gym. Anyway, I owe this little girl. Of course, for all the usual reasons. She’s my baby. She brings light to my life and presents me with challenges that make me a better person. But I never thought I’d say that I owed my success as a writer to a three and a half month old poop and spit-up machine.

Not long after I gave birth, I found myself home alone with my infant daughter. I was hooked up to the breast pump like a dairy cow, and I’d set Alyssa in her little bouncy chair. She started crying and wanted to be picked up. I was trapped in the recliner with the pump on and a baby in my arms and nothing to do for 15 minutes (I couldn’t reach the remote or my phone!). I’d read that talking to babies promotes their language development, so I decided to tell Alyssa a story.

What stories did I know by heart? I settled on Cinderella, a timeless tale, the quintessential fairy tale, the penultimate princess. Except, the longer I talked, the more I didn’t like the story I was feeding my little girl. Cinderella is pretty much the poster girl for a crappy heroine who kicks pretty much zero ass. So I started changing things, and the story I told that wrinkly little bean-shaped ET in my arms was the inspiration for a piece of writing called Harvest of Ash.

I submitted the first three chapters of the story to a very awesome, ground-breaking, and forward-thinking company called Big World Network, an “episodic literary network” that publishes stories in seasons, broken down into episodes like a TV series. The seasons are released in print on the site and in audio form with one episode a week, and then are published as a novel in print. And they wanted Harvest of Ash!

Now my warrior Cinderella has a home, and I couldn’t be more excited. BWN has been fantastic, and I really enjoy working with my editor, Amanda, and connecting with other authors on social media. I’ve recorded the first three episodes of my audio book and November 1st the first episode will drop on the site. Here’s the synopsis to tickle your interest:

Tagline: A Cinderella with ambitions beyond a prince and happily ever after. She didn’t lose a glass slipper — she left behind a bloody dagger.

Synopsis: This series is the story of Ash, a girl of two worlds in a land divided by religion and teetering on the brink of war. Aligning with the traditional Cinderella story, Ash is orphaned and raised by a cruel stepmother. There’s a prince, a ball, and a chance to be chosen as the Kingdom of Anaphiel’s princess, but a political assassination destroys the fairy tale and sends Ash on a path marked with the shadows of intrigue and stained with blood. The Cinderella story is an enduring and timeless tale, lending itself to endless retellings and reiterations. This gritty, dark fantasy version explores politics, feminism, war, and religious conflict, adding elements that give the old story a fresh and compelling makeover.
With cover art by Jeff Randall!!
Who would have thought that being home on maternity leave would be such a fruitful, creative time with so much potential?
See you November 1st on Big World Network!

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