Spotlight on Children's Author, Maria Ashworth

I'm so pleased to be bringing to your attention a new children's picture book author, Maria Ashworth. I sat beside her at a recent book signing event and was so impressed with her work that I wanted to feature her on my blog.

Here is what she had to say about her new book Step One, Step Two, Step Three, and Four, her process, and what made her write this very entertaining story.

A young girl's world is turned upside-down when her mother tells her she's getting remarried. Along with the ring comes a few more, Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four. The girl will do whatever it takes to keep the "steps" out of her life. She eventually realizes there are some benefits to her new blended family.

This picture book was nominated as a finalist in the picture book category for the 2012 National Association of Elementary School Principals contest.

I divorced after 18 years of marriage. It was devastating for the kids and me but we managed through it. My two kids didn’t mind me dating, and I didn’t think blending children would be an issue. I met a man who had five kids. When my daughter saw the seriousness of the relationship things changed. She didn’t want step-siblings touching her things, sharing her bathroom much less her mom.  We married despite her reservations.

I viewed libraries and bookstores looking for books on blending families. They had books on having a new mommy or daddy, or living in two houses. But none touched the subject of blending children. I didn’t plan on writing a book but tried my hand at making her a little story about her transition. I showed it to my husband and he thought I had something. 

My daughter beamed because now there was a story about her transition. We blended our children before the story got put into a book.

She adjusted early on and learned there were some good things about having these step kids. She realized she could boss them around, dress them up and when in a bind, blame stuff on them.

I wrote it lyrically to make it more appealing. I tried it in prose and it didn’t feel right to me. The book emphasizes sharing, caring and acceptance. I wrote the book to make children understand that it’s not all bad. That there will be an adjustment period but your parent will always be your parent. And they will always love you. No one will take that away from them. I wanted them to see that things can change for the better. That some good can come from it. The unknown can be pretty scary especially in children. The book can help with the transition. I believe Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four has a place on a shelf in every household whether blended or not.

I had always had a love for writing since I was young. I didn’t take it seriously until I journaled my divorce. I thought that women would really benefit from my story. There is an empowerment to my journey. Right after, Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four was born. I told myself then that I was going to get serious about my writing career. And my husband was behind it. I became a member of SCBWI in 2009. My first conference was in Houston/Katy, Texas. It put the fire in my belly. A week later I formed a weekly critique group with other writers. We’re 7 years strong with a lot of success stories under our belt. I acquired an agent two years ago. She worked on getting TOMMY JAMES and MY BIG TREE into a house. TOMMY JAMES went to the editor’s round table. So close but no contract. I know one day TJ and the rest of my manuscripts WILL be in picture books soon. I’m agent free now and independently published.

All my stories come from experience. I have forty-eight manuscripts waiting to get in the hands for children and adults to read. I love to tell stories and can’t see myself doing anything else.  

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Book trailer:

Allyn's Review

I’m so impressed with this first time author, Maria Ashworth’s debut picture book, Step One, Step Two, Step Three, and Four. I would give this a huge 5 star rating.

Not only is this an important story for any blended family, but it’s also just fun. Written in rhyme, the author gets a strong message across that things aren’t as bad as they might first seem. In fact, life can be even better than it was before!

At first, the little girl is terribly worried that her mom is going to get married and she’s just not sure she likes this new man named, Larry. “What’ll happen to our family of two?” She likes the attention centered on her. What if this new man has boys to bring in to the family? “There’d be frogs and worms, smelly socks and disgusting germs!”

With colorful and detailed illustrations, this charming story made me laugh. It also had a very satisfying and fun ending.

I not only highly recommend this adorable picture book to anyone who might be introducing their children into a blended family, but to anyone who enjoys a well written and funny read.


  1. Maybe it's because of Read Across America, but this cover and title have a Dr. Seuss feel to me. Love it.

  2. Write what you know or about what you want to know. How many times have we heard that? I'd say someone finally listened. What a great idea for a book.

    Also, I agree with Kelly, it feels Seuss'esq to me too.

    1. I agree, Courtney. It's a great subject and she did a great job writing it.

  3. I agree with Kelly the cover certainly looks like something Ted Geisel (A.K.A. Dr. Seuss) would have enjoyed. With forty-eight manuscripts waiting to be published I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more about Maria.

  4. The author's story reminds me of Yours, Mine, and Ours. That's so cool she made her story into a PB. I love it. :-)