Ben and I are treating this normal life like one big, exciting adventure. While life changing moments may not take place every day, week, or month, the little moments add up to make the biggest memories, which we are treasuring up with the hopes that years down the road, after our yet to be family has grown and life has slowed down, we will be able to pull up and smile fondly at. (I hope nobody reads this and thinks we are about to be a family of three…not yet! J )
Here is a peek into 2013—a bigger year for us, one we will always hold near and dear to our hearts.
In January we welcomed our beautiful niece, Mariah Rose Harriman, into the world. We fell in love instantly, and every time we go down to Yankton Ben looks forward to one thing more than anything else—getting to hold the baby! She has brought so much joy into our lives, and we love watching her grow and change.
I also got the first printed copy of my first book—the promotional copy, as it is called in the publishing world. I also gained control of my author website in January! A team at Tate Publishing put the site together and helped me get the hang of navigating it, then released full control over to me. Now I can upload photos, write blog posts, and make other changes to the site. Check it out here: http://sarawhitley.tateauthor.com/
I signed my contract for my second book in February! I was still in the beginning stages of learning how to market my first book, so this was a whirlwind time for me! Ben and I have learned so much since those first crazy months of book ordering and planning events. We are looking forward to all the events we will do in 2014.
February signaled the end of my days of a cashier. (Hopefully! I would take a second job in a heartbeat if we needed to, but I pray I don’t have to J) I started my wonderful new job at Lutheran Social Services in February! Back then I worked as an assistant teacher at an after-school and summer program, and I have since moved to a new program where I am the lead teacher of 16 of the squirreliest, funniest, most difficult group of kids I have ever had the privilege of working with. Some days I come home crying in frustration, other days I come home laughing and telling story after story of how wonderful my kids are. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I feel so blessed to have found it!
March was a busy, busy month of book promotion! On March 2nd I had my first official “pre-release” book signing at the University of Sioux Falls. I forget that most of you don’t understand all the publishing jargon that I have gotten to learn over the year, so I will fill you in on what this means. The pre-release stage in publishing is similar to when a movie releases in a movie theater. The point is to build excitement and get people talking about the movie so that when it releases to the public, people actually want to buy it. During the pre-release stage, I am the only one who has copies of the book, which I order directly from Tate Publishing. I receive these books at a discounted price and sell them for full profit, a great way to earn back the money I invested into the project—I earn my full investment back when I sell 1000 copies in actual book stores and from online sites such as Amazon.com. The copies I purchase don’t count towards the 1000 copies I have to sell, but it is the quickest way to make money on this project! And it is also fun to put on these events. I LOVE talking to people, especially kids who have a passion for reading and writing. If I can inspire just a few people or turn even one soul to Jesus, I have accomplished my goal. Here is what we did in March:
March 2nd—The first official pre-release party at USF
March 6th—I got to speak to the Faith Baptist Youth Group and share the story of how God lead me to pursue this dream and how he calmed my nerves and provided for me during each day of doubt. A wonderful night!
March 16th—Pre-release signing in historic downtown Yankton at Rexall Drug
I also attended my bridal shower and began writing my 3rd story—I didn’t plan on expanding any more on Molly’s story but God had other plans in mind. I have been spending my Christmas break pounding that out, and I have a fourth story on the backburner that I had been working on before my present project. Third book is called (at least for right now!) “A New Day Dawning” (I hope you all have caught on to my “A” theme!) and the fourth is “The Year of Jubilee.” I am beyond excited for these two stories!
In April the trailer of “Another Ending” was released! See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgEyAV02zEU
USF also did a nice little news story for me. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZLP0rJX2hM
Ben and I hit up LOTS of garage sales in April to fill up our first place! We moved him in at the end of April, and our apartment quickly became a cozy little home thanks to all the furniture my parents sent with us! Ben’s favorite is a giant overstuffed chair that doesn’t fit through any doorways or hallways. He had a blast taking off our front door and then removing the feet of the chair in order to get it into the apartment. He loved it even more when it wouldn’t fit down the hallway to the bedroom and we had to rearrange the living room to fit it in J (Did you catch the sarcasm? That chair is a source of great frustration for him. But it is a great chair and will be following us to our next place.)
I got a Facebook fanpage in April! If you haven’t “liked” my page, please do so here! https://www.facebook.com/authorsarawhitley I try to keep most of my book news separate from my personal page, to not overwhelm people with book posts!
To finish off April I turned 20 and celebrated with a yummy sundae, then watched my little brother grow up right before my eyes as he walked down Grand March at his prom.
I kicked off May by going to a local elementary school and speaking about my book! I am now in the process of writing and sending letters to teachers offering to come speak in their classrooms. If you know of anyone who might be interested let me know!
May is kind of a blur to me because a lot of things happened, but nothing really big happened. I am grateful for that month though, because the coming months would really make up for that! I finished my sophomore year and ran around getting all the last minute wedding details figured out. I spent countless hours constructing these guys:
Also, I watched my sister Katie graduate from Dordt College and this awkward family photo was born:
I started working full time in May at the summer program—I worked from 6:30-2:30 Monday through Friday all summer long. It was a struggle to drag myself out of bed most mornings, and I was glad to go back to the normal 2-6 when school started up again in August. My first book was also officially released, which means that bookstores were able to order and stock the book, and I could now to book signings in bookstores.
Oh, I also suffered a panic attack the end of May and ended up in the hospital. No big deal.
WE GOT MARRIED!
That tops anything else that happened in June. We honeymooned at a charming Bed&Breakfast in Jordan, Minnesota and hit up IKEA, Mall of America, and ValleyFair while in Minneapolis. Perhaps we will take a more exotic vacation before we start a family, but we are both pretty low-key people and those few days of relaxation and laughter in the warm Minnesota summer air were just what we needed after the previous fun-filled, stressful weeks.
I also got to see Barry Manilow in Sioux City with my mama! It was a blast—he may be in his 70s but he’s still got it and he knows how to put on a good show. I know you are all jealous
In July we just had a good old time being silly together. Here are some of the things we did:
August was our first experience as a vendor at the Lifelight Music Festival. It was a hot, dusty, exhausting, extremely rewarding weekend!
I received the promotion copy of my second book “An Open Window” in September. It was amazing to hold two published works in my hand and marvel at how far God had taken us.
I did my first signing at an actual bookstore! It was so fun to set up at Crossroads Book & Music in Sioux Falls and meet with readers. I got to do an interview with Keloland too, to promote the event! If you missed it, catch the blurb here: http://www.keloland.com/newsdetail.cfm/20-year-old-author-publishes-first-book/?id=154408
We also did more silly, fun things, and celebrated 5 years of togetherness:
November was pretty low-key for us. I learned so much from my students about thankfulness, and celebrated Thanksgiving with both sides of the family. My mom and I also went to see The Cake Boss at the Washington Pavilion!
The highlight of December so far has been picking up my sister at the airport, who had spent the last five months teaching overseas. I got the first hug J
It’s been a blur of Christmas gatherings, Christmas goodies, and hours of shopping and wrapping gifts. Ben and I are looking forward to going home and celebrating our Savior’s birth with both sides of the family—it’s so convenient that they live in the same town!
So much to be thankful for in the last year! We are looking forward to all the adventures to come in 2014! Thank you for walking this road with us.