I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that one of the best things about the Catholic blogging and writing world is the wonderful people you meet. Today I’m featuring fellow author Stephanie Calis, who wrote the recently released Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). I’m honored to be an endorser of Stephanie’s book and thrilled to give you a peek into how this young mama of two survived launch week, plus links to her book, free eBook, and new image-driven website for Catholic brides!
1. Congrats on the launch of your beautiful book Invited:The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner. How do you feel now that you can actually hold the results of all your hard work in your hands?
Thank you so much! It’s wonderful to hold my own book after three years of working on it. Pauline Books and Media sent me a box of 20 copies tied together with lace and sprinkled with flowers! But seeing the actual book is also a little unfamiliar, as strange as that sounds — I’ve been so accustomed to sharing the cover image and talking about the content on social media over the last few months, but honestly, it’s hard not to flip through and reread what exactly I wrote about certain topics while imagining what people’s reactions might be to the way I’ve presented things. In that sense, having Invited out there is so exciting, but also makes me feel so vulnerable!
2. What were the highpoints of launch week?
The weeks leading up to the launch felt insane. My husband Andrew is working towards a PhD in English, and his comprehensive exams, which were 12 hours long and determined whether he’d be eligible for official doctoral candidacy, were two weeks before my book’s April 1 release date. I’d put off a few projects, like writing a supplemental eBook and creating a promotional video, until after the exams so we could prioritize Andrew’s studying. I was glad I could make that sacrifice for my husband, but he didn’t really get to relax afterwards because of all the catching up I needed to do! Even though that was crazy, it made it possible for the actual launch week to be more peaceful, because everything was done. My favorite project was the eBook, Full of Grace (you can download a copy here), which features meditations for engaged and married couples to pray for each mystery of the Rosary. Andrew helped, and since the Rosary has been one of our favorite ways to pray together from early on in our relationship, we loved getting to share some of our spirituality and offer marriage-related prayers specifically for couples.
I hadn’t really thought to look at my book on Amazon before the release, after which I figured I’d be eager to read reviews and things, and was completely surprised when a few friends told me via Facebook that Invited reached #1 in the category of New Wedding Planners in the week before the release. Naturally, that felt wonderful, but my prayer after seeing the ranking, and up through now, has been that I might thankful for those quantifiable measures of the book’s success, but that at the same time, I can also be appropriately detached from them and focus my prayer on asking the Holy Spirit to bless the couples who will encounter what I wrote, that they might be inspired and challenged to radical love.
3. How did your husband react? And are your kids old enough to understand what’s going on?
Andrew is amazing; such a man of praise, awe, and affirmation while somehow still helping me to feel little–that’s a good thing! He’s consistently told me how proud he is of me and of my writing, and shows it in his willingness to take over our chores and caring for our kids during deadlines for the book. Yet he is also so good at reminding me that God, not me, is in control. As happy as I’ve been with the experience of writing Invited and working to spread the word and create an exciting release, I’ve also had so many instances of anxiety about whether I’m doing things right, whether I’m doing it too much for myself, and whether anyone will even care. Every time I’ve gotten upset, he lovingly tells me all will be well and tells me to place everything in the Father’s hands. How I need that reminder, and how thankful I am for him.
My son Aaron is two and a half and my daughter Lily is five months, so they don’t have a huge sense of what’s going on, but Aaron does know that when his mama goes out to do work, it’s for writing, and I showed him the book when I got the box in the mail. He was more interested in the flowers that were in there and ran to put them all in a dump truck. Perspective.
4. What was it like to work with a publishing house run by religious sisters? Did your editor wear a full habit?
Pauline is run by the Daughters of St. Paul, and their charism is evangelization through the media. They do wear a full habit, and their joyful spirit was so evident through our correspondence. My editor, Sr. Marianne Lorraine, particularly impressed me in her ability to critique my work with charity, and to hear out my responses to her suggestions as we worked through the text, also with great patience and kindness. I worked with several laypeople whom Pauline employs, as well, on things like permissions and marketing.
Even though I’m joyfully married and knew for a long time that I was called to marriage, my friends in college and I used to ask each other what religious order we’d most like to hypothetically join (hashtag Catholic girl problems…). I used to say I’d want to be in an order that specialized in a handicraft or food product (I’d explain it as “like Mystic Monk coffee, but with nuns”), but maybe after this experience I’d change my answer to an order like the Daughters, so I could write and edit!
5. What’s next for you?
Two friends, both Catholic wedding vendors, and I are incredibly excited to launch a new ministry for Catholic brides and newlyweds, Spoken Bride, at the end of this month. We’ve been talking for almost a year about the deep need to combine practical wedding advice with awe-inspiring images from beautiful real Catholic weddings. Our goal is to create a resource that rivals secular wedding sites in beauty and creativity, while also emphasizing the unique truth and richness of our faith.
In a major way, I think planning a nuptial Mass with amazing prayer, music, and your witness as a couple, alongside a reception that’s stylish, fun, and creative, lets the beauty of Catholic marriage speak for itself. It serves as an invitation to your guests, meeting them where they are, drawing them into the sacred, and sparking a desire to share in the authentic freedom and joy experienced by the bride and groom. We are currently accepting submissions from real weddings, membership in our vendor guide, and written contributions, and would love to feature you! You can read more about us and our mission here.
Copyright 2016 Karee Santos.
Images courtesy of Stephanie Calis.