Ashley Savage: Published author at 19, member sees wide-open future ahead
Arkansas Federal Credit Union member Ashley Savage didn’t have an easy answer for those who asked her what she wanted to be. A senior at Cabot High and preparing for college, she wanted to “be” many things. Now 19 and a student at UCA in Conway, Ashley is one thing for sure – a published author. Her children’s book, I Want to Be a Lot, entered July as the top new release for children’s books on Amazon.
She wrote the book her senior year at Cabot, motivated by those very questions from friends and family who unintentionally tried to pin her down about her future. As the message in the book conveys, why narrow your future to just one thing?
“So many people were asking me what I wanted to be, and I just didn’t have a simple answer for them,” she said. “I wanted to pursue photography, writing and so many other things that I couldn’t narrow it down. I thought to myself, there’s probably a lot of kids who struggle with trying to pick one thing… and why should we limit ourselves? I Want to Be a Lot truly is just a simple reminder of a message that I feel can get a bit lost when you’re growing up.”
The book discusses hobbies and passions and the natural confusion that kids and young adults can experience when considering what careers to explore.
“I took that message and decided to develop it into a small story about a girl named Willow,” Ashley said. “The title is kind of self-explanatory, but it’s basically her journey with realizing that she wants to be and can be a lot.”
Ashley hopes the book can help show readers that simply “being yourself is being a lot,” regardless of what one does.
“And that’s all that anyone deserves in life, to be able to express themselves through the multiple hobbies and careers they love, despite what society may want from them,” she said. “Be you: paint, climb, sail, calculate, sew, play sports, do it all and do it without hesitation.”
In other words, don’t be afraid to be a lot.
One specific thing Ashley always wanted to be is a writer; she’s been writing short stories since she learned to write. “I have so many memories of coming home and sitting at my mom’s desk and creating stories,” she said.
It took Ashley a few months to complete the story that would become the book, and the publication process began in the fall of 2018. Her mom reached out via email to publishers Shelley and Dave Burgess, who expressed interest in the book right away and signed Ashley after an introductory meeting. Their publishing house, DBC Inc., partnered Ashley with illustrator Genesis Kohler, and the rest is history.
“The process of finding a publisher and an illustrator was genuinely the easiest part of this entire journey, and I know I’m extremely blessed to have had that experience,” Ashley said. “It’s not often that someone gets an idea and then almost instantly has people ready to help them make it a reality, especially for a 19-year-old. But that’s truly how it was for me.”
In addition to college student and author, Ashley is an Arkansas Federal lifer. She joined the credit union herself at age 15 but her parents have been members for roughly 30 years and her aunt is Senior Vice President for Human Resources Heather Savage. Arkansas Federal runs in the family, but it also loves working with members to help build small businesses and launch entrepreneurial dreams. Among other things, Ashley wants to grow her budding career as an author. She said the credit union has provided constant support along her financial and entrepreneurial paths.
“I can confidently say the credit union has helped me in my entrepreneurial journey,” she said. “I’ve had many times when I needed help either setting up an account, getting a routing number, figuring out how direct deposits work for my very first job to setting up my royalty deposits. They’ve always been more than helpful and convenient when it comes to time and accessibility. There is security and peace of mind knowing I have reliable, trustworthy and relatable people looking out for me. This was all possible due to their willingness and passion for sharing student voice and I’m so grateful for that.”
So, published author…check. That’s one. What else might be included in Ashley’s personal “lot”? Authorship fulfilled a dream and her writing days aren’t over, but the journey is just beginning.
“I’m fully prepared to find another job doing something I love while pursuing my writing as well,” she said. “For me, that’s one of the wonderful perks of writing. It allows me to pursue my other favorite hobbies and possible career choices. So, we’ll see. The future is open.”
Ashley’s book, I Want to Be a Lot, is available on Amazon.