Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Interview and GIVEAWAY with Sara Goff!!!

Hi guys! V. Joy Palmer here! Since we are all friends here, you guys can call me Joy. ; ) And since we are all friends, one of my favorite things to do is talk with my friends, family, the teens I mentor, and everyone else at coffee shops/bookstores. Books and yummy drinks are the perfect combination, after all. So, consider this our virtual coffee shop. I’ll wait a second for you to get your warm drink and a fuzzy blanket before we chant with today’s guest. ; )

Today, I'm super excited to introduce you to my friend, Sara Goff!!! (Here's a fun fact for your reading pleasure: Sara and I are WhiteFire Publishing buddies. We met over e-mail when WhiteFire signed me.)


Sara Goff founded the global educational charity Lift the Lid, Inc. in 2010, which supports underprivileged schools and encourages young people to exercise their creative expression through writing. Formerly a New York City fashion designer/merchandiser, Sara left her seven-year career and resolved to make a difference in the world.
 
Since then, Sara attended Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received two fellowships to Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia and Nairobi, Kenya. While living in Manhattan, she especially loved being a writing instructor for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers Workshop, founded by author Ian Frazier, and for The National Arts Club’s creative writing program for students. She’s a public speaker on such topics as charity work, finding purpose in life, the writing process, and the power of the written word.
 
After nearly seven years living in Stockholm, Sweden and then London, England, Sara is back in the States, enjoying life in Connecticut, with her Swedish husband, their two sons, and sweet little girl...a Yorkie named Pia. Her first novel, I Always Cry at Weddings (WhiteFire Publishing), is a New York City tale about figuring out life and finding love.

You can connect with Sara on her Website, Charity, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.


INTERVIEW ~


So, would you order coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in our virtual coffee shop? Something else altogether? This is possibly the most important question…
Please don’t hope I’m the Mocha Frappuccino type! There was a time when I’d order coffee with milk, but ever since my first pregnancy I stopped drinking coffee and haven’t wanted to go back. I lost the taste! So, I’ve been a tea drinker the past nine years, either chamomile, mint, ginger and lemon, or green tea, my morning choice! I’m also not a big sugar person. (Sorry, again!) Sometimes I’ll add honey, but usually I prefer a little Stevia, a natural sweetener.
 
Hahaha! No worries! I can't drink as much coffee as I used to, so I like tea, too. Now, our second most important question of the day, if you could order anything in the world, what would it be?

Any dish? Easy. Anything with salmon: salmon with roasted veggies, salmon with lentils, salmon with polenta, salmon with lemon and capers, salmon in a dill sauce, salmon with fennel and orange slices, or a Swedish favorite, salmon with lingonberries and roasted potatoes . . . just not salmon over spinach.

Yum! I love salmon! Where is your favorite place to write? And why is that your favorite place to write?

I have a three-year-old son at home, which means I write whenever and wherever I can, sometimes even standing at the kitchen counter. Do I dare dream of writing in a quiet, inspiring setting, a comfortable place where I might have two, even three straight hours to myself? I’ll go for it.  My dream place to write would be a cherry wood paneled reading room with a fireplace. A large paned window overlooking nature would be nice, too. But what’s most important is that I stay in the world of my story in my mind.
 
I’ve done my fair share of counter writing, too! Life with kids. ; )  But you are so right, staying in our story is so important. So inquiring minds (myself) want to know: do you have an odd habit that is only explained by your bookish, writer tendencies?


Everything I am is explained by my bookish, writer tendencies, but one thing I’ve noticed is that the more I write, that is, the more years that pass, the more empathetic I become of people’s suffering, of the forgotten, and the voiceless. It would make sense that writing opens your heart and mind. Writers, in telling other people’s stories, open themselves to their pain.



Okay, I do have one “odd habit” worth mentioning. In order to save time in between caring for my boys, I eat the exact, and I mean exact, same breakfast and lunch every day of the workweek.  Breakfast is plain yogurt with banana, oats and flax seeds, and lunch is hummus with chopped raw garlic and cottage cheese (not mixed.) I’d say that’s kind of odd!
 
I love everything you just said! And I imagine having planned meals takes out the guesswork and stress, so that sounds good to me! What inspired you to write I Always Cry at Weddings?

My own life experiences living in New York City inspired me to write Ava’s story, but I wouldn’t have written her book if I didn’t feel a persistent need to write. The act of writing is like music in my mind. Words, their tones and rhythms, set a mood and evoke emotions the same way music can be a vehicle for reflection and change. Setting out each day to try and create something that sounds lyrical in my mind and is meaningful on paper is all the motivation I need.

I love how you’ve compared writing to music. So accurate! <3 Can you tell us what led to you writing in this genre?

I feel a calling to write about contemporary issues and struggles in our society today. I grew up reading a lot of Victorian literature, but I never had the desire to write in any other time period other than my own. So, I’d say contemporary women’s fiction is the genre in which I feel most comfortable writing. It’s like dressing in the morning. I do it without questioning whether or not I should get dressed, and I just do it, and I put on clothes that express who I am and how I feel.

Yes, yes, and yes, I love how you tackle the hard issues in I Always Cry at Weddings! What message do you hope to convey to your readers with your stories?

One message that carries through my writing is that we all seek purpose in life. Year after year that sense of being useful, influential, and in control changes. Our career paths are winding, our children grow up, we relocate, learn to let go of loved ones, and often feel we’re starting over, but through every new phase we seek purpose, because it is intrinsic to our happiness.

 
And then sometimes we get stuck. We become “caught up” in unhealthy habits or feel that we’re in “a rut” and going nowhere. There are lots of terms for loosing our sense of purpose – maybe because it’s easy to misplace! (Just ask Ava, our hero in search of purpose in I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS!)
 
I’ll admit, as we get older it becomes more difficult to change our ways and leave the safety of our routines. But I can attest, as can Ava, if we follow our heart, instead of our fears, we can trust that we’re moving in the right direction.

So much love for this right now! I know I certainly can relate! Can you tell us a little about your next project?


I’m writing the sequel to I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS. It wasn’t my original plan, but enough fans of the first book have convinced me to keep going with Ava and her search for purpose in life.

So, I have a tentative title, and I’m in the thick of Ava’s new struggles, but I have to stop myself from sharing it with you because at this point it could ALL change. Hopefully, if keep eating the same yogurt and hummus and keep writing at the kitchen counter, Book Two will be ready soon!

 *Insert frantic piglet squeals of joy here* AHHH!!! I’m so excited! This next question is near and dear to my heart. What is your favorite Bible verse or story that inspires you on a soul level?

I can’t say I have one favorite verse. I’ll often hear a Bible verse from a friend or at church and think, Ah, that is my favorite verse in the Bible! Actually, it depends on what is going on in my life and what feels relevant at the moment.
 
John 15 1-2 (NKJV) says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
 
As a writer, this verse explains a lot. When I ask myself why it’s taken years to become published, and when I look at my writing today and see how my skills are ever improving, I know that it is the work of God, our Vinedresser, pruning my branches in order that they will continue to bear fruit. Every setback propels me to work harder, to become stronger, much as it is with pruning a vine.
 
I can see the branches in my life that aren’t bearing fruit, or worse that are draining the energy from my fruit-bearing branches. John 15 is a reminder to let God “take away” those useless or harmful parts of my life. Surrender the tasks that give me false hope, relinquish my fears and insecurities, and nurture the calling of my heart.

That just blessed me so much! Sara, that is so insightful! What are you currently reading?

I recently finished reading ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, a beautifully written and poignant WWII story that follows the lives of a talented young German boy and an inquisitive blind French girl. I still feel gripped by their experiences throughout the war. Having little time to read, I listen to books in the car while making school runs and driving around town. The next book I’ll listen to is THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES by Peter Wohlleben, the choice of my book club.

Those sound amazing! I am always drawn to World War II stories.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Sara!!!  


GIVEAWAY!!!


Sara has generously offered to giveaway 1 digital copy (open worldwide) and 1 printed copy (open to US only) of I Always Cry at Weddings!!!

Ava Larson is going to bring all the other brides to tears.

Engaged to a wealthy NYC socialite's son, Ava is ready to set the city abuzz with her glamorous wedding. At least until she realizes her relationship isn't what it should be. Then, in a move as daring as a red satin dress, she does the unthinkable--she calls it all off and makes a promise to God that from now on, she'll save sex for marriage.

She's convinced the future is hers for the taking, especially when an undercover cop promises a new romance...and an unexpected friendship with the homeless guy under her stoop brightens her days.

But when her carefully balanced life teeters out of control, weddings aren't the only thing to make her cry. Ava has to figure out what life she really wants to live...and what in the world love really means.
 
 

EXCERPT ~


Ava descended the concrete steps into the seasonal smell of brewing garbage, worn by the subway like a signature scent. Her blouse stuck to the sweat beading down the center of her back. Waiting for the train, she dug her cell phone out of her Prada tote. Password: josh.

With his mother micromanaging the wedding, there had hardly been any need for a maid of honor, until now. The line rang. “Come on, Maggie, pick up.”

“Hello, lovely!” Maggie’s voice brought immediate comfort, while little Melanie babbled like a hidden brook in the background.


“You two sound happy,” Ava said.

“Melanie just woke up from her nap. Listen, Ava, if you keep postponing my dress fitting, I’ll be holding your train in my bra and underwear. Now, unless stretch marks are the latest fad at weddings, your guests do not need to see mine.”

“Sorry. I just haven’t been able to focus on it, but that’s not why I’m calling. Maggie, I want Josh’s love spelled out. Is there something wrong with that?”

“Yes! Tattoos are way too permanent! Crochet it on a pillow or something. A pillow you can keep forever or sell at a garage sale. Seriously.”

“No, I’m talking about personal vows. Is it wrong that I want Josh’s feelings written out? Is it wrong that I want words I can return to…when I’m having doubts?”

“Oh.” Silence. “Whoops!” A loud clatter came through the phone. “Sorry about that. My darling Melanie grabbed the phone out of Mommy’s hand, didn’t she? I no longer decide how long I talk on the phone. Okay, so…doubts?”


 
You can check out my review of this awesome story here!


RULES AND SUCH ~


The author is giving away 1 digital copy (open worldwide) and 1 printed copy (open to US only) of I Always Cry at Weddings.

This giveaway is open worldwide, BUT if Rafflecopter chooses an international winner, they will receive a digital copy. The giveaway will close on April 26th, at 12:00 A.M. because Rafflecopter says.  ; ) Enter using the handy Rafflecopter here ~
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks for stopping by my writerly, bookish friends! <3 See you next time!
 
Hugs,
 
V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

AWARD WINNING AUTHOR, JULIE COSGROVE!



What a treat for me to introduce award winning author and my friend, Julie Cosgrove, to the Diamond Mine audience this evening. Julie, will you share with us the whys and wherefores of how your writing journey began?



I began creatively writing in high school. After that, college, marriage and life took over. But I kept several stories running in my head, editing, deleting, adding. Then, my husband’s career turned us into gypsies. We moved seven times in ten years seeking work. It became harder and harder for me to land a job.  In 2008, three friends in three different cities suggested I write for a living. Buy a computer and make money anywhere. I took a quickie course in freelance writing and immediately landed jobs. In thanksgiving to God, I promised to tithe my writing day to Him first.

Now, He is the only one I write for. Not only am I a multi-published novelist, but an internet missionary for Campus Crusades for Christ Canada - Power to Change. I am on staff for The Life Project, a digital doorway which helps people find Jesus, one click at a time. Right now, we average 600,000 inquiries a month. It is exciting to enter this new mission field in cyberspace where most people interact today.

It is exciting to see how God directed your life. He opens the right doors in His time! He is amazing! But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of your delightful Bunco Biddies Series. Please share with us how you came up with your delightful characters.



Cozy mysteries are almost always about amateur sleuths set in small towns who use common sense to help solve crimes. So, I approached an agent and asked her if a retirement community would fit the mold. I had a book fest booth at one and became impressed by the lively, full lives the residents led. Inching on toward that stage in life, I began researching these communities that are popping up all over Texas, and elsewhere. Anyway, she thought about it and said yes.
Unfortunately, she didn’t contract with me, but another publishing house did.

And we’re all grateful for that “other” publishing house! But what about your characters, are they real life people?

Not really. I wanted each to be unique and full of personality.  My mother lived to her late eighties and had a group of friends she’d known since they all huddled together for comfort while their husbands fought in WWII. All of us kids grew up together. I watched their bonding over the years, something I never knew living a more mobile life. Perhaps they are my templates.

Yeah, Janie’s a template all right…of Wonder Woman! Do you know how many books are going to be in this series?

Two are published – Dumpster Dicing and Baby Bunco.  The third, Threes, Sixes & Thieves releases in June and the fourth,  Til Dice Do Us Part  is scheduled sometime in early 2018.  There may be a fifth - A Dicey Deal. We’ll see.

Oh goodie! I’ll hope for five! But how about the horizon? Any new books lurking there? That you can tell us about?

I have a three book contract for a spin off mystery series called the Manson Mysteries, which is set in 1969-1972 when the lead character of my other cozy series, Janie, was newly married and first met her later to be Bunco Biddies. So, her sleuthing began way back when in Austin, TX as her hubby moved from beat patrol to detective. I have been interviewing two retired APD detectives who were on force in that era, and they have filled my notepad with stories! Over the next eighteen months, I am sure we will have many more fascinating conversations. The Blame Game releases January 2018, The Shame Game in August 2018 and The Name Game in March 2019.  The books will be in eBook, print, and large print formatting. On the back burner may emerge The Same Game and The Flame Game, but God is in control of that, not me.

Yes, everything is in His control. What comfort that is! But I’m sure we all want to know a little more about your new entry into the mission field.



I have voluntarily written devotional and inspirational articles for seven publications and websites, including The Life Project, since 2009.  Last fall the church where I worked laid me off. At that time, my editor with The Life Project approached me about coming on staff, which meant raising donations to offset my salary. After three months of prayerful discernment, I passed muster.  I have supported missionaries most of my adult life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think God would call me to be one…from my keyboard.  I write and edit and free articles daily devotionals, which encourage people to deepen their faith, and if need be, contact a confidential mentor.  We have two writing paths―for those who have already given their lives to Christ (the Life.com) and for those who are curious about Christianity (IssuesIFace.com).
Here is a short video that helps explain:  https://vimeo.com/147793848 

Technology has certainly opened the door to things beyond our imagination…but just think, God knew about all this from the beginning! And He is awesome! How can we help you?

 Prayer?  Absolutely. All missionaries need prayer. I am already feeling the attacks. But the Cru staff is amazing. Each Tuesday I join them in Vancouver over the internet for weekly prayer time and a staff meeting. I am honored and humbled that they want me to be a part of this amazing ministry

Specific Requests.   Like any missionary, I am dependent on the financial support of others. That is a true leap of faith since I am a widow.  If any of the readers feel God tugging at their hearts, they can give into my designated account: https://thelifeproject.com/give/?designation=111070


Now it’s celebration time! A little birdie told me some exciting news! Any truth to those whispers?

For the second year in a row, I received the “One of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading” award by the nationally syndicated radio talk show, The Author Show.  I also received First Place for Dumpster Dicing in the Cozy Mysteries category by the Texas Association of Authors. 

God is so good to provide encouragement along the way. Awards are wonderful, but knowing our God hears and answers prayers…that’s the best! Can you share with us the latest answered prayer The Father has given to you?

 To become a missionary utilizing the writing skills He has given me to touch hearts and help people discover the loving and unique ways He moves in their daily lives. It’s a deep desire of my heart, which has germinated over the years.  The seed was planted nine years ago, watered through my blog Where Did You Find God Today over the past four years that now reaches into ten countries. It continues to grow through The Life Project reaching hundreds of thousands all over the world.

To learn more about how an internet missionary works, or to preview any of the ten novels of mine which are published, including Threes, Sixes& Thieves to launch in a few months, log onto www.juliebcosgrove.com

Julie has numerous books out there. Her series beginning with "Hush In The Storm" is exciting! Thanks for sharing with us tonight, Julie. And I understand Julie will be giving away a copy of your choice, of one of the Bunco Biddies Series. Leave a comment and we'll enter your name and contact you when the winner is chosen. Bye for now!  DiAne Gates