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+.
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.
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!!!
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 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.