Everyone’s Story welcomes back–with much fondness–author Sara Goff. Sara is a wife, mother of two handsome little boys, friend, and an amazing author. It’s always a pleasure to host her! This week Sara shares a lesson that I believe we all face at one time or another, or if you’re like me, face on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy Sara’s feature. Do check out her blurb on I Always Cry At Weddings, which she’s offering as a BookGiveaway!! Both Sara and I look forward to hearing from you.
Sara is offering 1 print copy of I Always Cry At Weddings, to 1 randomly chosen commenter, so please do leave a comment. The winners will be announced here on Friday, July 1st between 5-6 PM EST.
** Please note regarding BookGiveaways: email contact information within comments are no longer required. However, if I have a question regarding yours I’ll leave a comment for you to forward it in order for you to chance winning.
Visit with Sara during her past features on Everyone’s Story:
Book Blurb of I Always Cry At Weddings:
Ava Larson is the envy of brides everywhere. She has a glamorous career as a handbag buyer at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City; Josh, her wealthy, New York socialite fiancé; and a lavish wedding on the horizon, to be planned and paid for by her adoring mother-in-law-to-be. But things go terribly wrong for Ava when her friends spontaneously decide to get married at City Hall, and Ava is reduced to tears by the obvious signs of true love exhibited by the newlyweds. Their raw emotion makes her question her own relationship and she wonders whether Josh really and truly loves her.
After an embarrassing attempt to re-ignite sparks in her love life, Ava throws her impending future with Josh away, cancels the wedding, and flees to her tiny, dingy studio apartment on the West Side of Manhattan. In order to find true, enduring love she makes a vow to remain a virgin.
Ava is brought to tears over a lot more than weddings when she learns her mom may be succumbing to the ravages of cancer, she gets sacked by Bergdorf’s, her former mother-in-law-to-be decides to move in, and her financial status leaves her in jeopardy. Now she needs to figure out how she wants to live her life and what love really means.
Are We Living For Our Fears Or Our Dreams? By Sara Goff
If you were engaged to be married, wedding planned, and then realized the relationship was a mistake, you had been following the wrong path, would you break your engagement? Or would you stay the course, because you didn’t want to disappoint your friends and family, and it was the easier option?
I spent many years writing my first novel, I Always Cry at Weddings. So long, in fact, that I felt I had disappointed my friends and family. When anyone asked what I did for a living, I would joke about the book, rather than hold my head high and proclaim I was a writer. It was easier to give into my insecurities.
These are two very different scenarios with the same premise: Are we living for our fears or our dreams?
The most important lesson I learned while writing I Always Cry at Weddings was to break away from the insecurities impeding my progress. It was the key to me finishing the book and even the key to my main character Ava’s ultimate happiness. And, I might add, I’m still breaking up with my fears; it’s a lesson for life.
Just to give you a little backstory: I started a charity in 2010, called Lift the Lid. We sponsor underprivileged schools and support the education of students living in poverty. We also encourage them to explore self-expression through writing. I first made a commitment to myself to stop living in fear, to be faith-focused, while judging a writing competition hosted by Lift the Lid at Lenana Girls High School in Kitale, Kenya. The competition required that the girls write about a female role model in their life. As I read the girls’ essays, I noticed a reoccurring theme between the women inspiring them. Women like Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey, Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan activist, and a simple woman selling vegetables, to name a few. They experienced hardships in pursuit of their goals, and they were ruthless in shaking off their fears. They made sacrifices, took risks, and stayed focus on the results they wanted.
Whether you’re trying to write a book or find true love, make a job change or start a family, whatever your goal is, in order to achieve it to the best of your abilities, you need to let go of your inhibitions. It’s a requirement. Call yourself a Writer, if your goal is to write. Free yourself to think and act creatively, test your full potential! You can’t care what anyone else thinks.
In 2000 I gave up a demanding career in fashion to write and pursue charity work. I feel fortunate today that I can still do both and stay at home to raise my boys, but there were many years of uncertainty, working in a nightclub just to pay my bills. If I had let fear control my thoughts and actions, I would have given up my dreams and gone back to corporate America. I would’ve taken the safe route. But I didn’t.
My novel I Always Cry at Weddings is about a woman who finds out who she is and what she wants, while simultaneously discovering what it means to be unconditionally loved. Ava Larson is a flawed leading character in that she makes wrong decisions and suffers the consequences of those decisions, but we love her because she learns from her mistakes and she never stops trying for her dreams.
The story is also about homelessness. I used to be an instructor at a writing workshop for the homeless through Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Manhattan. A group of regulars from the soup kitchen, along with two or three instructors, got together in the vestibule of the church on a weekly basis throughout the spring to free write. I wrote stories from my life, keeping in mind sentence structure and vocabulary, while the homeless participants poured out their souls, lost themselves in self-expression, and let their hearts guide their pens. I always left the workshop in awe, wishing I could achieve that level of unfiltered emotion put down in writing. They wrote for themselves and no one else. By not trying to impress others they were able to be completely open and honest. No fear.
I heard a lot of life stories that expanded my understanding of homelessness and inspired my leading male character, Chris. He’s homeless, he’s got a plan, and he’s living true to himself. Throughout much of the story, his life is more stable than Ava’s. She reaches a point where she realizes her wedding, her entire life, meets other people’s expectations. Will she start over on her own and get to know the real Ava . . . or will she take the ‘safe’ route and get married? I think we know that answer!
We’re always evolving, experiencing new phases and learning about ourselves, but are we letting our fears undermine our dreams or are we making decisions that feed our passions, our needs and beliefs? Live for your goals, not your fears, and let your abilities surprise you!
Sara’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author @sarajohannagoff asks: Are we living for our fears or our dreams? (Tweet This)
How did unconditional love, homelessness, and charity work influence author @sarajohannagoff? (Tweet This)
Like #ChristianFiction? Check out @sarajohannagoff’s #BookGiveaway on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)
Sara Goff is a former New York City fashion designer and merchandiser who, after seven years in the industry, left her career to follow her dreams of making a difference in the world. In 2010, Goff founded the global education charity Lift the Lid, Inc., which supports underprivileged schools and encourages young people to exercise their creative expression through writing.
Philanthropy has always been part of Goff’s lifestyle. While living in Manhattan, Goff especially loved being a writing instructor for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers Workshop, which was founded by author Ian Frazier. Goff has also participated as a writing instructor for The National Arts Club’s creative writing program for students. She has spoken at the Soup Kitchen, several inner-city schools, and Saint Francis College in Brooklyn about the writing process and the power of the written word. Ever the world-traveler, Goff was also accepted into Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received two fellowships to Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia and Nairobi, Kenya.
Goff recently moved to Connecticut with her husband of 14 years, their two children, and a Yorkie named Pia after living in London and Sweden. I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS is her first novel, and proceeds of the book will go towards Lift the Lid, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization. Visit www.lift-the-lid.org for more information on the charity.
Places to connect with Sara:
Starting today on my Facebook Author Page
A little something different–hope you will visit!