Monday, September 9, 2013

Karen Gass & Morningshine

A little bit about Karen Gass' Morningshine: ...the story of a group of women. Some live near each other and a few others live hundreds of miles away. These are ordinary day, God decides to do a work--using them in His plan. Morningshine proves the point that God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. By being open to what God has shown them, these women make a huge difference in the lives of one of their neighbors, changing both the takers and the givers.

Join Carrie, Elanor, Connie, Lydia, Martha, Esther, and Gert in this fabulous story about their struggles and defeats, their triumphs and faith. See how God uses them as vessels to reach others around them. An intimate look at faith within different women and the effect it has on them all.

Read below for more about Karen Gass and her book, Morningshine.

Tell us a little about your book and yourself.

KG~ I've been sewing since I was 9 years old. As soon as I learned to sew, I started making my own clothes and just about everything else if I could afford the fabric. The minute I got my allowance - I hit the fabric store. That was in the old days when $5 would buy a pattern, fabric and zipper! Fast forward about 25 years and I moved from garment sewing to quilting. I made and sold quilts at craft shows, and then moved into quilt designing. I had a quilt book published, Log Cabin Quilts: A Brand New Story by Karen Murphy. It's out of print now, but it was unique because each chapter had a fictional story that continued throughout the book. I also love to knit, crochet, embroider and am currently learning about polymer clay! I love to do things with my hands. The last year or so, I spent learning about couture sewing, pattern making and learning how to fit a garment to a 'body' - usually called clients! I am recently widowed, and living with my sister. I have 3 grown children, and 13 grandchildren, with another due in November. Love my grandbabies.
So, it was only natural I'd write a book about quilting! A quilting group, actually, and how God used them in the lives of a family living on their street. I don't think you need to be a quilter in order to enjoy the book, because it's also Women's Contemporary Fiction. You'll get to know these six women intimately, see their struggles and experience their triumphs as they go through day to day living. I think there is something in every one of them we can relate to, in one way or another. As God weaves His tapestry in our lives, we very rarely get a glimpse of the finished piece. In Morningshine, we get to see how God moves and puts together unrelated incidents as a result of prayers and trusting in him. God doesn't always call the equipped, but He always equips the called!

How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?

KG~ After I had some foot surgery, I was to stay flat on my back, with foot elevated for 7 days. That sounded torturous with nothing to do but watch television. Well, my mother rustled up a laptop for me, and I thought it would be a good time to start a newsletter for my quilt designing website. I thought a short story might be a cool thing to include, so I started what turned out to be a 300 page book! It simply took on a life of it's own. Each character came to life and told me about herself, and the events that followed were just as thrilling for me to read and experience as it was for some of the people who've read the book. I don't know how that happens, other than to give God the glory, but it is an incredible process. That was ten years ago. I worked on it off and on, but never could find the ending. I shared it with a group of women friends, and they loved it and truly harassed me to finish it. (in all love they harassed) I finally did, and decided to self-publish it on Amazon.

Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write about?
KG~ I believe my book does have a strong faith element, but it doesn't preach at you on every page. It was very natural to write about about God and the way He works. My fingers simply flew over the keys of my computer, hardly keeping up with my thoughts and what I wanted to get down on paper before the thought flew away. 

What do you hope readers take away from this book?
KG~ I hope they realize we are never without hope. Even when we are at the bottom of the barrel, there is most likely someone, somewhere praying for them. It might even be a stranger. I know I've had times when I've felt the Lord move me to pray for a person I see on the street, or hear about on the news. Maybe someone I've chatted with in the store, waiting to check out. If we are open to the Lord's leading, we can hear His voice telling us 'That person needs prayer, don't worry about the why, I already know it." And so I pray for them until I no longer feel that compulsion and I know I can't be the only one!

Which of the characters in the novel is most like you and why?
KG~ I think I put a little of myself into every character - I just couldn't help it! But, if I had to pick one that was (and I emphasize the 'was') most like me, it would be Eleanor. She was in a hopeless situation, and had no clue how to change it, or even if she should change it. So, she just kept plodding along, unhappy, but keeping a routine and doing the things that needed doing. I was in such a situation at the beginning of the book, so I know how she felt. Useless and hopeless. My situation today is completely changed, but she remains close to my heart. 

Who is your favorite Biblical character and why?

KG~ It changes as life changes. But right now, my favorite person is Rahab. She was, as we know, a prostitute, but God loved her and used her in important ways. She was in the line of Jesus - how cool is that? God loves us - period. His redemption for us was and is complete. It holds no 'excepts'. Jesus died and rose again for Every Single Person on this earth, no matter what they do, or did, or thought. The grace of God is just that - complete and total Grace. He showed that particularly in the case of Rahab. For whatever reason, she was in an unseemly profession. We don't know what led her to that place where she felt that was the only recourse left to her in order to live and eat. But God had His eyes on her and had plans for her. She was brave, and let God use her to warn her family and to hide the spies. This story in the Bible tells me that God loves me. Simply me. It's not about how good I am, or how obedient I am, or the good things I may do for others. He loves me when I'm not good, when I disobey, and when I don't do the good I know I ought to do. Even if I'm disobedient to Him, He can still use me. He will still provide for me, He will still pour out His love on me. He will do what He needs to do to bring me back to obedience, but the measure of His love doesn't change. The story of Rahab is the epitome of that situation and I love that about God. I wish I was more loving towards people who 'I' think may not be doing right. Our human condition does that. One day, we won't have to deal with that anymore!

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?
KG~ My favorite part is when the words come so fast I can barely get them down on paper! When the story jumps up and waves flags and says, "Look at me over here, I have story!" and four other characters do the same thing! It's like going to the circus with things going on left and right. I love it when I can laugh or cry at my own story, that is writing itself on paper and things happen that I'd never thought of - it's exciting!
My least favorite part is when the words don't come. I think I've come upon my little theater group asleep and they are all groggy and begging me to go away and leave them alone. And of course, the end of the story is hard, because I have to leave all these people and places that I've come to love. I've poured so much of myself into them, and now I have to say good-bye. This is one of the reasons Morningshine turned into a series. I simply could not get everything into one book. And now, as I'm nearly done with the second book, I keep thinking of new things! My three book series may turn into more - who knows? 

What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?
KG~ Go for it! There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the story in your head, come to life on paper. Write every day, write whenever you can. And read good books. The more good books you read, the better a writer you will be. And ask God to direct you in this area, what does He want you to write? What is He putting on your heart? If you have the desire to write, and you are walking in His will, then He has probably given you that desire. Use it to glorify Him. It's a gift He has given you.

Other than writing, what else occupies your time?
KG~ After almost 40 years, I am finally going to college! After I graduated from high school, I did not go on to college. I wish I had. But, as I write this, tomorrow (Sept 3) is my first day. I'll be working towards my BA in Creative Writing. I want to learn how to do what I do - better. I know it will take a while, but I am determined and very excited. That is the major thing occupying my day. Then I am also the Editor for The Quilt Pattern Magazine which is online. I also make doll clothes for a company that resells them. I have a few sewing clients I make clothes for. And then, I sew for myself or my family, I knit and crochet, and now the polymer clay is encroaching into the last available ten minutes of my day. I also spend part of every day, writing. Usually every day - some days it just doesn't happen. There is about a dozen other things I do spread out over the week - designing quilts for my sister's fabric, writing quilt patterns, editing others manuscripts and doing their layout, I think I just really like to stay busy. And God is very good to me, sending me work to take care of my expenses. They aren't many, but He is awesome in sending me what I need. My hope is that I glorify Him in all that I do. 

Thanks Karen for being a part of this blog and for your great interview. Blessings in the success of Morningshine. It will surely connect and talk to those who read it.

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