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Friday, September 5, 2014

Author Interviews--Writers of Sweetland Series: Karen Gass and Karen Kosman

Anne: Sweetland Interviews! We have two series, one already out and soon to be released in paperback, and a new one beginning in about two weeks. The completed series is Summer in Sweetland, the last volume of which was released last week, Summer Song, by Kathi Macias. The second will be 'Tis the Season in Sweetland, and the first volume, Unseen by Linda Gilden (up for presale now), is scheduled to release on September 18.
If you click on either of the Karens' names (in blue), you will go to their blog or website. You can read more about them there.

If you would like to read the first two pairs of interviews, click First and Second.


In addition to stories in the Summer in Sweetland and the 'Tis the Season in Sweetland series, Karen Gass is the author and Indie publisher of Morningshine and Morning Glory, the first two books in a 3-book series titled The Spring Street Quilters. She is also the author of Log Cabin Quilts: A Brand New Story by Karen Murphy, published by Martingale and Co. This was the first quilt design book ever printed with a fictional story to go along with each quilt design. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and The Christian PEN. Karen is currently enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University working towards her BA in Creative Writing with a minor in Graphic Design. At this time Karen is working on the third and final book in The Spring Street Quilters series.

So, Karen, what inspired your Sweetland stories?
Karen G: My first story, Not Forgotten, was inspired by a mix of things, as most stories are. I’ve known people who really were in dire straits financially, and there have been times when I have as well. But always, without fail, God provides. He provides what we need, exactly when we need it. We tend to think ahead and worry about the car payment due in three weeks, and the school supplies the kids need, and now the washer is making funny noises. But God is aware of all those things, and He is aware of our checkbooks, our balances and how best to provide for those needs. It’s rarely how we expect it to happen, but it’s always exciting. I wanted to show how important it is to trust God for the smallest to the biggest need. And secondly how important it is to connect with people around us. Not the ‘HowareyouI’mfine’ thing we always say, but really connect. It’s important to them and to us.

My second story, The Snow Wedding, well, I have to say it’s just always been a fun idea I’ve had - to get married in lovely snowfall. And being a seamstress myself, I had to bring in Gloria and get some sewing in there. I wanted Tina to be happy, pampered and wholly loved by a good man. In this Sweetland year, she not only learned to trust God in a deeper way, but she met a wonderful man and even met her best girlfriend. A good girlfriend is something we women need, and friendships are so important.
Anne: Who is your favorite Sweetland character and why?
Karen G: I love all my characters, but I kind of have a soft spot for Matt. He was a minor character that I really had no plans for, but he turned into ‘a character.’ He loves God, he has a great sense of humor, and he just really came alive - to me anyway! And in The Snow Wedding, although Matt shone there too (in my own humble opinion) I loved Gloria, the seamstress. So full of repressed personality, and lonely for a friend. Very good at what she does - I want to be her in that way. An excellent seamstress who also writes. Because I truly couldn’t give up either one.
Anne: What is your favorite scene?
Karen G: In Not Forgotten, my favorite scene was Tina and Amanda eating an ice cream sundae. The natural conversation, the inevitable ice cream headache, the way they knew what the other one was going to say - it was all just fun for me to write and then I had a good time reading it.
In Snow Wedding, my favorite scene was when Gloria arrived early, got swept up in the Hallelujah Chorus, stood and raised her hands to God without even thinking what she looked like. I think God loves that kind of spontaneous praise when we are consumed by Him and not concerned with ourselves or how we look.
Anne: What do you want people to "get" from your story?
Karen G: In Not Forgotten, I hope my readers come away knowing that we are never forgotten. His eye is on the sparrow and how much more is it on us? I know there are times when we feel like we’ve hit a brick wall, but that’s only a feeling and it is not truth. We need to consciously make that decision to believe and not become victim to our feelings.
The Snow Wedding is a celebration of love, life, and friendships. And again, just as Amanda befriended Tina, Tina took up the baton and went for it, inviting Gloria to lunch. We need to be on the lookout for people who need friends, praying that God will reveal that to us. I hope this story will inspire some lunch dates and some sewing!
Anne: Karen Kosman is an author and inspirational speaker. She is a member of Advanced Christian Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) who brings laughter, tears, and renewed hope to her audiences. Through Scriptural examples, inspirational testimonies, and Karen’s own personal journey you'll learn to apply God’s love to your own life. Karen has co-authored three books: Wounded by Words, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, and Breaking Invisible Chains. Her published works also appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul as well as other compilation books.

So, Karen, what inspired your Sweetland story?

Karen K: True life experiences helped inspire my story. I wanted others to come to a deeper understanding of how faith, love, and hope throughout life can make a difference. Summer in Sweetland is a about fictional town that reminded me of the town where my granddad lived and died. I have fond childhood memories of my visits to his ranch. It was those memories that inspired me to place the Goodman family on a ranch outside of the town of Sweetland.

Set Free to Love Again is a warmhearted story that will touch many. I never experienced a white Christmas, but I loved the snow flurry that transforms the town of Sweetland into a winter wonderland and provides the perfect landscape for skiing. I found it a joy to continue writing about the lives of the Goodmans. Just as dynamic as the transformation of the landscape is the fulfillment found in love.

Anne: Who is your favorite Sweetland character and why?

Karen K: My favorite character in Homecoming is Kim Goodman because of her compassion and love for others. Kim’s ability to forgive someone who betrays her and the courage she embraces to move forward in her life are characteristics we all hope to have in our own lives.

Carl has become my favorite character in Set Free to Love Again. As a firemen and paramedic Carl gives his all. In his personal life he is dynamic and loving. He shares his accomplishments in the Air Force that amaze his friends and family.

Anne: What is your favorite scene?

Karen K: My favorite scene in Homecoming describes Kim Goodman praying as she walks alone in the park. She asks God a specific question about a decision she must make. God answers Kim’s question in a heartwarming way—one that left no room for doubt. I’ve experienced those special moments when God answered my prayers. Not always the way I expected, but then I realized that His answers were exactly what I needed. Hopefully, others will be able to relate.

My favorite scene in Set Free to Love Again takes place at the Youth Acres Group Home. Jennifer James is angry and resentful because she has been separated from her younger siblings. They are in a foster home, but she been placed in a “grapy” group home. But, Myra, one of the teens, living in the group home reaches out to Jennifer — this scene touched my heart.

Anne: What do you want people to "get" from your story?

Karen K: Although my story is fiction, I want readers to fall in love with the Goodman family, to embrace the truth that personal choices often determine a result that can bring happiness or brokenness. Our choice to walk in faith, love, and hope creates a foundation of strength in our real lives. In the story my characters face many challenges that require them to stand strong in their faith. Their example brings understanding, renewed hope, and love to others.

In Set Free to Love Again, it's that taking one day at a time is sometimes a challenge, but it works. Again, I want them to see in my characters some of their own virtues, but especially how showing others love can begin to transform their lives.


Thanks, ladies; and thanks, readers. I hope you'll all come back next week to read the final two interviews in these two wonderful series.
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