Hudson writer, former Twinsburg artist team up for devotional book

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Hudson author Carla Gasser published "The Beauty of an Uncluttered Soul" in early January.

Women looking for a devotional book can consider a recently published book penned by a Hudson resident, which includes watercolor illustrations by a former Twinsburg resident.

Carla Gasser, a 22-year Hudson resident, said that in "The Beauty of an Uncluttered Soul," a nine-week devotional aimed at women, she encourages women looking at decluttering their lives to not just focus on the home and schedules, but “to purge their pasts, shake out worry, open their hearts, cleanse their minds, and declutter their attitudes.”

Gasser, who attends Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, said she knew illustrator Vivian Kammel through the church. Kammel “was part of the art ministry in our church,” she added.

“Vivian’s mother took a lot of my Bible study classes,” Gasser said. She added that she wanted the theme of beauty in her book, and thought Vivian’s art style fit with that.

Kammel, who moved to Grand Rapids, Mich. two years ago with her husband, works as a graphic designer. She graduated from Twinsburg High School in 2012. She did more than 100 watercolor designs for the book.

“I pretty much illustrated every page,” Kammel said. She added that it took about six months to complete the illustrations. “I’ve always been an artist, and it’s kind of incredible to see my work published.”

“'The Beauty of an Uncluttered Soul,'” Kammel said, is “basically a nine-week Bible study, or a study you could read your way through. You can read through it daily, or do it with a group.”

Former Twinsburg resident Vivian Kammel provided the watercolor illustrations for "The Beauty of an Uncluttered Soul," which was written by Carla Gasser of Hudson.

However, early on, Gasser said she faced a potential issue. While she had previously published works, they had been self-published. This was the first time she worked with a publishing house, Bethany House, which is part of Baker Publishing Group in Michigan. When she approached her agent about the idea, she was warned that publishers generally have their own in-house artists and do not generally accept outside illustrators.

However, Bethany House accepted Kammel as well as Gasser.

“Bethany House not only took on me, but her,” Gasser said. “It came together so beautifully. [Vivian] was so thoughtful and intentional in making the artwork work with the book. I gave her free rein.”

Gasser said the idea was submitted in summer 2018, and the contract for the work signed in January 2019. The book was published Jan. 5.

“My experience with Bethany House was beyond incredible,” Gasser said. “I had heard horror stories about working with publishers. They just worked so well with us.”

One challenge with having a book published at this time has been the pandemic, Gasser said.

“We couldn’t do book signings,” Gasser said. “As a speaker, I usually would be out there talking about the content of the book. Every event I had last year and this year were canceled. I had to go more social media. I would rather sit with you over a cup of coffee, or connect with an audience. That has thrown me for a little bit of a loop. I love my readers, I love my audiences. This has been a unique challenge. It’s not all bad, just different and not what I would have expected or anticipated.”

Gasser said she initially was disappointed that the book was slated for publication for this year, rather than earlier.

“When I was told January 2021, I thought ‘why so long?’ But it worked out,’” Gasser said. “But I’m really happy it’s coming out at this time of year. I’d say God’s timing was perfect. With all the turmoil, hopefully this book will be seen as a breath of fresh air.”

For details or to purchase the book, visit http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse or https://carlagasser.com online.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com