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Literature — April McGowns Jasmine details a young womans journey as an abuse counselor

For April McGowan, a surprise is vital to her writing.

“I’m what you call a seat-of-the-pants writer,” she said. “I find when I plot out all the way, I’m done and I can’t write anymore because I don’t have any surprises. I want to be surprised and I know the reader will be surprised.”by: GARY ALLEN - Tackling tough issues -- April McGowan, of Newberg, recently published her first book, 'Jasmine, which explores abuse and homelessness. The book is available online and at Chapters Books.

Her new book, “Jasmine,” did just that.

“I’ve always had this story in the back of my mind. When I was a kid, a friend of mine ran away and I never found out what happened to her and that always stuck with me as I got older,” McGowan said. “You kind of draw story ideas from different places and I really thought about that and thought this is a good time to write this.”

She characterized her official book launch, held Sept. 22 at Newberg Christian Church, as fairly successful. But perhaps the best part was the feedback she received from some of the attendees.

McGowan said her novel is based locally and discusses real women’s shelters in the Portland area — specifically Shepherd’s Door of the Portland Rescue Mission and Door to Grace. So when representatives from both organizations came to her book signing she couldn’t help but ask them about her book.

“I asked them how close is this and they really affirmed for me through the character and storyline, it’s really true to life,” she said.

“Jasmine” follows a young woman through her journey as a counselor for at-risk women who has to returned home for the first time since escaping her abuse.

“I started thinking about not just so much what happened to her, but what happened to those she left behind,” she said. “So I take this gal who survived and make her go home again.”

The book explores sex trafficking, sexual abuse and homelessness, which is something McGowan said is a reoccurring theme in her work.

“My ministry in writing has to do with helping damaged women realize they are more than their situation and their value in the eyes of God,” she said, adding that theme is also the focal point of her next book.

“It’s a working title, ‘The Long Haul,’ about a woman married to a much older man who finds out she is pregnant and abandons her in a truck stop,” she said. “And that’s where we begin.”

McGowan said she is donating 20 percent of her personal book sales to Shepherd’s Door and Door to Grace because of the organizations’ work.

“It’s beautiful what they do,” she said. “I’m donating book sales, whatever we can do to help them.”

“Jasmine” retails for $15. To purchase a copy, visit www.aprilmcgowan.com. It is also available on Amazon and at Chapters Books and Coffee in Newberg.

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