History

Meet Kathleen Rouser, author of Secrets and Wishes

Posted by on Oct 28, 2017 in Blog, Books, History | 9 comments

When my husband and I were traveling through Michigan this past August, we were delighted to be able to get together with Kathy for some coffee. The two of us share a love for serving in Community Bible Study for many years, we have the same literary agent, and both write for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

 Kathy was excited about the fall release of her latest book, Secrets and Wishes. Since I enjoyed her earlier book Rumors and Promises I’ve been looking forward to reading this one.

 

~ As I understand it, Secrets and Wishes has some of the same characters that appeared in Rumors and Promises. How did you decide to tell the story of a different character from your earlier work?

Maggie Galloway is Reverend Ian McCormick’s feisty widowed sister who keeps house for him in Rumors and Promises. She also kindly befriends Sophie Biddle despite the rumors about her. I enjoyed writing Maggie’s character and the way she teased her younger, taller brother by calling him “little brother.” I grew to really like her and decided she needed her own story.

 

~ Did you find this story easier to write given that you had some of the characters already “fleshed out”?

In some ways, yes. Writing about Maggie came more easily as I was already comfortable with her character and who she is. However, I introduced several new characters with Thomas Harper and his four children, as well as Giles Prescott, Maggie’s former beau from her hometown. While I had an idea of who they were it was interesting to see how they emerged and grew as I worked on these new characters too.

 

~ Please tell us a bit about Secrets and Wishes.

Here is the back-cover blurb:

Stone Creek, Michigan, April, 1901 Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper clash after their sons collide in a fistfight. Both widowed, they’re each doing their best as single-parents. Outgoing Maggie has dreams for a home of her own and a business to provide for her son as she searches for God’s path for her life as a widow. Reserved Thomas struggles to establish his new pharmacy and take care of his four rambunctious children, while wondering how a loving God could take his beloved wife.

When Thomas becomes deathly ill, Maggie is recruited to nurse him back to health. Taking the children in hand, as well, is more than she bargained for, but she is drawn to help the grieving family. Both nurse and patient find themselves drawn to each other but promptly deny their feelings.

A baking contest sponsored by the Silver Leaf Flour Company brings former beau, Giles Prescott, back into Maggie’s life. When Giles offers Maggie a position at their test kitchen in Chicago, he hints that, along with assuring her a good job, it will allow them to possibly rekindle their relationship.

But then a charlatan comes to town, and tragedy soon follows. Maggie and Thomas discover the miracle potions he hawks aren’t so harmless when an epidemic hits Stone Creek. Thomas and Maggie realize they must work together to save lives.

Maggie finds herself caught up in battles within and without—the battle to help the townsfolk in the midst of illness and chicanery, and the battle to know which man—Thomas or Giles—deserves to win her heart.  

 

~ What is the theme of the story or is there a spiritual truth you want to convey?

Maggie and Thomas, both in the midst of grieving, are trying to figure out how to be parents without the help of their deceased spouses and not expecting love to come into either of their lives. Yet, God has different plans for them than they expected, plans of healing and hope.

The theme verse at the front is: A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (Authorized KJV)

There is also quite a bit of humor in this book, some of it stemming from the fact that Maggie and Thomas are opposites that attract. It also stems from some of the comical situations with their children. I hope my readers will find some healing humor in the story despite the serious situations.

 

~ Were there any particular challenges in writing the novel?

Finding certain medical procedures of the time since there seemed to be more than one way of doing things!

It also took me a while to find the full character arc for the hero, Thomas, but I prayed for wisdom and the Lord helped me work through it.

 

~ Can you tell us anything about a current work in process? 

I’m working on a romance novella set in a lighthouse, Mackinac Point lighthouse to be precise. This will be part of Barbour’s Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection, releasing next year. I hope to work on a third Stone Creek novel soon as well.

Contract News Alert! Congratulations Kathy Rouser.

She just signed a contract for the novella to be part of Barbour’s Great Lakes Lighthouses Brides Collection, coming out next year!

~ How can readers find your books?

They can find them on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/y7oqpym6 and at Barnes and Noble online: http://tinyurl.com/yaj5ryc5

Readers can connect with me on the web at:

My website: http://kathleenrouser.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kerouser

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/

Twitter: @KathleenRouser

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kerouser/

Kathy is offering a giveaway for one USA commenter only. Winner chosen Nov. 1, 2017,  may choose either a print copy or a Kindle version copy. 

Thanks so much for being my guest, Kathy.

Thank you for having me, Janet! It’s been a pleasure.

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The Sequel to A Heart Set Free

Posted by on Aug 6, 2017 in Blog, Books, History, Uncategorized | 12 comments

I’m thrilled that Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas has offered me a contract for the sequel to A Heart Set Free.

 

It’s a stand alone story that follows the characters introduced in A Heart Set Free.

 

The Stewart’s dream of building an ordinary will be realized. However, storm clouds of conflict will escalate between Britain and the colonies. Like so many other families, the Stewarts will struggle with the prospect of a war that will divide friends and families. The story continues in the second book of the trilogy.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Set-Free-Janet-Grunst-ebook/dp/B01MQK0SXR/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1501186375&sr=8-1

 

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Some Observations About The Movie Dunkirk

Posted by on Aug 1, 2017 in Blog, Commentary, History, Uncategorized | 11 comments

I thought the movie Dunkirk was well done.

  • Each facet of the battle seemed to be well represented by the characters; the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and British civilians.
  • The actors, most not particularly well known, did a great job.
  • For a recent war or action movie, I appreciated that there was far less gore than usual.

Some facts added could have made it better:

  • The background of the British call to prayer which likely led to the civilian involvement. Too many viewers aren’t familiar with the historical facts and they weren’t emphasized in the movie.

The British were aware of the probable disaster that was forming at Dunkirk. In a moving broadcast to the British people, King George VI asked his people to commit their cause to God and that a National Day of Prayer be called on Sunday, May 26, 1940.  The members of the Cabinet joined the King at Westminster Abbey, while millions joined in prayer throughout the Empire. Photographs outside Westminster Abbey on the National Day of Prayer showed throngs of people who could not get into the Abbey.

Many people believe the heartfelt prayers of so many British subjects to God played a big part in the evacuation of Dunkirk. God’s provision, power, and presence certainly seemed evident in the battle and evacuation. It was widely known as the Miracle at Dunkirk. Some of the factors that led to its success:

    • Against the advice of his generals, Hitler stopped the advance of his armored columns ten miles away, at a point when they could have destroyed the British Army. Possibly Hitler thought the Germans had enough air superiority to prevent a large-scale evacuation by sea that would be required.
    • German Luftwaffe squadrons were grounded due to a fierce storm over Flanders on May 28th, 1940. Darkness and the cover of the storm allowed the British Army to move toward the coast without being detected by German aircraft.
    • When several hundred men were systematically being machine-gunned and bombed by many enemy aircraft, many of the soldiers were amazed that more men weren’t killed.
    • While the violent storm provided cover, the English Channel was unusually calm in the days that followed which allowed nearly 340,000 British and Allied soldiers to be rescued by a hastily assembled of over 800 boats made up of 40 Royal Navy ships and an armada of civilian boats and merchant ships.
  • More focus on the vast numbers (hundreds of boats and ships) of civilians and commercial boatmen who risked all to aid in the rescue of their army. (Some were commandeered by naval crews when owners were not found. The movie made it appear that only a few dozen made the crossing.

“Operation Dynamo”

By Strait_of_Dover_map.png: User:NormanEinsteinderivative work: Diannaa – This file was derived fromStrait of Dover map.png:Information on shipping routes from Thompson, Julian (2011) [2008]. Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory. New York: Arcade. ISBN 978-1-61145-314-0. Map, page 223., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28440418

There were so many ships and boats involved in the evacuation across those 18 nautical miles that the fighter ace, Douglas Bader who helped to cover the operation, described the scene:

“The sea from Dunkirk to Dover during these days of the evacuation looked like any coastal road in England on a bank holiday. It was solid with shipping. One felt one could walk across without getting one’s feet wet, or that’s what it looked like from the air. There were naval escort vessels, sailing dinghies, rowing boats, paddle-steamers, indeed every floating device known in this country. They were all taking British soldiers from Dunkirk back home. You could identify Dunkirk from the Thames estuary by the huge pall of black smoke rising straight up into a windless sky from the oil tanks which were ablaze just inside the harbour.”

  • Churchill’s June 4, 1940 speech seemed almost an afterthought in the movie.

“. . . We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

  • The fact that the British people acknowledged God’s role in the evacuation.

The British people recognized the many signs of God’s deliverance from the German Army and Luftwaffe at Dunkirk. On Sunday, June 9, 1940, a Day of National Thanksgiving was celebrated. In an article in The Daily Telegraph, C. B. Mortlock stated: “The prayers of the nation were answered’, and that ‘the God of hosts himself had supported the valiant men of the British Expeditionary Force.”             

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A Very Special Day

Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Blog, Books, History | 4 comments

It’s been five months since the release of A Heart Set Free. I wanted to thank all those readers who have graciously taken the time to post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

In these days when authors are the primary source of marketing their books, posting reviews of the books is of critical importance. The positive reviews for A Heart Set Free have really touched my heart and been such an encouragement. If you have read the book and haven’t yet posted a review I would truly appreciate it if you would. The more reviews, particularly at Amazon, the more visibility the book gets.

 

 

Moments ago I learned that A Heart Set Free is a finalist for the Selah Award for Historical Romance. My friend, Elaine Cooper, is also a finalist in the same category for Saratoga Letters. I’m over the moon for both of us.  

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Another Palm Sunday Many Years Ago

Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in Blog, History, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Another Palm Sunday Many Years Ago

   McLean House at Appomattox Court House, Virginia

Although a few skirmishes would follow, it was Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 when the Civil War officially ended. Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General Ulysses Grant, who had known each other slightly during the Mexican-American War, gathered in the parlor in the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House. General Lee was accompanied by Lt. Col Charles Marshall Virginia and General Grant’s staff numbered about a dozen.

 

          Replica of table where Lee sat

Seated at two small tables, General Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant. General Grant wrote a letter detailing the terms of surrender, which were generous even by Lee’s account. Confederate soldiers would be required to lay down their arms and then be paroled and

        Replica of table where Grant sat

allowed to return home to their farms and businesses. Confederate officers would be allowed to keep their sidearms, pistols, and swords. The Confederates who had horses or other animals were allowed to keep them. These terms of surrender had emanated from a prior agreement between President Abraham Lincoln and General Grant. The President believed that the war that had cost the nation so much in lost and injured lives should end with as little animosity as possible. Those who had served in the Confederate Army should now be allowed to return home, pick up their lives, and begin the healing process.

               Lee & Grant at Appomattox                                by Stanley Arthurs 1922

 

Appomattox Courthouse remains a somewhat rural small village 24 miles east of Lynchburg and 95 miles west of Richmond. It has been preserved by the National Park Service and opened to the public on April 9th, 1949.  At the dedication ceremony on April 16, 1950, before an audience of around 20,000 people, Major General U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee IV, direct descendants of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant, cut the ceremonial ribbon.

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An Interview with Kathleen Rouser, Author of Rumors and Promises

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in Blog, Books, History, Uncategorized | 6 comments

Hi Kathy, Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself and your new release, Rumors and Promises

Please tell us something about yourself, Kathy.

Janet, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. Hmm . . . what can I tell you about myself? This is how I describe myself on my Twitter page: Wife, mom, author of inspirational historical romance. Loves to make jewelry, knitting, bike riding, God’s Word, my cat and all things chocolate.

I raised three sons, having homeschooled them for about 21 years. That was a big chunk of my life. After that I went Kathy Rouser 2back to school—twice—and wound up becoming a dental assistant. But writing is my true calling.

I also enjoy long walks, especially when I take the time to pray during that time, or listen to Bible teaching. I’m also a bit too fond of chocolate and I love spending time with my funny little cat, Lilybits. Last but not least, my husband and I have been married for 34 years.

What sparked your interest in writing?

My mother read to me when I was a little girl and taught me to love books. Before I could read them myself I wanted to be able to write stories. It’s something the Lord seemed to make a part of me and laid on my heart to do early on.

Here is the blurb from the back of Rumors and Promises:

Sophie Biddle, an heiress on the run with a child in tow, considers herself abandoned by her family and God. Wary, self-reliant Sophie is caught off guard when meeting a kind, but meddling and handsome minister at the local mercantile. 

Cover“In 1900, Reverend Ian McCormick is determined to start anew in Stone Creek, Michigan, believing he has failed God and his former flock. He works harder than ever to forget his mistake, hoping to prove himself a most pleasing servant to his new congregation and once again to God.

While Sophie seeks acceptance for the child and a measure of respect for herself, the rumors swirl about her sordid past. Should Ian show concern for Sophie plight, he could risk everything – including his position as pastor of Stone Creek.

Now the pair must choose to trust God and forgive those who slander and gossip, or run. Will the scandals of their pasts bind them together forever, or drive both deeper into despair?” 

What drew you to the period and setting for the story?

I live in a rather small town in Michigan, so it’s easy to imagine what it might have been like. Also, I think the early part of the twentieth century is an interesting time when the world, life, and society were facing changes, but family and traditional values were still important. I really enjoyed L. M. Montgomery’s books which were set only a few years later. I guess I find it easy to picture my characters in that era.

Rumors and Promises deals with the sensitive subject of rape. What was your motivation to write about a subject that often goes unaddressed, particularly in that era?

Sophie Biddle’s story in Rumors and Promises really began as an attempt to convey a story similar to the account of the woman at the well in chapter four of the Gospel of John. At the time editors weren’t interested in biblical fiction. But I was also constrained by the guidelines of Christian publishing. How could I have my protagonist be a woman of bad reputation while preserving her purity? The character of Sophia Bidershem, an heiress concealing her identity with a slightly different name and trying to pass off her toddler daughter as her sister, was born. The out-of-wedlock-pregnancy had not come about by her volition, but she loves her child anyway and does what she must to take care of her. She bears the brunt of the resulting shame.

Then I thought about who had the most to lose in becoming involved in the life of these runaway girls, just as the disciples became shocked Jesus would associate with the Samaritan woman. Pastor Ian McCormick would have much to lose if his reputation was besmirched by friendship with a “fallen woman.” Of course, that’s where the similarities end. Jesus is sinless while Ian is a flawed man trying to start over with a new congregation because of past failings.

At the same time, as I worked on the first draft, one of my critique partners told me her story and helped me to understand the flashbacks and the damage done by rape. Even though I kept the details in the background, Rumors and Promises wasn’t a story publishers were willing to take on right away. I pray the story will be a healing one for those who have been victims of this heinous crime. I’m thankful that LPC was willing to take a chance on this story and subject matter.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

My main characters, Sophie and Ian, are struggling with life-altering incidents from their pasts. For Sophie it’s the injustice and how she feels deserted by those she thought loved her. For Ian, he cannot forgive himself for past failure. Though no harm was intended, he thinks he let God and others down.

It is so easy to get stuck in the past. I struggle with it myself, but I hope people who read my book will realize that Christ (and what He accomplished for us on the cross and being raised from the dead) is much bigger than our past failures or the injustices done to us. He is there to guide and heal. When we can grasp hold of that truth we can move forward in our lives.

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Rumors and Promises?

Tenacity and patience. But not only those things. I also learned what it meant to be a writer. I struggled with self-confidence and taking myself seriously as an author. It’s been quite a process!

Can you tell us anything about a current work in process? 

The working title of my next novel is A Good Medicine and I was recently blessed with a second contract from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. It’s stand alone, but also the next book about Stone Creek. One of the main characters is Ian’s sister, Maggie Galloway, who was a secondary character that appeared quite often in Rumors and Promises. You might say she had a supporting role.

Here’s the current blurb:

When Zeke Harper and Philip Galloway get into trouble for throwing punches, they aren’t the only ones to clash. Philip’s outgoing mother, Maggie Galloway, and Zeke’s reserved father, Thomas Harper, are complete opposites. The feisty widow, Maggie, has been on her own for a time and has aspirations to buy a bakery in her hometown.

Disorganized Thomas, a grieving widower, only wants to bring up his four rambunctious children in peace. In addition to the challenges of his new pharmacy, he becomes gravely ill. Bitter toward God about the loss of his wife, Thomas believes no one could ever replace her in his heart.

Maggie Galloway is called upon by her brother, and pastor, Ian, to help the Harper family. She is instrumental in nursing Thomas back to health, reorganizing the pharmacy and taking the children in hand. Maggie unwittingly becomes attached to the raucous Harper brood and their quiet father. When a former hometown suitor, comes calling, Thomas realizes his growing love for the angel of mercy who came to their rescue. She must make a life-changing decision to stay near the Harpers or leave Stone Creek. Will Thomas be too late in declaring his intentions to Maggie?

Lord willing it will be published sometime later in 2017.    

Thank you so much, Kathy, for being my guest.

I so appreciate your having me as a guest, Janet. It’s been fun and I appreciate your time and thought-provoking questions.

Where can readers find your books?

Rumors and Promises is available at:

Amazon.com – http://tinyurl.com/jqmw93e

Barnes and Noble – http://tinyurl.com/hdus93p

And Kathy can be found at:

Website: kathleenrouser.com

Facebook: facebook.com/kathleenrouser/

Twitter: @KathleenRouser

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7427871.Kathleen_Rouser

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kerouser/

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