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A HEART SET FREE

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in Blog, Books, Family | 4 comments

It is finally the release day for A Heart Set Free.  a-heart-set-free-final-cover

Writer’s manuscripts are like children. We pour our time, love, faith, wisdom, imagination, discipline, and hope into them. We want to see them mature into a creation we can be proud of, and something that others will benefit from and enjoy.

This has been a long journey, and today, my heart is full of thanks as a long held dream has been realized.

 

~       To my parents who instilled a love of reading in their children.

~       To the friends and family who encouraged me so many years ago as I wrote this story. Some of them read it as I completed each chapter. Their impatience for the next chapter gave me the confidence to continue.janet-adoring-ken

~       To my husband, Ken, who read this story and encouraged me to never give up on
my dream to write stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith that will entertain, as well as bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader. He urged me to continue to write and pursue publication. Armed with his red pen, he provided wise editing advice.

~       To my friends and writing associates who inspire, teach and continue to encourage me on this journey.             

Janet with her agent, Linda Glaz

~       To my agent, Linda Glaz with Hartline Literary Agency, who has taught me so much about the craft of writing fiction. Linda’s support, patience, and positive reinforcement has blessed me incredibly. She also does this for her other clients.

~       To Kathy Davis, my managing editor and the rest of the team at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Kathy patiently worked with this neophyte to help make it a better story.

~       To Eddie Jones at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas who has a heart to give unpublished authors a chance to break into the market during a season when even experienced authors are struggling to find homes for their work.   

~       Last, but by no means least, for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for His provision, mercy, and grace in my life. He put this story in my mind and gave me the heart to write it.

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A Heart Set Free ~ Cover Reveal

Posted by on Nov 18, 2016 in Blog, Books | 8 comments

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for my debut novel.

a-heart-set-free-final-cover

 

It will be released two weeks from today on December 2nd.

Look for it on Amazon.com.

 

In 1770, Heather Douglas is desperate to escape a brewing scandal in her native Scotland. Penniless and hoping for a fresh start far away, she signs a seven-year indenture and boards a British merchant vessel headed to Virginia.

Widowed planter Matthew Stewart needs someone to help raise his two young children. The tall blonde standing on the Alexandria quay doesn’t look like much after her harrowing sea voyage, but there’s a refinement about her that her filthy clothing cannot hide. Could God be leading him to take this unknown indentured servant as his wife?

When Matthew purchases Heather’s indenture, marries her, and takes her to his farm, she is faced with new and constant challenges. And Matthew wonders if they can ever bridge their differences and make a life together.

It is in the Virginia countryside that Heather begins her greatest journey, one of self-discovery and of maturing faith. Here, she discovers that her emotional and spiritual scars bind her far more than her indenture . . .

and love will finally set her heart free.

I am very grateful for my family and friends who encouraged me over the years and for other writers who have taught me so much and mentored me.  I so appreciate my agent, Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency and Kathryn Davis and the entire team at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

https://www.facebook.com/Janet-Grunst-Author-385405948228216/

 

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Two Talented Neighbors — Guest post by Linda Landreth Phelps

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 in Blog, Family, Journal, Uncategorized | 10 comments

the-cover-of-colony-life

              Cover photo by Kelly Mihalcoe

From an article in the September issue of Colony Life Magazine

         

How do two retired introverts spend their days without stepping on each other’s toes? Married for 13 years, Ken and Janet Grunst’s happy solution is having space to devote to their avocations. “Ken’s Cave” says the sign on the door to Ken’s lower level workshop where he creates musical instruments.

“What interested me was the challenge and reward of unlocking the beauty of the wood,” Ken remembers. “When I put the finish on a chess board I’d made, the grain came alive!” Ken plays guitar, so decided to learn to build one. “I’ve done 23 so far, plus a 5-string banjo,” he says, “and given away about a dozen of them to family members.”

ken-working-in-shopEach is a work of art featuring exotic woods, intricate abalone inlay, and his personal img_3657signature carved sound ports representing the flame of the Holy Spirit. “King David was a luthier, a maker of stringed instruments, and played harps that he’d built. I’m captivated by the idea that, like him, I can take a pile of wood and pieces and suddenly it makes music!”img_3663

 A picture on the wakens-guitarll near Ken’s Cave shows a young Ken Grunst performing with his college folk group back in Michigan. His friend and bandmate, Al Jardine, went on to fame as a member of The Beach Boys, but life as a professional musician never appealed to Ken. “There are the awful nerves before a performance, then the high of the actual playing and singing, but it’s such a downer when eventually the place empties out.”

Ken became a teacher and he and his first wife welcomed a daughter. “Teaching in Maryland with a salary of $5,000 a year, Dee and I would have actually had more money on welfare, so I got into home- building,” he recalls with a laugh. Ken was widowed in 2002, and then he met Janet at a Community Bible Study (CBS) conference. Janet, who was the executive assistant to the director of CBS, had been on her own for a decade and had two grown sons.

desk-2-2Janet’s tidy desk and book-lined corner of their family room is where she writes historical fiction. Her first book A Heart Set Free debuts in early December, and she is excited that persistence has finally paid off. “I refer to the book as ‘my Millennial in the basement’, because after 31 years, it’s just now getting wings,” the author jokes. She wrote her manuscript while her little boys were occupied, a snatched hour or two at a time. She tried to sell it herself. “It was almost picked up by publishers twice,” she recalls. “Then my life changed and I was busy working and raising my boys, so the book stayed dormant.”  After Janet and Ken were married, he read the story, the romantic tale of an 18th-century indentured servant, loved it, and encouraged her to try again. This time around Janet found a supportive agent and the manuscript was accepted by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. 

Janet with her agent, Linda Glaz

                      Janet with her agent, Linda Glaz                                    at American Christian Fiction Conference in August

Janet has a second story ready and plans for a third. “Writing makes me feel alive!” she declares. ”Marketing, however, will probably be a challenge,” the self-proclaimed introvert laughs.

Ken and Janet have found the secret of successful remarriage is staying actively engaged in things that bring joy, carving out space for themselves while cherishing time together. Their three children have given them ten grandchildren, including quadruplets born this year, and they jointly serve as small group team leaders for Williamsburg Community Chapel. Their goal is to balance fun social times with peaceful hours of creating beauty, both in wood and on the page.

 

 

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THE CALL

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in Blog, Books, Devotions | 10 comments

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

I received the call — the one every writer waits for. My agent, Linda Glaz, called to tell me that Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas had decided to publish my first story. This was an answer to decades of prayer. My “millennial in the basement” was finally given wings to Be-Light-logo_v2fly out into the world.  

It was December 23, 2015, and my oldest son and his family were visiting us for the Christmas holidays. I called my youngest son and shared the news with him. We could not tell anyone else until after the contract had been received and signed. Tears of joy were shed and my family celebrated with me.  

I’m humbled. I know in this current publishing market, it is difficult for non-published authors to be picked up for publication. Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas was taking a chance on me.

Signing first publishing contract

                    Signing first publishing contract

Back in the eighties, two major Christian publishing houses considered this story seriously, but in the end, their rejections were added to the others.

In the nineties, my life changed, and for years I needed to put my writing aside. After I remarried, my husband encouraged me to return to writing and to once again seek publication for this story.

In the intervening years so much had changed in the fiction market about what publishers wanted to publish and how they wanted the stories presented. So I studied more about the current style of writing fiction and then began significant editing to the story.  I also attended writer’s conferences, networked with many amazing writers, began blogging and established a website. I’ve also been blessed with a wonderful agent who is a friend and mentor. It has been and continues to be a learning process.  Now I was days away from receiving a contract.

The timing of this acceptance was not lost on me. Only days earlier I’d been reading Roy Meet Me in the Meadow coverLessin’s Meet Me in the Meadow devotional; December 15-20 were devoted to Waiting For God’s Time.  He wrote:

 “Seasons of waiting on God and listening for His speaking often precede everything significant God will do in your life. God waits for you to wait on Him.”

“God, like a master weaver, does a creative work within us during the waiting times in our lives. . . . Before He gives us what we are waiting for, He wants to give us more of Himself. In the waiting times we are strengthened with His strength and the fiber of His character is worked within us.”

“It is important to understand that waiting times are not times of denial but are times of preparation. When it is God’s time to bring something into our lives, He will often do it after He has prepared us to receive it.”

“During our waiting times, expectation helps to keep us spiritually moving ahead instead of becoming passive and indifferent. Expectation moves us from twiddling our thumbs to exercising our faith.”

“Waiting times are growing times and learning times. As you quiet your heart, you enter His peace…as you sense your weakness, you receive His strength…as you lay down your will, you hear His calling.”                                    ~  Roy Lessin

(Used with Roy Lessin’s permission  http://www.meetmeinthemeadow.com)

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who works for the one who waits for Him.”   Isaiah 64:4                                                                          

A Heart Set Free will be released December 2, 2016. I look forward to sharing more about this story with you in the days ahead.

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Our Security Comes From God

Posted by on Aug 4, 2016 in Blog, Devotions | 4 comments

I find myself shaking my head a lot lately. With everything that is going on in our nation, whether it is a society bent on violence, this strange political season, the loss of long-held beliefs, values, and even our basic freedoms, it is easy to become discouraged, fearful, and cynical. But that is not how God has called us to respond. He wants us to pray for our nation and to look beyond the circumstances and trust Him.

Meet Me in the Meadow coverI’ve shared before that I enjoy reading several devotionals along with the Bible. One of those devotionals is Meet Me in the Meadow by Roy Lessin. And he has generously allowed me to share some of his work.

From August 3rd

“God has not made the earth and abandoned it. He has not retreated somewhere in the universe and gone into hiding. He is today where He has always been, on His throne. God sees all things, knows all things, and is all-powerful. God is all in all. He is above all. Nothing is above Him or equal to Him. There is no king or ruler that has more authority than God; there is no political figure that has more influence than God; there is no nation that has more control than God. No one can out-think Him, or out-smart Him. He is God Almighty. He has all authority in heaven and earth. His enemies are under His feet. He reigns and rules. He is the majesty on High.”

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the scepter of Thy kingdom is a right scepter.”

-Psalm 45:6 KJV-

“God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness.”

Psalm 47:8 KJV

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I’ll work harder at keeping my focus on the Lord and not be anxious about the craziness that is going on in our country and the world.

     Joshua 1-9

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;

but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7 KJV

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

Proverbs 29:25 ESV

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27 ESV

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 NIV

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1Peter 5:7

The Bible Reminds us what to do.

And I will continue to pray for our nation.

Heal our Land

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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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