Friday, June 12, 2015

Kathleen Rouser: A Blog-lift And Hope

Everyone's Story is thrilled to welcome back author Kathleen Rouser. Since Kathy's last guest appearance in 2013 (wow--can't believe it's that long ago, can't believe I've blogged all this time!) I've been blessed to deepen my friendship with this lovely woman. I hope you will see Kathleen's warmth shine as you read her encouraging words. Bonus: if you subscribe to Kathleen's blog, plus Everyone's Story, via email subscription or Google Follower (both options are found on our blogs' right-hand sidebars) you will receive 1 extra chance to win Kathleen's BookGiveaway. Present Everyone's Story's subscribers who subscribe to Kathleen's blog will also receive a bonus drawing. Both Kathleen and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kathleen is offering 1 printed copy of the anthology BRAVE NEW CENTURY, which features her novella THE POCKET WATCH to 1 randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, June 19th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. *** To receive a bonus chance to win this Giveaway, please subscribe to both Kathleen's blog and Everyone's Story. Thanks!

An excerpt from Kathleen's THE POCKET WATCH:

By Kathleen Rouser
Searching for the past, an orphan and a young doctor find love and hope for the future.

The winds and rains of October, 1899 seemed to conspire against Isabel Jones as she rushed to cross Jefferson Avenue. She squinted to avoid the cold stinging drops and strands of wet hair from whipping into her eyes. Isabel gripped the bottle of much-needed cough medicine in her pocket, which she had procured for the little ones at the orphanage. She hurried to get back to them before the croup worsened. Chugga, chugga, chugga... She looked up just in time to see one of those motor contraptions barreling around the corner.
“Miss! Watch out!” An iron grip on Isabel’s upper arm propelled her backward.
She didn’t see her rescuer until they had tumbled onto their backsides and both sat like children playing in a puddle on the side of the road. The bewildered look on her rescuer’s face chased away Isabel’s embarrassment. She bit her lips together in vain. Laughter bubbled out.
The glint in his sky-blue eyes belied his amusement, despite his serious expression. Then he smiled. “May I ascertain whether you’re well, miss?”
“I’m quite all right, but the bottle of medicine must have broken. What a mess!” She held up her gloved hand, sticky liquid dripping onto her navy woolen cloak. “It happened so fast.” Isabel blinked, then, much less amused.
The young man stood then and helped her to her feet. “I am so sorry. I’ll take care of it. What was the medicine for?” He reached for a black bag, which he’d dropped next to him and then rattled around in it.
“The little ones are sick with croup.”
He gave her a quizzical gaze.
“Oh, they’re not my children, but I help with them.”
“I see.” He handed her a small bottle. “Don’t worry. I’m the real thing, not part of a medicine man sideshow.” He grinned.
Isabel took the proffered medicine.
“Where do you live, miss?”
She swallowed. “I...”
“I’m terribly sorry. I don’t mean to be improper. I only want to make sure the druggist delivers more to you as soon as possible. I’ll be heading that way momentarily.”
She relaxed. “I’m Miss Isabel Jones.” She pulled off the soiled glove. Where could she tell him she lived? Isabel took in the strong chin, straight nose, the blond hair with a bit of curl in front and a moustache. He might as well be a handsome prince rescuing her on a steed. Perhaps the orphan asylum looked like a mansion, but living there wasn’t as impressive as abiding in the Gothic structures on Griswold. She stared down at her wet boots. “Over at Elmwood and Jefferson, at the Protestant Orphan Asylum of Detroit.”
He took her fingers lightly in his. “Delighted to meet you, Miss Jones. I’m Dr. Daniel Harper.”
“Pleased to meet you as well, Doctor.” Isabel pulled her hand away. “I must get back now. Thank you.” She held the bottle up, turned, looked both ways, and then ran across the street.
When she glanced over her shoulder and waved, the young man lifted his hat. “Good-bye.”
Isabel made it to the corner with her heart pounding and stopped. She had left the parcel with the broken bottle near the curb. It could be a danger to someone. She went back. Miss Crabtree would be furious she’d taken so long. She opened her cloak and untied her apron to wrap the sticky pieces of glass. Where rain collected just off the curb, something shone in the wan sunlight. She found a stick to hook the gold chain peeking out from the murky puddle. Along with it came a pocket watch.
Isabel grasped onto the dripping treasure. On the back she read the initials DJH. Daniel...something... Harper perhaps?
“Doctor!” she cried out, looking round for the gray tweed overcoat and matching newsboy cap. Passersby stared at her, but Dr. Harper was nowhere to be seen. She didn’t have time to check at the pharmacy, so she put it into her pocket, tucked next to the sample he’d given her, and picked up her garbage.
More of Isabel’s hair tumbled free from under the front brim of her hat. Her navy wool cloak and gloves were probably irreparably stained. She was Cinderella without glass slippers. No handsome prince would ever come to her rescue.
* * *
Daniel Harper, MD held tight to the handle of his black bag. The girl’s laughter had tickled him—no—it had gotten under his thick skin he’d carefully grown since the betrayal. But her chestnut hair had fallen out from under her hat in a most fetching way. The fact that she was more worried about getting medicine to her wards than the stains on her worn clothing pricked at his heart as though Cupid dared try to enter its chambers again with his deceptive arrows.
Daniel noticed the sun began shining like a golden smile between clouds. It must be at least mid-morning. He’d promised to stop at the pharmacy, but Mrs. Campbell would be pacing the floor with little Timmy, in quite a tizzy. If he didn’t get to his patient soon, he would have to medicate them both. Reaching into his waistcoat, he felt for his timepiece, but the spot was empty. He searched all around his feet. The pocket watch seemed to be long gone. Even the button he attached the chain to dangled by a thread. Had it happened when he fell? There wasn’t any time to look, but there certainly wasn’t time to buy a new one either.
* * *
Miss Crabtree stood waiting inside the door with arms folded. “What took you so long, young lady?”
Isabel felt six years old again as she stooped to remove her boots and bit her tongue against her impertinent reply.
“Just look at you! You’re an absolute mess! I send you on a simple errand, and you can’t even complete it.”
“Yes, ma’am. I do have the medicine, though.” She fished the small bottle from her pocket.
“What? This isn’t nearly enough. Didn’t you hear all of the children up there coughing the whole night, struggling for breath? And you bring me this?” Miss Crabtree snatched it from Isabel’s hand.
“But the wind blew my hair into my eyes, and I closed them against a sheet of rain for just a moment. And I didn’t see the automobile coming around the corner—”
“I don’t want excuses for your laziness!” Miss Crabtree began a new tirade.
“Is there a problem here, Biddy?” Mrs. Pleasance put a hand on Miss Crabtree’s shoulder, stopping her friend short.
“You handle this slothful child, Hope! I can’t do anything with her.” Miss Crabtree turned and stomped up the central stairway.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Pleasance, I know I must look frightfully unkempt, a terrible representative of the home.”
“Nonsense, dear, wherever you take your smile, you shine forth. Oh my, you must have had quite a run-in! Let’s get those wet things off of you. There’s nothing a little FelsNaphtha soap cannot handle in getting rid of tough stains.”
After Isabel changed her clothes, Mrs. Pleasance accompanied her to the laundry tub. They stood scrubbing her garments, side by side, while Isabel told the account of her savior-doctor and his kind offer of more medicine.
The orphanage director smiled. “Well, that was a double blessing for us, saving your life and being generous enough to replace the bottle of medication.”
Isabel nodded. Somehow, the young doctor appeared more than that. She kept thinking about the surprised amusement on his face, when she laughed about falling in the puddle. He looked jolly and boyish, not stern and tough like some of the doctors who’d visited the orphan asylum.
“Best stop daydreaming and get about your chores now, Isabel. Why don’t you stay on the first floor, and give Miss Crabtree a wide berth.” She smiled. “You could clean the office for me and be there in case anyone stops in.”
“Yes, Mrs. Pleasance.”
With so many children ill, the office had fallen quiet. Isabel filed papers as she’d been shown. Her humming filled the silence. Once everything was better organized, Isabel found the feather duster and went about her cleaning. The middle drawer was slightly ajar in a tall dark wood filing cabinet…not just in any cabinet, but in the forbidden cabinet…filled with the secrets of the children’s pasts. She should push it closed, search for the key, and lock it.
But a white corner of paper taunted her. It would be okay to look, if she tucked it back inside, right? Placing the duster on the shelf behind her, Isabel pulled the file out. Molly Duncan’s full name was written on it. Inside she found a birth certificate, complete with parents’ names and information about where she’d been born. It rang true with what she knew about little Molly. Both of her parents had died, and she had no kin close by. The distant relatives had never come for her, but occasionally Molly had a new Sunday dress she said her cousins sent.
Isabel tucked Molly’s file back where it belonged and began to push the drawer closed. But what about her own? There must be something in here about her past.
Whenever she asked, Mrs. Pleasance had changed the subject, telling her to think of the good things the future may hold, but she still wondered.
Who were her parents? All she knew is that she’d been dropped off at the orphanage in a little basket with Isabel printed on the paper pinned to her blanketMrs. Pleasance added Jones, rather than Smith, but there had been no other clues, according to the director.
Isabel’s hands grew sweaty, her heartbeat louder than the clock ticking in the room. She rifled through the folders, not even stopping to watch in case someone opened the door. Ah! There was the file she sought!
“Miss Isabel! What are you up to? Close that drawer immediately!” Miss Crabtree stood with arms akimbo, her eyebrows furrowed.
Isabel dropped the papers in her hands, pushing it shut onto her fingers. “Ow!” She pulled them away, feeling quite guilty. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. The drawer was open and I—”
“We have taught you honesty and to honor the rules of this home, but you simply act like a spoiled child. You will go to your room and wait until Mrs. Pleasance and I can deal with you.”
“Yes, Miss Crabtree.” Isabel bit her lip and held her throbbing fingers. She just wanted to know whose family she had come from, which the unfeeling woman probably couldn’t understand. “I just want to find out who I am.”
“What? Don’t raise your voice at me. You’re nothing but the child of some riff-raff off the street, no doubt, so don’t get any high-faluting ideas. Be thankful you still have a roof over your head.”
Isabel turned away, marching out the door and up the stairs to the room she shared with three other young women. Ginny Baker, who slept on the bottom bunk to the left of her, breezed in. A halo of ginger hair curled around her freckled face. “We’ll be serving lunch in a few minutes. What are you doing up here?”
“Haven’t you ever wanted to know more about your past?” Isabel stared into her friend’s blue eyes.
“Remember, silly? I was a little older when I came to the orphanage. I have some memory of my family.” Ginny placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m in trouble for looking in the forbidden files. Now I have to wait for Mrs. Pleasance.”
“I’ll save you something to eat. I just came up to put my sweater away. It’s warm by the ovens.” Her dear friend hugged her. She was like a sister. “Don’t worry. She’ll understand and go easy on you.” Ginny attempted to reassure her with a dimpled smile.
As Isabel watched her leave, Mrs. Pleasance appeared in the doorway with a small box under her arm. She bit her lower lip, and her eyes shown with a sympathetic light. “Isabel, I think it’s time we talk about something important to you.”
She nodded back at the orphanage director, moving up the edge of the bed to make room for Mrs. Pleasance, who sat down next to her. “I’m sorry I have had to put you off for a long time. Part of this is my fault.”
Isabel shook her head. “I got carried away, I—”
“No.” Mrs. Pleasance squeezed her hand. “You have asked me many times and I have avoided the whole story.” She pried the lid off the paperboard box. “These are yours, Isabel. Go ahead.”
She reached in to touch a white blanket, yellowed with time, and felt its softness, like a whisper of her mother’s love. Isabel held her breath. This little covering was a part of her life, her beginning. It smelled of attic dust and lost memories. “I came here wrapped in this blanket?” But there was more! An envelope lay in the bottom of the box with a lump in the middle. The yellowed paper crinkled at Isabel’s touch. “This is mine, too?”
The older woman nodded. “Yes, my dear.”
At nineteen, Isabel felt the odd wonderment of childhood, despite her age. She rubbed her fingers over the object in the envelope. Opening it, she then emptied the contents into her other hand. A petite red oval gemstone shone almost pink, catching the brief rays of sunlight. She sucked in her breath as she took in the gold filigree setting and two little diamonds, one on each side of the stone.
“Your mother likely came from a local mission for…women. She was ill when she rang the doorbell and tried to run, but we opened it quickly and implored her to come in. She would only say that she wanted you to have a better life than she could give you. Your eyes, for that was all we could see in the dark, are much like hers. It was winter and her scarf was wrapped close around her face. She refused any assistance from us, but she asked us to give you the ring when you grew up.”
Isabel slipped the piece of jewelry onto her right ring finger, which fit like it was made for her. She felt richer for it—not because of the gem or the precious metal—but because it had been a gift from the woman who had birthed her. The ring, next to her Bible, was her only other treasure.
“Thank you.” She could barely get the words out as she choked back a sob.
“One other thing, Isabel, it’s time for you to see more of the world outside of these walls.”
Isabel shook her head. “I’m happy helping with the children.”
“I understand, but I know just the job for you. A gentleman who needs a companion for his invalid wife called. I believe you’re a perfect fit. You have a gentle, helpful spirit.”
“I thought you needed me here.” Isabel couldn’t look into Mrs. Pleasance’s eyes.
“My dear, someday you may want a family of your own. Keeping you here until you become a spinster isn’t the job of the orphan asylum.” Mrs. Pleasance patted Isabel’s hand again.
Isabel’s gaze fastened on the ring as it glinted in the daylight. Her own family? If the good Lord gave her a family, she would never leave her children. But could she be the right kind of mother when she wasn’t able to even deliver a bottle of medicine to the orphanage in one piece?

Learning To Trust God With The Outcome
by Kathleen Rouser

Trust has been a theme word for my life for more than a year. Wherever I’ve turned, God has showed me He has everything under control. From absolute exhaustion to a cancer scare, the Lord has reminded me He never leaves my side. Then, sometimes the little things are harder to let go of, including a change in blog look and theme.

The nervousness and excitement of trying something new surged through me while perusing possible new headers and backgrounds. Though I told myself I could always go back to the look of the old website, I had this feeling there was no turning back. So I plodded forward. The title of my blog, Writing, Whimsy and Devotion, has become Kathleen Rouser (& Cat!) While short messages on Facebook and Twitter serve their purpose, my desire has been to connect with a readership at a deeper level. A blog seems like a worthy venue to accomplish this online.

My blog, which sometimes includes the fictional musings of my cat and alter-ego, Lilybits, has been a place where I could share insights the Lord has placed on my heart, my gleanings on writing, or share about other writers and their books. Since I’ve felt that other authors, more qualified than myself, are serving aspiring wordsmiths well, I’ve backed off on writing advice for the most part.

As my blogging has evolved, I have been in prayer for guidance on a niche to fill. Bad news and disasters overtake headlines online, in print, and on television. Having been through quite a few difficult trials over the years, I am aware how much energy is needed to focus on the positive in a negative world. Yet, I’m truly surrounded with blessings--life is over all very good. So many people trod through this life filled with deep hurts and emotional pain and need a touch of humor and happiness. Because of this, I wanted to have a lighter feel to my blog and have continued to believe this is worthwhile.

Lilybits’ commentary on life is tongue-in-cheek of course. After all, I’m half convinced if cats had the gift of speech and opposable thumbs, they would set to conquering the world. Their big eyes and purrs are already enough to melt our hearts into those of willing servants and companions.

Sometimes, however, I enjoy sharing the things the Lord has shown me through His word and put on my heart by His Spirit. As brothers and sisters in Christ we have so many common trials and need to encourage each other, lifting one another up.

I also would like to continue promoting authors of uplifting Christian writing. Eventually, I also hope to share history, which has played into creating my stories.

Often, it seems, our human nature is drawn to the negative, but I would hope my blog can be an option to that, in a God honoring way. I chose to replace an antiqued look with a vintage one, using a fun background with white polka dots on a blue field. The header shares an element of this background and who wouldn’t smile when they see a bubble with the words, “Chatting about the good, the cat and the inspiring!” coming from the very cat who lends her charm to the website? Well, if you find this too silly, I will perhaps elicit an eye roll, if nothing else.

With the help of my good friend, Elaine Stock’s, input, I rearranged the blog’s text as well. She also gave feedback on the side bar content. I admire the way she encourages people, giving them a platform to share their stories and their writing, and I appreciate the clean, folksy look of Everyone’s Story.

With my new look and an increase in number of weekly posts, my page view numbers are going up to some degree or another. Daily comments are lacking and my followers are slow to increase, but here I must be patient. Like any other prose, the writing must be done with a view to the glory of our Creator. Investing time and craft is like planting seeds and watering the garden. I must continue to work the soil and weed out what’s not good, trusting there will someday be a harvest.

**You can see Kathleen's previous Everyone's Story feature, An Author Bridging The Past To The Present, here.

Kathleen's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Author @KathleenRouser on Everyone’s Story: A new blog look and hope! #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

#Writers: Author @KathleenRouser asks why bother re-designing a blog for your #readers? (Tweet This)

Like #HistoricalFiction? Check out @KathleenRouser’s #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
An author and speaker, Kathleen Rouser, has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. Kathleen’s first novella, The Pocket Watch, was part of the anthology, Brave New Century, and was published by Inspired Romance in 2013. She has a short story in the bestselling anthology, Christmas Treasures, released in 2014. Her first full-length novel will be published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in April, 2016.
She studied communications and English during her first college years. Kathleen has been published in Homeschool Digest, An Encouraging Word, the Oakland Press and Happy Sis. She interviews authors for the Novel PASTimes historical fiction blog. Her desire is to bring to life endearing characters, who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives.
During a long career as a home school instructor, she and her husband raised three sons. She graduated in 2012 with her Associate in Applied Science and is sometimes a mild-mannered Registered Dental Assistant by day. Kathleen is longstanding member of ACFW, former critique group moderator, past Genesis judge and former Great Lakes Chapter board member. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in southeast Michigan with her hero and husband of 33 years, Jack, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her.

Places to connect with Kathleen:


***I'll love for you to take a moment and take this month's poll on the right-hand sidebar. Thanks so much.


  1. I thought I noticed a facelift on your site, Kathy! Things need to be freshened up from time to time, like a haircut. And if you don't like it, it'll always grow back, er, change the header. 'Writing must be done with a view to the glory of our Creator.' I love this and something I need to remember when I feel like my words aren't making any impact.

    1. J'nell, so nice to see you again! Freshening up is always fun, and certainly helps to bring a clearer perspective. I spruced up this blog a while ago, but now Kathy is motivating me to update my header.

      Hope to see you again.

    2. Hi J'nell! Well, I'm glad you noticed and hope you find the changes on my blog more welcoming. I have to remind myself often Who my writing is truly for. So grateful my words resonated with you! Thank you for your encouraging comment.

      And glad to be motivating to you, Elaine!

  2. Kathy, I've said this to you privately, but publicly, heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your very sweet words here.

    1. You're welcome, Elaine. They are much deserved! Your blog has
      been an inspiration to me. Thank you for hosting me again. It's
      an honor to be here.

  3. What encouraging words today. And I so agree about our cats. Yes, give them opposing thumbs and speech and they would definitely take over the world. I hopped over to your blog and love it. It's so clean and appealing. And I really liked your excerpt.

    1. Pat, you're so right about cats! One thing (of so many) that I love about cats is that they instinctively know what is worth getting one's dander up and when to chill… a lesson us people really need to master. And for the record for you dog aficionados: nothing against dogs… just think that cats rock!

      So glad you appreciated Kathy's message and that you took the time to visit her lovely blog.

      Always enjoy seeing you here, Pat!

    2. Patricia, thank you for your kind words. I'm so glad you like my blog and my excerpt! As you can tell, my cat, Lilybits, has me wrapped around her little paw. ;) As Elaine says, cats do know when to chill. Lily is a little jumpy, though. She gets here dander
      up a little too easily!

  4. The stories in the anthology were so fantastic. It was a great project. Kathleen has been so gracious in helping, or having Lilybits, help others too.

    1. Ah, another BRAVE NEW COUNTRY author (and I enjoyed your story, THREE RINGS FOR ALICE, as well, Lisa) visits. And I'm so glad you did!

    2. Hi there, Lisa! It's thanks to Lisa, the anthology took shape at all. It was her idea to compile historical urban romances into the book that became BRAVE NEW CENTURY. I will always be especially thankful as I was the only debut author in the anthology. They all
      took a chance on me.

    3. Oh oh. I have--and have read--BRAVE NEW CENTURY--right beside me as I type this and it's not a matter of mis-reading, but my brain is seeing country instead of century no matter how many times I have looked at this book and re-checked this blog. So very sorry.

    4. Apparently, I didn't have enough coffee yet this morning when I
      read that. COUNTRY somehow registered as CENTURY. All is forgiven, Elaine! To err is human, right? :)

    5. Am smiling with relief.

  5. You are right, Kathleen. I think we do focus too much on the negative. Thank you for the reminder to focus on the positive.
    This looks like a great book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.
    I have subscribed to both blogs.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

    1. Susan, thanks for your visit! And doubly thanks for your blog subscriptions. May you have a wonderful day.

    2. Thank you, so much Susan, for subscribing. I hope you will find my posts encouraging. I appreciate your interest in my book, as well.
      So glad you stopped by Everyone's Story today!

  6. Kathleen, I like how you described what happens during the process of CHANGE… so difficult for us humans. I also love your cat's name. Happy new website.

    1. Gail, it's a pleasure to see you here! Uh, I seem to be a bit exclamation point happy today… but really, I'm glad you, and everyone else has taken the time to visit.

    2. Hi Gail! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts
      on my article. Lilybits' is named such, because she is a
      little bit of a thing--weighing in at barely six pounds. :)

  7. Hi Kathleen, I enjoyed hearing about your blogging. I've noticed the changes and liked them!. I'm planning on making some tweeks to my blog too, and you give me courage to get feedback from trusted friends and go for it!

    1. Delores, I'm happy that Kathleen's words encouraged you to reach out for change.

    2. Hi Delores! I appreciate the positive feedback on my blog changes and I'm glad to be an encouragement to you. Changing up a blog or website can be fun, like getting a new outfit to wear. However, I also found it a little stressful since I wanted it to be a positive reflection of who I am, so it felt very personal to me. Go for it, Delores, and enjoy the process!

  8. Kathleen, it's nice to meet another Christian blogger. I relate to several of your comments, especially the part about Elaine being such an encourager. I look forward to visiting your site!

    1. A fond hello, Kathy. Between you and Kathleen, I'm surprised I don't have an ego problem :) Always appreciate a kind word! You're a blessing to me.

    2. Thank you, Kathy. I hope you will find encouragement or at least something to smile about when you visit my blog. So glad you
      stopped by Elaine's blog today! She is truly a blessing. :)

  9. Thanks so much, Kathleen, for guesting on Everyone's Story this past week. You've been a marvelous guest and I look forward to hosting you again! Thanks too for the inspiration… I hope to blog-lift up my own blog a bit more this weekend.

    Also, thanks for your BookGiveaway of BRAVE NEW CENTURY. The winner is…

    Susan. Yay, Susan!! Both Kathy and I will be contacting you in direct emails.

    Blessings to all.

  10. This sounds like a good book so it looks like I may have found a new author to follow! Thank you for hosting this giveaway!

    wfnren at aol dot com

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment, Wendy. I'm
      so glad you're interested in my stories, and hope you will enjoy them. My novel, coming out in 2016 will be called Rumors and Promises.

    2. Wendy, I appreciate the visit. I'm glad you enjoyed Kathleen's blog feature. Thanks so much for following Everyone's Story.

      The Giveaway for Kathleen's book has ended. However, many of my weekly guests offer awesome giveaways and I hope you visit again… and often. I'll look forward to seeing you!


Add This