Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Kathy Rouser talks modern day Woman at the Well Allegory with Rumors and Promises

About the Book:
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.

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?

Buy the book on Amazon.com 
$4.99 eBook; $14.95 Print
April 18, 2016
Heritage Beacon Fiction
Buy on LPC Books

A brief interview with the Author:

Kathy, what do you love about Rumors and Promises?  
I originally wrote this story more than 12 years ago, so the characters have become like old friends to me. With my characters and the evolution of several drafts and versions of Rumors and Promises, I’ve learned so much about writing. Of course there’s always more to learn.
            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.
            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.
            What begins as ministry to a poor girl and her little sister turns into a deeper relationship than either of Sophie or Ian bargained for. Doubts about little Caira being her sister cause tongues to wag in Stone Creek and they are eventually faced with a dilemma about whether or not to confess the truth. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman compassionately, but He also helped her face the truth of her sin, so that He could become living water to her.
            Rumors and Promises is a story close to my heart in that it shows a mother’s love and sacrifice. I also hope it exemplifies the power of God to make blessings out of the difficult things in life along with His ability to heal and renew.
            Sophie sacrificed for Caira at the cost of her reputation, in a time when a woman’s reputation meant everything. Sophie knew it wasn’t her child’s fault she’d been sexually assaulted and loved her daughter despite the circumstances in which she was conceived.   Ian has a lesson to learn about whether or not to put his own reputation above the welfare of others. They both have an opportunity to make choices that will move them forward rather than keep them bound to the past. And know they must ask God for help to accomplish this transformation. We are all faced with these kinds of choices, even today. Our situations may be completely different, but we can stay chained to the past or move forward with the Lord’s help.
            My novel’s original title was “Before the Promised Land” and my theme verse is: I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Exodus 20:2, KJV)
            If it’s sin you’re bound to, then He has the power to free you. If you have deep hurts or grief, Jesus wants you to trust Him for the future and bring healing into your life. Even when we are forever changed by circumstances, He can use them for good. I’m counting on that!
            I have loved the whole process of developing the story and deepening the characters with each draft. It’s been a blessing.

Lisa: I'm so glad you had the patience to keep plugging along and not give up, Kathy. I'm excited for you and this work.

Two things you learned from researching/publishing this story:
Since Pastor Ian McCormick wants to start a mission in the small town of Stone Creek for pregnant unwed girls and “fallen” women, I looked up what similar missions there had been in the Detroit area around 1900. To my surprise I found that Crittenton Hospital had its roots in such a mission. The Florence Crittenton missions had been started by Charles Crittenton all around the country to help unwed mothers and prostitutes. After his daughter passed away when she was only four, Mr. Crittenton came to faith in Christ and wanted to do a good work in memory of his daughter. Crittenton Hospital still flourishes today as a large modern medical facility on the east side of the city.
            I also learned how difficult it can be to find specific historical details. I looked for whether gaslights and telephones were common in small towns. Would it be likely that they had wood burning or coal stoves? Information varied and I did my best to make a realistic decision. I also didn’t want anything to appear in my book before it would have appeared in the historical timeline.

Lisa: I knew all that research we did with our novellas in Brave New Century came from your love of history and bringing it to life.         

Who is your least favorite character?
Originally I would have said my primary antagonist, Gertrude Wringer, but since she is important to the story, I will say Cecilia Neuberger is my least favorite. She is the spoiled daughter of the kind storekeeper and is bent on making Sophie feel left out, but in a sickly-sweet way. I describe Cecilia as all “ribbons and corkscrew curls.” She pretends to act friendly, making sure Sophie knows she’s not good enough to be part of the town’s social activities. She’s plain stuck up and mean spirited!

What have you been reading?
The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith and Restored, by Tanya Eavenson, to name a couple. Seems I’m always reading more than one book, but eventually focus on finishing one of them at a time.

What’s next for you?
I am writing the stand-alone sequel to Rumors and Promises with the working title, A Good Medicine. Here’s the tag line: A widow and a pharmacist find remedies for what ails them most where they least expect it.
            It also takes place in Stone Creek, involving a widow and a widower, who each have children. Maggie Galloway is a strong woman trying to decide how to steer her future. Thomas Harper, the new apothecary in town, is struggling with his brood of four children and starting his business in the town.
            There’s a lot of humor, healing, and hope in this story as Maggie, Thomas, and their families clash and, yet, manage to find common ground.
            I’m also editing my biblical novel manuscript, which is about both of Moses’ mothers. It’s a totally different world than Michigan in 1900. I definitely have plenty of writing projects and ideas to keep me busy.
            Thank you so much, Lisa, for having me as a guest on your blog. It’s been fun.

Lisa: It's been a pleasure. I'm intrigued by your next work. Thanks for sharing.

About the Author:
Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl. Her debut novella, "The Pocket Watch," is part of Brave New Century, a Christian historical romance anthology, published in 2013 by Prism Book Group (Inspired Romance). Her short story, "Special Assignment" was part of the Amazon bestseller, Christmas Treasures. Kathleen has also been published in Homeschool Digest, An Encouraging Word, and Happy Sis magazines. She contributes regularly to Novel PASTimes, a blog devoted to promoting mainly Christian historical fiction and to the Heroes, Heroines, and History blog. She is a long time member in good standing of ACFW and a former board member of its Great Lakes Chapter.

Connect with Kathy:
Website and other online links, including Amazon:
Twitter: @KathleenRouser


  1. Lisa, thank you so much for having me on your blog this week.
    It's a privilege to be here!

  2. So glad to see about your new book, Kathy!

  3. Hi Kathleen, I'm glad this has worked out and that you persisted. It sounds like a wonderful story. Thanks for the interesting interview.

    1. Hi Gail, thank you for your encouraging words. I hope if you read Rumors and Promises you will truly enjoy it.

  4. Hi Kathleen! I'm a former Yooper! congrats on ur releases!

    1. Hi, Carrie,
      Glad you stopped in.

    2. Hi Carrie, thank you and I appreciate your coming by.
      The UP is a beautiful place to visit. I bet you
      miss it sometimes. As for me, I've always been
      a troll. ;) Rumors and Promises takes place in a fictional Michigan town. I'm definitely a girl from the mitten state!