• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Christmas stories for ,Christmas

BOB ROUSE held a signing for his new book, “Christmas in the Bluegrass: Hometown Holiday Stories” at the Historic Midway Museum Store on Nov. 4. The book features 10 Christmas tales, all of which take place in Rouse’s hometown of Midway. (Photo by Bill Penn)

Bob Rouse hopes that this Christmas some of his fellow Woodford County residents find his new book of Christmas stories under their tree or in oversized stockings.

“Christmas in the Bluegrass: Hometown Holiday Stories” is a 224-page book featuring 10 short stories that the Midway native and resident wrote over the last decade.

“(They’re) all told through different eyes, different characters, set in different decades, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, today,” said Rouse, 59. “But they’re all set in Midway.”

Rouse, a former Lexington Herald-Leader reporter, said he’s “talked himself” into several writing jobs, including his current post as an editor for Courier, which is published by the Lexington-based National Tour Association. Those years of telling true stories gave him the confidence to begin writing fiction.

“I wrote a Christmas story one year and got a kick out of sort of getting it printed up and sending it out as a really long Christmas card, and then I’ve just tried to plug away and write a story every year. One of them took a couple of years to get through, because I’ve got a day job …” he said.

Rouse said he sold a few of his “really long Christmas cards,” but most often, the public was exposed to them through his readings to classrooms and other groups.

“I’ve been thinking about this as the number of stories just kind of piled up over the years so when I got to 10, I decided that would be a good time to pull them all together in a hardback,” Rouse said.

Asked if he has a favorite story, Rouse said it’s usually his most recent, but he didn’t write a new Christmas tale this year because he was busy rereading his old stories.

Having become reacquainted with his work, however, Rouse said that he really likes “A Million Myles from Midway,” the book’s first tale.

“It’s the longest story, it’s the most involved …” said Rouse.

That tale is about “a couple of guys who drifted into Midway just before a snow storm and they were staying at a house together and one was named ‘Million’ and one was named ‘Myles.’ So they formed a singing group and entertained on Christmas day in Midway,” Rouse said.

He was drawn to the stories each year, and now the book, because, “Christmas is such a rich experience. And it’s such a different experience for every person every year,” Rouse said. There are traditions – we all have traditions in our families and lives – but even within those traditions, the unexplained and the unexpected happen. So no Christmas is ever the same in any one life. Then you start looking at two lives and … it’s such a rich, diverse experience even within a small town, that the possibilities for stories are endless, and I just cooked up a few of them.”

Rouse has already held several book signings with the next scheduled for the Kentucky Book Fair at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena on Saturday. There’ll also be a signing at Railroad Drug during the Midway Open House Nov. 25, and the book is on sale in the Historic Midway Museum, Breckinridge, 5 Seasons Gift Gallery, and other locations. You can also order online at www.butlerbooks.com and Amazon.

For his day job, Bob Rouse writes about destinations, but for him, there’s no place to live in or write about like home.

“I’m a Midway guy through and through,” he said. ­

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