To see the previous photo highlights from the Catholic Writers Conference Live, click here.
The Blood Cries Out is a new book by award-winning author, Karl Bjorn Erickson.
Synopsis: Seattle Police Homicide Detective David Lightholler finds himself on a case unlike any he’s faced before. In the midst of working the darkest double homicide of his career, he unearths violent secrets of his family’s past that promise to haunt him for many years unless he can bring redemption and meaning out of the evil of the past–and present.
“I loved it – imaginative and inspiring,” says actor Sean Astin.
“Well written and fast paced,” says David Vermont.
“Enjoyable and uplifting,” says writer Don Mulcare.
Karl Erickson has called Salem home since 1996. He lives on the south side with his wife, two children, and an ever-growing Newfoundland puppy named Chester. While he’s been state employee for nearly two decades, he identifies himself primarily in the role of an author and essayist. He’s the writer of two lighthearted children’s books: Toupee Mice and Tristan’s Travels. Both are published by Rafka Press. His wife, Kimberly Erickson is their wonderful illustrator. Besides writing fiction, his articles have appeared in a wide variety of publications–from America, The National Catholic Weekly and Seattle Pacific University’s Response to a guest opinion writer for both the Portland Tribune and Statesman Journal.
To purchase the book on Amazon, click here.
To purchase the book at Barnes and Noble, click here.
Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Today is the beautiful Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After the excitement of the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show and the Catholic Writers Conference near Chicago, I had a relaxing week of visiting relatives in New Jersey. #5 Son and myself took a tour of Philly and Atlantic City.
1. Carpenters Hall
2. Ben Franklin Museum
(Not to be confused with the Franklin Institute)
3. Cool Printing Process
In an effort to show people how the printing process took place in the 1700’s, any museum visitor can add his/her name to the front page of a book published by Ben Franklin. (In my opinion, this was worth the $5 admission fee alone!)
4. Boardwalk at Atlantic City
Next we headed to Atlantic City to visit the Boardwalk (photos below) and to also visit the original site of the Seaside Hotel (where a key scene takes place in my novel, A Subtle Grace). The Seaside was torn down years ago and a modern casino built in that location.
All photos copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach. Please do not use without permission.
Today is the Feast of St. Dominic. The modern recitation of the holy rosary has its beginnings with St. Dominic. Read more about the history here. St. Dominic said, “One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.” If you don’t know how to pray the rosary, here is a helpful link.
Oftentimes, we expect miracles to take the form of visions or healings. But miracles also happen when a person’s heart changes. The following is a true story.
When I was about ten years old, one night after supper, I was sitting on the couch doing my homework. My parents began to argue over bills they couldn’t afford to pay. Each time my mom would yell, my dad would yell louder. It made me feel anxious to see the two people I loved most in the world screaming at one another. Don’t they love each other, I asked myself. And why won’t they stop yelling?
At one point, Dad said something about moving out. Oh God, please, I don’t want my dad to move out. Mom replied, “That’s good.” Please, Mom, don’t say that. I looked at them, but neither of them saw me or the panic in my eyes. They only glared at each other. My father went upstairs. I ran after him and watched as he got a suitcase out and started putting clothes in it. God, why won’t you stop him?
I passed by my bedroom and noticed my rosary sitting on the bedside table. I grabbed it, sat down on my bed and began saying the rosary. As I said each Hail Mary, I pleaded with Our Lady, “Holy, Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Please, Our Lady, don’t let my Dad leave us. As I was saying another Hail Mary, my dad walked by my room and didn’t notice that I was there. He stomped down the steps. I couldn’t hear whether he said goodbye, but I listened as the door slammed shut. “Oh, God, please make him come back.”
I continued to say the rosary, each Hail Mary becoming more fervent than the last. I prayed until my heart was bursting. Please, God, listen to my prayer. I began to recite the Hail Holy Queen prayer at the end of the rosary and suddenly, I heard the door open downstairs. Without finishing, I stood at the top of the stairs and I could see my dad standing in the doorway. Mom walked over to him. At first, they were silent. Then, my father started to cry. “I can’t leave you. I can’t leave my family.” He and Mom embraced. I began to cry with joy.
Thank you, God, and thank you, Our Lady, for bringing my Daddy back.
My parents remained married until my father’s death in 1978. Dad was buried with his rosary in his hands. Mom died seven years ago, on this very feast day. May they both rest in peace.
Copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Not all CWG members were able to be present for the annual CMN group Pope photo, but we did manage to include many!
I just witnessed another human being coming into the world.
Kathleen’s head sunk deeply into her feather pillow as she stared upward. Her oil lamp, as always, was dimly lit and projected a small yellow circle onto the ceiling. Kathleen had always despised the blackness that surrounded her at night. Keeping the lamp aglow meant that she never had to endure the black night. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt safer when there was light, even a flicker.
She tossed back and forth as sleep eluded her. How could she possibly rest — or sleep — after what she had just experienced? And would she see other births at nursing school?
While she looked forward to college, she wished that her non-marital state hadn’t necessitated her making a decision to attend post-secondary school. She would have been happy to be married at this age, but thus far, no eligible bachelor — at least one with whom Kathleen approved — had shown serious interest.
The clock downstairs struck quarter past three. Her brothers hadn’t wakened during the night – Mama had kept fairly quiet during the birthing – but in the morning, they would all be excited to discover they had a new sibling.
For the moment, Kathleen thought of her own vocation, of which she was certain was marriage and motherhood. At 19, her “coming out” reception early last year was a tremendous success. Two of her friends from high school, Margaret and Anne, had already married. Kathleen was beginning to think she might become a spinster or, heaven forbid, an “old maid.” Therefore, it was essential to meet her future husband immediately. Of course, after seeing firsthand what her mother just went through, Kathleen questioned whether she would have the high endurance for pain her mother obviously possessed.
Turning up the lamp, she got out of bed and sat at her desk. She reached deep inside the top drawer for her journal.
At the front, she kept the tintype portrait of her mother and her “real” father, Papa’s brother, Liam, at his wedding to her mother. Mama had given her the photo when she was 12, explaining that her first husband had died and that she had married his brother. Over the years, she had learned that Liam was a fine, godly man who had died in a carriage accident before Kathleen was born. Staring at his face, she concluded that he was a handsome man with light hair, which Kathleen obviously had inherited from him. When she was a toddler, her blonde hair was so light, it was almost white. Now, of course, her hair was a darker blonde.
She pulled out a small holy card with a picture of St. Agnes holding a lamb.
St. Agnes, where is my sweetheart? Please send him to me soon!
St. Agnes, patron and martyr, had become Kathleen’s favorite saint a few years previous. In the fourth century, Agnes’ virginity was preserved despite the young girl being stripped naked and taken to a brothel to be violated by a group of men after she turned down one man’s proposal of marriage. The saint was saved when most of the men could not go through with the heinous act. The man who wanted to forcibly marry her was struck blind. She was eventually martyred.
Kathleen paged through the earlier entries until she came to January 20th of last year, on the eve of St. Agnes’ Feast Day, where she wrote down a prayer/poem to St. Agnes.
January 20th, 1895
Now good St. Agnes, play thy part,
And send to me my own sweetheart,
And show me such a happy bliss,
This night of him to have a kiss.
On that January day a year and a half ago, she had recited the prayer, then had finally drifted to sleep. Indeed, she had dreamt of a man.
His face was blurry like an Impressionist painting, except with less detail. The man leaned in to kiss her, a soft kiss that gently brushed her lips. Immediately, Kathleen knew that this was her beloved. She couldn’t explain how, but she knew that this man’s heart was pure and true and good. All of a sudden, he vanished. In his place was a blue and green hummingbird hovering above her. How would she recognize her sweetheart if she could only see his heart?
Excerpt from A Subtle Grace, copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Last week was a whirlwind of activity at the Catholic Writers Conference and Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show near Chicago. Every day was a blessing with Daily Mass, Confession, Adoration and wonderful presentations. Along with four other CWG members, I was interviewed for the EWTN show, Bookmark (with Doug Keck). This past Thursday, Fr. Frank Pavone gave us the opportunity to venerate a first class relic (blood on vestment) of St. John Paul II.
Before I stepped forward to announce the CALA winners to the 600 CMN breakfast attendees (photo below), I looked at the podium and suspected I would not be able to see over it (given my four feet nine inch stature). So when Ann Lewis (conference coordinator and treasurer of CWG) and I approached the podium and I stood in front of it, all I could think to say was “Can everyone see me?” Laughter erupted from the audience and slight embarrassment (note facial expression) led to assistance from a tech person and Ann to get the microphone down. Then I stepped away from the podium and stood beside it. Subsequent speakers (including Fr. Mike Gaitley) decided to carry the humor forward and each one began their presentations with “Can you see me?” then looking my way and smiling! It was fun!
More photos later this week!
Most photos courtesy James Hrkach