Sunday Snippets April 13: A Subtle Grace #1

Photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets where we share posts from the previous week and answer a question. This week’s question: What is your favorite part of Holy Week? My favorite part is the Good Friday liturgy and reading of the passion.

Here are my posts this week:

Interview with Catholic Mom (on Friday, I visited Catholic Mom as part of my Virtual Book Tour)

7 Quick Takes Friday – #1 on Amazon!! I have three books in the top six on Amazon Kindle’s Religious Drama category! My new book has been #1 for the better part of seven days, my second book is #2 (for three days) and my third book is #6!! ASG INO and SJ April 13

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 88

7_quick_takes_sm1Join Catholic bloggers over at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday!

1. Don’t You Forget About Me Teasers
Check out author Erin McCole Cupp’s short teasers from Don’t You Forget About Me, which will be published by Full Quiver Publishing on November 1st.First Createspace Front

2. Book Review of Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious!
If you haven’t already checked out my book review of Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious by Pat Gohn, please do. Leave a comment at the review (before Friday, September 20) to be entered for a chance to win a free autographed copy of this wonderful book!blessed-beautiful-and-bodacious-for-web

3. Fr. Don Calloway
I’ve listened to Fr. Don speak several times and I’m really inspired by his enthusiasm and his love for the Church and Our Lady. He was signing books at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show recently and I had an opportunity to chat with him (the previous day, my youngest boys were able to hear him speak in Glassboro, NJ!)Fr. Don C.

4. A Subtle Grace Update
I’ve been struggling with a few plot issues in my upcoming novel, A Subtle Grace, after my developmental editor suggested I change a few of them. I’m now just finishing those edits. But given the fact that the novel currently sits at 130,000 words, I still need to shorten it and I’m just not sure which side stories or scenes need to be edited. I’m still hoping for a January release.

5. Stealing Jenny – Goodreads
Stealing Jenny just hit 500 ratings on Goodreads! If you’re on Goodreads, please feel free to add me as a friend.

6. Reading Shelf
Under the Mantle by Fr. Don Calloway
Hana-Lani – Christine Sunderland

7. Officially Married Cartoon

copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 84

7_quick_takes_sm1Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks with visiting family in New Jersey, then helping to organize the Catholic Writers Conference Live (held in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show) in Somerset, NJ. I gave three presentations, organized the CWG Booth and basically spent 16 hours a day on my feet. It was a great two weeks, but understandably, I’m exhausted. I met many new people and connected with long-time friends. More on the conference and trade show in upcoming posts.

1. Cool Odometer Reading (again, it’s kilometers, not miles) IMG_0751

2. Famous Philly Water Ice Place
Special thanks to my cousin for treating me to some delicious water ice.

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

3. Lucy the Elephant, Margate NJ
When I was a child and my family visited Margate, NJ, I was always in awe of the giant elephant, Lucy. Back in the 60′s, however, it was in disrepair. Thankfully, in the 1970′s, it was restored and, since then, it has been a popular attraction in the seaside town.

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

4. View from the Top of Lucy

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

5. EWTN Live Radio Interview at the CMN
For me, one of the highlights of the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show was being interviewed live on EWTN radio:

photo copyright James Hrkach

photo copyright James Hrkach

photo copyright James Hrkach

photo copyright James Hrkach

6. Reading Shelf
My reading/review shelf now has an additional 40 books, thanks to the publishers who gave away books at the Catholic Marketing Network’s “Author Reception” and various author signings throughout the Trade Show. Here are two of the best books that I received and will be reviewing in upcoming posts:

Treason by Dena Hunt (Outstanding Catholic novel! Review coming soon!)
The Miraculous Medal: Stories, Prayers and Devotions by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

7. EWTN Bookmark
I was interviewed briefly again by Doug Keck for EWTN’s Bookmark and I spoke about the Catholic Writers Guild’s Seal of Approval process.

photo copyright James Hrkach

photo copyright James Hrkach

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 81

7_quick_takes_sm1Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Jen’s Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. Good Samaritan – Sr. Patricia Joseph OP
Last weekend, the Gospel reading was about the Good Samaritan. Our parish priest reminded us that from time to time, all of us have had to depend on “Good Samaritans.” There have been many incidents where my relatives and friends have stepped forward to help me whenever I have needed it and, for all those times, I am grateful. But this reminder brought forth two special memories. First, when I was seven years old and in second grade, my mother was critically ill and in the hospital. I came down with the flu while in class and my aunt was called (since my father was at work). I was told that it would take my Aunt Floss a while to get there. So my teacher, Sr. Patricia Joseph, OP, tenderly carried me to the convent where she cared for me and offered me soothing words as I waited for Aunt Floss to pick me up. Although I was very young at the time, I will never forget her kindness to me. (Of course, Aunt Floss also helped take care of me. For those of you familiar with my first novel, Emily’s Hope, she was the basis for the “Aunt Sally” character.) Here is a copy of one of the letters I wrote to my mom while she was in the hospital.

copyright Ellen Hrkach

copyright Ellen Hrkach

2. Good Samaritan – A Kind Nurse
The second memory I have of a “Good Samaritan” was when I was in the hospital after having the second surgery in less than two weeks for complications from an ectopic pregnancy. Since I am a pretty small person, and since I had already had anesthesia less than two weeks previous, my small body reacted violently. My husband and children were traveling and away from home and so I was alone in the hospital room. I had just had surgery and when I woke up from the anesthesia, I began vomiting every two to four minutes. I speak about this incident at length in my book, Emily’s Hope, (Chapter 26). I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be nearly 15 hours before I would experience any relief. It was the kind of suffering that I hoped I would never have again. In the midst of this, as I was pleading for an anti-vomiting medicine (which they tried, to no avail), a nurse came and sat at my bedside and prayed. She prayed and comforted me as long as she could, and while she couldn’t take away my pain, her presence gave me renewed peace, despite my suffering. Later, after I had recovered and discovered who the nurse was, I thanked her for her prayers and her selflessness in comforting me.

3. Journey to the Father Conference
In a few hours, I will be heading down to St. Raphaels, Ontario, to the Journey to the Father Conference. I attend every year as a vendor, selling my books, although I am always spiritually uplifted as well.

4. Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp
Full Quiver’s upcoming release (November 1) is entitled Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp. The book cover is still being tweaked, but here is cover photo:First Createspace Front

5. Everlasting Green
Check out my friend, Ed’s, new book of short stories, Everlasting Green. It’s only .99 on Kindle!

6. Reading/Review Shelf
God Will Provide (Patricia Treece)

7. Here’s to 20 Years Cartoon

copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach (Please do not use without permission)

copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach (Please do not use without permission)

© 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 79

7_quick_takes_sm1Summertime has arrived and I’ll be concentrating on two exciting new projects, as well as trying to finish the initial developmental edits on my upcoming novel, A Subtle Grace. Therefore, I’ll only be posting occasionally during the next two months.

But it’s Friday, so it’s time to connect with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. Beautiful Children’s Book
Where Did I Come From? is a beautiful new book by JoAnn Termini Pira, who not only wrote this wonderful children’s book, but also illustrated it.61wdgabaXYL._SX260_

2. Jersey Boys
To celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday, I took her to see the stage musical “Jersey Boys” about the popular 60′s group, “The Four Seasons.” It was very entertaining, although I could have done without the bad language. It was non-stop singing, though, and the two and a half hours flew by. I highly recommend it (although it’s not appropriate for kids because of the mature themes and language.)

3. Violin For Sale
I’ve finally decided to sell my violin, which I began playing seven years ago. I enjoyed playing the violin, but could never find the necessary time to practice. This is a half-size child’s violin in pristine condition. It comes with neck guard, case and bow. If interested, email: ellengablehrkach(at)gmail.com.

photo copyright James Hrkach

photo copyright James Hrkach

4. Philly Sketch by James Hrkach (In honor of July 4th…)

copyright James Hrkach, please do not use without permission

copyright James Hrkach, please do not use without permission

5. Pro-Life Shirt
I like to “wear” my pro-life values and have no problem doing so. A few weeks ago, a woman I’ve never met before saw my shirt and immediately frowned and turned her back on me. Oh well. No one said promoting Gospel values would be easy.

photo copyright James Hrkach

photo copyright James Hrkach

6. Reading Shelf
Mareritt: (The Friar Tobe Fairy Tale Files) by Krisi Keley
Faces from Dante’s Inferno by Peter Celano

7. After Day 20 Cartoon (NFP themes)

image copyright James & Ellen Hrkach

image copyright James & Ellen Hrkach

Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 77

7_quick_takes_sm1TGIF! It’s time for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary.

1. Crucifix at St. Maria Goretti
During our recent travels, we visited many churches, not only those for my sacramental pilgrimage, but also while on the road. This is the huge crucifix that hangs over the sanctuary of the church where we were married (St. Maria Goretti Church, now Holy Child Parish). This photo doesn`t really capture how large it is…

copyright 2013 James Hrkach

copyright 2013 James Hrkach

2. Review of Stealing Jenny
Thanks so much to Erin McCole Cupp for this wonderful (and humorous) review of Stealing Jenny.

3. Review of In Name Only
Speaking of reviews, special thanks to Vincent for this well-thought-out review on Goodreads. It gives me great satisfaction when a reader actually understands the message. Here’s an excerpt:
There is a surprising amount of content on “the marital act,” especially considering that this is a work of Catholic fiction. Gable is neither crude nor lewd in this area, as she handles the topic very gently albeit in-depth. She also does a fantastic job covering the gamut of Catholic social teaching on sex, as well as the mentality that Catholics should have. This entire area is where Gable’s catholicity really shines.

There are three lasting elements of the novel that have serious staying power: its discussion on the marital act, its illustration of the fragility of life, and lastly, the romance of the story itself. Ms. Gable accomplishes what every Catholic fiction writer should seek to accomplish: a story with Catholicism seamlessly woven into it that is good enough to compete with all fiction, not just in the small Catholic fiction book market.” Read his entire review here. He does include a spoiler alert, in case you haven’t read the book.

4. Fun with a Bun
I try to eat gluten free, so this bun would have gone to waste had it not been for the creative teamwork of my husband and youngest son, just after we finished eating recently at a local restaurant. As we were leaving, the staff seemed to enjoy the little gift we left behind at the table.

Photo copyright Ellen Hrkach

Photo copyright Ellen Hrkach

5. Cool Odometer Reading
Recently our van hit a cool milestone — that’s kilometers, folks, not miles.

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

6. Reading Shelf
Unlovely – Carol Walsh Greer
Stout Hearts and Whizzing Biscuits – Daniel McInerny

7. Classic Cartoon

Image copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach

Image copyright 2008 James and Ellen Hrkach

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Cartoons copyright James and Ellen Hrkach, please do not use without permission

The Whole Package Novel

books for blogMy recent post at Catholic Writers Guild blog is entitled “The Whole Package Novel.”

Are you currently writing a novel? If so, my previous post encourages you to read great books in order to be a better writer.

For me, as a novelist, my goal is to write novels that encompass the “whole package.” Admittedly, it’s an ideal that is difficult to attain. So what is the “whole package” in novel writing?

In my opinion, the best novels contain compelling “can’t put it down” unpredictable stories, brilliant character studies, believable dialogue and rich, variant language. The majority of contemporary books are not “whole package “ novels (although there are a few contemporary novels listed below).

Most novels tend to have one or two strengths but may be lacking in other areas. For example, Jodi Picoult’s books have brilliant character studies, narrative voices and crisp writing, but sometimes the stories are lacking. Mary Higgins Clark’s novels have great stories and a crisp writing style, but they’re usually formulaic.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is one of those rare hard-to-find “whole package” novels: (Repeat from a previous post: I own a hard copy but downloaded this on Kindle for 1.99). This has become my favorite book of all time. Mitchell only wrote one novel in her lifetime, but it is the quintessential novel, especially if you enjoy historical romance. This book has it all: excellent, crisp writing, compelling story, intricate, believable and brilliant character studies and, most importantly, it is NOT formulaic. I don’t mind reading formulaic novels, but it’s more enjoyable for me to read a novel with unpredictable stories. The movie is a fair representation of the book, although reading the book offers richer character studies.

Reading and studying “whole package” novels will help novelists improve their writing.

Here are a few other “Whole Package” Novels:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (This was also made into a movie, but I highly recommend you read the novel first. The movie is a fair representation of the book and I enjoyed both immensely.)

A High and Hidden Place by Michele Claire Lucas. My review is here. Excellent story, characters, writing.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Many people don’t appreciate the rich, literary language of the early 19th century, but this is my favorite of Austen’s books. Austen’s books are rich in characterization, complex in storyline and her writing is exquisite. There are quite a few film adaptations; my personal favorite is this one with Keira Knightley.

One of Ours by Willa Cather (my review here)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Most students will read and study this book at some point in their education. I read it first, in high school, then read it a second time when one of my sons was studying it. Again, Harper Lee only wrote one novel in her career and it was an incredibly moving one with rich characters, excellent dialogue, compelling story.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: (The movie remains fairly faithful to the novels). Rich characters, beautiful writing, compelling story and symbolism all make this a whole package novel.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis: I read these books out loud years ago to my boys at night before they went to sleep. Highly recommend.

Do you have any favorite novels that encompass great storytelling, rich language, believable characters and unpredictable plot lines? Feel free to comment below!

copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 71

7_quick_takes_sm1Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. March for Life
The Canadian March for Life was yesterday. For the first time in many years, I wasn’t able to attend because of illness. Thankfully, our family was represented at the March by my 23-year-old son. Read more about the March here.

2. God-grandchild!
I just found out that one of my god-daughters is expecting a baby! This will be my fourth god-grandchild! James and I have been blessed to be the godparents of six incredible people: three girls and three boys (the girls are all adults now.)

3. Sunrise
My son, Josh, captured this breathtaking sunrise.

photo copyright Josh Hrkach

photo copyright Josh Hrkach

4. Never Say Never
Excellent post from Jen at Conversion Diary: “Never Say Never and Other Thoughts on Having More Kids.”

5. Fr. Denis Lemieux
Fr. Denis is a wonderful priest from the Madonna House community in Combermere, Ontario. He is also an author (see below) and blogs at Ten Thousand Places. Last week, I attended an inspiring day of prayer and reflection in which he spoke on “Mary and the Year of Faith.”

6. Reading Shelf
Going Home - Denis Lemieux
The I-Choice: Staying Human in a Digital Age – Denis Lemieux

7. Mother’s Day Cartoon

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Sunday Snippets – March 17

Notre Dame Ottawa Join me and other Catholic bloggers over at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets where we share posts from the previous week.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It was an exciting week with the election of Pope Francis. The more I read about him, the more I love him. The Holy Spirit has given us a great gift with this Pope.

Here are my posts:

Want to Promote the Theology of the Body? Read and Recommend TOB Fiction!

Narrative Voice, Characterization and Reading to Improve Writing

Habemus Papam

7 Quick Takes Friday – March 15

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – March 8

7_quick_takes_sm1It’s time for 7 Quick Takes Friday over at Jen’s Conversion Diary.

1. Adopt a Cardinal
If you haven’t already done so, consider “adopting” a cardinal and praying for him during the upcoming conclave.Button_adopt_144

2. There’s A Saint For That
Thanks so much to Aniya for alerting me to this cleverly illustrated website that showcases different and unusual patron saints. I knew there were patron saints for things like the internet, accountants and brides…but I never realized there were saints for mad dogs, beekeepers and other unusual occupations and situations. Information on where the saint was born and died, as well as a brief biography, are listed.weird-saints-share

3. Duty of the Moment
One of my favorite passages from Catherine Doherty is on the “Duty of the Moment,” which can be found here at the Madonna House website. A brief quote below: “The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don’t just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and the child. Do you do it that way? You can see Christ in that child.” I highly recommend all of Catherine’s books, most of which are available from Madonna House.

4. A Subtle Grace Research
I thoroughly enjoy the research that takes place while writing an historical novel. The other day I wanted to visually see what the inside of an 1881 Douay Rheims (Latin Vulgate) Bible looked like and here’s what I found:$(KGrHqZHJBQFEf2EjsS7BRJyN57!f!~~60_12$T2eC16hHJFoE9nh6qSR5BRKp,BzkMw~~60_3

5. Excellent Article by Jen
“Why I Lost Faith in the Pro-Choice Movement”

6. Reading Shelf
The Third Testament by John Eklund
Becoming A Great Grandparent by Paraclete Press

7. Game Over Cartoon

image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach