In Name Only #FREE on Kindle

My gold-medal winning novel, In Name Only, is FREE today through Thursday (April 18-20) on Amazon Kindle. In Name Only is a Catholic historical romance, and is not a formulaic or Harlequin-type romance. It is the first in the O’Donovan Family Series.

Synopsis: Caroline Martin’s life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn towards Him. Gold Medal Winner in Religious Fiction, 2010 IPPY Awards, Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller (February-March 2012).

Reviews:
“If you love romance but hate smut, pick up this beautiful story and let it carry you away. The characters are believable, layered, human and humorous even in the midst of tragedy. The reader never loses hope and is rewarded on every page with little gems of character behavior, dialogue, plot twists and romantic intrigue. I was so very sorry when it ended!”
Lisa Mladinich, author, True Radiance: Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life

“This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It has all the qualities that make for an outstanding memorable novel – and it’s Catholic as well. I highly recommend it!”
Therese Heckenkamp, author, Frozen Footprints, Traditional Catholic Novels.com

“There aren’t too many historical romance novels that appeal equally to men and women, but Ellen Gable pulls it off admirably with In Name Only. It’s great to read a Catholic novel that’s not overly “sanitized,” realistic enough to make you wonder if it’s really fiction, and yet not at all offensive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!” Gerard Webster, author, In Sight

“Gable has skillfully crafted this intriguing novel… which conveys the beautiful Catholic teachings on conjugal love, and shares both a pro-life story and a conversion story.”
Jean Heimann, author, Seven Saints for Seven Virtues

To download the book for free on Kindle, click here: In Name Only, free on Kindle

Happy Easter!

A Blessed Easter!  Alleluia!  He is Risen!We have had a very busy Triduum with my husband as Cantor as all the Masses and me as Lector.

We have had a very busy Triduum with my husband as Cantor as all the Masses and me as Lector.

Easter is somewhat different from the way it used to be when our boys were very small. But we still fill a huge Easter basket to be shared by everyone!

Favorite Easter Hymn:

Jesus Christ is Risen Today

Favorite Chocolate:

President’s Choice Dark Chocolate Peppermint Melts

Favorite Easter Memory:

In 1967, when I was nearly eight years old, my mother was in the hospital in critical condition. Back in those days, children were rarely allowed to visit patients in critical care. I wrote her many letters (like the one below), but rarely could she answer any of our letters because of her illness. A few days before Easter, my father had arranged it with the nurses to allow my three siblings and myself to visit her on Easter Sunday because it was the end of March and also was very close to her birthday. We hadn’t seen her in over a month so I was thrilled to be able to be with her and talk to her again. My first view of her was sitting in a wheelchair, her complexion very pale and I remember being surprised at how thin she was. In fact, my oldest brother could put his fingers around my mother’s wrists they were so small. Mom, at five feet six inches tall, was normally about 110 pounds. When we saw her that Easter day, she weighed about 85 pounds. I didn’t care how she looked, though. I was so excited to see her again after so long. Later, whenever my mother would recall that day, she said that while she was happy to see us, just a few minutes with us tired her out so much that she wound up sleeping most of the rest of the day! Thankfully, Mom made a complete recovery from that illness (and, in fact, gave birth to another child!). She eventually passed away nine years ago. In fact, tomorrow is her birthday. Here is an article I wrote about her several years ago.

copyright Ellen Hrkach

copyright Ellen Hrkach

Favorite Easter Photos Collage:

Top Left: James and I, our first Easter together, 1980

Right: Easter 2003, with my boys dressed (as they used to like to say)

like the brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Bottom Left: My sibs and I, Easter 1962

Easter collage

 

 

 

Interview with Carolyn Astfalk, Author of Rightfully Ours

Special thanks to Carolyn Astfalk, author of FQP’s young adult novel, Rightfully Ours, for answering these interview questions!

Rightfully Ours is a coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

When did you first feel called to write fiction?  Although I took a noncredit course in short story writing in the early 1990s, I didn’t dedicate any time or effort to fiction writing until late 2010. I’d seen National Novel Writing Month mentioned here and there by online friends and acquaintances and felt a nudge to give it a shot. It came at exactly the right time, when I had a block of time and relative peace to make at least a passable effort.

How did the idea for the story of Rightfully Ours come about?
I came across an article in our local newspaper about the search for gold that went missing while be transported across Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia Mint in 1863. I tucked that article away without a clear idea of what to do with it until I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. I used that as a springboard for the story, developing the characters and the themes as I went along.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
Some names are simply unused baby names that my husband and I tossed around before each of our children were born. Others have more meaning. For example, in Stay With Me, I chose the name Christopher not only because I like it but because the character was to be a “Christ-bearer,” which is what Christopher means.
How does your Catholicity inspire your writing?
My faith infuses my writing very naturally. Just as it is woven into my life, it becomes woven into my stories. While I can imagine writing stories where Catholic themes are less explicitly revealed, I can’t imagine them not underpinning a story because they frame my world view.
Do you have a favorite saint or a patron saint you use to intercede for you when you’re writing?
Long before I began fiction writing, I turned to the Holy Spirit when I had to write or speak publicly about matters pertaining to faith and the Church. That has carried over into fiction writing. I’ll most often say a simple prayer to the Holy Spirit from memory. When it comes to saints, Pope St. John Paul II has inspired me in so many ways. I’m continually awed by his wise and beautiful words. As an author and artist himself and because of his Theology of the Body, which has had a great influence on me, I consider him the perfect patron for my writing.
What message do you hope teens will take from your book?
I hope that teens will recognize the truth and beauty of human sexuality, and that chastity is a virtue that is necessary for all ages and stages of our lives. Jesus’s commands aren’t arbitrary rules made to deprive us of pleasure but rather for the benefit of not only individuals, but marriages, family, and by extension, all of society.
What do you envision as the target audience of this novel?
Because the protagonists are teenagers, I’d expect that teens could most easily relate to the characters and their experiences. However, from the beginning, I saw it more as a coming of age story that I hoped would appeal to adults as well. These days, adults readily enjoy Young Adult novels, I think because we all recognize the unique character of our youth when we are typically more optimistic, idealistic, and first discover the depth and power of love.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Idea? Writing first draft? Editing? Marketing?
My favorite part is completing the first draft, when everything – the plot and the themes – all come together, sometimes in what seems to me almost a magical way. Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t dislike marketing. I only wish there were more time for it.
What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
My least favorite part is late in the editing process. By that time, I’m often eager to delve into a new project, but there are sometimes still critical changes that must be made about what stays and what goes and discerning which suggestions should be adopted and which should be rejected.
Who are your favorite authors?
When it comes to classics, I enjoy Willa Cather’s writing. When it comes to contemporary Christian romance, which is what I read most, Becky Wade, Denise Hunter, Tammy Gray, and Nicole Deese are among my favorites. And then there are all of the contemporary Catholic fiction writers who have inspired me: Ellen Gable, Michelle Buckman, Stephanie Landsem, Erin McCole Cupp, Theresa Linden, and so many more, who I’m privileged to know.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Read as much as you can and make a habit of writing. Be diligent about continuing to improve your writing skills whether by reading books on the craft of writing, frequenting blogs, attending conferences, or listening to podcasts. And then, be patient.
What are you currently working on now?
I have two stories in the works. One is another contemporary romance between a young woman who has struggled to lose weight and a young man who cannot find authentic love – or Bigfoot, which makes it a bit quirky. The other is a story that spans decades as a man and woman’s lives intersect at various points from childhood to middle age. The power of unknown prayers for one another sustain them and eventually bring them together.
Rightfully Ours is available on Amazon Kindle and will be available in paperback soon!
Want to win a free paperback copy when it becomes available?  Leave a comment below (before April 24) to be entered!

An Open Book – April 2017 #openbook

Open Book

I’m also joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Rightfully Ours

by Carolyn Astfalk

Amazon Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure. Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

My review: I  recognize that I’m probably biased since my company is publishing this book. However, I enjoyed this young adult novel the very first time I read it.  Even though it’s considered Young Adult, it kept my interest and I thoroughly enjoyed the story and plot.  Highly recommend.

The Thunder of Justice

by Ted and Maureen Flynn

Amazon Synopsis: The Thunder of Justice provides messages from the major apparition sites in the world from the Blessed Mother. Messages include Church approved Guadalupe Mexico, Rue Du Bac France, LaSalette France, Lourdes France, Pontmain France, Fatima Portugal, Divine Mercy Sister Faustina, Beauraing Belgium, Our Lady of All Nations Amsterdam, Our Lady of America Ohio, Akita Japan, Kibeho Rwanda, San Nicholas Argentina, and many others. Major sites covered not approved by the church are Garabandal Spain, and Medjugorje Bosnia as well as many others.

My review: I’ve read this book before, but wanted to get the updated edition.  It’s a great book if you want to read an overall summary of Marian apparitions. However, the Kindle edition left a lot to be desired.  Formatting was sloppy and no photos or illustrations were included.  It’s kind of difficult to read in places.

The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Sallinger

Amazon Synopsis: Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins, “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.” His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two, of course, are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

My review: I have read this before, but re-read it last week to assist my youngest son with a project.  Holden Caulfield definitely has some mental issues and major personality issues.  Narrative voice is very clear and the best thing about this novel, but it’s never been one of my favorites because of the overwhelming negativity of his story.

My Heart Will Triumph

by Mirjana Soldo

Synopsis from Amazon: Mirjana Soldo was only sixteen years old when she and five other children encountered a mysterious woman near the village of Medjugorje, ex-Yugoslavia. The woman—who possessed an extraordinary beauty and grace—identified herself as the Virgin Mary. The events that began on that summer afternoon in 1981 dramatically changed Mirjana’s life and brought intense suffering at the hands of the communist authorities. After more than 35 years of apparitions, people still flock to Medjugorje in search of answers to life’s big questions. Stories of miracles abound, and, according to Mirjana, more are yet to come—the Virgin entrusted her with ten prophetic secrets concerning the future of the world.

In My Heart Will Triumph, Mirjana tells the story of Medjugorje through her own eyes—the same eyes that, according to her testimony, gaze upon the most revered woman in history.

This is on my “To Read” shelf.

Dorothea’s War: The Diaries of a First World War Nurse

by Dorothea Crewdson and Richard Crewdson (editor)

Synopsis from Amazon:  The evocative diaries of a young nurse stationed in northern France during the First World War, published for the first time. What shines out above all from the pages of these extraordinarily evocative diaries is a courageous, spirited, compassionate young woman, whose story is made all the more poignant by her tragically premature death at the end of the war just before she was due to return home.

My review:
I’m still reading this, but what I have read is compelling.

Refined by Fire: a Journey of Grief and Grace

by Mary Potter Kenyon

Amazon Synopsis: “Where is the handbook for widows?” Mary Kenyon lamented as she planned a funeral for the beloved husband whose triumph over cancer she chronicled in Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. During the ensuing weeks, as she attempted to make sense of his untimely death, she filled two journals, blogged, and read the inspirational writings of others who had gone down the road of grief before her—authors like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. She eventually found herself studying grief and bereavement in her quest to unearth answers to alleviating the pain associated with profound loss. In the process, she discovered a strength and emotional reserve she didn’t know she had, along with an evolving faith that helped her face the impending loss of an eight-year-old grandson.

“In the midst of the darkness of loss, I found light. Admittedly, in those first weeks, it might have been but a single small spark I sensed deep inside of me, but that spark guided me in the twisted, dark journey of grief. As I stumbled over the roots of hopelessness and despair, that light grew to illuminate my path, a path I sometimes felt very alone on. At some point in the journey I’d turned around, and there was God.

“That is grace.”  In beautiful prose, touching metaphors and stories, and actual journal entries, Mary Potter Kenyon provides a balm for the grieving soul.

My Review: I enjoyed this beautiful book about grieving, although it was heartwrenching at times.  I could relate to several sections because my mother was a grieving widow.  This is an ideal book to give to widows or widowers who are still grieving.

 

Rightfully Ours Virtual Book Tour

I’m pleased to be hosting Carolyn Astfalk on her Virtual Book Tour for Rightfully Ours!  Below find links, blurbs and all kinds of other information about the book!

Title: Rightfully Ours

Author: Carolyn Astfalk

Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing

Tagline: A coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/3hapfaRNItA

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep. Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure. Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

Excerpt:

An unexpected detour left them lost in the dark. Paul had been certain they were heading the right way, but the two-lane country roads they had traveled the last half hour had few markers, and his older brother questioned whether they had missed a junction sign. Paul’s grip tightened on the clumsily-folded map as he peered out window. Maybe Sean should drag his knuckles out of the Stone Age and get a GPS.

Paul had been anxious about this move more than the others, even though it would only be temporary. The claw-like limbs of the barren trees whizzing by his window made the whole ordeal seem even more foreboding. He’d never been through North Central Pennsylvania, but in the daylight, the mountains would probably be beautiful, if a little desolate.

Its only for a few months. By spring, Dad would be home, and things would go back to normal. Normal for them anyway. Besides, maybe he’d like it here.

“We just passed it,” Sean said over the acid rock music blaring from the speakers. “I thought you were watching for signs. Some navigator you are.” Sean scowled and jerked the wheel to the right, causing the truck to careen onto the berm and Paul to slam into the door.

Paul rubbed his shoulder where it had smacked the door and sat upright. “I’m sorry, okay? I guess my mind wandered.” He’d swear “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” had been playing for the last half hour. He hoped to God at least one other radio station had a signal strong enough to carry over the mountain they’d crossed.

“Yeah, you’ll be sorry when we run out of gas and have to sleep in this truck.” Sean sat hunched over the wheel, his strong arms gripping the ten and two-o’clock positions. His left leg, forever encased in worn denim, bounced erratically in a rhythm out of sync with the booming bass rattling the speakers.

He pulled into a narrow gravel drive and backed the car out onto the main road, completing his three-point turn. The high beams caught a pair of glowing eyes sinking into the underbrush on the opposite side of the road.

“We’ll get there, okay? Maybe if you’d get a GPS or something—”

“You want to pay for it, by all means, do like the commercial says and give a Garmin. Otherwise, maybe you should go back to grade school and learn to read a freakin’ map.”

Paul suddenly felt ten years younger than Sean instead of the four that separated them.

“There it is, on the right.” Paul pointed to a road sign obscured by an overgrown sumac tree.

Sean turned right, and in the space of a mile, the road went from desolate rural to brightly-lit business district.

He swung the truck into the hotel parking lot, rolling over a speed bump with a jolt that made Paul glance out the rear window to see if the pickup had lost any critical parts.

The parking lot islands were filled with mounds of clay and not a living thing grew around the building, which

looked as if it had been assembled and dropped into place like a giant LEGO creation.

“Well, if it’s new, at least the mattresses should be good.” Sean killed the engine and shoved his keys in his pocket.

Apparently Sean had chosen to look for the silver lining, like he had when he first told Paul about this move.

“Hey, it’ll be cool.” Sean had waved a couple of employment and tourism brochures at him. “Just us. A new job for me, and when I’m off work, we can hang out. Maybe do some hiking, hunting, backpacking. Maybe meet some new people.”

What he meant, Paul thought, was that he might meet a girl—the girl—something that, despite his good looks, he hadn’t had any luck with at home in Maryland. Paul recognized he didn’t have a choice in the matter and settled for making the best of the situation. Still, he felt uneasy about the whole thing. There was a finality about it. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he sensed that this move wasn’t going to be what either of them expected.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34597236-rightfully-ours

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Rightfully-Ours-Carolyn-Astfalk-ebook/dp/B06XTCC1X3/

Extras: http://www.carolynastfalk.com/category/extras/

About the author:

Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters and a CatholicMom.com contributor. Formerly, she served as the communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea. You can find her online at www.carolynastfalk.com.

Social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarolynMAstfalk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/castfalk/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CarolynAstfalk

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/CarolynAstfalk

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolynastfalk

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3428010-carolyn

Instagram: https://instagram.com/cmastfalk/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1FyiK1v

Tour Schedule:

Monday, April 3 Virginia Lieto http://virginialieto.com

Tuesday, April 4 Bird Face Wendy https://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Wednesday, April 5 Plot Line and Sinker https://ellengable.wordpress.com

Thursday, April 6 Sarah Damm http://sarahdamm.com and Our Hearts are Restless heartsarerestless.blogspot.com

Friday, April 7 FranciscanMom.com http://franciscanmom.com

Saturday, April 8 Olivia Folmar Ard http://www.oliviafolmarard.com

Sunday, April 9 Things Visible & Invisible https://catholicbooksblog.wordpress.com/

Monday, April 10 Terry’s Thoughts www.thouchin.com and Erin McCole Cupp http://erinmccolecupp.com

Thursday, April 11 Peace to All Who Enter Here dmulcare.wordpress.com

Wednesday, April 12 Plot Line and Sinker https://ellengable.wordpress.com

 

Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk Now Available for Pre-Order

Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, Kindle edition is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com before its release date of April 1, 2017.

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

(NB: That’s my youngest son on the cover!)

To pre-order the Kindle edition, click here.

Catholic Writers Retreat October 2017

Are you a Catholic writer?  Do you need time away to work on a writing project?

The Catholic Writers Guild is offering its biennial retreat October 8-12, 2017 at St. Francis Retreat Center in Dewitt, Michigan, five minutes north of Lansing.

Your Word is My Delight: A Catholic Writers Retreat offers abundant time for writing and critiquing with other Catholic authors in a beautiful and serene retreat setting. Author and editor-in-chief of the English edition of Aletia.org Elizabeth Scalia, Obl, OSB, is the keynote speaker.

Cost ($550) includes four nights’ lodging and meals.

St. Francis Retreat Center

I’ve attended this retreat in the past and it was a wonderful experience!  Great food, writing time, fellowship and opportunity for prayer — what more could a Catholic writer ask for?  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this year because it’s being held on the same weekend as Canadian Thanksgiving.