Interview at Catholic Mom

I was recently interviewed by Lisa Hendey, founder of Catholic

Here’s the prologue to her interview:

I love a good love story, and even more so when it’s a “real life” story of the triumph of love. That’s probably why I instantly fell in love with Come My Beloved by Ellen Gable Hrkach and Kathy Cassanto. In full disclosure, I’ll share that I actually already loved Ellen – she and I have been writing friends for years, she is a contributor here at, and we’ve even had the pleasure of meeting and spending time in person. So I guess perhaps I was predisposed to enjoyment when Come My Beloved crossed my desk. But the truth is that this is a wonderful book — and in an age when marriage is often under attack — a greatly needed shot of encouragement not only for married couples, but also for engaged couples discerning their vocation together.

And the start of the interview:

Q: Tell us about Come My Beloved – what prompted you to compile this book and what will readers find in the book?

Everyone loves a love story, especially a true life love story. In this day and age where divorce is unfortunately common, love stories which lead to joy-filled marriages give us hope.

Come My Beloved is a celebration of Catholic courtship and love. Readers will find different courtship stories, from couples who have been married a few years to other couples who have been married for many years (one couple in the book has been married for 58 years).

As to what prompted me, two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, a group of homeschooling mothers had gotten together so that our children could exchange Valentine’s. Because it was Valentine’s Day, we began sharing how we met and married our husbands. My friend, Kathy Cassanto, remarked, “I wonder if there is a book out there with Catholic courtship stories.” My response was, “If there isn’t, there should be.” Thus, the idea was born.

To read the article and interview in its entirety:

Come My Beloved and In Name Only in Top 100 on Kindle

Last evening, imagine my surprise to find not just one of my books in the top 100 on Amazon Kindle, but TWO! Come My Beloved was #85 (Inspirational Books) and In Name Only was #90 in Religious Fiction! I realized that they both wouldn’t stay in the top 100 for long. I’m just amazed that they did so together for a short time. (Come My Beloved remains at #85 this morning!)

Many thanks to all those who purchased Kindle and Print editions of my books!

Come My Beloved Kindle edition

In Name Only Kindle Edition

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Book Tour and Upcoming Conferences

I’ve updated my Book Tour profile to include the summer conferences I’ll be attending this year.

One of my favorite things to do as an author is to take part in book signings at conferences. I enjoy meeting people and talking to them about my books. The photo to the right is from the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show last year at the Catholic Writers Guild Booth.

Difficult Anniversaries – Responsible Parenthood

The end of June every year marks two very difficult anniversaries for me. On June 26th, 1986, I was rushed into surgery to remove a tiny baby from my right fallopian tube. This, after already miscarrying a baby from my womb. I woke up in the hospital with the knowledge that I had conceived twins…and I would be leaving the hospital with neither in my arms.

At the end of June in 1993, I found myself in an ambulance fighting for my life, bleeding internally as the result of ectopic pregnancy complications. It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years.

The following is a reprint of an article I had published last year which deals with the difficult decisions James and I faced when deciding whether we should limit our family to three boys after a life-threatening pregnancy in 1993.

Pope Paul VI in his papal encyclical Humanae Vitae states: “ Responsible parenthood… has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.”

In the ambulance, as I drifted in and out of consciousness, I didn’t have much time for retrospective thoughts, except “Please God, I can’t die. I don’t want my little boys growing up without a mom.” I was bleeding internally, the complications of ectopic pregnancy surgery two weeks previous, and quickly becoming weaker and weaker. Waking up later in the recovery room, I was thankful to be alive.

“You should not be having any more children.” The words were harsh and at first, we took them as truth. I was capable of having more, but after two ectopic pregnancies and complications from one of the surgeries, we were told that we must limit our family to three boys. The doctors suggested that I be put on hormonal contraception. They later urged me to have my remaining fallopian tube tied. The physicians weren’t the only ones to give the ‘order’ to stop having children. Well-meaning relatives and friends felt it was their duty to tell us that we should not get pregnant again. “You don’t want to be irresponsible, do you?”

“It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God…”

It became evident, as we dialogued with both the physicians and the well-meaning relatives and friends, that they were concerned only about my physical health. Most of them cared little, if at all, for my/our spiritual well being. And, initially, in those first few weeks after my surgery, we felt that we ought to listen to the “doctor’s orders.”

However, as the months went by, I began to regain my strength. We continued using NFP in the most conservative way, often adding one or two days to the rules for extra security. A year later, with heaviness in my heart, I thought of the future and the fact that we would not have anymore children. I wondered whether God was calling us to actively seek another pregnancy. My husband and I discussed it, then brought our concern to our spiritual director, explaining to him that the doctor told us that we should not have any more children. “James and Ellie,” he said, “that is a decision to be made between the two of you and God.” He encouraged us to pray about it and he further recommended that we talk to a faithful Catholic doctor. We knew of a Catholic physician through a neighboring homeschooling community. Her response after reviewing my file was that we could try for more children, but that I would need to be monitored carefully in the first several weeks to confirm that it wasn’t another ectopic pregnancy.

… a right conscience is the true interpreter…”

For the next several months, we prayed together. We deeply desired another child, but we did not want to be careless or irresponsible. After much prayer and discernment, and weighing all the risks, we decided to actively seek another pregnancy.

“…the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities…”

Ten cycles later, we were still not pregnant. We felt at peace with our decision to seek another pregnancy and, although disappointed, we trusted that God knew what He was doing. Eventually, we stopped charting. Another eight cycles went by with no pregnancy and I began to sell off most of my baby furniture. A few weeks later, it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a period in six weeks. The next morning, I took my temperature and it was 98.9. After 18 months of saying no to us, God was saying yes and blessing us with another eternal soul. I was thrilled that another new life, the fruit of our love, had begun, and would be sheltered lovingly in my womb.

With the blessing, however, soon came suffering. I began having debilitating migraine headaches and some days I could not get out of bed. Worse than the physical pain, however, was the emotional suffering. Doctors, well-meaning friends and relatives told us that we were being “irresponsible” and “selfish,” and that if I was suffering, “I had asked for it.”

At 30 weeks, our unborn baby was six pounds and I had already gained 50 pounds. That might not seem like much, but with my four feet nine inch frame, it meant that I could not drive (the seat had to be pushed back so far to allow for my large stomach that my feet couldn’t reach the pedals) and I could not walk the last six weeks of the pregnancy.

Our son, Adam, was born eight weeks later at nearly ten pounds. The pro-life Catholic doctor who delivered Adam by C-section told me that we could try for another baby someday, but that the pregnancy would again have to be monitored. Three years later, our youngest son, Paul was born.

“… recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.”

The words of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae courageously proclaim the truth of responsible parenthood. The decision to have or avoid another child remains a decision between the couple and God. No one else ought to make such a life-changing and important choice because no one else will have to endure the consequences (and joys), nor will anyone else have to stand before God someday and explain their actions.

Although we could have used NFP to avoid pregnancy permanently and to limit our family size to three sons, we chose to listen to our hearts, to answer God’s calling, and to seek more children. When I consider that our two youngest sons (pictured above) might possibly not be here today, my heart becomes heavy. Both are unique, talented and amazing human beings who have already given so much to our family and to society. I am grateful to God, because I can’t imagine our family without them.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Fiction Friday – Viper by John Desjarlais

My thanks to John Desjarlais for today’s Fiction Friday excerpt, which is from his latest novel, Viper. My review of his book is here.

I will make you enemies of each other:
You, serpent, and the woman.
She will crush your head
And you will strike at her heels.

Genesis 3:15

Selena De La Cruz finish-welded the high flow exhaust tubes at the manifold flanges, twisted off the white flame and lifted the mask to inspect her work. Perfecto. She blew at the torch as though it were a smoking gun and thought about the next tasks: install a low-temperature thermostat to keep the Charger’s engine cool, check the brake bleeder valves, and – line one on the garage phone trilled.
¿Ay, ahora qué? she sighed with a roll of her eyes. Hadn’t she made it clear to her new receptionist Felicia that her lunch hour in the insurance claims garage was sagrada and she was not to be disturbed while working on her car? She ducked from under the Matco lift, tugged off her work gloves and crossed to the Formica counter, her Filas sneakers squeaking on the glossy concrete floor. She raked her fingers through her sable hair. It must be an emergencia, she thought, her heart rate accelerating with each quickened step. Un accidente malo with injuries. Lord knows how the early November drizzle had slicked the roads.
She seized the chirping phone and punched a button. “¿Sí, Felicia?”
“Selena? Is that really you?” asked a man’s voice.
She wrinkled her brow. It wasn’t her brother Francisco asking for another loan. It wasn’t her brother Lorenzo looking for a place to crash, now that his wife had kicked him out again. It wasn’t Reed Stubblefield, calling about their weekend date; he knew better. And it felt a bit presumptuous for an insurance agency customer to call her by her first name. The nerve. And how did he get this direct line number? She drew a cleansing breath and used her softest business voice. “How may I help you, sir?”
“Selena Perez, ex-DEA?”
“Who is this?”
“Geez, you don’t know how hard it is to find you.”
Her heart hammered against her ribs. “I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure you do. But being hard to find was the whole idea, wasn’t it?”
She rifled through her memory. “Del?”
“The same,” Del Bragg, her old team leader said with a snort. “Say, I like your new last name. Dee-lah-Crooz?”
“From John of the Cross, a Spanish poet,” she said, her breath suddenly short. “I always liked his work.”
“Yeah, well, I always liked your work, too.”
“That’s not true. You wrote me up twice for insubordination.”
“Three times. The third was because of that little girl you shot. I know you want to forget about that.”
“What do you want, Del?”
“So don’t thank me for getting the media off your butt about it. She lived, didn’t she? Aren’t you over it yet?”
“I said, what do you want?”
“Guess you’re not over it, not even five years later,” Bragg said. “But I need you back anyway.”
“When I left the agency it was for good,” Selena said, biting off the words. “I did everything I needed to do, and I’m done. Goodbye.”
“The Snake is out of prison,” Bragg shot back.

Pre-order the book on Amazon

or from Sophia Press

The author’s websites:

Come My Beloved in the Top 100 on Kindle

This past week, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship, was consistently ranked between #19 and #57 on Amazon Kindle (Inspirational Books)!

Are you interested in reading a Kindle copy of Come My Beloved? You don’t need to purchase a Kindle reader…you can download the free Kindle App for iPod, iPad or PC.

The first two people to leave a comment below will each win a free Kindle copy of Come My Beloved!

The Miracle of the Rosary – God Moments II

My story, “The Miracle of the Rosary” is one of the stories included in the new book, God Moments II: Recognizing the Fruits of the Holy Spirit which will be released this September. Oftentimes, I think 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 say 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.

This entire excerpt is included at the God is at Work in You Blog:

Cover image copyright 2011 Joseph Karl Publishing

Viper by John Desjarlais

Viper is an intriguing mystery novel starring Selena De La Cruz, a Latina insurance agent who used to work as a Special Agent with the DEA. At the beginning of the novel, Selena agrees to meet her old supervisor, Del Bragg, soon after All Souls Day (and the subsequent El Dia de Los Muertos, on November 2, a Mexican national holiday) at her home church where she learns that her name is recorded in the parish’s Book of the Dead, preceded by several other names of men who are being murdered one by one in the order they are listed.

Selena finds out that a young girl has been seeing “visions” of a “Blue Lady,” who announces the next killing. Selena is asked to return to her old job in order to assist law enforcement in solving the mystery before the killer reaches her name on the list.

Selena is unsure who the culprit could be, whether it’s her nemesis, “The Snake,” a notorious drug dealer Selena helped to put in prison, or perhaps someone more insidious.

I loved everything about Selena (from her ‘69 Dodge Charger to her zapatos) and found her to be believable and well-rounded. In the midst of this mystery, Selena finds herself returning to the Catholic faith of her childhood. I liked the fact that her boyfriend is Reed Stubblefield (protagonist from Desjarlais’s previous novel, Bleeder) and I thought this was a nice touch. I especially appreciated the relationship that Selena develops with the little girl who is seeing visions of a “Blue Lady.”

Good novelists make us believe that the characters are actual living, breathing persons. The author (a non-Hispanic male) handles the ethnic Hispanic part of the novel so expertly that I truly felt I knew Selena. Desjarlais is a top notch writer and he has created a well-developed, believable cast of characters and dialogue. I especially loved the rich and well-researched history of the Aztecs and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Not only did I enjoy this story immensely, I also learned a lot about Aztec history.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an intriguing mystery with great characters!

Viper will be released on July 1st, 2011 and is available for pre-order on or from the publisher, Sophia Press.

And…I’ll be running an excerpt of this book this Friday, June 24th for Fiction Friday.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

A Catholic Guide to Infallible Loving

This month’s column for Catholic Mom is a book review for “Holy Sex: A Catholic Guide to Toe Curling, Mind Blowing Infallible Loving.”

In his book, “Holy Sex: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind Blowing Infallible Loving,” Dr. Greg Popcak expertly dispels the long-held societal myth that the Catholic Church teaches that sex is bad. He explains that the Church teaches that marital sex open to life can actually be holy, satisfying and “mind blowing.”

And, despite the fact that this book has “Catholic” in its title, it is not just for Catholics. Every married couple interested in having a great sex life would benefit from this wonderfully candid book.

Dividing his book into four parts, in Part I, he introduces the truths of what he calls “Infallible Loving.” Part II gives the tools to tap into what he calls “The Five Powers of Holy Sex,” and how readers can learn how to celebrate the sacred, redemptive, heavenly, uniting and creative nature of holy sex. Part III gives readers the necessary information to apply the principles of holy sex to their marriages. Part IV offers practical guidance to overcome sexual problems and challenges.

As an NFP teacher for many years, I already knew much of what was included in this book, but I still found it to be helpful. The author’s humor and candor are particularly entertaining. Anecdotal stories of real couples from the author’s experience as a marriage counselor make this a most interesting and compelling read.

It is explicit in parts and therefore recommended for mature readers. However, I recommend this outstanding book to any couple who truly wants to experience sacred sexuality.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

On the Soul of a Vampire by Krisi Keley

Today’s Fiction Friday excerpt is from Krisi Keley’s novel, “On the Soul of a Vampire.” Read my review of this outstanding book here. A new second edition has just been released. Thank you, Krisi!

My raison d’être first presented itself outside an old library in University City, Philadelphia. Or so I might have recognized had I believed in such lofty ideas then. It was a humid early autumn evening of 1997 in Pennsylvania, a night where a casual stroll without objective was all I’d had in mind, when my attention was arrested by a group of girls, barely dressed in extremely short shorts and skimpy halter tops, who emerged from the building, giggling over their private, though I dare say not very profound, secrets. I was somewhat amused by their carefree good humor, their complete innocence to anything dark that may be watching and waiting this warm, starlit evening. Amused, but also slightly saddened, for it seemed to me that, in a number of ways, the youth of these past several decades lacked much in the way of imagination. This was not their fault, of course; the tendency to rewrite myth as harmless entertainment had begun years before their birth.

I watched the young women as they bounced down the stairs of the library, affected by little more than worries over their hair, their makeup, and which young man might notice their charms at that evening’s “kegger.” Perhaps then, the sadness was also due in part to my certainty they would never care to be affected by anything more. Most assuredly, they would not allow themselves to be touched by the darkness that had its hold on me.

My interest began to wane quickly, as I experienced no real desire for one of the group of them. Or rather, I suppose, because I would not satisfy such a desire had any inspired it. So I was on the point of turning away as they parted to go their separate ways at the bottom of the stairs, when into my view came the one who had descended, alone, a few steps behind them.

Dwindling mild enchantment was utterly obliterated in my sudden awareness of this young woman, and a hunger I hadn’t known to lay eyes on the most enticing of human beings froze me in place.

It would be easy to claim that it was her physical beauty alone that caused such a reaction, for surely it would have provoked similar in any man. Not to mention a host of other strong physical sensations. This young female, barely more than a child by modern standards, was exquisite in every aspect of physical allure and, although for me all mortals are beautiful in essence, sometimes the least agreeable to the eye, the most pleasing to the soul, I admit that her outer beauty held my attention every bit as much as the glorious lifeforce that enveloped her being.

The second edition of On the Soul of a Vampire is available via the book’s website and on

The publisher is giving away a free e-copy of this novel to one lucky reader. Leave a comment before Monday, June 20th to be entered.