Fiction Friday – Catechizing Through Fiction


My latest column at Amazing Catechists talks about catechizing through fiction:

I’ve been a novelist for ten years. My second novel, In Name Only, (a Catholic historical romance) was the first Catholic novel to win the Gold Medal in Religious Fiction at the 2010 IPPY Awards and has been an Amazon Top 100 Bestseller for four months.

So what’s different about my novels?

Well, for one thing, they are unabashedly Catholic. While there are some who don’t agree with the use of fiction to catechize or evangelize, I don’t have a problem with it. After all, Jesus used parables to teach, didn’t He?

My first novel, Emily’s Hope, is the fictionalized parallel stories of myself and my great-grandmother. It illustrates the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage and why it is so important to obey these teachings. One young adult sent me a “fan” letter saying, “Your book has helped me to understand the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage more than any textbook.”

I have to admit, that while Emily’s Hope is popular at Catholic conferences, with NFP enthusiasts and faithful Catholics, its sales have been mediocre in the past few years. It does, however, seem to find its way into the hands of those who find it helpful.

However, I took a slightly different approach with my second novel, In Name Only, which is a romance that takes place in 1870’s Philadelphia. It is different from my first novel because the “teaching” is more subtle. It is also different from secular romances because it does not contain graphic sexuality. However, it does include the basics of the Theology of the Body, so sexual issues like promiscuity and pornography are dealt with tastefully. I also worked diligently to improve my writing style.

This approach seems to have paid off. In Name Only has been my most popular book thus far, and continues to be an Amazon Kindle Top 100 bestseller in Religious Fiction.

With my latest novel, Stealing Jenny, I wanted to illustrate why it is so important to be pro-life, especially in our current culture. Again, Catholic teaching is more subtle and I included characters who were not Catholic, nor planning to be Catholic.

Advanced reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. “Stealing Jenny is a gripping novel filled with engaging characters, a compelling mystery and a message which underscores the precious dignity of life. I literally couldn’t put it down and give Stealing Jenny my highest recommendation,” says Lisa M. Hendey, Founder of CatholicMom.com and author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. Author and Blogger Sarah Reinhard writes, “Stealing Jenny will keep you on the edge of your seat and probably destroy your sleep pattern as you stay up to find out what happens. But beyond being a great suspense, it’s also an excellent example of morals in action and family life redeemed. As a fan of Ellen Gable’s work already, I’m now officially getting a t-shirt!” Therese Heckenkamp of Traditional Catholic Novels.com says “Stealing Jenny is a smoothly written, chilling tale of gripping suspense. There are terrifying moments and heart-wrenching moments. Catholic faith and hope are tested. Above all, the sacredness and privilege of precious new life is made indisputably evident. I never wanted it to end!”

Stealing Jenny is available via Amazon in print or on Kindle.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Featured in Local Newspaper

Today, our local paper features an article on my new novel’s book launch.

“Hrkach, who writes under her maiden name, Ellen Gable, has been writing fiction for ten years. Her second novel, In Name Only (a Christian historical romance) won the Gold Medal in the 2010 IPPY awards and has been an Amazon Kindle Top 100 bestseller in Religious Fiction for the past three months. Her third book, “Come My Beloved,” a non-fiction book of true love stories, was released earlier this year.

Her new book is a departure from her usual historical fiction books.”

To read the article in its entirety, click on the article link above.

Stealing Jenny Now Available

My newest novel, Stealing Jenny, is now available on Amazon:

In Print

Or on Kindle

Here are a few of the advanced reviews:

“Stealing Jenny is a gripping novel filled with engaging characters, a compelling mystery and a message which underscores the precious dignity of life. I literally couldn’t put it down and give Stealing Jenny my highest recommendation.”
Lisa M. Hendey, Founder of CatholicMom.com and author of “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms”

“Ellen Gable is a masterful storyteller. Stealing Jenny is a smoothly written, chilling tale of gripping suspense. There are terrifying moments and heart-wrenching moments. Catholic faith and hope are tested. Above all, the sacredness and privilege of precious new life is made indisputably evident. I never wanted it to end!”
Therese Heckenkamp, Traditional Catholic Novels.com

“Stealing Jenny will keep you on the edge of your seat and probably destroy your sleep pattern as you stay up to find out what happens. But beyond being a great suspense, it’s also an excellent example of morals in action and family life redeemed. As a fan of Ellen Gable’s work already, I’m now officially getting a t-shirt!
Sarah Reinhard, author “Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families”

Fiction Friday – Catholic Fiction

I have seen a definite resurgence of Catholic Fiction in the past 15 years. Granted, not all of it is quality Catholic fiction. However, there are many aspiring Catholic novelists out there and I see this as a good thing.

When I entered my second novel In Name Only in the 2010 IPPY Awards in the category of Religious Fiction, I hoped to win a medal, but I certainly didn’t expect to win the top prize. I knew that no other Catholic novel had won the coveted award thus far. When I found out that I had won, I was flabbergasted. Even more amazing, this year, Ann Lewis’s Murder in the Vatican won the Gold Medal. Two Catholic novels have won the top prize two years in a row.

Here is a (non-comprehensive) list of some of my favorite Catholic novels:


Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Mystery of Things by Debra Murphy

Passport by Christopher Blunt

The Midnight Dancers by Regina Doman

In-Sight by Gerard Webster

Danny Gospel by David Athey

House of Gold by Bud Macfarlane Jr.

Do you have a favorite Catholic novel, either classic or contemporary? Leave a comment below before September 15th to be entered to win a free hard copy of my new novel, Stealing Jenny.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Happy Birthday, Mary!

The Feast of Mary’s Birth is a great time to gather some of my favorite quotes about Mary:

“From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s Will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God!”
Pope John Paul II

Such is the will of God that we should have everything through Mary.” Saint Alphonsus Liguori

“Mary recognized her absolute nothingness without God that God may be absolutely everything to her. With Mary we humbly adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by acknowledging our absolute dependency on Him. He must increase, but I must decrease.” Blessed Mother Teresa

“If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead.”
Gregory of Nazianzus,To Cledonius,101(A.D. 382)

“Let, then, the life of Mary be as it were virginity itself, set forth in a likeness, from which, as from a mirror, the appearance of chastity and the form of virtue is reflected. From this you may take your pattern of life, showing, as an example, the clear rules of virtue: what you have to correct, to effect, and to hold fast. The first thing which kindles ardour in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God?” Saint Ambrose

“Whoever does not wish to have Mary Immaculate as his Mother will not have Christ as his Brother.”
Saint Maximillian Kolbe

“But the power of Mary over all the devils will especially shine forth in the latter times, when Satan will lay his snares against her heel: that is to say, her humble slaves and her poor children, whom she will raise up to make war against him. They shall be little and poor in the world’s esteem, and abased before all like the heel, trodden underfoot and persecuted as the heel is by the other members of the body. But in return for this they shall be rich in the grace of God, which Mary shall distribute to them abundantly. They shall be great and exalted before God in sanctity, superior to all other creatures by their lively zeal, and so well sustained with God’s assistance that, with the humility of their heel, in union with Mary, they shall crush the head of the devil and cause Jesus Christ to triumph.” Saint Louis de Montfort ~True Devotion to Mary

“It has always been clear that Catholicity cannot exist without a Marian expression, that to be Catholics means to be Marian, that this means love for the Mother, that in the Mother and by the Mother we find the Lord.” Pope Benedict XVI, May 30, 2011

“Mary is the lily in God’s garden.” Saint Bridget of Sweden

“No man is delivered or preserved from the world-wide snares of Satan save through Mary; and God grants His graces to no one except through her alone.” Saint Germanus

“Jesus is the mediator of justice; Mary obtains for us grace; for, as St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Germanus, St. Antoninus, and others say, it is the will of God to dispense through the hands of Mary whatever graces he is pleased to bestow upon us. With God, the prayers of the saints are the prayers of His friends, but the prayers of Mary are the prayers of His mother.” Saint Alphonsus Liguori

“When she was asked to become the mother of the Messiah, Mary’s faith enabled her to give a humble and generous response…. Mary’s faith was frequently tested during the public life of Jesus, especially when she witnessed the rejection of her son. At the foot of the cross, her pilgrimage of faith had its moment of most severe testing. Mary continued to believe that, because Jesus was the Son of God. His sacrifice would bring salvation to humanity.” Pope John Paul II

“By the fall a poison was handed to mankind through a woman [Eve], by the Redemption man was given salvation also through a woman [Mary].” Saint Augustine

“Through Mary, we come to her Son more easily.” Pope John Paul II

“Mary is the sure path to our meeting with Christ. Devotion to the Mother of the Lord, when it is genuine, is always an impetus to a life guided by the spirit and values of the Gospel.” Pope John Paul II, in Ecclesia in America

“Eve was a thorn, wounding, bringing death to all; in Mary we see a rose, soothing everybody’s hurts, giving the destiny of salvation back to all. Mary was a rose, white for maidenhood, red for love; white in body, red in soul; white in her seeking after virtue, red in treading down vice; white in cleansing her affections, red in mortifying her flesh; white in her love of God, red in compassion for her neighbor.”
Saint Bernard of Clair Vaux

“As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary.” Saint Thomas Aquinas

Do you have any favorite Marian quotes? If so, please feel free to comment.

Art Work copyright James Hrkach/Full Quiver Publishing

Like Arrows in the Hand of a Warrior

Today’s post is a reprint from last year. As we prepare to publish my fourth book, I thought I’d share again the story of how we came up with the name for our publishing company.

“Children too are a gift from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children born of one’s youth.
Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed
contending with foes at the gate.” Psalm 127 3:5

So how many arrows make a full quiver?

The answer is that it depends on the quiver…and the size of the arrows.

Our publishing company’s name is Full Quiver Publishing. Often, people assume that we are part of the “Quiverfull” Movement. At Wikipedia, Quiverfull is described as: “a movement among conservative evangelical Christian couples… it promotes procreation, and sees children as a blessing from God eschewing all forms of birth control, including natural family planning and sterilization. Adherents are known as “quiver full”, “full quiver”, “quiverfull-minded”, or simply “QF” Christians. Some refer to the Quiverfull position as Providentialism…”

An internet search of the words “Full Quiver” shows our website on the first page, along with a majority of websites and blogs devoted to the Quiverfull Movement.

I have great admiration for couples who follow this ideology, especially in this day and age when the majority of married couples are using artificial contraception or becoming sterilized.

However, we are not part of the Quiverfull Movement. Instead, we proudly use and teach Natural Family Planning to plan, space and limit births. When we are teaching NFP, we encourage generosity and always stress there should be serious need to avoid pregnancy. We agree with the Church’s teachings on the Theology of the Body and are well-versed in the two encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio. Our publishing company publishes fiction and non-fiction which promote the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage.

So why the name?

Years ago, I listened to a talk by Kimberly Hahn, in which she quoted the Scripture passage above and talked about the great gift of children and why generosity was so important. She later stated this concept in her book, Life-Giving Love: Embracing God’s Beautiful Design for Marriage: “We are in a spiritual battle, and our children are our arrows: How many arrows do you want in your quiver when you go into battle?”

This talk made a deep impression on me. So when we were forming our publishing company, after discussing many different names, this is the one that we felt God calling us to use: “Full Quiver Publishing.” It never dawned on us that we would be confused with the Quiverfull folks and that, occasionally, we would receive an email or a call from someone in the Quiverfull movement.

Back to the number: most quivers hold about 12 arrows. We have lost seven babies through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy and are raising five sons. We have indeed been blessed with a full quiver.

copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Sunday Snippets: a Catholic Carnival September 4

Welcome to Plot Line and Sinker! I’m a Catholic novelist and very excited about the upcoming release of my fourth book, Stealing Jenny (to be published this week!) If you’re new here, please consider subscribing by email (the box is midway down on the right) or following me on Twitter

Here are my contributions to this week’s RAnn’s Sunday Snippets A Catholic Carnival Meme. Come check out the other bloggers’ posts!

Free Giveaway on Goodreads Free copies of my new novel will be given away to ten lucky winners on September 15th.

Stealing Jenny Receives Seal of Approval

Four Nine is the Magic Number

Fiction Friday: Flannery O’Connor An excerpt from Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

Fiction Friday – Flannery O’Connor


Today’s Fiction Friday excerpt is from from Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

Flannery O’Connor was one of the greatest Catholic fiction writers of the 20th century. This particular short story is one of my favorites and…well…definitely edgy. It probably would have made a great episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. “now, look here, Bailey,” she said, “see here, read this,” and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.”

To read the story in its entirety click here.

To read more about “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” click here: http://www.enotes.com/good-man-is-hard-to-find