Sunday Snippets – October 30

Join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place as we share posts from the previous week.

Here are my posts:

Chillingly Similar Cases to Stealing Jenny Actual cases of pregnant women being abducted by infertile women.

Flat Tire Prayer one of the three stories I contributed to the new book, God Moments II.

The Third Floor Window by Colleen Spiro A review of fellow Sunday Snippets participant, Colleen Spiro’s, outstanding book.

Fiction Friday – Pro Luce Habere An excerpt from Pro Luce Habere, a beautifully written “vampire” book with Catholic themes.

Fiction Friday – Pro Luce Habere

Special thanks to Krisi Keley for sharing this excerpt of Pro Luce Habere: To Have Before the Light. My review for this outstanding novel is here. The author has generously agreed to give away one free e-copy. Leave a comment before Friday, November 4th to be entered to win.

Keley’s books, Pro Luce Habere and On the Soul of a Vampire are not your typical “vampire” novels. Keley brings depth and meaning to the life of a vampire.

Beaten and dying on the banks of the Jordan in 1216, a young crusader believed his Lord had finally come to rescue him. Instead, it was a legendary creature masked in darkness, and now a boy who had been on fire to serve God must face what he’s become.

As this is a novel about a vampire, it contains violence.

“I see Heaven,” he breathed to me, his voice soft and distant and, it seemed, filled with joy. I tightened my hold on him as he grew more relaxed against me, and I felt his heartbeat speed up in his chest, to a rate even beyond that which my touch had provoked.

I closed my eyes and I knew him. All he was, this man not much older than my own nineteen years, who had nevertheless lived a life just as long. His wish to be free of the family that did not understand the passion in him was my wish, and the music he made to ease his pain and celebrate life, was also for a moment mine. His faith in God gave me back my own faith and for those brief moments that I held him, I believed again with all the fire of my mortal youth. All his dreams, all his hopes, his every wish and fear and desire, they were all mine and they were touchable, somehow made a reality I could hold in my hands. All the pleasure he had ever known and all the sorrow in his knowledge filled me; and I knew the answer to it all was there. Not close, not painfully near and just out of reach, but right there, and a light penetrated my entire being. A light brighter than any sun and a living force of shifting color more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen.

His heart stopped with a final violent beat like an explosion, and his lifeforce seemed to remain there for a moment, uncertain, while I reached out with a part of myself I barely recognized, trying to touch it. Wanting desperately to make it mine as it merged into that light and so make its knowledge and final acceptance my own.

And then it was gone. I held his inert body in my arms – a shell now, it seemed, which no longer contained the thing I’d so badly wanted of it. The thing in him I’d loved with a love I’d never even imagined could exist.

He is dead, a meek, numbed voice spoke inside my head. Dead, dead, dead, and you are the reason.

I lowered his body away from me and rocked forward on my knees, lowering my head to his chest. I stroked it in the place over his heart, as if my touch could make it beat again. Then I lifted my head a fraction, staring at his face, still and serene and at peace. The peace Sebastian should have had, I thought, but he hadn’t, and it did not matter that I’d tried to give it to him through this young man. However I might want to justify what I’d done to recognize I’d taken him to death in great pleasure and erased every fear a dying man might hold in his heart, it changed nothing. He was dead and I was the reason for it and as much as I wished it, I could not bring him back.

I gathered his lifeless form into my arms and I rocked him. For minutes or hours, I didn’t know. All I knew was that this was going to be the result with every human being I touched – for eternity, if Lukios had not lied.

“Oh God, oh please… make it stop,” I whispered once or twice or a hundred times.

My heart constricted so tightly it was excruciating; my breath came in ragged gasps. Then I leaned forward over the man I’d just murdered, the human being whose very life I’d experienced the greatest pleasure I’d ever known to feed on, and I vomited up the blood I’d not long ago drunk with no qualms. The blood that had tasted so sweet in its promise of fulfilled desire.

“Make it stop!” I screamed, rising to my feet and lifting my arms to the sky in desperate supplication. “God, my God, strike me down. Kill me. Please, kill me now!”

But no bolt of lightning struck me; no fiery death rained down from the sky. God did not answer in voice or in action, just as He never had before this monstrous desire made me the killer I’d never believed I could be.

I fell to my knees, vomiting again, and as I fell forward, my hand landed on the dagger I’d just taken a life with – an innocent, beautiful life that I had known so intimately it might have been my own.

Screams were torn from me again, but this time there were no words – just terrible sounds that could not convey the horror which provoked them – and I raised the dagger above my head then slammed it down, driving it through my wrist so forcefully, it pierced my arm completely and pinned it to the ground beneath it.

I pulled it back out and, watching the blood gush from it, I wondered dazedly if I’d have enough strength to do with my right hand what I’d just done with my left.

But then someone was rocking me as I’d rocked the young troubadour’s body, clamping my bleeding wrist in his hand. And as a blessed darkness descended, I heard a soft sob that sounded like “I’m sorry.”

You can purchase Pro Luce Habere (To Have Before the Light) at

The author is giving away a free e-copy of this novel. Please leave a comment below before Friday, November 4th, to be entered.

copyright Krisi Keley and TreasureLine Publishing

The Third Floor Window by Colleen Spiro

Incest and sexual abuse are not issues anyone likes to think or read about. However, Colleen Spiro has tackled a difficult and heart-wrenching topic, one that leaves the reader with hope. The author, whose own abuse began at a very young age, takes the reader on a difficult journey.

“The Third Floor Window,” aptly named because her childhood bedroom was on the third story, features a beautifully designed cover (at right) with a young girl looking out a window.

In the introduction, the author says “What had started out as a story of what it is like to be a survivor of child sex abuse turned into more than that. It turned into a story of living with hope. A story of death leading to new life.”

The book’s description says: “Feeling driven to help other survivors, Colleen decided to share her own story. So she set out to teach the world about the long term effects of child sexual abuse. What she found along the way was healing and hope. And the discovery that, while she has not always known God, God has always known her. And has been with her through it all.”

Her faith in God and her hope-filled message came through clearly in this book. In one inspiring section, she questions where God has been through all the years of abuse and she has a flashback of being in the room while the abuse was happening and Jesus sitting in a chair in the corner and crying.

Not surprisingly, this is a difficult book to read, but it is an inspiring memoir that would benefit sexual abuse survivors and their families because of the author’s hope-filled message.

I highly recommend it.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Flat Tire Prayer

Three of my stories are included in the new book, “God Moments II: Recognizing the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.” Today, I’d like to share “Flat Tire Prayer.”

Many years ago, when my husband, James, and I were newlyweds, we were traveling through New York State along Highway 81 returning to Canada from visiting relatives in my home state of New Jersey. All of a sudden, one of our tires blew. As James was trying to maneuver the car over to the side of the road, we both said a prayer. At the time, we were very young and had no idea how to change a tire. So we said something like, “Please God, send someone to help us.” We pulled to the side of the road and immediately, a car drove up behind us. A man jumped out and handed James a can of something which inflated flat tires and plugged the hole. He then drove away. We were astonished that our prayer had been answered so quickly. My husband then filled and inflated the flat tire and we finished the rest of the trip without incident.

You can purchase “God Moments II” on

Chillingly Similar Cases to Stealing Jenny

My third novel, Stealing Jenny, is about a pregnant woman who is kidnapped by a mentally unstable infertile woman.

Over the past six years, I’ve noticed a disturbing increase in news of pregnant women being kidnapped. I particularly found the Laci Peterson case tragic. Although her husband was eventually arrested and convicted for her murder, these cases have been growing in number each year, and the “usual suspects” have been females.

In case anyone has doubts that the scenario of my novel, Stealing Jenny, is unrealistic or too hard to believe, these chillingly similar cases (some with sad endings) are illustrative of the extents some unstable infertile women will go to “have a baby.” (Warning: some of these articles are graphic).

October 11, 2011 Maritza Ramirez-Cruz (baby and mother died).

April 2011 Jamie Stice (Jamie died, baby survived.)

December 8, 2009 (The pregnant woman and baby survived).

July 2007 Amanda Howard (Amanda and baby girl survived.)

April 4, 2005 Sarah Brady (Sarah fought back and escaped)

Photo copyright James Hrkach

Sunday Snippets – October 23

Join me at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets, where Catholic bloggers get together and share posts from the previous week. Please check out the other bloggers’ posts!

Here are my posts:

The Beauty of Autumn in the Ottawa Valley

Review of Be An Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation

Blog Talk Radio Interview with Coral Russell

The Joy of Mothering Musical Sons
A fun video: “Hrkach and Sons.”

At the Hour of Our Death, Amen (excerpt from my book, Emily’s Hope, based on a true story).

Stylish Blogger Award

Stylish Blogger Award

Special thanks to Sue of Sue Elvis Writes for nominating me in the Stylish Blogger Awards. See her post here.

She has asked that I nominate five other blogs (below) and tell seven things about myself. My readers, especially those who have read my novel Emily’s Hope, or who regularly follow my blog, probably know more about me than my relatives. But here are some little-known facts:

1. I met and chatted with the tallest woman in the world, Sandy Allen (1955-2008) at Niagara Falls in 1985. I found that aside from our drastic height difference (her 7 ft. 7 in. compared to my 4 ft. 9 in.), we had a lot in common.

2. The two places I would like to travel to (and I haven’t yet) are California and China.

3. I am legally blind without my glasses and was once called “Ellen Keller” by classmates (I took it as a compliment).

4. Like my mother, I usually finish my Christmas shopping before December 1st.

5. In 1979, I had over 100 pen-pals from all over the world. I met my husband through one of these pen-pals.

6. I abhor being late to anything and usually arrive 10-15 minutes before.

7. The very first movie I saw in the movie theater was Lady and the Tramp in 1962 during its re-release.

With regard to blogs, I follow and enjoy many, but here are five of my favorites:

1. A great Catholic pro-life blog by Jean Heimann, which has been around for a long time: Catholic Fire

2. A working mom, Dana Doyle’s, blog, Catholic Working Mom

3. A new pro-life blog: True Love Leads to Life

4. Colleen Spiro’s Blog: Thoughts on Grace

5. A Catholic author and farmer, Christopher Blunt’s, blog: The Yeoman Farmer

I hope these bloggers will nominate five of their favorite blogs and tell us seven things about themselves!

Thank you, Sue!

At the Hour of Our Death, Amen

If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).” Saint Louis de Montfort

I am blessed to be the mother of five sons ages 12-24. However, my journey to motherhood has not been an easy one. I have lost seven babies through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. When my third son was 10 months old, we were overjoyed to be pregnant again; that is, until it became apparent that the baby was in my fallopian tube once again. I nearly died from complications of this ectopic pregnancy.

Below is an excerpt from my first novel, Emily’s Hope, and is based on the true story of my near-death experience, written in the third person. Fortunately, I survived and later gave birth to two more sons.

The following illustrates the powerful intercession of Our Lady, especially when death is whispering in one’s ear:

The pain in her abdomen became more excruciating with every passing moment. She sat on the sofa and dialed the number of the high school. It seemed like an eternity for the line to connect. One, two rings. Please, someone pick up, she silently begged. Hearing the secretary’s voice, Emily could barely speak, but she uttered enough to make it clear that she needed her husband. She dropped the phone and tried to take a deep breath. Feeling an overwhelming need to vomit, she rushed to the bathroom just in time to spill the contents of her stomach. She gripped the cold, hard toilet, as if in some way, it would make her pain bearable. Disoriented, she thought of her baby and quickly glanced at his smiling, inquisitive face, oblivious to his mother’s pain.

I’ve got to stay conscious for my baby, she repeated over and over again in her mind. She moved back to the floor next to the sofa, trying to sit upright with her young child next to her, while drifting in and out of consciousness. Keeping a death grip on him, she woke up as the paramedics were prying her hands off her son and placing her on a stretcher. It all seemed like a dream. She overheard the paramedics talking about what a “little thing” she was.

Too weak to make a sound, she wondered where her young son was. She caught a glimpse of her husband holding him at the back doors of the ambulance.

His right arm cradled their son’s little body, while his left hand clasped his small head to his chest as if to shield and protect him from the turmoil that surrounded them both. But her husband’s face. . .his face was so broken and distraught that Emily felt the anguish of a wife and mother abandoning her family. Tears welled up in her eyes and for a moment, Emily forgot her pain.

Then his eyes caught hers and he realized that she was watching him. Everything changed. His chin lifted as if for courage and penetrated her being with a look of tenderness, of confidence and reassurance. Whatever happens, I will be strong for you and for the sons we both love and for God, who has asked so much of you. He seemed to say all of this with his eyes, all of this and more. As his love reached out to her through the shouts of the paramedics and their frantic procedures, the beeping of machines and the overwhelming wail of the siren, its light already flashing, her terror began to fade and her heart surged within her. Now reassured, she allowed herself to fall back to sleep.

Emily’s eyes opened again this time as the paramedics were inserting an intravenous needle in her arm. Although it felt like they were stabbing her with an ice pick, all she could manage was a wince and a quiet moan. It seemed as if every ounce of energy had been sucked from her being. This is what it feels like to die.

Then she imagined her little boys’ faces, and suddenly the possibility of dying weighed heavy on her heart. Please, God, I can’t die, she silently prayed. I don’t want my little boys growing up without a mother. All at once, a feeling of warmth surrounded her, then she felt at peace. There was no bitterness, only acceptance, a calm that was huge enough to quiet an ocean. She silently recited a Hail Mary. . . .now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Those last words took on powerful meaning with the possibility that this could be her hour. She knew that whatever happened would be God’s will, and she would submit to that, whatever it was.

Drifting into unconsciousness, the last thing she heard was “We’re losing her…”

Emily’s Hope is available in print form and on Amazon Kindle. Leave a comment below before Friday, October 28th, to be entered to win a free Kindle copy of Emily’s Hope.

Copyright 2005 Ellen Gable Hrkach

The Joy of Mothering Musical Sons

When some people find out that I am the mother of five sons, they often tell me that they feel sorry for me (although I can’t imagine why). While I have found that boys are rambunctious and “busy” as toddlers, as pre-teens and teens, they have been a true joy.

Although I would have loved to have a daughter (and I’m certain I have at least a few up in heaven…see previous post Seven Little Souls in Heaven), I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as mother of all boys and I can’t imagine anything different.

Rewind 33 years ago…I first came up to Canada in 1978 to meet my pen-pal. She later invited me to a “rock band jam session” in which her brother was a member. I didn’t like rock music, but I wanted to be polite so I said yes. At the jam session, I noticed one curly-haired boy crouching down with his back toward me and playing the same three or four notes on his guitar. When he turned around, and I finally got a look at his face, he took my breath away.

We soon began a long distance relationship, married in 1982 and now have five sons (all musically talented like their Dad).

This short clip below was videotaped this past summer at the local park. Although our oldest son is not in the video, this clip shows my husband and sons’ unique musical talents (with the help of family friend, Jamie Bentz).

And at a moment like this, watching the fun they are having, I am very, very happy and proud to be the mother of five sons!