Sunday Snippets – September 29

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place for Sunday Snippets, where we share our posts from the previous week and answer a common question. This week’s question: Share a family sacramental memory–the cute thing the kid said, the cake at the party, you in your wedding dress, the family gathered around the baby–anything is fair game as long as it at least sort of involved a sacrament.

I have two favorites: Most recently, when I embarked on a Sacramental Pilgrimage for the Year of Faith…and second, when we traveled to Toronto as a family for World Youth Day 2002 and attended the huge outdoor Mass with John Paul II. I do have photos somewhere, although not digitally. When JP II arrived in a helicopter, my then six-year-old son was so excited that he later drew a picture of the “Pope” arriving (helicopter and all) and asked me to send it to the Pope. A few months later, we were delighted to receive a lovely note back that the Holy Father had read his letter, enjoyed the picture and sent his blessings to our family.

And now for my only actual post this week. My blogging time has been limited as I’ve been focusing on three other projects:

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 90

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach


7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 90

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

1. A Subtle Grace Progress/Interesting 1907 Photo
I’ve been working diligently implementing edits on my upcoming novel, A Subtle Grace, and I think I’m nearly done. In doing research, I discovered several cool photos from the early 1900’s with so much clarity and detail, I felt like I was there. Below is one of the photos of the Seaside (House) Hotel in Atlantic City (three characters visit this hotel during my novel). To see a super high resolution version, click here.

photo courtesy Shorpy

photo courtesy Shorpy

2. Atlantic City (late 19th Century) Pamphlet
Also in my ongoing research, I found this cool Atlantic City pamphlet from the 1880’s. Fascinating stuff (I love history!) Luxurious rooms at hotels at the time were between four and five dollars. Research for the 21st century author is as easy as sitting at the computer!

3. Don’t You Forget About Me Release Date Coming Soon!
FQ Publishing’s upcoming novel, Don’t You Forget About Me, will be released on November 1st. Check out the novel’s website to see the book trailer, read a synopsis and peruse advanced reviews. Erin McCole Cupp, author, will be doing a blog tour beginning a week or so before and well into November. I’ll be interviewing Erin on November 1st and doing a giveaway of a free print edition and free Kindle edition. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!First Createspace Front

4. Immense Bird Sighting
Not sure I’ve ever seen this before and I don’t think I captured it very well in the photo. As I waited for my son to finish work, I happened to notice an enormous group of birds (perhaps sparrows? Not sure) flying in unison. I’ve seen birds flying together before, but not this many. I probably should have taken a video, but this photo will have to suffice (the darkish area in the middle are the birds…)

copyright Ellen Hrkach

copyright Ellen Hrkach

5. Skinny Popcorn
I’ve discovered this wonderful and diet conscious snack. Costco carried it for a short time on a trial basis up here in Canada (and it evidently flew off the shelves), but it’s widely available in the USA and available on It is the best popcorn I’ve ever tasted and I don’t have to feel guilty eating it because it’s only about 40 calories a bowlful. Here’s the Skinny Popcorn website.

6. Reading Shelf
I’m currently reading two unpublished manuscripts for the CWG Seal of Approval and, while I can’t say the titles, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the first one and I am equally entertained with the second (reviews will follow, along with the names of the books!)

7. Another One Cartoon

Cartoon copyright James and Ellen Hrkach, Full Quiver Publishing Please do not use without permission

Cartoon copyright James and Ellen Hrkach, Full Quiver Publishing Please do not use without permission

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Sunday Snippets – September 21

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

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

This week’s question: “Tell us what you like best about your parish.” One of the things I like best about our parish is that it’s small and intimate.

7 Quick Takes Friday (An inspiring commercial, a new cartoon and a few other tidbits)

Treason by Dena Hunt – Book Review (comment for a chance to win a free copy!!)

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 89

7_quick_takes_sm1It’s that time to join with other Catholic bloggers at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

1. And the Winner Is…
The winner of last week’s book giveaway (Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious by Pat Gohn) is Angelina. Please send your mailing address and I’ll get this book in the mail to you.

2. Treason by Dena Hunt (Book Review)
If you didn’t win last week’s book, it’s not too late to win another book. Check out my review for Treason. And if you leave a comment before September 27th, you’ll be entered to win a copy of this wonderful novel.

3. Oh What a Beautiful Morning

4. Love This Time of Year
My husband and I enjoyed a long kayak ride the other day; there were no other boats in the lake, only seagulls, ducks and other small animals.

copyright 2013 Ellen Hrkach please do not use without permission

copyright 2013 Ellen Hrkach please do not use without permission

copyright 2013 Ellen Hrkach please do not use without permission

copyright 2013 Ellen Hrkach please do not use without permission

5. Inspiring Commercial

6. Reading Shelf
Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage by Cheryl Dickow
The One Thing is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything by Fr. Mike Gaitley

7. Touche Cartoon
Our most recent cartoon from Family Foundations magazine.

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

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

Text and photos copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Treason by Dena Hunt (Book Review)

Published by Sophia Institute Press (2013)

It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.” (Blessed Pope John Paull II, Salvifici Doloris)

This quote by Blessed John Paul II could well be the theme of Dena Hunt’s exquisite novel, Treason, which takes place in 16th Century England when Catholicism was outlawed. Suffering for the faith in our current North American culture is something most modern Catholics have never considered. Religious apathy is evidenced by half-filled churches and the large numbers of Catholics who openly dissent from Church teachings on abortion, contraception, same sex unions and premarital sex.

Since Adam and Eve, sin has been present, but what I have observed is that religious apathy, poorly-formed consciences and subjective truth have made the above sinful behaviors acceptable and the norm. It’s becoming more and more difficult for Catholics to practice their faith in our current society.

So what does all this have to do with Dena Hunt’s exciting new novel, Treason? Well, a lot. Catholics in Elizabethan England were not permitted to practice their faith. Monasteries had their roofs torn off, convents and churches were looted, their artworks and artifacts were removed and stolen.

Catholics were expected to change their religion and attend Church of England services (or face huge fines). But many Catholics retained their faith and were forced underground to recite rosaries, go to confession and attend Mass when a priest was available.

Priests always bore the brunt of the crown’s cruel martyrdom because they were seen as traitors: if they were captured, they were tortured, hung and before death, taken down, drawn and quartered. In fact, Treason is dedicated to Blessed Father Nicholas Postgate, “a Catholic priest who faithfully served his ‘parish’ in the wilds of the Yorkshire moors, always traveling by foot, until he was arrested, hanged, drawn, and quartered at York, at the age of eighty.”

As well, lay people also suffered martyrdom during this time. Those suspected of harboring priests were hung without a trial.

Hunt’s story centers around a young priest, Father Stephen Long, who arrives in England to secretly minister to the large numbers of underground Catholics. He wonders “how many more Catholics will have to die to make Queen Elizabeth feel secure.” Every time he hears confession or celebrates Holy Mass, he knows he is committing high treason against the Crown, the penalty of which is torture and a painful death.

The other main character is Caroline. From the time she was a young girl, Caroline has known that she has been called by God to a contemplative religious vocation. Her mother has died and Caroline is forced by her father into a “safe” marriage to a Protestant. Her husband is not unkind, but he is frustrated by his “wife’s” lack of desire. He realizes that her love for him is no different than the love she feels towards all humanity. For Caroline, she must keep her faith secret from her husband. Her vocation is stifled and her suffering is internal. In many ways, Hunt portrays, this is a more difficult suffering to endure. Caroline cannot outwardly practice her faith, but more importantly, she cannot live the vocation to which God is calling her.

This is not a morbid book filled only with death. Nor is it a happy-go-lucky story. It is a difficult story to read because suffering and martyrdom were a way of life for Catholics during a time when religious liberty was ripped away from them. In that regard, the author does an excellent job of illustrating grace in action. Surprisingly, this novel also includes a few underlying theology of the body themes, which I did not expect from a novel that takes place in the 1500’s.

Treason is an artistic masterpiece of Catholic literature and is Catholic fiction at its finest. It has a cast of well-developed, believable characters and beautiful writing, rich in imagery. I savored each sentence and each scene like a piece of fine chocolate. In fact, once I reached the end, I was disappointed. This book is literary candy and I wanted more.

However, this novel is so much more than artistic mastery. Treason is a moving and inspiring reminder that our Catholic faith is a great gift and the freedom to express our faith is also a gift and should never be taken for granted.

This is the kind of book that should become a classic of Catholic literature. Only 4.99 on Kindle, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If I could give it more than five stars, I would.

Five stars out of five.

I’m giving away one free print copy of Treason (with thanks to Sophia Press). To be entered to win, please leave a comment and let me know why you’d like to win this wonderful novel (before Friday, September 27th).

Or…buy the Kindle edition here; and buy the print version here.

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Sunday Snippets – September 14

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at RAnn’s Place as we share our previous week’s posts.

This week’s question: Name and link to two Catholic blogs you really enjoy. I enjoy “The Joy of Nine” Melanie Jean Juneau’s blog (Melanie sometimes participates in Sunday Snippets) and “Will Eat For Tomato Pie”, Erin McCole Cupp’s blog.

Here are my posts:

Blessed Beautiful and Bodacious Book Review (comment for a chance to win a free autographed book!)

7 Quick Takes Friday – Volume 88

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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