Julia’s Gifts A Finalist in the IAN Book Awards!

Finalist 2019 IAN image

My book, Julia’s Gifts: Great War Great Love #1, has been recently named a Finalist in the 2019 IAN Book Awards in both the Religious Fiction category and the Romance category!  A list of other winners can be found here at this link.

Julia’s Gifts is available in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese and will soon be available on Audible.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2019


Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day but the entire month of October is devoted to Infant Loss Remembrance. James and I feel very blessed and grateful to be the parents of five young adult sons (ages 20-32) and one beautiful grandson. We are also blessed to be the parents of seven precious babies we lost through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. This month, we remember in a special way these seven little souls (and intercessors) in heaven.

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

Among Women Podcast Episode 89 (Pat Gohn interviewed me about miscarriage and pregnancy loss)

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

Five Little Souls in Heaven (This article was written 25 years ago and published in the Nazareth Journal)

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

One of the themes of my first novel, Emily’s Hope, is pregnancy loss.

This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”

He handed the tiny one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held onto Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart beating fast.

The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.

Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.

(End of excerpt.)

If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death, please click on the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.

Here is a list of other novels that include themes about infant/pregnancy loss:

In Name Only by Ellen Gable

A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

Rose, Sola by Carmela Martino

The Rose and the Sword by Gina Marinello-Sweeney

Bane’s Eyes by Corinna Turner

Passport by Christopher Blunt

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

For Eden’s Sake by T.M. Gaouette

Life-Changing Love by Theresa Linden

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable


In memory of our seven little souls in heaven:

Baby Hrkach Twins (June 1986)

Baby Hrkach (February 1991)

Baby Hrkach (June 1991)

Mary Elizabeth Hrkach (June 1993)

Seth Hrkach (April 1998)

Lucy Hrkach (March 2006)

All in Good Time by Carolyn Astfalk Cover Reveal

All in Good Time

Coming Soon! With three rambunctious, young children, Melanie Lombardi can’t see beyond the day-to-day struggle to maintain her home and her sanity since her husband’s sudden death. A second chance at romance isn’t on her radar.
Brian Perella is done with dating, resigned to being the fun uncle and never the dad. Until he meets Melanie and her brood of lively kids on the sidelines of a Little League game.
But when Brian uncovers a co-worker’s secret, it re-ignites a temptation that Melanie can’t know about. It’s his secret to keep until an unexpected diagnosis brings everything to the surface, jeopardizing his future with Melanie and her children, who, when threatened by an unknown stalker, may need him now more than ever.

Open Book – October 2019

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for “An Open Book.”  Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past month (and will be reading this month).

front cover

Ella’s Promise (Great War-Great Love #3)

I’ve been editing, re-reading and re-editing for the past month.  The third in the Great War Great Love trilogy will be published on November 1, 2019!

Synopsis: When she joins the war effort during the Great War, American nurse Ella Neumann doesn’t see allies or enemies. The daughter of German immigrants, all she sees are human beings in need of care. A promise to herself and a promise made to her by an enemy officer become the catalyst for the life she plans to lead after the war. But a handsome Canadian soldier may complicate her plans. In this third installment of the Great War – Great Love series, join Ella in a tale of promises, betrayal and unconditional love.


Shubert and Sophie 

by Dr. Becky Bailey (illustrated by James Hrkach)

Synopsis: The beloved Shubert and Sophie books build character through conflict for both children and adults. An endearing lightning bug named Shubert, his little sister Sophie, and their friends at Bug Valley School demonstrate using the Seven Skills of Conscious Discipline to solve problems. Shubert’s parents and teacher model Conscious Discipline for adults.

My review: It’s hard to be unbiased since my husband illustrated all these books.  We just gave a full set to our grandson (and signed by his grandfather, the illustrator!), so we read through them again.  When James first began illustrating Shubert, our youngest son was in the womb! It’s hard to believe there are now so many of them and that we have a grandson to give them to! Highly recommend!


Without a Trace by Sylvia Wrigley

Amazon Synopsis: True Stories of Aircraft and Passengers Who Disappeared Into Thin Air.    For many, aviation still brings with it an air of mystery, a century-long magic trick. Though most of us will board an aircraft at some point in our lives, we know little about how they work and the procedures surrounding their operation. It is that mystery that makes these losses, such as the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, so terrifying.
Without a Trace explores the most interesting of these disappearances: mysteries that have baffled investigators for years. Occasionally tragic, frequently amusing, Without a Trace is unerringly accurate and informative.
The two Without a Trace volumes span 150 years and explore mysteries from around the world. This is volume one, beginning just before the golden age of aviation with a manned balloon swept over the English Channel, and ending with a top-secret spy plane disappearing at the height of the cold war. Each case is laid out in rich detail and presented chronologically, highlighting the historical context, official accident reports and contemporary news surrounding each mystery.
Where did they go?

Sylvia Wrigley introduces the crews, innocent bystanders and rescuers in this collection of true stories. Documenting the popular theories from each case, she uses her knowledge and experience as a pilot and an aviation journalist to demystify aviation jargon and narrow down each disappearance to the most likely explanations.
This collection takes a hard look at the human failings of great aviators, explorers and celebrities who have pushed the limits of flight and ended up at the heart of a mystery. The stories encompass airships, military jets and commercial airlines – all of which have vanished without a trace.

My review: I’m currently reading this.  It’s interesting (and I love a good missing persons/airplane story), but the author’s writing is a bit stilted.  Otherwise, it’s an interesting book. Review to come.

The Time in Between

The Time in Between by William Judd

Back cover synopsis: Fred Nash, an adolescent in the 1960’s, emerging from a repressive home life and seeking to recover from the loss of a first love, finds himself depressed and adrift.  Will he find a true path for himself, or will he succumb to chaos and despair in the midst of a decade of significant cultural change?

My review: This is a moving coming-of-age story about a young man in the sixties. I enjoyed all the different references to music, TV and movies because I was a young child of the sixties.  You can purchase the book here at this link.

The Time in Between by William Judd

The Time in Between

New Book by William Judd: The Time In Between

Synopsis:  Fred Nash, an adolescent in the 1960’s, emerging from a repressive home life and seeking to recover from the loss of a first love, finds himself depressed and adrift.  Will he find a true path for himself, or will he succumb to chaos and despair in the midst of a decade of significant cultural change?


“This is a remarkable book by a first-time author.  It is a coming-of-age story with all the trials and tribulations that that entails.  But it is an evocative remembrance of the sixties.  Bill Judd captures the tone and feel of the time:  the expressions, the tastes, the opinions, the small town parochialism of middle America, as well as the worries and joys unique to teenagers in that time and place.”

Leslie Graitcer, former Executive Director, Bell South Foundation

“Bill Judd’s The Time in Between is a gripping coming of age story interweaving the turbulence of adolescence  with the social upheaval of the 1960’s.  Judd’s personalized approach to the narrative also touches religious and family themes in a thought-provoking page turner, immersing the reader in the travails and travels of the main character, Fred Nash.”

Tom Bartlett, editor, author of Songs from the Lifeboat

author photo

About the Author

William Judd has lived in Concord, NH, for 32 years.  There he and his wife have raised five children.  He is a retired high school English teacher and hospital nurse.  This is his first novel.

Let Us Pray: Free Online Conference for Women

0924-TKiser-promo-pictureDo you struggle with prayer? Is your prayer life stagnant and in need of some zeal? Do you just need some encouragement to pray? Yes, yes, and yes. Am I right?

We all need some extra help with prayer, and that’s why the Let Us Pray Conference for Catholic Women is here.

During the week of October 7th (The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) and ending October 13 (Anniversary of the Miracle of Fatima) thousands of Catholic women will be gathered together online to spend time learning about prayer and actually praying.

Each day of this week-long conference, two 20-30 minute presentations will be available throughout the day to view for anyone who has signed up for the conference. An email reminder will be sent each day. Before viewing the presentation, women are asked to pray the short prayer provided on the web-page where the presentations are accessed. At the end of each presentation, women are asked to pray along with the presenter as he/she closes with prayer.

This free online conference is being brought to you by Heart Ridge Ministries. Formerly, Heart Ridge was Catholic Conference 4 Moms and Women producing similar yearly conferences, now available on Formed. Recently Heart Ridge Ministries has expanded beyond producing video programs for moms and women to developing an actual, physical conference and retreat center, with studio, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. For more information visit HeartRidgeMinistries.com.

Here are the presentations for the online “Let Us Pray” conference for Catholic women:

  • Praying with Mindfulness, with Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, S.T.D.
  • Praying like the Saints, with Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet​
  • Praying in the Midst of Suffering, with Mary Lenaburg
  • Praying with Your Temperament, with Stephanie Sanders
  • Praying during the Mass, with Dr. Ed Sri
  • Praying with Mary, with Dominican Nuns, Sr. Anna Sophia and Sr. Marie Celine
  • Praying with Little Ones, with Katie Warner
  • Praying while Fasting, with Ellen Gable Hrkach
  • Praying with “Hands Full,” with a panel of busy moms (10+ kids each)
  • Praying with Gratitude, with Dr. Susan Muto
  • Praying with and for Our Children, with Dr. John and Claire Grabowski
  • Praying the Rosary for Healing, with Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Although primarily for Catholic women, the conference is open to all. Women can sign up online.

Of particular interest to readers are the presentations specifically for mothers. One features a panel of mothers of large families — in fact, the average number of kids for these women is 9.3. They discuss how they make prayer a part of their busy homes. Katie Warner, author of many children’s books, talks about how to pray with your young children. She has wonderful examples and a fresh, positive attitude that can be encouraging for any family overrun by toddlers. And Dr. John and Claire Grabowski speak about praying with your children as they grow older. They show how that can look with teens and young adults at home.

Ideally, women can give 20-30 minutes a day during the week-long conference to listen and pray. If they want to give another 20 minutes, they can listen to the second presentation for that day.

But we all know that finding that time can be extremely difficult. Life happens. And even with the best intentions, presentations and prayers of the conference will be missed. However, not all is lost. God, the master of time, just wants a place in our hearts.

So even if you can’t “attend” the presentations or even pray the selected prayers — just seeing the reminder email and looking to God to give Him your busy day can be the most beautiful prayer of all.

And there is an Encore Day at the conference end to catch any presentations you missed!

Please spread the word. Let’s flood the world with prayer.

Learn more and sign up for the free “Let Us Pray” conference.