An Old-Fashioned Love Story: My Grandparents

My maternal grandparents, John and Bessie May, met as teenagers. In this photo from 1916 — they were married in November of that year — they look very happy and very much in love. They went on to build a wonderful life together, welcoming and raising five children. My grandfather was half American Indian and half German. Like most couples, they also had their share of heartbreaks and challenges. My mother was their fourth living child, and the first to proudly graduate high school.  Their descendants include 22 grandchildren (14 still living) and more than 30 great-grandchildren.

According to my mother, and from what I observed as a young child, they continued to grow in love and remained happily married. Over the years, my grandmother had gained a lot of weight, but my grandfather told her that it didn’t matter to him, because there was “a lot more of her to love.”

We have an old home 8 mm home movie of their 50th wedding anniversary celebration from 1966, and there is one scene where they are hugging.  It’s endearing, but also a bit humorous because my grandmother had had a bit too much to drink.

In July of 1967, my grandmother died of a stroke.  My grandfather was never quite the same.

Mom Mom and Pop Pop

Bessie and John May, January 1955

The last time I saw him was on Christmas Day, 1968.  My mother and I went to visit him in his house on Carlisle Street in South Philly.  When we came in, he was sitting in his chair by the front door, his head low, a cigarette between two fingers.  He looked up at us and I think his mouth almost lifted in a smile when he saw us, but his eyes seemed so sad. Before my grandmother died, he was very animated and he used to pull me into a big hug and kiss me.  That day we gave him a few gifts — I remember thinking that it might make him happy.  But he opened them and again, tried to smile, then nodded and said, “Merry Christmas.”  Mom tried to talk with him, but he didn’t appear to be in a talkative mood.

My grandfather passed away six weeks later (on February 7th, 1969, 48 years ago today). When I asked Mom how he died, she said, “He died of a broken heart.”

Their story is also included in my first novel, Emily’s Hope.

Remembering both of my grandparents today in a special way.

“May all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

Text and photos copyright 2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach

An Open Book – February 2017 #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

the-tree-cover

The Tree by Denise Mallett

Synopsis: With only two months to save his country, Josiah believes he has been dealt an impossible hand: he must find a myth… if a myth can be found. Setting out into hostile wilderness with a man who serves the queen–but is the King’s man–Josiah begins crossing into the wilds of his own soul… and into a realm beyond reason.

As masks begin to slip, Rianne’s aristocratic life is revealed as all but secure. Believing herself to stand alone against a master thespian and murderer, caught between the treacherous past and a bleeding future, she is forced to wonder if darkness has the power to consume the light

Review: I was given this book by the author’s mother a few years ago and I must say, it was not what I expected.  The story is engaging, the characters well-developed and the writing is more like that of a seasoned professional than a debut author.  Highly recommend!  Look for more books by this talented author soon! (Not available yet on Amazon, but it is available at the author’s website above).

broken-brain

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith (Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness) by Virginia Pillars

Synopsis: Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is the story of one family’s journey through schizophrenia, navigating the uncharted waters of mental illness to find help for their daughter, Amber, and support for their family. This memoir is an honest look at the stress, anger, education, and finally, hope experienced through eyes of a mother. Along the way, she questions her trust in God as their family encounters setbacks, inadequate treatments, and additional family health crises, but with the help of trusted family, friends, education, and support groups, author Virginia Pillars learns to rely on her faith as she faces the challenges that often accompany mental illness.

Review: This was an excellent read, well-written and compelling.   Thankfully, we are moving away from the stigma of talking about mental illness.  Back in the sixties, my father (now deceased) suffered from schizophrenia as well as manic depression.  But it wasn’t something he could share with either employers or anyone outside of the family. In this book, the author takes us step by step through her journey of, at first, disbelief, then frustration to — finally — hope and recovery.  Highly recommend!

love-letters

 Love Letters of the Great War

Synopsis: From the private papers of Winston Churchill to the tender notes of an unknown Tommy in the trenches, Love Letters of the Great War brings together some of the most romantic correspondence ever written. Many of the letters collected here are eloquent declarations of love and longing; others contain wrenching accounts of fear, jealousy and betrayal; and a number share sweet dreams of home. But in all the correspondence – whether from British, American, French, German, Russian, Australian and Canadian troops in the height of battle, or from the heartbroken wives and sweethearts left behind – there lies a truly human portrait of love and war. A century on from the start of the First World War, these letters offer an intimate glimpse into the hearts of men and women separated by conflict, and show how love can transcend even the bleakest and most devastating of realities.

Review: I enjoyed reading these letters and purchased this book for research for my work in progress entitled, Julia’s Gifts (Great War – Great Love #1).  It’s a sometimes heart-wrenching read, especially since some of the authors of the letters died after writing these beautiful notes to their wives, girlfriends, fiancees. There are also letters from the women to the men.  If you enjoy history, this is a wonderful nostalgic read.

Registration for Catholic Writers Conference Online 2017 Opens

CONTACT:

Karina Fabian
E-mail: karina@fabianspace.com

Laura Lowder  E-mail: laura.lowder@gmail.com 

For Immediate Release

World Wide Web—The Catholic Writers’ Guild will hold its annual online conference for writers Feb 17-19, 2017.  This faith-focused authors conference offers presentations covering all aspects of writing from the faith aspects of your calling as a writer to publishing and marketing your books.  There will also be online pitch sessions with noted Catholic publishers and secular publishers.

Attendees must register by Feb 10 at https://catholicwritersguild.org/catholic-writers-conference-online-admission-non-members.

The conference will be held using webinar software, making the experience more personal and immediate.

“Last year, we had amazing success with presentations in webinar format. It took the learning to a new level,” said organizer Karina Fabian. Fabian said the workshops offer terrific opportunities to ask in-depth questions and get feedback from knowledgeable instructors.

This year’s sessions include a wide range of talents, including speakers like Lisa Mladinich, host of the TV talk show WOMAN; Lisa Hendey, author and founder of CatholicMom.com, horror author Karen Ullo, and attorney Antony Kolenc. In addition, there are practical workshops on indie publishing, Goodreads, characterization and more.

Pitch sessions give authors with finished books a chance to personally interest a publisher.  Pitch sessions include well known Catholic publishers like Our Sunday Visitor and Ave Maria, and secular presses like Liberty Island and Vinspire.

“Every year, we hear back from an author who finished a book, started a project, or got a publishing contract thanks to the Catholic Writers’ Conference Online.  Plus people make contacts and good friends.  It’s a terrific opportunity, especially for those who can’t afford to attend a live conference,” Fabian said.

This year’s conference is $40; $30 for members of the Catholic Writers’ Guild. To register or for more information, go to https://catholicwritersguild.org/online-conference.

If you are a Catholic writer, please consider joining us!  I will be speaking about “An Author’s Guide to Goodreads.”

An Open Book – January 2017 #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month:

joy-to-the-world

Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does) by Scott Hahn

From the Amazon summary: The cast of characters is strange and exotic: shepherds and magicians, an emperor and a despot, angels, and a baby who is Almighty God. The strangeness calls for an explanation, and this book provides it by examining the characters and the story in light of the biblical and historical context.

Bestselling author Scott Hahn who has written extensively on Scripture and the early Church, brings evidence to light, dispelling some of the mystery of the story. Yet Christmas is made familiar all over again by showing it to be a family story. Christmas, as it appears in the New Testament, is the story of a father, a mother, and a child–their relationships, their interactions, their principles, their individual lives, and their common life. To see the life of this “earthly trinity” is to gaze into heaven.

My review:  Excellent book, a kind of “behind-the-scenes” narrative. I was able to buy the Kindle edition for 1.99 when it was on sale a few weeks ago.

unsinkable

Unsinkable: a Memoir by Debbie Reynolds

From the Amazon summary: Unsinkable is the definitive memoir by film legend and Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds. Actress, comedienne, singer, and dancer Debbie Reynolds shares the highs and lows of her life as an actress during Hollywood’s Golden Age, anecdotes about her lifelong friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and her experiences as the foremost collector of Hollywood memorabilia, and intimate details of her marriages and family life with her children, Carrie and Todd Fisher.

My review: Like most people, I was shocked at Carrie Fisher’s death last week and then just one day later, equally saddened by her mother’s death.  I’ve always liked both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but this book gives the reader a better idea of all the heartbreak and financial challenges Debbie has had to face in her life. The Kindle edition was reduced in price a few days after Debbie’s death so I took advantage and downloaded it. For mature audiences only.

heart-div

A Heart Divided: A Novel by Kathleen Morgan

From the Amazon summary: It is 1878 and the Caldwells and Wainwrights have been feuding for decades. Still, Sarah Caldwell has misgivings when her father pressures her into distracting a ranch hand while he and her brothers rob the Wainwright place. When it becomes clear that hand is actually Cord Wainwright, Sarah realizes she needs to lay low. But Cord spots her in town and, with the sheriff away, makes a citizen’s arrest, dragging her off to the Wainwright ranch until the sheriff’s return. As the feud boils over, Cord and Sarah make a most inconvenient discovery they are falling in love. Can they betray their families for love? Or will their families betray them? Against the beautiful and wild backdrop of the Rocky Mountains comes this sweeping saga of romance, betrayal, and forgiveness from beloved author Kathleen Morgan.

My review:  Just started reading this one, but if it’s like other Kathleen Morgan books, it will be a clean, Christian romance that I will thoroughly enjoy.

 

Discovery Only .99 on #Kindle! One Day Only!

discovery-front-finalDiscovery by Karina Fabian, is on sale for only .99 today!

Synopsis: Sisters Ann, Tommie and Rita are part of a classified mission to explore an alien ship that has crash landed on an asteroid three billion miles from earth. Humanity’s first contact with beings from beyond the solar system is bound to unlock the mystery of life in the universe… but the crew have their own secrets; hidden fears, desires, horrible sins – and a mission to kill. Researchers discover something unique about the third arm of the ship: something wonderful, terrifying and…holy. This discovery challenges Rita and Ann to confront their own pasts in order to secure the safety of the mission and the very souls of the crew.

Review: Karina Fabian’s Discovery is a suspenseful space adventure with deep roots that extend to questions about life, death, faith, and purpose.  The crew members of the Edwina Taggert have radically different motives for embarking on a mission to explore an alien vessel. With the dexterity of an Isaac Asimov or Larry Niven, Fabian makes the science and speculative science of the story accessible, deftly weaving it into the fabric of the story.   What the crew of Discovery finds when they arrive at their destination challenges their beliefs, aspirations, and schemes, and keeps the reader wondering to the last page.  T.M. Doran, author of Toward the Gleam, Terrapin, Iota

Excerpt:  Augustus laughed and put a friendly arm around James’ shoulder, leading him down to the ship’s offices. He said nothing more until they got to the conference room. He held the door open for James, and when they had stepped through, announced, “Gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Dr. James Smith. He thinks I want him to find Atlantis.”

Two men sat at the table. The younger dressed in jeans and a gray collared shirt with the Luna Technological University logo over the pocket; his mousy brown hair and pale brown eyes combined with a tense, nervous posture reminded James of many worried grad students he had known. The older, a fifty-something man dressed in a similar shirt but with tweed pants, nodded James’ way. His relaxed full-throated chuckle was for Cole’s benefit.

Augustus continued, “James, this is Dr. William Thoren, Dean of Astrophysics at LunaTech, and this is Chris Davidson.” “My protégé,” Thoren added when Augustus paused.

The entrepreneur’s eyes flicked in annoyance. He hated having his dramatic moments spoiled. Nonetheless, he continued on as if the dean had not spoken. “Chris has been working on a rather uninspiring project for his doctorate that has had a surprising result. But wait!”

With that impish grin, he reached into his pockets and pulled out four small devices, which he set at four points of the room. When he pressed the remote in his hand, they heard a brief hum, then a shimmery fog formed a dome over them. No one outside the dome would be able to hear them and would only see vague shapes.

Scientists from the moon? Security fields? Well, if Augustus wants my attention, he’s got it. James took a seat at the table, and cocked a brow at Augustus. “So you’ve found the Lost City of Atlantis in space?”

“Close, my friend. Close. Chris?”

Chris gave a brief glance at his supervisor, and Thoren nodded in a benign, “carry on.” He pulled out a handheld computer, set it on the small table, and pressed some buttons. A holographic map of the solar system from the Sun to the asteroid belt appeared, beautifully detailed and large enough that James had to sit back a bit.

“Sir, are you familiar with the Kuiper Belt?” Chris asked.

James shrugged. What’s going on? “Ky-per Belt? That’s not like the asteroid belt?”

“This is the asteroid belt.” Chris set his finger on the thin line of rocks just past Mars’ orbit. He slowly pulled his finger toward himself. As he did, planets rushed past James’ field of vision: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. A moment of black space, then the image stopped at a smattering of dots of various sizes.

“This is the Kuiper Belt. K-U-I-P-E-R, even though it’s pronounced ‘Kyper.’ It’s really just the rubble left over from the formation of the solar system. Most of it isn’t even rock, but ice. Comets come from here. We don’t hear much about it because the distances even from the Outer Planets mean it’s not really cost effective to live or work there. And since the commercialization of space, most people don’t even care…”

“Excuse me, Chris, but why am I getting an astronomy lesson?”

The entrepreneur grinned. “Give him a minute.” He jerked his head encouragingly at the grad student, who gave him a shy smile in return.

From the corner of his eye, James saw Thoren glower; then, the expression was smoothed away.

Chris didn’t notice. “Okay, the last time anyone has bothered to explore the Kuiper Belt was with the Seeker Probe of 2215. The American President, Linda Montero-Fadil, pretty much pushed it through on personality and stubbornness, but they called it Fadil’s Folly…” Thoren cleared his throat.

“Anyway!” Chris started, then floundered a moment, his train of thought derailed. He took a breath, touched an area of the map with two fingers and pulled it apart, expanding that area. He did it again and again, then rotated it and circled an object with a dark center. The rest of the map fell away.

“This is 2217RB86. Seeker did a flyby of it and its neighboring objects. That’s what you call, um, objects in the Kuiper Belt. Or Ky-boes. That’s what we call them at the university. So, this Ky-bo caught my attention because it’s got some very unusual readings, especially around this dark dot… I won’t bore you with the details. The point is, Dr. Thoren was able to get us some time on Old COOT — that’s a telescope on L5 Station – and um…” He stopped to glance around, as if making sure the security field was still in place. Then he pressed another button and pulled up a different, sharper image of the Ky-bo.

“We found this.”

“Oh, my.” James leaned forward, his nose only inches from the image. The dark circle had resolved into six crescent arms jutting from a sphere. One arm was partially dug into the rock.

“He didn’t find Atlantis,” Augustus smirked.

No, he didn’t.

Chris Davidson had discovered an alien starship.

 

Discovery by Karina Fabian, on sale for .99 today!

 

 

An Open Book – December #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading this month:

Donkey BellsDonkey Bells by Catherine Doherty

This is one of my favorite Advent books.  I love to curl up in a comfy chair next to a warm woodstove and read this wonderful book during December.  It’s also a great companion to lighting the Advent wreath each night.

From the publisher: Meaningful and heartwarming stories, customs which you can adopt into your own Christmas celebration, and earthy and inspiring meditations to prepare the entire family for Christ’s coming. Discover how Christians celebrated Christmas before the days of television, shopping malls, and the Internet…

Catherine Doherty is well known for reviving many holy Christian traditions. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most ‘expectant’ of holiday seasons, you’ll receive wonderful gifts.  Purchase it at the publisher’s website here (it’s available in print or ebook).

 

wrath-of-the-angelWrath of the Angel by John R. Monteith

I’m about two-thirds of the way through this book and it’s quite a compelling read.  Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

Warriors who take cybernetic control of predatory animals. A wounded soldier-turned alcoholic exorcist. A child who attacks with his mind. As Nate Clark leads his brothers out of a broken childhood, he discovers his supernatural ability to wield eagles, wolves, and leopards as weapons. His journey to establish his self-worth by protecting good people from evil attracts Father Mark Bannen, who suspects demonic manipulation as the source of Nate’s apparently benevolent powers.

Questioning if his ends justify his means, Nate must decide if he can marry the woman he loves, draw vengeful blood, and protect his life’s work from the exorcist who threatens to expel its source.

The occult clashes with Christianity; a priest battles demons; and an epic journey of dark versus light explores the limits of mankind’s understanding of nature’s conflicting forces.  It’s only .99 on Amazon Kindle.

 

A Subtle Grace Only .99 on Kindle!

A Subtle Grace front cover Nov2013For the next five days, the stand alone sequel to my second book, In Name Only, A Subtle Grace  is on sale for only .99!!

Of A Subtle Grace, Trisha Niermeyer Potter of Prints of Grace Blog said, “This is one of my favorite contemporary works of Catholic fiction. The storytelling is masterful, the characters fascinating, and the writing is of high literary quality. People are imperfect—past, present, and future—but each is given the opportunity to grow, change, learn, and be redeemed. In this story it’s shown how the greatest mistake of our lives can be turned into one of the most amazing blessings and even be a source of hope for others. Life’s messy. People are complex. We’ve all got some skeletons in our closets, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t also fit some trophies and triumphs in there as well. A Subtle Grace has all of the elements that good Catholic fiction should.”

In her review, Jean Heimann, Catholic author and blogger, wrote that “In A Subtle Grace, Gable shows us through her characters, what happens when an individual lives his/her life based on principles rather than on passions. She clearly conveys the differences between love as a feeling vs. love as a choice, illustrating the consequences of each. Themes of redemption, forgiveness, discerning one’s vocation, healing, hope, and joy, all contribute to make this a story that tugs at the heart. A sequel to In Name Only, A Subtle Grace works well as an independent, stand-alone novel. You will definitely want to read both. A Subtle Grace is excellent read for historical romance fans. Those who enjoy Christian romance and suspense novels will find this story particularly enjoyable. This is a winner!”

Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author of Frozen Footprints says, “A Subtle Grace is the sequel to the lovely book In Name Only, yet A Subtle Grace can be enjoyed independently. Of course, readers of the first book won’t want to miss this one! The story kept me so interested that I hardly realized this was, in fact, a lengthy book. A Subtle Grace is a novel to stir your heart, your emotions, and your soul. I highly recommend it!”

Click here to read an excerpt and more reviews.

To download the book for only .99, click here.