I’m giving away five free audio-books of Stealing Jenny, narrated by Lisa Reichert.
The first five who leave a comment will receive a code for a free audio-book!
I’m giving away five free audio-books of Stealing Jenny, narrated by Lisa Reichert.
The first five who leave a comment will receive a code for a free audio-book!
The Italian Edition of Julia’s Gifts will be available within the next few weeks on ebook and Paperback. Links coming soon. Special thanks to Daniela Mastropasqua (translator) and Adelia Marino (editor) for their thorough and awesome job!!
Julia’s Gifts is also being translated into Portuguese, French and Italian. Those translations should be available before the end of October.
The Spanish edition of Stealing Jenny is available on Kobo and Barnes and Noble Nook and will soon be available on other ebook sites and in Paperback. Special thanks to Saskia Di Stefano who did an awesome job with the translation!
I’m really looking forward to sharing the audiobook of Julia’s Gifts, which is currently in production. I continue to be in awe of all the wonderful narrators/producers on ACX. Special thanks to narrator Kristen S. Osborne. We are hoping this will be available by mid or late September.
The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt encompasses the beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church on same sex relationships. It won the 2016 Catholic Arts and Letter Award for Adult Fiction.
Paul Meyer has never let anyone get too close. Until Max. The Lion’s Heart is a heart-rending story about love and sacrifice. The emotional struggle of Paul’s same-sex attraction, the guilt he feels, and his ambivalence toward his Catholic faith all come together in this look inside the heart of a tortured man.
It wasn’t the deception, unpleasant as it was, that troubled him. In fact, he simply couldn’t put his finger on it. All he knew that was truly different with Max was that he loved him. And it was that, that single stark truth, which made everything different. He never loved before… He put the empty wine glass on the balcony floor beside him and tried to find again that mysterious, interior quiet that city noise always brought him. But he felt instead a kind of disquiet that seemed urgent… Love was never wrong. He’d heard that so often from sincere people, good people… ‘Love is never wrong.’ More than a platitude, it became a mantra. No one could argue with it, not without being judgmental or bigoted. Paul himself always believed it, although he never thought much about it before—never had much reason to think about it. But then, he’d never really loved anyone before…
“Dena Hunt is a consummate storyteller who does not shirk or shy away from the difficult questions about life and love that her story raises. The Lion’s Heart contains not only the loves of lovers, spouses, parents, and children but also the demons and dragons that selfishness unleashes. The Lion’s Heart is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for the hard-hearted. It pulsates with a passion that will bring true hearts to their knees.” Joseph Pearce, author of The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, co-editor of the St. Austin
“It may be fiction but The Lion’s Heart reflects a truth that is as real as the sunrise. The moral conflicts and dilemmas are treated with dignity and there are no easy answers, though, thank God, there are answers. The style, beauty, and flow of Dena’s writing speaks for itself. I could not give this book a higher rating, for it is at the top of the charts. I thank Ms. Hunt for having the courage and the beauty of heart to see, feel, and love as she did – for this book is, above all, a work of love. May it be accepted as such.” A.K. Frailey, author The Deliverance Trilogy
“Dena Hunt conveys some of the very real struggles of those persons who have same-sex attractions (SSA), especially the shame, confusion, and misery that can accompany such feelings. She shows how that suffering can affect family and friends. The path to understanding homosexuality requires abundant patience, prudence, and good will because the topic is not primarily a controversial cultural issue, but rather a complex personal reality. It is one for which there is not one simple or general explanation – or response. This novel gives us a glimpse into the lives and hearts of those touched by SSA who are striving to understand themselves, and so to love genuinely after the example of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church.” Rev. Paul Check, Executive Director, Courage
“Whatever side of controversy you call home, this book is a game-changer. With The Lion’s Heart, Dena Hunt gives us a compassionate story courageously told, depicting the truth in all its dimensions. Readers will never be the same, and with The Lion’s Heart, the landscape of faith-based fiction is changed forever.” Erin McCole Cupp, author, Don’t You Forget About Me
“The Lion’s Heart is a rocketing page-turner that had me hooked from beginning to end. The characters’ very genuine experiences with same- sex attraction, and its consequences, led me to a much deeper understanding and empathy for all those who must bear this burden. Above all, this story powerfully brings to life the reality that love often means saying “no” to one’s own desires, and instead choosing what is truly good for the other.” Christopher Blunt, author of Passport
You can purchase The Lion’s Heart on Kindle at this link.
It’s also available in paperback at this link.
I had a wonderful time in Lancaster, Pennsylvania this past week at the Catholic Writers Conference Live and the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show! Here are just a few of the highlights.
I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading this past month:
Amazon Synopsis: Few creatures of horror have seized readers’ imaginations and held them for so long as the anguished monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story of Victor Frankenstein’s terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense. Considering the novel’s enduring success, it is remarkable that it began merely as a whim of Lord Byron’s. “We will each write a story,” Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron’s proposal. The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.”
My review: This was actually a very entertaining book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had seen several movie versions of this book, but they’re quite different from the original story. Beautifully written and with a interesting premise written more than 200 years ago.
Amazon Synopsis: April 1986 : American F – 111 warplanes bomb the Al Azziyah compound in Libya where President Gadhafi is residing. A 16-year-old youth, Asad – Arabic for ‘lion ‘ – loses his mother, two brothers and two sisters in the raid. Asad sees himself as chosen to avenge not only his family but his nation, his religion and the Great Leader – Gadhafi. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.Twelve years later, Asad arrives in New York City, intent on killing all five surviing pilots across America who participated in the bombing , one by one. John Corey – from the international bestseller PLUM ISLAND – is no longer with the NYPD and is working for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force. He has to stop Asad’s revenge killings. But first he has to find him.A thrillingly entertaining read from a master storyteller.
My review: Most of the beginning chapters take place in and around an airport and an airplane. So when I had read the paperback years ago (yes, when I was at an airport), I found it to be quite compelling. Recently, I downloaded the audio-book so that my husband and I might have a book to listen to on our way to Cincinnati for the Humanae Vitae 50 Conference (#HV50CCL). It’s even better as an audio-book, because I find that when I read a page-turner, I’m almost skimming. When I listen, there’s no skimming and I’m actually hearing the story in a whole new way. I love the John Corey series (although he can be a crass character with his language). Excellent and well-drawn characters.
Amazon synopsis: Through their heartfelt and inspiring book, Passionate Parent Passionate Couple, Ed and Betty Coda provide you with practical wisdom and upbeat, moving insights about how you can: • Create a foundation of love, trust and support that pulls your family together • Rejoice in your children and strengthen your marriage through parenting • Develop clear, honest communication skills that include fun and humor • Cultivate an environment of belonging and generosity within your home.
My review: I met Ed and Betty at the recent #HV50CCL Conference earlier in July. They are a wonderful CCL teaching couple from Hawaii and had sent several boxes of books to the conference (and as I recall, none ended up arriving at the conference! Thankfully, they insured their packages!) We had some lovely chats and agreed to do a book exchange. I haven’t read the entire book, but what I have read is wonderful.
Another reprint in celebration of #NFP Week and the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae:
When I was eight years old, I had no idea that what my eyes were seeing was, in actuality, a huge blur. Even my parents didn’t realize that I needed glasses. Because my eyesight had gotten worse so gradually, no one knew that I could not see well until the religious sisters at school sent a note home to my parents indicating that I should have my eyes checked.
There were hints, of course, that neither my parents nor myself noticed. I used to watch TV basically within an inch or so of the TV. When I read, the book was on top of my face. However, according to my mom, she never noticed me squinting. Again, I thought what I was seeing was normal and didn’t realize I couldn’t see clearly.
My mother eventually took me to an optometrist in downtown Philly to have my eyes tested, then we ordered glasses. I could not suspect how much my life would change with that small pair of (ugly) glasses. When we returned to Philly to pick them up, the elderly optometrist put me on a booster seat in the chair, took out the glasses and put them on my face. My eyes widened and my mouth fell open. I gasped. I could see every detail and every letter of every word in that office. I could see across the street. I remember the wide smile the optometrist had on his face as I was pointing out everything I could see.
On our way home, I kept pointing to everything. “Look, Mommy, I can see the Horn and Hardart’s sign! I can see that store says “Lit Brothers! I can see that pretty dress in the window over there!” Colors were brighter; it even seemed like I could hear better now that I could see so clearly. I was still in awe that night when I could watch Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In from 20 feet away and still see everything clearly. To me, it was nothing short of a miracle.
In the years following, although I went to Catholic school, my family had begun to fall away from the regular practice of going to Mass and I began learning my morals from television.
Fast-forward to 1979. I had visited my pen-pal in Canada and met my husband through her brother at a rock band jam session. We fell in “like at first sight” and began a long-distance relationship with me in NJ and him in Canada. However, when we were together, things usually got pretty intense, given that we rarely saw each other. I wanted to enter into a sexual relationship, but thankfully James had a pretty strong Catholic grounding so he kept us from going farther than we should. Three years later, when we were engaged and about to be married, it was James (age 19) who insisted that we use Natural Family Planning (NFP) and not artificial birth control. I saw no moral reason why we shouldn’t use artificial birth control, but he remained adamant. “I would rather have sex once a month without birth control than use birth control and have sex every day.” I remember thinking, “What planet is he from?”
However, as we communicated through letters (back in the early ’80s there was no free long distance, no texts, no SnapChat, no Facebook, no Instant Messaging, no Skype, no Facetime, no Instagram or any other instant communication), I realized this was no ordinary young man. The advantage of writing with snail mail letters is that we were able to take time and reflect on what we wanted to say. It became obvious that contraception was something that James was not willing to budge on. When he said, “Ellie, trust me and trust God,” I said say yes and agreed to go to an NFP class with him. I learned that NFP works in this way: a couple charts the woman’s signs of fertility and infertility. If they are avoiding pregnancy, they abstain from relations when the woman is fertile.
One thing we both agreed on and that was that we should wait for a few years to have children since James was only in his first year of college. A few days before our wedding, we realized that I would be right in the middle of the fertile time, which meant that our consummation would have to wait until a week or so after the wedding. After waiting three years, I was resentful. I went along with NFP, but was not happy about it. NFP seemed like a burden, not a gift.
A few months into our marriage on an evening that would be the beginning of Phase III (the infertile time), we had a romantic dinner and a beautiful evening of intimacy after a period of abstinence. All of a sudden, as I was lying in bed later that night, I realized that James and I were truly one, physically and spiritually, with nothing separating us: no pills, devices, no chemicals, no surgeries. With each act of marital intimacy, I felt as if we were renewing our marriage vows with our bodies.
That evening (and many others to follow) truly felt like another honeymoon night. Until that moment, I went along with NFP to please James. I wasn’t enthusiastic about abstaining. But when that light bulb moment hit, I realized what a beautiful gift NFP is, despite its challenges. Not only that, but I realized what a great gift it was to us that we had not had intercourse until marriage. “I was blind, but now I see.” NFP became glasses for my soul, and the reasons for NFP became much clearer to me.
From then on, I became a big promoter of chastity before marriage and a loud and enthusiastic proponent of NFP. In the grocery store, dentist’s office, anywhere that someone would listen, I would tell people about NFP, just like the time I got my new glasses: “Look, NFP has no side effects!” “Look, NFP means a couple can be truly one when they are making love!” “Look, NFP doesn’t harm fertility!” “Wow, NFP is 99% effective when a couple has serious reasons to avoid pregnancy and can even be used to achieve a much-wanted pregnancy!”
Without NFP, our marital union would have existed in a blur. With NFP, our marital union is clearer and more meaningful. NFP truly is like a pair of glasses for the soul. NFP has been nothing short of a miracle for our marriage. Does it mean there have never been problems or that I’ve never resented the abstinence? Of course not. But NFP truly is a marriage builder, one that I can honestly say has been the main reason that the romance, intimacy and closeness has remained even after 36 years of marriage.
Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach
“Celebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality.”
On July 25th, 1968, Blessed Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) which reaffirmed the 2000-year consistent teaching that artificial contraception is morally wrong. Read my stories about HV here and here.
Why Natural Family Planning Differs from Contraception
Pope John Paul II
(In 1998 Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to Dr. Anna Cappella, director of the Center for
Research and Study on the Natural Regulation of Fertility at Rome’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The occasion was a convention commemorating Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical. Excerpts are reprinted below.)
I hope that everyone will benefit from a closer study of the Church’s teaching on the
truth of the act of love in which spouses become sharers in God’s creative action.
The truth of this act stems from its being an expression of the spouses’ reciprocal
personal giving, a giving that can only be total since the person is one and indivisible. In the act that expresses their love, spouses are called to make a reciprocal gift of themselves to each other in the totality of their person: nothing that is part of their being can be excluded from this gift.
This is the reason for the intrinsic unlawfulness of contraception: it introduces a substantial limitation into this reciprocal giving, breaking that “inseparable connection” between the two meanings of the conjugal act, the unitive and the procreative, which, as Pope Paul VI pointed out, are written by God himself into the nature of the human being (HV, no. 12).
Continuing in this vein, the great pontiff rightly emphasized the “essential difference”
between contraception and the use of natural methods in exercising “responsible procreation.” It is an anthropological difference because in the final analysis it involves two irreconcilable concepts of the person and of human sexuality (cf. Familiaris Consortio, no. 32). It is not uncommon in current thinking for the natural methods of fertility regulation to be separated from their proper ethical dimension and to be considered in their merely functional aspect. It is not surprising then that people no longer perceive the profound difference between these and the artificial methods. As a result, they go so far as to speak of them as if they were another form of contraception. But this is certainly not the way they should be viewed or applied.
On the contrary, it is only in the logic of the reciprocal gift between man and woman that
the natural regulation of fertility can be correctly understood and authentically lived as the proper expression of a real and mutual communion of love and life. It is worth repeating here that “the person can never be considered as a means to an end, above all never a means of ‘pleasure.’ The person is and must be nothing other than the end of every act. Only then does the action correspond to the true dignity of the person.” (cf. Letter to Families, no. 12).
The Church is aware of the various difficulties married couples can encounter,
especially in the present social context, not only in following but also in the very
understanding of the moral norm that concerns them. Like a mother, the Church draws
close to couples in difficulty to help them; but she does so by reminding them that the
way to finding a solution to their problems must come through full respect for the truth of their love. “It is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing
from the saving doctrine of Christ,” Paul VI admonished (HV, no. 29).
The Church makes available to spouses the means of grace which Christ offers in
redemption and invites them to have recourse to them with ever renewed confidence. She exhorts them in particular to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is poured out in their hearts through the efficacy of their distinctive sacrament: this grace is the source of the interior energy they need to fulfill the many duties of their state, starting with that of being consistent with the truth of conjugal love. At the same time, the Church urgently
requests the commitment of scientists, doctors, health-care personnel and pastoral
workers to make available to married couples all those aids which prove an effective
support for helping them fully to live their vocation (cf. HV, no. 23-27).