Coming Soon from FQP: The Father’s Son

The Father's Son web imageSynopsis: Despite a traumatic and difficult childhood, 39-year-old Boston sales executive, David Kelly, seems to have it all, building a life of achievement, material success, and professional respect. It is an unplanned friendship with Tom Fitzpatrick that begins him on an emotional journey with many unexpected twists and surprises, a courageous journey that allows him to confront the truth of his past and the impact it has had on the relationships in his life. The Father’s Son is a highly engaging and entertaining story that will make think about friendship, forgiveness, redemption, love, and truth, and may prove to be one that will profoundly impact how you look at life itself.

Reviews:

More and more baptized Catholics are walking away from the Church. Many have simply never been evangelized. Many have simply never been given a proper opportunity to encounter Jesus. Many have simply been hurt in their lives, some even by the Church. If we are serious about evangelizing them we will need to fully embrace Pope Saint John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization: “new in ardor, methods, and expressions.” The Father’s Son is a beautiful example of answering that call. For those of you who are striving to evangelize baptized Catholics – especially men – I would recommend getting this book into their hands. It is a story that will resonate with those who are dealing with wounds in their lives and might be what they need to set them on the path towards happiness, which ultimately will lead them into a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.   Michael M. Lavigne -Assistant Cabinet Secretary for Evangelization and Discipleship, Secretariat for Evangelization and Discipleship, Archdiocese of Boston

 I admit that I am a bit of a sucker for an engaging conversion story, but Jim Sano provided not only a book that I had to exercise great discipline to put down, but into the story of this young executive’s journey of faith he weaved a clear, relevant and attractive description of the Catholic Faith and its power to transform.  Today it seems all too easy to drift away from the Faith that had perhaps once been ours, and then to suffer the consequences of that neglect.  Here is a book that leaves its reader not only longing for more of the story, but wondering if the same hope and healing might be possible for them too.  Read this book, and get it into the hands of somebody you know who might need to remember what it means to be a son or daughter of a good father.   Ron Bolster -Assistant Professor of Theology, Director of Catechetics at Franciscan University

 Jim Sano’s The Father’s Son weaves a wonderful story around childhood misconceptions that lead to misshaped adult values, and how providence can lead people into our lives to set things straight. In this case, God leads sales executive David Kelly to Tom Fitzpatrick, who becomes both a friend and spiritual mentor, which in turn takes David on a journey that unravels the truth of his past and restores the faith he had abandoned. Definitely a book you’ll want to share with anyone who needs gentle nudging toward putting faith in God.   Michelle Buckman, author of CALA winner Rachel’s Contrition

 Questions galore filled my head as I kept reading with anticipation each chapter of The Father’s Son. Because David seems so together in most areas of his life, it kept gnawing at me. Why can he not commit? Why is there a chill running through the family’s relationships? It did not seem to fit. Tom is the catalyst who brings out David’s best, and worst, too! This novel “makes you laugh, makes you cry, and keeps you waiting.” Now, that’s a good book.   Florence Henderson

 

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An Open Book – June 2019 #openbook

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

Martyrs

Martyrs: Brave Hearts #2

Kathryn Griffin Swegart

Amazon Synopsis: Just released. Father Sebastian Rale was a little-known Jesuit missionary who lived among the Wabanaki people from 1689-1724. In this riveting story, readers travel into the Maine wilderness and witness the heart of a true martyr for the Faith. Like St. Isaac Jogues, Father Sebastian Rale was a heroic missionary to the New World. Martyrs is an unforgettable story of courage, faith, and enduring friendship. This piece of historical fiction for readers 10-14 is an inspiring book for young and old alike. Kathryn Griffin Swegart is an Amazon-bestselling author in Children’s Christian Historical Fiction.

My review: I helped to edit and format this book.  Wonderful but challenging story to read. Highly recommend!

Unlikely Witness

Unlikely Witness

Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: When four friends vacation together in the Colorado Rockies, they expect a week of hiking, biking, and rafting – not being interrogated by the FBI.

Unlikely Witnesses combines the characters of Leslea Wahl’s award-winning YA mysteries, The Perfect Blindside and An Unexpected Role, in an all-new adventure.

Jake is a silver-medal-winning snowboarder. His famous face makes it hard to go anywhere unnoticed. Sophie, his devoted girlfriend, is an aspiring journalist whose camera is never far from her side.

Sophie’s cousin Ryan, a high school baseball star, enjoys an ongoing prank war with his cousin. His girlfriend Josie adds excitement to all situations with her uncanny flair for the dramatic.

Between Josie’s mishaps, Jake’s celebrity status, and Sophie and Ryan’s friendly feud their peaceful family vacation turns into a comedic adventure. But, when these four teens stumble upon a mystery, things become downright dangerous.

The fun and intrigue of this short story is paired with a reminder that if we live our lives as Christians, we never know when we might be a witness for Christ.

My review: On my to-read shelf.

Hope Series Book One

Flight 258 by Staci Stallings (Hope Series #1)

Amazon Synopsis: Life has not been fair to Jenna Davis. After losing everything she considered her world three years ago, her only hope has been holding on and trying to survive. When she finally decides she must find a way to go on with life, she boards a plane destined to visit a friend across the country. But she hadn’t counted on meeting a handsome stranger and his young son on the flight, nor could she have prepared herself for what life would throw at her next. Can Jenna find love again after tragedy strikes or is she destined to go from one tragedy to another forever?

Scott Browning was devastated when his marriage broke up. With his young son, Lane, he is learning to pick up the pieces and go on with life. On his way home from a visit to his parents, Scott meets a young woman who will change everything, just before his own life is thrown into question. Most couples think about love at first sight. Could this one be love at first death?

My Review: I’m a sucker for airplane crash stories and romances, so when I saw this on sale for .99, I bought it on Kindle.  I’m enjoying the story and the crash is extremely well done.  My only criticism is the occasional obvious typo or grammatical error.

This Daring Journey (heart of the mountains 4)

This Daring Journey (Heart of the Mountains #6)

by Misty Beller

Amazon Synopsis:  The only hope to keep her newborn baby alive is to reach the safety of her Indian people… This mountain man is the last person she should trust to get her there.

As a half-Indian raised among her Peigan tribe, Moriah Clark knows better than to trust white people. The tragedy that resulted in her birth is proof enough. But when her trusted grandfather marries her to a white man, she has no choice but to obey and hope this new life isn’t her downfall. Her white husband turns out to be a decent sort, but his unexpected death left her to birth a newborn baby among hostile mountain men. She wants nothing more than to retreat to the safe haven of her tribal upbringing. When a mysterious frontiersman arrives on her doorstep seeking her deceased husband, his offer to escort her and the babe to her people seems like the opportunity she’s been praying to find. But can she trust him?

Samuel Grant has been sent to retrieve Henry Clark for his sister’s wedding, but the sight that greets him at the little cabin in the woods is not what he expected. Not only has the man died, but Henry’s wife is fighting off an aggressive gang of men at gunpoint—while trying to conceal a newborn. He can’t leave the pair unattended, so helping her travel into the mountain country to reach her family seems like the only option. If he can win her trust, that is.

Such a grueling journey with a three-week-old baby will be risky, but the challenges that arise test them far more than either expected. When a devastating surprise increases the danger ten-fold, Moriah focuses all her efforts on keeping her newborn daughter alive. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t realize how much of her heart belongs to the mountain man—until it’s too late.

My review: Downloaded this for free on Kindle.  On my To-Read shelf.

Rock Hudson

All that Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson by Mark Griffin

Amazon synopsis: The icon worshipped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues appeared to have it all. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother.

Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.

As a result of his gay relationships and clandestine affairs, Hudson was continually threatened with public exposure, not only by scandal sheets like Confidential but by a number of his own partners. For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.

Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, All That Heaven Allows finally delivers a complete and nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating stars in cinema history.

Author Mark Griffin provides new details concerning Hudson’s troubled relationships with wife Phyllis Gates and boyfriend Marc Christian. And here, for the first time, is an in-depth exploration of Hudson’s classic films, including Written on the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, and the cult favorite Seconds. With unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Griffin pays homage to the idol whose life and death had a lasting impact on American culture.

My review: I’m a long-time fan of Rock Hudson’s and have seen most of his movies and TV appearances.  When in 1985 the news came out that he was dying of AIDS, I was shocked, but nevertheless prayed for him and for his soul.  I’ve read other biographies, but this one is an extremely well-written book in which the author does an excellent job of not judging Hudson, but just stating the facts.  Yes, there were some shocking revelations, but at the core of Rock Hudson’s being was a kindness and an unpretentiousness that, despite his closeted “secret” life, everyone who met him was drawn to him and say they came away a better person.  I was especially happy to hear that his companion, knowing that Rock was baptized Catholic, sent for a priest who gave Rock the “Last Rites.” After the priest left, Rock allegedly told his companion, “Thank you for that.” Highly recommend for fans of Rock Hudson. Though it alludes to his gay lifestyle, it isn’t graphic.

A Love Such as Heaven Intended Now Available for #Preorder on #Kindle

A Love Front Only

A Love Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

Full Quiver Publishing‘s upcoming release, A Love Such as Heaven Intended (Heaven Intended #3) is now available for pre-order on Kindle.  The print edition will be available later this month.

Synopsis:

In A Love Such as Heaven Intended, budding Civil War socialite Josephine Bigelow is inspired by the words of Louisa May Alcott to make a name for herself as an investigative writer covering the plight of Confederate soldiers held in Federal prisons. Little did she know that one of the inmates she would encounter was her brother’s roommate from West Point Military Academy.

Even though her father is a Union brigadier general, Josephine’s infatuation with the handsome Confederate soldier Michael McKirnan is rekindled. As captivating as Josephine is, the last thing Michael needs is to entangle that beauty into his life of intrigue. The strong-willed Josephine will not be deterred and their lives become intertwined as they embark on a journey of a lifetime, trying to stay one step ahead of the military and a madman bent on revenge. As they journey from Washington, D.C., to St. Louis, Atlanta, and finally East Texas, the two of them discover what love, faith, compassion and loyalty truly mean.

Reviews:

“A Love Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer is a sweet love story that history lovers are sure to appreciate. I enjoyed the first two books in the Heaven Intended series, so it was fun diving into the third book. We even get a glimpse at characters from the previous two books. Fans of historic fiction are going to love this!”  Theresa Linden, award-winning author

“Thoroughly enjoyable! This book abounds with the virtues of faith, hope and love.  Lauer shows us that even during times of war, love wins.” Virginia Lieto,  Author, Editor and Public Speaker

“A Love Such as Heaven Intended is a sweeping love story that is nearly impossible to put down. With equal parts intriguing adventure, fascinating history lesson, and blossoming romance, Amanda Lauer has another hit on her hands.”  Leslea Wahl, Author of The Perfect Blindside, 2018 Catholic Press Association winner

“The third installment in Amanda Lauer’s Civil War romance series matches beautiful and determined Josephine with Michael, a West Point Military Academy graduate who seems to be on the wrong side of the conflict. Filled with historical and military detail and a unique setting for a Civil War novel, A Love Such as Heaven Intended will please both fans of history and of romance.”   Carolyn Astfalk,  Author, Stay With Me and Rightfully Ours

 

 

Intimate Preparations #ValentinesDay

candlelightSmallFebruary is the month of Valentine’s Day, so below is a reprint of an article I originally wrote for Catholic Mom and Amazing Catechists years ago.

“And so I take (my wife) not for any lustful motive, but I do it in singleness of heart. Be kind enough to…bring us to old age together.” Tobit 8:7

“..Now, gird up your loins and arise…”  Jer: 1:17

Which scripture verse more accurately describes how a couple should prepare for the conjugal embrace?   Praying for a singleness of heart, without lustful motive…or girding up one’s loins for “war”?

Yet many couples prepare for intimacy by “girding up their loins:” wearing condoms, inserting diaphragms, taking a pill, putting on a patch, having an IUD inserted, undergoing an operation. It seems to me that these couples are preparing more for “war” than for the marital embrace, “protecting” themselves against unwanted pregnancy, “protecting” themselves against their spouse’s fertility.

Compare that to the couples who do not use contraceptives.  They are generous in opening their marriage to children, and when necessary, they use Natural Family Planning and abstain in the fertile time.  They’re not girding up their loins; they’re not “protecting” each other from an unwanted pregnancy.  When they give of themselves in the marital act, it is a total gift, not a partial one.

The question is: How do you prepare for intimacy?

Some might answer, “We watch porn.”  Others may say, “I make sure my diaphragm is in place,” or “We keep a packet of condoms by the bed.”

And yet…are these really appropriate ways for a couple to prepare for the most intimate act between husband and wife?

Obviously not.

So how can a couple prepare? Here is a short list of helpful ways:

1. Pray Together

Marital prayer is an ideal way to prepare for intimacy. When marital prayer is frequent, praying before relations becomes a logical extension.  The conjugal embrace is itself a prayer.  Let’s review what makes this act so holy and meaningful.  In the marital embrace, with their bodies, husband and wife renew their wedding vows.  Becoming one with our beloved spouse is the ultimate spiritual, physical and emotional experience. We become one flesh…so much so that sometimes, nine months later, we must give the representation of that oneness a name.

2. Throw Away the Contraception

No, I’m not asking couples to have as many children as possible.  But what I am saying is that for the conjugal embrace to be honest and life-giving, it must be free, total, faithful and fruitful.  Natural Family Planning allows a couple to love each other as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.  NFP couples chart the wife’s fertility signs and, if avoiding pregnancy, abstain in the fertile time. They are not using devices; they are giving themselves fully and they are open to children with each and every act of marital relations.  See my previous post on the Theology of the Body in a Nutshell.  For more information on NFP, check out my previous post on NFP.

3. Healthy Relationship

I know a few couples who fight constantly. These same couples brag that they have a great sex life.  Well, they may have a lot of “good feelings” but when a couple is not getting along in their day-to-day life, sex, even ‘good’ sex, is not going to fix that.  What about the husband who treats his wife in a condescending, critical manner, then expects her to be ready and willing to engage in the marital embrace…or a wife who constantly nags her husband, then wants him to be affectionate to her?  Communicate with one another; treat each other with kindness, respect and love.

4. No Pornography

Some secular marriage counselors recommend that a couple use porn to “spice up their sex life.”  Instead of “enhancing” a marital sex life, viewing sexually explicit videos has the potential of destroying a marriage. Blessed John Paul II said: “…the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.” Porn trains people to be selfish about their sexuality, not selfless. It teaches them to think about sex as something they take, not something they give. Any behavior that causes a person to be self-centered or selfish is never good for marriage. And…pornography can be highly addictive.  Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of PA’s Center for Cognitive Therapy, called porn the “most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of existing today….pornography addicts have a more difficult time recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts, since coke users can get the drug out of their system, but pornographic images stay in the brain forever.” 

5. Single Candle Light

I enjoy romantic, candlelit dinners with my husband.  Well, why not a candlelit conjugal embrace? In the 15th century, it was common for painters to place one solitary lit candle in their paintings to symbolize the presence of Christ. If you have small children or might fall asleep too quickly afterwards, perhaps you can use an electric candle/light…or set an alarm…but be prudent. A simple, solitary light can bring more symbolism to your intimacy.  And…it can help put you both in the “mood.”

6. Focus on Your Spouse

“Intense love does not measure; it just gives.” This quote from Blessed Mother Teresa is an ideal quote for marriage. Marriage isn’t all about “me.”  It’s about “us.”  What are your spouse’s needs?  Think of his/her needs in all facets of your relationship. Intimate ‘memos’ bring a couple closer.  Notes in your spouse’s lunch, special messages left on his workbench or on her desk, daily texts are all ways to intimately connect during the day and let your spouse know you are thinking of him/her.   The important thing is to focus on the other in all things and when it comes time for the marital embrace, this selflessness will follow naturally.

7. We Can Work It Out

When you consider all the day-to-day challenges like children, work, fatigue, family bed, stress and sickness, it’s often a miracle that a couple has the time to engage in marital intimacy at all.  The spontaneity of early marriage eventually gives way to planning for intimacy.  “Family bed?”  Consider another location for the marital embrace.  Mom too tired?  Perhaps Dad can take the kids out to the park while Mom gets a well-deserved rest after dinner. Dad too stressed?  Mom can have a hot relaxing bath waiting for Dad when he arrives home.

Do you want to prepare for the holiest, most satisfying intimate experience possible?  Treat your spouse with respect, pray together, focus on your spouse, don’t use porn and be creative in finding time for intimacy.

I’ve made the Kindle edition of my book, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship only .99 for the entire month of February. To download your copy, click here.

An Open Book February 2019 #openbook

An Open Book 800W

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

 

place called sat

A Place Called Saturday by Mary Astor

Synopsis: In 1968, when abortion was still a matter of controversy, Mary Astor wrote this heartwarming story of Cora, who was raped by a young, unknown assailant and becomes pregnant. Go with Cora as she faces the obstacles that will affect her life, her husband’s, and that of her unborn child. (from the inside flap)

My review:  This has been on my book shelf for a while and I listed it as one of my “To Read” books several months ago.  I finally picked it up and when I did, I couldn’t stop.  It’s the late 60’s. Cora is a young married woman. She and her husband have been trying to conceive for a couple of years. One hot summer afternoon, she is raped and a few months later she discovers she is pregnant.  She realizes that the baby is likely the product of the rape, but she refuses to consider abortion, which at the time many doctors would perform in the case of rape.  This makes the relationship with her husband difficult because he doesn’t think he can raise his wife’s rapist’s child.  Cora reminds him that the child is 50% hers. The author, Mary Astor, knows the topic of abortion well because she had at least two abortions in her early career (even if an actress was married, she would be pressured into having an abortion because of career advancement).  Astor later became Catholic and sincerely regretted her abortions.  I suspect that Astor created Cora partly to repent her two abortions.  The writing is a bit stilted at times, but overall, a great read. 4.5 out of 5.

CMB no outline

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

On Sale on Kindle for only .99!

Synopsis: Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating stories which will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Some of the stories include: a widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a man asks his live-in girlfriend “what if we stopped having sex,” and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

My review: This is a book I edited and published eight years ago with the help of my friend, Kathy.  It’s a beautiful collection of courtship stories and is only .99 on Kindle (the entire month of February.)

tears in a bottle

Tears in a Bottle by Sylvia Bambola

Synopsis: Becky Taylor, a young woman burdened by great expectations, is lying on a cold recovery table in an abortion clinic when she hears a man’s voice, then gunshots. She holds her breath and lies perfectly still behind the curtain. When the gunman is finished, Becky is the only one left alive in the clinic. This act brings together two strangers who both seek answers to life’s most wrenching questions, mainly: Are God’s love and mercy big enough for every sin? The answer transforms multiple lives.

My review: This is an excellent pro-life novel (although at least one of the antagonists is rather one-dimensional (womanizing and alcoholic) with a compelling story and believable story line, especially in 2019. The characters are generic Christian (not Catholic). I bought this book 20 years ago at a pro-life conference. I’ve read it numerous times and read it again recently. It’s surprising that this book was originally written 20 years ago. It is especially pertinent in light of the State of New York’s recent decision to allow abortion up to the moment of birth.  Disturbing, sad and enlightening, this story is a must-read for those in the pro-life movement. Highly recommend! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship Only .99 #bargain

Come My Beloved web

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, for the entire month of February, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is on sale on Kindle for only .99!

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating stories which will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Some of the stories include: a widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a man asks his live-in girlfriend “what if we stopped having sex,” and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

Read excerpts here (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Reviews:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a Song of Songs, a book of praise, a treasure-house of faith and romance par excellence!  This truly beautiful collection of Catholic courtship stories is a must-read for anyone discerning a vocation, especially the call to marriage; and for those courting, engaged, already married, or widowed. What a great gift to Holy Mother Church, and a powerful witness that God does make marriages in heaven.  Lisa Mladinich, author, Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children, and True Radiance, Founder, Amazing Catechists

Whether you’re courting, engaged to be married, newlyweds, or celebrating your jubilee years together, this terrific resource offers something for anyone looking to grow closer to God and to one another in a loving relationship.  Lisa Hendey, author, The Handbook for Catholic Moms,  The Grace of Yes, Founder and editor, Catholic Mom

Fabulous book that I can’t wait to recommend to all my single and married friends. You truly created a gift for this generation! Dawn Marie Roeder, author It Doesn’t End Here

Pick up a Kindle edition of Come My Beloved for only .99!

If The Morning – March for Life #uniquefromdayone

Since the March for Life is being held today in Washington, I wanted to again share the words of the pro-life song my husband wrote as a teenager. It’s called “If the Morning,” and these lyrics are also included in my novel, Emily’s Hope:

If the Morning

Words and Music by James Hrkach

If in the morning the Savior didn’t rise
Would there be sunshine in your eyes
And in the springtime if the world wasn’t new
Would love still see its way through
And do we stand only to lose it all
By standing just a little too tall

Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know he’s got the right
I know he’s got that right
Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know He’s got it right
And I know that we have got it wrong

And if the dreamer never woke to tell his tale
Would hope be born still by our hands
And if the baby never sees the light of day
Will nightmares conquer all man
And do we stand only to lose it all
By standing just a little too tall.

Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know he’s got the right
I know he’s got that right
Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know He’s got it right
And I know that we have got it wrong.

And if the baby never saw the light of day, of day, of day…

Lyrics copyright 1978 James Hrkach
Photo copyright 2011 Josh Hrkach