Dying for Compassion Cover Reveal

FQ Publishing (my company) has a new book coming out!  It’s Book #2 in the Lady Doc Murders called Dying for Compassion by Dr. Barbara Golder!

“It is rare indeed to find an author who not only tells a good story but writes with real literary flair. Barbara Golder is such an author. In this latest offering, we find the plot twists and twisted characters that one would expect in a good murder mystery but also the fine character development and deep insight into the human condition which separates the truly great mysteries from the run of the mill.” Joseph Pearce, Author, Tolkien: Man & Myth
Synopsis: What happens to a new love when an old one appears to claim first rights to a man and a marriage?Just as Telluride Medical Examiner Jane Wallace and Irish writer Eoin Conner take their first steps toward romance, Eoin’s beautiful wife Fiona arrives to resume her long-abandoned life with Eoin. When Eoin discovers that Fiona was responsible for the denial of their annulment, he returns to Ireland to find the proof to free him to marry Jane. After Fiona is found dead in her hotel room, Eoin is indicted for her murder. Unwilling to leave the matter solely in the hands of Irish authorities, Jane goes to Ireland to follow the evidence wherever it leads. She leaves behind a tangle of problems in Telluride, where it is left to her trusted friend Father Matt to unravel the mysteries at home, unaware that they hold the key to Jane’s mystery abroad.

Coming soon via Kindle and in paperback!

Special thanks to my youngest son for posing as St. Michael the Archangel!

Goodreads Giveaway – Rightfully Ours by Carolyn Astfalk

FQ Publishing is hosting a giveaway for three paperback copies of Rightfully Ours.

Enter here to win a copy!

Young Adult Religious Fiction. A coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend, and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake.

Reviews:

When Carolyn Astfalk unearths a newspaper clipping about a treasure hunter who struck gold, she turns it into a young adult romance novel. That took some doing, but as Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” A keen observer, Astfalk soaks her written pages with reality. Rightfully Ours, like her other romance novels appeals to the senses, especially those associated with food. You can smell the baking cookies and feel the bite of a January freeze. Her understanding of human emotions transports her readers into the minds of her characters as they experience blessings in the guise of disasters and conflicts. The reader cannot take for granted that a happy ending awaits in the last paragraph. (Don Mulcare)

Rightfully Ours is a fast-paced, exciting book that will hook you and keep you reading. It is not just for youth, but is a great read for adults, too. If you have a teen, read this book first before you give it to them. I recommend it for older or more mature teens, due to the intimate scenes described in the story. It is filled with non-preachy messages about the beauty of authentic love, which Pope St. John Paul II defined as the “theology of the body.” This does not mean that the book contains theological terminology, but it does mean that it deals with the issue of sexual temptation and assists teens in handling that. It also helps them understand the meaning of true love. I highly recommend Rightfully Ours for both teens and adults. (Jean Heimann, author)

Enter here to win a copy!

#FREE on Kindle: Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

FREE On Kindle Until Thursday!!

“Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship” contains 12 stories that will inspire, captivate and entertain readers.

The idea for this book came about on Valentine’s Day eight years ago, when several mothers were enjoying each other’s fellowship as our children played and exchanged cards. We began sharing how each of us met our husbands. One by one we recounted our stories. It became evident that God’s hand was truly and firmly present in bringing each couple together. Kathy Cassanto, one of the mothers present, said, “It’s too bad there isn’t a book available with Catholic courtship stories.” My initial response was, “Well, if there isn’t, there should be.”  I immediately went online and discovered that there wasn’t a book containing Catholic courtship stories. So I asked Kathy to be my co-editor, and we set out to find inspiring Catholic courtship stories. We didn’t have to search far. Oftentimes, I simply listened to a small quiet voice prompting me to ask a particular couple, “Would you be willing to share how the two of you met?”

We agreed that the easiest and fastest way to gather the stories was to interview the couples, transcribe the interviews and edit the stories. Most of the stories in this book were from recorded conversations, then transcribed and edited, although some were written by the couples themselves.

As we interviewed each couple, a clear picture was emerging: that true love was far different from the infatuation which is so often portrayed in movies and books.

Each of these courtship/dating stories has its own theme, but all of them illustrate that God is the ideal matchmaker. The stories are uplifting, inspirational, funny, hopeful, romantic.

The complete versions of each story are included in the book, along with family photos of all the couples. Here are excerpts of some of the stories.

David and Posie

Leon and Mary Lou

Robert and Sarah

Chris and Micki

James and Ellen

Mark and Kathy

Andrew and Regina

Michel and Jeanette

Tom and Patty

James and Pati

Damon and Melanie

Mark and Yvette

To download your FREE Kindle copy, click here.

Synopsis: Come My Beloved is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating storiesthat will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Included are the following stories: A widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later, finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; 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 couple meet through a Christian introduction service; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

To read reviews, more excerpts and watch the book trailer and interview on Son Rise Morning Show, click here.

Text and photo copyright 2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach/Full Quiver Publishing

Feast of the Holy Rosary – Prayers of Love

photo copyright Ellen Hrkach

photo copyright Ellen Hrkach

Since today is the Feast of the Holy Rosary, I’d like to share an article I wrote and that has also been published on Catholic 365. “When lovers are together, they spend hours and hours repeating the same thing: I love you! What is missing in the people who think the Rosary monotonous, is Love.” Sister Lucia of Fatima

I have been a Catholic for my entire life, but it is only in the last 30 or so years that I have had a devotion to the Holy Rosary. I attended Catholic schools until seventh grade. As a teenager, I would have identified myself as Catholic, but between television and secular influences, I didn’t totally embrace my faith until after I was married. This was only because my husband insisted that we refrain from using contraception during our marriage.

As we dialogued back and forth in those few months before our wedding day, I didn’t know or understand why the Church taught that married couples shouldn’t use contraception to avoid pregnancy. In fact, I remember thinking that the Church just ought to come out of the Dark Ages and get more in line with the modern world.

In the end, however, I decided to trust my husband (and the Church). In the next year, we read Humanae Vitae, as well as other church documents, and I became fully convinced that the Church was indeed speaking the truth when she declared that contraception was a grave sin. Before we were married, we learned Natural Family Planning and we are now a CCL NFP Teaching Couple Specialist (and have been teaching NFP for 33 years).

During that first year of our marriage, a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to our door. My husband and I welcomed them and dialogued with them. Most of their questions centered on Mary: “Why do Catholics worship Mary?” “Why do you say such a monotonous repetitive prayer?” “Why is Mary so important to Catholics?” First, we gently explained to them that Catholics don’t worship Mary; we honor her. As for the other questions, I realized that I didn’t really know the answers, so I did some research.

To the question “Why is Mary so important to Catholics,” what I found out could probably fill an entire book. However, my own thumbnail answer is this: Jesus honored his mother. We, as Catholics, are called imitate Christ. He honored his mother and we should do the same. Also, as Jesus hung on the cross, He gave his mother to the whole world when He said to John, “Behold your mother.”

Mary is indeed our mother and, as our mother, she desires us to be closer to her Son. The Rosary is the ideal way for us to become closer to Him, because as we say the repetitive prayers (with love), we are meditating on His life.

I have found that saying the Rosary has brought me closer to my husband and to Christ. Even after 34 years of marriage, we continue to say “I love you,” just as we continue to say the rosary together, with love.

Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

I Was Blind, But Now I See #TOBtalk

rocks and water hrkachMy latest post at Catholic Mom.com:

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!”

For me, 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 34 years of marriage.

1968, with my new glasses

1968, with my new glasses

Copyright 2016 Ellen Gable Hrkach

The Story of How We Met: “Please, God, Send Me a Man”

Since this is Valentine’s Day, today’s post is an excerpt of James and my courtship story (which was the basis for my first novel, Emily’s Hope) and which is included in Come My Beloved.

Ellen: Because I was very young looking, I did not date in high school or for the year or so after. I longed to meet someone, that special person with whom I could spend the rest of my life. Every night I prayed, “Please God, send me a man.”

During my first visit to Canada in 1978, my pen-pal asked if I wanted to go with her to a jam session where her brother would be rehearsing with his rock band. When we arrived, the band was taking a break. One boy, however, was crouching, with his back toward me, a guitar in front of him, and he was playing the same three or four notes over and over again. I remember thinking that fellow must be dedicated. I also noticed that he had dark curly hair and bell bottoms (out of style at the time) which prompted me to think he must not be too concerned about fashion. A few moments later, the band members took up their instruments. The fellow with the dark curly hair turned around and began playing his guitar and singing. It sounds cliché, but when I first saw his face, he took my breath away. And he played with such intensity that I couldn’t stop staring at him.

James: I wasn’t much for pursuit, except pursuit of excellence in music and art. That seemed so much easier to understand than girls. Ellie, on the other hand, was definitely in pursuit and had a hard time hiding it, even if she tried. One thing is for sure, though, her young looks were less intimidating for someone as shy as myself.

Ellen: I returned to Canada the summer of ’79. Although I was 20 at the time, I looked more like 13 and was rather immature. I was told that James was shy and usually quiet, but when we later met at a dance in the local curling club, we spent the entire time outside (where it was less noisy) talking for three hours. I was nervous because I liked him so much. I actually began the conversation by asking him a “conversation starter” that my pen-pal had given me in case I became nervous. “Nice trees around here,” was all I could come up with. His answer surprised me. “Yes, they are nice. I like the way the light is reflecting off the oak leaves over there.” I never expected such a well-thought out and creative answer to a conversation starter. But as we began to talk, I realized that he was no ordinary young man.

James: It’s funny that although I would have gladly stood on a stage and produced a wall of loud noise to perform at any dance, I wasn’t much for attending them. I certainly saw the empty meanings of much popular music, and spending time outside of the noisy dance hall was a definite option, especially when this time was to be spent getting to know a person from a different part of the continent, a girl, in fact, who seemed to want to get to know me. When time flies by so fast you can’t keep track of it, you know you’re having fun and I certainly felt comfortable chatting with Ellie that night. So comfortable that I almost couldn’t face the discomfort of having to see her return home.

Ellen: Later that week, when we said good bye to one another, he promised that he would write to me. I arrived back in New Jersey and immediately wrote my first letter to James.

In those days, we didn’t have email or cheap long distance or texting, so he had to wait over a week before he received my letter. I had to wait two weeks before receiving a response. When I received his first letter, I knew he was the real thing. Over the next few months, he sent letters frequently and drew little pictures on the backs of envelopes or in the letters themselves, little pencil sketches of scenes, lions or the cartoon version of himself. On one particular envelope, he drew a man crawling over the desert, passing a glass labeled “H20” and saying “Ellen, Ellen.” On another, he drew a picture of me pulling on a phone wire with him saying “Keeping pulling. I’m just passing Syracuse.”H2O Ellen Swak

As we began to share thoughts and feelings over the next five months, I became more and more excited at the prospect that he was the man with whom I was meant to spend the rest of my life.

James: I must admit, I wasn’t much of a pen-pal and the only person I had ever or would ever write letters consistently to was Ellie. The delay between one writing and the other responding was frustrating, but it added a certain timeliness to my letters’ content. I tended to write things that would matter regardless of when Ellie read them. One thing is for sure: Ellie’s ceaseless and timely response to every letter I wrote definitely convinced me that there was someone who really cared about me, helping to cement my certainty that I was developing a relationship that was going to work. If she was putting aside the distractions of life just to make sure I got a response every few days, how much more would she truly be able to commit herself to being my lifelong partner when we were near each other?

Ellen: On returning to Canada just after Christmas 1979, James presented me with a beautiful painting (see photo above). When James and I were alone together, we pledged our love to one another and promised that we would be faithful. I was overjoyed because I had finally found the one I loved but unfortunately, he lived 500 miles away. I had no idea what it would mean to carry on a long distance relationship for an unknown number of years, but we were in love and it didn’t seem to matter when we were together.

Although I was Catholic — and had discovered that he was also Catholic — I figured that James was like most Catholics who didn’t follow everything that the Church taught. I wanted to give myself to him physically before I left during that visit so we would have something to hold us together. He was only 17 at the time, but he shared with me that he wanted to wait until marriage to have sex. I was shocked that a 17 year old would turn down an opportunity like that, but in hindsight, his high ideals for morality and “pursuit for excellence in art and music” are the exact traits which attracted me to him in the first place.

We spent the rest of the week trying to enjoy the few days we had left together. When it came time to say goodbye, we both sobbed. Neither of us knew when we would see each other again.

This is an excerpt of our courtship story. The full version is included in Full Quiver’s book: Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship. (It’s currently FREE on Kindle!!) Our story has also been fictionalized in my novel, Emily’s Hope.

This is our 37th Valentine’s Day together! Happy Valentine’s Day to my true love!

Copyright 2016 James and Ellen Hrkach and FQ Publishing

Come My Beloved: FREE on Kindle through February 15

“Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship” is a wonderful book with 12 stories that will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Check out the book website here. To download a FREE KINDLE COPY over at Amazon, click here at this link.

The idea for this book came about on Valentine’s Day seven years ago, when several mothers were enjoying each other’s fellowship as our children played and exchanged cards. We began sharing how each of us met our husbands. One by one we recounted our stories. It became evident that God’s hand was truly and firmly present in bringing each couple together. Kathy Cassanto, one of the mothers present, said, “It’s too bad there isn’t a book available with Catholic courtship stories.” My initial response was, “Well, if there isn’t, there should be.”

I immediately went online and discovered that there wasn’t a book containing Catholic courtship/dating stories. So I asked Kathy to be my co-editor, and we set out to find inspiring Catholic courtship stories. We didn’t have to search far. Oftentimes, I simply listened to a small quiet voice prompting me to ask a particular couple, “Would you be willing to share how the two of you met?”

We agreed that the easiest and fastest way to gather the stories was to interview the couples, transcribe the interviews and edit the stories. Most of the stories in this book were from recorded conversations, then transcribed and edited, although some were written by the couples themselves.

As we interviewed each couple, a clear picture was emerging: that true love was far different from the infatuation which is so often portrayed in movies and books.

Each of these courtship/dating stories has its own theme, but all of them illustrate that God is the ideal matchmaker. The stories are uplifting, inspirational, funny, hopeful, romantic.

Here are a few excerpts:

David and Posie

Robert and Sarah

Mark and Kathy

Michel and Jeanette

Tom and Patty

Damon and Melanie

The Kindle edition of this book is FREE today through February 15th over at Amazon.com.