A Subtle Grace #FREE on #Kindle Feb 7-9

A Subtle Grace front cover Nov2013For the next three days, A Subtle Grace (Kindle edition) will be FREE (February 7-9, 2018) on Kindle!

FINALIST: 2015 IAN Book of the Year, Historical and Romance   “The plot tugs at the heart and gets the heart racing. Reading ‘A Subtle Grace’ was like riding a Victorian-era wooden roller coaster: a luscious historical setting that provides a tantalizingly dangerous thrill ride.” Erin McCole Cupp, author, Don’t You Forget About Me 
Synopsis: 1896, Philadelphia. In this stand alone sequel to “In Name Only” (2009, FQP), “A Subtle Grace” continues the story of the wealthy and unconventional O’Donovan Family as they approach the dawn of a new century. At 19, Kathleen (oldest daughter) is unmarried with no prospects. Fearing the lonely fate of an old maid, her impatience leads to an infatuation with the first man who shows interest. The suave, handsome son of the local police chief seems a perfect match. But will her impulsive manner prevent her from recognizing her true love? A disturbing turn of events brings a dark shadow that threatens the life-long happiness she desires.

Dr. Luke Peterson (the family’s new physician) also makes quite an impression on Kathleen. His affection for her leads him to startling revelations: about Kathleen, about his practice and, most importantly, about himself.

Will (oldest son) believes God may be calling him to a religious vocation. Eventually, he discovers the hidden circumstances of his humble beginnings compelling him to embark on a pilgrimage to Rome.

Reviews:

“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. A Subtle Grace has all of the elements that good Catholic fiction should.” Trisha Niermeyer Potter, Prints of Grace

“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!”  Jean Heimann, author, blogger

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!” Therese Heckenkamp, author, Frozen Footprints

Click here to read an excerpt and more reviews.

To download the book for FREE click here.

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Beautiful Tradition

Every year, on Epiphany Sunday, we bless our home with the saying “Christus Mansionem Benedicat: May Christ Bless this House,” and write with chalk on each of the lintels to outside doors.  The letters CMB are an abbreviation of the Latin saying above, and they’re also the first letter of each of the names of the three wise men: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. To find out more about this beautiful tradition, click here.

Epiphany

Donkey Bells (Advent and Christmas) by Catherine Doherty

Donkey Bells
One of my favorite Advent books and one that I read every year at this time is a book by Catherine Doherty called “Donkey Bells,” published by Madonna House Publications. I love to read this inspiring book curled up in a comfortable chair by the wood stove, a hot chocolate or apple cider beside me, Advent and Christmas music playing quietly in the background. This lovely book is filled with heartwarming stories, customs and traditions (such as the Advent wreath, baking, the blessing of the Christmas tree) and moving reflections for the season. It is a beautiful way for children, teens and adults to prepare their hearts for Christmas.

I love this story from Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas by Catherine Doherty
(Available as a paperback and e-book)

Donkey Bells (by Catherine Doherty)

It came to me, during these days of Advent, that I should share with you a custom which is not necessarily liturgical but which adds to the enjoyment of this lovely season. It has deep spiritual connotations; at least it did for our family, and for many others I knew when I was a young child.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that if I was good during this holy season of Advent, and offered my little acts of charity and obedience throughout Advent to the little Christ Child for a gift on his birthday, then sometime during Advent, at first very faintly and then quite clearly, I would hear bells. As she put it, the first church bells.

These were the bells around the neck of the little donkey that carried Our Lady. For mother explained that Our Lady carried Our Lord. She was the temple of the Holy Spirit, the first ‘church’ as it were, since Christ reposed in her. And the donkey, carrying Our Lady and sounding his bells as he walked, wore the first church bells.

Around the second week of Advent, mother wore a little bracelet that had tinkling bells. As she moved her hand I could hear them tinkle, and I got excited because I associated them with the donkey’s bells.

As young as I was, my imagination would build up a lot of little stories about the trip of Our Lady from Nazareth to Bethlehem — stories which I would share with my mother, and which would spur me on to further good deeds and little sacrifices.

During the third week of Advent, mother’s bracelet miraculously got many more bells on it. The sound grew louder and louder as Christmas approached. It was wonderful.

My brother and I used to listen. Mother’s bells were first around her wrist and then around her knee too. Then more bells, as it got closer to Christmas. We were really excited about them.

I introduced this little custom in Madonna House. During Advent, I wear a kind of bracelet that can be heard as I walk or move, in whatever room of the house I may be. The members of our family tell me that it spurs them on, even as it did me when I was a child, to meditate more profoundly on the mystery of Advent.

Here at Madonna House, we have begun in these last few years to make a collection of miniature donkeys — of wood, glass, ceramics, rope — you name it. And we have an album of Christmas cards (which we save from the many we receive) that depict the donkey in the manger scene.

The presence of the donkey and the ox in Scripture is symbolic of the prophets who foretold the Incarnation. And also of the fact that “the ox and ass know their Master’s voice, but Israel doesn’t know the voice of God” (Isaiah 1:3). So, you see, there is some spiritual foundation for my love for the donkey which brings such great joy to my heart.

I’m sure that, as a child, Christ rode on a donkey many times. And also as a man, of course. In Scripture we know of only two times: one was when the donkey carried Our Lady, who in turn carried God, from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The other was when the donkey carried Christ into Jerusalem as the people laid palm branches before Him, proclaiming him king.

Let us think for a moment: What kind of animal is a donkey? It is a beast of burden, the animal of the poor. Once again, the immense theme of poverty is illustrated in an animal. God chose the humblest, the smallest in status, because among the animals the donkey is considered very low. So God is teaching us a lesson here — a lesson of humility, of poverty, and of simplicity.

Have you ever seen a newborn donkey? Well, every donkey has a black cross on its gray fur, a marking which is especially noticeable just after it is born from its mother’s womb. It gets less clear as the donkey matures, but still is visible. I share this fact with you to teach you to open your heart to the bells of the donkey that carried Our Lady and also God.

The breath of the donkey and the ox made the stable warm. So we meditate on several things at once: the poverty and humility of the donkey God chose, and which should be our poverty and humility; and the breath of our love, which should warm God in our neighbor constantly.

Let us remember that the donkey also had no room at the inn. Neither woman, nor man, nor donkey had a place at the inn. So they went to live in a poor stable that wasn’t too well prepared for animals, let alone as a decent habitation for human beings.

Now, another meditation comes to us. Think of the millions of people who are left homeless on our streets. Tragic is this situation. We, as apostles, must be very careful that we do not exclude anyone from the inn of our heart.

I pray that our heart, our soul, our ears will hear very clearly ‘the bells of the donkey,’ not only in Advent but throughout the year. For whoever who is pure of heart and childlike shall hear the bells of the donkey ring in their life.

(Creative Commons Licence Pass It On by Madonna House Publications is free to re-publish under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.)

If you have a favorite Christmas or Advent story, please feel free to share!

Author Publishes Eighth Book, Julia’s Gifts, WW1 Romance

From Inside Ottawa Valley and Arnprior Chronicle-Guide

“No man has tasted the full flavour of life until he has known poverty, love and war.” O. Henry’s quote could well be the theme of local author, Ellen Gable Hrkach’s, eighth book, Julia’s Gifts, a First World War romance.

One hundred years ago, the world was at war. It was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.” However, amid the carnage of the First World War, soldiers, nurses and other volunteers discovered love. Hrkach, who writes under her maiden name (Gable), says that creating characters and stories can be “rewarding, but it’s also challenging work, especially if it entails historical research.”

Julia’s Gifts is the first of three books planned for a series entitled Great War Great Love. The setting for this novel is 1917-18, France. The protagonist is Julia Murphy who, as a young girl in Philadelphia, began buying Christmas gifts for her future spouse, a man whose name she doesn’t yet know, a man she calls her beloved. Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical-aid worker, with no experience or training. During the course of the novel, the reader follows Julia from Philadelphia to war-torn France as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.

Hrkach has always been fascinated with history. “This particular war piqued my interest, especially since it’s been one hundred years since it took place.” In the story, Julia is American and her love interest, Peter, is Canadian. “I am American and my husband is Canadian. I thought it might be fun exploring that relationship with fictional characters.” The novel also includes beautiful sonnets written by Peter (but actually written by the author’s husband, James Hrkach).
The second in the Great War Great Love series, Charlotte’s Honor, will be released in late 2018, and the third, Ella’s Promise, will be released in 2019.

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Hrkach is now a dual citizen, having received her Canadian citizenship in 2014.

The author began writing Christian fiction as a hobby in 2002 when her five sons were small boys. The part-time hobby eventually turned into a full-time career of writing, editing, book coaching and publishing.

Reviews and Awards

Reviews for Julia’s Gifts have been overwhelmingly positive. In her review, award-winning author Therese Heckenkamp, says that this novel is a, “touching story of faith and devotion that is sure to leave a lasting impression.” Jean Heimann, author of Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World, gave Julia’s Gifts high praise: “Stunning love story amid World War 1 … outstanding and unforgettable book!”

“This book is filled with fascinating historical detail and a reminder that love never fails and that miracles — great and small — happen all around us,” says Carolyn Astfalk, award-winning author.

In 2015, Hrkach’s fifth book, A Subtle Grace, was a finalist in the IAN Book Awards in both the romance and historical categories. In 2010, Hrkach’s second book, In Name Only, won the IPPY Gold Medal in Religious Fiction. All of her books are available on Amazon on Kindle and in paperback. Since 2009, the author’s books have been collectively downloaded over 600,000 times on Kindle.

Upcoming Book Signings

The author will be signing and selling books at the following events during the next six weeks:

Friday, Nov. 10: The Ninth Annual Ladies’ Shopping Night, St. John Chrysostom Parish Hall, Arnprior, Ontario, from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 18: CWL Bake Sale and Bazaar, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Hall, Braeside, Ont. from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 17: Christmas Shopping Adventure, 164 Argyle Street South, Renfrew, Ontario from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25: One of a Kind Christmas Craft, Bake and Business Sale, Nick Smith Centre, Arnprior, Ont. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday, December 2: Gifts of Light, Christmas Gifts and Bake Sale, Sponsored by L’Arche Arnprior, Kirkman House Bed and Breakfast, Arnprior, Ont. from 10 a.m. to two p.m.

Julia’s Gifts costs $15 (Canadian) for the print edition and $4.99 for the Kindle edition. It’s available online via Amazon and through the publisher’s website at http://www.fullquiverpublishing.com. More information can be found at the author’s website: http://www.ellengable.com

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness – 2017

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day but the entire month of October is devoted to Infant Loss Remembrance. James and I feel very blessed and grateful to be the parents of five young adult sons (ages 18-30). I also think about the seven precious babies we lost through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. This month, we remember in a special way these seven little souls (and intercessors) in heaven.

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

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

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

Five Little Souls in Heaven (This article was written 22 years ago and published in the Nazareth Journal)

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(End of excerpt.)

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

In memory of our seven little souls in heaven:

Baby Hrkach Twins (June 1986)

Baby Hrkach (February 1991)

Baby Hrkach (June 1991)

Mary Elizabeth Hrkach (June 1993)

Seth Hrkach (April 1998)

Lucy Hrkach (March 2006)

 

Teaching a Faith-Based Orientation to Life is Vital

Another Basic in author Robert P. Newberry’s book Green Beans and Legacies is: Teaching a child a faith-based orientation to life is vital.

We live in a secular culture that often sees children’s needs as so important that many of these children grow up thinking that the world revolves around them.  Making a child feel unique and special is important.  However, some parents might think that constantly giving in to children’s demands and making their needs more important will feed their self-esteem, but doing so actually diminishes it. And it does nothing to increase their ability to look beyond their noses and see the bigger picture.

The “Me” Generation would have us believe that the world revolves around us.  However, the world does not revolve around any person (most especially, children). We must be able to teach our children that there are “causes and matters” greater than themselves.  Using a faith-based orientation to life will instill morals, virtues and responsibilities, but it will especially focus on hope.

In his book, Green Beans and Legacies, author Robert P. Newberry writes: “The absence of such a faith-based outlook raises difficult implications for children. Dr. James Garbarino, an author and academic widely considered an expert in understanding children who severely hurt or kill other children, notes several characteristics common to children who demonstrate such negative behaviors. Such children do not have any kind of future orientation or hope. They share an absence of any kind of faith-based orientation or spirituality.”

If you want to learn more about the Basics, Green Beans and Legacies is an ideal book to help parents raise successful children. It is available via Kindle and paperback.

For more information on Robert P. Newberry, go to http://www.robertpnewberry.com

 

 

 

 

It Takes a Parent to Raise a Child

We’ve all heard the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Although there is some truth to that adage, author Robert P. Newberry challenges parents with, “it takes a parent to raise a child.”

In his book, Green Beans and Legacies, Newberry outlines his “Basics for Raising Successful Children” and makes it clear that there is no substitute for a parent in raising a child.  His first Basic is: The responsibility of raising a child lies squarely on the parent’s shoulders. While getting assistance from relatives, the community and friends can certainly make parenting easier, such help is optional and limited in what it can do. The village or community cannot give your child that “special-ness” that only parents can give.

Mr. Newberry does more than challenge parents, however.  He provides guidance and encouragement, showing parents how to build credibility with their children in order to influence and teach them about how to build a successful life. As one reviewer notes, “Your style of writing is so inviting and inspires the reader to want to become engaged.  The anecdotes are wonderful and make the trials of parenting realistic.”

Mr. Newberry illustrates the importance of parents – not just parents, but parents who are present – in his book.  The author includes eight “Basics” that can easily be used as a self-assessment by any reader in evaluating the effectiveness of how they are utilizing their parental authority.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or one who works outside the home. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the natural parent or the adoptive parent.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a single parent or whether you’re parenting with your spouse.  What does matter is that parenting takes consistent effort and a great deal of quality time.  But, Newberry argues, it can be done very successfully and there is nothing that offers such great rewards!

Green Beans and Legacies is the first of three books in the Raising Successful Children Series. I highly recommend this terrific resource for parents. It is available on Kindle and in paperback here at this link.

For more information on the author and his books, check out his website at: http://www.robertpnewberry.com