An Open Book – January #openbook

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for “An Open Book.”  Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past month (and will be reading this month).

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The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt

Amazon Synopsis: Is love ever wrong?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. “Dena Hunt is a consummate story-teller 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 Review

My review: I reread a few weeks ago in preparation for a radio interview.  The interviewer wanted to ask me about a “Catholic novel that impacted me.”  I know I am slightly biased because I published this book, but even before I published it, I knew it was an extraordinary book.  The author brilliantly illustrates the Church’s teachings on sexuality through the story and characters. Highly recommend.

Barron

Letter to a Suffering Church by Bishop Robert Barron

Amazon Synopsis: The sexual abuse scandal has gripped the Catholic Church for the past thirty years, and continues to wreak havoc even today. It’s been a diabolical masterpiece, one that has compromised the work of the Church in every way and has left countless lives in ruin. Many Catholics are understandably asking, Why should I stay? Why not abandon this sinking ship before it drags me or my children under? In this stirring manifesto, Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, explains why this is not the time to leave, but the time to stay and fight. Reading the current crisis through the lenses of Scripture and Church history, Bishop Barron shows that we have faced such egregious scandals before; that the spiritual treasures of the Church were preserved by holy men and women who recommitted themselves to fighting evil; and that there is a clear path forward for us today. For Catholics questioning their faith, searching desperately for encouragement and hope, this book will offer reasons to stay and fight for the Body of Christ.

My review: I received this book for free from a local parish and read it one Sunday afternoon in December.  Bishop Barron gives a lot of excellent insight and guidance regarding the Church scandals.  Highly recommend (and only .75 on Kindle!)

 

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The Book of Jotham by Arthur Powers

Synopsis: For 23 years the completed manuscript of The Book of Jotham sat in the author s desk drawer typewritten collecting dust and time. On an early autumn day in 2012, the manuscript arrived at Tuscany Press, and we discovered this compelling and moving story.

Jotham is a mentally challenged man-child who, like the other apostles, follows Jesus as Christ carries out his ministry and experiences death by crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Yet the other apostles the dedicated Mary, Peter, Thomas, and the rest while they care for Jotham and look out for him, don t understand why Jesus loves him so. Thomas even says, after Jesus offers a parable, I don t see why all the pots can t be strong and beautiful.

Jotham may be different, but through him, we come to see Jesus and Jotham not just with our eyes, but also with our hearts.

My review:  I read this again in preparation for FQP publishing the second edition of this book (hopefully before June!)  This is another book that is brilliantly written through the eyes of a mentally challenged man who follows Jesus. It’s a short read, but is very powerful.

 

Rule

Mortal Danger by Ann Rule

Amazon Synopsis: Featured here is the case of a Southern California family man who lured a beautiful flight attendant into a passionate and dangerous relationship. Other cases include that of the woman who masterminded her husband’s murder to gain his inheritance…the monstrous sadist whose prison release damaged a presidential candidate’s campaign and ended in a bitter double tragedy in a quiet neighborhood three thousand miles away…the shocking DNA link between a cold-blooded crime and a cold case…and inside the horrific case of the man who crossed an ocean and several countries to stalk the Eurasian beauty who had fled from him in desperation.

My review: Every now and then, I enjoy reading about true crime cases and Ann Rule is never a disappointment.  She takes the reader through cases with great attention to detail.  Recommend.

 

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Five Days in November by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin

Amazon Synopsis:  Don’t miss the New York Times bestseller Five Days in November, where Secret Service agent Clint Hill tells the stories behind the iconic images of those five infamous, tragic days surrounding JFK’s assassination, published for the 50th anniversary of his death.

On November 22, 1963, three shots were fired in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the world stopped for four days. For an entire generation, it was the end of an age of innocence.

That evening, a photo ran on the front pages of newspapers across the world, showing a Secret Service agent jumping on the back of the presidential limousine in a desperate attempt to protect the President and Mrs. Kennedy. That agent was Clint Hill.

Now Secret Service Agent Clint Hill commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy with this stunning book containing more than 150 photos, each accompanied by Hill’s incomparable insider account of those terrible days. With poignant narration accompanying rarely seen images, we witness three-year-old John Kennedy Jr.’s pleas to come to Texas with his parents and the rapturous crowds of mixed ages and races that greeted the Kennedys at every stop in Texas. We stand beside a shaken Lyndon Johnson as he is hurriedly sworn in as the new president. We experience the first lady’s steely courage when she insists on walking through the streets of Washington, DC, in her husband’s funeral procession.

A story that has taken Clint Hill fifty years to tell, this is a work of personal and historical scope. Besides the unbearable grief of a nation and the monumental consequences of the event, the death of JFK was a personal blow to a man sworn to protect the first family, and who knew, from the moment the shots rang out in Dallas, that nothing would ever be the same.

My review: My parents were devastated at President Kennedy’s assassination. I was only four years old at the time, but all I remember is seeing my parents cry and the beating of the drums during the televised funeral. Ever since then, I’ve read many books on the assassination.  This one was particularly interesting in that it tells the story from the POV of the secret service agent assigned to Jackie Kennedy.  Compelling read.  Highly recommend.

 

Ella’s Promise VBT

We’ve come to the end of my new book’s Virtual Book Tour and I’d like to say thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who took part!

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Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

November 3  Carolyn Astfalk My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

November 4  Steven McEvoy Book Reviews and More

November 5  Theresa Linden Catholic Books Blog

November 6  Therese Heckenkamp

November 7 Patrice MacArthur

November 8  Amanda Lauer

November 9  Sarah Reinhard

November 10  Jean Egolf

November 12 Leslea Wahl

November 13  Trisha Potter

November 14   The Yeoman Farmer, Christopher Blunt

November 15  Plot Line and Sinker

The book is available on Kindle and in Paperback.

EP Book Tour 150

Ella’s Promise Virtual Book Tour

EP Book Tour 150

I’ll be touring virtually with my new book beginning this week on November 3 and ending November 15th!

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

November 3  Carolyn Astfalk My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

November 4  Steven McEvoy Book Reviews and More

November 5  Theresa Linden Catholic Books Blog

November 6  Therese Heckenkamp

November 7 Patrice MacArthur

November 8  Amanda Lauer

November 9  Sarah Reinhard

November 10  Jean Egolf

November 12 Leslea Wahl

November 13  Trisha Potter

November 14   The Yeoman Farmer, Christopher Blunt

November 15  Plot Line and Sinker

Humbled, Honored and Surprised: Arnprior Author Inducted Into Hall of Fame in New Jersey

Ellen Gable Hrkach photo.jpgFrom the Arnprior Chronicle Guide:

When local author, Ellen Gable Hrkach, was informed this past July that she was being inducted into her high school’s hall of fame, she was “humbled, honoured and surprised.” The award is “in recognition of outstanding achievement” regarding her success as an author of fiction. The induction ceremony took place on Oct. 7 in Glassboro, N.J. A graduate of Triton High School, class of 1977, Hrkach was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated sixth in a class of over 450 students. She joins 40 other Triton alumni whhave been inducted over the years.

The author recently released her ninth book, Charlotte’s Honor, the second of three books in the Great War — Great Love series. The first in the series, Julia’s Gifts, was published last year. Both books are appropriate for age 12 and over.

Hrkach, who writes under her maiden name (Gable), says that she “enjoys creating stories, especially historical fiction.” In her new book, Charlotte’s Honor, 21-year-old Charlotte enlists as a medical volunteer during the Great War. She begins working in the death ward of the field hospital near Soissons, France, holding dying men’s hands and singing them into eternity.

Award-winning author Therese Heckenkamp highly recommended the novel, saying that it’s an “authentic story of compassion, self-sacrifice, and the true meaning of love.” Dr. Jean Egolf, wrote that “Charlotte’s Honor is a beautiful, tender and moving story set during World War One …” and that “it will not disappoint.”

The main female characters in the series are American and their love interests are Canadian. “I am American, and my husband, James, is Canadian. It’s been fun exploring that relationship with fictional characters.”

Originally from the Philadelphia-South Jersey area, Hrkach is now a dual citizen, having received her Canadian citizenship in 2014. The author began writing Christian fiction when her five sons were small children. The hobby eventually turned into a full-time career of writing, editing, book coaching, and ghostwriting.

She is currently working on the third novel of the Great War — Great Love series, Ella’s Promise, as well as two other novels entitled Where Angels Pass and A Faithful Heart.

Awards and Translations

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. In 2006, her first novel, Emily’s Hope, won an Honourable Mention in the IPPY awards.

All of her books are available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. Her third book, Stealing Jenny, is available in three languages: Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian and will soon be translated into Lithuanian. Julia’s Gifts is available in Italian and will soon be available in Portuguese, Spanish, and French. Stealing Jenny is also available as an audiobook (narrated by Lisa Reichert). Since 2009, the author’s books have been collectively downloaded nearly a quarter of a million times on Kindle. To date, she has published nine original works and has contributed to numerous other books.

Upcoming Book Signings

The author will be signing and selling books at the following events during the month of November:

Friday, Nov. 2: The Knights of Columbus Ladies’ Shopping Night, St. John Chrysostom Parish Hall, Arnprior, Ont., from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 10: Catholic Women’s League Bake Sale and Bazaar, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Hall, Braeside, Ont. from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 24: Christmas Craft, Bake and Business Sale, Nick Smith Centre, Arnprior, Ont. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Charlotte’s Honor costs $15 for the print edition and $4.99 for the Kindle edition. It’s available online via Amazon and through the publisher’s website at www.fullquiverpublishing.com. More information can be found at the author’s website: www.ellengable.com.

Catholic Writers Conference Live 2018 Highlights #cwcl2018 #cmn2018

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.

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Dinner with fellow Guild members, a few bookstore owners and a surprise friend from Canada!

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Clockwise: Fr. Don Calloway giving his keynote presentation at the Catholic Writers Conference Live; fellow Guildies and dear friends/authors Lisa Mladinich and Mary Lou Rosien; with “fans” Dr. Jean Egolf and her daughter; the CWG booth.

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With some of the Guild members and Fr. Don Calloway.

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Clockwise from left: Historic St. Mary’s, Lancaster Convention Center, Historic St. Mary’s (exterior), inside the convention center and Greenwood Cemetery (where some of my Gable ancestors are buried)

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Top: FQP Authors: Back row: me, Dr. Barbara Golder, Michelle Buckman, Amanda Lauer; front row: Carolyn Astfalk, Erin McCole Cupp, Karina Fabian and Arthur Powers. Bottom: the Writer and Spirituality panel (left to right: Arthur Powers, me, Marge Fenelon and Lisa Mladinich.) Right: with my dear friend and fellow Guildie and author of children’s novels, Karen Kelly Boyce.

Theresa Linden, author of Anyone But Him, Interview #VBT

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Theresa Linden is the author of the New Christian Mystery, Anyone But Him.  Check out my previous blog post for my review and more information about this wonderful book!

Anyone but Him is told entirely from Caitlyn Summer’s perspective. What is Caitlyn like?

Caitlyn is one of the characters in my West Brothers young adult series, but she is all grown up in this new adult story. She is a faithful Christian who loves her life and her family, and she’s always been full of bubbly hope. She doesn’t swear, never did drugs, and she had always intended to save herself for marriage.

In this story, she wakes up in a nightmare situation, and she just can’t come to terms with it. She is miles from home and she is married to a boy she never even liked in high school. He’s vain and egocentric. And he’s always had drastically lower standards than her. And because she’s always romanticized her future, knowing what kind of man she would one day marry, she can’t believe this is her life.

Action scenes takes place in woods that seem unfamiliar to Caitlyn. And another scene takes place on the beach. What made you choose North Carolina for the location in this story?

For the story to work, I needed a location that was far away from where Caitlyn grew up, in South Dakota. As a young woman, I spent one summer in North Carolina with friends. I loved the beauty and diversity of the landscape, with forests and beaches and orange dirt. And I enjoyed the relaxed pace and listening to the southern accents. So North Carolina seemed like a perfect fit for this story!

What makes this mystery romance different?

Well, at first it doesn’t seem like this story will have a detective, but it does. And while all mysteries have elements which remain unknown or unexplained until the end, this story has more than a few elements. For one, Caitlyn wakes with amnesia. She has no idea what caused the amnesia and no one else seems to know either. The even bigger problem for her is this man she wakes up next to. He claims to be her husband, but she can’t imagine how she would’ve married a man like him. The stakes are raised when her husband’s younger brother arrives on the scene. She remembers being in love with him. Why hadn’t she married him? Throughout this story, while trying to solve these mysteries, Caitlyn finds herself evaluating her faith and her understanding of what marriage truly is.

While trying to understand how she ended up married to him, Caitlyn’s most important question becomes “Who changed?” Has she discarded the values she cherished or has her husband become the kind of man she dreamed of? What lesson is there for all of us in how we see each other, particularly those we’ve known a long time?

Sometimes it is easier to overlook faults in a stranger than in one who is close to us. It can be easier to offer kindness and mercy to a stranger as well. We see our loved ones’ strengths and weaknesses day after day. We expect them to act a certain way in various situations. So it can be difficult to recognize when someone we think we know so well has changed for the better. We too often jump to conclusions based on a person’s past behavior. I suppose this is because we have a vested interest in our family members. We feel responsible for them and want to help them become better people. But it’s important that we recognize the work of God in their lives as well.

What do you most want readers to take away from Anyone But Him?

We’ve all made mistakes and sometimes very big ones, but God is bigger than our mistakes and He can lift us up and set us on a new and beautiful path. I hope this story offers readers hope and encouragement that stays with them for a while.

You’ve written discussion guides for your other books. What extras do you have planned for this one?

This book will also have a book club discussion guide and discounts for bulk purchases. Visit my website for details. I also plan to share the recipes of the food that characters prepare throughout the story, including Chicken Florentine, apple crepes, and authentic Mexican tamales. I’ll share these recipes on my blog and website. Oh, and readers will finally get to find out what Jarret put in the eggs, as mentioned in chapter 3.

What is coming up next for you?

I am currently writing the next two books in the West Brothers series. The first one, Roland West, Outcast, is about a shy teen who fears speaking up, but when his best friend begs him to look into the vandalism of an outcast’s house, his detective skills may be the only way to find answers. The second one is a Confirmation story. I don’t have a working title or story blurb for that one yet, but I want it to really bring the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation to life through the West brothers.

Remembrance Day – Veterans Day 2017 (Julia’s Gifts VBT)

My novel, Julia’s Gifts, is a World War 1 Romance and the first of the Great War Great Love series.  It is available on Kindle and in paperback.   I’m currently in the midst of a Virtual Book Tour. Check out all the links here.   The summaries of the other two books in the series are as follows:

Charlotte’s Honor is Book #2 and takes place at approximately the same time as Julia’s Gifts, but focuses on a different female protagonist, Charlotte, who finds her purpose in live when she begins working in the death ward and holding men’s hands as they die.  She is attracted to Canadian Dr. Paul Kilgallen. During an advance by the enemy, everyone at the field hospital evacuates, except for Charlotte and Dr. K.  They remain hidden in the basement of the chateau to take care of the terminally ill men and those soldiers who can’t be moved. Charlotte becomes convinced that Paul is her own “beloved.” But when she loses contact with Paul, she fears not only for his safety, but begins to doubt his love for her.  Charlotte’s Honor will be released in late 2018.

Ella’s Promise is Book #3 in the series. It is about the daughter of German immigrants, Ella, an American nurse who (because of the time period) was discouraged from continuing on in her studies to be a doctor.  She works as a nurse for three years in Philadelphia but reads medical books every opportunity she gets. During the Great War, she travels to Le Treport, France to work at the American-run hospital. She meets her own beloved in the last place she would expect to meet him.  Ella’s Promise will be released in mid-2019.

Remembrance Day/Veterans Day

Today is also a day to remember those who served in wars. I’d like to remember in a special way my father, father-in-law and stepfather (all now deceased). Each served their country in war: my father-in-law was in the United States Air Force during World War II and was ‘Missing in Action’ for months, my father and stepfather (my father’s first cousin) both served in Korea. Today is also my father’s birthday. He died in 1978 at the age of 49.

Remembering Tony An article about my father-in-law, who was a gunner for the USAF in WW II. He was shot down over Yugoslavia, near his father’s birthplace.Tony in army

Remembering Dad A tribute to my own father, who served in both the USMC and the United States Army, and who died when I was 18.Dad in Army

This last post is a special way to remember, with fondness, the three father figures in my life: Remembrance Day/Veterans Day 2009

Lest We Forget…