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

Veterans Day-Remembrance Day 2019

My three fathers served a total of 16 years in various branches of the United States armed forces.

My father, Frank Gable, served in the United States Marine Corps from 1946-1950 and in the United States Army from 1950-1954. However, November 11th has always held a special place in my heart because it is my father’s birthday. Today he would’ve been 91. He died suddenly and tragically at the age of 49, just before my 19th birthday. My family and I walked around in shock, trying to get through the days following his death.

Frank Gable was short in stature (around five feet six inches tall), enjoyed watching “Gomer Pyle,” “Hogan’s Heroes” and the “Honeymooners.” He enjoyed playing the card game, Rummy, and Monopoly. His favorite candy was Hershey’s Kisses.  Over the years, he worked as a clerk and mailman. Years ago, my mom shared with me that he is the one who named me. And, when I was 15 or 16, he used to hug me and say, “El, you need to find a guy just about my size because you fit perfectly to me when we hug.” (I did!)

For Christians, the consolation is that we will see our loved ones again. I know that I will see my dad again someday. Until then…Happy Birthday, Dad. Remembering you in a special way today.

My father-in-law, Tony Hrkach (1925-1995) served as a tail gunner in the United States Air Force during the second World War.

Near the end of the war, during a routine mission, Tony’s plane was shot down over Yugoslavia (coincidentally, near his father’s birthplace). Frantically, he and his buddies parachuted out of the airplane. Unfortunately, however, one of his friends hit the side of a mountain and was killed. Tony and the others made it safely to the ground and were captured as soon as they landed.

They were marched for miles until they reached a POW camp. Remarkably, they found the Germans running the camp to be kind and, while it was not easy to be a prisoner of war, they were treated humanely.

When an announcement came over the radio that Germany had lost the war, their captors immediately handed their weapons and guns over to the Americans. Then, in a strange moment of understanding, they exchanged small personal tokens as reminders of their time together.

“I don’t just think of myself as a citizen of the United States; I think of myself as a citizen of the world,” he used to say. His idea was that we should remember first and foremost that we are all human beings, especially in time of war.

Like my own father and many other veterans, my father-in-law enjoyed “Hogan’s Heroes,” the television sitcom from the 1960’s about a German POW camp. The show attempted to put a human spin on such horrific times…the very thing that Tony found in his real experience with the ‘enemy.’  (With thanks to my husband James for writing this account of his father’s experience in the second World War.)

26910466_10212348569646543_8903877012294292610_oMy stepfather, Joseph Power (1933-2012), trained in Parris Island, South Carolina, before shipping out to Korea. He attained the silver badge in Marine Marksman. Like my father and father-in-law, Joe never liked to talk about his experiences with war.  But he would say things like, “Be grateful for warm showers,” or “If that’s your only complaint, be thankful that you’re not being fired at.”

While we remember all those who fought in wars so that we may live in freedom, let us also remember that the real enemy isn’t necessarily the people we fight against, but the evil circumstances that result from greed, lust and power.

Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach 2019

Open Book – October 2019

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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Ella’s Promise (Great War-Great Love #3)

I’ve been editing, re-reading and re-editing for the past month.  The third in the Great War Great Love trilogy will be published on November 1, 2019!

Synopsis: When she joins the war effort during the Great War, American nurse Ella Neumann doesn’t see allies or enemies. The daughter of German immigrants, all she sees are human beings in need of care. A promise to herself and a promise made to her by an enemy officer become the catalyst for the life she plans to lead after the war. But a handsome Canadian soldier may complicate her plans. In this third installment of the Great War – Great Love series, join Ella in a tale of promises, betrayal and unconditional love.


Shubert and Sophie 

by Dr. Becky Bailey (illustrated by James Hrkach)

Synopsis: The beloved Shubert and Sophie books build character through conflict for both children and adults. An endearing lightning bug named Shubert, his little sister Sophie, and their friends at Bug Valley School demonstrate using the Seven Skills of Conscious Discipline to solve problems. Shubert’s parents and teacher model Conscious Discipline for adults.

My review: It’s hard to be unbiased since my husband illustrated all these books.  We just gave a full set to our grandson (and signed by his grandfather, the illustrator!), so we read through them again.  When James first began illustrating Shubert, our youngest son was in the womb! It’s hard to believe there are now so many of them and that we have a grandson to give them to! Highly recommend!


Without a Trace by Sylvia Wrigley

Amazon Synopsis: True Stories of Aircraft and Passengers Who Disappeared Into Thin Air.    For many, aviation still brings with it an air of mystery, a century-long magic trick. Though most of us will board an aircraft at some point in our lives, we know little about how they work and the procedures surrounding their operation. It is that mystery that makes these losses, such as the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, so terrifying.
Without a Trace explores the most interesting of these disappearances: mysteries that have baffled investigators for years. Occasionally tragic, frequently amusing, Without a Trace is unerringly accurate and informative.
The two Without a Trace volumes span 150 years and explore mysteries from around the world. This is volume one, beginning just before the golden age of aviation with a manned balloon swept over the English Channel, and ending with a top-secret spy plane disappearing at the height of the cold war. Each case is laid out in rich detail and presented chronologically, highlighting the historical context, official accident reports and contemporary news surrounding each mystery.
Where did they go?

Sylvia Wrigley introduces the crews, innocent bystanders and rescuers in this collection of true stories. Documenting the popular theories from each case, she uses her knowledge and experience as a pilot and an aviation journalist to demystify aviation jargon and narrow down each disappearance to the most likely explanations.
This collection takes a hard look at the human failings of great aviators, explorers and celebrities who have pushed the limits of flight and ended up at the heart of a mystery. The stories encompass airships, military jets and commercial airlines – all of which have vanished without a trace.

My review: I’m currently reading this.  It’s interesting (and I love a good missing persons/airplane story), but the author’s writing is a bit stilted.  Otherwise, it’s an interesting book. Review to come.

The Time in Between

The Time in Between by William Judd

Back cover synopsis: Fred Nash, an adolescent in the 1960’s, emerging from a repressive home life and seeking to recover from the loss of a first love, finds himself depressed and adrift.  Will he find a true path for himself, or will he succumb to chaos and despair in the midst of a decade of significant cultural change?

My review: This is a moving coming-of-age story about a young man in the sixties. I enjoyed all the different references to music, TV and movies because I was a young child of the sixties.  You can purchase the book here at this link.

The Time in Between by William Judd

The Time in Between

New Book by William Judd: The Time In Between

Synopsis:  Fred Nash, an adolescent in the 1960’s, emerging from a repressive home life and seeking to recover from the loss of a first love, finds himself depressed and adrift.  Will he find a true path for himself, or will he succumb to chaos and despair in the midst of a decade of significant cultural change?


“This is a remarkable book by a first-time author.  It is a coming-of-age story with all the trials and tribulations that that entails.  But it is an evocative remembrance of the sixties.  Bill Judd captures the tone and feel of the time:  the expressions, the tastes, the opinions, the small town parochialism of middle America, as well as the worries and joys unique to teenagers in that time and place.”

Leslie Graitcer, former Executive Director, Bell South Foundation

“Bill Judd’s The Time in Between is a gripping coming of age story interweaving the turbulence of adolescence  with the social upheaval of the 1960’s.  Judd’s personalized approach to the narrative also touches religious and family themes in a thought-provoking page turner, immersing the reader in the travails and travels of the main character, Fred Nash.”

Tom Bartlett, editor, author of Songs from the Lifeboat

author photo

About the Author

William Judd has lived in Concord, NH, for 32 years.  There he and his wife have raised five children.  He is a retired high school English teacher and hospital nurse.  This is his first novel.

Let Us Pray: Free Online Conference for Women

0924-TKiser-promo-pictureDo you struggle with prayer? Is your prayer life stagnant and in need of some zeal? Do you just need some encouragement to pray? Yes, yes, and yes. Am I right?

We all need some extra help with prayer, and that’s why the Let Us Pray Conference for Catholic Women is here.

During the week of October 7th (The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) and ending October 13 (Anniversary of the Miracle of Fatima) thousands of Catholic women will be gathered together online to spend time learning about prayer and actually praying.

Each day of this week-long conference, two 20-30 minute presentations will be available throughout the day to view for anyone who has signed up for the conference. An email reminder will be sent each day. Before viewing the presentation, women are asked to pray the short prayer provided on the web-page where the presentations are accessed. At the end of each presentation, women are asked to pray along with the presenter as he/she closes with prayer.

This free online conference is being brought to you by Heart Ridge Ministries. Formerly, Heart Ridge was Catholic Conference 4 Moms and Women producing similar yearly conferences, now available on Formed. Recently Heart Ridge Ministries has expanded beyond producing video programs for moms and women to developing an actual, physical conference and retreat center, with studio, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. For more information visit HeartRidgeMinistries.com.

Here are the presentations for the online “Let Us Pray” conference for Catholic women:

  • Praying with Mindfulness, with Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, S.T.D.
  • Praying like the Saints, with Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet​
  • Praying in the Midst of Suffering, with Mary Lenaburg
  • Praying with Your Temperament, with Stephanie Sanders
  • Praying during the Mass, with Dr. Ed Sri
  • Praying with Mary, with Dominican Nuns, Sr. Anna Sophia and Sr. Marie Celine
  • Praying with Little Ones, with Katie Warner
  • Praying while Fasting, with Ellen Gable Hrkach
  • Praying with “Hands Full,” with a panel of busy moms (10+ kids each)
  • Praying with Gratitude, with Dr. Susan Muto
  • Praying with and for Our Children, with Dr. John and Claire Grabowski
  • Praying the Rosary for Healing, with Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Although primarily for Catholic women, the conference is open to all. Women can sign up online.

Of particular interest to readers are the presentations specifically for mothers. One features a panel of mothers of large families — in fact, the average number of kids for these women is 9.3. They discuss how they make prayer a part of their busy homes. Katie Warner, author of many children’s books, talks about how to pray with your young children. She has wonderful examples and a fresh, positive attitude that can be encouraging for any family overrun by toddlers. And Dr. John and Claire Grabowski speak about praying with your children as they grow older. They show how that can look with teens and young adults at home.

Ideally, women can give 20-30 minutes a day during the week-long conference to listen and pray. If they want to give another 20 minutes, they can listen to the second presentation for that day.

But we all know that finding that time can be extremely difficult. Life happens. And even with the best intentions, presentations and prayers of the conference will be missed. However, not all is lost. God, the master of time, just wants a place in our hearts.

So even if you can’t “attend” the presentations or even pray the selected prayers — just seeing the reminder email and looking to God to give Him your busy day can be the most beautiful prayer of all.

And there is an Encore Day at the conference end to catch any presentations you missed!

Please spread the word. Let’s flood the world with prayer.

Learn more and sign up for the free “Let Us Pray” conference.



#FREE on #KINDLE Pondering Tidbits of Truth Volume 2

PTT2 Cover

Today through Thursday, Pondering Tidbits of Truth (Volume 2) by Michael Seagriff will be available FREE on KINDLE.

Volume 2 of Pondering Tidbits of Truths, like the other four books in this series, presents 100 potentially life-changing quotations for you to read and ponder, one morsel at a time, at your own pace and at a time of the day that  you  find  most  convenient – when you first begin the day, during your coffee or lunch break, while you are in the waiting room of your doctor, or before settling in for the night.  All five volumes are also excellent for group reflection and discussion.

Each of the books in this series is a simple but sure-fire tool to make certain you spend some time every day thinking about, and being in the presence of, the God who loves you and desires to spend eternity with you. It is an inspiring way to learn more about the Catholic Faith. (You can view a short book trailer on this series here.)

AS AN ADDED BONUS!!! – In addition to this free giveaway, the first 10 readers of Pondering Tidbits of Truth – Volume 2 who post a review on Amazon.com and send the author a link to their review will receive a free, signed paperback copy of Volume 5! The ten lucky winners will be well on their way toward having the full 5 volume set!

GET YOUR FREE Copy of Pondering Tidbits of Truth – Volume 2!!!  – From Tuesday, August 20, 2019 through Thursday, August 22, 2019 only BY CLICKING HERE

There are 1440 minutes in each day. Give God just five of them. Slowly read and chew on one quotation at a time. Ponder the truths and challenges it contains. Ask God to let you know how He wants you to respond to what you are reading. Then do as He tells you!

This is what a recent reviewer had to say about Volume 1. His comments would apply to any of the five books in this series:

“…I usually try to find some good spiritual reading before bedtime – either something very inspirational, or else something very informative about spirituality, a relationship with God, or about the Church. This book was quite different – I could not quite make it out. I ended up reading it through a number of times, trying to size it up, and found eventually, in the midst of snow-shoveling or some other mundane task, that quotes from the saints from the book would pop out to me. It dawned on me then what this book was – none other than a primer, an exercise manual in saintliness! As one would read a book to improve one’s tennis game, or knowledge of a foreign language, or relationship skills, Vol I offers us a clear path to holiness! Ordinary goodness / kindness / spirituality will only go so far – to approach sanctity, we must go EVEN FURTHER, and Vol. 1 gives us 100 examples from the testimonies of the saints, as to how far we are called to go, on the path of love, for God and His people. WWTSD? ‘What Would The Saints Do,’ indeed, in thought, word, and action!”-Armand Di Scenna

Don’t miss out on your free copy! Please share this post with your readers, friends, family and fellow bloggers. Tell them to get their free copy as well!


Open Book – July #openbook

An Open Book 800W

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and CatholicMom.com for Open Book.  Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month (heavy on non-fiction this month):


Warrior of the Kizan by Ann Margaret Lewis

Amazon Synopsis: Star Wars meets Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars in this techno-magic tale of war and redemption!

Dakhar Talin, a member of a cursed, telepathic people, is the new head of security for the Royal House of Emun. When the princess, Tasia, is kidnapped, Dakhar’s investigation leads him to a sinister planet called Earth.

But inner demons from his military service torment him, threatening his sanity, integrity, and the success of his mission. Can he bring the princess home before he loses his soul to ever-corrupting madness?

My review:  I’m still in the process of reading this. I was fortunate to be able to read a few versions of this book while it was still a work in progress.  Ann Margaret Lewis’ writing flows beautifully and her characters are well-defined.  Full review to come.


Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within

by Taylor Marshall

Amazon Synopsis: It took nearly two millennia for the enemies of the Catholic Church to realize they could not successfully attack the Church from the outside. Indeed, countless nemeses from Nero to Napoleon succeeded only in creating sympathy and martyrs for our Catholic Faith.

That all changed in the mid-19th century, when clandestine societies populated by Modernists and Marxists hatched a plan to subvert the Catholic Church from within. Their goal: to change Her doctrine, Her liturgy, and Her mission.

In this captivating and carefully documented book, Dr. Taylor Marshall pulls back the curtain on their nefarious plan, showing how these enemies of Christ strategically infiltrated the seminaries, then the priesthood, then the episcopacy, and eventually the cardinal-electors all with the eventual goal of electing one of their own as pope.

You’ll come to see that the seemingly endless scandals plaguing the Church are not the result, as so many think, of cultural changes, or of Vatican II, but rather the natural consequences of an orchestrated demonic plot to destroy the Church.

My review: This was a compelling read. Marshall sets the foundation for his thesis well by starting the story in the 19th century.  Some of what he sets forth, however, is speculation. Much of it is based on hard evidence. And we have seen and are witnessing the culmination of the “infiltration” happening today. Highly recommend. Five out of five.


Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

Amazon Synopsis: What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history–the life she had lived–crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is a book about secrets–secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in–a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.

My review: This is was an extremely well-written book that read almost like a novel.  With my fascination in genealogy and ancestry, I found this to be a compelling story and I enjoyed reading about the author’s journey.  In her specific case, she didn’t look Jewish and didn’t look like anyone else in her family.  Had I been her, that would’ve been my first clue.  But it it made me think: what would I do if I found out I was not who I thought I was all along?  Five out of five.

Patty Duke

In the Presence of Greatest: My Sixty-Year Journey as an Actress

by Patty Duke and William Jankowski

Amazon Synopsis: The Miracle Worker. The Patty Duke Show. Valley of the Dolls. Those perennial film and television titles still reverberate with audiences entranced with Academy Award-winning film actress and Broadway and television icon Patty Duke.

Patty first gained national attention and praise playing Helen Keller in both the Broadway stage and film versions of The Miracle Worker. As identical cousins on The Patty Duke Show, her name became an American household word. Her later work in Valley of the Dolls, Me, Natalie, My Sweet Charlie, a later television remake of The Miracle Worker, and dozens of other productions established her as one of America’s leading actresses.

Illustrated with over 70 rare photos from both Patty Duke’s career and personal life, many never before published and from her personal collection.

My review:  This really isn’t a book, per se.  It is a transcription of conversations between Patty Duke and William Jankowski.  There were too many typos for a professionally published book and sometimes I had to read a sentence over again to figure out what she was trying to say.  As well, I don’t think Patty/Anna would’ve liked the title In the Presence of Greatness, which is a bit over-the-top. All that being said, however, I knew what I was getting when I purchased this book.  I’ve read her other books and now that she has passed, I was interested in reading this one.  Enjoyable read and great photos. Three out of five.