Charlotte’s Honor Virtual Book Tour Links!

CH Book Tour Promo 100 (1)

Charlotte’s Honor Virtual Book Tour takes place beginning next week!

October 22      Plot Line and Sinker

October 23       A.K. Frailey

October 24      Book Reviews and More,   Patrice MacArthur

October 25      Amanda Lauer

October 26     Franciscan Mom

October 29     Carolyn Astfalk

October 30     Catholic Mom

November 1    Plot Line and Sinker

November 2    Michael Seagriff

November 5   Virginia Lieto

November 6  Leslea Wahl

November 7   Theresa Linden

November 8   Sarah Reinhard

November 9   Erin McCole Cupp

November 11  Plot Line and Sinker  Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post

November 12  Mary Lou Rosien

November 13  Therese Heckenkamp

November 14  E.M. Vidal

November 15 Leticia Velasquez

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Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness 2018

Pregnancy and infant loss awareness month - october 15Today 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 19-31). We are also blessed to be the parents of 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 24 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.

Here is a list of other novels that have themes about infant/pregnancy loss:

In Name Only by Ellen Gable

A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

Rose, Sola by Carmela Martino

The Rose and the Sword by Gina Marinello-Sweeney

Bane’s Eyes by Corinna Turner

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

 

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)

 

Charlotte’s Honor Now Available for Pre-Order

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Charlotte’s Honor (Great War Great Love #2) Kindle Edition is now available for pre-order at this link!  It will be released on October 22, 2018, the Feast of St. John Paul II!

The paperback edition will be available shortly after October 22, 2018.

Synopsis: After receiving notification that her brother –and only relative — is killed in action during the Great War, 21-year-old Charlotte Zielinski enlists as a medical volunteer. She eventually begins working in the death ward of the field hospital near Soissons, France, holding dying men’s hands and singing them into eternity.

Dr. Paul Kilgallen is a Canadian surgeon working at the field hospital. During a siege by the enemy, everyone evacuates except for Paul and Charlotte, who volunteer to remain in the basement of the chateau to care for the critically ill soldiers.

During those three days, Charlotte sees a side of Paul that very few have seen and finds herself falling in love with him. Before Paul leaves for the front, he abruptly tells her that he cannot love her, and it would be best to “forget him.”

Just when the war is coming to a close, Charlotte is surprised by two events that are destined to change her life forever.

Advanced Reviews:

Charlotte’s Honor is a beautiful, tender, and moving story set during World War One.  The perfect mix of historical detail and romance, this second installment in Gable’s Great War Great Love Trilogy will not disappoint. Charlotte Zielinski,  to whom we were first introduced in Julia’s Gifts, is a strongly positive role model for our daughters. She endures trials throughout this story that most of us cannot imagine facing today, yet the genuine manner in which the characters react and respond rings true for all time. I would add Charlotte’s Honor to the must-read list for any historical fiction, mother-daughter generational, or virtue-based book club. Of course, Gable’s tales are perfectly delectable as a personal poolside treat as well!”       Jean Egolf, author,  the Molly McBride series

“Charlotte’s Honor includes a little bit of everything: WW1 history, sweet romance, and a little mystery/suspense. This page-turning love story (it’s a fast read!) is built on a foundation of faith and above all, the dignity of human life.  Charlotte (whose honor has more than one meaning here) devotes herself to the care of dying soldiers. It is through this calling that Charlotte meets and falls in love with Paul, a skilled surgeon who has closed his heart to the possibility of romance. Expect a little humor amidst the backdrop of wartime brutality and a couple of surprises along the way. Charlotte’s Honor is not only a pleasant romantic escape but edifying as well.” Carolyn Astfalk, author, Ornamental Graces, Rightfully Ours

“Set toward the end of the Great War, Charlotte’s Honor allows readers to glimpse ugliness and death, blossoming relationships, and the most challenging experiences a person could face, juxtaposing the brutality of war with the beauty of sacrificial love.”  Theresa Linden, award-winning author

“A charming story set in WW II France where love and faith endure through times of trial. Though Charlotte must face death every day, her commitment to kindness leads to hope and a new life.” A.K. Frailey, author of Last of Her Kind

“Ellen Gable delivers another impressive historical romance novel, a worthy sequel to her first book in the Great War Great Love series. When Charlotte Zielinski, a medical volunteer, meets skilled surgeon Dr. Paul Kilgallen at a field hospital in France during World War I, they face great hardships that require courage, dedication, hope—and faith. Charlotte’s Honor is an authentic story filled with compassion, self-sacrifice, and the true meaning of love. A wonderful read and highly recommended!”  Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author

An Open Book – October 2018

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I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.

Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month:

Harry Brady

A New Lens on Life: Jesus Was My Ophthalmologist

by Harry Brady

Publisher synopsis: Growing up on the Northside of Pittsburgh with an alcoholic father and rats in the basement, Harry R. Brady developed an Irish wit that glows throughout A New Lens on Life—Jesus was My Ophthalmologist.

The “scrawny little kid with glasses” peppered his childhood with classroom misbehavior, sandlot exploits, misadventures with fireworks, and practical jokes, and tempered it with endearing innocence and compassion for others.

Then, as the lone survivor of a tractor-trailer accident that killed three college classmates, Harry lost his Faith and challenged God. “Why did You save me?”

Still mourning his friends’ deaths while sitting next to classmate Antonin Scalia at graduation from Georgetown, Harry questioned God’s very existence.

Inspired by the love of his life, he finished medical school, started a family, and wound up in the Army. During his M.A.S.H.-like service as a Captain and surgeon in Korea during the  Vietnam War, Harry’s mischievous and creative stunts shocked his superiors as he served those in need.

Later, he performed sight-restoring and sight-saving surgeries for the blind and the vision-impaired in Haiti.  His Brady Clinic for the Homeless at Saint Louis University has provided free service to more than 11,000 medically disenfranchised people. In this rollicking and deeply inspiring autobiography filled with twists and turns, Harry discovers that after living 64 years with his own spiritual vision impairment, that Faith and Reason are two compatible expressions of one universal truth.

My review: I had the absolute pleasure of working with Harry by editing his book.  Dr. Brady is one of most entertaining and inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.  Highly recommend this wonderful book.

 

 

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Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Eve Donahue’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man.

Thousands of miles away, Nick Hammond has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainness to convince his father to run for political office.

When these two unlikely teens finally meet, their belief that God has called them to work together sets them on a journey of faith to untangle a web of deception involving international trade agreements, lost confederate gold, and a blossoming romance. As they follow century old clues, they realize God can call us all in big and small ways. We just need to listen and say “Yes Lord, I will go where You lead.”

My review: Thoroughly enjoyed this book!  More detailed review to come!

Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy by Carrie Sue Barnes

Amazon Synopsis: A young American woman departs for France, leaving behind her family and fiancé, to serve as a nurse during World War I. Her unpredictable experiences and choices will reshape not only her, but the generations to come after her, as well. Your legacy is built one decision at a time. Forsaking the comforts of home at the height of World War I, Annie Walcott serves as a nurse at a French estate turned war hospital. In the face of daily hardships and losses, she shutters her heart against the emotional toll of her work. When Kyle, the brother of a patient, arrives at the hospital, his and Annie’s unforeseen connection threatens to dismantle her protective walls. New possibilities and former loyalties clash. Will Annie have the courage to become the woman of unrivaled strength and faith she longs to be? Can she embrace the sacrifices necessary to step forward in love? Eighty years later, in a tiny Midwest town where Annie has led a quiet, contented life, she finally confides her untold memories to her great-granddaughter Laurel. The heritage of secrets casts a startling new light on Laurel’s family, faith, and identity. In Annie’s final days, can Laurel allow truth to heal the past and fortify her for the future?

My review: The Hidden Legacy is a beautiful story of Annie Walcott who served as a WW 1 nurse in France. The book goes back and forth between young Annie’s perspective and 100-year-old Annie’s perspective as she tells her great-granddaughter Laurel what it was like to serve as a nurse so long ago. Annie describes events and people who changed the course of her life and, consequently, Laurel’s. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Bella Dodd

School of Darkness by Bella Dodd

Amazon synopsis:  Dodd’s re-entrance into the Catholic Church—which as a communist she had so bitterly attacked—was a natural result of her new state of mind. In the early 1950s, she provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church, reporting that “in the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within, [and that] right now they are in the highest places in the Church.” From such positions they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She said further that these changes would be so drastic that “you will not recognize the Catholic Church.”

Bella Dodd’s story is a human document of immense importance to Americans today. Here are the inner workings of the Communist Party in the United States in the early to mid-20th century as seen from the secret counsels and strategy meetings of the National Committee, to which she belonged for a crucial span of years. The climax of the book is a snowy Christmas Eve when Bella finds the reaffirmation of her faith, and is able to say, “I have learned from bitter experience that you cannot serve man unless you first serve God in sincerity and truth.” Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.

My review:  I ordered this after hearing Fr. Altier’s homily on the Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church. Although the synopsis indicates it tells about how Communism infiltrated the Catholic Church, it doesn’t.  It goes into the detailed story of how she became a Communist and how she was expelled from the party and eventually became Catholic.  Still, I’d recommend it.  It illustrates just how devious Communism is in its brainwashing. Four of five stars.

Saints

Lives of the Saints by Michael Ruszalia

Amazon Synopsis: This book, written from a Catholic perspective, provides an overview to the lives of the saints celebrated from January to March on the Roman calendar. It is the first in a series, which will cover the whole Church year. It makes for inspirational spiritual reading any time of the year, providing an introduction to the patron saints for many walks of life. Included are the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, Apostles like St. Peter and St. Paul, early martyrs like St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, early evangelizers like St. Patrick, medieval giants such as St. Thomas Aquinas, American saints such as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann, and many others.

My review: I got this during a free promo on Kindle.  It’s a beautiful book and I’m enjoying it very much.

Picoult

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Amazon Synopsis: For career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost, the question inspires pangs of guilt familiar to all parents torn by the demands of home and office. But whereas most parents lie awake at night vividly conjuring the worst scenarios that could befall their children in their absence, Nina lives the reality of such crises — and it’s her job to do something about them. Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters — and in the course of her everyday work, she has endured the frustration of seeing too many criminals slip through the system and walk free.
But even the strongest walls cannot guard Nina from the shattering discovery that her own beloved son has been sexually abused.
Five-year-old Nathaniel is the only one who knows the identity of his assailant — but in the initial fallout of his trauma, he’s been left mute, unable to speak a single word. Knowing the futility of trusting the courts to exact justice for Nathaniel, and ripped apart by a maddening sense of helplessness, Nina finds herself in a grip of rage she can’t deny — no matter the consequence, whatever the sacrifice. What does it take to be a good mother? How far can a person go…and still live with herself? What happens if one’s absolute truths and convictions are turned upside down?

My review: With the current crisis within the Church, I wanted to re-read this novel  that I had read years ago.  It packs a powerful punch.  Picoult dives head first into the topic of clerical abuse. This is one of Picoult’s best books, in my opinion, because she does an excellent job of keeping the reader turning the pages and at the same time eliciting fear, relief, joy, and sadness.  Highly recommend (NB: although studies show that the high percentage of young men abused by priests are post-pubescent, the child in the book is only five years old.)

Bound

Bound by Vigaya Bodach

Amazon Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Joshi, an adopted girl from India, burn survivor, and primary caretaker of her intellectually disabled sister, Joy, has one dream–to be a physician. Her traditional Indian father relies upon Rebecca to care for Joy while he buries himself in work to drown his grief over his wife’s death. Leaving home is the only way Rebecca can envision reaching her goal. She helps Joy develop greater independence, and is devastated when Joy becomes pregnant. Rebecca tussles–with her father and with herself–over who is responsible for Joy and her baby. When Rebecca discovers the truth of what happened the day she was burned, she struggles to hold onto her dream while wrestling with questions of life, love, and responsibility.

My review:  Powerful debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story.  The characters are very well-defined, three-dimensional and real, the setting full of sensory details and the plot exceptional.  Highly recommend!

Julia’s Gifts (French) and Stealing Jenny (Italian) coming soon!

Special thanks to Marie Duval, translator, for the French edition of Julia’s Gifts and Daniela Mastropasqua, translator, and Adelia Marino, editor, for the Italian edition of Stealing Jenny!

Humanae Vitae and the Benefits of NFP #HV50

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Photo courtesy Josh Hrkach

My latest post at Catholic Mom: This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). It’s a beautifully written (and very short) encyclical that upholds Church teaching on marriage.

There are still dissident  theologians who proclaim that Catholic couples are not bound by Humanae Vitae. However, these theologians obviously have not lived a married life in obedience to the Church and to Humanae Vitae. They have also not experienced the benefits of such obedience.

Pope Paul VI wrote:

If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained. (HV 20)

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is the method of birth regulation that Pope Paul VI was referring to. While he may not have known the all the benefits of such a method, with Humanae Vitae, he confirmed and proclaimed the 2000-year consistent teaching of the Church that artificial methods of contraception were immoral.

NFP provides many benefits that not only promote healthy living, this remarkable method of birth regulation fosters authentic married love and is also environmentally friendly.

NFP is safe

There are no harmful side effects for either the husband or wife. It is completely safe, 100 percent natural, and involves no potentially harmful devices or drugs.

NFP is healthy

There are no pills, invasive procedures or long-term drugs. Women who use NFP know more about their bodies and can discover health problems sooner.

NFP is effective

Used and taught properly, NFP can be 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy. In our experience as an NFP user couple, we have never had an unplanned pregnancy in 36 years. NFP can also assist some couples in achieving much-wanted pregnancies without chemicals and operations.

NFP costs very little to use

In this economy, NFP is very cost effective. Other than the cost of the course, materials, and the replacement of thermometers, NFP costs very little to use over a couple’s 20 to 30 years of fertility, compared to purchasing condoms, diaphragms, pills, and other chemicals or operations over a period of 20 to 30 years.

NFP is environmentally friendly

NFP does no harm to the environment like some of the chemical methods of contraception. There are now software programs (like Cycle Pro and Kindara) that keep track of all pertinent information on a woman’s iPhone, Android, iPad or computer. If using paper charts, they can be recycled and there are no chemicals or other devices used.

NFP is marriage insurance

One of the most incredible benefits is that NFP is marriage insurance. In a study done by the Couple to Couple League, couples who used NFP had a less than two percent risk of divorce compared to the national secular average of 50 percent. On average, couples who use NFP have better communication than couples who contracept.

NFP is morally acceptable

Married couples who use NFP are spiritually healthy because NFP fosters authentic marital love and allows a couple to love as Christ loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.

NFP works with irregular cycles

NFP is not like the old rhythm method, which depended on regular cycles. NFP’s charting system works with a woman’s present signs of fertility.

For more information on NFP:
Couple to Couple Leage International
Serena
WOOMB.org
CreightonModel.com

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Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do NOT use without permission.

An Open Book – September 2018 #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  With the recent allegations about Bishop McCarrick, the PA Grand Jury and the Vigano letter, I’ve been reading a lot to escape the news! Here’s what I’ve been reading this past month:

Perfect

  The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl

Amazon Synopsis: Fresh off a championship medal, Jake Taylor’s parents have dragged him to a middle-of-nowhere town in Colorado, far from where he wants to be. Smart and savvy, Sophie has spent the summer before her junior year of high school avidly following Jake Taylor in every article she can find, but now she sees the “truth” behind the story — he’s really just a jerk. When the only thing they can see is each other’s flaws, how can Jake and Sophie work together to figure out what’s really been happening at the abandoned silver mine? Follow Sophie and Jake into secret tunnels as they unravel the mystery and challenge each other to become who God wants them to be.

My review: This is one of the books I received at the most recent Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show and Catholic Writers Conference. The Perfect Blindside by Leslea Wahl is a delightful story about Jake, an Olympic silver medalist in snowboarding, and Sophie, the only girl in town who’s not impressed with Jake’s celebrity. Add a mystery about the town’s mines and a little romance and you get a delightful and entertaining book for the entire family. Highly recommend!

Mary and TOB

The Virgin Mary and the Theology of the Body by Fr. Donald Calloway

Amazon Synopsis: The Church’s Marian beliefs have constantly shed light on other teachings, and the Theology of the Body is no exception. In this compilation of essays, some of the world’s most foremost Mariologists and experts on the Theology of the Body share their insights on how Mary illuminates the message of the Theology of the Body in a profound way.

My review:  This is another one of the books I received at CMN and CWCL.  It’s a moving collection of essays from TOB experts on how Our Blessed Mother brings forth TOB in a beautiful and deep way.  It’s easy to read one or two essays per day.  It can be a bit dry, but the message is profound.

Islam

From Islam to Christ:

One Women’s Path Through the Riddles of God by Derya Little

Amazon Synopsis: Born and raised in Muslim Turkey, Derya Little wandered far and wide in search of her true home. After her parents’ divorce, she rejected her family’s Islamic faith and became an atheist. During her stormy adolescence, she tried to convince a Christian missionary that there is no God but was converted to Christ instead.

Derya’s story provides a window into both Islam and modernity. It shows that the grace and the mercy of God know no bounds.  Rather, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ reaches souls in the most unlikely places.

My review:  This was well written and quite interesting.  I didn’t know too much about the Muslim religion so it was educational.  I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in one woman’s conversion from Islam to Christianity.

Cain

Sons of Cain by Val Bianco

Amazon Synopsis: An ancient group of twelve unspeakably powerful men are prepared to implement mass medical suicide in the United States. Already in control of the Congress and the Presidency, all that they lack is the Supreme Court. The only thing standing between these SONS OF CAIN and the lives of the Court is a small group of dedicated warriors.

Wealthy ex SEAL, Nick Rieper and his dozen “Knights of Longinus” have pledged their lives and fortunes to battle international Satanism. Battle is joined as they engage the Cainites and their demon leader, Namon, in mortal combat.

My review: I’ve already read this book a few times, but always enjoy going back to it and reading it again.  Powerful story, given the current crisis in the Church. Highly recommend.

Forgiving Mother

Forgiving Mother:

A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Fenelon

Amazon Synopsis: Do you want to be well? Believe it or not, our answer to that question is often no. We want to be vindicated, excused, hidden, and even at times patronized for the wounds we’ve suffered. Our complex elationships with parents can be especially difficult to resolve. Marge Fenelon uses her own experience with her mother to guide us to desire authentic healing.

Mary is the answer to our need for healing. She cares about the pain we bear because of the way we’ve been treated and hurt by our mothers. She cares not only about the fact that the pain is there, but also about how to help us heal from it.

My review: Coming soon

Pond

From Across the Pond by Linda Goodlin

Amazon Synopsis: When Joseph Millward loses his job in Wales, he decides to join his brother in America. Joseph and his wife, Anna, make the long journey “from across the pond” to begin a new life in the coal patch town of Rocktown, Pennsylvania where Polish, German, Slovak, Irish, Italian, and Welch immigrants assert their indomitable spirit. A mine explosion has dubious consequences; is it an accident or murder?

My review: Coming soon