An Open Book – November #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading this month:

in-the-footsteps-of-st-thereseIn the Footsteps of St. Therese  by Terri Ong

Full disclosure: I helped to edit this book by fellow CWG member Terri Ong.  It’s a wonderful story!  It’s available here on Amazon in paperback only.

one-of-oursOne of Ours by Willa Cather

This is one of my favorite Willa Cather novels and I usually reread it every year around Veterans’ Day.  She captures well the innocence of young adulthood and the ravages of war.  From the Amazon blurb: One of Ours tells the story of a Nebraska farm boy who struggles to find meaning in his life. It is the story of a young man born after the American frontier has vanished, yet whose quintessentially American restlessness seeks redemption on a frontier far bloodier and more distant than that which his forefathers had already tamed. Before the war, Claude comes close to finding value in the world when his parents allow him to attend the University of Nebraska. Living in Lincoln he befriends the Ehrlich family, who expose him to a life of art, ideas, and culture. Later, when forced to return to his father’s farm, Claude seeks to find meaning in the form of human companionship. His attempt to find individual affirmation in the form of marriage fails, however, and the loneliness Claude encounters from his unaffectionate wife Enid compels him to volunteer in the overseas conflict. Claude’s violent death on the battlefield – portrayed as sacrificial and glorious by Cather in the mind of Claude’s mother – appealed to millions of Americans and probably played a role in the decision to award Cather the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours a year after it was published in 1922.  One of Ours is available on Amazon.

place-called-saturdayA Place Called Saturday by Mary Astor (actress)

From Goodreads: In 1968, when abortion was still a matter of controversy, Mary Astor wrote this heartwarming story of Cora, who was brutally raped by a young, unknown assailant and becomes pregnant. Cora faces the obstacles that will affect her life, her husband’s, and that of her unborn child.

I was surprised to find out that legendary screen actress Mary Astor was also a novelist.  As well, she converted to Catholicism.  I’ve only just started reading this, but it looks like it will be an excellent read.   It’s available on Amazon.

Image and Likeness: Short Reads Reflecting the Theology of the Body, with a foreword by Damon OwensImage and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

Edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

Last, but certainly not least, Full Quiver Publishing’s latest book has been released! 

If St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings? What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift? What does life require of us when we give most deeply?

Full Quiver Publishing brings you this moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices, including award-winning authors Dena Hunt, Arthur Powers, Michelle Buckman, Leslie Lynch, Theresa Linden, and many more. By turns edgy and sweet, gritty and deft, but always courageous and honest, the works contained in Image and Likeness explore countless facets of human love—and human failure. Readers of Image and Likeness will experience in a variety of ways how humanity, in flesh as well as spirit, lives out the image and likeness of a God who created human intimacy to bring forth both our future and to illustrate our ultimate meaning as human persons.

With a Foreword by international Theology of the Body voice Damon Owens, Image and Likeness puts life and breath into St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in ways that readers won’t soon forget.

Warning: mature themes, content and language.

That’s it for this month!  Check out the other participants’ posts here.

 

Image and Likeness Now Available!

Image and Likeness: Short Reads Reflecting the Theology of the Body, with a foreword by Damon OwensImage and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body is now available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon. This anthology is edited by Erin McCole Cupp and myself and both of us have stories included in the collection.

If St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings? What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift? What does life require of us when we give most deeply?

Full Quiver Publishing brings you this moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices, including award-winning authors Dena Hunt, Arthur Powers, Michelle Buckman, Leslie Lynch, Theresa Linden, and many more. By turns edgy and sweet, gritty and deft, but always courageous and honest, the works contained in Image and Likeness explore countless facets of human love—and human failure. Readers of Image and Likeness will experience in a variety of ways how humanity, in flesh as well as spirit, lives out the image and likeness of a God who created human intimacy to bring forth both our future and to illustrate our ultimate meaning as human persons.

With a Foreword by international Theology of the Body voice Damon Owens, Image and Likeness puts life and breath into St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in ways that readers won’t soon forget.

Warning: mature themes, content and language.

Reviews:

Barb writes: “What, exactly, are “literary reflections on the Theology of the Body?” They’re stories and poems about how we live, and how we live our lives in relationship with each other, with our bodies, with our souls, and with God. It’s not some complicated, esoteric subject. Because it’s an anthology, there’s something for everyone, from detective stories to poetry to tales of family life that range from the harrowing to the uplifting. These stories and poems are about life. Like life, they are not always neat and tidy and packaged in a pretty box with a crisply-tied ribbon. I’ve come to expect just this from other work from Full Quiver Publishing: this publisher does not shy away from difficult subjects and situations in its commitment to promoting the culture of life and the Church’s teaching on marriage and family.”

An Open Book Family says: “Recommended for reading, reflection, discussion, and even entertainment. A gritty but beautiful introduction not only to the Theology of the Body as it is lived (or rejected), but also to the breadth and promise of Catholic fiction being written by contemporary authors. These shorts are accessible to any careful reader, whether familiar with the Theology of the Body or not.”

Readers can buy the paperback book on Amazon at this link.

It’s available on Kindle at this link.

An Open Book – October #openbook

Open Book

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  Here’s what I’ve been reading this month:

most-highly-favored-daughter

Most Highly-Favored Daughter by Janice Palko

I really enjoyed this romantic suspense novel.  It was engaging and interesting and kept me turning the pages.  It especially touches on the topic of sexual trafficking and mentions St. Josephine Bakhito, who, like so many young women/girls in the Middle East and all over the world, was kidnapped and sold in sexual slavery.  It’s a difficult read at times because of the topic, but well done.

travel-guide-to-life

A Travel Guide to Life by Anthony DeStefano

This book has been on my “To Read” shelf since CMN of 2015.  But I’m finally glad I started reading it. This is a beautifully written, how-to manual on what’s important in our lives and to focus on our heavenly goal.  I was pretty surprised to see this celebrity’s review about this book, but I totally agree with her review: “Move over, Dr. Phil! Anthony DeStefano’s advice on how to turn your problem-filled life into something to celebrate is bare-bones, no-holds barred, no bull and spot-on brilliant.”  Kathie Lee Gifford, Co-Host, NBC’s Today show

pilgrimage-of-hope

A Pilgrimage of Hope: A Story of Faith and Medicine by Mary McArthy

Beautiful story of how cancer impacted one family’s life. From the author: “The memoirs capture the frightening details in a crash course with cancer and the possible treatments for this disease. Despite the cancer diagnosis, I found myself being called closer to God. I wanted to share my physical and spiritual journey with others so that when they are challenged, they will have some guidance in how to respond. With recovery in mind, my spiritual growth deepened as I aligned my will with the will of God.”

day-by-day-for-the-holy-souls

Day by Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory: 365 Reflections by Susan Tassone

I met the enthusiastic and feisty author, Susan Tassone, at the CMN recently when I picked up her new book, the St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  Susan has been called “The Purgatory Lady,” and for good reason. She asserts that when we pray for souls to get out of purgatory, they will return the favor and pray for us when we need it. The blurb for this books says: “Every day we have another opportunity to pray for the holy souls in purgatory – author, speaker, and purgatory expert Susan Tassone gives you a unique tool to do just that. God has given us the duty, power and privilege of praying for the release of the holy souls. Now Susan Tassone has given you a powerful way to accomplish that mission.”

Interview with Karina Fabian, Author of Discovery

karina-fabian-headshot-aug-20131. It’s interesting that your novel, Discovery, is spiritually minded but also firmly positioned within the world of science. Was it a challenge to integrate the religious and scientific aspects of your book?

Not at all. Catholics have always been involved in science and exploration. It seems logical to me that they’d be part of the colonization of space, too. Harder for me was just learning enough science to make all the characters sound like they are experts in the field. I had a few very intelligent friends help me out. It’s so good to know people who are smarter than me!

2. Discovery’s plot follows over 10 important characters and many other secondary characters. What would you say are the pro’s and con’s of writing so many personalities, or personal stories, into an epic adventure such as yours?

I remember the movie, Amadeus, where Mozart said, “In a play if more than one person speaks at the same time, it’s just noise, no one can understand a word. But with opera, with music… with music you can have twenty individuals all talking at the same time, and it’s not noise, it’s a perfect harmony!” I wasn’t intending to write music, literarily speaking, but I do feel Discovery has a certain harmony.

The thing is, it’s a big mission and a big ship. Not populating it with a large cast of characters would have been a greater challenge, if only because I’d be going nuts trying to justify the interplanetary navigator as also a reputable researcher in propulsion systems. Then, the characters all had stories and secrets that affected each other. I couldn’t leave them behind or I’d have had a lot of strawmen propping up the couple of main characters.

It helped, too, that this book was written and rewritten, torn apart, revised and written again over the course of eight years. They had time to test out relationships, find their harmonies, and create their own music.

In the end, I think the bigger challenge was my editor’s, helping me see which character stories could be cut without gutting the book. I think James Hrkach did an excellent job.

3. Without giving away too much, what kind of faith challenges do Discovery’s Catholic characters encounter in the novel?

In many ways, it’s all the same challenge, manifested in different ways, and it’s the same challenge we all face: How do we get beyond ourselves to live the life God intended for us. Some of the characters must conquer insecurities; others, pride; still others, their own selfish will. Those that are able to do so find great rewards – love, peace, the secrets of their past – while others that cling to the fullness of their human flaws put the mission in jeopardy.

4. Would you say that between the focus on religion, space travel and the diversity of so many characters in different occupations, that Discovery was a ‘research heavy’ writing project?

Yes! Especially, Sister Ann. It took me more research time just to enable her to have a simple conversation than it did to get the Edwina Taggert to Pluto! It’s a little intimidating writing a supergenius mystic whose also what we’d call Asperger’s. For most of the characters and situations, the research is more background, influencing but not directly shown. With Ann, it’s all right there, tied into complex crazy knots that actually do make sense, though sometimes in retrospect.

However, I will add that I don’t research nearly as much as many authors I know. My modus operandi is to learn enough to get started, start writing, and research to fill in the blanks as I go. For example, I needed to know how the VASIMR drive worked, but only enough to approximate the acceleration and travel time and give a basic engine room design to describe. I know some friends who use Minecraft to actually build their ships.

I have a friend writing a novel right now, where a science fiction writer has to stop aliens he’s imagined from destroying the earth. But he’s having a hard time sabotaging their ship because he didn’t clearly imagine exactly how the engine room looked like. That would be me! (The book, Immortal Creators by Jill Bowers, comes out sometimes late next year, I think.)

5. Tell us about how you dealt with imagining what daily life, recreation and work would be like so many years into the future…and so far away from earth.

Artificial gravity took care of a lot of the problems of daily living, so that was a little bit of a cheat. Some of it was playing with trends – video games became virtual reality, but with physical and emotional stimulation; thus the Edwina Taggert hologames, which is VR Lora Croft. The cruise ship, Edwina Taggert, is basically a Disney Cruise ship that goes to Saturn. Incidentally, there is a Disneyland on the moon – LunaDisney.

Splat was fun to come up with. I wanted a sport that was a true zero gravity sport, not just basketball or quidditch with microgravity. The idea of its zerog origin helped me come up with some new rules and the challenge of making it competitive and cooperative was fun to work on.

One thing I loved about Firefly was the mixing of languages plus new words and repurposed old ones through slang. While I didn’t use Chinese, I did grab some words from 2001: Space Odyssey, and 2010.

6. Speaking of the future, do you see yourself continuing as a sci-fi author? Does the world of Discovery offer more adventure in future novels?

discovery-front-finalRight now, I have a dragon detective who’s tired of being neglected, so I need to get at least two books written for him. The DragonEye series has at least a 12-book story arc, plus stories and novellas. I just need to get cracking!

But I would love to explore more with the Rescue Sisters. The world is complex, with at least one interstellar war, a human subspecies to add intrigue, huge political and economical things to consider. Then you have the 20-plus characters whose stories we just touched upon.

I’ve already got a short story about Sister Thomas meeting up with her former fiancé, Reece, who she thought was killed in the Ring Wars. He’s going to get bruised jaw when he shows up calling her, “Taxi.” OvLandra need to return to her people, and Sister Ann has to help her. I’ve been thinking about bilocation for that. James has to decide the direction of his life. Oh, and we still have an entire alien ship to explore!

Right now, it’s all whisps and whispers, but it’ll percolate. I’d be interested in hearing from readers, too, about what stories resonated most, what questions the felt need answers and who they most want to see again.

To check out the other interviews, reviews and posts for this Virtual Book Tour, click here for all the stops and links!

To buy the book on Kindle, click here.

To buy the book in print, click here.

Like Arrows in the Hand of a Warrior (Or How Full Quiver Publishing Got Its Name)

FQ logo square“Children too are a gift from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children born of one’s youth.
Blessed are they whose quivers are full.
They will never be shamed
contending with foes at the gate.
Blessed is the man who has filled his desire from these things…” Psalm 127 3:5

So how many arrows make a full quiver?

The answer is that it depends on the quiver…and the size of the arrows.

Our publishing company’s name is Full Quiver Publishing.

We now have 14 books (most published by other authors) and four books coming in the next year.

Often, people assume that we are part of the “Quiverfull” Movement. At Wikipedia, Quiverfull is described as: “a movement among conservative evangelical Christian couples… it promotes procreation, and sees children as a blessing from God eschewing all forms of birth control, including natural family planning and sterilization. Adherents are known as “quiver full”, “full quiver”, “quiverfull-minded”, or simply “QF” Christians. Some refer to the Quiverfull position as Providentialism…”

An internet search of the words “Full Quiver” shows our website on the first page, along with a majority of websites and blogs devoted to the Quiverfull Movement.

I admire couples who follow this ideology, especially in this day and age when the majority of married couples are using artificial contraception or becoming sterilized.

However, we are not part of the Quiverfull Movement. Instead, we proudly use and teach Natural Family Planning to plan, space and limit births. When we are teaching NFP, we always encourage generosity and always stress there should be serious need to avoid pregnancy. We agree with the Church’s teachings on the Theology of the Body and are well-versed in the two encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio. Our publishing company publishes fiction and non-fiction that promotes the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage.

So why the name?

Years ago, I listened to a talk by Kimberly Hahn, in which she quoted the Scripture passage above and talked about the great gift of children and why generosity was so important. She later stated this concept in her book, Life-Giving Love: Embracing God’s Beautiful Design for Marriage: “We are in a spiritual battle, and our children are our arrows: How many arrows do you want in your quiver when you go into battle?”

This talk made a deep impression on me. So when we were forming our publishing company, after discussing different names, this is one that we felt God calling us to use: “Full Quiver Publishing.” It never dawned on us that we would be confused with the Quiverfull folks and that, occasionally, we would receive an email or a call from someone in the Quiverfull movement.

Back to the number: most quivers hold about 12 arrows. My husband and I have lost seven babies through miscarriage and are raising five sons: we thank God for our “full quiver.”

Copyright 2013 Ellen Gable Hrkach

An Open Book #openbook

Open Book

 

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.  Here’s what I’ve been reading.

Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time.  G.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936) was an English author who wrote on a variety of subjects such as mysteries, philosophy, religion and biographies. Chesterton is best known for the Father Brown mystery stories, as well as Orthodoxy, which is seen as the intellectual quest of a spiritually curious person. Orthodoxy is considered a classic for Christian apologetics.

Daughters of Jim Farrell

The Daughters of Jim Farrell by Sylvia Bambola

I look forward to reading this one! Pennsylvania 1873: When, in the harsh world of Pennsylvania coal country, Jim Farrell is hanged for murder, his wife and three daughters must turn their beautiful home into a boarding house in order to survive. But struggling beneath the shadow of shame becomes too much for eldest daughter, Kate. She resolves to clear her father’s name in spite of her mother’s admonition to “let it go,” and convinces her sisters to help. All too soon their dangerous quest rips the family apart. Will it also cost them the men they love?

Bambola is also the author of Tears in a Bottle, a very moving pro-life novel.

Falling

 Falling for Your Madness by Katharine Grubb

My review: Only .99 on Kindle!  Entertaining and made the time fly. Hard to put down. I normally read 50-75 novels a year and most of them I read and forget. This one has stayed with me. Quirky romantic hero, well-defined characters and a great story. There were a few typos and other grammatical issues, but easy to overlook when the story is so good. Highly recommend!

Cover

Transitions: Stories of How to Help Mom and Dad With Their Stuff 

by Jean Long Manteufel

My review: Transitions: Stories of How to Help Mom and Dad With Their Stuff is exactly what the title suggests: an extremely helpful resource for seniors making the transition from independent living/house living to community living. Just how does one go through 50 odd years of precious memories? This book, which is a compilation of columns the author has written, is an excellent guide to assist seniors and their adult children through the downsizing and transition period. Highly recommend!

 

Last, but certainly not least, are the two books that FQP has been working on these past several months.

Discovery Front cover revised

Discovery by Karina Fabian

Available for Pre-Order on Kindle

Sisters Ann, Tommie and Rita are part of a classified mission to explore an alien ship that has crash landed on an asteroid three billion miles from earth. Humanity’s first contact with beings from beyond the solar system is bound to unlock the mystery of life in the universe, but the crew have their own secrets; hidden fears, desires, horrible sins – and a mission to kill. Researchers discover something unique about the third arm of the ship: something wonderful, something terrifying. Something holy. This discovery challenges Rita and Ann to confront their own pasts in order to secure the safety of the mission and the very souls of the crew.

“…a suspenseful space adventure with deep roots that extend to questions about life, death, faith, and purpose.”
Tom Doran, fantasy author of Toward the Gleam (Ignatius Press)

BookCoverImage

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body

edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

Available on October 22, 2016 (Feast of St. John Paul II)

If St. John Paul II ever summarized his Theology of the Body, it may have been when he said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” But how does this sincere gift look when lived out by human beings with all their failings? What happens to our humanity when we withhold that sincere gift? What does life require of us when we give most deeply?

Full Quiver Publishing brings you this moving collection of poetry and prose, featuring some of today’s brightest Catholic literary voices, including award-winning authors Dena Hunt, Arthur Powers, Michelle Buckman, Leslie Lynch, Theresa Linden, and many more. By turns edgy and sweet, gritty and deft, but always courageous and honest, the works contained in Image and Likeness explore countless facets of human love—and human failure. Readers of Image and Likeness will experience in a variety of ways how humanity, in flesh as well as spirit, lives out the image and likeness of a God who created human intimacy to bring forth both our future and to illustrate our ultimate meaning as human persons.

With a Foreword by international Theology of the Body voice Damon Owen, Image and Likeness puts life and breath into St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in ways that readers won’t soon forget.

An Open Book – August 3

Open Book

 

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

This is just a fraction of the books I received last week at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show.

Champions

Champions of the Rosary by Fr. Don Calloway

In Champions of the Rosary, Fr. Calloway has written what is probably the most comprehensive book ever written on the rosary. The author deftly negotiates the complexities of the story of the rosary, weaving the historical, theological, and devotional strands into a veritable masterpiece of scholarship and piety. This book should turn every one of its readers into a champion of the rosary. My review: I loved this book. I received a signed copy at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show last week.  It’s filled with just about everything you’d ever want to know about the Holy Rosary.  Highly recommend!

Tassone

St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Susan Tassone (The Purgatory Lady) turns to a passionate and powerful guide (St. Faustina Kowalska) to help us pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Includes devotions, prayers, novenas, and the wisdom of St. Faustina.  My review: I’m reading this now and it’s very compelling.  The Holy Souls in Purgatory can pray for others, but not for themselves.  This is an ideal guide to those who have a special devotion to these Holy Souls. This book will definitely be stored on my bedside table so that I can add many of these prayers to my night-time prayer routine.

Waiting

Waiting for a Miracle by Cyndi Peterson, MD

One doctor’s journey of faith to save her two terminally ill baby girls.

Cyndi Peterson was a successful physician, wife and mother who had everything she ever dreamed of—yet true peace continued to elude her. Her quest leads her to Medjugorje, where Mary the Mother of God is reported to appear daily. After returning home newly committed to her faith, she faces every mother’s deepest fear. Her newborn baby Kelly is terminally ill.

Upon learning her next baby, Sarah, has the same diagnosis, Cyndi struggles to understand why God has asked this of her. How God moves in her life and answers her prayers will both surprise you and deepen your faith.

My review: I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Check out the other posts on Carolyn Astfalk’s website at this link.