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…

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

From Inside Ottawa Valley and Arnprior Chronicle-Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviews and Awards

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

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

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

Upcoming Book Signings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Open Book – November 2017 #openbook Launch Day for Julia’s Gifts!

Open Book

Happy Feast of All Saints!!  I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

It’s launch day for my new book, Julia’s Gifts!   It’s now available here on Kindle.  It will be available in paperback within a day or so.

Today begins the Virtual Book Tour for Julia’s Gifts.  See all the stops here at this link.

Julia’s Gifts by Ellen Gable

 

Other books I’ve been reading:

 

Struck By Lightning:  Death, Judgment and Conversion

Dr. Gloria Polo

 

Synopsis from Amazon:  On May 5th, 1995 something extraordinary happened to Dr. Gloria Polo Ortiz, a dentist from Bogota Columbia. She was taking shelter from a storm with her nephew, when both of them were struck by lightning. What happened to her afterwards was a miracle which led to her conversion and a life of abandonment to the will of God. She now tells her story in many different countries around the world, and has the approval of her diocese in Bogota, Colombia, and her spiritual director. Her testimony is an inspiration for all of us, and will increase our faith in Christ Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church.

My review: I’m not sure where I heard about this book, but I decided to order it.  The content was good, although there were a few parts that just didn’t seem right theologically.  And grammatically it definitely needed worked (then again, this is a translation from Dr. Polo’s original Spanish, I believe).  However, it was a good story of how Dr. Polo realized that she was far from being the “good Catholic” she thought she was.  The parts where she discovers the reality of abortion and the IUD she had been using are compelling.  Overall, a good read.

Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn

 

Amazon Synopsis: In The Lamb’s Supper, Hahn explored the relationship between the Book of Revelation and the Roman Catholic Mass, deftly clarifying the most subtle of theological points with analogies and anecdotes from everyday life. In Hail, Holy Queen, he employs the same accessible, entertaining style to demonstrate Mary’s essential role in Christianity’s redemptive message.

Most Christians know that the life of Jesus is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. Through a close examination of the Bible, as well as the work of both Catholic and Protestant scholars and clergy, Hahn brings to light the small but significant details showing that just as Jesus is the “New Adam,” so Mary is the “New Eve.” He unveils the Marian mystery at the heart of the Book of Revelation and reveals how it is foretold in the very first pages of the Book of Genesis and in the story of King David’s monarchy, which speaks of a privileged place for the mother of the king.

Building on these scriptural and historical foundations, Hahn presents a new look at the Marian doctrines: Her Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, Assumption, and Coronation. As he guides modern-day readers through passages filled with mysteries and poetry, Hahn helps them rediscover the ancient art and science of reading the Scriptures and gain a more profound understanding of their truthfulness and relevance to faith and the practice of religion in the contemporary world.

My review:  This happened to be on sale for 1.99 on Kindle. Whenever I see one of Scott Hahn’s book on sale, I usually download it immediately.  I’ve just started reading, but if this is anything like Hahn’s other books, I won’t be disappointed.

One Tuesday Morning/Beyond Tuesday Morning

 

Amazon Synopsis:   Based on the tragedy of the Twin Towers … two powerful novels of heroism, loss, and redemption by New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury.

ONE TUESDAY MORNING: The last thing Jake Bryan knew was the sound of the World Trade Center collapsing on top of him and his fellow firefighters. The man in the hospital bed remembers nothing. Not rushing with his teammates up the stairway of the south tower to help trapped victims. Not being blasted from the building. And not the woman sitting by his bedside who says she is his wife. Jamie Bryan will do anything to help her beloved husband regain his memory. But that means helping Jake rediscover the one thing Jamie has never shared with him: his deep faith in God.

BEYOND TUESDAY MORNING: Determined to find meaning in her grief three years after the terrorist attacks on New York City, FDNY widow Jamie Bryan pours her life into volunteer work at a small memorial chapel across from where the Twin Towers once stood. There, unsure and feeling somehow guilty, Jamie opens herself to the possibility of love again. But, in the face of a staggering revelation, only the persistence of a tenacious man, questions from Jamie’s curious daughter, and words from her dead husband’s journal can move Jamie beyond one Tuesday morning … toward life.

My review: I picked up this two-book series for .99 recently.  I finished reading the first, One Tuesday Morning and enjoyed it.  I did, however, find the plot to be unbelievable. It was an enjoyable read nonetheless and Kingsbury creates excellent, well-developed characters.  If you haven’t read any of Kingsbury’s books, this may be a good one to try.

 

 

Julia’s Gifts Virtual Book Tour Links

 

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links  (Updated)

November 1  (Open Book)   Plot Line and Sinker

November 2   Mary Lou Rosien, Dynamic Women of Faith

November 3   Therese Heckenkamp and Catholic-Fiction.com

November 4  Karen Kelly Boyce

November 5   Karen Kelly Boyce    Christopher Blunt

November 6 Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

November 7  Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire

November 8  A.K. Frailey  and   Sarah Reinhard

November 9  Trisha Niermeyer Potter, Prints of Grace    Allison Gingras, Reconciled to You

November 10  Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom

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

November 12  Spiritual Woman   Patrice Fagnant MacArthur

November 13  Mike Seagriff 

November 15  Virginia Pillars and  Theresa Linden

November 16  Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists   and Alexandrina Brant

November 17  Barb Szyszkiewicz    Catholic Mom

November 18 Cathy Gilmore

November 19 Erin McCole Cupp

November 20 Virginia Lieto

November 21 Elena Maria Vidal  Tea at Trianon

November 22  Catholic Media Review and  Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold Miller The Divine Gift of Motherhood

November 23  Leslie Lynch, author

 

Julia’s Gifts Now Available For Pre-Order on #Kindle!

Julia’s Gifts is now available for pre-order on Kindle!

It will be released on November 1, 2017.

The paperback will be available next week.

Julia’s Gifts Virtual Book Tour will take place November 1 – 22, 2017.  Links will be posted later this week.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness – 2017

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

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

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

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

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

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

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(End of excerpt.)

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

In memory of our seven little souls in heaven:

Baby Hrkach Twins (June 1986)

Baby Hrkach (February 1991)

Baby Hrkach (June 1991)

Mary Elizabeth Hrkach (June 1993)

Seth Hrkach (April 1998)

Lucy Hrkach (March 2006)

 

A Bittersweet Reunion and Excerpt from Emily’s Hope

1994 (the year after my near death experience)

I recently attended a neighboring church for Mass and was approached by a woman who said that I probably wouldn’t remember her, but that she had been a nurse at the hospital when I came in many years ago and nearly died.

“You were whiter than a ghost,” she said.  “And we didn’t think you were going to make it.”

“Neither did I,” I responded.

“We’ve never seen anyone as critically ill as you and survive.”

“But I did!  Not only that, I went on to have two more children.

“I know!  I’ve been following you through friends. I just wanted to tell you how happy I am that you survived.”

“Thank you.”  You and me both.

A special shout-out to all the nurses and doctors on duty that night. And another special shout-out to Our Lady, who was also instrumental in helping me to survive.

I included this experience in an article I wrote in 1995 and below is an excerpt from my first novel, Emily’s Hope, and is based on the true story of my near-death experience, written in the third person.  This illustrates the powerful intercession of Our Lady, especially when death is whispering in one’s ear:

The pain in her abdomen became more excruciating with every passing moment. She sat on the sofa and dialed the number of the high school. It seemed like an eternity for the line to connect. One, two rings. Please, someone pick up, she silently begged. Hearing the secretary’s voice, Emily could barely speak, but she uttered enough to make it clear that she needed her husband. She dropped the phone to take a deep breath. Feeling an overwhelming need to vomit, she rushed to the bathroom just in time to spill the contents of her stomach. She gripped the cold, hard toilet, as if in some way, it would make her pain bearable. Disoriented, she thought of her baby and quickly glanced at his smiling, inquisitive face, oblivious to his mother’s pain.

I’ve got to stay conscious for my baby, she repeated over and over in her mind. She moved back to the floor next to the sofa, trying to sit upright with her young child next to her, while drifting in and out of consciousness. Keeping a death grip on him, she woke up as the paramedics were prying her hands off her son and placing her on a stretcher. It all seemed like a dream. She overheard the paramedics talking about what a “little thing” she was.

Too weak to make a sound, she wondered where her young son was. She caught a glimpse of her husband holding him at the back doors of the ambulance.

His right arm cradled their son’s little body, while his left hand clasped his small head to his chest as if to shield and protect him from the turmoil that surrounded them both. But her husband’s face. . .his face was so broken and distraught that Emily felt the anguish of a wife and mother abandoning her family. Tears welled up in her eyes and for a moment, Emily forgot her pain.

Then his eyes caught hers and he realized that she was watching him. Everything changed. His chin lifted as if for courage and penetrated her being with a look of tenderness, of confidence and reassurance. Whatever happens, I will be strong for you and for the sons we both love and for God, who has asked so much of you. He seemed to say all of this with his eyes, all of this and more. As his love reached out to her through the shouts of the paramedics and their frantic procedures, the beeping of machines and the overwhelming wail of the siren, its light already flashing, her terror began to fade and her heart surged within her. Now reassured, she allowed herself to fall back to sleep.

Emily’s eyes opened again this time as the paramedics were inserting an intravenous needle in her arm. Although it felt like they were stabbing her with an ice pick, all she could manage was a wince and a quiet moan. It seemed as if every ounce of energy had been sucked from her being. This is what it feels like to die.

Then she imagined her little boys’ faces, and suddenly the possibility of dying weighed heavy on her heart. Please, God, I can’t die, she silently prayed. I don’t want my little boys growing up without a mother. All at once, a feeling of warmth surrounded her, then she felt at peace. There was no bitterness, only acceptance, a calm that was huge enough to quiet an ocean. She silently recited a Hail Mary. . . .now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Those last words took on powerful meaning with the possibility that this could be her hour. She knew that whatever happened would be God’s will, and she would submit to that, whatever it was.

Drifting into unconsciousness, the last thing she heard was “We’re losing her….”

October 22, 2016   Our five sons left to right in order from youngest to older: Paul, Adam, Tim, Ben and Josh