NFP Awareness Week: NFP Cartoons #NFPAwarenessWeek

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week begins next week. A great way to start the celebration is with humor!

Image copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach (Please do not use without permission)

Image copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach (Please do not use without permission)

copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach (Please do not use without permission)

copyright 2013 James and Ellen Hrkach (Please do not use without permission)

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

Intimate Sharing

Cartoon copyright James & Ellen Hrkach/Full Quiver Publishing

Cartoon copyright James & Ellen Hrkach/Full Quiver Publishing

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

All images are copyright by James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do not use without permission.

Catholic Writers Conference Live – It’s Not Too Late to Register!

It’s not too late to register for the Catholic Writers Conference Live next week!

Schaumburg, Illinois– Several prominent Catholic writers will speak at the ninth annual Catholic Writers Conference LIVE taking place July 18-21 at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois (near Chicago.) Sponsored by the Catholic Writers Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN) and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic writers with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Catholic Imagination.”

Presenters include keynote speaker Dr. Barbara Golder (THE LADY DOC MURDERS), authors Amy Cattapan (SEVEN RIDDLES TO NOWHERE), Erin McCole Cupp (MEMORIES OF JANE E, FRIENDLESS ORPHAN), Lisa Mladinich (TRUE RADIANCE), Lisa Hendey (THE GRACE OF YES), Ellen Gable (STEALING JENNY),  Ann Lewis (MURDER AT THE VATICAN) and many others.

The conference will give authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. Some participating publishers are Ignatius Press, Ave Maria Press, and Servant Books. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for a fiction critique workshop with award-winning short fiction writer Arthur Powers (A HERO FOR THE PEOPLE), a non-fiction critique group with Nancy Ward (SHARING YOUR FAITH STORY) and attend writing workshops with novelists John Desjarlais (SPECTER). Information for all these events can be found on the conference website.

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization affiliated with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, sponsors this conference in July, an online conference in March, and a writers’ retreat in October to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. CWG President, Joseph Wetterling, says, “The Guild exemplifies the Catholic faith ‘both/and’ with writers from every part of the world, in every genre, and from every walk of life. We’re diverse in personality and style but united in our loyalty and love of the Catholic faith. The Catholic Writers Conference Live is a unique opportunity to come together in fellowship and sharpen each other toward our united mission: a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”

Registration costs $75 and $45 for students. CWG Members receive a 10% discount. There’s also a discounted registration combined with a CWG membership. To register or for more information, go to https://catholicwritersguild.org/live-conference

Contact: Ann Lewis, Catholic Writers Guild, 317-755-2693

An Open Book – July Edition #openbook

Open Book

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

Joan of the Everglades by David Athey

Amazon synopsis:  Joan Dior is an edgy teen artist who finds a corpse in a Florida lagoon, vows to find the killer, and becomes the target of a billionaire and his death cult who believe they have regrown the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  Joan and her best friend, Mia, along with their two guy friends, Dontey and Rico, get drawn into the middle of the Everglades and must battle not only the cult but also giant pythons, alligators, and a Komodo dragon . . . during a killer storm . . . while methane gas bursts into hellish flames all around them. Good times. Everyone will probably die. Unless . . .

My review: I’m still reading this, but enjoying it immensely.  David Athey is an excellent writer and never disappoints.  His characters are quirky but real and I find myself laughing out loud many times at his little notes to the “Reader.”

I loved Athey’s first book, Danny Gospel.

Fire of Love by Cassandra Poppe

Amazon Synopsis: Part conversion story, part tragedy-to-triumph, Fire of Love is a story that begins with the horrific moment when Cassandra Poppe’s 4-year-old son Fulton was severely burned in a homestead accident. Faced with the possibility of losing him forever, the weeks and months that followed offered her many opportunities to reflect on how her earlier years leading up to, and after, her conversion of faith prepared her for the moment in time where her faith would be tested to its limit. And how embracing the crosses that came her way, and surrendering all suffering to God, she was able to sift through the ashes to uncover the love and joy He intends for us all to discover through our suffering.

Fire of Love shows you:
There is always hope for the sinner.
There is always room to grow.
Our Lady, through the rosary, can bring you through any trials that come your way.
Practicing discerning God’s will in the little things can better prepare you for future sufferings.
No matter how intense the pain, how exhausting the moment, or how alone you may feel, there will always be One who remains close by.
And that suffering with love can truly bring a peace beyond all understanding.

My review:  I’m looking forward to reading this book.  I attended a presentation given by the author at a conference and her story was very compelling and uplifting.

Turning in Circles by Michelle Buckman

Amazon Synospis: Savannah and Charleston, two sisters living in a small Southern town, have always been close. They’ve shared everything with one another…until Dillon, the one boy in school who’s bad news, sets his sights on Charleston. As she’s drawn down his dark, destructive path, Savannah panics, knowing this isn’t a relationship destined for anything but trouble.

She turns to her lifelong best friend, Ellerbe, for help, but there’s a shift in their relationship. The connection they’ve shared is taking a turn toward something more, something deeper. And Savannah isn’t sure she’s ready for a romance while trying to save her sister.

As Savannah’s foundation begins to crumble, every decision becomes an unchangeable step toward an outcome that could have tragic repercussions.

My review: This has been on my “To Read” list for a while.  Looking forward to reading it within the next month!

Rightfully Ours Kindle Edition Free

Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, Kindle edition, is free through July 3, 2017.

Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

(NB: That’s my youngest son on the cover!)

To download the Kindle edition for free, click here.

Reviews:

“Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, rightfully belongs on your “Want to Read” list! In Astfalk’s third Christian fiction novel, she introduces us to two teenagers: Rachel Mueller and Paul Porter. At the beginning of the book, when Rachel and Paul meet, they are only 14 and 16, respectively. Throughout the story, we see a deep friendship blossom between the two characters. As they get to know each other, we see that friendship grow into love, young love. Rightfully Ours deals with the virtue of chastity head on; yet in a manner that would make any teen want to be like Rachel and Paul. These two characters serve as excellent role models for teenagers coming to grips with burgeoning love and sexual desire, contrasted against all that they have been taught concerning morals and virtue.I found Rightfully Ours enchanting, with a little bit of mystery. As the story unfolds, Rachel and Paul discover more than each other. They enjoy digging around in Rachel’s garden, only to discover something very interesting. Can’t give too much away, but let me say that what they found is very interesting, for it had the capacity to change their lives. As I continued to read, I wondered how they might handle such responsibility. As I turned each page, I kept wondering if Paul and Rachel would remain true to their morals, or give in to societal pressures. They were only teenagers. What endeared me to this story is that as I continued to read the book, I learned that Rachel and Paul would come to discover that their love for each other is worth more than any earthly treasure, and that their chastity was priceless.”  Virginia Lieto, author

“Rightfully Ours is a novel for older teens about the importance and beauty of chastity. This is the first book I’ve read by Carolyn Astfalk and thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. She is an accomplished Catholic romance writer and has brought her skills to the YA market. This book is full of relatable characters, touching family traumas, teenage passions, and an intriguing mystery. While an enjoyable story, this book deals with an important subject matter that teens face in our society- purity. I look forward to reading more from this author.”  Leslea Wahl, author

To download the Kindle edition for free, click here.

Rest in Peace, Mumsy

It’s been a few weeks since I posted here on my blog.  My mother-in-law (who already had advancing dementia) started declining rapidly with the diagnosis that she had cancer. Despite her dementia, she had made it clear to my husband that she did not want to go to a home, that she just wanted God to take her.  Shortly after that, a CT scan showed advancing cancer.

She entered the palliative care unit at the Arnprior Hospital on June 8th and was given pain medication to keep her comfortable. She passed away on June 13, 2017, with family by her side.  The medical personnel were kind, caring and compassionate to her and to our family. Her obituary is below:

Shirley Hrkach

Passed into eternal life on Tuesday morning, June 13, 2017 with family by her side. Shirley was the devoted mother of James (Ellie) of Pakenham; Jan of Hobe Sound, Florida; Jocelyn of Maui, Hawaii; and Jody (Karen) of Longwood, Florida. Loving “Mumsy” of Josh, Ben (Kayla), Tim, Adam, Paul, Ashley, Katelyn and Sean Hrkach. Also survived by many nieces and nephews. The last surviving of 11 children born to the late Charles and Katherine (née Legree) Laderoute. A long-time parishioner of St. John Chrysostom Parish in Arnprior, Shirley was an active member of the Catholic Women’s League for many years. She will be missed. The family will receive friends during visitation at the Pilon Family Funeral Home and Chapel Ltd., 50 John Street North, Arnprior on Monday evening, June 19th from 7 to 9 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in St. John Chrysostom Church, Arnprior on Tuesday afternoon, June 20th at 1 o’clock. In memory of Shirley, please consider a donation to the St. John Chrysostom Church Memorial Fund.

Although it was sad to lose Mumsy, she leaves behind a beautiful legacy in her descendants.

 

May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Requiescat in pace, Mumsy.

 

An Open Book – June 2017 #openbook

Open Book

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

Dying for Compassion: Book 2 Lady Doc Murders by Dr. Barbara Golder

Now available on Kindle!

Synopsis: What happens to a new love when an old one appears to claim first rights to a man and a marriage?

Just as Telluride Medical Examiner Jane Wallace and Irish writer Eoin Conner take their first steps toward romance, Eoin’s beautiful wife Fiona arrives to resume her long-abandoned life with Eoin.

When Eoin discovers that Fiona was responsible for the denial of their annulment, he returns to Ireland to find the proof to free him to marry Jane. After Fiona is found dead in her hotel room, Eoin is indicted for her murder.

Unwilling to leave the matter solely in the hands of Irish authorities, Jane goes to Ireland to follow the evidence wherever it leads. She leaves behind a tangle of problems in Telluride, where it is left to her trusted friend Father Matt to unravel the mysteries at home, unaware that they hold the key to Jane’s mystery abroad.

My review: Riveting follow-up to Dying for Revenge.  Then again, I’m probably biased because I’m the publisher of this book!

“It is rare indeed to find an author who not only tells a good story but writes with real literary flair. Barbara Golder is such an author. In this latest offering, we find the plot twists and twisted characters that one would expect in a good murder mystery but also the fine character development and deep insight into the human condition which separates the truly great mysteries from the run of the mill.” Joseph Pearce, Author of The Quest for Shakespeare, The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, and Tolkien: Man & Myth

Captains and Kings – Taylor Caldwell

Amazon Synopsis: New York Times Bestseller: Sweeping from the 1850s through the early 1920s, this towering family saga examines the price of ambition and power.

Joseph Francis Xavier Armagh is twelve years old when he gets his first glimpse of the promised land of America through a dirty porthole in steerage on an Irish immigrant ship. His long voyage, dogged by tragedy, ends not in the great city of New York but in the bigoted, small town of Winfield, Pennsylvania, where his younger brother, Sean, and his infant sister, Regina, are sent to an orphanage. Joseph toils at whatever work will pay a living wage and plans for the day he can take his siblings away from St. Agnes’s Orphanage and make a home for them all.

Joseph’s journey will catapult him to the highest echelons of power and grant him entry into the most elite political circles. Even as misfortune continues to follow the Armagh family like an ancient curse, Joseph takes his revenge against the uncaring world that once took everything from him. He orchestrates his eldest son Rory’s political ascent from the offspring of an Irish immigrant to US senator. And Joseph will settle for nothing less than the pinnacle of glory: seeing his boy crowned the first Catholic president of the United States.

Spanning seventy years, Captains and the Kings, which was adapted into an eight-part television miniseries, is Taylor Caldwell’s masterpiece about nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America, and the grit, ambition, fortitude, and sheer hubris it takes for an immigrant to survive and thrive in a dynamic new land.

My review:  This is a very long book, but I’m enjoying it immensely (and will likely be enjoying it for the next few weeks, given the length!) Characters are well-developed and the story engaging and compelling.  Some believe the family in the novel is the Kennedy family, but the author has denied this.  It’s easy to see why people think it is because there are a lot of similarities.  A lot of differences, as well.

Bead by Bead: The Scriptural Rosary (Full Color Softcover Edition) by Meggie K. Daly

Amazon synopsis:  Our Mother Mary implores us to pray the Rosary—but why does Mary want us to pray the Rosary? Meggie chronicles her journey from an active avoidance to a deep love of the Rosary as she shares the meditation aids and techniques that—together with her insights as to why Mary wants us to pray the Rosary—have redefined her relationship with the Rosary. A chapter is devoted to each of the four Mysteries of the Rosary containing Scripture for each bead of the Rosary, beautiful color artwork for each of the 20 decades by artists such as Raphael, Murillo, Rubens, and many others. “Bead by Bead” includes a concise history of the Rosary, from its earliest beginnings to the present day. A tutorial is included for those new to this devotion and an appendix with helpful resources for those who wish to dig deeper into Catholic theology, Mariology, apologetics, spiritual growth, lectio divina, and writings of the saints.

This book is a must read for those who pray Rosary but desire more vivid meditations and, also, for those who struggle to stay awake and focused. For those who suffer through the Rosary fighting monotony and boredom, this book is a life-changer! And for those who remain mystified as to why anyone would pray the Rosary—find out why in “Bead by Bead.”

My review:  Meggie K. Daly’s Bead by Bead: The Scriptural Rosary is a terrific resource for anyone who wants to take their daily recitation of the Rosary to a whole different–and higher–level. Using this book, the reader has at his/her disposal a line of scripture for each bead that will help the reader to reflect more deeply on the mysteries and prayers of the Holy Rosary. Includes background, history, resources and an appendix, as well as the author’s journey towards a Scriptural Rosary. Highly recommend!