My Book Reviews

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Elephant in the Room, Part 3

I learned about the elephant in the room, the situation everyone knows about but no one discusses it, when mental illness entered our life in 2004.

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In reality, it may have been there before then, but I didn’t know the signs. As a result, it entered in silence, much like the elephants that entered our campsite in the wild in 2011.

I think the elephants are magnificent creatures. For one thing, they live in families with a matriarch at the helm. The older the matriarch, the more successful they manage their family. Her experiences help the herd adapt to the changes in their circumstances. Why? Elephants have an amazing memory, according to Scientific American. She uses it to the advantage of the herd.

When schizophrenia attacked our daughter, Amber in 2004, our family reacted in a way that was similar to a matriarchal pachyderm. We surrounded her. Our experiences guided us to protect her and help her into recovery. Our extended family and friends rallied around us and we used a herd mentality to fight off the invader and chase it into submission.

I think elephants resemble mental illness. They can enter in silence.

As a result of my experience in the wild game parks in Africa, I learned they can leave a path of destruction behind them. Left unchecked, they ravage a landscape in search of food. Mental illness can do the same. Sometimes, if left alone with no advocate or management, it can devastate lives.

destructionThere’s s a fable from India about six blind men in a village. They heard about an elephant and set out to discover it. Upon their return, they had six different reactions about what an elephant is like. Each man touched a different part and knew only how that section felt. They couldn’t agree on what it resembled – a wall, a pipe, a tree, a pillar, a hand fan, or a rope. In reality, each man was correct for it was what he had observed. So much like mental illness, each person, each family experiences it in a different way. That is what they know, therefore it is correct for them.

So I don’t compare our journey through mental illness with any other one. Each of us are on a journey, but mental illness shares  common symptoms. I think we all feel frustrated stressed, heart-broken, hopeless, and at times, alone. We get angry at the unfairness as it strikes those we love. But I can take my feelings and turn them into compassion, support and a resilient attitude. I can strive to continue to learn about mental illness, give to research so that scientists can unlock the answers. And I can dream of the day that everyone can enjoy a life spent in recovery.

I vow to continue to bring awareness to the elephant in the room, to spread a message of hope, to erase the stigma that surrounds mental illness and to reach out to those who struggle. I want everyone to know that it is a biological issue, not a character flaw. One day I hope to see everyone who battled mental illness strut and wear a t-shirt that states, “Survivor.”

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

IntoMH-MHM-Twitter-HeaderDuring May, in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope to inspire, inform, and get others involved in a topic that affects us all. I want to link to websites with the latest information about research, along with previously released webinar links.

I plan to post reviews or links to other blogs that discuss books, both fiction and nonfiction on the subject of mental illness.

I also hope to link to blogs that review my own story of my journey through mental illness with my daughter, Broken Brain, Fortified .

I hope to accomplish this twice a week.

I hope you’ll join me as I work to bring awareness to a subject that I think is the elephant in every room. You know, the one everyone knows about but no ones wants to mention.

Let’s talk. Come join me. Bring your friends.

For more information on mental illness visit:

NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

 

 

 

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A Sea Without A Shore

Spiritual Reflections for the Brokenhearted, Weary and Lonely

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A review by Virginia

Earlier this month, I promised to give a review for this book in exchange for the chance to read it. Sometimes I wonder, who gets the most benefit for this opportunity – the author or the reader? After exploring Jeannie’s book, A Sea Without a Shore, I’ll wager that it is the reader.

Jeannie writes from the heart, pouring out her love and devotion to God throughout her book. I felt that she recorded her thoughts and prayers for us, the readers, so we may grow in love and devotion, too. As I read, I found myself recording phrases that stood out to me. Reflections I wanted to plant deep within my heart and soul.

One of my favorites quotes was “Material acquisition is no longer our goal. It is replaced by the practice of simplicity, engaging in matters seemingly small, but staggeringly significant.” This idea resonated with me as a way to live in peace and joy.

A few other nuggets I tucked deep in my heart include the idea of “self-examination with pointing a finger” – in other words, forgive myself. And “that all holy innocents are God’s beloved” gave me peace as I thought about my own grandson’s death years ago.

Because this book has reflections for the liturgical year, I will read each section during the appropriate season to deepen my appreciation and love for my Savior.

I’ll be honest, when I first began reading this, I had a difficult time. I’m more of a “learn from the parable” kind of gal. I think I understand why Jesus taught his followers through stories. Some of us grasp concepts and lessons more quickly through examples. As I started this book,, I found it a bit difficult to concentrate on the words. But, I realized I had the opportunity to read her thoughts and reflections. I decided  I wanted to challenge myself to focus on Jeannie’s prayerful thoughts as I read. Plus, I wanted to learn a new style of spiritual growth. I willed my brain to slow down so I could embrace the reflections. I read in small bites so I could indulge myself with the prayerful thoughts. It worked. I did indeed a learn a fresh way to keep me on my spiritual journey.

If you’re looking for a book to deepen your love and devotion to God, I recommend this book. Read it slowly and savor the morsels.

But don’t just take my word for it. Snag your own copy and fall in love with your Savior.

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Two Options Available

Amazon Kindle

Paperback

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Jeannie Ewing

 

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Jeannie Ewing believes the world focuses too much on superficial happiness and then crumbles when sorrow strikes. Because life is about more than what makes us feel fuzzy inside, she writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers and is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and dozens of other radio shows and podcasts.

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Find Jeannie  Website,  FacebookFacebook Author PageTwitterGoogle+:LinkedIn:,

YouTube: At Home with Jim & Joy: Presents Author Jeannie Ewing

GIVEAWAY Click to enter for a chance to win one of two paperback copies of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers or one of two paperback copies of A Sea Without A Shore!

Blog Tour Host En Pointe Author Services

Interview with the author: JEANNIE EWINGjeannie-ewing

Describe a typical writing day. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night-owl writer?   I am an “anytime writer.”  You see, my life does not neatly fit into a box (unfortunately for me).  I have two young daughters and another baby on the way.  Both of our girls have different special needs that require a lot of extra time spent with various specialists, special education programs, surgeries, and counselors.  I spent a good portion of my time at the disposal of a doctor’s availability, rather than what is convenient for my family. Because of this, I write when I have time.  That might sound like a cop-out, but I don’t waste time.  If I have 10 minutes of a lull in my day, I will write for 10 minutes.  When the girls are having quiet time and I can snag an extra 20 to 30 minutes, I will write.  Most of my best writing happens right after breakfast on a weekend when my husband is gracious enough to watch the girls for me.  But most of what I produce is in the evenings after the girls have gone to bed.

Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress? I have 3 of them actually.  The first is a book that answers common questions about what to do in specific social or religious situations – a sort of etiquette question and answer book.  That proposal has been submitted to a publisher, who is in the process of checking it out. The second manuscript is one I am co-authoring with my husband, Ben.  It is a parenting book about using the beatitudes as our beacon for what we do and teach our children on a daily basis.  That, too, is in the process of consideration from a different publishing house. The third work-in-progress is my favorite to date.  It is a book about the value of waiting and what that looks like from a cultural attitude, as well as a spiritual one.  It includes various points of philosophy, but mainly I’m trying to encourage people in their tough times of waiting, especially when it is prolonged.  I plan to complete that manuscript before I submit it to a potential publisher.

What inspires you when you’re writing? Prayer – Scriptures, silence, reading reflections and the lives of the saints; music – especially classical or some type of soothing instrumental music; sometimes nature inspires me, and sometimes it could be a conversation with a friend or something I observe while I’m out and about.

What’s your favorite item on your writing desk? Hmmm, probably my perpetual cup of tea!

What’s your favorite genre and why?Memoir, because I love reading about other people’s journeys in life through their own eyes.

Any advice you have for a blossoming author? Just begin.  Don’t worry about the details or even the process itself.  Just start somewhere and keep moving forward.  Your first draft won’t be perfect, so don’t expect it to be.  Don’t write with censorship; get into your own flow and let it happen naturally.  Our best muse is God, so I always pray before I write. 

What is your writing process like? I guess the best word I can use is ‘inspired.’  Just when I think I’ve completed a book, a new idea pops into my head and becomes more developed over time.  That’s been the case for this book on waiting.  When I write, it could be jotting down ideas on scraps of paper like a typical creative type, or it could mean I actually sit down and type up a chapter on my laptop.  But I always, always write down inspired ideas, regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why? I don’t write fiction, so ?

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? Reading, taking care of my girls (homeschooling the eldest), chatting with my husband or watching movies with him, taking walks with my dog through our neighborhood.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? I’ve always been a writer, since I first learned to put words together creatively and articulately.  It’s a natural talent and also a spiritual charism.  I’ve enjoyed creating ideas through writing – whether fiction when I was a kid or poetry as a young adult or original research papers in college – and now non-fiction seems to be where God wants me right now.

How long have you been writing? I started journaling when I was about 9 years old.  I received a Hello Kitty diary from a friend for my birthday and wrote in a journal every day ever since!

Are you Self-published or Traditional Published? Why did you choose this type of publishing?  I’m a hybrid author, which means I have some books that are self-published and some that are traditionally published.  I’ll be speaking more on the advantages and disadvantages of this at the Catholic Writers Conference Online in February. Essentially, I didn’t “choose” this type of publishing.  It just worked out that my first book was self-published, because each step of the process I had someone offer to help me through it professionally!  My second book ended up being traditionally published, because my editor at Catholic Exchange asked me if I had considered writing a book.

Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? Writing can be daunting, so don’t think it’s some romantic way of life.  Most of us don’t make a grand living as writers, but we love what we do.  If you are called to write, you will want to share your ideas with others in order to inspire, encourage, entertain, or teach them – maybe a combination of these, or something else. 

Just for fun:  

Do you have any pets?    Yes!  A 9-year-old pit bull mix, Lily.  She’s a character!  We love her as one of our family members.

Who’s your favorite musician/band?  Well, I love music and a variety of genres of music.  I’d say it depends, but my favorite genre of music is Renaissance or Baroque.  I especially love Michael Praetorius and Tomasso Albonini.

What’s your favorite vacation spot? The mountains.  It’s my dream to live in the Smokies one day.

Do you like coffee or tea? Never liked coffee, but I love tea and drink it daily with a bit of honey. 

Did you go to college? If so, what was your major? Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies and Master of Science in Education for School Counseling

Are you a full-time writer or do you also work in another field? If so, what field?My “full-time” job is a stay-at-home mom. 

Favorite Season? Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer? I like the changing seasons for different reasons.  When I was a kid, my favorite season was summer, but now it’s probably fall.  I love the cooler weather and gorgeous colors.  Plus, there are so many fun things to do in the fall – hay rides, jumping in leaf piles, visiting pumpkin patches and carving them, apple picking and making homemade applesauce, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude – November 21

I’m grateful.

I spoke last night with a group in a local library. The more I share our story, the more I understand the statistic that one in four families deals with mental illness. I meet many of them.

  • I hear the heartache that accompanies them on their journey.
  • I witness the deep love they have for their family member.
  • I see the pride they have when their loved one manages it with success.
  • I see the hope that fills them when they see baby steps of improvement.
  • I witness courage, both in the families and those who are affected.

These families inspire me to continue to spread the word that mental illness is a brain disorder, not a character flaw.  I want to share that recovery is an option. I want to share that it’s hard for the families and those who are affected.

  • I dream of a day when mental illness is discussed the way we talk about diabetes, or cancer.
  • I dream of a day when our culture reacts to mental illness with the same compassion and support that happens when a family deals with cancer or other traumatic events.
  • I dream of a day when a blood test reveals the exact medication needed for the brain to function properly.
  • I dream of a day when we have adequate doctors, therapists, and counselors to assist those who need their expertise.
  • I dream of a day when every family I meets shares a success story with me.

Until then, I stay grateful for the health of my daughter.

  • I’m grateful the doctors found the correct cocktail of medication that allows her to overcome the symptoms of schizophrenia. She works full-time, and I know she makes a difference in the lives of the people around her.
  • I’m grateful that she understands her brain disorder and that she knows how to take care of her own health.
  • I’m grateful to have my daughter back. Twelve years ago I feared the worst. I remember crying out, “I just want my daughter back.” I’ve met too many families whose loved one lost the battle, and I weep with them.
  • I’m grateful for her recovery. Therefore, I want to shout it from the mountaintop – I want the world to know. The Lord walked beside me through our journey because I invited Him in to my day to day world. He helped me cope.

I live in gratitude.

  • I’m grateful for the people who come to my presentations on mental illness.
  • I’m grateful for those who support my work with a book purchase.
  • I’m grateful for the people who share the book with their friends and families. It helps bring undertanding to those not affected.
  • I’m grateful for those who take time to write a review. It helps keep our story in front of others.
  • Last, but not least, I’m grateful to the publisher, Familius, for the publication of Broken Brain, Fortified Faith and offering it right now for at half-price for those who wish to share our journey.

Together, let’s make a difference. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Gratitude – November 20

Ever have one of those days when you feel like you are spinning your wheels?

Sometimes, discouragement tries to get the better of me. Self-doubt reigns high.

Last Wednesday, I had such a day. I pushed myself all day to stay the course with my writing, in spite of the nagging thought – this isn’t any good. Who wants to read this? There’s so many great authors and stories out there.

Enter Thursday morning. I found an annonymous thank you note in my mailbox that told me to continue to shine the light of Christ in the world. Wow!

Then, I had an unexpected visitor within a day. We had a wonderful conversation about allowing the Holy Spirit to work through our lives. He affirmed via a text that he saw that in me. Wow #2.

To complete the gratitude adjustment, I opened my e-mail to an invitation to present for a group in early January. Wow #3.

Within twenty-four hours, three unrelated things gave me a boost to stay the course.

I’m grateful to the God winks that came at the exact time I needed it. And I’m thankful.

Happy Monday.

 

Gratitude – November 19

It’s the little things we don’t think about…gratitude.

You may think I’m a bit odd to post today about something so personal. But how often do I think about the little things that make my life easier with an attitude of gratitude?

If I’m honest, not enough. Just ask anyone whose ever found themselves with an empty roll when it’s most needed? What do we do? We call to someone to help us out, don’t we?

Mischieveous people decorate with it, which by the way, leaves a terrible mess, especially if it rains.

We all buy it, we all use it. Youtube is filled with videos about it. Some are funny, some are crude, but we all talk about it.

Should it go under or over? Who replaces the empty rolls? What’s the best price? Where to buy it?

I’ve traveled to places where toilet paper was a luxury item. Never mind if is was one, two, or three-ply. There was none to be found. Years ago, in the day of the outhouse, generations before us resorted to use whatever they had – pages from an old catalog, scraps of rags which they washed and rewashed and hung to dry (on their assigned nail pounded in the wood.)

Yes, we live with  what most of us consider a necessary item within easy reach for most of our life. And today, I want to remember one of the little things considered insignificant by most, and just be grateful.

And my final thought about this item used in the necessary room –  there’s a saying,  “LIfe is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.”

So true, so true. I choose to live each day as if it’s my last and make it count. For I know the end will come someday, I just don’t know when. I want to be ready. No one wants to be left without the necessary tools in life, like toilet paper.

Happy Sunday.

 

Gratitude – November 18

I got to spend some time with my daughter, Amber, today. I enjoyed the few hours we spent in conversation face to face. Most of the time, we talk on our phones because she lives a couple of hours from me. This morning we went to breakfast and chatted in her livingroom with our feet up. It was so relaxing.

So today, I’m grateful for time spent with her, and the communication that was made easy by the invention of the telephone. It’s been around for a long time and most of the time I take it for granted. I’ve always had a phone. As a little girl on the farm, we had a party line that we shared with the neighbors. We each had a unique ring and you were supposed to answer your ring, and no other rings. Which we did, most of the time. I admit, when Mom and Dad were gone, I listened to the neighbor girl talk to her boyfriend. Shame on me.

When I first married Roy, we had a party line, too. That didn’t last long and we had a private line with just our ring coming into the house. One phone on the wall in the diningroom was sufficient.

Over the years, we added extensions in other rooms. This seemed like a luxury. We rarely made long distance phone calls because of the expense and used them with caution.

Enter the first hand held phones. We felt new freedom with our phone. We could walk from one room to another as we talked. Wow, we thought, can it get any better than this?

It could, and it did. Cell phones. Our first one looked like a purse, but boy, we sure enjoyed it. As they got smaller and more powerful, we upgraded until now we carry one almost all the time. It slips into our pockets. We take photos on them and share them instantly with whoever we please.

We communicate with ease with friends, family and business acquaintances without a second thought.

Today, I”m grateful for telephones.

Gratitude – November 16/17

I’m grateful for the millions of volunteers who work hard with no recognition.

I look around and see volunteers who work tirelessly without pay or even recognition. Today, I am grateful for these good people who work for the benefit of others behind the scenes.

Today, I want to spotlight a group that many people have not heard about, and are not aware of their hard work and important service they provide. NAMI – The National Alliance on Mental Illness.

This national organization began in 1979 because a few families dreamt of a day when families received support as they dealt with their loved ones’ mental illness. It spread across our nation to reach people in all fifty states.

I found this group of wonderful, supportive people when I needed them the most. Our family was in crisis and I felt so alone. They drew me into their circle of education, comfort, and support as we dealt with the confusing world of mental illness. Through this fantastic organization, I learned about what my daughter faced, and I changed me. This helped me cope and support her in a way that enabled her to rebuild her life. She battled against her brain disorder, schizophrenia, and won. Today, she lives in recovery as she manages her illness with grace and dignity. She works full-time, manages all her own affairs (both medical and financial), lives on her own and has a social life that makes me tired.

Today, I tip my hat to the people who work to improve the lives of families everywhere, both in this wonderful organization, and to all the volunteer organizations that go about their mission to improve the lives of people they will never meet.

May God bless you in all your work. And thank you.

Book Review: Julia’s Gifts by Ellen Gable

Today, I feel grateful to take part in a book tour for a new release.

I remember saying years ago, that the best way to learn history is through stories of people. It helps put historical events in a context I can remember and appreciate. And so, today, I say thank you to all authors who write historical fiction. You help further my education

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MY REVIEW:

Julia’s Gifts is a sweet, love story set amidst the horrors of World War I. I read the story in the early morning hours of November 12, which felt so appropriate. To read a story of WWI, the day after Armistice Day brought the reality of the U.S. holiday, now known as Veteran’s Day, into a deeper appreciation for me.

My paternal grandfather fought in the war, returned home, and married my grandmother. My father, their first born, was born in 1919. These similarities enabled me to lose myself in the story of Julia’s Gifts, and appreciate my own heritage.

I liked Julia’s attitude for her future spouse. It’s a quality worth encouraging in everyone who dreams of marriage in their future.

The main characters in the story illustrated courage in the midst of difficult situations, perseverance through pain, and faith during times of stress; virtues that are worthy to strive to attain.

The story had a bit of a predictable side to it, but I enjoyed following the lives of Julia and her beloved.  I like stories that leave me with a feeling of hope, which Julia’s Gift accomplished.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. If a reader wants an uplifting, love story set during wartime, this book is a relaxing and quick read. Take a stroll into history and enjoy a wonderful story.

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Excerpt from Julia’s Gifts by Ellen Gable

December 17, 1917

The bustling streets of Center City Philadelphia shimmered with electric lights, heralding that Christmas was near. Julia Marie Murphy lifted her head and gazed upward. The night sky was filled with snow clouds, the air brisk. She pulled on her gloves and buttoned the top of her coat. Her thoughts turned to her future husband. Dear God in heaven, please protect my beloved.

Tens of thousands of American men had already enlisted to fight in this “Great War.” The gentlemen that Julia knew seemed anxious to join, and Julia thanked God that her three brothers were too young to fight.

In a few short weeks, it would be 1918.  All of her father’s friends and acquaintances expected the war to end soon, hopefully before the middle of the year.  But 1918 held far more significance for Julia.  This would be the year that she would turn 21.

She approached Lit Brothers department store, admiring the display windows that were outlined with colored electric lights. Julia was thankful that it was Monday. If it were Thursday, the ban on electric lights (in support of the war effort) would mean the windows would be dark.

Julia stared, transfixed, through the window at the tall display. Shimmery red fabric hung from a back wall, a beautiful sterling silver pocket watch lay on top of a cylindrical pedestal.  Her eyes widened when she saw the price tag: $12.25, almost 20 percent of her annual salary. But it was beautiful and every man needed one. The price notwithstanding, this would be a perfect gift for her beloved. Yes, it was extravagant, especially during wartime. Yes, there were less expensive items she could purchase. It didn’t matter. This was the ideal gift.

After purchasing it, she took it to the engraving department on the second floor. Behind the counter, the tall, lanky middle-aged man with a handlebar mustache smiled. “What would you like engraved on this?”

“To my beloved, next line, all my love, Julia.”

His eyebrows lifted.  “I’m certain the gentleman would prefer to have his Christian name engraved on this lovely timepiece.  Don’t you agree?”

“Well, yes, I imagine he would.  But I don’t really know his name or who he is yet.”

The man’s mouth fell open and he stuttered.  “I’m..I’m…s…sorry, Miss. I…I don’t understand.  You’ve bought an expensive pocket watch for someone you don’t know?”

Julia sighed.  She shouldn’t have said anything.

“Please just use the words I gave you.”

The man nodded and regarded Julia with an expression of suspicious curiosity, a look one might give a person in an asylum.

“How long will it take?”

“For the engraving?  Ten days.  Sorry, Miss, but you won’t have it in time for Christmas.”

“That’s all right.” Julia turned and walked a few steps and heard the salesman mumble, “Now there’s an odd girl.  Buying a gift for someone she doesn’t know. Tsk tsk.”

Sighing, she checked her own wristwatch and hurried out of the store to begin the three-block walk to her trolley stop.  If she didn’t get there in time for the five p.m. streetcar, she would be waiting half an hour.

This year Julia was determined that she would meet her beloved, the man for whom she had been praying these past four years. Why hadn’t she met him yet?  Some of her friends were already married. Her beloved was out there and she would find him.  Yes, 1918 would also be the year that she would meet her beloved.

Each December, Julia wondered what she would buy her beloved for Christmas. Last year, she searched different stores but found nothing special. She finally discovered — and bought — a brown leather pocket journal at a specialty store at Broad and Bigler Streets. She didn’t know whether her beloved would be the sort to write in one, but it seemed like an appropriate gift, especially since it had a delicate leaf embossed on the cover. The year before, she had bought a sterling silver Miraculous Medal because her beloved would be Catholic.

That first year, her mother suggested that she begin praying for her future husband.  After a few weeks of doing so, Julia felt inspired to do more. It had been the week before Christmas, so she decided that she would buy or make him a Christmas gift each year until they met.  With no job and no money that year, Julia knit him two pairs of socks, one blue-green and one green-brown, with finely-made yarn that her mother had given her.

The fact that she had made or bought gifts, and had spent hard-earned money for her future husband, had not pleased her father as he thought it too impractical and sentimental. Her mother, however, had declared that it was a beautiful gesture. Of course, if Mother knew how much she had spent on the most recent gift, she was pretty certain her mother wouldn’t be happy.

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Info Link:  http://www.fullquiverpublishing.com/our-publications/great-war-great-love-series-julias-gifts-by-ellen-gable/

Buy Link:  Amazon Kindle     Julia’s Gifts on Kindle

Amazon Print  Julia’s Gifts Paperback

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Questions for the author:

This is very different from your other books in that it is a very clean romance and can be read by young teens to elderly women to middle-aged men.  Was that a conscious choice?

Yes, it is very different and no, it wasn’t a conscious choice, at first.  When I came up with the story and as I was gradually developing the characters and plotlines, it made the most sense to keep this a “sweet” and “clean” love story that anyone can enjoy.  It is, however, a war novel, so there are descriptions of war injuries.

What was the inspiration for Julia’s Gifts?

When I was a teenager, I yearned to meet my future spouse.  It was difficult because most of my friends (and all of my siblings) had boyfriends.  Since I looked very young, boys weren’t    interested in me. I felt lonely, especially on Friday nights when all my siblings and friends were on dates, and I was home watching the Donny and Marie Show.

I began praying that God would “send me a man.”  Until then, I prayed for my future husband.  While I never actually bought a gift for him, I did write letters to him.

A few years ago, it occurred to me that it would be a beautiful gesture for a young woman to buy Christmas gifts for her future spouse.  From that small seed, Julia’s Gifts was born.

Why World War 1?

I’ve always been interested in history and I knew very little about this war.  I decided to focus the bulk of my research on the last year of the War (after the United States entered).  Because I am American and my husband is Canadian, Julia is American and her future spouse (Peter) is Canadian. I read and studied many books and researched online for three years before actually sitting down to write the novel.

Why is the name of the series Great War Great Love?

I owe my gratitude to the son of a friend of mine, Ian, for coming up with the title. The reason for the title is that World War 1 was called the “Great War” by the Allies before the USA entered the war, and is still often called the “Great War,” by British, Canadians and Australians. And Great Love because there are many examples of how couples met and fell in love during times of war.

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Author Bio:

Short:  Ellen Gable is an award-winning author, Marketing Director for Live the Fast, self-publishing book coach, speaker, publisher, NFP teacher, book reviewer and instructor in the Theology of the Body for Teens. However, the roles she loves the most are being wife to her husband and mother to their five sons, ages 18-30. Originally from New Jersey, Ellen lives with her husband of 35 years, James Hrkach, in Pakenham, Ontario Canada.

Find Ellen at:

Blog: Plot Line and Sinker

Full Quiver Publishing 

Amazon Author Page

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If you’d like to read other authors’ thoughts about Julia’s Gifts:

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links

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  Christopher Blunt

November 6 Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog

November 7  Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire

November 8  A.K. Frailey   Sarah Reinhard

November 9  Prints of Grace, Trisha Niermeyer Potter

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, Harvesting the Fruits of Comtemplation                                                   RAnn This That and the Other Thing

November 14 Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists

November 15 Theresa Linden

November 16  Barbara Hosbach   and Alexandrina Brant

November 17  Barb Szyszkiewicz    Catholic Mom

November 18 Cathy Gilmore, Virtue Works Media

November 19 Erin McCole Cupp

November 20 Virginia Lieto

November 21 Elena Maria Vidal  Tea at Trianon

November 22  Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold Miller, The Divine Gift of Motherhood

November 23  Leslie Lynch, author

 

 

Gratitude – November 14

As a little girl, I loved to color, paint, blend colors, and create my own designs. Since the age of twelve when I learned to sew, I’ve enjoyed my time spent with needle and thread. It made sense to weld these two loves into a business. In 1994, I tried my hand at the embroidery business.

I started small with a sewing/embroidery machine. Before long, I purchased a second machine to keep up with demand. Within four years, a commercial embroidery machine with a dozen needles, joined the fleet of machines in an 11 x 11 ft room – a washer, dryer, three sewing machines, and a serger. I limped along for several years as boxes filled with clothing to embellish took over our house. My hubby decided he wanted his house back, so we built an addition for my embroidery business in 2000. I held an open house when it was complete.

My parents came to spend the day of my open house.  Mom helped make the sugar cookies in the shape of sewing items. I can still see my dad as he sat in the corner of my workroom and watched the traffic flow through while I explained  my business. Over the next year, business doubled, and soon, I added a second commercial machine with fifteen needles.  All in all, I’ve enjoyed the past twenty-three years of coloring designs with thread.

But, today, I’m most grateful for the memory of my dad as he sat in my shop that day.  Two years later, he passed away – ten days after a cancer diagnosis. A quiet man, he spoke with his actions. He supported me and demonstrated his pride in me by his presence. I treasure the image of my dad in a business that I loved.

I’m also grateful my granddaughters share my love of needle and thread. I  get to spend time with them in the same space I shared with my dad.