Thursday, February 16, 2017

sweet remembrance release

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In the despair of the Warsaw Ghetto, a young Jewish woman fights the Nazis with the only thing she has left—her memories.

Some of you may remember my review of Once, a collection of six historically inspired fairy tale retellings. Amongst the collection rests a novella by Emily Ann Putzke titled Sweet Remembrance. I'm here to happily announce that Sweet Remembrance is now released as a stand-alone ebook that you can purchase on Amazon!

Don't have time to read the entire Once collection? Then you must at least sit down and read this bittersweet novella. It's short and heart wrenching, which I find to be a lovely combination on a cold winter's night with a cup of decaf. Or perhaps while soaking in a warm bath after a long day. All in all, carve out your time to sneak this novella into your reading. It's well worth it.

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Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. She's the author of It Took a War, Resist, Sweet Remembrance, and co-author of Ain't We Got Fun. You can learn more about Emily and her books at

Monday, January 23, 2017

quiet as a mouse

linking up to they have a story

There were lots of questions.

Lissie normally had lots of questions, but now there were more questions than she could count. Questions like: why did the tall soldiers with the funny looking spider on their arms take all of their bread? Why did Papa's clocks smash up? Where did her peg doll go? And why did the loud thunder and dust make the tall soldiers with the funny looking spiders on their arms go away? Lissie thought this through with her face twisted up as she sat alone in her home, her dirty arms crossed over her knees.

She didn't want to ask herself the big question. She tried to never ask the big question, because when she did her body began to shake. Today, however, she asked herself the big question. Where was Papa? Why did the tall soldiers take him away? She knew the soldiers took him away because when she came back from Meneer Bakker's shop with the lard, she saw the soldiers pushing him onto a big truck. The soldiers had guns.

Lissie had dropped her basket to call for him, but then she saw Papa look her way. He told her to stay quiet as a mouse. He didn't say it with his mouth, but he said it with his eyes.

Lissie stayed quiet as a mouse. She stood in the middle of the street, and she saw Papa drive away. She went home, and she shut the door tight. She found the bread gone. She found Papa's clocks smashed. She did not find her peg doll.

No one came for Lissie. No one looked for her.

Until today. The thunder last night was loud, and Lissie heard frightened people out-of-doors. Her house shook, and the dust came through a shattered window. Lissie sat in the corner, alone. She hugged her knees, and she told herself the psalm that Papa always told her when she was afraid. "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." Lissie wasn't sure what Evil was, but she guessed the thunder outside was Evil. Lissie wasn't sure who Thou was either, but he was with her. She felt better because Papa knew Thou, and maybe Thou was with Papa, too.

She did know that she never wanted to see the tall soldiers again. And in the morning, the tall soldiers were gone. Lissie opened the heavy front door that had guarded her for weeks, and she sat on the front step. The city was quiet and still. There were no birds chirping. There were no tall soldiers stomping. There were no people chattering. It was silent.

Then something happened. The growl of a heavy truck drifted down the streets, and suddenly windows burst open. "Bondgenotens!" someone shouted with excitement. "Bondgenotens!"

Lissie wasn't sure what "allies!" meant, but she remembered the truck that took away Papa. Maybe the truck was coming back. Maybe Papa was coming home!

She sprang up from the step, wobbling a little on her feet, and she started running down the street toward the sound. Her heart thump-thumped in her chest, and the uneven ground made her stumble. "Papa!" she shouted loudly over the roar of the trucks. "Papa!"

Then she stopped. The trucks coming up the road were not the same trucks that took away her father. These trucks growled louder, and these trucks had enormous tires that slowly gripped the road as they plowed down the street. And in these trucks, the soldiers were smiling.

Lissie stopped in her tracks. The enormous truck plowed straight toward her, and she did not move. She was afraid. She looked up as it came closer, and the soldier standing in the stern suddenly looked her way. "Halt!" he shouted over his shoulder. "Halt!"

Lissie did not halt. Lissie ran. She ran away from the enormous truck and the strange new soldiers, and as she ran, she did not want to think the horrible thoughts that came to her head. But they came anyway. The pebbles on the street sliced into her feet as the tears started streaming down her face. Papa is not coming back.

She pelted into her home and fell on the floor, curling up in a ball as she had done for weeks. Everything hurt. The questions hid their faces as she said over and over, "Papa is not coming back."

"Hello?" a strange voice in a strange language said.

Startled, Lissie remained where she was and blinked open her swollen eyes, staring ahead of her toward the back of the house. And a shadow had spilled from the doorway, filling the house and filling her. It was a soldier's shadow. They had come for her, too.

Lissie dared not lift her head. She dared not lift a finger. Papa had said to stay quiet as a mouse, and so Lissie would.

But Papa was not coming back. That made Lissie angry. The soldiers took her papa, and she would ask them why. Standing up, she stepped out of her house and onto the threshold.

Two soldiers stood before her, their guns slung over their soldiers. Their netted helmets gleamed in the sunlight, and Lissie felt confused. They were smiling at her. The tall soldiers never smiled. Uncertainly, Lissie stepped forward and gingerly touched their arms. There was no funny looking spider.

"That's right," the soldier said, kneeling down before her. "The bad soldiers are gone. Now you are free."

Lissie didn't know what he said, but his voice was different than the tall soldiers. And this man was smiling. He reminded her of Papa. Feeling braver, she wiped her face and said, "Waar is Papa?"

The soldier's face grew solemn as he reached out and touched the gold necklace around Lissie's neck. Lissie snatched it away. Papa gave her the star. He said she must always wear the star, and Lissie would not let this soldier take it away.

"Perhaps he is coming," the soldier said kindly. Lissie looked at him, clutching her necklace to herself. Then she heard the rumbling again. She cocked her head, listening. It was the sound of the truck. Not the enormous trucks that these strange soldiers drove, but the small trucks that took Papa away.

"Come here, little one," the nice soldier said, smiling. He scooped her up in his arms, and Lissie wasn't afraid. He carried her down the street, and Lissie felt her heart thumping faster as the trucks came. They were the trucks that took Papa!

They stopped in the street. The crowd was cheering wildly. The soldiers were hollering. The guns were put away, and there were flowers on the street. Suddenly people spilled out of the trucks. Thin people. Weary people. Sick people. But they were smiling.

As Lissie clung to the nice soldier's neck, she craned her head, searching. Then she saw the eyes she knew. "Papa!" she shouted, and she wriggled away from the nice soldier. "Papa!" she shouted, darting through the surging crowd. "Papa!"

Then he was right there. His eyes were full of tears as she ran as fast as her short legs would carry her toward him. He swung her up in his frail arms, and she cried. "I was quiet as a mouse, just like you told me, Papa!" she wept, burying her face in his shoulder.

"Yes, you were, my little Lissie!" he whispered, holding her close. "Yes, you were."

Friday, December 30, 2016

through the years

Like a snap of the fingers, another story has closed. Both Merry Little Christmas and the overarching year of 2016. Both were full of ups and downs, and both leave me a little teary-eyed at their departure.


This story. First of all, your comments were the dearest, sweetest flutters of encouragement. Thank you. You made the writing more fun, and I was thrilled to see your words echo my own thoughts toward the story. (Although there were times, I admit, when I'd post a letter and fear that it wasn't up to par. But you all said they were good, and I adored the characters, so in the end, the story brought more smiles than anxious tears.) 

I can say without a doubt that Emily Ann Putzke is by far the best writer to co-author with. Y'all have no idea how many emails were sent during the writing of MLC! The brainstorming was a wild ride, and the writing was even crazier. Everything from ecstasy to despair can be found in those emails, and I swear, I think this little story was harder to write than Ain't We Got Fun. I'm glad Emily was there through it all. We make a good team, Em. I wouldn't want to write fictional letters with anyone else.

Unbeknownst to you, readers, we almost met during the holidays, and we intended to film a vlog together discussing the story. But plans change and things don't always work out, so that did not happen. (It's always the thought that counts, though, right?) All that to say, I wish we had a wonderful ending as with Ain't We Got Fun. Instead, we end with a whispered hint of things to come.

On the first of the new year, we will remove the letters from our blogs. But things will come. In the meantime, hold these characters close to your heart as we do. They will return to you.


I laugh at the memes that groan about how cruel 2016 was to us all. I laugh because there is an ounce of truth resonating in the words. 2016 was a curious year. I ended 2015 by declaring it had been full of change. I roll my eyes at that now. I've never experienced a year full of more unexpected twists and turns than 2016. 

In 2016, God took all of the plans I held tightly in my little fists and whispered, "I have something better." He taught me things while I clung to my idea of a future, and He's teaching me things as He shows me His. While I'm tempted to condemn 2016 like many people are doing, I realize 2016 wasn't the disaster it appears on the surface.

2016 was a year of grace. And God is indescribably loving and good. I can only hope to learn to trust Him more.

Bring it on, 2017! I'm ready for a brand spanking new year. A great white page of possibilities. An anticipation for all the adventures to come.