Thursday, June 1, 2017

five poisoned apples | cover reveal

If you are a young writer with a knack for penning engaging stories and with a love of fairy tales as old as time, you may be interested in this fairy tale retelling contest hosted by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her Rooglewood Press. The final fairy tale contest out of their four-book collection is none other than 
Isn't the cover a beauty?
For more details on how you can pen a Snow White retelling and win a spot for your name on that lovely cover, visit Rooglewood's website detailing the process! Happy writing, friends.

Monday, May 29, 2017

be back soon

As I am taking part in an adventure this summer, I will be stepping back from my spontaneous blogging during these warm, sticky months. I'll be back in the fall with hopefully more stories and prose to share, but in the meantime, enjoy your summer, friends, and eat many s'mores and hotdogs in true American fashion.

xo, emily

P.s. I'll be posting one friendly announcement June 1st, so be on the lookout for a writing opportunity! Love and hugs.

Friday, May 26, 2017

smiles were made, dear, for people like us

In true Emily Chapman fashion, I missed Ain't We Got Fun's two-year birthday yesterday. Let's pause for a moment. Yesterday marks two years since my dear friend and co-author Emily Ann Putzke and I published our 1930's epistolary novella. Since then, Ain't We Got Fun has popped up for sale on countless internet bookstores, including Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and of course, Amazon. Shout out to every follower of Second Star who has read our little story! And shout out to those first readers, who read Ain't We Got Fun when we posted them in raw installments back in January of 2015.

To celebrate, Emily (or as I still call her, Gi) and I have placed the eBook version of Ain't We Got Fun on sale for a mere 99 cents. Consider it a thank you from us to you for all the love and support you have showered on us since the beginning! And spread the word! The more who read our story the merrier! (Also a review or two on Goodreads or Amazon would be welcomed cough cough shameless plug cough.)


love, Bess

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

a moment

Taking a moment out of finals week to breathe and to note that:

The sky is robin's egg blue // the birds are singing // pizza and potatoes are cooking // La La Land is sitting, brand spanking new, on my desk // a warm breeze is drifting through // the windows are wide open // the bath tub is turning brown from washing little bare feet // the television chatters with Clifford the Big Red Dog // the tree branches sigh in the wind // the screen door slides and clacks // my phone buzzes with short, rosy texts  // there is grace to cover every single one of my nasty sins // & summer is coming, coming, coming.

 "how does a moment last forever?
how can a story never die?
it is love we must hold on to,
never easy, but we try."

To the college students cramming for finals and to everyone else hurrying, hurrying, hurrying through this even swifter life: take a moment. Breathe. Be. Life is short, but we needn't dwell on the shortness. Just breathe. Thank the Lord for joy. Be.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

finding joy: a short note

How I see: through a dark-colored glass of distaste, dissatisfaction, and jagged flaws.
How I want to see: through rose-colored glasses of color, life, and femininity.
How I see: into a world of shadowy precipices and frightening predators.
How I want to see: into a world of little joys, blue skies, and warm springtime.
How I see: focused on what I must do as if I am a slave to my own obligations.
How I want to see: focused on what I can do because I am free through the grace of Jesus.

"I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that He gave life to someone who loves the gift." - Shauna Niequist

How I see: without an ounce of gratefulness.
How I want to see: with a heart overflowing with gratitude for everything from a smile from a coworker to an A on that English paper to spaghetti for dinner to the ability to love well.

Monday, March 13, 2017

heart strings, wind screams

The letter lay discarded in my lap, crumpled from my sudden burst of anger. I chewed on my lip, gazing at the empty beach before me and the enormous ocean beyond. My twill blue skirt was sandy and hot in the sun, but I didn't pay much attention to it. My thoughts were darting from the horrid things Bobby Wilkins said at school to Mama's indifference to the letter in my lap.

I breathed an agitated sigh and flopped back into the tall weeds. I gulped down the fresh oceanic Maine air and wished to be beautiful like the women in Mama's LIFE magazines. Pin curls and two-piece bathing suits; perfectly porcelain skin and scandalously red lips. I grimaced as my straight auburn hair bristled in the wind, tickling my freckled cheeks and chapped lips. Oh, that horrible Bobby!

It wasn't the things he said about me that hurt so bad. I was used to being called a ninny. I was used to shoving the insecurities and hurt it ignited to the back of my mind. I had to. But the instant Bobby scorned David's brave service in the Navy, I flared like a fourth of July firework. I still wasn't sorry I struck him right in the mouth. I didn't care if it was unladylike. Bobby deserved that slap, and I hoped it bruised him real nicely.

I twisted, reaching to grab my brother's letter just out of reach. It was upbeat and full of interesting things happening on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. David didn't say a word about the Japanese, but I couldn't help but worry that he'd meet them before long. I almost wished he was in the Atlantic. I supposed the Germans weren't any less ruthless, but somehow it would make me feel safer. I could stare and know he was just across the horizon. Now he was so far away, it seemed he was no longer a part of this world.

I needed him back here to help me shut up horrible boys like Bobby Wilkins. My heart cut to my throat as I remembered Mama's remarks. I missed Davy all the more, and I wondered if he still missed Dad. Just like me.

"Hey, Vi," a voice said in surprise, and I tilted my chin back to find the very last person I wanted to see right then. Aside from Bobby.

"Hi," I replied, taking care to roll my eyes as I sat up, ramrod straight.

Sunny-haired Rosie Noyes took two steps forward, her college books tucked under her thin left arm. Her blue eyes radiated unvoiced sadness, and somehow that irked me all the more. I knew who she was missing, and in my opinion, she had no right to miss him too.

We remained in monotone silence for a long moment, she standing with her back to the wind and me sitting with my knees pulled up to my chest. Then my letter from David flapped, and Rosie's eyes caught sight of it. "Is that from David?" she asked, keenly interested.

I frowned. "Yes."

Rosie nodded, stroking the folds of her primly pink dress. "He wrote me, too."

I stiffened. "Oh."

"He said he misses the Atlantic. The Pacific is too foreign." Rosie's voice was soft.

"Oh." I wasn't appeased. David didn't hint at any discontentment in his letters to me, and I doubted Rosie could understand him like I did. I was irked that he didn't confide in me. I would have understood the foreign discomfort. I understood it right now.

The stiffness between Rosie and I didn't soften, but I glanced up at her with critical eyes, taking in her stylishly curled hair and Grecian nose. She looked like Grace Kelly, albeit more childish. I turned my shoulders away from her as Bobby's horrible words taunted my mind. I wanted David here.

"I wish David were here," came a voice echoing my thoughts, and surprised, I turned to Rosie. Her lower lip was trembling as she watched the endless crashing waves, and I, afraid, inched a millimeter further from her as the tears in my eyes threatened to overflow.

"Do you ... think he'll come home?" I murmured in a tone so low it was nearly swept away by the wind. But Rose caught it, and she knelt down next to me, taking care to place her books neatly in the reeds.

I didn't want her comfort. I pulled my shoulders away.

"He is brave and good and strong and full of love," Rosie said with firm conviction. She reached out a slender finger and drew a heart in the sand between us.

Somehow that brought two tears running down my nose, burning my skin as it kissed the salty air. I reached out and blindly crumpled his letter in my lap, holding it as tightly as I could. "I want to scream," I said huskily, thinking of Bobby's awful words and Mama's indifference and David's absence. And the stark, painful question I had asked that still hung in the breeze.

Rosie reached out and touched my arm with her cold fingers. I looked at her flinchingly, and she stared boldly into my eyes. Then she stood, walking toward the water. I hesitated. Then I followed her.

The waves lapped against Rosie's collegiate oxford shoes as she plowed straight into the freezing depths, and I watched in astonishment as she waded in so far that it swallowed her knees and the hem of her skirt. She turned back toward me, an empathetic smile on her face and ghastly tears rolling down her cheeks. My heart beat, stricken. Then Rose faced the horizon and screamed. She flailed out her thin arms and screamed, and I watched in aching wonder at the pristine lady whom my brother had fallen in love with.

Then I splashed out to join her, shivering as the frigid sea numbed my legs, and I screamed, letting my emotions rip my throat. Every horrible memory and haunting fear and unbearable reality sailed out of my mouth, relieving my lungs, my heart, my head. I clenched my fists and shook them in the air, and Rosie caught my hand. We threw our arms in the air and watched as the ocean continued to roll, foaming and biting and singing.

I shivered. The silence that followed didn't hurt, but it was solemn. Rosie looked at me. "Sometimes it's okay to scream."

And we waded back toward shore.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

sweet remembrance release

purchase here!
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.

Add on Goodreads
Purchase the eBook

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."