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WWI Trench Cake

 For some reason, I decided to try my hand at making a WWI trench cake today. I mean, why not? That's a totally normal thing to bake. Everyone does it. All the time. 

Women would make these cakes for their men on the front. These cakes are made without eggs and can stay good for a long time. It was a special treat for the soldiers, bringing them a taste of home.

 As you can see, there is a trench within the trench cake. These things happen. 

Trench Cake (Via)


225g/8oz. plain flour
2 teaspoons cocoa
110g/4oz. margarine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 pint of milk
75g/3oz. brown sugar
75g/3oz. cleaned currants
Grated lemon rind

Grease a cake tin. Rub margarine into the flour in a basin. Add the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the soda dissolved in vinegar and milk. Beat well. Turn into the tin. Bake in a moderate oven for about two hours.

Mine was a bit different then the recipe. First, I forgot to dissolve the soda with the vinegar/milk. Oops. Also, I didn't have any currants or lemon rind to add, and my cake only took a half hour to bake. And yet, it still tasted good! I'll have to re-try it when I have currants and lemon rinds on hand. 


Snippets From The Eastern Front

I've been busy editing/formatting Resist for its February release and thought I'd share some snippets from the student medical company's campaign on the Eastern Front. (All images via Pinterest.)

I followed his gaze out into the field and spotted a young man trudging through the flowers. It was a drastic contrast—a soldier with soot covering his boyish face, his clothes singed from an explosion, and his gait weary among the cheerful, waving sunflowers. Otto snatched a rifle that was leaning against the school and began clicking off the safety-catch. He closed one eye and aimed. —RESIST

“I intend to change the way they perceive all Germans.” Alex tapped the book against his knee.
“How do you plan to do that?” Hubert appeared skeptical.
“A bit of music, vodka, and chivalry.” —RESIST

I stumbled down the steps with a jesting shout, “You’ll pay for that, Schmorell!”
“Are you drunk, Sergeant Scholl?” The lieutenant asked, grabbing my shoulder skeptically.
“No, sir!” I stood up straight and dusted off my uniform.
“Then kindly refrain from shouting and stumbling in the street like you’re stoned.”
I suppressed a grin. “Yes, sir.” —RESIST

The stench of decaying flesh, sickeningly sweet, hung to the breeze. I lifted my head, the scent so strong that I felt weak and lightheaded. Just inches in front of me lay the torn off legs, rotting in the grass. The boots were still on his feet. I stood up, running a hand through my hair and gasping for clean air. But now I couldn’t escape it. It was as if the air was impregnated with death, casting a horrible spell on anyone who entered its realm. I rolled the soldier into the grave, then picked up the legs and placed them beside him. Using both hands, I filled the grave with earth, watching as it covered his glassy eyes. I wondered how old he was … if his family was still alive. Perhaps he was even related to the little girl I danced with the other evening. —RESIST

They were dark haired women, each branded with a Star of David on their thin jackets. A wisp of a girl, with arms so thin I thought they might snap under the strain, stared at me as I approached them. She had hollow, ebony eyes that bore into me as she lifted the burdensome pick, a tool meant for a healthy man to use, not an emaciated child. —RESIST

To the left of me lay the carbonized skeleton of an exploded tank among a patch of daisies that danced under the wind’s gentle fingertips. I shook my head at the paradox. —RESIST

The little girl was leaning over and picking up the gifts I had left at her feet. I grinned and felt a burst of elation rise in me as she tucked the flower behind her ear with a small smile. It was moment’s like these that made me thankful to be serving in Russia, if only to bring a smile to a lonely, oppressed child’s face. —RESIST

You can pre-order the Kindle version of Resist HERE.
How are you writing projects going?


"You Can Do Only a Few Things at All Well, and They Are More Than Enough.”

“You're not impatient any more. Then you were in a hurry, because you thought you could encompass everything in your life. You wanted to learn everything and experience everything and be everybody. In a way, that was charming and delightful in you: I used to write in my notebooks that you were zestful. But it also made you seem confused. You did things in fits and starts. You learned as a stammerer talks ... Today, you are not in such a hurry. I think you have decided that you can do only a few things at all well, and they are more than enough.” —John Hersey

In my ever increasing interest in the Warsaw ghetto uprising, I've been gathering books from various libraries to try and wrap my brain around the perilous and courageous act of the Jews of Warsaw during 1943. One of the books in my pile was The Wall by John Hersey, a 640 page novel that I honestly wasn't sure I'd get around to any time soon. But then I read the first few pages and I was hooked. It was a lot to take in. I feel like I need to read it a few more times to fully understand everything. 

The story opens with four survivors of the Warsaw ghetto finding the buried Levinson Archives.  Noach Levinson is a Jewish historian who documents life in the ghetto from 1939-1943. Levinson—a recluse—is forced to move in with strangers when the ghetto is formed. But they become like family to him as the story progresses. The cast of characters are diverse and entertaining. Levinson finds, to his great surprise, that he rather enjoys being apart of a family. He writes of the day to day struggles of living in filth, poverty, and persecution. You see the hard and sometimes horrible choices people had to make in order to survive. When the Nazis start to deport the Jews to Treblinka, the Jews make the choice to fight back. They begin smuggling in weapons and the Z.O.B. (Jewish Fighting Organization) is formed. The family is broken up by the "relocation" but those who are left take up arms, build bunkers, and prepare to fight back.

It's all fictional, but the archives are so believable that at first I thought they were real. The historical accuracy is amazing, and although Hersey changed the names of actual historical people, I was able to recognize some of them from previous research. Noach resembles Emmanuel Ringelblum, Jewish writer whose archives were discovered buried in an underground bunker. Rachel Apt's leadership is very similar to Zivia Lubetkin. Yitzhok, I believe, is intended to represent Mordechai Anielewicz. The head of the Judenrat is most definitely based on Adam Czerniak√≥w.

The writing is beautiful. It's one of the books you feel enriched by every time you pick it up. It's full of pain and bravery, horror, and determination. It's a hidden gem of a book that I'm very glad that I found.

Have you ever read The Wall?


Black Friday Book Sale

It's time for the epic Black Friday book sale! Along with 70 other books by Christian Indie authors, It Took a War and Ain't We Got Fun are on sale from Nov 27 (that’s today!) through Nov 30th. The ebook copies are $0.99 and paperbacks are $6.99.

You can find free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals, and more on the Indie Christian Books website! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted athmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.


What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for?
 What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?


Pinterest Storyboard Event

Elisabeth Grace Foley is hosting a super fun blog event where authors share their Pinterest storyboards with each other! I have quite a few boards, some public, some private so I've chosen seven to share with ya'll. Thanks for hosting this event, Elisabeth! Hop on over to The Second Sentence to link-up and check out other writers' boards.

I'm going to start out with the storyboard for my completed novel, Resist. This board is mostly comprised of actual photographs of Hans, Sophie, Alex, Willi, Christl, and other members of The White Rose resistance group. This board just made the story even more emotional to write because I would study the pictures of these real, brave students and see their faces every day as I wrote.

Follow Emily Ann's board STORYBOARD: RESIST on Pinterest.
One of my favorite boards is Ain't We Got Fun. It was so fun to write that story with Emily Chapman, and to have somewhere to share pictures of characters and scenes. We still pin new images to that board every once in a while. 
Follow Emily's board ain't we got fun on Pinterest.
 I also have a storyboard for is It Took a War. I didn't make it until after I had written that story, so there aren't a ton of images but you can still get a glimpse of what the characters look like.

Twenty-Eight Days is my WIP about the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The storyboard is pretty intense ... but then again, so is the story. I haven't worked on it in a few weeks, but I hope to get back to it sometime soon. I still have a ton of research to do.

  Another WIP that I've left abandoned is This is Worth Fighting For. It's a novella about four friends who are separated by WWII and promise to reunite after the war.

Broken Music is a story I started writing a few years ago, but never finished. I really want to get back to it one of these days. It's about a Jewish musician and his family during WWII.

The Smell of Ink is another abandoned novella. It's about the Newsie strike of 1899. I have a new idea for it that I want to try when I'm done with a few other things!

Bonus! Share your favorite storyboards of other authors. Hanne-col's board for her WWI novel, The Point of No Return, has me very intrigued. WWI seems to be an overlooked time in history, especially in fiction so I'm really excited about her story! Speaking of The Great War, Jenna Lynn is writing a WWI novel, Tethered, taking place in India! Super excited about that one, too. And Jack Lewis Balliot's board for Brothers-in-Arms is one of my favorites. I LOVE THAT BOOK.

Hop on over and link-up!


P.S. Today is my niece's 5th birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLARE BEAR!

"Resist" Announcement

Munich, Germany 1942—Hans Scholl never intended to get his younger sister involved in an underground resistance. When Sophie Scholl finds out, she insists on joining Hans and his close friends in writing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets entitled, The White Rose. The young university students call out to the German people, begging them to not allow their consciences to become dormant, but to resist their tyrannical leader and corrupt government. Hans knows the consequences for their actions—execution for committing high treason—but firm in his convictions, he’s prepared to lose his life for a righteous cause. Based on a true story, Hans, Sophie and all the members of The White Rose resistance group will forever inspire and challenge us to do what is right in the midst of overwhelming evil. 

After much thought and prayer, I've decided on a new course of action for my novel, Resist. Being the control freak I am (at least when it comes to my books) I'm going to be publishing Resist under my imprint, The White Rose Press. Expected publication is February 22nd, 2016.  I'm a little bit excited. Just a little. =)

At the moment, Resist is under going historical editing. Last week I put it into the hands of one my editors, the director of a WWII museum. My sister and I dressed vintage for the occasion. One simply does not step foot into a WWII museum without dressing vintage.

 Also, I'm super excited because Kathryn J. Atwood, author of Women Heroes of World War II, Women Heroes of World War I, and Code Name Pauline has agreed to be an advance reader/reviewer for Resist

I thought it was about time to make an actual website for my books. I'm now ready to reveal the new site! Check out it out HERE.

Resist is on Goodreads and I'd really appreciate it if you'd add it to your bookshelf! Cover art is absent, I know. It will be forthcoming.

I'm blown away whenever I think about God's hand in this project. I could never have written it without Him. Never. I would have given up, closed the computer, said it was too hard. He placed this story on my heart to encourage and inspire others and I can't wait to see what He does with this story.


They Have a Story Link-Up | November Edition

It's time for the November edition of They Have a Story! This month's picture was submitted by Clara Stone. =)

What is They Have a Story? It's a monthly historical fiction link up hosted by yours truly. Once a month I'll post a historical picture. Your job (and mine ... I'm totally doing this!) is to write a short story inspired by it. It can be as short or as long as you like. Have fun with it! Post the monthly picture, your story, and blog button on your blog, then link up. Let’s see how many different stories we can get from the same picture!

Can't wait to see what you guys come up with!


P.S. Good luck to all those participating in NaNoWriMo this year!

The Boy | A Short Story

I was recently inspired to write a short story based on a true event that happened in my NY hometown during the Civil War. A train of Confederate prisoners of war came through en route to a POW camp and left a dead Confederate behind. The townsfolk debated over what to do with the boy. The men didn't want anything to do with the Reb while the women thought that the boy should be buried in their cemetery. Unknown Confederate soldier buried not far from me .... hmmm, this is prime writing material! So without further ado, my little story about a Confederate soldier boy.

(If I'm going to give him a face it might as well be a handsome one.)

The Boy
By Emily Ann Putzke

The Tennessee boy sat on the floor of the train car, his back leaning against the rough wooden interior. The stale air reeked of urine and sweaty wool, undertoned with the nauseating sweet scent of gangrene and disease. He lifted his face to a knot in the wood, squinting to see the world outside the crowded hell he inhabited. Trees whipped past, mere blurs of brown and green. It made him dizzy. He reclined his head against the wall once more and took deep, painful breaths.The boy longed to stretch his cramped legs, but prisoners of war were packed around him, leaving no room for the boy to do anything but hug his bony kneecaps to his chest. He no longer fit in the trousers his Ma had made him. He swam in the fabric, and the hem now reached the middle of his shins. His white cotton shirt hung off his limbs, and his boots were worn through. A young blond haired soldier standing to his left began singing a camp song, slow and mournful: From the bright sunny south to the war, I was sent, e'er the days of my boyhood, I scarcely had spent. From it's cool shady forests and deep flowing streams, Ever fond in my mem'ry and sweet in my dreams.”
“Ain’t we goin’ through enough torture with you singing atop of that?” Someone’s yell cut through the melancholy tune. The voice was bitter.
“Go on,” a bearded soldier beside the singer urged. “He’s just homesick. Keep singing.”
“Oh, my dear little sister, I still see her tears. When I had to leave home in our tender years—
“Stop it! Someone gag that bastard!” the man screamed.
A scuffle began, and the singer disappeared into the men, getting pummeled by the bitter soldier. The boy leaned his head into his knees, shutting his ears to the misery. A cold sweat slathered his youthful face, and his body trembled and convulsed with fever. He was going to die. He knew he was going to die. The question was—when?
The noise gradually settled down and the boy heard someone sobbing. He wondered if it was the bitter man or the singer. He glanced up at the soldiers around him. They were stoic, staring at the walls as if in another world. What were they thinking of, the boy wondered. Home? The future? The past?
“Got typhus, don’t you?”
The boy searched for the voice. It came from the bearded man. His cap was tugged over his eyes.
“I reckon. I feel … I feel sick as a dog.”
“How old are you, boy?”
It took the boy a moment to reply. His head swam. “Seventeen.”
“Lordy,” the bearded man shook his head in sorrow, “So young. So much life yet to live.”
Tears tore at the boy’s throat. So much life to live. He was already mourning a future he would never have. “I’m saying goodbye,” he said, closing his eyes to the spinning room. “In my heart, I’m saying goodbye.”
“To whom, boy?”
Pain racked his throat and seared his chest. “Ma, Pa … my sisters, Violet and Annalee. My girl … her name is Belle … I never told her how much I love her.”
“You are your parents only son?”
The boy nodded, raking his shaky fingers through his lice infested hair. “Ma cried when … when I left her. I’m just a boy, she said. Maybe she was right.”
“You are just a boy.”
The boy rested the side of his face against his knees. “I fought for my country … I did what I thought was right … my moral duty.”
The bearded soldier pushed his way past two arguing soldiers to get closer, and managed to knee down beside the boy. “Your parents must be right proud of you.”
The boy stared through a blurry haze. The bearded man became two men, then merged into one fuzzy image. “I hope so.” His voice was raspy. Death-like.
“Look, boy, you gotta lay down. You’re pale as a sheet. Boys, move over. This kid is dying.”
The bearded soldier shoved his elbows at the men crowding around them. They inched back, mumbling in irritation as the bearded soldier helped lay the boy in a fetal position. “We’re all gonna die,” one disgruntled soldier said between gritted teeth. “Why does that runt get special treatment?”
“Scrape up some humanity from that soul of yours and move out of the way,” the bearded man ordered.
With his ear pressed against the wooden floorboards, the boy could hear the train screech against the tracks. The car rumbled and jolted the boy’s head, sending him spiraling deeper into the whirling dark abyss that was rapidly devouring his young life. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … He leadeth me beside still waters … He restores my soul …” the boy breathed the words to a prayer. He could feel his throat constricting, grower tighter and tighter. The bearded soldier placed a hand tentatively on the young boy’s arm as he began to violently toss and turn. The boy’s chest heaved, his cornflower blue eyes turned wild. “Mama!” he screamed. “Mama, please ... please help me!” He turned to the soldier, gripping his arm savagely. “Mama. I don’t want to die.”
The boy went slowly, his limbs relaxing, his hand falling from the soldier’s arm. His vivid blue eyes, a moment ago so wild with fever, were now empty and dull as his soul escaped from his lifeless body.  The bearded soldier sat with the dead boy, feeling an ache that was foreign to him. He had witnessed death after death in the battle fields, seen his comrades fall in the struggle, but this felt different. He had looked into the eyes of a mere child as his life drained from his body.
A boy.
The train screeched against the tracks in a violent protest as it jolted to a complete stop, sending the men falling all over each other. The boy began to roll around.
“We gotta get him outta here!” the bitter man said. “One less body. Guard!”
The door cracked open from the outside landing where a federal soldier stood, his musket ready. “What is it?”
“Why are we stopping?” the bitter man asked.
“For fuel. Sit back and get comfortable. We have a long ride still ahead of us, Reb.” The federal soldier had begun to close the door when the bitter man plunged forward.
“Wait! We gotta corpse in here.”
The federal soldier eye him suspiciously, his mustache twitching. “Where?”
The man pointed to the corner where the boy’s body lay.
The federal soldier pushed his way through the group, two more soldiers following suit. They picked up the boy by the arms and legs, stumbling to the caboose and off the train. A crowd of townsfolk had gathered at the site of the POW train, curious to get a glimpse of a Reb, or perhaps mock them to their faces if they had the chance.
“We have a dead Reb here,” the federal soldier said as they set the boy in the dirt beside the tracks. “Do with him as you like.”
“Let’em rot there,” a farmer said, swatting his hand as if the boy were an annoying gnat. “Let’em rot.”


Widow Hudson pushed through the surly men as they cursed the young boy who lay on the earth before their feet. Her breath caught in her throat when she realized how young the boy before her was. His face was smooth, his full lips were parted and his golden hair was tousled about his head as if he were just a child sleeping.
“You mock humanity.” Widow Hudson turned to glare at the men. “You mock God.”
“Excuse me, ma’am?” The farmer stepped forward, his arms folded.
“You toss out insults at this dead boy, condemn his soul to fiery gehenna, decide among yourselves to let him rot where he lies instead of giving him a decent, honorable burial. You mock goodness and decency.”
The farmer gritted his jaw. “Boys like him killed my three sons and left my youngest one maimed for life. He’s our enemy. Our enemy, you hear me, woman?”
“I hear you loud and clear, sir, and I don’t agree. I lost my husband and son in this war. I have every right to be as bitter as you. But I’m not.”
“Then you’re batty!” The farmer turned to leave, but Widow Hudson placed a hand on his arm to stop him.
“Aren’t you curious to know why I’m not bitter, sir?”
The farmer turned, shrugging his shoulders. “Not particularly, ma’am.”
“Well, I’ll tell you anyway.” Widow Hudson kneeled beside the boy in her black mourning gown, ignoring the dirt and filth around her. She placed a hand on the boy’s soft head of hair and stroked it gently. “My boy fell in Virginia. They couldn’t send me his body. I can only pray to God that someone buried my boy properly … honorably. Perhaps a southern woman had pity, knowing that he was someone’s son. Well, this boy in front of me is someone’s son … someone’s brother, grandson, nephew, friend. His family is mourning him as much as I mourn my own husband and son. The least we can do is bury him … this child. We have no war with him. He is no different than our own sons who marched off to defend their family and their homes. Do not take your anger out on him unless you would have the same anger thrown upon your loved ones who die on the fields. Have some humanity. Have some respect.”
A hush fell over the men and women gathered. The only sound was the trainload of prisoners rattling away, leaving behind the dead boy to be debated over.
“She’s right,” one woman offered, stepping forward to stand beside Widow Hudson. “You can all see for yourself, this is just a child who was far from home and fighting for what he thought was right.”
“Yes,” another woman said. “We must bury him in our cemetery. It’s the decent thing to do.”
The men shifted, mumbling among themselves. “I won’t stand by and see this traitor honored like some war hero. Never!” The farmer stormed off in a cloud of dust.
The men followed him, equally embittered. “That boy’s our enemy. He’s a traitor. You would dishonor our own boys in that way?”
Widow Hudson watched with horror as they walked away, leaving her and two other women with the boy. “I’m afraid I have underestimated their decency and humanity.”
“We’re with you,” one woman said. “We’ll help you bury him. We’ll get a coffin.”
Widow Hudson nodded, hot tears trailing down her cheeks. She placed a hand on the boy’s cold face. “I wonder what his name was.”