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Day 5 | End of The Week Wrap Up

It's already Friday, which means that today's the last day of the AWGF blog tour. WHAT?! Well, that week went fast! To celebrate the release, I've been drinking lots of coffee. But I would drink lots of coffee even if I wasn't celebrating a book release ...

Anyway, to wrap up the blog tour Emily Chapman and I both wrote a guest post. Emily wrote about How to Meet Deadlines and Remain Sane over on Joy's blog. I for one need to read and learn from that! I feel like I have so many deadlines to meet these days!

I posted on Esther's blog, sharing tips on how to create a character who comes to life on the page. Here's a sneak peek:

3. Make Them Lovable and Relatable
Even though my readers got aggravated with Gi for making stupid decisions, they still seemed to like her! This is crucial, because the last thing I’d want is an unlovable character. She has her stubborn streak and sinful pride, but Gi is also a bit silly, offbeat, loving, and compassionate. I tried to balance out her flaws and weaknesses to make her real.

In other news, when I was stalking my own Goodreads page to see the reviews of Ain't We Got Fun, I noticed that it was on an Epistolary Fiction list. I'm not sure who put it on there, but thank you to whoever did!!! It's currently 282 out of 338 books. Want to help us get it higher in the list? You can vote for it HERE.

Update: It's now #87!! Thank you all so much! 

If you missed any of the blogs we were hosted on this week, you can check them out below:

Book view by Audrey at AT THE MEASURE OF A BOOK.
Challenges and Joys of Writing Historical Fiction (a guest post by me) at THE MISADVENTURES OF A GLOBETROTTER IN TRAINING.


Book review by Hanne-col at AIN'T WE GOT FUN
Book review by Reyna at A PEACE OF THE PAST
Incorporating Christianity Into One's Writing (a guest post by Emily Chapman) at APPLES OF GOLD.

The Writing Process of Ain't We Got Fun (a guest post by me) at FULLNESS OF JOY.
Book review by Anne Marie at AM STATION.
Cover + Giveaway Info at LETTERS FROM AVONLEA



How to Meet Deadlines and Remain Sane (a guest post by Emily Chapman) at FULLNESS OF JOY
Character Creation (a guest post by me) at THE PEN OF A READY WRITER


Guess what's happening tomorrow? The winner of the AWGF prize bundle will be announced! There's only a few more hours to enter the giveaway!

(Only Open to People in the U.S.)
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Day 4 | A Package of Books + An Interview

Guess what came to my doorstep yesterday? (Well, not doorstep. The UPS guy still thinks we have a dog and he leaves packages a few feet away from the door.) 10 beautiful copies of Ain't We Got Fun! When Emily and I started the publishing process, we agreed that although kindle is really nice, we for sure wanted AWGF in paperback. There's just something about holding a real book, flipping through the pages, and setting it on your book shelf ...

I'm head over heels for the spine!!

Once you have a copy of Ain't We Got Fun (in paperback or kindle) send us a picture! We love seeing our readers with our book!

It's day four of the AWGF blog tour, and today Libby from The Whispering Cottage interviewed Emily Chapman and I! Hop on over to learn random facts about us, learn how we published a book, and find out how we get our creative juices flowing. Here's a little sample of the interview:

10. Give us a little taste of what we can expect when reading AWGF, as well as what you hope readers will take away after reading the book.

E.C. : You can expect laughter (I busted out laughing many times while reading Emily Ann's portion), and you can expect sorrow; you can expect over-the-moon giddiness, and you can expect to become very good friends with the cast of characters. I hope readers will leave the book with a smile on their face. I hope they will see that, though there is pain and hardship, there are also fairy tales in this beautiful, ordinary world. It's all in how you look at things.

E.A.P : You can expect to get a glimpse of the Great Depression through the eyes of two very different characters. They both go through hard times, good times, crazy times, and sad times and react to it differently. Our hope is that readers will be inspired to find beauty and joy in spite of difficult situations. We also hope that readers will allow God to write their life story, because as Gi finds out, none of us can do it on our own.

This tour has been so much fun, and I'm incredibly grateful for all the bloggers who interviewed Emily and I, hosted us on their blogs, and wrote book reviews. Virtual coffee and hugs all around! And guess what? Tomorrow is the final day of the tour, which means it's also the last day to enter the giveaway. So definitely go do that. 

(Only Open to People in the U.S.)

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Until tomorrow! =)


Day 3 | The Writing Process + Behind the Scenes

   Since this week has been full of reminiscing about when Emily and I first began our AWGF letters, I was remembering when I wrote the final letters, and where I was at the time. Like most of you already know, we alternated posting the letters on our blogs during the month of January. My mom, sister, and I were spending the month at my older sister's house because she was expecting her fourth bambino. It was a kinda crazy month because not only was I helping watch my nieces and nephew, but I also was approving the It Took a War audio book, and trying to keep up with the AWGF letters. I also wrote 20,000 words of Resist while I was there. I actually got a lot done!

It went something like this .... =)

            For the final installment of AWGF, I knew it was going to be a long letter (I had so much to wrap up!) and I'd need lots of concentration to get the thing done. I didn't start writing it until the day before I was supposed to post it! Talk about procrastination issues. So I situated myself on my sister's futon in her basement encircled by two cats who didn't know what to make of this crazy authoress. I wrapped myself in a blanket, and drank 4 cups of coffee. It was my writing lair.

On the last day of January, my nephew was born! We spent a lot of time snuggling and blogging together. Also, I filmed the AWGF vlog on the day he was born!

     Now onto the blog tour! Today's line up:




Have you picked up your copy of AWGF yet? The interior formatting is pretty grand, complete with character silhouettes, just sayin'. =) It's available in paperback and kindle HERE.

Also, the giveaway ends on Friday evening, so be sure to enter!

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Day 2 | AWGF Reviews

       As I'm writing this, I'm being very Gi-like and drinking a large mug of coffee and trying to embrace my messy, curly hair. Although Gi and I both have our coffee and crazy hair, we're looking at two different scenes outside our windows. That black and white photograph is what Gi sees while peeking out her window in NYC. Me? It's overcast, but I see mountains and more mountains. I'm definitely not a city girl. Gi and I are so drastically different in many ways ... I'm an introvert, Gi's an extrovert. Gi takes off to NYC on her own, I'm a homebody. And yet, I found her extremely easy to write. I think it's because I have two very extroverted sisters. =) 
   Well, I stayed up really late last night watching When Calls the Heart, and reading about Women Heroes of WWII, so my grand plans of waking up early and writing this post didn't happen. Sorry guys, but I had to find out if Hortense Daman, the Belgian partisan courier, survived the war. (She did.) Anyway, it's day two of AWGF's blog tour! There are two brand new reviews out there this morning!

"I was quickly caught up into the lives of sisters Bess and Gi Rowland and wondering how their stories would turn out. Both girls learn over the course of the story, and while it is important to know that you still have fun in hard times it is also important to help each other out when things get rough. I felt very much invested in the characters and really would not mind finding out more of how their lives went (hint, hint)."
 -Hanne-col. Read the full review HERE.

"The authors' writing styles were distinguishable from each other's just enough to make it really seem like two sisters writing to each other, yet the story still had a nice flow. Also, it felt real! I was completely engrossed in the lives of these two girls living during the economic depression of the 30s. It felt like I was in crowded, loud New York with Gi one moment, drinking coffee, cleaning fishy dishes, and trying to avoid a certain journalist, and then back home on the farm with Bess, Donny, and Tom the next." 
- Reyna. Read the full review HERE.

Also, Emily Chapman guest posted on Jessica's blog, Apples of Gold.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway! If you've already entered, there is another way to get more points ... sharing on social media is a daily entry.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to all you lovely people who are making this blog tour and release so wonderful! We appreciate your support SO MUCH.

You can pick up our own copy of AWGF HERE.


AIN'T WE GOT FUN Release + Giveaway!

Once upon a time, two teenage girls began reading each other's blogs. Their names were Emily and Emily. They found out that they had 4 big things in common: Being homeschooled, their Christian faith, their love of writing, and, quite obviously, their name! They began commenting on each other's blog posts, and eventually started emailing each other in June of 2012. 
They helped each other through writing struggles and rejoiced with each other's writing victories. They facetimed, chatted on google, and eventually got to meet each other in July of 2013. They both had the same dream. They wanted to be published authors, and God made it happen. They both published a book within the same year. Emily Chapman's Cry of Hope released in March of 2014, and Emily Ann Putzke's It Took a War released in December of 2014. For a few years these two girls thought it would be fun to write a book together. So they tried to write one, but life was too busy and their handwritten letters were soon forgotten. But in December of 2014, Emily Chapman suggested that they try writing a story again, this time posting them on their blogs as they wrote them. They alternated the letters on their blogs throughout the month of January. Many more emails ensued and they collaborated on plot ideas and fangirled over each other's characters. Meanwhile, their faithful followers encouraged and cheered them on, which gave the girls an idea. After the story was finished, they decided that they would publish the letters into a beautifully bound book in May of 2015.

Which brings them to today. (That's rather dramatic sounding...)

  Ok, I'll stop writing in third person. BUT GUESS WHAT?! It's finally May 25th and that means ... Ain't We Got Fun is now available for purchase!!!!

You can purchase Ain't We Got Fun through:
Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon (Kindle)
Createspace (Paperback)
Smashwords (ebook)

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Emily and I concocted an Ain't We Got Fun themed giveaway!

You could win:

(1) Autographed Copy of Ain't We Got Fun

(1) Little Women (Puffin in Bloom Collection)

(1) Bess' Flower Headband

(4) Bess' Peppermint Sticks

(1) Gi's Finest Coffee Blend

(1) Gi's Ice Skate Necklace

The whole shebang... 

You can enter the giveaway below! (Giveaway in only open to people in the U.S.)

We'll be announcing the winner on Saturday, May 30th.

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To further celebrate AWGF's release, we're having a blog tour this week! A bunch of awesome bloggers volunteered to review AWGF, interview us, and host us on their blogs. We're so grateful!! Here's the line up for today:




Not only is it AWGF's release date but it's also my sister-in-law's 23rd birthday! She was a huge help in editing and polishing up AWGF, so it's fitting that the release day happens to be on her birthday. Thank you, Maria, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Also, it's Memorial day (Quite the exciting day all around!) and I would like to thank all those who served and are currently serving our country. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Now it's time to CELEBRATE!! =) I'll be drinking lots of iced and hot coffee today ... I mean, my character in AWGF is Gi after all. =)

We hope you all enjoy this story as much as we enjoyed writing it!


Joe | Waist Gunner on a B-17

What were you doing before you were in the military?

I was out of high school about 6 months and from the time I was out of high school till I was drafted I worked in a manufacturing plant. I graduated at 17 ½ and you had to have your parents permission to go in under 18 but my mother wouldn’t sign for me. I had to wait till I was 18 to be drafted. At the time that I went in, you couldn’t choose your branch of service if you were drafted, only if you enlisted before 18.

I was drafted and sent to New Jersey for induction. The first thing they did was shave most of your hair off and give you a winter coat that was about down to your ankles, and shoes you could turn around in and they’d still be facing the other way. They gave us a bunch of aptitude tests and I was a very good typist. So one morning while we were waiting for further assignment, someone called my name out in the barracks and he says, “Follow me.” So down the street we go, and we come to this big impressive building, up the steps, down the hall into an office complex with soldiers sitting at the desk. “Have a seat.” I sat down and pretty soon a high ranking officer sat down and he’s looking at these papers and he says, “Well … your aptitude test shows you're a good typist.” And I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “We’re going to keep you right here in Fort Dix … we need you.”  “Sir, “I said, “what am I going to tell my grandchildren? I fought the war in Fort Dix?” Wrong thing to say. He looked at me and I can still feel the eyes boring right through. He said, “Soldier, you're in this army to do what you’re told.” “Yes, sir,” I said, “but I’d prefer to fly.” He said, “You do as you’re told.” I said, “Yes sir,” and away I went.

Well, then about a few nights later they told us we shipping out the next day. So they marched us down to the train station. The base had its own train station. There were 13 coaches on this train and then were were three pullmans. They got the pullman car and they called my name. I said, “Boy, I’m must be going right to the front. I guess I’m gonna be canon fodder.” So I get on the pullman and it was dark. The train traveled all night and in the morning we were in Pittsburgh. We had breakfast served to us, the whole works. I says, “Boy. I oughta be dead in two weeks.” So on we went. We were almost to Texas before I knew where we were going … the Air Force. I think that officer did it. He saw my enthusiasm. And I ended up in the Air Force.

What year was this?

1944. Early ‘44.

Can you tell me about basic training?

The basic training we went through was just like the infantry. We had to climb the ropes and the whole thing and I was thinking, “What am I doing this? I’m gonna be in an airplane.” So I concocted a scheme one day. A couple of guys fell in the mud when they were swinging over it. They sent them back to the barracks and gave them the rest of day off ‘cause they had to walk way back to the base. I said, “Let’s drop ourselves in on purpose.” So we did! And we got all our clothes muddy, but we got the rest of the day off. Yeah, we had regular infantry basic training. I had to go through the gas chambers and the whole works.

In WWII no one used poison gas but it had to be prepared just in case ‘cause it would come as a surprise. So they put us in these chambers and closed them up tight, they were air tight, and pumped air in with samples, very miniscule samples, of the gas that they may have used if they decided to use it. You carried your gas mask, but of course you didn’t need it in the flight. But if you went to London or anywhere you always carried it with you all the time.

Then from there we went to Las Vegas, Nevada. Los Vegas was gunnery school. That was the school to teach you how to shoot machine guns and the turrets and things on a plane. You had to know every position on a plane and be able use it. Then from there we went to the Florida where we were assigned to a crew, a ten man crew. We did a lot of high altitude flying. Then from there we went overseas. We went by train from Florida to Savannah, Georgia where we picked up a brand new, shiny B-17. All shined up. From Savannah we flew the plane to Maine and we refueled and then went to Newfoundland. We got snowed in. When I looked at the plane out there and could only see the trail sticking out of the snow I said, “Hurray, we’re here for the duration!”

Where were you stationed in Europe?

I was stationed in England in a little town called Eye. We got a pass about every 9 or 10 days. We'd got 48 hours to go down to London.

Did you see any combat?

Yeah, bombing missions. I flew 15 missions.

The 8th Air Force did all daylight bombing. The British did all night time bombing. We flew at very high altitudes. 20-25 thousand feet. That airplane was not pressurized so whatever the temperature and everything was at that altitude at the time, and it was winter over Europe, it was nothing to be 35, 40, 50 below zero. And you had to breath oxygen or you wouldn’t survive. The oxygen tanks were mounted on the side of the plane so they were the same temperature. And this is what you were taking in. We had to wear a mask about 10,000 feet.

Joe standing beside his window.

We came past a target and we dropped our bombs. Two of the bombs didn’t leave the plane. The pilot called back and told me to go up and see what was happening in the bomb bay because we didn’t have a bombardier we had a togglier. He was in there and apparently the bombs were held in the plane by a shackle … it’s got hooks on it. That releases and the bomb goes out and that’s controlled up in the nose of the plane, there’s an electrical system. You can set that and let the bombs go so many seconds apart. Well the two bombs didn’t go out. He thought the shackle was stuck. In the front of the bomb bay there was hand crank in case there was damage to your landing gear, you could crank it down by hand. And he had that thing and he was hacking away at the shackle, trying to break it loose. I don’t know what he thought he was doing, but I went in there with him and we tried to lift the bomb out. I think it was 250 pounder and couldn’t move it. The bomb bay was open and there wasn’t enough room for us to wear our parachutes. But I had a good hugging on that support beam. I was holding on to it. My recollection is that we shimmed that thing so much that it made electrical contact and he went back up and flipped the switch and the bombs went.
You weren't allowed to land with your bombs. The normal practice would be just to fly over some city, or something that looked like an army base and drop your bombs. But they had to stop doing that because they had so many allied prisoners so we dropped them in a channel.

At high altitude the rarefied air, it doesn't take long to die, you know, without artificially getting air. So, we had a oxygen masks. We had electrical suits we wore underneath our flight suits. They weren’t all that great but they were better than nothing. Pretty low temperature.

The pilot would call back every 3-4 minutes. He’d say “Oxygen check.” We started right from the tailgunner right on up through.
“Tailgunner ok?”
“Ball turret gunner ok?”
“Waist gunner ok?”
“Radio man ok?”

What was your everyday life like?

A normal day when you weren’t flying you just kinda hung out. But a mission, a lot happened before you went on a mission. Usually in the evening you’d be sitting around playing cards, writing letters home, listening to a squacky old radio.

You wait around till 8-9 o'clock and you walk down to the orderly room to see if the call board was up for a mission the next day. You never knew where you were going, you just knew there was a mission. Then you’d go back and try to sleep, which was difficult. You had to get up about, oh, several hours before the mission. Some missions were later in the morning and some were really early in the morning. The first thing you did was have breakfast. There was a reason for that. At high altitude, your body expands so if you have gas in your stomach, even a little bit, it expands and you get a tummy ache. So, we ate breakfast early, several hours before the mission. From there we went to briefing and that was like an auditorium, not very big but it was enough to hold a hundred men or so. There was a stage and a big curtain went across with a map of Germany. Officer’d get up there and he’d pull the curtain and then, “Oooh, Berlin!”

From there the pilot, co-pilot and the other officers stayed to get their briefing on a mission ‘cause they’re the ones that fly the planes. The navigator had to get all the maps and things to where he was going and all that. The gunners would go to the armory shack and get their guns. Now we just stood around and waited. And waited and waited and waited. Trucks were scurrying around, pumping the last bits of gas in your tanks. Then all of a sudden the whole base comes deathly quiet. The trucks stop, everything stops and the pilot says, “Ok, let’s go fellas.” So, we get in the plane. We wait. Then a green flare goes off. Four engines on a plane and there’s 36 planes all warming up at once … try and put yourself in that sound. Boy, you couldn't hear yourself think. That’s why I get a kick out of these movies, you know, they show these guys talking up there. There’s 4 engines on that plane and you don’t have any hearing protection. You can’t ‘cause you have to have your intercom to be able to talk to each other. And there’s a lot of noise. You see everybody lined up at the tower to watch us take off and one by one we take off. At the end of the long runway was a stone wall and a farm there. When you take off you're supposed to be in the radio room with your feet braced against the wall in cause it crashed on takeoff. But most of us kinda sneaked back and peeked out over.

You got that bomb load, and you got a ten man crew, and you got all the ammunition, so it’s gotta go a little ways to get altitude. That’s the first part of the flight. Then when you get up off the ground you have to get all your planes together into a formation. When you got a bomb load like that it takes a quite a bit of time. So, when you get to Germany you want to be in complete battle formation. The formations are made to allow the most fire power against the enemy planes if you get attacked.  From the top it looks like triangles. But from the side, the plane on the right is up, the plane on the left is down, and there’s a lead plane in the middle. And four of those make a squadron, and three squadrons make a group.

To make sure you knew your gun, you had to disassemble and reassemble that gun in less than twenty minutes, blindfolded. There’s seventy some parts in that gun.

Where there many casualties in your unit?

There were, but we very seldom saw them because if someone was wounded or killed, the plane would fire a red flare and they’d be given priority in landing. One of the crews had just come from the states and never flown a mission. They sent them on that mission and they were shot down and all killed. Our crew was supposed to be on that mission. But they had us stand down so those guys could get a mission in before the war ended. They were all lost very close to the end of the war.

We got ready to go on a mission one day and the weather had closed in. So ‘scrub’ the mission, that’s a word for cancel. The next day they sent us up and they changed the target and the weather hadn’t improved any. So, we made the bomb run and we were up quite high, probably twenty some thousand feet.  We started back toward our base and the weather kept rising. Now a ceiling the clear space between the ground and the bottom of your aircraft. From there on this was solid overcast all the way up there. You get thirty-six planes flying and you can’t see each other. On that mission we were flying, what we called, extra. If they had extra planes available, they would send another plane up.  But he flies almost outside the formation. They called it extra, we called it tail end Charlie.  That was our position. We were way over here to the right.  One of the other planes aborted the mission. He had to go back, engine problem or something.  ‘Course that wasn’t safe either because he had to go back across Germany to get back to base. Once in a while you’d get somebody with abort and they would make damn sure that when that plane came back there was something wrong with it. 

We took his place but we had to get all the way across the formation. So, we worked our way through the planes and got over to the left of the formation. Overcast got higher and higher and the planes got more buried in the fog. You could see the planes coming down and, “Hey! He’s getting close!” We’d keep telling the pilot when we see one but sometimes they’d disappear and come back. Two planes collided in front of us. ‘Course it happened so fast at 225 miles per hour you don’t even see. I didn’t see it ‘cause I was looking out the side window. Well, our pilot pulled the plane up and he could have hit another plane himself. He pulled out of formation. Our navigator set a course south, hoping to get down into France so that we could land there. I don’t why ‘cause there was nothing wrong with our plane. So, we came out over Frankfurt, Germany and the sun was shining. They didn’t shoot at us. That meant that they probably were going to send some fighters up to get us. But they didn’t, and I don’t know why because we were dead ducks all by ourselves over Frankfurt. So, we got over into France and found a field but we didn’t have to land. They sent us back to England. They already had us reported as one of the planes that collided.

Toward the end of the war, the dutch people were starving.  We made a truce with the Germans. “Let us fly in and drop food to the Dutchmen behind the German lines.” They would let us do it but they couldn’t guarantee us that all the troops had got the message, because communications were very bad with the Germans. Toward the end they were retreating and everything. So, we were the pathfinders. You had to fly with your bomb bay doors open and wheels down. They just told us to fly between 50 and 100 feet, and don’t try to hold a formation. They filled our bomb bay with food, and we dropped it behind the lines.

The Dutch people were given information that they were to not take this food but turn it in … take it to a warehouse. General Eisenhower had contacted all the military bases and says, “Clean out your supplies. Get all the supplies you can spare and then drop them.”

Our plane had bags with gallon cans of meat in it, ham or something. Some of the planes had bags of flour or bags of rice. The story goes that one guy, he didn’t follow instructions and he stole a box of food. It was cans of black pepper.

Did you pull pranks on each other?

No, we didn’t. We were serious. Well, you know, if a guy was sleeping you might put a little shaving cream on his nose or something …

Do you remember V-J Day or V-E Day?

Oh boy, do I remember! All hell broke loose on that base. We went in the planes and got all the flare guns. We were shooting them off all over.

How old were you when the war ended?

I was 19.

Here’s another little tidbit. When we went through training in Florida, when we were all finished with our advanced training, and ready to go overseas, they told everybody that we were going to leave at a certain date at a certain time and there was going to be a special train on the base. If you had a girlfriend or wife visiting, they could come on and say goodbye to you on the train. We all get on the train and the locomotive hooks up to the train and pulls and out and goes to downtown Tampa and parks. They were going to attach us to a passenger train. So, we sat there for a couple hours. I’m looking out the window and there’s a liquor store across the road. I went over and I bought 2 quarts of whiskey. I wrapped it up in all my clothes and everything and put it in my flight bag. I had that whiskey all the time we were in England and I was gonna break it out when the war ended and I did! Nobody knew I had it. They were about ready to kill me. “All this time you had it?” What I really planned to do was drop one bottle over Germany with a note on it. But I didn’t know when the last mission was going to be.


It was such an honor to talk with Joe. I hope you all enjoyed learning a bit about the war through someone who lived it!