Novel set in Michigan’s most famous ghost town

By Emma Palova

The Lost Town

In the third book of the Shifting Sands series- “The Lost Town”- author Emma Palova of Lowell creates the protagonist, Miss Ida. The historical fiction novel is set in the ghost town of  Singapore on the shores of Lake Michigan at the foot of the sand dunes adorned with white pines. Beautiful Ida is torn between her hometown of Chicago and her new home on the other side of the lake, and between two men.

Developed by New York investors, the once-thriving settlement of Singapore nurtured the dreams of adventurers like Oshea Wilder and pioneer settlers alike. Singapore would rival Chicago and Milwaukee. It almost did with its sawmills, hotels, boarding houses, stores, and a “wildcat” bank.

Entrepreneurial Ida struggles to adjust to the rough environment but finds more than support from her boss who invited her to Singapore to be the “Mistress” of the Big House. A “wildcat” bank was established in Singapore in 1837.

Who will win Ida’s heart?

INTRODUCTION

               I first visited Saugatuck originally “Flats” in the mid-1990s while exploring the Lake Michigan shore and its resorts. It struck me as a charming resort town at the confluence of the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan. I immediately fell in love with the shops on main which is Butler Street named after the first white settler, William Butler, who came to the area in 1830.

          I was already writing at the time, always on the lookout for new themes and subjects. The lakeshore has provided a bounty of stories with its natural beauty settings, the Great Lakes lore and history. Enchanted by the small-town atmosphere of these lakeshore resorts, I wrote travel pieces for different magazines and newspapers. In pursuit of a travel story, I took a ride aboard the Saugatuck riverboat to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, the re-engineered channel that cut off half a mile of the river with its bends near the buried ghost town of Singapore.

          It was at the northernmost bend of the Kalamazoo River where the thriving settlement of Singapore once stood. One of the largest sand dunes in the area stands on what the old maps indicate as the main street in Singapore running east to west on top of the bend.

          On another visit, we took a ride through the eerie sand dunes north of Saugatuck, and that too stayed with me forever along with the sand dune Mt. Baldhead aka Monarch of Dunes that I never got to climb. And that the sand hills could bury a town with its dreams and its future. Was it destiny?

          I stepped inside the Saugatuck Drug Store at 201 Butler Street in the summer of 1995 and found out about the ghost town Singapore buried in the shifting sands from a book about Singapore. I was determined to write about this Michigan’s most famous ghost town. I just didn’t know when. I must have used some of the information about the ghost town of Singapore in an essay, but I don’t remember when. It’s been that long ago. But the inspiration never went away. It just stayed with me.

          In 2017, I published the first book in the Shifting Sands series: “Short Stories.” I used the analogy of shifting sands in the case of character development that characters shift their personalities with their stories if they make it. I like the idea, people loved the title and the stories, so I continued with book two in the Shifting Sands series: “Secrets.”

          During an author’s event at the Lakeshore Art Festival (LAF) in Muskegon in 2019 & 2021, several people asked me if Shifting Sands series has a story about the original shifting sand dune of Muskegon. I didn’t know there was a shifting dune in Muskegon. So, I pulled out the book about Singapore searching for inspiration. I wanted to write a short story about Singapore in the third book in the Shifting Sands series: “Steel Jewels.”

          However, I found out there was a lot more to Singapore that would make it into a novel on its own merit. I switched tracks from penning a book of short stories as my NaNoWriMo 2021 project to penning a novel “Shifting Sands: “The

Lost Town.” It seemed like a natural transition considering the town’s interesting destiny. I did some research ahead of time.

We visited Saugatuck on October 8th, 2021, and stopped at the museum of the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society (SDHS) where I took pictures of the exact location of the ghost town of Singapore. Once I started writing the novel, I did research as I wrote. The research usually transpired into later scenes which have proven to be an interesting insight in itself.

This is my second historical fiction piece after “Silk Nora” in “Secrets.” I love history because it inspires my writing, whether non-fiction or fiction. “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” is set on the backdrop of two major historical events: the 1968 Prague Spring and the 1989 Velvet Revolution. History seeps into most of my stories.

                                                                                March 2022

The whimsical cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford. The book was edited by Carol Briggs of Lowell.

Winter book signings

Nov. 18-20 Christmas through Lowell, Lowell Area Historical Museum, 325 W. Main St., Lowell, MI

Dec. 3 West Catholic High School Craft Show,

9:00 am – 3:00 pm 

West Catholic High School
1801 Bristol Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Listen in to the interview on @The Morning Show with Shelley Irwin on
95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon

Click on the link below to listen to the interview.

https://www.wgvunews.org/the-wgvu-morning-show/2022-09-14/the-lost-town

13 on your side, interview with Meredith TerHarr, Oct. 27

https://www.wzzm13.com/video/news/live_stream/13-on-your-side-mornings-at-6/69-98ddf1ef-ad8d-4cde-add8-ea14c3e2b6bf

#thelosttown  #shiftingsandsseries

The Lost Town

The cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford, and the book was edited by Carol Briggs of Lowell.

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lowell author Emma Palova pens The Lost Town

Lowell author & reporter Emma Palova completed The Lost Town, a third book in the Shifting Sands series on the last day of June.

The historical fiction novel is set in Singapore, MI, a ghost town on the shores of Lake Michigan during the pioneer era of the 1830s.

The Lost Town cover by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford.

Palova captured the spirit of the once thriving lumbering town in its main characters – beautiful Miss Ida, her boss lumber baron John Bosch, Singapore founder Oshea Wilder and supporting characters, Sir Artemas Wallace and housemaid Mrs. Fisch.

Miss Ida was torn between her hometown of Chicago and her new home Singapore, and between two men. Who will win her heart?

The story unravels as the greedy New York investors set their eyes on the undeveloped land at the Oxbow bend in the Kalamazoo River surrounded by sand dunes with much coveted white pines.

Wily Oshea established the New York & Michigan Co. in 1836 to facilitate the development of Singapore. The investors envisioned that Singapore would rival Chicago and Milwaukee. With its humming mills, boarding houses, hotels, and general stores at the height of its prosperity, Singapore almost outshone Chicago.

The name remains a mystery, as its famous counterpart island city in East Asia was only a fledgling town at the time.

“The mysterious name inspired me to write this novel,” Palova said.

According to one interpretation, the exotic name was used to honor the “singing sands” of the Lake Michigan shore. The shape of the grains and the moisture combine to make the sand sing or squeak when someone walks on it.

Always on the hunt for stories and inspiration, Palova walked into the general store on Butler Street in downtown Saugatuck in the mid- 1990s. She picked up a book about Singapore and checked out the historic marker in front of the Saugatuck Village Hall.

“The story just gripped my imagination and stayed with me throughout the years,” she said. “Then I forgot all about it for decades.”

It wasn’t until getting ready for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November, that Palova realized that what she had planned to write about Singapore would turn into a novel rather than just a short story.

“I wanted to do the fascinating story of Singapore its justice,” she said. “I knew a short story wouldn’t cut it.”

During her research for the novel, Palova came across Singapore’s ‘wildcat bank.’

“I knew this was big,” she said, “bigger than life.”

Singapore had a ‘wildcat bank’ that issued its own ornate bank notes that are still in the collection of the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society in Douglas.

“I used their online collections catalog exclusively for research,” she said. “It’s an excellent tool for anyone who wants to write about history. Most historical societies in Michigan have online collections.”

The novel covers the entire span of Singapore’s existence from the 1830s to its demise in the 1870s. At one point the town was known as Ellis Island since it accepted immigrants from European countries like Norway and Holland. The town was the first stop for Hollanders before they moved further up north and established Holland. It came before Saugatuck which was smaller and known as Flats.

“I wove nautical stories into the novel because I love the seas,” Palova said. “I wish I was a sailor.”

It was not just a lumbering era, but also a time for steamers, schooners, and tugboats on the Great Lakes. Nautical transportation was just as dangerous as travel by land, and later by rail.

“Sometimes the story evolved all on its own to my surprise like in the chapter ‘Mail fraud at Oxbow’, she said. “I was really surprised at what Ida was capable of doing driven by secret love.”

Other chapters were meticulously planned with research usually showing up later in the novel.

“My previous research didn’t help me much, but the immediate research during the NaNoWriMo challenge helped,” she said. “I can easily say that this novel is a direct product of the challenge.”

During NaNoWriMo, Palova wrote a minimum of 1,750 words daily to reach the victory lane at 50,000 words by the end of November. After that came months of more writing, revisions, and editing.

Carol Briggs of Lowell edited The Lost Town. The whimsical cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford. Beta readers include Nancy Price Stroosnyder and author Diana Kathryn Wolfe-Plopa.

Emma’s ease at mixing actual history into her stories is remarkable, and so entails Miss Ida’s response to an invitation to a soon-to-be bustling “Singapore” on the shores of Lake Michigan.  She is transported away from Chicago, family, and friends.  She quickly learns the duties expected of her in maintaining a boarding house and warehouse in the rapidly growing community.  Soon she falls in love with one of the corrupt founders.  The many colorful characters weave a fantastic story of love, mystery, hope, and faith.  This is a quick, very worthwhile read!

                                                                                Nancy Price Stroosnyder

The book is now available for pre-order on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

Palova will be signing her new book at the following locations: Fallasburg Summer Celebration on July 30, Englehardt Library in Lowell TBA, Holland, Aug. 6, and Paradise, Aug. 19-20. Listen in to an upcoming podcast about The Lost Town on http://emmapalova123.podbean.com

The Cover

The cover of The Lost Town was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss or Rockford.

40K Mark in NaNoWriMo

I crossed the 40,000-word mark today in the NaNoWriMo 50k word challenge. It always amazes me how I got here?

The answer is simple, writing every day, and making it my number one priority of the day. My hope is to carry this beyond the challenge into the upcoming months which is easier said than done.

With the holidays upon us, it seems impossible, until it isn’t. NaNoWriMo organizers enabled everyday writing tracking even after the challenge ends on Nov. 30.

https://nanowrimo.org/stats

I will be at West Catholic Central on Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To be continued

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NaNoWriMo Days 20 & 21, total of 39,585 words

I had to combine the totals for the two NaNoWriMo writing days, since Day 20 on Sunday, Nov. 20 wasn’t a writing day at all. More like research and staying in touch with my writing project, a sequel to The Lost Town based in Singapore, MI during a major selling event, Christmas through Lowell.

For the third day in a row, I was stationed inside the Lowell Area Historical Museum, Industry & Retail Room with the Cutter Factory sleigh, selling books with six other vendors. Although we had a ball and enjoyed good sales it was exhausting.

I had a clear view of the Strand Theater’s playbill from who knows when that actually inspired me. Check out the feature photo.

By now, we know each other’s sales pitches by heart.

“Are you readers?” I ask. “Do you like to read?”

“No, I don’t have the time,” was the overwhelming response.

“My earrings are two for 10,” Ashley Thompson said.

And so on.

“I have postcards from Lowell,” Bruce Doll said.

“Would you like to buy a candle?” the candle kid said.

NaNoWriMo Day 21

I logged in a total of 1,600 words trying to get back into the swing of things. You would not believe what a two-day break from writing does. It puts you out of touch with your own story, and with the characters, you have created. It takes forever to get back into the zone of the book.

To be continued..

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Christmas through Lowell Friday through Sunday

Greetings from the Lowell Area Historical Museum Industry and Retailing Room where I will be stationed for the next three days with my books, and other vendors. Books make great gifts and souvenirs from the great town of Lowell. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to find a unique gift.

Even though I didn’t get much NaNoWriMo writing done, I came across a lot of inspiration for more writing.

First we got a foot of snow making it hard to get out of the house. So I had a chauffeur for the day, our Moravian son Jakub Pala. We made it to our first meeting of the Michigan Craft Distillers Association at DeVos Hall in downtown Grand Rapids.

“How did you get here?” Diana Stampfler, executive director said.

“One of our Moravian Sons gave me a ride to the meeting,” I laughed referring to the name of our Moravian Sons Distillery.

http://moraviansonsdistillery.com

Timed right before the opening of the Food and Wine Festival, we got a sneak preview of the exhibits of craft distilleries, wineries and breweries.

Long Road Distillery

NaNoWriMo writing , total 37, 407

Sequel to The Lost Town

Tightened the ties between the Lost Town of Singapore and Breese located on the Dream Waterway that connected Lake St. Clair to West Michigan.

Introduced hints of secrets of Singapore not to be revealed.

The Lowell Ledger 11-23

In the upcoming issue watch for these stories.

Local baker mom wins Gingerbread Championship on Food Network

Rogue River Artists at Lowell High School the first Saturday in December

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NaNoWriMo 2022 Day 16

Christmas through Lowell this weekend

I will be at the Lowell Area Historical Museum, station k, 325 W. Main St. from Friday afternoon through Sunday, Nov. 20 with my books from the Shifting Sands series.

NaNoWriMo continues

The adventure to find the lost city of Singapore continues with an average daily log-in of 2,000 words. I find that it is optimal to keep up the pace of the story, and not lose the storyline.

Any extremes above or below that count, are just that, extremes that will catch up with you. We discussed this in yesterday’s Halfway NaNoWriMo Breaking Point Podcast with authors Jean Davis and Vera West. Check it out.

The word build-up of 3,000 words tends to dwindle away if you slack off the next day. Trying to make up for the required 1,667-word daily login is almost impossible. It’s a big chunk of text.

Here is the Halfway NaNoWriMo episode

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Halfway through NaNoWriMo 2022 with Wrimo Experts

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-xckzw-13160d2

NaNoWriMo authors Jean Davis, Vera West, and host of For the Love of Books Podcast Emma Palova take you through the first half of the 50K writing challenge in this special episode. Their combined total log-in was just under 80,000 words.

Find out what they did to reach their writing goals on their journeys to publishing new books in 2023. Keep on writing past the challenge, and make it a daily habit, these experts say.

Watch for their books in 2023.

So listen in and jump on the NaNoWriMo roller coaster, because you can’t edit a blank page.

Copyright (c) 2022 Emma Palova

NaNoWriMo 2022 halfway breaking point

It’s a big day in Michigan. Today is the opening day of the firearm hunting season that will run through the end of November. Stay tuned for details.

A Big Day for Wrimos

We’ve reached the halfway point on the NaNoWriMo roller coaster. Listen in to the special podcast episode with experts Jean Davis, Emma Palova and Vera West.

NaNoWriMo 2022 Day 13 & 14

Rough Seas

Total words logged in 31, 165 on Monday, Nov. 14.

No, smooth sailing through these two days filled with focused writing. After I got over the halfway hump on Friday and Saturday, the ride on the NaNo 50k word roller coaster got bumpier.

It must have coincided with the drop in temperatures in West Michigan as we chilled down, and the skies got cloudy. Our driveways are now lined with stakes with snow in the forecast.

So I introduced the Tower of Breese into the story about the search for a lost town. That helped to further establish the enemy. However, I got stuck again on Monday morning and added another layer to one of the protagonists deepening the conflict.

What’s the next step? The protagonist has several options and doesn’t know which road to take. I should map it out for him on the beat sheet plotting method.

Christmas through Lowell 2022

Setting records this year the tour has 61 locations and I am on one of them, station k on the CTL tour map aka Lowell Area Historical Museum in downtown Lowell located at 325 W. Main Street.

In my other role as a reporter for The Lowell Ledger, I wrote like crazy on a Sunday afternoon about the upcoming Christmas through Lowell tour this weekend, Nov. 18 through Nov. 20.

Christmas through Lowell, Nov. 18 through Nov. 20

In my role as the Director of Operations for Moravian Sons Distillery, I am going to our first meeting of the Michigan Craft Distillers Association at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids. I am psyched. There will be a bunch of other distillery newcomers.

In another role yet as the producer and host of For the Love of Books Podcast, we will bring you insights in the special episode “Breaking Point” about getting halfway through NaNoWriMo.

I can’t wait for authors Jean Davis and Vera West to share their insights because you can still jump on the NaNo ride.

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NaNoWriMo Day 12

Breaking Point

We’re chilling in West Michigan all the way down to 38F with snow in the forecast. That meant no break between the two writing sessions outside on the trail. I switched to the treadmill by the stairway.

We’re halfway there on the NaNoWriMo roller coaster 50k word challenge and rocking it. I climbed over the hump yesterday with the help of the protagonists looking for the Lost Town of Singapore.

Instead of Singapore, they found a strange city on the Dream Waterway connecting two lakes.

The upcoming special episode of For the Love of Books Podcast will feature authors Emma Palova, Jean Davis, and Vera West sharing their experience from this year’s National Novel Writing Month 50k word challenge.

Don’t miss out, because you can still win the challenge if you jump on the ride now.

Listen in on http://emmapalova123.podbean.com

“Start where you’re at, find what you love and go from there.

Joanna Walitalo, UP author of Woodburnings

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NaNoWriMo Day 11

Blue Heron Spotting, Armistice Day

Can you spot the Blue Heron in the feature photo above?

This is my third attempt to get this post published. It’s Friday evening in West Michigan and a chilly one.

The NaNoWriMo 50k word challenge continued as I got over the halfway hump logging in more than 25,000 words.

The protagonists moved the story forward with unexpected twists and turns.

To be continued due to technical difficulties.

Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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