Born on May 9th with excerpts

Birthday and freeing of Prague

Excerpts from  memoir Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

The Tide of immigration from former Czechoslovakia started in 1968 with the Soviet army occupation.  A massive exodus followed in protest of the action by the Soviet Union government. My father  professor Vaclav Konecny was part of the movement.

As I continue to write the memoir in May, I will start with its festivities .The month of May was very poetic and romantic. With the entire country in blossom, the major holidays included Mayday and Freedom Day on May 9th when the Russians freed Prague from the Nazi occupation. in 1945. The new regime moved the national holiday to May 8th, when the American army reached the famous beer town of Pilsner in Western Bohemia.

May also serves as athe stage for the biggest music event of the year, the Prague Spring International Music Festival, started by president Edward Benes in 1946.  The festival is a tribute to the famouse Czech composer Bedrich Smetana. He is best known for his symphony Vltava inspired by the major Czech river that runs through Prague.

To my biggest regret, I’ve never been to Prague Spring. The 1968 political movement was also called Prague Spring.

The month of May is dedicated to Saint Mary in the catholic church. We used to sing Marianne hymns by the little chapels and in churches decorated with white hydrangeas and dahlias every evening at 6 p.m. It was a month for first communions, pretty white lace dresses and ribbons.

But, May had its dark side according to the lore; it wasn’t a good time to get married. Legend has it if a couple gets married in May, one of the partners will die early.

Were there weddings in May? Probably.

However, a big part of the population was superstitious partly due to Czech literature and its great authors. Some of the biggest ones who wrote about May were Karel Hynek Macha and Jaromir Erben.

May is known for opening of the beer gardens under the beautiful lilac blossoms.

I remember our neighbor Mr. J had a big old lilac tree that had both purple and white blossoms. I was always puzzled by that, since you really only saw one color or the other. Many years later someone told me that Mr. J had it  grafted.

To be continued

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Fashions through the Ages

Fashions @Fallasburg inside the John W. Fallas House

May the 4th be with you for the entire month

Immerse yourself into an era when ladies wore hats and gloves for a night out on the town.

The theme of fashion again dominates this year’s “Spring into the Past” museum tour.

Hop on the tour this weekend of 30 participating museums of the Tri-River Museum Network.

You will discover treasures in artifacts and they may inspire you.

Craft your own tour using the map from http://www.commoncorners.com

You can pick up a print booklet at any of the locations.

The museums will be open on Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm, on Sunday from noon to 5 pm.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

May Day

This is one of my most popular posts.; back by demand

Happy May Day

May 1st traditions in Czech Republic & around the world

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Every year, I observe May 1st as May Day in the renaissance Czech tradition with warm memories of the socialist past. If I close my eyes, I can still see the parades, the tribunes and the socialist propaganda with the slogans and the banners on the backdrop of the blossoming lilacs. The socialist patriotic hymns were blasting from the loudspeakers.

We all had to Partake in the May Day parade.  Those who didn’t got later into trouble at work or in school.

Today, Czech Republic still celebrates May 1, as an official holiday with a day off to commemorate the union manifestations in Chicago in 1884. Only this time around, without the parades or the slogans.

But most of all, May Day, was a great day off known for its official opening of the beer gardens, and the infamous “march of the thieves.”

The organized labor from the factories marched in the parades, while some individuals used the opportunity to steal from the gated factories because of less supervision. Therein the name “march of the thieves.”

First and foremost, May is the month of love, not just labor.

And I write about all this in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian” with a light heart and a smile on my face with a touch of nostalgia.

I admire the old Czech country for being able to keep both the old socialist holidays, take on new ones, and tamper with the most important holiday of all that is the liberation of the country from the Nazi occupation in 1945.

New politicians with new agendas changed the date of the liberation of former Czechoslovakia from May 9th to May 8th based on the controversy who really liberated the country, whether it was the Soviets or the Americans. The question at hand; who was the first and where?

Having lived in many countries around the world, our family always honored the holidays of that particular country, otherwise we would have time off all the time.

Looking at my calendar last week for a summary, I found amusing that Canada also has Easter Monday off as an official holiday, just like the Czech Republic.

However, any holiday can take root in any country as I have witnessed in my hometown of Vizovice.

I remember our neighbor bus driver Mr. Hlavenka in Vizovice, used to celebrate Fourth of July by taking the day off in the old socialist era.

I’ve always wondered, how did he know about Independence Day with all the propaganda against American capitalism.

But, May 1st has deep agricultural connotations as well. People gather wildflowers and crown a May king and queen, weave floral garlands, and set up a maypole.

Majove slavnosti

They also have bonfires to encourage the fertility of the land and animals in the coming year.

It is fascinating how different traditions and believes take roots in different countries, and how they continue to evolve.

Watch for more upcoming May posts.

 

Copyright (c) 2017-2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Spring into the Past tour

Hop on the museum tour this weekend. You might find inspiration in the old buildings and their artifacts.

I love history. It is my second passion after writing and screenwriting.

History has always inspired me in so many different ways. One of them is, how it keeps repeating itself after certain time. So, basically it’s always alive in concentric circles.

And I’ve learned that at a recent writer’s conference.  Two authors of historical fiction, Natashia Deon and Suzanne M. Wolfe, convinced me that all the historical personalities are alive with us.

“Shakespeare is alive,” said Wolfe.

“I rescue people from history,” said Deon.

Today is Mayday. That was a big day off in my old homeland of Czechoslovakia. watch for post.

via Spring into the Past museum tour

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Rumors

Neil Simon’s classic rocks the Lowell audience

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- Neil Simon’s dinner theater-Rumors at Larkin’s Other Place is a step back in time into a distant possibility of imagination gone wild.

Presented by the LowellArts Players, the play is fast-paced with characters emerging on stage one after another.

First guests who arrive to the 10th anniversary party find out that one of the hosts attempted suicide-unsuccessfully.

What ensues are hilarious cover-ups and deceptions, lies and twisted truths.

Although funny and ludicrous, one expects that the main characters Charley and Myra will appear on stage anytime.

The four affluent couples know each well from other social gatherings. And are quite critical of each other.

When the officers arrive, someone has to play Charley to cover-up for gun shots.

Who will it be?

The play, which is actually a farce, is directed by Kim Miller. The beautiful set was designed by Ron Wood and Dan Kantorowski. Costumes were designed by Marcia DeVos. Peggy Parrish was in charge of stage management and sound.

“Last year, Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding chronicled the ‘wedding from hell,” Miller said. “This year with Rumors, we are putting on the 10th wedding anniversary ‘party from hell.”

The show dates and times are: April 28 at 2:30 pm, May 3, 4 & 5 with dinner at 6:30 pm and show at 7:30 pm.

The tickets are $16 – $20, dinner is an additional $13. Advanced tickets required for dinner theater, show only tickets also available.

Purchase tickets online at www.lowellartsmi.org or call 897-8545.

Larkin’s Other Place is located at 315 W. Main St.

The food, walnut crusted chicken with cherry sauce, by Deb Apol was delicious. The venue provided by Mike Larkin was fabulous and timeless.

The play was very Authentic. Thank you Neil Simon for your imagination.

Simon said, “This is completely different for me..It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever written. It’s my first farce.”

About the featured photo:  John Patrick Foley plays Lenny Ganz with Laura Warsaw as Claire  Ganz.

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, All rights reserved.

Voices 2018

Let your voice be heard

“It struck me that as writers, we have a unique opportunity – a responsibility, even- to voice our own truth and to help others do the same.”

                                                            Writer’s Digest editor-in-chief Tyler Moss

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI -I got an e-mail today from the BlogHer 18 Creators Summit seeking nominations for Voices of the Year. The deadline to nominate an inspiring woman influencer is May 31. The tradition of celebrating women’s voices has been around for 11 years in the ever-changing world of blogging.

Just a few minutes ago, I happily removed the metal stakes designating the driveway for snowplowing and stored away the snow shovel. Only our famous blade for the Jeep reminds me of a winter gone by. It’s too heavy for me to lift it.

I picked up my Fleet Street Missy spring coat yesterday at J.C. Penney in Greenville. I hope I won’t need it until late fall.

I ran into a fisherman at my favorite hideaway at the tip of the horseshoe-shaped lake three miles away.

“I am just poking for bass and pike before I get my boat out,” he said.

“Yes, it’s a very nice lake that gets really busy on weekends,” I said.

“Sure, that’s why I come out on weekday mornings,” the fisherman said.

Me too; I always come out to the lake in the morning seeking inspiration in its calm waters. Today, I also discovered my Lenten Rose poking its purple head out of the thawing ground.

Earlier in the week, I had an interesting interview with a writer for the Grand Rapids Magazine about me and my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories. My husband Ludek wished me good luck, as I assured him that I am equally comfortable on both sides of the interview.

I absolutely loved the question that Lauren had asked me during the interview at Jamnbean Coffee Co. in Ada.

“How do you want your readers to feel after they are done reading the book?” she asked.

I had to get to the right answer with a lot of prelude. Finally, I responded.

“Transformed and maybe bewildered,” I said, “because that’s how I feel when I am done writing them.”

The article  will come out in the print version of the Grand Rapids Magazine in July.

The interview was also an opportunity to list my forthcoming author’s events. I realized I wasn’t a great planner, by not being able to look that far ahead.

But, after reading “Roar,” a profile of emerging and groundbreaking authors in the Writer’s Digest, I realized something very important. And I quote:

“It struck me that as writers, we have a unique opportunity – a responsibility, even- to voice our own truth and to help others do the same.”

Editor-in-Chief Tyler Moss

Don’t Fret your own voice. It will shape your destiny.

As an author, blogger, screenwriter, journalist, short story writer and a novelist, I really have a unique opportunity to “Seize the day” or “Carpe Diem.”

Book me for your events in the physical world or on the web today.  Don’t wait another 100 years.

Following are the topics that I will be addressing in the upcoming months:

Creating an author’s platform & following

How to create your author’s platform using WordPress blog/website plus social media.

Writing your life story/memoir

Memoir writing does require an outline or a timeline with important milestones pertaining to your story. It should be chronological, but you can open each chapter with the most interesting episode/scene.

For example: When daughters write about mothers, their complex relationship does not necessarily end with the parent’s death.

When writing about a business that has been handed down from generation to generation, start with the generation that has made the most profound impact or the generation that has pulled the business through a major crisis or to new heights.

When capturing a segment of your life, focus on how has a certain experience changed you and why.

Researching your roots, ancestry. Why does it matter and to whom?

Getting audio/visual

Book trailers, video productions and podcasts are a must in an increasingly visual society. Always script everything you’re going to say. Create an audio version of your book.

Publicity

How to write an effective press release to get media interviews and publicity.

Have an email list of useful contacts. Inform your contacts on regular basis about your progress in a newsletter.

From idea to final

How to take the initial inspiration on a journey to the final product; whether it be a book, a screenplay, a movie or a video production.

You find yourself one lovely afternoon struck by a fast-fleeting thought that will soon disappear along with others into the imagination swamp.

How do you make it stay or how do you rescue your idea from the swamp?

Test and explore your inspiration.

What genre to pick, and what format to use?

Depending on your topic and how you treat it, it will land you with a certain format within a genre.

This may be a novel, novella, a short story, a play or a screenplay.

Don’t just go by what’s big now, because it could be little tomorrow.

By that, I specifically mean the current phenomenon of historical fiction.

Women’s fiction

Women’s fiction involves a transformation of the hero with a bit of romance, but not as the major plot.

Non-fiction writing

Pick something you know well, but give it a new angle. Pick the right market/audience from Writer’s Market.

Know how and when to pitch the right editors.

Become an expert in a certain area.

Don’t be afraid to stand out with a unique opinion a new perspective.

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

FFW 2018 Part II

Festival goers, panelists, authors do not shy away from tough topics

 

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Grand Rapids, MI- From #Me Too movement to women in Christian publishing, everything was up for discussion at the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College last week.

Publishers, lecturers and authors came from all over the country and represented a diverse cross-section of literature.

The exhibit hall, located in the Prince Conference Center, was home to 46 booths filled with publishing houses, small presses, journals, booksellers, editors and agents.

Publicity

“The Publicity Confidential: What Authors and Publicists Wish Each Other Knew” was an eye-opening session in an era of publicity stunts and media blitz.

“You have to own it from the very beginning,” said one of the panelists. “Audio magazines or podcasts are taking over.”

Piggybacking off keynote speaker Kwame Alexander, the panel of publicists agreed on one thing: “Say yes to everything.”

In the entire publicity process, the author needs to be herself or himself, fully engaged and present, according to the publicists.

“The goal of publicity is letting the market know that the book exists,” said Kelly Hughes. “Start a podcast to expand your platform. Don’t get hung up on reviews.”

The panelists recommended writing guest blogs, op-ed pieces, radio tours and speaking engagement in church groups, women’s groups and to others within their author’s tribe.

“The ideal author is game for anything, wants to collaborate, thinks big, but realistic, and is accessible,” said Jennifer Grant.

Film & play

This category was represented by producer Abigail Disney & screenwriter and playwright Dorothy Fortenberry. Both women likened the current creative environment in Hollywood to building a new structure out of flawed legos.

“A common lego we use is when someone’s life is endangered,” said Disney. “We have a flawed dynamic. Only 30 percent of writers in Hollywood are women. They have to be tough.”

Fortenberry said she has to spend a lot of time unlearning.”

Dutch screenwriter and director Jaap van Heusden discussed the adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The Lame Shall Enter First” in his film “De Verloren Zoon.”

“Writing is the means, not the end,” van Heusden said. “Film is the art of all the things that are not there. My process is finding stories.”

Going deeper

Just because your mother dies, doesn’t mean your relationship ends.

-Angela Alaimo

In “Daughters Writing about Mothers,” four writers explored the complex relationships with their mothers, further complicated by a reversal of roles, as the parent ages.

Angela Alaimo tracked the journey of a broken relationship between her young widowed mother to final reconciliation.

Why Don’t Men Read Women Writers? Closing the Gender Gap in Christian Publishing

According to panelist Al Hsu’s doctoral research, women read relatively equally between male and female authors, whereas men are much more likely to read male authors than female authors (90%/10%)

Is it a matter of supply and demand?

Keynote speaker, Edwidge Danticat

Danticat, a Haitian-American novelist and short story writer, took center stage at Van Noord Arena on Friday.

“I create dangerously for people who read dangerously.”

Writing the Wrinkles in Time

Special guests at this conversation were Madeline L’Engle’s granddaughters Lena Roy and Charlotte Jones Voiklis, co-authors of “Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author.

Sarah Arthur, author of the forthcoming “A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, moderated the session.

A movie with the same title “A Wrinkle in Time” (2018) directed by Ava DuVerney is now playing in theatres.

“We were fascinated by the drama of her childhood,” said Roy. “She was dumped off at an austere boarding school in Switzerland.”

The next FFW will take place on April 16-18, 2020 in Grand Rapids, MI.

 

Featured image: Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughters: Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy.

 For podcasts from the festival go to Rewrite Radio at http://festival.calvin.edu/podcast

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

FFW 2018

Festival of Faith & Writing attracts speakers and panelists from all genres

“I need the rigor and radicalism of friendship to be a poet, to be anything, really.”

-Natalie Diaz-

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Grand Rapids, MI – The three-day Festival of Faith & Writing was jam-packed with speakers, workshops, book signings and exhibitors. It started under the blue skies and ended with freezing rain on Saturday at the Prince Conference Center.

I had trouble picking workshops due to conflicting times and variety. Of course, I didn’t want to miss anything. Some sessions required pre-registration, and those were full three weeks ahead of the conference.

On Thursday, I attended “Self-Editing to Take Your Writing to the Next Level” with Erin Bartels. The lecture room was filled to the last seat.

“Schedule writing time and protect it,” she said. “Find an accountability partner. You owe it to people to get that done. Get involved in writing groups.”

Suggested reading: “The First Five Pages: A  Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile” by Noah Lukeman.

The keynote speaker Kwame Alexander, poet and educator, first showed a picture of his tour bus. Yes, Alexander uses a bus to promote his books, wherever he goes, including at Farmer’s Markets. He received the 2015 Newberry Medal for novel “The Crossover

In his speech “Saying Yes to the Writerly Life”, Alexander said yes many times in his life, including to building a library and a health center in Ghana.

Historical fiction is huge and authors Natashia Deon and Suzanne Wolfe spoke to that in “Walking the Line between Fact and Fiction in Historical Novels.”

Deon is an attorney by day, and a novelist at night.

“I want to rescue people from history,” she said. “I write the story first, and then fill in the gaps with history research.”

Wolfe said she treats characters like they never died.

“You write what you know. I am alive and I am human. My character is alive. Augustine is not dead, Shakespeare is alive. They arepart of the conversation. I bawled over Augustine,” she said.

Deon’s novel “Grace” won the 2017 First Novel Prize. Wolfe is the author of “Unveiling: A Novel and Confessions of X.”

The #Me Too movement came up for discussion during several sessions including: “Silence and Beauty” in the Sister Books of Shusaku Endo and Makoto Fujimura.

“Insight and goodwill will heal us,” said Shann Ray, instructor.

The festival goers were not afraid to discuss Toxic  relationships.

To be continued with “Daughters Writing about Mothers, ” “Writing the Wrinkles in Time” and film at the festival.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Writer’s Conference FFW 2018

Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College April 12 – April 14

FFW Daily

Grand Rapids, MI – As I am getting ready for the second day of the FFW, I find it hard to pick from the packed schedule. I have both downloaded the festival app on my Ipad and picked up the beautiful 103-page print catalogue.

Since the first two sessions “Shaping Family History” and “Short Story Lab” have been filled through pre-registration, I am looking at choosing the 8:30 a.m. sessions between “On Writing and Mindfulness” or “A conversation with Afaa M. Weaver.”

Another hard selection is coming up at 10 a.m. I need to pick between “A Conversation with Abigail Disney and Dorothy Fortenberry” and “Freelancing Isn’t Free: How to Get Paid to Write.”

I will be sharing insights from Day 1 of the conference along with Day 2 as it happens.

Join me on Facebook live later in the afternoon.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

April, poetry month inspirations

I ‘ve been getting in my inbox selected poetry from the Knopf Doubleday Publishing.

I chose to do that, once I found out that April showers not only bring May flowers, but also some of the best poems. So, I get a poem-a-day.

Today, “Louie Lies” poem by Philip Levine arrived.

I was so enchanted by it, that I bought the book “The Last Shift.”

Now, poetry has always inspired me; everything from French poet Charles Baudelaire, Czech poet Jiri Wolker, American poet Stanley Kunitz to my Rumanian friend Valeriu Dg Barbu.

And now this delight by Levine came just in time to further inspire my writing video shoot tomorrow @LowellArts.

I am finalizing the script for the video today. I want to have it on hand when I talk about my writings at various events.

Whenever I explain the creative process from idea to final product; whether a book, a screenplay, video or movie, I start with the empty room analogy.

This originates in Picasso’s: “Give me a museum, and I will fill it.”

You need a Faceless room to put a face to it.

I will post a link to it once we’re done. I am really excited about the video. Screen and playwrighting are my second love.

I wrote a full-feature film screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” @emmapalova in 2009 that I am looking to produce.

I ‘ve also been following my Indian friend and moviemaker Ashray Dravidian on his film making journey with his latest short film “Nirvana.”

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