Come for inspiration and author’s insights to my February book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories tomorrow on Feb. 3 at 1 pm at LowellArts.
I will share writing tips on how to write about love, with or without a happy ending.
My book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories is Saturday, Oct. 28th at the Lowell Arts gallery from 1 p.m to 3 p.m.
Bring a copy of my book to autograph. They are available locally at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, in Lansing, and on Amazon.
It is also the last day of the show “Between Turbulence and Tranquility” before the Holiday Artists Market.
Based on earlier book signings, I will also be giving tips how to start and finish a book, about characters and plot.
During my last book signing on Girls Night Out, some women asked me how to finish a book.
The Halloween weather is perfect for a visit to the gallery on Main Street.
“This is an active day for Lowell Arts with Dixie Swim Club dinner theatre and LA house concert,” said executive director Lorain Smalligan.
I called one of the stories in the book “Orange Nights” based on three clearance nights at a Midwest retailer I had worked for. The clearance racks had orange balloons tied to them.
Excerpt from “Orange Nights”
The most interesting thing in the store were the changing seasons and the colors reflecting them. The summer colors were still vibrant, and hanging in the air or it could have been nostalgia after a summer passing by.
“Why did you stay in the store all these years, Irma?” asked Rachel doubtful and wondering about her own future.
“You come in young like most because you don’t know what to do with yourself,” said Big Irma. “And after a while you just get used to it, and you’re afraid of change. Just look around you. What do you see?
However, it was all in what you didn’t see. Those were the underlying currents of being stuck in any situation in life, and not being able to move forward. It had different names, that all came under one label. That label was fear. And fear had many faces. It was hiding under different coats of comfort and security, assurances or the lack of them.
“Have you ever been afraid in the store?” asked Rachel. “You know really afraid. I know we have security department and all that, but afraid as in who is going to walk in and what is he going to do?”
People were already streaming in along with normal day people who had nothing to do with the orange balloon clearance in the soft and hard lines, like the grocery people and the food court.
For the moment Rachel envied them their normal daily jobs with set schedules. They came in and they left on regular basis without the madness of wanting to do something else with their lives.
“Why aren’t you in your own department?” a scowling voice breathed down her neck.
Startled she turned around. The tall orange blonde man with a mustache still dressed in civil clothes, was right behind her back. Wendell pulled out of the cart with never-ending returns shorts tangled in with a bra and panties. The lines manager smelled of beer and cigarettes, after a night of drinking.
“How did the night go?” Wendell asked. “What’s all this crap?”
Big Irma tired after the night turned to Wendell.
“You have to go over there and see,” she said. “There’s a lot of clearance this year. I guess people weren’t buying as much or we overbought, or both. You never know from year to year.”
Copyright (c)2017. Emma Blogs LLC. All rights reserved.
Thoughts on Popular places in the wake of Las Vegas shooting
By Emma Palova
Grand Rapids, MI -I am beyond shocked over the Sunday night shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people without any connection to terror.
My husband and I just spent a fantastic Saturday in downtown Grand Rapids enjoying the most Popular arts event in the world. That is the 9th annual ArtPrize that featured 1,500 artists from 47 countries.
ArtPrize is the world’s largest competition and the most attended annual art event on the planet.
Thousands of people packed the sidewalks, the arts venues and the cafes on a beautiful sunny Saturday.
Other than seeking inspiration, the main reason why we went to ArtPrize was to cast a Popular vote for local photographer Bruce Doll for his entry, “As Grand As It Gets.”
The photo is a fabulous non-conventional take on the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a fish-eye lens.
“I thought I can never capture this,” said Doll.
In order to vote, you had to physically register in any of the ArtPrize districts using the app in the first round of voting.
The second reason was to see “The American Dream” by finalist Tom Kiefer. We strolled from the peaceful Hillside Veteran’s Park area to the much busier DeVos Place Convention Center on Monroe.
Kiefer photographed the personal belongings of migrants seized at the border.
“I felt a visceral connection between his art and our farm workers,” said Teresa Hendricks, director of Migrant Legal Aid hosting the artist.
DeVos Place had the finalists’ artwork on display. We inched the skywalks between the finalists’ exhibits and the railing; sometimes without seeing the art exhibits. There was a demonstration of tattoo art among others. As I leaned across the railing to get a picture of the interior of the hall, it occurred to me.
No matter how Athletic you were, you wouldn’t be able to run out of that glass hall with waved glass ceiling, if someone had opened fire.
We were all conveniently gathered there in the sky walks in front of the artwork, packed in the hallways. We were separated from the ground floor by escalators and elevators.
There were no security checks at the entrance.
Inside the Amway hotel, we paused by the art of “Lincoln.”
After we got out of the venue complex through a system of catwalks, and back on the street, it occurred to me again; the vulnerability of crowds. The crowds also packed the Blue Bridge and the Gillett Bridge with artists.
People gathered in front of art everywhere. After several hours, I felt nauseated from the crowds and the autumn heat.
I had to take a deep breath in front of an eagle sculpture by the Rosa Parks Circle.
It was to a certain point comforting. But that was Saturday, before the Sunday shooting in Las Vegas.
Then, everything changed.
Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Longtime artist inspires generations embedded in Lowell area
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Note: The IW winter series, which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8, features women from all walks of life who continue to inspire others in our communities.
Their positions in the society are not measured by money or the accolades they receive, but by contributions to progress and well-being of all.
Nominate a woman who has inspired you for the series.
Lowell, MI – Artist Janet Y. Johnson, 86, is an icon. Together with artists late David Davis and current Kathleen Mooney, they have created an artistic legacy for generations embedded in the greater Lowell area.
Johnson has been a staple at the Flat River Gallery & Framing in downtown Lowell with countless exhibits of watercolor and acrylic paintings.
The gallery will celebrate its fourth anniversary with the “Let’s celebrate” event with champagne and chocolates on Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Johnson recalls all the great years of exhibiting and painting in the Lowell area.
“They’re all realistic paintings,” said Johnson about her work.
Some of them go as far back as to the heydays of another icon, the Lowell Showboat on the Flat River in the 1950s.
“I used to sing on it, and then I painted it,” Johnson said during a recent interview at her home.
As we looked at the dark blue watercolor painting of the Showboat with strings of lights floating on the Flat River hanging in the detached studio, one could imagine the lively atmosphere on the deck.
You could almost hear the voices singing:
“Here comes the Showboat.”
Johnson sold two paintings of the Showboat and bought one back when the owner stated, that the painting should stay in the Lowell area.
Johnson has lived in the Lowell area for 57 years.
Growing up on a farm in Alto, Johnson acquired a natural affinity to all animals.
Johnson studied animal drawing at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, FL and graduated in 1951.
Prior to that, she studied at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, and worked as a publication designer for Amway in the 70s.
“It was a wonderful place to work,” she said.
Among her favorites are vivid paintings of exotic animals in circus settings.
Johnson’s most recent watercolor painting is of the Miller Circus which performed in Lowell last August after the fair. She will hang the painting of the circus at the gallery for the new February show.
According to Johnson, the circus ringmaster at the Miller Circus was connected to the Ringlings.
Johnson spent most of 2016 illustrating the children’s book “Gertie Goose.”
“It’s a story about bullying,” said Johnson.
Pat Markle, former teacher of Hastings Schools, wrote the book. This was the third project for the author illustrator duo during the last decade.
The book is available at the Lowell Arts and at the Flat River galleries for $15.
“Gertie Goose” was published by J-Ad Graphics of Hastings in 2016.
Lowell, MI-This morning, I was fortunate enough to come across the “saidsimply” blog about artistic ventures. And the labyrinth-like colorful painting inspired me to write this epiphany piece.
Short story collection “Glass Flowers” by Emma Palova
The famous tree at Selby garden in Sarasota.
I looked at the photo of the “Sea in Me” painting and the following took place in my head:
This is how I feel about writing when I don’t write for a while; I am lost in a labyrinth of thoughts.
Yesterday, my friend Kitty from the Netherlands really encouraged me. We ran into each other in the snack aisle at the Lowell Meijer store.
I needed to get some yellow lemonade, ribbons and nuts for undisclosed reasons.
We chatted about Christmas and getting old. We both agreed that Christmas is more about getting together with friends and family than about gifts.
“But, we can do that anytime right?” I asked for assurance all frazzled at this time of the year.
“Sure, that’s what it’s all about, we don’t need Christmas for that,” she laughed.
Kitty has re-posted the Christmas bucket list on Facebook with comment:
“My kind of Christmas.”
Here is the Christmas bucket list
1-Be present instead of buy presents
2-Wrap someone in a hug vs. wrap gifts
3-Send love vs. send gifts
4-Donate food vs. shop for food
5-Make memories vs. make cookies
6-Be the light vs. see the lights
“I am already tired of people asking if the shopping is done and if we are ready for Christmas. Flying the coop again,” Kitty commented.
Kitty told me she was leaving for the holidays for a cruise somewhere in the Caribbean. I was jealous.
“Keep writing, Emma,” she smiled and off she walked with her shopping cart that wasn’t fully loaded with goodies.
And I left the store with warmth in my heart, two yellow Fanta lemonades, hecho en Mexico, a yellow ribbon and some trail mix nuts.I was determined to keep on writing.
Thank you, Kitty and the saidsimply blog for all of the above.
For the simply said blog go to: https://saidsimply.wordpress.com
About the featured tiled photo mosaic:The big photo on the right accompanies post “Secrets, we all have them.”
Small photos on the left from top to bottom:
1-Me at Sea…at the Gulf of Mexico
2-“Glass Flowers” (c) Emma Palova, a manuscript with hand blown pink glass flower from the castel Karlstein in Czech Republic. This was a gift from my daughter Emma.
3-The Wedding Tree at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, FL.
Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Feeling inspired today by the Traveling Nurse’s Haiku on “Magic.”
I might try to write a few of my own Haikus.
I wrote some and illustrated them in the early 2000s and later in 2008. I feel like it’s coming back to me at full force during this busy holiday time.
I actually find reprieve in Haiku writing. Haiku to me is like an island in the midst of the vast ocean of writing.
I need to spend some time on this Haiku island to gain strength to head out back into the ocean of writing.
Sometimes, like most writers and authors, I am intimidated by my upcoming writing. I know the idea has already taken some form in my head, and it is waiting to break out.
Will it be the right time and shape for that idea?
I’ve been carrying all these ideas in me for a long long time.
I’ve also been storing the products of my ideas on the shelves of my book cases for what seems like infinity.
Sometimes, I find old stories all dusty and fading on the yellow paper. Editors demanded hard print copies back then.
As I pick those products back up, I wonder what am I going to do with them this time?
Should I wake them up and bring them to life? Like a sleeping giant or a boring midget?
I have an entire collection “Glass Flowers” (c) Emma Palova that was inspired by an important time in my life.
I am dusting that off and bringing it out into the daylight.
It’s about time for my “Glass Flowers” to be broken into endless pieces.
Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Hunting season 2015 opens strong, artist inspired by hunting
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- Today is the opening day of the firearm hunting season in the Midwest. It will last until the end of November.
It may or may not mean anything to big city folks, but out here in the country it is a big deal.
Some school districts like Portland schools in Ionia County close for the opening day, so kids can go out and hunt with their dads.
Although I am not a hunter, I have so many friends, both female and male, who are hunters that I had to post this to honor their passion.
The first who comes to my mind is my artist hunter friend Linda Kropf Phillips of Lowell. Inspired by nature and hunting, Phillips has created a line of slab wood paintings “Natures Serenity.”
The second hunter is a long-time friend from former Czechoslovakia, Miroslav Hlavenka. He now resides in Montreal, Canada. Hlavenka is an awesome chef a la naturelle.
Both are hunting now, as I write this post that could also be called “Living in harmony with nature.”
Annually, the sports hunting industry fuels the economy in many ways from direct hunting permits, & gear to indirect sports hunting tourism.
And the experts predict a good hunting season due to unseasonably mild weather.
“The deer had a lot to feed on,” said TV sports commentator.
This morning opened strong with clear skies and 50 degree temperatures. Hundreds of hunters in camouflage headed out into the woods.
As I drove to an appointment through the country, I could see cars parked by public hunting lands.
One opening day, I actually headed out into the Lowell State Game Area and joined a local hunter for a great experience, and a great story.
We always took photos of proud hunters who brought their deer in at the various newspapers that I have worked for.
Phillips of Lowell is already in Upper Peninsula with four guys determined to get their deer.
We postponed our interview for IW Inspiring Women series until Phillips returns in December.
Phillips fascinates me that she is both an avid hunter and a very apt nature artist and she shows that off in “Natures Serenity.”
She was one of the first artists at the Fallasburg Village Bazaar last year.
Hlavenka used to hunt already back in former Czechoslovakia. He picked back up his passion in Quebec, as he heads out into the woods.
Back in Czech Republic, hunters and public at large celebrated the hunting season with the annual Hunter’s Ball in the winter months.
The hunters wore their green uniforms and made hunter’s goulash for the occasion. It was either venison, boar and rabbit stew or steaks with potato dumplings and red cabbage.
There is something about hunting that’s inherent to human kind. That’s how we survived in the first place all the earth’s elements, agriculture came later.
Whenever I see deer in my garden feasting on apples or turkeys running in the cornfields, there’s joy in my heart, that peace will prevail.
With the upcoming Thanksgiving next week, there is a lot to be thankful for.
Driving through the woods and the fields on a beautiful sunny November morning, crossing the Thornapple, Grand and Flat rivers, I realized how grateful I am for the surrounding nature, for the harmony, for the fall abundance and the co-existence of it all.
Send me a picture of you and your deer and I will post it on my Emma Blogs, LLC portfolio of sites.
Watch for a recipe for Hunter’s Stew coming up.
Also in the works are stories in the IW Inspiring Women winter series. They have the logo of the orchids.
Seems like an oxymoron? It isn’t. Just remember Dali, VanGogh or Russian painter Chaim Soutine. And I must mention one of my favorite author’s Nobel Prize winning piece of literature “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
This photo is in response to the Daily Post Chaos prompt “Chaos.”
I was inspired by Soutine’s chaotic paintings of a wild game catch and his twisted villages.
I threw my three summer dresses haphazardly on the bathroom floor along with the yellow ballerina flats that walked 10 kilometers through Paris to the Musee de l’Orangerie in the Tullerie Gardens near the Place de la Concorde.
Inside the gallery, I was flabbergasted by Soutine’s twisted chaotic paintings. The orderly chaos stayed in me.
The little girl Ella in the featured photo is confused in the little garden by the house not recognizing any of the plants or berries in the plot.
Orderly “Chaos” in nature.
The left photograph shows the chaos in my EW studio, where I can find everything in its place. Next to the studio is the chaos in the nearby woods with broken tree limbs and trunks rolling in the bed of leaves.
How about the chaos in the upcoming election on Nov. 8th? There are so many different forms of chaos in the world, in nature and in the society.
Take a bite at this “Chaos” assignment. You can’t go wrong with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed how different bloggers treated this encompassing subject.
Copyright (c) 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
International “ladies squad” explores L’art de Vivre in Provence
Note: My summer writer’s retreat 2016 in France takes me from Burgundy south to the heart of Provence for magical four days. Our international “ladies squad” explored three of the seven most beautiful villages in France: Lacoste, Lourmarin, Ansouis and the town of St.Remy-de-Provence. For one year, Van Gogh made his home in St. Remy inspired by the Alpilles.
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Provence, FR- Provençal bastide no.23 sits on Chemin de la Font du Pin between the villages of Cheval-Blanc and Merindol. The mansion with seven bedrooms nestles at the foot of a beach pine forest.
Typical architecture for this southernmost region of France embraces traditional elements of stone washed walls with tall French doors, large gathering places on the main level and sleeping quarters on the second level. Arches instead of doors open the space between different rooms.
The yard with the garden caters to relaxation and function with a cafe-style gazebo lit by sun energy lamps, a large dining table and an iron wrought bed. White Mandeville plants and Hydrangea decorated the gazebo.
The large pool with a colorful cabin is near the house on a cleared terrain in the white pine beach forest with rosemary shrubs.
Our international “ladies squad” found their bedrooms each equipped with a bathroom and a view into the morning sun bathed beach forest. Tiles are a must in the hot dry climate of Provence.
I shared room no.7 dipped in hues of purple and decorated with butterflies with granddaughter Ella. After a recent conflict, I find solace in the peaceful Provençal atmosphere of farm markets, wine caves, cafes, cobblestone streets, olive groves and deserted châteaux lit by magnificent sunsets.
The first night we picked ripe grapes in the front yard. Vendange or wine harvest has already started in this part of France. There was also a lime tree and plentiful rosemary shrubs that grew both at the base of the beach forest and in it. To my surprise, on my “balades” through the forest, I also found shrubs of holly.
One morning In the middle of my walk, I stopped dead when I heard a rattling sound.
“A rattlesnake,” I thought and hurried back to the bastide.
Two days later by the pool, Claude pointed out the rattling sound.
“C’est une tone de Cigale de olive,” she said. “That’s the sound of the cigales.”
I laughed at my paranoia originating in my early childhood years while living in Texas.
Mornings, before the heat of the day breaks, are fresh. You wake up to the roosters’ crowing and to the sound of the Cigale in the olive groves and in the rosemary bushes.
Instead of a Provençal breakfast of hard-boiled eggs with figs, we ate Lyon festive brioche with pralines, compliments of Mrs. Claude Chavent, Emma’s mother-in-law.
Each lady from the squad contributed her own tastes and flavors to the full gourmet experience. The traveling squad consisted of Captain Dr. Emma Palova of Fixin, Chef Selene Alvarez of Veracruz, Mexico, former anesthesiologist Mrs. Claude Chavent of Lyon, FR and journalist, writer Emma Palova of USA. Both Emmas were born in former Czechoslovakia.
On a late Saturday morning, daughter Emma and I headed out to the Merindol market.
Instead of a marche extravaganza, we only found an olive and cheese merchant along with a straw hat and a bag vendor.
“It’s the summer break,” said the olive vendor.
“It’s all about the love for life here in France, not about money,” Emma educated me. “It’s called l’art de vivre.”
For our apero that night, Emma bought an olive spread “olivenade”, a dried tomato spread, cheese, spicy olives with pimento and olives in brine with Provençal herbs at the market in Merindol.
Walking a narrow street up the hill, we stopped at a local hangout spot for coffee and tea on the sidewalk. I love watching people in these quaint villages not occupied by tourists. The locals were already drinking wine and beer.
A woman wearing an apron dress with a large grocery bag hurried past the abandoned tobacco shop. A chic woman overdressed in a black T-shirt with long sleeves pedaled uphill, while a youngster on a bike with fresh bread in his backpack closely followed her.
I wasn’t alone watching the action. A Provençal old-time villager was sitting in his chair right in front of his house on the street. Of course the woman haltered her hurry to exchange gossip with the old-timer. There’s always time for gossip in these villages.
We also came across a reformed church, an anomaly in the mainly catholic France.
We stopped at a farm market on our way back to the bastide to get fresh strawberries and mangoes for the planned Daiquiri drinks by the pool.
We tasted wine from a local wine caterer stationed right by the market stand.
Even though pink wine known as rose is the wine of choice in the Provence region, I bought a bottle of white wine for the apero. Nothing like Burgundy whites, but it tasted better than the rose.
To be continued…………………The most beautiful villages of France