Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI – We’re moving into winter “blietzkrieg” style- hard and fast. We already have snow frozen to the ground in Michigan as we hit 17F this morning.
I approached this year’s NaNoWriMo 2019 50K word challenge in the same style- hard and fast. I researched the background for the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir over the past few years, Moreover, I lived the historical events that shaped the story from Prague Spring in 1968 to Velvet Revolution in 1989 up to the present moment.
I logged into the NaNoWriMo dashboard a total of 27,403 words, averaging daily more than 2,000 words.
The previous years of research and writing have been like putting together the pieces of a puzzle with an unknown picture at the end.
Greenwich Meridian is an epic tale of our family immigration saga from Czechoslovakia to the U.S. spanning more than 50 years. It is also a love story between the main characters mom Ella & dad Vaclav. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 8, 2019 at Naval’s Mediterranean Grille in Big Rapids, MI.
After hitting a dead end around chapter 12, I took a break from the memoir and worked on the Shifting Sands Short Stories anthologies that resulted in book 1 “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” and book 2 “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”
I completed “Shifting Sands: Secrets” in the summer of 2018. So, I returned to the Greenwich Meridian memoir starting fresh with its second half that includes memories penned by my parents in chapters “In her own words” by mom Ella and dad wrote “How math professor escaped Czechoslovakia.”
Here is an excerpt: How math professor escaped Czechoslovakia
By Vaclav Konecny
I suffered through all the injustices of the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia. I did not want to live there anymore. I applied for emigration visa for the entire family to get out of the country; all in vain. At the beginning of 1976, two officers from the Department of Interior visited me only to announce that I would never get the visa, even though I wasn’t working.
Nothing helped my case; neither letters written to president Gustav Husak, who was proclaiming at the time, that people like me could pack their suitcases and leave the country, nor the Helsinki Accords of 1975. In vain, I wrote letters to different institutions, but I always got the same answer: “It isn’t in the best interest of the republic.” However, the only interest of the republic, was for the communists to fill their own pockets. I haven’t met a lot of honest communists there.
The Helsinki Accords of 1975 signed by 35 countries including the U.S. and all the European countries attempted to improve the relations between the communists and the West. However, the Helsinski Accords were not binding as they did not have a treaty status.
The communists abided only by those paragraphs and laws that they wanted to. I was a factory worker operating NC machines at the Precision Engineering Plants in Malenovice. That was the result of an intensive job search and after the recommendation from President Husak. This shows that the officials had no idea about my profession. They were probably judging by their own experience of gaining titles in exchange for lies and deceiving their own bosses. I didn’t complain; I worked honestly at the factory and I carefully probed all illegal avenues of leaving Czechoslovakia. However, I realized that it would be too risky to leave with the entire family. So, I decided that I would leave the country illegally by myself and get the family out of there later.
Different options of escape seemed risky, because the borders were guarded against the people of the country, so they wouldn’t escape, not some outside enemy. Soldiers and their dogs were dangerous; the life of a Czech or Slovak person meant less than the life of a rabbit. I assumed that the border patrol in other countries would be less dangerous.
Stop by for an authographed book from the “Shifting Sands Short Stories” anthologies during Emma’s book signing at the Lowell Area Historical Museum on Nov. 15, 16 & 17.
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Emma’s book signing at Lowell Museum
Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Keep your head in the clouds and your hands on the keyboard.” Marissa Meyer
Back to the keyboard
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- I am back behind the computer after a summer filled with author’s gigs, book marketing, anniversary parties and granddaughter Ella’s departure for Fixin, France.
The fall solstice weather is also much more conducive to being tied to the chair without any distractions; that includes minimum social media and Internet browsing only for research purposes and logging in daily word count on the NaNoWriMo website at https://www.nanowrimo.org/
However, I have one more big author event to go to before I embark on my second National Novel Writing Month 50k challenge starting on Nov. 1 with prep work in October.
Belrockton Dormitory , home of the Belding Museum
107 Hanover St. Belding, Oct. 6, 2019 1 pm – 4 pm
I am especially looking forward to this book signing of “Shifting Sands: Secrets” inside the original dormitory that housed the silk city girls when Belding was known as the” Silk City of the World.”
The making of “Silk Nora”
The long short story “Silk Nora” is the main story in book 2 in the Shifting Sands Short Stories series. By genre, it belongs to the historical fiction/historical romance catefories. So a good way to search for the book online is by using the keywords #historical fiction #historical romance. In physical bookstores, the book can be found in the fiction category.
The story digs deep into the history of the silk city girls’ dormitory “Belrockton” in Belding at the turn-of-the-century.
The Classical Revival-inspired building was erected in 1906 at a cost of $30,000 . It provided accommodations for 100 single female workers and staff. It was better known as the “Bel” and it is the last dormitory left from the three buildings. Much like the Richardson Mill is the last structure left from the three silk mills in Belding.
As a reporter for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard in the early 2000s, I visited the museum on multiple occassions. But, it wasn’t until two years ago, when I spotted a picture of a woman in a hat during the museum’s fashion hat display in the fall of 2017. She was very elegant and beautiful with a nostalgic look on her face.
That woman in a hat served as a model for creating the main character Nora in the historical fiction story “Silk Nora,” which is the main story in the new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”
I also explored extensively the interior of the dormitory including the girls’ rooms. There was another picture in an oval frame. This was a photo of Mathilda Adrian, who lived in the dormitory. Right next to the oval photo was her marriage certificate to John Mahar dated April 1917. And a double love story was born.
This discovery inspired the character of Mathilda, who became Nora’s best friend. So, at this point I had the main characters, and then I added Doris, the matron and the men into the story. All the characters are woven into Belding’s history of the silk industry started by the Belding Brothers in 1860 by selling silk from house to house.
Creativity of Belrockton staff
The creativity of the Belrockton Museum staff, Jane Forth, Barb Fagerlin, Jan Mehney along with others inspired my own creativity.
T he creative displays at the museum from Hotel Belding such as the receptionist’s desk helped me recreate the scenes of social life at the hotel.
The displays of girls’ rooms complete with mannequins, the movie theater, grocery store, fueled my imagination.
When I discovered the optical illusion picture of the “Face of Gossip” at the dormitory bathrooms, I was totally flabbergasted by the chain of coincidences that made the individual pieces fit into a complete story.
To be continued
Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Palova. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
I am looking forward to my hometown book signing of “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series at the LowellArts gallery on Aug. 10 from 2pm to 4pm during the Livin’ is Easy exhibit.
Stop by for an autograph and for publishing insights. Also check out the story ” Taking the book on the road to connect with readers” about my tour in the Aug. 4 Buyer’s Guide.
The new book is a collection of 15 short stories with the main historical fiction story “Silk Nora” set in Belding, Michigan on the backdrop of the turn-of-the century era of inventions.
Other stories are based on Palova’s years of journalistic experience.
Together with other Michigan authors, Palova stands on the busy streets of hometowns manning her booth or tent, in the malls, at fairs or at art centers.
Locally, the book is available at the Springrove Variety in Lowell. It is on Amazon in both formats: paperback and kindle. It will be at the libraries of KDL, Schuler’s Books, Michigan News Agency and more. It is also at Horizon Books in Traverse City.
Traverse City, MI – It was a memorable Sunday afternoon in one of the busiest small towns in the Midwest.
“I love mall events,” said a local customer. “We came here for the books. We’re all readers.”
The Grand Traverse Mall event was organized by Dan McDougall of Bookbrokers & Kramer’s Cafe.
“This is the event that everyone will be talking about afterwards,” said McDougall. “T his one’s a keeper! ”
The event was complete with bagpipers, storytellers and a superhero.
Michigan authors represented all genres. Pictured below Ludington author Joan H. Young with Ella Konecny from Big Rapids.
“I support Michigan authors,” Konecny said.
The Ludington DDA has just sent a notice that people should not turn off Ludington Avenue at Harrison St, which is the way I suggested everyone come in to our location on Loomis Street. Because Loomis is one way east of Harrison, I’ve attached a little map with an alternate route. From US 10, turn S on Washington Ave (traffic light). Go 2 blocks to Filer St, turn R (west). Go to Harrison St and turn R (north) one block to Loomis.
Authors will be able to drive to your booth to unload, and will then need to park on a side street. If you attended last year, neither of the parking lots you may remember near the Arts Center are public any more, so think street parking! Volunteers will need to help with directing this, and possibly moving traffic barriers. We are being cautioned to move the barriers back into place after every entry/exit! See you tomorrow
Authors Tent at the Lakeshore Art Festival insights from author Jean Darla Davis
By Emma Palova
I spoke with Holland author Jean Darla Davis after two great days at the Lakeshore Art Festival on Saturday afternoon. Davis organized the Authors Tent located at Clay and 2nd Ave in downtown Muskegon to give more exposure to Michigan authors.
Hundreds of people stopped by the two tents with multiple authors and genres. Just like in a library or at a bookstore, the books with their authors represented different categories from mystery to crime, and everything in between.
The icing on the cake was that the authors were present for book signings and to chat about writing and publishing with readers and public in general.
Each author had their own story about their journey to publishing; from former cop Bob Muladore of Charlotte to hiker/author Joan H. Young from Scottville along with 18 others.
For some participating authors the next stop will be in Ludington at the Books Alive event in downtown on July 19 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. There are still some open spaces. So you can sign up on Eventbrite to diversify the event or contact Joan H. Young.
Interview with Jean Darla Davis
Was this a chamber event and did it have sponsors?
How was this year’s festival? Which day was better?
This year’s festival
was the biggest yet, with more vendors. Thanks to how the holiday fell this
year, it seemed like both days had equal traffic.
Why do you think the attendance was lower than last year?
It felt like less
people this year, very likely due to the heat. But attendance was still quite
What seemed to be the the shopping trends and genres?
I didn’t get much of a
chance to wander the festival as a whole so I can’t really answer that. There
are always a wide variety of fine art and craft vendors, so something for
Were the authors from all over Michigan?
19 of our authors were
from all over Michigan, both the Upper and Lower Peninsula. One lives on the Indiana
border and is considered an honorary Michigan Author.
Your plans for next year?
adding a third tent to accommodate more authors, but that decision is
ultimately in the hands of the Muskegon Chamber Festival committee. Otherwise,
we’ll be using the same layout we settled on this year as that worked quite
What will you remember the most from this year’s festival?
The heat. And off course spending two days with so many fun and talented authors.
Feature photo by author Joan H. Young.
Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Interview with author/organizer Jean Darla Davis & Emma Palova
Why have an author tent at Lakeshore Art Festival? How well is the festival attended?
The Lakeshore Art Festival is attended by tens of thousands
of people over two days. It runs July 5 and 6 from 10 to 6 and features over
350 fine art and craft vendors, along with artisan food, children’s activities, street performers and
interactive art. It’s the perfect venue to connect readers with local indie
How did you get involved? Who came up with the
idea and how did you go about implementing it?
This is our third year as a group of authors being involved
with the Lakeshore Art Festival. The first year was organized by author Steve
Lebel . When he stepped back, I was tapped to take on the project. Last year we
officially became part of the festival with the emerging authors tent within
the festival footprint. This allowed us much better visibility and allowed us
to connect with more readers.
What was last year’s festival like?
Last year we had two beautiful
sunny days and what seemed like a mostly endless flow of traffic both days.
There’s so much art to see and great food to check out.
Eighteen authors took part in our tents last
year. We all had a great time networking with one another, talking to readers
and signing books.
4-Which genre will be represented?
Our tents feature twenty authors with a little something for
everyone. We everything from children’s books to adult books, including
mystery, suspense, non-fiction romance,
science fiction, fantasy and more.
What do you hope to accomplish there in two
We’d love to introduce readers to authors they might not run across on
Amazon due to the vast number of books there or in the big book stores that
often focus on big name authors. We’re
available to talk about our books, our writing processes and inspirations. This is a great opportunity for
readers to buy direct from the authors and get their books signed.
Give us some tips for authors
Many authors struggle with marketing their books . They write one and hope that it sells online or through their publisher, if they have one. Unfortunately, even with a publisher, the majority of marketing falls on the author, and most of us would rather be home writing our next book. However, once you do a few book events, you’ll find it’s fun to network with other authors, learn from them, share your experiences and knowledge and to meet readers face to face. Festivals like this one give authors the opportunity to get their books in front of thousands of people a day. The Lakeshore Art Festival allows authors to purchase their own larger booth or to take part in our emerging author tent, which though we have smaller table spaces, is within the budget of many indie authors. We do have a limited amount of spaces each year and they go quickly. If you are interested in being part of the emerging author tent, please contact me on facebook: jeandavisauthor
Give us some tips for visitors
Visitors should wear comfortable shoes. There’s so much to
see and do at this Festival. Stay hydrated. Bring a bag to carry all your artsy
finds. Most vendors will take cash or cards. And talk to the artists. Ask
questions. Make your purchases personal. It’s not often you can talk directly
to the artist who made the piece and find out the story behind it.
How do you personally plan your book tour?
Having recently released my fifth book, I can easily say
that I’ve tried a lot of different things to get the word out. Have I found the
magic answer? No. What I’ve settled on, that works best for me, is doing a blog
tour within my network of author friends, and booking in person events. I like
to do a variety of venues: bookstores, libraries, craft & vendor shows,
comic cons, ren faires, and art festivals. This year, with the release of the
first book Trust of my new space opera series, The Narvan, I’m doing 30
different events all over Michigan.
I find personally connecting with readers to be the most gratifying way to get the word out . When I can do the same event a couple years in a row, it’s even better, because then people know where to find me and come back for my next book. I try to release one or two books every year so I have something new to offer.
This is the festival we are a part of as an “Emerging author tent”: https://lakeshoreartfestival.org/ We’re billed that way simply because we’re not widely recognized famous authors. Some authors prefer to get a vendor space on their own. This group name format sets us apart from them, gets us in with a bulk artist rate, and allows for customers to easily browse many authors in one place. Everyone did a great job referring people to fellow authors to help them find the types of books they were looking for.
We will again be doing two 20 x 20 tents as they are the most sturdy cost effective option and do give us room to move inward if we have a rainy day. The only difference this year is I’m asking you to bring your own chairs. Most of us found the supplied chairs uncomfortable anyway and did end up using our own.
I anticipate setting us up in the U or L shape (outward facing tables) like we did last year on the second day as that offered the best frontage for everyone and higher interest/sales. If we have rain, we will rearrange the tables to allow for traffic flow through the tents while keeping our books dry. I do have a layout prepared for that as well.
Payment can either be made by check or paypal (see end of email). If you are mailing a check, please let me know so I can watch for it and mark you as confirmed.
Lakeshore Art Festival 2019
Friday July 5, 10am-8pm
Saturday July 6, 10am-6pm
Our Tent name is: Michigan Authors at the Lakeshore
• We will be in the same location as last year at the corner of Clay and 2nd. The lot directly behind us is a pay to park lot. There is free parking along the streets and further down the road by the farmers market. You may pull up to the blocked streets by the tents and unload.
• You must attend both days for the duration of the listed hours. You may have a helper if you wish. However, most spaces will only have room for one by the table. In order to give as many of us frontage as possible, we do have a tight fit.
• You may only sell only your own books. This means no additional items that are not books (such as mugs, coasters, posters, etc) even if they are related to your book(s). We are billed as an author tent and must conform to the rules set forth by the festival.
• You may not split or share your space with another author.
• The cost is $100 for a 3ft space. This covers both days.The cost covers your portion of the rental items and your entry fee into the show as a vendor. This is a discounted exhibitor rate provided from the Lakeshore Art Festival as part of the author tent. We will be included in festival advertising, promotion, website and social recognition as well as potential media and press release coverage.
• Funds are not refundable. Once funds are received, I will be sending the full check off to the Art Festival to cover our vendor fees and tent rental. I will not have funds to refund you. If you are unable to attend, I will do my best to help you find someone to take over the space, but can make no guarantees.
• Set up is 9am on July 5. Tear down is immediately after the event ends at 6pm on the 6th. This all goes pretty smoothly as the tents and tables will be there ready for us and we leave them as we found them on Sunday evening.
• We will have tent sides available in case of inclement weather.
• I do recommend taking your inventory with you on Friday night.
• You are responsible for your own sales and sales tax. Acceptance of cash and credit card is strongly suggested.
• Last year we were blessed with beautiful weather and we’re hoping for that again. Do be prepared for wind (something to hold down business cards or other promotional items) and bring plenty of water. Food vendors are nearby. You may also bring your own. There is no electricity so bring extra batteries for phones if necessary. We are very close to the portable restrooms.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me: Darla Davis via messenger on Facebook.
Listen to our podcast coming soon.
For a list of participating authors go to:
Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.