Category Archives: Christmas through Lowell

NANOWRIMO DAY 18

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I worked on a draft chapter “Consolidation” about life in Czechoslovakia before mom’s second departure for the U.S. earlier this morning up to 1980. I logged in a grand total of 40, 537 words in the NaNoWriMo 50k word challenge.

I described Czech Christmas traditions and the major differences between Czech and American cultures. My author’s gig at the Lowell Area Historical Museum helped me add another dimension to our immigration saga from socialist Czechoslovakia.

Mary Lacy of M&M Prescious Gems at the Lowell Area Historical Museum

I talked about the memoir with fellow vendors Mike and Mary Lacy of M&M Prescious Gems from Grand Rapids during Christmas through Lowell. We shared a 28-hour workload over three days under the watchful eyes of the Lowell Board of Trade 1908 and the portrait of one of Mr. Graham’s wives. Mr. Graham built the Italianate structure of the museum in 1873.

“Were you scared in Czechoslovakia?” Mary asked me on Sunday.

I had to think really hard if I was ever scared living in a socialist country under the Soviet rule in the hardline 1970s and 1980s.

“I was careful, but not scared,” I said. “Unless you were a political activist like late Vaclav Havel, you were just an ordinary person, and they didn’t care about you.”

By that, I meant the communist party and the whole political system didn’t really care about a regular citizen. However, we were under surveillance after our return to Czechoslovakia in 1973, since we were tried for illegally leaving the country.

True, you had to be careful about what you said in public, because there were spies. Plus, there was a religious prohibition. We were afraid to go to church, especially my dad and aunt, who were teachers.

Excerpt: Differences between the two cultures

People often ask me what are some of the differences between the two cultures: Czech and American. Many differences have disappeared after the communist regime fell with the Velvet Revolution in 1989.  However, judging from visits and people’s posts on social media, phone calls with friends and family, the attitude toward life in general hasn’t changed. It is a mix of pessimism with a twist of evil in the response to a typical Czech greeting “How are you?” 

“It’s worth shit.,” anyone will say at any given time. 

The honest answer holds an entire spectrum of emotions including the disappointment from the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution as capitalism stuck out one of its ugly heads like Medusa. The gap between the rich and the poor in Czech Republic is getting wider and wider, as there are few rich people, while the majority struggles. Traditionally, the Czechs envied each other’s possessions, but with capitalism the envy maxed out into hatred usually directed toward politicians and the past that cannot be changed. Whenever anything bad happened, it was usually the other person’s fault. There is a general lack of responsibility among the population for anything whether bad or good. That is the legacy of communism; no one was responsible for anything because the almighty Communist Party took care of everything for you. There was very little left for you to do; go to work, get some groceries and watch TV. 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 12

For NaNo Day 11 go to post “In observance of Veterans Day, NaNo Day 11. https://emmapalova.com/2019/11/11/in-observance-of-veterans-day-2019/

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.

Dad Vaclav Konecny with mom Ella at their 60th wedding anniversary celebration in Big Rapids.

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.

2019-11-15T09:00:00

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Emma’s book signing at Lowell Museum

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Happy Halloween

Ready for #NaNoWriMo 2019

I am as ready as I can be for the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge starting tomorrow Nov. 1 with my Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir project.

However, Halloween is not only followed by the NaNoWriMo blast off , but also by All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day in the catholic calendar on Saturday. I always go to the mass at St. Pat’s for one or the other to reflect and for inspiration.

Usually, the Book of the Dead is on display. An evening candlelight procession goes to the cemetery.

The feature photo is an optical illussion “All is Vanity” from Belrockton in Belding. It is hanging next to the “Face of Gossip,” which is on the cover of my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections.

Follow me on my NaNoWriMo journey to the completion of the memoir about our family immigration saga to the U.S.

I will be signing my new book at the Lowell Area Historical Museum (LAHM) on Nov. 15, 16 & 17 during Christmas through Lowell.

For more info on NaNoWriMo go to: https://www.nanowrimo.org/

For more info on Christmas through Lowell go to: www.christmasthroughlowell.org

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NaNO prep

Proud to report that I am in the prep phase for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2019 at full speed. During the month of October , I logged in 12,195 words. My goal is to complete the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West in November and follow up with revisions.

It is a memoir about our family immigration saga from former communist Czechoslovakia to the US.

NaNoWriMo is a great tool for any writing project that you may have. First of all, it gives you daily accountability of writing by logging in daily word count. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I had to do a lot of prep work, because I also have author events in November with my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series.

I will be at the Lowell Area Historical Museum during the Christmas through Lowell tour on Nov. 15, 16 & 17 signing my books. So stop by to pick up an autographed book. I will be offering writing and publishing tips, as well.

Locally, my book is available at Springrove Variety in downtown Lowell.

I am extremely excited about this Christmas event. I’ve done it before with my first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” I was at the Red Barn Market with other vendors including my daughter-in-law Maranda, who has “Little Dreamers Sleepovers” party business.

I would still like to get in one more author’s event before the end of this year. And what a year it has been. Watch for my post “Year in Review 2019.”

For info on NaNo go to: https://www.nanowrimo.org/

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Day 16 of #nanowrimo

Daily insights

Day 16 of National Novel Writing Month

Staying on target as Christmas through Lowell kicks off the season

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I can’t say whether the writing is getting any easier or any harder as I move along toward the 50K goal by the end of November.  It is a lot like a roller coaster slowly climbing up the first hill, then dropping down and swerving into a sharp curve, before it climbs up again. It changes quickly its speed.

Have I done anything like this before? That is write daily a certain quota of words to stay on target. The answer is a definite no. Even though, while looking at the #nanowrimo graph and the average words per day written, I realized that I pretty much average six pages a day, regardless. I just didn’t know about it.

The new “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova anthology was born long before I started writing it on Nov. 1, 2018.  But, whithout putting the words down, it’s just that; words and ideas in your head and imagination.

However, getting the words out in front of the public can be a scary deal too.

“The scariest moment is before I start to write,” said horror master Stephen King.

I couldn’t agree more and this is probably the main reason why most wannabe authors procrastinate. We’re all afraid of the result. The only medicine for that is: Write as much as you can every day without thinking about the result; edit later.

That’s my  major takeaway from the #nanowrimo project 2018.

Book cover for “Secrets” aka the Face of Gossip.

Considering that I still have to live ordinary life other than the creative one, I am looking forward to covering this year’s “Christmas through Lowell” tour after taking a break from it for a few years. Stay tuned for the weekend coverage for the Lowell Ledger on newstands on Nov. 21, 2018.

Excerpts from “Secrets in Ink”

Well,the court hearing was set for Friday after Thanksgiving at the district court.

“That’s going to be a hell of a Black Friday,” said AJ. “For you, Luke. I’ll be near a phone if you need help.”

Luke had heard of stories of christening by fire, but this exceeded his expectations.

“I’ve never covered a court story before,” Luke said. “I’ve been to a jury duty, though.”

“That’s good enough. There’s always the first time,” said AJ. “The reporting business isn’t as glorious as you thought, ha? You will always come across issues such as the ‘homos’, you’d rather not talk about. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”

Luke was nervous when he sat near the front on the left side of the courtroom imagining windows, where they did not exist. He felt the old claustrophobia magnified on himself. There was no escaping from this closed courtroom.

The chiropractor was already seated up front without an attorney. It was the first time, Luke had heard the chiropractor’s name spoken out loud by the judge.

“I don’t like to see you Mr. Brown without representation,” said the judge known for her bias toward men. “You do realize that what you have done is pretty serious.”

Thejudge was also a stand-up comedian, performing her acts for the localcharities. She was known to be on the other side of Mr. Brown’s personalsexuality problem. Men hated her for the sexual gender bias. The judge favoredwomen, no matter what they had done.

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

Christmas through Lowell

New adventure awaits

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI-Tonight we will be setting up for a whole new different adventure. We decided to team up with my daughter-in-law Maranda with our new ventures: my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” and her entertainment innovation for kids, Little Dreamers Sleepovers. What is probably most interesting is the location. We will be at venue no. 1 on the greater Christmas through Lowell tour. And that is the Red Barn Market. This is the 26th year for the tour.

We will actually be located inside a renovated barn with space heaters. There will be a total of 20 plus vendors ranging from Paisley Productions to wood signs. The Red Barn Market is a popular hangout spot for all ages. I live 2.3 miles from it. We’re practically Neighbors.  For a complete list of vendors go to Red Barn Market- Ice Cream and Fresh Produce facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/redbarnmkt/

The event runs all three days starting tomorrow Nov. 17 through Sunday Nov. 19. The times are Friday 9 am – 9 pm, Saturday 9 am – 7 pm and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.

“This is our biggest event yet,” said general manager Barb Kropf-Roth.

There will also be another author Glad Fletcher with memoir “My Garden of Stones.”

There are close to 100 stops on the tour that attracts people from all over Michigan. I personally like the variety of vendors and businesses on the tour. This includes the city of Lowell and outlaying areas in both townships.

Not your regular kids’ entertainment

Maranda’s Little Dreamers Sleepovers provides sleepover packages complete with a tent, air mattress, fitted sheet, blanket, bunting, fairy lights and a bed tray. Each child will get a sleepover favor.

Maranda will be adding additional themes including: boy themes, outdoor movie, glow party and a baking party.

You can contact Maranda for more info at littledreamerssleepovers@gmail.com or go to website http://marandassweetdreams.com

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

Orchards as inspiration

Local author at Red Barn Market during Christmas through Lowell, Nov. 17, 18, 19

Following is an example of a Press Release.

For immediate release

November 6, 2017

Contact: Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Local author Emma Palova will have a book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories at the Red Barn Market during the annual Christmas through Lowell tour from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19.

Bring your locally purchased book available at Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids or Lansing. The book is also available on Amazon in two formats: Kindle for $7.99 and paperback for $11.99.

Palova divides the stories in the book into three circles: early immigration years, retail and journalism. The stories feature characters such as professor Martin Duggan in “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” based on the family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia.

 

The hometown politics circle from journalism depicts ruthless supervisor Ned in the “Iron Horse” and charismatic Lisa in “Foxy.” The retail circle of stories highlights the retail madness during the “orange balloon clearance” in the “Orange Nights.” Rachel suffers under the yoke of the Midwest store routine.

Apple orchards served as a source of inspiration for “Danillo,” a story about a Mexican immigrant who works at the apple orchards.

“Orchards of any type have inspired me ever since I’ve read Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard,” Palova said.

 

The Red Barn Market is no. 1 location on the Greater Lowell map of the Christmas tour located at 3550 Alden Nash.

“I have deep ties to the Red Barn Market,” said Palova. “I’ve watched them grow over the last three years. We’re practically Neighbors. Red Barn and the surrounding Kropf apple orchards also inspire my work.”

The Red Barn Market has inspired one of the stories in Palova’s Book 2: Shifting Sands Short Stories: Secrets.

Annually, the tour attracts hundreds of visitors from far and near.

“It is our busiest event,” said general manager Barb Kropf-Roth.

The Trademark  of the Christmas event are various vendors with unique wares & services such as the brand new Hastings-based “Little Dreamers Sleepovers.”

Little Dreamers Sleepovers
West Michigan’s premier sleepover specialist.

The list of vendors includes:

Amy Pearson – Paisley Productions – dolly clothes, tutus and jewelry!

Joyce Hofman – The Milk Bucket Goat Soap Company – goat milk soaps, lotions and more!

Bree Duffy – Flat Caps for Sale – unique handmade hats!

Ana Maria Pimentel – magical houses!

Sandy VanDyke – Sandy’s Fudge – homemade fudges and hot fudge!

Sam Soyka – “Made New” – blanket ladders, pallet Christmas trees, refurb side tables, old doors, wash tubs, pallet wine holders, pillows, antique Christmas decor!

Arlene Newell – western motif purses, barnwood crosses and more!

Kimberly Danielski – hand knit scarves!

Kate Kropf – Mi.Home wood signs!

Patty Schoonmaker – Chrstmas ornaments, painted canvas, holiday pins and more!

Alicia Hollern – “Burlap & Brushes” – burlap banners, painted mason jars, wood tray, fabric garland and more!

Bogoski and Hofman Girls – homemade chocolate suckers!

Sarah Cooper – Sarah B. Cooper Art nativities and Christmas decor’!

Boy Scouts of America Troup 102 of Lowell – Chirstmas wreaths!

Glad Fletcher – book of memoirs – “My Garden of Stones”

Brooke Vermullen – Drink Up, Michigan – Michigan shaped bottle openers!

Katie Johnson – Katie J’s – sterling silver hand cragted jewelry!

Emma Palova – author – “Shifting Sands Short Stories”!

Maranda Palova – Little Dreamers Sleepovers – sleepover parties!

Carol & Duane Hamilton – Palletability – reclaimed wood items!

Emma’s book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” is available on Amazon at:

paperback

https://www.amazon.com/Shifting-Sands-Short-Stories/dp/152130226X

Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

For more info about Little Dreamers Sleepovers go to:

https://marandassweetdreams.com

For more info about Red Barn Market go to:

https://redbarnmarket.biz

 

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

 

Holiday stories

Holiday season and stories

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- ‘Tis the season to be merry, and to shop merrily. After all the wedding turmoil, I find it hard to immerse myself into the holiday spirit or to go back to a full writing, design and marketing schedule.

With a full house, for the last 17 days, I had to steal time to write about the International Wedding and to post other writers’ stories like Sarah Harmon’s Pumpkin 5K run.

The great pumpkin ride at Klackle Orcards
The great pumpkin ride at Klackle Orcards

But, on the flip side, I found out that I would not be able to live without writing. There is so much value in the written word. Writing is such a powerful tool not only to express oneself, share information, facts and communication, but it is also a means of escaping the real world.

Call it a reprieve, if you will. It helps organize thoughts and different experiences.

Christmas through Lowell attracts hundreds

Grand Volute is still accepting vendors for Christmas through Lowell
Grand Volute is still accepting vendors for Christmas through Lowell

Our EW team plans to cover Christmas activities throughout the area such as the 23rd Christmas through Lowell from Nov. 14 through Nov. 16. The tour is one of my favorites as people open their decorated homes to the public and offer Christmas gifts and nick knacks, along with cookies and cider. The tour features more than 50 houses, businesses and organizations from Alto, Lowell to Vergennes Township. More than 300 vendors will be offering their crafts and arts.

River Edge B&B still accepts vendors for Christmas through Lowell
River Edge B&B still accepts vendors for Christmas through Lowell

The Christmas tour attracts people from all over Michigan.

There are still locations willing to add more vendors such as the Red Barn Market, Riveredge Gathering Place and B&B, Grand Volute Ballrooms and many more. For a complete list go to www.christmasthroughlowell.org

New vendors are Gless Board, Lowell Women of the Moose, Our House to your House, Small Town Sentiment, Riveredge B&B and Red Barn Market.

Red Barn Market accepts vendors for Christmas through Lowell
Red Barn Market accepts vendors for Christmas through Lowell

You will find delightful treasures, jewelry, Christmas decorations, folk ad fine art, antiques, repurposed treasures, primitives and garden art, beeswax candles and home-made candles, crocheted and knitted crafts, purses, bags and totes, home-made rugs and quilts.

The Lowell Area Historical Museum also opens its doors beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The Christmas tour attracts people from all over Michigan.

We will also cover the Santa Parade and all related activities.

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