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.
West Michigan’s premier sleepover specialist.
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.
Note: The Inspiring Communities series features men and women who inspire us in our communities to serve others and to help people achieve well-being in an increasingly complex world. Nominate a person who has inspired you.
Councilmember Jim Hodges bid farewell to the Lowell City Council at his last meeting on Monday Nov. 6.
Watch for full story with Loyal citizen Jim Hodges.
Following is an excerpt taken with permission from Lowell’s First Look on Nov. 6
“Tonight marks the end of an era. After 23 years of service, Jim Hodges will attend his very last meeting as a Lowell City Council member.
Hodges’s retirement means the city not only loses a trusted public servant but also will see the bulk its institutional memory disappear. That means the departure of Hodges will leave a significant gap when it comes to understanding the history of city policies and evolution of various initiatives.
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.
Book signing in downtown Lowell.
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.”
I have Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” by Proxy on the wrapper of my salted almond butter dark chocolate.
The other day, I ate the entire chocolate bar in the morning for breakfast to get some energy. Now, that is exactly 480 calories. But, it did the trick of putting me back on my feet. Prior to eating the chocolate bar, I felt like a snake making his way through the tall grass by my pond.
Breaking into writing space
However, I didn’t realize until today what was going on. I was entering the subconscious working space of my new book “Riddleyville Secrets.” It took all that energy to break the outside barriers of consciousness.
And following are William Shakespeare’s lines from “Romeo and Juliet”:
A thousand times good-night!
A thousand times the worse, to want thy light.
Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books;
But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.
Hist! Romeo, hist! O! for a falconer’s voice,
To lure this tassel-gentle back again.
Bondage is hoarse, and may not speak aloud,
Else would I tear the cave where Echo lies,
And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine,
With repetition of my Romeo’s name.
It is my soul that calls upon my name:
How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night,
Like softest music to attending ears!
Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Don’t leave unfinished projects behind to haunt you. Don’t be afraid to pick them back up with new energy behind them even if they have been collecting dust or taking up space in the computer.
A woman surprised me at one of my recent book signings of Shifting Sands Short Stories by the following question:
“I am on chapter six, how do I finish my book,” she asked me.
It was a definitely out-of-the-box question, because not everyone wants to admit they can’t finish something.
Here is what I have gathered over the years about finishing any major writing project like a book or a screenplay:
Set a target finish goal, something that’s important to you like your birthday or any other milestone.
Write every day a quota of pages, such as 5 pages.
Always have an end in mind for the book or script, but also for each chapter or scene.
Ask yourself: What do I want to carry out in this chapter or scene?
A loose flexible outline always helps.
Establish a reward program for yourself after each chapter. It can be anything from having a coffee with a friend or a token that will remind you that a particular chapter or scene is done.
Create a cover or poster early on even as a draft. It will help you visualize the book, play or film and the entire process.
Have a color theme in mind for the characters and the book overall.
Be cohesive. Don’t let it fall apart into pieces just because you stumble on a block in your way.
Explore, see, discover. I especially like these three verbs that I found on a sign by the Wittenbach nature center. They will continue to feed your inspiration. And in turn, the reader will keep turning pages.
Use character compass to balance out your stories. That means the right amount of thoughts, appearance, action and dialogue.
Lowell, MI- Local author Emma Palova of Lowell has published the book Shifting Sands Short Stories, formats kindle and paperback, now available on Amazon for $7.99 and $11.99, and locally at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids and Lansing.
She will have a series of book signing events in historic downtown Lowell. Following today’s event during Girls Night Out at Sweet Seasons Bakery & Café, her next book signing will be at Lowell Arts on Oct. 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. located at 223 W. Main Street.
“This is an active day for Lowell Arts with Dixie Swim Club dinner theatre and LA house concert,” said Lowell Arts director Lorain Smalligan.
It is also the last day for the current gallery exhibit “Between Turbulence and Tranquility,” before the Holiday Artists Market goes up on Nov. 7.
The book is a collection of 13 short stories that Palova wrote and collected over the span of more than two decades. The fiction’s genre is magic realism, a combination of fantasy with reality.
“In magic realism you combine the fictitious with fantasy and sometimes you use real characters to model the fictitious characters,” Palova said. “It can be a hybrid. I don’t write about Martians. I write about real people.”
Palova started writing for the Czechoslovak Newsweek based in New York City in 1990 upon arrival in the USA. She initially wrote a column, “Place for Commentary” in Czech.
Many of the stories are based on experiences Palova has had during her time living and working in the greater Lowell area in Michigan. The stories are thematically divided into three circles: Immigration, journalism and retail.
Palova has been writing for the area publications since 1997 when she launched her professional journalistic career with Kaechele Publications in Allegan. In 1998, she joined the staff of the Ionia-Sentinel Standard where she received awards for community reporting from the Ionia Chamber of Commerce in 2000 and the Ionia County Community Mental Health, 2003. Palova joined the staff of the Lowell Ledger in 2006. In 2011, she received an award from the American Legion for reporting on veterans’ affairs. Palova also had a community blog in the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.
Palova worked as a correspondent for the Grand Rapids Press, the Advance Newspapers, Gemini Publications and the Lowell Ledger.
Palova is currently working on the second volume of stories, as well as on the memoir “Greenwich Meridian, where East meets West” about the Konecny family immigration saga from Czechoslovakia to the USA.
She is preparing her first novel “Fire on Water” for publication in 2018.
Palova has a lifetime passion for history and politics. She does social media marketing for the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS).
Palova became an American citizen in 1999.
“I am deeply humbled by the opportunities this country has given me,” Palova said.
Other author’s events will be held during Christmas through Lowell, and on Jan. 6, 2018 at the Lowell Arts.
My dad is my genius with excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in Shifting Sands Short Stories
The Genius in both my heart and my mind is my father professor Vaclav Konecny. His genius and inspiration was Albert Einstein. Dad genius following another genius.
My father Vaclav has been my inspiration and a role model over the years. It’s not that he has always been physically present in my life. At times, he was as distant as the Atlantic Ocean and the sky over it are vast.
For many years he lived in the USA, while I was living back in former Czechoslovakia.. He taught math at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan well into the mid 2000s.
His influence never ceased. He was my firm constellation in the sky. I love looking at the sky, and thinking of the constellations as people in my life. He was my brave Perseus when he left Czechoslovakia in 1968 to “conquer” other countries that appreciated his talent more. He had to behead many “Medusas,” ugly heads of jealousy before he got to his beloved small town university.
His genius manifested itself in hundreds of solved math problems in math journals around the world and hundreds of proposed ones. Dad says it is more difficult to propose a problem, than to solve one.
It was thanks to him that I have learned what Fermat’s Last Theorem is. The theme how to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem or conjecture was always on the table when friends came over to my parents house.
My father knows how to entertain even a stranger using his impeccable logic as a steady guide. Once he had to go to a party where he knew no one. He ran into a dentist.
“Dad, what did you talk to him about?” I asked.
“What else? We talked about teeth,” he laughed.
I remembered that forever. Once you know the profession of a stranger at the party, you talk about it, unless there is a better theme.
It wasn’t just the math genius in him, but also the artist. During critical times in my dad’s life, he turned to painting. He painted in oils scenes from the Candadian Rockies, Niagara and my favorite “Cacti at Night” on black velvet from the Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. He also painted a Dutch windmill.
Dad is also a great handyman who can repair just about anything around the house. He calls the closet full of tools in their Venice condo, his “workshop.”
He served as an inspiration for the short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories.
Excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan”
“After years of traveling between Europe and the USA, Martin and Rose settled down in a small university town not far from the big lake. And that was Rocky Rapids, a humble town that suited Martin well. Idyllic and charming.
The only violence in this town on the Rocky River was stirred by the students jumping from their dorms or frat houses. If dreams come true, they came true here for both Martin and Rose.
Martin was a well-respected and accomplished professor of math with the post-doctorate title from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Martin considered the trek from the territories of Canada to the US Midwest inevitable.
He took great care not to participate in anything that would jeopardize the projected path of success and content, such as union strikes. As computers emerged on the scene, Martin acquired another degree in computer science and reached a tenure with the university. He got Rose a job at the university as well.
The noise from the students packing up their notebooks and leaving the classroom stirred Martin up from his flashbacks to Africa. He looked at his watch. It was time. He carefully packed his own carefully prepared lectures, and put everything in his light gray briefcase with a shoulder strap.
He walked to his gray Chevrolet, the only brand he trusted over the years. Just like everything else Martin had ever owned, it was perfectly clean. He didn’t forget to grab a bottle of cold diet Coke from the machine.
Driving through Rocky Rapids was a balsam on his nerves. The town was neat and clean too with a few banks, a video store, a car dealership and a long gone Spartan grocery. Rose used to shop there, when they still loaded groceries into cars back in the 1980s. As a remnant of the past, there was a Bear furniture store, a drive up restaurant and a Dairy Queen by the city park with the creek.
It could have been a perfect day, in a perfect life in a perfect town of one perfect professor and a perfect couple.
Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All Rights reserved.
Excerpts from Orange Nights in Shifting Sands Short Stories
The most Interesting things 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 the nostalgia after a summer passing by.
And then there were the never-ending returns in the Women’s department always shoved in a heaping basket by the fitting rooms that served as a hangout spot.
“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. “I mean really afraid. I know we have security department and all that, but afraid as in who is going to walk in through that door 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 the regularity of a normal day job. 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 Rachel’s back. Wendell pulled out of the cart with the 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 about the clearance mark-downs with orange stickers. “What’s all this crap?”
Big Irma tired after the long night turned to Wendell.
“You just have to 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.”
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.
Grand Rapids, MI – It is no Coincidence that he gets called into work when others go to bed after a full day shift.
In a plant that runs three shifts, seven days a week, every minute that something doesn’t work like a well-oiled machine, means lost money. And a lot of it. The ABC Group global automotive supplier with vertically integrated plastic processing also has lots of pride being the GM supplier of the year several times.
And this mold maker knows how to fix what’s broken. Ludek must have mastered that elusive something that no one else knows. Call it the magic touch, and years of experience in the plastic injection molding industry. He is his own man in the tool room cage that is like an enclave between the plastic injection molding part of the company and the blow molding section.
Last night, as he walked into the gargantuan plant in his sandals sporting a black t-shirt from the Paranormal Society, he immediately commanded respect.
“Don’t touch anything,” Ludek yelled over the deafening sound of the machines to be heard.
The men standing around a 20-tun slab of steel hanging from a hoist turned around relieved, as if they had seen an angel in black.
Or better yet, the Raptor like the Raptor truck model that they were making the parts for.
Later, I learned that the slab of steel with holes and pins is called the tool. The tool is placed in a plastic injection machine, and it is expected to roll out plastic car parts.
The taller guy in blue shirt wanted to shake my hand, but grabbed a rag first to wipe the oil stains.
“Sorry to take him away from you,” said the manager.
It was 11 p.m., and the third shift had just started to find out that machine XOX was spitting out bad plastic car parts. It had to stop, and every hour the machine doesn’t work, the plant loses $60,000 according to the manager.
The question at hand remained what was wrong with what? Was it in the machine or in that 20-ton slab of carefully designed steel?
What first hit me, was the heat from the machines. Coming inside from a hot autumn night, it was like in a cauldron inside.
I had worked in the Svit factory in former Czechoslovakia several times during the summer breaks, but this was a different cup of coffee.
Ludek changed his sandals for boots. To my huge shock, he stooped underneath the steel slab to check the bottom of the tool. If it had fallen off the hoist, there would only remain an oil human stain.
“People get worried when they see me go under that,” he said.
Workers did come into the cage to see what was going on.