National Novel Writing Month gets off to a great start
Excerpts from “Secrets”- The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener
Lowell, MI – It’s already day three of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Today’s target goal is 5,000 words. With half of my third chapter or story done, I have passed that goal logging in 5,480 words.
Although stretching a bit beyond the target, some heavy hitters logged in 20k. I am happy with my progress since this is my first time participating in NaNoWriMo with the clear intention to get “Secrets”, sequel to my debut “Shifting Sands Short Stories” published.
It is also a double-donate Saturday to the creative project supported by major sponsors such as The National Endowment for the Arts. Here are some stats of participation:
Nearly 500,00 writers, including 100,000 kids and teens in our Young Writers Program.
More than 1,200 libraries and community spaces in our Come Write In program.
Nearly 1,000 Municipal Liaisons who organize in-person writing events in communities around the world.
Zita touched her left cheek and ran her finger on a newly-formed pimple overnight. It will soon flare into a nasty red bump that may get infected. She smoothed her jean skirt tightly hugging her thighs covered by floral tights. Her straight brown hair was long. She always sat by the windows in any class to tame her phobias. She looked outside the window at the falling leaves. The harsh winter would come soon, and as always, she wasn’t prepared for it.
Teacher Bob was going over it again; the reproductive organs and sexual functionalities or dysfunctionalities. She had just turned down a date, and Bob was having too much fun in his sex education class.
The only reason Zita took the class was her mother Dona, who insisted on it.
“You will soon be dating, you need to know some things about your body,” Dona said.
“But, why can’t you explain it to me?” asked Zita at the suburban home in Green Heights.
When Kurt asked her out again, Zita snapped, “I am not dating yet. I am not ready.”
Kurt didn’t live far from her in the middle- class neighborhood. When they were kids, they played together, since she was the only child in the family.
“Go and play with Kurt,” Dona said.
Kurt, too, had pimples and a lot of them. He had dirty blond hair, straight nose and blue eyes. He was tall and well-built, so he was on the football team.
In the boredom of winter, Kurt asked Zita out to go to the movies. This time, Zita couldn’t resist as the days were getting shorter and shorter; she had read all the books she could.
It was busy inside the movie theater. Most people were suffering from the lack of sun like Zita was. Kurt bought popcorn and looked at her pretty figure with pleasure.
“I can buy some chocolate too, if you want me to,” he said tempting her.
“Yeah, right, you want me to be fat or what?” Zita snapped.
Ever since her hormones kicked in, Zita had trouble with weight. The constant dieting cycled with overeating.
“We can run around the hood together,” he said.
The thought of running around the neighborhood in Green Heights startled her. The people loved to gossip about each other’s diseases and faulty relationships; who had sex with whom and let’s not forget that dry drunk next door, who beats his wife.
“You want to stir the soup, ha?” she laughed.
“It will be good for your figure,” Kurt leaned toward Zita and put his arm around her shoulders.
Thanks to some of the sponsors of #nanowrimo. For a complete list go to nanowrimo.org
Copyright (c) 2018 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Here is an example of a manuscript proposal that I have submitted to the Calvin College writing conference in Grand Rapids. As a standard, everything must be submitted electronically via app Submittable by a certain deadline.
Always Explore the option of submitting your manuscript to a writer’s conference. Some conferences accept manuscripts even if you are not a registered participant for a fee.
manuscript proposal for Shifting Sands Short Stories, contemporary fiction with excerpts from “Tonight on Main” and “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.”
A manuscript proposal should include the following: author’s bio, book summary including page length, book’s audience/readership, brief comparison to similar titles on the market, marketing strategies/promotion ideas, possible endorsers and chapter samples.
Emma Palova (Konecna), born in former Czechoslovakia, is a Lowell-based short story writer, novelist, screenwriter and a journalist.
Palova wrote for Czechoslovak Newsweek and Prague Reporter in the 1990s. She received bachelor’s degree from the University of Brno in 1986.
She started an eclectic collection of short stories during her studies of creative writing at the International Correspondence Schools in Montreal, and at the Grand Rapids Community College in the early 1990s.
The collection “Shifting Sands Short Stories” is now in its first edition. Palova self-published the book on the Kindle Direct Publishing (kdp) platform on Amazon in the summer of 2017.
“I did not want the stories to get lost,” she said.
The collection continues to grow with new stories in volume II of Shifting Sands: Secrets.
Palova’s passion for writing dates back to grade school in Stipa near Zlin in the region of Moravia.
“I’ve always had a knack for languages and adventure,” she said. “Our family immigration saga has been a tremendous inspiration for all my writings.”
The short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” captures some immigration details embodied by math professor Martin Duggan.
Palova’s work at a major Midwest retailer has enabled the core of the Shifting Sands stories. While working on the second shift at the women’s department, Palova wrote in the morning emulating Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits, short story form and journalistic career.
During her journalistic years, Palova continued to write fiction inspired by real life happenings as in “Iron Horse” and “Foxy.”
Palova became an American citizen in 1999 in a naturalization ceremony at Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.
In 2012, she diversified again with the digital platform WordPress. Palova founded Emma Blogs, LLC, a portfolio of blogs for marketing in 2014. She combined her passion for history and writing by working with history clients such as the Fallasburg Historical Society.
Palova wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” in 2009. It is registered with The Writers Guild of America.
Shifting Sands: Short Stories book summary
Book complete self-published on kdp platform
The book is a collection of 13 short stories where the heroes and heroines shift their destinies like grains of sand in an hour-glass, quite to the surprise of the reader.
Sometimes the characters like the grains have to pass through the narrow part, only to emerge in a new form, that is transformed into stronger human beings. They’re packed in the crowd with others, suffering or loose by themselves, either stranded or pushed to the wall. The shifting shows that everything changes and is like a fluid energy in life.
The stories are divided into three circles. The first circle comprises stories from the early years of immigration spent between the USA and Montreal, Canada until 1993.
These would include: The Temptation of Martin Duggan, Danillo and Honey Azrael.
The second circle draws on retail experience from a Midwest store. These are: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.
The third circle of stories was inspired by journalistic career in the regional print newspaper and magazine media through 2012. These include: In the Shadows, Iron Horse, Foxy, Riddleyville Clowns and Chatamal.
Most of the setting is in fictive Midwest Riddleyville. The stories are a tribute to hometown characters and their hardiness to survive.
Adults 18 and up
Brief title comparison on the market
Much like in Anjali Sachdeva’s “All the Name They Used for God,” the characters in Shifting Sands Short Stories attempt to escape their fate. However, in a lesser fantasy world.
As in Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things,” the stories came into existence under different circumstances, and kept changing. Time molded these stories into unconventional shapes, as the hour-glass on the cover suggests.
As in Jeffrey Archer’s “Tell Tale” some stories are closely tied to travel like the story “In the Shadows” based on Milwaukee meetings.
And Earnest Hemingway’s classics based on reshaping different experiences: “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio” will be reflected in the works “The Writer, the Nun, and the Gardener.
The book is available throughout the Kent District Library (KDL) system in Grand Rapids, in Hastings and in Big Rapids.
Blog tours, author tours, book signings, libraries
Book stores, print companies,
Book excerpt with samples from two stories not to exceed 3,000 words
Tonight on Main Excerpt
Cards with red hearts and hearts again land on the table covered with a lace doily in the old house located at 534 E. Main Street in Riddleyville. Waiting for his ace, young Willy stretched back into a dilapidated arm-chair that squeaked under his light weight. He took a long look around.
Old clothes and empty boxes were laying on the floor and on the couch. An open can of cat food sat on the dining table. Yellow and red drapes with a green and blue hydrangea pattern were drawn down to further dim the dark room. They looked like hanging rags with holes in them.
An antique lamp cast dim light in the living room. The house was filled with old smells combined with the aroma of rum. Willy admired the vintage Coca-Cola collection in the corner. He also peaked through a hole in the drapes to get a good look at the porch and the Main drag through sleepy Riddleyville.
The Midwest town of Riddleyville breathed past with old-fashioned lamp posts, an old Opera House under reconstruction, two rivers crossing paths downstream from the dam, and the remnants of the defunct railroad.
Furniture was piled up on the porch and flowers of the summer were wilting in the cracked pots. Willy recognized millionaire Roby pedaling on his bike. Roby waved as if he knew someone was peaking. Maybe, he just saw the three old women moving the card table on to the porch to play a game of poker.
The house is old, the lady of the house is old, and her daughter Irma is old. The daughter’s cat is old. Aunt Bertha who came to play cards is old. The old has settled in. The porch is half rotted as it leans into the ground. The construction studs are crooked.
The sun is setting down on Main. The three old women are sitting in the late afternoon sun on the half-rotted porch joined by the little angel Willy, the godson of Aunt Bertha. A black fat cat with the French revolutionary name, J. M. Robespierre snuck under the table ever so silently in the deafening noise of the passing by cars.
The noise is unbearable, but the women cannot hear. The pervasive smell of rum has invaded the porch.
“I can’t hear you, mom,” yelled Irma.
“Well, unplug your ears or wash them,” yells back old mom Goldie who will turn 97 in the fall.
Goldie can’t see or hear anymore, but she can still smell. She can smell what the neighbors had for dinner last night.
“I said, isn’t your rum cake burning? I can smell the rum in it burning,” the old lady rocked back and forth as her voice dies in the noise of the street.
“Did you say to get another deck out?” Irma shouted at the top of her lungs.
The street talks at night. It whispers its secrets.
End of excerpt
The Temptation of Martin Duggan Excerpt
The professor’s bald head was shining in the bright morning sunlight. He was bouncing in front of the blackboard explaining triple integers. He was now on his fourth board, all scribbled with numbers and strange symbols.
Martin was wearing a perfectly ironed white shirt with long sleeves from J.C. Penney. Rose made sure that the shirts had a pocket on the left side when buying shirts. He still favored light pastel colors, mostly blue, that matched his grey blue eyes so well.
But, Martin always bought his own pencils. They had to be pencils no. 2, not too soft, not too hard. He found them the most comfortable somewhere in the middle of the scale on the hardness of graphite. The pockets of all his shirts were full of pencils and pens. Martin took great care not to have any smears from his writing tools on his clothes. He diligently put the caps back on pens; black had to match black, blue had to match blue. That way he wouldn’t confuse the color of his ink. Martin never used red.
To match the white shirt, he wore his favorite gray striped pants from his striped suit reserved for special occasions. There was something about lines that had always comforted him. Lines commanded respect.
They could be lines vertical, horizontal, or curves. And then came symbols, and Martin’s love for them; like pi or the toppled 8 symbolizing infinity. He traced the origin of his love for numbers and symbols to his childhood and later growing up in the strict austere atmosphere of the seminary in Brest. He had no intentions of becoming a priest. But parents lodged him in the seminary with his older brother Peter, so they could both receive good education.
In the cold walls of the seminary, Martin found warmth in numbers.
He felt free unleashing his power in numbers and their swift magic. Numbers and ellipses on curves were stories to Martin. His own story was a rollercoaster upside down racing on a fast track starting with a jerk at the faculty in Brno, former Czechoslovakia, which perched him to new heights at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, Africa. This was part of a socialist program to help the Third World countries in the late sixties.
Fresh with a new title, a wife that had just turned 30 and the Prague Spring 1968 movement tearing the old country apart, Martin was ready to climb higher into different unknown spheres.
At 34, he had a receding hairline, an impeccable command of English and an expertise of an old professor. He made decent money in English pounds and bought Rose a set of pearls for her 30th birthday, that she would later hate. She blamed the pearls for her destiny.
According to an old legend, pearls bring tears and bad luck to their owners.
“Do not return home,” letters from the occupied Czech homeland by the Russians kept arriving at the “Pink Palace” apartment complex in the arid desert city on the Blue Nile.
Rose wearing a yellow headband and a lime colored dress, suitable for the late 60s, shed more tears than the Nile had water in it, as the two fought over immigration. She faithfully followed her husband on his career trek that flourished to serve both the developing Sudan and the tossed Czechoslovakia in the heart of Europe.
However, a new house, sick parents and a jealous sister were awaiting back at home, along with a good pharmacy job in the apothecary.
One hot night in the late summer, right around her birthday, Martin kept fidgeting nervously around the kitchen holding a piece of paper. The kids were outside with friends.
“I got accepted to a post doctorate program in Canada,” he said calmly suppressing fear..
End of excerpt & proposal
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
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.
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.”
You revel in the certainty that today’s good intentions will reap tomorrow’s just rewards. Although your practicality may be tested now, your consistent actions add up in your favor. Stay strong and keep the faith, even if the attainment of your goals seems closer to a distant horizon than to your doorstep. Continue moving forward one step at a time.
Author Josh Shipp wrote, “Perseverance is stubbornness with a purpose.”
My author’s journey continues
Grab a book at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids or Lansing, or on Amazon, and come to my book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse on Sept. 16 & Sept. 17 from 1 pm to 4 p.m.
It’s no ordinary Friday, as the late July sun shines on my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories. The paperback came out at the beginning of July.
Writing, collecting and publishing the stories that I have gathered for over more that two decades wasn’t a walk through the strawberry fields by any means.
On the contrary, the stories and their characters are not Shallow.
Check out one of the major characters, professor Martin Duggan who struggles with his own perfection.
Excerpt from the Temptation of Martin Duggan short story:
“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 store.
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 and creek.
It could have been a perfect day, in a perfect life in a perfect town of one perfect professor and a perfect couple.”
At one of my newspaper jobs, the publisher called me shallow for not following up on a major story about a Belding boy who delivered his sister in the bathroom of the family home. After being syndicated by the Associated Press, the story made it to the Dave Letterman Show.
Dave held up the front page of the Ionia Sentinel-Standard with the story.
However, I did not know about that, another paper reported on that.
“You are shallow and selfish,” said the publisher.
I remembered that. I will always remember that.
Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved
Daily Post prompt Bury with book excerpts from Shifting Sands Short Stories
By Emma Palova
Not only am I buried with all the tasks around marketing my new book of short stories, but one of the early stories “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” touches on burying one’s miseries.
Storyteller 2017 Emma
We often would like to bury a lot of things, and some of them we actually do in meaningless stockpiles. However, sometimes we need to refer back to them, and dig out some parts of the past.
The main character professor Martin Duggan in the story “Temptation of Martin Duggan” finds himself in this position as he confronts the major conflict in his life: and that is his son Joe.
As soon as the daylight broke, Martin grabbed a spade from the garage. There was still morning dew on Rose’s mauve tulips, as Martin started digging a hole in the middle of the garden. Soil and tulips were flying around as Martin dug deeper into the earth.
Along with the brown soil, Martin was also exhuming his suppressed past longings. He intended to bury in the hole all the role models, present and past, including the model of himself.
He ran back into the den. Rose couldn’t sleep all night long. Courageously, she went after him into what used to be his pride, his office. She looked at the rampage Martin left. Little tears, tiny like the dew drops on the destroyed mauve tulips, rolled down her swollen cheeks, as she watched the man she once had loved.
There were broken pieces of furniture scattered all around along with the broken window pane. There were blood stains on the white carpet and some of the papers.
“Martin, stop. Are you crazy?” Rose cried.
Martin was stuffing his books, notes and computer perforated paper into black garbage backs. He filled six bags with equations and solutions. He tied the bags up neatly and ran back into the garden.
Martin, stop, you don’t what you’re doing,” Rose cried helplessly.
He threw the garbage bags into the hole and threw dirt on top to cover them up. He worked diligently, all sweating. He made a neat mound, and stomped on it to level it.
He grabbed again the axe and wanted to chop up the pretty Danish teak furniture in the living room, he only stopped for a minute in front of the oil painting of the Dutch windmill.
“Stop, I am going to call the police,” Rose said. “Don’t you dare turn on me, you crazy fool.”
Rose walked boldly toward Martin and took away his axe. She pushed him into a chair. Martin was panting, exhausted. He was all flushed and couldn’t breathe.
The book Shifting Sands Short Stories is now available on Amazon at:
In between story circles, a story of transformation with excerpts
For the last week since June 20, I’ve been posting about the stories in Shifting Sands Short Stories collection that span more than two decades as part of the Storyteller 2017 book campaign.
Thematically and chronologically, I have divided the stories into three circles: early years of immigration with stories Danillo, Honey Azrael, & The Temptation of Martin Duggan.
The second circle of stories from retail experience includes: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.
The third circle of stories is from the media business; both print and digital.
These stories include: In the Shadows, Iron Horse, Foxy, Riddleyville Clowns and Chatamal.
Transformation during the crisis of mid-2000s
My husband Ludek left the state of Michigan to work in Wisconsin in 2008-2009. We were separated by Lake Michigan, and 500 miles deep into the Midwest America. Locals say that Wild West begins in Prairie-du-Chien on the Mississippi River, where Pere Marquette and Joliett arrived. On a few occasions, I took the Amtrak train “Empire Builder” to LaCrosse to visit with him.
At the time, I was writing for the local newspaper and for regional magazines in the Grand Rapids area. But, that wasn’t enough to make me forget the absurdity of the situation. This was the second time in life that we were separated.
I turned to more writing like a Magnet. I got the idea to write the “Riddleyville Clowns,” a short story from a hometown parade featuring clowns to celebrate the town’s founding anniversary.
I wrote some of the copy aboard the “Empire Builder” train.
Here is an excerpt from the “Riddleyville Clowns”
The harvest moon has just started to light up the entire loft apartment on Main Street. The brick walls softened with blue shades, the pressed tin ceiling was illuminated, while the river was like a silver thread lined with black banks.
Still resisting to get up and go check out the old steamboat, Kip tossed in bed watching the ceiling. He looked up at one of the walls.
Flabby blue pants, a yellow camisole, wide red band and a big red plastic nose topped off with a wig were hanging in the corner. Down below were big red shoes with a tongue sticking out and large-fingered gloves.
Kip walked to the window. Below, a large flock of geese and ducks, had buried their heads deep to sleep. He could hear them fighting over bread thrown down from of the other lofts. Kip walked to the boat.
The old white steamboat known by the locals as the Showboat, all decked out for tomorrow, was swaying in the wind and the water. Swinging over the white railing, he checked out the shaft by the stairway leading all the way to the upper deck. It was dusty, but he could see the lid that opened up on the deck.
Kip quickly attached a rope to a rusty hook. He also had to cut out a plank at each deck level to make the shaft passable. He noticed on the walls of the shaft old posters of vaudeville acts that took place on the boat in the depression era.
Kip climbed up and opened the lid right behind the ship’s black chimney. In the moonlight, he could also spot a dilapidated amphitheater with grass growing over the sea walls and the island of cattails up the stream. Wind howled again through the river corridor. Kip wrapped his wind jacket tight around him and gazed toward Main Street. A tribune was set up right by the Riverwalk promenade for tomorrow’s parade.