Moving right along through February, the Winter Virtual Book Festival organized by Pages Promotions, LLC has covered genres from action and adventure to inspirational fiction, with non-fiction, poetry, short stories and memoir, in between. We’re in for a night of mystery on a freezing Monday evening.
Indie authors read from their books while readers match up the right book with its author for bragging rights on Facebook. Then Diana Plopa spins the “Wheel of Happiness” for great prizes donated by the authors.
You have to be present in the Zoom room to win. If you happen to find a gold, silver or bronze ticket in your book, you’re in for more prizes such as Kindle Fire without ads and more books and swag.
Here is an excerpt of what I read on Friday evening from my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”, chapter “The Haves and The Have Nots.” This reading was five minutes.
Everyone had the right to work. There was no such thing as unemployment. If you were unemployed for more than six weeks, you went to jail. Since the economy was regulated and planned, there was always work, whatever work and any work at any given time. However, if you wanted a good job, you needed connections or my mom’s long arm.
That was balanced out by having to stand in long lines for basic items such as toilet paper and laundry detergent. However, college education was free, along with healthcare for all and free daycare.
Travel was a different ball game based on your profile. We each had a profile ever since we were old enough to join the Socialist Youth Union at the age of 14. The profile also contained information about your parents. Then volunteer hours on socialist projects were added to the profile. At 18, you were expected to become a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and get your red membership card. Soon the profile info started to add up in your favor or against you.
Certain things were unacceptable like if your family was a member of the bourgeoisie, royalty or if they owned land, you would definitely go nowhere. Based on the bizarre profile criteria, if they were good, you could go to Yugoslavia or maybe somewhere west, if you got the exit visa.
If your profile was bad like mine, because we left the country illegally for the USA, you sat at home. The profile thing continues to puzzle me to this day.
Like in Hitler’s Germany nothing was ever forgotten or forgiven. That was in an era before computers. The whole socialist machinery was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You always got what you didn’t wish for, but somebody else wanted it for you.
“Oh, we just wanted the best for you,” a voice would say.
“How do you know what’s best for me?” I asked.
“Socialism never sleeps,” the voice would persist. “We know what’s best for the country. Look at all the improvements in the last 40 years.”
Banners hung on buildings proclaiming the “Building Successes of Socialism” and the bright future for the socialist youth like me.
Bringing up properly the communist youth was very important to the regime, which feared intellectuals. On the other hand, the system put the working class known as proletariat on a pedestal. The most famous slogan was: “Proletariat of all countries, unite.” I think it was a Lenin quote.
Interestingly enough, some five decades later Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg achieved the same goal without the communist or socialist propaganda of uniting. Four billion people now volunteer their information on the Facebook social media platform. I don’t think the communists realized that you cannot force unity or freedom. Just like you cannot force or enforce peace.
The communists even claimed they could command the rain and the wind. I know they couldn’t, but the fact they claimed that showed their infinite arrogance deeply rooted in the propaganda.
But there were also true communists like our late neighbor. And I will change his name for all purposes. Let’s call him Mr. Rudi Vlk. Rudi, in his early 40s, went through political school while working. He never missed a communist party meeting. Rudi lived the party philosophy. He studied the Marxist-Leninist traditions and its pillars. He never cheated, lied or stole. But, in the process of it all, he got ulcers.
Needless to say, that honest communist Rudi was in the minority. Most people who joined the party had an ulterior motive. This labeled them as career communists like my second removed Uncle Henry.
There were other career communists in the female ranks as well. Many teachers became communists to protect their teaching jobs. Although communists did not like the intelligence class, they were fond of socialist education free of any religious influence. All religious schools shut down, along with the confiscation of the church estates.
To climb up on the company ladder, you had to be a member of the communist party. There were no discussions about that. Uncle Henry went through the same process as Rudi, only he lied, cheated and stole for the benefit of the party and his own.
The two breeds of communists hated each other, even though they often sat at the same tables, and in the same meetings. Aunt Anna’s favorite joke went along the following lines. A man and a woman have a discussion in a coffee shop.
“I know you,” says the man.
“Oh, yes? How?” asks the lady.
“We slept together,” the man answers.
“Excuse me, sir,” she turns red.
“Yes, in the same meeting last week in the boardroom,” the man laughs.
As I look outside my studio window, I see snow falling on my lovely garden. The hydrangeas now have white caps and soon they will look surreal like in the summer and fall, except they won’t have any green leaves. Considering that we live in Michigan and it’s the end of January, it was inevitable. And a lot folks wanted it. At times it seemed like in one of my short stories “Waiting for Snow” from Shifting Sands: Secrets where the main character Colin is literally praying for snow so he can use his toys. On the contrary, I always hope for a miracle that somehow, we will skip snow. The only things that carry me in the deadbeat of winter are warm visions of Valentine wishes, roses and chocolates. However, no warm Florida this year still due to COVID-19 and since I often travel around Valentine’s, I don’t want to miss sending love wishes to my parents. Ella and Vaclav. They are the main characters in my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.” Dad usually buys us a box of chocolates and flowers.
The memoir is an epic story about our emigration from former Czechoslovakia to the USA spanning half a century and two generations.
Winter virtual book fest
But this year something new popped up on the horizon. It’s the third Virtual Book Festival featuring more than 50 authors in February. The theme is “Blind Date with a Book” organized by Pages Promotions, LLC. It is the brainchild of author Diana Kathryn Wolfe-Plopa. “Since the advent of COVID-19, and all the in-person book festivals being cancelled, I wanted to find a way to help other authors connect with readers,” said Plopa, “and to help other authors connect with readers, as well.” Plopa said she’s always had a passion for the Indie Author and this was one more way to show that spirit. “Just because we’re Indie doesn’t mean that we’re “less than” the trad authors,” she said. “We deserve the same level of promotion and engagement as they get…the only problem is we have a much smaller budget. So that’s why I decided to go virtual.” Plopa has held physical festivals in the past, so this seemed like the next logical step. And the idea for the theme came from watching old clips of the old Dating Game TV program on YouTube. “I thought it would be a fun, different, and kinda wacky way to introduce authors and their books to readers in a way that might capture their attention and get them to buy,” Plopa said.
It was January in the new year of the Earth Pig, and there was still no snow on the ground. Green stalks of grass and weeds were peeking out of the ground and laughing in the wind at the parked snowmobiles with no riders. Other equipment like snowplows and snowblades was idling too. The eager machines just sat still waiting in the front and backyards. Mother Earth was refusing to cooperate on one side, on the other side she released her wrath on the coastal states. The Midwest was sleeping its winter dream dipped into dry freeze and after the holiday blues. A man in the tiny community of Paris put some water in his coffee maker. The year-round Christmas tree was still lit and cast colorful lights on the modest kitchen with a broken cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. He stored a bucket with a rag there for his chores; now this was a habit from the old country in Europe. The first morning cigarette of the day was the best one. He deeply inhaled and let out the smoke in gray circles. One wall of the mobile home was an entire mirror divided into three separate sections. He often walked to the mirror to look at himself. But just before looking in the mirror, Colin had to look outside. He pulled aside the checkered racing flag that was covering the window overlooking the front yard with a view on Paris Road. Colin had to move through a set of obstacles to get to the window. These were large train layouts taking up the entire living room. Colin’s mom called it a fire safety hazard, so would the firemen. The green and yellow grass lacked the coveted white cover. Colin carefully stepped outside on the wooden steps to make sure there was no snow. He went to the green snowmobile with the new permit and a full tank of gas. Paris sat on an extensive trail system close to a county park with a welded miniature of the Eifel Tower. The community had a motel, a pizza parlor and a general store “Papa’s;” all located on the trail. Colin, always wearing a train conductor’s black hat, called himself “The Trainman.”
Lowell, MI – At the beginning of each year, I set my personal and professional goals as an author. I try to make them realistic and attainable. I skip the classic weight loss resolution, but I always want to make changes toward a healthy lifestyle and better relationships.
My author goals are: writing a screenplay based on my new book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir.” I started storyboarding it on Nov. 30, 2020. I would like to finish the screenplay by this summer, since I am hoping for outdoors author events and festivals where I can sell my books again. Some events like the Wild Blueberry Festival, Monster Ball in Frankenmuth and the Lakeshore Art Festival (LAF) rolled over from 2020.
The first in person outdoor event should be the LAF in Muskegon on June 26 & 27.
Concurrently, I am working on a new short story collection “Steel Jewels” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series. I plan to write at the pace of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which is an average of 1,700 words a day.
In order to stay focused and in the writing zone, I will limit the time spent on social media to marketing only in the afternoon.
My personal goals include eating less meat and a healthier diet, spending more time outdoors, meditating and doing yoga on a regular basis. I also want to do one new thing a day; for today it is expressing gratitude. I am grateful that my sister-in-law is speaking to me again after four years. I will be designing her CJ Aunt Jarmilka’s blog and newsletter.
On the Fallasburg historical front, we will continue with the series “Tales From the Burg” that highlights the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS) artifacts and their virtual collection “Collective Access.”
Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Note: Following is an excerpt from the chapter: “Living in socialism” from my upcoming book- the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” set for Oct. 16 release on Amazon.
The book is available for preorder in Kindle format at:
Continued: Living in socialism
Among interesting events at workplaces were birthday celebrations. Ludek described a typical birthday celebration at the ZPS factory as follows; the celebrant typically brought in a bottle of plum brandy and poured everyone from each department a shot. After work, the celebration continued at the local pubs. There was a lot of birthday celebrations throughout the years. Milestone celebrations like turning 50, meant you got a fancy watch from the company and a huge party at a local pub.
During national holidays, the workers would steal anything and take it through the gates without being checked because there were so many of them leaving at once for the parades. So, the parades were known as the “March of Thieves.” The parades actually started inside the factory. On the matter of overtime, one individual was selected to punch for all those, who waited somewhere outside the factory behind the gates.
The major employers in Zlin were Svit and ZPS; their huge factory complex spanned several blocks in town. The shoe factory Svit was built during the Thomas Bata era in the 1920s. It employed 10,000 workers. ZPS was the mechanical engineering factory, employing also 10,000. Women worked mainly in Svit, while men worked in ZPS.
Our hometown Zlin grew thanks to the T & A Bata firm, when Tomas Bata was known as the “king of shoes” (aka the creator) of the global shoe emporium with export of shoes to the U.S. as well. The growth and success of the Bata firm were attributed to a large army contract with the Austro-Hungarian Empire to make shoes for 5,200 soldiers.
The core of city Zlin boasts the fine architecture of functionalism; the former Bata headquarters building “Twenty-one”, a high-rise reaching 254 feet and the 11- story Hotel Moscow. During socialism, the shoe empire became the factory Svit, where people worked for generations. In socialism, the economy was planned accordingly into one-year plans, five-year plans and ten-year plans. All the companies had to strive to fulfill the plans to the highest percentage for bonuses at the end of the year. The bulletin boards at the different workplaces boasted the percentages of fulfilled plans.
The average salary for women working in the Svit factory was 1,200 crowns; for men working in ZPS it was 2,500 to 3,000. Since, the work or the economy didn’t fluctuate, most jobs were for the entire lifetime until retirement.
“You couldn’t quit,” said Ludek.
According to Ludek, even if you wanted to quit, you couldn’t because you had to give a six-months’ notice, and the other employer wouldn’t wait for you that long. On top of that you had to sign a work contract.
Of course, there was no such thing as calling in sick; you had to have a doctor’s script that you are sick. Not showing up for work was called American time off or “A.” If you did it for three days in a row, the police would come looking for you.
If you were sick and stayed at home, you had to be in bed, because regular controls at home were conducted if you’re not cheating.
“They even touched the bed and the sheets if they were still warm,” Ludek said.
You got paid when you were sick, and the health care was free for all. There was a universal one crown fee per prescription of any drug. People often ask, if there was a shortage of drugs and doctors.
Of course, there was a shortage of everything due to the planned economy. You got used to most of the shortages, but some were just plain embarrassing like not enough toilet paper, hygiene products or laundry detergent.
On the other hand, there were fashionable dresses in nice boutiques, pretty shoes and fancy parties with crystal glasses and porcelain plates. The paradox of not having basic needs fulfilled sharply contrasted with the opulence of the fashion, including home fashions inside homes and apartments. People took good care of their homes and took pride in their furniture. Women spent days polishing the furniture, and usually you couldn’t touch anything when visiting a friend. You were designated a safe spot to sit, where you didn’t jeopardize the cleanliness and the order of things.
Most products were made in Czechoslovakia or they were imported from the countries of the RVHP–the association of mutual economic assistance such as Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, East Germany, Romania and U.S.S.R.
You spent a lot of time waiting around for anything and everything, quite often it was in lines for desirable items like bananas or meat.
The grocery stores were small with only a limited amount of shopping baskets, so you waited for the shopping basket, then you waited inside the store at the dairy counter for cheese, and at the meat counter for meat, you waited in a line for the cash register and you waited for the bus to get home with your groceries. There you waited for the elevator to get to your apartment.
The waiting game was due to everything being small and crowded. Overall, the country is small with only 15.6 million population and territory of 127,875 square feet kilometers in the heart of Europe. So, it has traditionally been the target of other countries in their quest for more land.
At the time, there were only savings banks in the country except for the Commerce Bank in Prague that handled international currency. People got paid money not checks. Most of them kept the money at home and spent it for basic needs.
Nothing was really cheap; you pretty much spent your entire paycheck on life’s necessities. And that definitely discounted gas and telephone bills, because only a few people had cars or telephones. However, most people were not in debt, and mortgages didn’t exist. Something as bizarre as a non-returnable loan for newlyweds existed.
It wasn’t uncommon for several generations to live in one house. But the main housing was in apartments, that were affordable, but you had to wait for them for years. There were cheaper state-owned apartments and apartments owned by the cooperatives. Condos did not exist. This set-up was due to the socialist ownership of everything from apartments to land, factories and businesses that happened through the major nationalizations in 1945 and 1948. Houses were individually owned and usually built by owners. Most houses were in villages, and these included very old buildings like my Grandfather Joseph’s beloved “Ranch” at 111 Krnovska in Vizovice. The old buildings known as “chalupas” required extensive repair challenged by the shortage of contractors and materials.
However, the main source of the communist pride were the apartment mega complexes such as the “Southern Slopes” housing 20,000 people, which was one- fourth of the population of Zlin. These were dubbed as the “building successes of socialism.” The country is sprinkled with these and their inhabitants are happy to live in them. Most of them have been turned into condos.
Atheism vs Religion
A friend asked me to write about religion in socialist Czechoslovakia. Under the Marxism Leninism philosophy, the official religion was atheism–not believing in God or any deity. The church properties were confiscated along with everything else and belonged to the state as of 1945. But people went to churches, some secretly, others openly.
There were only two denominations that my husband Ludek and I could recall: Catholic and Evangelic. Each town had one church only, and the Catholic church usually prevailed depending on the region. The churches were old dating back to feudalism and the reigning aristocracy. It took 150 years to build the new Saint Mary’s Church in Stipa due to a pause in construction because of the 1620 war. The construction started under Albrecht of Valdstejn in 1615 and ended in 1765 thanks to the money from the Rottal countess.
The clear and present danger of going to church mainly impacted teachers and career-oriented people who were trying to get ahead of the game. It impacted both my father and my aunt.
Although we come from a large Catholic family, Aunt Martha, who was a teacher in Stipa, could not go to church. Many years later, I found out that she was a member of the Old Catholic Church, a chapter located inside a chapel at the cemetery across the street from the Konecny house and that she had sponsored a priest in his education. The chapel is also a tomb of the count Seilern family, a major influence in the Stipa region with the Chateau Lesna.
One of the major wars, the Thirty Years’ War, in Czech history was over religion. What I consider the sad part of modern history is that after the downfall of socialism in Czechoslovakia, the majority of people never returned back to the church.
However, a big tradition centered around the parishes stayed intact–that is the feast of the saints. In our case, it was the Feast of Saint Mary in Stipa on September 8 th. These feasts or pilgrimages were much like homecomings or festivals in the U.S. The entire families gathered for the feasts for an opulent celebration of the saints. In many cases, animals were butchered and ladies baked the famous pastry-kolache or strudels. A dance took place at the local hall on the night before the feast. This often turned into a brawl, as people got drunk on plum brandy. Carnival rides always came into town with booths and paper roses. I loved these paper colorful crepe roses on wires; I wish I had kept at least one. Other booths sold gingerbread hearts of all sizes and for all hearts.
In traditional pilgrimage places like Hostyn, the booths were set up all the time and opened for the season with hundreds of religious and non-religious items: rosaries, prayer books, medallions and miniature statues. Pilgrims streamed to Hostyn, both on foot and on buses.
That brings me to celebrations of holidays in general. In villages like Stipa, many people raised animals for meat: rabbits, pigs, geese, turkeys, chickens and ducks. That was the primary source of meat for the holidays. Most meat was roasted, served with creamy sauces or sauerkraut and dumplings. Pork and chicken were often fried into wiener schnitzel. Salads or vegetables were not as common as in the U.S. due to their year-round shortage. Soups were always a part of a holiday meal, mostly beef or chicken. In some households, people made their own noodles.
As a rule, women baked for the weekends all sorts of pastries, some for breakfast. But there was also an abundance of pastries on the market; at the bakeries, coffee shops, patisseries and in grocery stores. The patisseries served as cafes with people hanging around in them sipping coffee or wine, while enjoying a “rakvicka.” This dessert has always fascinated me; the pastry is in the form of a small coffin filled with delicious cream and ornately decorated on the top with whirls and swirls of more cream.
Among the most famous baked goods, were “rohliky” or bread rolls in the shape of a crescent, some even came with poppy seeds. And bread was always good, whether baked round with hard crust or in loaves in small or large bakeries.
Other homemade products included sausages and smoked meat. The butchering of the family pig usually took place in winter and before the holidays, so there was plenty of meat on the table. Socialism with its chronic lack of basic goods, drove the need for self-sufficiency specifically in the villages and craftsmanship as well. People were forced to be more creative in many different ways.
Many households in villages and towns were self-sufficient with everything homemade or home grown. National artist Joseph Lada illustrated the traditional festivities: The Feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 6, the butchering of the family pig in the yard with onlookers, Christmas by the tall tiled stoves, autumn campfires with fire-roasted potatoes and summer fun by the ponds with the willows.
The Czech Republic enjoys four distinct seasons: mild winters, early springs, hot summers and moderate autumns. The seasons are conducive to year-round vacationing and recreation. In the socialist era, people traveled freely between the two parts of the country, Czech and Slovak republics. Slovakia is the home to the Tatra Mountains. Travel to other socialist countries was also accommodated.
Recreation was encouraged and subsidized through the membership in the Revolutionary Union Movement (ROH) at the workplaces. Some companies had their own recreation centers in the mountains like Jelenovska. We visited this center in the mid-1980s. Much fancier centers belonged to the leaders of the Communist Party.
The ultimate goal of socialism aimed at the health and well-being of the population and the country. However, that was contradicted by the inability to act freely in many aspects such as travel to the Western countries and overall limitations of freedom of speech and press.
The press of the socialist era represented the opinions and views of tolerated organizations. The number one daily newspaper was “The Red Truth,” the official paper of the Communist Party gloated with the party philosophy and the party news. Then, there was a version for the younger generation called, “The Young Front,” which was a little bit less biased. After that, came “The People News” and “The Agricultural News.” All of them were heavily censored for content and inuendo. Journalists had to go to political schools, which were hard to get into.
The older generation like my grandpa read “The People News” only on Sunday afternoons. At the Gymnasium Zlin, we had to recite the news in the “Citizens’ Education” class. The news was usually about the president sending a congratulatory letter to another leader of a socialist country or about the regular Communist Party conventions.
The TV wasn’t much better, if not worse. There was one TV station–The Czechoslovak TV run by the government. The books and magazines were less censored. I sent a lot of novels to mom Ella.
I will be participating in October Virtual Book Fest with a reading on Oct. 5 and an interview on Oct. 23.
Zoom Reading:October 5, 2020 @ 7pm – 7:30pm
Zoom Interview:October 23, 2020 @ 7pm – 8pm
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
LowellArts Fallasburg Virtual Arts Festival 2020 Plans Finalized
A New Format For 52nd Annual Event
Lowell, Michigan -|Event organizers have finalized plans for the LowellArts Fallasburg Virtual Arts Festival 2020. Due to restraints from the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced earlier this month that a virtual version of the event would be held. With a new format, the 52nd annual event will consist of many of the same traditions people enjoy about the festival. This year, visitors will walk through the festival via an on-line, interactive map that will “open” at 10:00 am on September 19, the original start date and time for the festival. The map will be available at http://www.lowellartsmi.org, and will include links to explore artwork, music, children’s creations, craft demonstrations, and more. Festival organizers want to create an on-line experience for visitors that makes them feel like they are “there.” To make this virtual experience a success, organizers are asking for help from the community to engage in several activities being offered before, and in association with, the virtual event. ARTISTSEach of the 100+ talented artists that were juried into the 2020 festival will be represented on the interactive map, in their virtual booth location. On-line visitors can click on the artists’ booths to see more information about that artist and images of their artwork. If visitors are interested in purchasing artwork from an artist, they can connect with that artist through additional links to the artists’ website or other on-line sale platform. 100% of these proceeds will go directly to the artists. LIVE MUSICLive music will be played on both September 19 and 20, available for free to on-line visitors. A limited number of tickets will be sold to visitors who wish to experience the live music in-person. Three shows, with multiple groups presenting at each show, will be showcased at a new, outdoor performance venue in Lowell called Camp Clear Sky. Showtimes are Saturday, September 19, 12:00-4:00pm and 6:00-10:00pm and Sunday, September 20, 12:00pm-4:00pm. Ticket prices and ticket sale date to be announced. ARTIST DEMONSTRATIONS / PUMPKIN DECORATING / FOOD BOOTHSPrerecorded fine craft demonstrations will be featured as part of the on-line festival experience, as well as the opportunity for children (of any age) to create a “character” pumpkin and have a photo of their creation on the website as part of the virtual event. Pumpkins will be available free of charge at the LowellArts Gallery (223 W Main St, Lowell) beginning August 29 during regular gallery hours. Food booths will also be represented on the interactive map, with highlights about how these non-profit organizations that typically benefit from the proceeds of festival food sales impact our community. QUILT RAFFLEThe festival would not be complete without the annual quilt raffle. As always, a beautiful quilt was created exclusively for the 2020 festival. This year’s quilt “Blue Lagoon” was created by Dawn Ysseldyke. The quilt can be viewed in-person at the LowellArts Gallery (223 W Main St, Lowell) beginning August 4. Raffle tickets for the quilt will be available for purchase soon and will be available through festival weekend. On September 20 at 5:00pm, a live-streamed “pulling of the winning ticket” ceremony will be held to announce the winner of the quilt. LowellArts would like to thank this year’s Fallasburg Virtual Arts Festival 2020 Sponsors – Fifth Third Bank, Meijer, Litehouse Foods, and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
Fallasburg Virtual Arts Festival 2020 Sponsors:
Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Listen in today at 2:30 p.m. to radio WOES-FM 91.3- Ovid-Elsie Community radio- home of the polka palace.
Tom Bradley, one of the co-founders of the Czech Harvest Festival in Bannister, will be talking about the “Dozinky” festival. The festival always held on the first Sunday in August was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could not take the risk,” said co-founder Diane Bradley.
The festival takes place at the ZCBJ Lodge in Bannister. in Cenral Michigan. It features a parade, costumed dancers, a festive dinner consisting of ham, chicken, dumplings, saurkraut, cucumber salad, mashed potatoes and traditional Czech desserts. The dinner is followed by a dance.
MI – Short like a summer romance, the book tour started in Muskegon with the
Lakeshore Art Festival, where I officially launched my new book 2 “Secrets”
from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series.
It was my first time at the festival in Muskegon, and I was impressed by its magnitude. Two busy days brought many surprises like the guy who asked me to sell my book to him in two minutes. I had the marketing pitch ready, and I did sell him the first book faster than he expected. Then came a lady with a cart who had to have a book from each Michigan author. There was only a little time left to network with other authors. Thank you Diane for buying our books.
MichiganAuthors are sweeping the shores of the Great Lakes from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior and Lake Huron in a new wave of renaissance in literature.
I did manage to connect with authors Jules Nelson of “Shadows”, authors Andrew
Smith, Jean Darla Davis and Ludington author Joan H. Young. We filled two big
tents, and people did support #MichiganAuthors. The cost was $100 for two days.
Somebody asked me if my book was the original book “Shifting Sands” about a dune in Muskegon. And then better yet, my daughter Emma discovered the Pigeon Hill brewery in Muskegon with their Shifting Sands IPA.
next gig was in my hometown of Lowell during the annual Riverwalk Festival. We
were in the Riverwalk parade at noon, and in the afternoon, I was at LowellArts
signing my books during Livin’ is Easy exhibit. I had a big yellow and black
painting of a horse behind my back that matched my yellow dress.
Somewhere in between was The WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin and a podcast with America’s Community Voices Network with hosts Ronald & Donald Brookins. I will be reading passages from my new book “Secrets” on their podcast show.
Books Alive! In Ludington was a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) event, and it was incredibly hot. There could have been 14 authors bearing the heat. People were not buying a lot of books, more like ice cream and pop, while loading up on free stuff.
Traverse City, organized by Dan McDougall was very cool, since it was inside a mall. The traffic was good, and I made new friends with fellow Michigan authors; I also stopped at the Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City. My book is available at the bookstore now.
Then again, I joined the horse on the canvas inside LowellArts on Aug. 10.
But definitely the best event was in Paradise located in Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Paradise is a tiny village nestling on the shores of Lake Superior on Whitefish Bay. The Wild Blueberry Festival with Arts & Crafts show lasted three days. People flocked to it from all over Michigan and Canada. It’s about an hour drive from the Mackinac Bridge.
booth was located on a dune above the lake. Priceless. We could see Canada on
the other shore. The traffic was busy all three days. I had bratwurst with wild
blueberries, and a great little helper Ella, 8. She even got commission from
book sales. Ella learned the marketing pitch and worked it all Saturday long.
main story is historical fiction from Belding, MI when it was known as the Silk
City Capital of the world,” she said.
The book cover with the optical illusion of the “Face of Gossip” attracted a lot of attention. Other people were fascinated my own immigration story from former communist Czechoslovakia, when I showed than an article about my naturalization.
“You did the right way,” the lady said.
We were stationed next to Redfish Artworks booth of creative and original art, by Bill and Angela Kuhn. On second day, I knew their pitch for their arrowheads, just like they knew mine for the book.
am a flint knapper,” Bill would repeat 100 times a day.
all had a blast and sold a lot of products.
you coming back next year?” Bill asked.
we loved it.”
We were only a short drive from Tahquamenon Falls surrounded by beautiful nature from all sides. There were four other authors at the festival, and people were buying books.
I would consider both Belding parades, where the main story “Silk Nora” is set as the last summer events on my tour. Both parades started by the former Ballou Basket Works Factory and proceeded through downtown with hundreds of spectators.
Day weekend is known as Belding’s homecoming.
Thank you, Belding, for a great homecoming.
Watch for a post about my upcoming fall book tour.
I will be at the Fallasburg Village Bazaar on Sept. 14 and Sept. 15 from noon to 5 p.m. Come for a book and an authograph. There will be plenty of vendors to find your treasure.
Check out the Kindle Countdown deal starting on Sept. 10 through Sept. 15 on Amazon at:
Lowell, MI – I am getting ready for my next book stop in Paradise located in Upper Peninsula in Michigan. The tiny village nestled on Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay annually hosts the popular Wild Blueberry Festival-Arts & Crafts Fair on Aug. 15, 16 & 17 with close to 100 vendors peddling everything from Lake Superior agate pendants to books.
My new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series is a collection of 15 short stories with the main historical fiction story “Silk Nora” set in the turn-of-the-century Belding.
One of the stories “When Layla met Corey” is set in Mackinaw City, which is a gateway to Upper Peninsula.
The book made its debut at the Lakeshore Art Festival in Muskegon in July.
An artist’s dream
Paradise, a community rich with nautical folklore, logging and Native American History attracts thousands of visitors and vendors due to close proximity to Tahquamenon Falls.
For its natural wonders and wilderness, Upper Peninsula has traditionally drawn writers, photographers and artists from all over the USA. Among the most famous authors were: Earnest Hemingway and John Voelker.
A recent wave of emerging Michigan authors is sweeping the shores of the Great Lakes from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior. They write from Michigan with Michigan settings and locations. They market themselves under the umbrella of Michigan Authors. Follow them on http://www.MichiganAuthors.com
This is by far, not my first visit to UP or Paradise. I have fond memories of vacationing Up North, both from years ago with our kids and most recently with our granddaughter Ella.
I love the wilderness of UP and its natural pristine beauty, as well as the spirit of the Great Lakes.
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.
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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.