Category Archives: historical fiction

Case: Freedom

Exercising voting and speaking rights

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I feel privileged that I can vote for any party or candidate that I want to. It wasn’t like that before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989. There was one party ticket only: The Communist Party.

I realized that earlier this morning as I voted in Vergennes Township Precinct 1. I cast the 82nd ballot, soon after dropping off Ella at St. Pat’s summer care program around 9 a.m. I got the sticker, “I voted.”

I convinced my parents to vote only a few years ago. My husband Ludek and our son Jake will be voting in the November general election for the first time. By then, they will be naturalized American citizens.

As the church bells rang, I knew they were also the bells of freedom: the freedom to vote and the freedom of speech.

I exercised that freedom last night at the “Emerging Artists” event organized by the new LowellWrites group. Back in my Czech homeland before the fall of the regime, we could never ever give any speeches about anything. Unlike the “right to work”, freedom of speech wasn’t one of the rights we had.

That’s why late president Vaclav Havel was jailed so many times, because he spoke openly against the regime. I talked about him being my role model and my personal hero during the event.

“He was also a playwright,” I told my friends last night. “He spent a lot of time in jail.”

I am always amazed at how much one man or woman can accomplish in a lifetime.

“And then, they go out and do more,” states one commercial.

So, true. People who do great things go out and do more great things. I’ve learned that in meditations; to detach from the outcome. You can’t influence the result of anything, but you can be an integral part of it.

Havel knew he would go back to jail, but he never ceased to fight for freedom. As I watch the Facebook news feed, I do not understand why a lot of Czech people do not like Havel.

Once, I posted: “He was in prison also for your freedom.”

You should have seen the outpour of anger.

“He had it better in prison, than you have it in your living room,” was one comment that I will never forget.

The person missed the whole point that Havel fought for freedom for all Czechs and Slovaks, and ended up in prison for that like Nelson Mandela. But the comment went further to qualify that Havel maybe had a TV to watch and a typewriter to write, plus implying that I might not have either one of these tools.

Since I do have a laptop and the freedom of expression, I am sharing my Aug. 6th the speech during the “Emerging Artists” event at the LowellArts Gallery.

 

Good evening,

Thank you for having me, Lowell Arts and Deb.

Most of you probably know me as the roving reporter for the Lowell Ledger running around and chasing after stories, day or night, sweating during the Kent County Youth Fair, that is going on right now.

Tonight, I am here on a different venture presenting my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories,” which is a collection of 13 short stories based on my immigration, retail and journalistic experiences spanning more than two decades. Based on this, I divide the stories into three circles.

Although, I’ve always wanted to hold my own book in my hands and see it on the shelves of local bookstores, it wasn’t until 2017 that I made it happen. I realized if I didn’t put the short stories together, into a published collection, they would get lost.

That’s why I call it also a historic preservation project. I wrote the first story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in 1990 on a Smith-Corona Word Processor and the last one “Orange Nights” in 2017, partly on my tablet in my favorite hair salon.

My entire writing and publishing journey has been inspired by our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia. My father professor Vaclav Konecny has been my role model all along. I based the character Martin Duggan on him.

I fictionalized the character, the university town of Rocky Rapids and the crazy “actions” of the professor. This one could be easily billed as the wildly popular “historical fiction” category.

The professor was perfect except for one incident……….

That brings me to the circle of stories based on my journalistic experience. These too could fit the “historical fiction” category. In “Iron Horse,” while covering hometown politics, I was inspired by a story of a township supervisor who got recalled in a special election by his own people. And the reason for recall: a pig farmer with the stench from the operation reaching the supervisor’s resort.

A herdsman’s wife Deb organized the revolt.

I captured the recall process in a series of articles.

These were the back up questions, we never got around to, because the audience was actively participating in the discussion moderated by poet Ian Haight of Germany.

People often ask me, why do I write and what are my goals?

Purpose of an artist; why do I write?

  • For me writing is a passion that I cannot get rid of. I tried unsuccessfully several times. It never worked. I’ve always returned to writing in some shape or form.
  • Goals

To continue writing to provide a respite from the real world that is to entertain people.

Growing as an author

  • With the publication of my book, I have grown a lot as a writer. People look up to me for writing and publishing advise; how to get their writing projects done. Being an author means sharing information.
  • The process of art:

Why did I create it?

So, the stories don’t get lost.

Where did the inspiration or motivation come from?

From our immigration saga; that my father had to overcome many obstacles to get where he is now. By that, I mean both physically and emotionally. One of the obstacles was my own mother who did not want to emigrate, leave Czechoslovakia. My other role model is the late president Vaclav Havel.

I even find inspiration in politics. That’s where the historical fiction category kicks in.

Was it hard to create this piece of art from start to finish?

Yes, it was. In the beginning I did not know where I was going with it. I had no idea that the stories would end up in a book.

Why share this piece?

Because they are part of the human experience, with struggles, obstacles and victories along the way.

And as I was quoted in the Grand Rapids Magazine:

“I know that it might sound cheesy, but even though not all the stories have happy endings, that doesn’t mean that everything that happens to us is either good or bad. It isn’t always that clear.”

 That’s why the sequel.

What does it mean to me?

To me it is the product of many years of hard work; kind of like when you get a degree after years of work. But, I think it goes deeper than that.

It’s more like a solo creation for others to enjoy.

What do you hope people will take away from it?

Definitely, a deeper understanding of human character, and why people do what they do.

 

 

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Interview with WGVU Shelley Irwin

Renaissance of the written word

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- While finalizing my interview draft for the WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin in downtown Grand Rapids, I was able to come up with a common theme; renaissance of the written word and literature overall.

That was my final takeaway message for the audience.

“We’re in a renaissance era of the written word,” I said. “Write every day, put together what you have written and send it out. Don’t let dust settle on your manuscripts. If you can’t find an agent or a publishing house, do it yourself. Find a self-publishing platform.”

Over the last two decades, people have been getting increasingly sick of technology and trying to figure everything out on devices, and the ever-changing algorithms.

On the other hand, the renaissance is partly thanks to Google’s keywords, business and product reviews and captioning on TV.

I’ve noticed an explosion of literature on my author’s adventures since I’ve penned “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” Poets are popping up, as well as memoirists and there is a huge demand for historical fiction.

As a true lover of history and artifacts, I brought in with me to the WGVU Studio at the Eberhard Center a remnant of a word processor; a font reel or wheel with my favorite script font 10/12. That’s all I have left of the word processor that had a screen for  three sentences at the max. I bought it in 1990 at, the close to being extinct, Kmart.

“The millennials don’t know what it is, but I used the Smith- Corona word processor to write my first stories,” I said.

Irwin looked at the reel wheel with the script font puzzled.

“I am not a millennial, but I can’t figure this out either,” as she looked at the artifact.

We talked about the “Riddleyville Clown” short story, that is pure fiction. Based on the story, I wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” © Emma Palova.

“It was inspired by a hometown parade to the 175th anniversary of fictive Riddleyville, organized by one of the town characters,” I said. “It is about the assassination on the liberal presidential candidates.”

When Irwin asked about my favorite stories out of the collection of 13 short stories, I said: “If I had to choose it would be a toss between “The Death Song” and “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.”

“Why?”

“Because the characters stay with you long after you’re done reading,” I said. “My daughter-in-law Maranda asked me what was wrong with the guys.”

That’s exactly what I want; that resonation with the characters and questions left hanging in the air. That’s why I am writing a sequel to Shifting Sand Short Stories, as well as the Greenwich Meridian memoir.

“iIt’s a balancing act,” I said.

The main character in “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” is a math professor, perfectionist by nature.

By pure coincidence, and with “Back to School” looming in the air, there was also a mathematical conference going on at the Eberhard Center. A girl offered me an AlgebraNation pencil and a flag.

I have to check if it is pencil no.2, that professor Duggan used in the story. It’s got to be just right, not too soft, not too hard.

“Obviously, you have a passion for writing,” said Irwin.

It was a great experience being in the same studio with Irwin and the intern, and other adventurers like  the Iron  Fish Distilleries.

I heard their story driving back to Lowell on WGVU 88.5 FM.

Thank you, Shelley, until we meet again on my next venture.

Books and events

Shifting Sands Short Stories is available locally at Schuler Books in GR and in Lansing, Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, KDL libraries and it is coming to “Epilogue Books” in Rockford. It is on Amazon.

 

Author events @LowellArts

 

July 28 & Aug. 4, 1- 3 p.m. Book signing & discussion

Aug. 6, 7 to 9 p.m. panel discussion with poet Ian Haight

 

To join LowellArts Writer’s Group contact Debra Duiven Dunning at 897-8545

For more info go to https://www.lowellarts.mi.org

 

WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin

 

http://www.tinyurl.com/ycp9cx5k

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

FFW 2018

Festival of Faith & Writing attracts speakers and panelists from all genres

“I need the rigor and radicalism of friendship to be a poet, to be anything, really.”

-Natalie Diaz-

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Grand Rapids, MI – The three-day Festival of Faith & Writing was jam-packed with speakers, workshops, book signings and exhibitors. It started under the blue skies and ended with freezing rain on Saturday at the Prince Conference Center.

I had trouble picking workshops due to conflicting times and variety. Of course, I didn’t want to miss anything. Some sessions required pre-registration, and those were full three weeks ahead of the conference.

On Thursday, I attended “Self-Editing to Take Your Writing to the Next Level” with Erin Bartels. The lecture room was filled to the last seat.

“Schedule writing time and protect it,” she said. “Find an accountability partner. You owe it to people to get that done. Get involved in writing groups.”

Suggested reading: “The First Five Pages: A  Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile” by Noah Lukeman.

The keynote speaker Kwame Alexander, poet and educator, first showed a picture of his tour bus. Yes, Alexander uses a bus to promote his books, wherever he goes, including at Farmer’s Markets. He received the 2015 Newberry Medal for novel “The Crossover

In his speech “Saying Yes to the Writerly Life”, Alexander said yes many times in his life, including to building a library and a health center in Ghana.

Historical fiction is huge and authors Natashia Deon and Suzanne Wolfe spoke to that in “Walking the Line between Fact and Fiction in Historical Novels.”

Deon is an attorney by day, and a novelist at night.

“I want to rescue people from history,” she said. “I write the story first, and then fill in the gaps with history research.”

Wolfe said she treats characters like they never died.

“You write what you know. I am alive and I am human. My character is alive. Augustine is not dead, Shakespeare is alive. They arepart of the conversation. I bawled over Augustine,” she said.

Deon’s novel “Grace” won the 2017 First Novel Prize. Wolfe is the author of “Unveiling: A Novel and Confessions of X.”

The #Me Too movement came up for discussion during several sessions including: “Silence and Beauty” in the Sister Books of Shusaku Endo and Makoto Fujimura.

“Insight and goodwill will heal us,” said Shann Ray, instructor.

The festival goers were not afraid to discuss Toxic  relationships.

To be continued with “Daughters Writing about Mothers, ” “Writing the Wrinkles in Time” and film at the festival.

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