Category Archives: history

Day 15 marks halfway of #nanowrimo

Daily insights from #nanowrimo

It is the opening day of the firearm hunting season in Michigan

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Today marks the halfway point in the 50K work marathon of the National Novel Writing Month. I logged in with 31,435 words and a new story, “Secrets in Ink” (c) 2018 Emma Palova.

As Anton P. Chekhov said: “Always incubate a new idea.” I did that for years, while working as a reporter for both weekly and daily newspapers in West Michigan. I went into reporting with the intention of writing books. 

I still like reporting being around live people rather than book characters. In the end, there is no difference between the two; any author can attest to that. You draw on inspiration from real life, unless you’re writing about Martians.

As I watch the explosion of new books based on the current White House happenings that beat any soap opera, I must say Mr. Chekhov was right along with another great author: You borrow from others.

There is no such thing as an original idea that hasn’t been worked before. It just depends how you work it around; what kind of a spin you give to a story.

I started the “Secrets in Ink” this morning after meditation. Once I have determined the framework, the story began to unfold itself with the two main characters: AJ and Luke.

However, I still miss my “Silk Nora” from the week-long writing sprint. I am looking forward to publishing the new anthology “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova with the bulk of the writing done during this creative project.

Excerpts from “Secrets in Ink”

On the cusp of the Internet, most newspapers had credibility, that would be lost later in the binary digit maze and social media of the new millennium. However, most newspapers jumped on the Internet bandwagon late, but earlier than doctor’s practices.

Whether corporate or hometown, they all had in one thing in common; they could be bribed by the advertisers. None of them really had a clean conscious mind.

Behind every 50-point bold headline lied a tragedy: small or big, but always newsworthy in line with the slogan:

“All the news that’s fit to print.”

But not all the news gathered was fit to print.

“Can you handle that story?” a publisher asked. “You’re not going to be biased, right?”

In the decadence of the late 1990s, scandals abounded: nationwide and hometown.

Each story had to pass the test: number one who will it upset the most?

The other motto followed by 100 percent of the newspaper industry continued into the current multimedia news streaming business.

“If it bleeds it leads.”

It may seem cynical at first look, by the time second look comes around, it has validated itself by another tragedy or massacre.

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

Book cover for “Secrets” aka the Face of Gossip.
Halfway through NaNoWriMo today
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Day 14 #nanowrimo

Daily insights from the National Novel Writing Month

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I stuck to my morning writing routine: yoga, treadmill, meditations and writing until I reached a certain point in the story. That I did at 11 a.m., bringing the historical fiction piece “Silk Nora” (c) 2018 Emma Palova to its finale.

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This historical story was a little bit different from the rest of the bunch in the debut novel “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” (c) 2017 Emma Palova or in the sequel “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova.

I thematically divide my short stories into the following circles based on my experiences: immigration, retail, newspaper, history and new era. Some are of course hybrids between the two or three circles.

I was first inspired to write “Silk Nora” about a year ago while visiting the Belrockton museum. I have a deep passion for history; I call it my second love after writing. Basically, It took a while for the story to gel, and then a week for me to pen it. I started to write it on Day 7 of the #nanowrimo creative project.

At first, I thought of research as a challenge during the 50K word marathon, but it had proven to be a delight. I came across major charms such as the “cloche” hat of the 1920s, gin rickeys and mint juleps. “picture palaces” or  movie theaters, the Ford Model T automobile and theatrical skits rather than plays.

Immediately, as I got done, I missed the story, its characters and setting. The experts call it a “character withdrawal.” Goodbye my friends, Nora, Harry, John, Mathilda and Doris.

I logged in with 29,339 words earlier in the day. Where will I go tomorrow with my stories? Wherever they take me.

Excerpts from “Silk Nora”

For a brief moment in time, Nora was able to forget all about that deep sadness in her heart. She waved crazily at the people in the parade. All three women decided to join in the parade with the Red Cross entry led by Doc from the hospital.

“I am glad you found us,” said Doc. “This is a great parade to be in.”

After the parade, there were public picnics in the parks around town. Finally, everybody took time away from ordinary life. Chef Josiah from the “Bel” had prepared their picnic hamper with stuffed eggs, celery stuffed with cream, salted radishes, homemade lemon-limeade, coconut layer cake, cheese sprinkled with paprika, slices of watermelon and chicken.

The “Belding Boys” moved into the bandshell and played jazz.

“You know they are missing a trumpet,” said Doc. “John had to go to the Catawba Sanatorium.”

They were all comfortably seated around the bench enjoying the late summer festivities. Nora stopped eating her stuffed egg and took a sip of the fresh lemonade breathing in the summer air.

“Doctor, is Mathilda going to die?” Nora asked Doc.

Doc paused before he took a bite out of the big sandwich. He had previously taken off his straw hat and set it carefully by his side not wanting to mess up the picnic.

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

Day 12 #nanowrimo

Half-way point reached with 25,282 words, daily insights

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I reached the half-way point of the National Novel Writing Month creative project this morning at 11 a.m. with 25,282 words in the 50K word marathon.

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Needless to say that I am excstatic. I average six pages a day or 1,500 words. I am still working on historical fiction story “Silk Nora” (c) 2018 Emma Palova, which becomes a part of the new anthology “Secrets” (c) Emma Palova, a sequel to last year’s Shifting Sands: Short Stories.

I was delighted to find out about the different shoes from the 1920s like T-strap Mary Janes and Oxfords. Who said that research and history are boring? It depends on what you’re looking for.

I have a clear intention of seeing “Secrets” to print. There is a section “Now What?” on the #nanowrimo once you’re done with your 50,000 words. It will be supported in the months of January and February with the #NaNoNowWhat event to move along the revision and publishing process.

I am really looking forward to also chatting with #NaNoCoach Carolina DeRobertis on twitter this week. Not that I can take a breather, but it does feel good to reach the half-way point marked by a 25,000 word badge.

Excerpts

Nora was hesitant to speak.

“You want to talk to me, dear?” Doris encouraged her protégé to speak up.

“I know Doris, you’re single and you probably wouldn’t understand me,” whispered shyly Nora.

Doris straightened up in her chair and looked deeply at Nora’s face.

“I may be single, but that doesn’t mean I never had boyfriend,” she said.

The office was functional but pretty just like the rest of the dorms.

“I can’t attend high tea on Sunday,” Nora breathed heavily as got the dreaded words out of her.

Doris walked to Nora and put her hand on her shoulder.

“Look at me, Nora,” she said. “It isn’t a sin not to attend high tea. You know it’s not mandatory.”

“I know, but I don’t want to disappoint you, Doris,” said Nora teary-eyed, “or make you feel bad.”

“Nora, you’re acting up because of nothing, what is really going on with you?” Doris asked.

Nora had been secluding herself ever since that dance with Harry at the Rose Ballroom. She didn’t talk much with any other girls at the dorms or at work.

“You know my friend Harry?” Nora paused to think about her words.

“Yes, the newspaper writer, you danced with him at the ball,” said Doris. “What about him?”

“He asked me out to the movies this Sunday during your high tea,” said Nora sadly.

Doris sat back in her chair behind the desk.

 

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

Veteran’s Day marks Day 11 of #nanowrimo

Armistice Day: The World observes 100th anniversary since the end of World War I

The National Novel Writing Month enters its 11th day

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I got closer  to the half-way mark of the National Novel Writing Month logging in a total of 23, 381 words in the 50K word marathon known as #nanowrimo earlier in the day.

We went out to eat at the Honey Creek Inn last night, and I noticed a white board up front, “Write a note to a veteran.” I thought that was very thoughtful of Don the owner of the Inn.

“Thank you veterans for fighting for our freedom.”

Armistice Day coincides with story plot

The US entered World War I in April of 2017.  Strangely enough, I came across that fact during research for my historical piece “Silk Nora” (c) 2018 Emma Palova this morning. I won’t reveal the plot here for obvious reasons, but I also found out that the United Kingdom had a conscription or a draft in 1916. These are some of the moving forces in the story.

I also looked up “high tea” in London’s finest establishments and the tradition entered my story. Not, only did it enter my story, but also my festive repertoire for the upcoming holiday season. Who said that research was boring? It also depends what you’re researching.

For the rest of this Sunday, I went about my regular business; church, grocery shopping, and cooking dinner. Well, yes it’s here: the store was getting ready for Christmas even though we haven’t done Thanksgiving yet. I suppose, it’s never too early for Christmas.

It wasn’t too nutty at the store with early shoppers, but the store had loaded up with nuts of all sorts. My favorite ones are Brazilian nuts and Pecans.

It is my clear intention to see the new collection of short stories “Secrets”, (c) 2018 Emma Palova, which is a sequel to Shifting Sands: Short Stories (c) 2017 Emma Palova, to print.

Excerpts

All the silk girls at the dormitory loved Doris’ high tea time in the tea room. They moved to the tea room to enjoy all the flavors. Doris had her tea porcelain set shipped from England. The fragile cups and saucers had floral print. The shipment included Ahmad Earl Grey tea with bergamot and the precious Darjeeling, the champagne of teas, from London

Doris modeled the high tea ritual at the “Bel” after the one she had once enjoyed at Claridge’s, London. The three-tiered stand featured colorful macaroons, chocolate cake and fruit tarts on the top; the freshly baked scones, plain, apple and raisin, were always accompanied by strawberry jam with heavy Devonshire cream.

Chef Josiah at the “Bel” took special care in making the sandwiches for the Sunday afternoon high tea. He always placed the finger-sized sandwiches on the bottom of the stand. The Chef didn’t shy away from putting cucumber slices on the dill and smoked salmon sandwiches.

Doris was the true “Tearista” here with her knowledge of teas from around the world such as Jasmine Dragon Pearls, Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, or Hathialli meaning ‘Elephant Road.’

Doris also always took care of the finale of the high tea that changed from Sunday to Sunday. This week it was the lemon meringue cake, expressing Doris’ nostalgia after the past summer.

The girls exchanged meaningful conversation with each other not thinking about the work week ahead of them.

Doris and Josiah also enjoyed a glass of champagne with their tea.

 

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

Day 8 #nanowrimo

Daily insights from the 50K word marathon with excerpts

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By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I don’t know about the rest of the 500,000 people who are participating in the National Novel Writing Month around the globe, but I struggled today. I didn’t have time to check with fellow writers on social media.

Exactly one week into #nanowrimo, I logged in 1,200 words for today with the historical fiction piece “Silk Nora” (c) 2018 Emma Palova; that is less than the required daily rate of 1,667 words. I had to go to town and go about business, other than writing. And somewhere along the road, I caught the bug, sneezing and caughing all day. That all signifies that we’re getting the first snow tomorrow, that will actually stick to the ground.

Plus, I wasn’t completely sure, if I wanted to pursue the new story that required some research. But, I went for it, so the story will become a part of the new collection of stories: “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova. It is my clear intention to see this project to print.

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

The story began to unravel itself with new characters like Nora and Doris, along with old historical characters, the Belding Brothers. That brought up my total word count to 18,605 words with the plot ready to go.

Here is an excerpt:

Nora worked at the Richardson Mill located on the banks of the Flat River. Every morning she punched the clock at 6 a.m. and sat at her station by the window with hundreds of other girls. They made silk thread used for making stockings, long before nylon or rayon.

Long days spent inside the factory were offset by leisure time in the city parks located on the Flat River and on the boardwalk leading to the library.

Nora and Mathilda walked the city streets together enjoying their youth and independence. The women flouted conventional standards of behavior of homemakers and were on the cusp of the women’s right to vote in 1920. The 1920s represented the jazz age, a time of liberation for the feminine form. Women’s clothing became more comfortable and simplistic. The flapper proudly showed her liberation by bobbing her hair, rolling down her stockings, dancing the Charleston in her shorter gown and wearing the new look in hats.

Signs of progress were touchable everywhere from the interior six bathrooms at the “Bel” to a space designated for women in the saloons of the bustling city. At the time, the city of Belding had four hotels.

Known as the “Silk City Girls” the young women spent much of their time weaving silk on spools. Silk at the time was on high demand as the major feminine fabric due to the existing shortage of woolens and cottons.

Nora and Mathilda worked together long hours at the silk mill earnings 47 cents an hour. The Belding Banner called the girls “Sweethearts in Silk” blasting propaganda about their happiness with headlines such as “The Silks with Happiness Woven into Them.”

The girls sat at their stations on the floor of the factory in orderly rows. The downstairs of the Richardson Mill was used for making stockings.

 

 

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

50th anniversary of Soviet Occupation of Czechoslovakia, 1968

It is with certain trepidation that I approach the 50th anniversary of Soviet occupation of former Czechoslovakia on the night of Aug. 20 to Aug. 21, 1968.

The milestone seems unbelievable to me. It was such a pivotal moment that influenced the rest of my life. What followed the occupation changed two generations; a massive exodus fleeing from the occupied country to its Western neighbors.

Soviet occupation of Prague in 1968
Soviet occupation of Prague in 1968

There is an old cliché saying that time heals everything. Decades of other events in history may have put layers of dust over this one. But those whose lives have been touched by the invasion, will never forget.

I’ve only heard other people’s accounts of the invasion; recently a video posted on Facebook stirred my memory.

People reacted to the event in two basic ways: either they stayed in the country or they emigrated to the West. The majority stayed in the country.

My father professor Vaclav Konecny decided for the latter of the two. That is to leave the country rather than endure the regime. Fifty years later, both of my parents have certain regrets. My mother Ella more so than my father.

“I left behind my sick parents against my beliefs,” she said. “That haunted me until the day they died. All those years, I felt guilty.”

The invasion suppressed the Prague Spring liberalization movement led by Alexander Dubcek, and substituted it with hardline communism or dark era of totality.

Those who stayed paid the price. No one could leave the country without exit visa.

Those who left illegally could not return without persecution.

Freedom truly isn’t free. It never has been.

“I think our modern history shows us that freedom isn’t a gift, which the powerful fight for to giveaway; it can be obtained and defended only by those who work to obtain or defend it.” late president Vaclav Havel in his speech on Victory Day May 8, 1994.

 A half-a-century of Czech expatriates living outside the old country well beyond the Velvet Revolution in 1989, has shown their adaptability and assimilation into other cultures.

Our own immigration story has been molded by the 1968 Soviet invasion. At the time, my parents left from Sudan, Africa for Canada, and eventually to Hawkins, Texas where dad taught math at Jarvis Christian College.

The story got more complex, when mom Ella decided to return to Czechoslovakia in 1973 followed by dad. The return was both a nightmare and a mistake, as my dad later recollected it many years later. He left Czechoslovakia again in 1976, and after a battle for emigration visa mom joined him in 1980.

It wasn’t until December of 1989 that I was able to leave the country for the USA for good. I became an American citizen in August of 1999 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

Looking back at this chronology of now historical events, I have to ask myself if I would do it again, much like I have asked my parents.

“Yes. I would do it again. I have no regrets; my entire family is here and I consider this country to be my home.”

The other question that people either ask me or I ask myself, “What is it that I miss about the old country?”

I do miss my friends from school and the university. Whenever, I miss the food, I just cook it myself. My son Jake was naturalized earlier this year, and my husband Ludek will become an American citizen on Aug. 22, 2018 in Detroit.

However, life is not just a chronological sequence of events or it shouldn’t be.

“How would our lives be different if we stayed in the old country?”

Those questions remain hanging in the air unanswered. I don’t expect any answers to them anytime soon or ever.

When I published my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” last summer, I realized I would not have been able to do that in Czech Republic. If for nothing else, I wouldn’t have been able to do it because of language barriers. There are no English language publishers. Either way, it would have to be translated.

We adhere to Czech traditions and customs, mainly during Christmas and Easter. Our adult children Emma & Jake are fully bilingual. Jake is teaching his kids Czech.

I laugh when I say, “I am 99 percent American and one percent Czech.”

That one percent means; Vaclav Havel remains my hero and we speak Czech at home.

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

Guardians of History script

I have just finished scripting the video “Guardians of History ” for the Fallasburg Historical Society.

We’re shooting tomorrow on location at the Fallasburg pioneer village.

I am very excited about this.

Stay tuned for the release.

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

 

Fashions through the Ages

Fashions @Fallasburg inside the John W. Fallas House

May the 4th be with you for the entire month

Immerse yourself into an era when ladies wore hats and gloves for a night out on the town.

The theme of fashion again dominates this year’s “Spring into the Past” museum tour.

Hop on the tour this weekend of 30 participating museums of the Tri-River Museum Network.

You will discover treasures in artifacts and they may inspire you.

Craft your own tour using the map from http://www.commoncorners.com

You can pick up a print booklet at any of the locations.

The museums will be open on Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm, on Sunday from noon to 5 pm.

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

Remembering Mr. Edwin Roth, 98

Fallasburg Historical Society president Ken Tamke shares memories of the oldest and one of the founding members of the FHS.

According to the obituary, Edwin Roth still cut his own wood at 95. He was second generation Swiss, and proud of his ancestry. He never missed an FHS event, and attended the Tri-River Historical Museum network monthly meetings.

Frank Brechbiel gave him rides to meetings.

“It’s the least I can do,” he said last summer in Clarksville.

Mr. Roth’s secret to long life

“To say Ed lived life to the fullest would be a vast understatement. His spirit will of course live on, his legacy, one of many, Fallasburg village today.

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Mr. Edwin Roth at  the Fallasburg Christmas party inside the one-room schoolhouse in 2016 with Frank Brechbiel.

“I believe we all marveled at his longevity in our individual quests to find the fountain of youth.  Ed’s answer was simple, eat right, live clean, and another nugget he shared with me last Christmas with a large smile, “Don’t go to Doctors”!  That was Ed.”
Ken Tamke

Excerpt from FHS President’s message on the passing of Mr. Edwin Christian Roth on March 8,2018.

via FHS President’s spring message

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

Rainbow over pretty town

I had to share this morning picture from our pretty little town of Lowell that nestles on the Flat and the Grand rivers in the northeast part of Kent County in Midwest Michigan.

In the forefront is the famous & inspiring Showboat idling on the Flat. It will be replaced with a replica in the near future.

I consider the Showboat a Penchant that crowns the town’s treasures waiting to be explored.

Come and visit with us this weekend for the Fallasburg village bazaar, Emma’s Book Signing event of Shifting Sands Short Stories and the Fallasburg Arts Festival.

All the action will take place three miles north of town @Fallasburg on Sept.16 and Sept.17 from 10 am to 5 pm. Just cross the romantic Covered Bridge into the 1850s pioneer village of Fallasburg founded by John W. Fallass.

You will be enchanted by the autumn ambiance of the village nestling on the banks of the shallow Flat River.

Emma’s Book Signing event at the one-room Fallasburg schoolhouse is from 1 pm to 4 pm on both days.

Pick up a copy of the book @Schuler Books in Grand Rapids on 28th Street and in Lansing or order on Amazon.

We will have desserts and cider.

Stop by to discover treasures, history, arts and great conversation.

For more info go to:

Fallasburg Today on http://fallasburgtoday.org or http://www.fallasburg.org

Schuler Books at http://www.schulerbooks.com

Fallasburg Arts Festival at http://www.lowellartsmi.org

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