Category Archives: immigration

Writer’s surprises, all in one day

Moving forward with author’s events in West Michigan

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- It’s unbelievable what all can happen in one day; even if it is a Monday.

WGVU Morning Show with host Shelley Irwin

First, I opened my inbox, and there was the response from host Shelley Irwin of the WGVU Morning Show.

“I get to share stories in a talk show format,” she wrote. “I would like to interview you at a time frame of your convenience.”

So, we are scheduling the time frame for the TV segment about my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” I thought it was a radio segment. I freaked out when I found out it was also TV.

As I went into the panic mode, Mr. Self-Doubt introduced himself into my writing studio; what am I going to say and wear?

I jumped on the dreaded treadmill that I have been neglecting because we have a special visitor here. That is our French granddaughter Ella.

I felt like Oprah, who started exercising two days before her birthday. And to make up for the excellent Sunday pork schnitzels, I dined on vanilla SlimFast tonight in front of the computer screen.

“That’s great mom,” said my son Jake about the TV interview. “It’s easy.”

“Yeah, how many times have you been on a live TV show?” I asked Jake, the business man, who made the schnitzels.

“The main thing is you have to know what you’re talking about,” he said. “You know the buzzwords.”

I like to think that after almost 30 years in the writing business, I can offer insights,  rather than buzzwords.

And the Monday goodness continued when I discovered the best kept secret on the lakeshore.

3rd Annual Writer’s Rendezvous in Ludington, July 21

I’ve been looking for writers’ and authors’ events in Michigan for years. But, it was only yesterday at the Ionia Free Fair that I found out about the Writer’s Rendezvous in Ludington.

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Author Emma Palova

It is my parents’ favorite place on the Michigan lakeshore. They’ve been going to Ludington ever since they moved to Big Rapids in the 1980s. We immigrated to the USA from former Czechoslovakia based on the 1968 Soviet occupation of the country. I am writing a memoir “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West” about the family immigration saga.

Annually, my dad Vaclav celebrates his birthday on Stearns Park Beach.When we couldn’t find a hotel, I told my mom Eliska:”There must be something going on.”

“There’s always something going on there,” she said on the phone in the heat of the Sunday afternoon.

While searching for a hotel on mom’s smart phone, dad came across “some kind of a writing conference.”

 

I refined the search this morning and found out that the 3rd Annual Writers’ Rendezvous featuring more than 20 Michigan authors will be this Saturday, July 21.

I was ecstatic, hoping to get in at the last minute. Barry Matthews from the Ludington Arts Center immediately responded that there is some space left for $25 for half a table.

“Yes, I am in and I can’t wait to meet the other authors and visitors.”

The goal is to bring cultural and literary perspective to the lakeshore, according to the Visiting Writers group.

Ludington has always inspired me ever since I visited the town in 1990 around the 4th of July holiday. The visit inspired one of my first articles I have written for a publication in the USA. It was also the only time I wrote in my native Czech language for the Czechoslovak Newsweek. I had a regular column for the biweekly newspaper. In spite of the longevity of the print paper, it never made it to digital format.

I remember this opening line of the lead paragraph.

“Thousands of red, white and blue petunias lined the Ludington Ave on the back drop of the shimmering blue waters of Lake Michigan.”

I went back many times; most recently last year in August for a voyage on the Badger across Lake Michigan.

Now, I am getting ready for it all. I’ve been told a million times; you’re not ready.

Other than the treadmill and Slimfast, I ordered books, brochures and posters for my upcoming author’s events.

Epilogue Books

And finally from a Facebook friend, I found out about a new local book store in Rockford.

“Shockingly nostalgic entrepreneur opened a book store next to my law office, wow. There is hope,” Genie Eardley, owner of Eardley Law, PC posted.

The name is Epilogue Books.

That’s what life is about: adventures, surprises on Mondays, shocking entrepreneurs, the joys and pains of technology, our lovely French granddaughter Ella and family get togethers on Lake Michigan.

See you at the Writer’s Rendezvous this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I will be offering writing, marketing, PR and publishing tips, and of course my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.”

For more info on the rendezvous go to:

https://www.ludingtonartscenter.org/literary-arts.html

It is also available locally at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids and Lansing. It will be available at the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and hopefully at Epilogue Books in Rockford.

The long road to resilience

You can pick up an issue of the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide at your local bookstore or newstand to find out more about me.

My book is now available on Amazon Prime special for the next 30-some hours at a discounted rate.

I encourage readers to buy the book, print or Kindle, ahead of time for signing and discussion. I will have print copies available at my station inside the Ludington Area Center for the Arts located at 107 S. Harrison St.

Amazon print

https://www.amazon.com/Shifting-Sands-Short-Stories-stories/dp/1521130226X

Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

ISBN

9781521302262

Connect with Emma Palova on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/emma.palova.9

Emma on Twitter

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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American Dutch couple fits into Lowell community

Happy Independence Day

Watch for more immigration stories, participate in survey about what makes America great

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- In the beginning, leaving your homeland is like leaving a part of you behind; not to mention friends and family.

Owners of Arctic Heating & Cooling Catharine “Kitty” and Evert Bek left the Netherlands in 1977 to pursue their dream in the USA. However, their parents Anna and Gerard Sr. Schuivens left first for Grand Rapids and ended up in Lowell.

Catharina and Evert visited them in 1976 and fell in love with the USA.

“When we came to visit, we loved the openness, the opportunities of having your own business, the freedom and the acreage,” said Catharina.

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Photo by Danne on Pexels.com

The Beks lived close to Rotterdam, a big harbor city, in the Netherlands. Much like the rest of Europe, everything was crowded, tight and overpopulated.

For the first two years, the Beks lived in Kentwood and in Wyoming.

“We wanted some property and found five acres on 36th Street,” Catharina said. “We moved to a different house in Lowell in 1997.”

One of the biggest challenges of immigration is learning the language. Any immigrant can attest to that including Catharina.

At the time, Lowell Middle School was offering English classes.

“I also learned English from shopping and TV,” she said. “Evert had no problems; he learned English at work. He has always worked in the heating and cooling industry.”

Another challenge was finding a job.

Pictured above are Dutch treats: Dutch Rusks, oliebollen fritters. The wooden shoes are now used as decorations.

“I worked in an office since 16,” she said, “and I went to trade school.”

Here, she worked for an insurance company in Grand Rapids.

But, it was friends who got them through the first tough years.

“It’s hard to leave your friends, but we still have friends in the Netherlands,” Catharina said.

It took three to four years to adjust to the new life in America.

“Friends helped us settle best of all,” she said. “This is home for me now.”

Catharina said she managed to combine the good parts from the old country with the good parts from the new world.

However, everything became easier when daughter Kim was born in 1983 at the Metropolitan Hospital in Grand Rapids. Kim went through the entire Lowell Area Schools system.

“I met new people at the school,” Catharina said.

And then finally, the couple’s dream came true when they started their own business, Arctic Heating & Cooling in 1983 in Lowell.

Pictured above: licorice, Dutch pancakes and St. Nick.

Catharina works at the business as a bookkeeper.

“Having our own business and owning a home, was one of our many dreams,” she said. “Sometimes I wonder how we would end up if we hadn’t left the Netherlands.”

There are no regrets about immigration for either Catharina or Evert.

“I wouldn’t go back,” she said. “Evert feels the same way. “I love it here. We met good people and made great friends.”

They speak Dutch at home including their American-born daughter and grandson.

As far as traditions go, the Beks celebrate St. Nick on Dec. 5th.

Kitty cooks Dutch dishes like meat, potatoes and vegetables, pea soup and Dutch pancakes.

She goes shopping for spices for meatballs to VanderVeen’s Dutch store on 28th street.

“You have to have windmill cookies with coffee or tea,” she said.

A typical Dutch tradition for breakfast is a slice of white bread with chocolate sprinkles.

Other Dutch specialties include Gouda cheese, a Dutch Rusk with pink or blue sprinkles when a baby is born.

“Dutch people love licorice in all shapes and forms,” Catharina said.

On New Year’s Eve, she makes oliebollen. They are fat balls or fritters, deep fried with raisins and served with powdered sugar. A typical beer is Heineken and egg nog liquor Advocaat.

They became naturalized after five years.

On the theme of the recent immigration crisis, Catharina said she doesn’t agree with separation of families.

“I don’t agree with mothers being separated from kids,” she said.

Over the years, the Beks have built up their business with repeat customers.

“We’ve been lucky,” she said. “I feel that I do fit in and that I am a part of Lowell.”

Catharina also works part-time at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Both Catharina and Evert are known for their community involvement.

 

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

 

Summer Solstice 2018

Welcome summer

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Today is my favorite day of the year. It is also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, known as summer solstice. I woke up this morning to a striped sky with orange, white and blue and to a cacophony of sounds; the nature sounded to me better than any symphony in this world. Ludek left at 6:05 a.m. for work in nearby Grand Rapids in full daylight.

It is my morning ritual to wish him a good day on the doorstep into the garage. I make a point to do this in the deadbeat of winter, as well as in the beauty of summer. I may have missed maybe two mornings sleeping in.

Then I continue my morning with yoga, treadmill or a walk to the Franciscan Sisters , meditations with coffee and tying myself to a chair in the studio to write. I missed the solstice last year, as I was wrapping up the formatting of my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” I could not believe it, when I found out from the evening news that it was indeed the summer solstice. It stayed with me for the rest of the solar year. I felt cheated.

Most often people ask me, “What inspires your writing?”

I do have to say that it is definitely nature and its seasons.

I had to make up for that this year. The saying goes, that real stories are in “what you have missed” or “what is not there” and “what is not said.”

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On this day, the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun.

I felt better when I saw at the Franciscans that the grass hasn’t been cut yet.That’s what I missed last year, the first grass cutting.  I drove there instead of walking because of a new assignment that is very close to my heart and to the nation’s heart: immigration.

The meadow was delightful in the sun’s direct rays, as the grasses and wildflowers swayed in the breeze. The Japanese lilac tree was in full bloom as well as the ornamental dogwood by the tower. I discovered a birdhouse made from Michigan license plates inside the lilac tree. Hundreds of spirea shrubs were in full maroon bloom.

Earlier in the morning at my hideout on a nearby lake, I took photos of the local heron resident on the swampy shores and hundreds of lotus blooms.

I would never want to miss this longest day of the year again. I will keep it in my heart forever. I will savor the fragrances of the meadow,  and all the sounds of this first day of summer.

The Sizzlin Summer Concert Series in Lowell is now in full swing on the Riverbank, and the Farmer’s Market is open.

Life is good.

It’s been hot and it’s been cold, so far. But, it’s summer in Michigan on the Great Lakes. And I am ready for it.

 

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

 

 

Taurus clarifies content & goals

Parents get involved in memoir to move it along

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

I am supposed to consolidate my position and clarify my goals, according to today’s horoscope for the determined Taurus.

I especially like the quote from Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

That’s a pretty heavy quote that has inspired this entire post. To answer the last part of it; I am refining the content of the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga.

Inspired by Stephen and Owen King’s cooperation on the latest “Sleeping Beauties: A Novel”, I asked my mom Ella to write two chapters for the memoir. I would not be able to write them, because during mom’s second time around in the USA, I wasn’t with her. I was still back in Czechoslovakia.

I  wrongfully called Chapter 13, “First years in America.” And surely mom struggled with that, because it was her second time around from 1980 to present. After more than an hour on the phone, we clarified that.

During mom’s writing process, dad discovered a precious document; his bio when he was applying for jobs. It was stored away in old luggage in the basement, where I would have never found it.

This document, probably from the 1970s, and my parents’ involvement will help move the memoir along. For months, I struggled with it. I got stuck halfway through the manuscript.

Actually, my mom’s Narcissism and my own, sidetracked me, that I completely forgot about dad.

“He started the whole immigration,” she said. “I didn’t even know what the word meant before 1968.”

For me, this is a huge lesson that I have learned.; clarify, consolidate and cooperate on your writing projects.

http://www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus

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

Plotting new year’s courses

I have just glanced at my Jan. 19 Taurus Horoscope to see if I am on track. Without the Blink of an eye this is what I found out.

I have enrolled in Spanish classes together with Ludek. I will be teaching ESL English as a Second Language and writing classes in the Grand Rapids area. My new column about Czech heritage is coming up in the Western Fraternal Life Herald, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

My next book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories will take place at the LowellArts downtown gallery on Main Street on Feb. 3 from 1 to 4 pm. I will be offering tips on how to start and finish your book in 2018. Sign up on Facebook @emmapalova to win a free book.

For more info on the Western Fraternal Life Association and the Fraternal Herald monthly magazine go to:

http://www.flains.org

This is my horoscope for today.

You may be intrigued by the prospects of enrolling in a course of study today, but you’re determined to specifically learn something that can contribute to your material success. Although your practical …

Source: Taurus Horoscope for January 19, 2018

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

One last look “Year in Review” III

Note: This is the third and final part of the mini-series “Year in Review” that looks back at 2017 with all its joys and tribulations. It was a year of big changes and adjustments both professional and personal. It rolled in like a monster truck and flew away like a balloon.

Lowell, MI – I physically bid farewell to 2017 on New Year’s Eve in Belding, and welcomed the new year looking out at the frozen Candlestone golf course with a pine forest in the background. I was trying to imagine why someone left their underwear in the woods, as the comedian Billy Ray Bauer cracked a joke before we toasted to the new year.

However, it is only today, that I can give a final closure to last year finishing the series, as I start the new year with hope, gratitude and love. I will highlight some of the biggest events in the second part of the year.

August

The Czech Heritage

On the first Sunday in August, we always attend the Czech Harvest Festival in Bannister with dances, songs and food. It has become a tradition that annually connects us with the old country, now Czech Republic. It is the only place that I know, that plays three anthems before the beginning of the festival: American, Czech and Slovak.

My mom Ella turned 80 on Aug. 23 and she had a great celebration at Naval’s Mediterranean Eatery in Big Rapids.

I had no idea my parents Ella & Vaclav had that many friends that could fill up the entire restaurant. I write often about them, since they are the major characters in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian, where East meets West” about our immigration saga. Owner Naval even made her a big wedding cake that could feed 80. I found out that you don’t lose friends as you get older, you make more.

September, October & November

Emma’s book signings & local scene

I continued my book signings of Shifting Sands Short Stories into the fall tying them to many local events at different venues. This was very efficient. In September, the Fallasburg Historical Society held their third annual Fallasburg Village Bazaar. I had my second book signing at the one-room schoolhouse which was very well attended. I was at the Girls Night Out at the Sweet Seasons Bakery & Cafe, and then at the Lowell Arts Gallery in downtown Lowell. In November, I was at the Red Barn Market during Christmas through Lowell.

Pictured below are people from the local Lowell scene: former mayor Jim Hodges in the story series “Inspiring Communities, Loyal public servant. Fallasburg Historical Society vice-president Tina Siciliano Cadwallader with Tracy Worthington, Patricia and Annelyse Dlouhy from Sweet Seasons Bakery & Cafe and book signing at the one-room schoolhouse.

The disaster months

Unfortunately, this was also the time for most disasters both in nature and in the society.

Over the years, I have been able to track many catastrophes, natural and man-made, to the last months in the year. The end of August started the stretch of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria bringing devastation to millions.

I was impressed how fast the famous on the US entertainment scene came together to raise $44 million in a telethon for the victims of the catastrophes.

Sadly enough proliferating nature’s anger was also men’s anger.

That was the Las Vegas shooting on Oct.1, followed by 8 killed in terror violence by a man in a pickup truck who plowed into people on a bike path in New York City and a man detonating a pipe bomb in the New York City subway.

The famous who left us in 2017

As the year rocked to its final days, we accounted for all who have impacted our lives.

I was deeply touched by the death of teenage idol David Cassidy, rock superstar Tom Petty, Mary Tyler Moore, Jerry Lewis and countless others.

On the Czech scene, it was mainly late actor Jan Triska who emigrated to the US during Czechoslovakia’s communist era. He died after falling from the Charles Bridge in Prague. He was best known for his appearances in The Karate Kid Part III, Quantum Leap and The People vs Larry Flynt directed by fellow countryman Czech American director Milos Forman.

I am pretty sure most of us can Relate to these losses and events.

I would like to thank the many followers, fans, and the hosts of my book signings and wish everyone a great 2018.

With love,

Emma

The links to the first two parts of the series “Year in Review” are:

Year in Review part 1….. https://wp.me/p34jQ1-UhW

Year 2017 in review II…….. https://wp.me/p34jQ1-V4G

Link to Bannister Harvest Festival and ZCBJ/WFLA Lodge:

http://www.zcbjbannister.org

Shortlink to Inspiring Communities “Loyal public servant” is:

https://wp.me/p34jQ1-SzS

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

Genius dad

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.

EW Fermat's last theorem
Fermat’s conjecture in Arithmetica.

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.

Popular places ArtPrize 9

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ArtPrize Grand Rapids

Thoughts on  Popular  places  in the wake of Las Vegas shooting

By Emma Palova

Grand Rapids, MI -I am beyond shocked over the Sunday night shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people without any connection to terror.

My husband and I just spent a fantastic Saturday in downtown Grand Rapids enjoying the most Popular arts event in the world. That is the 9th annual ArtPrize that featured 1,500 artists from 47 countries.

ArtPrize is the world’s largest competition and the most attended annual art event on the planet.

Thousands of people packed the sidewalks, the arts venues and the cafes on a beautiful sunny Saturday.

Other than seeking inspiration, the main reason why we went to ArtPrize was to cast a Popular vote for local photographer Bruce Doll for his entry, “As Grand As It Gets.”

The photo is a fabulous non-conventional take on the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a fish-eye lens.

“I thought I can never capture this,” said Doll.

In order to vote, you had to physically register in any of the ArtPrize districts  using the app in the first round of voting.

The second reason was to see  “The American Dream” by finalist Tom Kiefer. We strolled from the peaceful Hillside Veteran’s Park area to the much busier DeVos Place Convention Center on Monroe.

Kiefer photographed the personal belongings of migrants seized at the border.

“I felt a visceral connection between his art and our  farm workers,” said Teresa Hendricks, director of Migrant Legal Aid hosting the artist.

DeVos Place had the finalists’ artwork on display. We inched the skywalks between the finalists’ exhibits and the railing; sometimes without seeing the art exhibits. There was a demonstration of tattoo art among others. As I leaned across the railing to get a picture of the interior of the hall, it occurred to me.

No matter how Athletic  you were, you wouldn’t be able to run out of that glass hall with waved glass ceiling, if someone had opened fire.

We were all conveniently gathered there in the sky walks in front of the artwork, packed in the hallways. We were separated from the ground floor by escalators and elevators.

There were no security checks at the entrance.

Inside the Amway hotel, we paused by the art of “Lincoln.”

After we got out of the venue complex through a system of catwalks, and back on the street, it occurred to me again; the vulnerability of crowds. The crowds also packed the Blue Bridge and the Gillett Bridge with artists.

People gathered in front of art everywhere. After several hours, I felt nauseated from the crowds and the autumn heat.

I had to take a deep breath in front of an eagle sculpture by the Rosa Parks Circle.

It was to a certain point comforting. But that was Saturday, before the Sunday shooting in Las Vegas.

Then, everything changed.

 

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

Happy birthday mom

Mom Ella turns 80 in a Visceral celebration

Big Rapids, MI – Today, my mother Ella Konecny turns 80 in Big Rapids, MI. Together with my father Vaclav, they’ve been living in this small university town, home to Ferris State University, for more than three decades.

Their friends at the Saturday’s birthday party for mom have known both for that long.

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Mom Ella turns 80 in Big Rapids, MI.

“Your parents are great people,” I heard over and over again.

Mom was born Drabkova in former communist Czechoslovakia on Aug. 23, 1937 in Zlin to Anna and Joseph Drabek.

My mother has inspired the memoir Greenwich Meridian, where East meets west about the family immigration saga. She was the one who didn’t want to leave the communist country after the Soviet invasion on the night of August 20-21 in 1968.

Their journey from the Moravian hilly villages of Vizovice and Stipa to Big Rapids in Michigan was tumultuous with many twists and turns.

Some of the milestones included the 1973 return to hardline Czechoslovakia from Texas, and then the escape back into the New World for my dad in 1976. Mom joined him in 1980.

Dad landed the math professor job at the Ferris State University, and that finally anchored them permanently in their new home.

To this day, mom says she loved her bio lab technician job also at the university. The warm friendly welcome atmosphere proved that at the birthday party.

Their true story has also inspired my fiction in the new Shifting Sands Short Stories book. “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” was inspired by some bits and pieces from the early years of immigration.

I wrote that story shortly after  my immigration to the USA in 1989. When I compare some of the elements of the short story to the memoir, I consider them Visceral in character, coming from a gut feeling.

The main character in the story is professor Martin Duggan obsessed with his own quest for perfection.

May you both enjoy many more years of love, good health and optimism. Thank you for all your love and support.

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

Storyteller 2017- Fueling the passion with book excerpts

Fueling the passion of the Storyteller 2017 with book excerpts, part IV

 I have named my book campaign Storyteller 2017 because I am so excited about this epic year full of big changes.

Follow me on my journey from writer journalist to author of Shifting Sands Short Stories to be released on June 30 on Amazon.

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This is the fourth part of the Storyteller 2017 series following the introduction on June 20, the Beginnings on June 21 and the Impermanence of characters in the Shifting Sands Short Stories on June 22.

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 As I have mentioned in the previous installments, I have divided the 13 stories in the Shifting Sands Short Stories collection thematically and chronologically into three circles.

The first circle of stories draws on the early years of immigration experience of learning French in Montreal, and taking creative short story writing at the International Correspondence Schools, ICS.

Those were the transformative years or impermanence for me and the characters like Danillo in Danillo, Vanessa in Honey Azrael and the couple Martin and Ellen in the Temptation of Martin Duggan.

The second circle of stories reflects the time for assimilation into the American culture. These include: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.

The characters in the second circle suffer from the boredom of a daily routine in a store, but they fear change. The setting is rural Midwest America. I created the town of Riddleyville with its secrets and vices. The Riddleyville characters range from robust Big Irma, Shorty, philosophical Ula, pretty Rachel, boxcutter Amy, sick Therese to deceitful Vadim in the Death Song.

Here is an excerpt from Orange Nights:

The store kept its secrets in the backrooms where the employees gathered for breaks and meetings. Things not said on the floor, were exaggerated here freely over nasty coffee and lunches brought from home in plastic containers.

The kid who extended his stay at the store instead of going to college usually cleaned the backrooms and the public restrooms. Sometimes he worked in the smelly bottle room. Customers and  employees called him “Shorty.”

It just caught on.

“Hey, people, do you have to make such a mess or what?” he asked.

If Shorty was in a bad mood, he’d complain, and mop the floor under your feet, and knock down your lunchbox.

He wasn’t a typical loser, he just acted like one.

The second shift already faced the remnants of the day, including the bad attitudes and unfulfilled dreams of yesterday.

The saying around the town of Riddleyville was that at one point in time, everyone has worked at the store for a million different reasons.

My passion for writing continued to grow as I took journalism classes at the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in the mid-1990s. At that time I wrote feature stories for the GRCC paper the “Collegiate.”

I wrote a chunk of the short stories, while taking these classes and working at the store.

The passion continues in the next part V of the Storyteller 2017 series.

The book Shifting Sands Short Stories is now available for pre-order on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

 

 

 

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