Category Archives: inspiration

Lenten soups

Lent, a time to reflect

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lent is a spiritual time of reflection for 40 days before Easter observed by Christians around the world. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, April 18 this year.

It is marked by the color purple and fasting. On Lenten Fridays, Christians should abstain from meat and excessive drinking.

One of its traditions are Lenten soups served by many local parish communities such as The Franciscan Life Process Center. The following soups, donated by the area restaurants, will be offered on Lenten Wednesdays:

March 20th Cannonsburg Catering Potato Soup Dilly Bread Cannonsburgcatering.com

March 27th Applause Catering Broccoli Cheese Oatmeal Bread Applause-catering.net

April 3rd G RCC Culinary Program Beef Barley Cinnamon Bread http://www.grcc.edu

April 10th Vitale’s Ada Minestrone Extreme Garlic

With its deeply embedded traditions, Lent has inspired many of my stories and writings. My favorite soup, not only for Lent, is Mediterranean lentil soup with lemon and turmeric.

Excerpt from “Shifting Sands: Secrets”

Amora decided to further think about a night walk under the moon in pursuit of a glimpse of the giant silk moth.

In the meantime, she would do some research about the luminous winged wonder, and find a clock that wouldn’t be as noisy.

Worse even yet in the cottage living, you couldn’t release any stink either; like frying a fish on a Lenten Friday or on any Friday. Being a good Catholic, Amora made sure she never ate meat on Fridays. Unlike Margot, who both ate meat and drank on Lenten Fridays, Amora stuck to her acquired routine.

Undisciplined Amora had to build up her routine like a bee flying from a wild flower to an order trapped in her own beehive.

“Are we going out on Friday, Amora?” Margot asked when they were gossiping on the balcony.

“We shouldn’t,” Amora said. “It’s Lent. You should know that, you’re Irish.”

They decided to go anyways to the old Irish Pub with dubious reputation in downtown. They settled at their favorite table in the corner.

“Will it be the usual two Killarneys for the ladies?” asked the waiter.

“Just one,” snapped Amora. “It’s Lent.”

“For you, mam?” the waiter looked surprised at Amora.

“No, for her,” Amora pointed at Margot.

“Slainte,” Margot smiled at the waiter. “That’s cheers in Irish.”

The waiter brought the reddish beer and a glass of water full of ice. for Amora. Margot disciplined herself and ordered fish and chips like Amora.

“At least it’s cheap,” Margot said eating her chips. “Tell me all about him.”

“Who?” Amora was shocked.

Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Spring Equinox

Excerpt from “Shifting Sands: Secrets”

On the first day of spring, I drove to the nearby Murray Lake for inspiration and meditation to finish the last story in the new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets” slated for spring publication.

The lake was thawing and the ducks were bathing in the fresh streams.

It was only me, a diehard ice fisherman and a curious blue heron perched on a piece of floating ice. Later, it started snowing mixed together with rain.

I had to get out of the car to get a photo of that brave man, who was literally floating on the remaining ice. The man was totally oblivious to his surroundings.

Did I find my inspiration?

I have to answer the question: I did find inspiration on the shores of a water body. This time 1,000 miles up North from where I found the first pieces of inspiration on the Gulf for the following story.

Excerpt from “Six Palms by the Tiki”

“What kind of secrets were hiding in those calcium skeletons built by slimy mollusks that have no spine?” Amora often wondered.

After all, the mollusks were long dead when washed ashore eaten by another sea creature. Most big shells had broken fringes and fragments of shells were more usual than whole intact shells. To find shells still attached to each other was out of the norm completely.

Amora paid $2 for a cup of Venetian coffee at Papa’s. The hot dark liquid still steaming vaguely reminded her of mornings Up North. Seadog George was always available for a chat. He had a tan of a sailor and considered himself to be one, since he had spent the last 15 years on the pier’s deck hovering 20 feet above water.

“Do you ever get seasick?” asked Amora naively searching George’s tanned hardened by wind and sun.

“Sometimes, I do when the wind is high and the pier sways in the waves,” he said. “But they built to withstand anything from Brazilian swamp wood that has already grown in water.”

Tall seadog George wasn’t a native of Florida, although he wished he was. Once he tried to pretend in front of tourists that he was a Floridian.

“Come on buddy, you sound like the Yankees, you can’t lose that,” laughed the New Yorker. “I am a fourth generation Yankee, I know.”

From then on, George stopped pretending. With blonde hair matching the tan and the beard, Amora guessed he must have been Norwegian or Swedish. She hasn’t found the guts yet to ask him; Amora didn’t want to be either too friendly or too nosy, or worse yet: Seadog George could think she was hitting on him.

She only engaged enough in casual talk to finish the cup of Venetian coffee without having to walk with it.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

International Women’s Day

Happy Women’s Day

I have fond memories of this event aka MDZ from former Czechoslovakia. On this day in history, we received flowers and/or pantyhose to celebrate our womanhood. The celebration mainly honored women as mothers and workers for the common good. It felt good to be recognized for something that is natural to all women in the world.

The Inspiring Women series is dedicated to all the women around the globe for their day to day efforts.

Inspiring Women- Carol Briggs

Lowell Person of the Year inspires and motivates others to get things done

“Whether I work with two or 10 people, I like to share the success, and not to solely own it. It takes a myriad of people and networking effort.”

                    Carol Briggs

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – If you want to get things done, just ask Carol Briggs.

The Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce has named Briggs as Person of the Year 2019 for her community involvement in multiple organizations such as the Lowell United Methodist Church, F.R.O.M., the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and Relay for Life.

The top award came as a complete surprise to Briggs, when chamber director Liz Baker gave her a piece to proofread on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

“I found out from the chamber flyer that I was the person of the year,” Briggs said. “There were friends waiting for me at the chamber to congratulate me.”

Briggs is passionate about the Lowell community, and she radiates and spreads that passion around her.

“My personal motive is to help our Lowell community to be vibrant, inviting and fun for those who live here, as well as for those who may stop by for an event,” Briggs said in her acceptance speech at the Annual Membership Gathering at Deer Run.

Form a committee

And special events are her cup of tea. Briggs has a keen interest in organizational things.

“I love working with a group of people with the same interests toward results that are both educational and enjoyable,” she said.

Briggs enjoys the most working in committees for special events. Her most recent experience comes from organizing the 20th Anniversary of F.R.O.M. last summer.

“I like when everyone takes their piece and follows through,” she said.

She attributes the huge success of the F.R.O.M. event, held at Witt’s Inn and attended by 140 people, mainly to being prepared. The preparations for the event started about a year ahead of time with regular monthly meetings of a committee of nine.

Be prepared, have a theme

“We started brainstorming with the theme,” she said, “having in mind the main purpose of the event, whether it’s education, awareness or celebration.”

The committee consisting of nine people picked the theme: “Roaring 20s.”

It all evolved from there; from entertainment by Roger McNaughton to catering by Miss P’s Catering and the silent auction.

“We used china plate settings from F.R.O.M. and some costumes,” she said. “Eighty-five percent of people dressed up.”

The event was complete with pictures by the vintage car provided by John Sterly.

The key to success

“The key to success is understanding the purpose of the event,” she said. “That is what does the organization want to achieve.”

Make connections

“Think about people and their connections in the area,” she said. “It’s about finding those connections in the community and expecting people to follow through.”

Challenges & fears

Briggs advises to face challenges by not feeling overwhelmed with an upcoming event.

“You work through it and you have to be flexible,” she said. “Sometimes I woke up at 3 a.m.”

Briggs likes to break down complex tasks into steps and she definitely makes lists.

“If I have a lot going on, I have a lot of lists and a lot of folders,” she said.

Budget

Some funds for the event were directed from the proceeds of the Food Fight, while others were in kind gifts.

Visualization

“I am a visual learner,” she said. “I like to see things first, and then the mind absorbs it. I like to see my task or I can’t sleep.”

Success and accomplishments

“I like to share the success, whether I work with two people or 10,” she said. “I am not the only one who made this happen. I try to practice humility.”

Motivation

“A person who has his or her fingers in many pots must have a motive,” she said. “My personal motive is to help our Lowell community.”

Inspiration

Briggs offers tips and advise for other women in terms of everyday goals, as well as long term goals:

“I try to find good in every day in whatever comes my way,” she said. “I try to decide how to respond not to react.”

Her mantra is acceptance.

“I am accepting of others and their lives,” she said.

In response to what makes her feel good about herself, Briggs said: “It’s mainly family and close friends, if they are supportive you can do so much more.”

And you can always do a lot more than you think you can, according to Briggs.

“Don’t let other people’s comments or your own inhibitions hold you back,” she said. “Ask for an opinion from a trusted friend, we don’t have all the answers. We’re all in this together.”

Secrets

If Briggs has any secrets, we’re not going to find out about them from her.

Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kindle giveaway March 5-8

Check out my debut book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” on Amazon. You can get the kindle version for free starting tomorrow through Friday, March 8. Share the deal with your friends.

If you could write a review of the book on Amazon, that would be great. I am also looking for beta readers for my upcoming new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.” Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Palova.

Here is a link to reviews:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/emmapalova.com/296074

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Happy editing

Make editing fun

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I liken the editing process to Adalimumab’s 130 patents. You never know what you’re going to discover during revision.

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Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Out of Florida

Thursday, February 21, 2019 3:14 PM

Aboard Allegiant Flight 1600 from Punta Gorda to Grand Rapids

By Emma Palova

In Air- I am leaving Florida eight days later, just like I have arrived, with the rain. In between, the sun and the full moon graced the clear skies.

On the horizon, the turquoise sea touched the blue sky in a magnificent union.

But before the full moon on Feb. 18, a strong morning tide hit the Venice Beach washing ashore shells galore and wracks wrapped in seaweed.

The perfect morning cup inside a cockle shell was hiding the jewels from the sea; small olive and bubble shells, sturdy jewel boxes and translucent jingle shells.

I spent a magnificent week in “Paradise” where the hibiscus bloomed in shades of orange, the banana trees in white and the palms rendered orange ripe figs.

The front yards were tropical gardens with “Birds of Paradise” just opening up their orange beaks.

The sunsets were a splash from an artist’s palate of yellows, reds, oranges and browns.

It’s February- Soak it up, stir an argument

Yoga instructor Elin reminded us this morning to soak up the beach life in February.

“You walked here, laid in the sand, listened to the waves,” she said. “Soak it up. It’s February.”

On Wednesday, Elin held up a large red leaf and said something about mailing it as a postcard. Since, the wind carried Elin’s words into the sea, I missed the details. For some odd reason, I thought it had to be a mangrove leaf.

I picked up some reddish leaves yesterday thinking they were mangrove leaves on the dune banks by Sharky’s. Yellow veins branched into the ripe red leaf. It resembled large grape leaves.

My hosts in Venice were my parents Ella and Vaclav Konecny of Michigan. They made fun of me because I believed in the USPS red leaf postcard program. I asked my dad to take me to the post office, so I could mail the red leaf. My mom Ella was convinced my prized leaf wasn’t a mangrove, and that I shouldn’t pursue mailing it.

“Ask Siri,” my dad said.

When I asked Siri, and she knew nothing about the mangrove leaf USPS mailing program, doubts also entered my mind.

My dad came to the conclusion that it was an April Fool’s joke. In our homeland we used the following prank:

“It’s like going to the store to get mosquito fat,” he laughed. “I am not going inside the post office with you.”

“But, it’s not April Fool’s,” I refused to give up.

I found myself in the midst of an argument over the validity of the USPS leaf postcard mailing program.

“Leave your dad alone, he needs to get some rest,” mom snapped.

“Well, maybe we can wrap up some meat inside the leaf and make rolls,” I defended my grounds sarcastically.

My dad who never gives up suggested that I ask Elin. After my last morning yoga session on the beach on Thursday, I made my way through Elin’s fans to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

“You pick up some sea grape leaves,” Elin said pointing to the banks by the beach house and take it to the post office. The postal workers get a kick out of it. A lady from my class sent out five of them the other day. The postage is under a dollar. Send it out within five days or they dry out and crumble.”

According to Elin, the post office can even put a dried out leaf in a cellophane.

“I told you, it wasn’t a mangrove leaf,” my mom persisted.

“You know they wrap up meat in grape leaves in Greece, right?” I snapped back.

Back home at the writing studio Feb. 22, 2019

Lowell, MI -That was it. I was running out of time to go to the post office, since I was flying out of Florida in the afternoon.

I wrote my address on the sea grape leaf, mom provided the stamps, and dad disguised the leaf in a sac and took it to the mailbox. Dad was convinced that I made a fool out of him.

It remains unknown whether he put the sac with the sea grape leaf in the mail, or in the trash can.

In a bizarre way, we were all right; mom with her contention that it is not a mangrove leaf, me with the sea grape meat rolls and dad with the April Fool’s prank, that he had probably created by dropping the leaf in the trash.

I’ll find out soon.

Copyright © 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Beach treasures

Life on the beach beats in a different rhythm

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Venice, FL- The morning tide washed ashore treasures galore: large speckled cockles, coquinas, calico scallops, whelks, sturdy white jewel boxes, twisted conches, translucent jingle shells in shades of orange, olive and bubble shells.

The yellowish cocquina and turkey shells were still attached holding on tight to each other. The mollusks have long jumped out of the shells digging themselves into the sand.

The warm westerly wind combined with the cold Norte whipped a white foam on top of the waves breaking and crashing to the shore.

The perfect morning cup of jewels hiding inside a large cockle shell was still filled with water. A skilled paddle boarder navigated the wild waves falling only once, and climbing back up again. A sailboat rocked in the waves.

A dead seagull found its resting place on the beach. A trio of pelicans delighted in the wind flying ten feet above the water.

A slippery wrack of branches and seaweed washed ashore will serve later as a buffet for the birds. Wrack communities are native to Florida beaches; it is stuff cast ashore by the sea.

The encounters on the two-mile long morning walk on Venice Beach range from brief hellos to “How long are you going to stay?”

People walking on the beach were not only couples or families, but often a parent with an adult child. Life on beach takes on a different rhythm; time constraints disappear.

The beach walk has inspired the last story in Shifting Sands: Secrets, a sequel to Shifting Sands: Short Stories.

Feature photo: The perfect morning cup of jewels

The perfect morning full of jewels washed ashore still filled with sea water.

To be continued

Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Away 2019

Florida retreat brings inspirations with excerpts

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I am getting ready for my annual writer’s retreat in Florida. Each year in February, I head down south to the Gulf coast to get some sunny inspirations for my writings.

It has become a tradition since the late 2000s to visit with my parents, who winterize in Venice. Each year brings different insights; from dolphin sightings, chats with fishermen to encounters with beach painters and sand castle builders.

Two of my favorite memories are of course from the beach. I was walking on the beach, when French-speaking tourists asked me where is the west. The sun was just setting on the horizon to our right. So, I pointed in that direction.

“Oui, merci,” they shook their heads laughing.

The other one is from Sharky’s Pier. I walked on the pier boardwalk to watch the sunset.

It was getting increasingly dark in the orange glow on the Gulf side, but the shore was glistening in silver with the rising moon in the east. The contrast between night and day was striking much like the characters in my stories. Some are dark and shady from the very beginning like chief Will in the story “Chief” from my new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.” Copyright (2019) Emma Palova. Other characters like manager Ricky go awry with time. Some characters shine bright throughout the story like the Belrockton matron Doris in the story “Silk Nora.”

Nature with its changing faces has always inspired me, as long as I can remember.

A heart and a cross made from sea shells overgrown by beach grasses is a close third runner up in the circle of inspirations.

“Start asking yourself questions,” one of my former editors said.

Many years later, I ask myself: “Who made that statement in the sand and for whom? How come it lasted?”

Then, there are golden nuggets from the Floridians who have never left sunny Florida.

“You mean to tell us there is snow on the ground in Michigan?” guys asked me in disbelief.

“Plenty of it. We have to stake the driveway for the snow plowing,” I said.

I am looking forward to chatting with my parents about out immigration saga, now spanning three generations.

I love yoga on the beach with Elin Larsen and hundreds of her followers. Her DVDs help me get through Michigan winters.

“Just move,” Elin encourages.

Excerpts from the “Chief”

And now this mess just before the holidays. In earlier years, he would light up to fight off the anxiety. He couldn’t even do that anymore. Nervously, he tapped his fingers against his thigh. He noticed he needed new pants.

Ricky in the meantime was staring blankly into the Monday rain on Main Street. The rain mixed with a few snowflakes, and his short drive to work was awful. And he wasn’t a good driver either. His strategy was as always to wait out until the other side spills out all the information putting him at the advantage. But this time it was taking longer than usual. Ricky was afraid of eating the whole pencil. Plus, he had a long day ahead of him with a meeting in the evening.

“I got a letter,” said the mayor pulling out a folded sheet of paper.

Ricky looked directly at the mayor fidgeting.

“Did you want to read it to me, Carl?” asked Ricky, “or you just want to tell me?”

The mayor too knew how slick Ricky ​was from previous dealings​ with him. He decided to be careful this time.

“It’s about the chief,” he said softly.

Of course, Ricky should have known right from the get go that it was about the police chief. The other day when he was getting a haircut at Salon 111, he overheard a conversation from the neighboring chair.

That was another bad habit in his portfolio: eavesdropping coupled with gossip.[EP1] 

“The chief was trying to change something in a file and he got caught,” said the cute redhead hairdresser leaning over the head of the lady in the chair fluffing her blonde hair.

“What was he trying to change?” the blonde raised her eyebrows looking at herself and at the redhead in the mirror.

Both of them stared into the mirror, as if the answer was inside that piece of glass.

Ricky rubbed his forehead, as he tried to chase away that scene from the salon from his mind. He knew it was going to be a long day and a long week in Riddleyville when the salons and the bars start buzzing with tidbits from the city hall.

“What about him?” Ricky looked up at the mayor. “He called in sick or what? I know it’s Monday and he worked the Ladies Night Out and the weekend. I don’t have a problem with him calling in.”

As always Ricky was trying to steer the conversation in his preferred direction.

“Somebody else can fill in for him tonight at the meeting,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”

Copyright © 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


Super Bowl LIII Inspirations

January ice blown away by February victory of Patriots; Wind never felt better

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- After the “unforgiving freeze” in the last week of January, the heated sixth victory of the New England Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl felt like a warm balsam on the rattled nerves. It melted away the ice with the wind, and ushered in inspiration.

As an author, people ask me a lot of questions. My favorite one is: “What inspires you?”

As a freelance journalist, I’ve asked local artists and authors that same question more than a hundred times. I like being on both sides of that question; you never know what answer you’re going to get or give.

Sometimes, inspiration comes in the form of an open space that needs to be filled, as a gap in time while waiting for snow or spring or from a masterpiece game.

I always eagerly expect the answer, but I have to think about my own response. There’s a certain tension in the question itself, plus it’s very timely as I have just found out. The artists most often say that nature inspires them and they have their specific spots they love to paint. For artist Kathleen Mooney, it’s the Yellow Dog River in Upper Peninsula, for others it’s the pretty garden by Ball’s Ice Cream or the dogwood by the Franciscan Sisters.

Authors say that family, parish stories, crime and history have inspired them.

However, I’ve never heard anyone in the artist/author tribes say, “The Super Bowl inspires me.”

On the contrary, I saw posts on writing groups on social media, that they’re not going to watch the biggest American game.

“Superbowl Sunday? No thanks. I’ll write. For the first time in about a month,” Jade states.

“Need to correct American writers tonight; it’s Super Bowl (two words, not one),” Warren responds.

“Proof that I don’t care about the game,” Jade professes his deepest beliefs.

“Superb owl,” Hugo responds. “I mean you’re wasting time on Facebook…”

Regardless, the correct spelling, the big game spurred a dialogue wherever you went; from general stores in the country, churches, main streets to living rooms. Anytime you have a heated discussion, you have a story: real and fiction.

After watching the spectacle on CBS from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, I beg to differ from reports of a boring game. The opening NFL commercial with John Malkowich from the Roman Colosseum in Rome talking on the phone with Peyton Manning in the USA rocked the boat.

It was a game hard to watch, according to the commentators. Some would call it a nail-biting old-fashioned football game.

“Wind never felt better,” Budweiser touted their use of wind energy in an ad.

And foreign car ads dominated the automobile scene, along with robots like The Transformer.

After 266 games, the New England Patriots won for the sixth time the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night just around 10 p.m.

“It was a physical game for a physical team,” a commentator said. “Any way you slice it, it was a defensive masterpiece.”

That’s the story twist: a victory in a defensive game. Wind never felt better.

“It’s sweet, we’re still in,” said Patriots owner CEO Bob Kraft. “We’re all patriots.”

Quarterback Tom Brady, 41, is expected to play the top role for the Patriots until 45. In response to the question what motivates and inspires him, Brady, looked around the stadium, and said.

“You, my fans, it feels like at home.”

Ditto, Tom.

Copyright © 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Revision time

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

William Faulkner

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo 50K word marathon, I am revising the manuscript to my second book. Here are the takeaways from a recent webcast on self-editing sponsored by Autocrit.

20190128_1517533632456856022799747.jpg

Autocrit is a self-editing software that leverages algorithms to check manuscripts. It even compares your writing to other well-known writers. That’s the short description of a program that focuses solely on fiction, after the developers have scanned thousands of books to create the algorithms.
“It serves as a gage how many adverbs you have used,” said Kevin.
However, I am like most people and I hate doing the same stuff over. But other than the fun suggestion and revisiting the copy, several highlights shocked me and inspired me.
Ally suggested to write an outline of the first draft; that goes definitely for pansters. This can help reorganize the structure of the plot or subplot.
“Assess what you have,” she said. “Look for gaps in the plot.”
Secondly, introduce the “inciting incident” early on in the manuscript depending on genre.
“Don’t wait until you have written 18,332 words,” Ally said.
And Grant of NaNoWriMo delivered the golden nugget in a quote from William Faulkner:
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”
Easier said, than done. First you have to spot them, before the reader does.
“How do you recognize your darlings that can impede your story?” asked Grant.
Darlings are usually something that you are overly attached to in the story line. It can be an extensive backstory without enough action or you are injecting yourself into the book.
“Does this need to be there?” asked Grant.
“How long should you spend editing your manuscript?” a participant asked.
No right answer here. According to experts, some people spend more time editing their manuscript than they spent writing the first draft.
Always have a print copy, that you can take with you away from the computer.
“It changes your mindset,” Ally said.
To be continued as I work through the manuscript, and finish one last story.
Autocrit experts say you can edit chapter by chapter, or story by story.
You can still enter the Autocrit giveaway until Jan. 31 using this link:
http://bit.ly/2S6ZymM
Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.