Category Archives: inspiration

NANOWRIMO 2019 dAY 14

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- Big day today. I unlocked the NaNoWriMo 14- day writing badge logging in 2,992 words with a re-worked chapter from the “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir.”

https://www.nanowrimo.org

The memoir about our family immigration saga took us back from the U.S. to hardline communist Czechoslovakia torn by the disappointment from Prague Spring and mom’s separation from dad.

Excerpt: “Our commerce with Tuzex bons”

Mom could exchange dollars for the fake Czech currency called Tuzex “bons.” The Tuzex bons were just papers issued by the International Bank of Commerce in Prague, not backed by any federal reserve or treasury unlike the real currency- Czech crown. Bons were only valid at the state -run Tuzex stores, which did not accept crowns.

The magical “bons” went far. They were used in luxury Tuzex stores sprinkled sporadically around the country like sprinkles on Christmas cookies. 

 Both mom and I sold bons to our friends for Czech crowns. A Tuzex bon sold for 5 crowns. It wasn’t exactly legal, but it wasn’t illegal either. 

I loved going to the Tuzex store located on the sixth floor of the Zlin department store Prior near the Moscow Hotel and the Cinema. 

For nostalgia purposes, I even kept some of the clothes bought in Tuzex and later took them with me to USA. I still have the silver-colored sweater with a huge leaf applique and a jean jacket by the United Colors of Beneton bought in Prague.

Some people like my friend Hannah were friends with me only because I had the bons. Anyone who worked outside the Eastern communist block and got paid in foreign currency could only exchange it for these colorful papers, sort of like vouchers. 

Just like money, bons carried power with them. 

“You got some bons to sell today?” asked Hannah. 

Off course, I always had some bons to sell. I am a dealer by nature. I inherited that from my entrepreneurial grandpa Joseph. So, I traded and sold bons in school and outside of the Zlin Gymnasium.

To be continued….

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

NANAOWRIMO DAY 8

The structure of Greenwich Meridian- Save the Cat! Beat Sheet (NaNo- Style)

By Emma Palova

I woke up in the dark to a freezing morning. The temperature was 23 degrees Fahrenheit, we’re 30 degrees below average November temperatures in Michigan; perfect weather for writing.

I logged in a total of 16,336 words on my NaNo 2019 dashboard that tracks daily writing progress in the National Novel Writing Month 50K challenge. My daily count was only sligthly above 1,000 words, but I organized the structure of the memoir according to Save the Cat! beat sheet for graphic novels.

Structure of Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West NaNo- Style

I introduced my dad math professor Vaclav Konecny as a young man on the brink of his first adventure, unhappy with the status quo in the communist Czechoslovakia in mid 1960s.

Here is an excerpt:

Young math professor Vaclav Konecny feared the communist regime that prohibited the society to practice religion and the teachers were the main target of this religious prohibition in Czechoslovakia under the Marxist philosophy.

Ironically, he studied at an austere seminary in Kromeriz where he acquired his iron-clad discipline that lasts to this day.

He grabbed the opportunity to teach Applied Mathematics in Khartoum, Sudan as a way out of the restrictions that he called the “cage” in 1964.

To be continued

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

nanowrimo Day 7

Mom’s timeline in Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West saga

By Emma Palova

Looking outside the window in my writing studio, I see that the day has melted the morning surreal scenery of white cover with green grass stems sticking through it. The morning frost took down more leaves from my wisteria hanging tight onto the octagon pergola. One frozen morning glory flower managed to freeze in its red beauty in my window boxes. The sun peaked out and chased away some clouds and the darkness of an early morning.

This is the seventh day of the National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo 50K challenge. I unlocked a 7-day in a row writing badge and updated my word count at 15,308 words a few minutes ago closing the writing session with mom’s comprehensive timeline from 1959 to present. Overall the timeline helps me navigate through my parents’ and my own travels between three continents: Europe, Africa and North America.

The other movement in this epic story of love and passion is between historical events that changed the map of Europe; from the reformist Prague Spring in 1968, when the Soviet tanks invaded former Czechoslovakia to Velvet Revolution in 1989 and far beyond into North America.

Some of the highlights of mom’s timeline include: fascinating visits to Egypt and the Middle East, life in Khartoum, Sudan and back to Czechoslovakia.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

Excerpt: In her own words

By mom Ella

At the beginning of November, my husband announced his decision that he will be leaving for Sudan on Nov. 20, 1964. I gave him my blessings and never thought for a moment that I would go with him. I continued to work in the pharmacy in Vizovice and my boss who loved to travel kept asking me when was I going to fly to Africa.

In the spring of 1965, when I finally applied for a passport and got my vaccinations, Vaclav wrote me a letter that he was coming home, because it was the end of the school year. The university paid once a year for round trip air tickets for the entire family, regardless that he had just started teaching in November. The school year in Sudan ran from the beginning of July to the end of March; it was followed by a summer break lasting three months.

Those three months were also the worse months in Africa weather-wise filled with sand storms “Habub,” rain and heat. Khartoum lies on the 15th parallel close to the equator; it is the second warmest place in the world. It’s a dry tropical country with very little rain. A road stretched 50 miles north of Khartoum and 50 miles south and dead ended in the Nuba desert.

To be continued………..

I am working on a 4,000 word description to log the upcoming book on Amazon’s kdp publishing platform.

Here is a link:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

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

Nanowrimo Day 5

Mom’s sacrifice

By Emma Palova

It’s a chilly November day as I look outside from my writing studio window at my garden with the ornamental grass bed. The grass is still green and the remaining leaves are rusty red and yellow. Only the Royal Purple Smoke tree with a dedication plaque to Ella has bright burgundy leaves clinging onto the branches.

I don’t walk to the pond anymore in the back of the garden, because my beautiful koi fish are gone. An heron devoured them in September. I didn’t want to put new fish in the pond before the winter.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

I logged in 10,019 words earlier in the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge with the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. It was an interesting writing day as I could compare mom’s and dad’s statements about their biggest accomplishments in the USA.

My dad published more than 150 solved problems in different math journals and in the Canadian Crux Mathematicorum. But, he states that he is most proud of his lecturing style that was well understood among the students and that he was well liked.

I was surprised reading mom’s answer that for her America was a sacrifice to her husband’s teaching career. I found it on the last page of the pretty diary with yellow roses.

“I fullfilled my husband’s dream of teaching at an American university without being afraid of losing his job because of religion and going to church,” she wrote. “He was well-liked and with his diligence, at one point, he was making more money than his American colleagues. I ensured freedom for my children and my grandchildren, who have great careers and appreciate it. They thanked me for that.”

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

NaNoWRIMO Day 4 with excerpt

Greenwich Meridian continues

I am catching up on my posting, so today I am writing about Day 4 of #nanowrimo- Monday, Nov. 4. I logged in 7,523 words in the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge.

My father Vaclav Konecny wrote this for me in between working on his math solutions, and preparations to leave for Florida shortly after Thanksgiving.

Grand Hotel in Khartoum, Sudan

Life of professor Vaclav Konecny in Khartoum, Sudan briefly 

On Nov. 1964, early in the morning, I landed via Sudan Airways in Khartoum, Sudan. It was a beautiful area of three cities: Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman separated by the River Nile, Blue Nile and White Nile. 

My future colleague Kenneth was waiting for me to give me a ride to the Grand Hotel on Blue Nile not far from the University of Khartoum. It looked like in a fairy tale; streets lined with palms, the glistening Nile with the three bridges and the British colonial style hotel. 

After three days, Kenneth helped me settle down in Pink Palace with half board. I reported to the head of the Department of Mathematics Prof. Sobhy Sidrak, who had instructed me about my teaching. He instructed me to teach Applied Mathematics; it was called Theoretical Mechanics or Math of Newtonian Mechanics.  

After moving several times, I ended up in an apartment close to the Pink Palace. I bought a very old car Ford Anglia. The administration of the university arranged for me everything I needed. My wife Eliska and children Emma and Vaclav at the time were in Czechoslovakia, so I had time to prepare for the first lecture. 

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

Let #nanowrimo 2019 begin

NaNoWriMo 2019 kicks off today with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – On the opening day of this year’s National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge, I logged in 1,663 words in spite of the fact that I had to have a painful dental procedure done in Grand Rapids. I still have a numb jaw and I have trouble swallowing, kind of like those people in America’s Funniest Videos.

So, I broke up my daily writing session into two parts: morning and afternoon. My NaNoWriMo project is the completion of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga from Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

What helped me immensely to move this forward, was that mom Ella penned her memories in a pretty cursive in Czech in a hard cover diary with yellow roses. It has a dateline: Big Rapids-Florida, 2019-2020. Wow , and it’s dedicated to me: “To my daughter Emma.”

Mom even included a complete timeline titled “Life in a Nutshell” from 1959 to present.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

Here; enjoy an excerpt from chapter “In her own words.”

I was a pharmacist, and it wasn’t that the profession was narrow and had nothing to offer, but I didn’t want to nurture vain ideas of travelling. So, Sunday afternoon trips to the dam in Luhacovice or Bystricka were the only means of breaking up the gray of ordinary days. 

The first bigger trip was our honeymoon to the Krkonose mountains in the old Tatra and mother’s departing comments: “I hope the poor car will make it.” 

When we arrived in Harachov, we sent a message to my parents: “We’ve arrived under Mount Blanc.” At that moment, it never occured to me that one day I would indeed be looking at the majestic highest mountain in the Alps. 

After five years of marriage, we had two children: Emma and Vasek. I was working part-time in a pharmacy in my hometown Vizovice and my husband Vaclav was teaching physics in Brno. He would come for the weekend to Vizovice, because I couldn’t find a job in Brno and we had no place to stay there. We were on the waiting list for an apartment, that we got in 1965. We didn’t have a car or money to furnish the apartment. My husband found out that the president of the university in Khartoum, Sudan was hiring English-speaking professors to teach different subjects. Vaclav’s English was excellent and he got the job.

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

Happy Halloween

Ready for #NaNoWriMo 2019

I am as ready as I can be for the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge starting tomorrow Nov. 1 with my Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir project.

However, Halloween is not only followed by the NaNoWriMo blast off , but also by All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day in the catholic calendar on Saturday. I always go to the mass at St. Pat’s for one or the other to reflect and for inspiration.

Usually, the Book of the Dead is on display. An evening candlelight procession goes to the cemetery.

The feature photo is an optical illussion “All is Vanity” from Belrockton in Belding. It is hanging next to the “Face of Gossip,” which is on the cover of my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections.

Follow me on my NaNoWriMo journey to the completion of the memoir about our family immigration saga to the U.S.

I will be signing my new book at the Lowell Area Historical Museum (LAHM) on Nov. 15, 16 & 17 during Christmas through Lowell.

For more info on NaNoWriMo go to: https://www.nanowrimo.org/

For more info on Christmas through Lowell go to: www.christmasthroughlowell.org

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

Nano prep: Velvet Revolution excerpt

Living History

By Emma Palova

Following is an excerpt from the memoir “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West.”

I lived history twice: Prague Spring in 1968 and the Velvet Revolution in 1989. During the first one, I was a kid, so I don’t remember the Soviet tanks invading Czechoslovakia. However, the second event that changed the course of history for the entire Eastern Europe, I recall as if it had happened yesterday. I documented it myself in a diary with a blue hard cover and bought an important publication published by the Czech Press Office: “Chronicle of Velvet Revolution” in 1989 for 10 crowns. It is the most important document that I own, other than the American passport.

The communist block, which Czechoslovakia was a part of, started collapsing in neighboring Poland under their leader Lech Walesa. I remember, we had no dairy products, as they were all being shipped to Poland. While it was an act of camaraderie, the Polish people didn’t unload the train with the food and let the products spoil, and we were without cheese.

After that it seemed like a domino effect with one block collapsing and making the others collapse.

Sometime in the summer of 1989, I spoke with a friend attorney about matters pertaining to my pending departure to the U.S.- I had to get rid of all possessions, including my citizenship, pay for my education and such. After discussing matters at hand, Mr. H said:

“The bell is tolling for them,” he said. “Can you hear it?”

I stared at him in awe; we were used to speaking in riddles to protect ourselves.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I can’t say.”

It stayed at that, but I immediately knew that he was referring to the bells tolling for the death of communism. To this day, it puzzles me how he gained this insight three months ahead of time.

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

Belding Museum at Historic Belrockton

“Keep your head in the clouds and your hands on the keyboard.”
Marissa Meyer

Back to the keyboard

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I am back behind the computer after a summer filled with author’s gigs, book marketing, anniversary parties and granddaughter Ella’s departure for Fixin, France.

The fall solstice weather is also much more conducive to being tied to the chair without any distractions; that includes minimum social media and Internet browsing only for research purposes and logging in daily word count on the NaNoWriMo website at https://www.nanowrimo.org/

Emma’s book signing during Fallasburg Village Bazaar at the one-room schoolhouse.

However, I have one more big author event to go to before I embark on my second National Novel Writing Month 50k challenge starting on Nov. 1 with prep work in October.

Belrockton Dormitory , home of the Belding Museum

107 Hanover St. Belding, Oct. 6, 2019 1 pm – 4 pm

I am especially looking forward to this book signing of “Shifting Sands: Secrets” inside the original dormitory that housed the silk city girls when Belding was known as the” Silk City of the World.”

The making of “Silk Nora”

The long short story “Silk Nora” is the main story in book 2 in the Shifting Sands Short Stories series. By genre, it belongs to the historical fiction/historical romance catefories. So a good way to search for the book online is by using the keywords #historical fiction #historical romance. In physical bookstores, the book can be found in the fiction category.

The story digs deep into the history of the silk city girls’ dormitory “Belrockton” in Belding at the turn-of-the-century.

The Classical Revival-inspired building was erected in 1906 at a cost of $30,000 . It provided accommodations for 100 single female workers and staff. It was better known as the “Bel” and it is the last dormitory left from the three buildings. Much like the Richardson Mill is the last structure left from the three silk mills in Belding.

As a reporter for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard in the early 2000s, I visited the museum on multiple occassions. But, it wasn’t until two years ago, when I spotted a picture of a woman in a hat during the museum’s fashion hat display in the fall of 2017. She was very elegant and beautiful with a nostalgic look on her face.

That woman in a hat served as a model for creating the main character Nora in the historical fiction story “Silk Nora,” which is the main story in the new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”

I also explored extensively the interior of the dormitory including the girls’ rooms. There was another picture in an oval frame. This was a photo of Mathilda Adrian, who lived in the dormitory. Right next to the oval photo was her marriage certificate to John Mahar dated April 1917. And a double love story was born.

This discovery inspired the character of Mathilda, who became Nora’s best friend. So, at this point I had the main characters, and then I added Doris, the matron and the men into the story. All the characters are woven into Belding’s history of the silk industry started by the Belding Brothers in 1860 by selling silk from house to house.

Creativity of Belrockton staff

The creativity of the Belrockton Museum staff, Jane Forth, Barb Fagerlin, Jan Mehney along with others inspired my own creativity.

T he creative displays at the museum from Hotel Belding such as the receptionist’s desk helped me recreate the scenes of social life at the hotel.

The displays of girls’ rooms complete with mannequins, the movie theater, grocery store, fueled my imagination.

When I discovered the optical illusion picture of the “Face of Gossip” at the dormitory bathrooms, I was totally flabbergasted by the chain of coincidences that made the individual pieces fit into a complete story.

To be continued

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

Into Paradise

Heading to Paradise in Upper Peninsula

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I am getting ready for my next book stop in Paradise located in Upper Peninsula in Michigan. The tiny village nestled on Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay annually hosts the popular Wild Blueberry Festival-Arts & Crafts Fair on Aug. 15, 16 & 17 with close to 100 vendors peddling everything from Lake Superior agate pendants to books.

My new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series is a collection of 15 short stories with the main historical fiction story “Silk Nora” set in the turn-of-the-century Belding.

One of the stories “When Layla met Corey” is set in Mackinaw City, which is a gateway to Upper Peninsula.

The book made its debut at the Lakeshore Art Festival in Muskegon in July.

An artist’s dream

Paradise, a community rich with nautical folklore, logging and Native American History attracts thousands of visitors and vendors due to close proximity to Tahquamenon Falls.

For its natural wonders and wilderness, Upper Peninsula has traditionally drawn writers, photographers and artists from all over the USA. Among the most famous authors were: Earnest Hemingway and John Voelker.

Where inspiration abounds

A recent wave of emerging Michigan authors is sweeping the shores of the Great Lakes from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior. They write from Michigan with Michigan settings and locations. They market themselves under the umbrella of Michigan Authors. Follow them on http://www.MichiganAuthors.com

This is by far, not my first visit to UP or Paradise. I have fond memories of vacationing Up North, both from years ago with our kids and most recently with our granddaughter Ella.

I love the wilderness of UP and its natural pristine beauty, as well as the spirit of the Great Lakes.

For info about the Wild Blueberry Festival in Paradise go to: http://www.WildBlueberryFestival.org

To be continued

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