Category Archives: inspiration

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.

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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.

Young Entrepreneurs

Little Dreamers Sleepovers

A dream come true for Hastings woman

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Grand Rapids, MI- Maranda Palova chatted about her business “Little Dreamers Sleepovers” with Fox 17 Morning Mix co-host LeighAnn Towne on Tuesday morning.

Inspired by her French niece Ella’s request for a sleepover at her Hastings home, Palova designed a kids’ birthday party line.

“My daughter Josephine and Ella enjoyed it so much that I thought why not let everyone enjoy a sleepover party,” said Palova.

The path from idea to the final product- a themed tent set-up- at clients’ home entailed a mix of hard work, innovation spiced with passion and creativity.

“I love kids,” said Palova. “It’s very rewarding. “

The most popular themes include: Unicorns, mermaids and minecraft.

Palova comes to a client’s home two hours or earlier before the party to set up the sleepover scene complete with tents and all the party bells and whistles.

The next morning she tears down the tents leaving behind only precious memories.

“It’s coming of age thing,” Palova said. “It’s heart warming. “

Palova loves changing the colors in different themes. She encourages early bookings. Her coverage area is within 60 miles radius of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo or Hastings.

For booking and more info go to:

Little Dreamers Sleepovers on http://littledreamerssleepovers.com

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

Taurus rolls into week 2 of 2019

Rolling into the second writing week of 2019. I am excited about the upcoming #NaNoWriMo writing events. Follow me on my writing and publishing journey to my second book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”

Edition Emma Publishing

Rolling into the second writing week of 2019

Today’s horoscope is right on target for me as I roll into the second writing week of 2019.

Don’t forget that Monday’s are marketing Monday’s at #NaNoWriMo.

The next #NaNoWriMo date is tomorrow; it is the virtual write-in Wednesday from 4 to 5 pm EST. Go to:https://youtu.be/hQNjsApebvc

After that, it is the self-edit session with AutoCrit on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.

Read your free Taurus horoscope for today to get daily advice. Find out what today’s Astrology will mean for Taurus every day from Tarot.com.
— Read on www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus/2019-01-08

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Covered Bridges & Builders

2019 Calendar Features Covered Bridges from Coast to Coast

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – The 2019 calendar by the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges features covered bridges from 13 different states; from East to West coasts and their builders.

Locally, the #Fallasburg Covered Bridge adorns the month of May.

According to the statement on the calendar, the Fallasburg Covered Bridge was built in 1871 by Jared Brasee. Brasee lived in Ada. Brasee used for the construction of his bridges the Brown truss. Fallasburg is the only remaining Brown truss bridge.

The White’s Bridge (1869-2013) was in Ionia County. The White’s Bridge Historical Society is in the process of rebuilding the bridge that burnt in 2013.

At the end of the article, you will find a link to purchase the calendar. Due to the enormous success of the calendar, the society is accepting photos for calendar 2020.

Emma in 2019

Picking up speed with excerpts from new “Secrets”

Most of us can relate to slow starts after the holidays. On top of the holiday indolence, I’ve been sick too. And I even got my first ever flu shot in 2018 inspite of my wavering doubt about the effectiveness of the vaccine. This is the first day that “I feel like a human being.” That’s a quote from colleague writer Tamela Spicer.

What’s coming down the pipeline?

I am working on two last stories to complete the second book Shifting Sands: Secrets. (c) 2019 Emma Palova. It is a sequel to Shifting Sands: Short Stories. I will let the manuscript run through the AutoCrit self-editing software for fiction to test it and review it.

I found out about AutoCrit during the #NaNoWriMo 50K word marathon in November. It has reasonably good reviews. A webcast on self-editing using the software is scheduled for Jan. 22 from 4 to 5 p.m.

Below is the link to the webcast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmrIsIvEw3Q

I will most likely self-publish on the kdp self-publishing platform, since anything else is a complex labyrinth of paths with dead ends.

Looking for reviewers

On the other hand, I am an eternal optimist, so I will pitch the individual stories via the app Submittable to different markets. Any new book needs reviews, any reviews.

Let me know if you would like to write a review. All Advance Reader Copies (ARC) are always free. You get to read something no one else has read before; now that’s pretty special.

Touring with books

I am also in the process of creating a tour for the new book Secrets. My first targeted event is on April 6 at the Author’s Fair in Detroit.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/annual-authors-fair-2019-tickets-50594326994

I am imposing a deadline on the memoir project “Greenwich Meridian” about the family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia. I am taking this book to the event Books Alive! in Ludington on July 19 in conjunction with Ludington’s Friday Night Live.

This event is possible thanks to author Joan H. Young from Scottville.

I am also looking forward to continuing my partnership with LowellArts for book signings and the upcoming playwright festival.

Excerpt from short story “40 Hunks” in Secrets

They were crossing the Sonoran Desert west of Nogales. Jose felt the pocket of his jeans for a piece of paper. He pulled it out to look at it for the 100th time as they were nearing the border.

It was the letter from the US Department of Agriculture giving him permission to cross the border to the US with the 40 men sleeping behind his back. Before they boarded the bus, Jose had to make sure they were the right men. Most of them didn’t have any IDs, so he trusted them and tried to match up the names with the list from the government.

The list was far from being exact, but Jose knew once they entered the US territory, they would be assigned a permanent work guide. From there on, it was none of his business what’s going to happen with these men. The guides were correction officers borrowed from the regional correctional facilities in the US.

The border patrol in Nogales searched the smelly bus and studied Jose’s driver’s license and that piece of paper.

“How do you know who’s who?” barked a sweating guard with an AK47 across his shoulder, at Jose.

“Vaguely. I know that I have 40 men,” said Jose also sweating.

The guard boarded the bus and walked in the aisle examining each face, holding the piece of governmental paper in his hand.  He stopped and looked closely at one man. The men were wide awake now. He leaned over the hulky man taking in his odor.

“Who are you?” he asked with his face distorted in an evil grimace.

Jose walked up to the two men in the back of the bus.

“Hey, amigo,” he said to the guard. “They don’t speak English.”

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

Moments in time 2018

Looking back at 2018

Lowell, MI- Year 2018 was definitely one to be remembered in the mosaic of my life.

Two major events immediately stand out in my mind; and coincidentally they both happened in October.

Ludek and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on Oct. 7th by going to my beloved Mackinac Island in the Straits of Mackinac.

On Oct. 18th, Ludek became an American citizen in a naturalization ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. See post: https://emmapalova.com/2018/10/18/magistrate-judge-you-are-america/

In January, Ludek and I started our Spanish classes under the tutelage of Jim Alberts. I’ve never enjoyed learning more; and we’re doing it again in 2019 if Mr. Alberts offers them again.

On Jan. 29, my lifelong friend Eva and her husband Honza made their dream come true, as they opened restaurant Lorenz in Kromeriz, Czech Republic. https://emmapalova.com/2018/01/29/lorenz-czech-restaurant-with-austrian-flair/

Since the big pond separates us, we missed the grand opening. We hope to visit Lorenz one day.

In January and February, I continued my book signings of Shifting Sands Short Stories at LowellArts during their arts exhibit in the new gallery on Main Street.

February marked my annual writer’s retreat in Florida. It was in Ft. Lauderdale. See post https://emmapalova.com/2018/02/16/notes-from-ocean-2018/

As winter changed into spring, we celebrated St. Pat’s in historic Hubbardston tavern with the oldest liquor license in Michigan. It used to be a speakeasy during the prohibition. I have yet to write about this.

April marked the three-day biannual Conference on Writing at Calvin College. See post https://emmapalova.com/2018/04/16/ffw-2018/

In April, we also enjoyed Neil Simon’s “Rumors” by the LowellArts players.

The first weekend in May is always dedicated to my love for history. The theme of Spring into the Past tour was “Fashions through the Ages.” https://emmapalova.com/2018/05/04/fashions-through-the-ages/

In June, it was the “Guardians of History” script and video for the Fallaburg Historical Society, that made this month stand out. https://emmapalova.com/2018/06/17/guardians-of-history/

I was also featured in the 2018-2019 Grand Rapids City Guide in the life&style section “The long road to resilience.”

I love summer and surprises. They truly all came in one day: Interview with WGVU host Shelly Irwin, a new author event and the Epilogue Bookstore. While looking for a hotel in Ludington, where we celelebrated my dad’s birthday on July 23rd, I came across a true gem. I found out about the annual Ludington Writers’ Rendezvous organized by author Joan H. Young. Thank you Joan for so much inspiration and for new author friends. You rock. https://emmapalova.com/2018/07/16/writers-surprises-all-in-one-day/

On the first Sunday in August, we always attend the annual Czech Harvest Festival in Bannister, MI. Aug. 20th marked the 50th anniversary of Soviet occupation of former Czechoslovakia in 1968. See post: https://emmapalova.com/2018/08/20/50th-anniversary-of-soviet-occupation-of-czechoslovakia-1968/

I wrapped up the summer by saying goodbye to our French granddaughter Ella; together we completed a big goal. Passing on the family tradition, I taught Ella how to swim.

In September, we were in the Belding Labor Day Parade for the first time with my book float entry decorated with huge lollipops and an ice cream cone. We loved the parade with the Willy Wonka theme.

Who doesn’t love a parade passing by?

October: like I’ve mentioned in the highlights we celebrated our anniversary https://emmapalova.com/2018/10/17/discoveries-at-mackinac-island-straits/ My husband Ludek was naturalized.

November delivered a huge surprise for me: the NaNoWriMo 50K word novel writing marathon and with it comes a new book for 2019. That is Shifting Sands: Secrets. I completed the 50,000 word challenge on Nov. 27 with 56,432 words. https://emmapalova.com/2018/11/27/national-novel-writing-month-winner-2018/

December brought record attendance to the https://emmapalova.com/2018/12/06/christmas-in-fallasburg-2/Christmas in Fallasburg party thanks to the concerted effort of all the volunteers.

Our first ever team trip Up North brought new discoveries of the “Chain of Lakes,” a 75-mile waterway from Elk Rapids to Ellsworth.

I would like to wish all my followers a Happy New Year 2019.

Thank you for following me.

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

Up North

Shanty Creek Resorts

The day after Christmas we headed Up North 150 miles into Antrim County, an outdoors lover’s paradise. We made our base in Mancelona with its proximity to the Shanty Creek mountain system: Summit and Schuss mountains.

We stayed at a chalet in the Lakes of the North community; a sprawling development in the woods complete with an indoor pool inside a clubhouse.

A network of trails weaved through the entire area making it ideal for snowmobiling, Nordic skiing or snowshoeing.

Shanty Creek Resorts near Bellaire were approximately 20 minutes away. Schuss Mountain with 450 feet of vertical drop offered downhill skiing for both kids and adults. The “Bunny Hill” was serviced by a Magic Carpet; moving escalator on the ground. The Cedar Creek Lodge at the foot of the hill offered respite from the brisk wind. A shuttle communted between Schuss and the lodge.

The ski school was in full swing with people falling all over tied to their skiis. We wanted to do dog sledding on Saturday, but due to low snow cover, it was postponed.

Any winter sport including mountain biking on a fatty bike could be spotted here. We ate our lunch at the River Bistro inside the lodge beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Jake with family explored Summit Mountain which brough back memories. Back in the 1990s, it was only known as Shanty Creek. That’s where Jake learned how to ski. Coming full circle, he was now teaching his own kids, Josephine and Dominik, the old skiing tricks.

As the saying around Shanty Creek Resorts goes: “Teaching new pups old tricks.”

Little town of Bellaire

Bellaire is probably best known for Short’s Brewery, Bee Well Meadery, Hello Vino and stores like Little Treasures and the Flying Pig. When the snow conditions are not good for skiing, Bellaire provides a back-up plan.

“We call it Halloween here, when the slopes are deserted,” said the clerk at the meadery.

Some of the sweet mead creations here were: Apple Pie and Cherry Vanilla.

Central Lake

The town of Central Lake is home to Bachmann’s General Stores and Mammoth Distilling; both are great sites to explore.

“If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” read the storefront.

Truly, you could find here anything from hardware to books, and everything in between.

The “Cherry Bounce” bourbon was one of the many hand-hewn products at Mammoth with the actual still in the back.

Discoveries “Chain of Lakes”

Our team’s biggest discovery was the “Chain of Lakes,” a natural waterway traversing 80 miles across 14 lakes and rivers. The chain starts in Elk Rapids and ends in Ellsworth.

Recently, it was designated as the first water trail in northern Michigan to encourage water preservation and engagement with nature. According to the DNR, it will positively impact local economies of towns along the water trail and encourage healthy lifestyle.

The water trail was designed for non-motorized watercraft and fishing. The water trail has 81 access sites managed by 16 governmental jurisdictions and non-profit organizations that stretch through four counties: Antrim, Charlevoix, Kalkaska and Grand Traverse.

“We’re coming back in the summer,” was the consensus of our team.

For more info on Paddle Antrim go to http://www.paddleantrim.com

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