Lowell, MI -I am really looking forward to this weekend. First of all, it’s going to be hot again, and I love that.
Contrary to what the promoters of “Back to School” pump out, summer is not over. For me summer is over when I have to swap my flip-flops for closed-toed shoes, usually with the first snow.
Summer always stays in my heart year-long.
Other than my author event at the LowellArts gallery tomorrow from 1 to 3 p.m. during the Captured photo exhibit, I can’t wait to go to the Czech Harvest Festival “Dozinky” in Bannister this Sunday.
This is our annual treat and a tribute to our Czech heritage. Every year, I get my hopes high that I will run into a Czech-speaking person at the festival in the middle of nowhere.
Over the years of going to Bannister, I’ve met probably a total of eight people who knew some Czech. The fun part about this event is that I get to sing three anthems that I know: American, Czech & Slovak.
The third-generation organizers Tom & Diane Bradley of Czech origin have done a fantastic job of preserving the “Dozinky” event as it truly happens in the Moravian and Slovakian villages in the old country. The dancers wear original costumes, the band of accordions plays Czech polka and the singers sing Czech songs.
The Czech & Slovak dance group.
I marvel at this effort, because the festival passes the Czech heritage onto the younger generation. The dance troupe involves kids ages three to unlimited. The festivities open with the shortest parade in the world; it’s even shorter than the parade in Hubbardston on St. Pat’s Day.
The parade route is past the ZCBJ Lodge to the small field with a concrete platform for the dancers. The dancers and singers march in the parade with rakes and scythes, symbolizing the original harvest of wheat.
Usually, a polka band plays inside the hall after the dance troupe is done outside. I’ve never been to that part, because it runs later in the afternoon when we have to head back home for a long drive through the fields.
The best part of the event is the original Czech food. For ten bucks, you get to eat like in a fancy Czech restaurant without leaving USA. The buffet features, ham, chicken, dumplings, sauerkraut, cucumber salad, mashed potatoes, biscuits and a dessert.
However, one thing you will not get here, is the traditional Czech “kolache” pastry. One of the editors of the Fraternity Herald asked me to share the origins of this festive pastry.
So, I asked my mother Ella, while she was still in Venice. Growing up in Moravian small town of Vizovice, she could trace the humble origins to the villagers.
“They used all the ingredients available to them in their households,” she said. “This included the cottage cheese they made themselves, butter or lard and eggs. The only thing they bought was sugar and flour. They had everything else including the plum butter.”
The popularity of “kolache” as a signature pastry at all events and festivities, skyrocketed over the years, as the city folks discovered them while touring villages.
“Kolaches” are to Czechs what pizza is to the Italians,” mom said. “They too use the ingredients available to them; olives, pasta sauce and such.”
There are hundreds of recipes for traditional “kolache” varying according to the region.
However, they all have in common the following: golden crust topped with plum butter with sugary crumbling and filled with cottage cheese mixed with raisins.
I find the Motown Writers Network full of great tips and writing advise. What really caught my eye was the post about author branding.
As I step into the role of an author, I realize more and more how branding is important. What kind of author am I? What is my target audience? How will my title “Shifting Sands Short Stories” stand out among millions of book titles? What does it have in common with my other work?
As a journalist, I ask this question quite often, “What sets you apart from others in your industry?”
Yes, writing is a business. So, it has to be branded.
“Just like me going to work every day,” said #WGVU morning show host Shelley Irwin in last week’s interview.
Regardless the trade, many people struggle with the answer to this question including the campaigning politicians.
As of today, I can say that the following sets me apart from other authors and other titles: I am a Czech-born author who was naturalized as a US citizen on Aug. 19, 1999 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.
At the time I was featured on the front page of the Ionia Sentinel-Standard in the article “U.S. citizenship a ‘natural’ step for Lowell woman. I was a reporter for the paper, and I received hundreds of congratulatory phone calls. The Associated Press syndicated the naturalization story.
I collected and put together the short stories that I have written over a span of more than two decades. So, I call that also a “history preservation” project. I wrote the first stories from the immigration circle of stories on my Smith Corona word processor in Montreal, Canada in the early 1990s.
History is my other love besides writing. Naturally, I plan to include a historical fiction piece in the sequel to Shifting Sands Stories.
I consider the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia partly a historical piece., although not fictional.
With my passion for languages, I also teach ESL. I am learning Spanish, so I can visit Hemingway’s Finca Vigia in Cuba.
I’ve already visited the Hemingway House in Key West. The descendents of his six-toed cats are there. His writing studio was connected by a catwalk to the main house.
I see myself as a romantic author with Hemingway’s hardiness. I portray every day characters in their struggles; whether in love, disease, aging, under duress or in pursuit of perfection.
Some of the characters like Vadim in “The Death Song” are macho men, totally immersed into themselves.
The struggle for perfection is best portrayed in the character of math professor Martin in “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.” His own son is his only imperfection. Everything else in his life is perfect, otherwise he wouldn’t survive.
As in real life, the endings are not always happy. See “The Death Song” or “Honey Azrael.”
Authors (left to right) Jeanie Mortensen and Emma Palova of Lowell share a giggle.
Following is part of Hemingway’s acceptance speech sent to Stockholm, since he couldn’t travel to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. I find it inspiring.
“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is good enough of a writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”
I’ve also written a screenplay registered with Writers Guild of America, West. Personally, I consider screenwriting easier than writing novels. I write a short story first and based on that I write the screenplay. Writing has to be very visual.
Join our local LowellArts group #lowellwrites. Contact Debra Dunning Duiven at 897-8545.
Lowell, MI- While finalizing my interview draft for the WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin in downtown Grand Rapids, I was able to come up with a common theme; renaissance of the written word and literature overall.
That was my final takeaway message for the audience.
“We’re in a renaissance era of the written word,” I said. “Write every day, put together what you have written and send it out. Don’t let dust settle on your manuscripts. If you can’t find an agent or a publishing house, do it yourself. Find a self-publishing platform.”
Over the last two decades, people have been getting increasingly sick of technology and trying to figure everything out on devices, and the ever-changing algorithms.
On the other hand, the renaissance is partly thanks to Google’s keywords, business and product reviews and captioning on TV.
I’ve noticed an explosion of literature on my author’s adventures since I’ve penned “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” Poets are popping up, as well as memoirists and there is a huge demand for historical fiction.
As a true lover of history and artifacts, I brought in with me to the WGVU Studio at the Eberhard Center a remnant of a word processor; a font reel or wheel with my favorite script font 10/12. That’s all I have left of the word processor that had a screen for three sentences at the max. I bought it in 1990 at, the close to being extinct, Kmart.
“The millennials don’t know what it is, but I used the Smith- Corona word processor to write my first stories,” I said.
Irwin looked at the reel wheel with the script font puzzled.
“I am not a millennial, but I can’t figure this out either,” as she looked at the artifact.
“It was inspired by a hometown parade to the 175th anniversary of fictive Riddleyville, organized by one of the town characters,” I said. “It is about the assassination on the liberal presidential candidates.”
When Irwin asked about my favorite stories out of the collection of 13 short stories, I said: “If I had to choose it would be a toss between “The Death Song” and “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.”
“Because the characters stay with you long after you’re done reading,” I said. “My daughter-in-law Maranda asked me what was wrong with the guys.”
That’s exactly what I want; that resonation with the characters and questions left hanging in the air. That’s why I am writing a sequel to Shifting Sand Short Stories, as well as the Greenwich Meridian memoir.
“iIt’s a balancing act,” I said.
The main character in “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” is a math professor, perfectionist by nature.
By pure coincidence, and with “Back to School” looming in the air, there was also a mathematical conference going on at the Eberhard Center. A girl offered me an AlgebraNation pencil and a flag.
I have to check if it is pencil no.2, that professor Duggan used in the story. It’s got to be just right, not too soft, not too hard.
“Obviously, you have a passion for writing,” said Irwin.
It was a great experience being in the same studio with Irwin and the intern, and other adventurers like the Iron Fish Distilleries.
I heard their story driving back to Lowell on WGVU 88.5 FM.
Thank you, Shelley, until we meet again on my next venture.
Books and events
Shifting Sands Short Stories is available locally at Schuler Books in GR and in Lansing, Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, KDL libraries and it is coming to “Epilogue Books” in Rockford. It is on Amazon.
Author events @LowellArts
July 28 & Aug. 4, 1- 3 p.m. Book signing & discussion
Aug. 6, 7 to 9 p.m. panel discussion with poet Ian Haight
To join LowellArts Writer’s Group contact Debra Duiven Dunning at 897-8545
Lowell, MI – Lowell author Emma Palova will be featured live on WGVU Morning Show with host Shelley Irwin on July 26 at 10 a.m. WGVU is a service of the Grand Valley State University, a PBS member.
Palova will be talking with Irwin about her book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” Palova, a former reporter for the Lowell Ledger, penned the collection of 13 short stories for more than two decades.
The stories are based on her immigration experience from former Czechoslovakia, journalistic and retail experience in the USA.
Author Emma Palova
Most recently, Palova was featured in the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide 2018-2019 in the life & style section, Reading Room: The long road to resilience.
“I know it might sound cheesy, but even though not all the stories have happy endings, that doesn’t mean that everything that happens to us is either good or bad. It isn’t always that clear,” she said. “The real art is in discerning it.”
This Saturday, July 21st, Palova can be found at the Ludington Writer’s Rendezvous along with 28 Michigan authors. The event runs from 10 to 3 p.m., at the Ludington Center for Arts. It is free to the public.
She will be at the Lowell Arts Gallery on July 28th & Aug. 4th from 1 to 3 p.m. to sign books and offer writing and publishing tips during the new “Captured: A Photography Exhibition.”
Palova is a member of the newly-formed LowellArts Writer’s Group which meets every Monday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. Contact Debra Dunning for more information at 897-8545.
Palova is currently working on a sequel to “Shifting Sands” and a memoir about the family immigration saga spanning three generations. Palova has also written a screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns”@Emma Palova.
Shifting Sands Short Stories is available on Amazon, Schuler Books in GR and Lansing and at the Kent District Library branches.
Palova is looking for a publisher for her first novel “Fire on Water” based on her experience from former communist Czechoslovakia.
For more info on the WGVU morning show go to: wgvunews.org.
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Here is a link to my author interview at LowellArts on April 7, 2018.
The reason I picked this venue is because of their recent move to Main Street. The new location on Main has been a dream come true for LowellArts much like my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” has been for me.
Main Street is the major source of inspiration for the lead story “Tonight on Main” in my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” It is also featured in my Shifting Sands: Secrets book II. (c) 2018 Emma Palova
The interview followed a short video “From Idea to Final.” I am currently editing the video about the creative process from the initial spark through incubation to the final product, whether it is a book, a play, a screenplay, video production or a film.
I will also post a transcript to both videos. I wrote the script on celtx script app. It’s easy to use; perfect for pre-production.
Here is an example of a manuscript proposal that I have submitted to the Calvin College writing conference in Grand Rapids. As a standard, everything must be submitted electronically via app Submittable by a certain deadline.
Always Explore the option of submitting your manuscript to a writer’s conference. Some conferences accept manuscripts even if you are not a registered participant for a fee.
manuscript proposal for Shifting Sands Short Stories, contemporary fiction with excerpts from “Tonight on Main” and “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.”
A manuscript proposal should include the following: author’s bio, book summary including page length, book’s audience/readership, brief comparison to similar titles on the market, marketing strategies/promotion ideas, possible endorsers and chapter samples.
Emma Palova (Konecna), born in former Czechoslovakia, is a Lowell-based short story writer, novelist, screenwriter and a journalist.
Palova wrote for Czechoslovak Newsweek and Prague Reporter in the 1990s. She received bachelor’s degree from the University of Brno in 1986.
She started an eclectic collection of short stories during her studies of creative writing at the International Correspondence Schools in Montreal, and at the Grand Rapids Community College in the early 1990s.
The collection “Shifting Sands Short Stories” is now in its first edition. Palova self-published the book on the Kindle Direct Publishing (kdp) platform on Amazon in the summer of 2017.
“I did not want the stories to get lost,” she said.
The collection continues to grow with new stories in volume II of Shifting Sands: Secrets.
Palova’s passion for writing dates back to grade school in Stipa near Zlin in the region of Moravia.
“I’ve always had a knack for languages and adventure,” she said. “Our family immigration saga has been a tremendous inspiration for all my writings.”
The short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” captures some immigration details embodied by math professor Martin Duggan.
Palova’s work at a major Midwest retailer has enabled the core of the Shifting Sands stories. While working on the second shift at the women’s department, Palova wrote in the morning emulating Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits, short story form and journalistic career.
During her journalistic years, Palova continued to write fiction inspired by real life happenings as in “Iron Horse” and “Foxy.”
Palova became an American citizen in 1999 in a naturalization ceremony at Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.
In 2012, she diversified again with the digital platform WordPress. Palova founded Emma Blogs, LLC, a portfolio of blogs for marketing in 2014. She combined her passion for history and writing by working with history clients such as the Fallasburg Historical Society.
Palova wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” in 2009. It is registered with The Writers Guild of America.
Shifting Sands: Short Stories book summary
Book complete self-published on kdp platform
The book is a collection of 13 short stories where the heroes and heroines shift their destinies like grains of sand in an hour-glass, quite to the surprise of the reader.
Sometimes the characters like the grains have to pass through the narrow part, only to emerge in a new form, that is transformed into stronger human beings. They’re packed in the crowd with others, suffering or loose by themselves, either stranded or pushed to the wall. The shifting shows that everything changes and is like a fluid energy in life.
The stories are divided into three circles. The first circle comprises stories from the early years of immigration spent between the USA and Montreal, Canada until 1993.
These would include: The Temptation of Martin Duggan, Danillo and Honey Azrael.
The second circle draws on retail experience from a Midwest store. These are: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.
The third circle of stories was inspired by journalistic career in the regional print newspaper and magazine media through 2012. These include: In the Shadows, Iron Horse, Foxy, Riddleyville Clowns and Chatamal.
Most of the setting is in fictive Midwest Riddleyville. The stories are a tribute to hometown characters and their hardiness to survive.
Adults 18 and up
Brief title comparison on the market
Much like in Anjali Sachdeva’s “All the Name They Used for God,” the characters in Shifting Sands Short Stories attempt to escape their fate. However, in a lesser fantasy world.
As in Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things,” the stories came into existence under different circumstances, and kept changing. Time molded these stories into unconventional shapes, as the hour-glass on the cover suggests.
As in Jeffrey Archer’s “Tell Tale” some stories are closely tied to travel like the story “In the Shadows” based on Milwaukee meetings.
And Earnest Hemingway’s classics based on reshaping different experiences: “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio” will be reflected in the works “The Writer, the Nun, and the Gardener.
The book is available throughout the Kent District Library (KDL) system in Grand Rapids, in Hastings and in Big Rapids.
Blog tours, author tours, book signings, libraries
Book stores, print companies,
Book excerpt with samples from two stories not to exceed 3,000 words
Tonight on Main Excerpt
Cards with red hearts and hearts again land on the table covered with a lace doily in the old house located at 534 E. Main Street in Riddleyville. Waiting for his ace, young Willy stretched back into a dilapidated arm-chair that squeaked under his light weight. He took a long look around.
Old clothes and empty boxes were laying on the floor and on the couch. An open can of cat food sat on the dining table. Yellow and red drapes with a green and blue hydrangea pattern were drawn down to further dim the dark room. They looked like hanging rags with holes in them.
An antique lamp cast dim light in the living room. The house was filled with old smells combined with the aroma of rum. Willy admired the vintage Coca-Cola collection in the corner. He also peaked through a hole in the drapes to get a good look at the porch and the Main drag through sleepy Riddleyville.
The Midwest town of Riddleyville breathed past with old-fashioned lamp posts, an old Opera House under reconstruction, two rivers crossing paths downstream from the dam, and the remnants of the defunct railroad.
Furniture was piled up on the porch and flowers of the summer were wilting in the cracked pots. Willy recognized millionaire Roby pedaling on his bike. Roby waved as if he knew someone was peaking. Maybe, he just saw the three old women moving the card table on to the porch to play a game of poker.
The house is old, the lady of the house is old, and her daughter Irma is old. The daughter’s cat is old. Aunt Bertha who came to play cards is old. The old has settled in. The porch is half rotted as it leans into the ground. The construction studs are crooked.
The sun is setting down on Main. The three old women are sitting in the late afternoon sun on the half-rotted porch joined by the little angel Willy, the godson of Aunt Bertha. A black fat cat with the French revolutionary name, J. M. Robespierre snuck under the table ever so silently in the deafening noise of the passing by cars.
The noise is unbearable, but the women cannot hear. The pervasive smell of rum has invaded the porch.
“I can’t hear you, mom,” yelled Irma.
“Well, unplug your ears or wash them,” yells back old mom Goldie who will turn 97 in the fall.
Goldie can’t see or hear anymore, but she can still smell. She can smell what the neighbors had for dinner last night.
“I said, isn’t your rum cake burning? I can smell the rum in it burning,” the old lady rocked back and forth as her voice dies in the noise of the street.
“Did you say to get another deck out?” Irma shouted at the top of her lungs.
The street talks at night. It whispers its secrets.
End of excerpt
The Temptation of Martin Duggan Excerpt
The professor’s bald head was shining in the bright morning sunlight. He was bouncing in front of the blackboard explaining triple integers. He was now on his fourth board, all scribbled with numbers and strange symbols.
Martin was wearing a perfectly ironed white shirt with long sleeves from J.C. Penney. Rose made sure that the shirts had a pocket on the left side when buying shirts. He still favored light pastel colors, mostly blue, that matched his grey blue eyes so well.
But, Martin always bought his own pencils. They had to be pencils no. 2, not too soft, not too hard. He found them the most comfortable somewhere in the middle of the scale on the hardness of graphite. The pockets of all his shirts were full of pencils and pens. Martin took great care not to have any smears from his writing tools on his clothes. He diligently put the caps back on pens; black had to match black, blue had to match blue. That way he wouldn’t confuse the color of his ink. Martin never used red.
To match the white shirt, he wore his favorite gray striped pants from his striped suit reserved for special occasions. There was something about lines that had always comforted him. Lines commanded respect.
They could be lines vertical, horizontal, or curves. And then came symbols, and Martin’s love for them; like pi or the toppled 8 symbolizing infinity. He traced the origin of his love for numbers and symbols to his childhood and later growing up in the strict austere atmosphere of the seminary in Brest. He had no intentions of becoming a priest. But parents lodged him in the seminary with his older brother Peter, so they could both receive good education.
In the cold walls of the seminary, Martin found warmth in numbers.
He felt free unleashing his power in numbers and their swift magic. Numbers and ellipses on curves were stories to Martin. His own story was a rollercoaster upside down racing on a fast track starting with a jerk at the faculty in Brno, former Czechoslovakia, which perched him to new heights at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, Africa. This was part of a socialist program to help the Third World countries in the late sixties.
Fresh with a new title, a wife that had just turned 30 and the Prague Spring 1968 movement tearing the old country apart, Martin was ready to climb higher into different unknown spheres.
At 34, he had a receding hairline, an impeccable command of English and an expertise of an old professor. He made decent money in English pounds and bought Rose a set of pearls for her 30th birthday, that she would later hate. She blamed the pearls for her destiny.
According to an old legend, pearls bring tears and bad luck to their owners.
“Do not return home,” letters from the occupied Czech homeland by the Russians kept arriving at the “Pink Palace” apartment complex in the arid desert city on the Blue Nile.
Rose wearing a yellow headband and a lime colored dress, suitable for the late 60s, shed more tears than the Nile had water in it, as the two fought over immigration. She faithfully followed her husband on his career trek that flourished to serve both the developing Sudan and the tossed Czechoslovakia in the heart of Europe.
However, a new house, sick parents and a jealous sister were awaiting back at home, along with a good pharmacy job in the apothecary.
One hot night in the late summer, right around her birthday, Martin kept fidgeting nervously around the kitchen holding a piece of paper. The kids were outside with friends.
“I got accepted to a post doctorate program in Canada,” he said calmly suppressing fear..
End of excerpt & proposal
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Come for inspiration and author’s insights to my February book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories tomorrow on Feb. 3 at 1 pm at LowellArts.
I will share writing tips on how to write about love, with or without a happy ending.
February expands new horizons, get the scoop at Emma’s author events & new Cool Vendors Abound blog
Author’s note: These are my thoughts prior to the Feb. 3 book signing of my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories at the award-winning arts gallery in downtown Lowell from 1 to 4 p.m. The gallery presents the Grand Valley Artists-In View show.
LowellArts has received the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce reward for the best non-profit organization for providing more arts programs and services, while positively impacting the downtown businesses.
“Yes, this is a big deal for Lowell,” said Lorain Smalligan, executive director of LowellArts. “There are not many communities the size of Lowell with an arts center like LowellArts.”
I look forward to February for several reasons: I consider February as the month of love, and the Mardi Gras extravaganza. I also squeeze in my annual writer’s retreat in Florida.
1- January, the longest and coldest month will come to an end tomorrow, but we will also get to see the rare Super Blue Blood Moon for the first time in 150 years. The phenomenon consists of a super moon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse, aka blood moon, all in one. Don’t miss out on Jan. 31.
2- I get to revise if I have stuck to my new year’s resolutions. Let’s look at this one close-up.
Among my many new year’s resolutions was to get in shape; that is physically and mentally. I continue to exercise; 30 minutes of yoga and 30 minutes on the treadmill, plus freestyle weight lifting. I have yet to explore the possibilities of the yoga fitness 75-cm ball.
Mentally: My husband and I have signed up for Spanish classes so we can order lunch in Cuba. We both continue to go on Monday evenings under the tutelage of Mr. Jim Albert. I can now put together an entire sentence in Spanish:
“Yo voy a apprender Espanol.” I am going to learn Spanish.
I meditate with one of the greatest thinkers of this world: Deepak Chopra in his “Making every Moment Matter” meditations.
3- Straighten out or strengthen relationships. Build new DIY sites.
Now, this one is tougher than it looks. I have a lot more work to do, even though I managed to visit my brother Vas in Paris, MI last Sunday. A story “The Trainman” (c) Emma Palova is coming to my new site Cool Vendors Abound.
First contact via EW Emma’s Writings blog, social media, Authors Central on Amazon, author’s page on Goodreads, personal book signings at local venues and writers’ conferences like the upcoming Calvin College Conference in Grand Rapids.
You will also enjoy the marvelous Grand Valley Artists Show-In View.