“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/
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.
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.
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.
Lowell, MI – Stop by today for an autographed copy of my brand new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections. I will be at the LowellArts gallery from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. during the Livin’ is Easy exhibit.
I will be sharing insights from the publishing industry and from my own publishing journey. See you there.
Check out the article in Aug. 4th Buyer’s Guide “Taking the book on the road to connect with readers.”
Also watch for my posts from my book tour with the next event in Paradise, MI during the Wild Blueberry Festival on Aug. 16,17 & 18.
Shifting Sands: Secrets My new book “Secrets” in the Shifting Sands Short Stories series is ready for July 1 release. You can now preorder on Amazon. Just enter Emma Palova historical fiction. Below in the book section are listed links to book 1 and book 2 on Amazon. The core of the book is the long short story “Silk Nora” that takes place at the turn-of-the-century Belding. You will be swept away by the historical setting of the “Silk City Girls” dormitory known as Belrockton. The major characters are Nora, her friend Mathilda and the matron of Belrockton- Doris from Sussex in England. Other characters include newspaper man Harry and band player John. The cover “Face of Gossip” and the main story “Silk Nora” were inspired by my multiple visits to the Belrockton Museum over the last two decades. A story from the hosiery mills was picked up by the Associated Press and major newspapers in Michigan ran it. I will be with the new book at the Muskegon Art Festival on July 5th and July 6th inside the author’s tent on Clay & 2nd Streets. I will be at “Books Alive” in Ludington on July 19th, followed by a series of book signing events at LowellArts with exact date TBA. Fall events will include the Belding Labor Day twilight parade on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 9 pm. My major event will take place at the historic Belrockton in Belding on October 6th in the afternoon. The museum is open from 1 to 4 pm on the first Sunday of each month. For up to date news follow me on EW Emma’s Writings on http://emmapalova.com SecretsThe new book is a collection of 15 short stories. Thematically, the stories range from the action-packed 40 Hunks where driver Jose transports 40 Mexican men to labor in Michigan orchards to the core of the book which is historical fiction “Silk Nora”.
Excerpts from “Silk Nora”Signs of progress were touchable everywhere from the interior six bathrooms at the Bel to a space designated for women in the saloons of the bustling city. At the time, the city of Belding had four hotels. Known as the “Silk City Girls” the young women spent much of their time weaving silk on spools. Silk at the time was on high demand as the major feminine fabric due to the existing shortage of woolens and cottons. Nora and Mathilda worked together long hours at the silk mill earnings 47 cents an hour. The Belding Banner called the girls “Sweethearts in Silk” blasting propaganda about their happiness with headlines such as “The Silks with Happiness Woven into Them.” The girls sat at their stations on the floor of the factory in orderly rows. The downstairs of the Richardson Mill was used for making stockings. Sentiment played a part in the founding of the silk industry in Belding by the Belding brothers. After prospering in silk manufacturing in New England, they built a plant in Belding, where they had made their start as door-to-door textile salesmen. Mathilda traveled home to Alpena twice a year for the holidays, while Nora stayed year- round at the Bel. She had a beautiful view of the Flat River and the boardwalk from her room. Nora was an avid reader and she frequented the dormitory library. Nora easily made friends with other girls, both at work and at the dorms. She cut her hair short, a sign of times. Matron Doris Applebaum managed the Belrockton dormitory and the girls who lived in it. She came from England to take the job at the “Bel” when it opened in 1906. Doris kept her English accent and manners. “Girls, I will make you into ladies,” she said at the dinner table. “You already have the right foundation otherwise you wouldn’t be here in the first place. You’re a diamond in the rough. I will make you shine.” The silk girls respected this English lady from the county of Sussex on the English Channel seaside. Doris was single and constantly happy. She competed for the Belrockton job with other ladies from around the world and won. She took a special liking of well-mannered Nora. “We’re going to be friends,” Doris said resolutely to Nora at their second meeting, since Nora arrived in Belding. “We have a lot in common. You come from New England, I come from the real England. But you have better food here.”You can pre-order the new book at: https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Shifting-Sands-Emma-Palova-ebook/dp/B07SH9YGQH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Secrets%3AShifting+Sands&qid=1559745646&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
Book 1 in Shifting Sands Short Stories series, 2017
Upcoming author’s eventsInterview with author Donald Levin on https://donaldlevin.wordpress.com/ on June 20 Muskegon Art Fair …..July 5th and July 6th Ludington ……………..July 19 LowellArts……………….TBA Radio shows TBABelding Twilight Parade…. Sept. 1 Belrockton, Beding………….Oct. 6 Girls Nite Out…………………..Oct. 17 Christmas through Lowell…..Nov. 15, 16, 17
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
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