It is the opening day of the firearm hunting season in Michigan
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – Today marks the halfway point in the 50K work marathon of the National Novel Writing Month. I logged in with 31,435 words and a new story, “Secrets in Ink” (c) 2018 Emma Palova.
As Anton P. Chekhov said: “Always incubate a new idea.” I did that for years, while working as a reporter for both weekly and daily newspapers in West Michigan. I went into reporting with the intention of writing books.
I still like reporting being around live people rather than book characters. In the end, there is no difference between the two; any author can attest to that. You draw on inspiration from real life, unless you’re writing about Martians.
As I watch the explosion of new books based on the current White House happenings that beat any soap opera, I must say Mr. Chekhov was right along with another great author: You borrow from others.
There is no such thing as an original idea that hasn’t been worked before. It just depends how you work it around; what kind of a spin you give to a story.
I started the “Secrets in Ink” this morning after meditation. Once I have determined the framework, the story began to unfold itself with the two main characters: AJ and Luke.
However, I still miss my “Silk Nora” from the week-long writing sprint. I am looking forward to publishing the new anthology “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova with the bulk of the writing done during this creative project.
Excerpts from “Secrets in Ink”
On the cusp of the Internet, most newspapers had credibility, that would be lost later in the binary digit maze and social media of the new millennium. However, most newspapers jumped on the Internet bandwagon late, but earlier than doctor’s practices.
Whether corporate or hometown, they all had in one thing in common; they could be bribed by the advertisers. None of them really had a clean conscious mind.
Behind every 50-point bold headline lied a tragedy: small or big, but always newsworthy in line with the slogan:
“All the news that’s fit to print.”
But not all the news gathered was fit to print.
“Can you handle that story?” a publisher asked. “You’re not going to be biased, right?”
In the decadence of the late 1990s, scandals abounded: nationwide and hometown.
Each story had to pass the test: number one who will it upset the most?
The other motto followed by 100 percent of the newspaper industry continued into the current multimedia news streaming business.
“If it bleeds it leads.”
It may seem cynical at first look, by the time second look comes around, it has validated itself by another tragedy or massacre.
Copyright (c) 2018 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.
A long journey starts with the first step, leaving footprints in Ludington
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – I attended the Ludington Writers’ Rendezvous on the shores of Lake Michigan last Saturday. It was my first encounter with the Ludington Writers group, and my second author’s conference experience after Calvin College in the spring.
It was a great gathering of 28 authors with a total of 80 titles and the tension of 10 million volts.
As the raindrops drummed on the roof of the Arts Center lodged inside the former Methodist Church in beautiful downtown Ludington, I absorbed the energy output of the organizers and fellow authors.
I loved author Carol L. Ochadleus’ poster designed by her son.
“We got the wrong cover on the last one,” Ochadleus laughed. “This time we got it right.”
The rush before the authors’ events is always nerve wrecking. An author, whose name I didn’t catch, stormed in with her pink luggage. Sudanese author Dominic Malual of “Barefoot in the Boot” had a wooden giraffe in front of his table.
In most cases, the conference attendance was the result of teamwork of entire families. The “assistants” were usually the partners of the authors, while the “runners” were book lovers who delivered food from the local restaurants. The extensive menu featured everything from the “Swiss Hammer”, “Ojibway Dip” to “Dirty Russian.”
Since, I missed my dad Vaclav’s birthday lunch, my assistant Ludek personally delivered my grilled chicken wrap from Jamesport Brewing Co., where the international family crew got together.
That fusion of aspirations, dreams and hopes fueled my own author’s drive that sometimes goes into overdrive.
“I want you to have a good experience,” wrote author/organizer Joan H. Young in her final approach to the conference message. “We want this to be the event to come to.”
For many authors it was their first time at anything and everything. Author Joseph Tilton debuted with his “Apocalypse” book here.
I thoroughly enjoyed the “wannabee” authors circulating around the authors’ tables. I didn’t catch their names. One wanted to write a dystopian novel and was seeking some direction. The other one carrying a stack of papers asked me about my book, “Shifting Sands Short Stories.”
“It’s a collection of short stories, that I have written for over two decades,” I said.
“Oh, I would have had a book like this big,” she said pointing to the huge stack of papers.
I smiled, thinking, “So, why didn’t you put it together?”
Today, on my morning walk to the Franciscans, I realized I should have said that out loud:
“Whatever you have written, put it together.”
I sat next to Ludington author Jeanie Mortensen and that was the greatest delight of all. The locals knew her and came to buy her books; both poetry and a novel.
I bought her “Taking in the Seasons” poetry collection, because I can’t handle long chunks of text. Mortensen bought my book; we swapped business cards with other authors.
It was not only an authors’ event, it was also a family deal like I mentioned before.
Mortensen’s daughter Amy stopped by and so did my adult children, Emma & Jake to say hi.
It was an unforgettable rendezvous, both professionally and personally. The survey asked: “Will you come back?”
For me it was a definite, “Yes.”
Thanks to organizers, Joan, Hanne Kelley & Barry Matthews of the Ludington Center for the Arts and the Writer’s Group.
My next author’s events:
July 26 @ 10 a.m. WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin 88.5/95.3
July 28 & Aug. 4 LowellArts, Lowell 1 to 3 p.m.
Aug. 6 panel discussion and reception with poet Ian Haight at LowellArts.
Check out the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide at your local newsstand for the “Reading Room” article. My book is available at Schuler Books, Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo and on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.
To join our local Lowell Writer’s group contact Debra Duiven Dunning at 897-8545 at LowellArts.
Moving forward with author’s events in West Michigan
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI- It’s unbelievable what all can happen in one day; even if it is a Monday.
WGVU Morning Show with host Shelley Irwin
First, I opened my inbox, and there was the response from host Shelley Irwin of the WGVU Morning Show.
“I get to share stories in a talk show format,” she wrote. “I would like to interview you at a time frame of your convenience.”
So, we are scheduling the time frame for the TV segment about my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” I thought it was a radio segment. I freaked out when I found out it was also TV.
As I went into the panic mode, Mr. Self-Doubt introduced himself into my writing studio; what am I going to say and wear?
I jumped on the dreaded treadmill that I have been neglecting because we have a special visitor here. That is our French granddaughter Ella.
I felt like Oprah, who started exercising two days before her birthday. And to make up for the excellent Sunday pork schnitzels, I dined on vanilla SlimFast tonight in front of the computer screen.
“That’s great mom,” said my son Jake about the TV interview. “It’s easy.”
“Yeah, how many times have you been on a live TV show?” I asked Jake, the business man, who made the schnitzels.
“The main thing is you have to know what you’re talking about,” he said. “You know the buzzwords.”
I like to think that after almost 30 years in the writing business, I can offer insights, rather than buzzwords.
And the Monday goodness continued when I discovered the best kept secret on the lakeshore.
3rd Annual Writer’s Rendezvous in Ludington, July 21
I’ve been looking for writers’ and authors’ events in Michigan for years. But, it was only yesterday at the Ionia Free Fair that I found out about the Writer’s Rendezvous in Ludington.
It is my parents’ favorite place on the Michigan lakeshore. They’ve been going to Ludington ever since they moved to Big Rapids in the 1980s. We immigrated to the USA from former Czechoslovakia based on the 1968 Soviet occupation of the country. I am writing a memoir “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West” about the family immigration saga.
Annually, my dad Vaclav celebrates his birthday on Stearns Park Beach.When we couldn’t find a hotel, I told my mom Eliska:”There must be something going on.”
“There’s always something going on there,” she said on the phone in the heat of the Sunday afternoon.
While searching for a hotel on mom’s smart phone, dad came across “some kind of a writing conference.”
I refined the search this morning and found out that the 3rd Annual Writers’ Rendezvous featuring more than 20 Michigan authors will be this Saturday, July 21.
I was ecstatic, hoping to get in at the last minute. Barry Matthews from the Ludington Arts Center immediately responded that there is some space left for $25 for half a table.
“Yes, I am in and I can’t wait to meet the other authors and visitors.”
The goal is to bring cultural and literary perspective to the lakeshore, according to the Visiting Writers group.
Ludington has always inspired me ever since I visited the town in 1990 around the 4th of July holiday. The visit inspired one of my first articles I have written for a publication in the USA. It was also the only time I wrote in my native Czech language for the Czechoslovak Newsweek. I had a regular column for the biweekly newspaper. In spite of the longevity of the print paper, it never made it to digital format.
I remember this opening line of the lead paragraph.
“Thousands of red, white and blue petunias lined the Ludington Ave on the back drop of the shimmering blue waters of Lake Michigan.”
I went back many times; most recently last year in August for a voyage on the Badger across Lake Michigan.
Now, I am getting ready for it all. I’ve been told a million times; you’re not ready.
Other than the treadmill and Slimfast, I ordered books, brochures and posters for my upcoming author’s events.
And finally from a Facebook friend, I found out about a new local book store in Rockford.
“Shockingly nostalgic entrepreneur opened a book store next to my law office, wow. There is hope,” Genie Eardley, owner of Eardley Law, PC posted.
The name is Epilogue Books.
That’s what life is about: adventures, surprises on Mondays, shocking entrepreneurs, the joys and pains of technology, our lovely French granddaughter Ella and family get togethers on Lake Michigan.
See you at the Writer’s Rendezvous this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
I will be offering writing, marketing, PR and publishing tips, and of course my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.”
It is also available locally at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids and Lansing. It will be available at the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and hopefully at Epilogue Books in Rockford.
The long road to resilience
You can pick up an issue of the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide at your local bookstore or newstand to find out more about me.
My book is now available on Amazon Prime special for the next 30-some hours at a discounted rate.
I encourage readers to buy the book, print or Kindle, ahead of time for signing and discussion. I will have print copies available at my station inside the Ludington Area Center for the Arts located at 107 S. Harrison St.
Building a fan base long before the book or screenplay are done is paramount.
How do you build a fan base?
Fan by fan. The best place to start are social media. Start a page on Facebook, that you can later connect to your WordPress blog. Also do twitter.
Blogging for a writer is essential. It was the first recommendation I got from an agent.
“Start blogging,” agent Barbara Lowenstein said. “You should be writing reviews like crazy.”
I started blogging in January of 2013 to build my fan base. I chose WordPress for its impeccable reputation. I started with two follows from friends. Typically, I post twice a week.
What to post?
Give fans a value in your writings; whether it’s inspiration, information, entertainment, insights or a reprieve.
The best posts are relevant to what you are working on. Write about how you came up with the idea for your book, screenplay or business. How does it impact other people?
Why do you feel your work is important, and not just to you?
I can answer this one based on my new collection of short stories “Shifting Sands.”
The reason I put the collection of stories that span more than two decades, was preservation. I knew they would just get lost with time. I wrote some of them on my Smith Corona word processor with only a small screen that showed at the max three to four lines. I bought it for $450 in 1990 at a Kmart store in Big Rapids.
Later, I continued to build my fan base with my journalism career. But, I always had the book in mind first. It was the goal of my life.
Now, that the book is out, I continue to build my fan base with book signings and public appearances. I give it away at raffles.
I accommodate my fans by reaching out to them with also a private book signing, when they already bought one book for themselves and now they want it for a relative as a gift.
I made brochures about me and my book that I hand out wherever I can. I send out newsletters to my mailing list. If you don’t have one, create one. Use MailChimp. It’s free up to 2,000 emails.
Don’t just rely on the Internet to market your work. Be personal and be in the public eye. People love meeting up live with authors.
“How many people can say, they had an author at their museum,” said vice-president Tina Siciliano Cadwallader.
Plus, I love meeting up with fellow authors like Glad Fletcher during Christmas through Lowell. At the age of 80, she took a class so she could pen her memoir “My Garden of Stones.”
Glad is 85 now, and does all her own book marketing including public speaking.
My other favorite local author is the Oakwood Cemetery sexton Don DeJong. I bought his book, he bought mine. He writes stories about the people buried at the cemetery using old newspaper records.
Does being an author carry a responsibility?
You bet it does. People have expectations from you. You have to live up to them.
Whether people read your book or not is a factor you cannot control. The main thing is if they have it in their library. I read an interesting post from “Brain Pickings” on Facebook about the importance of having books at home, even if you’re not going to read all of them. It doesn’t mean you are ignorant or that you’re wastefully spending your money.
Why would you want a book that you’re not going to read?
It’s the energy behind the book that counts. You never know when you’re going to pick it up and just browse through it or use a Snippet for inspiration. I have tons of books that I use for inspiration including poetry and haiku. I also look for book cover ideas, formatting and quotations.
I compare my library to my garden and the books to my flowers. I don’t cut or pick all my flowers, but I enjoy all of them in their natural environment. They inspire and comfort me by their presence.
How do you stay motivated?
Solid motivation is a must to finish your work, whatever it may be. For me motivation is accomplishment. I need to have that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. The fans are also motivation when they ask you about your next book.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
All around me in daily happenings, in old magazines and newspapers. I also find inspiration in arts and old pictures.
When I had my book signing at the Lowell Arts Gallery, I was inspired by other artists’ energy and expression.
How do you filter through ideas?
Sometimes, I have too many ideas and I don’t know how to connect them. Then, I have to discard some or jot them down in my diary. I prioritize. Now, that I am working on my second book of short stories, I made an index of them. I can shuffle the stories around, as inspiration comes. You can do the same with book chapters or scenes.
What matters the most?
The most important is every day writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. Later, it will make sense. Establish your own writing routine. Listen to your fans and followers. They are your valuable readers.