Category Archives: Michigan authors

Happy Birthday mom

Mom Ella turns 83 today

By Emma Palova

Big Rapids, MI – My mother, Ella Konecny, turns 83 on this beautiful summer day. We celebrated her birthday yesterday in Big Rapids with a cookout on the deck. Mom always puts on a feast: juicy ribs, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and her famous nutty cake roll, all preceded by a traditional Czech platter of cheese, salami and home-made pickles Znojmo style.

Dad Vaclav Konecny grills ribs on the deck overlooking my parents’ pretty garden. They grow and can their own delicious pickles.

Together with my father Vaclav, they’ve been living in this small university town, home to Ferris State University, for more than four decades.

Mom was born Drabkova in former communist Czechoslovakia on Aug. 23, 1937 in Zlin to a working class family. My grandparents Anna and Joseph Drabek worked hard to get mom into the university so she could become the future pharmacist.

My mother has inspired the memoir Greenwich Meridian, where East meets west about the family immigration saga. She didn’t want to leave the communist country after the Soviet invasion on the night of August 20-21 in 1968.

The memoir, slated for Oct. 16, 2020 publication is dedicated to both of my parents because they have always inspired me both in hard and good times with their dedication and perseverance. It is available now on preorder on Amazon at:

Greenwich Meridian Memoir is slated for Oct. 16, 2020 publication. It is available for preorder on Amazon. The cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford.

Their journey from the Moravian hilly villages of Vizovice and Stipa to Big Rapids in Michigan was tumultuous with many twists and turns.

Some of the milestones included the 1973 return to hardline Czechoslovakia from Texas, and then the escape back into the New World for my dad in 1976. Mom joined him in 1980.

Dad landed the math professor job at the Ferris State University, and that finally anchored them permanently in their new home.

To this day, mom says she loved her bio lab technician job also at the university.

Their true story has also inspired my fiction in my first Shifting Sands Short Stories book. “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” contains some bits and pieces from the early years of immigration.

I wrote that story shortly after  my immigration to the USA in 1989. When I compare some of the elements of the short story to the memoir, I consider them Visceral in character, coming from a gut feeling.

The main character in the story is professor Martin Duggan obsessed with his own quest for perfection.

May you both enjoy many more years of love, good health and optimism. Thank you for all your love and support.

For chapters “Prague Spring, Part I” & “Prague Spring, Part II from the memoir click on the following links:

https://emmapalova.com/2020/08/20/prague-spring-1968/

https://emmapalova.com/2020/08/21/prague-spring-1968-part-ii/

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

DAY 16: Celebrating in the Covid-19 quarantine

“Life is patchwork-here and there, scraps of pleasure and despair. Joined together, hit or miss.”

-Anne Bronaugh

Birthdays at home

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Even in these unprecendented times, life goes on; babies are born, birthdays arrive, surgeries need to be done, and the Czech calendar shows it’s my name day today.

This morning, I wished a happy birthday and name day to our daughter Doc Emma, who works on the frontlines in France. Usually, she is surrounded by friends, not this time. The grandkids wished me a happy name day.

My nephew George welcomed baby Victoria into the world on April 1. Congratulations.

For my name day, I get a spring bouquet, but not this year. No one is going out to shop for flowers. That’s okay too, because I delight in my beautiful gardens year round. Instead of flowers, I got a trail mix. I will use it on my next trail walk.

Fellow Michigan author Darla Jean Davis of Holland posted this morning on Facebook that neighbors who could not open their usual farm stand dropped off a huge bouquet of daffodils. How thoughtful of them, they made my name day happier.

Giant daffodil bouquet given to fellow Michigan author Darla Jean Davis. The neighbors couldn’t open their usual farm stand.

A walk on the old rail bed converted into a trail under the finicky April sun refreshed my spirits. The trail is 10 feet wide, so we could still social distance of six feet with fellow trail lovers.

We also got some manure from the Hidden Creek Stables on Belding Road for our garden and my roses.

In the meantime, the news continues to stream in at fast pace. Gov. Whitmer is expected to announce the extension of the stay-at-home executive order in Michigan by the end of this week.

And Easter is upon us starting with Holy Thursday, followed by Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. All these services will be celebrated without an audience for the first time in history.

There has been a lot of firsts in March and April.

I will color our Easter eggs in onion skins, since we had no time to buy dyes, let alone to buy a leg of lamb.

“You’re not going to drop of some lamb at my doorstep?” mom Ella asked.

“No, I won’t. We will have to do without lamb,” I said.

More scary news: a friend couldn’t get into the hospital for a critical surgery.

Local dairy farmers report they will have to dump milk because their main customers are closed.

Silver lining: the nature is awakening regardless the COVID-19 horrors around the globe.

And better times are sure to come, said Queen Elizabeth in a rare special address.

Stay tuned for day by day COVID-19 quarantine in Michigan coverage.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from greenwich meridian memoir- Shortage of toilet paper

After having a second show- the West Michigan Women’s Expo – canceled due to the coronavirus threat and reading the posts about the shortage of toilet paper, this excerpt seems like a great fit.

The Haves and the Have Nots

The useless feeling never went away; it intensified with time until it became a monster. I watched this happen between my mom, Ella, and her younger sister, Anna, over the years before 1968 and after my parents’ immigration to the U.S.A. 

In 2018, Time published a special edition:1968 The Year That Shaped a Generation with introduction: “Like a knife blade, the year severed past from future.” 

Before 1968, the two sisters were like regular siblings with occasional hard and soft feelings for each other. They even went together on vacations with their spouses to the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. Aunt Anna is also my godmother as was the custom in the old country for the closest relatives to be the Godparents. 

Their parents treated them equally as any parent would. They had similar hopes and dreams. Neither one of them made a lot of money. 

Life before the 1968 “Socialism with a human face” movement started by Alexander Dubcek and the Velvet Revolution in 1989 was simple.

People enjoyed both the advantages and the disadvantages of socialism; everyone had the right to work. There was no such thing as unemployment. If you were unemployed for more than six weeks, you went to jail. Since the economy was regulated and planned, there was always work, whatever work and any work at any given time. If you wanted a good job, you needed connections or my mom’s long arm.

That was balanced out by having to stand in long lines for basic items such as toilet paper. However, college education was free, along with healthcare for all and free daycare. 

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Authors @West Michigan Women’s Expo

Included is a list of authors who will be present at the 22nd West Michigan Women’s Expo at Devos Hall from March 13 -March 15. The Great Lakes Writers booth is 976.

PUBLIC SHOW HOURS:
Friday, March 13 – 10:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday, March 14 – 10:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday, March 15 – 11:00am – 4:00pm
DeVos Place
303 Monroe Avenue NW, Grand Rapids MI 49503

Great Lakes Writers
Sherry A. Burton
Jean Davis
Ellen Murray
Laura Holmes
Judith Wade
Norma Lewis
Christina Lonski
Kimberly Mocini
Robert Muladore
Nancy Sanders Pokerwinski  (Friday – sharing with Melanie)
Melanie Hooyenga (Saturday and Sunday – sharing with Nancy)
Kathy Spohn
Wendy Thomson
Janet Vormittag
Joan Young (Friday and Saturday –sharing with J.R. Armstrong)
J.R. Armstrong (Sunday – sharing with Joan Young)
Emma Palova

Set-up info

Load-in is Thursday at 5:30 p.m. We’re the last ones to load in. Last year load-in was running behind. When I arrived, our tables weren’t setup yet. I’ll be down there Thursday and you’re welcome to load-in then, but you can easily come early Friday morning.
We’ll be the first to load out on Sunday. They’ll want us out a few minutes before closing. This is because our space is where they pull in vehicles.
I put in everyone’s names for Badges. If you come Thursday afternoon, look for the Exhibitors table and ask for your badge. We’re under Great Lakes Writers. If you come early Friday, the Exhibitors entrance is next to the main entrance to the hall. They’ll have badges there.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

The three Sundays before Christmas with excerpt

The three Sundays before Christmas in Czech Republic were called: bronze, silver and gold. They were the biggest shopping days of the year. I used to go shopping to the open-air market under the giant chestnut trees in Zlin. I always bought mistletoe. I loved the old ladies from Slovakia with their embroidered linens- a lost art.

Greenwich Meridian memoir excerpt:

By Emma Palova

The yellow place mats with brown embroidery traveled with me to the USA for my second immigration in 1989. I bought them at the Zlin market under the chestnut trees. I loved that market with vendors from Slovakia and Southern Moravia. I marveled at their handiwork eligible for Etsy at any given time.

When I went back to Czech Republic in the footsteps of the past in 2013, I hurried to the market. I was amazed all over again at all the wares the merchants had to offer from far and near. Off course it wasn’t Christmas time, so the farmers didn’t have my favorite silver and gold-coated mistletoe. The coveted mistletoe is sold on the three Sundays before Christmas. Those were the only Sundays that merchants opened their doors on a holiday.

I always looked forward to those three Sundays. They were called bronze, silver and gold Sunday. And as the hype build up, so did the offered goods; that all culminated in a shopping frenzy socialist style. That meant loading up on textile durable bags to haul in stuff for the holidays; everything from Hungarian salami, sausages, smoked cutlets to silver-coated mistletoe, and better wines such as “Klastorne” from Slovakia. The most famous monastery wines are located in Kromeriz- the Archbishop’s Wine Cellars. I visited these cellars during the big trip in 2013. The walls of the cellars are covered with rare silver moulds.

Since, it was a custom to bake every Christmas traditional small desserts, I usually went shopping for the ingredients. I always carried the same old bags that were overused with time. Sometimes, the handle on the bag broke and I had to pick up the rolling tomatoes, apples and bottles.

Shopping meant standing in lines forever; sometimes waiting for the delivery of the products. The stores ran out of stuff like whipped cream, butter and cocoa. Nuts have also been an issue, but many families had their own nuts from the walnut trees in their gardens. I remember having to crack them with my uncle before the big holiday baking.

I barely dragged the bags with groceries home to the apartment. I was glad we had that darn escalator that I had to clean so many times to keep Mr. Chromcak happy. The refrigerators back in Czech were small, so we put food outside on the balconies.

“Where do I put all this stuff?” I asked myself. “Well, first I am going to eat.”

I dropped the bags on the floor and scoured the bottom for some nugget chocolate. Sitting down in the kitchen I munched on the chocolate relentlessly like if it was the last day on this earth. That was my problem then and now; I do everything like today is the last day. True, I do get a lot done that way but I exhaust myself to the max.

Needless to say that I’ve had problems with my weight ever since I hit puberty still back in Hawkins, Texas during our first round of immigration in the early 1970s. My first period was a pain. I laid on the couch crying and twisting with spasms in my lower abdomen thinking it would never pass; it did just like most pains in life it was transitory.

I exercised and exercised some more. And I ate and ate, just like that moment when I dragged the bags inside the apartment. Mom was still at work, so I should probably get ready the dough for the pastries and desserts. But, wait first I have to unpack. I looked outside from the living room to the balcony. It was all snowy, and even though I was hot from hauling all that weight, it was freezing outside. I sorted what I needed for baking and put the rest of the groceries still in the bags on the balcony.

We had an interesting class teacher Mrs. Chudarkova at the prep school Gymnasium Zlin. Every year before Christmas, she let us go early from school, so we could bake.

“Yes, girls you can leave early today,” she smiled. “I know you have to bake to help your mothers.”

That came as a surprise from the strict woman who wore a dark reddish brown wig. Mrs. Chudarkova could have been around 45. I considered her an old woman at the time.

To be continued…….

The feature photo is of small Christmas desserts by CJ Aunt Jarmilka on http://jkarmaskova.wordpress.com

You can still order them from her bakery; email j.karmaskova@seznam.cz

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

E-newsletter

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West
New autobiographical novel on its way to pre-order on Amazon. .

Emma Palova’s author news 
 
With Christmas just around the corner and the shopping frenzy on, I am pleased to announce that I have completed the new autobiographical novel “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West during the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) I have, however, decided to add two more chapters based on a recent conversation at one of my book signing events.  
Vendor Mary Lacy asked me, if I was ever afraid living in a socialist country. I had to really think hard about the answer to the surprise question. So, it occurred to me that many of my fans will be interested in the same topic. 
“What was it like living in socialism?” 
I was born in socialist Czechoslovakia and lived there during the hardline years of communism in the 1970s and 1980s. Living in socialism meant being careful on a daily basis about what you said and to whom. However, only political activists like late president Vaclav Havel faced repercussions and ended up in jail. The system had its way of getting at you by creating “profiles.” 
If you went to church, your profile would state that, and it went against you when you applied for jobs or to universities. 
Please email me with your questions about socialism at emmapalova@yahoo.com
 
Reviews and a book tour 

Why write a review? 
 
All authors need reviews, and basically not just authors. But Amazon requests at least 25 reviews for authors to get any ranking, so then Amazon algorithms can start working in the author’s favor. 
 
I haven’t been able to reach that magic number, even though it doesn’t seem high. Prior to publication, I sent out pdfs to reviewers. 
 
And I will do that again with the new book. Just email me for pdfs.

Below is a link to my books from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections: book 1 and book 2 Secrets. Books make a great Christmas gift.

You can also post a review there.
 
http://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova 
 

New book tour 2020
 
I am in the process of planning a new book tour for 2020, which I am very excited about. 
 
Why come to a Michigan author event?  
“Michigan Authors are sweeping the shores of the Great Lakes from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior and Lake Huron in a new wave of renaissance in literature.” 
                                                                                       - Emma Palova 
 
You’re supporting local authors who write from Michigan with Michigan settings. 
You will get an autographed book by a live author. 
You will get insider tips from the publishing industry. 
You will learn about the writing process; from an idea to a book. 
You will leave inspired. 
 
Happy holidays to all.

Emma Palova
Dec. 9, 2019

Email Emma to subscribe to the E-Newsletter at emmapalova@yahoo.com

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

30TH ANNIVERSARY OF vELVET REVOLUTION IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – On this 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in former Czechoslovakia, I am including an excerpt from the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga. The epic tale of passion and love takes place on the backdrop of two major historical events: Prague Spring 1969 and Velvet Revolution 1989.

Thirty years ago, I was standing on Wenceslas Square in Prague along with 500,000 other people, ringing my keys and listening to the future president Vaclav Havel. It was cold and I was shivering; not just from the November chill, but from the events of the last 10 days. These 10 days shook the world.

“Havel to the castle,” was the overwhelming response of the crowds chanting for Havel to become the next president of free Czechoslovakia.

Excerpt from Greenwich Meridian memoir

On the day of the General Strike, Monday, Nov. 27, the wave of citizen activity crested after a week of protests and manifestations. Across the country, people stood at major squares, sporting tricolor ribbons, waving flags and ringing their keys to symbolize the end of the Stalinist model of socialism.

I took the train to Prague to join thousands on Wenceslas Square. I still thought I was dreaming and that I was going to wake up after a long dark night. I had to pinch myself to feel the pain to make sure this was happening. But I could hear it happening around me, in me, everywhere. My heart was beating fast, as I had to fight the crowds and overcome the old claustrophobia. That day I saw Havel in person.

The General Strike from noon until 2 p.m. was a political referendum that did not hurt the economy. Approximately half of the population joined in the manifestations around the country. Only minimum percentage were not allowed to participate in the strike; others made up for the lost time at work. The referendum joined all members of the society representing its demographics: students, factory workers, farmers, artists, athletes and scientists determined to change the course of history for this small country in Central Europe.

The people have spoken and the demands of the Citizens’ Forum were being met. The state department of culture released all films and books from the special “safe” for prohibited material.

The rest of the political prisoners would be released, as one of the major demands of the Citizens’ Forum. The university students were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their courage and bravery during the 10 days from the onset of the Velvet Revolution on Friday Nov. 17, 1989.

The article about the leadership role of the Communist Party would be dissolved from the constitution. New laws allowing for freedom of speech, gathering, press were in the works.

A new Democratic Forum of the Communists was formed denouncing the 1968 invasion of armies of five states from the Warsaw Treaty. The reporters, who were against the invasion, were reinstated in the Association of Reporters.

In Brno, the Committee of Religious Activists, showed support for the demands of the Citizens’ Forum.

Vaclav Havel received the German Book Prize at the National Theater.

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

NANOWRIMO DAY 27

Grateful for NaNoWriMo

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – As the 50k National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge winds down and Thanskgiving is upon us, I have decided to share this letter from its director Grant Faulkner. It expresses exactly how I feel about the challenge, its impact and reaching writing goals way beyond the formidable 50,000K mark.

Deep inside me, I feel like I’ve always been a part of this collective effort to share our stories with the world, even though I have participated and won only twice in NaNoWriMo’s 20 years of existence. If I had known about it, I would have always participated to make a difference in this world, and not just to appease my ego.

I would like to thank all the wrimos and my readers for support. Stay tuned for a separate post on my writing day no. 27- Velvet Revolution.

For my project I chose the completion of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

As of today, I have logged on my NaNoWriMo dashboard 55,895 words with Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West.

The memoir will be available for pre-order on Amazon at the end of January.

Don’t forget to shop Black Friday deals on my books no. 1 & no. 2 from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections by clicking on the following link:

https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Books make a great Christmas gift.

From Grant Faulkner

Dear writer,

The other day, I was talking to a Wrimo at a write-in, and she told me how she didn’t go to write-ins for several years because she was too nervous. She worried that she’d walk into a room without knowing anyone and be greeted by cold, quizzical stares.

But that didn’t happen. 

“When I walked in, people greeted me, asked me about my novel, and gave me snacks and tea. I felt like I belonged,” she said.

The ostensible goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but as I talked with this writer, I was reminded how NaNoWriMo is about much more than that. It’s about expanding your world through your story. It’s about going places you might be afraid to go. It’s about connecting to something larger than yourself—both on the page and beyond. 

It’s about belonging, in short. We find belonging in our stories because our stories show us how our longings and our needs aren’t just ours alone, but part of something larger, something more universal. That’s important because when you feel you belong, you can do big things.

So I’m pausing today to thank you for helping to create a world of belonging through our stories. I thank you for welcoming people into write-ins and tweeting encouragement to writers you might not even know. I thank you for creating this community that is somehow the largest table of writers in the world, yet still feels so personal, so intimate, and so generous. 

Grateful for a world where people find a home in their stories,

Grant Faulkner
Executive Director
43,174 words and counting….

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

NANOWRIMO DAY 25

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir with excerpt

Black Friday Countdown

Shop for book 1 and book 2 from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections this Friday through Dec. 4. Save up to 60 percent. Click this link: https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Amazon Review of Secrets

In her own unique style, Palova transports us in “Secrets” Part II of Shifting Sands. She exposes a local scandal in “Chief”. “Faustina” details a relationship lost…or is it? Palova shows us the hard line between fact and rumor in “Secrets in Ink.” My favorite, “Silk Nora”, takes us to small town Belding, Michigan at the height of WWI. A lost love is found again. I could go on with my little snippets from the dozen plus short stories in this book, but I think you’ll want to curl up and read for yourselves.

Translation

I finished translating mom’s memories from her first stay in the U.S. until 1973 this morning. Mom Ella captured three years of her life on 12 pages written in a pretty cursive.

When I compare my account of those years spent in Hawkins, TX as a kid to hers as a disappointed housewife, I begin to understand the mechanism of immigration.

From her lines, I could feel all the emotions:

Excerpt: Bittersweet memories

I planned the return home at the end of the school year in June. In April, Vaclav received a letter from his friend in Toronto, who was also in Sudan, with a newspaper clip from a Czech newspaper published in Toronto. There was a note for me in the letter, advising me not to return back to Czechoslovakia, that the amnesty wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. The newspaper article was about a person who had returned back to Czechoslovakia; at the airport he was taken into an establishment unofficially called “Introduction into citizens’ life.” I read the article at least 10 times and I determined that it was propaganda against Czechoslovakia, and that the press exaggerated everything. Deep inside, I doubted, that it could be true. 

At the beginning of May, I asked Vaclav if he could buy us tickets to Czech. He was very unhappy, but he knew that he couldn’t keep me any longer in Texas. Although Vaclav refused to return with us, he bought the tickets – with a heavy heart. My desire to return back home was stronger than my love for him. I also firmly believed that he wouldn’t stay by himself in the U.S.A. and that he would return to us. 

The scene from the Prague Airport repeated itself at the airport in Dallas; tears, wailing, remorse; I questioned why I had to go through all this again, why couldn’t we return from Sudan home to Czech. This tearful farewell spoiled the joy of my homecoming, and had yet to find out what was in store for me. Finally, after three years, I was leaving Texas, that I never liked. 

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

NANOWRIMO DAY 24

Greenwich Meridian memoir continues with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I continued this morning with the translation of mom’s memories of our fatal return to Czechoslovakia in 1973 following the presidential amnesty to political prisoners such as us. We fell into this category for illegally leaving the country in 1970.

Excerpt: Presidential amnesty, fatal return to Czechoslovakia in 1973

In her own words

The kids went back to the school in the fall for their third year in Hawkins, Texas. Vaclav liked his job at the college, so everything continued in the same rhythm including my light work as a housewife in our household. I was homesick, I missed my country, my friends and my job at the pharmacy. I didn’t expect any changes and I didn’t try anything new either, I fell into despair firmly convinced that nothing would ever change. 

Home in Vizovice, Czech Republic
Vizovice, our hometown in Czech Republic.

However, a change came; one that I would never expect. As the new year 1973 arrived, Czechoslovakia was celebrating the 25th anniversary of communism known as the “Victorious February” or the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’etat. In that year, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia with Soviet backing assumed the undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, marking the onset of four decades of communist rule in the country.

The Czech coup of 1948 had extensive consequences in the Western world.

President Gustav Husak issued an amnesty to political prisoners who illegally left the country and were tried for it. That meant that we could return back home to Czechoslovakia without the risk of going to prison. I could not believe that God heard my prayers and that I could return back to the homeland. 

Within two weeks, I received approximately 10 letters from Czechoslovakia with newspaper clips about the presidential amnesty. I was determined to return to Czechoslovakia with the kids with or without my husband Vaclav; this wasn’t the life for me in Texas. I was extremely happy and immediately responded to all the letters stating that I was going back home. 

To be continued…..

Note: Watch for Black Friday countdown deal on Amazon for Shifting Sands Short Stories book 1 and book 2. Books make a great gift and a great souvenir from Michigan.

Stay tuned for pre-order information on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Black Friday countdown deal on Amazon for Shifting Sands Short Stories.

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