This is my third year participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWri Mo). I entered with the third book in the Shifting Sands Short Stories series- Steel Jewels.
I only logged in 506 words with a short story “Gates of Heaven” inspired by a visit to the former Nazareth College in Kalamazoo. Taking into consideration that it’s a Sunday and that I have a long week of writing behind me, I think that’s a good start.
On the fifth Sunday of Lent, I watched the mass broadcast on TV from the empty St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Grand Rapids due to the Coronavirus quarantine.
I do my daily Lenten readings from The Little Black Book 6-minute meditations and in shock I came across this reading for March 28, that I somehow missed.
The bubonic plague in Oberammergau
When an outbreak of the bubonic plague began to spread in the 17th century, the people of Oberammergau prayed to be spared. They vowed that the whole community would, every 10 years, stage a massive production presenting the story of Christ’s death and resurrection to the world. The town was spared from the plague, and the tradition of the Oberammergau Passion Play was born. It’s first performance was in 1634.
The Passion Play is scheduled for this year from May 16 to Oct. 4. It is performed on an open stage with seating for nearly 5,000 spectators. Members of the 1,700 cast must be Oberammergau natives, or have lived there for 10 years. The play lasts a whole day, with a three-hour break for lunch. The play is performed five times a week for several months.
But, on Thursday, the organizers of the play- which has a cast of some 2,500 and can feature 900 people on stage at once- announced they were canceling this years edition, because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The first of the 103 daylong performances had been scheduled for May 16.
Historically, the human kind has been plagued by diseases from the bubonic plague, tuberculosis, Spanish influenza to Coronavirus, to name just a few.
The least we can do is to quarantine ourselves to protect others from the spread of the virus.
Learn something new. It’s Sunday, cook up a storm.
Lowell, MI – I have found out that creativity battles the anxiety invoked by the Coronavirus shutdown the best.
Facing the dark stats, how do I wake up inspiration from its gloomy dream? First of all, I had to turn off all the devices I own. Next I am trying to push out of my head all the images of suffering and exhaustion I’ve seen over the last two weeks.
I have to substitute the negative with the positive; easier said than done. I have to transform and focus on the light with its different shades.
I found relief again in the “Hope in Uncertain Times” meditation with Oprah & Deepak Chopra. I can see light instead of darkness.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Vaclav Havel received the German Book Prize at the National Theater.
Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lowell, MI – By logging in 3,751 words in the NaNoWriMo 2019, I am officially a winner of the 50K -word challenge with my memor about the family immigration saga. Yay! I never thought I would get it done. I have yet to complete a translation of three pages of mom Ella’s memories from Texas and review the entire memoir.
NaNoWriMo memoir insights
I entered the challenge this year to complete the memoir that I divided into two halves after hitting a dead end at chapter 11. I did extensive prep work in October including translations of mom’s memories from her immigration ordeal since 1968 and the translation of the “Chronicle of Velvet Revolution.”
The memoir anchors in two major historical events in Czechoslovakia: Prague Spring, 1968 and Velvet Revolution, 1989. It’s an epic saga of love and passion for math, between the main characters, mom Ella and dad Vaclav. These major driving forces took our family across three continents. My own second-generation experience is intertwined in the memoir, as I am the storyteller.
I had to break down different chapters and create a timeline in order to navigate the events of more than 50 years. Once I had the timeline, I filled in the missing years with my parents’ own accounts of their immigration experiences.
What propelled the memoir ahead was the change from a travel account to the experience of immigration in all its dimensions. That was the pain of being separated both from homeland and from each other, offset by dad’s passion for math.
I arrived at an interesting conclusion while writing the memoir: for mom, imigration was a sacrifice to dad and to us, so we could live in a free country. For dad, immigration was a way to teach math without the fear of being persecuted in a socialist country. For me, immigration set me free to create and for Ludek it was a dream come true to build our own house and live the American dream.
Stay tuned for excerpts.
Ask questions right here:
Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC, All rights reserved.
Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir with Havel quote
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI – Between the two dreary November days, I logged in 4,000 words into the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo 2019) dashboard. The Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia is my writing project. The 50K word writing challenge has entered its final week, as we also approach Thanksgiving and I have to do some grocery shopping.
The turkey is already in the freezer and the tasks have been assigned among the family members; mom Ella is making the stuffing and a vegetable casserole, if she feels good she will make the traditional Czech pastry “kolache.” Yay! We’re doing the turkey, cranberry relish and baked beans, daughter-in-law Maranda is making the twice baked potatoes. Yay again!
For many participants, NaNoWriMo is a great motivator and if you get your winner certificate and finish writing your content, it’s also a great marketing tool for your new book. I penned the core of my second book Shifting Sands: Secrets during last year’s NaNoWriMo.
I would not have been able to do it, without the daily accountability of the word count. Plus, by participating in the month-long NaNoWriMo, you form a daily writing habit, if you don’t have it already. That’s how you unlock your daily writing badges.
I have been writing for the last 22 days in a row after I exercise and do my meditations in the morning. If I have to do something else before I reach the daily writing quota, I continue to write in the afternoon. Overall, my less productive time is in the afternoon, so I leave it for marketing and communications.
I agree with all the great writing gurus:
“Protect your writing time, no matter what.”
If that means writing early in the morning or late at night, so be it. There is no time for goofing around on social media instead of writing. As I have learned at the 2018 Calvin College writing conference, some authors don’t even watch TV after they finish writing in the evening or in the morning.
This week I have been working on chapters “Velvet Revolution” and “Back in the U.S.” Looking back at the historical events like Prague Spring in 1968 and Velvet Revolution in 1989, has been an eye-opening experience. My love for history, politics and arts has only grown stronger while doing research for the memoir.
The Greenwich Meridian memoir will be available for pre-order in January of 2020. Follow me on Amazon on:
The Red Truth newspaper, the official newspaper of the Communist Party, interviewed Vaclav Havel on Dec. 2, 1989. This was his first opportunity to introduce himself as a playwright and writer, rather than a dissident and a political prisoner. Previously, the newspaper only published bad news about Havel’s actions against the regime.
“You must not like this newspaper?”
“Now is not the time for recriminalization of the past,” he said. “We have to think about the future. The party will enter the democratic system just like any other political party.”
Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- As I continued to delve into the memoir this morning, I realized that the immigration experience from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. wasn’t just an escape from the communism trap, but also a quest for self-realization on both my dad’s part and my own.
But, for our partners, it was a sacrifice.
My dad professor Vaclav Konecny, who feared the religious prohibition set by the Marxist Leninist ideology, wanted to freely practice math in the U.S. without being afraid to go to church on Sundays.
“You can achieve any goal you set your mind to,” he said.
Dad has proven that dreams come true if you work on them, much like late president Vaclav Havel never gave up on freeing Czechoslovakia from the communist grip.
I followed my dream to publish a book after many detours en route to publishing; I have a pile of rejection letters from agents and a lot of pay stubs from jobs, I did not want to do. To this day, my dad is my constant inspiration, since he has never given up on anything. He is forever patient, kind and forgiving.
My other role model is Havel, who spent years in prison for fighting for democracy in Czechoslovakia.
Here is an excerpt from the chapter “Velvet Revolution.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 29, 1989 the Czech Parliament finally dissolved the article about the leading role of the Communist Party and the Marxism-Leninism monopoly on education.
It was a major victory since this article firmly anchored the dictatorship of the Communist Party and its ideology in the society. According to the Marxist ideology, the official religion was atheism.
Under the old socialist regime, I had to take final exams from Marxism-Leninism in order to graduate from the Technical University in Brno in 1986. We had mandatory classes in Marxism-Leninism all four years of our engineering studies.
I remember those wicked Monday classes after getting off of a bus from a two-hour ride Zlin to Brno. One early morning, the professor came in with a black eye. He looked at us and explained pointing to his shiner:
“I was at Stork’s last night, we had a few beers and I talked about Lenin,” he said. “A guy at the next table got up and hit me.”
Stork’s is a historic pub located at the Grain Market near the Birthing Center. It was a great pub to study and do our homework, but not to talk about Lenin or Marx. Dads came there to give a toast to their newborn babies.
To be continued…Havel’s interview with the “Red Truth.”
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