Category Archives: publishing

Greenwich meridian Memoir cover

Cover Design by Jeanne S. Boss

Collage: the story behind the cover

It is said that a long journey starts with the first step.

During the entire process of putting together the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir,” that spans more than 50 years of our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S., I was using a globe as a visual tool.

I got the globe probably at the old Flat River Antique Mall in Lowell when we moved out into the country in 1995. I kept it downstairs in my writing studio, but dragged it upstairs to look at it while on the treadmill.

Putting one foot in front of the other, word after word, page after page, year after year, that’s how the memoir went, often interrupted by life’s events.

After all, travel around the world made an imprint on our lives forever. However, later into the writing process, I realized the story wasn’t just about our nomadic lifestyle prompted by the political events in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

When I first asked mom for info about our immigration, she handed me two small stapled pages from a Best Western notepad with nine bullet points summarizing our life.

As I got deeper into the story and mom cooperated more, it became obvious that looking back at your past can be a painful experience.

Unlike writing fiction, writing the memoir was very emotional, at times depressing. It meant uncovering layers and layers of events, preceeded by decisions; your own decisions and other people’s decisions that impacted your own life and other people’s lives.

Decisions were lurking at every crossroad or a fork on the path to freedom. Mistakes and resentments alternated with victories and elation.

The main characters, mom Ella and dad Vaclav, were the driving forces of the immigration; I picked up two decades later when the Velvet Revolution rolled in 1989.

I found out that the main motivation for dad’s decision to emigrate was his career as a mathematician, while mom clung onto her past pharmacist job and relatives in Czech. And that’s where the characters clashed.

The Prague Spring 1968 movement was the catalyst.

I wanted to express all this on the cover of the memoir using a collage of photos, postcards, mom’s African driver’s license, the Czech coat-of-arms and the globe. There is a postcard with a Vaclav Havel stamp from Czechoslovakia.

Graphic designer Jeanne S. Boss of Rockford captured all of the above on the artistic cover. Boss is the former editor of the Lowell Ledger and the Buyer’s Guide, and a long time friend.

I would like to thank Boss for all the creative work.

Copyright (c) 2020. 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.

NANOWRIMO DAY 12

For NaNo Day 11 go to post “In observance of Veterans Day, NaNo Day 11. https://emmapalova.com/2019/11/11/in-observance-of-veterans-day-2019/

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – We’re moving into winter “blietzkrieg” style- hard and fast. We already have snow frozen to the ground in Michigan as we hit 17F this morning.

I approached this year’s NaNoWriMo 2019 50K word challenge in the same style- hard and fast. I researched the background for the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir over the past few years, Moreover, I lived the historical events that shaped the story from Prague Spring in 1968 to Velvet Revolution in 1989 up to the present moment.

I logged into the NaNoWriMo dashboard a total of 27,403 words, averaging daily more than 2,000 words.

The previous years of research and writing have been like putting together the pieces of a puzzle with an unknown picture at the end.

Dad Vaclav Konecny with mom Ella at their 60th wedding anniversary celebration in Big Rapids.

Greenwich Meridian is an epic tale of our family immigration saga from Czechoslovakia to the U.S. spanning more than 50 years. It is also a love story between the main characters mom Ella & dad Vaclav. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 8, 2019 at Naval’s Mediterranean Grille in Big Rapids, MI.

After hitting a dead end around chapter 12, I took a break from the memoir and worked on the Shifting Sands Short Stories anthologies that resulted in book 1 “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” and book 2 “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”

I completed “Shifting Sands: Secrets” in the summer of 2018. So, I returned to the Greenwich Meridian memoir starting fresh with its second half that includes memories penned by my parents in chapters “In her own words” by mom Ella and dad wrote “How math professor escaped Czechoslovakia.”

Here is an excerpt: How math professor escaped Czechoslovakia

By Vaclav Konecny

I suffered through all the injustices of the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia. I did not want to live there anymore. I applied for emigration visa for the entire family to get out of the country; all in vain. At the beginning of 1976, two officers from the Department of Interior visited me only to announce that I would never get the visa, even though I wasn’t working. 

Nothing helped my case; neither letters written to president Gustav Husak, who was proclaiming at the time, that people like me could pack their suitcases and leave the country, nor the Helsinki Accords of 1975. In vain, I wrote letters to different institutions, but I always got the same answer: “It isn’t in the best interest of the republic.” However, the only interest of the republic, was for the communists to fill their own pockets. I haven’t met a lot of honest communists there.  

The Helsinki Accords of 1975 signed by 35 countries including the U.S. and all the European countries attempted to improve the relations between the communists and the West. However, the Helsinski Accords were not binding as they did not have a treaty status. 

The communists abided only by those paragraphs and laws that they wanted to. I was a factory worker operating NC machines at the Precision Engineering Plants in Malenovice. That was the result of an intensive job search and after the recommendation from President Husak. This shows that the officials had no idea about my profession. They were probably judging by their own experience of gaining titles in exchange for lies and deceiving their own bosses. I didn’t complain; I worked honestly at the factory and I carefully probed all illegal avenues of leaving Czechoslovakia. However, I realized that it would be too risky to leave with the entire family. So, I decided that I would leave the country illegally by myself and get the family out of there later. 

Different options of escape seemed risky, because the borders were guarded against the people of the country, so they wouldn’t escape, not some outside enemy. Soldiers and their dogs were dangerous; the life of a Czech or Slovak person meant less than the life of a rabbit. I assumed that the border patrol in other countries would be less dangerous.  

Stop by for an authographed book from the “Shifting Sands Short Stories” anthologies during Emma’s book signing at the Lowell Area Historical Museum on Nov. 15, 16 & 17.

2019-11-15T09:00:00

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Emma’s book signing at Lowell Museum

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

nanowrimo Day 7

Mom’s timeline in Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West saga

By Emma Palova

Looking outside the window in my writing studio, I see that the day has melted the morning surreal scenery of white cover with green grass stems sticking through it. The morning frost took down more leaves from my wisteria hanging tight onto the octagon pergola. One frozen morning glory flower managed to freeze in its red beauty in my window boxes. The sun peaked out and chased away some clouds and the darkness of an early morning.

This is the seventh day of the National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo 50K challenge. I unlocked a 7-day in a row writing badge and updated my word count at 15,308 words a few minutes ago closing the writing session with mom’s comprehensive timeline from 1959 to present. Overall the timeline helps me navigate through my parents’ and my own travels between three continents: Europe, Africa and North America.

The other movement in this epic story of love and passion is between historical events that changed the map of Europe; from the reformist Prague Spring in 1968, when the Soviet tanks invaded former Czechoslovakia to Velvet Revolution in 1989 and far beyond into North America.

Some of the highlights of mom’s timeline include: fascinating visits to Egypt and the Middle East, life in Khartoum, Sudan and back to Czechoslovakia.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

Excerpt: In her own words

By mom Ella

At the beginning of November, my husband announced his decision that he will be leaving for Sudan on Nov. 20, 1964. I gave him my blessings and never thought for a moment that I would go with him. I continued to work in the pharmacy in Vizovice and my boss who loved to travel kept asking me when was I going to fly to Africa.

In the spring of 1965, when I finally applied for a passport and got my vaccinations, Vaclav wrote me a letter that he was coming home, because it was the end of the school year. The university paid once a year for round trip air tickets for the entire family, regardless that he had just started teaching in November. The school year in Sudan ran from the beginning of July to the end of March; it was followed by a summer break lasting three months.

Those three months were also the worse months in Africa weather-wise filled with sand storms “Habub,” rain and heat. Khartoum lies on the 15th parallel close to the equator; it is the second warmest place in the world. It’s a dry tropical country with very little rain. A road stretched 50 miles north of Khartoum and 50 miles south and dead ended in the Nuba desert.

To be continued………..

I am working on a 4,000 word description to log the upcoming book on Amazon’s kdp publishing platform.

Here is a link:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

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

Kindle giveaways

Watch for Kindle giveaways of my books in the Shifting Sands series: Short Stories and the new book 2 Secrets.

If you could write a review of the book on Amazon, that would be great. Pm Emma on Facebook messenger for pdfs.

Post reviews on customer reviews on Amazon:

Here is a link to reviews:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/emmapalova.com/296074

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

June Newsletter

Happy summer!

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

Follow me on my Amazon author’s page at:

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

 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

Map to Lakeshore Art Festival
https://lakeshoreartfestival.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2018-LAF-Brochure-F-D.pdf
Copyright © 2019 Emma Palova, All rights reserved. 




Lenten soups

Lent, a time to reflect

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lent is a spiritual time of reflection for 40 days before Easter observed by Christians around the world. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, April 18 this year.

It is marked by the color purple and fasting. On Lenten Fridays, Christians should abstain from meat and excessive drinking.

One of its traditions are Lenten soups served by many local parish communities such as The Franciscan Life Process Center. The following soups, donated by the area restaurants, will be offered on Lenten Wednesdays:

March 20th Cannonsburg Catering Potato Soup Dilly Bread Cannonsburgcatering.com

March 27th Applause Catering Broccoli Cheese Oatmeal Bread Applause-catering.net

April 3rd G RCC Culinary Program Beef Barley Cinnamon Bread http://www.grcc.edu

April 10th Vitale’s Ada Minestrone Extreme Garlic

With its deeply embedded traditions, Lent has inspired many of my stories and writings. My favorite soup, not only for Lent, is Mediterranean lentil soup with lemon and turmeric.

Excerpt from “Shifting Sands: Secrets”

Amora decided to further think about a night walk under the moon in pursuit of a glimpse of the giant silk moth.

In the meantime, she would do some research about the luminous winged wonder, and find a clock that wouldn’t be as noisy.

Worse even yet in the cottage living, you couldn’t release any stink either; like frying a fish on a Lenten Friday or on any Friday. Being a good Catholic, Amora made sure she never ate meat on Fridays. Unlike Margot, who both ate meat and drank on Lenten Fridays, Amora stuck to her acquired routine.

Undisciplined Amora had to build up her routine like a bee flying from a wild flower to an order trapped in her own beehive.

“Are we going out on Friday, Amora?” Margot asked when they were gossiping on the balcony.

“We shouldn’t,” Amora said. “It’s Lent. You should know that, you’re Irish.”

They decided to go anyways to the old Irish Pub with dubious reputation in downtown. They settled at their favorite table in the corner.

“Will it be the usual two Killarneys for the ladies?” asked the waiter.

“Just one,” snapped Amora. “It’s Lent.”

“For you, mam?” the waiter looked surprised at Amora.

“No, for her,” Amora pointed at Margot.

“Slainte,” Margot smiled at the waiter. “That’s cheers in Irish.”

The waiter brought the reddish beer and a glass of water full of ice. for Amora. Margot disciplined herself and ordered fish and chips like Amora.

“At least it’s cheap,” Margot said eating her chips. “Tell me all about him.”

“Who?” Amora was shocked.

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

Spring E- newsletters

Spring is coming

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I am working on e-newsletters; as I look outside my writing studio window, I see snow on the ground.

However, definite signs of spring are here. The spring theme dominated at the 40th Home and Garden Show in Grand Rapids at the DeVos Hall this weekend.

The fragrance of tulips and daffodils was in the air as hundreds of people browsed through the packed hall.

I marveled at the CNC sewing and embroidery machines; how skillfully they stitched an image and a message into a piece of cloth.

“That’s the only way I could do it,” laughed a woman next to me.

Also the upcoming March 23 Lowell Expo is close to the heart as more than a hundred of local vendors and organizations showcase their work at the Lowell High School.

My fellow history lovers from the Fallasburg Historical Society will be side by side with the Lowell Area Historical Museum located inside the cafeteria.

My favorite are the bucket rides by the Lowell Light & Power crew.

On a personal note, I am moving ahead with the publishing of my second collection of short stories “Shifting Sands: Secrets.” Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Palova.

Book cover for “Secrets” aka the Face of Gossip.

I am on target for April/May publishing. The new book, a sequel to my debut “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” will be available for preorder on Amazon. Both the cover and the anchor story “Silk Nora” were inspired by the Belrockton Museum in Belding. The “Gossip” photograph can be found on the third floor of Belrockton. The museum is open on the first Sunday of each month.

Check out my debut at:

https://www.amazon.com/Shifting-Sands-Short-Stories-stories/dp/152130226X

Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

ISBN

9781521302262

To stay up to date with our happenings sign up for any of our newsletters:

EW Emma’s Writings

Fallasburg Today

Check out our blog at http://fallasburgtoday.org

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

Beach treasures

Life on the beach beats in a different rhythm

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Venice, FL- The morning tide washed ashore treasures galore: large speckled cockles, coquinas, calico scallops, whelks, sturdy white jewel boxes, twisted conches, translucent jingle shells in shades of orange, olive and bubble shells.

The yellowish cocquina and turkey shells were still attached holding on tight to each other. The mollusks have long jumped out of the shells digging themselves into the sand.

The warm westerly wind combined with the cold Norte whipped a white foam on top of the waves breaking and crashing to the shore.

The perfect morning cup of jewels hiding inside a large cockle shell was still filled with water. A skilled paddle boarder navigated the wild waves falling only once, and climbing back up again. A sailboat rocked in the waves.

A dead seagull found its resting place on the beach. A trio of pelicans delighted in the wind flying ten feet above the water.

A slippery wrack of branches and seaweed washed ashore will serve later as a buffet for the birds. Wrack communities are native to Florida beaches; it is stuff cast ashore by the sea.

The encounters on the two-mile long morning walk on Venice Beach range from brief hellos to “How long are you going to stay?”

People walking on the beach were not only couples or families, but often a parent with an adult child. Life on beach takes on a different rhythm; time constraints disappear.

The beach walk has inspired the last story in Shifting Sands: Secrets, a sequel to Shifting Sands: Short Stories.

Feature photo: The perfect morning cup of jewels

The perfect morning full of jewels washed ashore still filled with sea water.

To be continued

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