Category Archives: Shifting Sands: Secrets

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 21 & 22

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!

Czech kolache

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:

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

Vaclav Havel quote

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.

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

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Emma’s book signing at Lowell Museum

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

Happy Halloween

Ready for #NaNoWriMo 2019

I am as ready as I can be for the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge starting tomorrow Nov. 1 with my Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir project.

However, Halloween is not only followed by the NaNoWriMo blast off , but also by All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day in the catholic calendar on Saturday. I always go to the mass at St. Pat’s for one or the other to reflect and for inspiration.

Usually, the Book of the Dead is on display. An evening candlelight procession goes to the cemetery.

The feature photo is an optical illussion “All is Vanity” from Belrockton in Belding. It is hanging next to the “Face of Gossip,” which is on the cover of my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections.

Follow me on my NaNoWriMo journey to the completion of the memoir about our family immigration saga to the U.S.

I will be signing my new book at the Lowell Area Historical Museum (LAHM) on Nov. 15, 16 & 17 during Christmas through Lowell.

For more info on NaNoWriMo go to: https://www.nanowrimo.org/

For more info on Christmas through Lowell go to: www.christmasthroughlowell.org

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

NaNO prep

Proud to report that I am in the prep phase for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2019 at full speed. During the month of October , I logged in 12,195 words. My goal is to complete the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West in November and follow up with revisions.

It is a memoir about our family immigration saga from former communist Czechoslovakia to the US.

NaNoWriMo is a great tool for any writing project that you may have. First of all, it gives you daily accountability of writing by logging in daily word count. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I had to do a lot of prep work, because I also have author events in November with my new book “Secrets” from the Shifting Sands Short Stories series.

I will be at the Lowell Area Historical Museum during the Christmas through Lowell tour on Nov. 15, 16 & 17 signing my books. So stop by to pick up an autographed book. I will be offering writing and publishing tips, as well.

Locally, my book is available at Springrove Variety in downtown Lowell.

I am extremely excited about this Christmas event. I’ve done it before with my first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” I was at the Red Barn Market with other vendors including my daughter-in-law Maranda, who has “Little Dreamers Sleepovers” party business.

I would still like to get in one more author’s event before the end of this year. And what a year it has been. Watch for my post “Year in Review 2019.”

For info on NaNo go to: https://www.nanowrimo.org/

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

Belding Museum at Historic Belrockton

“Keep your head in the clouds and your hands on the keyboard.”
Marissa Meyer

Back to the keyboard

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I am back behind the computer after a summer filled with author’s gigs, book marketing, anniversary parties and granddaughter Ella’s departure for Fixin, France.

The fall solstice weather is also much more conducive to being tied to the chair without any distractions; that includes minimum social media and Internet browsing only for research purposes and logging in daily word count on the NaNoWriMo website at https://www.nanowrimo.org/

Emma’s book signing during Fallasburg Village Bazaar at the one-room schoolhouse.

However, I have one more big author event to go to before I embark on my second National Novel Writing Month 50k challenge starting on Nov. 1 with prep work in October.

Belrockton Dormitory , home of the Belding Museum

107 Hanover St. Belding, Oct. 6, 2019 1 pm – 4 pm

I am especially looking forward to this book signing of “Shifting Sands: Secrets” inside the original dormitory that housed the silk city girls when Belding was known as the” Silk City of the World.”

The making of “Silk Nora”

The long short story “Silk Nora” is the main story in book 2 in the Shifting Sands Short Stories series. By genre, it belongs to the historical fiction/historical romance catefories. So a good way to search for the book online is by using the keywords #historical fiction #historical romance. In physical bookstores, the book can be found in the fiction category.

The story digs deep into the history of the silk city girls’ dormitory “Belrockton” in Belding at the turn-of-the-century.

The Classical Revival-inspired building was erected in 1906 at a cost of $30,000 . It provided accommodations for 100 single female workers and staff. It was better known as the “Bel” and it is the last dormitory left from the three buildings. Much like the Richardson Mill is the last structure left from the three silk mills in Belding.

As a reporter for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard in the early 2000s, I visited the museum on multiple occassions. But, it wasn’t until two years ago, when I spotted a picture of a woman in a hat during the museum’s fashion hat display in the fall of 2017. She was very elegant and beautiful with a nostalgic look on her face.

That woman in a hat served as a model for creating the main character Nora in the historical fiction story “Silk Nora,” which is the main story in the new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.”

I also explored extensively the interior of the dormitory including the girls’ rooms. There was another picture in an oval frame. This was a photo of Mathilda Adrian, who lived in the dormitory. Right next to the oval photo was her marriage certificate to John Mahar dated April 1917. And a double love story was born.

This discovery inspired the character of Mathilda, who became Nora’s best friend. So, at this point I had the main characters, and then I added Doris, the matron and the men into the story. All the characters are woven into Belding’s history of the silk industry started by the Belding Brothers in 1860 by selling silk from house to house.

Creativity of Belrockton staff

The creativity of the Belrockton Museum staff, Jane Forth, Barb Fagerlin, Jan Mehney along with others inspired my own creativity.

T he creative displays at the museum from Hotel Belding such as the receptionist’s desk helped me recreate the scenes of social life at the hotel.

The displays of girls’ rooms complete with mannequins, the movie theater, grocery store, fueled my imagination.

When I discovered the optical illusion picture of the “Face of Gossip” at the dormitory bathrooms, I was totally flabbergasted by the chain of coincidences that made the individual pieces fit into a complete story.

To be continued

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

Camp NaNOwrIMO

Writing camp helps complete goals

I have completed goal one for the April Camp NaNoWriMo which serves either as an extension of the novel challenge started in November and/or fuel for new writing.

I penned the core of “Secrets” during the November challenge reaching 56,433 words. The anchor story in the collection is “Silk Nora” inspired by my multiple visits to the Belrockton Museum in Belding.

I going through the stories for content and insights. I will be submitting some of the stories via app Submittable for reviews to magazines.

I am sending the manuscript “Shifting Sands: Secrets” (c) 2019 Emma Palova to the editor this week. Thank you Carol.

Goal 2

Camp goal no. 2 is to recast the Konecny family immigration saga. This includes the title and the cover.

Follow me on my publishing journey.

Shifting Sands: Secrets

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

Day 4 Camp NaNOWRIMO

The Camp NaNoWriMo in April is an extension of the National Novel Writing Month in November. We’ve entered the fourth day of the camp already.

I penned the core of “Secrets,” which is a sequel to Shifting Sands: Short Stories, during the November NaNoWriMo project.

From my camp cabin log:

Since, I have two goals for my camp 2019, I am moving ahead to
finish the last story in the collection “Secrets.” I will be done with that
shortly. Then comes formatting.
No.2 goal is to recast the familly immigration saga “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West. Instead of discarding 11 chapters, I will just
shuffle content around. I have to get the memoir going in the right
direction. I don’t want it to be a list of facts.
I hope for all us campers that we can get done what we have set out to
do; the camaraderie and support help. I have
family here from Europe, so it’s hard to get in my actual “butt in chair”
time.

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

Equanimity of characters

Balanced

The key to a good story is balancing all its elements as well as the mental composure of its characters, while pitching them against each other.

It’s a juggling act.

I realized that while writing the sequel “Shifting Sands: Secrets” in the characters of Amora and Margot.

In the final story “Six Palms by the Tiki”, easy-going Margot, an Irish catholic from Chicago offsets Amora’s hardline self-imposed principles.

Check out the excerpt from “Secrets.”

Dear Margot,

You haunt me at night. I wanted to let you know that, even though we’re friends. I am not going to apologize for leaving you at that old Irish Pub, because you were gossiping.

I hate gossip. Gossip is worse than lying. Gossip is immoral. Gossip is the sister of secrets and lies. You should have asked me first about seadog George. You know I still have Anthony.

We’re both old, and we can die any day.

But you were the only friend I had at that looney “Cottage Nest” down South. Friends are hard to come by. The older you get, the harder they are to find. You know you should be picking up your phone. I hate when you don’t answer your phone.

I also know if I lose you, I won’t find a new friend.

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

Spring Equinox

Excerpt from “Shifting Sands: Secrets”

On the first day of spring, I drove to the nearby Murray Lake for inspiration and meditation to finish the last story in the new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets” slated for spring publication.

The lake was thawing and the ducks were bathing in the fresh streams.

It was only me, a diehard ice fisherman and a curious blue heron perched on a piece of floating ice. Later, it started snowing mixed together with rain.

I had to get out of the car to get a photo of that brave man, who was literally floating on the remaining ice. The man was totally oblivious to his surroundings.

Did I find my inspiration?

I have to answer the question: I did find inspiration on the shores of a water body. This time 1,000 miles up North from where I found the first pieces of inspiration on the Gulf for the following story.

Excerpt from “Six Palms by the Tiki”

“What kind of secrets were hiding in those calcium skeletons built by slimy mollusks that have no spine?” Amora often wondered.

After all, the mollusks were long dead when washed ashore eaten by another sea creature. Most big shells had broken fringes and fragments of shells were more usual than whole intact shells. To find shells still attached to each other was out of the norm completely.

Amora paid $2 for a cup of Venetian coffee at Papa’s. The hot dark liquid still steaming vaguely reminded her of mornings Up North. Seadog George was always available for a chat. He had a tan of a sailor and considered himself to be one, since he had spent the last 15 years on the pier’s deck hovering 20 feet above water.

“Do you ever get seasick?” asked Amora naively searching George’s tanned hardened by wind and sun.

“Sometimes, I do when the wind is high and the pier sways in the waves,” he said. “But they built to withstand anything from Brazilian swamp wood that has already grown in water.”

Tall seadog George wasn’t a native of Florida, although he wished he was. Once he tried to pretend in front of tourists that he was a Floridian.

“Come on buddy, you sound like the Yankees, you can’t lose that,” laughed the New Yorker. “I am a fourth generation Yankee, I know.”

From then on, George stopped pretending. With blonde hair matching the tan and the beard, Amora guessed he must have been Norwegian or Swedish. She hasn’t found the guts yet to ask him; Amora didn’t want to be either too friendly or too nosy, or worse yet: Seadog George could think she was hitting on him.

She only engaged enough in casual talk to finish the cup of Venetian coffee without having to walk with it.

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