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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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Emma’s book signing at Lowell Museum
Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
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.”