Category Archives: Uncategorized

40th Wedding Anniversary

As Ludek and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on Oct. 7th, I  think about all those years spent with one man. We were both born in former Czechoslovakia.

us

In 1978,  that seemed unimaginable to an 18-year-old girl still in the Zlin Gymnasium Prep School with university years of studying ahead of me.

“You’re going to spend  the rest of your life with one man?” classmate Zdenek asked me. “I can’t even fathom that.”

Yes, indeed. I spent all those years with one man.

“Boring,” said an acquaintance jokingly some time ago. She herself had been married to one man for a long time.

Just like in everything, there were some great times and some rough times over the four decades. Some of them, I consider historical moments.

Following are some highlights that really stand out:

The birth of our daughter Emma in April of 1979, my graduation from the University of Brno in 1986, the birth of our son Jake in 1987 and  the move to the United States of America in 1989. My book Shifting Sands Short Stories came out in 2017. I became an American citizen in 1999. Ludek will have his naturalization ceremony this year.

In between were big, medium and little things; all those elements that make up marriage.

“For better or for worse,” as we said our wows.

Among the big things were:  Weddings of our kids. Emma got married in Montrachet, Burgundy, France and Jake in Parnell, MI.

Another big shebang , I consider our celebration of the millennium at Stafford’s Perry Hotel, where Hemingway  once stayed. Since, I love history, I love to stay on historical properties.

To celebrate our 40th anniversary, we will be staying in the historical Murray Hotel on Mackinac Island.  I find inspiration in history, because it has  a tendency to repeat itself. You can predict things based on the past.

We were surfing rough waters when the  recession hit in 2007 through 2009, and Ludek lost his job. Ludek had to leave the state of Michigan to work in Prarie-du-Chien, Wisconsin. I stayed in Lowell because we didn’t want to lose the house. Our friends have lost theirs.

He commuted 500 miles to work and  he came home for the weekends. When I wrote about it back at the peak of  the depression in 2008, I got a response from a publication:

“That’s normal, that’s not a story.”

Yes, maybe for them it wasn’t. But for us it was a big story, as well as for millions of other Americans. I compensated the horror of separation and living by myself with a dog in the country by writing a screenplay. I bought Final Draft software and wrote about the assassination on liberal candidates.

We got through it with scars and hurts. Sometimes, it still hurts.

We still adhere to Czech traditions and customs, but we also have taken on new American traditions. It makes life interesting sharing two different cultures.

People ask me what do I miss the most about the old country?

“Definitely friends, since most of the family members have passed,” I answer.

But, always having a positive outlook, writing and  innovation helped us through the  good and the bad. Of course there was more good than the bad. It depends on the perspective and interpretation.

The good prevailed in love, passion and belief in each other.

And like  talk show host Ripa said on TV, “It  always boils down to respect of each other.”

The values we have established have carried us through; first comes  our family, then passion for our work and innovation. This philosophy has always worked well throughout the years.

With well wishes for many more years.

Love always, Emma.

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Fallasburg bazaar vendor line-up

Visit with us today at the Fallasburg village from 10 am to 5 pm. Just cross the Covered Bridge at a speed of no more than walking, and you will be transformed in time.

Find your treasure among unique vendors. Visit the one-room Fallasburg schoolhouse for a step back in time.

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Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse.

via Fallasburg bazaar vendor line-up & app, set-up info

Copyright (c) 2018 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Fall for Michigan

Plan your fall touring of Pure Michigan.  Visit the 1850s Fallasburg Pioneer Village which is on the National Register of Historic Places in MIchigan. The village nestles in the northeast corner of Kent County.

Just cross the Covered Bridge into the village and step back in time.

One of the best times to visit this area is  in its autumn glory with all the harvest festivals , farmers’  markets and local produce abundance.

Explore local history, sample local food and craft beers and breweries, chat with local authors.  Learn  how to can pickles or how to make salsa.

Step out of the ordinary.

 

via September message from FHS president

50th anniversary of Soviet Occupation of Czechoslovakia, 1968

It is with certain trepidation that I approach the 50th anniversary of Soviet occupation of former Czechoslovakia on the night of Aug. 20 to Aug. 21, 1968.

The milestone seems unbelievable to me. It was such a pivotal moment that influenced the rest of my life. What followed the occupation changed two generations; a massive exodus fleeing from the occupied country to its Western neighbors.

Soviet occupation of Prague in 1968
Soviet occupation of Prague in 1968

There is an old cliché saying that time heals everything. Decades of other events in history may have put layers of dust over this one. But those whose lives have been touched by the invasion, will never forget.

I’ve only heard other people’s accounts of the invasion; recently a video posted on Facebook stirred my memory.

People reacted to the event in two basic ways: either they stayed in the country or they emigrated to the West. The majority stayed in the country.

My father professor Vaclav Konecny decided for the latter of the two. That is to leave the country rather than endure the regime. Fifty years later, both of my parents have certain regrets. My mother Ella more so than my father.

“I left behind my sick parents against my beliefs,” she said. “That haunted me until the day they died. All those years, I felt guilty.”

The invasion suppressed the Prague Spring liberalization movement led by Alexander Dubcek, and substituted it with hardline communism or dark era of totality.

Those who stayed paid the price. No one could leave the country without exit visa.

Those who left illegally could not return without persecution.

Freedom truly isn’t free. It never has been.

“I think our modern history shows us that freedom isn’t a gift, which the powerful fight for to giveaway; it can be obtained and defended only by those who work to obtain or defend it.” late president Vaclav Havel in his speech on Victory Day May 8, 1994.

 A half-a-century of Czech expatriates living outside the old country well beyond the Velvet Revolution in 1989, has shown their adaptability and assimilation into other cultures.

Our own immigration story has been molded by the 1968 Soviet invasion. At the time, my parents left from Sudan, Africa for Canada, and eventually to Hawkins, Texas where dad taught math at Jarvis Christian College.

The story got more complex, when mom Ella decided to return to Czechoslovakia in 1973 followed by dad. The return was both a nightmare and a mistake, as my dad later recollected it many years later. He left Czechoslovakia again in 1976, and after a battle for emigration visa mom joined him in 1980.

It wasn’t until December of 1989 that I was able to leave the country for the USA for good. I became an American citizen in August of 1999 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

Looking back at this chronology of now historical events, I have to ask myself if I would do it again, much like I have asked my parents.

“Yes. I would do it again. I have no regrets; my entire family is here and I consider this country to be my home.”

The other question that people either ask me or I ask myself, “What is it that I miss about the old country?”

I do miss my friends from school and the university. Whenever, I miss the food, I just cook it myself. My son Jake was naturalized earlier this year, and my husband Ludek will become an American citizen on Aug. 22, 2018 in Detroit.

However, life is not just a chronological sequence of events or it shouldn’t be.

“How would our lives be different if we stayed in the old country?”

Those questions remain hanging in the air unanswered. I don’t expect any answers to them anytime soon or ever.

When I published my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” last summer, I realized I would not have been able to do that in Czech Republic. If for nothing else, I wouldn’t have been able to do it because of language barriers. There are no English language publishers. Either way, it would have to be translated.

We adhere to Czech traditions and customs, mainly during Christmas and Easter. Our adult children Emma & Jake are fully bilingual. Jake is teaching his kids Czech.

I laugh when I say, “I am 99 percent American and one percent Czech.”

That one percent means; Vaclav Havel remains my hero and we speak Czech at home.

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Case: Freedom

Exercising voting and speaking rights

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I feel privileged that I can vote for any party or candidate that I want to. It wasn’t like that before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989. There was one party ticket only: The Communist Party.

I realized that earlier this morning as I voted in Vergennes Township Precinct 1. I cast the 82nd ballot, soon after dropping off Ella at St. Pat’s summer care program around 9 a.m. I got the sticker, “I voted.”

I convinced my parents to vote only a few years ago. My husband Ludek and our son Jake will be voting in the November general election for the first time. By then, they will be naturalized American citizens.

As the church bells rang, I knew they were also the bells of freedom: the freedom to vote and the freedom of speech.

I exercised that freedom last night at the “Emerging Artists” event organized by the new LowellWrites group. Back in my Czech homeland before the fall of the regime, we could never ever give any speeches about anything. Unlike the “right to work”, freedom of speech wasn’t one of the rights we had.

That’s why late president Vaclav Havel was jailed so many times, because he spoke openly against the regime. I talked about him being my role model and my personal hero during the event.

“He was also a playwright,” I told my friends last night. “He spent a lot of time in jail.”

I am always amazed at how much one man or woman can accomplish in a lifetime.

“And then, they go out and do more,” states one commercial.

So, true. People who do great things go out and do more great things. I’ve learned that in meditations; to detach from the outcome. You can’t influence the result of anything, but you can be an integral part of it.

Havel knew he would go back to jail, but he never ceased to fight for freedom. As I watch the Facebook news feed, I do not understand why a lot of Czech people do not like Havel.

Once, I posted: “He was in prison also for your freedom.”

You should have seen the outpour of anger.

“He had it better in prison, than you have it in your living room,” was one comment that I will never forget.

The person missed the whole point that Havel fought for freedom for all Czechs and Slovaks, and ended up in prison for that like Nelson Mandela. But the comment went further to qualify that Havel maybe had a TV to watch and a typewriter to write, plus implying that I might not have either one of these tools.

Since I do have a laptop and the freedom of expression, I am sharing my Aug. 6th the speech during the “Emerging Artists” event at the LowellArts Gallery.

 

Good evening,

Thank you for having me, Lowell Arts and Deb.

Most of you probably know me as the roving reporter for the Lowell Ledger running around and chasing after stories, day or night, sweating during the Kent County Youth Fair, that is going on right now.

Tonight, I am here on a different venture presenting my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories,” which is a collection of 13 short stories based on my immigration, retail and journalistic experiences spanning more than two decades. Based on this, I divide the stories into three circles.

Although, I’ve always wanted to hold my own book in my hands and see it on the shelves of local bookstores, it wasn’t until 2017 that I made it happen. I realized if I didn’t put the short stories together, into a published collection, they would get lost.

That’s why I call it also a historic preservation project. I wrote the first story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in 1990 on a Smith-Corona Word Processor and the last one “Orange Nights” in 2017, partly on my tablet in my favorite hair salon.

My entire writing and publishing journey has been inspired by our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia. My father professor Vaclav Konecny has been my role model all along. I based the character Martin Duggan on him.

I fictionalized the character, the university town of Rocky Rapids and the crazy “actions” of the professor. This one could be easily billed as the wildly popular “historical fiction” category.

The professor was perfect except for one incident……….

That brings me to the circle of stories based on my journalistic experience. These too could fit the “historical fiction” category. In “Iron Horse,” while covering hometown politics, I was inspired by a story of a township supervisor who got recalled in a special election by his own people. And the reason for recall: a pig farmer with the stench from the operation reaching the supervisor’s resort.

A herdsman’s wife Deb organized the revolt.

I captured the recall process in a series of articles.

These were the back up questions, we never got around to, because the audience was actively participating in the discussion moderated by poet Ian Haight of Germany.

People often ask me, why do I write and what are my goals?

Purpose of an artist; why do I write?

  • For me writing is a passion that I cannot get rid of. I tried unsuccessfully several times. It never worked. I’ve always returned to writing in some shape or form.
  • Goals

To continue writing to provide a respite from the real world that is to entertain people.

Growing as an author

  • With the publication of my book, I have grown a lot as a writer. People look up to me for writing and publishing advise; how to get their writing projects done. Being an author means sharing information.
  • The process of art:

Why did I create it?

So, the stories don’t get lost.

Where did the inspiration or motivation come from?

From our immigration saga; that my father had to overcome many obstacles to get where he is now. By that, I mean both physically and emotionally. One of the obstacles was my own mother who did not want to emigrate, leave Czechoslovakia. My other role model is the late president Vaclav Havel.

I even find inspiration in politics. That’s where the historical fiction category kicks in.

Was it hard to create this piece of art from start to finish?

Yes, it was. In the beginning I did not know where I was going with it. I had no idea that the stories would end up in a book.

Why share this piece?

Because they are part of the human experience, with struggles, obstacles and victories along the way.

And as I was quoted in the Grand Rapids Magazine:

“I know that it might sound cheesy, but even though not all the stories have happy endings, that doesn’t mean that everything that happens to us is either good or bad. It isn’t always that clear.”

 That’s why the sequel.

What does it mean to me?

To me it is the product of many years of hard work; kind of like when you get a degree after years of work. But, I think it goes deeper than that.

It’s more like a solo creation for others to enjoy.

What do you hope people will take away from it?

Definitely, a deeper understanding of human character, and why people do what they do.

 

 

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Events & Creative Endeavor

Join me this afternoon at@LowellArts gallery from 1 to 3 pm. I will be signing copies of my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” during the Captured photo exhibit. Come and chat about your writing projects. We are experiencing renaissance in literature. It’s a great time to be a part of this movement.

While touring with my book around West Michigan, we have discovered the “Creative Endeavor”project at the Michigan News Agency (MNA)in Kalamazoo. In order to keep authors writing, MNA does not keep any profit from the local author book sales.

I will be writing more about this initiative. My son discovered this while looking for the Grand Rapids Magazine.

“To encourage our Creative Endeavor Project Writers, we will sell your books as a pass through and return all of the money to you, the authors. The News hopes this will encourage our writing communities to strive to do your work.”

For more info about this Creative Endeavor project go to:

http://www.michigannews.biz

Copyright (c)2018.Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Czech Harvest Festival

Summer  brings  heritage festivals and fairs

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI  -I am really looking forward to this weekend. First of all, it’s going to be hot again, and I love that.

Contrary to what the promoters of “Back to School” pump out, summer is not over. For me summer is over when I have to swap my flip-flops for closed-toed shoes, usually with the first snow.

Summer always stays in my heart year-long.

Other than my author event at the LowellArts gallery tomorrow from 1 to 3 p.m. during the Captured photo exhibit, I can’t wait to go to the Czech Harvest Festival “Dozinky” in Bannister this Sunday.

This is our annual treat and a tribute to our Czech heritage. Every year, I get my hopes high that I will run into a Czech-speaking person at the festival in the middle of nowhere.

Over the years of going to Bannister, I’ve met probably a total of eight people who knew some Czech. The fun part about this event is that I get to sing three anthems that I know: American, Czech & Slovak.

The third-generation organizers Tom & Diane Bradley of Czech origin have done a fantastic job of preserving the “Dozinky” event as it truly happens in the Moravian and Slovakian villages in the old country. The dancers wear original costumes, the band of accordions plays Czech polka and the singers sing Czech songs.

I marvel at this effort, because the festival passes the Czech heritage onto the younger generation. The dance troupe involves kids ages three to unlimited. The festivities open with the shortest parade in the world; it’s even shorter than the parade in Hubbardston on St. Pat’s Day.

The parade route is past the ZCBJ Lodge to the small field with a concrete platform for the dancers. The dancers and singers march in the parade with rakes and scythes, symbolizing the original harvest of wheat.

Usually, a polka band plays inside the hall after the dance troupe is done outside. I’ve never been to that part, because it runs later in the afternoon when we have to head back home for a long drive through the fields.

The best part of the event is the original Czech food. For ten bucks, you get to eat like in a fancy Czech restaurant without leaving USA. The buffet features, ham, chicken, dumplings, sauerkraut, cucumber salad, mashed potatoes, biscuits and a dessert.

Czech “kolache”

However, one thing you will not get here, is the traditional Czech “kolache” pastry. One of the editors of the Fraternity Herald asked me to share the origins of this festive pastry.

So, I asked my mother Ella, while she was still in Venice. Growing up in Moravian small town of Vizovice, she could trace the humble origins to the villagers.

“They used all the ingredients available to them in their households,” she said. “This included the cottage cheese they made themselves, butter or lard and eggs. The only thing they bought was sugar and flour. They had everything else including the plum butter.”

The popularity of “kolache” as a signature pastry at all events and festivities, skyrocketed over the years, as the city folks discovered them while touring villages.

“Kolaches” are to Czechs what pizza is to the Italians,” mom said. “They too use the ingredients available to them; olives, pasta sauce and such.”

There are hundreds of recipes for traditional “kolache” varying according to the region.

However, they all have in common the following: golden crust topped with plum butter with sugary crumbling and filled with cottage cheese mixed with raisins.

For one of the many kolache recipes visit the

Mazac Family Genealogy blog:

https://mazacgenalogy.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/czech-moravian-kolache-recipe/

Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Join Motown Literacy Writers’ network

Set yourself apart, be unique and bold

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

I find the Motown Writers  Network full of  great tips and writing advise. What really caught my eye was the  post about author branding.

As I step into the role of  an author, I realize more and more how branding is important.  What kind of author am I? What is my target audience? How will  my title “Shifting Sands Short Stories” stand out among millions of book titles? What does it have in  common with my other work?

As a journalist, I ask this question quite often, “What  sets you apart from others in your industry?”

Yes, writing is a business. So, it has to be branded.

“Just like me going to work every day,” said #WGVU morning show host Shelley Irwin in last week’s interview.

Regardless the trade, many people struggle with the answer to this  question including the campaigning politicians.

As of today, I can say that the following sets me apart from other authors and other titles: I  am a Czech-born author who was naturalized as a US citizen on Aug. 19,  1999 at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.

At the time I was featured on the front page of the Ionia Sentinel-Standard in  the article “U.S. citizenship a ‘natural’ step for  Lowell woman.  I was a reporter for the paper,  and I received hundreds of congratulatory phone calls. The Associated Press syndicated the naturalization story.

fb_img_1483448628714.jpg

I collected and put together the short stories that I have written over a span of more than two decades. So, I call that also  a “history preservation” project. I wrote the first stories from the immigration  circle of stories on my Smith Corona word processor in Montreal, Canada in the early 1990s.

History is my other love besides writing. Naturally, I plan to include a historical fiction piece in the sequel to Shifting Sands Stories.

I  consider the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia partly a historical piece., although not fictional.

With my passion for languages, I also teach ESL. I am learning Spanish, so I can visit Hemingway’s Finca Vigia in Cuba.

I’ve already visited the Hemingway House in Key West.  The descendents of his six-toed cats are there. His writing studio was connected by a catwalk to the main house.

Author branding

I see myself as a romantic author with Hemingway’s hardiness. I portray every day characters in their struggles; whether in love, disease, aging, under duress or in pursuit of perfection.

Some of the characters like Vadim in “The Death Song” are macho men, totally immersed into themselves.

The struggle for perfection is best portrayed in the character of math professor Martin in “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.” His own son is his only imperfection. Everything else in his life is perfect, otherwise he wouldn’t survive.

As in real life, the endings are not always happy. See “The Death Song” or “Honey Azrael.”

Following is part of Hemingway’s acceptance speech sent to Stockholm, since he couldn’t travel to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. I find it inspiring.

“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is good enough of a writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

I’ve also written a screenplay registered with Writers Guild of America, West. Personally, I consider screenwriting easier than writing novels. I write a short story first and based on that I write the screenplay. Writing has to be very visual.

Join our local LowellArts group  #lowellwrites. Contact Debra Dunning Duiven at 897-8545.

To join the Motown network click below.

via Join

#MotownWriters Article: The Basics of Author Branding

Source of quote:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway

For info on LowellArts go to https://www.lowellartsmi.org

Link to #WGVU interview:

http://www.wgvunews.org/post/shifting-sands

My author’s events:

Aug. 4 th 1-3 p.m. Emma’s book signing at #LowellArts

Aug. 6th  7 to 9 p.m.  LowellArts panel discussion with poet Ian Haight

Sept. 16 & 17 Fallasburg Village Bazaar 1- to 3 p.m. at the one-room schoolhouse.

Copyright (c)2018. Emma Blogs,LLC. All rights reserved.

Interview with WGVU Shelley Irwin

Renaissance of the written word

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- While finalizing my interview draft for the WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin in downtown Grand Rapids, I was able to come up with a common theme; renaissance of the written word and literature overall.

That was my final takeaway message for the audience.

“We’re in a renaissance era of the written word,” I said. “Write every day, put together what you have written and send it out. Don’t let dust settle on your manuscripts. If you can’t find an agent or a publishing house, do it yourself. Find a self-publishing platform.”

Over the last two decades, people have been getting increasingly sick of technology and trying to figure everything out on devices, and the ever-changing algorithms.

On the other hand, the renaissance is partly thanks to Google’s keywords, business and product reviews and captioning on TV.

I’ve noticed an explosion of literature on my author’s adventures since I’ve penned “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” Poets are popping up, as well as memoirists and there is a huge demand for historical fiction.

As a true lover of history and artifacts, I brought in with me to the WGVU Studio at the Eberhard Center a remnant of a word processor; a font reel or wheel with my favorite script font 10/12. That’s all I have left of the word processor that had a screen for  three sentences at the max. I bought it in 1990 at, the close to being extinct, Kmart.

“The millennials don’t know what it is, but I used the Smith- Corona word processor to write my first stories,” I said.

Irwin looked at the reel wheel with the script font puzzled.

“I am not a millennial, but I can’t figure this out either,” as she looked at the artifact.

We talked about the “Riddleyville Clown” short story, that is pure fiction. Based on the story, I wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” © Emma Palova.

“It was inspired by a hometown parade to the 175th anniversary of fictive Riddleyville, organized by one of the town characters,” I said. “It is about the assassination on the liberal presidential candidates.”

When Irwin asked about my favorite stories out of the collection of 13 short stories, I said: “If I had to choose it would be a toss between “The Death Song” and “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.”

“Why?”

“Because the characters stay with you long after you’re done reading,” I said. “My daughter-in-law Maranda asked me what was wrong with the guys.”

That’s exactly what I want; that resonation with the characters and questions left hanging in the air. That’s why I am writing a sequel to Shifting Sand Short Stories, as well as the Greenwich Meridian memoir.

“iIt’s a balancing act,” I said.

The main character in “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” is a math professor, perfectionist by nature.

By pure coincidence, and with “Back to School” looming in the air, there was also a mathematical conference going on at the Eberhard Center. A girl offered me an AlgebraNation pencil and a flag.

I have to check if it is pencil no.2, that professor Duggan used in the story. It’s got to be just right, not too soft, not too hard.

“Obviously, you have a passion for writing,” said Irwin.

It was a great experience being in the same studio with Irwin and the intern, and other adventurers like  the Iron  Fish Distilleries.

I heard their story driving back to Lowell on WGVU 88.5 FM.

Thank you, Shelley, until we meet again on my next venture.

Books and events

Shifting Sands Short Stories is available locally at Schuler Books in GR and in Lansing, Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, KDL libraries and it is coming to “Epilogue Books” in Rockford. It is on Amazon.

 

Author events @LowellArts

 

July 28 & Aug. 4, 1- 3 p.m. Book signing & discussion

Aug. 6, 7 to 9 p.m. panel discussion with poet Ian Haight

 

To join LowellArts Writer’s Group contact Debra Duiven Dunning at 897-8545

For more info go to https://www.lowellarts.mi.org

 

WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin

 

http://www.tinyurl.com/ycp9cx5k

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.