A long journey starts with the first step, leaving footprints in Ludington
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – I attended the Ludington Writers’ Rendezvous on the shores of Lake Michigan last Saturday. It was my first encounter with the Ludington Writers group, and my second author’s conference experience after Calvin College in the spring.
It was a great gathering of 28 authors with a total of 80 titles and the tension of 10 million volts.
As the raindrops drummed on the roof of the Arts Center lodged inside the former Methodist Church in beautiful downtown Ludington, I absorbed the energy output of the organizers and fellow authors.
I loved author Carol L. Ochadleus’ poster designed by her son.
“We got the wrong cover on the last one,” Ochadleus laughed. “This time we got it right.”
The rush before the authors’ events is always nerve wrecking. An author, whose name I didn’t catch, stormed in with her pink luggage. Sudanese author Dominic Malual of “Barefoot in the Boot” had a wooden giraffe in front of his table.
In most cases, the conference attendance was the result of teamwork of entire families. The “assistants” were usually the partners of the authors, while the “runners” were book lovers who delivered food from the local restaurants. The extensive menu featured everything from the “Swiss Hammer”, “Ojibway Dip” to “Dirty Russian.”
Since, I missed my dad Vaclav’s birthday lunch, my assistant Ludek personally delivered my grilled chicken wrap from Jamesport Brewing Co., where the international family crew got together.
That fusion of aspirations, dreams and hopes fueled my own author’s drive that sometimes goes into overdrive.
“I want you to have a good experience,” wrote author/organizer Joan H. Young in her final approach to the conference message. “We want this to be the event to come to.”
For many authors it was their first time at anything and everything. Author Joseph Tilton debuted with his “Apocalypse” book here.
I thoroughly enjoyed the “wannabee” authors circulating around the authors’ tables. I didn’t catch their names. One wanted to write a dystopian novel and was seeking some direction. The other one carrying a stack of papers asked me about my book, “Shifting Sands Short Stories.”
“It’s a collection of short stories, that I have written for over two decades,” I said.
“Oh, I would have had a book like this big,” she said pointing to the huge stack of papers.
I smiled, thinking, “So, why didn’t you put it together?”
Today, on my morning walk to the Franciscans, I realized I should have said that out loud:
“Whatever you have written, put it together.”
I sat next to Ludington author Jeanie Mortensen and that was the greatest delight of all. The locals knew her and came to buy her books; both poetry and a novel.
I bought her “Taking in the Seasons” poetry collection, because I can’t handle long chunks of text. Mortensen bought my book; we swapped business cards with other authors.
It was not only an authors’ event, it was also a family deal like I mentioned before.
Mortensen’s daughter Amy stopped by and so did my adult children, Emma & Jake to say hi.
It was an unforgettable rendezvous, both professionally and personally. The survey asked: “Will you come back?”
For me it was a definite, “Yes.”
Thanks to organizers, Joan, Hanne Kelley & Barry Matthews of the Ludington Center for the Arts and the Writer’s Group.
My next author’s events:
July 26 @ 10 a.m. WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin 88.5/95.3
July 28 & Aug. 4 LowellArts, Lowell 1 to 3 p.m.
Aug. 6 panel discussion and reception with poet Ian Haight at LowellArts.
Check out the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide at your local newsstand for the “Reading Room” article. My book is available at Schuler Books, Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo and on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.
To join our local Lowell Writer’s group contact Debra Duiven Dunning at 897-8545 at LowellArts.
“It struck me that as writers, we have a unique opportunity – a responsibility, even- to voice our own truth and to help others do the same.”
Writer’s Digest editor-in-chief Tyler Moss
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI -I got an e-mail today from the BlogHer 18 Creators Summit seeking nominations for Voices of the Year. The deadline to nominate an inspiring woman influencer is May 31. The tradition of celebrating women’s voices has been around for 11 years in the ever-changing world of blogging.
Just a few minutes ago, I happily removed the metal stakes designating the driveway for snowplowing and stored away the snow shovel. Only our famous blade for the Jeep reminds me of a winter gone by. It’s too heavy for me to lift it.
I picked up my Fleet Street Missy spring coat yesterday at J.C. Penney in Greenville. I hope I won’t need it until late fall.
I ran into a fisherman at my favorite hideaway at the tip of the horseshoe-shaped lake three miles away.
“I am just poking for bass and pike before I get my boat out,” he said.
“Yes, it’s a very nice lake that gets really busy on weekends,” I said.
“Sure, that’s why I come out on weekday mornings,” the fisherman said.
Me too; I always come out to the lake in the morning seeking inspiration in its calm waters. Today, I also discovered my Lenten Rose poking its purple head out of the thawing ground.
Earlier in the week, I had an interesting interview with a writer for the Grand Rapids Magazine about me and my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories. My husband Ludek wished me good luck, as I assured him that I am equally comfortable on both sides of the interview.
I absolutely loved the question that Lauren had asked me during the interview at Jamnbean Coffee Co. in Ada.
“How do you want your readers to feel after they are done reading the book?” she asked.
I had to get to the right answer with a lot of prelude. Finally, I responded.
“Transformed and maybe bewildered,” I said, “because that’s how I feel when I am done writing them.”
The article will come out in the print version of the Grand Rapids Magazine in July.
The interview was also an opportunity to list my forthcoming author’s events. I realized I wasn’t a great planner, by not being able to look that far ahead.
But, after reading “Roar,” a profile of emerging and groundbreaking authors in the Writer’s Digest, I realized something very important. And I quote:
“It struck me that as writers, we have a unique opportunity – a responsibility, even- to voice our own truth and to help others do the same.”
Editor-in-Chief Tyler Moss
Don’t Fret your own voice. It will shape your destiny.
As an author, blogger, screenwriter, journalist, short story writer and a novelist, I really have a unique opportunity to “Seize the day” or “Carpe Diem.”
Book me for your events in the physical world or on the web today. Don’t wait another 100 years.
Following are the topics that I will be addressing in the upcoming months:
Creating an author’s platform & following
How to create your author’s platform using WordPress blog/website plus social media.
Writing your life story/memoir
Memoir writing does require an outline or a timeline with important milestones pertaining to your story. It should be chronological, but you can open each chapter with the most interesting episode/scene.
For example: When daughters write about mothers, their complex relationship does not necessarily end with the parent’s death.
When writing about a business that has been handed down from generation to generation, start with the generation that has made the most profound impact or the generation that has pulled the business through a major crisis or to new heights.
When capturing a segment of your life, focus on how has a certain experience changed you and why.
Researching your roots, ancestry. Why does it matter and to whom?
Book trailers, video productions and podcasts are a must in an increasingly visual society. Always script everything you’re going to say. Create an audio version of your book.
How to write an effective press release to get media interviews and publicity.
Have an email list of useful contacts. Inform your contacts on regular basis about your progress in a newsletter.
From idea to final
How to take the initial inspiration on a journey to the final product; whether it be a book, a screenplay, a movie or a video production.
You find yourself one lovely afternoon struck by a fast-fleeting thought that will soon disappear along with others into the imagination swamp.
How do you make it stay or how do you rescue your idea from the swamp?
Test and explore your inspiration.
What genre to pick, and what format to use?
Depending on your topic and how you treat it, it will land you with a certain format within a genre.
This may be a novel, novella, a short story, a play or a screenplay.
Don’t just go by what’s big now, because it could be little tomorrow.
By that, I specifically mean the current phenomenon of historical fiction.
Women’s fiction involves a transformation of the hero with a bit of romance, but not as the major plot.
Pick something you know well, but give it a new angle. Pick the right market/audience from Writer’s Market.
Know how and when to pitch the right editors.
Become an expert in a certain area.
Don’t be afraid to stand out with a unique opinion a new perspective.
Festival goers, panelists, authors do not shy away from tough topics
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Grand Rapids, MI- From #Me Too movement to women in Christian publishing, everything was up for discussion at the Festival of Faith & Writing at Calvin College last week.
Publishers, lecturers and authors came from all over the country and represented a diverse cross-section of literature.
The exhibit hall, located in the Prince Conference Center, was home to 46 booths filled with publishing houses, small presses, journals, booksellers, editors and agents.
“The Publicity Confidential: What Authors and Publicists Wish Each Other Knew” was an eye-opening session in an era of publicity stunts and media blitz.
“You have to own it from the very beginning,” said one of the panelists. “Audio magazines or podcasts are taking over.”
Piggybacking off keynote speaker Kwame Alexander, the panel of publicists agreed on one thing: “Say yes to everything.”
In the entire publicity process, the author needs to be herself or himself, fully engaged and present, according to the publicists.
“The goal of publicity is letting the market know that the book exists,” said Kelly Hughes. “Start a podcast to expand your platform. Don’t get hung up on reviews.”
The panelists recommended writing guest blogs, op-ed pieces, radio tours and speaking engagement in church groups, women’s groups and to others within their author’s tribe.
“The ideal author is game for anything, wants to collaborate, thinks big, but realistic, and is accessible,” said Jennifer Grant.
Film & play
This category was represented by producer Abigail Disney & screenwriter and playwright Dorothy Fortenberry. Both women likened the current creative environment in Hollywood to building a new structure out of flawed legos.
“A common lego we use is when someone’s life is endangered,” said Disney. “We have a flawed dynamic. Only 30 percent of writers in Hollywood are women. They have to be tough.”
Fortenberry said she has to spend a lot of time unlearning.”
Dutch screenwriter and director Jaap van Heusden discussed the adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The Lame Shall Enter First” in his film “De Verloren Zoon.”
“Writing is the means, not the end,” van Heusden said. “Film is the art of all the things that are not there. My process is finding stories.”
Just because your mother dies, doesn’t mean your relationship ends.
In “Daughters Writing about Mothers,” four writers explored the complex relationships with their mothers, further complicated by a reversal of roles, as the parent ages.
Angela Alaimo tracked the journey of a broken relationship between her young widowed mother to final reconciliation.
Why Don’t Men Read Women Writers? Closing the Gender Gap in Christian Publishing
According to panelist Al Hsu’s doctoral research, women read relatively equally between male and female authors, whereas men are much more likely to read male authors than female authors (90%/10%)
Is it a matter of supply and demand?
Keynote speaker, Edwidge Danticat
Danticat, a Haitian-American novelist and short story writer, took center stage at Van Noord Arena on Friday.
“I create dangerously for people who read dangerously.”
Writing the Wrinkles in Time
Special guests at this conversation were Madeline L’Engle’s granddaughters Lena Roy and Charlotte Jones Voiklis, co-authors of “Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author.
Sarah Arthur, author of the forthcoming “A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle, moderated the session.
A movie with the same title “A Wrinkle in Time” (2018) directed by Ava DuVerney is now playing in theatres.
“We were fascinated by the drama of her childhood,” said Roy. “She was dumped off at an austere boarding school in Switzerland.”
The next FFW will take place on April 16-18, 2020 in Grand Rapids, MI.
Featured image: Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughters: Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy.
Here is a link to my author interview at LowellArts on April 7, 2018.
The reason I picked this venue is because of their recent move to Main Street. The new location on Main has been a dream come true for LowellArts much like my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” has been for me.
Main Street is the major source of inspiration for the lead story “Tonight on Main” in my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” It is also featured in my Shifting Sands: Secrets book II. (c) 2018 Emma Palova
The interview followed a short video “From Idea to Final.” I am currently editing the video about the creative process from the initial spark through incubation to the final product, whether it is a book, a play, a screenplay, video production or a film.
I will also post a transcript to both videos. I wrote the script on celtx script app. It’s easy to use; perfect for pre-production.
Here is an example of a manuscript proposal that I have submitted to the Calvin College writing conference in Grand Rapids. As a standard, everything must be submitted electronically via app Submittable by a certain deadline.
Always Explore the option of submitting your manuscript to a writer’s conference. Some conferences accept manuscripts even if you are not a registered participant for a fee.
manuscript proposal for Shifting Sands Short Stories, contemporary fiction with excerpts from “Tonight on Main” and “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.”
A manuscript proposal should include the following: author’s bio, book summary including page length, book’s audience/readership, brief comparison to similar titles on the market, marketing strategies/promotion ideas, possible endorsers and chapter samples.
Emma Palova (Konecna), born in former Czechoslovakia, is a Lowell-based short story writer, novelist, screenwriter and a journalist.
Palova wrote for Czechoslovak Newsweek and Prague Reporter in the 1990s. She received bachelor’s degree from the University of Brno in 1986.
She started an eclectic collection of short stories during her studies of creative writing at the International Correspondence Schools in Montreal, and at the Grand Rapids Community College in the early 1990s.
The collection “Shifting Sands Short Stories” is now in its first edition. Palova self-published the book on the Kindle Direct Publishing (kdp) platform on Amazon in the summer of 2017.
“I did not want the stories to get lost,” she said.
The collection continues to grow with new stories in volume II of Shifting Sands: Secrets.
Palova’s passion for writing dates back to grade school in Stipa near Zlin in the region of Moravia.
“I’ve always had a knack for languages and adventure,” she said. “Our family immigration saga has been a tremendous inspiration for all my writings.”
The short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” captures some immigration details embodied by math professor Martin Duggan.
Palova’s work at a major Midwest retailer has enabled the core of the Shifting Sands stories. While working on the second shift at the women’s department, Palova wrote in the morning emulating Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits, short story form and journalistic career.
During her journalistic years, Palova continued to write fiction inspired by real life happenings as in “Iron Horse” and “Foxy.”
Palova became an American citizen in 1999 in a naturalization ceremony at Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.
In 2012, she diversified again with the digital platform WordPress. Palova founded Emma Blogs, LLC, a portfolio of blogs for marketing in 2014. She combined her passion for history and writing by working with history clients such as the Fallasburg Historical Society.
Palova wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” in 2009. It is registered with The Writers Guild of America.
Shifting Sands: Short Stories book summary
Book complete self-published on kdp platform
The book is a collection of 13 short stories where the heroes and heroines shift their destinies like grains of sand in an hour-glass, quite to the surprise of the reader.
Sometimes the characters like the grains have to pass through the narrow part, only to emerge in a new form, that is transformed into stronger human beings. They’re packed in the crowd with others, suffering or loose by themselves, either stranded or pushed to the wall. The shifting shows that everything changes and is like a fluid energy in life.
The stories are divided into three circles. The first circle comprises stories from the early years of immigration spent between the USA and Montreal, Canada until 1993.
These would include: The Temptation of Martin Duggan, Danillo and Honey Azrael.
The second circle draws on retail experience from a Midwest store. These are: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.
The third circle of stories was inspired by journalistic career in the regional print newspaper and magazine media through 2012. These include: In the Shadows, Iron Horse, Foxy, Riddleyville Clowns and Chatamal.
Most of the setting is in fictive Midwest Riddleyville. The stories are a tribute to hometown characters and their hardiness to survive.
Adults 18 and up
Brief title comparison on the market
Much like in Anjali Sachdeva’s “All the Name They Used for God,” the characters in Shifting Sands Short Stories attempt to escape their fate. However, in a lesser fantasy world.
As in Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things,” the stories came into existence under different circumstances, and kept changing. Time molded these stories into unconventional shapes, as the hour-glass on the cover suggests.
As in Jeffrey Archer’s “Tell Tale” some stories are closely tied to travel like the story “In the Shadows” based on Milwaukee meetings.
And Earnest Hemingway’s classics based on reshaping different experiences: “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio” will be reflected in the works “The Writer, the Nun, and the Gardener.
The book is available throughout the Kent District Library (KDL) system in Grand Rapids, in Hastings and in Big Rapids.
Blog tours, author tours, book signings, libraries
Book stores, print companies,
Book excerpt with samples from two stories not to exceed 3,000 words
Tonight on Main Excerpt
Cards with red hearts and hearts again land on the table covered with a lace doily in the old house located at 534 E. Main Street in Riddleyville. Waiting for his ace, young Willy stretched back into a dilapidated arm-chair that squeaked under his light weight. He took a long look around.
Old clothes and empty boxes were laying on the floor and on the couch. An open can of cat food sat on the dining table. Yellow and red drapes with a green and blue hydrangea pattern were drawn down to further dim the dark room. They looked like hanging rags with holes in them.
An antique lamp cast dim light in the living room. The house was filled with old smells combined with the aroma of rum. Willy admired the vintage Coca-Cola collection in the corner. He also peaked through a hole in the drapes to get a good look at the porch and the Main drag through sleepy Riddleyville.
The Midwest town of Riddleyville breathed past with old-fashioned lamp posts, an old Opera House under reconstruction, two rivers crossing paths downstream from the dam, and the remnants of the defunct railroad.
Furniture was piled up on the porch and flowers of the summer were wilting in the cracked pots. Willy recognized millionaire Roby pedaling on his bike. Roby waved as if he knew someone was peaking. Maybe, he just saw the three old women moving the card table on to the porch to play a game of poker.
The house is old, the lady of the house is old, and her daughter Irma is old. The daughter’s cat is old. Aunt Bertha who came to play cards is old. The old has settled in. The porch is half rotted as it leans into the ground. The construction studs are crooked.
The sun is setting down on Main. The three old women are sitting in the late afternoon sun on the half-rotted porch joined by the little angel Willy, the godson of Aunt Bertha. A black fat cat with the French revolutionary name, J. M. Robespierre snuck under the table ever so silently in the deafening noise of the passing by cars.
The noise is unbearable, but the women cannot hear. The pervasive smell of rum has invaded the porch.
“I can’t hear you, mom,” yelled Irma.
“Well, unplug your ears or wash them,” yells back old mom Goldie who will turn 97 in the fall.
Goldie can’t see or hear anymore, but she can still smell. She can smell what the neighbors had for dinner last night.
“I said, isn’t your rum cake burning? I can smell the rum in it burning,” the old lady rocked back and forth as her voice dies in the noise of the street.
“Did you say to get another deck out?” Irma shouted at the top of her lungs.
The street talks at night. It whispers its secrets.
End of excerpt
The Temptation of Martin Duggan Excerpt
The professor’s bald head was shining in the bright morning sunlight. He was bouncing in front of the blackboard explaining triple integers. He was now on his fourth board, all scribbled with numbers and strange symbols.
Martin was wearing a perfectly ironed white shirt with long sleeves from J.C. Penney. Rose made sure that the shirts had a pocket on the left side when buying shirts. He still favored light pastel colors, mostly blue, that matched his grey blue eyes so well.
But, Martin always bought his own pencils. They had to be pencils no. 2, not too soft, not too hard. He found them the most comfortable somewhere in the middle of the scale on the hardness of graphite. The pockets of all his shirts were full of pencils and pens. Martin took great care not to have any smears from his writing tools on his clothes. He diligently put the caps back on pens; black had to match black, blue had to match blue. That way he wouldn’t confuse the color of his ink. Martin never used red.
To match the white shirt, he wore his favorite gray striped pants from his striped suit reserved for special occasions. There was something about lines that had always comforted him. Lines commanded respect.
They could be lines vertical, horizontal, or curves. And then came symbols, and Martin’s love for them; like pi or the toppled 8 symbolizing infinity. He traced the origin of his love for numbers and symbols to his childhood and later growing up in the strict austere atmosphere of the seminary in Brest. He had no intentions of becoming a priest. But parents lodged him in the seminary with his older brother Peter, so they could both receive good education.
In the cold walls of the seminary, Martin found warmth in numbers.
He felt free unleashing his power in numbers and their swift magic. Numbers and ellipses on curves were stories to Martin. His own story was a rollercoaster upside down racing on a fast track starting with a jerk at the faculty in Brno, former Czechoslovakia, which perched him to new heights at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, Africa. This was part of a socialist program to help the Third World countries in the late sixties.
Fresh with a new title, a wife that had just turned 30 and the Prague Spring 1968 movement tearing the old country apart, Martin was ready to climb higher into different unknown spheres.
At 34, he had a receding hairline, an impeccable command of English and an expertise of an old professor. He made decent money in English pounds and bought Rose a set of pearls for her 30th birthday, that she would later hate. She blamed the pearls for her destiny.
According to an old legend, pearls bring tears and bad luck to their owners.
“Do not return home,” letters from the occupied Czech homeland by the Russians kept arriving at the “Pink Palace” apartment complex in the arid desert city on the Blue Nile.
Rose wearing a yellow headband and a lime colored dress, suitable for the late 60s, shed more tears than the Nile had water in it, as the two fought over immigration. She faithfully followed her husband on his career trek that flourished to serve both the developing Sudan and the tossed Czechoslovakia in the heart of Europe.
However, a new house, sick parents and a jealous sister were awaiting back at home, along with a good pharmacy job in the apothecary.
One hot night in the late summer, right around her birthday, Martin kept fidgeting nervously around the kitchen holding a piece of paper. The kids were outside with friends.
“I got accepted to a post doctorate program in Canada,” he said calmly suppressing fear..
End of excerpt & proposal
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