Category Archives: writing

Nanowrimo Day 5

Mom’s sacrifice

By Emma Palova

It’s a chilly November day as I look outside from my writing studio window at my garden with the ornamental grass bed. The grass is still green and the remaining leaves are rusty red and yellow. Only the Royal Purple Smoke tree with a dedication plaque to Ella has bright burgundy leaves clinging onto the branches.

I don’t walk to the pond anymore in the back of the garden, because my beautiful koi fish are gone. An heron devoured them in September. I didn’t want to put new fish in the pond before the winter.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

I logged in 10,019 words earlier in the National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge with the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. It was an interesting writing day as I could compare mom’s and dad’s statements about their biggest accomplishments in the USA.

My dad published more than 150 solved problems in different math journals and in the Canadian Crux Mathematicorum. But, he states that he is most proud of his lecturing style that was well understood among the students and that he was well liked.

I was surprised reading mom’s answer that for her America was a sacrifice to her husband’s teaching career. I found it on the last page of the pretty diary with yellow roses.

“I fullfilled my husband’s dream of teaching at an American university without being afraid of losing his job because of religion and going to church,” she wrote. “He was well-liked and with his diligence, at one point, he was making more money than his American colleagues. I ensured freedom for my children and my grandchildren, who have great careers and appreciate it. They thanked me for that.”

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

Let #nanowrimo 2019 begin

NaNoWriMo 2019 kicks off today with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – On the opening day of this year’s National Novel Writing Month 50K word challenge, I logged in 1,663 words in spite of the fact that I had to have a painful dental procedure done in Grand Rapids. I still have a numb jaw and I have trouble swallowing, kind of like those people in America’s Funniest Videos.

So, I broke up my daily writing session into two parts: morning and afternoon. My NaNoWriMo project is the completion of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga from Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

What helped me immensely to move this forward, was that mom Ella penned her memories in a pretty cursive in Czech in a hard cover diary with yellow roses. It has a dateline: Big Rapids-Florida, 2019-2020. Wow , and it’s dedicated to me: “To my daughter Emma.”

Mom even included a complete timeline titled “Life in a Nutshell” from 1959 to present.

Mom's diary
Mom’s diary

Here; enjoy an excerpt from chapter “In her own words.”

I was a pharmacist, and it wasn’t that the profession was narrow and had nothing to offer, but I didn’t want to nurture vain ideas of travelling. So, Sunday afternoon trips to the dam in Luhacovice or Bystricka were the only means of breaking up the gray of ordinary days. 

The first bigger trip was our honeymoon to the Krkonose mountains in the old Tatra and mother’s departing comments: “I hope the poor car will make it.” 

When we arrived in Harachov, we sent a message to my parents: “We’ve arrived under Mount Blanc.” At that moment, it never occured to me that one day I would indeed be looking at the majestic highest mountain in the Alps. 

After five years of marriage, we had two children: Emma and Vasek. I was working part-time in a pharmacy in my hometown Vizovice and my husband Vaclav was teaching physics in Brno. He would come for the weekend to Vizovice, because I couldn’t find a job in Brno and we had no place to stay there. We were on the waiting list for an apartment, that we got in 1965. We didn’t have a car or money to furnish the apartment. My husband found out that the president of the university in Khartoum, Sudan was hiring English-speaking professors to teach different subjects. Vaclav’s English was excellent and he got the job.

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.

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.

Writing Away 2019

Florida retreat brings inspirations with excerpts

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I am getting ready for my annual writer’s retreat in Florida. Each year in February, I head down south to the Gulf coast to get some sunny inspirations for my writings.

It has become a tradition since the late 2000s to visit with my parents, who winterize in Venice. Each year brings different insights; from dolphin sightings, chats with fishermen to encounters with beach painters and sand castle builders.

Two of my favorite memories are of course from the beach. I was walking on the beach, when French-speaking tourists asked me where is the west. The sun was just setting on the horizon to our right. So, I pointed in that direction.

“Oui, merci,” they shook their heads laughing.

The other one is from Sharky’s Pier. I walked on the pier boardwalk to watch the sunset.

It was getting increasingly dark in the orange glow on the Gulf side, but the shore was glistening in silver with the rising moon in the east. The contrast between night and day was striking much like the characters in my stories. Some are dark and shady from the very beginning like chief Will in the story “Chief” from my new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.” Copyright (2019) Emma Palova. Other characters like manager Ricky go awry with time. Some characters shine bright throughout the story like the Belrockton matron Doris in the story “Silk Nora.”

Nature with its changing faces has always inspired me, as long as I can remember.

A heart and a cross made from sea shells overgrown by beach grasses is a close third runner up in the circle of inspirations.

“Start asking yourself questions,” one of my former editors said.

Many years later, I ask myself: “Who made that statement in the sand and for whom? How come it lasted?”

Then, there are golden nuggets from the Floridians who have never left sunny Florida.

“You mean to tell us there is snow on the ground in Michigan?” guys asked me in disbelief.

“Plenty of it. We have to stake the driveway for the snow plowing,” I said.

I am looking forward to chatting with my parents about out immigration saga, now spanning three generations.

I love yoga on the beach with Elin Larsen and hundreds of her followers. Her DVDs help me get through Michigan winters.

“Just move,” Elin encourages.

Excerpts from the “Chief”

And now this mess just before the holidays. In earlier years, he would light up to fight off the anxiety. He couldn’t even do that anymore. Nervously, he tapped his fingers against his thigh. He noticed he needed new pants.

Ricky in the meantime was staring blankly into the Monday rain on Main Street. The rain mixed with a few snowflakes, and his short drive to work was awful. And he wasn’t a good driver either. His strategy was as always to wait out until the other side spills out all the information putting him at the advantage. But this time it was taking longer than usual. Ricky was afraid of eating the whole pencil. Plus, he had a long day ahead of him with a meeting in the evening.

“I got a letter,” said the mayor pulling out a folded sheet of paper.

Ricky looked directly at the mayor fidgeting.

“Did you want to read it to me, Carl?” asked Ricky, “or you just want to tell me?”

The mayor too knew how slick Ricky ​was from previous dealings​ with him. He decided to be careful this time.

“It’s about the chief,” he said softly.

Of course, Ricky should have known right from the get go that it was about the police chief. The other day when he was getting a haircut at Salon 111, he overheard a conversation from the neighboring chair.

That was another bad habit in his portfolio: eavesdropping coupled with gossip.[EP1] 

“The chief was trying to change something in a file and he got caught,” said the cute redhead hairdresser leaning over the head of the lady in the chair fluffing her blonde hair.

“What was he trying to change?” the blonde raised her eyebrows looking at herself and at the redhead in the mirror.

Both of them stared into the mirror, as if the answer was inside that piece of glass.

Ricky rubbed his forehead, as he tried to chase away that scene from the salon from his mind. He knew it was going to be a long day and a long week in Riddleyville when the salons and the bars start buzzing with tidbits from the city hall.

“What about him?” Ricky looked up at the mayor. “He called in sick or what? I know it’s Monday and he worked the Ladies Night Out and the weekend. I don’t have a problem with him calling in.”

As always Ricky was trying to steer the conversation in his preferred direction.

“Somebody else can fill in for him tonight at the meeting,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”

Copyright © 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


Super Bowl LIII Inspirations

January ice blown away by February victory of Patriots; Wind never felt better

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- After the “unforgiving freeze” in the last week of January, the heated sixth victory of the New England Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl felt like a warm balsam on the rattled nerves. It melted away the ice with the wind, and ushered in inspiration.

As an author, people ask me a lot of questions. My favorite one is: “What inspires you?”

As a freelance journalist, I’ve asked local artists and authors that same question more than a hundred times. I like being on both sides of that question; you never know what answer you’re going to get or give.

Sometimes, inspiration comes in the form of an open space that needs to be filled, as a gap in time while waiting for snow or spring or from a masterpiece game.

I always eagerly expect the answer, but I have to think about my own response. There’s a certain tension in the question itself, plus it’s very timely as I have just found out. The artists most often say that nature inspires them and they have their specific spots they love to paint. For artist Kathleen Mooney, it’s the Yellow Dog River in Upper Peninsula, for others it’s the pretty garden by Ball’s Ice Cream or the dogwood by the Franciscan Sisters.

Authors say that family, parish stories, crime and history have inspired them.

However, I’ve never heard anyone in the artist/author tribes say, “The Super Bowl inspires me.”

On the contrary, I saw posts on writing groups on social media, that they’re not going to watch the biggest American game.

“Superbowl Sunday? No thanks. I’ll write. For the first time in about a month,” Jade states.

“Need to correct American writers tonight; it’s Super Bowl (two words, not one),” Warren responds.

“Proof that I don’t care about the game,” Jade professes his deepest beliefs.

“Superb owl,” Hugo responds. “I mean you’re wasting time on Facebook…”

Regardless, the correct spelling, the big game spurred a dialogue wherever you went; from general stores in the country, churches, main streets to living rooms. Anytime you have a heated discussion, you have a story: real and fiction.

After watching the spectacle on CBS from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, I beg to differ from reports of a boring game. The opening NFL commercial with John Malkowich from the Roman Colosseum in Rome talking on the phone with Peyton Manning in the USA rocked the boat.

It was a game hard to watch, according to the commentators. Some would call it a nail-biting old-fashioned football game.

“Wind never felt better,” Budweiser touted their use of wind energy in an ad.

And foreign car ads dominated the automobile scene, along with robots like The Transformer.

After 266 games, the New England Patriots won for the sixth time the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night just around 10 p.m.

“It was a physical game for a physical team,” a commentator said. “Any way you slice it, it was a defensive masterpiece.”

That’s the story twist: a victory in a defensive game. Wind never felt better.

“It’s sweet, we’re still in,” said Patriots owner CEO Bob Kraft. “We’re all patriots.”

Quarterback Tom Brady, 41, is expected to play the top role for the Patriots until 45. In response to the question what motivates and inspires him, Brady, looked around the stadium, and said.

“You, my fans, it feels like at home.”

Ditto, Tom.

Copyright © 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Revision time

“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

William Faulkner

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo 50K word marathon, I am revising the manuscript to my second book. Here are the takeaways from a recent webcast on self-editing sponsored by Autocrit.

20190128_1517533632456856022799747.jpg

Autocrit is a self-editing software that leverages algorithms to check manuscripts. It even compares your writing to other well-known writers. That’s the short description of a program that focuses solely on fiction, after the developers have scanned thousands of books to create the algorithms.
“It serves as a gage how many adverbs you have used,” said Kevin.
However, I am like most people and I hate doing the same stuff over. But other than the fun suggestion and revisiting the copy, several highlights shocked me and inspired me.
Ally suggested to write an outline of the first draft; that goes definitely for pansters. This can help reorganize the structure of the plot or subplot.
“Assess what you have,” she said. “Look for gaps in the plot.”
Secondly, introduce the “inciting incident” early on in the manuscript depending on genre.
“Don’t wait until you have written 18,332 words,” Ally said.
And Grant of NaNoWriMo delivered the golden nugget in a quote from William Faulkner:
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”
Easier said, than done. First you have to spot them, before the reader does.
“How do you recognize your darlings that can impede your story?” asked Grant.
Darlings are usually something that you are overly attached to in the story line. It can be an extensive backstory without enough action or you are injecting yourself into the book.
“Does this need to be there?” asked Grant.
“How long should you spend editing your manuscript?” a participant asked.
No right answer here. According to experts, some people spend more time editing their manuscript than they spent writing the first draft.
Always have a print copy, that you can take with you away from the computer.
“It changes your mindset,” Ally said.
To be continued as I work through the manuscript, and finish one last story.
Autocrit experts say you can edit chapter by chapter, or story by story.
You can still enter the Autocrit giveaway until Jan. 31 using this link:
http://bit.ly/2S6ZymM
Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Days 24 through Nov. 26 of National Novel Writing Month

Insights from #nanowrimo with excerpts

National Novel Writing Month.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – This morning I finished “Oceans Away” stort story and I started “Fallasburg Code.” I logged in with 47,568 words in the 50K word marathon. I would like to finish by Wednesday or Thursday depending on how the last two stories go.

This was my first time participating in the National Novel Writing Month. Many people have already completed the creative project. My major takeaways are:

Finding my optimum daily writing quota of six pages or 1,500 words. The hardest part is always the start-up of new stories, on day two usually the plot unravels, and the wrap up is on day three.

I will have a total of 14 stories in the new book “Secrets” (c) 2019 Emma Palova. There were a lot of suprises for me in this one as well. In some cases, I changed titles to better fit the story. The second book is definitely not any easier than the first one.

Is it different and how?

I added some historical fiction in stories “Silk Nora” and “Fallasburg Code.”

Do I have a favorite short story? People asked me this question about the first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” In this collection it is definitely “Silk Nora” which is set in my favorite time period of the 1920s.

In this sequel, I don’t dedicate as much to immigration as in the first one. Some stories like “Secrets in Ink” still draw on my newspaper writing experience.

I would like to thank the National Novel Writing Month staff for the opportunity and for the encouragement.

For more info go to:

http://www.nanowrimo.org

Excerpts from “Oceans Away”

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

Even though she was suspicious at first, Norma went for the app and diligently filled out all the fields about herself.

Paul was good looking as she requested, blonde and tall; while she tallied up to his expectations as well, brunette and medium height and weight. Their first rendezvous was in Budapest, Hungary on a boat.

Norma insisted on neutral grounds such as Europe. It was Paul who picked the capital of Hungary for their first meeting. The app set their date on a boat “Princess” floating on the Danube to explore the river towns.

The date was expensive and exotic, that’s what they both wanted for their first time together. They had separate cabins on the boat. The first night, the boat was just anchoring in Budapest and they took a taxi into the city.

Paul proudly started first telling Norma all about himself. He was a doctor of Slavic origin, who wanted to get away from the nationalistic France. Norma wasn’t ashamed of her new job of the Warhol Museum executive director, either. She worked hard to get the job studying online for her master’s degree.

Budapest at night was like a star waiting to shine on the night sky. They sat long into the night on the deck bar on the boat eating shrimp and drinking red Hungarian wine.

“Will you come and see me in Noumea?” Paul asked on the boat looking at Norma.

Nanowrimo sponsors.

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

Day 23 of National Novel Writing Month

Daily insights from #nanowrimo with excerpts

National Novel Writing Month.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – The day after Thanksgiving, I finished the short story “40 Hunks” (c) 2018 Emma Palova logging into the #nanowrimo dashboard with a total of 43,723 words toward the 50K word marathon. That puts me on the final stretch to the winner mark on this publishing journey.

The story will become a part of the new collection of short stories “Secrets” (c) 2019 Emma Palova. After the revision period in January and February supported by #nanowrimo, it is my clear intention to have the book published next year.

The National Novel Writing Month, an Internet-based creative project, started in 1999 with 21 participants. It has grown over the years to 0.5 million participants around the globe.

Two days ago, I found a thank you letter in my email from the #nanowrimo executive director Grant Faulkner titled:

“Thank you for the light of your stories.”

It truly warmed my heart, as Grant described writer Matt Forbes’ reaction to his home burnt by the wildfires in Paradise, CA, as well as the entire community.

His response to tragedy? To create.

“I plan to write. That’s about all I can do…I don’t want one huge fire to burn out everything that was taken in its wake, and this is the only thing I can do to show otherwise.”

For more info go to:

http://www.nanrowrimo.org

Takeaways

You can easily gauge your progress on the dashboard widget and graph.

Editing and revisions take place later in the months of January and February.

We also went out on Black Friday to Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, and it was jam packed. The same story was in rural Greenville. Speaking about the economy booming, it definately was at JC Penney’s who practiced Black Friday on both days, Nov. 22 and Nov. 23.

The staff was exhausted:

“We’ve been opened for the last 24 hours,” said a tired clerk in the men’s clothing department.

Excerpts from “40 Hunks”

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

“Not, now,” he said. “They have to be on the farm as soon as Friday.”

Antonio walked inside the gas station store looking around the shelves.

“You got booze,” he asked the scared girl.

Jose straightened up from the counter and looked at Antonio.

“No, booze on the bus,” he said strictly. “When we get there, you can talk to theproducer. Not here. We’re heading out.”

Antonio grabbed Jose by his shirt and tore it apart as he lifted Jose up on his feetand dragged him against the counter.

“ I said, I want some booze,” Antonio pulled out his knife and put it to Jose’s throat. “You girl give me some whiskey or I will slash his neck.”

Avlen quickly grabbed a bottle from behind her and handed it to Antonio, who opened it and drank from it, still holding Jose.

“That’s $20,” Avlen said to Antonio.

Antonio let Jose loose and turned him to Avlen like a puppet.

“You pay her,” he said. “I am going back on the bus.”

Jose gave Avlen the $20 bill shaking his head.

“Don’t call the police,” Jose begged. “I’d get in trouble that I let him loose.”

He waved to the girl and left the gas station store. Mike was smoking nearby shaking his head.

“I saw what happened,” he said. “Do you want me to call the police?”

Jose shook his head as he boarded the bus.

“No, I want us to get to the farm as fast as possible,” he said. “You deal with him at the farm with the producer. I don’t want to have anything to do with him. If he disappears, I won’t look for him.”

Featured photo: Butterflies from the Butterfly House on Mackinac Island.

Nanowrimo sponsors

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