Category Archives: writing

Day 6 #nanowrimo

Daily insights from the National Novel Writing Month creative project

nano-2018-writer-twitter-header

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI- I wrote and I voted, equally diligent, and in that particular order. I am a morning writer. I get up early, do my yoga, walk on the treadmill and meditate to get into the writing zone.

In today’s meditation, I found out that news can be a potential stressor. The Wrimos (Writers and pep speakers) reiterated the same statement; stay away from TV during the 50K word marathon through Nov. 30. Our friend Dave T. suggested the same in the congratulatory letter to Ludek’s U.S. citizenship:

“All I can say is pay little or no attention to the ‘Cat Fights’ that are played out in the glut of political ads found on television! They are an exerci$e in how to wa$te million$ of dollar$ to make TV $tation$ rich!”

I did however like Google’s Go Vote encouragement instead of the usual doodles or caricatures.

“I Voted, Google.”

After four hours of writing “The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener”, my inner editor kicked in and started questioning my thought process and my morals. I knew I had enough of writing and I headed out into the misty day to the polls.

I was voter no. 511 voting at Precinct 1 at the Vergennes Township Hall at 1 p.m. The ballot was crowded with state and county proposals. I was perplexed by the last question asking for funding of the early childhood program. How was it funded before?

I walked on the wet boardwalk from the township hall and put the “I Voted” sticker on my winter jacket before I lose it.

After I recorded my thoughts on how to end the story that doesn’t seem like a short story anymore on the banks of Murray Lake, I was relieved to do a little bit of website updating for Fallasburg.

Anyway, I logged in 13,050 words lowering the daily quota to 1,448 words. That’s still a lot of intense writing. I had to skip some of the motivational talks on Instagram in order fullfill the quota.

It is my clear intention to publish the anthology “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova as a direct product of #nanowrimo. It is a sequel to my first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.”

Here are excerpts from “The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener.”

Years went by faster than minutes on the clock on the wall, Sister Theophane went through more rigorous discernment. One Saturday afternoon, she decided to take a walk on the trails. She just followed the one that seemed familiar to her. There were the cherry trees on the left and the deer tracks on the right. The trail went a little up the hill and into another curve before the opening on top of the hill.

She stood by the bench under the big tree overlooking the rolling hills. The essence of that afternoon long time ago vaguely came back to her. Theophane could feel Kurt’s touch. She forgot completely what he looked like. They were too young back then to savor their memories.

Saddened by the moment, Theophane headed out on the trail looping back to the convent gardens. The gardening team was working along with other sisters. It was the Saturday work day. And the community was getting ready for another event.

Theophane was so immersed in her discernment and studies for the promotion, that she forgot what the event was.

“Hello, Sisters,” she said. “What’s the rush?”

“Mother, we have another 5K run coming,” said one novice. “Have you forgotten?”

Theophane looked into a distance bringing back that ominous 5K run many years ago.

“When is it?” she forced herself back into reality.

“In four weeks,” said the novice.

Theophane realized that by then, she would become the Mother of the Order. Karla passed away two months ago, and a directive came from the administration that Theophane will be taking over.

“You have only a few weeks to get ready for this important new service,” the note stated. “Don’t let your ambition get to you. Stay humble and pray.”

This time the ceremony was very private unlike the public final vows; no public was allowed. The chapel was full of other nuns and clergy.

Theophane kept her sister name. She learned to love and to respect it. From now on she would be leading the lively campus with many work teams. She would have to get acquainted with the team teams.

On a Monday, Mother Theophane went to introduce herself to the gardening team. As a girl she loved to garden. That all vanished with the increased requirements by the order.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude for your work that glorifies these gardens,” she said to the team. They bring so much joy to all of us.”

She noticed a tall tanned guy in the back.

Copyright (c0 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Day 5 #nanowrimo

Happy Monday Wrimos,

nano-2018-writer-twitter-header

We rolled into the first full week of the National Novel Writing Month at full speed with pep talks from author Andy Weir:

“First off, you have to accept that you’re not going to be blazing away in a creative euphoria all the time,” he wrote. “Next, you have to accept that your story will change as you write it.”

Now, that I consider solid and decent advice as I forge ahead with “The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener” from the new anthology Shifting Sands: Secrets (c) 2018 Emma Palova. I have a clear intention to publish this sequel to Shifting Sands: Short Stories (c) 2017 Emma Palova.

The characters have changed their roles and their names as they continue to evolve with the plot. This is my third day plugging away and it has taken young Zita from her disappointed world into a different one.

I struggled a little bit with the changes, but as Weir writes about the “rough patches” during the writing process: “When you read the pages later, you won’t be able to tell which ones you wrote in a good flow and which ones were hard.”

That’s something to keep us going through the inevitable “rough patches.”

I validated my word count at 10,016 words on http://www.nanowrimo.org

Yay!

The next writing badge is set at 25,000 words, but I will divide that chunk into smaller pieces to make it palatable.

Here is an excerpt:

As weeks went by, Dona grew accustomed to the feeling of emptiness. She stopped the numerous attempts to reach her daughter. Zita’s phone number did not exist anymore. She could wait for letters or messages; none ever came.

Summers turned into fall and winters, and these turned into years.

Kurt called Dona several times inquiring about Zita, if she had changed her mind. He was already back home from the college overseas, but he hadn’t forgotten his high school girlfriend.

“How is she doing, Dona?” he asked occasionally. “Is she okay?”

Kurt was the only lifeline from the past to Zita, so Dona always answered unlike other phone calls. She stopped talking to Wilsa, since she was the messenger of the bad news.

“I don’t know, Kurt,” Dona said. “We haven’t heard from her in five years.”

As winter arrived with first snow, Dona finally received an ornate envelope with the insignia of the Dominican Sisters order.

It was an invitation to Zita’s final vows at the convent. Dona was shocked to read the signature: Sister Theophane. That was Zita’s new name forever.

“This is the last time, we will see our daughter,” said Dona.

“No, you don’t know anything about it,” said Mike, “These Sisters can come out into the public.”

“I don’t want to see her anymore after this,” said Dona.

Veni Sancte Spiritus played in the background of the chapel with huge organ pipes in the front. Then, the Sisters sang psalms. Mike and Dona sat in the back of the chapel. Dona noticed  Kurt standing on the side by the stained glass windows.

Their beautiful daughter dressed in a white bride’s gown with a wreath of yellow roses on her head, now Sister Theophane, walked alongside Mother Karla to profess the final vows. Mother Karla stepped aside to make room for new blood. Sister Theophane prostrated on the wooden floor in front of the priest and then recited the vows and received a ring. As such, she was the “Bride of Christ.”

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

Day 4 #nanowrimo

Time change favors productivity of Wrimos with excerpts

nano-2018-writer-twitter-header

Lowell, MI -The time change favored the brave Wrimo writers of the National Novel Writing Month falling back an hour.

I started writing probably somewhere around 5:30 a.m. of the new time. The first signs of a new day came around 8:30 a.m. I logged in a total of  8,590 words with the short story “The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener” from the new collection “Secrets” (c) copyright Emma Palova.

The way the story unraveled itself surprised even me as I was writing and the characters began to lead me into their lives. Thank you main characters Zita, mom Dona, boyfriend Kurt and Mother Karla.

I have a clear intention of publishing “Secrets” upon the completion of the 50K word goal of the National Novel Writing Month.

After the morning writing marathon, the day became quite a challenge with the regular Sunday routine broken not only by writing, but also by a visit to the Belrockton museum in search of inspiration. That’s where I discovered the poster for the cover of the new book, and a million ideas for a new story.

Another day of #nanowrimo is on the horizon, and I don’t have the luxury to run out of story fuel.

My parents Ella and Vaclav came over with brother Vas for an unusual Sunday afternoon visit. The rut of the Sunday visits from the old country of Czechoslovakia came back. Vas and mom were fighting.

I am grateful that we live close enough to visit, plus we had fun with my husband’s newly acquired fame thanks to his shining U.S. citizenship. Ludek even got a letter from one of his fans, Dave.

Here is an excerpt from “The Writer, the Nun and the Gardener

Dona drove through the long alley of beautiful crab apple and oak trees. The crab apple trees were now in their late pink and white blossoms, so the petals were all over the dirt road leading to the Dominican campus. Dona passed the small red barn on the right with the apple orchard also in full blossom. The labyrinth of dirt roads took her to the main building. She knocked on the big heavy door again.

Mother Karla opened the door and welcomed the woman into her quarters. Sitting at a big desk with a cross behind her, Karla folded her hands and looked up at Dona. A rosary was intertwined between her fingers and wrapped around her right wrist.

This time, Dona was more composed. She dressed appropriately for a battle with what should become the new mother of her only child. Dona put on her best suit, a striped navy-blue jacket and skirt, and a white silk blouse. Golden bracelets were dangling from her left wrist, and Dona made sure she put the diamond ring on the correct finger of the left hand even though it was a little big.

An hour before Dona’s arrival, Mother Karla went through a different ritual of preparing for a dangerous guest. She prayed for a successful outcome. Karla too put on her best foot forward in her white garb.

“Speak about what brings you here,” Mother Karla said watching Dona closely.

Without wincing or fidgeting, Dona went straight to the point looking directly into the Mother’s eyes.

“I will not let my only child become a nun,” said Dona firmly. “There is no way, my child will be a nun; not while I am alive. It will happen only over my dead body. I will fight this. You lured her to this. She would have never done this on her own.”

Dona leaned back into the leather armchair crossing her slender legs. Mother Karla leaned forward over her desk toward Dona playing with the beads of the lavender-colored rosary. She inched her fingers toward the cross on the rosary.

“Why would I lure your child to the order?” asked Karla strictly.

Dona stood up and walked closer to the big desk breathing heavily into Karla’s face.

“You coaxed her into this with your lies and deceptions,” she attacked Karla.

Dona slammed her small fist in front of Karla’s face on the big desk. Karla stood up too and walked around the desk to stand face to face with Dona. Karla put her hands against her wide hips:

“First of all, I am a woman of cloth. I do not deceive or lie,” she said. “It is my highest duty to tell the truth to anyone who is seeking it.”

Dona was sobbing out loud now. She was trying to catch her breath before speaking again. Then, she collapsed back into the leather armchair.

“You’re stealing my daughter from me,” she wept. “You’re a thief.”

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

Being Faustina

Fuel and finish your writing projects  plus excerpt from “Being Faustina”

nano-2018-writer-twitter-header

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI-  Like most writers, I struggle to finish my writing projects.  They seem insurmountable as I stare into the blank screen with the blinking cursor in front of me. Procrastination is my best and worst friend.

Yesterday, I found out about the National Novel Writing Month (NANoWriMo) creative project. Without checking too many details, I knew it would be a great tool to finish my  “writings.” So, I set up an easy account with a book title and a book cover.  My title is “Secrets.” (c) 2018 Emma Palova.

20181102_1019297106507805154738627.jpg

Right from the get go, the goal is to write 50,000 words by November 30 in any genre. When I am in the writing mode, regardless whether fiction or non-fiction, I write on average seven plus pages.

I find the accountability of the project very motivating with goal and word trackers.

I had to  dig deep into my writer’s toolbox for inspiration, even though  NaNoWriMo has inspiration tools as well. I like to rely on my own experience.

“Get out of the office and look for a story,” said former publisher and editor Alan long time ago. “Don’t wait for a story to walk in here, because it won’t.”

This morning, I got out of my comfort zone (studio) and drove to St. Pat’s for All Souls Day mass.  And the inspiration came from a kid, who said his favorite saint was Saint Faustina. All Saints Day was yesterday.

After taking photos of the Celtic cross at the cemetery I drove home and penned second story in the book “Secrets”-  Being Faustina.

I logged in 1,820 words.

For more info about  #nanowrimo go to :  https://nanowrimo.org

Here is an excerpt:

Being Faustina

Faustina entered the church cautiously. She always did. But, today more than ever, she watched around her for souls who haven’t passed to the other side. In layman’s terms those were ghosts.

She made sure to sit in the second pew on the left side of the nave facing the shrine made of photographs of the dead. As she knelt, Faustina realized she forgot to sign the Book of the Dead placed by the entrance. It was big leather-bound book with hundreds of signatures.

The Book of the Dead was annually on display during the month of November; wide open for more signatures. It was chilly in the church, and Faustina shivered. She did not know if it was from the cold or from her eternal sorrow.

On this day only, she still wore black: a black dress with a black slip under and black undies and a bra, black pantyhose, black shoes, black shawl, black coat and a black hat. Faustina purchased the complete black attire 14 years ago when she found out Willy was going to die.

By then, she was ready. Together they went through the roller coaster of high hopes of healing and lows of despair. The highs became just as exasperating as the lows. In the final days of Willy’s life, the doctor team gave him one month to live a life free of pain numbed by morphine and Oxycontin opioids.

When Willy finally ceased to be in pain, he was so high that at times he didn’t recognize Faustina, the love of his life. They were high school sweethearts who met at a Valentine’s dance.

 

 

Sponsors

nea-logodropbox-logo-newamazon-lit

inkitt-logo

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

November: National Writing Month

It’s time to write

 

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – This month was made for writing: no sun, no grilling, no walks to the Franciscan Sisters and no more kayaking. The temperatures have dipped below acceptable and the overall weather is not conducive to anything but writing.

nano-2018-writer-twitter-header

 

So, the designation as the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and its adopted sister National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) by BlogHer, is very appropriate.

I participated in the NaBloPoMo post a day challenge in November of 2015.

By searching for NaBloPoMo details, I actually found out about the

Face of gossip
Book cover to “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova

novel-writing project that was first. The goal is to write literature of any genre in 50,000 words by the end of November.

Considering that it’s nasty outside and I have to drive twice a week far out into the fields, why not use that time to record speech notes on my phone. The app transcribes speech to script, so I can talk forever.

At the basis, stands the fact, that I love a new challenge and I need to put a project together. Today I put together the long time in the making short story “Chief” and uploaded it to my Novel Writing account tallying in at 1,907 words.

What any writing challenge does is that it keeps you accountable.

You have to write every day and that way you get it done.

 

For more info go to: https://nanowrimo.org

 

 

 

Sponsors

nea-logodropbox-logo-newamazon-lit

inkitt-logo

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

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.

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.

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.

Emma’s author events

20180719_1126066925248097682003123.jpgLowell author expands events this summer

Lowell, MI – Lowell author Emma Palova will be featured live on WGVU Morning Show with host Shelley Irwin on July 26 at 10 a.m. WGVU is a service of the Grand Valley State University, a PBS member.

Palova will be talking with Irwin about her book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” Palova, a former reporter for the Lowell Ledger, penned the collection of 13 short stories for more than two decades.

The stories are based on her immigration experience from former Czechoslovakia, journalistic and retail experience in the USA.

Most recently, Palova was featured in the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide 2018-2019 in the life & style section, Reading Room: The long road to resilience.

“I know 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,” she said. “The real art is in discerning it.”

This Saturday, July 21st, Palova can be found at the Ludington Writer’s Rendezvous along with 28 Michigan authors. The event runs from 10 to 3 p.m., at the Ludington Center for Arts. It is free to the public.

She will be at the Lowell Arts Gallery on July 28th & Aug. 4th from 1 to 3 p.m. to sign books and offer writing and publishing tips during the new “Captured: A Photography Exhibition.”

Palova is a member of the newly-formed LowellArts Writer’s Group which meets every Monday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. Contact Debra Dunning for more information at 897-8545.

Palova is currently working on a sequel to “Shifting Sands” and a memoir about the family immigration saga spanning three generations. Palova has also written a screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns”@Emma Palova.

Shifting Sands Short Stories is available on Amazon, Schuler Books in GR and Lansing and at the Kent District Library branches.

Palova is looking for a publisher for her first novel “Fire on Water” based on her experience from former communist Czechoslovakia.

For more info on the WGVU morning show go to: wgvunews.org.

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