Last minute notice: Lowell author and Lowell Ledger reporter Emma Palova will be at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse signing her new book The Lost Town this Sunday, Sept. 18 from 1 to 4 pm during the @Fallasburg Arts Festival. Stop by to get a signed copy of one of her books and meet the author.
The Lost Town
In the third book of the Shifting Sands series- “The Lost Town”- author Emma Palova of Lowell creates the protagonist, Miss Ida. The historical fiction novel is set in the ghost town of Singapore on the shores of Lake Michigan at the foot of the sand dunes adorned with white pines. Beautiful Ida is torn between her hometown of Chicago and her new home on the other side of the lake, and between two men.
Developed by New York investors, the once-thriving settlement of Singapore nurtured the dreams of adventurers like Oshea Wilder and pioneer settlers alike. Singapore would rival Chicago and Milwaukee. It almost did with its sawmills, hotels, boarding houses, stores, and a “wildcat” bank.
Entrepreneurial Ida struggles to adjust to the rough environment but finds more than support in her boss who invited her to Singapore to be the “Mistress” of the Big House. A “wildcat” bank was established in Singapore in 1837.
Who will win Ida’s heart?
The whimsical cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford. The book was edited by Carol Briggs of Lowell.
More book signings
Emma’s book signings in October, November, and December
Oct. 1 & 2- Blue Coast Artists @Earth Stories Jewelry, south of Saugatuck/Douglas at 2742 68th St.
Please check out my virtual booth at Detroit Bookfest from July 15 through July 17. You can get my Greenwich Meridian Memoir about the Konecny family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA by clicking on the link below.
My other books from the Shifting Sands series will also be available in the virtual booth including my newest one The Lost Town set in the ghost town of Singapore, MI.
Lowell author & reporter Emma Palova completed The Lost Town, a third book in the Shifting Sands series on the last day of June.
The historical fiction novel is set in Singapore, MI, a ghost town on the shores of Lake Michigan during the pioneer era of the 1830s.
Palova captured the spirit of the once thriving lumbering town in its main characters – beautiful Miss Ida, her boss lumber baron John Bosch, Singapore founder Oshea Wilder and supporting characters, Sir Artemas Wallace and housemaid Mrs. Fisch.
Miss Ida was torn between her hometown of Chicago and her new home Singapore, and between two men. Who will win her heart?
The story unravels as the greedy New York investors set their eyes on the undeveloped land at the Oxbow bend in the Kalamazoo River surrounded by sand dunes with much coveted white pines.
Wily Oshea established the New York & Michigan Co. in 1836 to facilitate the development of Singapore. The investors envisioned that Singapore would rival Chicago and Milwaukee. With its humming mills, boarding houses, hotels, and general stores at the height of its prosperity, Singapore almost outshone Chicago.
The name remains a mystery, as its famous counterpart island city in East Asia was only a fledgling town at the time.
“The mysterious name inspired me to write this novel,” Palova said.
According to one interpretation, the exotic name was used to honor the “singing sands” of the Lake Michigan shore. The shape of the grains and the moisture combine to make the sand sing or squeak when someone walks on it.
Always on the hunt for stories and inspiration, Palova walked into the general store on Butler Street in downtown Saugatuck in the mid- 1990s. She picked up a book about Singapore and checked out the historic marker in front of the Saugatuck Village Hall.
“The story just gripped my imagination and stayed with me throughout the years,” she said. “Then I forgot all about it for decades.”
It wasn’t until getting ready for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November, that Palova realized that what she had planned to write about Singapore would turn into a novel rather than just a short story.
“I wanted to do the fascinating story of Singapore its justice,” she said. “I knew a short story wouldn’t cut it.”
During her research for the novel, Palova came across Singapore’s ‘wildcat bank.’
“I knew this was big,” she said, “bigger than life.”
Singapore had a ‘wildcat bank’ that issued its own ornate bank notes that are still in the collection of the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society in Douglas.
“I used their online collections catalog exclusively for research,” she said. “It’s an excellent tool for anyone who wants to write about history. Most historical societies in Michigan have online collections.”
The novel covers the entire span of Singapore’s existence from the 1830s to its demise in the 1870s. At one point the town was known as Ellis Island since it accepted immigrants from European countries like Norway and Holland. The town was the first stop for Hollanders before they moved further up north and established Holland. It came before Saugatuck which was smaller and known as Flats.
“I wove nautical stories into the novel because I love the seas,” Palova said. “I wish I was a sailor.”
It was not just a lumbering era, but also a time for steamers, schooners, and tugboats on the Great Lakes. Nautical transportation was just as dangerous as travel by land, and later by rail.
“Sometimes the story evolved all on its own to my surprise like in the chapter ‘Mail fraud at Oxbow’, she said. “I was really surprised at what Ida was capable of doing driven by secret love.”
Other chapters were meticulously planned with research usually showing up later in the novel.
“My previous research didn’t help me much, but the immediate research during the NaNoWriMo challenge helped,” she said. “I can easily say that this novel is a direct product of the challenge.”
During NaNoWriMo, Palova wrote a minimum of 1,750 words daily to reach the victory lane at 50,000 words by the end of November. After that came months of more writing, revisions, and editing.
Carol Briggs of Lowell edited The Lost Town. The whimsical cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford. Beta readers include Nancy Price Stroosnyder and author Diana Kathryn Wolfe-Plopa.
Emma’s ease at mixing actual history into her stories is remarkable, and so entails Miss Ida’s response to an invitation to a soon-to-be bustling “Singapore” on the shores of Lake Michigan. She is transported away from Chicago, family, and friends. She quickly learns the duties expected of her in maintaining a boarding house and warehouse in the rapidly growing community. Soon she falls in love with one of the corrupt founders. The many colorful characters weave a fantastic story of love, mystery, hope, and faith. This is a quick, very worthwhile read!
Palova will be signing her new book at the following locations: Fallasburg Summer Celebration on July 30, Englehardt Library in Lowell TBA, Holland, Aug. 6, and Paradise, Aug. 19-20. Listen in to an upcoming podcast about The Lost Town on http://emmapalova123.podbean.com
The cover of The Lost Town was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss or Rockford.
I am sitting underneath our octagon pergola covered with wisteria and trumpet vines listening to the Florentine fountain, a gift from mom for one of my birthdays. The first orange trumpet vine cones are falling into the fountain.
I am basking in the simplicity of this unique day that will never repeat itself. A gentle breeze is lifting the foliage ever so lightly. I can feel the lightness of my being after the stress and anxiety of the previous week.
Wearing a pink beach cover up that states, “I need beach” I am far from any beach or a larger body of water. I am listening to the birds chirping in the wisteria and earlier this morning I spotted a red cardinal.
The Frenchies and Ludek left for town to return empties, so I grabbed that moment for myself. I lack nothing; the gardens and the plum trees are watered, we will be grilling thirsty birds this evening an shooting fireworks with the grands.
Upon checking the vegetable patch with Sam, I found out that we’re going to have plenty of cucumbers for pickling and more.
My stillness is elusive in the long run, but right now I am just being. I love watching the nature’s relay, as the blossoms of bloody red weigelas and purple spiraeas wane, the orange of day lilies takes over.
Summers are easy and I celebrate them with my summer books from the Shifting Sands series. They are the culmination of my summer happiness.
Illustrators and caricaturists at the Palmer Park Art Fair last weekend. I love this show in Detroit for its diversity. I met new authors from Ghana, Jamaica and some great visitors to the show. Stay tuned for full story.
Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Czech and Slovak Easter traditions are deeply embedded in the villages of Moravia and Slovakia, and they are not as prevalent in the big cities such as Prague or Bratislava.
Most families color eggs in dyes or onion skins for the deep brown color and polish the eggs with butter and set them on the Easter table to reward the revelers, along with a bottle of plum brandy, desserts, lamb pound cake, and open-faced sandwiches.
Easter egg artists make “kraslice,” which are decorated empty eggshells after the yolks and whites have been blown out. These pieces of delicate art painted on a fragile shell are the mainstay of Easter sold at markets and gift shops, along with hand-embroidered tablecloths and ceramics.
The prevailing tradition remains the mysterious “whipping” of the women of the household on Easter Monday known as “schmigrust.” Men and boys traditionally braid their own whips from willow branches in all sizes. These whips are called “pomlazka” or “karabac” and they can be up to two meters long braided from 24 willow rods. Some use large special wooden spoons with ribbons or branches of juniper.
“Schmigrust is my favorite part of Easter,” said Ludek Pala, a Moravian native of Stipa, now a resident of Lowell, who still practices the tradition in the USA.
The revelers get up at the crack of dawn and head out into the streets in groups of all ages. Depending on the region they also carry wooden carved noisemakers carved by local wood artists.
When the door opens, the women and girls get a gentle whipping to drive away evil spirits, according to old legends. Originating in ancient pagan fertility rites, the practice is supposed to guarantee beauty and good health for women in the coming year.
Loosely translated as: Give me a colored egg, if you don’t give me a colored one, give me at least a white one, and your hen will lay another.
The plum brandy aka slivovice reward
The plum brandy is made in the stills in Moravia and across the country. People usually bring in their own plum or pear ferment that is distilled.
We decided to bring this tradition to the USA where we live permanently. The fruit is locally sourced from Paulson’s, Hills Brothers, and Mason peaches and apples, with no additives the brandy reflects an age-old tradition of craft stilling started by our forefathers.
Moravian Sons Distillery
In return for the whipping, the revelers get a ribbon tied to the whip, a colored egg, a shot of plum brandy and they help themselves to open-faced sandwiches and desserts, such as festive kolache and lamb pound cake.
“By noon you’re tired,” said Pala.
In some regions, if the group arrives after 12 p.m., they get doused with water. However, in Slovakia, the Easter custom is to douse the women and girls with water or perfume in the morning.
According to a 2019 survey, 60% of Czech households follow the tradition of spanking (or watering) someone on Easter Monday.
In the past, young boys would chase young girls in the village streets with the whips, and vintage illustrations by Josef Lada of people in traditional folk costumes show girls running or hiding as if playing tag.
Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, I’ve returned to my annual winter writer’s retreat on the island of Venice in Florida.
I missed everything; from the turquoise waters, tropical flowers to Mahi Mahi and Mango Bango at Sharky’s.
This year’s stay was very special because we had an unplanned family reunion that just happened when Doc Chavent and Ludek decided to join us in “Paradise.”
Since it was sort of a reunion, mom Ella slaved in the kitchen and made some tropical goodies like open-faced sandwiches with mango chutney and blue cheese spread. We bought cold cuts at the International Food deli in nearby Northport owned by Ukraine owners.
I admire these Ukrainian women who have been running the store sine 1989 with little knowledge of English, but with a lot of gusto for life and preserving the old country traditions by carrying foods such as sproty, smoked mackerels, Russian champagne, Alexander II black tea and loose tea packed in Russian nesting dolls.
Venice on the island with sandy beaches and pelicans is better known as “Paradise.” The temperature in the winter months is around mid 70F. We lucked out it was in the 80s all week long, and sunny.
We all met on Sunday, Feb. 20 by the beach at Sharky’s, the only restaurant on the beach in Venice. Ludek waited for us by the picnic bench and surprised Doc Emma and the grandkids, as well as Vincent by his unexpected presence. Our daughter didn’t recognize him in his beach attire and hat, and her new friend Vincent didn’t stand a chance, since they’ve never met.
However, the grands eventually realized that it was their own grandpa sitting underneath the palms drinking beer, even though they were jet-lagged after the long flight from Paris.
We all enjoyed the sunny tropical afternoon on the beach in February. Usually, we spend Sunday afternoons at home shopping after the Sunday mass.
This was a much-needed break from the winter drill of taking care of the house and our new business. But I also had to somewhat break away from my usual retreat routine except for the morning yoga on the beach with Elin.
My dad Vaclav gave me a ride every day for the 9 am yoga session on Venice Beach. The class is always well attended by close to 200 participants from all over the USA. But most of us are from either the Midwest or from New England.
I enjoyed the morning conversations about how many inches of snow was the northeast getting and how many flights have been canceled. The last yoga class before my departure was dedicated to Dotty of Michigan who was celebrating her 100th birthday and until two years ago did yoga with Elin on the beach, a definite testimonial to the overall benefits of yoga.
“Dotty wouldn’t want us to do any balances today,” said Elin holding a poster of Dotty. “ So we’re not going to do them.”
Elin offers plenty of tips on how to maintain balance, good posture, and fall correctly, if necessary. We often do executive stretches and airplane balances. Plus there’s a lot to do in town including Farmers Markets on Saturdays.
I love downtown Venice with palm-lined streets, boutiques, Ciao Gelato shop, Coffee and Wine Co., and restaurants. This year, colorful sculptures of mermaids and seahorses adorned the street corners and storefronts.
We only made it once to town for coffee with mom, and a few times to Jetty’s Jack for ice brewed latte with Ludek. However, we indulged in a fancy tropical lunch at Finn’s on an unlimited budget sponsored by the Docs from France.
You should never tell a Czech person that he or she can order whatever they want from the menu. Because they will. LOL
Mom ordered filet mignon, while dad went cheap and ordered fish and chips. We all shared octopus for appetizers. I have yet to acquire a taste for that.
The North and South Jetty located on the north side of Venice are wharves with marinas, kayaks, and boat rentals such as sailvenice.com and the Freedom Boat Club.
We enjoyed a sunset cruise with Captain Paul Aquaholic Charters starting at the Venice Marina by the Old Salt Dog. Marine patrol officer Paul for Sarasota County during the day turns into Captain Paul at night. Barefoot Paul took us out to sea via the Venice waterways past the dockside restaurants on the waterways.
We saw dolphins playing by the docks. They chased our small boat in the waterway and Paul even lent the Captain’s bridge to the grandkids to steer us toward the setting sun.
The journey into the sun that lit the gold and orange waters on fire to see the Gulf sunset lasted more than an hour, and created memories for a lifetime.
Copyright (c) 2022. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
It’s 5:59 am. It’s Groundhog Day and National Wear Red Day aka Heart Health Day for Women. We’re supposed to wear red and post all sorts of numbers like blood pressure and cholesterol.
Well, I have yet to wash my only red sweater that I wear in December for podcasting, and my blood sometimes boils. I don’t like red. I prefer the earth colors. My cholesterol should be good because I deprive myself of steaks, eggs and cheese on regular basis. I don’t eat pasta because of A1C, but I know it’s under 7, and I don’t take Trulicity or Ozempic. I eat plenty of broccoli and salads even in winter.
I walked to the gauges by our French door this morning. The temperature outside was exactly zero. Yesterday, I finally got out, and it was like walking into an ice cube, after breaking the door in the garage open. Everything was frozen to the bone. The only thing warm at the Hong Kong Buffet were the koi fish swimming in the lovely pool. So, I threw them a penny that I didn’t have in my pocket and had to borrow from my husband.
After streamlining my podcast show “For the Love of Books Podcast,” the stats are booming, the episodes are exploding with fun, and laughter is ringing in my writing studio. I love my colleague fellow authors who are my featured guests on the weekly podcast show because I have a passion for the indie writing business. We put our hearts into what we do best on daily basis with its ups and downs.
I’ve been privileged to meet some of the amazing authors in person at festivals and art shows. And that season is coming up starting in February with the Women’s Expo in Lansing.