Don’t leave unfinished projects behind to haunt you. Don’t be afraid to pick them back up with new energy behind them even if they have been collecting dust or taking up space in the computer.
A woman surprised me at one of my recent book signings of Shifting Sands Short Stories by the following question:
“I am on chapter six, how do I finish my book,” she asked me.
It was a definitely out-of-the-box question, because not everyone wants to admit they can’t finish something.
Here is what I have gathered over the years about finishing any major writing project like a book or a screenplay:
Set a target finish goal, something that’s important to you like your birthday or any other milestone.
Write every day a quota of pages, such as 5 pages.
Always have an end in mind for the book or script, but also for each chapter or scene.
Ask yourself: What do I want to carry out in this chapter or scene?
A loose flexible outline always helps.
Establish a reward program for yourself after each chapter. It can be anything from having a coffee with a friend or a token that will remind you that a particular chapter or scene is done.
Create a cover or poster early on even as a draft. It will help you visualize the book, play or film and the entire process.
Have a color theme in mind for the characters and the book overall.
Be cohesive. Don’t let it fall apart into pieces just because you stumble on a block in your way.
Explore, see, discover. I especially like these three verbs that I found on a sign by the Wittenbach nature center. They will continue to feed your inspiration. And in turn, the reader will keep turning pages.
Use character compass to balance out your stories. That means the right amount of thoughts, appearance, action and dialogue.
Mother Nature shows her way leaving devastation behind
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Hastings, MI- As I drove north to Lowell through the Barry County farmlands on Wednesday, 54-mile wind gusts were throwing the small orange Dart across the country road. Broken limbs and twigs were hitting the dancing car in the wind.
The forecast didn’t sound as bad as it was, otherwise I would have stayed at the “Pala fortress” near the Yankee Springs Recreation Area.
We stationed ourselves at the “fortress” for a week-long stint last Saturday to watch the grand kids. Our son Jake with wife Maranda took off to Bali, Indonesia to celebrate his 30th birthday.
Early spring storms in the Midwest on the Great Lakes can be vicious with freezing rain and power outages lasting for days. These however make for beautiful waves and vistas on the nearby Lake Michigan.
Above photos of the March 8th storm damage in the Lowell area are by Amanda Schrauben of Lowell.
The featured photo by Bob Walma shows waves sweeping over the Grand Haven lighthouse on Wednesday. The pier and the boardwalk were completely covered by water all day, according to friends living in Grand Haven.
Right off the bat near Hastings, the traffic lights swaying in the wind went out. I was holding on tight to the steering wheel to keep the car on the road.
When I got out of the car at a gas station on the I-96 freeway, I almost got swept away. The wind picked up grains of sand and whipped them into my face.
The weekly meeting was cancelled due to power outage, and I couldn’t get to my home base Lowell office because a tree had fallen into the roadway.
“The office is closed, they have no power,” a friend hollered into the wind.
Neighbor Catherine had already reported a power outage on Tuesday, with the new one on its way. To make things worse, the forecast called for more freezing temperatures overnight, and we did not have the house in Lowell wintered for another freezing spell.
I finished the International Women’s Day post “Be Bold for Change” at the Lowell KDL library yesterday, one of few places left in the area that still had the Internet.
I drove back to Hastings in worsening conditions, wondering if I should turn back, but I had nowhere to go, since the power was out at the Lowell home as well.
Some roads were completely blocked with trees in the way. When I finally got to the “fortress”, I couldn’t open the garage door, so I knew the power was out here as well, some 50 miles down south from home.
Moreover, the Consumers predicted that the power in both places, at the Hastings fortress and at the Lowell home, would be out until Saturday.
“I got to go back to Lowell to get the generator,” husband Ludek snapped angrily at me, because our lines of communication went bad, and we missed each other’s calls.
“Why doesn’t Jake have a generator here in this Hicksville, anyways?”
Probably for the same reason we didn’t have one for 10 years at the Lowell home, until the April freezing rain in 2002 knocked out the power for five days. That year, we almost froze to death.
Back in Lowell on Downes Road, Ludek and other neighbors couldn’t get to the houses because of fallen wires across the roads, and a fire truck blocking the way.
Ludek pioneered the way to the houses using the neighbor’s backyards, in spite of complaints.
“Hey, you can’t walk across that wire,” yelled a firefighter at this relentless man.
Swearing, Ludek loaded the generator, let the water out of the pipes, and headed back to Hastings.
Meanwhile, the kids and I were eating cold meatloaf with mashed potatoes just as the lights went back on.
“Why did they say the power wasn’t going to be up until Saturday?” Ludek continued to swear at Consumers as he made his grand entrance.
“You live in the boondocks,” I said. “You gotta have a generator.”
Luckily, we made it out alive and with roofs over our heads at both places, cars and garages intact. Ludek reported a semi-truck knocked on the side by the Caledonia exit off the I-96 freeway.
This morning at the Hastings Library, I went through the Facebook reports from friends in Lowell.
“I am cold,” neighbor Catherine wrote. “No power until Saturday, please don’t let that be true.”
The local Meijer store had no electricity but stayed open. There were even waves on the tiny Stoney Lake.
The wind gusts uprooted trees, knocked down roofs, sidings, glass doors and created havoc across Michigan. Close to 600, 000 people were left without power.
“Thousands of people are without power,” said the Consumers recorded message last night. “We have no more restoration information.”
It was one of the biggest storms in the last 25 years, according to meteorologists.
There are several upsides to this windstorm of 2017, such as that I get to know my local libraries.
Yes, kids. March is the reading month. And libraries are very cool. Visit them always, not just during storms. They are here for us to embrace for work and for fun.
Thank you Hastings and Lowell libraries for staying open.
Lowell, MI- In light of the March 1, “Big Birthdays” post, I find this, “When I am 64,” by Debra Kolkka of Brisbane, Australia post very enlightening.
And I discovered that the story behind the “Bagni di Lucca and Beyond” blog is even more inspiring. Two friends, Debra and Liz, who live in Brisbane, Australia, started blogging about their houses in Italy to inform tourists.
Much like for the rest of us, Deb’s and Liz’s blog has grown into a passion building upon their colorful careers in fashion and retail.
Watch for a story on blog discoveries around the world. Visit with Debra and Liz in Brisbane for cosmopolitan inspiration.
In an awesome Hollywood showdown in the style of Miss Universe, we found out that the real winner was the picture “Moonlight” not the wrongfully announced La La Land.
Presenter Warren Beatty said he wasn’t joking.
In a bizarre altogether Oscar Night, the end was more stunning than the styles of the dresses, predictions or the creators.
As the saying goes, life itself is a story.
Thank you Hollywood and Jimmy Kimmel for a night to remember.
The fairy tale night had a happy ending for all the previous complainers, and for some strangers on a Hollywood tour just passing through the Oscar night ceremony, and bumping into amused stars. Some of them appeared to be scared for life.
Jennifer Aniston involuntarily gave up her cool shades for a tourist lady.
Wow, how dare you Jimmy, take my shades.
Denzel Washington gave his blessings to a pair to be wed in July.
And of course the wrong announcement of the Best Picture 2017. Well, it all worked out to the immense happiness of the stage called the “world.”
Thank you all for so much fun.
Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rrights reserved.
Lowell, MI- It’s 5:53 a.m. EST on a regular Thursday morning. Husband Ludek just left for work coughing, and I am recovering from a bout of cold that kept me inside yesterday. It’s still dark outside, and I light some candles, so I can meditate before writing with a cup of coffee, and a cup of nettle tea.
But, something else kept me indoors yesterday, as well as in my own shell. I was dealing with a red fury, called anger that topped off with an apple that my husband didn’t take to work with him. I always get an apple ready for him thinking about his health in the morning.
When the apple was still there yesterday, I thought he was angry at me.
I felt the anger building up in me since Monday, as I watched the disturbing evening NBC newscast on “Tonight at 7.”
“I’ll never forget this one,” I said disgusted to Ludek. “I won’t sleep again.”
It was a slew of everything from my 1970s teen idol David Cassidy’s announcement of dementia, to the one year anniversary of the Uber shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that left six dead and two wounded.
“We don’t want Kalamazoo to be remembered for this,” said the speaker at the Monday night vigil held at the K-Wings Stadium teary eyed.
The newscast showed Laurie Smith, wife and a mother, who’s loved ones where shot on that dreadful night at a car dealership, shopping for a truck. The daughter was supposed to go too. She didn’t. That saved her life.
Laurie held little urns with ashes as dreadful charms tied to a necklace in her fingers, crying.
“I carry their ashes around my neck,” she sobbed.
How can you not remember this? I would have to be a piece of stone.
Kalamazoo is home to one of the best universities in the country, the Western University Michigan (WMU). Other than being the home of the Broncos, it is the alma mater of many and an intellectual oasis in Midwest America.
My son Jake went to Western. He graduated in winter of 2010 in an auditorium decked out with red and white Poinsettia plants in pots with glittery wrap around Christmas time.
Early on when we settled down in the Grand Rapids area in the 1990s, I took online classes in psychology from WMU. I love the entire university environment along with the culture, the libraries, the ethnic restaurants, the university cafeterias and the sports. My parents worked at Ferris State University in Big Rapids until retirement in the 2000s. I studied at the Technical University of Brno, my dauther Doc Em studied at Charles University in Prague.
We have university blood circling in our veins.
I celebrated one of my birthdays at the WMU Performance Arts Center with the longest standing performance of all times, the “Phantom of the Opera” in 2007.
“Can you imagine those actors doing it over and over again?” said my friend Sue, when I complained to her that every day at the newspaper office was the same.
Many years later, as I think about all these moments, like grains of sand, sifting through time in an hour glass. The little sand grains that represent anger, fear, terror, joy, love and hope in a cyclical rhythm.
Grains of time sift through the hour glass rhythmically. To the right: my parents Ella & Vaclav Konecny with grandpa Joseph Drabek in 1987 during grandpa’s only visit to the USA.
Below is a photo essay representing the victory of joy & hope over rhythmic violence: left 1001 Days of Blogging Annie Conboy of UK who blogs for the future of her daughter Erin. Right top: son Jake Pala who teaches Josephine Marie Palova, 3, the Czech language to preserve our origins. Below right in the small frame, French granddaughter Ella, 6, on summer break in Parnell to learn English. Pictured in the bottom frame is Mrs. Irma Richmond, teacher from the one-room schoolhouse at Fallasburg in the 1960s. Today, kids from Murray Lake Elementary and on the http://www.fallasburgtoday.org come to visit the school thanks to the advancement of technology. Mrs. Richmond says hi to all.
Follow Mrs. Richmond’s and Annie’s stories into the future.
Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse teacher Mrs. Irma Richmond, 1927-28, 1944-45. Today students from the Murray Lake Elementary visit the 1867 Fallasburg School located in Vergennes Township.
Before that lovely opera performance, we enjoyed a meal at Rasa Ria, a Malaysian restaurant with my parents Ella and Vaclav in downtown Kazoo.
It was one of my best birthday celebrations, ever. And it was in Kalamazoo, in the university city of intellect and terror.
And now this additional piece of terror, that will always stay in our minds, and in those charms with ashes around Laurie’s neck.
I can still recall the actual coverage of the Uber shooting one year ago, when the police contained the rampage in 4 hours and 42 minutes. The footage showed cars chasing the suspect, finding the victims at innocent places like Cracker Barrel and at the Seeley dealership in Kalamazoo.
“Why did he do it?” Ludek kept asking me.
The news report mentioned that the Uber driver said that the devil told him which people to shoot through the phone app.
“Crazy?” I ask.
One year later, crime perpetrator, Jason Brian Dalton, 45, still hasn’t been convicted. A hearing is set for March 9. If convicted, he faces a life in jail, according to news reports.
As I watched the vigil for the victims, my memory flashed back to a trip to France in 2016 with our granddaughter Ella. We were waiting for a Uber driver to take us from Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Airport to Gare du Nord train station in Paris.
“Emma, are you sure this is safe, you know about that shooting in Kalamazoo?” I asked my liberal daughter Doc Emma, who permanently resides in the wine village of Fixin, in Burgundy France.
“Oh, it can’t happen here,” she said, “only in America.”
“Really?” I asked.
I thought about all the violence of the past two years in France as it flashed through my mind; from attacks in Paris, Nice and Belgium.
Now, back again to the current reality as of Feb. 23, 2017. The two Uber shooting survivors, Addie Kopf, 15, and Tiana Carruthers, 26, continue to fight forward.
After undergoing several surgeries, Kopf has difficulty speaking and remembering, in spite of overall improvements. Carruthers, who shielded children from the gunfire, is now walking without a cane, according to news reports.
I glanced at the comments following some of the broadcasts of the one-year anniversary of the Uber shooting that occurred in Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, 2016.
robandhan1 day ago
Huh… another white guy with a gun…
jime4441 day ago
@robandhan and how many die in chicongo each day? not many white people, either………libturd.
charlie251 day ago
Does anyone remember this??? There have been so many weirdos killing people in the past year to remember this one.
Longtime artist inspires generations embedded in Lowell area
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Note: The IW winter series, which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8, features women from all walks of life who continue to inspire others in our communities.
Their positions in the society are not measured by money or the accolades they receive, but by contributions to progress and well-being of all.
Nominate a woman who has inspired you for the series.
Lowell, MI – Artist Janet Y. Johnson, 86, is an icon. Together with artists late David Davis and current Kathleen Mooney, they have created an artistic legacy for generations embedded in the greater Lowell area.
Johnson has been a staple at the Flat River Gallery & Framing in downtown Lowell with countless exhibits of watercolor and acrylic paintings.
The gallery will celebrate its fourth anniversary with the “Let’s celebrate” event with champagne and chocolates on Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Johnson recalls all the great years of exhibiting and painting in the Lowell area.
“They’re all realistic paintings,” said Johnson about her work.
Some of them go as far back as to the heydays of another icon, the Lowell Showboat on the Flat River in the 1950s.
“I used to sing on it, and then I painted it,” Johnson said during a recent interview at her home.
As we looked at the dark blue watercolor painting of the Showboat with strings of lights floating on the Flat River hanging in the detached studio, one could imagine the lively atmosphere on the deck.
You could almost hear the voices singing:
“Here comes the Showboat.”
Johnson sold two paintings of the Showboat and bought one back when the owner stated, that the painting should stay in the Lowell area.
Johnson has lived in the Lowell area for 57 years.
Growing up on a farm in Alto, Johnson acquired a natural affinity to all animals.
Johnson studied animal drawing at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, FL and graduated in 1951.
Prior to that, she studied at the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, and worked as a publication designer for Amway in the 70s.
“It was a wonderful place to work,” she said.
Among her favorites are vivid paintings of exotic animals in circus settings.
Johnson’s most recent watercolor painting is of the Miller Circus which performed in Lowell last August after the fair. She will hang the painting of the circus at the gallery for the new February show.
According to Johnson, the circus ringmaster at the Miller Circus was connected to the Ringlings.
Johnson spent most of 2016 illustrating the children’s book “Gertie Goose.”
“It’s a story about bullying,” said Johnson.
Pat Markle, former teacher of Hastings Schools, wrote the book. This was the third project for the author illustrator duo during the last decade.
The book is available at the Lowell Arts and at the Flat River galleries for $15.
“Gertie Goose” was published by J-Ad Graphics of Hastings in 2016.
Trip from Czech homeland marks 4th anniversary of blogging
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI- On board Air France flight 1383 from Paris to Detroit, I was watching our route leaving the shores of Europe on Jan. 15, 2017, as I realized it was the fourth anniversary of my writing on WordPress.
It was all so fitting, because I started blogging on WordPress in 2013 to promote my memoir “Greenwich Meridian” Copyright 2017 Emma Palova. I named the book Greenwich Meridian to depict our family immigration saga between the East and the Western hemispheres over the last five decades. The memoir tracks the Konecny family migration between former Czechoslovakia and the USA from 1969 through present.
The journey of blogging parallels my writing path through life almost identically. I don’t remember a period in my life not writing.
At first, it was writing letters to my mother Ella when she immigrated to the USA for the second time in 1980 to join my father Vaclav Konecny. Later, when I arrived in the USA in 1989, I embarked on a professional writing career as a journalist and correspondent for regional and Czech media, based in Michigan, New York and in Prague.
I followed Earnest Hemmingway’s correspondent footsteps.
Writing much like my husband Ludek have been my lifelong companions in good and in bad times, as expressed in our wedding wows in 1978 in Stipa, former Czechoslovakia at the Church of Saint Mary.
Writing has been the fuel of my life. Writing for me is like a fountain or elixir of life, when everything else around me is arid, dry and angry.
Instead of turning to violence and despair, I turn inside, meditate and feel into the overall emotions of the surrounding world. Then, I transform these powerful outside forces into a stream or an avalanche blanketing all with a soft cover of love, like a mother covering her child.
Today, as I write this 500th post on the WordPress publishing platform, I am thankful for the 1,066 followers and the future ones to come.
I also would like to thank all, who never stopped believing in me.
At the end of last year, just before I have reached the 1,000 followers mark, I realized that I have completed a second degree thanks to the WordPress (WP) Blogging University, the support happiness WP engineering team, my family and my beloved readers.
“Congratulations, honey. You have another degree,” said my husband Ludek. “It was just like back when you were in school in Brno. I had to be constantly quiet.”
I wanted to quit just as many times as I did while working on my bachelor’s degree at the Technical University of Brno from 1982 to 1986 in former Czechoslovakia. My path on WordPress was constantly jeopardized by the lack of finances and understanding of the principles of freelance blogging.
I plan on finishing my second degree on the WordPress publishing platform with a blogging directory and an app for the thesis.
Of course, in the meantime the memoir Greenwich Meridian has become the first part of the Konecny Saga (c) copyright 2017.
Lowell, MI – Looking from her chamber office window on a chilly January afternoon, executive director Liz Baker has a clear picture of the Lowell Showboat still decked out in its Christmas glory.
There’s the mailbox for letters to the Santa and the big sugar canes, garlands and Christmas figurines. The archway is decorated with pink garland.
“The showboat is iconic,” Baker said. “It’s been a part of so many people’s lives.”
The fifth replica of a Mississippi steamboat, has served as the Lowell Area Chamber’s logo for the last 20 years, until the chamber adopted a new one.
In the official press release, city manager Mike Burns stated the need to close the Showboat to the public as of Jan. 4, 2017 for safety reasons.
“The Robert E. Lee’s long history and tradition in the community has made this a very difficult decision,” he said.
However, the committee “Rebuild the Lowell Showboat” has already been preparing to replace the Showboat with a new structure.
“We’ve been preparing for this,” Baker said. “There is going to be a new structure that will somewhat resemble the old Showboat.”
The committee expects to submit formal application to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by the end of the month.
The new lower maintenance structure will sit on a platform dock to prevent rotting in water.
The current Showboat, although closed to the public, is not going anywhere.
“It will stand there until we’re ready to put the new structure out there,” Baker said. “The chamber will continue to maintain it.”
The Showboat has been an integral part of the Lowell community and its citizens. Over the last 85 years, it has served as the major venue for entertainment, and as a backdrop for the Sizzlin’ Summer concert series, the Riverwalk Festival and the Lowell Christmas festivities.
Santa posed with children for the last time on the Showboat during Christmas festivities in december of 2016.
“Things deteriorate,” said Baker, “our hope is to create a different structure with some of the old elements like the smoke stacks, and better use of space. It will serve the same purpose.”
According to Baker, the Showboat, owned by the city, has outlived similar venues.
“It is our shared belief that the current structure built in 1979 has served us well, it has outlived its expected lifespan,” said Burns.
The “Rebuild the Lowell Showboat” committee will be hosting an informational meeting on Jan. 19th at 7 p.m. at the city hall seeking input from the residents.
It is the hope of the committee, to have a new structiure in place in 2018.
“The Showboat is is iconic, but it is also our future,” said Baker.