Tag Archives: excerpts

Genius dad

My dad is my genius with excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in Shifting Sands Short Stories

The Genius in both my heart and my mind is my father professor Vaclav Konecny.  His genius and inspiration was Albert Einstein. Dad genius following another genius.

My father Vaclav has been my inspiration and a role model over the years. It’s not that he has always been physically present in my life. At times, he was as distant as the Atlantic Ocean and the sky over it are vast.

For many years he lived in the USA, while I was living back in former Czechoslovakia.. He taught math at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan well into the mid 2000s.

His influence never ceased. He was my firm constellation in the sky. I love looking at the sky, and thinking of the constellations as people in my life. He was my brave Perseus when he left Czechoslovakia in 1968 to “conquer” other countries that appreciated his talent more. He had to behead many “Medusas,” ugly heads of jealousy before he got to his beloved small town university.

EW Fermat's last theorem
Fermat’s conjecture in Arithmetica.

His genius manifested itself in hundreds of solved math problems in math journals around the world and hundreds of proposed ones. Dad says it is more difficult to propose a problem, than to solve one.

It was thanks to him that I have learned what Fermat’s Last Theorem is. The theme how to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem or conjecture was always on the table when friends came over to my parents house.

My father knows how to entertain even a stranger using his impeccable logic as a steady guide. Once he had to go to a party where he knew no one. He ran into a dentist.

“Dad, what did you talk to him about?” I asked.

“What else? We talked about teeth,” he laughed.

I remembered that forever. Once you know the profession of a stranger at the party, you talk about it, unless there is a better theme.

It wasn’t just the math genius in him, but also the artist. During critical times in my dad’s life, he turned to painting. He painted in oils scenes from the Candadian Rockies, Niagara and my favorite “Cacti at Night” on black velvet from the Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. He also painted a Dutch windmill.

Dad is also a great handyman who can repair just about anything around the house. He calls the closet full of tools in their Venice condo, his “workshop.”

He served as an inspiration for the short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories.

Excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan”

“After years of traveling between Europe and the USA, Martin and Rose settled down in a small university town not far from the big lake. And that was Rocky Rapids, a humble town that suited Martin well. Idyllic and charming.

The only violence in this town on the Rocky River was stirred by the students jumping from their dorms or frat houses. If dreams come true, they came true here for both Martin and Rose.

Martin was a well-respected and accomplished professor of math with the post-doctorate title from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Martin considered the trek from the territories of Canada to the US Midwest inevitable.

He took great care not to participate in anything that would jeopardize the projected path of success and content, such as union strikes. As computers emerged on the scene, Martin acquired another degree in computer science and reached a tenure with the university. He got Rose a job at the university as well.

The noise from the students packing up their notebooks and leaving the classroom stirred Martin up from his flashbacks to Africa. He looked at his watch. It was time. He carefully packed his own carefully prepared lectures, and put everything in his light gray briefcase with a shoulder strap.

He walked to his gray Chevrolet, the only brand he trusted over the years. Just like everything else Martin had ever owned, it was perfectly clean. He didn’t forget to grab a bottle of cold diet Coke from the machine.

Driving through Rocky Rapids was a balsam on his nerves. The town was neat and clean too with a few banks, a video store, a car dealership and a long gone Spartan grocery. Rose used to shop there, when they still loaded groceries into cars back in the 1980s. As a remnant of the past, there was a Bear furniture store, a drive up restaurant and a Dairy Queen by the city park with the creek.

It could have been a perfect day, in a perfect life in a perfect town of one perfect professor and a perfect couple.

 

Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All Rights reserved.

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Interesting things

Excerpts from Orange Nights in Shifting Sands Short Stories

The most Interesting things in the store were the changing seasons and the colors reflecting them. The summer colors were still vibrant, and hanging in the air or it could have been the nostalgia after a summer passing by.

And then there were the never-ending returns in the Women’s department always shoved in a heaping basket by the fitting rooms that served as a hangout spot.

Dressing up for "Chaos."
Never-ending stream of returns in Women’s department.

“Why did you stay in the store all these years, Irma?” asked Rachel doubtful and wondering about her own future.

“You come in young like most, because you don’t know what to do with yourself,” said Big Irma. “And after a while you just get used to it, and you’re afraid of change. Just look around you. What do you see?”

However, it was all in what you didn’t see. Those were the underlying currents of being stuck in any situation in life, and not being able to move forward. It had different names, that all came under one label.

That label was fear. And fear had many faces. It was hiding under different coats of comfort and security, assurances or the lack of them.

“Have you ever been afraid in the store?” asked Rachel. “I mean really afraid. I know we have security department and all that, but afraid as in who is going to walk in through that door and what is he going to do?”

People were already streaming in along with normal day people who had nothing to do with the orange balloon clearance in the soft and hard lines, like the grocery people and the food court.

For the moment Rachel envied them the regularity of a normal day job. They came in and they left on regular basis without the madness of wanting to do something else with their lives.

“Why aren’t you in your own department?” a scowling voice breathed down her neck.

Startled she turned around. The tall orange blonde man with a mustache still dressed in civil clothes was right behind Rachel’s back. Wendell pulled out of the cart with the returns shorts tangled in with a bra and panties. The lines manager smelled of beer and cigarettes, after a night of drinking.

“How did the night go?” Wendell asked about the clearance mark-downs with orange stickers. “What’s all this crap?”

Big Irma tired after the long night turned to Wendell.

“You just have to over there and see,” she said. “There’s a lot of clearance this year. I guess people weren’t buying as much or we overbought, or both. You never know from year to year.”

Late July with excerpts

It’s no ordinary Friday, as the late July sun shines on my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories. The paperback came out at the beginning of July.

Writing, collecting and publishing the stories that I have gathered for over more that two decades wasn’t a walk through the strawberry fields by any means.

On the contrary, the stories and their characters are not Shallow.

Check out one of the major characters, professor Martin Duggan who struggles with his own perfection.

Excerpt from the Temptation of Martin Duggan short story:

“He walked to his gray Chevrolet, the only brand he trusted over the years. Just like everything else Martin had ever owned, it was perfectly clean. He didn’t forget to grab a bottle of cold diet Coke from the machine.

Driving through Rocky Rapids was a balsam on his nerves. The town was neat and clean too with a few banks, a video store, a car dealership and a long gone Spartan grocery store.

Rose used to shop there, when they still loaded groceries into cars back in the 1980s. As a remnant of the past, there was a Bear furniture store, a drive up restaurant and a Dairy Queen by the city park and creek.

It could have been a perfect day, in a perfect life in a perfect town of one perfect professor and a perfect couple.”

At one of my newspaper jobs, the publisher called me shallow for not following up on a major story about a Belding boy who delivered his sister in the bathroom of the family home. After being syndicated by the Associated Press, the story made it to the Dave Letterman Show.

Dave held up the front page of the Ionia Sentinel-Standard with the story.

However, I did not know about that, another paper reported on that.

“You are shallow and selfish,” said the publisher.

I remembered that. I will always remember that.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved

Professor Martin buries his obsessions

Daily Post prompt Bury with book excerpts from Shifting Sands Short Stories

By Emma Palova

Not only am I buried with all the tasks around marketing my new book of short stories, but one of the early stories “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” touches on burying one’s miseries.

We often would like to bury a lot of things, and some of them we actually do in meaningless stockpiles. However, sometimes we need to refer back to them, and dig out some parts of the past.

The main character professor Martin Duggan in the story “Temptation of Martin Duggan” finds himself in this position as he confronts the major conflict in his life: and that is his son Joe.

As soon as the daylight broke, Martin grabbed a spade from the garage. There was still morning dew on Rose’s mauve tulips, as Martin started digging a hole in the middle of the garden. Soil and tulips were flying around as Martin dug deeper into the earth.

Along with the brown soil, Martin was also exhuming his suppressed past longings. He intended to bury in the hole all the role models, present and past, including the model of himself.

He ran back into the den. Rose couldn’t sleep all night long. Courageously, she went after him into what used to be his pride, his office. She looked at the rampage Martin left. Little tears, tiny like the dew drops on the destroyed mauve tulips, rolled down her swollen cheeks, as she watched the man she once had loved.

There were broken pieces of furniture scattered all around along with the broken window pane. There were blood stains on the white carpet and some of the papers.

“Martin, stop. Are you crazy?” Rose cried.

Yes.”

Martin was stuffing his books, notes and computer perforated paper into black garbage backs. He filled six bags with equations and solutions. He tied the bags up neatly and ran back into the garden.

Martin, stop, you don’t what you’re doing,” Rose cried helplessly.

He threw the garbage bags into the hole and threw dirt on top to cover them up. He worked diligently, all sweating. He made a neat mound, and stomped on it to level it.

He grabbed again the axe and wanted to chop up the pretty Danish teak furniture in the living room, he only stopped for a minute in front of the oil painting of the Dutch windmill.

“Stop, I am going to call the police,” Rose said. “Don’t you dare turn on me, you crazy fool.”

Rose walked boldly toward Martin and took away his axe. She pushed him into a chair. Martin was panting, exhausted. He was all flushed and couldn’t breathe.

The book Shifting Sands Short Stories is now available on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

Emma’s book signing is this Sunday, July 16 at the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Everyone is invited.

Come and chat with the author in the beautiful historical setting of the 1850s pioneer village of Fallasburg.

Ask the author questions about the egotistical characters in the short stories.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, All rights reserved.

Storyteller 2017 in final countdown with excerpts

In between story circles, hit hard

For the last week, I’ve been posting about the short stories in Shifting Sands Short Stories collection that span more than two decades as part of the Storyteller 2017 book campaign.

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Storyteller 2017 Emma

Thematically and chronologically, I have divided them into three circles: early years of immigration with stories Danillo, Honey Azrael, & The Temptation of Martin Duggan.

The second circle of stories from retail experience includes: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.

The third circle of stories is from the media business; both print and digital.

These stories include: In the Shadows, Iron Horse, Foxy, Riddleyville Clowns and Chatamal.

In the final countdown, I would like to touch on stories like “In the Shadows” that fall into a dark period of life. Husband Ludek lost his job in the mid-2000s due to crisis in the automotive and housing industry.

The story was inspired by us living apart, when Ludek had to take a job in Prairie-du-Chien, WI.

Ludek and I had to Cringe  confronting the reality of the crisis.

We didn’t want to lose the house, because of the unsure future, so I stayed in Michigan.

On several occasions, I took the Amtrak train 500 miles out west to visit with him on the Mississippi River, or we stayed in Milwaukee.

“In the Shadows” story is set in Milwaukee and in the botanical gardens. It was inspired by a wedding party in the gardens.

The characters lived in the state of impermanence Transient

Excerpts from “In the Shadows”

 With a shaking had speckled by age spots, Agnes Loire dressed in pink and white purchased three tickets to the Boehm Botanical Gardens near Bales Corners in Wisconsin. An elderly clerk taped a red band to her tiny wrinkly arthritic wrist refusing to give her a discount.

As Agnes reached into her pocket to feel an amulet with dried periwinkle in it, the clerk looked somewhat familiar.

“Do I know you from anywhere?” she asked the old man.

He shook his head and turned back to his business of taping red bands to people’s wrists standing in a long line in the glass atrium.

Just before Agnes entered the new modern building with a two-story atrium and a vaulted ceiling, she paused to watch a white limousine arrive. The morning sun illuminated the vehicle and the grounds. The internationally renowned gardens were a marrying haven for couples.

The flowering pink, white and maroon crabapples in the arboretum swayed in the southerly wind spraying the area with petals of blossoms.

Agnes breathed in the early spring scent, fresh with promises.

In the meantime, the photographers had eagerly gathered to take the first shots of the bridal party. Bridesmaids in bright green dresses and beige high heels stepped out of the limo.

The last girl was taller, her dress a tone lighter and she was wearing flat shoes with no heels.

 Finale countdown to be continued……..

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Storyteller 2017- Fueling the passion with book excerpts

Fueling the passion of the Storyteller 2017 with book excerpts, part IV

 I have named my book campaign Storyteller 2017 because I am so excited about this epic year full of big changes.

Follow me on my journey from writer journalist to author of Shifting Sands Short Stories to be released on June 30 on Amazon.

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This is the fourth part of the Storyteller 2017 series following the introduction on June 20, the Beginnings on June 21 and the Impermanence of characters in the Shifting Sands Short Stories on June 22.

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 As I have mentioned in the previous installments, I have divided the 13 stories in the Shifting Sands Short Stories collection thematically and chronologically into three circles.

The first circle of stories draws on the early years of immigration experience of learning French in Montreal, and taking creative short story writing at the International Correspondence Schools, ICS.

Those were the transformative years or impermanence for me and the characters like Danillo in Danillo, Vanessa in Honey Azrael and the couple Martin and Ellen in the Temptation of Martin Duggan.

The second circle of stories reflects the time for assimilation into the American culture. These include: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.

The characters in the second circle suffer from the boredom of a daily routine in a store, but they fear change. The setting is rural Midwest America. I created the town of Riddleyville with its secrets and vices. The Riddleyville characters range from robust Big Irma, Shorty, philosophical Ula, pretty Rachel, boxcutter Amy, sick Therese to deceitful Vadim in the Death Song.

Here is an excerpt from Orange Nights:

The store kept its secrets in the backrooms where the employees gathered for breaks and meetings. Things not said on the floor, were exaggerated here freely over nasty coffee and lunches brought from home in plastic containers.

The kid who extended his stay at the store instead of going to college usually cleaned the backrooms and the public restrooms. Sometimes he worked in the smelly bottle room. Customers and  employees called him “Shorty.”

It just caught on.

“Hey, people, do you have to make such a mess or what?” he asked.

If Shorty was in a bad mood, he’d complain, and mop the floor under your feet, and knock down your lunchbox.

He wasn’t a typical loser, he just acted like one.

The second shift already faced the remnants of the day, including the bad attitudes and unfulfilled dreams of yesterday.

The saying around the town of Riddleyville was that at one point in time, everyone has worked at the store for a million different reasons.

My passion for writing continued to grow as I took journalism classes at the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in the mid-1990s. At that time I wrote feature stories for the GRCC paper the “Collegiate.”

I wrote a chunk of the short stories, while taking these classes and working at the store.

The passion continues in the next part V of the Storyteller 2017 series.

The book Shifting Sands Short Stories is now available for pre-order on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.com/Emma-Palova/e/B0711XJ6GY

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.