I love my Taurus horoscope today, as I move ahead with the Greenwich Meridian Memoir revisions. I’ve added some interesting events to the memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA. Watch for excerpts.
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.
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.
Our hometown Zlin in Czech Republic.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Authors (left to right) Jeanie Mortensen and Emma Palova of Lowell share a giggle.
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.
A long journey starts with the first step, leaving footprints in Ludington
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI – I attended the Ludington Writers’ Rendezvous on the shores of Lake Michigan last Saturday. It was my first encounter with the Ludington Writers group, and my second author’s conference experience after Calvin College in the spring.
It was a great gathering of 28 authors with a total of 80 titles and the tension of 10 million volts.
As the raindrops drummed on the roof of the Arts Center lodged inside the former Methodist Church in beautiful downtown Ludington, I absorbed the energy output of the organizers and fellow authors.
I loved author Carol L. Ochadleus’ poster designed by her son.
“We got the wrong cover on the last one,” Ochadleus laughed. “This time we got it right.”
The rush before the authors’ events is always nerve wrecking. An author, whose name I didn’t catch, stormed in with her pink luggage. Sudanese author Dominic Malual of “Barefoot in the Boot” had a wooden giraffe in front of his table.
In most cases, the conference attendance was the result of teamwork of entire families. The “assistants” were usually the partners of the authors, while the “runners” were book lovers who delivered food from the local restaurants. The extensive menu featured everything from the “Swiss Hammer”, “Ojibway Dip” to “Dirty Russian.”
Since, I missed my dad Vaclav’s birthday lunch, my assistant Ludek personally delivered my grilled chicken wrap from Jamesport Brewing Co., where the international family crew got together.
That fusion of aspirations, dreams and hopes fueled my own author’s drive that sometimes goes into overdrive.
“I want you to have a good experience,” wrote author/organizer Joan H. Young in her final approach to the conference message. “We want this to be the event to come to.”
For many authors it was their first time at anything and everything. Author Joseph Tilton debuted with his “Apocalypse” book here.
I thoroughly enjoyed the “wannabee” authors circulating around the authors’ tables. I didn’t catch their names. One wanted to write a dystopian novel and was seeking some direction. The other one carrying a stack of papers asked me about my book, “Shifting Sands Short Stories.”
“It’s a collection of short stories, that I have written for over two decades,” I said.
“Oh, I would have had a book like this big,” she said pointing to the huge stack of papers.
I smiled, thinking, “So, why didn’t you put it together?”
Today, on my morning walk to the Franciscans, I realized I should have said that out loud:
“Whatever you have written, put it together.”
I sat next to Ludington author Jeanie Mortensen and that was the greatest delight of all. The locals knew her and came to buy her books; both poetry and a novel.
I bought her “Taking in the Seasons” poetry collection, because I can’t handle long chunks of text. Mortensen bought my book; we swapped business cards with other authors.
It was not only an authors’ event, it was also a family deal like I mentioned before.
Mortensen’s daughter Amy stopped by and so did my adult children, Emma & Jake to say hi.
It was an unforgettable rendezvous, both professionally and personally. The survey asked: “Will you come back?”
For me it was a definite, “Yes.”
Thanks to organizers, Joan, Hanne Kelley & Barry Matthews of the Ludington Center for the Arts and the Writer’s Group.
My next author’s events:
July 26 @ 10 a.m. WGVU Morning Show with Shelley Irwin 88.5/95.3
July 28 & Aug. 4 LowellArts, Lowell 1 to 3 p.m.
Aug. 6 panel discussion and reception with poet Ian Haight at LowellArts.
Check out the Grand Rapids Magazine City Guide at your local newsstand for the “Reading Room” article. My book is available at Schuler Books, Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo and on Amazon in paperback and kindle formats.
To join our local Lowell Writer’s group contact Debra Duiven Dunning at 897-8545 at LowellArts.
Lowell, MI – Today is my favorite day of the year. It is also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, known as summer solstice. I woke up this morning to a striped sky with orange, white and blue and to a cacophony of sounds; the nature sounded to me better than any symphony in this world. Ludek left at 6:05 a.m. for work in nearby Grand Rapids in full daylight.
It is my morning ritual to wish him a good day on the doorstep into the garage. I make a point to do this in the deadbeat of winter, as well as in the beauty of summer. I may have missed maybe two mornings sleeping in.
Then I continue my morning with yoga, treadmill or a walk to the Franciscan Sisters , meditations with coffee and tying myself to a chair in the studio to write. I missed the solstice last year, as I was wrapping up the formatting of my new book “Shifting Sands Short Stories.” I could not believe it, when I found out from the evening news that it was indeed the summer solstice. It stayed with me for the rest of the solar year. I felt cheated.
Most often people ask me, “What inspires your writing?”
I do have to say that it is definitely nature and its seasons.
I had to make up for that this year. The saying goes, that real stories are in “what you have missed” or “what is not there” and “what is not said.”
On this day, the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun.
I felt better when I saw at the Franciscans that the grass hasn’t been cut yet.That’s what I missed last year, the first grass cutting. I drove there instead of walking because of a new assignment that is very close to my heart and to the nation’s heart: immigration.
The meadow was delightful in the sun’s direct rays, as the grasses and wildflowers swayed in the breeze. The Japanese lilac tree was in full bloom as well as the ornamental dogwood by the tower. I discovered a birdhouse made from Michigan license plates inside the lilac tree. Hundreds of spirea shrubs were in full maroon bloom.
Earlier in the morning at my hideout on a nearby lake, I took photos of the local heron resident on the swampy shores and hundreds of lotus blooms.
I would never want to miss this longest day of the year again. I will keep it in my heart forever. I will savor the fragrances of the meadow, and all the sounds of this first day of summer.
The Sizzlin Summer Concert Series in Lowell is now in full swing on the Riverbank, and the Farmer’s Market is open.
Life is good.
It’s been hot and it’s been cold, so far. But, it’s summer in Michigan on the Great Lakes. And I am ready for it.
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
I am supposed to consolidate my position and clarify my goals, according to today’s horoscope for the determined Taurus.
I especially like the quote from Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
That’s a pretty heavy quote that has inspired this entire post. To answer the last part of it; I am refining the content of the Greenwich Meridian memoir about our family immigration saga.
Inspired by Stephen and Owen King’s cooperation on the latest “Sleeping Beauties: A Novel”, I asked my mom Ella to write two chapters for the memoir. I would not be able to write them, because during mom’s second time around in the USA, I wasn’t with her. I was still back in Czechoslovakia.
I wrongfully called Chapter 13, “First years in America.” And surely mom struggled with that, because it was her second time around from 1980 to present. After more than an hour on the phone, we clarified that.
During mom’s writing process, dad discovered a precious document; his bio when he was applying for jobs. It was stored away in old luggage in the basement, where I would have never found it.
This document, probably from the 1970s, and my parents’ involvement will help move the memoir along. For months, I struggled with it. I got stuck halfway through the manuscript.
Festival of Faith & Writing attracts speakers and panelists from all genres
“I need the rigor and radicalism of friendship to be a poet, to be anything, really.”
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Grand Rapids, MI – The three-day Festival of Faith & Writing was jam-packed with speakers, workshops, book signings and exhibitors. It started under the blue skies and ended with freezing rain on Saturday at the Prince Conference Center.
I had trouble picking workshops due to conflicting times and variety. Of course, I didn’t want to miss anything. Some sessions required pre-registration, and those were full three weeks ahead of the conference.
On Thursday, I attended “Self-Editing to Take Your Writing to the Next Level” with Erin Bartels. The lecture room was filled to the last seat.
“Schedule writing time and protect it,” she said. “Find an accountability partner. You owe it to people to get that done. Get involved in writing groups.”
Suggested reading: “The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile” by Noah Lukeman.
The keynote speaker Kwame Alexander, poet and educator, first showed a picture of his tour bus. Yes, Alexander uses a bus to promote his books, wherever he goes, including at Farmer’s Markets. He received the 2015 Newberry Medal for novel “The Crossover
In his speech “Saying Yes to the Writerly Life”, Alexander said yes many times in his life, including to building a library and a health center in Ghana.
Historical fiction is huge and authors Natashia Deon and Suzanne Wolfe spoke to that in “Walking the Line between Fact and Fiction in Historical Novels.”
Deon is an attorney by day, and a novelist at night.
“I want to rescue people from history,” she said. “I write the story first, and then fill in the gaps with history research.”
Wolfe said she treats characters like they never died.
“You write what you know. I am alive and I am human. My character is alive. Augustine is not dead, Shakespeare is alive. They arepart of the conversation. I bawled over Augustine,” she said.
Deon’s novel “Grace” won the 2017 First Novel Prize. Wolfe is the author of “Unveiling: A Novel and Confessions of X.”
The #Me Too movement came up for discussion during several sessions including: “Silence and Beauty” in the Sister Books of Shusaku Endo and Makoto Fujimura.
“Insight and goodwill will heal us,” said Shann Ray, instructor.