Tag Archives: inspiration

Taurus clarifies content & goals

Parents get involved in memoir to move it along

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

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.

Actually, my mom’s Narcissism and my own, sidetracked me, that I completely forgot about dad.

“He started the whole immigration,” she said. “I didn’t even know what the word meant before 1968.”

For me, this is a huge lesson that I have learned.; clarify, consolidate and cooperate on your writing projects.

http://www.tarot.com/daily-horoscope/taurus

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

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FFW 2018

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.”

-Natalie Diaz-

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.

The festival goers were not afraid to discuss Toxic  relationships.

To be continued with “Daughters Writing about Mothers, ” “Writing the Wrinkles in Time” and film at the festival.

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

April, poetry month inspirations

I ‘ve been getting in my inbox selected poetry from the Knopf Doubleday Publishing.

I chose to do that, once I found out that April showers not only bring May flowers, but also some of the best poems. So, I get a poem-a-day.

Today, “Louie Lies” poem by Philip Levine arrived.

I was so enchanted by it, that I bought the book “The Last Shift.”

Now, poetry has always inspired me; everything from French poet Charles Baudelaire, Czech poet Jiri Wolker, American poet Stanley Kunitz to my Rumanian friend Valeriu Dg Barbu.

And now this delight by Levine came just in time to further inspire my writing video shoot tomorrow @LowellArts.

I am finalizing the script for the video today. I want to have it on hand when I talk about my writings at various events.

Whenever I explain the creative process from idea to final product; whether a book, a screenplay, video or movie, I start with the empty room analogy.

This originates in Picasso’s: “Give me a museum, and I will fill it.”

You need a Faceless room to put a face to it.

I will post a link to it once we’re done. I am really excited about the video. Screen and playwrighting are my second love.

I wrote a full-feature film screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” @emmapalova in 2009 that I am looking to produce.

I ‘ve also been following my Indian friend and moviemaker Ashray Dravidian on his film making journey with his latest short film “Nirvana.”

Subscribe to Emma Blogs LLC E-newsletter to stay in the loop.

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

Czech Easter traditions in 2018

Happy Easter

Czech Easter lasts four days from Good Friday to Easter Monday

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

The major difference between Czech and American Easter, is that Czech Republic has an Easter Monday celebration.

On Easter Monday, the custom in the villages calls for “whipping” of the girls and women to commemorate Christ’s whipping before he was crucified. Boys and men braid the whips from willow branches.

The teams head out early in the morning on Easter Monday. The ladies of the house always have ready ribbons to tie to the whips, shots of plum brandy and colored eggs. The leader of the team carries the longest whip with the most ribbons.

Some carry wooden “rattles” that make deafening noises ushering in the jolly “whipping team.” The rattles were used instead of church bells. Legend has it that the church bells left for Rome.

Slovak variation on Monday Easter features pouring water or cologne on girls and women.

Women color the eggs quite often in onion skins for natural brown look. Depending on the region, the Easter feast features “kolache,” a festive traditional pastry of modest origins. Kolache are common also in Czech communities across the USA; Cedar Rapids, Bannister, West Texas and countless others.

 

The Easter meal, again depending on the region, will be most likely “rizek” which is a breaded pork, veal or rabbit fried steak with mashed potatoes accompanied by home-made preserved fruits.

Roasted goose or duck can be an alternative.

In Moravia, the host will offer a shot of plum brandy to greet you at the doorstep. The plum brandies are a pride of each household, and as such they differ based on the plums. Plum brandies are made in local distilleries with equal pride in their craft.

Families get together from far and near to duscuss the latest news; who died, who got married or divorced and to gossip about neighbors and friends.

When we transferred Czech customs to North America in the 1990s, we kept the Easter “whipping”, the plum shots, while adding the American egg hunt and having a leg of lamb with herbs for Easter dinner.

We do miss the “kolache” pastry, since I do not know how to make kolache, and my mom Ella is still in Venice, Florida.

I cannot make the lamb-shaped pound cake, because I don’t have the form for it. The pound cake is easy to make, once you have the form, but the “kolache” remain a skillfull art.

My brother Vas colored the eggs this year using wax.

Stay tuned for posts about Czech traditions in America including the elusive “kolache.”

 

Pictured above: Easter lamb pound cake, colored eggs called “kraslice”, braided whips and a wooden rattle.

The feature photo: Gentle whipping on Easter at the Pala household somewhere in Midwest America. Pictured are: Ludek Pala, Jakub Pala & Maranda Palova.

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

Happy International Women’s Day

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign theme is #PressforProgress which calls for action to press forward and progress gender parity.

Now, more than ever it takes on a new meaning in light of the recent events not just exclusive to Hollywood and the politicians.

The campaign gives us five options of positive behaviours toward gender equality starting with maintaining a gender parity mindset all the way to celebrating women’s achievements.

I have chosen all five. But long before this campaign I had the positive influence of celebrating womanhood in the old country.  The socialist government encouraged the celebration of IWD.

One of my favorite memories from the former socialist Czechoslovakia is the celebration of the International Women’s Day (IWD), both at work and at home.

The country very much valued its female population to the point that women could stay on a maternity leave for up to three years without losing their job. They received 60 percent of their salary for the first two years of their maternity leave with full salary for the first six months.

The nurseries were free as well as other preschool child-care establishments. While capitalism swiped all that away, the country did manage to keep all its old holidays along with the new ones. The country doubled up on fun when they picked back up Mother’s Day with the advance of the free market economy, and retained International Women’s Day from the past.

I still see well wishes to women from my Czech friends on Facebook on this day. Now, that warms my heart; the fact that both systems acknowledge a woman’s place in the society and in the workplace.

We used to get flowers or pantyhose at work, or the other way around at home. Even though now I don’t get either for this day, I still dedicate a memory, a post, or a wish to all the women in the world.

Inspired by the IWD tradition, I started my most popular story series, “Inspiring Women” in the winter of 2014. The series features women that are making a difference in their communities.

Since then, I have featured women from all walks of life: small town politicians, businesswomen, sportswomen, nuns, artists, doctors, herbalists, bloggers and many more. Each woman told her own story, and they were all inspiring. They are the
Fabric of their families and communities.

Just to name a few: Gail Lowe, Liz Baker, Betty Dickinson, Sharon Ellison, Betty Morlock, Mary Dailey Brown, Kathleen Mooney and most recently Betsy Davidson.

If you run into them, say thank you. Nominate a woman who has inspired you for a story.

Link to IWD is: https://internationalwomensday.com

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

Five years on WordPress

What I have learned while blogging on the WordPress platform

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – It’s hard to believe that yesterday marked five years since my registration on WordPress. My first post “About” followed on Jan. 15, 2013.

Some people asked me at my author’s book signings of Shifting Sands Short Stories, why do you need a blog, if you have a Facebook page. There are at least a million reasons to blog; for me the most important one was to support my fiction career.

anniversary-2x
Five years on WordPress.

I had a successful journalistic print career for two decades, and I wanted to build on that following with a virtual audience.  When I embarked on penning our immigration saga from communist Czechoslovakia titled “Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West” agent Barbara Lowenstein of Lowestein Associates Inc. suggested I need a blog/website.

I didn’t have a Facebook page, so I startedmy blog on WordPress with 0 followers that grew to two brave pioneers, Lowell artist Kathleen Mooney and Vergennes Broadband owner Ryan Peel. My Twitter account was  insignificant.

Over the years, I built the blog out just like you would build a fortress, stone by stone, wall by wall; that is post by post, page by page.

I’ve compiled  the following Q&A based on what people asked me in person and on the Internet. These include my insights gained over the last five years, including the publishing of my new book in the summer of 2017 on kdp publishing platform.

Q & A:

Q:How often do you post?

A: Twice a week, usually on Tuesdays and Fridays before the weekend.

Q: What do you write about on a weekly basis that grows your following?

A: You have to be able to offer a value to your readers based on the subject matter of your blog. Be relevant.

For example: if you have a food blog (and I do), give out recipes.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Everyday life and writing. As an author and a writer, I write every day. Even if it’s not writing behind the computer screen, I write in my wide ruled spiral notebook.  I jot down notes of everyday observations. I always keep these handy for future reference.

Q: What kind of insights have you gained during your blogging & author careers?

A: This is where I have to distinguish between blogging and being an author of fiction.

Even though one feeds into the other, that is blogging feeds into my fiction writing and vice versa, there is a difference.

Blogging: Numbers matter, that’s why you have to work the social media relentlessly. Connect your social media platforms to your blog. Post on a regular basis. Build a faithful following.

Fiction writing:  Write every day solid blocks of coherent text. Seek feedback, reviews and build a network of contacts. Make public appearances so people know about you.

In both cases, nurture the contacts in your network with a monthly newsletter. Enahnce writing with videos and book trailers.

In the sea of daily published new books in different formats, you cannot expect the reader to find you. You have to find the right reader to match what you have written.

Q: Where and when does it all come together?

A: It all comes together once you’re published on publishing and readers’ platforms.

Publishing platforms:

Kdp publishing on Amazon. Update your author centrale page.

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

 

Readers’ platforms

Goodreads authors

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16875736.Emma_Palova

Summary: In both blogging and as an author encourage engagement with reviews, questions and feedback.

As such, I will be actively answering your questions until my departure for writer’s retreat in Florida on Feb. 8 on all platforms. Use slug: Emma answers.

Tips: You Study  the forums and help materials on WordPress.

You not only study the materials, but you implement everything that you have learned. Don’t forget to visit other blogs.on the Dai ly Post round-up. They are a constant source of inspiration.

To get discovered and for further insights: Participate in the Daily Post prompts

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/

Happy blogging and writing.

Thank you WordPress for providing this free platform to all writers, authors and dreamers around the globe.

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

First book signing in 2018

Plotting writing projects this year

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – My first book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories in 2018 is today at @LowellArts from 1 to 4 pm in the beautiful new location of the gallery in downtown Lowell. Stop by to chat with local author Emma Palova.

“I love the opportunity to chat with my fans during the book signings made possible by local venues such as Lowell Arts,” Emma said. “I’ve always been their fan in everything they do to represent all arts.”

Check out the book trailer by Doc Emma of Fixin’, France. Doc is also in charge of the audio production of the book.

The video Evokes the mood of the book set in hometown America.

Link to trailer:

You can buy a copy of my new book locally at @SchulerBooks in GR, Lansing or on Amazon.
I will be offering writing tips for your projects in 2018.
I am currently working on Shifting Sands: Secrets, Book 2 (c) 2018 Emma Palova. I have also resumed work on Greenwich Meridian: East meets West. Follow me on my author’s journey for insights and adventure.

My next book signing will be on Feb. 3 at Lowell Arts from 1 to 4 p.m. Make plans to stop by for insights and adventure.

Currently, on display at the gallery are the Grand Valley Artists-In View.

For more info on LowellArts go to:

https://www.lowellartsmi.org

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

Book a friend

Books are perfect gifts for any age. They put a smile on a child’s face as they hold their first book in their little hands for the first time.

They also put a smile on your friend’s or grandma’s face s they glance at another new novel yet.

There’s still time to buy a book this week as a last minute gift. Just in the “Nick” of time.

Featured photo: Illustration of the nativity scene by Czech illustrator  & writer Josef Lada.

via Book as a friend

Building a fan base

Building a fan base long before the book or screenplay are done is paramount.

How do you build a fan base?

Fan by fan.  The best place to start are social media. Start a page on Facebook, that you can later connect to your WordPress blog. Also do twitter.

Blogging for a writer is essential. It was the first recommendation I got from an agent.

“Start blogging,” agent Barbara Lowenstein said. “You should be writing reviews like crazy.”

I started blogging in January of 2013 to build my fan base.  I chose WordPress for its impeccable reputation. I started with two follows from friends. Typically, I post twice a week.

What to post?

Give fans a value in your writings; whether it’s inspiration, information, entertainment, insights or a reprieve.

The best posts are relevant to what you are working on. Write about how you came up with the idea for your book, screenplay or business. How does it impact other people?

Why do you feel your work is important, and not just to you?

I can answer this one based on my new collection of short stories “Shifting Sands.”

The reason I put the collection of stories that span more than two decades, was preservation. I knew they would just get lost with time. I wrote some of them on my Smith Corona word processor with only a small screen that showed at the max three to four lines. I bought it for $450 in 1990 at a Kmart store in Big Rapids.

Later, I continued to build my fan base with my journalism career. But, I always had the book in mind first. It was the goal of my life.

Now, that the book is out, I continue to build my fan base with book signings and public appearances. I give it away at raffles.

I accommodate my fans by reaching out to them with also a private book signing, when they already bought one book for themselves and now they want it for a relative as a gift.

I made brochures about me and  my book that I hand out wherever I can. I send out newsletters to my mailing list. If you don’t have one, create one. Use  MailChimp. It’s free up to 2,000 emails.

Don’t just rely on the Internet to market your work. Be personal and be in the public eye. People love meeting up live with authors.

“How many people can say, they had an author at their museum,” said vice-president Tina Siciliano Cadwallader.

Plus, I love meeting up with fellow authors like Glad Fletcher during Christmas through Lowell. At the age of 80, she took a class so she could pen her memoir “My Garden of Stones.”

Glad is 85 now, and does all her own book marketing including public speaking.

My other favorite local author is the Oakwood Cemetery sexton Don DeJong. I bought his book, he bought mine. He writes stories about the people buried at the cemetery using old newspaper records.

Does being an author carry a responsibility?

You bet it does. People have expectations from you.  You have to live up to them.

Whether people read your book or not is a factor you cannot control. The main thing is if they have it in their library. I read an interesting post from “Brain Pickings” on Facebook about the importance of having books at home, even if you’re not going to read all of them. It doesn’t mean you are ignorant or that you’re wastefully spending your money.

Why would you want a book that you’re not going to read?

It’s the energy behind the book that counts. You never know when you’re going to pick it up and just browse through it or use a Snippet for inspiration. I have tons of books that I use for inspiration including poetry and haiku. I also look for book cover ideas, formatting and quotations.

I compare my library to my garden and the books to my flowers. I don’t cut or pick all my flowers, but I enjoy all of them in their natural environment. They inspire and comfort me by their presence.

How do you stay motivated?

Solid motivation is a must to finish your work, whatever it may be. For me motivation is accomplishment. I need to have that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. The fans are also motivation when they ask you about your next book.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

All around me in daily happenings, in old magazines and newspapers. I also find inspiration in arts and old pictures.

When I had my book signing at the Lowell Arts Gallery, I was inspired by other artists’ energy and expression.

How do you filter through ideas?

Sometimes, I have too many ideas and I don’t know how to connect them. Then, I have to discard some or jot them down in my diary. I prioritize. Now, that I am working on my second book of short stories, I made an index of them. I can shuffle the stories around, as inspiration comes. You can do the same with book chapters or scenes.

What matters the most?

The most important is every day writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. Later, it will make sense. Establish your own writing routine. Listen to your fans and followers. They are your valuable readers.

Now this all could just be a theory if not put to work.

For more info on “Brain Pickings” go to: https://www.brainpickings.org

Watch for my series “Year in Review.”

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

Loyal public servant

Note: This article is part of a new series “Inspiring Communities.” This is the second installment following the article about Arctic Heating & Cooling owner Evert Bek “Installing water filters in Haiti.”

Nominate a person who has inspired you.

Former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges retires

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – After 23 years of public service, former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges has decided it is time to move on. He officially retired from the Lowell City Council on Nov. 6, 2017.

EW Jim Hodges retires
Former mayor Jim Hodges retires from the Lowell City Council after 23 years.

He started his successful career in public service in 1982 as the director of YMCA, which at the time functioned as the city recreational department.

“A connection with the city was established,” he said, “I attended meetings.”

In 1991, Hodges became the chairperson for the Lowell Area Schools millage campaign. He helped pass two millage proposals.

He applied for the city council seat in 1988, and he was elected to two four-year terms. In 1997, he was defeated in an election by 20 votes. Hodges took a break from the Lowell City Council for six years.

In 2004, he became a city council member all over again after being asked to run by Jeanne Shores, who became the mayor twice through 2009. Shores was the only female mayor the city of Lowell has ever had.

“Because of my loyalty and friendship, I encouraged Jeanne to run,” Hodges said.

“I have always encouraged women to run. It’s crazy not to. Everybody needs to be involved in politics to get a better balance and diversity in the society. Otherwise you’re cutting your assets in half.”

Due to Shores’ sickness, Hodges became the acting mayor in 2008.

All throughout his public service, Hodges believed in respecting others opinions and diversity.

“I have three big takeaways from my public service,” he said.

The first takeaway was to pay tribute to Shores; Hodges arranged for her to run her last meeting on Dec. 21 in 2009 from a wheelchair and named her mayor emeritus.

The second takeaway was negotiating for Dave Pasquale, manager of 23 years, to take retirement.

The third takeaway was putting a traffic light at the intersection of Bowes Road and Alden Nash.

“As the mayor, you have to be less bold and more proper than as a council member,” he said.

In an era of corrupt politics and improper behavior of various officials, Hodges was one of a kind. He was always diplomatic and smiling his impeccable smile.

Public service came with the good and the bad: the deaths of mayor emeritus Shores and council member Jim Hall, as well as the clash between the personalities on the city council.

There were some controversies during the more than two decades of service in a relatively quiet community on the banks of the Flat and Grand rivers.

Some pertained to the firing of the previous city manager Mark Howe. Other controversies involved the police chiefs; one had resigned, the other chief Steve Bukala was put on first paid administrative leave in April, and on unpaid leave in June as investigation into misusing police database and subsequent charges took place.

Since, then Bukala has been reinstated.

“It will make him a better police chief,” said Hodges. “It adds another dimension of being a better professional. We have a solid team of people working together. Steve brings leadership to them as we move forward.”

Hodges had the vision to locate the chamber building on the current Riverwalk in downtown Lowell.

And would Mr. Hodges do it all over again?

“Absolutely,” he said smiling. “I would like to think that I have helped. I like a variety of people and this has given me the chance to meet many different people.”

Hodges also takes pride in being able to balance his third shift work at Amway with his public service which included meetings in the evening or in the morning.

“You have to be disciplined,” he said.

He plans on traveling with his wife Chris and enjoying their grandson.

“I hope I have added some humor and entertainment,” he said.

Following are some moments in time from Hodges’ tenure with the city of Lowell. Hodges participated in countless city parades and in the Riverwalk flushing of the city manager.

A Loyal public servant.

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