Tag Archives: inspiration

Summer Solstice 2018

Welcome summer

By Emma Palova

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.”

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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.

 

 

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87th Annual Writing Competition

Writer’s Digest Writing Competition deadline is today

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – My latest news is that I submitted a short story for the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition right on the deadline today, June 1st.

It has many advantages. That’s how I accumulated short stories for my first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” Sure, you have to pay the $35 entry fee, but you have content enough for a book.

There are nine entry categories including: script, stage play or television/movie script.

The poetry fee is $20. I’ve been a subscriber to the Writer’s Digest for at least 20 years. It’s essential for writers.

What I do like about the magazine that it is entertaining and full of advice.

I’ll keep you posted on the results. You still have time to enter.

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

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.

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.”

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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.

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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