Tag Archives: inspiration

40th Wedding Anniversary

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.

us

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.

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.

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Join Motown Literacy Writers’ network

Set yourself apart, be unique and bold

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

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.

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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.

Author branding

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.”

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.

To join the Motown network click below.

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#MotownWriters Article: The Basics of Author Branding

Source of quote:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway

For info on LowellArts go to https://www.lowellartsmi.org

Link to #WGVU interview:

http://www.wgvunews.org/post/shifting-sands

My author’s events:

Aug. 4 th 1-3 p.m. Emma’s book signing at #LowellArts

Aug. 6th  7 to 9 p.m.  LowellArts panel discussion with poet Ian Haight

Sept. 16 & 17 Fallasburg Village Bazaar 1- to 3 p.m. at the one-room schoolhouse.

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

Writer’s steps

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.”

Ludington Writers' Rendezvous
Authors (left to right) Jeanie Mortensen and Emma Palova of Lowell share a giggle.

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.

“My next thing is the parade,” he said.

Tilton promotes his book using a parade float. I immediately felt inspired. Of course, I love parades. Parades inspired my screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns”© Emma Palova. I am looking for a producer.

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.

https://www.lowellartsmi.org

Copyright © 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.