Tag Archives: National Novel Writing Month

NANOWRIMO DAY 27

Grateful for NaNoWriMo

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – As the 50k National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge winds down and Thanskgiving is upon us, I have decided to share this letter from its director Grant Faulkner. It expresses exactly how I feel about the challenge, its impact and reaching writing goals way beyond the formidable 50,000K mark.

Deep inside me, I feel like I’ve always been a part of this collective effort to share our stories with the world, even though I have participated and won only twice in NaNoWriMo’s 20 years of existence. If I had known about it, I would have always participated to make a difference in this world, and not just to appease my ego.

I would like to thank all the wrimos and my readers for support. Stay tuned for a separate post on my writing day no. 27- Velvet Revolution.

For my project I chose the completion of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S.

As of today, I have logged on my NaNoWriMo dashboard 55,895 words with Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West.

The memoir will be available for pre-order on Amazon at the end of January.

Don’t forget to shop Black Friday deals on my books no. 1 & no. 2 from the Shifting Sands Short Stories collections by clicking on the following link:

https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Books make a great Christmas gift.

From Grant Faulkner

Dear writer,

The other day, I was talking to a Wrimo at a write-in, and she told me how she didn’t go to write-ins for several years because she was too nervous. She worried that she’d walk into a room without knowing anyone and be greeted by cold, quizzical stares.

But that didn’t happen. 

“When I walked in, people greeted me, asked me about my novel, and gave me snacks and tea. I felt like I belonged,” she said.

The ostensible goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but as I talked with this writer, I was reminded how NaNoWriMo is about much more than that. It’s about expanding your world through your story. It’s about going places you might be afraid to go. It’s about connecting to something larger than yourself—both on the page and beyond. 

It’s about belonging, in short. We find belonging in our stories because our stories show us how our longings and our needs aren’t just ours alone, but part of something larger, something more universal. That’s important because when you feel you belong, you can do big things.

So I’m pausing today to thank you for helping to create a world of belonging through our stories. I thank you for welcoming people into write-ins and tweeting encouragement to writers you might not even know. I thank you for creating this community that is somehow the largest table of writers in the world, yet still feels so personal, so intimate, and so generous. 

Grateful for a world where people find a home in their stories,

Grant Faulkner
Executive Director
43,174 words and counting….

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 24

Greenwich Meridian memoir continues with excerpt

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I continued this morning with the translation of mom’s memories of our fatal return to Czechoslovakia in 1973 following the presidential amnesty to political prisoners such as us. We fell into this category for illegally leaving the country in 1970.

Excerpt: Presidential amnesty, fatal return to Czechoslovakia in 1973

In her own words

The kids went back to the school in the fall for their third year in Hawkins, Texas. Vaclav liked his job at the college, so everything continued in the same rhythm including my light work as a housewife in our household. I was homesick, I missed my country, my friends and my job at the pharmacy. I didn’t expect any changes and I didn’t try anything new either, I fell into despair firmly convinced that nothing would ever change. 

Home in Vizovice, Czech Republic
Vizovice, our hometown in Czech Republic.

However, a change came; one that I would never expect. As the new year 1973 arrived, Czechoslovakia was celebrating the 25th anniversary of communism known as the “Victorious February” or the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’etat. In that year, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia with Soviet backing assumed the undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, marking the onset of four decades of communist rule in the country.

The Czech coup of 1948 had extensive consequences in the Western world.

President Gustav Husak issued an amnesty to political prisoners who illegally left the country and were tried for it. That meant that we could return back home to Czechoslovakia without the risk of going to prison. I could not believe that God heard my prayers and that I could return back to the homeland. 

Within two weeks, I received approximately 10 letters from Czechoslovakia with newspaper clips about the presidential amnesty. I was determined to return to Czechoslovakia with the kids with or without my husband Vaclav; this wasn’t the life for me in Texas. I was extremely happy and immediately responded to all the letters stating that I was going back home. 

To be continued…..

Note: Watch for Black Friday countdown deal on Amazon for Shifting Sands Short Stories book 1 and book 2. Books make a great gift and a great souvenir from Michigan.

Stay tuned for pre-order information on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/emmapalova

Black Friday countdown deal on Amazon for Shifting Sands Short Stories.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO WINNER 2019

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – By logging in 3,751 words in the NaNoWriMo 2019, I am officially a winner of the 50K -word challenge with my memor about the family immigration saga. Yay! I never thought I would get it done. I have yet to complete a translation of three pages of mom Ella’s memories from Texas and review the entire memoir.

NaNoWriMo memoir insights

I entered the challenge this year to complete the memoir that I divided into two halves after hitting a dead end at chapter 11. I did extensive prep work in October including translations of mom’s memories from her immigration ordeal since 1968 and the translation of the “Chronicle of Velvet Revolution.”

Dad Vaclav and mom Ella

The memoir anchors in two major historical events in Czechoslovakia: Prague Spring, 1968 and Velvet Revolution, 1989. It’s an epic saga of love and passion for math, between the main characters, mom Ella and dad Vaclav. These major driving forces took our family across three continents. My own second-generation experience is intertwined in the memoir, as I am the storyteller.

I had to break down different chapters and create a timeline in order to navigate the events of more than 50 years. Once I had the timeline, I filled in the missing years with my parents’ own accounts of their immigration experiences.

What propelled the memoir ahead was the change from a travel account to the experience of immigration in all its dimensions. That was the pain of being separated both from homeland and from each other, offset by dad’s passion for math.

I arrived at an interesting conclusion while writing the memoir: for mom, imigration was a sacrifice to dad and to us, so we could live in a free country. For dad, immigration was a way to teach math without the fear of being persecuted in a socialist country. For me, immigration set me free to create and for Ludek it was a dream come true to build our own house and live the American dream.

Stay tuned for excerpts.

Ask questions right here:

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC, All rights reserved.

NANOWRIMO DAY 18

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – I worked on a draft chapter “Consolidation” about life in Czechoslovakia before mom’s second departure for the U.S. earlier this morning up to 1980. I logged in a grand total of 40, 537 words in the NaNoWriMo 50k word challenge.

I described Czech Christmas traditions and the major differences between Czech and American cultures. My author’s gig at the Lowell Area Historical Museum helped me add another dimension to our immigration saga from socialist Czechoslovakia.

Mary Lacy of M&M Prescious Gems at the Lowell Area Historical Museum

I talked about the memoir with fellow vendors Mike and Mary Lacy of M&M Prescious Gems from Grand Rapids during Christmas through Lowell. We shared a 28-hour workload over three days under the watchful eyes of the Lowell Board of Trade 1908 and the portrait of one of Mr. Graham’s wives. Mr. Graham built the Italianate structure of the museum in 1873.

“Were you scared in Czechoslovakia?” Mary asked me on Sunday.

I had to think really hard if I was ever scared living in a socialist country under the Soviet rule in the hardline 1970s and 1980s.

“I was careful, but not scared,” I said. “Unless you were a political activist like late Vaclav Havel, you were just an ordinary person, and they didn’t care about you.”

By that, I meant the communist party and the whole political system didn’t really care about a regular citizen. However, we were under surveillance after our return to Czechoslovakia in 1973, since we were tried for illegally leaving the country.

True, you had to be careful about what you said in public, because there were spies. Plus, there was a religious prohibition. We were afraid to go to church, especially my dad and aunt, who were teachers.

Excerpt: Differences between the two cultures

People often ask me what are some of the differences between the two cultures: Czech and American. Many differences have disappeared after the communist regime fell with the Velvet Revolution in 1989.  However, judging from visits and people’s posts on social media, phone calls with friends and family, the attitude toward life in general hasn’t changed. It is a mix of pessimism with a twist of evil in the response to a typical Czech greeting “How are you?” 

“It’s worth shit.,” anyone will say at any given time. 

The honest answer holds an entire spectrum of emotions including the disappointment from the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution as capitalism stuck out one of its ugly heads like Medusa. The gap between the rich and the poor in Czech Republic is getting wider and wider, as there are few rich people, while the majority struggles. Traditionally, the Czechs envied each other’s possessions, but with capitalism the envy maxed out into hatred usually directed toward politicians and the past that cannot be changed. Whenever anything bad happened, it was usually the other person’s fault. There is a general lack of responsibility among the population for anything whether bad or good. That is the legacy of communism; no one was responsible for anything because the almighty Communist Party took care of everything for you. There was very little left for you to do; go to work, get some groceries and watch TV. 

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

In observance of Veterans Day 2019, nano day 11

Thank a veteran today for service to our country.

NaNoWriMo continues with Day 11 with excerpt from Greenwich Meridian

By Emma Palova

As I look outside my writing studio window on this Veteran’s Day, I see a white blanket of snow covering my beautiful garden.

NaNoWriMo 2019

According to the Czech calendar, it’s also St. Martin’s Day or the Feast of St. Martin. Tradition has it that if it snows on Nov. 11, then St. Martin has arrived on a white horse and there will be snow on Christmas Day. However, if it doesn’t snow on this day, then St. Martin came on a dark horse and Christmas will not be white, but muddy.

So, it’s looking like we’re going to have a white Christmas in Michigan.

I’ve been working since 9 a.m. on my NaNoWriMo project- the completion of the Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West memoir about our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA, spanning two generations.

I logged in 1,707 words for a total of 25,404 words. I spent a good deal of time on revisions. Revisions are more time encompassing than creating brand new content.

I wrapped up my NaNo writing about 30 minutes ago with chapter “Sad homecoming.” Just like the title hints, it was a sad homecoming in June of 1973 when we returned from USA to former Czechoslovakia.

Here is an excerpt:

When we got off  Boeing 747 in London to change flights to Prague, I cried and cried. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, as I realized that we were back in Europe. But the main shock was yet to come at the Prague Ruzyne Airport. We arrived sometime in June of 1973, so it was hot. At the airport customs, we were immediately rushed to the side into a peculiar enclosure, a cell-like structure.  Other people were waiting in the small room as well. 

“But my parents are waiting for us,” mom argued in vain with the custom officials who took away the passports and other documents. At the time, my parents had three passports, and a female custom official took them away from mom. 

“You’re going to Trebotov,” the official said with a rigid face. 

“Why? What is in Trebotov?” she asked. “I don’t know anything about it. And my parents are waiting for me,” mom said as she struggled to free herself from the official who grabbed her by the arm. 

“Let me go,” she said. “I need to talk to them.” 

“No, you’re going to the quarantine,” the female official said firmly. 

I looked at mom. She was scared, and confused not knowing what was going on. There were more immigrants from different parts of the world waiting to be transported to the so called “quarantine” in Trebotov. We weren’t allowed to talk to each other. 

“What quarantine? We’re not sick,” mom raised her voice. “We just returned from the USA for the presidential amnesty.” 

The female official was uncompromising, and she was like most officials very unpleasant. She was dressed in a uniform with a rigid face. After endless checking of documents and luggage, we were escorted to a black 603 Tatra government car. The driver took us on what seemed to be an endless tour through the countryside of the Central Bohemia region west of Prague. Mom cried the entire way, while we had no idea where we were going. The car was moving fast on narrow country roads, and it all just turned into a blur. We finally stopped in front of an old austere building with a gate and a fence. 

To be continued…

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

NANAOWRIMO DAY 8

The structure of Greenwich Meridian- Save the Cat! Beat Sheet (NaNo- Style)

By Emma Palova

I woke up in the dark to a freezing morning. The temperature was 23 degrees Fahrenheit, we’re 30 degrees below average November temperatures in Michigan; perfect weather for writing.

I logged in a total of 16,336 words on my NaNo 2019 dashboard that tracks daily writing progress in the National Novel Writing Month 50K challenge. My daily count was only sligthly above 1,000 words, but I organized the structure of the memoir according to Save the Cat! beat sheet for graphic novels.

Structure of Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West NaNo- Style

I introduced my dad math professor Vaclav Konecny as a young man on the brink of his first adventure, unhappy with the status quo in the communist Czechoslovakia in mid 1960s.

Here is an excerpt:

Young math professor Vaclav Konecny feared the communist regime that prohibited the society to practice religion and the teachers were the main target of this religious prohibition in Czechoslovakia under the Marxist philosophy.

Ironically, he studied at an austere seminary in Kromeriz where he acquired his iron-clad discipline that lasts to this day.

He grabbed the opportunity to teach Applied Mathematics in Khartoum, Sudan as a way out of the restrictions that he called the “cage” in 1964.

To be continued

Copyright (c) 2019 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Nano prep 2 with excerpt

Greenwich Meridian: Where East meets West

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – Today, during my morning writing session, I ventured into our U.S. naturalization, as well as answering the most important question for a writer.

How has America changed me?

Michigan authors at the Lakeshore Art Festival 2019 in front of the Authors Tent.

I have broadened my horizons from a naïve person with a narrow perspective on the evils of capitalism to a responsible American citizen, who votes and participates in democracy. Rather than complaining about things, I take action to change them, when possible as in the case of my authorpreneurship.

I am proud to be a part of the Michigan Authors movement sweeping the shores from Lake Michigan to Lakes Huron & Superior. See http://michiganauthors.com/

I was naturalized in August of 1999 in a beautiful ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids along with 96 other people from around the world. I received congratulations from all over Michigan, because the Associated Press syndicated the story about my naturalization written by Kara Henigan for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard. Here is an excerpt from the Ionia Sentinel-Standard Aug. 19, 1999.

Ludek’s naturalization in October of 2018.

Emma Palova of Lowell, was among the new naturalized American citizens. She tells other people’s stories for a living as a writer for the Sentinel-Standard, but on this day, she shared her own tale, a tale of a dream fulfilled.

“The United States has always symbolized freedom for me, coming from an oppressed, communist country,” she said. “And it still does, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

Citizenship was not a necessity for her livelihood.

“It was my goal and my dream,” she said. “It is kind of a closure.”

My husband Ludek was naturalized last year in October, also at the Gerald R. Ford Museum. Ludek takes his citizenship very seriously, and always asks me about candidates, proposals and follows the debates.

The story about his naturalization appeared in the Lowell Ledger on Oct. 24, 2018.

At his ceremony, magistrate Hon. Ray Kent congratulated the new citizens with these words:

“Write the next great chapter in the history of this country.”

That statement is still ringing in my ears as I write this chapter of the memoir. Ludek has already voted in the last school election. Voting is a privilege. Back in communist Czechoslovakia, we could only vote for one party- the Communist Party. It defeated the purpose of voting at all.

Tomorrow I will dive into the tentacles of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, led by dissident playwright late Vaclav Havel.

Copyright (c) 2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

National Novel Writing Month – winner 2018

Daily insights from #nanowrimo with story excerpts

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings 

Lowell, MI – What does NaNoWriMo mean to me?

I can only answer this question now that I have completed the 50K creative project and claimed the Winner 2018 cetificate.

NaNoWriMo is like a powerful fuel that you need to keep you going. You also have to keep on refueling as often as possible. It’s a gauge that efficiently measures your progress as you go.

Secondly, I have realized that there is no such a thing as a writer’s block; only slumps, slowdowns and funks around the Thanksgiving holiday and on Sundays.

Is creative activity as mysterious as we all think? Yes. You don’t know at the end of the day, what you’re going to come up with.

Is it scary? It can be, if you don’t know what your character is going to do next.

The creative project required a lot of discipline without credits or end of the year bonuses. But, also you were your own boss in determining when and how you were going to accomplish the 50K challenge.

I was amused by some of the questions on social media like: “What is your favorite writing drink?”

Mine is definitely tea, because I get a headache from drinking a lot of coffee.

Will I do it again in 2019? Most likely yes.

Would I recommend it? It depends on your writing goals. Fifty-thousand words is a nice chunk to start with.

Is it doable with kids and a full-time job? It depends on your partner on how many house chores will he or she take on.

Is writing still the most lonesome activity in the world that in the end depends on the the public’s liking or disliking? Yes.

WHAT NOW?

At the end, I committed to revision and editing, as well as writing more short stories to include in the new book “Shifting Sands: Secrets.” (c) 2019 Emma Palova.

The NaNoWriMo certificate defines a winner as:

A literal literary hero. A disciplined wordsmith.

A squirrel-suit flyer who just earned their wings…………

For more info about NaNoWriMo go to:

http://www.nanowrimo.org

My sincere thanks to the staff, organizers and pep talk authors of the NaNoWriMo creative project for support and encouragement.

I will be using  Pacemaker.press on http://www.pacemaker.press to further measure my progress into the publishing of the new anthology of short stories.

Excerpts from “White Nights” (c) 2018 Emma Palova

It was the gossip of the village that Joe beat his wife. He was a fourth-generation farmer on the largest farming plat in the village.

In front of the public eye, he acted as a proper man. Joe did everything that was expected of the largest landowner to do. He sat on the township board, on the school and the church boards. In spite of the gossip, he was a respected man with other great qualities than self-control.

Unlike Father Sam, he had no choice of what he wanted do. He inherited the land, so he had to farm it. When farming got tough with the dumping of the cheap apple juice from China in the late 1990s, his two brothers decided to get out of working with dirt. They went to work forthe largest milling company out by Shimnicon Corners. At that time, Joe too had to seek his soul, after beating one of them near death.

“You will never cross the threshold of my house,” he yelled that winter when they fought over the buyout money. “Where do you think I am going to get two million bucks?

They left anyways, and Joe owed them for the rest of his life. Joe sold off land fordevelopment and paid off some of the money, while making enemies with other farmers.

NaNoWriMo sponsors

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

Days 24 through Nov. 26 of National Novel Writing Month

Insights from #nanowrimo with excerpts

National Novel Writing Month.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – This morning I finished “Oceans Away” stort story and I started “Fallasburg Code.” I logged in with 47,568 words in the 50K word marathon. I would like to finish by Wednesday or Thursday depending on how the last two stories go.

This was my first time participating in the National Novel Writing Month. Many people have already completed the creative project. My major takeaways are:

Finding my optimum daily writing quota of six pages or 1,500 words. The hardest part is always the start-up of new stories, on day two usually the plot unravels, and the wrap up is on day three.

I will have a total of 14 stories in the new book “Secrets” (c) 2019 Emma Palova. There were a lot of suprises for me in this one as well. In some cases, I changed titles to better fit the story. The second book is definitely not any easier than the first one.

Is it different and how?

I added some historical fiction in stories “Silk Nora” and “Fallasburg Code.”

Do I have a favorite short story? People asked me this question about the first book “Shifting Sands: Short Stories.” In this collection it is definitely “Silk Nora” which is set in my favorite time period of the 1920s.

In this sequel, I don’t dedicate as much to immigration as in the first one. Some stories like “Secrets in Ink” still draw on my newspaper writing experience.

I would like to thank the National Novel Writing Month staff for the opportunity and for the encouragement.

For more info go to:

http://www.nanowrimo.org

Excerpts from “Oceans Away”

Book cover for “Secrets” aka the Face of Gossip.

Even though she was suspicious at first, Norma went for the app and diligently filled out all the fields about herself.

Paul was good looking as she requested, blonde and tall; while she tallied up to his expectations as well, brunette and medium height and weight. Their first rendezvous was in Budapest, Hungary on a boat.

Norma insisted on neutral grounds such as Europe. It was Paul who picked the capital of Hungary for their first meeting. The app set their date on a boat “Princess” floating on the Danube to explore the river towns.

The date was expensive and exotic, that’s what they both wanted for their first time together. They had separate cabins on the boat. The first night, the boat was just anchoring in Budapest and they took a taxi into the city.

Paul proudly started first telling Norma all about himself. He was a doctor of Slavic origin, who wanted to get away from the nationalistic France. Norma wasn’t ashamed of her new job of the Warhol Museum executive director, either. She worked hard to get the job studying online for her master’s degree.

Budapest at night was like a star waiting to shine on the night sky. They sat long into the night on the deck bar on the boat eating shrimp and drinking red Hungarian wine.

“Will you come and see me in Noumea?” Paul asked on the boat looking at Norma.

Nanowrimo sponsors.

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

Happy Thanksgiving

Day 22 of the National Novel Writing Month

Daily insights with excerpts from #nanowrimo

National Novel Writing Month.

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – I would like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and followers around the globe.

As the tension in Europe intensifies with pending strikes in France and Czech Republic, I am deeply humbled by the Thanksgiving feast of hardiness and determination of our predecessors to survive.

I am thankful for this country’s abundance and the free creative spirit. I look forward to spending the holiday with our family from Big Rapids and Hastings. My deepest unfullfilled wish is for our French family to be here with us as well.

In the creative spirit of this free country, I logged in this morning with 42,578 words doing my personal part in the 50K word marathon.

The short story “40 Hunks” is a part of the new collection of short stories “Secrets” (c) 2018 Emma Palova. This is a sequel to “Shifting Sands: Short Stories” (c) 2017 Emma Palova.

It is my clear intention to see “Secrets” to print in 2019 after the revision months of January and February suppported by the National Novel Writing Month.

For more info go to:

http://www.nanowrimo.org

Excerpts from “40 Hunks”

Tracking progress at 42,578 words on Thanksgiving, 2018.

The work guide didn’t respond and turned his head away from Jose. He got immediately on the phone with the central farm.

“We’re heading out,” he said. “I need to count the heads. There’s supposed to be 40 men aboard. I need to count them to make sure I don’t have 50. We already looked in the storage; just fuel containers, no extra men.”

Jose decided to mind his own business and ignored the guide who walked to the back of the bus counting the men.

Antonio got up angrily as the guide approached the back of the bus. His shirt was ripped in the back and he had leather bracelets on his wrists. He grabbed the handle bars below the ceiling of the bus, and swayed in front of the work guide.

“How may I help you, gringo?” said Antonio in broken English. “How many times are you going to count us? There are 40 men on this bus. That doesn’t include you and the driver. I want to keep it that way until we get there.”

Antonio looked at the work guide and ripped off his name tag and threw it on the floor.

“There you go,” he laughed. “You’re nobody. You white piece of shit. Remember that.”

Antonio fell back heavily on the torn seat with white fuzz sticking out. He pulled some of the fuss out of the seat.

“I’ll stick this into your mouth, if you don’t stay quiet,” threatened Antonio.

The guide retreated to the front by Jose, who was now whistling to a tune on his cassette player.

“Man, you got a rough crowd here,” said the guide. “Who is that big dude?”

“Nobody, just like the rest of them,” said Jose. “Leave me alone. I need some rest.”

Sponsors of #nanowrimo

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