Join me this afternoon at@LowellArts gallery from 1 to 3 pm. I will be signing copies of my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories” during the Captured photo exhibit. Come and chat about your writing projects. We are experiencing renaissance in literature. It’s a great time to be a part of this movement.
While touring with my book around West Michigan, we have discovered the “Creative Endeavor”project at the Michigan News Agency (MNA)in Kalamazoo. In order to keep authors writing, MNA does not keep any profit from the local author book sales.
I will be writing more about this initiative. My son discovered this while looking for the Grand Rapids Magazine.
“To encourage our Creative Endeavor Project Writers, we will sell your books as a pass through and return all of the money to you, the authors. The News hopes this will encourage our writing communities to strive to do your work.”
For more info about this Creative Endeavor project go to:
Here is an example of a manuscript proposal that I have submitted to the Calvin College writing conference in Grand Rapids. As a standard, everything must be submitted electronically via app Submittable by a certain deadline.
Always Explore the option of submitting your manuscript to a writer’s conference. Some conferences accept manuscripts even if you are not a registered participant for a fee.
manuscript proposal for Shifting Sands Short Stories, contemporary fiction with excerpts from “Tonight on Main” and “The Temptation of Martin Duggan.”
A manuscript proposal should include the following: author’s bio, book summary including page length, book’s audience/readership, brief comparison to similar titles on the market, marketing strategies/promotion ideas, possible endorsers and chapter samples.
Emma Palova (Konecna), born in former Czechoslovakia, is a Lowell-based short story writer, novelist, screenwriter and a journalist.
Palova wrote for Czechoslovak Newsweek and Prague Reporter in the 1990s. She received bachelor’s degree from the University of Brno in 1986.
She started an eclectic collection of short stories during her studies of creative writing at the International Correspondence Schools in Montreal, and at the Grand Rapids Community College in the early 1990s.
The collection “Shifting Sands Short Stories” is now in its first edition. Palova self-published the book on the Kindle Direct Publishing (kdp) platform on Amazon in the summer of 2017.
“I did not want the stories to get lost,” she said.
The collection continues to grow with new stories in volume II of Shifting Sands: Secrets.
Palova’s passion for writing dates back to grade school in Stipa near Zlin in the region of Moravia.
“I’ve always had a knack for languages and adventure,” she said. “Our family immigration saga has been a tremendous inspiration for all my writings.”
The short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” captures some immigration details embodied by math professor Martin Duggan.
Palova’s work at a major Midwest retailer has enabled the core of the Shifting Sands stories. While working on the second shift at the women’s department, Palova wrote in the morning emulating Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits, short story form and journalistic career.
During her journalistic years, Palova continued to write fiction inspired by real life happenings as in “Iron Horse” and “Foxy.”
Palova became an American citizen in 1999 in a naturalization ceremony at Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.
In 2012, she diversified again with the digital platform WordPress. Palova founded Emma Blogs, LLC, a portfolio of blogs for marketing in 2014. She combined her passion for history and writing by working with history clients such as the Fallasburg Historical Society.
Palova wrote the screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns” in 2009. It is registered with The Writers Guild of America.
Shifting Sands: Short Stories book summary
Book complete self-published on kdp platform
The book is a collection of 13 short stories where the heroes and heroines shift their destinies like grains of sand in an hour-glass, quite to the surprise of the reader.
Sometimes the characters like the grains have to pass through the narrow part, only to emerge in a new form, that is transformed into stronger human beings. They’re packed in the crowd with others, suffering or loose by themselves, either stranded or pushed to the wall. The shifting shows that everything changes and is like a fluid energy in life.
The stories are divided into three circles. The first circle comprises stories from the early years of immigration spent between the USA and Montreal, Canada until 1993.
These would include: The Temptation of Martin Duggan, Danillo and Honey Azrael.
The second circle draws on retail experience from a Midwest store. These are: Tonight on Main, Therese’s Mind, Boxcutter Amy, Orange Nights and the Death Song.
The third circle of stories was inspired by journalistic career in the regional print newspaper and magazine media through 2012. These include: In the Shadows, Iron Horse, Foxy, Riddleyville Clowns and Chatamal.
Most of the setting is in fictive Midwest Riddleyville. The stories are a tribute to hometown characters and their hardiness to survive.
Adults 18 and up
Brief title comparison on the market
Much like in Anjali Sachdeva’s “All the Name They Used for God,” the characters in Shifting Sands Short Stories attempt to escape their fate. However, in a lesser fantasy world.
As in Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things,” the stories came into existence under different circumstances, and kept changing. Time molded these stories into unconventional shapes, as the hour-glass on the cover suggests.
As in Jeffrey Archer’s “Tell Tale” some stories are closely tied to travel like the story “In the Shadows” based on Milwaukee meetings.
And Earnest Hemingway’s classics based on reshaping different experiences: “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio” will be reflected in the works “The Writer, the Nun, and the Gardener.
The book is available throughout the Kent District Library (KDL) system in Grand Rapids, in Hastings and in Big Rapids.
Blog tours, author tours, book signings, libraries
Book stores, print companies,
Book excerpt with samples from two stories not to exceed 3,000 words
Tonight on Main Excerpt
Cards with red hearts and hearts again land on the table covered with a lace doily in the old house located at 534 E. Main Street in Riddleyville. Waiting for his ace, young Willy stretched back into a dilapidated arm-chair that squeaked under his light weight. He took a long look around.
Old clothes and empty boxes were laying on the floor and on the couch. An open can of cat food sat on the dining table. Yellow and red drapes with a green and blue hydrangea pattern were drawn down to further dim the dark room. They looked like hanging rags with holes in them.
An antique lamp cast dim light in the living room. The house was filled with old smells combined with the aroma of rum. Willy admired the vintage Coca-Cola collection in the corner. He also peaked through a hole in the drapes to get a good look at the porch and the Main drag through sleepy Riddleyville.
The Midwest town of Riddleyville breathed past with old-fashioned lamp posts, an old Opera House under reconstruction, two rivers crossing paths downstream from the dam, and the remnants of the defunct railroad.
Furniture was piled up on the porch and flowers of the summer were wilting in the cracked pots. Willy recognized millionaire Roby pedaling on his bike. Roby waved as if he knew someone was peaking. Maybe, he just saw the three old women moving the card table on to the porch to play a game of poker.
The house is old, the lady of the house is old, and her daughter Irma is old. The daughter’s cat is old. Aunt Bertha who came to play cards is old. The old has settled in. The porch is half rotted as it leans into the ground. The construction studs are crooked.
The sun is setting down on Main. The three old women are sitting in the late afternoon sun on the half-rotted porch joined by the little angel Willy, the godson of Aunt Bertha. A black fat cat with the French revolutionary name, J. M. Robespierre snuck under the table ever so silently in the deafening noise of the passing by cars.
The noise is unbearable, but the women cannot hear. The pervasive smell of rum has invaded the porch.
“I can’t hear you, mom,” yelled Irma.
“Well, unplug your ears or wash them,” yells back old mom Goldie who will turn 97 in the fall.
Goldie can’t see or hear anymore, but she can still smell. She can smell what the neighbors had for dinner last night.
“I said, isn’t your rum cake burning? I can smell the rum in it burning,” the old lady rocked back and forth as her voice dies in the noise of the street.
“Did you say to get another deck out?” Irma shouted at the top of her lungs.
The street talks at night. It whispers its secrets.
End of excerpt
The Temptation of Martin Duggan Excerpt
The professor’s bald head was shining in the bright morning sunlight. He was bouncing in front of the blackboard explaining triple integers. He was now on his fourth board, all scribbled with numbers and strange symbols.
Martin was wearing a perfectly ironed white shirt with long sleeves from J.C. Penney. Rose made sure that the shirts had a pocket on the left side when buying shirts. He still favored light pastel colors, mostly blue, that matched his grey blue eyes so well.
But, Martin always bought his own pencils. They had to be pencils no. 2, not too soft, not too hard. He found them the most comfortable somewhere in the middle of the scale on the hardness of graphite. The pockets of all his shirts were full of pencils and pens. Martin took great care not to have any smears from his writing tools on his clothes. He diligently put the caps back on pens; black had to match black, blue had to match blue. That way he wouldn’t confuse the color of his ink. Martin never used red.
To match the white shirt, he wore his favorite gray striped pants from his striped suit reserved for special occasions. There was something about lines that had always comforted him. Lines commanded respect.
They could be lines vertical, horizontal, or curves. And then came symbols, and Martin’s love for them; like pi or the toppled 8 symbolizing infinity. He traced the origin of his love for numbers and symbols to his childhood and later growing up in the strict austere atmosphere of the seminary in Brest. He had no intentions of becoming a priest. But parents lodged him in the seminary with his older brother Peter, so they could both receive good education.
In the cold walls of the seminary, Martin found warmth in numbers.
He felt free unleashing his power in numbers and their swift magic. Numbers and ellipses on curves were stories to Martin. His own story was a rollercoaster upside down racing on a fast track starting with a jerk at the faculty in Brno, former Czechoslovakia, which perched him to new heights at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, Africa. This was part of a socialist program to help the Third World countries in the late sixties.
Fresh with a new title, a wife that had just turned 30 and the Prague Spring 1968 movement tearing the old country apart, Martin was ready to climb higher into different unknown spheres.
At 34, he had a receding hairline, an impeccable command of English and an expertise of an old professor. He made decent money in English pounds and bought Rose a set of pearls for her 30th birthday, that she would later hate. She blamed the pearls for her destiny.
According to an old legend, pearls bring tears and bad luck to their owners.
“Do not return home,” letters from the occupied Czech homeland by the Russians kept arriving at the “Pink Palace” apartment complex in the arid desert city on the Blue Nile.
Rose wearing a yellow headband and a lime colored dress, suitable for the late 60s, shed more tears than the Nile had water in it, as the two fought over immigration. She faithfully followed her husband on his career trek that flourished to serve both the developing Sudan and the tossed Czechoslovakia in the heart of Europe.
However, a new house, sick parents and a jealous sister were awaiting back at home, along with a good pharmacy job in the apothecary.
One hot night in the late summer, right around her birthday, Martin kept fidgeting nervously around the kitchen holding a piece of paper. The kids were outside with friends.
“I got accepted to a post doctorate program in Canada,” he said calmly suppressing fear..
End of excerpt & proposal
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Parnell, MI- The Easter Triduum started on Holy Thursday evening with the Lord’s Last Supper, that has inspired countless generations of artists beginning with DaVinci’s renaissance painting in 1498.
The catholic priests around the world washed the feet of their “servants” or parishioners to show humbleness. Fr. Mark Peacock of St. Pat’s Church in Parnell encouraged to share the act of humbleness by washing other’s feet at home.
The entire three days known as “Triduum” are filled with symbolism and mysticism as the feast of the Lord’s Passover begins on Thursday and ends on Saturday night.
Today, on Good Friday, the lectors will read the “Passion” of the Lord Jesus Christ according to one of the four gospel writers. This served as a basic premise for Mel Gibson’s 2004 controversial movie “The Passion of the Christ.”
The Triduum ends on Holy Saturday night with the great vigil of Easter at 8 pm.
Easter Sunday ensues with the resurrection of Christ Jesus, the Lord.
The symbolism of the Catholic Church also inspired another controversial work; American author Dan Brown’s 2003 novel “The Da Vinci Code.”
I often use the elements of catholic mysticism and symbolism in my fiction as in the short story “White Nights “ and the one I am currently working on:
”The Writer, the Nun, and the Gardener.”
These stories are in my new book of short stories that I am working on “Shifting Sands II.”
Palm Sunday marked the start of the Holy Week on March 25. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Monday led with the feature photo of the Palm Procession in Jerusalem.
It was the only time I bought a print copy of WSJ for $4. I almost passed out at the counter of the Honey Creek shop in Cannonsburg when the clerk named the price.
But, the image of the Franciscan friars and Roman Catholic clergy carrying the palm fronds at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City spoke out loud. I almost dropped the paper staring into the cupola centering the color image on top of the fold of the newspaper. The WSJ used to be black and white only without any photos.
Holding the paper in my hands, I realized this was also history before print goes out completely.
Watch for excerpts that show the power of symbolism.
About feature photo: A procession after the Mass of the Lord’s Last Supper on Thursday evening walks to the Chapel of Repose at St. Pat’s in Parnell.
Next post: Czech and Slovak Easter traditions.
Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
February expands new horizons, get the scoop at Emma’s author events & new Cool Vendors Abound blog
Author’s note: These are my thoughts prior to the Feb. 3 book signing of my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories at the award-winning arts gallery in downtown Lowell from 1 to 4 p.m. The gallery presents the Grand Valley Artists-In View show.
LowellArts has received the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce reward for the best non-profit organization for providing more arts programs and services, while positively impacting the downtown businesses.
“Yes, this is a big deal for Lowell,” said Lorain Smalligan, executive director of LowellArts. “There are not many communities the size of Lowell with an arts center like LowellArts.”
I look forward to February for several reasons: I consider February as the month of love, and the Mardi Gras extravaganza. I also squeeze in my annual writer’s retreat in Florida.
1- January, the longest and coldest month will come to an end tomorrow, but we will also get to see the rare Super Blue Blood Moon for the first time in 150 years. The phenomenon consists of a super moon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse, aka blood moon, all in one. Don’t miss out on Jan. 31.
2- I get to revise if I have stuck to my new year’s resolutions. Let’s look at this one close-up.
Among my many new year’s resolutions was to get in shape; that is physically and mentally. I continue to exercise; 30 minutes of yoga and 30 minutes on the treadmill, plus freestyle weight lifting. I have yet to explore the possibilities of the yoga fitness 75-cm ball.
Mentally: My husband and I have signed up for Spanish classes so we can order lunch in Cuba. We both continue to go on Monday evenings under the tutelage of Mr. Jim Albert. I can now put together an entire sentence in Spanish:
“Yo voy a apprender Espanol.” I am going to learn Spanish.
I meditate with one of the greatest thinkers of this world: Deepak Chopra in his “Making every Moment Matter” meditations.
3- Straighten out or strengthen relationships. Build new DIY sites.
Now, this one is tougher than it looks. I have a lot more work to do, even though I managed to visit my brother Vas in Paris, MI last Sunday. A story “The Trainman” (c) Emma Palova is coming to my new site Cool Vendors Abound.
First contact via EW Emma’s Writings blog, social media, Authors Central on Amazon, author’s page on Goodreads, personal book signings at local venues and writers’ conferences like the upcoming Calvin College Conference in Grand Rapids.
You will also enjoy the marvelous Grand Valley Artists Show-In View.
Lowell, MI- Local author Emma Palova will have book signing events of “Shifting Sands Short Stories” at the Lowell Arts Gallery on Main Street on Jan. 13 & Feb. 3 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Palova, a former reporter for the Lowell Ledger, has published the book of short stories based on her immigration, retail and journalistic experience. Both formats, Kindle for $7.99 and paperback for $11.99 are now available on Amazon, and locally at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids and in Lansing.
The book is a collection of 13 short stories that Palova wrote and collected over the span of more than two decades. The fiction’s genre is magic realism, a combination of fantasy with reality.
“In magic realism you combine the fictitious with fantasy and sometimes you use real characters to model the fictitious characters,” Palova said. “It can be a hybrid. I don’t write about Martians. I write about real people.”
Palova started writing for the Czechoslovak Newsweek based in New York City in 1990 upon arrival in the USA. She initially wrote a column, “Place for Commentary” in Czech. That was the only time she wrote in her native language, Czech.
Many of the stories are based on experiences Palova has had during her time living and working in the greater Lowell area in Michigan.
“Life is an awesome tapestry of stories,” she said. “I love chatting with my fans. People mostly want to know how to finish the books they have started writing. It’s not an easy question to ask, and definitely not an easy one to answer.”
Palova will be offering writing and publishing tips at her upcoming author’s events.
“Success comes from everyday writing, building a following and meeting with fans,” she said.
Palova has been writing for the area publications since 1997 when she launched her journalistic career with Kaechele Publications in Allegan. In 1998, she joined the staff of the Ionia-Sentinel Standard where she received awards for community reporting from the Ionia Chamber of Commerce in 2000 and the Ionia County Community Mental Health, 2003. Palova also had a community blog in the Ionia Sentinel-Standard.
Palova worked as a correspondent for the Grand Rapids Press, the Advance Newspapers, Gemini Publications and the Lowell Ledger.
Palova is currently working on the second volume of stories, as well as on the memoir “Greenwich Meridian, where East meets West” about the Konecny family immigration saga from communist Czechoslovakia to the USA.
She is preparing her first novel “Fire on Water” for publication. She has also penned a screenplay “Riddleyville Clowns.”
Palova has a lifetime passion for history and politics. She does social media marketing for the Fallasburg Historical Society (FHS).
“I am deeply humbled by the opportunities this country has given to me,” Palova said.
Lowell, MI – Local author Emma Palova will have a book signing of Shifting Sands Short Stories at the Red Barn Market during the annual Christmas through Lowell tour from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19.
Bring your locally purchased book available at Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids or Lansing. The book is also available on Amazon in two formats: Kindle for $7.99 and paperback for $11.99.
Palova divides the stories in the book into three circles: early immigration years, retail and journalism. The stories feature characters such as professor Martin Duggan in “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” based on the family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia.
Book signing in downtown Lowell.
The hometown politics circle from journalism depicts ruthless supervisor Ned in the “Iron Horse” and charismatic Lisa in “Foxy.” The retail circle of stories highlights the retail madness during the “orange balloon clearance” in the “Orange Nights.” Rachel suffers under the yoke of the Midwest store routine.
Apple orchards served as a source of inspiration for “Danillo,” a story about a Mexican immigrant who works at the apple orchards.
“Orchards of any type have inspired me ever since I’ve read Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard,” Palova said.
The Red Barn Market is no. 1 location on the Greater Lowell map of the Christmas tour located at 3550 Alden Nash.
“I have deep ties to the Red Barn Market,” said Palova. “I’ve watched them grow over the last three years. We’re practically Neighbors. Red Barn and the surrounding Kropf apple orchards also inspire my work.”
The Red Barn Market has inspired one of the stories in Palova’s Book 2: Shifting Sands Short Stories: Secrets.
Annually, the tour attracts hundreds of visitors from far and near.
“It is our busiest event,” said general manager Barb Kropf-Roth.
The Trademark of the Christmas event are various vendors with unique wares & services such as the brand new Hastings-based “Little Dreamers Sleepovers.”
My dad is my genius with excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in Shifting Sands Short Stories
The Genius in both my heart and my mind is my father professor Vaclav Konecny. His genius and inspiration was Albert Einstein. Dad genius following another genius.
My father Vaclav has been my inspiration and a role model over the years. It’s not that he has always been physically present in my life. At times, he was as distant as the Atlantic Ocean and the sky over it are vast.
For many years he lived in the USA, while I was living back in former Czechoslovakia.. He taught math at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan well into the mid 2000s.
His influence never ceased. He was my firm constellation in the sky. I love looking at the sky, and thinking of the constellations as people in my life. He was my brave Perseus when he left Czechoslovakia in 1968 to “conquer” other countries that appreciated his talent more. He had to behead many “Medusas,” ugly heads of jealousy before he got to his beloved small town university.
His genius manifested itself in hundreds of solved math problems in math journals around the world and hundreds of proposed ones. Dad says it is more difficult to propose a problem, than to solve one.
It was thanks to him that I have learned what Fermat’s Last Theorem is. The theme how to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem or conjecture was always on the table when friends came over to my parents house.
My father knows how to entertain even a stranger using his impeccable logic as a steady guide. Once he had to go to a party where he knew no one. He ran into a dentist.
“Dad, what did you talk to him about?” I asked.
“What else? We talked about teeth,” he laughed.
I remembered that forever. Once you know the profession of a stranger at the party, you talk about it, unless there is a better theme.
It wasn’t just the math genius in him, but also the artist. During critical times in my dad’s life, he turned to painting. He painted in oils scenes from the Candadian Rockies, Niagara and my favorite “Cacti at Night” on black velvet from the Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona. He also painted a Dutch windmill.
Dad is also a great handyman who can repair just about anything around the house. He calls the closet full of tools in their Venice condo, his “workshop.”
He served as an inspiration for the short story “The Temptation of Martin Duggan” in my new book Shifting Sands Short Stories.
Excerpts from “The Temptation of Martin Duggan”
“After years of traveling between Europe and the USA, Martin and Rose settled down in a small university town not far from the big lake. And that was Rocky Rapids, a humble town that suited Martin well. Idyllic and charming.
The only violence in this town on the Rocky River was stirred by the students jumping from their dorms or frat houses. If dreams come true, they came true here for both Martin and Rose.
Martin was a well-respected and accomplished professor of math with the post-doctorate title from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Martin considered the trek from the territories of Canada to the US Midwest inevitable.
He took great care not to participate in anything that would jeopardize the projected path of success and content, such as union strikes. As computers emerged on the scene, Martin acquired another degree in computer science and reached a tenure with the university. He got Rose a job at the university as well.
The noise from the students packing up their notebooks and leaving the classroom stirred Martin up from his flashbacks to Africa. He looked at his watch. It was time. He carefully packed his own carefully prepared lectures, and put everything in his light gray briefcase with a shoulder strap.
He walked to his gray Chevrolet, the only brand he trusted over the years. Just like everything else Martin had ever owned, it was perfectly clean. He didn’t forget to grab a bottle of cold diet Coke from the machine.
Driving through Rocky Rapids was a balsam on his nerves. The town was neat and clean too with a few banks, a video store, a car dealership and a long gone Spartan grocery. Rose used to shop there, when they still loaded groceries into cars back in the 1980s. As a remnant of the past, there was a Bear furniture store, a drive up restaurant and a Dairy Queen by the city park with the creek.
It could have been a perfect day, in a perfect life in a perfect town of one perfect professor and a perfect couple.
Copyright (c) 2017 Emma Blogs, LLC. All Rights reserved.
Excerpts from Orange Nights in Shifting Sands Short Stories
The most Interesting things in the store were the changing seasons and the colors reflecting them. The summer colors were still vibrant, and hanging in the air or it could have been the nostalgia after a summer passing by.
And then there were the never-ending returns in the Women’s department always shoved in a heaping basket by the fitting rooms that served as a hangout spot.
“Why did you stay in the store all these years, Irma?” asked Rachel doubtful and wondering about her own future.
“You come in young like most, because you don’t know what to do with yourself,” said Big Irma. “And after a while you just get used to it, and you’re afraid of change. Just look around you. What do you see?”
However, it was all in what you didn’t see. Those were the underlying currents of being stuck in any situation in life, and not being able to move forward. It had different names, that all came under one label.
That label was fear. And fear had many faces. It was hiding under different coats of comfort and security, assurances or the lack of them.
“Have you ever been afraid in the store?” asked Rachel. “I mean really afraid. I know we have security department and all that, but afraid as in who is going to walk in through that door and what is he going to do?”
People were already streaming in along with normal day people who had nothing to do with the orange balloon clearance in the soft and hard lines, like the grocery people and the food court.
For the moment Rachel envied them the regularity of a normal day job. They came in and they left on regular basis without the madness of wanting to do something else with their lives.
“Why aren’t you in your own department?” a scowling voice breathed down her neck.
Startled she turned around. The tall orange blonde man with a mustache still dressed in civil clothes was right behind Rachel’s back. Wendell pulled out of the cart with the returns shorts tangled in with a bra and panties. The lines manager smelled of beer and cigarettes, after a night of drinking.
“How did the night go?” Wendell asked about the clearance mark-downs with orange stickers. “What’s all this crap?”
Big Irma tired after the long night turned to Wendell.
“You just have to over there and see,” she said. “There’s a lot of clearance this year. I guess people weren’t buying as much or we overbought, or both. You never know from year to year.”