I finished the NaNoWriMo 50k word challenge in November this morning at 6:38 am right before the start of Christmas Through Lowell. This was my third time participating. I can’t say that the novel writing challenge gets any easier with more experience or with more books published. However, I better understand my inner workings as a writer and an author. I know what is my most productive time, and how many words I need to log in per day, (2, 675) and how to push through a writing block.
Each year, I learn something new. This year, it was the buddy system and that it actually works.
When I saw the daily word log ins by buddies and fellow authors Andrew Smith, Diana Plopa, Marianne Wieland, Brenda Hasse and Jean Davis, I just had to keep up with them.
Near the summit, more insights other than metrics came in, and I will be posting quotes.
. Copyright (c) 2021. Emma Blogs LLC. All rights reserved.
Plan your fall touring of Pure Michigan. Visit the 1850s Fallasburg Pioneer Village which is on the National Register of Historic Places in MIchigan. The village nestles in the northeast corner of Kent County.
Just cross the Covered Bridge into the village and step back in time.
One of the best times to visit this area is in its autumn glory with all the harvest festivals , farmers’ markets and local produce abundance.
Explore local history, sample local food and craft beers and breweries, chat with local authors. Learn how to can pickles or how to make salsa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kdp publishing on Amazon. Update your author centrale page.
This post is also in response to the Daily Post prompt “Ordinary” at Ordinary
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Lowell, MI -Today is definitely not an ordinary day. It’s not an ordinary Friday in the year 2017. It hasn’t been an ordinary week in mid-March.
Even though it’s a gray day in West Michigan, we have moved forward in time since we hit the Spring Equinox on Monday, March 20. Our energies and vibrations have been shifting with everything new, including new beginnings. To our great enjoyment, we’ve seen new life coming out of the hard ground after the long winter months.
Sadly, we’ve witnessed the tragedy with the London attacks on Wednesday.
And the House is still expected to vote later in the afternoon on a bill to repeal Obamacare, a vote postponed from yesterday. The vote will affect most people living in the USA. So far, the reports of the repeal are not good for President Donald Trump, according to major news media.
As such, this Friday has been the culmination of many precipitating events, both internationally, locally and personally. Mr. Trump much like the majority of the Republican Party have been using the repeal of Obamacare as their staple agenda that secured the victory in the presidential election.
If I quickly look at the social media buzz, I see an overwhelming relief that we’ve made it to Friday with a quote from Goodreads for March 24, 2017 from Tennessee Williams:
“I’ve got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?”
The quote is from Williams’ play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Currently, we could say the entire GOP is sitting on its own “hot tin roof.”
But, that could also be true for any of us, because whatever we are sitting or standing on changes from day to day. This change makes every day special.
The greater Lowell community has been working toward its annual Lowell Community Expo that takes place tomorrow, March 25th, for the entire year. So, have the individual participating organizations and vendors.
Don’t forget to stop by at the Fallasburg Historical Society booth 129 in the Cafe of the Lowell High School tomorrow.
I have resolved some of my not-so-ordinary issues this week, as well.
A flaky relationship that has been running on burnt fuel of the past came to an end also on Wednesday to my great relief after days of struggling, aka “sitting on a hot tin roof.”
Lowell, MI- It’s 5:53 a.m. EST on a regular Thursday morning. Husband Ludek just left for work coughing, and I am recovering from a bout of cold that kept me inside yesterday. It’s still dark outside, and I light some candles, so I can meditate before writing with a cup of coffee, and a cup of nettle tea.
But, something else kept me indoors yesterday, as well as in my own shell. I was dealing with a red fury, called anger that topped off with an apple that my husband didn’t take to work with him. I always get an apple ready for him thinking about his health in the morning.
When the apple was still there yesterday, I thought he was angry at me.
I felt the anger building up in me since Monday, as I watched the disturbing evening NBC newscast on “Tonight at 7.”
“I’ll never forget this one,” I said disgusted to Ludek. “I won’t sleep again.”
It was a slew of everything from my 1970s teen idol David Cassidy’s announcement of dementia, to the one year anniversary of the Uber shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that left six dead and two wounded.
“We don’t want Kalamazoo to be remembered for this,” said the speaker at the Monday night vigil held at the K-Wings Stadium teary eyed.
The newscast showed Laurie Smith, wife and a mother, who’s loved ones where shot on that dreadful night at a car dealership, shopping for a truck. The daughter was supposed to go too. She didn’t. That saved her life.
Laurie held little urns with ashes as dreadful charms tied to a necklace in her fingers, crying.
“I carry their ashes around my neck,” she sobbed.
How can you not remember this? I would have to be a piece of stone.
Kalamazoo is home to one of the best universities in the country, the Western University Michigan (WMU). Other than being the home of the Broncos, it is the alma mater of many and an intellectual oasis in Midwest America.
My son Jake went to Western. He graduated in winter of 2010 in an auditorium decked out with red and white Poinsettia plants in pots with glittery wrap around Christmas time.
Early on when we settled down in the Grand Rapids area in the 1990s, I took online classes in psychology from WMU. I love the entire university environment along with the culture, the libraries, the ethnic restaurants, the university cafeterias and the sports. My parents worked at Ferris State University in Big Rapids until retirement in the 2000s. I studied at the Technical University of Brno, my dauther Doc Em studied at Charles University in Prague.
We have university blood circling in our veins.
I celebrated one of my birthdays at the WMU Performance Arts Center with the longest standing performance of all times, the “Phantom of the Opera” in 2007.
“Can you imagine those actors doing it over and over again?” said my friend Sue, when I complained to her that every day at the newspaper office was the same.
Many years later, as I think about all these moments, like grains of sand, sifting through time in an hour glass. The little sand grains that represent anger, fear, terror, joy, love and hope in a cyclical rhythm.
Grains of time sift through the hour glass rhythmically. To the right: my parents Ella & Vaclav Konecny with grandpa Joseph Drabek in 1987 during grandpa’s only visit to the USA.
Below is a photo essay representing the victory of joy & hope over rhythmic violence: left 1001 Days of Blogging Annie Conboy of UK who blogs for the future of her daughter Erin. Right top: son Jake Pala who teaches Josephine Marie Palova, 3, the Czech language to preserve our origins. Below right in the small frame, French granddaughter Ella, 6, on summer break in Parnell to learn English. Pictured in the bottom frame is Mrs. Irma Richmond, teacher from the one-room schoolhouse at Fallasburg in the 1960s. Today, kids from Murray Lake Elementary and on the http://www.fallasburgtoday.org come to visit the school thanks to the advancement of technology. Mrs. Richmond says hi to all.
Follow Mrs. Richmond’s and Annie’s stories into the future.
Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse teacher Mrs. Irma Richmond, 1927-28, 1944-45. Today students from the Murray Lake Elementary visit the 1867 Fallasburg School located in Vergennes Township.
Before that lovely opera performance, we enjoyed a meal at Rasa Ria, a Malaysian restaurant with my parents Ella and Vaclav in downtown Kazoo.
It was one of my best birthday celebrations, ever. And it was in Kalamazoo, in the university city of intellect and terror.
And now this additional piece of terror, that will always stay in our minds, and in those charms with ashes around Laurie’s neck.
I can still recall the actual coverage of the Uber shooting one year ago, when the police contained the rampage in 4 hours and 42 minutes. The footage showed cars chasing the suspect, finding the victims at innocent places like Cracker Barrel and at the Seeley dealership in Kalamazoo.
“Why did he do it?” Ludek kept asking me.
The news report mentioned that the Uber driver said that the devil told him which people to shoot through the phone app.
“Crazy?” I ask.
One year later, crime perpetrator, Jason Brian Dalton, 45, still hasn’t been convicted. A hearing is set for March 9. If convicted, he faces a life in jail, according to news reports.
As I watched the vigil for the victims, my memory flashed back to a trip to France in 2016 with our granddaughter Ella. We were waiting for a Uber driver to take us from Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Airport to Gare du Nord train station in Paris.
“Emma, are you sure this is safe, you know about that shooting in Kalamazoo?” I asked my liberal daughter Doc Emma, who permanently resides in the wine village of Fixin, in Burgundy France.
“Oh, it can’t happen here,” she said, “only in America.”
“Really?” I asked.
I thought about all the violence of the past two years in France as it flashed through my mind; from attacks in Paris, Nice and Belgium.
Now, back again to the current reality as of Feb. 23, 2017. The two Uber shooting survivors, Addie Kopf, 15, and Tiana Carruthers, 26, continue to fight forward.
After undergoing several surgeries, Kopf has difficulty speaking and remembering, in spite of overall improvements. Carruthers, who shielded children from the gunfire, is now walking without a cane, according to news reports.
I glanced at the comments following some of the broadcasts of the one-year anniversary of the Uber shooting that occurred in Kalamazoo on Feb. 20, 2016.
robandhan1 day ago
Huh… another white guy with a gun…
jime4441 day ago
@robandhan and how many die in chicongo each day? not many white people, either………libturd.
charlie251 day ago
Does anyone remember this??? There have been so many weirdos killing people in the past year to remember this one.
There is something about the month of February, you can call it atmospheric . I was thinking that even before I heard that at a therapeutic meeting earlier this week.
Maybe it’s the overall ambience of the month in between the deep freeze of January and the much coveted arrival of spring in March. If I were to pin the season to the catholic calendar, it is usually the purple time of Lent, except for this year since Lent arrives late with Ash Wednesday falling on March 1.
“Everything is going to be late this year,” my husband Ludek, a chronic complainer, said. “We’re going to have a late Easter.”
No kidding, the Easter Sunday falls on April 16 this year. But, the good news is, the trees here Up North in Michigan will have leaves, and maybe even early blossoms and spring flowers.
We had rain on Tuesday, grayish nothing on Wednesday, a deep freeze on Thursday along with a creepy full moon, and now we are recovering from 20 plus minus degree temperature swings as the work week finally wraps up.
My body” loves” these roller coaster temperatures, and my mind and mood swing accordingly with them.
With the sunshine on Monday, I was at a reasonable high as I met with friends at the “Gathering Place” to discuss progress in our common therapy.
“You know, this really works, let’s do it next Monday again,” T. G. as always was very encouraging.
“I have a lot more stories to tell,” said our new buddy Wendy.
And the mid-week meeting somewhere in the woods next to the old stage-coach road was also a success, all things considered.
Van Gogh painted the Starry Night in Saint Remy.
This is my story.
I do feel grateful for this overall February gap in between the novelty of the new year 2017 and the onset of spring. This February gap finally allowed me to fill the empty spaces on my huge 17-months desktop calendar with my creative work.
Along with Ludek, we made an executive decision that I will self-publish my collection of short stories “Glass Flowers” Copyright (c)2017 Emma Palova. On Thursday, I started pulling the collection of 20-some short stories together after literally years of searching the publishing “maze.”
That search included everything from participating in Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Contests, submitting my short stories to literary magazines, of which, many no longer exist, submitting manuscripts to Writer’s Conferences and of course looking for an agent.
This all-inclusive escapade involved interviews with sales people from several publishing houses that have gone the self-publishing route as well.
“You know Amazon is moving quite fast on this,” said the sales person from Author’s Publish. “We’re keeping an eye on them.”
“Thank you Mr. E. for the tip,” I concluded a series of several hour-long phone interviews after my ear almost fell off. I decided to join the self-publishing mainstream.
Stay tuned for more of my “Publishing Escapades.” Have a great weekend, and a great February. Don’t forget it’s the month of the heart and love. Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Also some neat events this weekend include:
“Champagne and chocolates” at the Flat River Gallery in downtown Lowell this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.