Local Author Fair and a Sketch

sanddyportraitandylockwoodLast Saturday while I was exhibiting BORDER CROSSINGS Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance, I had my sketch done by two author/illustrators at the Orion Township Public Library’s “The Giving Season: Local Author (and Illustrator) Fair.” One of them was Andy Lockwood who describes himself as a writer, filmmaker, wanderer, poet, imagineer, bibliophile, cinephile, all-around adventurer and sometimes artist. He has two degrees in film and is currently employed in the education technology field. Andy is the author of the supernatural horror novel EMPTY HALLWAYS and co-producer of the short film ATLAS. Thanks, Andy! It was a pleasure meeting you and fun being sketched!  

Participating in events like this helps to promote books and strengthen ties with other authors and publishers which creates a great environment for learning more about writing and publishing.


Border Crossings at Eastern Market Holiday Market

bcholidaymarketCome for fun and local holiday shopping to the 2014 Sunday Street Market Holiday Market on December 7 and December 14 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. inside Shed 3 at Detroit’s Eastern Market. My 1021 Press booth will be there with my late husband Charles Novacek’s award-winning memoir BORDER CROSSINGS: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance and notecards and bookplates with Charles’ painting “Still Life at 13” painted during World War II.

At the holiday market you’ll find Michigan-made gifts, jewelry, clothing, art, music and food galore, locally grown trees and trimming, food trucks, carolers and even Jolly Old Saint Nick. Holiday-themed food and beverage vendors, and last but certainly not least, a wonderful selection of LOCALLY-SOURCED GIFTS and HOLIDAY GOODIES will be available to help check everything off this season’s shopping list. Official hashtags to use in social media plans! #SundayStMkt #HolidayMktDet.

27 Authors at Orion Township Library “The Giving Season: Local Author Fair”

bcsandynovacekembassycr400Meet Sandra Novacek and 26 authors and illustrators from the Metro Detroit area at the Orion Township Library’s “The Giving Season – Local Author Fair on Saturday, December 6, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Books for readers of all ages will be available for signing and purchase. This is a perfect opportunity to find holiday gifts for your favorite readers.

Sandra Novacek is a librarian, writer, editor, and owner of 1021 Press in Detroit, Michigan. Widowed in 2007, Sandra has dedicated herself to fulfilling her late husband Charles Novacek’s’ wish for publication of his memoir, Border Crossings: Coming of 9780985415105-JacketGray_novacek.inddAge in the Czech Resistance, a firsthand account of his life spent as a boy in the Czech Resistance during World War II and the Cold War. Endorsed by Madeleine Albright, the memoir, published in late 2012, has been a finalist and/or winner of 14 awards for independently published books including a Gold Medal for Autobiography/Memoir in the 2012 Midwest Book Awards.

Click here for a list of attending authors and illustrators.

The Orion Township library is located at 825 Joslyn Road, Lake Orion, Michigan 48362, www.orionlibrary.org.

Czech Resistance Subject of Genealogical Society Talk


November in Námĕšt nad Oslavou

bohemian-moravian-highlands-zdar2bwKarel (Charles) Novacek was nearly seventeen years old when on May, 9 1945, his homeland of CzechoSlovakia was liberated from Nazi Germany, mainly by the Russians from the East, and  also by the Americans from the West. Freedom at last! Soon after Russian troops occupied the country and Charles’ struggle for freedom and work in the Czech resistance continued.

In the following excerpt from his memoir, Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance, Charles recalls happier days before occupation and wartime.

“November brought about nostalgic feelings for bygone days. The leaves were almost gone, and I found myself compelled to go to Námĕšt to walk my hills. My thoughts raced through my head, swirling like the last leaves in the wind; I had brought my journal along, and stopped for a moment to record all that moved in my mind:

     I walk slowly over a low ridge and muse over the intermittent murmur of a stream now cresting over its banks in the valley. Anxiously my eyes try to penetrate the fine bluish vapor emanating from the forests scattered around me and from the hills on the other side of the valley. I turn reluctantly from the colorful background to keep walking.   

     My gaze falls on parched grass stalks bordering my walk, now muddy after a gentle rain. Many water droplets wreathe the bent grass like small pearls, reflecting a stunning spectrum of crystal tears shattered by the toes of my shoes. I reach the top of the hill anamestbrifgeandchurchbwnd suddenly a precious vision is revealed to me: the sun’s rays reflecting red on the roofs of Námĕšt. In the square is a church, a monument of old Gothic architecture; its bell chimes, imploring heaven, calling folk to pray. My sight moves from the church, over the statues on the stone bridge, and stops at the majestic castle. Its silhouette shines brightly from the blue-gray behind it. The massive battlements crown the enormous walls, seeming to resonate a festive tune to the countryside, as if singing about long gone medieval glory. Wherever I look, nature triumphantly responds.   

     Here I lived for seven years, through beautiful and bad times.       

     All of this reminds me of the Low Tatras region in Slovakia; that was also my home, where I spent my youngest years. It was lovely there, until the Nazis brutally divided our Republic, and I, together with my family, had to depart. Knowing that I was not going to an utterly foreign country, I knew that here, in the place where I now stand, I would find another home, and that Moravia would surely give me all that I need.    

     I was not disappointed, and hoping that soon we would be free, I lived my sad youth until that freedom came, when everyone breathed a sigh of relief and I believed that I could start a new and happy life.    

     Now I work with joy, and shall try to prove that I am a worthwhile member of the human race.        

Shortly after I wrote these words, the joy to which I looked forward vanished, and we all started a new struggle for survival.”

International Students’ Day – November 17th


bcjJanOpletalThe 17th of November is INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ DAY, an observance of student activism throughout the world. The date commemorates the anniversary of the 1939 demonstrations in Prague, Czechoslovakia by Czech students against the German Nazi occupation which resulted in the killing of Jan Opletal – an aspiring medical student by Nazi soldiers. The student’s funeral procession which was held on the 15th of November led to thousands of students, who used the occasion as another anti– Nazi demonstration. In a brutal retaliation all Czech higher education institutions were closed down; Nazi troopers stormed the University of Prague, more than 1,200 students were jailed or sent to concentration camps; and nine students and professors were executed without trial two days later on the 17th of November 1939. This day has further significance for Czechs. In 1989, the 50th anniversary of these events sparked the Velvet Revolution, the beginning of the end of communist rule. 

Border Crossings at SC4 Global Awareness Day


globalhorizontalSt. Clair County(Michigan) Community College’s 18th annual Global Awareness Day is set for Wednesday, November 19, 2014. This year’s theme is “Holocaust, Persecution and Refugees.”

The day’s schedule includes emotional stories from survivors and refugees and experts discussing current refugee crises, including in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.

All events are free and in the Fine Arts Theatre on the college’s Port Huron, Michigan (48061-5015) campus at  323 Erie Street.  Global Awareness Day is presented by the college’s Global Awareness Taskforce.

bcsandynovacekembassycr400I’m honored to be doing the evening keynote to tell Charles’ story!

  • 7 to 8:30 p.m. – “Resistance.” Sandra A. Novacek will share the story of her late husband, Charles Novacek, who was a member of the Czech underground resistance during World War II against the Nazis, as well as his resistance against the Soviet communists after the war. 

Here’s the rest of the day’s schedule, starting at 10 a.m.

  • 10 to 11:15 a.m. – “Natalia’s Story.” Hear the dramatic story of Natalia Malaydakh, who was rescued by a local American family after her homeland of the Ukraine was invaded by Russia. Her host parents, Linda and Greg Binda worked tirelessly to bring her to the U.S. Learn about her experience, which is part of the larger story of what is happening in the Ukraine today, and hear how one family chose to make a difference.
  •  12:30 to 1:45 p.m. – “Holocaust survivors Rene Lichtman and Esther Lupian.” Rene Lichtman and Esther Lupian, who were children when the Nazis were rounding up Jews for execution, will share their stories. Rene was living in France when the war began and hid in plain sight after being adopted by a family who risked their lives to keep him safe. Esther’s mother saved her by escaping the ghetto and living in the forest for months.
  • 2:30 to 3:50 p.m. – “Rescue.” Although much credit has been given to gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, research is coming to light about Jewish rescuers. Rene Lichtman will discuss the current research on this topic followed by a screening of the film “On the Wings of Eagles.” The film tells the story of the community of Le Chambon, which was responsible for saving 3,000 to 5,000 Jews from certain death.
  •  4 to 5 p.m. – “ISIS, Persecution and Refugees.” In Iraq and Syria, many people fear for their lives as ISIS advances. Rampant sexual slavery, forced marriages, torture, beheadings and mass executions are causing a flood-tide of refugees. Hear Dr. Bassim Gorial, founder and CEO of the Arab Broadcasting Network, discuss the current persecution of those who differ from the radical ideology of ISIS.
  • 6 to 7 p.m. – “International Reception in SC4’s Fine Arts Galleries.” Join us for a meet and greet with SC4’s international students and foreign exchange students from local high schools. The international students represent several countries, each with their own unique culture and way of life. Refreshments will be provided.
  • 7 to 8:30 p.m. – “Resistance.” Sandra A. Novacek will share the story of her late husband, Charles Novacek, who was a member of the Czech underground resistance during World War II against the Nazis, as well as his resistance against the Soviet communists after the war. She will be draw upon his story featured in “Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance.”

For more information about SC4’s Global Awareness Day, contact Kraig Archer at karcher@sc4.edu or (810) 989-5695.

See more at: http://www.sc4.edu/global/#sthash.Cmf4yJ7T.dpuf.

Today is Charles’ Name Day!


Pictured above are Charles’ grandfather Karel Novacek, uncle Karel Novacek and grandmother Maria Novacek at home in Tasov. 

name day  noun

  1. the feast day of the saint after whom a person is named
  2. the day on which a person is christened

“Antonín, my father, was born on June 2, 1896, in a village called Tasov, located in southern Moravia. His father, Karel (Charles in English; I was named in his honor), was a farmer and owner of a small beer brewery in the district town Velké Meziřičí.”

—Charles Novacek, Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance 

Today, November 4, is my late husband Charles’ name day. He was born Karel Novacek on May 11, 1928 in the village of Ožďany, in the district of Rimavska Sobota, region of Gemer, in the country of Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia was a sovereign state that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in January 1993.

Charles was named after his Moravian-born paternal grandfather Karel Novacek. Had Charles’ grandfather been Slovakian-born his name would have likely been spelled Karol. He changed his name to the Spanish Carlos when he moved to Venezuela in 1950 and then to the English Charles when he moved to the USA in 1956.

The popularity of the name Karel was popular in Europe due to the fame of Charles the Great (742-814), commonly known as Charlemagne, a Frankish king who ruled over most of Europe.

Light a Candle for a Loved One

Source: nitralive.sk

“Mother showed me the nearby cemetery, where Ilonka was buried. Once a year on Dusicky (All Souls’ Day) on November 2, like everybody else from the village, we would go to the cemetery, and my family would light the customary candle at my sister’s grave in her honor.”                                                                                                                                          –Charles Novacek, Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance

In Slovakia November 2nd is Dusicky (All Souls’ Day), the holiday for the dead. People remember and honor the good spirits that have passed on – their family, friends, and people who have left an impact.

All Souls’ Day is a Catholic festival, but the Slovak people have celebrated it since pagan times. It was believed that one night every year the dead walked the earth with the living. To calm family ghosts people took time on this day to pay respect to their loved ones’ souls. The tradition continues today with placing of lighted candles and wreaths on relatives’ graves.

The flickering glow of so many lit candles in cemeteries is enchanting!

Image Source: nitra.sk

Across a Crowded Room. . .


When my late husband Charles and I first met face to face in 1996 he told me he had seen me somewhere before. . . “across a crowded room.” Charles declared he painted portraits and “never forgot a face.”  He definitely remembered seeing mine. Somewhere.  I hoped that was a good thing!

I oddly felt the same way about Charles’ face and started thinking long and hard about where we could have met.  What were the possibilities? What locations did we have in common? Where could our paths have crossed? We both lived in the city of Southfield, Michigan at one time. Maybe we saw each other at the public library or a bakery.  At a hardware store or movie.  Or was it our doppelganger or clone we saw? I was determined to solve the mystery.

Eventually, it occurred to me our encounter could have been work-related. I started to think about locations a civil engineer and a public library director would have in common. Somewhere connected with building construction or architecture.  And then it hit me!

In 1978, the taxpayers of Hartland, Michigan, where I was a library director passed a bond issue for the construction of an addition to our historic Federalist style building opened in 1927 and designed by acclaimed architect Emil Lorch.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Lorch attended the Detroit School of Art and studied architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1890-1892. He taught architecture at the University of Chicago and adapted the concept of Pure Design developed by Denham W. Ross of Harvard University. Lorch’s version of Pure Design taught students to be inventive with shape, space and color rather than rely on traditional styles and architectural solutions. He was also credited with inspiring Frank Lloyd Wright in his design of Unity Temple in Chicago.

Lorch was the first director of the School of Architecture at the University of Michigan from 1906.  In 1923 he offered a visiting professorship to Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, the second place prize winner of the Chicago Tribune Tower Competition. Saarinen accepted Lorch’s offer and remained at Michigan until 1925 when George Booth invited him to develop a new art school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan — the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Then Lorch was named the first dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Michigan in 1931.

In preparation for our library building project, it was important to me to learn as much as I could about building and interior design. I felt it was important to respect the work of Lorch, the notable Michigan architect and designer of Cromaine Library.

I read a lot about “state of the art” libraries and researched workshops and conferences to attend. At that time there were virtually no local workshops on these topics focusing on library buildings exclusively. Luckily, I found out about “Design Michigan: Your Community,” a conference to be held at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1979. The target audience was community managers, planners, business representatives, people in charge of public buildings etc. I fit in.

Preconference endorsements stated, “Good design is an intelligent use of our resources. It uses what we have done in the past, with an eye toward the future. Good design can be efficient, saving money and supplies. It can respond to the times and the changes in our society. It can be functional, fitting in with the environment yet at the same time serving people’s needs. And while it can be practical, it can also be aesthetically pleasing.”

It sounded perfect for me and I loved the tie-in with Emil Lorch’s connection to Cranbrook, with its beautifully designed historic buildings and grounds.

And it WAS perfect. Charles had been doing work at Cranbrook. Nearly twenty years later we figured it out! That’s where I first saw Charles and where he first saw me “across a crowded room.”

Note: Above are photographs of Charles and me from close to the time period of our first encounter. It’s the best I could do.