Monthly Archives: July 2015

Two in a boat

I thought I would never write poetry. And yet here I am translating a beautiful poem by Reiner Kunze. Enjoy.

Rudern zwei

Rudern zwei
ein Boot,
der eine
kundig der Sterne,
der andre
kundig der Stürme.
wird der eine
führn durch die Sterne,
wird der andre
führn durch die stürme,
und am Ende ganz am Ende
wird das Meer in der Erinnerung
blau sein.

Reiner Kunze

Translation from German

Two in a boat

There are two of them
In a boat,
One reads the stars,
The other finds the way through the storms,
When one navigates the stars,
The other leads through the storms,
And then, at the end, at the very end,
They’ll remember
The sea was blue.

Reiner Kunze (Translation by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels)

Picture: The view from my home office on a stormy evening.


True or false: an encounter with a singing legend

I think I once promised to share with you, which of the scenes in my first book “The Truth About Family” are true and which are not. Actually most of them are based on true events, but they were modified in respect to place, point in time and some aspects of how the events took place. The story is good when it has a flow, so the true events took sometimes a different shape or simply were taken from another time and another person.

For example the scene where my father has an encounter with the Moldovan singing legend Nicolae Sulac, of whom my father was a huge fan and who inspired him to have his birth place changed from the one given him at the orphanage to Sadyk (Sadîc), the birthplace of Nicolae Sulac:


“So the thing is that he was walking to the back door of the Palace of the Republic and I recognized him. There were other people entering the building as well. My friends and I were trying to guess who they were. But he looked nothing like what we’d seen from the pictures and from the small TV. He usually sang in a traditional white costume, with stitching at the shirt collar and cuffs. On that day, when I saw him in person, he was dressed in black trousers and a black shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He was deep in thought or in a tune, because his fingers on both hands were moving as if playing an instrument. He walked pretty close to where I was standing. So I greeted him.”

“Did he answer, or did he ignore you?”

I shook my head. “At first he was startled. I guess he didn’t expect anyone to recognize him, so he thought for a second. Probably to figure out who I might have been. Then he smiled, returned my greeting and carried on. …”


This scene is both true and false. It did happen.

But it didn’t happen to my father. It happened to me.

It was in the mid-nineties and I saw Nicolae Sulac coming out of the gates of the main market place in Kishinev. Nobody seemed to recognize him, but there was a slight space around him, which probably was what let me notice him. He was deep in thought and, I guess, he was sure that no one would know him in the middle of the day, in the market place where you would not expect to see someone famous, and the way he was dressed.

And he was dressed exactly as described in the excerpt above.

Later I saw him at a wedding I was invited to. He wore exactly the same cloths, or at least the very same type of them: black trousers and black shirt with sleeves rolled up above his elbows.

He didn’t recognize me at the wedding and I never played music with him (I never played mandolin either, whereas my father did), but I never forgot that encounter.

And after that encounter I became even bigger fan of him.

There are many famous stars, who remain with their feet on the ground and do not become arrogant for their achievements. But what I most liked about Nicolae Sulac is that he was never much interested in himself. In the interviews I saw with him, he always seemed to be surprised about the interest to him, and his private affairs. All he was interested in were the Moldovan songs and his fellow countrymen and -women, for whom he sang and composed those songs. Many of these songs needed a lot of courage to bring out, like the song “Oamenii de Omenie” (title of which can be translated as “Humans with Humanity”) written and presented during the anti-alcoholic campaign during Perestroika years. The song said for example, that whatever you do, a Moldovan couldn’t have a wedding celebration with tea. And that we Moldovans don’t drink wine, we take it for honour. I would interpret this saying as taking it to honour life.

And this is what both Nicolae Sulac and my father did, with their lives and the ways they lived: they honoured life.

Picture: This is me at the celebration of my PhD defence in 1999, dressed in a Moldovan national costume, expressing my gratitude to my German and Moldovan professors and my colleagues at the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany, for their support during completion of my PhD course.


Mid-month news: July 2015

The first newsletter

Many authors write newsletters. And many people read them. I do, too. Many authors write their newsletters once a month. Some of them do it weekly and have different names for these updates. Or they have different types of newsletters. Elizabeth Gilbert, for example, has a weekly “housekeeping”, as she calls them, news introducing into “rules” of her Facebook/blog practices and then there is a “pure” Newsletter distributed to the subscribers per e-mail.

Many authors send newsletters at the end of the month. I did share news in sporadic mails and blog posts. But I fretted to call them newsletters. Was it because it is so human to be afraid of making a commitment? Possible. I happen time to time to be scared of promising something and then not holding a promise.

It helps when the promise or commitment is integrated as something natural, neither big nor small, just a part of the flow of life. This happened with my blog posts. In more than two years I have written weekly posts and now when a Monday comes there is a natural need, just like hunger, to write and share. One could say, I am hungry to write every day and I am hungry to share something new at least once a week.

Thus, to help myself to incorporate these “oh-so-scary” newsletters into the flow of my life, and in order not to spam you, the reader, with too many mails/messages from me, I will be posting the newsletters once a month as a blog-post in a separate category for Newsletters.

Additionally, I love the cosy and warm “middles” or centres, to be inside of a process or a place. The edges do sound scary too. So, at least this first newsletter is coming in the middle of a month.

Any big news?

Yes. At least for my life as a writer.

I finished recently the very first draft of my second book. It is a wonderful feeling to know to be able to write more than one book.

The first four chapters of this second book are already published together with my first book “The Truth about Family”.

This second book, a novella, “A Spy’s Daughter”, the title of which I sometimes confuse in my notes and write “A Daughter’s Spy” — an idea for another book, right? —, will be the first in the series named “A Life Upside Down”. In this series, in which five books, most probably all to be novellas, are planned so far, the life of the protagonist Hannah will be turned upside down and entangled into fast-paced adventures.

This first book in the series will come out this year. Somewhere in November or latest in December. I will keep you posted.

In the meanwhile you can find a short description of it on the “Upcoming” page, as well as the links to various retailers of the first book containing the first four chapters.

What is happening now?

Now is summer vacation. For my son, for my family, and for the “Spy’s Daughter”. This novella is taking a break for a two-three weeks until I will read it and give it a thorough revision.

Right now I enjoy a family visit from Germany together with my husband and our two children.

And I practice translation. You probably noticed my interest in it when I interpret quotes and jokes I learned in languages other than English.

I plan to translate my books into German and maybe also into Romanian and/or Russian. Maybe some day also into Danish. Who knows, more languages might come too. Love to language learning is another passion of mine, and translation is a magical possibility to combine the passion of writing and my love to various languages.

Connected to this exciting side of writing, the translation or rather interpretation, I read currently a book in German with a title “Swetlana Geier — Leben ist Übersetzen: Gespräche mit Lerke von Saalfeld”, which can be intepreted as “Swetlana Geier — Life is Translation: In dialogue with Lerke von Saalfeld”. I recommend to read it to all, who can read German. A very inspiring book about life, literature and human nature, which is revealed in languages and great novels. This book inspired and strengthened me in my wish to translate books I like reading and writing. To think and to savor words and thoughts in different languages, mirroring different mentalities and colors each and every nation brings through its interactive and exciting history. And to realize that just like writing, translation is very personal and that I can express myself in it, because I reveal and open what touched me in the book I read or wrote. Just like with writing, through translation I share a part of me.

Any new writing projects?

Yes. Besides the four consequent novellas in the “A life upside down” series, there are two self-standing books planned. And an idea for the third one is floating somewhere in the air. After finishing my second book this year, I thought to bring out one of these stand-alone ones. It will be a story about learning languages, fear of life, hope, and love. And it will be my first attempt in romance writing. Various genres draw my attention both in reading and writing and somehow the stories draw me into their flow revealing their nature in the process of the story development. This third book of mine to see the light of self-publishing might become the first, where I will write using two voices: from the point of view of the two main characters in the story.

And what is my first one doing?

My first book “The Truth about Family” is coming into the next stage of its life. By writing more books I contribute to its adventure. I am curious about my life as a writer and self-publisher and to see where this adventure will take me. For you, the reader, this new stage for my very first book means a new price for the e-book. I am reducing it to $ 2.99. The paperback price remains for the time being as it was.

If the book touched you in any way, then I would be really glad to read your honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Your feedback will help me grow as a writer. And by following my writing career you might recognize the contribution you make by giving me your feedback. I am sure that first-readers, editors and reviewers find a piece of them in the work of the writers they like and follow.

Thank you, dear readers and friends, for being with me on this journey.

Picture: The four notebooks containing the hand-written text and notes for my second book, the first in the “A Life Upside Down” series, “A Spy’s daughter”. Two of these notebooks I bought myself, the other two were given to me by two of my dear friends, including the one with a motive dedicated to “Emma” by Jane Austen. I started filling in this notebook shortly after my daughter’s Emma birth and it had been a very special experience. Much of the text inside it was written while giving my little Emma her milk bottles.



The importance of laughter

Summer. Vacation. Family visit. Lots of laughter.

Words by Audrey Hepburn:

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

This couldn’t have been said any better.

Picture: An amazing ability of a small child. To laugh a mere minute after waking up.IMG_0369