Monthly Archives: January 2016

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 10

Elizabeth’s arms fell to her sides. She gasped for air and whispered. “My mother? She…she hasn’t died?… Is she really my mother? I…thought my mother’s name was—”

“Klara,” Patrick said. His voice low and powerless. “That’s how papa used to call her.” He shook his head as if refusing to say more. Then suddenly he raised his head and looked at Alice. “How did she find out? Did you tell her?” There was no anger in his voice. It seemed to be just a question.

Alice shook her head. “No. I think this is none of my business. It was only up to you to do so.”

Patrick’s face colour returned and deepened immediately.

Alice let Patrick’s arm go and turned her hand revealing an open palm. With a shrug she said, “It was Lily who told her Liza was here. And before that Claire saw Liza sleeping outside the other day and recognized her.”

Elizabeth’s jaw dropped. She noticed it, pulled it up and said, “She recognized me? After all these years? But why…” Why didn’t she try to find me? Elizabeth couldn’t pronounce her thought out loud.

Patrick shook his head without raising his head.

“I think you better go to Claire and find out for yourself,” Alice said.

Elizabeth nodded. She stood up and looked at Patrick. She hoped he wouldn’t come with her.

He kept on shaking his head, looking on the floor. What was wrong with him?

“You can speak to Patrick afterwards, if you like,” said Alice.

I don’t! Elizabeth hoped that this thought wasn’t too obvious.

“If you like,” said Patrick.

This started Elizabeth. Was this an offer to talk? After he almost threw her out of the house?! “Are you sure?” She couldn’t take her eyes off Patrick, even if looking at him still sent chills to her spine.

“No, I’m not. And I don’t want to.” He glanced at her, his eyes red and tired. “But probably we should.”

“Liza,” said Alice. “You should go now and talk to Claire. She becomes tired very fast. So you better talk to her before she takes her next nap.”

“Is she ill?” Then for the first time of their acquaintance she saw something close to restlessness in Alice’s eyes, so she added, “Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to be so pushy. Where should I go?”

“You are not at all pushy. Don’t worry,” Alice said. “Claire’s room is on the second floor. I’ll show you.” With this she went out of the kitchen.

Elizabeth followed Alice up the stairs. She recalled how the handrail felt many years ago. Further then that should couldn’t tell what she saw or felt as she climbed the stairs. She tried to remember how her mother looked like when she, Elizabeth, was small and simultaneously to imagine how her mother looked like now.

Her vain attempt to see her mother in her memories and now was stopped by Alice’s back, into which Elizabeth almost bumped. She managed to stop one inch behind it. “Oh sorry, I—”

“Wait a second here, OK?” Alice smiled as she took a step away and turned to face Elizabeth.

“Yes, yes.” Elizabeth backed a step too.

Alice left the door open. Elizabeth heard Alice saying, “Claire, Liza is here. Shall I call her in?”

Silence followed.

In the next moment Alice appeared in the gap of the opened door. “You can go in now.” Then she ran down the stairs without making a sound.

Elizabeth turned to the door and knocked. I should knock, right? Even if allowed to come in?

Again, silence.

Elizabeth entered the room and in the first moment she thought it was empty. In the next she heard a quiet sound of typing on a keyboard at her right.

Elizabeth turned and saw a woman in a wheelchair. The typing stopped. The corner of the room, where she sat was dark, but Elizabeth still could see her features clearly. Either the darkness or something else made Claire’s face soft.

She had grey hair, Patrick’s eyes, and a smile. A frozen smile. After she stopped typing, not a single muscle of her body seemed to move.

Her gaze darted somewhere and then back to meet Elizabeth’s eyes. Elizabeth frowned. Claire repeated the movement. Looking somewhere away then back at Elizabeth.

As Claire was about to make the same movement again, Elizabeth decided to follow her gaze. She looked at her left and discovered a white wall with a brightly lit spot. On it, the words were projected, and started to multiply, “Hello Liza. I am so glad you found your way here.”

Elizabeth turned to the woman in the wheelchair. She had tears in her eyes.

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Picture: At a bus stop in the centre of Aalborg.

P.S. Chapter 11 will be written and posted latest in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think your friends might this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph  (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Business rules type on how to terminate your product or service

Terminate

This business rules type is often forgotten or ignored. Not many want to think about terminating their product or service, hoping it will be there forever.

But it won’t. At least not in its first version. And your updates might be so crucial that you in fact will have something completely new than merely an updated product or service.

I can guarantee that at some point earlier or later you will need to discard one or more of your products or services.

What do you have to know then?

Again, the answer becomes clearer as soon as you put your customers’ interests in focus of your attention.

The following questions appear if you do this.

How will the termination of or change in your product or service affect your customers? Will they receive a new product from you instead, or do they have to go to one of your competitors? Or are you going to convince them that they don’t need that product at all? That they have that functionality with some other of your products, which they purchased as well? Will they need to invest something to use your new product? Will they receive more from the change? Will they have to change the links, addresses, data in their address- and data-bases because of the change you cause? Etc., etc.

Naturally you have to choose those methods, which will benefit your customers and will not cause any inconveniences to them. Sometimes it is not possible to avoid inconveniences. Then you need to provide as many benefits as possible, which will motivate your customers to stick with you during the change.

There will be rules and regulations on what you have to do or not do while terminating a product or service.

You can consider your product/service termination as an extraordinary termination of a contract. This is true even if you don’t have an active purchase order at the time when you want to stop your product line or service, especially if you did it over a longer period of time. Then you still terminate a contract, an unwritten one, but you do break a commitment. The one promising to your current and potential customers that you would continue maintaining your product/services for years. Even if you never made this promise in written or spoken way, your customers expect consistency and reliability. With the termination or change of your product or service you make a cut into the expected consistency.

You will know from various contract agreements that there are special rules on how to dissolve a contract, how long the notification time before termination should be, what kind of explanations can be expected and which must be given, etc. These rules are what you need to define about stopping or major change in your product/service here.

So ultimately you need to create a checklist of things you already know you have to do when discarding your product or service. It is easier to create such a list from a distance of time than when you are pressed with deadlines to do all at once.

And then there is one more challenge here. Some companies wait too long until they change or discard their product or service. They loose time and money by maintaining a dead stone. Thus, now as you are in the planning phase, create a list of criteria, which will help you identify the signs when your product need to be changed or discarded. The main indicator of course the diminishing interests by the potential and in the worse case also by current customers. So research, ask your colleagues and competitors, which are these criteria for them. And then draft such a list for your products, services and business in general.

As a conclusion to all the above we can say that you need to prepare the termination procedures as carefully as (or maybe even more thoroughly than) the implementation and production processes.

This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Cheerleading for writers: What this project is…and is not about

What it is not about

This project is not meant to support your ego.

If you have ever written more than a page for any kind of submission (show to a friend, send to a future employer, to an agent or a publisher), then you would know how your ego behaves.

The ego is something that judges you most, claims that what you write is not good enough, that you’re not worth being an author.

It’s that distant critic, who says without looking, “I know it. It’s all bad.”

It can also trick you into believing that it is your creative self by saying, “This was not too bad. Now I want you to write the rest in exactly same way.”

No, this book is not for this part of you. And it is neither to judge any part of you. Each part of you has a reason to be there. Without it, it wouldn’t be you.

What it is about

This project is to support your creative genius, to support your heart, which blooms when you witness a sunset, which seems to stop beating when you smell a beautiful flower, or breathe in the air coming from the damped soil after the rain.

It’s the one, who knows deep inside that there is not one, but an infinite number of perfect ways to go. That even for the same moment of creativity there is always more than one ideal solution. And all of them will be perfect. Not loved by all in the world, but perfect on their own account. That when you grab one blindly by the hand and keep going, it will lead you to amazing and completely unexpected adventures inside your own imagination and perception of the world.

This is meant to cheer the part of you, which is able to wonder, to say “Wow!”, and draw a big gulp of fresh air and pause to feel how it warms inside you.

Yes, if you pause and look closer, you will notice that inside of what you’ve written, among all those words, which you want to rip apart, to strike through with your red pen so many times that the tip of the pen pinches through the page, that among all those dead leaves you will find a pearl, and then another.

No, I am not referring here to your “darlings” here either. Those you defend, but which make others (and if you are honest with yourself, also you) stumble over those seemingly beautiful words and phrases, but which draw all attention to themselves and don’t allow the story, the text, to flow.

No. I am referring to something else. I am referring to the pearls, which have universes inside, those moving, flowing, dashing universes sweeping so easily away. Those pearls that magnetically draw you to look inside them and make you forget yourself.

If you love writing, then you can definitely recognize these from reading works by others, because this was what nudged you to write in the first place. The wish to create this kind of magic on your own.

You might not believe me now, but you are able to create those perfect pearls. And you most probably did already. If not on paper or computer screen, then in your imagination, in a story you told a friend, whose face brightened when you said it out loud.

Why do I want to do this

My cheerleaders helped me and continue doing so today to recognize these brilliant pearls inside my writing and creations. And I would like to help you to find and recognize those pearls inside your creations too.

I will not be able to guide each of you from the first to last chapter of your first or next book, as my dear friend Marcy did for me. But I can guide you through different aspects of writing, creativity and life, the first letters of which follow the alphabet.

I will guide you from A to Z. One word at a time.

In the first edition of the book resulting from this project, each letter of the alphabet will indicate one article describing a term, a notion about writing, creativity and sometimes also life. In the further editions this cheerleading glossary will be extended to contain a number of articles for the same letter of the alphabet.

How to use this book

As with any other book, it is ultimately up to you how to use it. You can read it at your own pace and in the order you like (at least those, which are already published).

A word of caution though. Do not inspect and judge your writing by comparing it to what I mentioned about my creative process and my writing. This will not motivate you. This would rather depress you, whatever the result of your comparison might be.

My suggestion is that you read an article, smile if it makes you smile. Smile if you realize how powerful your imagination and creativity are. And then forget all about it. These epiphanies are tools. And they are yours forever. They will appear when you most need them. So just relax and let your creative genius take you by the hand, and let the magic begin.

Let’s go

So let me guide you from A to Z of this cheerleading glossary for writers.

Let’s start at the very beginning. With an A. (See for this the next post in “Cheerleading for Writers”)

 

Picture: Walking through Aalborg in snow took my breath away and brought inside an amazing sense of peace and quiet.

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“Cheerleading For Writers”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 9

Ingrid and Alice stood up in unison, Steve’s head tilting after Ingrid. Alice took the mugs to the sink, while Ingrid released the brakes on Steve’s wheelchair. Before she pulled the wheelchair away from the table she patted Steve’s hand, which he seemed to have readily placed on his shoulder for her to reach.

The noise died as Alice closed the door after Steve, Ingrid and herself.

Elizabeth cringed. The silence was deafening.

This is not how she imagined a family reunion.

Not that she expected one.

Elizabeth didn’t think she would find anyone from her family here. She actually didn’t know now what she had expected. Had she ever grasped her wish into words? Elizabeth wasn’t sure.

Her father told her about her mother’s death when she was small. But he never mentioned a son.

And now Patrick, the “mad” mad, was her brother.

Elizabeth stole a glance at him.

He stood at the same spot, which he occupied after letting Alice, Steve and Ingrid out.

When he gazed at them a minute ago, he looked so scared. So lost. Like a small boy. Although by now Elizabeth was sure that he was older than she was. And she now guessed, whose elbow was touching her shoulder on the photograph she showed to Alice and Ingrid.

Oh no, the photograph! Elizabeth glanced at the table. How could she take it back without Patrick noticing?

She glanced up and discovered that Patrick watched her but in the next moment he seemed to check where her gaze had been the moment before.

Patrick froze.

Too late, he saw it.

Patrick made a step to the table and took the picture.

He gripped it with both hands, his jaw moving from one side to another.

Then he did something strange. He looked closer at the photograph. But not this was strange. The way he did it was strange. He bowed his body above the picture instead of bringing it closer to his face.

Elizabeth couldn’t make out Patrick’s expression. She saw only his high forehead, dense brows, pressed together, and skulls moving.

Shiver ran along Elizabeth’s spine in spite of the warm air full of chocolate aroma filling the large kitchen, which Elizabeth recognized being the living room when she was small.

Can’t Patrick say something? Should I say something?

“Sorry”, she said.

Patrick look up, his eyes glazed. He squeezed his eyelids shut and then released them. “Why.” He paused. “Why did you come?”

“My…father died and I…”

“What?”

“I wanted to find out…”

“What?”

“What happened when I was small. I don’t remember anything from here. I mean…inside. I remember how the house looked from outside. But not exactly how it used to be inside. How…we lived here.” She looked at Patrick hoping to ignite at least a little compassion in him. “I must have been old enough to remember something. But I don’t.”

“Oh that’s simple.” Patrick’s cold gaze returned, however mixed with something undefinable, as he took a chair at the opposite side of the table. “You fell of the roof.”

Elizabeth felt her eyes opening as never before. “I fell…of the roof?”

“Yes. I pushed you.”

“What? You…” Elizabeth found all her face muscles gathering somewhere around her nose. “But why?”

“Because you were stupid and I hated you.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath and looked at Patrick in disbelief. His look was on the picture, which he still held in his hands.

“I don’t believe you,” Elizabeth said.

“That’s your problem.” Patrick shovelled the picture toward Elizabeth along the table top. “Now, that you know what happened, you can leave. You are not wished here.”

A lump of something appeared in her stomach and started to raise inside her. No, not tears. It was anger. And a very strong one.

No, dear brother, you won’t get rid of me so easily.” She crossed her hands in front of her. “What did I do as a child that made you hate me. And as it looks still make you hate me?”

“You were just stupid. That’s all. There is nothing more to that.”

“I don’t believe you.” Elizabeth drew a deep breath. “I don’t believe a word you said. And…I want to know more. About our parents. About our mother. You owe me this much.”

“Owe you? Since when? Since our dear father took you away from us…from here? You probably used to idolize him, right?”

Elizabeth drew another deep breath but didn’t manage to answer, because Patrick hit the table top with his forearms as he supported himself on the polished surface.

“And I bet you still do,” Patrick said. He leaned back in the chair. “So just go back to where you come from and live further in your fairy tale of a story. What was here is none of your business.”

“It is my business and I bet I have a right to this house as much as you do!” Oh-oh, this didn’t go out well.

“Is this is what your visit is about? To get money out of the house? Not the honourable”, Patrick grimaced, “finding and reconciling with the long lost family. Ha! You know what? Just go to the court and claim a part and let the lawyers do the talk.” Patrick stood up. “I’m done with you. I guess you will find your way out.”

“Patrick, wait! This is not what I meant.”

“It doesn’t matter.” He took a step to the door and was surprised as it almost hit him in the face.

Alice stood at the other side. “Oh, I didn’t see you. Sorry!” She measured him with a concerned look. “Are you all right? Did I hit you?”

Patrick grabbed the door knob. “No, no, I’m fine. I was just finished here and wanted to do some urgent things and—”

“Claire wants to talk to Liza.”

Blood left Patrick’s face.

Elizabeth frowned. “Who is Claire?”

Alice looked at Elizabeth, at Patrick, then back at Elizabeth. She put her left hand on Patrick’s covering the door knob and the right arm on his other arm. It was as if she knew what just happened here and as if she was trying to stop him from leaving. Then she said turning back to Elizabeth, “Claire is Patrick’s and…your mother.”

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Picture: Snow in our garden.

P.S. Chapter 10 will be written and posted latest in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at the page “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think you have friends who could like this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph  (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Elevator pitch for Optimist Writer

ElevatorPitch

The last blog post I published this week (before this one here) was about making products and services attractive and how to attract customers to them, or in other words how to market them.

I have also mentioned that I am a avid beginner in marketing for a self-standing business.

So, today I start a challenge to create a habit of taking action everyday to improve and to market the products and services I offer, the core of which are my knowledge and the resulting content, as both steadily grow.

I learn from many great resources about marketing for an online business. One of these is the workbook “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” by Darren Rowse (ProBlogger.net).

For the first day of the challenge to build a better blog Darren suggests to create an elevator pitch for the blog. I found this very intriguing, because this will allow me to be more clear about what I want to serve my customers with, and also help them understand what I am up to and what I can help them with. So I decided to create an elevator pitch not only for my blog but for my business in general. And I decided to do both (as Darren suggested): to create an elevator pitch and to write a blog post about it.

So here goes the elevator pitch for the Optimist Writer.

In front of the elevator:

Optimist Writer is about project dis-entanglement and cheerleading for businesses, writers and S1000D lovers.

When elevator pitch goes to floors 1 to 5:

Optimist Writer is an independent writing and consulting company. It is devoted to project dis-entanglement and cheerleading for businesses, writers and S1000D lovers. Giving back to the communities that nurture me, I offer content and services to businesses, writers and S1000D-implementers, and help them discover an array of perfect solutions to each of their challenges.

If the travel with an elevator goes above floor 5, I add the following:

The content is offered both on-line and in form of books, and the services are both in form of training courses and consultancy using written exchange methods. The techniques presented in the content are implemented and tested in my function as a writer and business owner. Books (fiction and nonfiction), resulting from these experiences and lessons learned, are also accessible from this site.

If you want to find out more, then do one, or better all, of the following:

  • Explore the content on this site offered on various pages
  • Subscribe to my blogs and news
  • Contact me at vib@optimistwriter.com to arrange a meeting or an interview with me and discuss possibilities for our collaboration.