Monthly Archives: February 2016

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 13

Elizabeth took a deep breath and typed, “What happened?…And how?”

At first Claire didn’t type anything.

Elizabeth turned to look at her mother. Maybe she was so exhausted that she fell asleep.

But no, Claire looked in front of her. Deep breaths reflected the heaviness of all what happened. She paused some more before her hands started moving again across the keyboard. “You were five and Patrick was nine when this happened. You were already so good at reading that we were able to communicate on our own. I wrote with a pen on a notebook. You used to rip the note away and sit near me on the bed and read the notes out loud. Then I would write again, and you would read again.”

Elizabeth was mesmerized by a vision. She held a piece of paper in her hands, her mother behind her leaning on what looked like tens of pillows to hold her up in her bed. She wasn’t sure whether this was a memory or a wish to have experienced such tender times.

Her mother continued to type. “On the day you fell both Patrick and you were in my room. Your father had to leave that Sunday because of an incident at work and a baby-sitter he managed to get for the rest of the day did not come yet. You were playing being a doctor and treating me. You prepared healing mixtures of candy and juice. But I couldn’t possibly eat it. Patrick teased you of not being able to understand my condition.”

“He said I was stupid,” said Elizabeth out loud.

“…Do you recall now?”

Elizabeth shook her head and typed, feeling a deepening frown make her eyes hurt. “No. He said it downstairs in the kitchen today. That he pushed me off the roof because I was stupid.”

“Please, please don’t say…or write this anymore. He didn’t push you. He just suffers of all what happened as much as I do and…as much as you father did.”

Elizabeth used some force to push her brows apart and sighed. “OK. I’m sorry. Please continue, if it is OK with you.”

“Yes, yes! I want this out and not stand between us anymore. This is what happened. You asked how you could help and I wrote you a note. It was the last note I have written with a pen. I couldn’t touch a pen after you fell.”

“What was on that note?”

“Please come and turn my keyboard.”

Elizabeth stood, put her keyboard full of smiley-stickers — not able to make her smile anymore — onto the chair she was sitting on. She went to Claire and after glancing shortly into her mother’s eyes, which had an expression so warm but so difficult to describe, she took the keyboard from Claire’s lap and found a note attached to the back with adhesive tape at two of its edges. She took it carefully off and put the keyboard back onto Claire’s lap.

Elizabeth noticed Claire fingers typing again. She turned to the wall to read what that was.

“Alice attached it there for me. I hoped all the time you would come and we would talk about this. My wish is coming true, but I had never imagined it to be so hard…If you like you can take the note with you and read it later.”

Elizabeth shook her head. She was unable to speak. She came back to her chair, lifted the keyboard, set and put the keyboard onto her lap. Then she opened the note and read it. Five words written in big and clumsy letters stared back at her. “Only stars can help me.”

This was the moment when she remembered. She remembered everything what happened that evening until the moment she hit something hard as she flew off the roof.


Elizabeth took this note everywhere with her that day. She put it into one of pockets of her red jeans, which she loved wearing then. When it was time to put her night cloths on, she took the note out and put it under her pillow.

Her father must have not noticed the note because he didn’t ask her about it. He read to her Snow White, one of her favourites, what must have been a hundredth time, and tucked the duvet under her chin as she lay there on her pillow with her mother’s note beneath it.

“Papa, can one get everything he wishes?”

Her father, with dark rings around his eyes, pressed a smile. “If one tries hard enough.”

“Even stars?”

He looked at his watch and said without looking at her. “I suppose.”

Elizabeth remembered now how she smiled then under her breath and made a decision to get a star for Mama.

She closed her eyes, waited until her father went out of her room and closed the door. She waited some more then tip-toed to the door opening it quietly.

Patrick had another half an hour before he had to go to bed too. And it sounded like he was in his room, which was at the other side of her mother’s.

Little Liza took her woollen jumper and pulled it over her head. There was almost no evening, even in summers that Elizabeth didn’t have a warm jacket or a jumper on. Evenings always had a freezing effect on her. She almost smiled now as this memory appeared. But then more rushed after it.

She went to the small roof window at the end of the hallway, where she loved to sit and gaze and imagine she was Rapunzel. That is why she refused her hair being trimmed or cut in any way.

She opened the window and set on the sill, which reached both sides from the window. She put her feet on the outer half of the sill and pulled herself on her feet.

“Liza, what are you doing?” Patrick’s head appeared at the bottom of the window.

“I am getting a star for Mama. She said they can help her.”

Patrick smirked. “You’re so stupid! You can’t get a star. Nobody can.”

“Papa said I can, if I try hard enough. And he’s cleverer than you!” She turned and wanted to stomp her right foot to make her point clear. But then she missed the sill and fell.

Before she hit something hard with her head and all went dark, she heard Patrick’s outcry, “Liza, no!”


Now, so many years later, Elizabeth blinked tears away and looked at her mother. She whispered, “It was an accident. Just an accident.” She shook her head. All her life she thought that something big and significant happened before she forgot everything. But nothing really happened. Just a naïve little girl trying to please her mother, normal bickering between a sister and a brother, and parents tired of the circumstances they were in. That was all. Or maybe not? “Did I break anything, or was I paralyzed?” She said this out loud. She could not type anymore.

He mother took a deep breath and typed. Elizabeth turned to the wall to read. “Miraculously nothing happened except a large haematoma on your head from hitting the edge of the roof as you fell down. You must have fallen on the bushes outside and rolled off them onto the ground .”

Elizabeth waited. She didn’t want to turn to look at her mother anymore. She couldn’t shake off the anger of all the weight this story had put on her. Almost as if she was her mother sitting in her wheel-chair now and not her mother’s daughter.

More words appeared on the wall. “You had been brought to the hospital. One evening your father came and said that you had amnesia and couldn’t remember anything. He said that it couldn’t go any further that way. That he was going to put me into a nursery home, take you and Patrick and leave. He didn’t want that you or Patrick be hurt any further.”

Elizabeth sat now straighter on her chair. So her father didn’t say these words in her presence. She frowned. Or maybe he did. At her bed when she was unconscious in the hospital. Elizabeth shook her head. There was not point now in trying to figure it all out. She was only five then. Even without amnesia, there was not big guarantee that she would remember much from then. The only person who could tell her whether this was true or not was her father. And he was gone. So she shook her head again and waited for more.

“Unfortunately Patrick heard this conversation and started shouting at Kirill that he hated him and that it was him who hurt you, because he told you could get stars…Patrick then ran out of the house and to our neighbour’s Christine home. She came short time later, after your father left the room, with trembling Patrick along with her.” Claire paused, then continued typing. “She was the sweetest and the strongest person I knew. Alice reminds me of her. Christine went to your father and said that Patrick was not going anywhere because he didn’t want to and it wouldn’t benefit anyone if courts were involved.”

“So Papa took me and left. Just like that?”

“You were at the hospital when he left. And you never came back home after that. He packed his and your things and left. We never found out where to.”

“Germany,” Elizabeth said and then threw this mental thread away. This was not important now. She needed to know something else. “But…but what about you?”

“Christine and her two sons, both older than Patrick, moved with us and she rented her house to a befriended family. Through the rent from her house and her job and later thanks to her sons earning some additional money at various cafes and restaurants, and them all putting all the money into the family jar as we called our common bank account, we made it through. Until Jack and Tim left for college, and until Christine’s death several years later. She died from cancer here in the house. She refused to stay at the hospital for her final days. This is when she, Patrick and I had the idea to shelter people like her. She talked to her sons and with their agreement she left Patrick and me all she owned, so that we could finance our idea. Jack and Tim became lawyers and started a Christine & Claire fund, where they get — also today — as many means as possible for our idea.” There was a pause. Claire must have waited for Elizabeth to say something.

But she couldn’t. This happy ending for Claire and Patrick and the house was not her story. She was an outsider. And the person who torn her away from her mother and her brother was the person she idolized all her conscious life. Her conscious lie after the fall, as she realized now. Without looking at Claire — she simply couldn’t do it now — Elizabeth typed. “I have to go now. I am sorry.” She stood, put the keyboard back on the chair, then the note on it and left the room.

As she stepped out and closed the door she noticed Patrick sitting on the floor in front of the window, from which she fell off that night. He raised his head from his knees and looked at her with red, tired eyes.

Elizabeth paused. The memory she gained and all she heard today didn’t quite imply their closeness when they were children. And even if it was obvious that he suffered all those years, it was not her job to comfort him now. She needed comfort herself and this house was definitely not the place where she could find it. She looked once again into Patrick’s eyes then turned away and hurried down the stairs and out of this strange house.



Picture: Photographing the frozen and melted parts of the lawn in our garden. It’ amazing to see the touch of the sun so clearly.

P.S. Chapter 14 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 enjoy 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

Optimist Wirter’s Business News: February 2016


Dear friends and colleagues,
(we are all colleagues, whatever we do, since we often face similar situations in our working lives)

In terms of business activities, February month was full of re-thinking, re-evaluation, as well as continuation of work on the Optimist Writer’s own projects. I will summarize this in a list:

  • The has been under restructuring and modifications. For example its homepage now reflects the three major topics I blog and write about and also it reflects the dynamic of weekly posts on each topic. Earlier the static view of the homepage didn’t reveal how much was happening inside “Blog” and “Resources”.
  • I am working right now on two e-books which will be offered for free download on my site. One of them (fiction) is 99% ready for compilation, and another (non-fiction, a guide) is under revision. Both should be ready for download in March. If you are already subscribed to this site then I will send you the link from where you will be able to download both e-books.
  • I am adjusting services I am offering. S1000D services have been comprised in two: “Conveying S1000D Knowledge” and “Assistance in developing step-by-step S1000D implementation strategy”.
  • Further, I have developed a special coaching course program for writers, which is directed on training business skills as well as learning how to persevere and stay consistent and focused in the business of writing.
  • Language coaching for non-native speakers has been added to the service assortment. I have experience of facing and learning foreign languages since my childhood and I even learned my mother tongue as one would a foreign language. I can help to face the challenges with a new language, because I experienced similar situations and because I think languages and language learning can be fun.
  • My blog has now three categories instead of two. Additionally to Writing and Business, there is now the third major category devoted to S1000D® (International specification for technical publications using a common source data base). This is such a specific topic that it deserves to be considered on its own.
  • The project developed right now in frames of S1000D blog category is the S1000D Business Rules Step-by-Step Guide. I update it once a week, and it is well on the way in respect to the set of the Business Rules Decisions Points (BRDPs) related to coding of various S1000D information objects. I have defined a number of additional BRDPs to cover implied decisions points, which are not yet explicitly defined in S1000D. My guess is that there will be a number of other BRDPs to add.
  • Externally I am currently either in planning phase or carrying out projects and working with customers directly (or as a sub-contractor) in respect to S1000D, language teaching, and coaching for writers.

I am excited to see what the coming month will bring. I wish you all success and fun in all your endeavours.

February 2016 News on writing by Optimist Writer

Dear friends,

The longer than usual but shortest in the year month is coming slowly to its end. Although it is short, my life is busy and filled in with projects, so that I caught myself recently wondering whether I am mistaken, that what happened since the last newsletter in January didn’t happen in one but in two or more months. I can’t quite believe that only two months have passed this year. It is wonderful to be productively busy.

Here is February news in respect to writing. The other will follow in frame of business newsletter.

I shared this news already, but still: “Seven Broken Pieces”, prequel to series “A Life Upside Down” came out on January 30. I will present it along with my other two books at my author’s talk on March 2nd at the South Gate Society (SGS) School of Creative Writing  here in Aalborg. So, if you are close to Aalborg on that day, come and join me. It will be wonderful! But if you don’t manage to come, then I will let you know what happened in the next month’s newsletter.

I started two giveaways (the first in my life and my writing career): one for “The Truth About Family” on Facebook (I will announce the winner today) and the other on Goodreads for “A Spy’s Daughter” (continues until March 13). More will follow, but these first baby steps in marketing and sharing one’s books are pretty exciting.

Most of the busy times I referred to in respect to writing have to do with the progress of the books I write. “Nothing is As it Seems” is close to its resolution and my guess is that in March we will read “THE END” there. “Cheerleading for Writers” got several articles including one on Characters.

I’ve revised and had edited twice my first short story posted initially back in 2013. This story is called today “Between Grace and Abyss” and it will be available soon for free download here on my site. If you are already subscribed to this site and to the writing blog and news, then I will send it to your per e-mail as soon as it is up and running.The book cover for this e-book is done as well. My wonderful cover designer Alice Jago did again an amazing job. I decided to reveal the cover in this post below.

Oh, I almost forgot, I have given an interview to Samuel Mork Bednarz, a student at the SGS and responsible for SGS podcasts. You can watch one of the episodes here. The interview with me will be soon available on YouTube. This interview was quite an exciting experience. And I am curious to see the result soon.

Have a wonderful month of March. It is quite special in Moldova. And I will of course write about this.

Between Grace & Abyss - cover V4

Picture: E-book cover for “Between Grace and Abyss”, created by amazing Alice Jago.

How I wrote “A Spy’s Daughter”

Here is an excerpt from a note to the reader at the end of “A Spy’s Daughter”:

“For many different reasons, writing this book was very special for me. It was like playing with several sets of LEGO® at the same time. Here is what I mean by this.

Imagine you buy several sets of LEGO, let’s say a car, a castle, and a ship. You build each of them as shown in the instructions. You love playing with them and enjoy each part of them. Then you disassemble them and build out of all, or most of, the pieces something new: a spaceship, with wheels, that resembles a castle.

This is exactly what I did with this book and am doing with the whole series. It is pure fiction, but many of the scenes did happen, either to me or to others I know of have heard of. The characters are also patched together from myself and the people I know and cherish, including our stories. You can see it in the first pages of the book, with the names of the two sisters, Victoria and Svetlana. These are the names of myself and my sister. The other given names I attributed to these characters also reflect how I feel about them. My sister is pure joy to be around and to interact with. So the character’s name is Svetlana Joy. And my sister is smaller than me, so she’s younger in the book. The age gap between the characters is almost the same as between my sister and me, although in reality my sister is the elder of us.

My husband played the wish-cake joke on me (although he didn’t name it the wish-cake. He baked the cake, put the candles on it and said, “Make a wish and blow out the candles”). And he is from the former GDR (Eastern Germany). Two different characters in the book had each of these details attributed to them.

It was an immense pleasure to play with the real “building set” available to me from the details of my life and people I know, as well as the imaginary one I discovered every time I sat down to write this book.”

“A Spy’s Daughter”, Copyright © 2015 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels


Picture: These magnets are featured in “A Spy’s Daughter” and play a small but a special role there.

P.S. The prices for e-books “The Truth About Family” and “A Spy’s Daughter” on are back to normal. But they are still at the very affordable $2.99. 🙂 “Seven Broken Pieces” remains at $0.99. The pictures below link to the books on If you would like to find the books on or, or CreateSpace, then please see here.


front cover - seven broken pieces



“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 12

Elizabeth wiped her tears and looked at the bright spot on the wall in front of her and Claire. She moved her hand to delete the last sentence. I don’t remember…you. But then she stopped. It was too late. Claire must have seen it. She stole a gaze at her mother, who looked ahead in her frozen state of paralysis. How could she live like that? Elizabeth cursed silently at herself. How could she be so mean to her mother?! She took a deep breath, noticing that chocolate aroma followed her all the way from the kitchen to the Claire’s room. She typed. “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean…”

Only then she noticed that Claire has typed already a whole paragraph above Elizabeth’s apology. It said, “I had a stroke when you were two years old. Unfortunately I noticed that something was wrong with me only when I was at the top of the stairs and as I tried to support myself on my right arm. But it didn’t function anymore, so I fell down the stairs. I remember the world whirling around and then everything stopped. When I woke up at the hospital I couldn’t move, but you, your father and Patrick were at my bedside, which made immensely happy. You were safe! You were alone with me at home when this happened. I was so terrified when I was falling down the stairs. I was terrified that something might happen to you.”

Elizabeth shivered as she read her mother’s words, who seemed now oblivious to Elizabeth’s apology from above.

Claire kept typing. She seemed eager to let out all those words of explanation she must have gathered inside her for so many years.

Elizabeth sighed with relief. She was still loved. She gazed a few more seconds at Claire oblivious to her daughter’s staring. Typing away.

“Then the next shock followed. First the doctors said I should not talk for a while. And when I tried we discovered that I couldn’t say anything at all. My vocal chords were paralyzed as the rest of my body. I still could swallow. And blink. But nothing else was possible.” Claire paused breathing heavily.

Elizabeth used the break in Claire’s frantic typing. “Shall we make a break? I can come later…if you need to rest.”

“No, no. Let me tell you everything now.” Claire placed one hand over another on her keyboard, then separated them and continued typing. “You were the one to discover that my hands and forearms were still functioning. Or rather Patrick noticed as you played with my fingers and they returned your movements. Shortly after that the therapy began and goes on until today.”

There was another break in the typing stream and Elizabeth decided to wait. She could not imagine herself in her mother’s situation. She would definitely go insane. She stole another gaze at Claire. What inner strength was necessary to keep herself so awake, so present and alive?

Elizabeth noticed Claire pressing two keys simultaneously for a few seconds. As she turned to the wall she saw, “:-))))))))))))))))))))” Then typing recommenced. “My doctors keep saying until today that it is amazing my forearms and hands are still functioning while everything else is paralyzed. Only Joe, my current physical therapist says, ‘If you believe in miracles, then no surprise there.’ 🙂 He keeps on massaging every muscle when he comes here every afternoon. He says, he’s not keeping me alive, he is just searching for another miracle in my asleep body. Which I doubt he will find. But he said, as long as he is responsible for me, he’ll keep going. He’s a good sport at his fifty-five.”

Elizabeth smiled. She started to guess why her mother was able to survive. There were people around her supporting and loving her. She imagined this house, its whole idea of sheltering people fighting with their illnesses for their lives and health, which she now suspected was Claire’s, kept her alive. In the next moment Elizabeth frowned. But why…? She shivered again. She knew that she would flip the conversation to unspeakable sadness, but she had to know. “Why…how…why did Papa and I end up in Germany and not stayed with you and Patrick here.”

A stream of air came pressed out of Claire’s nostrils filling the silence. “Kirill was the most to suffer. Medical bills took much of his salary. And then you and Patrick needed so much attention. He did all he could, but it was very hard. And when you fell off the roof—”

Elizabeth stopped reading. So what Patrick said is true? Forgetting to read her mother’s words further she typed. “Did Patrick pushed me off the roof?”

“What? No! Why would he? Who told you that????”

“Patrick.” Elizabeth avoided looking at her mother now. She felt that she was inducing a pain into this already suffering woman.

“Why would he do this? No, no, he didn’t. It was…I am the only one to blame for this. You fell because of me. That is why your father took you away from here, before worse things would happen.”

Elizabeth felt that the last five words were not her mother’s. They were her father’s. And she sensed that she heard them before.


Picture: The winter is returning to Aalborg.

P.S. Chapter 13 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 enjoy 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