Monthly Archives: February 2016

“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.

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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

Special offer: Kindle countdown deal for “The Truth About Family” and “A Spy’s Daughter”

I’m learning currently a lot about book (and business) marketing and promotions.

The best way to learn this is, of course, by doing.

The most attractive way for the customers is (also of course) by reducing a price.

This is what I am doing for two of my books starting with February 10 and finishing on February 17, 2016.

E-book format of “The Truth About Family” and “A Spy’s Daughter” will be offered for $ 0.99 during this time.

This means that during this period of time you can get each of my books for $ 0.99 at Amazon.com, or all for $ 2.97, which a slightly less than the regular price for either “The Truth About Family” or “A Spy’s Daughter” ($ 2.99).

So, if you like reading books in e-book format, get the books and tell your friends about this deal. Don’t forget that this offer ends on February 17.

The images of the book covers will reveal to you the links to the books on Amazon.com.

 

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front cover - seven broken pieces

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Cheerleading for Writers: B – Book

Back in 2013, I went through my wishes and discovered I had a big wish — looming and raising its head above water since some time but pushed and hidden until then — to write and share. But I had this idea that I didn’t want to write a book. A didn’t consider a short story (in which I had gathered some practice by then) being a book and writing a novel appeared to be daunting and too long to wait until it’s done. I thought I couldn’t be as patient as other authors and wait long until my books were published.

I wanted to share immediately after creating something. Starting a blog was the solution.

Around this time I read a German translation of the book titled “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg and found there the following words:

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

There was one story that surfaced again and again. At first I thought it was my sad story of having lost my father when I was ten years old. I was sorry for myself for not being able to talk to him as adults would do. I judged others when I saw them arguing with their fathers. I was sorry that I didn’t know him in my teenager years, to be able to argue with him, to laugh with him, to earn his approval for the way I’ve chosen, to share my thoughts with him.

Tasting the experience of instantaneous transformation and practicing awareness of my tricky thought processes changed everything. I understood that I was victimizing myself and avoiding something. Then I realized what it was.

I was avoiding my father’s story. His story of having lost his family during World War II and trying to find them. How he thought he found them but gained the disappointment of rejection in return. I thought his story was a very sad one.

So I pushed it away. But it kept coming back. Now thinking back I understand that it was natural for it to come back. This story is a part of my family heritage. It is a part of me.

Back then I resisted it, and resisted some more. But it kept coming back and I grew tired of this internal fight. I needed to address it. Even if I was afraid of it and the emotional processes I might go through when addressing it.

Natalie Goldberg’s words came to aid and this idea “Maybe I should write about it” start appearing and re-appearing and intriguing me with exponentially growing intensity.

This happened actually very fast because hardly a few months after I started writing my blog I started writing a novel about my father.

As soon as started, the process ran almost seamlessly. I experimented with voices, with characters, stories, settings, whole chapters, grew frustrated about some of them. But the question about to write or not to write a book disappeared. I was simply too deep inside the whole adventure to worry about this.

Only after about the half way through the book, or rather at the end I started again fearing working on this book and on this story. But it was already too late. Quite a few people knew about it and liked it. Quitting was not an option. Probably also because explaining the reasons about giving up would take much more effort than finishing it. The story itself and the way I wrote it was at least partially responsible for cementing those, who heard of it, as my cheerleaders. The conclusion was simple: I couldn’t disappoint my readers and fans. I had to finish it.

And so I did. I finished it, revised, revised some more, let others read it, revised again, had it edited and read again. And then one night last year I published it. My first book was born.

And another was already on the way. I was eager to write and create more books. I tasted the joy and magic of creating and I witnessed what effect my creations had on others. They ignited something in others very personal to them. I witnessed people smile and heard from my mother how pleasantly surprised our relatives in Moldova were when the found out about the book. She told me about the hugs they gave her and the memories they shared with her about my father.

A brief fear that writing one novel was one time wonder disappeared as soon as I published my second book last Christmas.

Then a short story came out last month as a book. Now I blog several books in parallel and I finished already some of them in the first draft. The lines you read will belong to yet another book.

Yes, the person who writes these lines was sure she would never write a book, and even that she didn’t want it. The truth I discovered was that I not only want to write books, but I also need this. Writing my first book closed many wounds I thought were open. I found that my father’s story was a wonderful, wonderful story, with some sad but also many joyful, and all of them deep and special moments.

After this experience I am sure that any person — if he or she wants it — can write a book and create something very special. All we have to own is a wish to do it, a will to pursue and passion accelerating us towards completion.

I discovered that I had all three. It was an amazing discovery. And with every new project I discover this again and again.

You might think, “It’s all well and good for you. But I won’t be able to write a book. I was thinking about it. But I have so much on my plate. It is simply not possible. I will never manage it.” If you think any of these then please consider the following.

If you gather all the mails, all the posts on social media you have written, you might discover that have you authored an encyclopedia.

You might argue that this is not creative and that it was not quite for a higher purpose.

Are you sure? Was there, among your e-mails or posts, one directed to uplift or support a friend or a member of your family? I bet there was. And I bet more than one! Then I also bet that if you read them you would discover beautiful metaphors, analogies and stories you shared.

Of course we might argue for hours, you wanting to prove that you can’t, and I trying to show you the opposite.

And we both will be right. Because there are moments when we stay in our way and also moments when we let ourselves be creative.

And we both might be wrong, right? From the point of view of the other.

So let’s just take the chair of the other and consider how this changes our points of view.

If I sit on yours, I look around, draw a deep breath and see. Yes, even now, after having published a PhD thesis and three books, I still have the moments where I think, I can’t write books. Especially likable ones. Those which are bought and read and those that ignite a wish to read more coming from my pen. My thoughts also try to convince me that those books I have written and published were a case of pure luck, of some unknown force pushing me through. That I have no power on my own to accomplish this. Yes, I still have these thoughts and they pop up during my writing and ask for my attention.

Now, what if you sat on the optimistic chair I sat on before? Can you see that you can do it?

I think here, some good old cliches are very much in place.

Everyone has a book in them. And if you set up your mind to it you can write one. And many more after that.

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Picture: my three books. My third paperback is somewhere on the way to Denmark, so you see it here as an e-book.

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

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A review for “A Spy’s Daughter” by an acclaimed author

Réal Laplaine, author of “The Buffalo Kid: Everyone Deserves a Second Chance”, “Twilight Visitor”, Finding Agnetha: Despite the odds ~ dreams DO come true — which I read and highly recommend —, and many other well received books has given the following 4-star review for “A Spy’s Daughter”:

“A Spy’s Daughter, by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels, was a surprisingly thoughtful novel. At first I couldn’t tell where this novel was heading – the story seemed so simple, but as it progressed, one starts to live the world of Hannah, the spy’s daughter, and begins to feel her frustration living, if not even stranded, between two worlds, one of them largely hidden from her view. The twists come later in the story – when the ball of thread starts to unravel. The writing style is very nicely done – often touched with descriptive phraseology and metaphors. I enjoyed it and recommend the book.”

I am thrilled to get such a review from an experienced author and I am very motivated to continue my writing adventure.

Here are the descriptions and links at Amazon and CreateSpace for “A Spy’s Daughter” and “Seven Broken Pieces”, where the latter is the prequel to the series “A Life Upside Down” kicked off by “A Spy’s Daughter”.

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A Spy’s Daughter: A Novella
(Book 1 in series “A Life Upside Down”)

Description:

Hannah doesn’t have a husband or a boyfriend. She doesn’t have a mother either. Her mother died long ago. But Hannah still thinks of herself as a happy person. Mostly due to her family — her father, sister and her two uncles — who love and support her. And because she has an exciting job, with great colleagues. Which is not that common in the post-Soviet Moldova. Soon their lab will have a state-of-the-art high-resolution microscope to take their research to a new level.

And she, Hannah (who thinks her name is Victoria) must go to collect this microscope from Germany. All she needs is a visa. Which could be a challenge. But she has prepared all the necessary documents to convince the authorities to issue one to her.

The day before her appointment at the German embassy, she finds out that she won’t have any issues with a travel visa, because she doesn’t need one. To her utter surprise, Hannah learns from her father that she has dual citizenship, Moldovan and American. And more surprising still is one tiny additional detail he now reveals about her mother.

That she had been an American spy.

Available at:

  1. Amazon.com,
  2. Amazon.de,
  3. Amazon.co.uk, and
  4. other Amazon sites,
  5. as well as at CreateSpace.

 

 

front cover - seven broken piecesSeven Broken Pieces: A Short Story
(Prequel to series “A Life Upside Down”)

Description:

Young and resolute, still suffering from her sister’s death in Vietnam, Sasha Leroy Palmer decided in the 1960’s to fight the enemy on the other side of the Iron Curtain from within. Even if this meant becoming a spy.

She convinced herself that her sister’s death was the only reason she came here. To help her home country, the one that was truly free, to fight one that wasn’t (even if it proclaimed otherwise). It was the duty of every true American citizen to resist Soviet propaganda and help weaken the force of evil. Especially since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

So why then did every letter from home, secretly passed to her by colleagues in the cause, make her feel that this hadn’t been the reason? That there was an even bigger one for her coming here.

Hadn’t she made peace and accepted her father’s decision? Was she really running away from her responsibilities, as her parents insisted? And if she was, what could make her stop running?

Surely not the man who caught her as she stumbled on a shaky trolley-bus in the capital of Soviet Moldova. Or could he?

Available at:

  1. Amazon.com,
  2. Amazon.de,
  3. Amazon.co.uk, and
  4. other Amazon sites,
  5. as well as at CreateSpace.

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 11

Elizabeth shuffled on her feet. There, in front of her was her mother, of whom she, all her conscious life, thought was dead. And she looked almost dead now, as she sat there motionless in her chair, her face muscles atrophied after many years of not being used. Smooth and even with not trace of a wrinkle. Neither those of sadness, nor those of merriness.

Only her eyes, full of tears now, showed that she was alive. And her heavy breath, as Elizabeth started noticing. And her trembling hands.

Elizabeth searched for the pockets in her tight jeans and hooked her thumbs in them. “Um.” What should I say? Slowly and with trepidation she raised her gaze to her mother’s eyes.

Claire blinked several times. Her tears fell on her cheeks and ran down heading to her motionless neck supporting only the tiny for an adult head leaning on the headrest behind it.

Elizabeth panicked. She felt her hands raising to her waist. Shall I wipe the tears?

Claire’s eyes gazed in front of her.

Elizabeth followed her gaze, looked at the brightly lit spot on the wall, and read. “No, you don’t have to.” What? Did I say those words out loud?

Claire typed, “Yes you did. :-)”

Elizabeth turned to Claire. “Oh. I’m sorry. I just—” Then as she saw her mother typing, Elizabeth turned back to read.

“Look here at my right.” Claire’s fingers flew across the keyboard. “There is another keyboard. We can chat together. It might make things easier for you.”

Elizabeth looked and saw the second white keyboard with several brightly coloured smiley-stickers grinning in all directions from its perimeter. She noticed Claire typing again and turned to the wall to read.

“Alice, Ingrid and most visitors who make it up here find chatting with me in writing easier. Only children and Patrick talk to me directly.”

“How do they do it?” Elizabeth was surprised about her own question. She turned to Claire thinking that it was unthinkable to talk to the screen instead of her mother. Claire’s eyes smiled without producing wrinkles around them. Then they guided Elizabeth’s back to the wall.

“They do it, just like you did. They look at the screen on the wall when they talk to me. But…they sit close to me…when they do this.”

“Oh.”

“Let’s start with chatting, shall we? :-))))) Will the chair below the keyboard suit you?”

Elizabeth shook her head sideways. She needed to shake this confusion away. She turned hurriedly to her mother. “Yes, yes.” Then she walked to the chair, lifted the wireless keyboard, sat and put it on her knees. Big red sticker with words “Push here”, which she didn’t notice before directed her to the “ON” button. She pressed it and stopped. What shall I ask? Should I maybe say, no, write, something, I don’t know…nice maybe, before asking? But what?

Words on the wall appeared. “It’s OK. Let’s take it slow. I don’t think I will fall asleep for another hour. I am too excited to see you. Would you like me to tell you what happened?…To you…here?”

Elizabeth drew a deep breath and typed. “Yes, please. But before that…Before that, please tell me what happened to you…I…I don’t remember, I’m afraid. I don’t remember…you.” Tears clouded Elizabeth’s eyes and hindered her to delete what she had just typed.

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Picture: Barborky cut by my son, husband and father-in-law during past winter holidays and blooming now in my parents-in-law’s living room.

P.S. Chapter 12 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