Category Archives: Books I write

Starting a New Online Fiction Project – Continuing the Series “A Life Upside Down”

Recently, I have finished writing and sharing with you, here on my blog, the “Cheerleading for Writers” project.

So now the blogging-a-creative-book space is free and I decided to offer it to fiction.

There are several books projects I started some time ago and left to pick up later.

I realized that the most challenging for me at this point of time would be to write “A President’s Sister”, the second book in the series “A Life Upside Down”.

There might many reasons, why it is most challenging. I guess the most prominent of those reasons is that I discuss this project quite a lot in my head, especially whether it is worth to write it now, when I have so many other projects to do. “But you are going to continue blogging on writing, so you might as well do it there,” my creative brain drops in.

Yes, I might as well do this and I will do.

I actually think now that it might be the best solution for this series. I remember how, when I was writing the first book “A Spy’s Daughter” and the prequel “Seven Broken Pieces”, there was a certain urgency to get the story out there, and at the same time realization that I needed to take time to elaborate each scene, so that the reader is captivated instead of being rushed through.

So blogging a book (or in other words writing and posting it bit by bit) in this series, might be a solution and I think it is worth to try.

In the next posts I will start posting chapters and/or scenes of this book. But I will also share the writing process with you and my experience during research and re-reading the books I have already written in this series.

I am actually gathering the experiences on the latter right now. I’ve read the prequel recently and read the book 1 these days, a chapter or so a day, and I must say the experience is very interesting. It is as though I am getting to know the person I was when I wrote those books. She is definitely a different person than the person I feel right now to be. Not better, not worse, just quite different. My brain does try to compare. But it is quite impossible, because the life moved and moved me with it. And now it is time to write a new book. 🙂

As soon as this second book in the series will be published, I will remove this first draft from my site, because it is only meant to share its creation process with you. Maybe I will keep the articles on the writing experience. But the story itself will be deleted as soon as its polished and improved version will be out there on Amazon and other retailers.

I had a great experience of undertaking a similar endeavour with “Nothing Is As It Seems” and enjoyed it very much. So I am doing this again and welcome you into this adventure with me! 🙂

Click on the title of this new project at the end of this sentence to read the short description of “A President’s Sister”. I will update this regularly to add all the links in relation to this project.

Picture: me and my sister Svetlana when were children. If you have read “A Spy’s Daughter” and happen to know both of us, then you might have recognized some of our traits (not all 😉 ) in both characters. My beautiful sister is on the right. A small anecdote about my love of being photographed as a child: I’ve been told to have thrown the toy you see in my hands into the photographer. 😉



Copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Brief September/October’16 News from Opitmist Writer

I miss sharing my thoughts or news about my writing.

You have probably seen my writing progress here on this site, either as “Cheerleading for Writers” or new categories in the Business Blog, as well as restructured, simplified and improved website.

But I haven’t written about my writing quite in a while. Neither in separate newsletters.

I thought I had to send the newsletters only as letters to my subscribers and not post inside my blog. It’s interesting how most of us try to fit in some standards even if we fool ourselves by thinking that we are rebelling. Does rebelling itself have standards? Is the standard for rebelling the breaking of all other standards? But what are those other standards to break?

Do I have to break standards at all?

Now that I think of it, Yes, there are standards to break. But maybe they are not quite standards, but rather limits that I set up for myself, which I mistakenly consider to be standards.

I really liked sharing my Newsletters as blog posts, and sharing in them what I have been up to lately. Thus, in respect to Newsletters I am coming back to what I like doing. Writing them as short blog posts, once in a while — the while often being about one month.

So in respect to writing, this is what I have done up to this point and since the last Newsletter. I finished the very, very first draft of my future book “Cheerleading for Writers”. If you follow the blog series on “Cheerleading for Writers” you might wonder how this could be, since I have published so far only until including the letter S. This is because I allowed myself to continue writing without editing, which is necessary before publishing the posts on my website.

So now I am editing the remaining articles and will post them as I make progress with incorporating the changes on the paper onto the computer screen. I do this work in frames of the 5 Minute Perseverance Game I love playing for many of my projects and about which I have written a small book structured as a board game description. Thus the posts might appear in unequal intervals since the articles are of difference length. A spoiler alert for the article starting with T. It is quite long. 😉

I’m looking forward to discover how my project games change and develop, and what limits/standards I set for myself, as well as how I break them to create new rules.

And I am curious to hear about your breaking of standards and changes of something you have thought was so well established you forgot to question it, until your heart pushed or pulled you “by your ears” through those brick walls of the limits you’ve set up for yourself. What are those? If you don’t want to comment on them here, but still would like to share them with me, then feel free to write to my e-mail address:

Picture: Who said that you need to destroy a thing completely in order to create something completely new and fresh? Look what the Australian street art artist Guido van Helten, has created out of a silo of an old asbestos cement factory in Aalborg. He decorated it with wonderful and powerful portraits of workers from this factory.IMG_1367

Am I my own enemy or just a weird combination of a worrying parent and a curious child?

A note: With this blog post I am taking part in the Writing Contest “Writers Crushing Doubt” hosted by Positive Writer – See details at:

Something amazing happened on a bus trip to a fertility clinic back in the Fall 2009. The magic started at home. Pushed by an impulse, I grabbed the nicest notebook I had and three pens (just in case two of them would stop writing) and went on a one hour bus ride from Aalborg to Dronninglund through the beautiful and wavy landscape of North Denmark.

Thank goodness the mood dropping hormones were not starting their dark magic until later, so on the ride back home I finished my first short story.

Wow! This story took me by surprise. It was dramatic and captivating, being about wishing for children but not being able to have them and on the other hand having a son and then losing him.

The emotion roller coaster mixed with hormone cocktail and failure of the embryo implantation procedure crashed into the giving birth to something new — creations made out of words.

This was uplifting and at the same time absolutely scary.

“Can I create more of this?” something curious asked inside me.

Completely unrequested, another story started taking shape. But it grew bigger and bigger, so that it became clear: that story would not fit into two bus rides. Not even into ten. This looked rather as a book. But I couldn’t possibly write a book, could I? No, no, this was too hard and too dangerous! Because it was unknown. And I was a non-native speaker after all. Who would read an English book written by a non-native speaker coming from the former Soviet Union not even native to Russian anymore, or not that fluent in her mother tongue Romanian? Who in the world would read it?

“Right,” my brain answered, “nobody”.

In the quiet evenings, when no one was looking, I opened my notebook, peeked into it and re-read the story. Again and again. The story had its rough edges, which needed to be polished, but I still liked it. I gave it to my niece to read, and she loved it too. “I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to read more,” she said.

“Really?” I asked blushing.

“Yes, yes,” said a quiet voice in me in unison with my niece. “You should.”

“OK,” I said to myself. “Let’s try, but I will first read and learn how to do it properly.”

Magic of unexpected natural conception mixed with purchasing and reading tons of books on the writing craft.

Some of them confirmed that it was not that easy to be a writer. “You see!” a loud voice prompted. “You better concentrate on the good and real sides of life instead of pursuing something you were not made for.”

So I did concentrate on another dream of mine. Which became a reality. Being a mother to a small child.

This new reality, however, produced more hormones, more ups and downs, and more emotions. Why wasn’t I happy, when a long, longed for dream came true? This was all I wanted, wasn’t it? I had a loving husband, a sweet baby son, wonderful family and friends, and I had an interesting and positively challenging job. Besides I lived in one of the happiest countries in the world. So why wasn’t I happy? At least not most of the time?

Then on a book stand in an international airport, a butterfly captured my attention. I passed by and then came back. I took the book into my hands and read, “Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment” by Ariel and Shya Kane.

I stole a glance into the book and put it back on the shelf. “No, life isn’t that easy!” Again that loud voice.

But something quiet and strong pushed me back to the stall with the books and nudged me to buy the book.

After resisting several months to read this book by Ariel and Shya Kane, I read it and got caught by an amazing statement. There was nothing wrong with me! And I could experience happiness by simply being here, by being fully aware of the present moment.

“Hm,” I thought, “it won’t hurt to try, if I don’t have to do anything in particular and not work on something hard.”

Unbeknownst to me, my curiosity — this amazing and primary instinct we all have in us, but which is often silenced with years of indoctrination, prejudices and rules, as well as constant resistance to them — suddenly this curiosity of mine was made free.

Along with reading all the books by Ariel and Shy available then, and taking part in their workshops, something else started happening. A question started accompanying almost all loud “No’s” in my head. And the question was, “What if?”

The dialogue in my head went on then something like this, “No, no, I’m not a writer!”

“What if we don’t write a book, but just write some blog posts and see how they are received? We can stop any time, can’t we?”

After blogging for some time an unasked question was answered with a loud “No, no, I am not writing a book, and especially not about my father! His story of having lost his family during World War II, grown up in orphanages, and lead an unlucky search for his family is far too sad. Natalie Goldberg can say ‘to split open’ and others can do this if they want, but I won’t do that. It’s too much!”

“What if we only start and see what happens? We can stop and hide the book any time, right? Nobody will ever hear of it.”

As you can guess I wasn’t able to keep quiet. Instead I shared my first book even before finishing the first draft. The result: I was motivated and supported to write further.

So I published that book. And I wrote another one, and published again. Then another…

And through practicing true listening, as recommended by Ariel and Shya, listening as if from the other person’s point of view, I was able to find out who were these two chatting in my head.

“When you leave home,” I remember Ariel and Shya saying at one of their seminars, “You become your own parent. You tell yourself what you should and should not do. And then you rebel against those instructions.”

That was one of the brightest light bulbs of recognition. Yes, I did become my own worrying parent, afraid her child to fall and hurt herself. And I was still that curious child wanting to get what she was after, whatever the cost might be, and with time learning to talk the parent into allowing her do it.

So am I my own enemy putting barriers into the way of my own success? Today, after experiencing and often practising awareness and instantaneous transformation approach developed by Ariel and Shya, I don’t think so. Now I realize that nothing could have happened differently in my life up till now, but many exciting things can happen in at least somewhat safe way if I just help the parent and the child in my head being kind to themselves and each other and make the most appropriate to their best ability and any given circumstances choice. They brought me this far, and they can bring me much, much further.

Picture: When I wake up from those debates in my head I am the most productive and also the most capable to discover beauty on the paths I walk.



Are you up for a fun game? Countdown to a fun non-fiction book: with the book cover revealed and a unique possibility to obtain a free copy

I have a special offer for you, if you are a subscriber to this site and if you claim it before June 1st, 2016.

This offer is about my new book “5 Minute Perseverance Game: Play daily for a month and become the ultimate procrastination breaker”, which I will self-publish in the coming few days.

The offer is to receive a free copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review on Amazon (and/or Goodreads). If by the end of reading the book you will say that it goes against you to write the review for it, then no problem at all. You don’t have to feel obliged to do so. You can also un-subscribe from my blog and news any time.

But let me try and catch your attention with two more details. The cover and the description.

My wonderful editor and cover designer, who is also a brilliant illustrator, Alice Jago, as always did an amazing job, both with the edits and the cover. I sent her the photograph with dices, I purchased from, with white background, the one you can see below on the left, and the result of her work is on the right. I also told her about my wish for a dark background and yellow letters. The idea I had was dark red for the background and some kind of yellow-golden letters. But she simply nailed the character of the book, by the way she designed the cover. The cover is playful and fun, just like the creation of the book and everything about it was and is for me.

5 Min Game Cover





And here is a short description of the book:

“Is there something you would like to do but you simply don’t have enough time or strength of will to do it? Is there a book you want to write, an instrument you want to play, a language you want to learn, or something completely different that you’ve wanted to accomplish for as long as you can remember?

If you really and seriously want to succeed in this dream project of yours, then play a game. Not a serious game. But a fun 5 Minute Perseverance Game.

This short, personal and humorous game description will help you to melt your procrastination and become an ultimate procrastination breaker.

So don’t wait any longer, read this book and invite your procrastination to a round of the 5 Minute Perseverance Game.

Bonuses: A PDF-version of the book and a community to join, be motivated by and supported in persevering, and having fun with seemingly daunting projects.”

So if you would like to be one of the very first to obtain a copy of this e-book and obtain it for free, then subscribe to one or all blogs and the news here, if you haven’t done so yet, and send me an e-mail to with your request for your free copy of the book, and please let me know which format you would prefer: PDF, MOBI, or EPUB. And please do this as soon as possible, but latest on May 31, 2016.

Oh, and don’t forget to download the free e-book “Turn Your No Into Yes: 15 Yes-Or-No Questions to Disentangle Your Project”, when you subscribe. It will help you identify what to do during the moves of the fun 5 Minutes Perseverance Game. You can read an opinion about this e-book here.

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 14 – the last one in this story

Elizabeth sighed. “Thank you,” she said into the receiver, waited for You’re-welcome and pressed red button on the phone.

She put the phone reluctantly into its holder and took the postcard she started writing to Jenny four days before. She could hardly believe that only less than a week passed since she arrived in London. She thought her search would take longer, but now it was over. So she booked a ticket back to Germany.

Elizabeth put the postcard she promised to Jenny onto the desk-table combination in her hotel room and turned the card along its axis several times. Yesterday, on the morning after all the revelations at the house on the Hope street, she attempted to finish the postcard, but in the end she couldn’t. All she managed to write was, “Now I know what happened before my Dad and I came to Germany.” After that she couldn’t find any other words.

All Elizabeth could think of was that the house, the street, both turned rather into a house and street of disappointment than hope. But she couldn’t possibly write this to Jenny.

She stayed at the hotel the whole day yesterday, most of the time looking at the wall remembering the messages the projector in her mother’s room displayed on the wall the day before.

She contemplated to go and wander through London again but she was afraid to meet someone from the house, which was silly to think happening in such a giant city.

But having a PhD degree in statistics didn’t stop the fantasies of sitting in a cafe and having a small talk with two pleasant gentlemen from a table across hers, only to discover that they were Jack and Tim, who helped financing the sheltering of terminally ill patients in the house of her early childhood.

No, she couldn’t risk that. With all the low probabilities it was still possible, and all she needed now was distance. That is why she booked her ticket today.

But she had to let Jenny know. Writing a card was a bad idea, since she was flying back tomorrow.

Elizabeth took the receiver and dialed Jenny’s number, hoping that Jenny was away for groceries as she usually did during this time on a Saturday.

“Liza, is this you?”

No way to escape. Jenny was at home. “Yes, I’m—”

“Are you alright? Did something happen? Please tell me you fell in love and your new charm and you were walking along the Thames all the time. I could forgive that.”

Elizabeth smiled despite her mood. “No, unfortunately not. But I was at the house and met my family.”

“Really? But this is great!”

“I don’t really know. It…”

After a few seconds of waiting Jenny blurted out. “I really can’t wait anymore. Tell me all.”

“Shall I maybe call you later? Do you have to do shopping or something?”

“No, no. No way to escape,” Jenny echoed Elizabeth’s thought from before. “You tell me everything now and I will pay you back for all the huge phone bills you’ll be facing. Don’t leave anything untold. You owe me that!”

“I’m sorry for not calling you the whole week. It’s just…” Elizabeth drew a deep breath and started from the beginning.

Jenny didn’t interrupt. Her gasps and heavy breaths confirmed her presence and attention.

At the end, Elizabeth said, “After that, I couldn’t stay there longer. I had to leave…And today I bought a ticket back.”



“I started fantasizing coming to London and visiting you. You know…I’m still single.”

“Jen, can you think of something else than dating? And my brother is married…” Elizabeth caught her breath as she noticed how she referred to Patrick.

“Well,” Jenny said. “I was actually thinking of Jack and Tim.”

Elizabeth laughed. “They must be ancient now. And you talk like there are only three men in London.”

“No, they aren’t and this is exactly my point. Germany seems not to have produced any suitable candidate for me yet. For you neither. So I will come and ask your family to help us get some royal husbands.”

Elizabeth relaxed. For a second she wondered if calling Jenny earlier would have made the day before easier for her, but then she decided to enjoy her friend now. “So, what you’re saying is that I should stay here and not move from the spot until you come and visit?”

Jenny harrumphed. “I didn’t say that either. Don’t make it sound like I force you doing something. But if you ask me for directions, I don’t think you should stay at the hotel. It’s too expensive.”

Elizabeth held another gulp of the air inside her. She knew what Jenny was getting at. She breathed slowly out and said quietly, “You are right. But please don’t make me say this. I mean, to say what I really have to do. What I want to do, but too scared to. Being sad and melancholic was so normal to me. But that house, even with dying people inside is so full of life. This is so scary. I wish…I wish my father could go back there with me.” She blinked through her with tears swelling eyes. She wiped her tears away with her free hand and said. “Jen, I…I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Don’t forget to cancel your flight. You’re not allowed to come back before I visit you. And after in neither.”

Liza laughed and let another kind of tears push the sad ones down her cheeks. “OK.”


Three hours later Elizabeth set down and supported herself on the intricate fence to the house of her childhood. Her luggage stood at her feet.

Should I have found their number and called first? A varicoloured flock of opposing thoughts and feelings clouded the view on the house. Elizabeth leaned her head on the fence and drew a deep breath.

She blinked several times and decided to look at every turret and corner of the house before going inside. But as she started raising her head she noticed a commotion behind the windows on the ground floor.

Lily’s head with corkscrew curls bounced happily as she turned between glancing outside into Elizabeth’s direction and a tall and pale girl standing next to her, who seemed holding the window sill with her both hands. This must be Lilly’s successor. Another girl with cancer.

In the next window Elizabeth noticed Alice and Ingrid, both smiling widely at her. As soon as Alice caught Elizabeth’s look she pointed up. At first Elizabeth didn’t know what that meant, but then she let her gaze go up the walls until she noticed a movement behind a low set window of the top floor of the house. Claire’s chair moved seemingly by itself and stopped at an angle where Claire’s eyes became visible. Her white keyboard on her lap.

In the next moment Elizabeth noticed Patrick’s shape disappearing from behind Claire. She didn’t notice him until he moved away.

Elizabeth drew a deep breath. He was probably coming downstairs to talk to her. What shall I say? What will happen now?

The front door opened and Patrick came out. He paused after letting the door close by itself behind him, descended the stairs and approached Elizabeth. His eyes glittered with tears as they glanced quickly at Elizabeth, away, then back at her, and away again.

Without thinking, Elizabeth pushed her case away from her with her left foot and looked at the stone base of the fence next to her. Then she looked into Patrick’s eyes.

He nodded and and sat next to her. He lowered his head slowly to hers until they touched, and they both looked up.

Their mother looked back at them.



Picture: the Spring is coming.

P.S. This was the last chapter of this story. It will be revised, edited and published soon as a permanently free book.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written in its unedited version at “Free Online Books”. This version will be removed as soon as the edited version will become available.

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