Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on September 23, 2013 in Personal with Comments closed |

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Temptation Of Words by Viktoria Michaelis

The Temptation Of Words

by Viktoria Michaelis

Giveaway ends November 30, 2014.

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Selfies: Why Women Need Long Hair

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 30, 2014 in Adult (nsfw) |

Is long hair coming back into fashion? I certainly hope so, not just because we – my girlfriend and I – still sport longer than average hair, but because I think it looks beautiful, especially when well-tended and cared for. I have nothing against shorter hair, even if some people used to equate it almost automatically with feminists and punks, but long hair is special. And it has its uses too.

Photo Source: unknown, via Tumblr

A beautiful woman with tresses of hair falling across her face, looking out from behind her luxurious locks in a sultry manner, the stuff any romance novel is made of. Hair defines a woman just as much as fashion does, and is one of the things – aside from their butt, I guess – most women spend more time checking out in shop windows than anything else. The uses, however, and quite aside from its appeal, go far beyond just appearance.

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After the Three Rs There’s….

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 29, 2014 in Immoral Conversations |

We all know the three Rs, and often stumble when getting to the last in the list: how is that an R? Well, there are other lists of words carefully abbreviated to make them easy to remember too and, as with so many things of a similar nature, it isn’t always easy to make the list work:

Viktoria Michaelis: Twitter

Screenshot Source: Twitter

Fortunately there are those with inventive minds – or should that be puritanical?

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Breaking: I Have No Time For Culture

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 28, 2014 in News & Opinion |

There are some things in this life which simply cause your chin to drop down on your chest and a thin line of spittle to run out the corner of your mouth in disbelief. A culture minister who has no time for books? I will admit that there is a great deal a culture minister has to do, but surely a good knowledge of books – especially when it comes to knowing the most prominent writers in your own country – is a must. I can understand a lack of time to go to the theater, especially if, as Fleur Pellerin admits, you’re scared to having to run the gauntlet of picket lines and striking workers – not exactly an unusual event in France – but admitting that you do not read books?

Screenshot Source: Twitter

The opening (free) paragraph of this Times article tells the average reader all they really need to know, there is no need to pay out extra money for the rest: culture is dying in France, from the top downwards. And by the top I do not mean those who produce works of art, books, events and suchlike, but those who are influential in promoting and sponsoring it; those who finance many of the public art galleries, theaters and libraries across the entire country.

For a country which is so proud of its heritage, its culture, such an admission from a minister for culture is indeed a damnation.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Fifty-Two Stories – Fifty-Two Weeks

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 27, 2014 in Publishing |

I’m not one to turn down a challenge, if it seems like something worth doing, but sometimes I do wonder whether what comes as a result is at all worth the effort. Recently I saw a challenge – or a target more than anything – leveled by someone on Twitter. The challenge was to write fifty-two short stories, one per week, for a year. What made it less interesting for me, as I tend to write somewhat slower than this challenge would require, was the added line that at least one of the stories would be worthwhile. I asked myself, as I read the whole Tweet: what is the point?

I know that some people simply have the need to write, and that simply writing is also a catalyst to writing better or, which is probably a better target, writing something worthwhile. I can also understand a challenge of this nature when it comes to photography – where it is more usually three hundred and sixty-five photographs in a year. But the idea of having one good story at the end of a year of writing, with fifty-two themes, fifty-two sets of characters, plots, conversation, settings seems, to me, to be a waste. Why not concentrate on one or two good ideas? Why not work through an idea or two over a longer period and guarantee a good story at the end of it? Why not set yourself a target of writing one very good work packed with ideas and then beginning another one?

Viktoria Michaelis: Writing

Photo Credit: Lívia CristinaCreative Commons

Few of us are really professional writers, we do not rely on writing to make a living, to bring bread to the table. We are not journalists with a deadline to produce a set number of words each day, although I can well understand those who do attempt to meet a writing target of one thousand, five thousand or more words each day. What we should be doing, as far as I am concerned, is producing something worthwhile, and not simply exhausting our capabilities with mass. Quality is far better than having thousands of pages of stuff which is going nowhere.

Once an idea is there it is worth spending time on, worth bringing out and polishing. I would much rather have one good idea and work on it to completion, than have several mediocre ideas which I work through simply to meet a target. What happens when the good story is there in week five, or week ten or even week thirty? Do we just leave it there and move on to the next story because time is pressing? Because we have a challenge we need to meet? Shouldn’t we take that good idea, work on it, expand and polish it with editing, re-writing and new ideas?

I am all for a challenge, but there are times when we should be prepared to turn around and say: stop! This is the one I’m going to work on, and never mind the rest of the year. We do not fail, as far as I am concerned, in not completing fifty-two works, we succeed in completing one where the time spent was worthwhile.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Things Which Could Be Prevented

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 26, 2014 in Immoral Conversations |

Warning: the contents of this post include a very graphic image.

Today I was in Bremen, with the idea of visiting the market there and generally having a good time. All in all, I managed it, had a wonderful time and saw many things which will remain. The market place was packed with mostly good-natured people out to have fun, some of them dressed up, some just wandering around, looking and enjoying. I saw a man built like a brick outhouse wearing pink tennis shoes; groups of women in frilly dresses; groups of men wearing lederhosen. But there were other things too, not just there but also on the way there.

Freimarkt, Bremen

Photo Credit: The guenniCreative Commons

Traveling in the bus we stopped to pick up passengers and one got in, a young man, who was rude – despite the earliness of the day – and bad-tempered. He objected to having his bus pass checked by the driver, threatened to report him. When he got out some of the women, in their frilly dresses, sang him a song he cannot possibly have missed: we think you’re shit, go home.

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The People Behind Real Content Management

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 25, 2014 in Internet |

In the beginning I believed that people combed through the content of Social Media web sites looking for those images and messages which should never have seen the light of day. I thought that there was an office somewhere that, filled with cubicles, had hundreds of people working to ensure that social networks remained clean, that nothing appeared which might upset our gentle sensibilities.

Gradually, as I got to know the various services – if one may call them that – better, it seemed to me that a piece of software, basic and largely untested, was at work. So many images, so much propaganda, so much filth continued to appear on Facebook, Twitter and many other sites. I saw child pornography, executions, abuse, to name but a few. Things which a normal human, someone like you and me, would find abhorrent and wish to wipe away from their gaze, from their memories. Social media, I decided, has become a source of income for those behind it, and a mechanism for getting propaganda out to the masses, of selling merchandise, of pushing an agenda.

Now I know better. The truth behind moderation on social media web sites, whether those who run it wish to admit it or not, is in the hands of humans to a great extent. People like you and me who sit in a cubicle and look at the worst of the human mind for eight hours a day, and are literally overwhelmed by what they see. And I feel sorry for them, but I also feel sorry for us, that there is a need for such moderation.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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Review: The Raft

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 24, 2014 in Articles and Reviews |

What do we, as adults, look for in a children’s book? Adventure, color, excitement, education? Probably all of these things in one go since, after all, we want our children to learn as much as to enjoy themselves and, of course, we all wish them to find something worth going back to, something which awakes the interest in the printed word, in reading within them. Children’s books no longer need to have a moral attached to them, in the way that Aesop wrote, but should give a child something which they can think about, something which lights a spark in their mind and brings new thoughts to them. Children’s books should also contain something which can be shared, which a parent can read with their child, can enjoy just as much, and from which they also gain something.

Viktoria Michaelis: Children and Books

Photo Credit: KOMUnewsCreative Commons

The Raft is a simple tale of five friends who go on a long journey across the ocean to their new house. It is well illustrated, with animal figures which appeal and a story line which can be discussed, which brings a form of moral – friendship, sharing, society – to the fore without forcing any real message across. The reader is intrigued by what the five have with them, and shown how they share for the common good, how their sharing makes the journey easier, more comfortable for all. It shows clearly how this social mixing and the creation of friendship brings everyone together, banishes the loneliness and fear of a long journey without needing to force anything.

Simply told, fitting for the youngest children, The Raft is both educational and interesting, and sure to be a delight for many younger children and, in sharing the pleasures of reading, their parents too.

Self-Published. ISBN: 978 1 501 05240 5

  • Viktoria Michaelis.
Title supplied by the author for review.

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House Hunting: Is Now The Right Time?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 23, 2014 in Personal |

At what age does a person – or family, couple, whatever – decide that it is the right time to start house hunting? I am sure that we all look at houses as we wander by, wondering who lives there, what it would be like to own such a house, especially some of the mansions, and whether we can afford to make such an investment. I am no different: I see beautiful houses as I travel and wonder; I note where For Sale signs have been posted and, now and then, take a closer look; I read the trash news to see which celebrities are currently selling and how much their former home costs on the market. Until now, though, I’ve never really given it a serious thought. We live in a very comfortable apartment close to the center of this small town with all the amenities a couple could possibly desire, but it isn’t our house. It is an apartment which we pay rent and utilities for each month. We have a landlord and everything that goes with it.

Viktoria Michaelis: House Hunting

Photo Credit: Images_of_MoneyCreative Commons

Lately, though, I’ve been giving it more consideration. The fact that I am probably going to stay here now, that I have no real reason to return to the United States, that I am very happy in my relationship and the small, select society that surrounds me weighs heavily. Should I, at twenty-two, be looking further into the future and consider making my presence here permanent, my relationship more solid with property? There is no shortage of realty on the market, a constant flux of movement as families grow, as means change, as new estates are opened, and some of the properties are very attractive indeed, some even fall within the scope of my own means.

But do I really want, or need, this kind of commitment?

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Review: Getting Colder

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 22, 2014 in Articles and Reviews |

Some people live in the past, either because they’ve never managed to come to grips with modern life, or because there are too many good things still left, they believe, which make it worth hanging on to. Yet others look back on the past, especially their own lives, and ask themselves what could have happened to me if… or, what happened around me that was kept hidden? When a family splits up, for whatever reason, the questions become more complicated, filled with wishes and desires, unanswered questions about who might have been at fault, whether life could have been different if only people had stayed together. For some these questions will probably never be answered, they are confronted with them at the most inopportune moments or at a time when life takes a twist, throws them a curve-ball, removes the only person who might have been able to set their mind at ease.

There are also many things in life which simply cannot be understood, the power of love is one of them. How can a person, so well set up in their home life, in their marriage, with their children, suddenly throw it all away and begin afresh? For someone who does not feel the same passion of love, it is almost impossible to explain, and can leave a deep hurt throughout the remaining years alongside the many unanswered, unasked questions. Would life have been different for Nigel and Louise if their mother Sara – or Sally as they knew her – hadn’t walked out in the late Seventies, sent them off to live with an Aunt, for Louise, or to a boarding school, for Nigel? What if their mother had never met the ‘Darling of the Eighties’, as Patrick came to be known when together with her, sharing the spotlight of his dubious fame and the eventual fall from grace?

Viktoria Michaelis: Getting Colder, Old Age, Memories

Photo Credit: joansorollaCreative Commons

All three come together once more, following the sudden death of their mother, in Patrick’s home, a dilapidated villa hidden away from the public gaze and hope, in their own way, to find answers to many of life’s questions. There is the prospect of an inheritance, of a new path through life, of a new start perhaps. And there is also Mia, a young student determined to make her own way upwards, by whatever means who, blinded perhaps by her prospects, throws aside her studies and begins to take control, as far as she can, over Patrick’s life. The whole, as all come together with their own complicated backgrounds, with their own problems, with their own memories, brings a delightful, bitterly humorous story of misunderstandings carried on over decades, of expectations unspoken, of questions never asked.

As with life itself, Amanda Coe’s new work leaves many questions unanswered, and that is a good thing. We are able, as readers, to place ourselves into the fate-twisted lives of each of the characters, to read their thoughts and almost feel their emotions. There is a certain understanding between the reader and each person portrayed which concentrates itself around that one person and their history, but doesn’t impede upon the uniqueness of the other characters, doesn’t bring them the answers they need, but lets us, the readers, understand what may have been the cause, what could be the future. And the bitter humor is not just a satire upon the expectations of an emotionally material society, but an insight into ourselves, we who, but for the grace of the fates, could have found ourselves in the same position, might still be faced with it in one way or another. We relate to the characters, and that is what brings a good story to life as much as the setting, the plot, the unexpected turns of fate and fortune.

Published by Virago. ISBN: 978 0 349 00509 6.

  • Viktoria Michaelis
This title was supplied by the publisher for review.

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Twitter Links: Hitting Rock Bottom

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 21, 2014 in Internet, News & Opinion |

For some sites, security is of the utmost importance, and that is a good thing. As we read, almost every single week of the year, about another breach, about more phishing, about millions of e-mail addresses, social security numbers, names and address, bank account details being stolen from their supposedly secure repositories on a server somewhere, it is hard to believe that this security concern is more than publicity. Your private information (or anything else for that matter) is safe with us! Unless, in small print, someone comes in and takes it while we’re off on a coffee break or away for the weekend.

Some security measures are pure protectionism, and by this I do not mean protecting the customer but protecting the business interests of the company concerned. No one, whether a corporation or a private individual, wishes to be caught sending people off to a site which steals their information, uploads a virus to their computer or generally does things which are unacceptable in polite society. Protectionism in a business sense means keeping the company name clean, on the surface at least.

Viktoria Michaelis: Twitter Warning

Screenshot Source: Twitter

So it appears to be with Twitter and its private linking service, not available to anyone else outside of Twitter itself. Links going out from Twitter, whether shortened URLs or full links, have their t.co shortener added, often meaning that three or four links will be rushed through before anyone gets to the site they wish to view. This is probably not too much of a burden for the customer, who undoubtedly has a somewhat faster broadband connection – no more 56k modems out there these days! – but can still be a senseless burden on usage. Why should someone need to be diverted through a link system to another link system – and sometimes to two more – before arriving at their destination? It’s like offering a person a direct travel link to a certain railway station, and then shunting them off elsewhere, forcing them to change trains, then to somewhere else with another change.

What is considerably more disturbing about Twitter’s protectionism, about their desire to force either bit.ly – which they highly recommend, without mentioning the fact that bit.ly costs a considerably amount of money unless you shorten each link you wish to use by hand, individually – as a link shortening service, is what happens when you don’t use one of their own services or a major label that everyone recognizes. Rather than checking out the site at the end of the link, Twitter issues a warning that the site you’re about to visit may be harmful.

Let’s be honest here, even a site at the end of a t.co or bit.ly link could be harmful. They are not checked by Twitter’s people or system. The links are added automatically by a piece of software without human intervention and, I do not doubt, Twitter would tell us that it is a costly business going through all the sites linked to Tweets in a single hour – let alone a single minute – to ensure that they are safe or even what they claim to be. So, far easier to label every single site which doesn’t use one of the recognized, major shortening services as being potentially harmful, and give those with an interest in seeing something linked to a Tweet yet another hurdle to climb over.

Most sensible people use a virus or spyware service or have the appropriate software installed on their computer. Shouldn’t they be allowed to make their own judgements about what is safe and what is not and the software installed do its job of protecting them from hidden malicious content?

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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