Darlene Beck Jacobson – ‘Wheels of Change’ Review


‘Wheels of Change’ – Darlene Beck Jacobson

Growing up in a time of change and hardship is never easy, especially when you’re young. Twelve-year-old Emily Soper lives in the early 1900s in Washington, D.C, a time when she was expected to be prim and proper and act accordingly. She witnesses racial and gender mayhem as well as a development of technology and tries her hardest to keep up with all of the changes.
Raised by her hard working father, a carriage maker who manages Soper Carriages, and her mother who stays home to care for the children, she grows up under the rules of the twentieth century that all girls will grow up to work in the kitchen and become proper ladies.
Gutsy and determined, and not at all like the other girls in town, Emily spent much time in her father’s carriage barn where she could get her hands dirty and experience something new and exciting, rather than the run of the mill lessons in the kitchen. Despite her admiration for her father’s work she is scolded and experiences a time when even her parents begin pushing her to follow the crowd and respect the rules of the century.


Author Darlene Beck Jacobson

During this day and age, Emily sees how the world had transformed and witnesses the invention of the automobile, one of the true antagonists of the story and the reason why the public abandons Soper Carriages. It was at this moment when the reader realizes how much change can effect even the smallest and youngest of individuals, and how hard it is to undergo, especially if it simply isn’t one step, but a huge leap forward.
As the reader delves into the story, Emily’s plans to save her father’s business begin brewing. She is tested by many trials of courage and tries her best to save the family business while also learning how truly important it is to grow up.
‘Wheels of Change’ is not only a fabulous and authentic historical read, but also one that had me hooked from the very beginning. The storytelling is strong and vivid and invites the reader in to relate to each of the characters. It’s a classic middle grade novel that children will love reading for years to come and one daring adventure I will never forget.

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Short Story G – ‘Gramps and the No Good Busybodies’ Chapter II

Here’s the second chapter to ‘Gramps and the No Good Busybodies’. I know it’s a day early, but it’s my treat to you since I was already a few days late for my updates on Wound. If you haven’t already you can read chapter one HERE.

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Written by: Katya Szewczuk



* * *

It was in the spring of 1962 when I became a local hero. Ms. Harris had collapsed and fell unconscious at one of her country club meetings. She had been horsing down ten hush puppies at a time and ended up choking on the last. As if they were a swarm of scurrying mice running away from a frolicsome feline, those feathered ladies panicked and hadn’t known how to settle the situation. Many of them left the scene, quick as a wink, but I stayed behind, kept calm and had Ms. Harris breathing in no time.

The woman was more than thankful for me and said I could finally dine with the family. It had taken many years, but by the time I was thirty years old she had my suits tailored and ironed, my shoes spit-shined and my messy mop trimmed to my liking. No longer was I considered an errand boy, but a part of the family.

* * *

The beginning of summer came lickety-split and brought many chirping locusts and bruised knees with it. School was out and kids took to the streets. They tossed their crinkled detention slips and homework in the air and cheered for the end of the long school year. Many ragtag boys wished me a happy summer and hurried off to the sandlot to play a ballgame. They were fit to be great leaders like their fathers before them, and yet at the age of thirteen they still loved to get their hands dirty.

When I stopped by the town’s bakery to pick up Ms. Harris’s bread-pudding, I saw a few schoolgirls enjoying the warm weather and playing hopscotch. Suddenly, a miserly old woman who was hunched over, with a frown on her face scolded them and demanded they hurry on home to study their etiquette. Though today was one of the hottest days of the year she wore a mink coat and scarf. She smelt like stale perfume and bitter lemons, and wore powder to smother her true complexion. Her name was Mrs. Borbala Efim’ia, the head of the tax collector agency.

Mrs. Efim’ia migrated from the outskirts of a small village in Ukraine who was known for her pierogis, those boiled dumplings stuffed with potato fillings and sauerkraut covered in a hot, melted butter and onion sauce. She was once a pleasant woman who invited even the poorest of paupers into her home and served them a homemade Ukrainian dinner. Though, when her husband had passed away during a terrible drought, she closed her windows and doors and shut out even the kindest of hearts.

One of the two girls, who were scolded by the woman, had long coils of black hair and porcelain skin. She ran away screaming, while the other whose hair was brunette and choppy put her hands on her hips and in an adult fashion confronted the old woman.

            “You’re much too old to care for games, you old hag,” the girl spat.

Her blue sundress was covered in muck, her stockings torn-up by the gravel on her knees; her freckled skin was bruised from head to toe and her eyes burned with passionate emotions. She looked to me like a tomboy with a knack for adventure, but to Mrs. Efim’ia she was a no good varmint.

I hadn’t stayed long enough to see the outcome of the squabble, and returned home to Ms. Harris who moaned and groaned at the house doctor when he spoon fed her some black, goopy medicine.

“Come, diener,” she called the name which meant servant in German, “I need you to pick up my nieces from school. They will be staying with us from now on to learn how to be proper young ladies.”

Pushing the mousy house doctor aside, Ms. Harris pulled a skin-tight, mauve dress over her corset and took to my side. Her portly face was gleaming in delight.

“But, Madam, you see, I’ve to make arrangements for the guests tonight. Might the chauffer pick them up today?”

“Such trouble you give me, diener,” Ms. Harris moped, “Wasn’t it I who saved you from becoming a beggar on the streets? Wasn’t it I who fed you, clothed you and gave you a home? You lack respect. Shall I toss you in the trash for your puckish behavior?”

“No, ma’am,” I whispered.

“Then do as you are told. And wear your best tie. Not a wrinkle, not a stain. You must be a role model to these girls.”

The thought of caring for young girls frightened me out of my wits. A no-good indigent like me who was once a wild youth could never possibly be a good example for any child. Though an order was an order, and I hadn’t any time to complain about Ms. Harris’s requests.

Though, as soon as I stepped out, dressed in my finest tailcoat, the same batty girl with the black curls from the bakery swarmed into the manor and cried for her auntie. Followed by the screaming girl, came the tomboy with the scratched-up knees.

“She’s lying!” the tomboy bellowed running into the foyer with mucky shoes.

The house servants let out a gasp and scolded the young girl for her rude behavior, but no matter the punishment she strived forward.

“Oh, my dear Celia,” Ms. Harris cried, “Whatever did your sister do to you? You’re covered in filth!”

“Auntie, oh, Auntie it was terrible. Bernadette caught an ugly toad from the church pond and waved it round like a flag!”

Ms. Harris’s plump face turned red.

             “Bernadette!” she howled, “That is not how a lady plays.”

“It was a small frog, Auntie, not a toad,” Bernadette told.

“Diener, you go on and give Bernadette a bath. She smells like the toad pond.”

“It’s a frog pond, Auntie,” Bernadette corrected brusquely.

The sight of Ms. Harris’s quivering face had my heart leaping out of my chest. She stood from her leather chair and quaked the ground with every step. Even the portraits on the walls and the flower vases shook fearfully.

 “Miss Bernadette,” I interrupted before Ms. Harris had beaten the boorish girl, “It’s best we get you cleaned up.”

“You ain’t the boss, ol’ man!” the girl shouted with clenched fists.

She was a mighty fine escape artist, but hadn’t been quick on her feet. The second she tried escaping through the front door, Ms. Harris captured her by her thin waist, scooped her up like a sack of dirty potatoes and hauled her upstairs into the bathroom.

 “Auntie!” the younger sister cried, “I need a bath too. Nasty frogs!”

“Hang on, lil’ lass,” I said, approaching the girl, “Are all y’all kids a bunch of goobers ‘round here?”

“I am not like Bernadette,” she replied, “I am a proper Southern lady.”

“And what’s your name, missy?”

“Miss Celia Mary Frances Dalrymple, sir. I’m seven and a half years old. My sister is almost two digits old and she still acts like a no-good delinquent.”

Celia fixed her little, white gloves and curtsied before me.

 “My good sir,” she started, “Whatever might your name be?”

“Just call me diener.”

“What a terrible name,” Celia complained, “What is your real one?”

“I cannot say. So please, like your auntie, call me your diener.”

Celia let out coy laughter and hurried upstairs.

* * *

Dinnertime had brought many frivolous guests—pompous, feathered ladies, mustached, pot-bellied chaps, youths with haughty frowns and young tykes who were dressed in tight collared shirts. There was Ms. Harris’s slender sister Sue Ellen, her husband Cash and their three boys Boone, Earle and Austin, a frown-faced cousin named Carolina, her father Grady and her spirited twin brothers called Billy and Bo. Mr. Ritchie Harris joined the bountiful feast as well, along with Celia and the moody Bernadette.

The house servants and I were to serve the dinner at seven o’clock sharp. We dutifully prepared the wine for the adults and sparkling water for the young’uns. Everyone’s posture was straight and hands neatly folded upon the napkins, all except Miss Bernadette who kicked her feet and slouched in her seat.

After Mr. Harris said his gracious prayer, he clapped his hands and gained even the attic mice’s attention.

“As all y’all well know,” he began with a hoarse voice, “the Watanabe family’s inn Ameterasu-ya isn’t booming with the same business it did fifty years ago. Might as well tear it down to start building the agency’s new headquarters.”

“Ameterasu-ya?” questioned the tight-lipped Grady as he chugged down his wine glass and hankered for more, “Heck, you don’t mean that old grandma’s inn in Okinawa do you? It’s our family’s investment we can’t just tear it down!”

“Sure can!” Mr. Harris shouted.

As a servant to a rich man, you hear many rumors, telltales and stories about business and personal lives. Unlike the maids and foot servants, I hadn’t cared for the chinwag of gobbledygook. Conversely, when I heard mention of Okinawa, an overwhelming feeling of excitement surged through my chest and almost caused me to scream out in joy.

     “What’s an inn?” Miss Bernadette asked, interrupting the rousing hubbub.

   “You mean you don’t know, rag-girl?” insulted Carolina.

  “Shut your trap, you boy slobberin’ ha—”

“Bernadette!” shouted Ms. Harris. The table shook and the silverware did summersaults in the air, “You are to be excused if you do not quiet down.”

“But, ma’am I—”

“No buts, no whats, not a fuss!”

Miss Bernadette grew quiet by the time the first course was served. She fussed in her seat and kept ruffling her fancy, white dress, but when dessert came around she dove right into her vanilla pudding and went for seconds. Again she asked:

“What’s an Inn, Uncle Cash?”

The man named Cash wasn’t much of a name dropper like his wife Sue Ellen and got a kick out of the tomboy’s curiosity.

“An inn, my girl, is a big building were travelers can take a load off and rest for many nights. They are provided with the best service and tended to like kings and queens.”

“Kings and queens?” Miss Bernadette mimicked.

“Indeed! Every man is given his own bed and bath and can even be given a massage, which I always tend to look forward to.”

Sue Ellen rolled her big, blue hues and fixed her tasseled hair behind her ear.

            “The Ameterasu-ya isn’t a regular inn, Cash.”

            “A ryokan, isn’t it?”

The woman shook her head.

“That isn’t what I mean.” She took a spoonful of pudding and handed me her empty wine glass as I furtively listened, “Bernadette, dear, they say the Ameterasu-ya is haunted. It’s probably why it’s being shut down.”

“I love a good ghost story!” Bernadette yelped, “Auntie Coralee, can we go to the inn before it shuts down?”

Ms. Harris, having been disgusted by Bernadette’s interruption pointed her long, red nails at her and shook her finger thrice.

“What did I tell you about shouting at the table?”

“Auntie Sue Ellen says the inn is haunted!”

Sue Ellen was shamefaced.

 “No need to tell everyone these superstitious thoughts, dear,” Sue Ellen mumbled.

“Now, Sue Ellen, why ever would you say that?” questioned Mr. Harris.

“Yeah, Mam’ma!” cried Boone, “You don’t believe in no ghost stories.”

“Ain’t you a skeptic?” wondered Grady.

“You see,” the blonde began, “Last time I spent my holiday there, the old lady said she heard the cries of the kinushii again.”

“Kinushii?” questioned Celia, “Just what are those?”

Cash touched his wife’s shoulder and cleared his throat.

“On Okinawa,” he explained, “the people believe the kinushii are tree spirits and guardians of the forest trees. If a tree were cut down one would first pray to these spirits and then cut it. If one does not pray before the cutting or even if a tree falls in the dead of night, an echoing cry would be heard, which is said to be the anguish of the kinushii.”

“The old lady said she hadn’t stopped hearing the kinushii’s cries ever since the inn lost business. She said those who even go near the forest would be cursed.”

“Oh, no!” cried Bernadette, “We’ve to help them!”

Everyone at the table laughed.

“They’re just stories, rag-girl,” spat Carolina.

“Yeah,” said Bo, “You’ve out’ta be stupid to believe in them stories.”

“Hush, now you two!” scolded Sue Ellen, “You’ve no right to judge.”

Bernadette turned red in the face and crumbled her arms to her chest.

 “Well I know for sure God wouldn’t want you to be talkin’ poorly ‘bout them kind Japanese folks,” she cautioned, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged! Well you judged, so I’m a’gonna judge you, you slimy, no-good wussy!”

The bald-headed, stout Bo slammed his fists on the table and hollered:

“All y’all hear that? Ain’t no good girl a’gonna call me names!”

“You ain’t be judging nobody, fat, pinheaded—”

 “This is the last straw!” cried Ms. Harris, “Go to your room immediately Bernadette!”

“But, Auntie he—”

“No buts, no whats, no fuss! Now go!”

In that moment I knew Miss Bernadette Dalrymple wasn’t a bad apple seed, but a determined, little girl who only wished to do good for the soiled world. As she hurried up the stairs I knew deep down in my heart I needed to speak and show the family that she truly was a proper young lady.

“Ms. Harris,” I softly started, “It would be a wonderful lesson for the girl if she could head on over to the inn in Okinawa and maybe learn a few manners from them folks.”

“Too risky,” Mr. Harris grumbled, “If the girl is to cause any troubles, Mrs. Watanabe would never give us the deed to the ryokan.”

“I would be her escort. Ain’t no trouble for me.”

“You?” said Ms. Harris, “Go all the way to Japan? Never in my life had I heard a more ridiculous request.”

In the quarrel of it all Cash stood up and raised his arms.

“Now hang on just a moment. I think what this good man is sayin’ will benefit our family some.”

“Hush, dear,” whispered Sue Ellen.

Cash cleared his scratchy throat and continued:

“We could all use a vacation. Might as well spend it at the ryokan before the place closes down for good. C’mon Ritchie, don’t you ‘member all the good times we had there?”

“Don’t be frolickin’ in the past, Cash. Does you no good.”

“Well I agree with the servant,” Grady spoke up.

“I second that agreement,” said Sue Ellen.

“Aye!” shouted Boone, Earle and Austin.

I could not believe my ears. Though my splendor had not been favored amongst the feathered women and mustached men, and my class had differed, they sided with my proposal and argued with those who opposed. It was indeed an exciting evening, and when Ms. Harris raised a thick, crayon brow and drew a heavy sigh, I knew I was one step closer to finding Mr. Kazuhiro.

“Who wants some imported saké?” asked Cash.

And there were cheers all around the table.

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Short Story M – The Mouse Choir


By: Katya Szewczuk

There once was a young church mouse named Eunice who dreamt about singing in the choir. She was a small mouse with brown-orange fur, a white tummy and long whiskers. She lived in a church attic with her father and twelve sisters.

Eunice’s father was in charge of the church mice. He was plump with gray fur, crooked whiskers and mean eyes. He expected his daughters to grow up well when they left the nest so they could go off and start a family of their own.

Eunice’s sisters were proud to follow in their father’s footsteps, but unlike them, Eunice was not. While they would be scavenging for food, Eunice would crawl through cubbyholes and crannies, lie down in a pile of hay and listen to the church choir singing and praising the heavens. Though, she was frightened.

What would her father think if she joined the choir?

One chilly, winter’s night, Eunice slept in her cubbyhole and heard a strange ‘humming’ sound. She made her way down the archways of the church and sniffed the grounds. Her whiskers twitched. The sounds grew louder.

“Hello?” Eunice called, “Anyone there?”

Hopping on the pews of the church, Eunice saw a mouse staring at the pictures of angels and the Lord. He was attentive. Though, when Eunice approached him, he yelped.

“Good gracious,” he mumbled, “You startled me, young lady.”

“How do you do?”

“Very well actually.”

Eunice stared at the mouse. He was tall with white fur and had handsome eyes. His small paws were rickety and his nose was pink as a peach. Suddenly, she recognized him.

“You’re Father Timothy!” Eunice exclaimed.

Father Timothy smiled.

 “A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

“I’m Eunice.”

Father Timothy gasped.

“Jethro’s wife?”

Eunice shook her head and sadly said:

“My mother passed away a year ago.”

“May she rest in peace,” Father Timothy said, “You look just like her.”

“Thank you.”

Eunice smiled. She looked up at the stain-glassed windows and felt a cold draft brushing against her fur.

“My father wishes for me to be just like Mother.”

“And you do not?”

Eunice shook her head.

“I want to sing in the church choir and give thanks to the Lord.”

Father Timothy laughed.

“As Philippians 4:6 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” he said.



“But my father!”

“Families are God’s gift to us. But whether you chose to follow in your mother’s footsteps or fulfill your own dreams, God will love and accept you, for he is a good and loving God.”

“If only Father understood that.”

“He will, my dear.”

Eunice nodded and wished Father Timothy a good night.

* * *

The next morning she woke up with excited spirits. She hopped out of bed, fixed her whiskers and rushed to her father’s bedroom.

“Father! Father!” she shouted, “I must tell you something Father!”

“What is it, Eunice?”

“I spoke with Father Timothy last night——”

“You what?”

Jethro scowled.

“——Do not worry. Father Timothy is a very kind man.”

“Have you forgotten about your curfew, young lady?”

“No Father. Please listen.”

“Go on.”

“Father Timothy said our God is a good and loving God. I wish to show my love to him by singing with the choir.”

Jethro’s face twisted and turned ugly.

“You’re much too busy with work!”

“Please, this is all I wish to do.”

“Nothing is more important than work, Eunice.”

“God has provided us with food and water, shelter and love. I wish to show my thanks.”

Jethro shook his head.

 “Why can’t you be more like your sisters?”

Eunice started to cry. She shouted and ran away from Jethro. She hurried to her hidden cubbyhole and stayed there for many hours until the clock struck five o’clock.

People began filling the church, praying and praising the Lord. Eunice dried her tears and saw a few mice gathered round the pews. When the choir began to sing, they joined in and filled the church with beautiful songs.

Eunice heard her sisters calling her for dinner, but she ignored them and crawled down the arches. She scampered through the sea of people and joined Father Timothy and the rest of the mouse choir.

“Welcome Eunice,” said Father Timothy.

The mouse choir smiled at Eunice and welcomed her with kind eyes. Then they sang:

 “In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,

God leads His dear children along…”

Eunice had never felt so alive. She sang with the choir until she saw her sisters spying on her from her secret hiding place. Though she was afraid, she hadn’t stopped praying.

She saw her father hurrying down the archways and held her breath. He looked as angry as a bull that saw red. Though to Eunice’s surprise he joined her.

“Away from the mire, and away from the clay,

God leads His dear children along…”

He sang.

After the people left the church, Eunice approached her father saying:

“Thank you, Father.”

“You’re just like your mother. Stubborn.”

Eunice hugged her father and thanked Father Timothy for allowing her to join the choir. After that day Jethro learned how to give thanks to the Lord all because Eunice was brave enough to do what was right.

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Short Story F – ‘Frog Boys’

This story was submitted for Scholastic’s Magazine in early 2014. It’s a miracle that I even found it. After rummaging through my files I found two more stories that will be added to my A-Z Short Story Collection. This is the first one.

Book Cover 2


 By: Katya Szewczuk

Wilbur Wilfred always dreamt about winning the frog-catching contest. He practiced in Labrador Lake with an old net and a plastic bucket. On his eighth birthday his big brother Lawrence bought him a big, fancy net the experts used.

Wilbur’s two best friends, the Harvey twins, Jet and Samson, were in awe with the net.

 “Cool,” Samson said as he swung the net, “Just like the pro’s!”

The boys rode their rusty bicycles to Labrador Lake to try out the net. Wilbur jumped into the swampy waters and swung it. Bugs buzzed round his ears, and sweat dripped from his forehead. Determined, he watched the rippling waters.

Just then, a fat, warty frog leapt into the air and scared Wilbur out of his wits. He fell in the water and lost his specs.

He heard laughter from behind him. When he put his specs back on his nose he noticed three, big boys with eyes nasty as snakes staring at him.

“Looks like Loser’s Lake to me,” the biggest boy said.

Wilbur stood up and shook the dirty water from his hair.

“What’re you doing here Linus?” he asked.

“Practicing for the big frog-catching contest. What else, dork?”

“Stop picking on Wilbur,” said Jet.

“Yeah,” said Samson, “He’s got the best net around.”

Linus looked at the net and snorted.

“That’s nothing but an amateur’s net. Check out mine.”

Wilbur squinted and stared at the net Linus held behind his back. It was big, golden and made awesome sounds when he swung it in the air.

“The Catch-It 2000!” shouted Wilbur nervously.

“Wilbur’s still the best frog-catcher in the world,” said Samson.

“We’ll see about that,” Linus said, his lips curling into a wicked grin.

When Linus and his gang left Labrador Lake, Wilbur practiced with the twins. He promised he wouldn’t let Linus’s bullying stop him from entering the contest and held his head high.

On the day of the contest, hundreds of boys and girls lined up at Labrador Lake readying their nets. Wilbur tied a bandana around his head to push back his messy, orange hair. He pulled on a life jacket and asked Lawrence to help tie the strings tight.

He looked at his competition and saw the twins bumping nets. He laughed. He was glad they entered the contest. Though when he looked to his right, he saw twenty kids crowded around Linus and his Catch-It 2000.

He joined the rest of the kids at the edge of the pond and waited for the announcer to blow his shiny, silver whistle.

When the whistle was blown, the kids dove into Labrador Lake. Wilbur tripped before he joined them and dropped his net.

“Oh no!” cried Jet, “You okay Wilbur?”

Wilbur stood up and wiped the mud from his shorts.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said.

He watched as Linus caught his first frog.

“You don’t look fine.”

“Yeah, you were looking forward to this all summer.”

“But Linus has the Catch-It 2000. How can I beat that?”

The twins grumbled.

“Man, you caught frogs better than Linus when you had that broken net.”

“You beat him all the time when we held those contests.”

Wilbur thought. He looked at his net and smiled.

“You’re right,” he said, “Come on guys, let’s go catch some frogs.”

Wilbur ran into the lake and swung his net. He captured two slimy frogs and laughed hard. He grabbed one and showed it off to the twins. They cheered.

* * *

One hour passed and when the announcer blew the whistle the kids handed in their buckets of frogs and waited for the judges to count them. The twins caught four frogs, Linus had ten and Wilbur had nine. He came in second place.

“Sorry, man,” said Jet.

“We’d thought you’d win for sure.”

Wilbur shook his head.

“All that matters is that I had fun.”

He stared at his silver medal and smiled. He ran over to Linus and said:

“Congratulations Linus.”

“What do you want, dork?”

Wilbur rummaged through his pockets and pulled out a button that said ‘Frog Boys’ on it.

“What’s that?” Linus asked.

“Do you want to join our club?”

Linus’s friends laughed at Wilbur, but he stopped them. He looked at the gold medal that dangled on his neck and handed it to Wilbur.

“You deserve it.”

“You won fair and square. It’s just a medal.”

He shook hands with Linus and grabbed a jumpy frog.

“We’re Frog Brothers now,” he said.

The boys jumped into Labrador Lake and caught frogs for fun.

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Video Editing for Authors

For years I’ve been asked what software I use for my video editing projects and how I go about the entire video editing process. Due to busy schedules or laziness, most people would rather stimulate their brains by watching a video instead of reading about a book’s review and synopsis. It’s a shame, but it’s something we, as writers, must live with in order to broaden our audience and please our readers.

Videography, or in simpler terms video editing, is something a writer must invest in, whether you purchase the software and equipment or hire a professional. Many people have told me marketing starts BEFORE you publish your book, and while that is true there shouldn’t be hundreds or thousands of promotional videos popping up in Youtube’s search bar and spamming Google’s search filters. If that were to happen it would be horrendous! Video editing takes time and effort, just like writing a novel, and if you don’t take the time to learn the basics and study the terms and techniques then there will be trouble.

Continue reading

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A Quick Note

Sorry for my absence recently. I’m still working on the second chapter of Wound and though it was due today, I will be uploading it tomorrow instead. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll see I’ve been busy with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, while also working on the next book trailer for Dr. Anthony L. Manna and Soula Mitakidou’s The Orphan (Schwartz & Wade Books). Using Adobe After Effects is much more complex than Sony Vegas Pro, but is an absolutely amazing program once you get the hang of it.

Photo on 2-24-15 at 10

I’m also working on the cover for Gramps and the No Good Busybodies  which will also be uploaded once it is completed. As far as huge writing projects go, I might have to pull the ‘hiatus’ card until both Wound and Gramps are completed.

Until then you can follow me on Twitter  or Facebook for updates. I’ll be sure to follow you back!

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Short Story G – ‘Gramps and the No Good Busybodies’

If you follow me on Twitter you would see some of my posts focus on Japanese kinushi, or in other words the tree spirit of Okinawa. I found this story interesting to write about ever since I wrote a few of my “survival of the fittest” writing prompt stories as all of them are connected and have situations settled in a forest.

This story much like Wound will be updated every week, since it will be a longer form of a short story. In a way it will be a chapter-book, but much shorter in length.

Gramps and the No Good Busybodies will also be edited by @anthonylmanna who is the author of wonderful children’s folktales and is also my boss. I also have to thank @hyakumonogatari for his knowledge on Okinawa’s kinushi.

Read hyakumonogatari’s post HERE

Every Wednesday around 8:00 PM I will update Gramps and the No Good Busybodies and every Monday afternoon I will update a chapter of Wound. I hope you all enjoy this new story!

Follow me on Twitter for short-story updates:



Written by: Katya Szewczuk


The Old Fellow’s Crossing

 * * *

If I told you this story you probably wouldn’t believe me. An old coot like me with a nasty, old hip and a crick in his neck wouldn’t fool even the wildest of adventurers like the young Miss Bernadette who knows now even us rotten adults can be trusted. Nonetheless I’ve a story to tell and you’ve got a pair of rinky-dink ears. Listen if you wish, or hurry home like those pesky buggers did when we tended to our gardens.

Now, for those of you who are listening and lazing like sitting ducks, I’d like to introduce myself. The folks who work the sweat off of their brows while cultivating the pastures and making sure the swine have their buckets of slop each morning call me Gramps, or as the young’uns gush Ojīchan.

I was a foreigner from a small American ranch in a small county of Texas surrounded by a rock bottom creek, thickets of trees, great waterfalls that flowed into deep, wading pools and fields aplenty. Crops grew in bushels, especially the Ruby Lou potatoes that kept the small community abuzz with potato salads and potato casserole for many months. Even the huffing heifers were healthy as a summer rhododendron in bloom.

When I was a lad, life was simple on those farms. The neighborhood thrived with happy folks and smiling faces galore. That was until the tax collector with the small, black cap and fancy, white suit, Mr. Ritchie Harris and his noisy machines, stripped the ranch of its beauty and burnt it down to the ground. All the man ever wanted was to expand the tax collection agency and fill his pockets with silver and gold, and because of our simple way of life he made us victims of his greedy schemes.

Mr. Harris forced us out of our humble homes and sent us away in horse buggies. For many nights we slept in piles of itchy hay with the clucking hens and sheered sheep.

We soon became penniless paupers who hitched rides on trains, some hoping to make it to the big city to start a life of fame. Though no matter how far and wide we travelled, one thing remained. We were rag-tag kids with a simple dream to find a place we could call. Though, our dream seemed as big as God’s hand.

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Short Story W – ‘WOUND’ ( ACT I )

Happy President’s Day everyone! Though I’m not finished with this short story, I’m going to upload part of it to hear everyone’s critique. It includes my favorite kind of “hero” the mousy, foolish type who wonders what his purpose is in life. Since it is much longer than a short story, I’ve broken it up in sections (Acts) to make it easier for everyone to follow. I’ll be working on Act II today and will probably upload it next Monday.

Feel free to leave a comment below and if you’re interested in short story updates follow me @katyaszew


Written by: Katya Szewczuk





There was a hesitation, but soon the little, smiling monkey clapped his golden cymbals. I looked upon the fellow in awe and threaded my needle through his tiny, red Fez hat. He continued scooting within my palm, but suddenly stopped.


The sounds were troublesome. I wound up the winding key, waited, but the monkey no longer clapped his cymbals. He sat there, mocking me with his smiling face.

Anger flushed my cheeks and caused me to toss the plaything into the wastebasket. I noticed it was overflowing with my rubbish and gathered it to carry it out to the village’s scrapyard. I was about to head into the dreary weather, when I stopped and stared outside my window where nettlesome folks prattled and fussed.

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Short Story I – ‘ICU’


Written by: Katya Szewczuk

Cars moved through the city streets like a grazing cattle on the prairie. As the summer’s heat smothered the passerby, a woman blared her horn within the sea of cars, her hands raised and voice rasping. She was frail and tired, her bones ached and her slender fingers were blemished with stale coffee stains.

She grabbed her sunglasses that rested on the dirty dashboard and knocked over a plastic, thin card that said “Visitor’s Pass” on it.

When the traffic jam moved through the cracked, sizzling streets, the woman stepped on the gas pedal and honked the horn.

Sometime later she pulled into a hospital lot that was filled with shiny, new convertibles, beat-up gas-guzzlers and even a few bicycles. The woman slammed her car door shut, grabbed her cup of cold coffee and rushed to the Intensive Care Unit Entrance. She saw a frail, old man in a wheelchair mumbling and praying on rosary beads. His skin was dark and leathery, his eyes were lazy and he wore a paperboy’s cap. He stopped the woman before she entered the ICU and laughed.

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Sony Vegas vs. Adobe Suite

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. What am I doing today instead of watching ‘The Notebook’ on Lifetime? I’m finally uploading Dr. Anthony L. Manna’s finished promotional Book Trailer to Youtube and organizing my next videography/animation projects for my portfolio.

This is the first Book Trailer Dr. Manna and I worked on together and to be perfectly honest it wasn’t all that easy. I might have a long history with Sony Vegas Pro 12 and all of its Plugins such as New Blue FX, but editing illustrations is much harder than putting together a montage for a wedding or tribute to your favorite television characters. For years I’ve been studying Videography and animation so the technicalities were easy for me to master, but choosing which scenes to use from the book with Dr. Manna was the biggest challenge of all.

For years I have been using Sony Vegas for projects such as the ones listed above, and have realized it’s tailored for people who want to edit with video sequences rather than still images. A few months ago I gave myself the longest reassuring pep-talk anyone could ever imagine and decided to invest in Adobe Creative Suite 6 Production Premium to improve my editing and animation skills. As a student of videography, it was likely for me to make the switch, since After Effects CS6, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Flash Professional CS6, Adobe Illustrator CS6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 are a huge help when wanting to make your own animations, typography and 2D effects for Book Trailers. The package is also a great upgrade for marketers who want to make professional advertisements for businesses, universities, campaigns, etc.

My next project is to use animation to promote Dr. Manna and Soula Mitakidous’s books in the same way I had with the use of Sony Vegas Pro 12, but with a more professional approach. I will still use Sony Vegas for projects such as Dr. Manna’s Interview Videos and Read-Along Video, but will always recommend using the Adobe Suite for projects that include animation.

I want to thank the lovely Anne Schwartz from Schwartz & Wade (Random House) for helping us with Permissions and the talented Giselle Potter for the use of her beautiful illustrations.

What does everyone think of Sony Vegas vs. Adobe today? I’m curious to hear your insights.


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