First Person Biography

Salutations, it’s about time I introduced myself properly.  Some of the greatest memories someone has are reading stories that took them on a daring adventure when they were young. I grew up with stories. My mother and grandparents did their best to fill my world with stories of all kinds. Among my favorites were E.B. White’s Stuart Little, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

I first started my writing journey when I was home-schooled back in 2008 by Heritage Home School Academy and took many writing related courses that even got me prepared for “the coming” MFA programs. I chose this path of education because back then I could hardly focus on the curriculum due to the nettlesome noise in the classroom and the pace of the lesson. Believe it or not, back then many people were highly against home-schooling and gave my mother a hard time about the choice. However, as you can see today, home-schooling has been proven efficient around the world, especially for children like me who couldn’t focus because of the disturbance in the classroom.

I always had a knack for books and enjoyed changing many unhappy endings that crushed my heart, like in Charlotte’s Web when Charlotte passed away. When I graduated from the academy I helped my mother take care of my grandparents along with my next door neighbor who suffered from dementia. In all honesty those events in my life helped shape and mature my writing from a slipshod mess to what seemed like a good piece of literature.

My grandfather was a great, artistic Catholic whose life revolved around our Church and our Ukrainian culture. He taught me all about Religious Studies, art and even politics. Whenever I visited my grandparents house a debate was being held over a radio station and I always enjoyed tuning in to listen. This is when my writing became more of a Literary Fiction genre and my characters had to deal with a political cause or a debate.

The statement that “Grandmothers make the best food” is absolutely true. Every Sunday my grandmother would invite my mother, sisters, aunt, cousin and me over for dinner where we’d sit around an old, wooden table eat homemade Ukrainian foods or a simple Spaghetti Dinner, drink wine and talk about our lives—from our downfalls to our successes. During the Christmas and Easter Seasons I even helped make pierogies, raisin bread and stuffed cabbage. Ever since I was a young girl I looked forward to going over my grandparents “magical”house where many of my stories became reality.

Every Saturday night I would drive my grandparents to our Ukrainian Catholic Church, sing in the choir and help our priest with any teething troubles our church had. These trips to and from church helped form my writing in a moralistic character and showed me that in a story there “always” has to be a lesson.

Around this time I got involved with my town’s local newspaper and wrote a few articles about events and people. This is when I learned that writers have to come out of his or her comfort zone every once in awhile to get information for their project. Hoping I could broaden my education, I received “The Great Courses” magazine in the mail and took many English related courses along with Religious Studies and Cinematography. I also took a few online courses from campuses in the city and got involved with Hillsdale College’s Online Courses to study American History in further detail. I then became a Freelance Writer and got into contact with a few professors from NYU who offered me wonderful advice on an education.

Continuing my line of work, I took many Creative Writing and Editing Workshops that from my perspective was a great way to delve into the professional side of writing. Thus, I edited business materials, became experienced in content editing and proofreading and got a job teaching computers for local students. This was when I experienced the professional side of “content editing” and helped build a resume and cover-letter for my students who were, at the time, “job seeking”. It was a great job to have and since it was “local” I hardly spent any money on gas!

When I finished with my teaching job I started to think about what I could do to broaden my writing career and portfolio. I remembered one of my articles in the newspaper that I was most proud of—an article about a magnificent, patriotic man who spread the love and joy of his country and our American Troops and Veterans. For hours I debated with myself if I wanted to dig deeper into this story and after countless, reassuring “pep-talks” I went down to the nursing home (where he lived) and started an interview that would shape the essence of the newly formed biography.

Thankful for such a blessing, I started countless interviews with many people who knew about this man who was an important member of the Knights of Columbus. It truly had taken me outside of my comfort zone, but has definitely seasoned my writing.

Along these lines I knew it was important to keep yourself busy when you’re getting hundreds of rejection letters or waiting patiently for those busy-bee literary agents to get a hold of you, so I started getting into my old hobby of ten years: Video Editing.

In the vast majority of online videos found on websites across the globe, video tutorials are best known for assisting those that wish to learn more about a certain subject. Due to the growth of web-based designs for corporate and home businesses, there has been a call for professional advertisements and marketing ideals. The use of professional programs to make ad-based commercials is what really grasps a customer or client’s interest.

Since 2010 I have been providing video tutorials for those who wish to learn how to reel in clients by the use of Videography (a.k.a. video editing). It takes a few simple steps to make an advertisement that will really ‘wow’ the crowd.

As a freelance videographer with over ten years of experience I produced and edited a majority of media from commentary to home videos using a variety of professional softwares and customized effects. Whether the media contains Typography, simple FX or a majority of scenes, I maintained a concentrated perfectionism on the topic, frame-by-frame rate, audio, sound effects, grammar, spelling and, of course, a guaranteed quality. This led me to my most recent job as Award-Winning Children Book Author Anthony L. Manna’s Personal Assistant. Recently, I have been in charge of running campaigns, creating promotional videos and, of course, marketing his books.

With life’s experiences the best advice I can give any writer no matter how old or young is to keep on moving forward and never, ever not even for a second doubt your abilities and give up on your dreams. Getting published is a huge challenge to overcome, but if you stick to it and keep on writing draft, after draft, after draft the day will come when you gain success. Today, I’m still trying to get my work published and have told myself that giving up is not an option.

My work has gone from Literary Fiction to Thrillers and now settled in with the Young Readers genre. As of right now I am working on a collection of short stories that I would love to have critiqued by all of you. It is my dream to teach children a lesson through the craft of storytelling and to make sure people keep on respecting their elders. I hope to meet some aspiring authors, literary agents and possibly even publishers to discuss literature and to learn more about the art. Much obliged for the time you took to read this, I hope you all have a wonderful day.


About Katya Szewczuk

Katya is the Freelance Writer, Editor and Journalist for New Jersey based publishers Renna Media. She is also a videographer who creates book trailers for authors and is the host of the Youtube series 'The Kat's Meow'. She is currently working on two middle grade novels both featuring a spunky, adventurous heroine who goes off on a journey.
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