I was born in West Ukraine in 1959. I grew up on a farm in a village nestled in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains. As a child, I was surrounded by nature and the real world, without TV and toys. I learned to read by the age of four, and books then became a huge part of my life.
In my country at this time, the post–World War II recovery was still in progress, and very often, as a child of the ’60s, I ran after the truck delivering bread. The ice cream truck did not exist in my part of the world.
To escape the harsh reality of everyday hard farm labor, I created my own imaginary world populated with characters from books. Once you enter the world of books, you can be everywhere and everyone; you just have to imagine it.
I learned very quickly that there was only one way out of the life I was born into: education. Everything else can be taken away from you, but education will stay with you forever. It is your investment for life. I studied hard, and at age of 16 I finished high school near the top of my class and entered business college.
I immigrated to the United States in 1992 with my two small daughters. Not knowing the English language and not having children’s books to read, I created my own stories. At bedtime, I told those stories to my children. Unfortunately, we did not write them down, and they disappeared from our memories.
I worked in my own bakery for many years in Smithville, New Jersey, and recently retired. I speak a few languages fluently, but was always terrified to write in English. However, I love to write, so last year I decided to learn how to write in English. I decided not to take any courses or go back to school. I did it fast, like a surgeon—painful but curing.
Everything happened at the same time: learning computer, typing, and writing in English. One morning, I opened my daughter’s old computer and with two fingers started to type my first children’s story. It was fun, mixed with frustration and fright.
“What language are you writing in, honey?” my husband asked one evening.
“English, I guess,” I answered proudly. He read the first sentence and smiled, and then he began to correct my written pages.
“Keep going, the story makes me laugh.” He encouraged me day after day. Sweating over every sentence, many days later, I finally got somewhere. I was able to send my first email to my daughters, and for the first time, they did not call me to ask what I meant. They understood every word I wrote.
It was a struggle at first, but I found that learning to write in English was very rewarding, almost therapeutic. It consumed all my bad energy and made me reconnect with my soul and my family.
We worked as a team, with me writing and my family making corrections. They were the worst critics I had ever faced. With the help of my husband and my daughters, I overcame my fears, and while practicing English wrote a few children’s stories. Those close to me encouraged me to publish some of them, and now you can be the judge.
Carlo the Mouse on Vacation and The Trees Have Hearts are published and available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They’re also available for most popular e-devices as e-books. Please check them out!