Young Garnavillo author published

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Author Elizabeth (Bergan) Nazarchyk wrote her book, Town of McLee, for her young daughters: Kaylee, left, age five, and Cara, right, age four. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Garnavillo resident and 2008 graduate of Clayton Ridge High School Elizabeth (Bergan) Nazarchyk is the author of a recently published children’s book called Town of McLee

While Nazarchyk hasn’t formally studied writing, she says she began writing books with her mother at a young age. “It was always just kind of a fun thing we did,” Nazarchyk laughs. “She began writing books for me because I always loved being read to and being the star of the story. After that I started writing books and reading them to her – it’s been an ongoing thing.” 

Like their mother and grandmother, Nazarchyk’s own daughters, Kaylee (5) and Cara (4), also make up stories of their own. “Honestly, the reason I wrote this book was for my kids and my grandkids – to have a little piece of myself passed on,” Nazarchyk admits.

Town of McLee tells the story of a magical Christmas village with rhymes and colorful illustrations. Nazarchyk spent three weeks writing the story in 2012. “After I completed it, I put it off for a little bit,” says the busy mother of two. “Then one day I decided to send it in to Tate Publishing to see what they thought, and they loved it.”

Nazarchyk has been employed by the Guttenberg Care Center since she was 19 years old, and now also holds jobs at Bill’s Boat Landing in Clayton and at the Riverview Cafe in Guttenberg. She’s currently attending classes several nights a week at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, where she’s studying to become an occupational therapist’s assistant. She and her husband, Justin, met in church and were married on Dec. 31, 2008. 

The young author enjoyed the publishing experience with Tate. She was able to work directly with the publishing company rather than through an agent, and gave consent for every photo, edit, and illustration. “I knew my wishes were being honored, and I like that,” she said. 

Nazarchyk ushered her book through every phase of publishing. “I was contacted by multiple people about the book, it went through a lot of different hands,” she told The Press. She chose to work with the illustrator at Tate Publishing. “I had a list of every page and with each page I had a description for the pictures I wanted: How I wanted the characters to look, how I wanted the background. They sent me drawings along with the writing. That part took about a year and a half.”

Town of McLee debuted on June 6. Cara and Kaylee served as their mother’s first audience. “They were my guinea pigs. I read them the book just to make sure kids would sit down and listen. They showed a lot of interest,” said Nazarchyk, who purposely laid out just three sentences to a page to keep her young readers’ attention. Her daughters have staked their claim on the book, each declaring her own ‘house’ from the buildings in a cityscape in one of the book's illustrations. “My goal for this book was to make it enjoyable for the kids as well as the parents who have to read it to them,” said Nazarchyk. 

Town of McLee is available online through Tate Publishing or on, in both paperback and electronic form. For more information, visit

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