First-time author Julie Dinges writes fantasy inspired by her daughters

For Julie Dinges, writing a book has long been an aspiration. But like most writers, not all of his ideas came to fruition.

“I started so many books and I would have writer’s block, or it really didn’t come to anything. One night after talking to the girls when they went to bed, I just started writing, and I wrote for hours.

“The Search for the Scepter” was born from this session, with the main characters inspired by his young daughters. The story centers on the adventures of two princesses in search of their father’s stolen scepter.

“The main story unfolded overnight, then I started editing and browsing and adding a few more details. I had a few English teacher friends who read the book, just to see what it was like. ‘they thought about it, and then I started sending it to traditional publishers.… It took about three years to go from where I started to where I am now.

After sending the book to eight traditional publishers, she finally received an offer from Mascot Books, an independent hybrid publisher. Dinges worked with Mascot on the book publishing process and the selection of an illustrator, Nazar Horokhivskyi.

“I found Nazar and said, ‘This is who I want.’ This is another reason why my process took a little longer. I waited four months while he finished another project. He was in Ukraine and we communicated via Skype. He has two sons so he said it was really fun for him to create it with them too.

“The search for the scepter” by Julie Dinges, illustrated by Nazar Horokhivskyi

Published in December 2020, “The Search for the Scepter” has already received several honors, including being named the 2020 Story Monsters Approved winner in the category first-time author, 5-star reader-favorite, Mom’s Choice Awards Gold recipient and a KidLit pick of the week by News15 in Lafayette, Louisiana.

“I have two daughters and the book is based on the daughters,” Dinges says. “They love fairy tales. We love fantasy and fiction stories and movies. I’ve never read anything that incorporates multiple magical creatures, so I thought it would be fun to create something for them.

Dinges, who was born in New York but raised in Ohio, already had a background in writing. A graduate in Scientific and Technical Communication from Bowling Green State University, she worked in technical writing, then moved into web design and development. She lives in Hilliard with her husband, Bryan, and school-aged daughters Audrey and Violet.

Dinges continues to promote his book through read aloud for local libraries and schools. Learn more about “The Search for the Scepter” at

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