Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Today I welcome children's author Regan Macauley.

Please tell about your background.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember—since childhood!  During my years at university and a number of years afterwards, I focused on plays and screenplays.  I turned to prose, including short stories and children’s literature, in the early 2000s.  I have also directed and produced theatre, film and television for well over twenty years, though I am mostly focused on writing at the moment.  I am also a Certified Canine (and feline) Massage Therapist (since 2013).

How did you decide to become a children's writer and what steps did you take to make that happen?

I actually started way back in grade six!  My first picture book, “Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese,”  had been in the works for a VERY long time. I originally wrote a version of the story as a Grade Six school project when I was a student at R. A. Sennett Public School (in Whitby, Ontario). Students in my class were to create the story and pictures for a picture storybook, and the project was overseen by guest instructor and children's author Emily Hearn!

My story was about a Burmese cat having a "bad day adventure". At the time, it was called "Down, Out, and Around For Beverly." I also drew and coloured the illustrations. The next year, my book was shown to the students of Col. E. J. Farewell Public School as an example of what they could accomplish after their sessions with Ms. Hearn.

My writing continued, and in 2002 I became more serious about creating books for children. A couple of years later, I decided to update "Down, Out, and Around For Beverly" as one of my assignments for The Institute for Children’s Literature course (Writing for Children and Teenagers).  I continued with the Institute for Children’s Literature, taking another course called Writing Children’s Books:  The Craft and the Market.  Eventually, I changed the title to "Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese" and started sending it out to publishers for consideration, this time as a story about the adventures of a Burmese cat with a wild imagination. A little while later, I teamed up with Alex Zgud (I met her when we worked at a pet shop together) and started submitting her sample illustrations along with my (many times revised) story. Cricket Cottage accepted the book for publication in the summer of 2014.

I also started a number of other picture books, short stories, and one novel through assignments at the Institute of Children’s Literature.  The novel is currently under consideration at a publisher here in Toronto.  Shortly after finishing my first course and before finishing the second course, I also joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

I’m particularly grateful for the increase in independent/hybrid publishers.  I appreciate the work they do with editing, design and printing/production (as well as some help with marketing and promotion), while still having the freedom to fully participate in the process and have an equal say in what happens with my books creatively.  I am also forced to learn and carry out a great deal of marketing and promotional, which I know very little about, but I am learning so much.
Tell us about your book(s), especially about the one you are promoting now. (I will list your books/covers in the blog.)

The book I’m promoting most heavily right now is my second picture book, “Sloth the Lazy Dragon” (illustrated by Alex Zgud and published by Guardian Angel Publishing this past May).  I am holding “Sloth’s” official launch on October 2nd at 2 p.m. at Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore in Toronto (where I live), and I’m tremendously excited about it!  My husband, a past performer in theatre and film and currently a Media Librarian at CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) will be reading the book to an audience of youngsters shortly after the two o’clock start time.  The kids can expect balloons and dragon-shaped cookies, as well as prizes after the reading!  I’m hoping some of the little ones might dress up as dragons or dwarves.

Sloth’s synopsis:  Sloth is a lazy and overweight dragon taking up space atop of a hoard of gold and jewels within a mountain inhabited by dwarves. One dwarf helps Sloth lose weight through diet and exercise. The grateful dragon, now able to fly, leaves the dwarf and his people a special gift.

I held a launch for my first picture book, “Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese” (also illustrated by Alex Zgud and published by Cricket Cottage Publishing in June 2015) at Ella Minnow the same time last year, and it was quite a success!  Julie Lemieux (voice of characters from the big and small screens, including “The Nut Job,” “Arthur,” “Max & Ruby” and more) read the story to the kids on that occasion.

“Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese” is a story about a cat that longs for adventure and has the powerful imagination to make it happen! On a lovely but otherwise ordinary day, she seeks excitement among the forests and fields surrounding her home, where she lets her imagination run wild. The ordinary suddenly becomes extraordinary in the eyes of this little brown cat.

Two picture books coming soon that I’d like to mention are “Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far”a story told from the perspective of Tamara, a red-eared slider turtle sold as a baby out of a pet store. She outgrows her small tank just as quickly as the family’s interest in her drops. She is released into the 'suburban wild,' but is fortunate enough to be rescued and taken to the local shelter. She learns about the plight of turtles and other special species that often have a great deal of difficulty getting adopted. My multi-talented husband, Kevin, will be illustrating this book and is working on the sketches 'as we speak.'

The other is a Christmas story called “Merry Myrrh: The Christmas Bat, to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing at a date TBA.  Once again, the talented Alex Zgud will be providing the illustrations.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

Lately, it has involved a lot more marketing than writing.  Writing at the moment has included the revision of two novellas intended for the adult market.  I will be self-publishing one book imminently (called “They Suck” – a vampire comedy/horror) and another next Halloween (called “Horror at Terror Creek” – a parody of B-movie storylines involving witch covens, zombies, Edgar Allan Poe, and more).  Otherwise, I’ve been working on contest and review submissions and looking for new and interesting ways to promote my current picture books, and preparing my next two picture books for publication.  Every day is different and involves books in the revision stage, work on books prior to their publication, and the promotion of books that have already been published.  I also recently started an outline for a new novel while on a self-created writer’s retreat for myself and my husband, who is also a writer besides being a Media Librarian and former actor, sound editor, illustrator and more.

What is the most difficult part of writing for children?

 Possibly writing the blurbs and/or synopsis.  Especially for novels.  It’s a real skill to hook a potential reader with a short and concise description.

What do you enjoy most about writing for children?

One of the things I like the most is writing from an animal’s perspective.  I love anthropomorphic characters, and this is something that doesn’t happen very often (and is not usually approved of) in adult fiction.  I love the opportunity children’s literature provides to take my imagination to the absolute limit!

Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation.

I have only just started doing this.  I visited a school right at the end of this past school year.  It was wonderful—the kids were fantastic!  Basically I did a reading of my first picture book, and I expect to do this again in the fall (with both “Sloth” and “Beverlee”) for kindergarten and Grade One students.  Since the kids are so young, this is the only kind of presentation I do at the moment.  I will expand to a more complex presentation (whether that involves writing itself, or the subject matter of my novel) when I finally get a chance to visit schools with my novel, whenever it finally gets published.

Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL.

 Yes, I do.  My author website is 
I also have a fan page on Facebook:

and you can find me on Twitter at ReganWHMacaulay.   

My production (theatre and film) page is at  

 My books also have their own Facebook fan pages.

Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese:

Tell us about the marketing process for authors. What do you do to market and sell your books?

So far, I send books out for reviews (to other authors and blogs, to children I know, and to traditional reviewers), I send out to contests, I do book launches at book stores and plan to do signings at stores as well, I vend at the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto (and will attend other writers festivals where and when I can, as well as other vending opportunities such as Comic-cons for my horror/comedy novellas), I have pages and post on social media Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and my own website, I have pages set up on GoodReads and JacketFlap, and I’ve done book trailers (posted on YouTube) for “Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese” and “Sloth the Lazy Dragon,”  and I will continue to do so as other books come out.  

 I get in touch with local independent bookstores and libraries and pitch the books to them.  I am also trying out online book launches, which include giveaway contests.  My online “Square” shop also makes my books and related merchandise available to Canadian customers (and I’m hoping Square store expands to allow for shipping to the States very soon). 

Also, I have started getting “Sloth” into pediatrician’s offices (and am pitching to dieticians) and will look for similar niche opportunities based on the theme of each book (for example, Reptile Expos for “Tamara,” seasonal stores for “Merry Myrrh,” and so on).

What are you working on right now?

As I eluded to before, I am working on a couple picture books that have been accepted, but I also have two picture books that are searching for publisher homes.  One is out at a publisher and I am preparing a proposal for the other picture book.  I also have my novel out for consideration, but have a proposal prepared for the next publisher, just in case.  I also mentioned that I am working on the outline for a new novel, which will actually likely be a series, and I am hammering out the novel for book three of another series. 

I am also about to publish a couple of books for adults that I mentioned:  “They Suck” and “Horror at Terror Creek.”  I plan to send “Horror at Terror Creek” off to an editor in town this coming spring, so I must get through at least two more drafts before I send it off.  These two novellas are actually based on a screenplay and a play I wrote/co-wrote a few years back. 

I also continue to work on scripts periodically.  I have a play in another playwright’s hands right now and she will be getting notes back to me in October.  I hope I can finish up and self-publish that play, called “Antony and Miranda: A New Shakespearean Play,”  by the end of this year or early next year. 

What is your best tip for aspiring children's book authors?

Revision and persistence.  Always revise your work until you’re as close to happy with it as you can be (and then be prepared to revise some more after acceptance from a publisher).  At the same time, realize you may never be perfectly happy with a story, so learn when it’s time to let go and start sending it out.  Some authors revise so much it never gets in front of an editor!  And persistence…never give up.  Many, many rejections may happen, but there are many potential “homes” out there for your story.  Keep trying.  Don’t let rejections get to you.  “Beverlee” and “Sloth” both had plenty of rejections racked up before finally finding their homes.  My first novel has already racked up its share of rejections.  You’ll get there, eventually—and maybe even sooner than you think!

Thank you so much for sharing your writing life and process, and tips for aspiring writers.

Penelope Anne Cole
Multi-Award Winning Author of Magical Matthew, Magical Mea,
Magical Mea Goes to School, Magical Max and Magical Mickey, and
Magical Max and Magical Mickey’s Big Surprise
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