First-Time Author Julie Dinges Found Inspiration in a Bedtime Discussion With Her Daughters

The Hilliard resident has received several recognitions for “The Search for the Scepter” since it was published in December.

Dana Randall
Julie Dinges

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

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

“The Search for the Scepter” was born out of this session, with the lead characters inspired by her young daughters. The story focuses on the adventures of two princesses on a quest to find their father’s stolen scepter. 

“The main story came together in one night, and then I started editing and going through and adding some additional details. I had a couple of friends who were English teachers read the book, just to see what they thought, and then I started to send it up to traditional publishers. … It’s been about three years to get 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 process of editing the book and choosing an illustrator, Nazar Horokhivskyi.

“I found Nazar and said, ‘This is who I want.’ That’s 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 as well to create it with them.”

“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 a 2020 Story Monsters Approved winner in the first-time author category, a Readers' Favorite 5-Star recipient, Mom’s Choice Awards Gold recipient and a KidLit Pick of the Week by News15 in Lafayette, Louisiana.

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

Dinges, who was born in New York but grew up in Ohio, already had a background in writing. With a degree in scientific and technical communication from Bowling Green State University, she worked in technical writing, then shifted to web design and development. She lives in Hilliard with her husband, Bryan, and school-age daughters Audrey and Violet. 

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

A shorter version of this story appears in “Parent Pulse” in the Summer 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.