Writing has been something I’ve been doing since the age of six. After many years of practice on my own—including writing short stories in elementary school that I would read at the local Literary Guild events (on school time!), writing plays in high school, and scripts in university at Ryerson’s Radio and Television Arts Program—I finally felt ready for the next step in my writing career.
My journey to publication really started back in the early 2000s when I took a distance course called Writing for Children and Teenagers through the Institute of Children’s Literature. During the course (over about two years, if I remember correctly) I wrote an article about Animal Wrangling (I had previously been an Animal Wrangler and Animal Care Specialist on the set of Season III of Once Upon a Hamster) that was later published in the 2011 Winter edition of R.E.A.L.: The Canadian Kids’ Magazine. I also wrote the beginnings of two picture storybooks that were later called Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese and Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast, among other short stories.
After completing the first course in November 2006, I started another course with the Institute of Children’s Literature called Writing Children’s Books: The Craft and the Market. This is where I wrote my first novel entitled Peter Little Wing, intended for middle-grade readers. I completed the course in December of 2008 and in January 2009 began submitting the version of Peter I had put together with my writing instructor’s notes. This story is set in New Zealand, with anthropomorphic characters (including a Kiwi, Little Blue Penguin, Tuatara, and Kea), a place that left its mark on me ever since my husband and I went to visit in November 2003. Later in 2009, my mom and I made a visit to New Zealand’s North Island…I wanted her to experience this beautiful place where such amazing creatures (mainly birds) could be found, and I wanted to deliver a few copies of Peter Little Wing to local publishers while I was there!
In 2010, I decided to send out a few short stories for adult readers to various publishers. Since 2010, I have found several homes for a number of short stories over the years in various print and online magazines, as well as anthologies. So, my first publications were short stories and articles—always a great start for beginning writers, I think.
In 2014 I was submitting some picture storybook manuscripts as well as Peter Little Wing, and I finally found a fit for Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese—a newish micro publisher called Cricket Cottage Publishing. In June of 2015, it was published—my very first book ever! I didn’t have a launch for it until October 4th, but it was such an exciting day…we held the launch party at Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore, voice-over actress Julie Lemieux did a reading of the book for the children in attendance, we served sugar cookies shaped like cats that my mom had baked and I signed books for those in attendance.
Oddly enough, the elation of this first publication was not to last too terribly long…a year and a half later the publisher changed management and I found myself on a very different journey—getting my book rights back so I could find a new home for Beverlee. This took over two years and was quite a hassle.
During those years, however, I had found homes for more of my picture storybooks—Sloth the Lazy Dragon at Guardian Angel Publishing, and Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far with Mirror Publishing in the States.
Then I met Justine and Robert of Mirror World Publishing at Word on the Street at Toronto’s Harbourfront. I had actually been a vendor with Beverlee Beaz prior to that, but this year, I was just browsing. I checked out what Mirror World had to offer, including a picture book called The Coffee Monster, and it got me thinking…maybe this would be the right home for Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast—another picture book about a weird little monster! I got the info I needed to submit and did so that Fall when their submissions were open…and yes, Mixter was the right fit for Mirror World!
But what was really funny was the following year I found myself vending at Word on the Street again, and while I was there, I stopped by to visit with Justine and Robert at Mirror World’s booth with a copy of Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese. I let them know I was in the process of getting the rights back and would they be interested in it? I left them a copy and later someone wanted to buy it from them!
Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese is now with Mirror World Publishing—new and improved, based on notes I received when the original edition became a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards in the UK (highly recommended for indie authors and small publishers, btw). Not only that, but mere months after it was published by Mirror World in April 2019, a French edition was released in October of the same year.
These COVID-19 times have been tough on indie biz folk of all sorts, and unfortunately, one of my publishers has had to close its doors. I am so pleased that Mirror World Publishing has survived and thrived through these trying times, as they have agreed to republish Sloth the Lazy Dragon in 2021.
It’s been and continues to be a meandering journey to publication, but I’m incredibly grateful to have found some great publishers, and to have worked with several awesome illustrators as well. Uber funky tattoo artist Alex Zgud was my first illustrator, and she worked with me on three books in watercolour—Beverlee, Sloth and Merry Myrrh the Christmas Bat. Javier Duarte was the talented artist who illustrated Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far. Outrageously gifted Wei Lu worked with me on Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast and an upcoming picture book called Dog Band for Iguana Books in Toronto. She also recently created a number of monster characters for my film, live theatrical and publishing company website, Triple Take Productions.
And Gordon Bagshaw is the illustrator of my latest picture book that I co-wrote with my husband, Kevin Risk, which was published by Mirror World Publishing this past October—Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana. Gord illustrates through computer programs as well…and I think anyone who sees the illustrations for Libby will agree he has been blessed with multitudes of talent! Which is why I’ve asked him to work on the illustrations for my middle-grade novel series, Peter Little Wing, which has at long last found its home with Pandamonium Publishing in Hamilton, Ontario! Peter’s 10 year journey has finally come to an end…but now a new chapter begins.
Writing is what I love to do with my life (as well as helping and healing animals whenever possible). As far as I’m concerned, I’m on this ride for the duration. It’s been fascinating and exhilarating so far…and I can’t wait to see where else it leads!
Regan writes novels, short stories, children’s literature and scripts. Writing is her passion, but she’s also a producer and director of theatre, film and television. She is an animal enthusiast as well, which led her to become a certified canine (and feline) massage therapist.