Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 3, 2019

Book Giveaway – Maximillian Villainous by Margaret Chiu Greanias

Margaret Chiu Greanias has written a picture book titled, Maximillian Villainous, illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow and published by Running Press Kids. Margaret has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Margaret & Lesley!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


For anyone who loved Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, this is a humorous and important picture book about learning to follow your heart and proving that kindness can outweigh villainy any day.

Maximillian Villainous is a monster who doesn’t have the heart to be a villain. His famous family play tricks on Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and Max spends his time undoing them. So when he brings home a pet bunny to be his sidekick, Max’s disapproving mother hatches a plan. She challenges Max and the bunny to become a devious duo; otherwise . . . the bunny hops. If they want to stay together, Max and the bunny have no choice but to go against their good nature. They blunder into villainy with comical effect until Max discovers that embracing his good heart may just be the key to pulling off the most devious deed of all and winning his family’s acceptance.

Delightfully fun and irreverent, Maximillian Villainous is an empowering story about embracing one’s true self and finding acceptance. Up and coming illustrator Lesley Breen Withrow brings the characters to life with bold and colorful illustrations in a style reminiscent of Richard Scarry.


Thank you for hosting me on your blog! My journey to publication started much like many other writers–with a love for books. Some of my fondest childhood memories include browsing through library bookshelves, checking out a stack of books half my size, and then taking them home, where I’d sprawl out in a warm sun ray and pore through my haul. Books provided me escape and entertainment. I loved getting lost in fantastical stories where the animals talked and magic was a way of life.

So when I began writing picture books, the stories I wrote often involved monsters, big foots, superheroes, talking animals, and obviously, villains.

The first draft for Maximillian Villainous (originally titled, “Max Wants a Pet”–clever, I know ) came fairly quickly in 2013. This can happen when I can hear the story voice clearly in my head. But you can see for yourself (below) how much of that first draft actually made it into the published book.

(I’m waiting for Margaret to send a larger readable version and will replace when I receive it.)

Despite this, based on the feedback I got from critique partners, I had the feeling that this story would be “the one.” This fueled me to do countless revisions based on critiques, both professional and peer. The bad news was I felt like I floundered my way through my revisions. The good news is that even after spending so much time revising, I still loved my story.

Then, I received two critiques that I felt were instrumental in getting my story into publishable shape.

The first was a critique from literary agent Sean McCarthy, who I first queried unsuccessfully in 2015 but is (happily) now my agent. His comments are actually something I try and remember even today in order to give my stories the best chance in a competitive marketplace: emphasize the unique twist of the story. In my case, I had written a story about how a villain child (Max) convinces his parents to let him keep a pet bunny. In my original manuscript, Max does things any child might do–show his family that he could provide food, shelter, and toys for the bunny (albeit with villainous touches). Only when I changed his approach to be more specifically villainous did my story take full advantage of that unique twist.

The second critique was from an editor through an SCBWI workshop I took. She suggested that I start the story just before the climax (In hindsight, Sean also hinted at this in his critique). Obviously, this required a re-write. I dove deep and fleshed out a part of the story that I hadn’t explored, finding the story in between my manuscript’s climax and resolution.

After countless critiques for which I am forever grateful and well over 30 revisions, my manuscript was finally ready to submit in 2015! I queried the story with a round of agents and found one who felt the story had promise. He felt the story would have a better chance of selling if it was illustrated before we went out on submission. So we picked Lesley Breen Withrow for her bright, fun style that would perfectly offset a potentially darker story. Lesley brought the characters to life and created a dummy, and the story sold after about four months on submission to Running Press Kids. “Maximillian Villainous” published in August 2018.


Margaret wrote her first terrifically terrible book in fourth grade. From grade school through college, she suffered through English—she was especially bad at analyzing stories and writing essays. Then, during her very last year of college, she took a creative writing class and discovered she loved writing. Despite this, it wasn’t until her second child was born that she remembered her love of children’s books. She’s been writing ever since. She grew up in New York, Texas, and California, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three children, and a fluffle of dust bunnies.


Lesley Breen Withrow is an artist and illustrator whose artwork can be seen on many products including children’s books, stationery items, children’s apps, and toys. She is the illustrator of You’re My Boo, Kate Dopirak (September 2016, Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster) and is also the illustrator of Bunny Bus, Ammi-Joan Paquette (Winter 2017, Farrar Straus Giroux). Her sample illustration was the inspiration for the book Bunny Bus. Lesley lives with her family on beautiful Cape Cod. Learn more about her at Leslie was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Margaret, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. I love Leslie’s illustrations. It looks like she has done a wonderful job bringing your story to life and with all the revisions and hard work you put into polishing this book, I expect it will be extremely successful. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. The point about starting a story just before the climax is making me think about some of the children’s books I love and how they would be different if they did that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is this the one year anniversary of Maximillian Villainous? It’s such a wonderful book and I loved using it last year to teach about character traits! It’s fun to read about how it changed from the first draft to publication and especially that your agent saw it early on and after your revisions he became your agent! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a fabulous book with a wonderful message woven in! So happy for your success! I am a subcriber/supporter of this fabulous blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lynne Marie! We’ve been reading Moldilocks and the Three Scares over here–my 5-yo is a fan!


  4. This is such a fun book. Children LOVE to read about villains, especially if they want to pretend to be one. Great story and the illustrations make it perfect! Thanks for sharing with us, Margaret. Thanks, Kathy, for showcasing books, writers, and illustrators! I follow by email and will share on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I fell in love with this book just from the cover! Then, I read it and fell in love even more -great message! This book will be around for a long, long time! Congrats, Margaret – I hope there’s a sequel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thanks Danielle!


  6. I second Danielle’s suggestion for a sequel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cathy!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. this looks like a greatly villainous book! Can’t believe I haven’t read it already.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the advice to give stories the best chance in a competitive marketplace: emphasize the unique twist of the story. I’ll be keeping this in mind as I write, edit, write, and edit… I’m also adding this book to my wish list.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This book sounds like one with a perfect message for today. It looks super cute too. Thanks for the heads up.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I Love the concept and the cute title! Congrats

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A pet bunny?! I’m in (I have a trio)! Can’t wait to grab this book and read it to them…and I “third” the sequel idea:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such a fun book we keep going back to to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This book looks GREAT!!! My students would absolutely adore it too. 😊 Congratulations on your writing journey, your fab book, and thanks for the chance to win!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love this story and the journey! It has heart and fun! Congratulations Margaret – I can’t believe it’s been over a year already!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I Love the concept!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a fun book! I wish I could read your original version — it’s always fascinating to see what an author has cut.


  17. Congratulations on your delightful book, Margaret. I’m a fan already and a subscriber to this blog.


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