Today's guest is children's author,Cheryl C. Malandrinos, talking about her recent release, Little Shepherd.
AUTHOR: Cheryl C. Malandrinos
BOOK TITLE: Little Shepherd
PUBLISHER: Guardian Angel Publishing
BUY LINK: Amazon
Please tell us about yourself?
I’m a wife and mother from Western Massachusetts. I have been writing since I was a teen, but it wasn’t until I left Corporate America in 2004 that I began to pursue my writing dreams. Our home is filled with 2 beautiful girls and 4 cats. We also have a son who is married.
Tell us your latest news?
I’m ghostwriting a series of books for kids that feature a traveling missionary from Colorado Springs, Colorado. In the first book, Mr. Henry and his grandchildren are traveling up the Ute Pass trail when a snowstorm hits. They’ll need to use patience and wisdom to make it home safely, just like God used those traits to create the world.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loved to write: book reports, essays, stories. My fiction writing really began when I was a teenager. It helped me to cope with the death of my mother. I started writing time management and organization articles for writers in 2005. Those skills came naturally to me so I wanted to help others.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I became a writer as soon as I left the corporate world to focus on getting published. By that time, I already had a manuscript over halfway done. It’s now sitting in my files waiting to be edited. Long story.
What inspired you to write your first book?
That first manuscript was co-written with my older sister. It was autobiographical fiction loosely based upon the lives of me and my sisters growing up. I think it was more of a therapy kind of thing than anything else. I still think it’s a great story, and I would love to see it published one day after tons of editing.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
My first published book, Little Shepherd, is a children’s picture book that retells the Christmas story from a young shepherd’s point of view. Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angel appears to announce the Savior’s birth. He is hesitant to leave his flock to visit the newborn King. After some wise words from his father, Obed decides to step out in faith and leave his sheep. As a reward, he gets a chance to witness some of the miracles of that first Christmas.
In addition to experiencing the miracles of Christmas from a child’s point of view, I hope readers can see that we all face tough choices, but stepping out in faith comes with great rewards.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Other than the Bible, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Wilder had a keen eye for detail. It’s those details that made me want to investigate the life of the pioneers and the settling of the west in greater depth. I tend to write stories set in those years, as they are some of my favorite. Also, Beyond Me: Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World by Kathi Macias. I helped Kathi promote that book. It’s a true call to discipleship—to live as a servant to others through the examples Christ gave us. You can’t read Beyond Me and not be touched by it.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Lea Schizas has been a wonderful mentor and friend. Not only is she a talented writer and editor, she started her own ePublishing house. I’m so thrilled about her success. I’m sure MuseItUp Publishing will do well.
What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
Believe it or not, I’m in the midst of reading Bad Spelling by Marva Dasef, which will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in the fall. I’m writing an endorsement for this book. I’m honestly not much into witch and warlock stories, but I read this a few months ago and offered to re-read it and provide an endorsement because I felt it was a strong story with interesting characters. I’m glad to see it is the first book of a series.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
As someone who works in book promotion and who reviews books on a regular basis, I have to admit that sometimes it seems all the books run together. It’s so exciting when you discover an author whose books are so powerful or touch you in such a way that you remember them from the crowd.
For children’s books, I can say that One Pelican at a Time by Nancy Stewart is a timely and engaging offering. It was the first book in the United States to approach the topic of the 2010 Gulf oil spill. It shows kids they can truly make a difference. Born Under A Lucky Moon by Dana Precious is a fabulous and funny read. Murder is a Family Business by Heather Haven and Resurrection Garden by Frank Scully are great books too.
What are your current projects?
In addition to the ghostwriting project I mentioned, I am also working on a middle grade historical about a young girl named Amelia who is sent to live with her spinster aunt after the death of her parents. Amelia’s impulsive nature goes against Aunt Martha’s desire to bring her up as a proper young lady. Amelia thinks there’s a secret in Aunt Martha’s past and she is determined to uncover it. In addition, her friendship with Ralph, a Negro stable hand on her aunt’s estate, raises eyebrows in town.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
If I had the chance, I would tighten up Little Shepherd. I look at it now and it seems a bit wordy.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’ve always struggled with showing versus telling. I’ve gotten better with practice, but there are days I wonder if I’ll ever get it right. I’m also trying to dive deeper into point of view.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
My family keeps me running with dancing and guitar lessons. The little one played softball this year. Plus we volunteer at church where there’s always something going on. I read every night and I garden when I can.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is a tough question because I like so many. In the children’s market it’s a tie between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Both created wonderful stories that continue to captivate readers and gain new fans year after year. I tend to read historical because I love American history. Jessica James wrote Shades of Gray, a romance set during the Civil War. I loved that book! I cared so much about these characters I cried when anything bad happened to them. Southern fiction author Karen White is also one of my favorites. Her stories are contemporary, but they usually involve past secrets. Between the food, the complex characters, and the interesting storylines, I’m always signing up to review every book she releases.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Patience, which isn’t easy for me. I’m not the kind of person who can sit and write 5,000 words in one day—at least not yet. I write, then I think, then I write some more. Sometimes I have to get up and take a walk. I really need to get to know my characters before I write their stories.
Since I don’t draw, I also have to wait for illustrations to be created for my books. It took around 18 months from the time I signed the contract for Little Shepherd to become available. That’s really not bad, but for an impatient person like me it was torture.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Perform research before submitting. I reviewed several Guardian Angel Publishing titles and spoke with some of their authors prior to sending Little Shepherd to them. During online conferences, I also corresponded with founder Lynda Burch, to learn what she was looking for and what mistakes she sees. When I sat down to write Obed’s story, I tried to do it in a way that would blend well with the lines Guardian Angel published. There’s no guarantee of acceptance, but it sure beats tossing a dart in the dark and hoping it hits the bullseye.
Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
My next virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book will take place in November and December. I am looking for interested bloggers to host me. Of particular interest are Mommy bloggers, homeschooling bloggers, Christian bloggers, and blogs run by churches and/or youth ministers. Interested bloggers can reach me through my website at http://ccmalandrinos.com
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.
My friends say I am all over the Internet. I still don’t know if they mean it as a compliment. Readers can find my newly redesigned website at http://ccmalandrinos.com/. I run a variety of blogs:
The Book Connection - http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/
Books, Products and More! - http://booktoursandmore.blogspot.com/
Little Shepherd by Cheryl C. Malandrinos - http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/
The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection - http://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/
The Professional Writer’s Connection - http://profwritersconnect.blogspot.com/
You can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1110037692 and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/ccmalandrinos
Off in the distance, a wolf howled. Obed moved closer to his flock, scanning the hills for any sign of a pack that might race in and steal his sheep. His family depended upon the sheep for food and their wool for clothing. No sheep would be lost under his watch.
He shivered inside his cloak. While the days were getting warmer, the nights still chilled him. He walked over to the large fire blazing inside the pit. He rubbed his hands together and held them up to the fire to warm them.
Above him, the sky twinkled with millions of stars. Obed couldn’t remember a night so clear.
Suddenly, a bright light filled the sky.
Obed trembled. “Father, what is happening?”
His father dropped to the ground, his right hand blocking his eyes from the intense light.
Obed pulled the edges of his cloak closer to his face as he squinted up at the mysterious form hovering overhead. He shivered, but this time it was not because of the cold.
Thanks for letting me spend time with you and your readers today. I greatly appreciate it.