Monday, November 8, 2010

Interview with Children's Author Cheryl Malandrinos

Little Shepherd Virtual Blog Tour Contest
November 8 - December 17: International

Cheryl Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married. Little Shepherd is Cheryl’s first children’s book. She is a freelance writer, a founding member of Musing Our Children, Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. That’s quite a list!

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." ~Toni Morrison

You are one busy woman, Cheryl. Please tell us about your new children’s book, Little Shepherd.

Thanks for having me here today, Linda. Little Shepherd is the story of Obed, a young shepherd boy in the hills outside Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth. After the angels appear, Obed is hesitant to follow the others to see the newborn King. He’s afraid something might happen to his flock while he’s away. His father convinces him to go, but Obed spends much of the time anxious over his sheep. After a visit with the Holy Family and some surprises upon his return to the field, Obed discovers it is a night of miracles. This book is geared toward readers ages 4 to 8.

I love the idea that you’re teaching children about the birth of Christ. What inspired you to write about a shepherd boy?

It’s an unusual story really. I sing Christmas songs all year round, using many of them as lullabies for my children. One of my favorites is “The Little Drummer Boy”. I would often sing that song and end up thinking about a story of a young shepherd who visits the child on the night of Christ’s birth.

When God first planted that idea in my heart, however, I didn’t think this would be a children’s story. I felt drawn to write about an adult Obed who is searching for the apostles after the Resurrection of Jesus. Obed wishes to find them to ask if Jesus was the Messiah he once met as a boy.

As I was sharing this idea with my pastor one Sunday, he asked me if it was a children’s story. That got the gears in my brain moving. Why shouldn’t I tell Obed’s story from the very beginning and help young readers understand the miracles of Christmas at the same time? I moved forward and Little Shepherd was born.

Wow! I love the idea of an adult Obed who is trying to find the apostles years later. You just might have to have a sequel to this story. How did you go about the process of finding an illustrator?

My publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP), works with several artists. After I had signed my contract, I was asked to select three potential illustrators from those listed on their website. Having reviewed several titles from GAP, I was familiar with the work of many of their artists. It was a tough choice, as they all do lovely work.

When Eugene Ruble accepted the contract to illustrate Little Shepherd, I was thrilled. I sent him some suggestions for potential cover art and interior illustrations and then I stayed out of his way and let him do what he does best. He did a superb job of bringing Obed’s story to life through his artwork.

What a wonderful publisher! I found out that many authors don’t get a choice. They have to take what is given them. You were very lucky…no, that’s not the word. You were very blessed to be allowed to choose your own book covers. I, too, was able to have a choice and tell them what I wanted. To me, that’s very important. What does your family think about your writing?

All three of my kids are very supportive. My nine-year-old and I would like to work on a book together that I write and she illustrates. Our youngest has been interested in books since she was old enough to hold them. They’ve turned me into the latest local celebrity at their schools. Our son is married, and he’s always been very supportive of my dreams, reading many of my works in progress.

My husband is supportive in his own way. I’ve been spending money on marketing since the book was released in August and he keeps paying the bills without commenting too much. He takes the girls to the park or the movies when I’m on a tight deadline. While he doesn’t understand why I would want to work in an industry where my performance, no matter how good it is, may not turn a profit, he’s very proud of my accomplishments.

Your husband sounds like a very special person. You are blessed to have that kind of support. Okay, now for the last question. You notice, Cheryl, that I ask this question to all my authors. I love it because I get to know an author’s innermost feelings. So please tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I haven’t always been happy with the person I am. I lost my mother to cancer when I was only 14. That paved the way for me to make several bad choices growing up. I had to give up on college when I became pregnant at the age of 18. I was a single parent for 11 years and there were days when I wished I could crawl in a hole and never come out again.

Meeting my husband changed my life. Returning to church also changed my life. I don’t recognize that angry, frustrated young woman I used to be. I feel so blessed by my family and friends—in person and online. God has a way of working in our lives behind the scenes and it can be months or years before we realize the good work He’s done in us. I think I’m finally getting to the point where my heart, mind, and soul are more in tune with His gifts and guidance. In telling Obed’s story, I hope that kids remember God always keeps His promises. 

Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing a part of your life with us. This shows how important it is to have a loving Heavenly Father in our lives. It changes us for the better and we tend to be happier. Thanks for being my guest this week. 

To participate in Cheryl's virutal book tour, follow the directions below:

GIVEAWAY #1 (for people who comment on this blog or Cheryl’s blog. Don't forget to leave your email in case you win.)

An autographed copy of Little Shepherd
Angel figurine printed with the Serenity Prayer
A Little Shepherd sticky note pad
Little Drummer Boy 2010 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament
Gift of Peace 2003 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament

GIVEAWAY #2 (for those who purchase a copy of Little Shepherd between August 21 and December 17. Proof of purchase must be submitted to Cheryl via email, mail, or fax at cg20pm00@gmail.com.)

A ”Sparkling Angel” scented jar candle from Yankee Candle
An angel gold and silver lid topper for the candle
An angel tea light holder from Yankee Candle
A Little Shepherd sticky note pad
A Jim Shore Nativity Star hanging ornament
A Jim Shore Holy Family hanging ornament
A $25 Amazon.com gift card

Little Shepherd is available at the Guardian Angel Publishing website, Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, and at indiebound.org. Good luck to all who enter!


18 comments:

Cheryl said...

Thanks for hosting me during my virtual book tour, Linda. I'm thrilled to be here at your wonderful blog.

Little Shepherd ranked as an Amazon bestseller in its category over the weekend. This is the third time since the book's release this has happened, and I'm certain it is because of special bloggers like you who have been sharing my book with the online world.

Good luck to all who enter the giveaway.

I'll be back later to see if anyone has comments or questions.

Blessings to all,

Cheryl

Donna J. Shepherd said...

I loved finding out more about you! Thanks for the interview, Linda and Cheryl.

cheryl c said...

I enjoyed reading this interview and getting a peek at the "real you." How wonderful that you have seen how God has worked in your life. I wanted to ask you if you have any plans to write more children's books?

castings at mindspring dot com

Christine H said...

Wow this book sounds amazing!! I'd love to give this book as a gift. Thanks for having a giveaway!!

chirth7@yahoo.com

Cheryl said...

Thank you for stopping by, Donna, Cheryl, and Christine. It's wonderful to see people interested in Little Shepherd.

Cheryl, I most definitely have plans to write more books. I pitched my newest manuscript to a publisher at a writers conference in October and she asked me to submit it; so I'm working on that. In addition, I am halfway through a middle grade historical I am very excited about. Lastly, I am participating in Picture Book Idea Month. I have to come up with 30 picture book ideas in November. You can see what I have so far if you visit: http://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/ I would love to hear from my readers as to what they think of these ideas.

Thanks again everyone. I feel blessed that you've stopped by.

Cheryl

Callie said...

Loved reading more about you and I am always looking for beautiful books that tell the Christmas story to give at the holidays.

catherine(dot)alley(at)gmail(dot)com

Mutti said...

Again you have found a wonderful book to share! Thank you for these interviews and giveaways. I love to teach children to read and have 3 grandchildren in this age group with whom to share the book...as well as children at church. BadurekL@gmail.com

Linda Henderson said...

I would love to have this book for my grandchildren, I think they would really enjoy it.

seriousreader at live dot com

Ashley said...

I would love this book to give to my mother to read to my children this Christmas. She is a huge supporter and fan of literature - especially kiddie lit - and not only I, but now my children, are able to benefit form her.

dreamt_of_in_your_philosophy@hotmail.com

Nancye said...

I enjoyed reading this interview. Thank you for sharing the journey of how you changed throughout the years. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to lose your mom at the tender age of 14. This book and prize pack sound wonderful! Thanks for the chance.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Sherrill S. Cannon said...

I love the idea of this book, and would love to have a copy. I would also love to share my book, Santa's Birthday gift, with you too. I'll be on this site Dec.6-13, so perhaps you can take a look then!

robynl said...

thank you for writing this story so people like me can give it to our grandchildren; I asked one daughter-in-law if we could give her kids Bible Story books and she said yes. I'm excited and this would fit the bill.

yourstrulee(at)sasktel(dot)net

Mozi Esme said...

This looks like a sweet book I'd love to share with my daughter...

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/11/little-shepherd.html

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Aik said...

I'd love to enter!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Cheryl said...

Hello all,

Thank you for your wonderful comments about Little Shepherd. I'm thrilled so many of you are eager to own a copy.

Nancye, your words touched my heart. It was a difficult time, but God has given me so much that I feel truly blessed. Mozi Esme, how nice to see you here. It has been a while since we've been in touch.

Sherrill, I'll be sure to drop by to learn more about your book.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and leaving comments. It means a great deal to me.

Blessings to all,

Cheryl

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Great interview. This is a book I would want my 6 1/2 year old grandson to read.
anngrayelliott1960@gmail.com

Tracy said...

What a beautiful book for the whole family to enjoy. Thanks for sharing the wonderful interview as well.
lulus.pals@gmail.com

cstironkat said...

What a wonderful interview, the honesty is so refreshing. This book would be great addition to our christmas traditions.