Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Interview with Children's Author: C. Malandrinos

1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a children's book author.

Thanks for having me here today. You have a wonderful blog and it’s a great honor to be here again.

I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. Though life got in the way from time to time, I always hoped to make a career out of writing. After the birth of our youngest daughter, my husband and I decided that I would stay home to raise our family. That’s when I began to pursue my dream in earnest. I graduated from the Breaking into Print program from Long Ridge Writers Group in December 2005 and soon began writing time management and organization articles for online magazines. I also worked toward completing a manuscript that I had been working on for many years.

The funny thing, in my mind, is that I never planned to be a children’s author. Not that I consciously thought I would never write for a younger market, just that my first completed manuscript was women’s fiction and the other ideas I had planned were also geared toward adults.

In 2006, I decided to tackle National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. My project was going to be a novel of a shepherd who was searching for the apostles after the Resurrection of Jesus. Obed, the shepherd, had been in the fields outside Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth, had seen the angels, and visited the Holy Family. Obed wants to ask the apostles if it’s possible that Jesus is the Messiah he saw when he was only a boy.

I struggled with that story, mostly because I needed time to perform more research. When I told my pastor about it, he asked me if it was a children’s story. That’s when I began thinking that perhaps I wasn’t being called to write about Obed’s adult journey, but of the night Obed met the Messiah. That story became my first published children’s book, Little Shepherd.

2. Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary, tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for this book.

I mentioned some of how Little Shepherd came into being in my last question. The book tells the story of Obed, who sees the angels on the night of Christ’s birth, but is hesitant to follow the others to visit the newborn King because he is afraid to leave his flock unattended.

When I began writing Little Shepherd, I already knew to whom I would pitch the story. I became familiar with Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP) when one of their authors sent me a book to review. I loved the book so much that I began looking for more GAP titles. There was never a bad apple in the bunch.

I did my best to write Obed’s story in a way that I felt GAP would be interested in it. I was offered a contract after making a few additional edits.

3. What is a typical writing day like for you?

There really isn’t one for me. In addition to my writing, I work as an online book publicist for Pump Up Your Book! That job is very time consuming, so I write whenever I can. I prefer to write in the late evenings because that is my most productive time.

4. What do you enjoy most about writing for children?

Writing for children is wonderful because you don’t need an excuse to be goofy. I’m a child at heart, so I have an odd sense of humor and some people might find me a bit strange. The kids love it.

In November, I participated in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). I had to come up with 30 picture book ideas to work on in 2011. Some of those ideas were really out there, kind of like my What If? idea. Kids love silly, zany things, so I look forward to working on some of these projects.

5. What is the most difficult part of writing for children?

Before PiBoIdMo, I had no idea what I would be working on. I struggle to come up with new ideas for kids. I like twisted nursery rhymes and fairy tales, but I’m not too good with creating them. Finding ideas that will appeal to kids is something I am constantly working on.

6. Tell us about the marketing process for authors. What do you do to market and sell your books?

In this area, I felt fairly secure when Little Shepherd came out. I have been working with Pump Up Your Book! for over three years, so I knew I would use a virtual book tour to help promote my book. I saw some great results from the tour. The book hit the Amazon bestsellers list in its category 7 times between September and December. Google and Bing search results improved dramatically, and when you type in “Little Shepherd” at Amazon, my book now comes up first.

I held a book signing at the end of November, but sold only a few books. I don’t know that I would be too hot to do it again unless I could find a way to make it more profitable. I also received some nice coverage in a local weekly paper a couple of weeks before Christmas.

I’ve concentrated my efforts mostly on online sales and that will continue.

7. Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation.

I have visited schools more than once and plan to do so in the new year. My most memorable visit was a two-day workshop where students learned how to develop their powers of observation and use their five senses in their writing.

The first day I read excerpts from famous children’s books and asked the students which senses the authors used. Then I asked them to pull an object out of a bag and find ways to describe the object using their senses. They also observed me reciting a poem and had to write down what they saw and heard and share it with the class.

The second day was a writing exercise. I read an example and then they wrote a short story, which we edited together, and then some of the kids read their stories to the class.

8. Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can listeners go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?

My friends say I am all over the Internet. You can find me online at the following places:

I am also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=1110037692 and Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/ccmalandrinos

9. What are you working on right now?

I am halfway done with a middle grade historical that is receiving great feedback from my critique group. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my next children’s book idea that a publisher has expressed interest in.

10. What is your best tip for aspiring children's book authors?

Read, read, read. The children’s market is very competitive. You have to know what it is out there, perform your market research, and pitch your ideas to the right publisher or agent. Doing some extra work at the beginning will help bring you closer to realizing your dreams.


  1. Thanks so much for having me here today. It's great to be back. I have to run out and perform a few errands later, but I will be checking back in throughout the day if anyone has questions.

    Happy New Year!


  2. Hi Cheryl!

    Just wanted to let you know you're doing a fantastic job!

  3. Thanks Dot. You taught me well.


  4. Online sales seems to be the way to go lately. People used to be afraid to order items from their computer, but now it's second nature.

    I'm so happy for your success, Cheryl!!!

    Morgan Mandel

  5. Great interview Cheryl. Wish you luck on your book tour. Have fun.

  6. I'm so glad you're having great success with your book, Cheryl. Another interesting interview. Here's to many more sales for a wonderful book.

  7. Hi Cheryl:

    I'm thrilled for your success! Hardwork and great writing truly pays off.

    Best wishes,

  8. Thanks for stopping by everyone.

    Morgan, I used to be one of those people anxious about ordering online. Now, most of my shopping is done that way.

    Ladies, thanks for your kind words. I appreciate the support.


  9. It has been wonderful having Cheryl here today. Thanks everyone for stopping by.

  10. Thanks Terri. I always enjoy spending some time here.


  11. Cheryl, congrats on your success with Little Shepherd. I hope it continues. After all, we could use a little more Christmas all throughout the year! :o)

  12. Thanks Beth. I totally agree. Christmas all year round would not be a bad thing.

  13. What a great interview! Congratulations, Cheryl, and thanks for the tips!




*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.