Pump Up Chats with Cheryl C. Malandrinos


Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.     

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married. 

You can visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com or the Little Shepherd blog at http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/. You can also find Cheryl on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for this interview, Cheryl.  Do you remember writing stories as a child or did the writing bug come later?  Do you remember your first published piece?

I wrote several stories when I was in my teens. Many of them helped me deal with the grief of losing my mother to cancer. Most of them are very dark pieces. There are also a couple of poems. One story sticks out in my mind; a Scooby-Doo type mystery. I think I wrote this before my mother took sick. It’s a bit goofy and corny, not unlike Scooby Doo—which I can still watch thanks to the Cartoon Network.

My first published piece was a time management article I wrote for a now defunct online magazine. Thankfully, that and several others were brought back online when I became a regular contributor for Writer2Writer.

What do you consider as the most frustrating side of becoming a published author and what has been the most Little Shepherd rewarding?

Not knowing where to spend your limited marketing budget is definitely high on my list of frustrations, and I doubt I am alone in that. I am one of the lucky ones who coordinated her own virtual book tour, but there are other expenses like shipping books to reviewers and buying post cards, bookmarks, giveaway items, etc.

I’ve also bought some advertising on a few blogs I feel will be a good match for Little Shepherd. I’m presenting at a writers conference in October and also signing copies of my book at our church’s annual bazaar and tag sale. The hope is that this gets my name out there locally, as well, as online.

I believe in the power of virtual book tours, so most of my concentration for marketing has been online.

The most rewarding has to be the tremendous amount of support I have received from family and friends, both in person and online. I am touring for over two months with Little Shepherd, and the response from bloggers has been overwhelming. My online chums in various groups are almost as excited as I am. Even my mailman and the people at the post office offered their congratulations.

Are you married or single and how do you combine the writing life with home life?  Do you have support?

Very married. I say that with a smile. My husband and I have been together for over 21 years now, but married for just over 10. Our son is fully grown and got married this past spring. We have two young daughters at home.

I have to admit my husband, Paul, has been great about all this. I keep spending money and he just keeps paying the bills. All our kids are very excited about Little Shepherd coming out. I’m the latest celebrity in my daughters’ classrooms.

As for juggling home and career, it’s tough, but as long as you’re organized you can make it work. I write up a weekly to-do list, I tackle one thing at a time, cross it off, and then move onto the next. With both girls back in school, I have 7 hours a day to dedicate to coordinating book tours for clients and my writing. I stop once the girls get home, and unless the girls are busy with friends, I don’t go back to work until after they are in bed.

Can you tell us about your latest book and why you wrote it?

Little Shepherd is a retelling of the Christmas story as seen through the eyes of a young shepherd. Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear. While he wants to visit the newborn King, he is afraid to leave his flock. After some wise words from his father, he decides to visit Baby Jesus and soon discovers it is a night of miracles.

Can you share an excerpt?

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.

Where’s your favorite place to write at home?

I can write almost anywhere, even in the tub or at the ice rink. I’ve pretty much given up writing long-hand these days, but I still like to do it when I have the time. Most of my writing takes place in my office, which faces our backyard. Right now, the leaves are just beginning to make their annual changeover. It’s windy today and yellow leaves are floating down to cover our lawn.

What is one thing about your book that makes it different from other books on the market?

The Christmas story has been retold many times. It’s such a wonderful story of God’s love for us, why wouldn’t writers want to share it over and again. Some are told from the perspective of the animals in the stable where Jesus was born, while others have opted to tell the story of a girl who wants to be a shepherd, even though shepherds are supposed to be boys.

Obed’s story is geared for kids ages 4 to 8; and while the main character is a boy, the story shares Obed’s fear and anxiety over seeing the mighty angels announcing the Savior’s birth and the thought of leaving his first flock to fend for themselves. Fear and anxiety are common to children, boys and girls. In addition, Little Shepherd, shows Obed stepping out in faith, reassured by the wise words of his father and a visit with the Holy Family. Yes, he’s still anxious to return to his flock, but once he takes a moment to think about it, he realizes the miraculous event he has witnessed.

Tables are turned…what is one thing you’d like to say to your audience who might buy your book one day?

First I would say, thanks for considering Little Shepherd. I feel it would make a great addition to Sunday school classrooms and households looking for a new and wonderful way to share the story of Christmas. Christmas is a time when we are reminded that God always keeps His promises. After the Fall in the Garden of Eden, He promised He would send us a Savior, who would repay the debt we never could. With the birth of Jesus, that promise has been fulfilled. 

I hope you and your family enjoy Little Shepherd. I would love to hear your thoughts after you’ve read it. 

Thank you for this interview, Cheryl. Good luck on your virtual book tour!

 Thanks for hosting me today. Though I coordinate virtual book tours all the time for my clients, this is my first time on tour as an author. It’s fun, yet, nerve-racking. I hope bloggers enjoy my book as much as I loved writing it.