Saturday, March 16, 2013

Straight from the Mouth of 'LIttle Shepherd' Cheryl Malandrinos

We have a wonderful author guest with us today.  Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. Her first children’s book, Little Shepherd, was released in August 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. She is a member of the SCBWI, a book reviewer, and blogger. Cheryl also writes under the name C.C. Gevry. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married.

Visit Cheryl at and

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

It’s simple. If I don’t write, I’ll die.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

It’s great, but you have to be realistic. I think many have this idea that authors all live like Stephen King: owning multiple homes and working with an agent who obtains large advances for your books. There are, of course, big name authors out there, but the overwhelming majority I’ve come in contact with are those struggling to figure out how to make a living from their writing or those who have managed to write full-time but still barely make ends meet.

The best part about being a writer for me is getting to explore my creative side. But writing is also a business. A writer has to be dedicated to sitting down and writing on a regular basis (I’m still working on that), and making time to promote their published books at the same time they are working on new projects. It’s exhausting, but in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

When I wrote Little Shepherd, I only had one publisher in mind. Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP) is a small indie press out of St. Louis, MO. I had read several of their books before querying them with Little Shepherd. I didn’t even consider an agent at that point. I loved what GAP was doing, so I was thrilled when they accepted the book.

Now that I have two books under my belt, I feel more comfortable approaching agents. I’ve met with three so far: two in person at a writers conference and one online. The latter was interesting because it lasted only five minutes. I had a few minutes to pitch the idea and respond to questions. Then she had to decide if she wanted to see the manuscript before the chat ended. I find pitching in person much easier.

The largest challenge for me is marketing. Not because I don’t know how to do it, but because I tend to market everyone else’s books better than my own. Between my blogs and working as a virtual book tour coordinator, I spend a fair amount of time talking about other people’s books. I can’t complain, though. I love helping my fellow authors. What I am striving to do now is work out a better schedule so I can dedicate more time to promoting my books.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

My children are very supportive. They think it’s the coolest thing that their mom is an author. Even my married son likes to hear about my books and works in progress. My husband keeps hoping I’ll find a real job that will generate enough income for us to be do major (and necessary) work to the house.

This is for pet lovers.  If you don’t own a pet, skip this question, but do your pets actually get their food on time or do they have to wait until you type just one more word?

Anything that doesn’t talk back suffers in this house. They get their breakfast on time, but supper can be late if I am finishing something up. I try not to work once the girls are home from school, but if they are busy with friends I’ll hop back on the computer for a couple of hours.

In all fairness, the cats and the kids cause most of my distractions, so they only have themselves to blame if supper isn’t ready on time.

This is for plant lovers.  If you don’t own a plant, skip this question, but if you do, are they actually still alive?

I don’t have house plants because the cats eat them. I always felt vindicated when a plant they ate made them sick. Then I realized I had to pick up the puke.

My girls and I plot out a vegetable garden each year. It is definitely a struggle to manage planting and weeding in season when I’m on deadline.

Out of all the people involved in getting your book published, which one would you say did the most for you?

This is an impossible question. It’s kind of like someone asking you who is your favorite child with all your kids in the room. So many people have supported me throughout the publishing of both books: my critique group, other first readers, the publishers, the editing staff, the book designers, the artists. Without one of these people, the books wouldn’t have happened.

In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?

I tend not to answer the phone when I’m working unless it’s my husband or one of the girls’ schools. Since I work from home, I don’t have to worry about the boss bugging me either. My main problem is an overloaded schedule—sometimes of my own making. Working when the girls are in school or when they go to bed is the best way for me to make everyone happy and still maintain my sanity.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I am a technology dummy, so this probably isn’t the best question to ask me. Facebook and Twitter are my two main networks. I’m also on LinkedIn and Google+, but I use them less often. I love Pinterest, but I tend not to post there too often because that site is addicting.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

Since both of my books are seasonal titles (Christmas), the majority of books sell in the months leading up to Christmas. While I blog all year long and try to guest blog once a month to keep my name out there, I use virtual book tours to promote my books in the fall. That’s also when the girls go back to school and my school visits start up again. I hold free workshops with the kids as time allows. I don’t talk a lot about my books with the students, but there’s usually a question and answer session during my visits where the kids ask about them. I’ve also attended a local craft fair, but didn’t find it a successful way to sell books.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

My next book is already under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing. I’ve also written two new picture books this year and am currently working on a third. Don’t watch my Snoopy dance, though. It’s not pretty.

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about six years old. It’s thrilling that I am getting to fulfill that dream. Yes, it’s work, but what worth obtaining isn’t? I feel being able to pursue my writing makes me a better wife and mother because it’s something I do for me.


thewriterslife said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl!

Cheryl said...

Anytime. I love talking about writing.

Janet Ann Collins said...

What? You mean writing books doesn't make you a millionaire? ;-)

Cheryl said...

LOL! Jan, you're too funny. You should be rich by now if it does.

Unknown said...

I loved this interview--questions and answers! Cheryl, you are so level-headed that it makes my head swim...So much fun to read about someone you can look in the mirror and see!

Donna J. Shepherd said...

Great interview. I love that Cheryl has fulfilled a dream she had when she was six and now children in that same age group are enjoying her books. Well done!

Susan Hornbach said...

Great interview Dorothy and Cheryl. Thanks for letting us get to know you Cheryl. Wishing you much success with your next books.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Cheryl, I wish I were rich. A lot of us writers would be millionaires if it worked but after checking my wallet I see I'm only a dozenaire.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Cheryl, a lot of us would be millionaire writers if it were easy, but, according to my wallet, I'm only a dozenaire.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. Sorry I didn't chime in earlier. I had a busy weekend.

Nancy, you'll have to see me when I'm angry. I'm not so level-headed then.

Thanks for stopping by, Donna. I never even thought of that.

Susan, how nice of you to stop by. I appreciate your kind words.

Jan, right now all my wallet has is a piece of paper, and it isn't green. LOL!

Morgan Mandel said...

I know what you mean. I'm not a millionaire yet either. Wonder when it will happen. Maybe the next book for both of us?

Morgan Mandel