Interview with Cheryl C. Malandrinos, Author of 'Little Shepherd'


Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer. 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/.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Cheryl. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing professionally and how your journey led to writing your latest book, Little Shepherd?

Thanks for having me here, today.

I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. In the early days, writing was a way for me to channel my grief when my mother lost her battle with cancer. I had written a few stories before then, but her death propelled me to put my thoughts down on paper.

I never gave up that dream of becoming published. Life got in the way from time to time. It wasn’t until I became a stay-at-home mom in 2004 that I could concentrate on my writing career. Since that day I've never looked back.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

My original title was, The Little Shepherd Boy. I struggle with titles, but since the inspiration for the story came from singing the Christmas carol, The Little Drummer Boy, this one was easier. My publisher prefers smaller titles, so the final version became, Little Shepherd.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

Because I wrote it!

Oh, you mean that seriously.

I’ve taught Sunday school for twenty years. Reaching young people can be a challenge, especially when you’re dealing with a well-known Biblical event. Adam and Eve getting tossed out of the Garden of Eden, Noah building the Ark, Moses coming down off the mountain with the Ten Commandments, they’ve heard those stories a million times. But these are important portions of scripture, so you need to find a fresh way to teach them.

That’s what Little Shepherd does. It takes the Christmas story and tells it through the eyes of a young shepherd in the hills outside of Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth. Obed has been entrusted with his first flock and he is anxious about leaving them unattended to visit the newborn King. Obed has to step out in faith, which is something that Christians are regularly called to do.

The Christmas story reminds us that God always keeps His promises. Little Shepherd helps to drive that point home.



Q: Can you tell us the story behind your book cover? Did you choose it or did your publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing, have full control? Were you happy with the decision or did you have something else in mind?

Guardian Angel Publishing is wonderful to work with. I was asked to send along my idea for the cover art, which was forwarded to artist, Eugene Ruble. Eugene used that suggestion to come up with the cover art and I am abundantly pleased. I was familiar with his artwork before we collaborated on Little Shepherd, so I knew he would do a wonderful job.

Q: How have you approached marketing your book? Do you have someone doing it for you or have you had to do most of the marketing yourself?

You know the answer to this one. I coordinated my own two-and-a-half month virtual book tour, which is running through December 17th. It’s different coordinating your own versus doing it for a client, but it’s a great learning experience. I also created a new website and a new blog just for the book. I also put together a video trailer that is posted on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA2KStzoCPo.

In October I sat on two panels at a local writers conference and attended the Muse Online Writers Conference. I also have a signing event planned at my church the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Little Shepherd actually reminds me of a movie with the same title that came out in 2005. It has a boy named, Joel, who is becoming a shepherd and is afraid of all the wolves nearby. The birth of the newborn King reveals to Joel that God has the answer to his fears.

There’s a book titled, The Little Shepherd Girl: A Christmas Story by Juliann Henry. This tells the story of young Sarah, who wishes to be a shepherd, even though only boys are shepherds. She ends up encountering the Baby in the manger.

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.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

On Page 7, Obed’s father suggests they go to Bethlehem to see what has happened. I used the exact quote from the Bible to make it authentic. Obed is amazed that his father would suggest leaving the sheep alone, but he tells his son that the angels must want the shepherds to see the Savior and encourages Obed to go.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I pitched my next manuscript, a first chapter reader, to a publisher during the Muse Online Writers Conference I attended in October. I was asked to submit A Visit with Santa, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m also halfway into a middle grade historical.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Cheryl. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Little Shepherd can be purchased at:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Guardian Angel Publishing
Indiebound.org

My friends say I am all over the Internet. I’m not sure if they mean it as a compliment. You can find me at the following places:

http://ccmalandrinos.com/
http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/  
http://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/
http://booktoursandmore.blogspot.com/  

and the blog dedicated solely to my book at http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/.

You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Cheryl is running two giveaways during her virtual book tour.

GIVEAWAY #1 (for people who comment during the VBT)

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


Retail value of Giveaway #1 is $65 (rounded to nearest dollar)


*****


GIVEAWAY #2 (for those who purchase a copy of Little Shepherd between August 21, 2010 and December 17, 2010)

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

Retail Value of Giveaway #2 is $97 (rounded to the nearest dollar)

Find additional details at http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2010/09/27/giveaways-announced-for-little-shepherd-virtual-book-tour-octnovdec-10/ 
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