Monday, July 20, 2009

INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL MALANDRINOS


SHARI: CHERYL, PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.

CHERYL: Thanks for having me here, Shari. I’m a married mother of three kids, ages 22, soon to be 8, and 5. I’ve lived in Western Massachusetts all my life. We actually live in the town my husband grew up in, though where I lived is only 20 minutes away. Our home also includes three adorable cats.

SHARI: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING? HAVE YOU TAKEN ANY COURSES IN WRITING? WHAT WERE THEY AND WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THEM?

CHERYL: I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, but didn’t begin my career until I became a stay-at-home mom five years ago.

When I decided to take my dream seriously, I enrolled in an article writing program offered by
Long Ridge Writers Group. Breaking into Print showed me how to create marketable articles and how to draft queries. I highly recommend them. I had the chance to work with a multi-published author and writer, one who they matched me with based upon the answers on my application. We clicked instantly and I learned a great deal.

SHARI: I UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT IN 2010. HAS IT BEEN A DIFFICULT ROAD GETTING TO THAT FIRST CONTRACT? WHAT KIND OF BOOK IS IT? PICTURE BOOK, EASY READER, MG????

CHERYL: Yes, I do. The Little Shepherd Boy should be out late next year from
Guardian Angel Publishing. My book is a Christian children’s picture book about a young shepherd boy named Obed, who visits Baby Jesus on the night of His birth.

I don’t know that I would say difficult, as much as I would say that it required me to decide if I had it in me to write a book and submit it to a publisher. We don’t realize how much power we have. We can be our own worst enemies, throwing up all types of obstacles to prevent us from ever submitting that first manuscript. I didn’t want to be the person who always had an excuse for why I wasn’t published; so I made the time, listened to feedback, made revisions and sent out that query.

SHARI: DID YOU START OUT WRITING FOR CHILDRENS MAGAZINES OR WERE BOOKS ALWAYS YOUR TARGET?

CHERYL: I actually haven’t written for children’s magazines. Most of my articles focus on time management and organization tips for writers. I do, however, write reviews of children’s books at my blog,
The Kids Book Connection, and have contributed to Musing Our Children’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens in the past.

SHARI: YOU ARE EDITOR OF THE MUSING OUR CHILDREN NEWSLETTER. TELL US ABOUT THAT AND HOW IT CAME ABOUT.

CHERYL: Musing Our Children is a group of authors, storytellers, editors and illustrators dedicated to encouraging a love of reading and writing in young people through school visits, workshops and our quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens. Our founder, and my good friend, Lea Schizas is so talented that she is constantly involved in a multitude of projects, and needed to relinquish her duties as editor for Pages & Pens. I strongly believe in Musing Our Children’s mission, and therefore, I stepped up to the plate to take on the role once filled by Lea. I only hope I can do as good a job as she.

SHARI: YOU WERE A CONTRIBUTOR TO THE MUSE ONLINE WRITERS CONFERENCE LAST YEAR. IT IS A WONDERFUL RESOURCE FOR WRITERS. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE A CONTRIBUTOR?

CHERYL: Here again I must sing Lea’s praises because without her efforts, I doubt the Muse Online Writers Conference would run as smoothly and be as wonderful as it is. I have attended since the first conference and am already signed up for this year’s conference.
Registration ends on August 1st, so anyone who is interested should sign up now!

It was exciting and scary being a first time presenter. I had never presented at any writers conference before so this was all new territory for me. I wanted to provide attendees with enough information to keep the discussion flowing and offer interesting assignments that would allow them to make changes in how they managed their time, set goals and organized their writing space.

The other challenge was that I also signed up for several workshops. Juggling homework and running a workshop required me to make sure I didn’t waste any time during that week. Thankfully I am a very organized person and goal setting is something I’ve done most of my adult life.

SHARI: YOU ARE A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR TO WRITER2WRITER. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THAT?

CHERYL: Working with Cheryl Wright of
Writer2Writer came about as a result of the first Muse Online Writers Conference in 2006. A discussion began about whether it is a good idea to write for non-paying markets to secure clips. I mentioned I had written a series of time management articles geared toward writers for a now defunct Ezine, for which I received only clips. Cheryl contacted me about them and my first article appeared in December 2006.

SHARI: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THESE THINGS, HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THEM?

CHERYL: The Muse Online Writers Conference is a great way to network. That’s how I find out about a lot of things. It is also how I ended up submitting my first children’s book manuscript to Guardian Angel. I tend to travel in a lot of the same circles as my fellow Musers.

I work as a virtual book tour coordinator for
Pump Up Your Book Promotion, which has allowed me to meet so many talented writers. Relationships are forged and friendships made, things can flow out of those moments. And since I am a blogger and book reviewer, I have publishers and publicists contacting me on a regular basis. This helps keep me in tune with what’s going on in the industry, what books are out there, and what publishers are looking for.

SHARI: WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO A NEW CHILDREN’S WRITER?

CHERYL: I’m not sure I’m the best one to be giving advice since I still have so much to learn, but one thing I remind aspiring authors of is that they have the power to make their dreams come true. They need to use it. Stop letting lack of time, fear of failure and self-doubt get in the way of accomplishing what they want. You need to face that person in the mirror and ask, “Do I want this badly enough?” If the answer is “yes” then you’ll find a way to make it happen.

SHARI: WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST WRITING OBSTACLE YOU HAVE HAD TO DEAL WITH?

CHERYL: With two young children at home and working full-time, there isn’t a lot of time left for me to focus on my writing. Even as organized as I am, I still get overwhelmed at times—usually because I’ve overcommitted myself. I make a point to write weekly to-do lists, revisit my goals quarterly and am trying to train myself to say “no” more often.

SHARI: IF YOU COULDN’T WRITE, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE DOING?

CHERYL: This is a hard question because I’ve always loved writing. Even before I was a teenager writing Scooby-Doo type mysteries, poetry and angst-ridden stories about young girls losing their mothers to cancer as I did, I enjoyed writing book reports and essays. I can’t imagine not writing.

If for some reason God hadn’t given me that gift of words, I still think I would work in book promotion. Coordinating virtual book tours has introduced to me many great books I never would have discovered otherwise. I truly love my job!

SHARI: DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL WRITING SPACE? TELL US ABOUT IT.

CHERYL: Right now I do. Whether I keep my office depends upon whether or not we have another baby. The smallest upstairs bedroom is where I hang my writing hat. My desk doesn’t have much on it because I don’t like the clutter. It faces the windows so that I can see our children playing in the backyard and also catch a glimpse of the woods, whose trees turn all sorts of glorious colors in the fall.

Our old changing table serves as a cabinet for the books I need to review, office supplies and writing craft books that I refer to from time to time. Behind my desk, on the other side of the room is my two-drawer lateral filing cabinet. The top holds my dancing and bowling trophies and some nautical décor. I also have a shadow box picture that I bought on the Outer Banks of North Carolina one year, and a beautiful painting created by one of my book tour clients is on another wall. He lives in North Carolina and knows how much we enjoy the Outer Banks.

SHARI: WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW? DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER BOOK IN THE WORKS?

CHERYL: Most of my time is spent on virtual book tours, but I am working on the revisions to another Christmas-themed book titled, My Visit with Santa. I have a few other projects in various stages. I am also currently editing a book for a client.

SHARI: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR VISITING WITH US!

CHERYL: Thanks again for having me here Shari. I enjoyed spending time with you and your readers.

11 comments:

Donna M. McDine said...

Terrific interview. I've known Cheryl for several years now and I'm delighted to get to know her even better through your interview. Well done!

Regards,
Donna
Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Margot Finke said...

What an interesting person Cheryl is. Great interview, mate.

Manuscript Critiques - My Books!
http://www.margotfinke.com
HOOK KIDS on READING
http://hookkidsonreading.blogspot.com/

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Thank you for your comments. She is one busy lady.

Shari

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Thank you for your comments. She is one busy lady.

Shari

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by Donna and Margot. It's nice to see what kinds of questions people come up with when they interview you. Shari did such a great job!

I think another fellow G.A.P. author, Kim Chatel, might be even busier than me. I have to tell you that she is just absolutely amazing! And Lea, I've lost count of how many hats she wears.

Thanks again for hosting me today Shari. Best of luck with your books and your blog.

Cheryl

Dorothy Thompson said...

What a fantastic interview. I've known Cheryl for a couple of years now and I know this has been a dream of hers - to write a children's book and get it published. I cannot wait to read this book and I wish her much success!

Deb Hockenberry said...

Thanks for an informative interview! I didn't know that the Long Ridge Writer's Group had a course in children's writing, Cheryl. I'll have to look into that!

The Crypto-Capers Series said...

Great interview, Cheryl, I knew that you did many things. Your dedication to your writing is impressive and I am glad that you followed your dream. With doing the virtual book tours and managing the various other things you love to do, and the time you spend helping others, I know is appreciated by so many people. With each interview I read about you, I get to know you a little better. You are a talented and busy woman. Good luck with your first book. Congratulations!
Renee Hand
The Crypto-Capers Series
www.reneeahand.com
thecryptocapersseries.blogspot.com

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Nice interview. I keep learning more and more about you, Cheryl. Best of luck with your writing and everything you do.

Bev

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

F. M. Meredith, author said...

How great to learn more about Cheryl--I know how accomplished she is as an editor, blog tour guide, book video producer, but I didn't know about her family--or her own writing projects.

Great interview!

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Cheryl said...

Dorothy, Deb, Renee, Bev, and Marilyn, thanks so much for stopping by. As you can see, I am behind the eight ball this week.

Planned on having some kid-free time today and it didn't work out. ARG!

You are all so wonderful to take some time to share your thoughts with me. Your praise is truly humbling.

All my best,

Cheryl