My friend, Mary Cunningham, asked me to participate in this “blog hop interview.” The idea is this: She sent me some interview questions, which I answer, and then at the end I tag 3 other writers who will in turn answer the same questions on their blogs next week.
1. What are you working on right now?
I’m participating in 12×12. Authors write one picture book each month for a year. So far I’m five for five. Having compiled a set of 30 ideas last November as part of Picture Book Idea Month certainly helped.
2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?
It’s not so much that my projects differ from other books in their genre, as committing to writing on a regular basis has made me more comfortable writing diverse stories. My first two books, plus the next one that is currently under contract, are message-driven fiction. They are meant to educate and entertain. The last two books I’ve written for 12×12 have been stories solely meant to entertain. One is Cinderella’s story as told from the point of view of one of her stepsisters. The other is about a turkey who keeps making new costumes to disguise himself from Farmer Jones so he doesn’t end up on the Thanksgiving Day table.
3. What experiences have influenced you?
Reading is a huge influence for any writer. My children and my faith also inspire my writing.
I’ve been a Sunday school teacher for over 20 years. My message-driven fiction comes from that background. I’m always looking for new ways to teach familiar lessons. I also like to make people laugh. With my most recent projects, I feel I can do that.
5. How does your writing process work?
Since I am writing shorter pieces of fiction right now, there isn’t a ton of research and I don’t outline. I’ve had a few months to consider the ideas I committed to working on for 12×12, so the starting point is usually easy. It’s hard to control my desire to describe everything, but with picture books the reader has a visual aid, so you don’t have to paint as much of the picture for a reader as you do in middle grade or young adult fiction. If I’m having a busy month, I will write longhand while sitting at softball practice or the girls’ dance lessons. Most times, though, I sit down and type away. Most picture books take me three full days of writing to develop. That’s not to say it’s easy. Before I sit down to write I’m fairly certain of where I am going with a project. That means writing less often than I would like, but I need to be comfortable that I know enough to prevent me from staring at a blank screen for hours. I am also a firm believer in the practice of write now, edit later. Once I type “The End,” I can take my time pondering what works and what doesn’t before sending it off to my critique group for feedback.
6. What is the hardest part about writing?
For me it is definitely the waiting. Right now, I have no less than nine picture books completed. One is with my publisher awaiting an illustrator to be assigned to it. Another is with a local artist who I’m working with because we might self-publish. Two are ready for me to write query letters so I can submit them to publishers. The others are in various stages of editing. Sometimes it’s tough waiting to hear back on queries or holding out to see the cover art the illustrator designs. But it’s part of the process. You can’t experience the successes without the wait.
7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?
I would love to write an inspirational romance or a cozy mystery. I’ve been a mystery lover since I was kid. My largest problem is creating villains. They never come easy to me.
8. Who are the authors you most admire?
Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lucy Maud Montgomery were superb writers. Before I began reviewing so many books on my blogs I read the Little House and Anne of Green Gables series annually. These authors both had a keen eye for detail that should be studied. Christian authors Jerry Jenkins and Kathi Macias have wonderful ministries. I try not to miss any of their books. Southern fiction authors Karen White and Rhett DeVane are excellent at blending past and present and uncovering family secrets. What surprised me is how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Dystopian fiction has never been my thing, but Collins helped me develop a taste for it. I also love historical fiction from C.W. Gortner. I’m staring at one of his recent books now and it’s crying, “Read me.” If you love historical fiction with strong female characters, you have to pick up one of Gortner’s books.
9. What scares you?
My list of phobias would scare you. 🙂 From a writing point of view, I’m afraid of making bad choices. When my second book came out, I decided to write it under a pen name. That’s not proving to be the wisest choice. I can handle two websites and multiple social media accounts–though they take a lot of time and are an extra expense–but if I had truly thought about my work as a whole, I would have realized releasing my second book under my actual name would have been just fine, even if it wasn’t a faith-based project.
Please check out Mary’s answers to the questions on her blog at Cynthia’s Attic Blog. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of her interview and tell her it’s from me. In addition, I am tagging the following authors:
Posting June 24th – Nicole Weaver at My Sister Is My Best Friend blog: http://mysisterismybestfriend.blogspot.com/
Posting June 26th – Cynthia Reeg at What’s New With Cynthia Reeg: http://www.cynthiareegblog.com/
Posting the week of the 24th – Tracey M. Cox at A Writers Blog by Tracey M. Cox: http://traceymcox.wordpress.com/
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 of C. C. Gevry. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married.