Authors Blog Hop Interview with Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Blog Hop Interview button

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.

Cheryl Malandrions Guest on RRRadio-RFK: Stories for Children –January 3rd4. Why do you write what you do?

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.  A Christmas Kindness Book Blast & Giveaway

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:

Posting June 26th – Cynthia Reeg at What’s New With Cynthia Reeg: 

Posting the week of the 24th – Tracey M. Cox at A Writers Blog by Tracey M. Cox:

A Christmas Kindness Book Blast & Giveaway

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.

Visit her online at or

My Birthday is September Eleven and Other Short Stories by Nicole Weaver

My Birthday is September Eleven and Other Short Stories by Nicole Weaver is a moving collection of stories that tackles tough issues. From a boy struggling with his birthday coming on the same day as the worst attacks on American soil, to a biracial boy coping with being teased, from a group of children helping to pay for a classmate’s life-saving surgery, to the rescue of a young boy whose village is nearly wiped out by a devastating hurricane, and more, this collection will show young readers the importance of compassion and how simple acts of kindness can make a difference.

Considering that English isn’t Weaver’s native tongue, this collection flows nicely. While the book is heavy on narration and sparse on setting details,  the message of each story is clear. I would have liked to see an editor round out some of the rough edges, but overall this collection will be a nice way for parents and educators to open discussions on topics that are so prevalent today.  Though this book is geared toward middle grade students, I think adults will enjoy it too.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Paperback:80 pages
  • Publisher:CreateSpace; Lrg edition (September 4, 2011)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1466275995
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466275997
  • SRP:  $5.99

I received a free electronic copy from the author in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

Guest Blogger: Nicole Weaver, Author of Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle

  Today’s special guest is Nicole Weaver, author of the trilingual book, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle/María y su amiga la Tortuga del mar/Marie et son amie la Tortue de mer.

This story is about the love that developed between a little girl named Marie and a stranded sea turtle. The story tells the struggles Marie had as she helped the sea turtle back out to sea.

Esta historia es sobre el amor que se desarrolló entre una niña llamaba María y una tortuga que vino a tierra para poner sus huevos. La historia cuenta las dificultades que tenía María para regresar la tortuga de nuevo al océano.

Cette histoire est au sujet de l’amour qui s’est développé entre une petite fille qui s’appelait Marie et une tortue de mer qui est venue sur le sable pour pondre ses oeufs. L’histoire raconte les difficultés que Marie a rencontrées pour remettre la tortue dans l’océan.

The Challenges of Writing for Children by Nicole Weaver

I once heard the statement “Writing children books is a lot easier than writing novels and other books.” I cringed and thought to myself, the opposite is true. Unfortunately this is the sentiment of many people who are not familiar with what it takes to write an engaging book for children.

My challenges as a children’s author are numerous. The pressing challenge for me is making sure my manuscript is well written in English. I get tons of ideas, but as a non-native speaker of English I have to make sure the way I write is clear and concise. Once my script is ready I can easily translate it to French and Spanish. I grew up speaking French; consequently it is very easy for me to translate the text. I learned Spanish as a fourth language. French and Spanish are similar because they both are derivatives of the same root language–Latin. I recently read Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul. This book is a must for anyone serious about learning the craft of writing for children. I am about to start reading the book Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen.

A second challenge is finding time to write. I am a full-time French and Spanish teacher at the middle and high school levels. I am quickly finding out in order to stay abreast and get better as a write, I need to write every single day. It is not good enough to write during my summer vacation, spring break and Christmas vacation. Writing every day has afforded me more fluidity with my thoughts. It takes less time to write a manuscript. I always carry a little notebook with me. Once I get an idea I write it down and during my lunch period I start working on the manuscript. My second children’s book due to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing was written during my lunch. After I visited my half-sister for the first time, I could not help but wonder why destiny kept us apart for so long. Thinking about the fun we could have had if we were raised together led me to write a story about her being my best friend. My Sister is My Best Friend will be published in 2011

A third challenge is finding time to promote my book. Getting published is great, but the real work starts with promotion. No one will buy your book if you do not promote it. I promote through many channels. I use Facebook and Twitter, and I post media releases on free sites. I have joined various writers groups as well. To date, the most important step I took towards self-promotion is when I joined The National Writing for Children Center. The founder, Suzanne Lieurance, makes available weekly teleclasses on many useful topics on promotion. Suzanne is a great coach, and the rest of her team is pretty good as well. The members are all very helpful and supportive of each other. I have learned so much since joining the group.

Lastly, creating a good website is an essential part of promoting a book. I knew very little about blogging and creating a web presence. Thanks to fellow authors from Guardian Angel Publishing I have learned a ton about blogging and creating a web presence. I work hard every day to overcome challenges, but I still have a lot to learn. I am thankful to my friends at Guardian Angel Publishing and The National Writing for Children Center. Without their unrelenting support and help I would be totally lost.

Nicole Weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. She is the author of a children’s trilingual picture book titled Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle.

The story is about a Haitian little girl who resided by the beach in Haiti. Her second trilingual children’s picture book will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. The book titled, My Sister is my Best Friend, will be published fall 2011.

You can visit Nicole Weaver’s website at and her book’s blog at  

Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle by Nicole Weaver

Discover a wonderful story of friendship and compassion in Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle by Nicole Weaver.

One day Marie is walking along the shore collecting seashells, when she spies what she thinks is the largest seashell she has ever seen. Rushing over, she discovers that it is not a seashell at all, but a sea turtle.

The turtle explains that she came ashore to lay her eggs, but her sore flippers prevented her from making it back into the ocean. She asks for Marie’s help. Marie soon finds out that she can’t lift or push the heavy sea turtle back into the water. And that’s when the trouble really begins.

This is a delightful book about the friendship that develops between a young girl and a sea turtle. One of the many great aspects of the book is that the sea turtle can talk and Marie can understand her. The quick friendship that develops and Marie’s desire to help her new friend is something that everyone will enjoy.

Marie’s parents play an important role in this book, but I don’t want to share too much or I’ll give it away.  All I will say is that Marie teaches them a lesson about compassion they won’t soon forget.

The illustrations provided by Ruben Chavez are absolutely wonderful. My favorite is the close-up of Marie’s face found on page 26.

A veteran teacher of French and Spanish, Weaver has written this book in English, French, and Spanish. This will allow it to be used with a diverse group of children. Locally, we have a children’s hospital who will just love having a trilingual book in their library.

If you’re looking for a sweet story, pick up a copy of Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle by Nicole Weaver.  You’ll be glad you did.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Outskirts Press
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 1432723774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1432723774
  • SRP:  $14.95

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