Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Cheryl: I’ve always been an avid reader and writer. When I was a kid I knew I wanted to be either a teacher or a writer. As a mom, I’ll always be a teacher. I have stories I wrote when I was a teenager tucked in my hope chest. Writing professionally is a dream I began to seriously explore once I left Corporate America to be a stay-at-home mom.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Cheryl: Learning how to tell the stories God places on my heart inspires passion in my writing. In Little Shepherd, Obed must step out in faith and believe his flock will be safe while he joins the other shepherds to visit the newborn King. At first, I wasn’t sure what Obed’s conflict was. Actually, when I first wrote it, there was no conflict. I simply retold the first Christmas from Obed’s point of view. It didn’t work. I tossed around ideas with another children’s author and eventually Obed was guarding his first flock given to him by his father.
Deirdra: Can you tell us about your book Little Shepherd?
Cheryl: Little Shepherd finds Obed in the hills outside Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth. After the angel appears, he must decide if he can leave his sheep in order to visit the newborn King. He knows how important the sheep are to his family and he’s heard wolves howling with hunger. After some wise words from his father, Obed decides to join the other shepherds on their journey into Bethlehem, which allows him to witness the miracles of the first Christmas.
Deirdra: In your experience, how has the public responded to faith based books?
Cheryl: Generally speaking, faith based books are going to appeal to believers. There are some that reach out to non-believers, but overall we’re preaching to the choir. There’s nothing wrong with that. If our ministries are blessed by God, then we are reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Chris, and sharing the Good News while we entertain them.
Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Cheryl: For Little Shepherd, I had six. The manuscript probably went through at least as many revisions before I was satisfied enough to send it to Guardian Angel Publishing for consideration. It went through an additional round of edits before it was accepted.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Cheryl: As a Sunday school teacher, I am always looking for new ways to teach Bible stories that engage my students. I hope my books will accomplish that too. Some of the feedback I’ve received from reviewers about Little Shepherd is that they’ve never really seen the Christmas story told from a child’s point of view. If we can get kids to develop a good relationship with Jesus early on, then they will have the opportunity to strengthen that relationship as adults. I hope my books help to lay that foundation.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Cheryl: I’m really not an inspiration kind of person. Writing is part creativity and part business. I definitely feel more comfortable with the business end, which is probably unusual. When I sit down to write, I’ve thought about my story for a while. It’s brewed inside my brain and I’m ready to bring it to life.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Cheryl: Definitely my kids. My oldest daughter is actually a much better evangelist than I am. At the age of 5, she got into a discussion with one of her classmates about whether God truly existed. She began singing hymns on the bus. She tells everyone that Vacation Bible School is the best thing ever and they need to come to our church. Many of my daughters’ friends have joined us for services over the years at their requests.
It was my desire to encourage and support their love of God that led to me writing for children. I never intended to write for that market. My first completed manuscript was women’s fiction. We can’t always see God working in our lives, but His message was very clear on this one.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Cheryl: Great question. Part of me has never grown up. I’m the biggest kid in the house at Christmas time. Not only do I try to tap into that side of me, I spend a fair amount of time around kids. It keeps me running, but it also helps me create realistic characters.
Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Cheryl: I have such a long list, but I’ll limit myself to a few: Laura Ingalls Wilder for her keen eye for detail; Lucy Maud Montgomery for her flowing descriptions that allow readers to paint wonderful pictures in their minds; and Kathi Macias for her ability to tell powerful stories that stay with you a long time after you’ve read them.
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Cheryl: I eat way too much while I’m writing. Salsa and chips are usually my staples, but I’m also known to snack on Pop Tarts or bagels, with a cup of tea close by.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Cheryl: I love to garden, but I don’t have a lot of time for it. Each year I say I’ll put the vegetable garden in, and then May and June fly by and the soil isn’t even turned over. I read every night for at least an hour. I haven’t cross-stitched in a long time, but I enjoy that too.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Cheryl: Don’t ignore the business side to writing. It’s just as important as creating a good book. Do your research before submitting a manuscript to a publisher/agent. Have a marketing plan in place so they know you’re serious about your writing.
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Cheryl: I have two projects in progress right now. The first is an elementary series featuring a traveling missionary that I am ghostwriting. Mr. Henry is the owner of several horses who have traits that will help children along in life. The first book is about Patience and Wisdom. Mr. Henry is traveling up the Ute Pass Trail with his grandchildren when a storm hits. They must use patience and wisdom, just like God did in creating the world, in order to arrive safely home.
The other is a middle grade historical about Amelia, an orphan who is sent to live with her spinster aunt in a fictional New England town. Amelia’s impulsive nature is at odds with Aunt Martha’s desire to bring her up as a proper young lady. There is also a secret in Aunt Martha’s past that Amelia is trying to uncover. She’s certain if she discovers the secret, she can fix whatever turned her aunt into the sour old woman she has become.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Cheryl: Readers can find Little Shepherd at:
They can also order an autographed copy directly from my newly redesigned website: http://ccmalandrinos.com/
Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Cheryl: Thanks for allowing me to be here today. I love visiting new blogs and corresponding with readers. You can also find me online at:
The Book Connection…where readers and writers connect
Books, Products and More!…connecting you with the books and products for your kind of life.
TC&TBC – The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection
I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.