Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd and A Christmas Kindness. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married.
Title: MACARONI AND CHEESE FOR THANKSGIVING
Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Ten-year-old Macy is waiting for her grandparents to arrive on Thanksgiving. When the front door swings open, Grandma and Grandpa are covered with hugs and kisses. Crash! Everyone rushes in to find the dog gnawing a meaty turkey leg. Can Macy’s quick thinking save dinner?
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a wife, mother of three, and a licensed real estate agent in Massachusetts. Our son is married, but we still have two teenage daughters at home. In my spare time I enjoy gardening.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Book reports were fun to me as a kid; maybe that’s why I enjoy reviewing books on my blogs now. As a teen, writing helped me cope when my mother passed away from cancer at the age of 47. It didn’t become a career choice until I became a stay-at-home mom in 2004.
Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
I’m a solid “panster,” which makes no sense because I am organized in every other aspect of my life. I’ve only ever drafted one outline, and it felt too constricting. My ideas stew for a long time…sometimes years. Once I know where I am going and have some research done, I sit down and write. If I was a plotter I’m sure I could write faster, but my brain needs a tiny bit of chaos to be creative.
Though I have trained myself to write almost anywhere, my favorite place is my office looking out over the woods with nature for inspiration.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving is about ten-year-old Macy helping to avert a holiday meal disaster when the dog steals the turkey from the table. It’s not the sweet, message-driven story I usually write, but I hope readers enjoy it.
How did you get the idea for the book?
I can thank Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) for the inspiration behind this one. I first learned about PiBoIdMo—a challenge where you strive to come up with 30 picture book concepts in 30 days—in 2010. This was idea 24 from that year. When I look back at it now, it seems many of my ideas centered on holidays: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, etc.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
My favorite characters are Billy and Mark, the twin boys from the story. They fight constantly and are just plain silly. I have to admit I relate better to the frazzled mom in the story. If you were at my house on Thanksgiving, you would totally understand why. It is so chaotic here that, by the time the day is over, I’m surprised I haven’t ripped out every strand of hair from my head.
Which authors have inspired your writing?
I’m a huge fan of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. They’ve inspired my writing at the middle grade level. As for picture book authors, I would say Shel Silverstein, Mary C. Jacobs, and H.A. Ray have been strong influences. Jacobs’ The Pony Engine—more commonly known as the story of The Little Engine That Could—was a book I knew by heart growing up. I’m sure it has helped inspire my ability to persevere. The beautiful message of Silverstein’s The Giving Tree is what encourages me to write books that educate and entertain. Ray’s Curious George reminds me what it was like to be young.
What projects are you currently working on?
Though I have several picture books in various stages, my focus has been on completing Amelia’s Mission, a middle grade historical novel set in Reconstruction Era New England. It is the story of a girl who defies the social norm to create the life she wants. Feedback from my writing group has been positive, so hopefully I can wrap it up this year and get it ready for submission. As my daughters have grown, I’ve found myself attracted to writing for an older audience. However, I’m not sure young adult will ever be my forte.