Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cheryl Malandrinos Interview (Author, Editor, Freelance Writer)

I am so very delighted to have my friend, Cheryl Malandrinos as a guest on the blog today.  I've known Cheryl for quite a few years, and we are fellow authors at Guardian Angel Publishing.  I've also worked with her on blog tours with Pump Up Your Book, and it was always a pleasure. 

 NS  Tell us a bit about what in your past prepared you for and led you to this moment in your writing career?
CM  Thanks for having me as your guest today, Nancy. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. I also enjoy considering what is behind the stories I read. Yes, I was the girl who didn’t mind writing book reports. It helps that I love learning. I would go back to school tomorrow if I could afford it.
I didn’t start writing original material until I was a teenager. After my mother’s death, I needed an outlet for my grief. My writing gave me that.  I didn’t seriously pursue writing as a career until I became a stay-at-home mom in 2004. I enrolled in a writing course, began blogging, attended writers conferences and submitted my work. It took time, but I’m glad I persevered.
 NS  Between freelancing, editing  and writing your own books, how much of your day is taken up with the writing profession?
CM  Not enough. I wish I could say I am the dedicated professional who sits and writes something every day. I’m not. I read a lot, especially in the genres I work in. I blog five days a week. Social media also gets attention. I work daily on expanding my reach.  All that said, two or three days a week are dedicated to some aspect of my career.
NS  Everyone wants to know where we get our ideas and inspiration in writing.  Could you address how that happens in your life?
CM  I would probably find it easier to pinpoint what doesn’t inspire my writing. The only time I’ve consciously considered my ideas is when I participated in National Picture Book Idea Month in 2010. The goal was to come up with one new idea for each day of November. A few months later, I turned six of those ideas into stories for Picture Book Writing Week. One of those stories is currently under consideration with my publisher and I am editing the others.
Little Shepherd My first book, Little Shepherd, was inspired by a Christmas carol. A Christmas Kindness will be out this fall. That was inspired by a desire to teach my children the importance of thinking of others. Amelia’s Mission, a middle grade historical, came about as part of a writing workshop. I saw Amelia very clearly in my mind, and her story has taken me a bit by surprise. I love it. The antics of my children, newspaper articles, and community events have also inspired some ideas.
NS   I have worked closely with you on four Pump Up Your Book tours.  You are leaving the organization after some very successful years.  What general new horizons are in your view at the moment?
CM  I still plan to write, but now that my girls are a bit older, I’m returning to the workforce in a larger capacity. Ideally, it will be a career that will allow me to work from home part-time and occasionally in the office.  The evolution of technology allows more opportunities than ever before for work-at-home situations. Having worked from home for five years, I know I can be productive.
Leaving Pump Up Your Book was a difficult decision, because I love promoting and talking about books. I felt the need to diversify my portfolio and see what else God has planned for me. I’ve been praying for guidance.
NS  You’ve had a successful Christmas book, Little Shepherd, and if you can, tell us what’s next for you in terms of your own writing.
My next book will be out this fall under the name C. C. Gevry. Entitled, A Christmas Kindness, it is the story of Robert, who visits the mall Santa on Christmas Eve with his wish list, but ends up asking for a special gift for a new friend instead. I hope it reminds kids that thinking of others is important. This book will be published by 4RV Publishing.

Friends have asked me why I chose a pen name for this book. It boils down to branding. With Little Shepherd I created a “Faith-filled journeys for kids” brand. A Christmas Kindness, while focusing on Christian values, is not a Christian story. I felt it important not to confuse my readers, so I opted for a pen name. The next book in the “Faith-filled journeys for kids” brand is already in the process of being written. It will tackle the topic of bullying.
CM  Thanks again for having me here today, Nancy. I wish you and your readers the best.

NS  Cheryl, it is always such a pleasure to have you as a guest on this blog.  I wish you nothing but the best in this next life adventure.  Please come back and let us know how it is going!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Julia Child's Cat, Minette, is Showcased in New Children's Book

Julia Child's one hundreth birthday is August 15, 2012.  A new book about her cat, Minette, has been published ahead of that event.

Please have a look at the video with Susanna Reich at the bottom of the post.

Susanna Reich’s new book Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat is lovely story about Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child — “a very lucky cat, perhaps the luckiest cat in all of Paris.”

 Reich took the details of Minette’s life from Julia’s autobiography and letters as inspiration for the story. None of the dialogue between Julia and her husband was made up.

When Julia Child and her husband Paul lived in Paris, they adopted a cat and called her Minette. This picture book tells the story of Julia’s cooking adventures through the eyes of Minette. Minette, who was given table scraps and leftovers of food cooked by the not-yet-famous Julia Child, preferred mouse and bird.

Along with Minette’s culinary preferences, children will also discover how Julia Child learned to cook during her years in Paris, how she was introduced to the sights and smells of a kitchen, and how she learned a few French words along the way. There is a glossary and pronunciation guide at the end of the story for the French words that are used.

This is a charming book and a perfect one with which to begin Julia's birthday celebration!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Interview with Linda Murphy, Author of Young Adult Book, Reaper

I am so delighted today to showcase and interview Linda Murphy (LS Murphy) and her soon-to-be released young adult novel, Reaper, published by J. Taylor Publishing.  It's particularly fun to have Linda here, as we are in the same SCBWI critique group in the St. Louis area. 

NS  Please tell the readers when and how your muse came knocking at your door, urging you to write.

L.S. MurphyLM  It’s just something that I’ve always done. When I was a kid, I would tell stories and write them down. I was always jotting down notes, ideas, character sketches, and fragments of stories. 
NS  I know you write and are mainly interested in young adult fiction.  Any thoughts to give another genre a go?  And if so, what?

LM  I also write short fiction when an idea hits me. Sometimes I stray into horror, dark fantasy, and contemporary romance. Odd combo, right?J
 NS Tell us how you organize a typical writing day.

LM  I don’t. Since I work full-time & have a family, my writing time can be sporadic at best. Sometimes I get up at four a.m., sometimes I steal five minutes here and five minutes there. I do what I can when I can.

 NS  Please share with us your writing support group/s.  How do you feel about the merits of critique groups, writing organizations, etc. within your professional life?

LM  The best thing I ever did for my writing career was find a supportive critique group. For years, I harbored the desire to be a writer. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realized I couldn’t encourage her to follow her dreams if I didn’t follow my own.
ReaperI discovered SCBWI and found a critique group through there. Like I said, best thing I ever did. The other authors are supportive, helpful, and encouraging. They are also brutally honest.

NS  I know you have a new agent. Congratulations, and please introduce us.  Share with us information about your debut novel, Reaper, and tell us what is next!

Thanks. I signed with Julia A. Weber with J. A. Weber Literaturagentur last month. I’m so thrilled to have Julia as an agent. She’s wonderful.

Reaper will be released January 7th, 2013 through J. Taylor Publishing. Here’s the blurb:

There's no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.

She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.

It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.

Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.

Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.

Maybe ... just maybe ... that’s okay.

It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.

I have several things in the works, one of which is a YA contemporary novel about a girl who just wants to play baseball.

NS We may contact you at:

Best place, and the most frequent place to find me online, is Twitter:
I’m also on Facebook:
Goodreads is a favorite haunt too:
My blog is:
My email is
You can find my agent at:
And my publisher for Reaper:

Thanks so much, Linda, for the interview.  Here's wishing you the best and brightest future with Reaper and so many more!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Good News for Great Gains in Children's Fiction in 2011

Here is some very good and much needed news for anyone working in the world of publishing for children! 

The second annual edition of BookStats, a collaborative venture between the Book Industry Study Group and the Association of American Publishers, has just been released and brings good news for children’s fiction.

The category had the strongest performance of any trade segment in 2011 – adult or children’s – with sales up 11.9% over 2010, to $2.78 billion. The increase was led by a huge jump in e-book sales, which rose 374.8% to $220.3 million, and a solid performance for hardcover books, whose sales rose 14.7% to $1.29 billion.

 Paperback figures, which combine trade paper and mass market, were fiction’s only soft spot, down 3% to $1.07 billion.

Nonfiction sales also fell slightly, by 2.1%; one contributing factor may be ever-shrinking school and library budgets. Still, the increase in overall sales made the children’s category the fastest growing segment last year, with total sales up 9.4%, to $3.3 billion.

This is the kind of news the publishing world has been wanting and needing for quite a few years.  Let's hope the trend continues.  In that way, everybody wins!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Goodybe to 'Encyclopedia Brown' Author, Donald Sobol

Donald Sobol, author of the children's book series "Encyclopedia Brown," has died at the age of  87.

EncyclopediabrownHe was born in New York and served in World War II. After attending Oberlin College, he worked as a journalist in New York, then left to pursue a writing career in 1951. Although he was having some success, his "Encyclopedia Brown" manuscript was turned down two dozen times before it found a publisher.

Persevere, and don’t take no for an answer. And if you really think [the publishers] are right, then look over the manuscript and polish it a little more.

The first book, "Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective" was published by T. Nelson in 1963. Incredibly popular, Sobol was soon following up with more stories about the 10-year-old Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown and his partner, tomboy Sally Kimball. Eventually, there would be almost 30 books in the series, which has never gone out of print.

Sobol, who tried to remain anonymous, did not give
television interviews and preferred not to be photographed.  In the Oberlin Almnmi Magazine (2011), he said:

I am very content with staying in the background and letting the books do the talking.

So we say goodbye to one of the masters of the chapter book series.  I remember his books fondly from my days of teaching third and fourth grades.  His books were particularly favorites of boys, although I certainly remember girls having fun with his gentle mysteries as well.  Thank you, Mr. Sobol.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bruce Coville – Student Alien by Heather Smith

It is a pleasure to welcome Heather Smith to the blog today.  She will share her thoughts on the favorite author of her childhood, Bruce Coville.

When I was a kid, I loved books about aliens. Anything about space and I was into it. Unfortunately, most of what was written in the sci-fi genre was for adults.

 I was sick of all the romance and the drama. I just wanted something cool that starred a kid like me fighting aliens, going into space, and finding cool new creatures to interact with. That is when I found Bruce Coville’s “My Teacher is an Alien” series.

How cool is that? Not only did he write about aliens, but he wrote about a kid my age dealing with them! After quickly devouring the Teacher’s series, I moved onto another series he wrote about kids and aliens, this time tiny shrunken ones, called “Aliens Ate My Homework”. It was just as cool.

The thing I love about Coville’s works was that he wasn’t just into killing aliens. In fact, I don’t remember any real killing at all. The things he focused on where typical kid problems; rebellion, dealing with absent parents, bullies, and even loneliness. He brought the day to day lives of kids into outer space, and made it an exciting read on top of that.

As a child dealing with some of those issues, I loved escaping reality into his stories and still learning valuable lessons. He didn’t preach at you, instead he showed you the universal truths and how people have learned to deal with them. He made you understand and sympathize with the bad guys, get frustrated with the good guys, and realize that everything isn’t always so black and white.

Like most kids, I didn’t know I was learning as I read, but now that I look back I can see how his books helped me to understand the world around me a little better. If you have kids that love aliens and sci-fi, I highly recommend Bruce Coville’s work.
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to nanny service by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Children's Book "Brick's Way" by D'Brickashaw Ferguson

New York Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson took a break this off season from preparing to protect Mark Sanchez's blind side to write a children's book titled "Brick's Way."

'Denver Broncos vs. New York Jets - 2011' photo (c) 2011, Daniel Spiess - license: book is all about teaching kids about "going green," with D'Brickashaw Ferguson turning into Litte Brick to teach his friends.

 To promote the book, which was released on March 12, D'Brickashaw Ferguson will be having a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Carle Place, NY on July 21.

New York Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is teaching kids about the benefits of "going green" in his book, Brick's Way. D'Brickashaw Ferguson is the star of the story told in the book:
"With the science fair just days away, the only person that can help a group of kids with their project is local football hero D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Transformed into “Little Brick,” his mission is to help teach his new friends about “going green.” Brick tackles the challenge, but will he get back to his football team in time for the big game?"
It's a great cause and something the children need to learn about, and it's something that meshes well with Gang Green. D'Brickashaw Ferguson will be signing copies of Brick's Way at Barnes & Noble in Carle Place, NY on July 21 from 11 am to 12 pm.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jeeves (1996 - 2012)

This is the story of a cat named Jeeves. He didn't belong to us. We belonged to him. 

 For the first time in sixteen years, Jeeves is no longer with us. Yesterday he died of renal failure after a long battle.  He was a gentle fighter and loved his life. He fought for it. We did, too. 

Jeeves was a farm kitten, and he came to us at eleven weeks, thanks to good friends.  He was a grey and white fur ball of fun and affection.  It was immediate love when we saw him, and through the years, he was loved by all who met him.  Never one to bite, scratch or hiss, he was a gentle soul, always.

Jeeves was a "cat" burglar.  He was able to open any cabinet and, when he became bored, he would do just that.  The first time he burgled his own home, we walked in and thought someone had really been there.  He never knew a cabinet he could not open.

Jeeves was a master locksmith.  He was able to open cat proof cages at the vet's or when being boarded.  As the staff would not ever believe us, he always (one time only at each place) was able to work open the lock with his paw and disappear into the room.  Funnily enough, he was found every time in the middle of the dry cat food stacks!

A very social cat, Jeeves loved nothing better than a dinner party.  He always greeted people during drinks.  He sensitively waited until most diners were finished before he slipped around chairs, rubbed legs and generally said hello again.

When everyone had retired to another room, he sat in the middle of the staircase, waiting for someone to tell him hello and, if he were really fortunate, get a pat.

All of this to say, we loved him.  We miss him and will continue to do so.  Jeeves was such an integral part of our family, part of the fabric itself.  Those of you who have been through this trauma (and I know there are many of you, dear readers), understand my need to share Jeeves with you. 

This post is my tribute to him, to his loyalty, to his life.  Goodbye, dear Jeeves. We will never forget you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Social Networking the LinkedIn Way by Donna McDine

It is Monday Marketing with Donna McDine today!  Always so delighted to have Donna with us, and I know you are as well.  Her expertise in all things marketing is so very strong.  Do take advantage of what she has to say here about using Linkedin. 

I know I know I can hear your disgruntled gulp in your throat, “Yikes, another social network to participate in? No way, no how!” I too feel the same way at times, but definitely not with LinkedIn! I don’t want to bore you with boring statistics, but it’s important for you to know…
·         There are over 150 million professionals on LinkedIn.*
·  With over 1 million professionals joining each week, hence two professional join every second.*
·         Members are 2X more confident with information shared on LinkedIn than any other social site.*
·         Members use LinkedIn not only for networking, they are reading business news and studying trends.*
*2012 Social Media Examiner, Mario Sundar
Please don’t fade away, these statistics matter to you. With the confidence level of information shared between members this provides an arena to build your expertise through varying networks. Oftentimes authors (as well as other professionals) fall into the rut of networking with only their peers, when we truly need to broaden our scope beyond our colleagues. LinkedIn if used correctly goes well beyond this and the thought process of only being an online resume.
First, if you haven’t already signup and setup your LinkedIn profile at It’s easy and they provide step by step directions to provide your information. Once you have your profile setup follow these five points to engage with fellow LinkedIn members:

1.      Seek new connections daily and send invites. LinkedIn has a fabulous Advanced People Search broken down into several different categories… keywords, title, location, company, school, first and last name, country, and postal code. (i.e., elementary school teachers, librarians, the list is endless).

2.      Don’t forget to reply back directly to your new connection once confirmation is received (i.e., I’m delighted to connect with you at LinkedIn and look forward to learning more about you).

3.      Research groups of interest the same way for people connections. Join and become active through conversations, questions and answers.

4.      Update your status consistently with a course of action for visitors with either a question or interesting news article (i.e., “New Google table to go against Fire” by Michael Liedtke, Associated Press and include link).

5.      Engage with fellow members by sharing and commenting on their status updates, send private emails, etc.)
Automating your blog and twitter handle feed is okay, but if you don’t engage personally connections will not feel compelled to engage with you. I know for myself, the constant automation of customer service lines, doctor offices, etc., frustrates me to no end. I want to talk to a live person that knows what they are talking about.
Don’t fall into robot automation. Let your personality shine through cyberspace through consistent engagement. I’m sure you will be pleased with your results.
I’m taking August off from guest blogging and will return in September.
Wishing you all a safe, relaxing, and happy summer!
Until next time…
Donna M. McDine

Publicist & Award-winning Children's Author
Donna’s Website:
Write What Inspires You Blog:
Author PR Services:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gary Paulsen--A Master Survivor of Survival Tales

Some may think he's rough around the edges, or even, dare I say, a bit crude?  Perhaps.  His genius, however, is something to behold in books such as Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room, all three of which were Newbery Honor Books.

Gary Paulsen
Illinois Reading Council Conference
March 17, 2012
His books frequently appear on the best books lists of the American Library Association. Who am I referring to? Why, Gary Paulsen, of course.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Paulsen at the Illinois Reading Council Conference in March, 2012, where we were both speakers.  A true character he is, with some good reasons.

Born in Minneapolis in 1939, Mr. Paulsen had no formal education after the age of fourteen when he ran away from home to join a circus. ( I've thought for years that incident sounded like a book in itself!) 
Dogsong Paulsen had a generally rough childhood with alcoholic parents.  He did not meet his father until the age of nine because of World War II.

 He worked on a farm as a youth, worked as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor.  He also had done two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dog sled race, the Iditarod. 

The Winter RoomPaulsen's realization that he would become a writer came suddenly when he was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California.

He spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader, working on his own writing every night. He left California and drove to northern Minnesota where he rented a cabin on a lake. By  winter's, he had completed his first novel.  The rest, as is said, is history.

In listening to his speech at the conference this past spring, I was struck by how every nugget of our lives becomes the true fodder for our books.  Mr. Paulsen's early life was one of constant striving for survival.  It only follows, then, that he is a master of the survival tale.  Kudos to him for surviving and sharing his gift with the world.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Children’s Ezine Guardian Angel Kids: Adoption – July 2012 Issue

Welcome to the July 2012 issue of Guardian Angel Kids Ezine (GAK). This month, GAK is all about a different family experience – adoption, where through a legal process, a person becomes a member of a family different from their birth family.

 Please enjoy all the fun and informative features in this month’s issue and please feel free the GAK link with your friends – and family, too, of course!

Letter from the POETRY EDITOR: Donna J. Shepherd

Featured BookS:

One Nutty Family by James Byers and illustrated by Kevin Collier

Curley the Crooked Christmas Tree by Rodger Pritchett and Mike Webb and illustrated by Jamie Holmes

Children’S poetry, ACTIVITIES, SHORT STORIES, and articleS:

“The Same Difference,” poetry by Shari L. Klase – our differences unites us.

“The Chain of Hearts,” by Susan Harris Sanders and illustrated by Nancy Miller – adoption is a new beginning. 

“The Duck Family Reunion,” by Suzanne Purvis and illustrated by Jack Foster – a young bullfrog discovers he is right where he belongs.

Guardian Angel Kids Ezine“A Basketful of Eggs,” by Shari L. Klase – how birds play a role in adoption of a different sort.

“Teaching Children about Adoption,” by Kathy Stemke – how teaching children about adoption and altering certain activities includes all types of families.

Visit Guardian Angel Kid today and and enjoy a child safe and ad free Ezine. We also invite you to stay connected with Guardian Angel Kids through our Facebook Fan Page

Please feel free to drop Editor-in-Chief, Donna McDine an email at and let them know what you think of Guardian Angel Kids and what you'd like to see in the future. They aim to please.