I didn’t start out my career planning to write for children. Not that I didn’t think I would enter that market at some point; God knows the children He has blessed me with give me plenty of inspiration. I just wasn’t interested in writing for young people when I left Corporate America in 2004 to pursue my dream.
Reading mostly non-fiction for years, I decided to enter the Breaking into Print program offered by Long Ridge Writers Group and focus on article writing. I graduated in December 2005 and began writing time management and organization articles for monthly online magazines. Time management and organization always came easy to me, so it was a natural fit.
I also picked up a women’s fiction manuscript that I had been working on for the last decade with my sister and committed to finishing it. It felt great to type, “The End”. Then the project stalled during the editing process, my sister moved out of state, and we couldn’t seem to hook up and get the edits finished.
So, I moved on.
November 2006 arrived and I was ready to try my hand at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. I had an idea that stewed in my brain for a few years and I was going to make it a reality. Preliminary research done, I steamed ahead on November 1st. Made it through seven chapters, but couldn’t quite move forward without additional research. This wasn’t the kind of book a pantser could pull off easily.
NaNoWriMo came and went, but I still thought my idea was good: a shepherd who leaves home to seek out the apostles after the Resurrection of Jesus to find out if He was the Savior he had met on the night of the Messiah’s birth.
I started talking to my pastor about the story and he said, “This is a kid’s book?” I told him it wasn’t, but my mind just wouldn’t let my pastor’s words go. Why couldn’t this book be about the night that Obed meets Jesus? That doesn’t mean I couldn’t write my original idea later.
And so, Little Shepherd was born. It tells the story of five-year old Obed, who is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angel appears. He wants to see the newborn King, but is afraid to leave his flock unattended. Some wise words from his father, meeting the Holy Family, and what he sees upon his return to the fields, leads Obed to know it is a night of miracles.
I’m currently at work on a middle grade historical and came up with 30 new picture book ideas during Picture Book Idea Month in November. I am also putting the finishing touches on a first chapter reader that a publisher has expressed an interest in.
I might not have intended to write for children when I started out, but I sure am enjoying it. While I haven’t abandoned the ideas roaming around my mind for an older audience, I think I’ll stay here awhile and see what develops.
Sometimes, change is good.
LITTLE SHEPARD excerpt:
Off in the distance, a wolf howled. Obed moved closer to his flock, scanning the hills for any sign of a pack that might race in and steal his sheep. His family depended upon the sheep for food and their wool for clothing. No sheep would be lost under his watch.
He shivered inside his cloak. While the days were getting warmer, the nights still chilled him. He walked over to the large fire blazing inside the pit. He rubbed his hands together and held them up to the fire to warm them.
Above him, the sky twinkled with millions of stars. Obed couldn’t remember a night so clear.
Suddenly, a bright light filled the sky.
Obed trembled. “Father, what is happening?”
His father dropped to the ground, his right hand blocking his eyes from the intense light.
Obed pulled the edges of his cloak closer to his face as he squinted up at the mysterious form hovering overhead. He shivered, but this time it was not because of the cold.
Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.
Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.