July 6, 2022

Callaghan Featured in Story Monsters Ink Ahead of My Big Heart-Shaped Fail Release

One to Read: Cindy Callaghan by Melissa Fales

I’m really excited to share the fruits of my recent interview with Story Monsters LLC. It provides some nice insight into my upcoming book My Big Heart-Shaped Fail and delves into experiences and education shaped my current style – including a shout out to Ms. Peters (from Indian Hills High School), a favorite teacher, which is a reminder of the important role teachers play in the future of their students.

April 28, 2018

Callaghan’s SYDNEY MACKENZIE KNOCKS ‘EM DEAD wins Agatha Award.

Wilmington author continues to find magic as Amazon series based on her books enters 3rd season


With a little magic, a Wilmington resident turns her book into an Amazon Original TV series.

After having her third child, Cindy Callaghan decided it was time to stop being a workaholic at the pharmacy. She retired and spent her time penning Just Add Magic. She said that writing has always been a big part of her life and, once she retired, she decided to turn the “phone book filled” with ideas into stories.

“I try to write books that are good, clean fun for girls,” said Callaghan. “My target audience are girls that might not be avid readers, and they can get lost in a story that is a great adventure with some mystery and some twists with a lot of laughs.”

Despite titles like Lost in Paris, Lost in Rome, Lost in Hollywood, Lost in Ireland, and Lost in London–five of her eight books–Callaghan said almost all of her books are set in Delaware.

“I love the idea of drafting them into a product that someone else can consume,” said Callaghan. “And once I had a taste for that publication, I kept moving in that direction.”

Started in 2015, the TV series Just Add Magic features three witches who cook up spells to help them figure out and unlock the secrets and curses that befall their small town. The series is now in its third season.

“When I went to California in 2015… for the filming of the pilot episode, it was just a feeling of awe that is so difficult for me to describe,” said Callaghan. “To see all of these people…there was a whole huge production trying to craft an idea of something that was once in my head.”

In addition, Callaghan said that her book Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ‘em Dead is about a southern California girl whose family inherited an old home with a cemetery in Delaware, and when Sydney arrives, she starts to discover all the mysterious things about their new home.

“Not only [does the book take place] in Delaware, but the story therein is rooted in research that I did of something that could’ve potentially and hypothetically happened in Delaware,”

Callaghan said she loves writing, creating, and drafting, but her favorite part is when she gets to read the last chapter and being able to see all of the different treads of mystery, the setting, and the character’s personality converge.

“All comes together in sort of a neat bow at the end and it literally gives me chills and it’s a great, great feeling,”

Callaghan is currently working on her next novel, which will be published in 2019.


The 2017 Agatha Nominations

Best Contemporary Novel

Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook (Crooked Lane Books)
A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
No Way Home: A Zoe Chambers Mystery by Annette Dashofy  (Henery Press)
Take Out by Margaret Maron  (Grand Central Publishing)
Glass Houses: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny  (Minotaur Books)

Best Historical Novel
In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen  (Lake Union Publishing)

Murder in an English Village: A Beryl and Edwina Mystery by Jessica Ellicott  (Kensington)
Called to Justice:A Quaker Midwife Mystery by Edith Maxwell  (Midnight Ink)

The Paris Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal  (Bantam)
Dangerous to Know: A Lillian Frost and Edith Head Novel by Renee Patrick  (Forge)

Best First Novel
Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery by Micki Browning  (Alibi-Random House)

The Plot is Murder: Mystery Bookshop by V.M. Burns  (Kensington)
Hollywood Homicide: A Detective by Day Mystery by Kellye Garrett  (Midnight Ink)
Daughters of Bad Men by Laura Oles  (Red Adept Publishing)
Protocol: A Maggie O’Malley Mystery by Kathleen Valenti  (Henery Press)

Best Nonfiction

From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström  (Mysterious Press)
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards  (Poisoned Pen Press)
American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse  (Liveright Publishing Corp.)
Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction by Jess Lourey  (Conari Press)
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay  (St. Martin’s Press)

Best Short Story

Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer  (Henery Press)
“Whose Wine is it Anyway” by Barb Goffman  in 50 Shades of Cabernet (Koehler Books)
“The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place” by Debra Goldstein in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017)
“The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn” by Gigi Pandian  (Henery Press)
“A Necessary Ingredient” by Art Taylor in Cost to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Seat (Down & Out Books)

Best Children’s/Young Adult

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino  (Polis Books)
Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead by Cindy Callaghan  (Aladdin)
The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson  (HarperCollins)

Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson  (Scholastic Press)
The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley  (Scholastic Press)

Congratulations to all of the nominees! The Malice Board would like to thank everyone who participated in the Agatha nomination process. Agatha ballots with this list of nominees will be included in the registration bags at Malice Domestic 30 (April 27 – 29). The completed ballots will be counted during the convention and the winners announced at the Agatha Banquet on Saturday evening. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you there and to celebrating Malice’s 30th year.
Happy Reading,
The Malice Board

Amazon Prime Conjures More of Cindy Callaghan’s “Just Add Magic”

Third Season of the Streaming Service’s Series Based on Delaware Author’s Novel for Tweens Premiers Jan. 19


Cindy Callaghan 

Jan 10, 2018, 11:33 ET

WILMINGTON, Del., Jan. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Delaware author Cindy Callaghan, by her own admission, was not an enthusiastic childhood reader.

It’s a little ironic, then, that through her tween-centric novels beginning with “Just Add Magic,” she’s been able to get reluctant pre-teen readers to devour her chapter books and come back looking for more.

“More” has included six additional tween novels – the five volumes of the mega-popular “Lost In” books and the spooky mystery tale “Sydney Mackenzie Knocks Em Dead” – as well as the successful Amazon Prime TV adaptation of “Just Add Magic,” which begins its third season on the streaming service Jan. 19.

In “Just Add Magic,” main character Kelly Quinn and her two friends discover a dusty old cookbook while cleaning out her attic. When the girls decide to try a few of the mysterious recipes inside, they realize that their dishes are linked to strange occurrences.

“The show has been amazingly successful and has reached lots of potential readers,” Callaghan says. “I’m so glad reluctant readers are getting exposed to it, and by extension the book and the gift of reading.”

In fact, she says, she frequently hears during school visits, via personal fan email, and through comments on Amazon.com that the TV show has inspired pre-teens to seek out her books when they would have otherwise been reluctant to read at all.

“They’re appreciative that their children have gotten involved in reading as a result of seeing the show,” Callaghan says.

In August, the long-awaited sequel to “Just Add Magic” will finally hit shelves. “Potion Problems” follows Kelly Quinn and her friends as they try to retrieve the missing magical cookbook, save a beloved local store, and rescue their school’s cooking program, due to be eliminated thanks to budget cuts.

A New Jersey native (she grew up in Franklin Lakes and is a graduate of Indian Hills High School in Oakland) and Delawarean since 1990, the University of Delaware undergrad and masters graduate frequently uses a fictionalized version of Wilmington, Del., and other areas in the state as settings for her novels.

“What I like about using Delaware is that it’s representative of a lot of suburban areas across the country,” she says. “In ‘Sydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead,’ I created the sleepy Delaware town of Buttermilk River Cove. The mystery of BRC is rooted in actual Delaware history. I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil it.”

When it comes to writing, she’s inspired to create similar stories to those that initially inspired her. Though much of her high school and undergraduate reading fell under the “required” category, she discovered a love of fast-paced thrillers by authors like Michael Connelly and John Grisham. Her goal with her own books is to bring that same sense of page-turning intensity to tween fiction.

“I love page-turners, and I believe that style resonates with tweens growing up in a click-bait culture. That is, they’re always lured to the next thing. In this case, I lure them to turn the page.”

What’s next for Callaghan? To follow the paperback launch of “Sydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead” in March, and the “Potion Problems” release in August, Callaghan is already drafting her 2019 release from Simon & Schuster, “Saltwater Summers,” set at the Jersey Shore, another place Callaghan holds dear to her heart. While penning that ninth novel, she’s submitting fresh concepts to both publishers and studios, hoping to strike the next deal.

Fast Facts

  • Before transferring to the University of Delaware, Callaghan studied at the University of Southern California with aspirations of becoming a film writer. When possible, she catches a Trojan game while in L.A. for business.
  • Her college roommate recommended the film agent who sealed the “Just Add Magic” deal with Amazon.
  • Before writing professionally, Callaghan had a full-time, high-pressure career in the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 20 years.
  • In her novel “Lost in Paris,” the protagonist is from Philadelphia’s Main Line, a shout-out to the appreciative audiences she encountered during a school visit there.
  • For more about Cindy Callaghan, visit cindycallaghan.com.

Contact: Scott Pruden, 610-453-1669, scottpruden@gmail.com

SOURCE Cindy Callaghan

Related Links


March 2017

Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead Gets Reviews From Two Book Vloggers.

May 3, 2017

Deal Blurb From Publisher’s Marketplace:

Callaghan’s sequel to JUST ADD MAGIC, and SALTWATER SUMMER to Alyson Heller at Aladdin, deal by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group.

… a haunted house in a cemetery, a seance, and a secret locket: A review of Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead…

Feb 20, 2017

Goth Gardening says, “I’ll be honest; I picked the book because of the cover and then kept it because of the first line: “Even though I hated vampires and just about anything scary, I’d seen Fangs for You five times.””.  Read the rest of the review...

March 8, 2017

Some books take longer to find publication than others.  Read about SYDNEY MACKENZIE KNOCKS ‘EM DEAD’s longer road to the book shelf at WeHeartWriting.com.

March, 2017

SYDNEY MACKENZIE KNOCKS ‘EM DEAD Makes the Culturalist:  Mysterious Middle Grade Reads Perfect for Spring Break. 

Top 5 Middle Grade Reads Of March

March 7, 2017

The vacation that we’ve all been waiting for since returning to school in January is finally here: spring break! In need of a new read for the occasion? Check out these March middle grade releases that are guaranteed to be the perfect addition to your spring break reading list!

Exclusive Cover Reveal – Lost in Hollywood!

January 15, 2016

“Fans of Cindy Callaghan‘s books — including LOST IN ROME, LOST IN PARIS and LOST IN LONDON — should rejoice, because she’s working on a new book, LOST IN HOLLYWOOD! [Read more…]”

Olivia Sanabia Talks Her New Show on Amazon Prime

March 18, 2015

“Amazon’s new series Just Add Magic is cooking up a lot of interest among TV fans, and we were lucky enough to chat with Olivia Sanabia from the brand new series! [Read more…]”

10 Amazing Books Written By Female Authors

March 17, 2015

“International Women’s Day may have passed, but that doesn’t mean the awareness needs to stop! This post is all about the girl power! Here are some of my favorite books written by some fantastic female authors. [Read more…]”

14 Spring Break Books for Your Family, Your Friends and You

March 1, 2015

“Spring is upon us, and we’ve rounded up 14 must-read titles for just about everyone. From the history buff to the romantic to the environmentalist—we’ve got you covered! [Read more …]”

Amazon Orders 5 Original Series Including ‘Man In The High Castle,’ ‘Mad Dogs’

February 18, 2015

The kids series going forward are Just Add Magic, for the 6-11 set, and The Stinky & Dirty Show, for preschoolers.Magic is based on Cindy Callaghan’s YA book and adapted by Joanna Lewis & Kristine Songco (Sullivan & Son). [Read more…]

Amazon Greenlights 5 Series, Renews ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ for Season 2

February 18, 2015

“Just Add Magic”: Aimed at kids 6-11, show is based on Cindy Callaghan’s young adult book of the same name and adapted by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco (“Sullivan & Son,” “Fairly Odd Parents”). Single-camera live-action pilot was directed by Joe Nussbaum (“George Lucas in Love,” “Awkward”). Story centers on a girl and her two friends who stumble on her grandmother’s mysterious cookbook in the attic — and discover it has some interesting recipes. Show stars Olivia Sanabia (“Extant”), Abby Donnelly (“Suburgatory”), Aubrey Miller (“Austin & Ally”) and Judah Bellamy (“Home”). [Read more…]”

Amazon Orders Full Seasons for 5 New Shows

February 18, 2015

“The company announced Wednesday that it had given the green light to five new series, including The Man in the High Castle (an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel), The New Yorker Presents (a television approach to the magazine’s content), the dark comedy Mad Dogs and the kids’ programs Just Add Magic and The Stinky & Dirty Show. [Read more…]”

Amazon Orders 5 New Series Including ‘Man in the High Castle’

February 18, 2015

“The pilots that received full-season commitments are Shawn Ryan‘s Mad Dogs,Ridley Scott‘s The Man in the High CastleAlex Gibney‘s docuseriesThe New Yorker Presents, and kids’ shows Just Add Magic and The Stinky & Dirty Show. Full seasons of those shows will premiere on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video later this year and in 2016. [Read more…]”

Amazon green lights five series, renews ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ for season 2

February 18, 2015

“The five new series are: “The Man in the High Castle, based on the Philip K. Dick alternative history novel of the same name; hour-long dark comedy “Mad Dogs”; docu-series “The New Yorker Presents”; and kids’ shows “Just Add Magic” and “The Stinky & Dirty Show.” [Read more…]”

The Kids’ Book That Amazon Is Turning Into a TV Pilot

February 9, 2015

Just Add Magic, by bestselling middle-grade author Cindy Callaghan, is included in Amazon’s 2015 pilot season. Amazon will host the pilot episodes online for a limited amount of time and will decide which pilots to green-light into an entire series based on the viewers’ response. We sat down with Cindy to hear more about this entire experience, what it’s like seeing her book come to life, and how we can help. [Read more…]”

Shawn Ryan, Carlton Cuse Dramas Among Amazon Pilots to Bow Jan. 15

January 6, 2015

“Just Add Magic (for children ages 6-11)
Based on Cindy Callaghan’s young adult book of the same name and adapted by Joanna Lewis & Kristine Songco (Sullivan & Son, Fairly Odd Parents, My Little Pony), Just Add Magic is a single-camera live-action pilot directed by Joe Nussbaum (George Lucas in Love, Awkward). The story centers on Kelly Quinn and her two BFF’s, Darbie and Hannah, who stumble upon her grandmother’s mysterious cookbook in the attic and discover it has some interesting recipes. The Shut’em Up Shortcake actually silences Kelly’s pesky little brother and when the Healing Hazelnut Tart quickly heals Darbie’s ankle, the girls discover they have the power of magic. The project stars Olivia Sanabia (Extant), Abby Donnelly (Suburgatory), Aubrey Miller (Austin & Ally), and Judah Bellamy (Home). [Read more…]”

Amazon Sets Premiere Date for First 2015 Pilot Season

January 1, 2015

“…and Just Add Magic, based on the young adult book of the same name by Cindy Callaghan, which was adapted by Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco (Sullivan & Son, Fairly Odd Parents and My Little Pony) and directed by Awkward‘s Joe Nussbaum. [Read more…]”

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