Allison's Book Bag

Author Archive

In the spring of 2015, Rebecca Grose of SoCal Public Relations contacted me about reviewing a children’s book. I don’t know if this was her first request, but it’s the first I have saved. Since then, she’s contacted me about several other books including Seashell Day by Diane Ochiltree, which won the “Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Children’s Literature. Over the few years that we’ve corresponded, Rebecca has become familiar with my reading tastes. These days I might even a book in my mail that she’s sent on the hunch that I’d enjoy it. In fact, I received one today! Thus, I thought it fitting for my readers to know a little more about Rebecca Gross herself.

ALLISON: Looking back at your childhood, what kind of character would you be in a book?

REBECCA: Definitely inquisitive, precocious, and maybe just a little bossy. 😉 I’d want to help the other characters in the book in one way or another, but also be their friend. And I’d be very talkative!

ALLISON: As an adult, what do you most like to do? (Your photos suggest sports?)

REBECCA: I’m definitely not into sports—although I used to play tennis regularly in college—and enjoy bocce ball, ping pong, and occasionally go boating.

Mostly, I like to spend time with friends and take advantage of all the wonderful activities that San Diego has to offer. We dine out, meet for drinks, or attend various events around town (there’s always something fun going on) like trolley tours, new venue openings, etc. Just recently my friend and I went to the inaugural San Diego Festival of Books (modeled after the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books). It was a great turnout for being its first year, and I was able to say hello to old friends, including a few San Diego authors.

ALLISON: Why did you get into promoting authors?

REBECCA: It wasn’t something I went after at the start (I wanted to be in advertising!), but serendipity led me to my first job in publishing (a small publisher in San Diego—Oak Tree Publications—no longer in business). And once I got a taste of working within the publishing industry, and specifically, the privilege of working with authors and helping spread the word about their wonderful books… I was hooked!

ALLISON: What advice would you give to newcomers to public relations/marketing?

REBECCA: Explore different aspects of the business and find your niche—something you’re interested in that you’ll want to pursue as your career for many years to come. In doing so, you’ll build relationships within your field and a strong reputation that will continue to carry you as far as you’d like to go.

ALLISON: How did you land positions with publishing companies?

REBECCA: I had experience from previously working at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (now Harcourt, part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) in San Diego, and asked friends for a few New York publishing contacts. When I moved to New York to pursue more opportunities in publishing, I was able to interview for an entry-level position with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. I worked my way up over four years, and then from there, it was easier to leverage my experience to climb the ladder at other publishers (HarperCollins and DK Publishing).

ALLISON: What’s something authors should know about agents?

REBECCA: They receive a lot of inquiries from authors seeking representation that isn’t right for them. It’s important to research the agents to whom you’re submitting material, and only send to those that handle your genre/age levels. You’ll be much more successful that way!

ALLISON: Do you prefer print or electronic books? Why?

REBECCA: Always print! It feels great holding the book in your hands, and actually turning the pages yourself. Everyone should try it if they haven’t yet!!

ALLISON: How do you find a balance between having quiet time and being on social media?

REBECCA: Actually, I only use social media for work. I’d rather see my friends in person or talk with them on the phone.

ALLISON: If you could live anywhere, what place would you choose? Why?

REBECCA: That’s easy! I would live in Hawaii. For many years, it was a dream of mine to visit Hawaii and I finally had an opportunity to vacation there in 2010. It’s extremely beautiful, so lush, and the ocean temperature is very warm. Plus, the people are all so friendly. Simply heaven! I never wanted to leave. But reality set in, and I came to the conclusion that it just wouldn’t work for me.

ALLISON: What’s something on your bucket list? Why?

REBECCA: I’ve never made a bucket list, but since I was in my teens I had always dreamed of going to Italy and Hawaii. I went to Italy in 2001, and it was fantastic—everything I had hoped it would be and more! Then I went to Hawaii in 2010, as previously mentioned. So, I’ve been lucky enough to fulfill my dreams!

Rebecca Grose has been a freelance publicist since she started her own literary p.r. firm, SoCal Public Relations in San Diego in 2003. Prior to that, Rebecca worked in New York at several major publishing houses—Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, HarperCollins Children’s Books, DK Publishing—and with many distinguished authors including Alice Walker, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, E.L. Konigsburg, Walter Dean Myers, and more. She began her career with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (now Harcourt, part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) when they had an office in San Diego.

Specializing in Children’s and Young Adult books, she’s launched successful media campaigns with author/illustrator appearances on national and local television/radio, interviews and features in national magazines/major newspapers across the country, and blog/online media coverage.

She also schedules author tours, trade show/festival appearances, and local bookstore events. Rebecca works closely with each author or illustrator to create and strategize an effective, personalized publicity campaign.

Links/Contact Info:


CINDER: Cinder here!

RAINY: No, Rainy here!

CINDER: If you’re helping write this post, then Bootsie should be here too.

RAINY: But she’s asleep!

CINDER: And Barnaby should be here.

RAINY: But he’s looking out the window and barking at nothing.

BARNABY: Ruff! I’m here.

BOOTSIE: Yawn! The sun feels so good.

RAINY: Now can we write?!

From the Cat Trio and the Solitary Dog….

As we write this, we’re looking out our bay window onto the backyard with its giant maple tree. There’s a squirrel stealing another tomato from the vegetable garden and two blue jays bickering on the back fence. We’ve been living in our new home for over a month! There have been ups and downs, but now we’re finally feeling settled.

The first days our owners kept us confined to one room. They knew we needed time to adapt, but I think they also wanted to keep us out from underfoot. They finally let us out because we kept meowing and they didn’t want to lose another night of sleep.

RAINY: I was the first out of the room!

CINDER: You were the noisiest one. And you wouldn’t leave their plants alone.

RAINY: Hey, I slept some of the time. And you meowed too!

CINDER: I was the second out of the room! And you only went to sleep when Allison came into the room with us. Even then, you didn’t sleep long. She had to put a pillow by the door to keep you from scratching it. You’re a pest.

RAINY: We all wanted to explore! Remember how we sneaked past the box at the foot of the stairs and checked out the upstairs?

BOOTSIE: That was fun!

RAINY: And remember how we sneaked into the basement when they forgot to close the door?

BOOTSIE: We did?

CINDER: Well, we might have done that without you. I think you were off hiding in the cat tower.

BOOTSIE: I really like the cat towers.

RAINY: Those were some of the “ups”. Should we write about the “downs”?

CINDER: Why not? You were the one who threw up. And kept getting yourself locked in closets. And….

RAINY: We all threw up at least once. Moving is a HUGE change! And the dog is the one who kept peeing in the house….

BARNABY: I get excited watching all the action outside! The living room window is the best!

CINDER: You should join us on the bench in the dining room. The bay window is the best.

BARNABY: There are more people and dogs and cats out front. And the bench is too high for me.

RAINY: Can you believe the people next door have a cat that looks like me? And that our owners have petted it?

BOOTSIE: Why shouldn’t they pet it? They like cats.

CINDER: But they’re our owners!

BOOTSIE: You get jealous about everything.

CINDER: And you get scared of everything.

BOOTSIE: Do not!

RAINY: Yawn! I love how the sun shines through the back door. It makes me want to roll over and sleep. Can we post this now?!

BARNABY: Shhh! I think they’re home.

RAINY: We didn’t write about the visitors.

CINDER: Our owners are almost over their colds. Maybe they’ll want to write about that?

BOOTSIE: I like this photo where we’re all together with Allison.

CAT TRIO & BARNABY: Thanks for reading our story!

Want to start your week off with a smile? Visit Comedy Plus or Burnt Food Dude and see what others are sharing today.

With almost 80 million households in the United States owning a pet as of 2015, it should come as no surprise that our calendar year is filled with holidays celebrating our animal companions. These holidays might be a little too obscure to grant anyone a day off from work, but they still might give ideas about how to have fun with or honor pets. Last year to help Lincoln Animal Ambassadors visitors keep track of those very special dates, I began posting information about them. Here are links to all of the events you might have missed in August.

National Pet Memorial Day: Throughout history, pets have been loyal companions. In recent times, pets have also come to be viewed as friends, family members, and even “kids”. National Pet Memorial Day offers an opportunity for pet owners to honor beloved pets who are gone but never forgotten. Celebrated on the second Sunday in September, this special event was established by the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (IAOPCC).

Puppy Mill Awareness Day: The goal behind Puppy Mill Awareness Day is to draw attention to the poor conditions found at many commercial breeding facilities: overcrowded kennels, inadequate supply of clean water and healthy food, and the lack of veterinarian care. On the Puppy Mill Awareness Day site, you can find a list of ways to help animals in this condition.

Responsible Dog Ownership: Observed annually on the third Saturday in September, Responsible Dog Ownership Day encourages owners to make a promise of loyalty to their pet. As part of doing so, owners should educate themselves about pet care. They should know how to handle the size, temperament, and energy level of their pet. They should also know how to provide for their pet’s general well-being and for their pet’s medical care. Pets bring many benefits to our lives but also depend on people for their care. This makes us responsible for them.

Dogs in Politics: The most unusual origin of a September calendar date is that of Dogs in Politics. On September 23, 1952, vice president candidate Richard Nixon gave a televised and radio-broadcast speech to refute charges that he had used campaign funds for personal use. In what’s known as the “Checkers Speech,” Nixon stated that he intended to keep one gift, a donation that had been sent to his family as a personal gift: a black-and-white dog that had been named Checkers by the Nixon children, thus giving the speech its popular name.

World Rabies Day: World Rabies Day? Who wants to celebrate rabies? Well, some ‘holidays’ are about awareness rather than celebration. Although only a few people die annually in the United States of rabies, there were more than 6,000 reported case of animal rabies in 2014. Moreover, rabies kills over 55,000 people worldwide each year.

Missing from my roundup is: Deaf Dog Awareness Week and Remember Me Thursday.

To read more, check out Pet Calendar Dates. There you’ll find details not only about the above, but about pet-related dates that fall throughout the rest of the year.


Time for my parents to visit!

In the twenty years since I’ve moved to the Midwest, my family has been here just for my wedding. Otherwise, I’ve always been the one to travel to Newfoundland to see everyone. This past Friday my parents flew from Canada to visit Andy and I. Since then, it’s been a full week of introducing them to my life in the Midwest.

For starters, we showed them our new house. Every room except two are unpacked! They also got to meet our three cats and see our dog again. The first day we were all tired, us from moving and them from travel. We slept a lot!

On the days it rained, we used the time to show them where we work. Andy works at our local university as a programmer and as tech support for test software. I’m employed with a church as an administrative assistant. We also used the time to take them shopping for groceries, pet food, and some special meals. At the pet store, my parents got to see how fun ferret can be.  Cheese and crackers from across the world was one of the special meals we ate. In addition, Andy and I took them to our favorite bakery for fruity desserts. Finally, we used the time to attend church and to play games.

On the days the sun shone, we took them to some of our favorite tourist spots. They saw our local zoo. One of the wild birds took a fancy to my step-mom, perhaps because of her red nail polish, and even sat on her lap. They saw our local safari park. The wolves were particularly active. The park has seven of them. The wolves played, explored, and rested. They saw our local gardens. Painted lady butterflies are migrating through our state this fall and were plentiful on the flowers. They also got to see one of our local malls. My step-mom and I brought matching purses. Finally, we all have taken a couple of walks around our neighborhood.

The weekend lies ahead. We’ve got a few more activities planned, but also intend to just hang out by watching television and chatting on whatever topic arises. Thanks to my family for making the trip. I’ve been happy and proud to show them my life.



Alphabet books are popular because they are good at teaching letters. With so many available, how do you choose between them? Click Clack ABC by Doreen Cronin introduces ABCs through a fast-paced story about farm animals preparing for a picnic. At times, the style is so frenetic that the plot is hard to follow. By drawing on characters from her best-selling picture books, Cronin ensures readers will feel comfortable. She also infuses clever alliteration. The result is a fun and educational tale.

From Alyssa Capucilli comes Biscuit, a sweet yellow puppy. Ten of his innocent and charming adventures have been collected into a sturdy cloth-bound book titled Biscuit Storybook Collection. Part of the I Can Read imprint, these stories are perfect for new and emergent readers, while also enjoyable for adults. The plot has a formulaic style that sometimes results in a forced twist. Nonetheless, I wanted to pull Biscuit right out of the pages and cuddle him. Even when he causes trouble, he’s such a winsome puppy. Biscuit tries repeatedly to please his young owner and doesn’t have a mean bone in his small body. His antics are irresistible!

Humor, mystery, and romance abound in two titles by Sarah Weeks: Pie and Honey. The titles are also unified by themes of family, death, and pets. In Pie, Alice’s Aunt Polly takes her world-famous pie crust recipe to her grave. Or does she? The search for the lost recipe leads one person to ransack Polly’s shop, another person to steal her cat, and another to question residents. In Honey, Melody doesn’t mind not having a mother until she overhears her dad call someone ‘Honey’. Has her dad fallen in love with someone? Who could it be? No one will answer these questions. Nor will they talk about her mom. Melody’s story alternates with a story of a dog that has concerns of his own. When secrets are revealed in both titles, lives are forever changed.

Reprinted with permission from Lincoln Kids. This article is original in content and not to be reproduced without permission. Copyright 2017.

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Fall 2017

This fall I will be on hiatus except to post family news. Stay tuned!



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