Category Archives: Author Visits

Barnes & Noble Presents MOM ME

Barnes & Noble Presents MOM ME

Barnes & Noble Presents MOM ME

Barnes & Noble presents MOM ME! As guest author at Barnes & Noble’s last week, I got to meet and tell many many parents, kids, grandparents, and aunts about MOM ME. This colorful picture book is the story of a kid who wants to play with mom but doesn’t always know how (They figure it out!).

Barnes & Noble Showcases MOM ME

MOM ME and Son

I met toddlers marching confidently around the store while I autographed a book for their mom. infants snuggled in father front packs reached for the story in their daddy’s hand. Grand dads and grandmothers shopped for birthday and Mother’s day gifts. Aspiring writers – young and old asked questions about writing MOM ME. New moms with young ones in strollers stopped for a look at the MOM ME table. My favorite shopper was a mom-to-be planning to read MOM ME to her belly during the next four months of pregnancy.

Michelle, the mom in waiting, quoted her favorite online review of MOM ME, written by my sister. It said, “Totally impressed with my sister Jenn’s new book, Mom*Me … It’s really great, the kind of book I’d buy even if she wasn’t my sister. Course she is, so that means I get to buy a couple of copies.”

Barnes & Noble Presents MOM ME

Baby Walker hears MOM ME!

If you’re in the Bay Area and looking for a Mother’s Day gift, MOM ME is available at Wooden Horse, Los Gatos, Compass Books, San Francisco, and Leigh’s Favorite Books, Sunnyvale. You can also order from, If you’d like a signed copy, buy direct from my website,, or the publisher, MOM ME is also carried at Books Link, in Northampton, MA, Ashfield Hardware Store, Ashfield, MA, Buffalo Books, Ithaca, NY, and Hearthfire Books of Evergreen, Evergreen, CO.

It was fabulously fun to sign for Jane Rae, Josiah, Thea, Arya, Sasha, Alek, Charlotte, Aadhya, Berlin, Jonathan, Angelina, Emmanuel, Parker, Luis, Miguel, Jocelyn, Sofia, Saul, Sarah, Amelia, Ava Grace, Michelle, Baby Walker, Nevi, La Li, Leah Marie, Brooklyn, Clay, and Jonathan.

Typing these names here, I can still picture many of you participating in a great day of Barnes & Noble bookstore connecting! Thank you for being a part of my afternoon!

Barnes & Noble Presents MOM ME

MOM ME at Barnes&Noble

Barnes & Noble Presents MOM ME

Family of 3 Reads MOM ME

Giggles At Screen Free Week

Mother's Day adviceAsked by Wooden Horse owner Kevin Mukai what can you do without a screen, kids said, “Swing on the swings, dig in the sand box, play a game, eat, read a book,” and “build a robot.” Launching the Wooden Horse’s annual Screen Free Week was Elementary School Teacher Susan Shirley reading stories in her lovely performing way as some 25 kids and parents listened entranced at the Wooden Horse Pajama Party. I also got to read MOM ME and hear familiar giggles from kids and parents on hearing that first line, “My mommy is not a…” What a fun night at the Wooden Horse. If you’re local, visit the shop on Thursday for a game night when a special guest appears.

Raising a Passionate Reader

Please welcome Alina Sayre, my guest blogger for today. Here’s her post.

IMG_0189I’ve loved books since I was old enough to chew on them. I learned to read early and sometimes got in trouble for reading while doing chores or reading under the covers by flashlight. But not every kid has the love of reading so hard-wired into them. As an educator and middle-grades author, I’ve worked with some students who find reading prohibitively difficult, and others who just find it boring or pointless. But I believe that with guidance, encouragement, and strategy, any student can learn not just to read well, but to love reading. Here are ten tips I’ve found effective for baiting, hooking, and reeling even the most reluctant kids into a lifetime of passionate reading.

  1. Start them a little below their reading level. A student may technically be capable of reading a 5th– or 6th-grade-level book, but if you want to get them to love reading, there’s nothing like the experience of mastering a 3rd-grade-level book to encourage them to repeat the experience.
  2. Find books on subjects that interest them. If your student can forget about the vehicle of words and get lost in a fascinating story, they’re well on their way to passionate reading. I start a lot of my reluctant-reader students on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl because really, who wouldn’t be interested in a lifetime supply of chocolate? Some other popular choices, especially for boys, include Holes by Louis Sachar, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The Call of the Wild by Jack London.
  3. Read aloud with them. Almost every kid loves being read to—even if their personal reading level is low. It gives you an opportunity to dramatize the story and help grow their imagination. It also offers auditory learners a leg up in content retention.
  4. Bring books to life with firsthand experiences. C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came to life in a whole new way when I bit into a piece of real Turkish Delight. One of my students took a trip to Europe, during which her highlight was seeing the real Baker Street of the fictional Sherlock Holmes. Try visiting the ruins of Jack London’s Wolf House near Napa or making Laura Ingalls’s maple syrup candy.
  5. Let them see you reading. Recent research shows a correlation between a child’s attitude toward reading and how much they see their parents reading. If you want to raise a passionate reader, be one.
  6. Have books available in your home. Stock up your bookshelves and your Kindle library. If money is tight, check out a little red wagonload of books from the library. Research also shows a correlation between the number of books in a child’s home and their attitudes toward reading.
  7. Read books with movie adaptations. Read the book, then watch the movie. Discuss the similarities and differences. This works especially well for visual and auditory learners, who process the sense stimulation of movies differently than they do books.
  8. Remember that all reading is reading. While comic books may not be your ultimate goal for your student, they can be tools for growing language skills and sparking interest in reading (see tip #2). Imagination is a muscle that must be developed, so there’s no shame in starting small.
  9. Try audiobooks. Auditory learners and kids with learning challenges such as ADHD or dyslexia may fall in love with a story once the bothersome impediment of the visual page is removed. (For more resources specifically for dyslexia, check out Audiobooks are just different vehicles for communicating the same stories.
  10. Take your student to see a real live writer. Author events abound at libraries, bookstores, and schools. (I’ll be a guest at Village House of Books in Los Gatos on 12/13! Meeting the person behind a book can inspire a student to dive into reading—or maybe even to try making up their own stories.


About Alina:

Alina Sayre is a Bay Area author and educator who began her literary career chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Her fantasy series, The Voyages of the Legend, helps kids ages 9-14 (and sometimes their parents) get excited about reading! Book 1, The Illuminator’s Gift, was a silver medalist in the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and has been a guest at a number of schools and literacy events. On December 1 it was joined by Book 2, The Illuminator’s Test, now available on To invite Alina to speak at your school, homeschool group, or literary event, please visit her website: When she’s not writing, Alina enjoys photography, collecting crazy socks, and reading under blankets.

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Let’s connect!






Author Community Gathers at the Village

On May 3, I joined 14 authors in Los Gatos at Village House of Books to talk about writing and sign books. It was lovely to be surrounded by a community of authors and people who enjoy books and book stores. At left, I’m signing MOM ME for mom to Alina Sayre, author of The Illuminator’s Gift. At left, I’m signing for A.R. Silverberry, author of Wyndano’s Cloak. At bottom, book store visitor Susan Miller, Rayme Waters, author of The Angels’ Share, and I discuss writing and teaching.

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MOM ME Fills The House

village pics

MOM ME found a village at Village House of Books on April 24, when I returned to the Los Gatos bookstore for a debut reading of Thought Full, on Thought Full is a series of blogs about parenting, homeschooling, chickens, underground pests, stop signs, and other daily encounters.

Shared posts about mom courage, cooking quandaries, and time management. Also read MOM ME and answered questions about writing and reaching personal goals. Enjoyed talking with friends, kids, and friends of friends, from many of my walks of life. Thank you for coming!

My next author event is 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, May 3, also at Village House of Books, 326 Village Lane, Los Gatos where more than 13 fellow authors will be visiting for conversation, Q&A, and book signing. Come say hi!


What Does Mommy Do For You?

IMG_0426Batman, baseball players, princesses, and bedtime stuffies were among the 33 kids and adults who last night, laughed and giggled at silly stories, listened and learned about how to make short paper books, and munched on cookies and drank milk at the Wooden Horse Toy Store  monthly pajama party (796 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos).

Homeschool mom Jenn Castro read MOM ME, her children’s picture book and Alum Rock School Teacher Carolyn Bowman read Mommies Are For Catching Fireflies, Harriet Ziefert.

Asked to share what their mommies do for them, one girl grinned and said, “My mommy does everything for me”

That made moms smile.

“My mommy goes to work to make money so she can buy things for me,” said another. That made adults laugh.

“My mommy plays hide and go seek with me,” offered a little boy. That made moms smile knowingly.

“My mommy brings my lunch to my school every day,” shared another child who has an allergy and eats a special diet. That made moms smile too.

Before the evening ended, 33 kids and parents also learned about Screen-Free Week – May 5 – 11 , and a make your own book kit.

Now it’s time for this mom to find a pillow and get some rest.


Mom Author Interviewed by Five Teenage Boys

IMG_0378“Who’s your favorite author?”

“What do you do when you get stuck writing?”

“What do you think of my story idea? Is it good?”

On Monday I got to answer these and many more questions at a creative writing class of five teenagers.  The boys have been writing all fall with Academic Antics creative writing teacher Susan Miller. Academic Antics offers a variety of classes to homeschool students in the Silicon Valley.

At their final class Susan invited me share my experiences publishing a book. The kids heard about how MOM*ME got written and published. They learned where I get story ideas, how I stay focused beyond initial inspiration, how to keep a writer’s notebooks, the importance of daily writing and critique, and benefits of professional writer’s organizations and critique. They also examined my first draft, story board, and dummy book, among many examples of the writing and publishing experience. It was fun to talk to kids about writing,  hear about their stories in progress, and hopefully have a part in encouraging them to write more. Looking forward to future presentations including joining Academic Antic’s Literacy Fair this spring!

Reading to A Village

IMG_0327The reading hasn’t started. Curious about the audience, it spans from ages two to 65 or 70, I wonder how to reach them all. “Do you like to write?” I ask a seven-year old girl? “Here’s what it’s like in my two-boy club home,” I confide with another mom, comparing notes about her two energetic girls and my two sons.

Los Gatos, California’s Village House of Books, a cozy house-like bookshop of nook-sized rooms filled from floor to ceiling with books of all shapes and sizes, perfect for browsing and buying, invited me last Saturday, November 16, to read MOM*ME.

“I like telling stories, but I don’t like (and then the seven-year old mimes the motion of holding pencil and writing words on a pretend page).” I know what she means, cause my kids used to feel reticent about the mechanics of putting pen to paper.

“How long did it take to write the book?” another mom asks. “The ideas came in bits over time,” I tell her, wanting to convey an accessible project that can be completed, “…It took four years, but that’s cause I’m a mom.” The audience giggles. “Kids could create a book much faster,” I reassure, “All those moments I used to fritter away, are committed now to writing” Heads nod in understanding. “How long to publish it?” another audience member asks. “About nine months,” I explain. And then the reading, “My mommy is not a tissue…” I begin.

Visit Village House of Books. You won’t be disappointed. See you in April when I return for a second reading just before Mother’s Day. As for the seven year old, I got to sign her book, “Happy reading — and writing,” was my message! IMG_0330