Interview with Karen Pokras Toz

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
About 15 years ago, a story came to me that I thought would make a great book. I tried many times to sit down and write, but was never able to put down more than a paragraph or two before giving up. It wasn’t until early 2010, that I was able to put pen to paper. I’m not sure what was different about the day I finally found my muse, but from that moment on, I knew I would be a writer.

What genre do you write and why?
I write middle grade fiction with a humorous twist to it. I have three kids of my own, and they have been a constant source of entertainment for me. I could sit here and say I write for this age group because I really feel a connection to what they are going through, but honestly, I think it’s more that my brain thinks like a ten year old.

Tell us about your latest book.
I recently published Nate Rocks the Boat, which is the second book in the Nate Rocks series. For those unfamiliar with Nate Rocks and the first book, Nate Rocks the World, Nathan Rockledge is your average 10-year-old boy – that is until he starts drawing. He then becomes Nate Rocks – 10-year-old extraordinaire, saving the day in all sorts of adventures ranging from rock star to dinosaur wrangler. In Nate Rocks the Boat, Nathan finds out he is spending his summer at overnight camp. While the books are in chronological order, they can each be read as stand-alone books.

I am also working on a new middle grade book about a 12-year-old girl. It is called Millicent Marie is Not My Name, and I hope to have it published this fall.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 
I spend a LOT of time on the Internet making connections through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and a host of other social networks. I have met so many remarkable people - both industry folks and fans. Bloggers have been a constant source of promotion. Without them, I cannot imagine being able to get the word out about my books. I so appreciate the hard work and dedication they put into helping to connect authors and readers.  In addition, I did recently connect with someone locally who has been instrumental in helping set up events, book signings, and media coverage. 

What formats is the book available in?
All formats – print and digital.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Well I love to read and spend time with my family. We’re so busy, that just having all five of us in the same room at the same time can be a challenge. We play a lot of board games and card games. Sorry and Uno are two favorites. In the spring/summer, I’m a gardener-wanna-be. Every spring, I plant all kinds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. I do a great job watering and taking care of everything until about mid-July, when I guess I get tired of it all. At that point usually my husband takes over, and I just hang out in the shade with a book.

Who are your favourite authors?
This is such a difficult question because there are so many great authors! My favorite children’s author has always been Judy Blume. Nothing makes me happier than when people tell me my Nate Rocks books remind them of Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing. As far as other authors – on the traditionally published side, I love Wally Lamb, Sara Gruen, and Harper Lee. As for Indies – there are so many great authors! My genre of choice to read lately has been historical fiction. ML Gardner and Shelly Johnson are two indie authors in that genre that I’ve recently enjoyed.

Karen Pokras Toz
What advice do you have for other writers?
If you are going the indie route – put out the best possible product you can. This means hiring an editor (just because Mom loves it, doesn’t mean it’s ready for publication.) If you are good with graphic arts, you may be able to pull off your own cover – otherwise hire someone. People do judge a book by its cover and when you’re an indie, you’re put under an even larger microscope. The same goes for formatting. Know that you are going to have to spend a lot of time marketing. Most important, however, is to keep writing!

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
I don’t know if this is specifically for writers, but it’s one of my favorite quotes and applicable to me since I didn’t start writing until later in life:
“We have the power to shrink our dreams to fit reality, or the power to stretch our reality to fit our dreams.” - Anonymous

What's the best thing about being a writer?
Hands down it’s fan mail from kids, parents, and teachers. I love getting pictures too and have a section on my website where I post them (with parent permission.)

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
On my website: I also have a blog where I give a weekly update on my book happenings (among other things.) Facebook is another place where I love to chat. You can find me at and of course twitter: @karentoz

Anything else you'd like to add?
I’d like to thank you for having me on your blog! I started writing kids’ books in hopes of getting more children excited about reading (including my own.) Encourage the child in your life to read everyday. Stories are magical. Imagination keeps us young at heart. 

Karen will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and an autographed set of books (Nate Rocks the World & Nate Rocks the Boat) to one randomly drawn host from the tour.

So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. I agree: STORIES ARE MAGICAL - for all ages.


  2. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

  3. Currently, your books are in one genre. But what other genre(s) would you like to do more in or is there one that you haven’t tried yet but would like to?

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Karen - I've dabbled a little with contemporary fiction, but really my heart is in middle grade.

  4. Great advice about getting an editor...the book sounds fabulous!


    1. thanks - yes. I think it's so important to get a fresh pair of (professional) eyes to look everything over

  5. Rebecca Hipworth7 August 2012 at 21:43

    I look forward to reading it.


  6. Wonderful interview! I love how children seem to be reading more these days-- it's so good to see! Books are magical, I think it just takes a little while for everyone to discover that. I know when I was little I hated to read but loved to be read to. Now I can't get enough books :-)


  7. Nothing wrong with thinking like a ten-year-old...if people didn't, there'd be all sorts of good things we wouldn't have.


  8. I have been enjoying reading your posts Karen. Your books look great and I know my grandkids would love them. Thank you for being able to write with your 10 year old self. :) Look at the joy it creates through your writing.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com


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