Monday, August 1, 2011

Karen Pokras Toz:The IAN Interview

Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife and mom. Karen grew up in the small town of Orange, Connecticut and graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Finance. She also attended the University of Richmond, where she studied law and business, receiving both a JD and an MBA. Karen has spent the last several years working as a tax accountant, writing in numbers. She recently discovered a passion for writing with words. She is the 2011 honoree and spokesperson for the Eastern Pennsylvania Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell 5K Run. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Association of Independent Authors (AIA), and the Independent Author Network (IAN). Karen enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and three children.

IAN. Please tell us a bit about Nate Rocks the World.

KPT. Ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge cannot catch a break. After all, life as a fourth-grader can be hazardous what with science projects to deal with and recess football games to avoid. Everyone, including his best friend Tommy, seems to have bad luck when hanging around Nathan. Throw in an older sister who is a royal pain, a dad who is stuck in the past, and a mom who keeps trying to poison him with her awful cooking, and poor Nathan’s life as a fourth grader appears to be completely doomed.

Armed only with his sketchpad, his imagination, and his wits, Nathan Rockledge navigates the perils of the fourth grade in style, to emerge heroic, as Nate Rocks, proving that even a ten-year-old can accomplish great things.

Not all is lost however. Give Nathan a sketchpad and a pencil and watch as his drawings transform his otherwise hopeless life into heroic adventures as Nate Rocks. Time and again, Nate saves the day – winning The World Series, fighting evil forces to keep the world from darkness and even saving Christmas. When his sister nearly drowns while swimming in the ocean, Nate Rocks the World one more time, proving that even a ten year old can accomplish great things. Follow the quirky and imaginative adventures of ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge as his cartoons come to life.


IAN. How long did it take to write the book?

KPT. The first draft of Nate Rocks the World took only about two months. However, there were many rounds of edits. I would say the entire process took about 8 months.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?

KPT. I knew I wanted to write a fun book that would encourage kids to read. The inspiration really came from my children. My oldest son is an artist, my daughter is very creative, and my youngest loves to role-play. I sort of combined all three of these traits to come up with my main character, Nathan Rockledge.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?

KPT. I have a very busy household with three children ages 4-13, plus my wonderful husband. In order to get in some quality uninterrupted writing time, I set my alarm an hour earlier than the kids. Nothing beats that early morning quiet with a hot cup of coffee for writing.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

KPT. It depends. For this book, I had a idea, but had no idea where to go with it. It was a true figure it out project. For the book I am writing now, I have a very detailed outline.

IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?

KPT. I think (I hope) my book will inspire kids to both read and be creative. I have already had a teacher tell me that she plans on using my book as part of her elementary school art class.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

KPT. Both. My book is available in print and digital formats including kindle, nook, sony reader, ipad and others.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

KPT. Most importantly, I hope kids enjoy the experience of reading my book. After that, I hope they take away the lesson, that everyone is capable of achieving great things.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?

KPT. For print, you can visit Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. Digital formats are available at Smashwords.com, Amazon Kindle Store, Itunes/Ibook and BarnesandNoble.com. For direct links, please visit my website: www.karentoz.com.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

KPT. I have two projects I am working on actually. The first is an adult contemporary novel called invisible. It is the story of a young woman who finds herself suddenly famous and thrown unwittingly in front of the paparazzi. I am also several chapters into the next book of the ‘Nate Rocks’ series. I am hoping to release both books within the next year.

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IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?

KPT. I also love to blog. I write about my daily life as a mom, writer, wife… basically it is just me rambling about whatever happens to be on my mind at any particular moment. Every week, I post a ‘Friday Five’ where I sum up what’s been going on in my little world and can be found at http://kptoz.blogspot.com. If you read something you like, let me know! Comment’s really make my day.

For the latest information regarding book news, purchase information, and appearances – please visit my website www.karentoz.com.

Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz Amazon.com

136 pages Middle Grade Fiction


"The score is three to two in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. The Philadelphia Phillies have a man on first, but honestly folks, I think this game is over. The Phillies have just not been able to pull it together this World Series, and now with all of these injuries, who could the Phillies possibly put in to bat? It looks like this hometown team is running out of options. I hate to say this, but I think the dream of winning this year's World Series is now over for this team. Wait a minute... is that Nate Rocks approaching the plate? He hasn't been off the bench all season. Surely, the Phillies have someone more experienced they can use. Even Nate looks confused, as he steps up to the plate. I don't know about this. Here comes the first pitch … swing … and a miss. Second pitch … ooh, a 95 mph fastball … and that's strike two. The Philadelphia crowd of 45,000 is silent, as we wait for the third pitch … the pitch that determines this year's world champions. The pitcher looks around, winds up, and … CRACK – that ball is OUT OF HERE! I don't believe it, folks! Nate Rocks has hit a home run, and the Philadelphia Phillies have won the World Series!!!"

The Phillies rush out of the dugout, running toward me, as I cross home plate. They pile on top of me. Thunderous cheers of enthusiastic fans echo through the stadium. I can barely breathe. I feel a hand reach out to me.

"You did it, Nate! You did it!" The Phillies' first baseman yells. He pulls me to my feet.

Two other players help hoist me up over their shoulders. I wave to the crowd in victory. The players parade me around the bases, and the crowd begins chanting:

"Nate!"

"Nate!"

"Nate!"

"Nathan! For the fourth time – dinner is ready!"

"Huh?" I ask.

Mom is standing in my bedroom doorway, hands on her hips, staring at me, as I sit on my floor among a sea of colored pencils.

"I said dinner is ready. And for goodness sake Nathan Michael Rockledge, clean up this mess!"

"Okay, Mom," I say. Mom turns around and heads down the steps.

I look back at my drawing. "Not too shabby," I note, staring at the cartoon. I pick up a pencil and finish drawing myself holding the World Series trophy. Okay, so maybe I made my red hair not quite so bright, took out the freckles and added a few muscles to my scrawny body, but I still think it looks like me. I gather all of my colored pencils and scraps of paper off my carpet and throw them into my desk drawer.

"Nathan, Mom told me to tell you to stop picking your nose and get your butt down to dinner."

I turn around see my older sister, Abby, standing in the hallway outside my bedroom. Abby is thirteen and is always complaining about something. Plus, she thinks she knows everything. Really, the only thing she knows is how to be annoying.

"Stop it, Abby, she didn't say that!" I close up my sketchpad and follow her down the stairs.

"What were you drawing anyway?" she asks, as we head into the kitchen.

"None of your business." I take my seat at the table, where Dad has already started eating.

"Some stupid comic probably," Abby comments. She sits down across the table from me.

"All right, that's enough," Mom says. She puts a plate filled with spaghetti and meatballs in front of me. "Now eat your dinner, Nathan."

"Yeah, eat your dinner," Abby says. She swiftly kicks me from under the table.

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