Interview & Giveaway: Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz

Welcome to Author Karen Pokras Toz

Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife and mom. Karen grew up in Orange, Connecticut and currently lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three children. In June 2011, Karen published her first middle grade children’s novel for 7-12 year olds called Nate Rocks the World. She is currently working on the second book in the Nate Rocks series, Nate Rocks the Boat, to be published in 2012. Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Association of Independent Authors (AIA), and the Independent Author Network (IAN).




Night owl, or early bird?
Definitely an early bird. I can easily get up at the crack of dawn and get more done in the next three hours (provided there is free flowing coffee) than I will get done for the entire remainder of the day. I’m a slug at night, not matter how late I sleep in the morning. For me, nighttime is for decompressing.

Pet Peeves?
Where to begin lol! I think laundry is my biggest one. There are three strategically placed hampers in my house for five people aged 5-43. Plenty of places to put dirty laundry, right? So why is it that only 60% of the laundry actually makes it into the hamper? My favorite is when the laundry is on the floor next to the hamper. Oh you were so close – but what, that extra effort of lifting your arm one more time was too much for you? Sigh.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Your kids will fall in love with reading (and you will hear the best sounding giggles coming out of them.)

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Yes – I am just finishing up book 2 of the Nate Rocks Series – Nate Rocks the Boat. After that, I think I will do just one more Nate Rocks book (maybe two) and then move on to a new series.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The feedback I get from teachers and parents telling me their reluctant readers couldn’t put the book down and can’t wait for the next one! It just doesn’t get any better than that!

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
As a child, I loved all of the Judy Blume books. She was a huge influence to me in writing Nate Rocks. As a teen, I loved VC Andrews’ books – Flowers in the Attic, and the rest of her series. I’ve been thinking of digging them out to read again.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
My aspirations were constantly changing. My earliest memory involved wanting to be Marie Osmond – what could be more fun than having a variety show on tv? Plus she had great hair. After that I moved on to teacher, fashion merchandiser, and white-collar crime investigator (I had big plans to take down wall street after seeing the movie.)

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Nate Rocks’ mom Claudia is a domestic failure – except she has no clue that she can’t cook or sew. In her mind she is the next Martha Stewart. I’m not saying that character is based on me – I’m just saying that on occasion, some of my ‘kitchen creations’ might be a little questionable.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
When I first began writing, I was working on a manuscript for adults. To me, it was a literary fiction masterpiece. A critique partner told me it sounded like it was for kids and suggested I write something for ten year olds. I took the advice to heart.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
I can’t wait for the Hunger Games movie to come out. Usually, I’m not a fan of movies made from books, but I recently saw the trailer and it looks amazing. I have to say, really enjoyed reading that series.

How do you react to a bad review?
Well it’s easy to say to yourself that reviews are subjective and that you can’t please everyone. The truth is that you can get fifty great reviews, but that one bad review is the one that sticks with you. If there is something constructive in there, I do try to incorporate that change into whatever writing I am working on. If it is just a “I didn’t care for it” type review, then there is really nothing to do, but forge ahead and wait for the (hopefully) next good review.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
For me – Shakespeare (although I suppose that doesn’t really fall under the novel category.) Next on my list would be a signed Stephen King novel. My husband is a huge fan of his and a collector of books. I couldn’t think of a more perfect gift for him.

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….
Harry Potter of course! Forget about the financial success for a moment. I can’t think of another author that has done such a remarkable job of writing a book that appeals to so many different markets.

Favorite smell?

PC or Mac?
It took me a long time, but this past spring, I traded in my PC for a MAC. What can I say, I’m in love!

Beach or Pool?
I’m a pool girl. I like sitting on the beach, but when it comes to swimming, I prefer not to have to worry about what I’m stepping on (or big white sharks attacking me.)

Cats or Dog?
I’m definitely a cat person. In fact, I’m on the border of being ‘that crazy cat lady.” The most cats I’ve had at one time is three. Currently I have two kittens. In fact, today I plan on reading my entire manuscript to them. It helps with my editing process. If they fall asleep or yawn during chapter one, I know I have problems!

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I didn’t start writing until two years ago. In my “other” life, I work as an accountant.

Nate Rocks the World

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.

Giveaway Details:
1 paperback copy open to US or Canada
1 ebook open Internationally
Ends 2/22/12

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