Author Interview – Karen Pokras Toz
Author Interview – Karen Pokras Toz
Tell us a bit about your family. I’m married to my best friend and we have three great kids who range in age from 6 – 15. I’ll have a teenager in my house from now until 2025. Jealous? We also have two crazy kittens. My household is chaotic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Lucky for me, writing is my zen.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I hate that I cannot multi-task. My husband can talk on the phone, type an email, and watch a tv show all at the same time. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many times I’ve burned my breakfast because I’ve tried to get something else done while my bagel toasts. (In fact, this morning, I burned two bagels in a row.)
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? I honestly have no idea who wrote this quote, but it is my mantra: “We have the ability to shrink our dreams to fit our reality or the ability to stretch our reality to fit our dreams.”
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? Well – besides having my three children. Publishing my first book was an amazing feeling, but because I was self-published, I still wasn’t 100% sure my book was as good as my Mom kept telling me it was. Winning the Grand Prize in the 2012 Purple Dragon Fly Children’s Book Awards was definitely an accomplishment I am extremely proud of.
What is your favorite food? Coffee. Yes – it is one of my main food groups.
When and why did you begin writing? I only started writing a few years ago. In fact, I’ve always hated writing. I’m a numbers person. In college while everyone else was taking creative writing classes, I was taking advanced Calculus… for fun … and it was. I honestly can’t say what triggered me to start writing, but I’m so glad I did because I truly love it now.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? My number one love is writing for children, but I’ve started venturing out into the adult contemporary market. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, yet rewarding all the same.
What inspired you to write your first book? Well, my very first book, invisible, which has now been re-written more times than I can count, and is the adult contemporary book that will finally be published this summer, was inspired in part by the life and death of Princess Diana. It is the story of a young woman’s struggles with sudden fame.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Time. There are just not enough hours in the day. Writing is only a small part of what I do. I spend a tremendous amount of time marketing. I think it’s important for writers to realize that marketing is a huge part of the process. It took me a while to figure out how to fit (almost) everything in.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? Millicent Marie Is Not My Name is about a twelve year old girl who suddenly finds herself as her 6th grade’s anonymous advice/gossip columnist when her younger brother publishes her private diary on the Internet as a blog. It has lessons about bullying, gossip, friendship, and respect.
How did you come up with the title? I wish I had some great story to tell about where the name came from, but like most of my ideas, the name came to me in the shower.
How did you develop your plot and characters? I’m a write as you go kind of girl, so while I knew the general premise of the book, the characters and plot line were written as they came to me. I don’t necessarily recommend this style of writing. I think there’s definitely something to be said for a good solid outline, but letting my characters guide the story works for me.
Who designed the cover? Thank you for asking! I have the greatest cover designer. Her name is Deana Riddle, and she is with Book Starter. She designed my Nate Rocks covers as well. She’s a very talented artist and so easy and professional to work with. I feel so lucky that I found her.
Who is your publisher? My children’s books, including my Nate Rocks series as well as Millicent Marie is Not My Name, are published under my own imprint – Grand Daisy Press. My adult contemporary novel titled “invisible”, will be published by the Anchor Group this summer.
Why did you choose to write this particular book? I try to put messages in all of my children’s books. For this book, Millicent Marie Is Not My Name, I knew I wanted to address bullying. Bullying is such a huge issue for school age kids (and adults). I wanted to write a story that kids would both enjoy reading and be able to (hopefully) take away a message about the importance of bully prevention.
How do you promote this book? I promote 24/7, but my favorite way to promote is by connecting with readers one on one. I try to make myself accessible through Facebook, email, my website, my blog, book signings and other events. I love getting messages and talking directly with my readers.
What are your goals as a writer? I write with the reluctant reader in mind. If your child or student is giggling and engaged and asking if there are more books like the one they are reading, then my job is done.
Who is your favorite author and why? I just adore Judy Blume. She has been and continues to be a huge inspiration to me I read her books as a child, and now my children have enjoyed many of her books as well. I love that her books are timeless and yet they convey messages that are current.
Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Oh yes! This spring, the third in my Nate Rocks series, Nate Rocks the School, will be released. Then this summer, I have an adult contemporary book called invisible that is being published by Anchor Group Publishing. I’m hoping to have one more middle grade book finished by the end of 2013, and I expect to release the 4th and final Nate Rocks book: Nate Rocks the City in 2014.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully doing the exact same thing I’m doing right now. I feel very fortunate that I get to spend my days doing what I love – writing and meeting readers.
Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us? For those who live in or are visiting the Greater Philadelphia Area, I will be appearing at The Doylestown Bookstore (16 S. Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901) for a signing on February 9th starting at 2pm. I love meeting readers, so stop by!
If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Encourage the child in your life to read each and everyday.
Buy at Amazon
Genre – Middle Grade (G)
Website – http://www.karentoz.com/