The Journey of an Author - Karen Toz

We have a wonderful treat today... Karen Pokras Toz author of Millicent Marie Is Not My Name has stopped by!

Tell me, were you a reader before you were a writer? What do you enjoy reading?

Yes, I’ve always loved to read from as far back as I can remember. My favorite genres are historical fiction, memoirs, and any character driven stories. Lately, however, I have been broadening my choices and have been enjoying some paranormal, YA, and fantasy stories as well.

Is Millicent Marie Is Not Your Name the first book you’ve written?

No, It is actually my third book. I have also written two other children’s chapter books: Nate Rocks the World and Nate Rocks the Boat.

Where there some particular inspirations for the character’s development or character traits for Millicent Marie Is Not My Name?

I knew I wanted to write a book with a main girl character, having already written two books for boys. At the time I wrote Millicent Marie, my daughter was in sixth grade. While, Millicent is not based on my daughter, I did try to incorporate some of the issues she spoke about regularly, such as gossiping and friendships.

There are many roads that lead to becoming a published author, each one littered with its own potholes. What was the most challenging aspect of writing Millicent Marie Is Not My Name? (dialogue, character development, creating names, etc)

Definitely finding my voice. For the past three years I was completely immersed in Nate Rocks’ world. When I started writing Millicent Marie, everything sounded like Nate. I had to (not so politely) remind Nate that this was not his story and that while I loved him dearly, he needed to butt out. (What – doesn’t everyone have conversations with the voices in their head?)

How did you tackle this challenge?

Well – it took many attempts, but Millicent was finally able to nudge her way into the forefront. Once I was able to develop her voice and personality in the way I had envisioned, everything began to flow freely (and Nate behaved himself).

Being an author is so much more than just writing a good story. Besides the “pen and ink,” what is one of the most difficult things you’ve encountered on your journey as a published author? What helped you get a handle on it?

Marketing is a huge challenge, mostly from a time perspective. At first, I was spending so much time marketing that I didn’t have time to write. I was miserable, because really, for me it’s all about writing. I wear so many hats, it’s difficult to fit it all in. It took me a while to learn how to balance my time (an art I’m still perfecting). Balance is definitely key to being on this journey.

It sounds like you’ve come quite a distance. Thank you, Karen Pokras Toz, for coming today and sharing a little of your experience with us, for helping us avoid a few potholes on the journey to becoming a published author.

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Millicent Marie Is Not My Name

Twelve-year-old Millicent Marie does not like her name. After all, she was named for a woman who died more than fifty years ago and was not the most loveable member of the Harris family. Her friends call her Millie, but when she writes in her diary she refers to herself as Amanda – the name she always wished she had.
When Millie’s younger brother finds her diary on her computer, he decides to publish it as a blog for the entire world to see, including the boy Millie has a crush on. In the midst of all the mayhem, Millie/Amanda discovers she is suddenly Springside Elementary’s most sought after sixth-grade mystery gossip and advice columnist.
But not all is fun and games, as Millie quickly learns, once she realizes feelings are at stake. Nobody, least of all Millie, expects things to turn out as they do in this tale of friendship and respect.

Karen Pokras Toz

Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife and mom. Karen grew up in 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, which won First Place for Children’s Chapter Books and the Grand Prize Overall in the 2012 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for a Global E-Book Award for Pre-Teen Literature. In 2012, Karen published the second in the Nate Rocks series, Nate Rocks the Boat, followed by middle grade novel, Millicent Marie Is Not My Name. Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog today!