Guest Post: Why I Chose to be a Children’s Book Writer – Karen Pokras Toz

Millicent Marie is Not My Name

The Tweedlers are thrilled to welcome Karen Pokras Toz to the blog! Karen is the author of Nate Rocks the World and Nate Rocks the Boat and is on tour with her exciting new release Millicent Marie Is NOT My Name.

Why I Chose to be a Children’s Book Writer – Karen Pokras Toz

Whenever I am asked this question, I always respond: Well, I didn’t actually choose to be a children’s book author, children’s books sort of chose me.  Let me explain.

I have always loved to read.  I remember one childhood book in particular called, “The Best Loved Doll,” written by the wonderful Rebecca Caudill. In this book, Betsey, like so many other little girls, had a collection of dolls. Some were very old, some did things when you wound them up, some had beautiful clothes, and some were just well loved. The book had an important message: Beauty is within. I would read this book over and over throughout my childhood and could not wait to purchase a copy for my own daughter.

As I moved on to chapter books, I fell in love with Judy Blume’s stories. The wonderful thing about her books was that they spoke about important and relevant topics that kids such as myself were dealing with, yet she did it in such a relatable and easy to understand way. Whether I realized it or not, every book had a message that stayed with me. I speak in the past, because that was when I read them, but truth be told, they are timeless. In fact, my own children have read and enjoyed many of her books.

So where does that leave me? Well, even though I loved to read as a child (and still do), I never liked to write. In fact, I hated it. But a story popped into my head (for adults) a while back, and I decided to give it a go. It was awful; I’m not going to lie. But, within my adult story, were flashback scenes to my main character’s childhood. These mini stories were so enjoyable to create. I loved writing in a child’s voice. I could be light, and funny, and I could send a message.

It was during this period of experimentation, that I realized writing for children was in my future. I am now working on my fourth book. Each follows that same model as the books I loved as a child – they are fun to read, yet have an important message. Nobody was more surprised than I was of this career path . . . well except for perhaps every English teacher I ever had who tried to get me to enjoy writing!

They say it’s important to follow your dreams, but sometimes letting your dreams find you works equally as well.

About Millicent Marie Is Not My Name (2012)

Millicent Marie is Not My NameTwelve-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.

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About Karen Pokras Toz

Karen Pokras TozKaren 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).

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Donna Brown

Ever developing teacher and learner (online and offline!). Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.
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  1. You can really tell the difference between a great guest poster and the 'rest of the pack,' especially when that particular blogger can contribute to a site that is already home to two strong, energetic and likeable hosts. You've done a wonderful job here, Karen. It's lovely to see you're highly capable of capturing the minds of both adults and children alike!

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