Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Problem with Milkshakes


Milkshakes … frosty, sweet, smooth, heavenly, soothing, delicious … Hungry? Yeah, tell me about it. This morning, I finished off the first draft of my newest middle grade manuscript…The Secrets of the Writing Desk: Book One: Mischief, Mysteries, and Milkshakes.  

I've said it before, but I love writing middle grade. After finishing up my four book Whispered Wishes series for adults, I was more than ready to jump back into the head of ten year old. Not that I didn't enjoy writing grown up material, because I definitely did, but I missed writing about and for kids, with all their fun and funny antics.

Mischief, Mysteries, and Milkshakes is based on an antique writing desk that I own. A gift from my Aunt several years ago. I always knew it would be the basis of a story — it's so grand and mysterious with no doubt many stories lurking within it. So as I sat before it with my laptop open to a fresh page, I began to type. As has been the case with all of my middle grade novels, the story took on a life of its own, far away from its original outline, and I suddenly found myself googling milkshake flavors. That's where the problem started.

See here's the thing, I kind of like ice cream. A lot. Especially now that summer has started. And as I started writing about these milkshake concoctions I was was creating, I began craving them. I mean seriously, who can resist the classics like chocolate, vanilla, and cookies 'n cream? And don't even get me started on the ones I thought up for the story: Frosted Moose - a delectable combination of marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, chocolate fudge, and vanilla. Or how about Coconut Custard, Butterscotch Bomber, Mint Explosion, or Freaky Fudge? And forget about Harper's Delight (Yeah, that one you're going to have to wait for the book to see the ingredient list, but it's gooood, trust me).

Anyway, ten pounds later, here I am with a full belly and the beginnings of a new series. I'm thinking book two may have to take place in vegetable garden or something.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Do I Know How To Keep A Resolution Or What?

Hey everyone, remember me? Yeah it's been a while, and I'm really sorry about that. When I said back in January that I wasn't going to put as much pressure on myself to blog regularly, I didn't think I'd wait 5 (almost 6) months to post something. Those of you who follow me on FB, Twitter, and Instagram (karenpokras_author) ... (you do, right?) know I haven't just been sitting around doing nothing... I've been busy finishing up the last book in the Whispered Wishes series: WOVEN WISHES and am excited to announce that they're all out in print now!

But, I'm not just here to talk about me... me,me,me,me,me,me,me,me ( oh right, sorry). I want to tell you about some of my friends who have exciting news for your middle grade readers:

1. JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, by DONNA GALANTI 
I.cannot.wait.to.read.this.book. .... Got that? It not only looks fabulous, but the author is a dear friend and amazing person. And she wrote the book for her son Joshua, who is equally amazing. It officially comes out on the 19th, but you can pre-order it now.



Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings as anything more than the ravings of an old man with a vast imagination. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy, as Joshua must face the terrifying Child Collector and fend off ferocious and unnatural beasts intent on destroying him. In this world, Joshua possesses powers he never knew he had, and soon, Joshua’s mission becomes more than a search for his friend. He means to send all the stolen children home—and doing so becomes the battle of his life.

2. THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW by JESSICA HAIGHT and STEPHANIE ROBINSON
This book (in case you haven't noticed) is all over my blog (and Millie's blog). That is because I absolutely ADORE IT (and its authors). And I'm so over the moon excited it is finally available for pre-order!


Fear Not the Unexpected. Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom. As if leaving New York City and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad (DMS), weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past. Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that takes the members of the Detective Mystery Squad on an amazing adventure.



You can never have enough books … Happy Reading Everyone!!

Xo
Karen

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Annual New Year "What I Maybe Will Accomplish This Year" Post

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

I'm a list person. I always have been. One of the lists I keep is the list of books I want to write and publish each year. So far, I've done a pretty good job with meeting my goals. Maybe it's because this list is on a white board hanging above my desk in my office, but more likely, it's because my muse (thankfully) has been in overdrive. I still can't believe I wrote and published five books in 2014. My 2015 list is just as packed, and if I can squeeze it in, I've got two book ideas for my 2016 list I wouldn't mind getting to early.





However, despite writing and publishing like a fiend this year, I still feel like I did not accomplish enough.  There was not enough time to write blog posts. There was not enough time spent marketing. There was not enough time to read trade publications and craft books. There was not enough time to attend conferences. There was not enough time to work on my website. And believe it or not, I did not have enough writing time (I so wanted to finish that sixth book!)   Can we say Type A personality?

Since no one has figured out a way to add hours into the day yet (WHO IS WORKING ON THIS, AND WHEN CAN I EXPECT IT TO BE FINISHED?) I have begrudgingly decided that my New Year's resolution is to give myself a break. ...

So here is my "maybe I will accomplish this year, but it's okay if I don't" list:

1. Write more blog posts
2. Share more of my colleague's blog posts
3. Attend more conferences
4. Write more press releases
5. Schedule more blog tours
6. Use Facebook less and Twitter and other social media more
7. Put out more newsletters

There ... now that the pressure's off, I feel much better. Oh, who am I kidding. I'm off to go figure out how to fit all this and more in. Have an awesome 2015!!



*******
www.karenpokras.com




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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In My {SPAM} Mailbox

It's a dreary cold rainy day, and I'm stuck home sick. I'm supposed to be resting, but when you work from home and you're a writer, your brain really never shuts down. So I decided to go through some of the emails that had started piling up over the last few days, and then I clicked on my SPAM folder.... (cue the scary music.) I have several general observations:

1.  I AM NOT A MAN. There, I feel better now. Not that there's anything wrong with being a man. I happen to like most men. But, I personally do not have any male anatomy on my body that needs enlarging, so please stop sending me emails suggesting otherwise.

2. As much I would be thrilled to collect/inherit/win millions, we all know I have no long lost uncle who died off the coast of a remote country in Africa and has bloodlines to His Royal Highness, the King of East Scamvilla. DELETE. 

3. No, I really do not want to check out your pictures.

4.  I'd LOVE to retire in Belize, but somehow the website they want me to click on just doesn't look legit: (FYI - I added the xxxx.com so you don't click on it by accident)

http://xxxxx.com/seyJjIjogMjEwMiwgImYiOiAwLCAibSI6IDIzMjMsICJsIjogNCwgInMiOiAwLCAidSI6IDI2MDA5NDYwLCAidCI6IDEsICJzZCI6IDB9

5. WOW! Ray-Ban's at 90% off? I'm sure they're the real deal! They must be right? The internet says so.

6. I think this one is my personal favorite. Apparently I have some "deferred email" at Google. Let's just say for a minute, that I actually believed that. Don't you think, and I'm just speculating here, that someone from GOOGLE with a GMAIL account would be the one to email me about this? Sorry crazy.barbara, I'm on to you & no, I won't be clicking on your link.




I think tomorrow, I'll be returning to "work."


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Cover Reveal: Hunted Heart by Alison DeLuca


My friend Alison DeLuca has a new book coming out and I'm THRILLED to be a part of the cover reveal! Today, I'm turning my blog over to her ... Thanks for joining me today Alison ... Here she is to tell us about Hunted Heart


Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

I met a friend online who gave me a prompt for Hunted Heart. Her idea was to have a strong heroine as the Hunter from Snow White who is given the job of killing the prince. Heartbreak, magic mirrors, and poisoned apples all wound themselves into the plot, and fifty thousand words later I had an adult take on the fairytale.

My publishing group, Myrddin Publishing, does a charity publication each year in December. This year my Myrddin effort is Hunted Heart and all royalties will be donated. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon, and you can add it to your  reading lists on Goodreads.

When Tali is hired to cut out the heart of Prince Kas, the huntress can’t refuse. Tali
realizes there is no escape from the dark magic of the queen’s mirror, even though her own feelings for the prince are far too complex to understand.

As they try to run from their shared destiny, Tali and Kas have to rely on their wits and each other as hunter becomes prey and hearts are won and lost.

A genderbent Snow White for adults (18+ only.) All royalties go to Save the Children.

My illustrator did a lovely job with the book. Here is Lisa Daly’s cover for Hunted Heart:



About the author: Alison DeLuca is the author of several fantasy and steampunk novels.
Currently she lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter, where she wrestles words and laundry.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and
Goodreads.


Thank you, Alison!!


*******
www.karenpokras.com




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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cover Reveal: Merry Wishes: A Romance Novella

It's been a while since I've done a cover reveal, and this time it's my own!

Before I show it off, I want to tell you a little about this story and how it came to be. You see, this story was completely unplanned and was never supposed to exist. Originally, the Whispered Wishes series was to be four novels: AVA'S WISHES, HOLLY'S WISHES, TESSA'S WISHES, AND WOVEN WISHES. After I released AVA'S WISHES, several people contacted me and said they loved Ava's friend, Carly and hoped she'd reappear down the line. Unfortunately, as fun as she was to write, she was actually written into the series as an afterthought ..completely off the outline and sadly, she didn't have a significant role in the rest of the series (sorry Car!) But, because I love my readers, I decided to create a companion novella to the series all for Carly Cator and just in time for the holidays. And even though this story was completely unplanned, I'm so glad my readers suggested bringing Carly back, because I had a blast writing her tale!


ABOUT MERRY WISHES:

An ugly divorce behind her, Carly Cater is looking forward to a truly Merry Christmas. With interest for her art from a high-powered fashion designer and a new romance with her handsome contractor, Jason Hardy, her life is finally heading in the right direction. That is, until her ex-husband suddenly returns to interfere, and mysterious texts draw Jason away. Is this another holiday disaster in the making, or will an offer to create a mural for the brain-injury patients at Greenbriar Manor bring her the Christmas joy she’d been seeking?

For more information on the Whispered Wishes Series, visit: www.karenpokras.com



And now the cover by the fabulous Najla Qamber ...





Coming this holiday season ... Add to you Goodreads list now!


*******
www.karenpokras.com




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Monday, October 20, 2014

On Being A Middle Grade Author #MondayBlogs

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel for Philadelphia Stories' annual Push to Publish conference to speak about writing for children and YA audiences. I represented middle grade.

Marketing was a hot topic, as was the actual road to publishing itself. But of most interest to me, was the discussion of how to write for this particular age group. For me personally it comes down to three important factors:

(1) Tone
(2) Audience
(3) Lesson

(1) Tone. I have three kids who range in age from 8-17, and I truly think this puts me at an advantage. For starters, I know how to speak with them, not at them. I think this is key when writing for this age group. You don't want to sound like you are talking down to and/or above them. They also provide me with a wealth of material, and I'm constantly absorbing ... everything from the latest bands, video games, apps, TV shows, their dialogue, tone, what's 'cool", what's out, etc, etc, etc. They claim I'm spying - I call it research.

(2) Audience. You may be thinking - that's easy. Middle grade means kids aged 8-12. Yes … and no. Think about who is purchasing the books. It's not just kids. It's parents, grandparents, educators, aunts, friends, and the list goes on. You need to make sure that your book is appealing to both children AND the adults who will actually be doing the purchasing. As a parent, I know there are certain books I try to steer my 8 year old away from. It's your job to make sure your book isn't one of them.

(3) Lesson. Here's my soap box spiel. If I manage to get your child reading and enjoying my books, why not sneak a lesson in there? It can't hurt, right? Some kids may get it, some may not, but at least it's in there. I feel like as a children's author, I have an obligation. You may feel differently with your own writing, and that's fine. Like I said - these are my own personal things I think about when writing. If a child walks away from my Nate Rocks series (for example) feeling really good about him or herself because he or she picked up on the self-esteem theme, then it's only going to work to create a positive attitude for that child going forward.


While at the moment I'm immersed in writing adult novels, I still consider myself a children's author with six middle grade titles now published. There's nothing more satisfying than nurturing young minds and encouraging reluctant readers. READING ROCKS!




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Tessa's Wishes ... Now Available

http://ow.ly/CXKi9 


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