Sunday, October 30, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday: Nate Rocks the World: Halloween Edition

With Halloween tomorrow - what better time to have a Six Sentence Sunday Halloween special? Nate Rocks loves Halloween, and in this scene - he is all dressed and ready to go trick or treating... at least until he hears a little ghost story...


Every sheriff in the country was after them.”
“Whatever happened to him?”
“Well, nobody knows for sure, but rumor has it he was killed on a botched train robbery right here
in Pennsylvania.” Mr. Walters leans in real close to Tommy and me and says, “Some even say they see his ghost roaming around the train tracks in this very town.”
“BOO!” Sam yells from out of nowhere.
Tommy and I jump back and scream, while Sam is practically rolling on the floor; he is laughing so hard.

To learn more about Nate Rocks the World, visit:

...and don't forget about Trick or Treat for Ebooks! 16 authors roaming the neighborhood with lots of treats for you... check them out!

Visit each blog in the neighborhood to claim your treat!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Friday Five 10-28-11: Remembering Grandma

Hi all – It has been a difficult week for my family and myself. On Wednesday, we lost someone very special to our hearts – my Grandmother – my Mother’s Mother, my children’s Great Grandmother. Grandma was 96 years old and a loving, beautiful, creative, and inspirational woman who loved to play the piano and always smiled.

Her nickname was Daisy - the symbol of my blog. Admittedly, I did not pick a daisy for that reason, but I am glad I did. Every time I see it now, I will think of Grandma.

This week’s Friday Five is dedicated to Grandma – or as my daughter named her when she was three years old: “Grandma With The Purple Shirt.” I originally was going to just post five pictures, but really, how do you pay tribute to someone so special with only five memories... I had to sneak in a couple of extras... We love you Grandma.

Grandma & Me 

Grandma & Me - ready to party!

With my two oldest kids - Dec, 2000
Playing the keyboard for my daughter - 2007

95th birthday!

With my youngest

You will be missed, but never forgotten.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: The Bravest Boy I Ever Knew

Michael has a friend he wants you to meet. He loves to watch sports, do puzzles, and go fishing with his dad. But Michael’s friend is no ordinary boy. He has obstacles many kids do not have to even think about. You see Michael’s best friend is in a wheelchair.

Lisa Eichlin’s picture book, The Bravest Boy I Ever Knew, is a wonderful story of friendship. I love how the story is from Michael’s point of view, showing how much admiration for his friend he has despite his friend’s disability. Michael even talks about some of the fun things his friend can do that Michael cannot, such as racing his wheelchair.

Young children will love this story and the cheerful illustrations. The Bravest Boy I Ever Knew has so many positive lessons. This book is a great opportunity to have discussions with your own child about acceptance and friendship.

Thank you Lisa for writing a wonderful and important children’s book.

To purchase The Bravest Boy I Ever Knew on Amazon:

This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review


Trick or Treat for Ebooks!

No Tricks Needed for Spooktacular Deals

Monday, October 24, 2011

Trick or Treat for Ebooks!

Halloween is only one week away!! I know I’m excited – how about you?

But I'm not the only one who loves Halloween...

Did you know that Nate Rocks LOVES Halloween? It's true and to help you celebrate, we have an extra special treat for you. Between now and October 31,  Nate Rocks the World (digital edition) is available for only $0.99! Just visit SMASHWORDS & enter coupon code: BE27X to start reading all about Nate's Halloween adventure.

But the treats don’t end there!!

Fifteen other Authors have some cool treats for you as well! All you have to do is visit each “neighborhood” listed below to claim your treat. Some authors have e-books on sale, some are free, and some are running contests. It’s a great time to load up your e-reader.

The treats start today and run through 10/31/11. See you around the neighborhood and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Friday Five 10-21-11

Hi everyone – the week started off a little shaky, but all in all it’s been a fun week here at Chez Toz... here’s what’s been going on:

1. ER – Again! Are we having Deja Vu? Yes – that’s right, for the second Friday night in a row, one of my children had to be taken to the emergency room! This time it was my daughter. I wasn’t with her, but from what I was told – she was ice-skating and fell. Then her step-sister hit her finger with her blade. OUCH! The good news is that she didn’t need stitches. FYI – my 5 year will be wrapped in bubble wrap all day today to break this trend.

2. Celebrations. This weekend we had a double celebration – Sunday was both my husband’s birthday and our wedding anniversary! Smart man, getting married on his birthday... at least I know he will never forget the date. Happy Birthday Babe. I love being married to you!!

3. Kittens. By now you have figured out my little secret. What better way to celebrate our anniversary then with two little fur balls? We are so in love with our little black Wolverine (Wolvie for short) & Storm (in grey). They are definitely double trouble, but so awesome! Even our older cat is starting to warm up to them... sort of. Here’s another picture of our cuties in case you missed it:

4. Blog Award. It’s time for another installment for the Versatile Blog Award!

  • Here’s #5 of 7 things you may not know about me: I like my minivan (sshh – it’s a secret) 
  • And my blog of the week goes to: The Sparrow Chronicles... a fun family blog written by Lenette Sparacino She also has some awesome recipes. Be sure to stop by and show Lenette some blogging love.

5. Book News. Nate Rocks the World is joining "Trick or Treat for E-books!” From now until October 31st, you can get a digital copy of Nate Rocks the World for just $0.99. Then starting on October 24th, you can visit the websites of 15+ other authors to hear about their e-book specials – some are giveaways, some are discounts, some are freebies. All of the details are on my website. Anyway you look at it, it’s the perfect time to load up your e-reader!  

I hope everyone has a great weekend – thanks for checking in and be sure to tell me what’s on your Friday Five in the comments! See you next Friday... and hopefully sooner!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Super Secret Surprise... Revealed!!

I’ve blogged about it, I’ve tweeted about it, I’ve even Google+’d the fact that I had a super secret surprise. I wanted to tell you all about it, really I did, but I just couldn’t. It’s not that I was trying to be mean. Really I wasn’t. It’s just that I wasn’t 100% sure my super secret surpise was actually going to happen, and I needed to be sure before sharing the news. Well, now I am sure... so I guess I should tell you... Do you want to know? You've all been so patient, and I appreciate that.

It took me a while to decide I was ready. But a few weeks ago, I woke up and knew it was time. Time for what you ask? Well, it's probably just easier if I show you....


I’d like to introduce you to the newest members of my family....

In black... Wolverine (Wolvie for short) &  in grey, his trusty sidekick... Storm!

Aren't they adorable? They are brother and sister - just three months old. We adopted them from a cat rescue, and we're so excited to have them.

I'll bet you all thought it was something about my book didn't you! :)


Friday, October 14, 2011

The Friday Five 10-14-11

Hi all – hope everyone is having a great week. Have I mentioned lately how much I love the fall?  The leaves here are just starting to turn, and everything seems to slow down just a tiny bit. That’s not to say it wasn’t a crazy week! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. Emergency Room. Well – I blogged about being a neurotic football mom and guess what happened? My son came home injured on Friday! See!!?? Okay – so it wasn’t that bad, but he wanted to get his arm x-rayed, and since he was developing quite a swollen goose-egg (and had broken both arms before) I agreed. I am not kidding when I tell you there were no less then 20 kids in the x-ray waiting room, all in various sports uniforms. What is going on out on those fields?? Anyway – all is fine – it’s just a bruise and football continues. *sigh*

2. Secret. Yes – I still have a secret – and no, I still am not saying what it is (and again... I am NOT pregnant) but hopefully I’ll have a little show and tell by the end of the weekend. I’m super excited & that’s all I’m saying... for now...

3. Jingle Bell Run. I have officially started training for the 5K walk I am participating in on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation. So far so good – I am up to 1.25 miles. Even better is that we have already raised over $1,000!! I’m blown away by everyone’s generosity! If you are local (or want to come visit) we would love to have you walk with us on December 11th. Let’s put Arthritis on the Run! To learn more, please visit my team page ...

4. Blog Award. The Versatile Blog Award continues...

  • Here is #4 of 7 things you may not know about me: I get carsick unless I am in the front seat (an even then there are no guarantees) ... taxi drivers beware!

  • And this week's Versatile Blog Award goes to: My friend Aimee's blog: Chocolate on A Rainy Day Not only does her blog have an awesome name, but she is a fellow accountant and awesome writer. We also both have adorable 5 year old sons (just sayin)... I hope you'll stop over to her blog and show her some love!

5. Book News.  Coming up this week, Nate Rocks the World will be making an appearance on two different blogs – first on Sunday the 16th, stop by Vorax Lector and read Antimony's  review of Nate Rocks the World. She also will be posting an interview I did with her last week. Then on Monday the 17th, stop by Emlyn Chand’s blog and find out why Nate Rocks the World is the featured book in Emlyn's weekly "Books You'll Adore" column.  Also - stay tuned because I have an exciting Halloween promotion in the works!

There really are six things this week ... Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway for The Day No One Played Together. The winner of this wonderful picture book by Donalisa Helsley is .... Desiree Rask ... Congratulations!!

I Hope everyone has a great weekend – thanks for checking in and be sure to tell me what’s on your Friday Five in the comments! See you next Friday... and hopefully sooner!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is Disability a Dirty Word?

Today is World Arthritis Day, so thought I would use the opportunity to continue the discussion I started a few weeks ago about the “Invisible Illnesses” that so many of use deal with on a daily basis.

We don't often use the word "disabled" in our house. Instead, my husband likes to refer to me as “enabled” because I have accomplished so much despite the fact that I suffer daily from Rheumatoid Arthritis. The truth of the matter, however, is that I am disabled. It has taken me a long time to admit that, and yet, I still struggle with what the term entails. Even though I know it is not a *bad* word ... it is a word that reminds me I have limitations.

I have a cane that sits next to my bed, and even on my worst days, when I know it will help me get around, I do not reach for it. Stubborn? Yes. Determined? Yes. Ashamed? No. I have disabilities and difficulties, but I deal with it the only way I know how - by living my life - one "spoon" at a time.

This week I officially started “training” for the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell 5K Walk in December. I say “training” because, unlike many people, I cannot just get up and walk 3+ miles. In fact, on many days, I can barely walk a quarter of a mile.

Last year was the first time I had tried to walk the 5K. Just as I am doing this year, I had to train. It was not easy – my first day on the treadmill, I was able to walk only for fifteen minutes at 2.5mph. By December, I was walking close to 2.75 miles (about 45 minutes) at 3.5mph. When it came to race day, I felt pretty good. I did not however, figure in a couple of additional factors: (1) I would be pushing my 35lb 4 year old in a stroller while I was walking, (2) I would be pushing a case of water in the bottom of said stroller – you know, in case I got thirsty, (3) There would be hills throughout the course, and (4) There would be horses that my daughter would want to stop and look at along the course. After all was said and done, I finished the race ... dead last. So far last, in fact, that everyone was packing up. But – I finished. And I intend to finish again this year.

My first day of training, was not quite as bad as last year, as I sporadically have been trying to keep up on the treadmill (meaning about once or twice a month vs. never). On Monday I walked 1.5 miles going 3.0 miles, followed by a long hot shower and another hour with my heating pad... heaven.

Why do I put myself through this when I could easily just say I don’t feel good, I’ll start tomorrow (or never?) Because I need to. Because I want to raise money for Arthritis research so that there will one day be a cure. Because I want to know that I am doing everything I can to keep myself moving (which is allegedly good for me.) Because even though I am disabled, I want to remind myself that I am also, as my husband says, enabled.

I don’t want to be known as “J’s mom - - the one with RA” or “That women with RA who wrote that kid’s book.” I don’t want to be the one at the PTO meeting nobody wants on their committee because I can’t lift anything heavy (true), or because I may not be able to come to all the meetings (less true). I want to simply be known as Karen – mom, wife, author, accountant ... person... even if you do see me with my cane.

To help support me in my fight against Arthritis, please visit my Jingle Bell Run Donation Page -- we would love to have you walk or run with us. Even the smallest donation can make a difference!

xoxo - Karen

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back to School Night or an Olympic Event?

Last week I finished up the third of my back to school nights for my children. I have to admit – I always dread going. Call me cranky, but after dinner, all I want to do is just sink into the couch and relax. Instead, I rallied myself together and headed out. Let the games begin!

Olympic Event #1 - Chair Wrangling: The first Back to School Night I attended was for my Kindergartener. It started out fine, the principal gave a short presentation, and then we headed off to our son’s classroom. The teacher asked us all to take a seat. I scanned the room, but all I saw were itty bitty five year old sized chairs. The panic of the first event starts to set in.  I don’t know what’s worse - trying to sit in them, or getting back up. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about it, as I spot a grown-up size chair in the corner and quickly grab it before anyone else. Sorry other parents – you snooze, you lose. Gold.

Olympic Event #2 – Office Sprint: A few days later, it was time to go to my daughter’s school. She is in 5th grade, which is in a different building – they call it “Upper Elementary.” The concept is good. All the kids are on teams. They have lockers and move around between subjects and classrooms between three teachers on the team, but stay with the same group of kids. Plus the rooms are all close together, so they are not running all over to get to class (see Olympic Event #3). It is supposed to get them ready for middle school, while offering an elementary school feel. For Back to School Night to be successful, you need to know your child’s schedule, so you can go through a ‘day in the life of...’ Apparently, your child was supposed to give you the printout before you left the house. Apparently, my child (along with 80% of the other children) forgot. This meant that I, along with several hundred other parents, had to go to the office to get the schedule and still make it to homeroom by 7:20pm. It was not pretty – let’s just say I did not medal in this event.

Olympic Event #3 – Stair Sprinting: The next and final Back to School Night was just a few days ago for my oldest son. He is in 8th grade and goes to the Middle School. For this event, you just needed to know your child’s homeroom. This time, I made sure I had all of the information before I left the house. Once you are in homeroom, you are given your child’s schedule and a map of the school. The bell rings and you are off. Over the next hour or so, you have to move from class to class – leaving the minute the bell rings and arriving at your destination before the next bell rings, with only ten minutes to sit in the classrooms in between to catch your breath. I don’t know what my son did to upset the scheduling gods, but I had to cross the entire school and go either up or down stairs in between every class. It’s no wonder he is so skinny! By 7th period, I was feeling the burn, but I managed to finish. Bronze.

Even so... It’s worth all the pain and hassle – I absolutely love meeting all my kids’ teachers. I love seeing their schoolwork hung up on the walls. I love hearing about all the topics they will be learning about during the year. I love meeting new parents and seeing parents that I’ve seen at every back to school night for the last nine years. I guess I love back to school night – I’ll just have to make sure and train for it before next year rolls around!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: The Day No One Played Together

Jadyn and Genesis are sisters who love to play and have big ideas. The problem is, they each have their own idea of what games to play. So instead of playing with each other, they play separately. But that turns out to be no fun at all. Then, their mom teaches them a new word ... compromise. They learn that when they put their heads together and brainstorm, they can come up with fun games that incorporate both of their ideas.

Author Donalisa Henlsley, does a wonderful job of explaining to young children the importance of being able to compromise and share, in this lovely picture book. I love how the mom thinks of an example of compromise but then engages the children to think of something on their own, thus introducing another new vocabulary word, “brainstorming.” Having the glossary section in the back is a great idea and helps to promote understanding of the words. The illustrations by Sarah Harkey are adorable and sweet. They are the perfect touch to this wonderful story.

As a mom, I love picture books that send a strong message, and The Day No One Played Together does not disappoint. The message is clear and the pictures will keep your child wanting to see more. A great book for young children.

This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review, and now I would like to pass this book along to you! Enter the contest below and one reader will receive a signed copy of The Day No One Played Together.

For more information about The Day No One Played Together, please visit:

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Friday Five - 10-07-11

Happy October everyone! It definitely feels like fall here, and I’m loving it!! I’m just itching to go to the pumpkin patch with the kids... maybe this weekend. But before that, here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

1. Happy Birthday! On Sunday, my oldest turned 14 – nobody was happier than me – 13 was not a fun year. But now that we are all settling into teenagedom, dare I say things seem to be a bit calmer? Of course, I know this could all change at a moments notice – and most likely will. But for now, I just would like to say Happy Birthday J-man. You rock!

2. A secret. I know, I know – that’s so mean, but it’s something I’ve been consumed with all week, so I had to include it – right? Trust me – you will all know soon enough (& before my mom who reads this freaks out, let me just say – I am not pregnant!!) Cue the phone ringing from said Mother... To be continued...

3. Crock-pot. I just thought I would take a moment to profess my love for my Crock-pot. Surely I am not the only one. Now that the cooler air has moved in, I have removed it from the forgotten bottom shelf of the pantry, cleaned it lovingly, and filled it with a fabulous stew of pork, carrots, barbecue sauce and a variety of other miscellaneous ingredients. I hope to continue this relationship until next summer. Life is good...

4. Blog Award. It is week three of my Versatile Blog Award. In case you missed it– I have decided to incorporate the rules of the Versatile Blog Award I received a few weeks ago into my Friday Five (listing seven things you may not know about me and passing the award to fifteen blogs)... –so as promised

  • #3 of 7 things you may not know about me: I cannot walk in heels – at all – luckily I’m tall, although according to the ruler in my Dr’s office, I am shrinking.
  • And my blog of the week goes to: “Addicted to Words” by YA Author Candie Leigh Campbell. Check out her fun blog which documents her road to publishing mixed in with some awesome giveaways...  Let’s all show Candie some blogging love at Adventures of YA Writing!

5. Book News. So do you all remember the ginormous contest I told you about last week where you could win a beautiful bookshelf filled with 15+ books (including a signed copy of Nate Rocks the World)? Well guess what – it seems I did not have enough coffee in me when typing up last week’s Friday Five because it doesn’t end 10/2 as I originally posted, but rather it ends on 10/12!! So you still have time to enter at Just Children’s Books. ...In other news... Nate Rocks the World was chosen as the “Karmic Read” pick of the week! Yay – thank you to Novel Publicity and Emlyn Chand for all your hard work! Pick up your Kindle version today!

Karmic Read Pick

On a sad note – as I type out this blog post on my Macbook Pro, it wouldn’t feel right without mentioning the passing of Steve Jobs- innovator, mastermind, and family man. RIP Steve.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

Hope everyone has a great weekend – thanks for checking in and be sure to tell me what’s on your Friday Five in the comments! See you next Friday... and hopefully sooner!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pet Therapy

There's a reason I don't get as much done at my computer as I would like. Every time I sit down,  I wind up with a sweet ball of fluff on my lap. I try to work around him, but he isn't exactly small. I turned on the web cam today so you could see for yourself:

Isn't he handsome? How can I resist taking a break to give him some love?

- which usually results in him falling asleep half on me & half on my keyboard

-which then makes me sleepy too....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday: Nate Rocks the World: The Phillies

In honor of The Phillies winning their first post-season game, I thought it was only right to post the following "Six Sentence Sunday" excerpt from Nate Rocks the World... from the opening scene of Chapter 1:


"The score is three to two in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. The Philadelphia Phillies have a man on first, but honestly folks, I think this game is over. The Phillies have just not been able to pull it together this World Series, and now with all of these injuries, who could the Phillies possibly put in to bat? It looks like this hometown team is running out of options. I hate to say this, but I think the dream of winning this year’s World Series is now over for this team. Wait a minute – is that Nate Rocks approaching the plate?"


To download the entire first chapter of Nate Rocks the World and learn more about Nate, please visit my website:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Conversation With My Five Year Old: The Other Planet

As he does every morning, my five year old joyfully ran into my arms for his morning snuggle. I cherish these moments as I know they eventually fade - just ask his older siblings. But then I thought, maybe if I start at an early age, I could brainwash convince him to always snuggle me:

Me: Will you love me forever?

C: Yes.

Me: And always give me hugs and snuggles?

C: Yes ... well - not when you're gone.

Me: Oh? Where am I going?

C: To the other planet.

Me: What other planet?

C: The one you go to when you get old.

Me: Oh...

C: Don't worry - I'll come to see you all the time.

M: You will? But you won't give me hugs and snuggles?

C: Sorry - those are the rules!

photo credit: NASA's Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered via photopin (license)

Now if only I can figure out how to amend this rule book!


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