Friday, December 30, 2011

The Friday Five: 12.30.11: Year End Edition!

photo credit: RobW_ via photo pin cc

Hi everyone! Can you believe it’s the very last Friday of 2011? I hope everyone has been enjoying the holidays. It’s been a very eventful year for me – both good and bad. I’ve had to say goodbye to my sweet grandmother, as well as two of our cats. Plus, we’ve had to replace the roof, hot water heater, and central air all within the span of few months (ouch!) But there have been a lot of great things that happened this year as well – my youngest graduated pre-school and started Kindergarten, and both my older kids made Honor Roll. And of course – we welcomed two adorable kittens into our family. But perhaps the biggest news for me – I published the first book... and finished the first draft of book two in the Nate Rocks series!

One thing I love about blogging is that I get to chronicle random events in my life. In case you haven’t noticed, my blog is more of a rambling of my daily life more than anything else. So what better way to wrap up the end of 2011 than by dedicating the last Friday Five of the year to my top blog posts of the year (as determined by page hits.) So here they are... in reverse order:

5. A Peek At My Inbox

I don’t know how your email display works, but I have mine set up so I can see the first few words of the actual message displayed before I even open the email. I like to know exactly what I am in for before I open my mail:

4. 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: more

3. 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

Last Week was Invisible Awareness Week. I know I'm a few days late, but I am participating in this simple blog post meme to help spread awareness, not only into the public eye, but because there is still so much even my closest friends and family do not know. more

2. Super Secret Surprise Revealed

It's a surprise... you're going to have to click on the link to see what you missed... more

1. 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.... read more


And because I had an entire year’s worth of posts to sort through (and because it’s my blog and I get to make the rules), I thought I would list an additional 5 that I felt deserved honorable mentions:

1. Camp Part 4 – The Pick Up Day

This past Sunday was one the day I had been looking forward to all week... camp pickup day! I definitely missed my two older kids and was ready to have them back home.

In theory, the counselors are supposed to have the kids all packed up and ready to go... in reality, it went something like this more

2. Teens, Tweens, & Clothing

My oldest son used to be so easy to dress. We had tops, and we had bottoms. It didn’t matter which top went with which bottom. He didn’t care, he didn’t complain. Whichever one his hand touched first when he opened his drawer was just fine. His shoe wardrobe consisted of one pair of sneakers and one pair of dark brown work boots that could double as dressier shoes, if more

3. You Pronounce That How?

There is a growing debate in our household and it stems around accents.

I grew up in Connecticut - I don’t have an accent (that’s my story & I’m sticking to it). My mother grew up in the Bronx – she does. For example, she likes to add the letters “er” to any word ending in an “a”. Soda becomes Soder. My alma mater, Ithaca College, becomes Ithacer. Santa was always Santer. You get the idea. She also likes to drop H’s – the word ‘huge’ becomes ‘uge’. For the sake of our relationship, I will stop here... read more

4. 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! more

5. Is It Monday Yet?

I know most people will wake up this morning and say TGIF. But more and more, I find myself counting the hours until it is Monday again. As the weekend approaches, I look to my calendar and am faced with a familiar dilemma: how in the world will I get my kids to all of their activities and events, manage to get the grocery shopping done, do the laundry, get the house presentable enough for our company, and have a relaxing weekend? more

I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year! Thanks so much for the overwhelming support – I can’t wait to share more ramblings with you in 2012. Stay safe and don’t drink and drive! See you next year!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday... Hey Nate Fans!

Dont Miss Book Two of The Nate Rocks Series!

Join Nathan, Tommy, and Abby as they have an action packed summer at overnight camp filled with even more fun and surprising adventures starring Nate Rocks!

Hi friends - I have started a Kickstarter Campaign to help get Nate Rocks the Boat off and running.  Giving the gift of reading to our children is one of the best gifts we can give! Your continued support is much appreciated.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Through the Eyes of A 10-year-old: An interview With Nate Rocks

The following is a re-print of a guest post I did for The Plot as part of my recent Blog Tour. Thanks so much to The Plot for letting me take over your blog for the afternoon!

In this post, I have the pleasure of interviewing 10-year-old Nathan Rockledge, star of Nate Rocks the World. Enjoy!


Q: So Nate – what do you want to be when you grow up?

A: I really want to be a comic book artist. I think I’m pretty good at it, and I love making up stories. I’ve actually done a few already. Maybe one day I’ll show them to you. Abby says they’re dumb, but I think they are cool.

Q: Speaking of your sister, do you two ever get along?

A: Sometimes she’s okay… I guess. Most of the time I just try to stay out of her way. She’s always in some kind of a mood – Mom says it’s just a phase, but so far this phase has been lasting as long as I can remember. Older sisters can definitely be a pain sometimes.

Q: Getting back to your comics – where do you like to draw?

A: Anywhere really – just as long as I have a pencil and a piece of paper. Sometimes I get in trouble because I’m supposed to be doing something else, but I just can’t help myself. Once I get started; I just get lost in what I’m doing.

Q: Do you get in trouble a lot?

A: Not a lot, but I have to be careful in school. There is this one girl named Lisa Crane, and she is so annoying. Her mom and my mom are best friends. One day I got in trouble for drawing in school when we were supposed to be taking a spelling test. Do you know what Lisa did? She went right home and told her mom, who of course called my mom. I mean – who does that?

Q: But there are some cool kids in your class right?

A: Oh yeah – my friend Sam is in my class, and so is my best friend Tommy. Tommy and I have been in the same class since Kindergarten, and he lives in my neighborhood. Tommy’s house is where I go whenever I need to escape my own house … and get a good meal.

Q: What do you mean? You don’t eat good meals at your own house?

A: Apparently you’ve never had my mom’s cooking! She tries and all, but no matter what she makes, there’s always something not quite right about it. Last night we had hotdogs. Easy right? Wrong! I had to chew each piece at least 100 times just to swallow it. Dad must be used to it or something because he never complains about mom’s cooking.

Q: So your Dad is pretty easy going?

A: Dad? Yeah mostly. He works a lot, but don’t ask me what he does – it has something to do with numbers and data. I used to try to ask him about it, but no matter what you ask Dad, he always ends up telling some story from his childhood that you’ve heard a million times already.

Q: Sounds like everyday is an adventure for you.

A: I guess it is. Being ten is kind of cool actually.

Nate – thanks so much for letting me interview you. You really do rock the world!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Holiday Hangover

photo credit: Toni Blay via photo pin cc

I’m not talking about drinking too much alcohol (you’re on your own for that one.) No – I’m talking about that feeling you get the day after all the holidays when you realize ... it’s over. It may be a feeling of sadness, it may be a feeling of relief – for me it’s more of a “What just happened?”

All those weeks of planning, shopping, wrapping, decorating, creating the perfect holiday card, baking, cooking, cleaning, and everything else required to make this year the best ever, Then with a blink of an eye – it’ over.

In its place, you are left with piles of crumpled wrapping paper, toys strewn all over the floor because they are too big for the shelves, a sink full of dishes, and a floor full of pine needles. As each day passes, you wonder why Santa’s elves haven’t come back to help clean up? After all – weren’t you good all year too? Finally at some point (it may or may not have been February last year) you decide to remove the ornaments, take down the tree, and put away the decorations.

Why do you put yourself through this craziness every year? I’ll tell you why: it’s more than just hearing the kids yell in delight when they open “that” gift – although that is pretty awesome. It’s having everyone together, it’s letting people know you care, it’s a time for teaching, a time to give to others who are less fortunate. It’s a time to be united – to celebrate the good in everyone - to believe in miracles. It’s a time for family and traditions -a time to love and be loved.

So take that holiday hangover! You may make a mess and leave me feeling frazzled – but I wouldn’t have it any other way!


 Fill up that Kindle, Nook, IPad with these awesome books! 100+ Authors, 100+ E-Books - buy 3, get 1 free including Nate Rocks the World! Click on the picture for all the details & Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Friday Five -12/23/11

Happy Holidays Everyone! It’s been a busy week here celebrating Hanukkah and getting ready for Christmas ... it feels like we were just eating Turkey at Thanksgiving (actually it feels like it was just 4th of July!). I hope everyone had a great week – here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. Sickies. It never fails – someone is always sick over the holidays. This year, the sneezing started Sunday for my 5 year old. Then the runny nose, cough, ear infection & my favorite... pink eye. He stayed home until Thursday. Then my oldest wasn’t feeling well and stayed home on Wednesday. The Toz Infirmary has been working double time this week. Thankfully, everyone seems to be on the mend now.

2. Basketball. Monday night was my oldest son’s first basketball game of the season. He totally rocked it – true, he’s almost a foot taller than everyone else on the 8th grade team at 6’3", but you still have to play well & he really did. I’m a proud mama!

photo credit: skpy via photo pin cc
3. Hanukkah. There are many reasons I love Hanukkah (did you read my post about Hanukkah Memories? There’s a fun(ny) pic of me from the 70s)... this year was no different - we had a really great time celebrating the first night – candle lighting, latkes (my favorite), story telling, and a fierce game of dreidel – an of course my husband and I had to watch the original video of Adam Sandler singing the Hanukkah song on SNL. For those who celebrate, I hope you are enjoying the Festival of Lights.

4. Christmas Tree. Last week I told you about putting up the Christmas Tree and how we were worried about how the kittens would react. Well, I’m happy to report they don’t seem to care too much at all. I had visions of them climbing right up the tree and knocking the whole thing over – but so far so good. We left it up completely undecorated for about a week. Then my husband added lights – still okay, so last night we added ornaments (deciding to keep our breakables off the tree this year.) So far so good – way to go kittens!

photo credit: Mastery of Maps via photo pin cc

5. Book News. I can finally take a breather this week! I wrapped up blog tour number one last Friday. Wow – I think that was the craziest two weeks of my life! I had a blast – thank you so much to all the amazing blogs who hosted me. For anyone who wants to catch up, you can still read all of the reviews and posts. The complete listing is on my website.

Now it’s on to blog tour number 2 – organized by For You PR – this weeks stops:

  •  Rute Canhoto’s blog – 1st on the 28th for a review, and then again on the 30th for an interview.
  • The TBR Pile for a feature and review on the 28th.
  • Also – it’s not to late to win an e-book copy of Nate Rocks the World – visit Heidi Ruby Miller’s blog for details.

Then – for those who have E-Readers, or may be getting an E-Reader for the holidays - or even using an E-Reader app on their computer or phone... I’m joining the WoMen’s Literary Cafe for their amazing e-book promotion that begins tomorrow: 100+ books – buy 3 get 1 free. The sale continues through the 31st & the best part is that Nate Rocks the World will stay at $0.99 through the sale!

Also a big thank you to Karen Elliott who invited me to participate in her Holiday Week celebration on her blog - definitely check it out - there are some amazing writers sharing holiday stories for the next several days.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and a very happy holiday– thanks for checking in. Leave me a comment and let me know what’s in your Friday Five. See you next Friday... and hopefully sooner!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celebrating the Holidays ... Toz Style

photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via photo pin cc

December to me has always felt a bit like being at a circus – no we don’t have clowns or tigers, but there is a whole lot of juggling going on. As I noted in my Hanukkah Memories post, my side of the family celebrates Hanukkah. My husband’s side of the family celebrates Christmas. My husband and I collectively with our three kids, celebrate both.

The juggling usually begins with a phone call from one of my family members some time in late October: “Do you know when you are having Hanukkah this year?”

Yes – you read that correctly. In the Toz household, I get to decide when Hanukkah is ... sort of. You see, even though there is a date on the calendar every year that tells the world when Hanukkah is, we don’t celebrate it until my family (my parents, brother/sister-in-law/kids, and my aunt and uncle) can decide on a date when we can all get together. This year, we are celebrating at the end of January – almost an entire month after the actual holiday is over. I know that may seem absurd to some, but that’s how we’ve always done it. (Sadly this year my brother and his family are not able to join us – hopefully we will be with them again next year.)

We still light the candles and say all the prayers during *actual* Hanukkah, but we wait for gifts, games of dreidel, and latkes until our big family celebration. (Although we did manage to sneak in some latkes and dreidel playing a little early this year!)

Then there is Christmas. Oh I know what you are thinking – that’s easy – that’s on the 25th! Yes, that is true – but it’s also going to extend into January for us. Christmas in January? What are you talking about?
Let me explain.

In years past, my two oldest children always spent the week in between Christmas and New Years with their dad, my ex-husband. Usually they leave the day after Christmas. This year, however, they are leaving on Christmas day. So, on Christmas morning, my husband, my three kids, and I will have our traditional celebration - stockings, Santa gifts, and pancakes. However, when my husband’s extended family comes to visit, my two oldest will already be gone. So when they return in January, we will do it all over again with my in-laws.

Confusing? Yes. Sometimes, I feel like we are straight out of "Christmas Vacation." But that’s just always how it’s been in our hectic household.

To all of my friends, family, and readers... Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday season!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hanukkah Memories

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah! As I get my dreidels and latkes ready, I'd like to share with you a post I wrote as a participant of "Holiday Week" (to be published tomorrow) along with seven other wonderful writers on Writer and Editor Karen S. Elliot's Blog: The Word Shark.


In my household, my side of the family celebrates Hanukkah. My husband’s side of the family celebrates Christmas. My husband and I collectively with our three kids, celebrate both. It’s important to me that each holiday is celebrated separately – with equal importance and wonderful traditions that my children can take with them.

That's me on my Mom's lap with my brother, Dad,
Aunt, & our giant Menorah!  1973? 
As a child, I always looked forward to Hanukkah. My parents decided early on that in place of a Christmas tree, we would decorate a giant Menorah that my father made out of wood and an old bed bolster. Our Menorah was about seven feet tall and four feet wide. We would decorate it with tissue paper first and then hang Hanukkah cards on it that we had received over the years. I loved looking at the cards every year, and we were pioneers in recycling! We were the only house in the neighborhood (probably the only house anywhere) that had a giant decorated Menorah – it was a big deal.

Then we would move over to our smaller ‘normal’ sized menorah, where we would light the candles and say the prayers. I remember it was always coveted to be the one to light the candles (and usually resulted in a fight between my older brother and myself.)

My Aunt would always come over, and at some point, my parents would start bringing out the presents. In many households celebrating Hanukkah there is a small gift each night of the eight-night holiday. However, in our household, my parents would pile up gifts around the giant Menorah for a single day celebration. That’s not to say I grew up in a wealthy household or was spoiled. In fact, I was neither. But my parents did want us to have gifts to open. I can remember one year in particular, my parents wrapped up grapefruit and oranges just to make the pile bigger. For us, opening was the best part.

The day of course would end with a great meal and a rousing game of dreidel.

I don’t know whatever happened to our giant Menorah, but I hope that my children are enjoying the Hanukkah traditions that we have incorporated into our family.

Our tradition: the kids each have their own Menorah - we take turns lighting
each night, and on the last night - we light them all!

However you celebrate your holidays, I hope you find yourself surrounded by the people you care most about! Happy Hanukkah!


Monday, December 19, 2011

You Know You Have A Teenager When...

photo credit: marimoon via photo pin cc
True story... my fourteen-year-old was running late for school this morning. He still needed to get his shoes on, so he went up to his room to get them. He came back down wearing... slippers! I kid you not.

Then, when I told him to put on real shoes, he responded by saying, “They’re fine.”

“Um no!” I replied, taking the now familiar deep breath, “You’re not going to a slumber party.” (Even if he does nod off in class.) I then got the *look* and the sigh, as he went back to his room to put on appropriate footwear.

Here is a list of other things that may determine whether you have a teenager in the house:

  • Your child interprets “clean your room” to mean “throw everything in the closet.”

  • “Homework” refers only to written work that is due the next day. It does not include tests they may have to study for, books they may have to read, or projects due in the future. If any of the above exist without a written assignment due the next day, the answer to the question, “Do you have any homework,” will most certainly be “no.”

  • The words, “Mom would it be okay if...” usually involve a ride and some money.

  • They refuse to use an umbrella at the bus stop even though it is practically a monsoon.

  •  And when it's cold, you can forget about the winter coat, gloves, or hat.

  • They act as though waking them before 11:00am on the weekends is the cruelest form of punishment.

  • They believe sleepwear and daywear are interchangeable.

But through it all – I do love my teen... slippers and all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday: Nate Rocks the World: Santa's Helpers

I'm back with another Six Sentence Sunday!

Well you know right about now those elves at the North Pole are working double time, so I thought I'd share a scene about the elves!  In this scene, Nathan and his best friend Tommy seem to have gotten themselves in a little bit of trouble - instead of punishing them, Nathan's parents thought they should do a little community service ... as Santa' Helpers.  It's all good until they see the elf costume they have to wear:

I take a deep breath and struggle to pull the green tights on. Luckily, none of the kids from school can see me in this getup. I’d never hear the end of it.

I step out of the bathroom expecting Tommy to drop to the floor in uncontrollable laughter, but he is wearing the exact same outfit as me, complete with the hat and shoes, looking as if he is about to cry.

“We have to wear this all day?” Tommy asks in disbelief.

I nod.


Curious as to what happens next? Pick up a copy of Nate Rocks the World to find out - available in both print and digital formats.

 For the Twelve days of Christmas, Nate Rocks the World is just $0.99 for your Kindle, Nook, or other digital reader.  Kids LOVE to read books on E-Readers! This holiday season, give the gift of reading to your child.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Friday Five – 12-16-11

Hi all! I can’t believe how fast this month is flying! Just this morning another parent at my son’s bus stop asked if I knew what time they got out of school next Friday for early dismissal – I asked, “for what?” I thought for sure we had two more weeks before the holidays, not one more week! Yikes! Anyway – besides losing track of time, here’s what I’ve been up to this week:

1. Jingle Bell Run! First of all – thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated, participated, and gave their support in any manner to the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell 5K run/walk that took place on Sunday. I so appreciate it!! We had a sunny but cold day for the 5k walk. As the Adult Honoree, I helped to kick off the run part of the race, which was very exciting. Then it was on to the walk... I started out okay, but by the 2 mile mark, I was D-O-N-E. It was time for me to turn in. I was disappointed I could not finish, but as I often have to do, I reminded myself, I am grateful to be able to walk as much as I do. I spent the next several days in bed with a heating pad, but it was definitely worth it! Listen up RA – you may be able to slow me down, but you can’t stop me!

2. Holiday shopping. I think I might actually be finished! There was a moment of panic the other night when I asked my husband if a certain gift for my oldest ever arrived. His response, “I thought you ordered that?” Sigh. The good news was we were still able to order it with guaranteed holiday shipping – the bad news - we missed out on the sale.

3. More holidays. In our house, we celebrate both Hanukkah & Christmas. We have traditions and decorations for both holidays that we do every year. However, this year we are a little worried about the mix of Christmas Tree and two crazy kittens. Well – we’ve got the tree up and so far it is still standing. We’ll see what happens once we start hanging shiny things on it. I think we’ll skip the ceramic ornaments this year!

4. Book News – Part One. I’m finishing up the last week of one tour and starting the next one. It’s been crazy, but I’m having a great time visiting so many great blogs! Thank you to all the blogs who have so graciously reviewed, sponsored, and highlighted Nate Rocks the World. I’ve listed them below – if you have a chance to visit one or more, please do and be sure to leave a comment and say hello!

Pump Up Your Book
4 the Love of Books
Loves 2 Read
Paperback Writer
Woven Myst
The Hot Author Report
One Day at a Time
The Plot
Just A Girl (also hosting a giveaway!)
Book Lovers Paradise
Platform For Writerly Ideas and Confessions

I'm also on The Eclectic Artist's Cave on Shark Radio today at 11:00am EST!

Also, visit Pump Up Your Book’s Facebook page between 4-10pm EST today for your chance to win some awesome books, including Nate Rocks the World. Meet other readers, chat with the authors, and win some great prizes! Hope to see you there!

5. Book News – Part Two. In addition to the two blog tours – I’m also a part of an awesome promotion going on now until the 24th. For the twelve days of Christmas, 200+ authors have gotten together to offer their kindle books for just $0.99! There are so many genres – mystery, romance, contemporary, young adult, kids, and the list goes on. Many of these books are also available for $0.99 for Nook and other formats! Books make great holiday gifts & now you can gift Kindle & Nook books! To see all the great books offered, click on the picture below:

One other note... Thank you to 10 year old Lucas of Kids'n'books for naming Nate Rocks the World one of his top 5 books of 2011. You Rocks!

Hope everyone has a great weekend – thanks for checking in. Leave me a comment and let me know what’s in your Friday Five. See you next Friday... and hopefully sooner!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Five Most Inspirational Places to Write

The following is a re-print of a guest post I recently wrote for Literal Exposure as part of my Blog Tour with Pump Up Your Book.  Thanks so much for letting me invade your blog for the day!


The Five Most Inspirational Places to Write

One question I am asked often, is how I came up with all of Nate’s adventures for my book Nate Rocks the World. I’d like to say, I am able to just sit at my keyboard while the words flow perfectly by themselves, but I can’t. While I do write best in the morning hours, I am never quite sure when an idea is going to hit me. Since my memory is fading at a rapid pace as the years creep by, I always make sure I have something available with me to jot down my thoughts. So where am I when these bursts of ideas decide to show up? Here are the five most idea gathering inspirational places for me:

1. The Shower.  I cannot explain the reasoning, but as soon as the water starts, so do the ideas. At first this was a real problem, seeing as though I had nowhere to record any of these thoughts. But – I actually stumbled on an amazing product called AquaNotes –a waterproof pad of paper and pencil set that you attach to your shower wall. It is seriously the best invention ever.

2.The Bus Stop. Every weekday at 3:55 I venture to the end of my street to wait for the return of my kindergartener. I frequently will use the notepad app on my phone if something pops into my head while standing there. In fact, I practically wrote this entire post while waiting out there the other day.

3. In The Car. Don’t worry, I wait until I’m stopped before writing anything down – generally on an old coffee stained napkin. Yes, I am aware they make memo pads that attach to one’s dashboard.

4. In line at the Grocery Store. I know what you are thinking – I should be keeping up with my reading of current events while waiting in line at the grocery store. You know – who is having an affair this week, which star might be pregnant, alien sightings, and all that other good stuff. Instead I am writing down ideas on expired coupons.

5. Work. Don’t tell my boss – enough said.

As you can imagine, I have many scraps of papers with notes on them floating around my desk. 


I'm Officially on Tour!

Please Visit Me Today At:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Letter to Santa

Nate Rocks the World and many other books for your E-Readers are just $0.99


The following is a re-print of a blog post I wrote for Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews as part of my Blog Tour with Pump Up Your Book  Thank you so much for letting me take over your blog for a day!


photo credit: wackystuff via photo pin cc
Dear Santa,

I’ve been a really good girl this year (it’s true!) There are many things I could ask for, but instead I would like to ask a favor. You see, my children have recently written to you with the list of items they desire. They have been pretty good – not perfect – but as far as kids go, they rank pretty high up there. They’ve asked for all kinds of fun things – video games, electronics, and other various items that make plenty of noise. My friends have told me that their kids have asked for similar items. While I’m sure these are all tons of fun, there is something noticeably missing on these lists - - books!

Books are awesome! They are like movies in your head -- only better! Where else can you escape into a world of endless stories and possibilities? Where else can you put yourself into the shoes of wizards, heroes, friends, royalty, and yes – even vampires? Where else can you learn life lessons or laugh until your belly aches?

You may have heard that I wrote a book this year – it’s called Nate Rocks the World, about a 10-year-old boy who loves to draw and use his imagination. Nate draws all kinds of adventures that come to life, proving to the world that you don’t have to be a super-hero to achieve great things. I’ve been told that 7-12 year olds are loving it (and so are their parents.)

So Santa, please remember that the gift of reading is one of the best gifts we can give to our children – whether it be Nate Rocks the World or any other book they would enjoy (but if it happens to be Nate Rocks the World, I might throw in some extra cookies for you... just saying.)

Thanks Santa – say hi to Mrs. Claus and the reindeer. Happy Holidays!

Peace and Love,

Karen Pokras Toz

PS. If you need any help this year, I think I know someone who can help.


I'm officially on tour!

Please visit me today at:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hello My Name Is...

photo credit: quinn.anya via photo pin cc
It’s happened a million times before, and it happened again this morning. I was walking my son to the corner, to the school bus stop. A women I had never met before was out walking her dog. She stopped to say hi – said she lives two streets over – her name is.... wait – what's her name again?

Forgive me if I tell you I don’t remember your name. I know I’m not the only one, but that doesn’t make it any better. I know you’re supposed to immediately repeat the name after you hear it – “Hi my name is Mary” ... “Nice to meet you Mary” “Where do you live, Mary?” But even then, it often doesn’t stick.

How about when you’ve been told the name several times, and you still can’t remember – or when you run across them again and need to introduce them to someone. You just pray they’ll go first and say, “Hi my name is ...” But they never do, and then you are stuck there either admitting you don’t remember their name or staring at them with a weird look on your face. Either way, it’s embarrassing.

Pets wear collars with their name on it, why don’t people? I think everyone should have a name necklace.

 It sure would make my life a lot easier (and isn’t that what it’s all about?)


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sample Sunday: Nate Rocks the World: Christmas Edition

Hi all ... this Sunday, I had originally planned to participate in another 'Six Sentence Sunday,' posting from Nate's Christmas adventure. However, I just could not decide which six I wanted - then I thought, why limit myself? Instead, I decided to do a 'Sample Sunday.'

In this sample, Nate discovers that he has a very important task at hand...

Enjoy & Happy Holidays!


Everything around me is frozen. Bright white snow covers the ground, and there are icicles hanging from the trees. I look up at the large white and red striped pole standing next to me. I wipe the snow from the attached sign to read the words “North Pole.”

“It can’t be,” I say, twirling around. Behind me is a large house outlined in colorful lights. All of the house’s lights are on and smoke streams from its chimney. I shove my hands in my pockets to try to stay warm, trudging through the snow and up the walkway towards the front door.

A small little man wearing an outfit similar to the one I had on in the hospital is waiting at the front door and hurries me in. I look down at my own clothing – thank goodness – I’m back in my regular jeans.

“Finally!” He shouts, “What in the jack-in-the- box a’rosie took you so long, Nate?”

“The jack in the who?” I ask puzzled.

“Oh nevermind, nevermind. We have to hurry. The sled is already packed, and the reindeer are all waiting for you. We just have to get you changed.”

“Oh, please tell me I don’t have to wear another one of those goofy elf costumes again – er – I mean, it looks wonderful on you and all, but – uh – um,”

“Don’t be silly. You need to look like Santa of course! Lucky for us, Mrs. Claus kept some of Santa’s clothing from a few years past, when his belly wasn’t quite so jolly. You know how all those milk and cookies can be ... a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!”

The elf starts rummaging through a mountain of Santa outfits. “Ah yes, here it is. This looks like it will fit you just fine.”

“Where should I get changed?” I look around for a spare room.

The elf reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of silver glittery powder. “I’ll take care of that,” he says, sprinkling the glitter over my head.

In the blink of an eye, my jeans and jacket are replaced with a red and white velvet suit. I hesitantly raise my hand up to my face to feel the moustache and beard.

“How did you ... ?” I ask.

“Why, it’s the magic of Christmas, of course. Now hurry up, there is no time to waste, the children are waiting,” the elf says, pushing me out the door.


Want to know what happens next? Pick up a copy of Nate Rocks the World - available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & more! This holiday season give the child in your life the gift of reading!


I'm officially on tour!

Please visit me today at:

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Friday Five 12-9-11

Hi all! Well – we are another week closer to the holidays! Who’s ready? I’m getting there, but glad I still have another couple of weeks. Besides some shopping, here’s what I’ve been up to this week:

1. Dance. For those who follow my blog, you know that my daughter is the big dancer in the family. But did you know that my five-year-old now takes a dance class too? I can’t say I’m surprised, he spent the last five years of his life at either the dance studio or countless performances for his big sister. Anyway, this past Saturday his class (hip hop) put on a performance for a local nursing home. So darned cute!!!

2. Kittens. They’re adorable, they’re sweet, ...they tear into everything – including my skin – well they used to. On Monday, we brought them to the vet to have them declawed (I know, I feel bad, but it was necessary). Anyway, the poor little muffins now have to wear cone collars for a week while their little paws heal. I think they're quite fashionable actually.

3. Jingle Bell Walk. Guess what I’ll be doing this Sunday! I’m the adult honoree for this year’s Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell 5K Walk! Thank you to all who signed up to walk and/or donate. I’ll be sure to post a full report next week. If you’d like to still sign up, all of the information is in the post I wrote yesterday. Also – if you’d like to learn more about my daily fight with RA, you can read about my story on the Arthritis Foundation’s website.

4. Book News –Part 1. Yup – we are splitting book news into two parts this week because there is so much going on! For starters, I’m officially on tour!! Here is a list of the blogs I visited this past week. You can still drop by - read the reviews and interviews, enter giveaways, and of course say hello:

5. Book News – Part 2. As if doing the blog rounds wasn’t exciting enough, I also hit the airwaves! Yesterday, I was a guest on Marsha Casper Cook’s radio show “A Good Story is A Good Story” talking about book PR & marketing with fellow author Stacey Rourke. This morning I am with Renee Hand on her show “Stories From Unknown Authors.” If you missed the live shows, they can both be heard as podcasts on BlogTalk Radio.

I also have two giveaways ending soon for signed copies of Nate Rocks the World – easy entry! Good Luck!

I Hope everyone has a great weekend – thanks for checking in. Leave me a comment and let me know what’s in your Friday Five. See you next Friday... and hopefully sooner!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Team Toz Hits the Pavement ... Again

Below is a blog post I wrote this time one year ago:


5 years ago, I knew what it felt like to have enough energy to take my kids to the park. I knew what if felt like to be able to play with my kids on the floor. I knew what it felt like to be able to move freely. 5 years ago, I knew what it felt like to be pain-free.

When my doctor first told me I had arthritis, I thought she was mistaken. Arthritis was for old people. I was only in my thirties. My pain was from overdoing it at tennis. I just wanted a referral for some physical therapy so I could be on my way.

She explained to me that I had “rheumatoid arthritis” or RA, a disease that is blind to age. RA is an autoimmune disease. Essentially, your body’s immune system believes your joints are “bad” & tries to destroy them. In addition, like most auto-immune diseases, RA causes exhaustion. Not just, ‘I’m tired because I need to sleep better at night exhaustion’ - I’m talking about ‘unable to function at 1:00 in the afternoon exhaustion.’

Over the last 3 years, I have tried more drugs then I can remember. I’ve had allergic reactions, hair loss, weight gain, headaches, nausea, bruises, broken bones, fevers, insomnia, and multiple infections. I’ve had to give myself weekly injections, go through regular blood draws to make sure my liver is functioning, and deal with monthly IVs.

The drugs unfortunately, work by suppressing my immune system. I have had to keep myself as isolated as possible from anyone who appears sick, so as not to get sick myself. Not an easy task with my little one in preschool! I’ve had to stop and restart treatment several times now due to illness. If I am not able to stay on the drugs, I will soon be out of treatment options.

For the second year now, my amazing husband John, is running the Arthritis Foundation’s 5K Jingle Bell Run this December; not just for me, but for the millions of adults and children who suffer from this debilitating disease every day.

Like many diseases, there have been great strides made in research, but no cure.


Update 2011:  Last year, I did in fact walk and finish the 5k and I plan to do it again this year. I am also incredibly honored and humbled to be this year's race Honoree. 

Thanks to the generosity and support of some amazing friends and family, we have raised over $2,600!! If you would like to help “Team Toz” this year either by running/walking with Team Toz, or with a donation, check out our team web page. We thank you so much for your support!!


I'm Officially on Tour!

Please visit me today at:

Also I will be a guest on Marsha Casper Cook's "A Good Story is A Good Story" on BlogTalk Radio Today at 4:00pm EST along with Author Stacey Rourke and For You P.R. ~ Marketing and Public Relations.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Author Spotlight: Carolyn Arnold

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming fellow author Carolyn Arnold to my blog!

Carolyn is the author of several novels in the mystery, thriller and suspense genres. TIES THAT BIND, the first in a police procedural mystery series surrounding Detective Madison Knight, was her debut novel and published May 2011.

Carolyn was born in 1976 in the rural town of Picton, Ontario. She lives with her husband and her two beagles in Southwestern Ontario. Her newest book ELEVEN was published in November 2011.

Q: When did you start writing and did you always want to be a writer?

A: I wrote as a teenager but life changed and it wasn’t until just over four years ago I rediscovered my passion for writing.

Q: What inspired you to write Eleven?

A: I love the television series “Criminal Minds” for one. Second, there is this small abandoned home outside of the city I live it. The idea for underground burial chambers just hit me when I saw it one day.

Q: What is the significance of the book’s title?

A: Eleven is the number of intended victims. Eleven is also the number of incisions the killer makes in his victims. Essentially the number and its representation factor symbiotically into the plot of the novel.

Q: What is your greatest challenge as an author?

A: I would have to say family. I love them and value all of them. However, they don’t necessarily agree with or support my genre choice. It makes it hard when you’re so very passionate about something and not able to share your successes along the way with those closest to you. However, with that said my husband is my greatest supporter.

As for a challenge when it comes to the craft itself, I had to hone in on character development to “create characters you can pinch”.

Q: What is up next for you?

A: December will see the release of JUSTIFIED, the 2nd in the Madison Knight mystery series. In the new year I hope to start writing a new novel before editing another novel for release. (I have written a total of seven novels to date.)

Q: Do you have any advice for new writers?

A: Most importantly keep writing. Don’t let anyone else, or yourself, stop you from doing so.


Eleven Rooms. Ten Bodies. One Empty Grave.

Brandon Fisher never expected this when he signed up as a Special Agent for the FBI. Working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper of the Behavioral Analysis Unit his career seemed set. But when the team is called to a small rural town where the remains of ten victims are found in an underground bunker, buried in an unusual way, Brandon knows he'll never return to his normal life.

With one empty grave, and the case touching close to home, he fears he's become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him number eleven. Only thing is, everything Brandon thinks he knows is far from the truth.

ELEVEN, By Carolyn Arnold

Where to buy:
Amazon for Kindle or in Print

Where to connect online:

Amazon Author Page
Facebook page


I'm officially on tour!

Please visit me today at:

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