Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Yard Sale & A Hurricane? What Could Be More Fun?

I have PYSES. No, this is not some trendy new handbag designer. It stands for Post Yard Sale Exhaustion Syndrome. My husband’s friend Jean coined the phrase. That’s right. We had a yard sale. Yesterday. I am still not 100% recovered.

The yard sale seemed like a good idea at the time. We had a garage, basement, and attic full of "stuff." Lots and lots (and lots) of stuff.

My husband worked tirelessly during the week lugging boxes. There were several moments of "are you sure we should do this?" But the ads were already in place. People would be arriving on Saturday (hopefully) ready or not

On Friday, we started unloading and organizing as much as possible in the garage. We had dedicated areas for toys, books, holiday decor, and small appliances. That wasn’t even the half of it. The driveway, which we had to wait to set up until morning, was slated for tools, hardware, furniture, garden, and miscellaneous. Ah yes... the miscellaneous category.

Setting up in the garage the day before.

Oh and by “morning” I mean 4:00am. Yes, that’s right, my husband was up at four starting to set up the driveway. I was able to sleep in until five. By the time I got outside at 5:30am, there was still so much to be done. By 7:00am, we were wondering when daylight would begin. By 8:00am, we had finally finished, and the people started rolling in.

Setting up the tools in the driveway in the dark at 4am ... fun times!

More Stuff! Is that the sun starting to rise at 7:00am?

We had a pretty steady stream for about three and half hours. We sold a lot. We made a several hundred dollars selling stuff for 50 cents here, a dollar there. As expected, things became cheaper as the morning went on. Even though we sold lots, by 1:00pm, we still had plenty of stuff left. Stuff that needed to get boxed up, labeled, and put back into the garage for the charitable organization we chose to donate everything leftover to. We finished packing the last box around 5:00pm.

...Just in time to start preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. I guess what I really have is PYSHPES (Post Yard Sale and Hurricane Prep Exhaustion Syndrome).  Don’t worry, it’s only contagious if you are as crazy as we are to have an enormous yard sale the day before a hurricane arrives. What are the chances?

I hope everyone in Sandy’s path stays safe and dry!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bloggers - I Need YOU!

From 10/25/12 to 11/23/12

Thank you to I.O. Tours For organizing the upcoming tour of 
Nate Rocks the World
Nate Rocks the Boat
Millicent Marie Is Not My Name

This mega tour starts November 13 and lasts until February 21st! Be a tour host of one, two, or all three of my middle grade books.

This is a hop for any and all Mommy Bloggers who want to join!

If you are already on the tour 


if you would like to be a part of it jump aboard the blog hop! 

Share this on your blogs with your friends and spread the word!

I am giving a Grand Prize to one blogger host of all 3 books - signed! 

So what do you need to do?

1) Use the Linky below to add your

2) Copy and paste the to your blog

3)  Add a link to your hop post
to your side bar so your friends can find it

4) Have fun :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Author Spotlight: Renata Suerth

Welcome to this week's Author Spotlight! This week, I am so pleased to introduce you to children's author Renata Suerth. Renata is the author of The Wig: Crazy Summer (Book 1) - an adorable book your elementary school readers will love. In fact - adults are loving it as well. I know I did! Here is my review:

The Wig is a charming story about ten year old Sophia. The story opens with poor Sophia learning that her family is moving out of state to live with her grandmother...not the fun grandmother who lives back in Sophia's old town, but the other grandmother... the one who cannot cook and wears a wig.

Throughout her crazy summer, Sophia finds herself in some hilarious and embarrassing situations. Out of boredom, she occasionally even finds herself in trouble. In the end, Sophia learns about what really matters in life.

The Wig is a sweet, funny, and endearing story that your elementary aged reader is sure to enjoy.

I gave this entertaining book 4 Stars.


An embarrassing underwear incident? A lesson on a runaway bike? Grandma’s wig at the fire
department? These and lots of other adventures await ten-year-old Sofie, whose life is pretty
ordinary until she finds out that in two weeks her family has to move in with her grandma – not
her favorite grandma – her other grandma.

While Sofie tries to adjust to her new life in Wisconsin, she gets into plenty of hilarious
predicaments with her wacky, eccentric grandma and learns the shocking truth about her family.
Sofie must also find time to impress the cute neighbor!

Will she stay out of trouble long enough to figure out the mysterious reasons for the sudden
move? Maybe. Will she have fun along the way? DEFINITELY!

To Learn More About Renata and The Wig:

Thanks for joining the Author Spotlight this week, Renata!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Author Spotlight: Val Muller

Welcome to another Author Spotlight! Today, I have fellow middle grade author Val Muller. Val's newest book Corgi Capers: The Sorceress of Stoney Brook is perfect for your 7-12 year old's Halloween reading list!  Today Val joins us to talk about the inspiration behind this latest book:

There’s just something about autumn: the crispness in the air (or maybe the chill), the changing leaves, the golden sunshine, the harvests of apple and pumpkin. This time of year has always been one of my favorite, and I’m celebrating with the release of my latest book, Corgi Capers: The Sorceress of Stoney Brook (DWB Publishing, October 2012).

When I was younger, a white van followed me and a group of neighbors down a dark street on Halloween. Laden with our bags of candy, we ran for cover. Some of the neighbors ran to a nearby house for help. I hid behind a tree. I knew I was safe, but there was something fascinating about the whole thing. I wanted to see it happen. I wanted to try to get a glimpse of the creeper driving the van, to see what kind of a person would try to scare kids like that. Watching it happen, I realized—despite the fear and adrenaline—that it would become a formative memory of my life.

The van pulled away as soon as the neighbor kids reached the porch, but the excitement didn’t end there. We gathered at one of our homes, our parents were summoned, and we each had to give a story to the police. Knowing I was safe, I relished in every detail—from the way different parents reacted to the policeman’s demeanor. Still, the potential for danger during trick-or-treat made all my subsequent Halloweens a bit more genuine. The sinister smiles on jack-o-lanterns were no longer the scariest thing to consider. Snakes and spiders hiding in piles of leaves near the side of the road no longer carried that same fear.

I tried to capture that feeling in The Sorceress of Stoney Brook. Worried that his neighbors are witches and followed by a white van, the main character has much more than the spookiness of trick-or-treating to worry about.


Book Two in the Corgi Capers series, Corgi Capers: The Sorceress of Stoney Brook embroils Adam and Patrick in the scariest caper yet. The old Frostburg house has new tenants, and to Adam and Patrick, they look like witches. Belle and Cassie dress elaborately, speak strangely, and seem to know way too much about the Hollingers. Adam and Patrick read about how Logan Zephyr, their favorite comic book hero, defeated an evil sorceress and wonder if they, too, are facing real witches. When Belle asks Adam to rake leaves for her close to Halloween, Adam decides it’s a great excuse to investigate the house—or is it the perfect way for the witches to cast a spell on Adam and his best friend?

Targeting middle-grade readers (ages 7 – 12), the novel switches perspectives between the corgis and their people, offering humor and insight entertaining to adults and children alike. While trying to solve the mystery of his new neighbors, Adam confronts other challenges as well: it’s the Autumn League playoffs, and the team is counting on Adam to pitch his heart out; Adam’s sister is hanging out with a high-school bully, and the two have nefarious plans for Adam; and Marnie, a girl at school, has been fighting the other girls over who gets to take Adam to the Harvest Dance—to Adam’s chagrin.

“This is that weird lady I was telling you about,” Adam whispered to Patrick.
“She definitely looks like a witch to me,” Patrick said as softly as he could under Zeph’s frantic barking.
Sapphie looked as calm as could be. Her purple scarf matched Belle’s purple skirt. Belle also wore strange sandals that looked like they belonged on a Roman gladiator. She had just as many bangle bracelets as the last time Adam saw her, and now she tied her long hair back with a bright yellow bandana.
“Maybe you’re right,” Adam said. “How else would she have got a hold of Sapphie?”
Before Patrick could answer, Arabella called down the driveway. “I just made a fresh batch of warm, mulled cider. Would you boys like some?”
Patrick turned to Adam. “No way,” he said. “She might be a witch, and it might be a poisoned brew.”
“But if we have apple cider with her, maybe we can gather evidence,” Adam said.
“That’s true,” Patrick whispered. “Riley Couth would tell us to go investigate. You know—gather evidence.”
Adam grunted. “Okay, but if she turns us into toads, you owe me one.”
Patrick laughed nervously.
Zeph pulled Adam up the slanted driveway. When they got to the front porch, Belle put Sapphie on the ground beside Zeph. Immediately, Zeph quieted and sniffed his sister intently.
“How did you get a hold of Sapphie?” Adam asked, trying his best to hide his suspicion.
“She must have gotten loose,” Belle said. “Come inside. The cider’s nice and hot.”
Adam gave Patrick a questioning glance before following Belle inside. Even when Mr. Frostburg had lived in the house, Adam had never been inside. He wasn’t sure what to expect.
As soon as they entered the doorway, they followed Belle down three steps into the family room. The whole place smelled like autumn—a mix of cinnamon and vanilla, pumpkin spice and apple.
“It smells like the cider’s just about ready,” Belle said. “Have a seat. Make yourselves at home. Actually, if one of you wants to come up here and help me carry some cider?”
“Sure thing,” Patrick volunteered.
He gave Adam a nervous glance before following her into the kitchen. Adam peered through the kitchen doorway to see a large kettle bubbling on the stove. It’s like a witch’s cauldron, he thought while watching Belle ladle a spoonful of the bubbling liquid into a clear mug and hand it to Patrick.
He turned away and took Zeph off his leash, looking around the strange room. There was a small television in the corner, and a couch covered in a purple tapestry with black stars and yellow moons. On the other side of the room was a small, round table with two folding chairs. The table was covered in a Halloween-themed tablecloth with dancing skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, and witches. Spread on top of it was a deck of very large cards.
The rest of the room was a mystery. There were pieces of furniture, or maybe boxes, all covered in various tapestries, some plain colors, and others decorated with Celtic knots, dragons, or fairies. Adam couldn’t tell what was underneath them.
When Belle and Patrick returned carrying three mugs of hot apple cider, Belle handed one to Adam. He sat on the couch and took a sip, finding, to his surprise, it tasted delicious. Even Patrick would have to admit that it didn’t taste like witch’s brew. The three of them sat on the couch sipping cider while Sapphie and Zeph lay in the corner behind one of the tapestry-covered mysteries.
The décor of the house was so strange that for a moment, Adam forgot to ask how Sapphie ended up there.
“You sure have a lot of tapestries,” Adam commented.
“Oh, they’re just covering all of our boxes,” Belle said. “Cassie and I haven’t had a chance to fully unpack yet. I’ve been busy with my schoolwork, and Cassie’s been busy with her job and hobbies. She’s opening a new daycare facility in town, and she’s been busy painting murals on all the walls before she opens. She’s quite an artist. Not to mention actress.”
Adam nodded.
“What’s this?” Patrick asked, pointing at the strange cards on the little table.
“They’re tarot cards,” Belle said. “You’re supposed to use them to tell fortunes.”
Adam and Patrick exchanged glances. See, she is a witch, Patrick’s eyes seemed to shout.
“Whose fortune were you telling?” Patrick asked.
Belle laughed. “Actually,” she said, “I was telling Sapphie’s.”
“You were reading a dog’s fortune?”
Belle smiled. “Yes.”

About the Author:

Val Muller lives in Virginia with two corgis and a husband. By day she teaches English, but by night and early-morning, she is a voracious reader and writer, reviewing one book every week on her blog and participating in a weekly flash fiction writers group (their serial story appears on her blog every Thursday). Her work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies and ranges from children’s literature to horror. You can see a full list of work on her website. Her horror novel for adults, Faulkner’s Apprentice, will be released in early 2013 with Crowded Quarantine Publications.


Val Muller’s website
Corgi Capers website
Where to buy:
Corgi Capers 1 (Amazon) (Publisher)
Corgi Capers 2 (Amazon) (Publisher)

Thanks Val for stopping in today!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Paranormal Days Gone Awry - Just In Time For Halloween

Are you looking for a good Halloween read? Do you like Paranormal? Do you hate it when you have a bad day? Do you need a Nate Rocks fix? If you answered YES to any of those, then I have just the book for you! Just this week, Anchor Group Publishing released an anthology of thirteen wonderful stories - including one by yours truly.

Here's the scoop:

Bad days, we all have them. Even the supernatural beings among us. Do their powers and abilities make it easier or harder? You be the judge! In this anthology you'll see those doldrums days from every angle. From funny to tragic, from dragon to vampire, whatever your paranormal craving we have a flavor just for you! Enjoy one short story after another from many of today's hot and upcoming authors!

And in case that description didn't convince you... check out this list of contributing authors:

-Stacey Rourke, author of the Gryphon series
-Christy Sloat, , author of The Brown House, Ianni, and The Many Lives of Avery Snow
-Katherine Pollilo, author of Destine:
-Dawn Gray, author of the SPIRIT series and Vampire Legacy series
-Rk Ryals, author of the Redemption series and Acropolis series
-Jeff LaFerney, author of Loving the Rain, Skeleton Key, and Bulletproof
-Dana Deitche Piazzi
-Monika Pardon, author of Golden
-Wendy Nystrom, author of the James Saves the Moon series
-Natalie Star, author of The Keeper:
-Elizabeth Kirke, author of More than Magic: Semester Aboard
-Amy Richie, author of Willow, Always, and Timeless
-Karen Pokras Toz, author of Nate Rocks and Millicent Marie Is Not My Name <------- That's ME

So what are you waiting for? Get your copy here!

AUTHORS: Would you like your short story in Anchor Publishing's next anthology? They are currently accepting submissions through January 1, 2013 for: It's Not So Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales with a Twist, releasing Feb. 14th, 2013. All submissions (no longer than 10,000 words) can be sent to:  Please put "Anthology Submission" in the subject.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Who's On Your Friend List?

The last two weekends I had the pleasure of meeting face to face with two people I had previously spoken with only on the Internet. One was my editor, and the other was a fellow author. Both of these people I speak with almost daily on the Internet, and have developed both personal and professional relationships with - I couldn't wait to meet them in person.

As it turns out, my editor lives only fifteen minutes from my parents, and my author friend is good friends with one of my neighbors. Small world, eh? Not really. Without Facebook and social networking, I never would have met either of these people.

photo credit: Spencer E Holtaway via photopin cc
It got me thinking about all of the other people I have met online over the years, so many of whom I consider to be friends and would love to meet in person! Thanks to Facebook and other social networking outlets, we have been able to connect with people all over the world. It really is quite amazing when you think about it.

Twenty-Six years ago when I was a junior in college (ugh - I'm old!) I travelled to London as a study-abroad student. I didn't know a soul over there. I didn't even know a single person on my program. Today, if I were to make that trip again, I would have friends in London I could immediately contact. In fact, I'd have friends to meet up with in almost every city I visited as a student back in 1988. Not because I'm 40+ and have had years to develop these friendships, but because of the people I've met on Facebook and other social networks over the past few years. People I consider to be friends, even though I've never actually "met" them.

I hope that I can continue to meet up with more of the people I interact with regularly - I don't get to travel as much as I  used to, but don't be surprised if one day, I show up at your door (Okay - I'll message you first, I promise!)

xo ~ Karen


Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's Official! #MillicentMarie is Here - Let's Party!


Millicent Marie Tour

Today is the day - the official launch of Millicent Marie is NOT my Name!! To kick things off you are invited to a Twitter Party!

Join me as I host 30 minute chats at 10 am, 11 am, and Noon EST and then again at
10 pm, 11 pm, and Midnight EST. Lots of fun and PRIZES - TODAY, Thursday October 11th.

The easiest way to join the conversation is with Login with your Twitter
account, then enter #MillicentMarie to join the room.

The Twitter Party is just the beginning of the fun! Millie and I will be on tour for the next 21 days. Check out the full schedule here.


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.

Learn more & get your own copy (ebook and paperback):

Follow the tour on Pinterest
and don't forget to check out Millie's

See you on Twitter!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Have You Heard About "Millie Says..."?

When I'm alone in my office during the day, I hear voices. Now before you quietly back away from the blog to get away from the crazy lady, let me explain. The voices are my characters. You know - Nate, Lisa, Abby, and now ... Millie! They keep me company and help come up with ideas.

One of those ideas was to write a book about Millicent Marie - or Millie as she prefers to be called. You see Millie wanted me to tell everyone about the blog her younger brother started and how it taught her lessons about bullying and gossiping. Once the book was written and getting ready for promotion, my online book guru/publicist, Donna Huber from suggested I start a real blog for Millie. I thought it was a great idea, but wasn't sure I could pull it off.

"Are you kidding?" Millie shrieked. "It's a great idea, and you must must must must MUST do it. Like yesterday." 

Yeah, yeah - pipe down Millie. I'll get to it. I'm kind of swamped right now getting ready for your big virtual tour coming up.

(PS - Twitter Party to celebrate the release TOMMOROW 10-11-12. 30 minute chats at 10, 11, 12 am & pm EST use #MillicentMarie)

So while I thought it was a great idea, it kind of got buried into the abyss known as my "To-do list." Lucky for me, however, Millie decided I needed a daily reminder.

"Um - hello? I don't see my blog set up yet. I'm not getting any younger you know. I've got stuff I need to tell everyone! Can we get this thing moving or what?"

Ugh. These characters can be so demanding sometimes! Anyway - she was right. It was a great idea and I needed to get it started.  So I did! Cross one thing off the To-do list! Woohoo!!

And now, Millie is pleased to announce........  her new blog ..........  MILLIE SAYS...

Check it out & let her know what you think!! Click on the Millie Says tab above or follow this link:

Millie can't wait for you to stop by & visit! See you tomorrow at the Twitter Party!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Author Spotlight: Jane George

Welcome everyone! This week on the Author Spotlight, I'm so excited to have the amazing and talented Jane George. Like so many other authors spotlighted here, Jane and I met online. I couldn't wait to read and review her book, The Mumbo Jumbo Circus, as admittedly, I've become a little circus obsessed after reading Water for Elephants. My review of Jane's book follows the interview...

Hi Jane, please tell us about your book:

The Mumbo Jumbo Circus series explores themes that are important to me; authenticity, both personal and in a larger sense, belonging, and finding that thing within ourselves that truly reflects who we are and then how we can give that gift back to the world?

What inspired you to write this book?

I was working at a day job, staring mindlessly into the computer screen, and the basic premise floated down around my head like a giant donut. I remember thinking, “A circus setting for teens with nowhere else to go, and the Ringmaster is like a reverse Fagin, beneficent and good-looking. This could work!”

What exciting story are you working on next?

The next book in the Mumbo Jumbo Circus series, The Daring Young Man, will be out in December.

Yay - I can't wait!! When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always made up stories and illustrated them. It wasn’t until I hit middle age—pursued by the hounds of time—that I sat down every day to make the stories in my head come alive and share them with readers. The Mumbo Jumbo Circus is my fourth completed novel. I rewrote my first manuscript nine times to learn the form, and it will most probably stay unpublished forever.

When and how do you find time to write in your daily life?

When I’m deep into a project, it takes over everything else. The trick is to find some type of balance.

Any advice to aspiring writers?

Live, observe, read, live. Speak your truth. Have fun!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Whenever I get stuck, I watch the film Penelope. That movie resembles the inside of my mind and it gets it going again.

Who is one of your favorite characters that you have written? Please tell us about him/her and what book they are in.

Daffy Dill is an incredible shrinking woman with an amazing power. You meet her in The Mumbo Jumbo Circus.

Yes - I love her too! Are you writing under a pen-name, do you use your own, or is your work out in both ways?

Jane George is my real name. I am also developing a series for adult readers, stories of romantic witchery set in a small Pacific Northwest town. My pen name for those books is Diana DeForrest.

Is there a writer that you would love to co-write a book with?

No. They’d never want to speak to me again.

Do people judge a book by its cover? Who makes yours?

I’m a trained illustrator. Design classes were part of my degree. I make my own covers, but I’m always thinking of ways to improve them.

What is your greatest challenge as an author?

Visibility. So thanks for this chance to be seen!

My pleasure! Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

I love to hear from readers who enjoyed living in my circus world for a while.

What is the best advice any one has ever given you?

Learn to accept criticism, and don’t give up!

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

There’s a facet of myself in each and every character.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A jockey. I wanted to win the Triple Crown on the world’s most amazing horse.

Who is your favorite super-hero and why?

I like Batman. I think it’s the ears.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I love alternative music and go to shows even though I’m a bit long in the tooth. The last concert I went to was Beirut. They rocked the house, tuba and all. I’m a big fan.

Cats or Dogs?

FOUR cats.

PC or Mac?

Mac. I named her The Mothership.

Coffee or Tea?

Both. Graffeo Coffee rules.

LOL - okay you just passed three of my tests! It's no wonder we get along! What is one thing that you could not live without?


Do you have any hobbies?

I like Steampunk stuff, and I collect Nightmare Before Christmas action figures. I still need the witches and the vampires.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

Oh, I don’t know. Public relations whiz? Marketing is a deep, dark mystery to me.

If you could be anyone for a day, who would it be and why?

It’s taken me a long time, but I really like myself now. I recommend truly being oneself to everyone. Now, if I could travel next to someone for a day, I’d choose Alan Rickman, poor man.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

Ultimately, I have written my circus books for readers to have fun traveling for a while with my little, rag-tag magical circus.

Where can people find you and your books online?

About Jane:
Author Jane George lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and is a life-long appreciator of the sublime and the absurd. Jane also has a BFA in illustration From the California College of Art and has received honors from the Society of Illustrators in New York and from San Francisco Society of Illustrators. Online she can be found at: And at @Jane_George on twitter.

About The Mumbo Jumbo Circus:

Step right up into the world of mystery and magic that is The Mumbo Jumbo Circus, a rag-tag traveling circus that is also home to a group of throwaway teens. When 15 year old Evan takes up with the circus, she has nowhere else to go. She soon discovers this circus is like no other. The Ringmaster was bequeathed a powerful ju-ju that brings forth a magical talent, or donvrai, in certain individuals. Evan's gift is the ability to read horses' minds. She's terrified of horses, with good reason. Worse, a traitor who wants the ju-ju is convinced Evan will make a success out of Mumbo Jumbo Circus and they will do anything to stop her. Does she have what it takes to be a star in the center ring and save her weird, new-found family?

And finally ... My Review:

5 Stars

The Mumbo Jumbo Circus by Jane George, is the story of Evanja Leane (Evan), a teen trying to get through one day at a time in a failing foster care system. When her foster mom calls her a "freak," little does she know she has spoken the final word in an incantation, which leads Evan into the magical world of The Mumbo Jumbo Circus. Although hesitant at first and in complete denial that she will have to work with the one animal she fears the most, Evan soon begins to feel that The Mumbo Jumbo Circus is where she belongs.

The Mumbo Jumbo Circus is a wonderful novel. I loved how the author put color illustrations throughout the book. The further I got into the story, the more I wanted to be a part of the circus, right alongside the talking elephant, polar bear family, and the woman who is able to turn people into little bottles of nail polish - It's true! Trust me - this is no ordinary circus, but one filled with mystical Ju-Ju, magic, friendship, a smattering of romance, and most importantly, a sense of true family for Evan.

I found this book entertaining, well written, and engaging. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Thank you Jane!

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