Monday, 11 March 2013

The birth of a character: guest post by Karen Pokras Toz

This is a busy week here at Dag-Lit Central. Today I'm please to announce a special guest, Karen Pokras Toz, who's paying me a visit as part of her Nate Rocks the School tour.

The Birth of A Character


Today, Jonathan asked me to talk about what makes my writing stand out from the crowd. While I love my story lines, I truly believe it’s my characters who capture my readers more than anything else.

Writing characters is not always easy. Every time I start to write a new character, I struggle. My mind, while it has a general idea of who this new character will be, has trouble closing out characters already written. I’ll often find myself yelling out loud, “Go away!” to the characters who keep trying to sneak back in. (Didn’t you know all writers are a tiny bit crazy?)

Eventually they leave, but just how do you create characters who have their own unique personality? For me, writing characters is an exercise in observation.

Almost all of my characters are based upon real people who have crossed my path at one time or another. I like to take people’s personalities and stretch them out to extremes. It sounds painful, but my goal is to make them into “that guy.” You all know who I’m talking about, right? I guarantee that everyone who reads this has a “that guy (or girl)” in their life. You know - the dad who tells the same childhood stories over and over ... and over, or the teenage sister who is a royal, whiny pain? How about the classmate who know everything about everything? Or the little brother who want to be in all your stuff? The next door neighbor who talks to much? Or the mom who buys everything on sale and in bulk? Yup, these are all characters in my books.

The thing about them is that they are not only fun to write; they are also fun to read. That’s because as readers, we can all relate to them – they may even be similar to you – or me. I’ve had lots of people ask me who my characters are based on. Well, in the interest of preserving my relationships, I refuse to say. Sorry about that. However, in my Nate Rocks series, Nathan’s mom is an abysmal failure at everything domestic, despite her best efforts. It’s perhaps a tiny bit possible that this character may or may not be based upon yours truly. Hypothetically speaking, of course. That’s all I’m saying.

As you can see, creating characters can be tricky. In the end however, if I’ve made you or your child smile, I’ve done my job.


Nate Rocks Is At It Again . . .

According to Nathan Rockledge, fifth grade has plenty of perks. Oh sure, there’s more work and that know-it-all, Lisa Crane, is still around – but, there’s a lot to look forward to as well: a laser tag birthday party, baseball at recess, and even a cool Halloween dance. Of course, all of that means nothing without the biggest perk of all . . . the class trip to New York City in the spring. If Nathan’s class can raise enough money to go, that is.

Give Nathan paper and a pencil and watch as his imagination turns him into Nate Rocks, hero and fifth grade super star. With adventures abound, Nate saves the day time and again. But will Nate be able to save the fifth grade trip?

Join Nathan, his hilarious family, and his friends, as he rocks the school in another fun Nate Rocks adventure. 

Pick up your copy at Amazon and B&N

Author Bio

Karen Pokras Toz lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three children. Karen’s middle grade childrens’ novels: Millicent Marie Is Not My Name and the Nate Rocks series, have won several awards including First Place for Children’s Chapter Books and the Grand Prize Overall in the 2012 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, as well as placing first for a Global E-Book Award for Pre-Teen Literature. Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Her first adult contemporary novel, invisible, will be released this summer. For more information, please visit


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