Friday, August 10, 2012

Nate Rocks the Boat Book Tour: guest post, excerpt, review and giveaway

We welcome Karen Pokras Taz back to our blog today. Karen is the author of the Nate Rocks series and today we host a tour for the second book in this middle grade series, Nate Rocks the Boat. The author has a guest post, shares an excerpt, and is also holding a giveaway.

Nate Rocks the Boat
by Karen Pokras Toz
Genre: Middle Grade
Format: paperback, 142 pages; ebook
Published April 20th 2012 by Grand Daisy Press (first published 2012)

Summary: With fourth grade finally winding down, 10-year-old Nathan Rockledge is looking forward to a fun and relaxing summer at home with his friends. That is, until his mom decides he has to go to overnight camp with his annoying older sister. When his best friend Tommy decides to tag along, Nathan thinks maybe his summer won’t actually be so bad. After all, he does get to be away from his mom's awful cooking for an entire six weeks.

Amongst Color War competitions, a flaky counselor, and a bully named "No-Neck,” Nathan turns to his trusty sketchpad, transforming himself into Nate Rocks: 10-year-old extraordinaire. His speedboat ready for action, Nate saves the day time and again from the perils of floods, snakes, ghosts, and even the most wanted criminals.

Join Nathan, Tommy, Abby, and a whole new cast of characters as Nate Rocks once again proves nothing can hold him back in this second book of the Nate Rocks series.

Guest Post:
The Story Behind Nate Rocks 

One question I get asked often is, “How did I come up with the idea for Nate Rocks?” 

The truth is, I never set out to write a middle grade novel. In fact, I never really set out to be a writer at all (but that’s a whole different post for another time). I started writing only just a few years ago. Writing had never been my strong suit, but I had an idea for a story, that I really wanted to get on paper. After writing the first few chapters (not Nate Rocks,) I proudly presented my masterpiece to a writing coach only to find out that it was really quite awful. Among other critiques, she told me I had a very young voice and asked if I had ever considered writing for a middle grade audience. 

I took her advice to heart, and began creating Nate Rocks. I knew immediately I wanted to write a boy character. Finding books for my oldest son to read was always such a chore. I wanted to write something that boys would find fun – something they could relate to and laugh out loud with while reading. At the time, my oldest was into drawing, and I came up with the idea of a boy who draws cartoons that come to life. The nicest surprise about the Nate Rocks stories is that girls and adults are loving Nate as well. 

Maybe it is because I have three children, but writing middle grade fiction is truly the perfect fit for me. I guess you could say my mind thinks like a ten-year-old. The best part about writing for a middle grade audience is that I get to relive my own childhood. Writing about and for children really does help keep me young at heart. 

Thanks so much for inviting me into your blog today. I hope you all get to experience as much enjoyment reading Nate’s adventures as I experienced writing them!

“Welcome, Hawks. I’m Matt, your counselor. I’ve been coming to Camp Spring Ridge every summer since I was your age. This is a great place, and it’s my job to make sure you boys have the best summer ever.” Matt looks up at the sky as the wind rustles through the papers on his clipboard. “Now, before it starts raining, let’s see if we can get through some of the camp rules.” 

“Rules? We don’t need any dumb rules! It’s summer!” 

I look over toward the sound of the husky voice to see a boy who looks more like he’s Abby’s age than my age. He also appears to have arms as big as my thighs and no-neck. I’ve never seen anyone without a neck before. I’m sure it’s there somewhere. It’s just that this kid’s head is enormous. I am in the right bunk aren’t I? 

Matt doesn’t seem disturbed by the outburst as he continues right along. “The rules are only there to make sure you have the most fun possible while staying safe. We wouldn’t want anyone getting hurt...or worse.” 

Worse?! Tommy and I look at each other. I turn around to scan the dirt road. Dad must still be at Abby’s bunk. If I left right now and ran, I could probably get there before he and Mom leave. I’m sure Mom would take me with her to see Grandma once I explained about how dangerous it is here at camp. She’s always saying we don’t get to visit with Grandma enough. Or I could just stay at Tommy’s house. I’m certain Tommy would follow me if I took off running. But what if they were already gone? Then I would have to return to my bunk. I could already hear the other kids laughing at me as the camp director returned me to the Hawks. 

“Okay,” Matt starts, holding down the paper on his clipboard. “Rule #1: Always listen to your counselor—he’s the coolest guy here.” Matt starts laughing, but quickly notices no one else joins in. He clears his throat and continues. “Rule #2: Stay with your bunk at all times unless you have specific permission to go somewhere. Rule #3: Lights out at 10:00pm. Rule #4: When it’s our turn to have kitchen duty, everyone must participate, and the most important rule—Rule #5: Stay out of the forest! Look, you guys are old enough to hear this, so I’m just going to tell it to you straight. The forest may look cool, but it’s big and dangerous. Every summer, one or two campers decide to wander in there, and the same thing always happens. They get lost. The camp has to call in a search party with dogs and the whole bit. If you wander too far in, you might run across snakes or even coyotes and wolves. So do yourselves a favor and stay out!” 

I look around the table to see everyone staring at Matt... Even No-Neck.

About the author: Karen Pokras Toz is a writer, wife, and mom. Karen grew up in Orange, Connecticut and currently lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three children. In June 2011, Karen published her first middle grade children’s novel for 7-12 year olds called Nate Rocks the World, followed in 2012 by the second book in the Nate Rocks series, Nate Rocks the Boat. Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). 

To Learn More About The Nate Rocks Series:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | 

Amazon: Nate Rocks the Boat | Nate Rocks the World

Barnes & Noble: Nate Rocks the Boat | Nate Rocks the World

Book Trailer 

Review: Since this is a middle grade series we are leaving the reviewing to our eight year old brother, Stevie.

I liked Nate Rocks the Boat. Nate is funny for a fourth grader. I'm a third grader now and my favorite book series has been Diary of a Wimpy Kid because Greg is funny in those books and there are lots of pictures. My mom signed up for a book tour then gave me some books by a nice lady named Karen Pokras Taz. She's nice cause she writes stories about boys and for a girl I think she's a really good writer. The pictures in the Nate Rocks series are colorful and cool. Nate is like some of the boys in my classes. He goes to camp and does some silly things. There are some scary things like snakes too. I'm glad I read the Nate books at bedtime and mom and me read them out loud. We laughed a lot. Greg from the Wimpy Kid books is cool and now, so is Nate. I think boys in elementary school will like Nate--he's funny and sounds real. Nate could be my next door neighbor (but he's not, there's a girl living over there but I'd rather have Nate).

Karen will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and an autographed set of books (Nate Rocks the World & Nate Rocks the Boat) to one randomly drawn host from the tour. Follow the tour and comment. 
The tour dates can be found here.


  1. I LOVE the cover! and the story sounds so so good:) It's awesome that girls and adults love this MG novel:)

    Great excerpt and great voice:)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

    1. Thank you so much! I have a very talented artist named Deana Riddle who does my covers. She is amazing!

  2. My granddaughter would love to read these books. I'll be putting them on my "to buy list'. I've enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for the opportunity.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Thank you Carol! You'll have to let me know what your granddaughter thinks.

  3. A great review thank you Stevie.

    I know my daughter will love Nate Rocks.


    1. Thanks for your comment marybelle. Yes - girls are loving Nate also!

  4. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today & a special thank you to Stevie! I loved reading your review! I know Nate would love to be your next door neighbor too. :)

  5. Love the cover. And, the book sounds like it would be alot like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. ☺

    bookaholicholly @

  6. Staying young at heart is one of the most important things ever! It must be such fun to wriite about Nate-- I know I'm having fun learning about him! Thank you for sharing!


  7. Great review. Great book for kids and for adults.

  8. Sounds very cute.


  9. I think both middle-graders and boys get ignored in the book world, so this is a great story. It appeals to me, though I am neither an MGer nor a boy...


  10. An accidental writer. Pretty good for an accident!
    Thanks for the contest.

  11. This looks cute and I bet the story is more wonderful than it seems!

  12. Thanks so much for all your nice comments!

  13. Thanks everyone! Stevie added that girls would like Nate too but his comment didn't post yesterday.

  14. Just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Hope you all had a good time!

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  15. This book looks like a lot of fun!