When Dunedin writer Karleen Tauszik was a child, reading was her passion. She set a lofty goal for herself – to read every single book in the children’s section of her local library. While she never reached that goal, her aim as an adult is to instill that same love of books in 8 to 12 year olds by writing middle grade fiction that will keep them turning pages and wanting more.
Tauszik and her husband spent 12 years in England doing mission work before moving to Florida in 1999. They lived in Oldsmar until their three children were grown, then downsized to Dunedin.
“When I was raising my children and reading to them, I would some- times think I could write something better.” Her first attempt was an early reader chapter book. “It had structural problems, grammar errors and plot holes,” Tauszik admits. “I never pub- lished it, but it was a start.”
One of the things Tauszik likes best about living in Florida is its strong net- work of writers. She decided to take advantage of this by joining the Florida Writers Association (FWA) in 2004. “The FWA was an immense help,” she says. “It was a means of learning more and helping me become a better writer.”
In 2011, Tauszik published “The Save Our School Summer,” the first in what was to become her three-book Maximum Magic series where a local magician conjures up adventures for a group of 5th-graders. “The Save Our School Summer” was followed by
“Mayhem at the New Museum” (2013) and “The Infatuation Infection” (2014). Tauszik describes the Maximum Magic books as “contemporary adventures written in under 20,000 words, with fast-moving chapters and best of all, magic!”
Next, Tauszik introduced “Tangled Tales,” a series of e-books that retell traditional fairy tales in unex- pected ways. “Itchy” is the story of Rapunzel with head lice; “Wheezing” has the Big Bad Wolf suffering from asthma; and “Awake” tells what happens when Sleeping Beauty drinks espresso. Tauszik also published two stand- alone middle grade novels – “Lost,” the story of a boy who loses his ham- ster, and “My Room for Rent” where a sixth-grade boy’s life is turned upside-down when his mother leaves and his father has to rent his room to pay the bills. “All my stories are con- temporary, and hopefully kids will be able to relate,” she says. “I keep them really clean. It’s not my job to expose kids to things they aren’t ready for. I believe in letting kids be kids.”
Tauszik has also penned two non-fiction books. “Be a Gift Detective” is a guide that helps kids pick out the perfect gifts for family and friends. Her latest release, “When I Grow Up I Want to Be…” is a book she describes as “an annual career possi- bility journal for kids.” The idea came from a career workshop she’d designed during her 15-year career in human resources. “Many people were working at jobs that weren’t their passion,” she says. “I thought if people could record their strengths, talents and achievements through-out their childhood, they could use that to make wiser decisions about their career paths.”
Tauszik is currently working on a middle grade novel tentatively titled “Happily Ever Normal,” the story of an adult Cinderella transported to Normal, Illinois after she wishes to be normal. Tauszik hopes this, like her other books, will help kids to cope and grow. “I want kids to think about what they’d do in different situations,” she says. “My stories promote strong family values like respecting others and trying hard to do your best. But most of all, I hope they’ll get kids to love reading as much as I do.”
For more information, go to at www.karleent.com.