Tag Archives: Farewell Emu’s Debuts

After Awhile, Crocodile! A Thankful Emu Bidding Farewell

I’m leaving! Wah! I can’t believe it! Heck, I still can’t believe I got the chance to be here. But even though I’m saying good-bye as as Emu blogger, it’s not like I won’t be around. I was reading this blog long before I got here and I will be reading it long after I’m gone. This blog has had an impact on my writing journey and I’m thankful for that. I know I can’t mention all the reasons I’m thankful because it would go on forever, but I’ll mention a few.

I’m thankful to Emus Debuts for leading me to EMLA and to my agent, Tricia Lawrence. How did that happen? Well, let me tell you. When I started reading this blog I didn’t even realize the bloggers were connected by EMLA. I thought they were just a bunch of writers that got together to blog. I know. All I had to do was click on the “About” tab, but it took me a while to do that. When I finally did realize all the bloggers were with EMLA I thought that was super cool. I thought it was awesome that they were choosing to go through the debut experience together. This put EMLA on my radar. Then one day the Emu’s  Debuts blew it out of the water. They were celebrating the release of NERVE by Jeanne Ryan with Truth or Dare videos. All of the videos were fun but when I saw Tara Dairman’s I cracked up.

I found this so funny that I’ve come back to watch it several times. It was the so-called “icing on the cake” (sorry about the lame pun!). I loved the way they supported each other and I loved their sense of humor. I moved EMLA to the top of my list and when I was ready and had the chance, I queried. A few months later I signed with Tricia.

I’m thankful to Emu’s Debuts for letting me be a part of their celebrations. It has been so much fun to geek out with my fellow Emus when their wonderful books hit the shelves.

I thankful to Emu’s Debuts for the wisdom they shared in their blog posts and in private group communication. Emu wisdom was there for big things and the small things, like suggestions for the perfect pen to use when signing books and suggestions for designers and printers for bookmarks, postcards, etc.

I’m thankful to Emu’s Debuts for allowing me read their ARCs. Confession: When they first talked about an ARC, I didn’t know what it was! See how much I’ve learned by being an Emu! I’m thankful for that! And no one made fun of me when I asked dumb questions! I’m thankful for that!

I’m thankful to Emu’s Debuts for celebrating with me. They celebrated about The Call and The Cover Reveal. And my release party was an amazing week. The Emus supported, spread the word, and partied down! They shouted about my old dragon near and far!

I could go on but this is already getting long. I think you get the idea . . . it’s been wonderful, but it’s time to go. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Emu’s Debuts 😀

PPK_0615_RGB_HR_02Penny Parker Klostermann’s is the author of  THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT (Random House Children’s Books) and A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE (coming from Random House Children’s Books Spring 2017). You can follow Penny on on her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Pinterest. She is represented by Tricia Lawrence.



Filed under Farewell


Two years ago next month, Charlesbridge contacted my agent, Erin Murphy, with an offer to publish my middle grade novel FLYING THE DRAGON. That same month, an agency-mate named Jeannie Mobley also had an offer for her middle grade novel that would eventually be called KATERINA’S WISH. Jeannie put out an email on the email loop that she wanted to start a blog with other debut authors to chronicle the path from offer to publication. I immediately volunteered, and it was one of the best decisions I made as a pre-published author. After 23 months of camaraderie in good times, not-so-good times, and times in between, I can hardly believe that this is my farewell post for Emu’s Debuts.

Before I say good-bye, I thought I ‘d leave you with 4 things I’ve learned since I started this journey:

1. Your book’s release date means nothing.

What I mean by this is that your book will begin its public life well before its release date.  FLYING THE DRAGON’S very first review was from an elementary school reader named Erik on This Kid Reviews Books, whose review first appeared over three months before the book’s publication date. The first professional reviews also came in before the release date, one from Kirkus and one from Publisher’s Weekly. Ready or not, here they come.

At ALA in January, 6 months before my book’s release date. People were actually READING my book? What??

2. Book Bloggers Rock

These people spend their free time reading books and crafting reviews, all because they love books. But they are also very busy people, so contact them early if you’d like them to review your book. About six months before my book’s release, I started by Googling reviews of books that are similar to mine, contemporary middle grade realistic multicultural fiction (try saying THAT five times real fast). Read these bloggers’ guidelines, because they all differ. It felt a bit like a throwback to my agent-querying days where I had to research which books these agents represented and decide whether or not my manuscript fit their tastes. I narrowed it down to about 30 review blogs, and started querying their interest in reviewing FLYING THE DRAGON. Like agents, book bloggers appreciate knowing that you’re contacting them for a reason, like, “I enjoyed your review of Mitali Perkins’ BAMBOO PEOPLE. Since you mention in your review policy that you enjoy reading multicultural fiction, I wondered if you’d be interested in seeing an advanced review copy of my upcoming middle grade novel FLYING THE DRAGON.”

That kind of thing.  Some thanked me for contacting them but were up to their eyeballs in books, while most of them said yes–and to send along the ARC. I contacted my publisher every time I’d gathered 5-10 names and addresses, and they sent the ARCs on their merry way. I then posted the reviews and interviews on my website.

3. You may be called upon to act like an author before your book comes out.

And if you are, you may ask yourself if you should be acting like an author yet. The answer: Yes! You are an author; it’s okay to act like one. When fellow Emu and teacher Michelle Ray asked me to be on a panel at her school’s literacy night, I jumped at the chance, and I’m glad I did.

Me smiling because I’m on a panel, and it’s not just deer-in-the-headlights me.

For that very first appearance as an author, being on a panel was ideal. I wasn’t in the spotlight all by my lonesome, and that served as a good warm-up for future events, like the Gaithersburg Book Festival when I had to speak after NYT best-selling authors like Michael Buckley and Tom Angleberger. But I survived, and actually had fun.

After my presentation at the signing with my fabulous colleagues who didn’t care about famous authors like Michael Buckley or Tom Angelberger. At least that’s what they told me…

4. Your book’s release date means everything.

Yes, you’ll have had reviews come out and ARCs will be out in the world. But when the Big Day comes, celebrate it, because your debut book launch only comes once.

Granted, my launch was postponed by 2 ½ months due to a freak power outage (bad) and a summer in Italy (good—no, buonissimo!), but I wasn’t going to let a silly tri-state power outage deter me—no! I rescheduled my book launch party, and was so glad I did. I celebrated with crafts…

My daughters pressed into child labor–er, volunteering to set up the origami kite craft.


Just like on my wedding day, I didn’t pause to have cake. But I discovered at home later that evening that someone had saved the piece with “Natalie” on it just for me.

and loved ones.

Family and friends, as far as the eye could see…

I did a short talk, an even shorter reading, and then thanked everyone for coming. I told my guests that the day felt a bit like my wedding day, in that people from many chapters of my life were gathered together under the same roof to celebrate the start of something special. There were writer friends and friends from high school, teachers I worked with 20 years ago, and teachers and librarians with whom I work alongside now. There were family members, young and old(er), friends of my children and soccer moms and dads. There were new friends I met for the first time and students who go to the school where I teach. I could not believe my luck, and would have pinched myself if it weren’t for the fact that my hands were busy signing books and hugging people.

In Italy, where my husband grew up and where we used to live, arrivederci doesn’t mean good-bye; it literally means, “Until we see each other again.” Although I’m leaving Emu’s Debuts, I will be checking in and  cheering all of the new Emu’s steps along this path, big and small.

So thanks to all of you—Emus past, present and future, as well as the followers of Emus Debuts—those who post comments, and those who don’t but still stop by every once in awhile. It has been a privilege to chronicle this journey with you, and I wish you all the best.




Filed under Farewell