Tag Archives: Natalie Dias Lorenzi


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

The Dragon Has Launched…Sort Of

For the past year and a half, I’ve had Flying the Dragon’s release date etched in my brain.

JULY 1, 2012!

The day that banners will fly and the crowds will go wild! Okay, maybe not flying banners…how about a sign? Something like this:

Taken a few hours before the derecho. Don’t know what a derecho is? Read on…

And instead of wild crowds, I looked forward to celebrating with my students, colleagues, family, and friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in years.

The venue was set—the closest bookstore to the Title I school where I teach is a Barnes and Noble. I met with the events coordinator months ago and dropped off an ARC. He read it and was enthusiastic about holding my launch event at their store.

About five weeks out, I sent e-vites and the RSVPs started rolling in.

Emus Debuts own wise and creative Jeannie Mobley sent me a link to these Fun Chops:

How can anyone resist something called Fun Chops?? I ordered some along with sets of wooden chopsticks—the kind you find in Chinese restaurants. My daughters’ plan was to give the kids each a set of chopsticks, a Fun Chop, and a cup of popped corn and let ‘em gnosh away—a sort of Eating With Chopsticks 101.

I also ordered the cake, complete with my book’s gorgeous cover (thank you, Kelly Murphy!).

What could be better than Kelly Murphy’s gorgeous illustration? Kelly Murphy’s gorgeous illustration on frosting on spongy marble cake!

I even ordered this necklace from Etsy, as cherry blossoms figure prominently in Flying the Dragon.

I was all set. Until the storm hit.

Unless you’re Ben Franklin, don’t try launching your kite in this stuff.

Not just any storm, mind you. On June 29, a rare, rouge storm called a derecho swept across four states, causing massive power outages that lasted days in record-setting 100+-degree temperatures.  Grocery stores were closed, traffic lights were out, pools were shut down. And the doors of Barnes and Noble were closed, the lights out, and a sign posted: Closed until further notice due to power outage.

By the morning of

JULY 1, 2012!

…we still had no power. I was cranky, sweaty, and trying to pack our things for our flight to Italy the next day. Power was slowly being restored in some areas, but still not ours, still not Barnes and Noble. That morning, I emailed people from my phone to let them know that the Barnes and Noble still had no power and that my book launch would have to be postponed.

That evening, my family and my sister’s family checked into a Holiday Inn that had rooms available with a laundromat, and sweet, sweet air conditioning. The place where I’d ordered my cake had power (of course) so we picked up the giant cake, and a dozen of us dug in after pizza that night. My husband had bought a Happy Birthday helium-filled balloon for my book from an open grocery store, and we all toasted the release of Flying the Dragon.

There are several scenes in my book where my main characters, Hiroshi and Skye, launch the dragon kite. Here’s a kite-launching scene from my book that mirrors the launch I thought my book would have:

Hiroshi turned his back to the breeze. He unrolled some extra line, then held on with both hands. 


Skye let go of the kite and Hiroshi pulled up on the line. The kite climbed higher and higher as Hiroshi shuffled backward, faster and faster. The wind took hold of the winking dragon, and Hiroshi let out more line, surrendering the kite to the sky.

Here’s another scene that serves as a more accurate metaphor for what actually happened on

JULY 1, 2012!

Skye took the kite and paced backward until they were several yards apart. She lifted the kite by the bridle.

As soon as Hiroshi felt a small gust of wind, he nodded. Skye released the kite, he ran with the line, and the winking dragon began its crooked climb.

Come on—go up! Fly!

But he could see the breeze wasn’t strong enough. The wind sighed as the kite drifted back down. Skye ran to catch it before it hit the ground. She shook her head as she walked it over.

But you know what? When all was said and done and the power restored (at around 3:00 a.m. on July 2), I counted myself as one of the lucky ones. None us were hurt in the storm and our homes didn’t sustain any damage. I celebrated my book’s birthday surrounded by people I love and who love me back. I have a book out there in the world, and I will celebrate that book at the Barnes and Noble on


with more loved ones. And chopsticks and popcorn and Fun Chops and another big cake.  If you’re in the area that day, I hope you’ll stop by and celebrate with me.


Filed under Book signing, Celebrations, Thankfulness

What to do with those hardcover beauties?

Disclaimer: The initial freeze frame on the video you see below–my very first-ever vlog–makes it look like I am full of angst. I am not. Please press play and you will see how happy I am indeed.


Filed under ARCs, Book Promotion, Celebrations