When I first started writing, I took several writing classes at my local writing center. During one of these classes, a published author told me that no one in publishing would ever be interested in a book on ancient Korea. I was determined to prove him wrong.
Another instructor told me that I should consider shelving the book and starting with something more commercial so I could establish myself first. So I spent three years writing and researching a book about World War II. But I couldn't forget all my ideas about a mythical book that would celebrate the fascinating history and culture of Korea. When my old company got reorganized and I was unhappy with the amount of work that was loaded down on me and the excruciating bureaucracy that I had to deal with, Da Man got tired of my bitching and said "Go ahead and quit and give this writing thing a serious try. I know you can do it." I was determined to prove him right.
But no one at the old job could understand why I was doing it. Why I was quitting. Couldn't understand that I was serious about this writing thing. One of my colleagues actually laughed and said "Yeah, right. Keep dreaming!" I was determined to prove him wrong.
When I told my Dad about wanting to write a book about ancient Korea, he was so excited he wanted to help in anyway possible. He got me a ton of books and even translated ones that were only in Korean. My Dad told me that what I was doing wonderful and that he was proud of me. He said a book like this was needed and should be published. I was determined to prove him right.
During the agent query process, one agent actually wrote to me "Ugh, ancient Korea? Who would want to read that?" I was determined to prove her wrong.
Over the years, there have been so many moments when another person's negativity caused me to second guess what I was doing, but I never gave up. I still believed in myself and in my book. But I also had a family that believed in me even when the rest of the world didn't. And I owe it all to them that I never gave up and that my dream is coming true.
From Publisher's Marketplace - Ellen Oh's PROPHECY: The Dragon King Chronicles, in which an elite warrior and bodyguard to her cousin, the young prince, is feared and mistrusted by all except a select few in the Kingdom who know of her power as a demon hunter, and how she may be the vanguard in the coming war against invading forces, to Phoebe Yeh at Harper Children's, in a good deal, in a three-book deal, for publication in Summer 2012, by Joe Monti at Barry Goldblatt Literary (NA).
It's hard to believe that I will finally be published. I'm still in shock. It happened so fast that it left me reeling in a complete and utter happy daze. We went on submission the beginning of December and within a week and a half I had an offer. When I got the call from my agent, I did the one thing I said I'd never do. I vowed that if I ever got a book deal, I wouldn't scream in my agent's ear. I would be professional, cool, calm, and collected. Except when the call actually happened (which I had anxiously been waiting for since the night before when my agent told me we were going to acquisitions and that I should try and get some sleep, ha ha), my fabulous agent started the call by saying "So I'm sorry to say this... but I have a bad cold which is keeping me from emoting but... you have an offer from HarperCollins..." At which point I promptly blew out his eardrum (sorry Joe!). And when he told me it was a 3-book deal, my hand started shaking and I began to simultaneously laugh and cry like a crazy person.
Talking to my amazing new editor was like talking to an old friend you haven't seen in a long time and there's so much to catch up on and so much to talk about you don't want to get off the phone cause you can keep talking for hours and hours. And I'm not much of a phone talker!! I should have been intimidated, but instead, it was like a homecoming. Here was an editor who loved my book - in fact she loved it so much she read it on her blackberry! And then right before Christmas, she and her fantastic editorial assistant (Hi Amanda!!!), sent me a big pile of books to read, which was like a bonus Christmas present!! (By the way, I'm in love with Subway Girl by P.J. Converse. It's simply brilliant and poignant and the writing is fabulous and I'm jealous of the author for writing it. And Angus thinks Big Nate rules!)
To top it all off, my parents came down for Christmas and the timing was perfect because it meant I could tell them in person. When I told them the news, their reactions were all I could have hoped for. My Mom couldn't stop laughing and my Dad wiped away a few shaky tears.
"You see I was right," my Mom said. "you're not a chicken. You're an eagle. But just remember, even though you got your writing gene from your daddy, you got your 'never give up until you drop dead' gene from me."
Oh yeah, I'm definitely just like my Mom. And that hideous screaming sound you just heard is the agonized wailing of Da Man who has just realized that his wife is turning into his mother-in-law.
Isn't life good?