Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Life is Good

So today I have a major announcement, but before I make it, I realized that I wanted to think back to the path that brought me here. Back in the year 2000, I saw that Time magazine had placed Ghengis Khan on their cover as the Time Man of the Millenium. Intrigued, I bought a biography on Khan only to discover that I was learning more Korean history in a biography about a Mongol than I had ever known. I was so interested, I began to look for more books on ancient Korea and found myself at a loss. There were nearly none to be found in the bookstores or libraries. So began my quest to special order and hunt down all I could on ancient Korean history. In the process, Da Man said "with all that money you've been spending, you better be writing a damn book!" I was determined to prove him right. And that's how it started. But that was the easy part.

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?


97 comments:

Kelly said...

WOW! What a story! CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cindy said...

CONGRATS ELLEN! i'm so so thrilled for you. you never quite and youre an inspiration! so happy to have you as an agency sister!!! xo

Natalie Whipple said...

YAY! YAY YAY YAY!!!!

Jenn Reese said...

YAY YAY YAY!!!!

I could not possibly be happier for you than I am right now. You deserve this on every level. I am thrilled for you, and for every person out there who will get to read your books -- including myself.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

jjdebenedictis said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

I'm so thrilled to hear your determination paid off, that your vision was true, and that you've made your family (and yourself) so proud. Yay, Ellen!

Natasha Fondren said...

Oh Ellen! Huge congratulations! And I think that's a WONDERFUL idea for a series.

I'm wishing you tons of luck!

Becky said...

OMG, amazing!! I'm so happy for you! (And can't wait for the books! *g*)

Helen said...

(Came here through Cindy's Twitter.)

Ugh, ancient Korea? Who would want to read that?"

I do! :D

Congratulations!

Emy Shin said...

Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! The book sounds really wonderful -- I can't wait for the publication date. :)

Jennifer Ambrose said...

omg omg omg omg

I just saw the news of Facebook through Cindy Pon and I am SO HAPPY FOR YOU. And those people who said no one would want to read about Ancient Korea? They are completely wrong and I can't wait to read your books.

Truly, I'm so thrilled for you!

Danette said...

Oh, my GOSH. That brought tears to my eyes and I love your mom and I love your dad and Da Man rocks it and, and I am so proud of you and I so happy that you didn't give up and ... sigh! YOU DID IT (and you didn't kill anyone ... the "ugh" statement?! Haha!!!! Helloooo? How they like you now, huh?)

Patti said...

it couldn't have happened to a better gal. well done, sista! congratulations!!!

Jaime Callahan said...

Congratulations! I'm so glad that you never gave up. And I definitely can't wait to read the books! They sound like they're going to be unique and fascinating.

Patti said...

oh, i forgot: this was an amazing and inspirational story. made me cry a little through all the happiness for you ♥

Robin L said...

Oh hurray, hurray, HURRAY, Ellen! I am so, SO thrilled for you.

And your story of your family's support is SO heartwarming. Hurray, Ellen! Hurray Ellen's Family!

Hurray us lucky readers who will now get to read this awesome sounding book!

Kim Kasch said...

OMG!!! I am so happy for you. This is wonderful news - a 3 book deal. WOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Way to go. I can't wait to read it. What a wonderful holiday that must have been.

taralazar said...

Fabulous! Congratulations!!!!

Natasha Fondren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Gramlich said...

I am so happy to hear it. YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

captainstupendous said...

LIFE IS PRETTY DAMNED GOOD. Congrats again Ellen!!!!!! If there's anyone I know who deserves this it's you.

WindyA said...

Congratulations! What fabulous news!

C.R. Evers said...

YaY!!!!!! I'm so excited for you! What a story!

You go girl! *\o/* YaY!!!!!!

Lisa Aldin said...

AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME NEWS! CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DESERVE! YOU PROVED THE DOUBTERS WRONG AND THE BELIEVERS RIGHT! YEAH!

Vijaya said...

Thanks for the recap, Ellen. Very inspiring. I love ancient anything ... I'll be looking for it. Congratulations!!!

Nikki said...

Oh, thank you for sharing your story! What a wonderful day for you and your family. You're a rock star!

Carrie Harris said...

I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!

I love it when I get to say that.

whaddayameandoihaveroomfordessert said...

my keyboard lacks proper characters for expressing my level of ridiculous excitement right now. alas. this will have to do.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sruble said...

Congratulations Ellen! Thanks for sharing your story. The blurb for your book sounds awesome!

Deva Fagan said...

Oh, wow wow wow! Ello that is amazing! I am so thrilled that your persistence and dedication payed off. It sounds like a fantastic book too. Can't wait to read it!

Laurel said...

CONGRATULATIONS! I cannot wait to read your work...it sounds like exactly my cuppa.

Mary Witzl said...

What FANTASTIC NEWS, and what a great, inspirational story. Like your mother, I knew you'd lay an eagle's egg too -- a golden one, I'm predicting.

And for what it's worth, I'll be able to recommend your book widely!

fairyhedgehog said...

Many Congratulations!

Your book must be exceptional to be snapped up so quickly and in a three book deal.

Well done!

Paul Greci said...

Congrats!! Awesome story!!

Merry Monteleone said...

Congratulations and happy happy happy dances!!!!

I knew you could do it, El! I'll be the first one on line the minute it hits the shelves.

xoxoxoxox

Kelly Andrews said...

Congratulations! It's been a long time coming and a long time deserved.

whaddayameandoihaveroomfordessert said...

NO YOU WON'T, MERRY!! IT'S MIIIIINE!!!

woodburner said...

"Ugh, ancient Korea? Who would want to read that?"

*raises hand* Here from a link from a twitter friend, and I'm certainly looking forward to this! I'm... not sure why anyone wouldn't be?

Anna Staniszewski said...

Oh Ellen, I am so happy for you. You so so so deserve this amazing news. Congrats!

Stephen Parrish said...

Oh, Ellen. This was a long time coming. My first-ever Facebook friend gets a book deal! I'm so proud of you. Count on me not only to buy a copy but also to help in any way I can with promotion.

Heather Ayris Burnell said...

Good for you for sticking with it and being determined. Congratulations on the fabulous book deal! You deserve it!

Stephanie Blake said...

WHOO HOO! So thrilled and so happy for you!

agyw said...

Congratulations, Ellen!!! How exciting and I look forward to reading your book when it's out. For the record, I have no idea where people get the idea that Korean culture is "boring", Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard and Anne Sibley O'Brien's The Legend of Hong Kil Dong, the Robin Hood of Korea, should have shown there's a need and market for such wonderful tales. Great good luck to you!!!!

Writer Tessa said...

Huge, huge, huge congrats!!!
So incredibly happy for you :)

Jade said...

Congrats!! You're determination is such an inspiration. Good luck with it all.

Rena said...

I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!

Kristin said...

ello!!!!
Yes! You're an inspiration!

Kappa no He said...

Yes!!! I am so happy for you and for all the people you proved right and wrong. This couldn't have happened to a better person. I cannot wait to read it!

Angie said...

Woooot! That is so awesome! Congrats! {{{}}} And a three book deal, that's wonderful! :D

Definitely looking forward to release day!

Angie

Larissa said...

WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yay, Ello! I am so unbelieveably excited for you!!!!!

Richard Levangie said...

Bloody hell. I promised *I* wouldn't cry when you got your book deal.

I'm so proud.

Merry Monteleone said...

Fine Dessert Girl, but I get dibs on the first copy to hit Chicago!

=))))))))))

I just can't stop grinning.

karenbschwartz said...

Love your story! Thanks for sharing your journey! Congrats!!!!

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Congratulations Ellen! I love it that your family believed in you. Happy New year :)

Peter Dudley said...

That is so mondo awesome cool. Congratulations!

KT Simpson said...

Wow! Congratulations! :) I'm very happy for you, and that was a very inspiring story :)

Mary Witzl said...

For what it's worth, I told my daughter to come and read your post and she whined about having to go and do homework, but she finally came. Once she started reading it, she said, "Wait a minute -- is that the same story you showed me that time? I LOVED that story!" It's been over three years and she still remembers it. And this is a kid who is not fulsome with her praise, wouldn't touch 'Twilight' with a barge pole, and forgets where she left her mobile 12 times a day. She can't wait to read your books.

Just wanted to pass that on!

Deborah said...

What a wonderful story. Yay for not listening to the naysayers and yay for perseverence. Congratulations!

animewave said...

Congrats!

The summary of your book sounds so intriguing - I can't wait to pick it up in 2012!

lboylecrompton said...

Congratulations on the awesome news!!! You encourage so many - it's great to see your dreams realized! Have fun celebrating! Woo Hoo!!!
xo YAchicka

Serenissima said...

I love journey-to-the-book-deal stories and yours is great one! Congrats!

Jazz Sexton said...

Hi Ellen, I'm a new follower. I was linked to this entry by a friend, and I'd like so say congrats! Your book sounds exciting and interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Your perseverance is inspirational!

Jennifer said...

YES, YES, YES, life is good! Congratulaions!!

MissAttitude said...

I'm new to this blog but the details of your book caught me eye, that is so fabulous!!

What a wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing it (and never giving up). Send my thanks to Da Man too for telling you to quit your job and just write!

And I really really want to read Subway Girl, I'm glad to hear it was a great read :)

Julie Weathers said...

Oh my gosh. I am so proud of you for sticking with your dream. Way to start out a new year. Congratulations!

tamarak said...

YES!!!!

So happy for you!!!

Whirlochre said...

This is great news.

A little dark and early for a Snoopy dance here, but I managed a few steps before I fell over.

Will name the bruise on my head Ellen in your honour.

debiwrites said...

That is sooooooo coooool! I can't wait to read about ancient Korea! (what do some agents know . . . ;-) )


Congratulations!

McKoala said...

Awesome Ello! Congratulations!

writtenwyrdd said...

I am so happy for you!! Yay!!
I cannot believe that someone thought no one would want to read Asian-inspired worlds. Stupid person never watched anime or read manga--both of which we all know are really, really popular.

Then there's Silver Phoenix, which has done well in sales. It's an Asian-based fantasy, too. Gah. People can be stupid.

When you get close to release time, shoot me an email and you can do a guest post on my blog if you want!

jillsbooks said...

This post made me cry, Ellen. Hard-won success is SO sweet. I'm so happy for you!

Leah Cypess said...

AAAUUUGGHHH I AM SO EXCITED I WISH THERE WAS A BIGGER VERSION OF ALL-CAPS!

I saw this on Mike Jung's facebook and I'm guessing it's one of those fabulous Shameless Saturday items Gretchen was talking about. :)

AvDB said...

Huge, huge news! Many congratulations to you, Ellen. And screw that one agent; I'M lining up to read this book! My college roommate--and still dear friend--turned me on to Korean culture back in the nineties and I've been hooked ever since. It's about time someone wrote a novel embracing it. I'm stupidly excited for you (and for me, as a reader).

March to the Sea said...

So flippity floppin awesome. Good luck. Signed copies for long time bloggin chums?

Travis Erwin said...

Wow? That is awesome. I know how hard it is to buck the odds and get there so I applaud you and thank you for giving me hope the dream is still viable.

Ello said...

Thank you so much everyone!!! All of your comments have made me so full of happiness! I couldn't have asked for a better community of friends than this!

Nushi-ke said...

Congratualtions! I love your book already.

thespectacleblog said...

Such a great story. And the book sounds fascinating. Who WOULDN'T want to read about ancient Korea?

Parker

qian said...

Hi, I found you via this post:

http://inkstone.dreamwidth.org/155869.html

Your books sound amazing! I look forward to reading them when they're out. (Also, your parents are awesome. :D)

Danette Haworth said...

Ellen, How wonderful that your dad was so excited and so supportive. The ones close to you--they believed in you! I am so thrilled and happy for you.

Congratulations, Ellen!

laughingwolf said...

super dooper pooper scooper... or some such! ;)

way to go, el! and may you continue with even more successes!

ax2groin said...

I just found out about you and your books today, but I'm extremely excited. As someone who has been into fantasy and history for a long time, that part of me is piqued. As someone with a Korean-American daughter, I'm looking forward to giving/reading the books to her. I've certainly been frustrated by some of the things you mention, finding plenty of fantasy genre information about China or Japan, but never finding information about Korea. Cannot wait to pre-order the first volume!

Gin said...

We knew it was just a matter of time before we saw an announcement like this on your blog! It could not have happened to a more wonderful person.

So happy for you, Ellen!

xoxoxox
Gin

Sharon said...

Hi Ellen! My friend just posted the info about your books on Facebook along with the link to your website! I can't wait to read your books! I'm so excited! I've fallen in love with Korea and have been studying Korean language and culture for over four years now. I'm SOOOO glad you persisted and finished this amazing project! I did go to Amazon.com to buy the books (not there) but will look more closely at your website about where/when to purchase them and then will share the info with my friends who also LOVE anything about Korea and Korean culture and history. (I have a blog about Korean entertainment content but haven't had much time to update it -- I would be delighted to review your books for Amazon.com and my blog, OK?) Keep writing!!! Happiest of New Years to you and Da Man :)! --Sharon

Phoenix said...

Found my way here through Aerin. Sorry to haven't been keeping up with you for the past couple of years, but this is a fine reason for a reunion!! Woot, girl! I'm so proud of you! I'll be happy to promote the launch on my blog or however else I can.

Speaking of, did I miss the expected launch date??

Jae Young said...

This is AMAZING. I am working on my own story idea with my friend. hen I clicked on the link from angryasianman tho, I saw your map and I immediately screamed OMG KOREA! 대한민국 회팅 exactly in that order XD

I cannot wait for this book. You are awesome!

Christina Farley said...

Oh Ellen. I'm crying. I'm so so happy for you. What an amazing journey. And more amazing stuff to come.

Nicky Schmidt (Absolute Vanilla) said...

Brilliant, brilliant news, Ellen - mega congratulations and very well deserved! Onward and upward! Here's to loads of success! x

vivian said...

You cannot imagine how excited I am for you, Ellen! WELL DONE!

I can't wait to read your books. CONGRATS!!!

Stuart Neville said...

Sorry I'm so late to this, but congratulations! It's long overdue. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Yay! I was so excited when I read this in PM! Congratulations!!

Casey McCormick said...

CONGRATULATIONS, Ellen. I'm so excited for you!!! Squee!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Just read about your news on Sherrie Peterson's blog! Congratulations! That's a great story of drive and dedication. The long journey has paid off!

Ello said...

Thank you everybody! I'm so happy with all your kind notes!

Wonky said...

I'm a little late to the party here but just wanted to say congrats!

fictionforge said...

Just wanted to say Congrats! and how inspiring your story is. I've featured it on my blog as an example of how persistence pays off!

A Backwards Story said...

Congratulations!

I saw Cindy Pon's post linking to you and I'm already eager to read your book. I got to visit S.Korea for one brief week a couple of years ago and thought it was beautiful. So much culture and history! I'm definitely adding your debut to my list, as well as your blog so I can keep up with your journey. :)

maine character said...

I got here from Casey's site, and it was great to hear your story all over again, especially about your husband and parents.

And yeah, you certainly showed them wrong about a book about ancient Korea. Congrats!

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