Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Trios: Devil’s Gold, by Julie Korzenko—The Writer’s Story

P3 = Published!

[You might like to know that one lucky reader is going to end up with a free copy of Devil's Gold: just keep reading to find out more. And now, over to Julie.]

First off, I would like to thank Jane for coordinating this event. As an unpublished author, I would spend hours on the internet in search of any glimpse of the life I so dearly longed for. How to get there…what it entailed…what experiences others had. To call myself an author, one of those infamous creatures that have their words set to print and bound for others to enjoy, was my dream. I have a strong belief in the “pay it forward” system and hope that my trip to the “published” shelf offers a small insight and perhaps hope to those writers still seeking their vision.

If you want to succeed as a writer, it is my firm belief that you must have p3. Passion, perseverance, and patience. Lack of any of those qualities will certainly spell failure.

Devil's Gold is my first published novel. Not my first novel by any means, but we won’t discuss what lies in the cobwebbed recesses of my home. I created my characters several years ago and wrote a romantic suspense with a horrible, sappy title that I’m too embarrassed to name. I then queried the pertinent line within Harlequin Enterprises. I was thrilled with myself when an editor requested the full manuscript, believing that this was it. I had achieved my easy 1-2-3 to published nirvana [insert very loud gong of failure].

Rejected and dejected I moved beyond that book. My main character, however, refused to be ignored. No matter what I did. I ranted and raved and shut her in a cave and continued to write, focusing on an entirely different genre. It didn’t work. I was forced to sit back and listen, really listen to that inner voice - that one spark that set me apart from friends and family. You know what I’m talking about… the world within our world that demands attention, demands acknowledgment. Our gift, so to speak, that makes us who we are. Creators. Storytellers. Writers!

My character, Dr. Cassidy Lowell, bluntly insisted I’d paired her with the wrong hero and, much to my embarrassment, stuck her in a boring romance. She wanted more. I fleshed her out, made her who she insisted she was and created this fascinating world for her adventures. Devil’s Gold was born. I wrote furiously, my passion for wildlife infusing every aspect of the book.

After submissions to several houses and an intense rewrite suggested by one editor, it received a rejection from MIRA and with that rejection came an explanation. My heroine wasn’t kick-ass, and she didn’t save the day. I had failed to create a character who was a Buffybot and Buffybots were selling. I was informed by my agent that there was no home for Devil’s Gold, and I was devastated. This news coincided with a growing mountain of concerns regarding my representation; and for an accumulation of reasons, I chose to sever my relationship with this agent.

I learned a very hard lesson at this point in my career. One that I know most writers who have scoured the writing boards have also heard, but one that I feel is worth repeating. A bad and ineffective agent is worse than no agent at all. This is the absolute truth. Take it to heart, add it to your daily mantra, have it tattooed across your forehead, but whatever you do, never forget that advice.

Always persistent, I moved forward on my own. I contemplated editing Devil’s Gold to fit the boundaries of what was selling. It felt wrong. Not just a little wrong…but a lot wrong. Revising Cassidy to be kick-ass would be a desecration of her ethic and moral character. She was a zoologist with a great value of life. At this stage, to add that killer instinct would be to steal her humanity. I knew her strength didn’t lie in the barrel of the gun but in the conviction of her beliefs and battle for a better world. Cassidy isn’t a simpering idiot by any means. She just wouldn’t know how to disable a man in thirty seconds flat or even the difference between karate and jujitsu.

I queried a hundred agents (literally) — no one was interested. I second guessed myself. Hell, I quadruple guessed myself. This story was good. I knew it… knew it deep down to the tips of my perfectly manicured toenails. Then I’d face my writing space and reality seeped in. My desk was nothing more than a foundation for the piles of rejection letters. I didn’t give up. On April 1, 2007, I wrote another query, printed another synopsis, compiled one more partial, and completed another self-addressed, stamped envelope. On September 2, 2007, I sold Devil’s Gold to Medallion Press, Inc. Dr. Cassidy Lowell would get her day in the spotlight, and I would have the privilege of watching my dream unfold.

Devil’s Gold took almost twenty-four months from my initial query to actual publication. Talk about patience! I have to admit, it was worth every second of the wait.

Thank you, Jane, for allowing me to tell my story. And for those of you still paddling to crest the publishing wave, never forget that the key is passion, perseverance, and patience—or p3.

Julie Korzenko

You can read more about Devil’s Gold next week, when we’ll hear from the editor who worked with Julie to perfect Devil’s Gold; and the week after, Medallion Press’s Marketing Manager will discuss his strategy.

Julie has kindly offered to give away a free copy of Devil’s Gold. Just email her at “jkorzenko at gmail dot com”, and tell her the answer to this simple question: what is P3? You’ve got until 12 May to get your emails in: after that date, Julie will select the lucky winner at random from all entrants who answer correctly.


Karen said...

Inspiring post and very well done Julie.

I've got the 3ps - hope they pay off for me too one day :o)

Nicola Morgan said...

Julie - really ineresting. Actually, your telling of your story was revealingly clever in itself: despite the fact that we all knew what the ending was going to be, and despite the fact that I didn't have a practical need to know what the secret of your ultimate success was, I still felt compelled to read every word. And I would love to read Devil's Gold. So I'm going to try to win one! Well done and good luck. Nicola

Administrator said...

Very inspiring post and one i can relate to. Glad you got there in the end.

Sally Zigmond said...

I, too, can relate to every word. Good luck, Julie. You deserve it.

Unknown said...

Yay, Karen has the 3ps. Let me know how you do with the last one - patience. It's always the hardest for me.

Nicola, thank you for your lovely words. Good luck with the contest!

Samantha, thanks so much. I'm glad I got there, too. Now I just have to stay there. LOL.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Sally!

Jane Smith said...

I hear that lots of you have already emailed Julie: I wish I were not excluded from the race!

I do like her cover. It's very serious, isn't it? And quite blokey, too. Good, though.

Donna Hosie said...

Very best wishes to you, Julie and congratulations.

Unknown said...

LOL, Jane. Blokey indeed.

Thanks, Donna.

Anna Louise Lucia said...

"I contemplated editing Devil’s Gold to fit the boundaries of what was selling. It felt wrong. Not just a little wrong…but a lot wrong. Revising Cassidy to be kick-ass would be a desecration of her ethic and moral character. "

*punches air*

WELL said, Julie! Exactly. :-D

Anonymous said...

Fascintating story, especially for all us 'great unpublished' - big thanks to both Jane and Julie. Will look out for next instalment. One question. At what point did the (bad) agent enter? And do you now have a new one? Just curious.

Unknown said...

LOL, Anna.

AliB, bad agent began at the point I dumped the romance and created the thriller. I am still on the agent hunt.

However, I have to say that I'm receiving a lot of interest and requests for my next book in the series which will wrap up as soon as I can figure out how to release Cassidy from the impossible situation she's found herself in. Partials of this book are out to several really well known agents. I'm hopeful. (uh-oh do I hear that gong of failure again?)

Julie (covering ears and running away)

none said...

I think my 3Ps have Peed off.

Great post, thanks!

Unknown said...

What an interesting post. It seems many of us have a similar route to (I am now being optimistic) being published. I'm at the stage where having rewritten a piece of work I'm now waiting for a response from an agent. Many thanks for the bad agent comment. They say it's harder to find an agent than it is a publisher so I'm taking both routes too. Good luck Julie. I'll be following the story of Devil's Gold.

David Dittell said...


Thank you so much for sharing, and congratulations! The part that struck me the most was that you knew, deep down, that your story was good.

That's a feeling that a lot of writers have, even when it's untrue, but when you're self-critical and open to suggestions like you seem to be and you're still confident, that's a very good sign indeed. Again, congratulations and good luck.

Unknown said...

Helena - I am glad you took my "bad agent" advice to heart. Best of luck with your agent hunt.

David - thanks so much.

BuffySquirrel - LOLOLOL.