Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fail =/= Bad

So I had an odd realization this morning: it’s been a year to the day since I finished my first draft of STORMDANCER. My baby is officially 1 year old! And it won’t be until next year that it actually gets born. The gestation period is getting out of hand.

Kinda funny trawling back through old blog posts –twelve months ago I was querying my first MS (a very bleak vampire novel called COLD, with not a single sparkly pretty man in sight – which was probably my first mistake). I got a few encouraging nibbles, for which I’m eternally grateful, but nothing that manifested into an offer.

It was around this point last year that I realized COLD wasn’t going to see me casually chewing the fat on Oprah’s couch or going for a midnight swim in my solid gold money pool, and it seemed like the end of the universe at the time. But sometimes it’s good to get a kick in the teeth. Defeat can be the greatest teacher. And though they may seem like desktop calendar platitudes, I learned two True Things from the experience:

  1. The best thing you can do while querying your current book is to write a better one. Send off the query, wipe it from your mind, and get back to writing.
  2. For the love of god, stay away from vampire novels. The blistering pace at which I received some rejections makes me CERTAIN that some agents have their mailer rigged to auto-generate a form rejection if your query contains the word “vampire”.

And seriously, we could build a space bridge with all the vampire novels out there. All boldly going where no man has gone before, alabaster skin and hackneyed love triangles beneath our feet.

In other news, second round of edits on STORMDANCER are officially done! Kinda odd that I finished them on the one year anniversary of first draft. I added another 5k words (a few of my writer chums are a little gobsmacked when I tell them I’m being asked to add, not cut, so I’m presuming that this is not the norm) and I’m feeling a little bi-polar about it all. I’ve been looking at these words for so long now, it’s hard to approach them with any objectivity – one day I’ll hate everything on the page, the next day, the same words give me goosebumps. But yes, my baby is now off at the editors for copy edits, and I’m officially back on Book 2.

Still no news on anything ultra-interesting like covers, although we’re close to a series title. Part of me wants to get jealous of the all the fellow 2012 debs busting out their artwork all over the internets, but whenever the green-eyed monster raises his ugly little head, I just go back to those 12 month old blog posts and realize how incredibly lucky I am to even be here. So, much ❤ to everyone who has helped me along the way. Push out the jive, bring in the love.

And now, I’m off to the most isolated capital in the world to celebrate nuptials with some excellent chums. Should the plane plummet from the sky, think only this of me:

I’ll be back to get you.


Links

I was never a Nintendo fan, I was always a Sega boy. For those who share inherent distrust of all things spewed from the dripping maw of Nintendocles, Dark Overlord of the Mario Cashcow, the above pointy eared twat is named Link. He’s apparently been trying to rescue some princess broad for the last 20 years. Or something.

So, LINKS (get it?)

One of my evil cronies who is far more adept at computer-y stuff than I  has worked some magics on the internets, and now all of my related author type stuff can be reached through my domain name, jaykristoff.com

So here I am, in all my name-dropping glory:

http://facebook.jaykristoff.com
http://goodreads.jaykristoff.com
http://twitter.jaykristoff.com

You can now reach this blog by hitting up http://www.jaykristoff.com – that is until my proper website type thing goes up online sometime later this year.

So, a public shout-out to my man Rafe! Much ❤ you big ol’ hunk of nerd, you!


Borders and Babel

The above is a picture of the Borders store near my office. The ground floor of the place looks like a tornado has ripped through it, the basement is as you see above – empty shelves (also for sale, contact our administrator!) and garish posters and people creeping around like they’re raiding a tomb.

No doubt the world of publishing is changing, and the delivery method of bookification is undergoing a radical shift. I’ve had a few conversations with local indies, and they seem to be faring better than the chains, probably owing to customer loyalty and the intimacy shopping at a smaller store can bring. Minds out of the gutter peoples, I’m not talking about a Happy Ending™ with every purchase. It’s kinda like going to your local bar and ordering “the usual”.  I used to have a local where I could just walk up to the bar and the dude behind it would pour me a Kilkenny without me even asking, and then he’d take me out the back and….

Anyways, I digress…

Dymocks (our other big chain down here) is still kicking, and wandering past the rows of DVDs and CDs in my dishevelled Borders, I couldn’t help but think they kinda dropped the ball. I’m unsure how they thought they were going to compete with big music/DVD chains, particularly given the shrinking nature of those markets due to online selling/piracy. But the point of all this is, as we seem to move closer towards an age of electronic delivery and consumption, and the notion of a bookshelf becomes more antiquated, I start to feel like a really old bastard.

See, I like BOOKS. I like the feel of them, the smell of them. I like collecting them, looking at them on my shelves. I like admiring the cover art, having the ability to read without a recharger or getting told by the stewardess “excuse me sir, all electronic devices must now be switched off, didn’t you know our nav’ systems are so crappy a fucking KINDLE can make us drop out of the sky”.

One of my fondest memories of being a kid was when my mother used to drop me off at a newsagent (kinda like a newsstand/bookstore all in one) in the mall while she did the grocery shopping. I would’ve been maybe ten at the time. I used to hunker down in the book aisle, pick a Stephen King book off the shelf, flip through ‘til I found a “good bit” and lose myself for an hour. And I kinda wonder how kids are going to get into books in an age where they only exist as files on a computer. Or what happens when those computers stop working. When we convert all our information into a format that can’t be interpreted without a secondary device(you only need your eyes to read a book) and set ourselves up for another Babel event.

Actually, that sounds like a neat idea for a book…

As I may have already mentioned, I’ve hooked up with a group of debut authors with dystopian/SF/F themes. We’ll be blogging, throwing spitballs and generally making fools of ourselves here. My first post is tomorrow. Or tonight. Depending in which part of the world you live. So yes, enjoy.

In STORMDANCER news, I’ve almost finished round 2 of edits. Everything is pretty much done, save one additional chapter I’ve been asked to write (yes, I’m still being asked for MOAARR). Still not sure how I’m going to make that one work, or even if we need it, or whether this calls for an appearance of Mr Primadonna.

It’s all feeling really good. Parts of it still give me goosebumps, and I must have read them 2184 times by now.

Can’t wait for y’all to see it. 🙂


Oooh, shinies!

I make no secret of the fact that I don’t intend to have kids (and if you get me drunk enough, I’m happy to have a long and involved conversation about why I think it’s a bad move), however, were I the kind to inflict my spawn upon an unsuspecting world, I’d be sorely tempted to name my kid “Rothfuss”. Rothfuss Kristoff. That sounds like the name of a guy who can get shit done. Most likely by holding the earth to ransom with some kind of doomsday device, whilst petting one of those awful hairless cats.

Why would I inflict my child with a name that virtually guarantees a career in super-villainy? Because Patrick Rothfuss is a very nice man, that’s why.

When I was looking for someone to represent STORMDANCER, I was lucky enough to receive offers from four different literary agents. And, being the diligent little bitch that I am, I got the contact details of their clients, and dropped said clients an email, asking how their experiences with their agents had been. People were very polite, and got back to me promptly (even if I had to read between some lines). Anyways, I got my grubby mitts on Patrick Rothfuss’ email addy, and asked how he’d found working with the mighty Matt Bialer, and in typical Rothfuss fashion, he wrote me back this EPIC length email, with wizards and dragons and shit. But then, a strange thing happened. Halfway through this monster mail, he types “Geh. This e-mail is getting really long. I’m so tired of typing lately with all the revisions I’m doing. You want to just give me a call?”

So we chat on the phone for about an hour, and he drops some mighty wisdom all over my n00b skull. And about 45 minutes in, I learn that he’s taking the time to speak to me the day before the final draft of “The Wise Man’s Fear” is due at his editors. The DAY BEFORE. And I hang up the phone and say to myself “That Patrick Rothfuss is a very nice man.”

So anyways, many moons later, I have this amazingly original idea to give shit away on my blog to generate readership, and so I shoot Patrick an email, asking if he’d be willing to sign a copy of “The Name of the Wind” for me if I mail it over, with the intention of giving it away on the blog. And instead he mails me the swag you see pictured above. Signed hardbacks of tNotW and TWMF plus a copy of the Princess and Mr Whiffle (but he signed that to me, so I can’t give it away). With the ultra awesome added bonus of… SPOILERS. Yes. Check it:

Beneath the Rothfuss sig on the title pages of these spiffing hardbacks, lies genuine spoiler info on the content on book 3 of the Kingkiller Chronicles.

And I’ve read them.

Oh yes, my droogies. I know something you don’t know.

I’ll probably wait a little while to give these suckers away. Maybe when I have some cover news to inflict upon you, or something more worthy of conversation than “I wish people would stop talking to me in the urinal“. But yes, since I’m never having kids, I thought I’d take a mo’ to tell everyone what a nice chap Mr Rothfuss is (and, you know, he doesn’t suck too badly as a writer either, jus’ sayin’).

In other news – 2nd round edit notes on STORMDANCER are in. Should be finished in a couple of weeks – there’s nothing too major or game-breaking in there. So there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Book 2 is cranking along. I finally, finally have an act 1 and a title that I’m happy with. Were I a betting man, I’d say it’ll be finished around September. Spoke to my UK editor on the phone last week, and we were talking about surreal topics like “cover design” which got me all squirty in my gutty-wutts. Things are getting (more) exciting.

Oh, and I’ve also hooked up with a bunch of other dystopian-themed 2012 debut authors – we blog here and will be giving away much loots in addition to burning your eyeballs out with our scintillating wit and unchecked profanity.

I leave you now with words of wisdom – never let Jamaican women mix your drinks.


Super Happy Fun Guide: The Agent Call

You’ve been querying for what seems like forever. Your rejections are plastered on your wall like bible pages in the bedroom of the crazy priest who got impaled in THE OMEN. The Book of Grudges is filled with the names of those agents who have wronged you. They do not see your talent. But they will pay. One day soon. They will rue the day they scorned you. Oh, yes. Precioussssssss.

But at last, the heavens open and the angels sing and OMFG an agent has emailed you the magic words “I like your book, we should talk”. Your shriek of joy still echoes in neighbouring suburbs. You’ve finished dancing around the kitchen in your jammies and bunny slippers. And now you realize that you have NO idea what to say.

So I present this Super Fun Happy Guide on that most dreaded of phonecalls in the hopes it will balance the karmic scales for all that gansta-rap I listened to in my early 20’s.

The most important thing to remember throughout this process is to stay calm. Just pretend like you’re Amanda Plummer in Pulp Fiction, all standing there while Samuel L Jackson points a gun at your boyfriend’s face and yells “COME ON YOLANDA, WHAT’S FONZIE LIKE?!” at the top of his lungs. That’ll calm you right the fuck down, no doubt.

Things to do before the Call:

  1. Use the bathroom. A good agent call will take an hour.
  2. Lock kids in basement/send to the neighbours/sell into white slavery.
  3. Walk/tranquilize the dog.
  4. Charge your phone.
  5. Make sure a roadcrew isn’t about to commence drilling the street outside. (Don’t laugh)
  6. Find a picture of some adorable creature looking miserable. A crying child. A weeping clown. I recommend “Sad Kitteh” pictured above. Print it out. (This one is important, see below)

Questions to ask during the Call:

  1. Is this a one-book offer, or a career-type deal?
  2. Do you use a contract/written agreement?
  3. Where are you planning to send my book?
  4. Are you proposing any changes to my book? (How DARE you)
  5. What if my book doesn’t sell?
  6. How would you feel about me switching genres down the track? (because I’ve got this awesome idea for a YA GLBT Dystopian Space Opera with Vampire Zombie Ninja Assassins).
  7. How do you prefer to communicate? Email? Phone? Telepathy?
  8. What’s your cut? (standard is 15%)
  9. What fees do you charge? (photocopies/phonecalls/massage parlour w/”Happy Ending”?)
  10. How do we terminate this agreement, and if we do, what happens to my unsold manuscripts? (don’t open with this one)
  11. Can I have the contact details of some of your clients, so I can chat to them? (this one is REALLY important)

Things you should ALREADY KNOW, but if you don’t you should ask now:

  1. Are you a member of AAR (or the appropriate Agent body in their country)?
  2. How long have you been an agent?
  3. What were your last couple of sales?
  4. Are you on Publishers Marketplace?
  5. Do you handle foreign rights sales? Audio rights? Film rights?

Things to remember during the Call:

  1. Breathe. Breathing is good. It helps you live. And stuff.
  2. If you find yourself wandering off script, this is all good. Natural conversation won’t follow a set pattern. This means you’re talking like human beings. But at some point, the above questions should be asked. They matter.
  3. This is not necessarily a done deal. “We should talk” doesn’t mean “I want to represent you”. It means “I like your book and want to ascertain whether you’re the kind of writer who plasters rejections on your bedroom wall like the impaled priest in the Omen.”
  4. You should avoid acting like a crazy person, if at all possible. If you find yourself giggling uncontrollably at any point in the conversation LOOK AT THE PICTURE OF SAD KITTEH. It will stop you laughing. Unless you are some kind of monster. How could you laugh at Sad Kitteh? HE LOOKS SO SAD.
  5. Above all, you need to pay attention to the vibe between the two of you. Picking an agent is like picking the person you’re going to marry. It will have a profound effect on your career as a writer. You need to “click”. This needs to be a person you can imagine working with for the next 20 years, ideally.
  6. Don’t accept the offer. You may be tempted to. Don’t. Say “Thank you very much, I’ll go away and sleep on it. Can I get back to you next week?” You are not being rude. Only suckers buy the first house they lay eyes upon. Good agents expect you to do this.

After the Call (presuming Sad Kitteh worked and you got offered representation – HAI FAAIVEZ??!):

  1. Tell all other agents who have your fulls/partials that an offer has been made. Politely request that they get back to you within seven days about whether or not they wish to pursue representation with you. (Seven days is standard here, again, you are not being rude)
  2. Grab those contact details of the Agent’s existing clients that you asked for. Contact them. Ask them what the Agent is like. Whether there have been problems. (Note that few authors are going to actually bad-mouth their agent here, but there’s a huge difference between “She’s okay” and “Were it not illegal in 49 states, I would make this woman my wife”)
  3. Compile. Collate. Choose wisely. And above all, remember the words of the immortal Mr Jules Winfield.

COME ON YOLANDA, WHAT’S FONZIE LIKE?!?

I leave you this day with wisdom from the ‘Hood.

?ssa kcalb ruoy pleh os ,hturt eht tub gnihton dna ,hturt elohw eht ,hturt eht llet ot raews uoy oD