Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | By: Megan Held

How I Self-Published and why

Someone asked me to talk about what I did in regards to the title. I chose to self-publish because I don’t want to spend hours working on query letters, reworking my manuscript over and over just to be told ‘No’. Instead, I chose to self-publish for myself, family and friends.
When it came to deciding if I wanted a paperback copy of my novel I chose LULU. A friend from university recommended it to me. I had to do all the formatting and cover design. This takes time. They do tell you suggestions, trust me, for those considering it, take it. This site also puts the novels up on Amazon.com and Amazon in the UK. Handy. Not many people will actually buy them or I just fail at properly marketing them.
These books were more for me to order in bulk and have family and friends buy them from me. It’s really nice to see my work in an actual novel.
Obviously with how the world is advancing today I chose to use a site for ereaders. I know a lot of people chose to use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), but that contract is just terrible. You can only publish through there for 3 months. Not my thing. I am from Canada and our main ereader company is Kobo. I decided to go with Smashwords. They have a larger range and so far I have done quite well. Not well enough to quite my day job, but enough to make myself feel like a real author.
I do still dream of being professionally published someday, but this way I feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, some people will review it and be rude about the work because it is not “professionally done”. To me I just brush that off. Compliments are nice, but there are bad reviews too. Do not take it to heart. Not everyone likes all the popular novels.
If you chose self-publishing most would suggest that you have to spend more time marketing than anything else. Not my thing. I do join some free promotional periods so readers can read my book for free through Smashwords.
I hope this helped convince people about self-publishing. Another site to consider for paper copies of your novels is Createspace, which is through Amazon as well.
Read up on contracts, copyrights, distribution and fees. Research a lot and find what best suits you. Because of my want to self publish I put 3 novels up on both sites and will put up more as I type them up and write them. Do it more for yourself and those close to you. Be proud of your work. Well, back to writing I go!
three books
Monday, July 23, 2012 | By: Megan Held

Writing Genre: Dystopia

Yes, people, this is what I have been posting about. Why? Why must I torture you with all this? Well, I did because this is my topic for my blog this week.
I absolutely love books that tend to be based around a Dystopia, such as: Hunger Games trilogy, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Divergent series. With you thinking about one, or all of these books, time to define!
Dystopia: a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression,disease, and overcrowding.
Wikipedia explanation of Dystopia: Dystopia is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor, or oppression. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way. Dystopias usually extrapolate elements of contemporary society and are read by many as political warnings. Many purported utopias reveal a dystopian character by suppressing justice, freedom and happiness. Both utopias and dystopias are commonly found in science fiction and other speculative fiction genres, and arguably are by definition a type of speculative fiction.
Enough with the definitions/research. I did enough of that for University. I am quite excited that more popular books are using this genre. The main type of age group attracted is Young Adult. Not surprising seeing as more people read YA than any other age group. If I need to explain why then I am concerned.
Once again, here is the picture I saved from a writing page/website.
IsItDystopia_flowchart
My book is only 135 pgs. in so I am still fine-tuning what exactly I am doing with the world. So far, it is Post-Apocalypse and for Dystopia. Why is this genre so widely popular?
It is popular because it is still based on on our planet, but details are changed. Most change after a war or disaster. Makes sense? There are so many variables of what would happen that people can play, reinvent and change our world. My favourite is 1984. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love The Hunger Games, I just enjoy the other one more. It happens. Both are huge inspirations for my next novel, with the help of music.
How do I know I am writing a dystopian novel? Here is a little bit of the opening. Don’t mind the writing, still working on the 1st draft, so it is fairly rough.
The Selected:
I was fourteen when I was taken. As the government termed it, I was selected. It was an honour to be selected. Families took great pride. The children only had nostalgic images and phrases of what it meant to be selected. It was honour, duty to the new Nation of the North. The kids selected received the best education, training, jobs and if the time came, would represent the nation during a war. 
I should explain how this all came to be. The year is 2065. World War III had occurred in the year 2020 and caused the world to divide into eight new nations. Three were allies: Europe, Australia and its colonies, and us, Nation of the North—comprised of the United States, Canada and Greenland. We joined our nations together after we barely won the war with our allies. We had to rebuild after losing so many men, women and children. It was nasty and everyone learnt about it in grades seven and eight. 

I am from Ontario, the southern part. The only names to remain in the nation were the previous states, provinces and territories. Town and city names no longer existed. The war had ended forty years ago and since then the world changed into what it is now. My grandfather died in the war and my father has never fully gotten over the affects. When I was selected he looked upset, like the world had taken something so precious from him again. I was the eldest of four siblings and the only girl. I was my mother’s favourite by default.  
It was my grade eight graduation. My classmates and I stood in front of our parents and family. We were smiling, all happy to be moving on to our next step. High school was the defining moment. we would find out our trades or schools to go to afterwards. Then, after that, people were permitted to get married and have children.
That is all I am giving because it is still a work-in-progress. Hope this helps prove why Dystopian literature and my constant posting about Dystopias makes sense.
Keep writing everyone, like I am.
Friday, July 13, 2012 | By: Megan Held

Too Hot to do Squat

That is my mom’s line, not mine. Mind you, I do use it quite a bit. I have done some writing and finished knitting my first eReader cover. Yeah for me!

To go along with my writing theme of trying to help others know more about writing techniques I am giving another definition of what I use: flashback. Here is the definition, including more specific ones.Flashback

Flashback: is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial back-story. A character origin flashback shows key events early in a character's development. In the opposite direction, a flashforward (or prolepsis) reveals events that will occur in the future. The technique is used to create suspense in a story, or develop a character. In literature, internal analepsis is a flashback to an earlier point in the narrative; external analepsis is a flashback to before the narrative started.

Trust me, this is handy to use and a lot of writers use it. In my latest novel. Murder Never Dies, I start the novel with a flashback. This part is essential to the back-story and instead of writing another entire novel, or a hundred pages at the least I include some smaller flashbacks. Here is the beginning of my novel as an example:

murder coverBlood; there was lots of it. It was everywhere. It was all over me and the floor beneath me. I looked around the room, trying to recognize where I was. I tried to move my head, but it would not re­spond to my command. Something was wrong beyond my ability to see or comprehend. My eyes were all I had to allow me to figure out where I was. The wall I was facing was dull, except for when the lights which flashed or highlighted it. The colours and patterns of the lights looked like those from emergency vehicles. Red, then white, then blue and it repeated. Not in a set pattern. I knew the pattern: officer down, in need of backup. Worse call to get and whenever the call came through it required the patrol cars full sirens and lights. I knew that call all too well and in this case, the officer was me.

I tried lifting myself off of the concrete floor. My mind seemed to not be able to send these thoughts of movements to my nerves in order to get my body to react. I looked at the ground in front of me and all I could see was blood. Is that all mine? It could not be. I was not alone in the room. There was someone else with me. Someone else that had been hurt or killed. I looked up as much as my eyes would let me without going blurry or crossed-eyed and saw the body of a man. He was not moving. He—too—was surrounded by blood; which I knew was his. His face seemed familiar to me. I looked at his features. The dark, empty eyes; the long black hair tied back in a ponytail, matted with blood, sticking to his cheeks. The expression on his face was not of sorrow or of pain, but of anger: pure hatred. Whoever he was, all I could get a sense of was that I had killed him. Shot him with a gun not belonging to me. My hands seemed to not want to work for me at the moment. The place became even lighter, like spot lights had been aimed at the building to see who was or was not inside it. To see the dead man or me would be hard, unless people were high enough up off the ground and that may not have been enough to see us on the floor.

“Brady Oakes. Come out with your hands up! Release Detective Walden!” a man with a megaphone said slowly, boldly, so that I could hear him with ease inside the building.

Brady Oakes? The name of the dead man came slowly back to my memory. I had been investigating murders and he had been the prime suspect. Had I come here to stop him or had I been taken as his next victim? I looked at the dead man or Brady Oakes as he was known as. Confusion set in, my thoughts and memories were all a mess in my head. The noises outside worried me because I could not remember what was going on or what had transpired. All I could hear was the sounds of vehicles running, no footsteps or voices. I wanted to cry out for help, but my voice would not allow me. Am I dying?

“Detective Walden? Can you hear me?!” the man on the megaphone said.

I tried to yell ‘yes’ in response. It failed. Everything I had tried to do failed. There was a noise, which sounded like a door being broken into. Where? I was unable to see, or tell where it was coming from. The loud thud surprised me. I did not know if my body had reacted to it or if my mind was the only part of me that did.

“Get a paramedic in here! She’s still breathing!” an officer yelled out to the emergency personnel on the other side of the door when he had reached me.

I felt a presence of a small group of people near me. Something unnatural was happening. My body was reacting to the presence of one person in particular: a man. He had to have been out of my range of sight since his presence was barely felt.

“Detective Walden, can you hear me?” a paramedic said to me as he crouched down by my face.

I tried to tell him that I could hear him. Why can’t I respond to him? My mouth was moving to the response that I wanted to say to him. I wanted to tell him, but no sound was generated or moved from my vocal chords.

“She can’t talk! We need to get her to the hospital immediately!”

The paramedics, slowly and carefully, rolled me on to my back, placing a neck brace around my neck. They checked my vital signs and wounds as quick as they could. The total amount of noticeable wounds was seventy: a large and concerning number of wounds for any person to obtain and still be alive and breathing. “Let’s rush her! She’s lost a lot of blood and if she loses any more she won’t be conscious for much longer, let alone alive!” They lifted me onto the stretcher and rushed me out of the building.

“I will be there in a bit,” the man that had spoken on the megaphone informed the paramedics. “I’m all that she has!”

“I’ll let the nurses at the hospital know, Sergeant,” one of the paramedics said before he closed the ambulance doors, allowing my sight of the man to no longer exist.

The following chapter begins with: “Chapter 1: Two Years Later”.  If I did not do this at the beginning I would have to do this at the end. Flashbacks are a major part of this novel because it relies on the connection of a past case with a current one.

Next week I will think of another common writing aspect, unless someone would like to suggest me to explain one. This helps me remember what I learnt when I got BA. in English and Professional Writing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012 | By: Megan Held

Proud of my Mommy

This week I went to my mom’s for a change of scenery. I tend to do this more now that I am off because it helps me in a way. I read several books because my stupid pain pills make me all hyper when I should be sleeping. Only wrote a little; I feel like writing today so I can at least make up some lost time.

Now, no one laugh, but I am helping my mom out with her crafts by knitting again. Yes, I know how to knit, laugh all you want. I re-learnt in less than a day. We went to the little shop that hosts a lot of crafters, maybe to sell some things (we hope), or just to get their stuff out there. Here are a few of what my mom had displayed. She is working on ereader/tablet covers. I kind of am helping knit them. Hence kind of.

Giant stuffed dog modelling a large dog jacket. Market bags (I call them book bags). Book covers (for paperback, trade paperback and hardcover). Anti-depression Kits. Dog coats (on top of rack). Placemats (perfect for the patio or campsite).

While knitting I told mom about my dream I have at least once a week about starting a Creative Arts Summer Camp for kids; primary focus is writing. She wants me to consider trying to do it because it would be something I would love to do and also something no one teaches anymore. To be honest, I learnt to write a novel by myself. Sure, you can get support, but no real lessons on how to start or what to do.

Enough of that idea/dream. Off to do a little bit of writing. Took my time to do this. It is amazing how one can do something to pass the time and turn it into something other people can cherish. That is why I love writing. I will blog again about why I hate writers that just want to write to get professionally published. Writing should never be about money making; if that happens, great, if not, one is still creating a work of art.

Hope everyone likes my mom’s work!