Monday, December 21, 2015

Why does Rey know how to use the Force so easily?



Note: If you haven't see Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, I suggest you stop reading now if you're the type of person who doesn't want to read spoilers.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens the main protagonist is a woman named Rey. She lives on the planet Jakku and eeks out a living by scavenging materials from downed ships from way back during the Battle of Jakku. During the course of the movie, Rey "suddenly" discovers she can use the Force. From that point forward, she rapidly picks up how to use the Force to manipulate a person's actions, move objects, and wield a lightsaber.

For some people, this all became quite unbelievable. They think back to Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker. Both needed a lot of training to achieve the abilities they had in the Force. Rey seemingly is a savant. Seeing this, some are reacting in a negative way, saying it is unrealistic with the Star Wars universe and what they know about it.

But that just means they aren't looking at all the clues!



Let's go back to the beginning of the film when we are introduced to Rey. BB-8 is caught by some alien creature in the middle of the desert. She overhears the struggle and approaches the alien. The alien speaks some language we don't understand (nor is it subtitled). Rey responds in that language. BB-8 is released and beeps and whistles. Rey understands what BB-8 says. At one point Chewbacca speaks and she understands him. I think there were another one or two instances of an alien language spoken and she comprehends it. This ability to understand multiple languages (a human C3PO!) is out first clue that there is something special about Rey.

Fast forward to the seen at the cantina. Rey hears what sounds like a little girl screaming and struggling. She follows the voice down some stairs and finds a chest. Within that chest is a lightsaber. She touches it and we're presented with a scene full of flashbacks and some flash-forwards (I'm a Lost fan - hehe). Among the things shown, we see what appears to be Rey on Jakku, crying and screaming (the same sound that drew her downstairs?). A ship is shown leaving the atmosphere. A hand is keeping her from running but we don't know whose. Maz Kanata shows up after this vision happens and tells Rey the lighsaber is Luke's. She then gives Rey some advice to help her use the Force.

At this point, Rey knows something is going on with her Force abilities. And she begins using them as the story progresses to challenge Kylo Ren in a mental battle, manipulate the actions of a stormtrooper, pull the lightsaber from the snow over Kylo Ren's attempt at the same thing, and defeats Kylo Ren in the lightsaber battle.

Still, it could be argued that she became too strong too fast. How could she be more powerful than Kylo Ren with such little training? Everyone wants A New Hope to Return of the Jedi transition I guess. I don't know.

But that's not my explanation. She didn't gain them so fast just to move the story along quicker. Touching that lightsaber is the clue. It reminds us that we don't really know Rey's entire past. She seems to not know it completely either. Earlier in the film, we're told about Luke Skywalker wanting to train those who are Force sensitive.

Could it be, prior to Rey being left on Jakku, that she, too, was trained by Luke Skywalker? But since these "younglings" were in danger of the First Order eliminating them, that they were scattered among the planets?And even their memories were altered or removed for their protection?

"There has been an awakening ... have you felt it?"

This memorable line from the movie could be pointing to the fact that the Light Side of the Force is rushing back. It "awakened" in Rey and she is able to show such power with the Force because she already knows it, she's just remembering it all. You could liken it this way: I've done projects around the house fixing things. I've had occasions where I need to fix the same thing twice but 10 years apart. I didn't quite remember how to fix the problem, but once I began analyzing it, it all came back to me. It's a similar thing with her ability to once again use the Force.


What about her appearing stronger than Kylo Ren? Kylo Ren was shown to have great brutality and an ability to control the Dark Side of the Force well. But he was also shown to be insecure. He wants to be like his grandfather, Darth Vader. And when his weakness is exploited, his insecurities cause him to falter, like in the battle with Rey (let's not forget that he was also injured prior to that fight because Chebacca shot him). When things go wrong for him, he loses control and throws a tantrum, as illustrated a couple times in the movie. So the moment Rey showed a small iota of more power than him, he fell apart. We've all been there, right? When you're doing something and it goes wrong? Usually, you get frustrated and are less effective at doing it, perhaps even making a mistake or two along the way. This allowed Rey to overpower Kylo Ren, despite the fact that we all felt he was stronger than her in the Force.

So was Rey overpowered in the Force? In my opinion, no. In classic Star Wars fashion, there is more to the story than what is on screen. And it has people talking and wondering. They've captured the magic of the original trilogy and the next few years are gonna be a fun ride.

May the Force be with you....

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

7 "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Predictions



I haven't posted here in a while ... in fact, you could say I haven't posted anything on my blog for "a long time ago in a cyber-galaxy far far away".

Sure, I may not be writing any blog posts or stories right now, but that doesn't mean I don't have anything important to say, especially about the upcoming release of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens next week.

I've been doing all I can to avoid spoilers for the movie. In fact, come this Friday, I plan on going dark. No, not The Dark Side, but dark in regards to using the Internet. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Google Now, Feedly, and whatever other social network/web service that might accidentally tell me something from the movie. It's a no-brainer that in this final week as the premiere happens and the movie releases around the world that spoilers will get out there.

But before they do, I thought I'd used my little time capsule here to document some things I expect from the movie. Then I can come back and see where I'm correct and where I'm wrong. These predictions come based off of seeing the first two teaser trailers and reading all the books in the new canon for the series. (I haven't see the actual theatrical trailer, and with a week and a half to go, I don't plan to). Also, I have inadvertently read or heard things, and through osmosis, may have come to some of the below conclusions. Given this is the seventh episode, I feel seven predictions are in "first" order.

So here goes! Let's see how good my Force prediction abilities are:

How's my metal hand feel on your metal head?
Prediction I: The Gray Side Menace

Luke Skywalker (purposely absent from the movie poster and trailers per J.J. Abrams, save the image above which I assume is him) will take on a role similar to Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode IV. However, his motive for the role comes from his realization that the New Republic he fought to achieve by defeating the Empire, really isn't as good as it planned to be. Essentially, he comes to understand another side of the Force. Not a Dark Side. Not a Light Side. But for the sake of a better term, the Gray Side.


Does that thing actually work?

Prediction II: Attack of the Drones

An overall theme I keep reading in the books is that there are really no good sides to government. Once someone gains power, others become unhappy with it and have "better" ideas. So, First Order, the Resistance, these things don't matter. And somehow this idea will play out in the movie, perhaps by Rey with Luke Skywalker as her mentor.

Good thing we saved ya, just so you could die!
Prediction III: Revenge of the Deaths

Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker will all die at the end of the movie, catapulting us all into a cliffhanger that will leave us wanting more until Episode VIII releases. It may be all three, two of them, or just one. But one of these characters has to die. It will drive emotional impact. It will get fans going nuts!

Sibling Rivalry?

Prediction IV: A New Family

This is one I think others have speculated about, but I thought it from the moment the first teaser released. I didn't know the character's names at the time, but I do now. Rey and Kylo Ren are brother and sister. They are also the children of Han Solo and Leia Organa.



Just when you think you can get out, they pull you back in!
Prediction V: The Empire Kinda Wants to Strike Back

Kylo Ren has taken on his role because he discovers the remains (mask) of Darth Vader. This would be his grandfather. Ironically, he looks to the values of Vader as a "sheep in wolf's clothing". In other words, the idea was good but the abuse of power was not.



Am I doing this right?
Prediction VI: Return of the Gray Side

We may see Luke Skywalker working in conjunction with Kylo Ren. This doesn't make him a bad guy. He's just playing both sides to see a positive outcome for the sake of humanity.

It was love at first explosion....
Prediction VII: The Love Awakens

Finn, shown sporting a lightsaber in the movie poster, has no Force abilities but is a master with a lightsaber. What he lacks in the Force he makes up for with pure talent. Though it may not happen in this episode, I believe he and Rey will fall in love at some point.

What do you think of these predictions? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment. Although, keep in mind that I won't read the comments until after I've seen the movie.

May the Force be with you....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Permanent Man Season Premiere Cover & Pre-Order

Things are starting to take shape with the second season of The Permanent Man. It premieres on November 11, 2014. As I considered this upcoming season, I had to choose between using the same cover template as last season or making a new template.

I chose the latter to help differentiate the two seasons when browsing books online. Some of my decision processes for this season focused on different items. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Take a look at the cover below and read on for the changes I opted to make.


The first thing you'll notice compared to last season is that the series name is less prominent. Before, it stood out nice and big on the top of the cover. Now it's broken up on the right side with the words mixed together similar to a crossword puzzle. I did this because I wanted the episode's title to stand out more.

The episode title is now at the bottom, where previously I had my author name. It is the largest type on the cover. My author name is moved to the top, as I feel that's not as important with this being an episodic series. If you look at the box set cover for Season 1 that I did, I all but completely removed my name from the cover. I feel this gives it that television series feel you would get when browsing TV shows to watch on Amazon or Netflix.

I also had to decide how I would label the episode number. Would I continue the sequence by calling it Episode 13? Or would I separate the fact that it's a new season and start over at one? I again opted for the latter since I was also changing the look of the cover. So I list "Season 2" and "Episode #" on the cover. Because of this, I've also gone back and updated the Season 1 covers to say "Season 1 - Episode #".

Some things stayed the same though with small changes. The background image I used is the same from last season, though it is enlarged and rotated to be slightly different. And the artwork image effect I'm using is also the same, but this time it's a little larger.

So the cover is done, and on that note, I'd like to announce that the first episode is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. You can pre-order your copy by clicking here.

So what do you think of the Season 2 Cover Template? I'd love to here your thoughts!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Unspoken Stories Discounted August 18-23, 2014

Starting today and running through August 23, 2014, Unspoken Stories is being discounted off the regular price. Normally, the e-book costs $2.99. But starting today, it is only $0.99. It's best to get in on this deal early because the price will slowly go up over the days leading up until it is full price again.


A collection of five science fiction short stories that reach beyond the mind.

Includes the following stories:

Copy Bird: Bill is trapped and lonely. He breaks free of his prison and finds something he doesn't expect.

Going Home: Promises are important to keep, and Commander Patrick Murphy never wants to forget that.

Josie Dorri And The Coffee Ban: What if the government banned coffee? See what happens to Josie Dorri when they do.

The Present: Miles Gray has a good life, but doesn't realize it. Often, a trip through time is all that is needed to open up a person's eyes to how good they have it. 

Running To Keep Her: Neil is obsessed with exercise and eating right, but it's not for his health that he does it. He does it to keep her.

Read, enjoy, and open up your mind....


Download now at Amazon.com.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Amazon vs. Hachette Thoughts

This past weekend, I received an email from Amazon regarding the battle going on between them and Hachette. If you're unfamiliar with the debate, a quick Internet search on the matter will get you up to speed.

Amazon requested in the email that the authors they sent it to send an email to the CEO of Hachette, Michael Pietsch, stating very specific things within it.

Let's me clear. I'm me. And I'm not going to have Amazon telling me what to write. However, I do have an opinion when it comes to e-book pricing. So I decided to send the email to Hachette, not as a puppet of Amazon, but rather voicing my thoughts. Below is the email I sent to Mr. Peitsch and Amazon.

Dear Mr. Pietsch,

I'm not going to lie and say I know all the ins and outs of the battle going on now between Amazon and Hachette regarding e-books, their pricing, and the debate of Amazon not selling Hachette books because of it. I've read news reports and editorials on the matter but am smart enough to know that their are two sides to every story. I don't take sides with either Amazon or Hachette on this matter, despite being a self-published author who uses KDP to make a meager income.

You are no doubt aware that Amazon has contacted their KDP authors with the request to email you and to even consider including several points that fit their side of the story and their agenda. I'm sending this email, not to say I support what they are doing, but to simply give you my point of view when it comes to e-book pricing and authors.

I'm not one to want a publisher to speak for me and include me in a battle. It's why I self-publish. And I write for a hobby, not a living. I like being in control of everything I write from start to finish without someone hanging over my head and determining changes to my fiction that should be made to appeal to a more mass appeal audience. Or any other request that might kill the voice of my stories.

I understand the dilemma that publishers have today. How can they maintain the print publishing part of their business, which is so lucrative, and also sell e-books without one killing the other? The simple solution is to price the e-books comparable to the printed edition. This way, if someone wants the e-book, more profit is made per sale for the consumer's "convenience" factor. But also, some might just buy the print edition because it's the same cost and they get a physical copy. This is poor business adaptation.

Let me illustrate. As I said, writing is a hobby for me. My job that pays the bills is working within the printing industry, and I've done so for close to 20 years. Things have drastically changed in the industry due to high speed copiers and the Internet. Some customers can do printing themselves at a low cost or opt to not have it done at all and stick the newsletters, brochures, or other items up on their website.

At the company I work for, we have managed to stay in business by adapting. How so? By looking at the industry and figuring out what items still need the printed sheet. Letterheads, flyers, and brochures may not be needed but other items might, like large format signs and banners. We've adapted our offers to the consumer to make printing more relevant in more ways than I've listed here.

Of course, a book publisher has less versatility. But true to the human spirit, it doesn't mean they can't be creative or even know when to let things go and take their course. Lower prices are always more beneficial to the consumer and sometimes can lead to more profit because of increased volume in sales.

When a company plans ahead one, five, or 10 years what they want from their business, where the world will be at that moment, and how they can take advantage of those predictions, they thrive. It's why companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google stand where they do. But print publishers have been shortsighted in their focus. They want to maintain the old standards while adopting the new. Imagine if a horse dealer from the first half of the 20th century that tries to maintain that part of their business while also selling an automobile they made. Eventually, part of their business would become all but irrelevant. And which part do you think that would be? Imagine if they continued to stubbornly hold onto that portion of their business using strategies to keep both afloat. What if they told dealerships that sold their vehicles they must also sell their horses and at prices for both that they require? Would those dealerships agree to sell their products? The answer is obvious.

That is what I have to say on this matter. It's not exactly what Amazon wanted, but again, that's because they don't control me. I'm my own person with specific views. And even though I believe some of what they are doing is ridiculous, I know that they will continue to sell my e-books. And yes, I price my e-books much lower than my print edition books.

Lower e-books costs are beneficial for the consumer. They can be beneficial for your business. But that's only if you're willing to find a way to make it beneficial as opposed to punishing those who buy books from you.

And let's be honest, most people care very little about where their books come from. With the amount of books out their for people to choose, one publisher not being available won't hurt them. In fact, maybe there's a chance that a lack of publisher's books will cause the reader out there to find one of mine.

If that happens, I thank you greatly!

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

Regards,
Desmond Shepherd

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Permanent Man Season 2 Update

It's hard to believe that a year ago around this time, I had written all 12 episodes of The Permanent Man. Some were already finalized and ready to go and a few still needed that last copy edit and cover made.

Fast forward to now and things are much different for Season 2. I've written almost the first four episodes of the season. None of them has been copy edited. And I don't have any covers made.

Yes. I'm way behind schedule.

Life does this thing where it gets busier. I have a family with three children. I have a full time job. And I have other personal responsibilities that take up my time. Writing is not a career. Writing can't take the ultimate priority for me. My approach to it has changed over the past few years. Now I write when I can and if I have the energy. It is a hobby.

A few months back, I began considering not publishing a second season of The Permanent Man. Demand wasn't there for it, nor the money. So unless I began getting a flood of emails asking where the second season is come November when I said it would be available, I wasn't going to worry about it.

But there's this nagging bit in my brain that wants to continue writing the season. I know it's impossible to release on November 11, 2014 and then have an episode ready every week for twelve weeks or so. My time won't allow for it. Where I used to write a lot a couple of years back, my personal life has changed that.

So what can I do?

I could release them still, as I complete them. But even this I didn't like. It reminded me of what I did with the first book in the Miscorrection Trilogy. No, sporadic and TBD releases for each episode wouldn't be fair to those who have read and enjoyed the series.

I came to the conclusion that I could maintain the "TV" style formatting of the show but rather than work on a week-to-week release for each episode, I would do it month-to-month. This gives me time to write each episode. Edit. Make a copy. Release. Start over again. It puts me ahead of schedule.

For those who have become fans of the series, you can still look forward to the first episode releasing on November 11, 2014. And I have to say, it's a great episode. As the cliffhanger ending of the first season hinted at, the series moves in a new direction. Patrick Hold is still trying to make his way home, of course. But with the series now set in ... oh, I better shut up. I wouldn't want any spoilers for those who plan to read Season 1 and those looking forward to Season 2.


Friday, July 25, 2014

"Hollywood Brings World Peace" Free On Kindle

My short story Hollywood Brings World Peace is available on the Amazon Kindle today for free. This story is the result of a tweet I sent out to the twitterverse. It was right around the time Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorced and Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore divorced. I tweeted the following:
Soon after, one of my followers tweeted back and challenged me to write a story based on that idea. The result is a humorous tale about how Hollywood can bring world peace.


Come back tomorrow to find out the latest free or discounted offer for my ebooks.


Francis Corolla has been put in charge of an impossible assignment. He has to find a way to make world peace.

He never expects to find the solution. When he does, it comes from the most unlikely source: Hollywood.


Free today on Amazon! (Hint: Click the word Amazon.)

If you missed today's offer, it will be free again on the following dates:

  • August 14, 2014
  • September 3, 2014
  • September 23, 2014
  • October 13, 2014