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.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Don't Blink" Free On Kindle

My ebook Don't Blink is available on the Amazon Kindle today for free. This is a collection of 40 flash fiction stories I wrote. A couple of the stories turned into short stories. They were Running to Keep Her and Going Home.

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

Don't Blink contains 40 flash fiction tales. Most of the stories are in the science fiction genre, though a good number tend to break this rule. The stories say a lot despite having so few words.

Give Don't Blink a read. It's sure to make you laugh, think, and maybe even cry. But be sure to follow the advice of the book's title. If you don't pay attention, you could miss the true meaning of the stories in the blink of an eye.

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 13, 2014
  • September 2, 2014
  • September 22, 2014
  • October 12, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Running to Keep Her" Free On Kindle

My short story, Running to Keep Her, is available on the Amazon Kindle today for free. This eBook is a result of a flash fiction piece I wrote on my site. The story was probably the longest piece of flash fiction I ever wrote, and even then, I knew it was too short. That's why I decided to turn it into a short story.

As I wrote the story, Neil's feelings touched my heart deeply. I imagined what it would be like if I was in his situation. What pain and turmoil would I experience? What sadness would bubble up to the surface? But more importantly, I asked what I could learn from it. We all experience deep loss many times in our lives. It's what we take from that, in a positive way, that shapes us into being a better person. This story might be exactly what you need to get through that tough situation that weighs on you like a ton of bricks.

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

Exercising and staying healthy is a way of life for Neil, but it isn't a life he chose. It's the only thing he can do to always be with his wife. One day something happens that could break the cycle forever.

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 12, 2014
  • September 1, 2014
  • September 21, 2014
  • October 11, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Josie Dorri and the Coffee Ban" Free On Kindle

My short story, Josie Dorri and the Coffee Ban, is available on the Amazon Kindle today for free. My brother-in-law suggested I write a story about someone not having their morning cup of coffee and it results in a lot of bad things happening in their day. I liked the idea a lot, realizing it could lead to a humorous story about coffee.

I modified his suggestion, basing the premise on a coffee prohibition (of which some have actually happened in human history) and another twist to explain the bad day. The result is a story I enjoyed writing a lot, and one that should bring a few smiles to your face.

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

What would you do if someone told you not to drink coffee? What if it was the law? Follow Josie Dorri on her day without coffee, and you'll be glad the ban hasn't happened!

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 11, 2014
  • August 31, 2014
  • September 20, 2014
  • October 10, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

"The Present" Free On Kindle

My short story, The Present, is available on the Amazon Kindle today for free. It's funny how certain things inspire a story. I was watching a movie from 1997. The scene was in a kitchen. On the table was a box of doughnuts, and I'll tell you, those doughnuts were huge! I thought to myself, "They don't make them that big any more, and on top of that, they cost more!"

That was the inspiration for this eBook. It made me think about how the same can be said now of the past, and more in the future as we look to what is now our present. I took the idea, wrapped it around a man who has a good life but has complaints about it. As you read the story, you'll notice the reference to the inspiration. But more importantly, you'll no doubt come to appreciate your own life and understand that you should never take the little things for granted.

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

Miles Gray has a wonderful life that he has refused to recognize. One day, he receives a present from a friend that is strange and peculiar. Unable to resist the present, Miles goes on a journey that he never could have imagined and that will change his life forever.

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 10, 2014
  • August 30, 2014
  • September 19, 2014
  • October 9, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Going Home" Free on Kindle

My short story, Going Home, is available on the Amazon Kindle today for free. This short story was based off a flash fiction piece I wrote on my site. I liked the 100 or so word story so much, I decided to expand it.

As I wrote this story, I couldn't help but feel the emotions of Commander Patrick Murphy. From the moments that my fingers pecked on the keys, I knew this one would be something special. It's an emotionally moving tale, and it might even bring a tear to your eye. While in many ways, it is a sad story, I think it speaks to the human qualities of love and commitment.

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

For Commander Patrick Murphy every new mission serves as a reminder. They are a reminder of a promise he made and always must keep. Without that promise, he'd have no reason to keep going home...

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 9, 2014
  • August 29, 2014
  • September 18, 2014
  • October 8, 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Copy Bird" Free On Kindle

My short story, Copy Bird, is available on the Amazon Kindle today for free. This is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic tale that I came up with while taking a shower. (Though I didn't do the actual writing in the shower. I'll save that for a future project.)

This is the first of a three month run of free and discounted ebooks I'll be offering. Come back here every day to find out the latest offer.

Caught in a trap of his own devising to keep him safe, Bill begins to get lonely. It makes sense to him that he should now proceed into the open world. His goal is simply to find someone to be his friend and keep him company. Will he find what he is searching for or is he destined to be alone?

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 8, 2014
  • August 28, 2014
  • September 17, 2014
  • October 7, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let's Put Survivors on Survivor!

Brendon Villegas & Rachel Reilly (Brenchel)
Reality TV Stars from Big Brother and The Amazing Race
Image: CBS
I'll say it now, I'm not a big fan of reality television shows. Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Amish Mafia, Deadliest Catch, overall, I couldn't care less about these types of shows or enjoy them.

However, we all have our guilty pleasures that we have to watch. I have been a longtime fan (since the beginning) of Survivor and Big Brother. I love that these are essentially game shows. They require strategy on the part of contestants. They're a study into human behavior and reaction. They're a lot of fun to watch and not too much different than watching your favorite sport. You begin to root for somebody to win and if they do, it's exciting.

My biggest Survivor moment was the first season when Richard Hatch won. He set the tone of strategy for seasons to come. My wife and I rooted for him to win it and he did. That's a very exciting moment.

Another big moment in reality TV for me was when Rachel Reilly won Big Brother. It was her second time on the show, and like the previous, she faced adversity. She faced what I feel was unjustified ridicule from those she competed with and the public alike. And despite all this, she didn't quit or give in, even when her fiancée Brandon was voted off. She survived the adversity and won the game. My wife and I were really excited to see that win. For me, it's my most favorite and memorable moment of reality TV.

So, it was exciting to hear that my favorite reality couple, Brendon and Rachel (or Brenchel as fans, haters, and they themselves have dubbed), would be on The Amazing Race 20. Ultimately, the couple finished in third place, which was pretty good. Once again, I enjoyed watching the couple's interactions. Rachel breaking down, Brendon building her up. She gets upset with him. He apologizes. They're very entertaining people. Makes me wonder why they don't have their own Kardashian type show.

That was the second time I ever watched The Amazing Race. And the third time was this past season that wrapped up last Sunday. The Amazing Race: All Stars (Season 24). Guess who was on it? That's right, Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly. Yep, Brenchel. This was another intense season with the two. Not only that, as competitors in reality shows, they showed themselves as very seasoned and matured. As a couple, too. All the goo-goo eyed talk was thrown to the wayside. But the two seemed closer than ever and determined to win the race. There was a role reversal, with Rachel keeping Brendon's spirits up more so than he had to for her.

Once again, the couple proved to be entertaining and people to root for. They never quit. And though they came in third place once again, they survived and pushed themselves to make it. They even had some adversity to contend with. (It seems to find them easily.) They've been on The Amazing Race twice and have never been eliminated.

All this fun watching them compete prompted me to tweet out the following to Brenchel:
To which I was surprised when Rachel Reilly not only favorited the tweet but even followed me! AWESOME like The Lego Movie! (I'm no fool. I'm sure there are multiple people running her account, but still.)

See that last part in my tweet? Watching these two compete on Big Brother and The Amazing Race was so much fun. Let's go for the hat trick or trifecta. They should be on Survivor next. That would be so much fun to watch. If not both of them, then at least one of them. Can you imagine a starving Rachel being consoled by a smelly Brendon all while trying to strategize and win the game? Imagine all the other survivors turning on them for one stupid reason or another because they're facing real competitors? Oh boy, the thought of it is reality TV heaven!

This is my call out to CBS, Mark Burnett, and Jeff Probst to make this idea a reality (no pun intended, honestly). Get Brenchel on Survivor. It will be ratings gold. A lot of people love the couple and a lot of people hate them. You'll get those people to watch Survivor. For the people who have no clue who they are, introduce them to this reality couple that they can love or hate. And then bring them back for All Stars! (Yeah, I got this all mapped out.)

It has to happen. These reality TV survivors must be on Survivor! What do you think?

Click any link below to send an automatic tweet saying you want Brenchel on Suvivor!

Mark Burnett
Jeff Probst

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Announcing "Name Your Price" Edition E-Books!

One of the hardest things for an independent author to accomplish is making a name for themselves. Sure, they write books and they put them out there for people to buy. Friends and family might buy a copy of a book and they might read it. But overall, it's a lottery in finding success with lots of sales and unknown readers that in turn buy other books by the author.

There are several ways authors try to improve their sales. They advertise on Facebook and other places for people to buy their book(s). They regularly write on a blog, giving information to potential readers. They're active in the Twitter community. They offer a book for free for a limited time. They keep writing book after book, letting those speak for themselves and be their marketing.

There are a lot of options. And some authors find success with one way of doing it. But most don't. The best books might never be read and the worst can be bestsellers.

I've tried a lot of things over the years to improve my book sales. None have set the world on fire. But does that mean I quit trying?

No way. I keep writing and putting out stories. And I find different ways to market my books.

And that includes today. I've decided to add a section to the site called Name Your Price Edition E-Books. Currently, only The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season is available on the page. But more are to come!

How does it work?

Directly from the page, you can download the book of your choice for free. That's right. No cost. It's yours. They are available in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats. Before, during, or after reading the book, you can choose to pay me (through PayPal) the value of the book to you. So, you could not pay me at all. And that's fine. Or you can pay me. That's much better!

Either way, the choice is yours.

I'm doing this as another way to promote my books. The offer is valid only through my site. My hope is that this way of selling the book gives me more exposure over time and eventually leads to loyal readers. And I assume the loyal readers will be those who choose to pay me for the hard work that went in to entertaining them.

So what are you waiting for? The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season is available now. Name your price!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season is Live!

I'm happy to say that The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season is now available in digital and print!

If you haven't read all the individual episodes (or even the free pilot episode) here's your chance to get into the series. On top of that, you'll get bonus author commentary in the book that will give more insight into the stories, my writing process, and why I made certain decisions with the plot.

What are you waiting for? Pick up your copy today!

From Desmond Shepherd, author of Imaginary Me, comes the breakthrough adventure told in a serialized format. Private Investigator Patrick Hold’s life is turned upside down when a secret agency claims he is someone called the Permanent Man—a man incapable of dying. Fearful of what they want with him, Patrick attempts to escape, only to find himself catapulted back in time. With a pregnant wife waiting for him in the future, Patrick is determined to find his way home, even though all hope seems lost.

From the exciting first episode to the action-packed finale, relive every detail of the first season of The Permanent Man. With all 12 episodes of the season and bonus commentary from the author that takes you behind the scenes of each episode, The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season is a real find.

Digital Edition Available at Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo Books | Smashwords

Print Edition Available at Amazon (includes free digital copy) | Barnes & Noble

Monday, March 24, 2014

First Episode of The Permanent Is Now FREE!

With the upcoming release of The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season, and the fact that the e-book sample contains almost the entire first episode in it, it's only fair to offer the standalone digital copy of the first episode for free.

You can pick your digital copy for free at the following e-book retailers:

Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo Books | Smashwords

And don't forget, the The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season will be coming April 8, 2014 in print and digital!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How Disney's Digital HD Copy Works

A month and a half ago, I pre-ordered Frozen in Digital HD from Amazon for my daughter. I did something similar with Wreck-It Raplh last year. I don't have a Blu-Ray player, so Digital HD is the way to go for me to watch movies in hi-def. And Disney releases Digital HD copies of their movies a month ahead of the Blu-Ray/DVD release. So it's a win-win all around to do that.

My wife had no knowledge of me pre-ordering the movie, so she actually pre-ordered the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD combo from the Disney Store in our area. When I found out, I quickly cancelled my order with Amazon.

But then I wondered how the Digital HD Copy that comes with the combo discs works. In the past, it came with a disc that allowed you to download the movie file to your computer. But that offered limited choices for viewing the movie. Unless you had the right devices, you could only watch in on your PC.

In other words: Dumbo.

Yesterday, we picked up the Frozen movie, and I'm happy to say that Disney has opened up their Digital HD Copy to make it accessible through just about anywhere. Here's how it works:

Inside the case for the movie is a card. On it is a web link that you go to, along with a special code printed on it. Go to the web link and enter the code.

Next, you will be able to select the provider of you Digital HD copy. In the US, this includes iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, Google Play, and Target Ticket.

I use Amazon for all my digital purchases, so I chose them. Once I did, a new code was on the screen that I was instructed to copy. Below it is a link to the provider's digital copy of the movie. Clicking it opened a new tab where I was asked to enter the code. Once entered, a credit was put on my Amazon account to purchase the movie. I clicked the link to be taken to the product page, clicked to buy the Digital HD copy, and Bammo! The movie was added to my Amazon library.

It's that simple and easy. Now I have the Blu-Ray copy (but no Blu-Ray player), DVD copy, and Digital HD copy. So I can watch the movie anywhere.

Actually, I should say my daughter can watch it anywhere.

This is now the Disney standard for redeeming Digital HD copies. So any movie from recent months and in the future should follow this setup. If you have other questions regarding this, check out Disney's page on Digital Copy Plus.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2014

For the past few years, I have submitted an entry into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. In 2012, it was Fram Gage and The Infinite Ability. In 2013 it was Futan Vice: The Trouble on Drabble.

The way the contest works, there are several rounds to pass through to win the award. The first round is The Pitch. In this round, the judges choose what novels will make it to round two based on a pitch of 300 words or less. When I entered Fram Gage and The Infinite Ability, I didn't make it past this round. But Futan Vice did make it to round two.

Round two is based on an excerpt of the novel. This is the first 3,000 to 5,000 words of the book. If the judges like this enough, they send it to round three. Unfortunately, I never made it past this round.

In round three, the entire manuscript is evaluated. Submission requirements state that this must be no less than 50,000 words and no more than 125,000 words. Five semi-finalists are then selected from each of five categories (General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, and Young Adult Fiction).

In round four, a finalist from each category is selected, making them winners in their genre. And finally, from those five, Amazon customers vote for their favorite, selecting one grand prize winner.

And the prizes are nice. Finalists get a $15,000 publishing contract with Amazon. The grand prize winner gets a $50,000 publishing contract.

This year, I'm entering my book Imaginary Me into the General Fiction category. Of all the times I've entered, I have the most confidence this year. This is because Imaginary Me is a unique book told through the eyes of an imaginary friend. It also touches on subjects of abuse and how a four-year-old girl overcomes them. All of it results in an inspiring book that I hope can help those who find themselves living in similar situations that the book presents.

Do I think I'll win? I'm a realist. And there will be up to 10,000 entries for the award, so while I would like to win, expecting it is unrealistic.

But, if I can get past The Pitch round (which I think is the hardest part) I might have a chance to at least get into round three.

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I'm Surviving Snowmageddon

Here in the Northeast, we've had an unprecedented winter. Continuous deep freeze temperatures. Snowstorms. Sleet. Ice. Falling tree limbs. Massive power outages. All I'm waiting for now is fire and sulfur to fall from the sky.

But I'm hopeful that won't happen, at least not until summer.

Some are dubbing this winter Snowmageddon, and I think the name is appropriate. I've experienced all of the above problems, along with damage to my home from these storms. Below is a little snippet of that experience. The tree in front of my property split in half last week on Wednesday morning during the freezing rain event we had. Other trees on my property experienced similar fates. That ice, along with the wet snow on the limbs from two days earlier, led to the destruction.

I know what you're thinking: At least the snowman made it out alive.

Well he did, losing only his left arm. But as the day wore on and the freezing rain warmed to plain ole rain, he began to droop sideways and tumble apart by the afternoon, ending his short two day life as the world's happiest snowman.

You see, snowmageddon is even affecting the snowmen around these parts. A week later and the tree looks like this.

And now, another storm is hitting my area, looking to give us upwards of 14 inches of snow.

I love cold weather. I love snow. But even I've had enough of this winter. I look forward to the end of snowmageddon. The beginning of flowers blooming, grass turning green and needing to be cut. Trees (what's left of them) bearing leaves.

Let's just hope the warmer weather doesn't bring us a summageddon. Because I have no idea how to protect myself or property from fire and sulfur.

By the way, word has it Michael Bay is making the Snowmageddon movie, set to release in December 2014. Bruce Willis will star in it along with Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler. It's said the movie will be a bit better than last year's disaster Sharknado.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season

Almost a year ago, I envisioned a book series where I told the story similar to the way a weekly television series airs. I'll avoid going into the details of it as I've blogged about the process of writing it and the format extensively.

And so, The Permanent Man became a reality. Beginning on November 12, 2013 and running through to January 28, 2014, I "aired" a new episode of the series every Tuesday. It even had a double-length season finale similar to the two-hour finales that many television dramas do.

Continuing in that format, I'm happy to announce that the complete first season of The Permanent Man will be available in print and digital on April 8, 2014! The book will contain all 12 episodes of the season and will include bonus author commentary for each episode. The commentary highlights my writing process, points out interesting facts about decisions I made for the story, and even contains some spoilers.

In addition to this, buying the entire season comes with a discount. The single episodes all cost $0.99. If you purchased all of them by themselves, that would be nearly $12.00. But The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season will be only $9.99. It's like getting two episodes for free.

There's an even better deal on this though. If you pre-order the book in digital form any time between now and April 7, 2014, you can pick it up for only $7.99. That's 12 episodes and bonus author commentary all for the same cost as eight single episodes! Below are links where you can pre-order the book.

From Desmond Shepherd, author of Imaginary Me, comes the breakthrough adventure told in a serialized format. Private Investigator Patrick Hold’s life is turned upside down when a secret agency claims he is someone called the Permanent Man—a man incapable of dying. Fearful of what they want with him, Patrick attempts to escape, only to find himself catapulted back in time. With a pregnant wife waiting for him in the future, Patrick is determined to find his way home, even though all hope seems lost.

From the exciting first episode to the action-packed finale, relive every detail of the first season of The Permanent Man. With all 12 episodes of the season and bonus commentary from the author that takes you behind the scenes of each episode, The Permanent Man - The Complete First Season is a real find.

Pre-order Now at iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo Books

Saturday, February 8, 2014

If You Upgrade Your Xfinity Modem, Will the Speeds Improve? Answer Inside.

A few months back, I posted about an upgrade to my service with Xfinity. They had emailed me to say that they had boosted my bandwidth speed. And I was like "great".

But it came with a catch. In order to take advantage of these speeds, I had to upgrade the modem to the new DOCSIS 3.0 standard because the modem I had was outdated. Fortunately, I rent my modem and Xfinity sent me a new one without charge.

Well, without charge except for the additional $1 per month they added to my modem rental fee.

So did my speeds improve upon installing the new modem?

First, here is the speed I was getting with the old, outdated, junky cable modem (Model: Terayon TJ715)

And now, here are the speeds I am getting upon upgrading my modem (Technicolor TC8305C):

Update: A reader of my blog kindly pointed out my second tests was not on the same server as the first. So I reran the test on the same server and here is what I got:

As you can see, the speeds did improve. The upload speed increase was minor. But the download speed was significant. And the new speeds are testing on a server that is double the distance. So overall, I'm happy that I took the time to contact Xfinity and get the upgraded hardware.

For any who upgrade their hardware like me, there is something you should know about this modem. It's a dual purpose device, meaning it's a modem and wired/wireless router built into one.

You might consider that good because it means you have one less device to plug into the wall. But if you work from home and frequently need to connect to a VPN, that might be a problem. Apparently, Xfinity has locked out the ability to connect to a VPN with this modem if you are a Residential customer.

So how did I get around this issue (and I had to because my wife works from home and I have to keep her happy)? What you need to do is contact Xfinity and have them put the modem in Bridge Mode. This completely disables the router functions of the device and makes it work as a modem only. Then you can hook up your own router to the modem and connect to a VPN.

I had a problem when I first did this and had to reset my modem and contact them again to put it in Bridge Mode. What went wrong?

When Bridge Mode is activated, whatever device is plugged into an Ethernet port on the back of the modem becomes the only one that receives an Internet connection (if more than one is plugged in, only one of the devices connected will gain access to the Internet). This is because the modem assigns Internet access to one MAC Address.

How is this issue corrected so multiple devices can access the Internet?

I suggest plugging your main computer into one of the Ethernet ports during the Bridge Mode activation. This will give the modem that PC's MAC Address. Once you confirm the Internet works on the PC, unplug the Ethernet cable form the modem and then plug it into one of the available LAN ports on your router. Plug a new Ethernet cable into the modem and the other end into the Internet or WAN input of your router. You'll then need to access your router's firmware (see the manual for your router) and under the MAC Address section you'll want to clone the MAC Address of your PC. Some router's have a button that does this automatically. Otherwise, you can enter it manually. (Check your network settings on your PC to find its MAC Address. Also, make sure no other devices are plugged into your router's LAN ethernet ports if you are doing the automatic cloning of the MAC Address.)

Once you do that, your router can then function and distribute the internet through its Ethernet ports and wirelessly.

Hopefully this little tidbit of information on speed and this model modem helps you out. If it does, I'd like to suggest that you check out the books I've written or episodes of The Permanent Man that you might enjoy as a way of paying me back. :)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Shootin' Wild Turkey

Below is a video I wanted to share with everyone for a number of reasons.

First, it's a video of my dad who lives in Idaho. I'll admit, we haven't talked in a few years until recently. (Thank Facebook and Messenger for that.) I guess we've actually "typed" to each other. So anyway, he put this video up on a private page of Facebook and I said it should go on YouTube. He sent me the video and I uploaded it for him.

Second, the video is funny on a number of levels, not the least of which is it's snowing and he walks out in shorts and boots (don't worry, t-shirt, too!) and proceeds to make the video. He obviously has too much time on his hands to have this much pun (yes, pun is intended. Once you see the video you'll understand why).

Laugh and share. Or wonder at what you just watched and keep it to yourself.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Double-Length The Permanent Man Season Finale Is Live!

The season finale of The Permanent Man is now available. This double-length episode brings suspense and action. Will Patrick Hold save Wes Cooper and Chimala from Clyde Calvin? Will Agent Red find and capture the Permanent Man? Can Dr. Blue successfully solve the mystery of what caused Patrick Hold to go to the past and bring him back to the future? All these questions are answered in As the Clock Strikes.... You can pick up your copy at all major e-book retailers.

The Permanent Man #12: As the Clock Strikes....: Double-length Season Finale!!! Dr. Blue has everything he needs to successfully pull Patrick Hold—also known as the Permanent Man—from the past and back to the future. However, Agent Red is on his trail, hoping to find the Permanent Man he has searched over two decades to find. Back in 1864, Patrick Hold is determined to rescue Wes Cooper and Chimala from Clyde Calvin’s grasp, but Calvin won’t go down without fight … A fight that threatens to leave Patrick stuck in the past.

You can pick up your copy now at the following locations: Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo Books | Smashwords

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Permanent Man #11: Chemical Transaction is Live!

The eleventh episode of The Permanent Man is now available. You can pick up your copy at all major e-book retailers.

The Permanent Man #11: Chemical Transaction: Dr. Blue is on the brink of successfully finding a way to retrieve Patrick Hold from the past. He discovers one more key to the puzzle, and it comes with a problem: He must go back to the Agency one last time for help. While there, the watchful eye of Agent Red lingers over him, threatening to disrupt any chance at success.

There will be a new episode of The Permanent Man released every Tuesday until the finale on January 28, 2014.

You can pick up your copy now at the following locations: Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo Books | Smashwords

And remember, it's never too late to get into the series by starting with the first episode, Pilot.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Permanent Man #10: A Hero Does It Wrong is Live!

The tenth episode of The Permanent Man is now available. You can pick up your copy at all major e-book retailers.

The Permanent Man #10: A Hero Does It Wrong: Patrick Hold has been captured by Clyde Calvin’s gang, and Wes Cooper wants to save him. Besides himself, Wes has the Cahilla Indian, Takoda, to help. Overcoming Calvin’s gang will prove difficult, and the two together stand little chance of success. But when Wes is offered a job that will lead him directly to Calvin, it just might be the key to rescuing Patrick.

There will be a new episode of The Permanent Man released every Tuesday until the finale on January 28, 2014.

You can pick up your copy now at the following locations: Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo Books | Smashwords

And remember, it's never too late to get into the series by starting with the first episode, Pilot.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Season 2 of The Permanent Man Confirmed

I'm happy to announcethere will be a second season of The Permanent Man!

I couldn't be happier about this. The series has become my fastest and soon to be highest selling success. It's a lot of fun to write. It's a lot of hard work. It's a lot of organization and timing that all has to fall into place and release on time.

And I can't wait to do it all over again for the second season! It is currently slated to premiere on November 11, 2014.

Season one is still in full swing, with two more episodes to come, in addition to the double-length season finale episode. You don't want to miss that one!

If you haven't jumped into the series yet, I highly encourage you do so. It mixes science fiction and western genres. It has humor, love, drama, and action. There's a little something there for everyone.

In the coming weeks, I'll have another announcement related to the series. The image on this post is a clue. But I doubt you can guess what it is. What's that you say? Challenge accepted?

Stay tuned....