GHOST IN THE MACHINE: A FREE Lawson Vampire Story by Jon F. Merz

Yesterday was my birthday and to celebrate, I’m giving away a brand NEW Lawson Vampire story called GHOST IN THE MACHINE. It’s absolutely FREE for a limited time so grab your copy below in one of three file formats: .pdf, .epub, or .mobi

In this story, it’s 1992 and Lawson owes a friend a favor. It sounds simple enough, but nothing ever is for Lawson. The story runs 7700+ words and will hopefully tide all you Lawson fans over until the release of the next Lawson novel, THE CRUCIBLE.

Have at it & thanks again for being such awesome fans!


GHOST IN THE MACHINE PDF FILE (right click “save as”)

GHOST IN THE MACHINE EPUB FILE (right click “save as”)

GHOST IN THE MACHINE MOBI FILE (right click “save as”)

Updates from Author Jon F. Merz

Just a quick round-up of things going on in the week ahead:

  1. Next Saturday, October 5th, I will be appearing at the Zombie Walk in Asbury Park, New Jersey. From 10am until whenever, I will be at the Baen Books booth in the parking lot of the Stone Pony. Come on by and say hello. Grab a picture and hang out. More info on the event can be found here.
  2. Baryon Online has a new review of THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL up as of this morning. Barry Hunter, who runs the mag, has been a supporter of my work for a while and I’m pleased to see he enjoyed my latest. Thanks Barry!
  3. I don’t write a lot of horror novels, despite having written a lot of horror short stories when I was starting out as a writer. VICARIOUS is my one “legit” horror novel (although PREY could be called SF horror, I suppose) that I had a blast writing. Every once in a while, though, I get that urge to write something scary. I’ve had an idea percolating for some time now. This morning I started writing chapter one. Given what else is on my plate and commitments for other writing projects, it will probably be about a year before it sees the light of day, but I am looking forward to working on it when time permits. It’s definitely going to be a guilty pleasure, but oh so fun…especially since I’m setting the book in the town I live in.
  4. Last week, I asked my fans and friends to push sales of my latest novel THE UNDEAD HORDES OF KAN-GUL and in exchange, I sent out a 3-chapter excerpt from the forthcoming new Lawson Vampire novel, THE CRUCIBLE. If you missed it, you can check it out here, unedited.
  5. October will see the release of a new installment in my feudal Japan zombie series, ZOMBIE RYU. This has been a long time coming, so make sure you’ve got episode one and episode two already!

Don’t forget, you can grab a print copy of THE UNDEAD HORDES by going here.
You can also get a copy for the Kindle here.
And if you have a Nook, you can get a copy here.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to get caught up on all the Lawson Vampire adventures. THE CRUCIBLE hits before the holidays!

2012/2013 Publication Schedule (partial)

By Jon F. Merz

Since we’re heading into the end of the year, I thought I’d draw up a list of coming attractions of SOME of the stuff I’ll be publishing soon. So here ya go!


  • Zombie Ryu Episode 3
  • Untitled Lawson Christmas Story


  • THE CRUCIBLE: A Lawson Vampire Novel
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 4

MARCH 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 5

APRIL 2013

  • Zombie Ryu Episode 6

MAY 2013

  • THE NINJA APPRENTICE: The Tsuba of Kotogawa (book 2)
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 7


  • Lawson Novella
  • Zombie Ryu Episode 8


  • Zombie Ryu Episode 9


  • Zombie Ryu Episode 10


  • Zombie Ryu Episode 11


  • Zombie Ryu Episode 12 (season finale)


SHADOW WARRIOR: Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul (this is book 1 in my new fantasy series from Baen Books)

There’s more than this, but this is enough to make my head explode (in a good way!) I hope you’re as excited as I am! And by the way, my awesome offer still stands for those of you who want to give my ebooks as gifts this holiday season. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of it since you get something as well. And please share this with your friends and family. There’s nothing like the gift of some adrenalized mayhem courtesy of your crazy author pal to make the holidays into a thing of beauty!

5 Quick Fixes for Indie Authors

By Jon F. Merz

As I mentioned in a previous post, the summer usually means less activity in publishing. I’ve been hearing that the same slowdown in sales that occurred last summer for indie authors is also occurring this summer. I talked about my some of own sales tactics for combating this before, but there are other things indie authors can do during this sales slowdown that will yield better sales as things pick up again in the Fall. Think of this as your summer check-up before school starts again. (Anyone else remember those trips to the pediatrician before school started? My old doctor was named Dr. Toch and he was a brilliant albeit scary dude with a thick German accent who had volunteered to help treat injured soldiers in Vietnam. Great guy, but man, I used to dread the prospect of getting a shot from him, lol)

1. Fix your website: I started doing this last night. I’ve had some outdated pages on here for a while as well as pages with no content. I updated some of the pages (I still have more to do) and ditched the pages that didn’t have content. When I’m ready to write those pages, they’ll come back. But for now, I don’t want them being dead ends on my website. I also added a new photo on the index page, changed the sidebar on certain pages from an Amazon widget to a “Latest Releases” column with buy links to every platform. I need to rebuild my storefront here and get all of my ebooks listed out here so people who visit can find them all. Keeping content fresh on your website is vitally important. Even if it’s just a new blog post every couple of days. People who visit want to see that you’re active. If they stumble in and your last blog post was about MySpace or Friendster, then chances are you need to get into a schedule of posting more often.

2. Fix your spreadsheet: How is your sales tracker looking? I use an Excel spreadsheet to track my sales, figure out daily averages, predict monthly and yearly revenues, track which products are delivering the best results, etc. The problem is, as I’ve written more books, I’m running out of room. Instead of being easy-to-read, my spreadsheet is looking mighty crowded. So it’s time to redo it and get it back to being easy on the eyes. If yours is the same or becoming so, now would be a good time to make some changes, make sure your formulas are correct for calculating royalties, etc. Even small fixes can make a big difference – and remember: those pennies add up.

3. Fix your ebooks: It may have been a year or more since you last uploaded that ebook file to various sales platforms. During that time, you’ve hopefully written more ebooks. So here’s the question: every time you publish something new, have you gone back and updated your other ebook files – specifically the section where you list your other works? (Don’t worry, I’ve got to do the same thing…) Have you heard from readers that there might be a gremlin or two in the ebook file? Try to set aside time every day to fix or update at least one of your ebook files and then re-upload that to the various platforms where it sells.

4. Fix your schedule: How’s your productivity doing? Been a little sluggish lately, what with summer being here? If you’ve got kids or grandkids out of school for the summer, then your work schedule might be suffering a little bit. But it should suffer, frankly, because spending time with kids is never wasted time as far as I’m concerned. That said, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at your schedule and see how you can improve it for maximum effectiveness when the kids go back to school. Take some time to look at when you work best, when you exercise, when you market, and see if you’re maximizing your time effectively. If not, work on the schedule until it’s something you can commit to and set some goals for getting those new ebooks finished and on-sale.

5. Fix your perspective: Yep, it might be summer and your sales might be down. But that’s no reason to start thinking the end of the world is coming. And honestly, there’s far too much pessimism, cynicism, and outright disgruntled hatred in the world right now. The last thing you want is to add fuel to any of those fires. Instead of thinking negatively – which takes almost no energy or discipline to engage in – spread some positivity. Look for another indie author you respect and promote them on your website for a change. Introduce your fans to this other author’s work (provided your genres are at least somewhat similar). Volunteer some advice to a new indie author just starting out. Look at your own goals and focus on completing at least one new ebook before the end of the summer – remember, every time you put something new on-sale, it’s like you’re giving yourself a raise. It’s a pretty great industry to be in where you can get multiple raises every year! The point is this: ebooks are forever and they’re increasingly popular. New stats released yesterday showed that ebooks are commanding greater numbers than ever before. With more people shifting to ebooks every day, it’s likely more people will find your work – just keep writing and publishing! Not only does your craft improve with every new ebook you write, but more ebooks means more virtual shelf space for you and that’s always a good thing.

Summer is a great time to look at how your systems are doing for maximizing your production and income. I hope these five quick fixes give you some ideas on how you can improve your bottom line and your outlook at the same time. Feel free to add your own ideas below in the comment area and I hope you’ll spread this post around to other indie authors.

Shameless plug time: my new episodic series ZOMBIE RYU just debuted – zombies vs. ninja & samurai in feudal Japan = maximum win. Read about it here & grab a copy! Thanks!

La Serie del Vampiro Lawson (an interview with my translator)

By Jon F. Merz

I’ve often said that I have the most incredible fans in the world and I truly believe that. For proof, you need look no further than the wonderful Virginia Truett, who has just finished translating THE FIXER and INTERLUDE into Spanish for me. As a big fan of the series, Virginia was the perfect pick for me to hire to do the translation work. She knows the series, she knows Lawson. And since this will be my first foray into the Spanish market, I had to make sure I had the best. With Virginia, I got it. So I thought it only right that I bother her with a few questions about the great work she did for me.

1. You’ve been a fan of the Lawson Vampire series for awhile now. What is it about the series that you enjoy so much?

There are a number of things I enjoy about Lawson. The action and humor are the first that come to mind. I’ve always liked action films. Especially those with the most amount of sword fights, hand to hand combat, and intrigue. So, I was totally hooked by the second chapter of the first book I read. It was The Invoker, I hadn’t realized it was part of a series and I had to back track a tad.

Another aspect that caught my attention was how well developed and strong the characters were; mainly those who would have normally been placed in a less empowered positions. Talya and Jack (a woman and a child) are very strong and memorable characters who wield true, yet subtle, power throughout the stories. I find that to be very good.

Overall, I had such a good time reading that Lawson quickly became a favorite. I had started reading the series with no expectations and I got a ton of fun instead. Can’t complain about that.

1. Has sido fan de Lawson por un tiempo ¿Qué te llama la atención acerca de la serie? ¿Y por qué la disfrutas tanto?

Hay un número de cosas que me gusta acerca de Lawson. La acción y el humor son lo primero que viene a la mente. Siempre me han gustado películas de acción. Especialmente aquellos con más cantidad de peleas de espada, combate mano a mano e intriga. Por lo tanto, no fue sorprendente quedar totalmente embebida en la historia desde el comienzo del primer libro que leí. Era The Invoker, no sabía que era parte de una serie y tuve que tomar un par de pasos hacia atrás para continua la seria desde un principio.

Otro aspecto que me llamó la atención fue lo bien desarrollado que estaban los personajes; principalmente aquellos que normalmente se encuentran en una posición más débil. Talya y Jack (una mujer y un niño) son personajes muy fuertes y memorables que ostentan el poder verdadero, pero sutil, a lo largo de las historias. Me parece muy bueno.

En general, pasé tan buen rato con la lectura que Lawson se convirtió rápidamente en una de mis series favoritas. Había iniciado de la serie sin expectativa alguna y me divertí mucho. No me puedo quejar.

2. I think it’s great that one of my biggest fans also happens to be the translator, rather than someone who has never read the books. What were some of the challenges you faced bringing The Fixer to the Spanish-speaking world?

It has been an interesting experience to say the least. Was it challenging? Definitely. Translating a book is more like rewriting the story in a different language. It takes a lot conceptualization work because language and culture are intimately linked, and what works in one language (expressions, etc.) might not work in another. So, one has to convey the same point or idea but may not be able to use the exact same words to get the specific point across.

In order to do this I had to ask myself “how would a man like Lawson say that in Spanish?” Basically, I had to understand him well. And that has a lot to do with understanding the author.

Writers mostly write about what they know. It is obvious that you have given Lawson a part of you. His training (Ninjutsu and military experience) and various specific tastes (Bombay Sapphire, etc.) clearly come across as the author’s personal facets. This challenged me to make sure the moral essence of the character and the story were kept intact and followed the path you wanted it to take. But, I had to do it in Spanish.

Though the story takes place in Boston, Lawson needed to sound like Spanish was his first language. A Spanish speaking man of Lawson’s caliber, background and personality would express himself a certain way. They do so in English too. And this is where it got tricky. Spanish is the same throughout, but colloquial phrases can be very regional. I had to make sure to use expressions that would be easy to grasp by anyone from Mexico to Argentina and across to Spain, and still convey the same feeling and point you wanted the reader to get. Also avoiding sounding forced or sterilized.

It was quite a trip and I had some funny moments. I remember voicing out certain expressions while I typed, as my husband calls it, with “purpose”, and he gives a funny, puzzled look ‘cause I’m saying it with a smirk on my face. Let’s just say that I now have an extensive list from which I can draw Lawson’s repertoire for “choice” words.

2. Creo que es genial que una de mis mayores fans también sea la traductora, en vez de alguien que nunca ha leído los libros. ¿Cuáles fueron algunos de los desafíos que u enfrentaste al traducir The Fixer al español?

Definitivamente que ha sido una experiencia verdaderamente interesante. Definitivamente que no fue fácil. Traducir un libro es más bien reescribir la historia en un idioma diferente. Toma mucho trabajo de conceptualización porque la lengua y cultura están íntimamente vinculadas, y lo que funciona en un idioma (expresiones, etc.) podría no funcionar en otro. Así que uno tiene que transmitir la misma idea pero si utilizar las mismas palabras exactas para expresar el la idea específica.

Para ello tuve que preguntarme “¿cómo un hombre como Lawson se expresaría en español?” Básicamente, conocer a Lawson muy bien y tener una buena comprensión del personaje. Para esto uno tiene que conocer y tener un buen entendimiento del autor.
Los autores escriben sobre lo que conocen. Es evidente que le has dado a Lawson una parte de ti. Su formación (Ninjitsu y experiencia militar) y diversos gustos específicos (Bombay Sapphire, etc.) claramente provienen de las facetas personales del autor. Mi desafió fue el asegurarme de que la esencia moral del personaje y la historia se mantuvieran intactas y fueran las mismas que tú querías tomaran. Pero tenía que hacerlo en español.

Aunque la historia toma lugar en Boston, era necesario que Lawson se expresara como si el español fuera su lengua materna. Un hombre con el calibre, los antecedentes y la personalidad de Lawson, se expresa en cierta forma en español. De la misma forma lo hacen en inglés también.

Y es aquí donde se complican las cosas. Aunque el español es el mismo en todo el mundo, las frases coloquiales pueden ser muy regionales. Tenía que asegurarme de utilizar expresiones que serían fáciles de comprender por cualquier persona desde México a Argentina y España, y aún transmitir el mismo sentimiento e idea que el autor desea que el lector capte. Al mismo tiempo tenía que evitar que la historia sonara forzada o esterilizada.

Tuve algunos momentos divertidos. Recuerdo en ciertas ocasiones cuando me decía a mi misma en voz alta algunas expresiones interesantes mientras escribía con “propósito”, como dice mi esposo, y él me mira con una mirada curiosa y perpleja porque lo estoy diciendo que con una sonrisita en la cara. Podemos decir que ahora tengo una lista muy extensa de la que puedo sacar un buen repertorio para uso como palabras predilectas de Lawson.

3. EBooks are a fairly new thing for a lot of countries outside the US. Do you expect the Spanish market for ebooks to take off as it has in the English-speaking markets like the US and UK?

Though it is true that Ebooks as an industry are somewhat new outside the US, the concept of downloading a book and reading it on the laptop or tablet isn’t at all new. In Latin America, books that are traditionally published (in print) in Europe or the US are expensive (at least double the price) and can be difficult to get because bookstores can run out quickly. With the advantages of Internet access, people have been able to search for EBook versions to fulfill their needs. I believe that having more Ebooks easily available in the market will certainly be welcome.

Yes, there are potential customers who are still attached to the idea of a “real book”, but I see many more that are happy with Ebooks.

3. Ebooks o libros digitales son algo bastante nuevo para muchos países fuera de Estados Unidos. ¿Crees que el mercado ebooks en español despegará como lo ha hecho en los mercados de habla inglesa como el Reino Unido y Estados Unidos?

Si bien es verdad que la industria de libros digitales es algo nueva fuera de Estados Unidos, el concepto de descargar un libro y la lectura en el portátil o Tablet PC no es nada nuevo. En América Latina, libros que son publicados tradicionalmente (impresos) en Europa o Estados Unidos son costosos (al menos el doble del precio) y pueden ser difícil de conseguir ya qué pueden agotarse rápidamente. Con las ventajas de acceso a Internet, las personas han podido buscar versiones de EBook para satisfacer sus necesidades. Creo que el tener más Ebooks disponibles en el mercado será bienvenido.

Sí, hay clientes potenciales que todavía están aferrados a la idea de un “libro verdadero”, pero veo muchas más que están contentos con libros digitales.

4. What is it about Lawson that you think will appeal to Spanish readers who might not have ever read about him before?

First of all, let’s face it, vampires are popular right now. And they’re popular in the Spanish speaking market too. That is definitely good for Lawson. Just like in the US, there are many readers who do not favor the “sparkly kind” and prefer an edgier character and story. That is also good for Lawson.

There also seems to be a trend among the twenty-something crowd to like Japanese television, music and culture. Although Lawson is not precisely in that category, there is a definite influence there. The main character’s love and knowledge of Japan and his Ninjutsu background are hard to miss. Especially throughout The Kensei.

The entire concept of a Vampire Ninja, commando-spy and close range action is very entertaining and appealing; no matter what language you speak.

4. ¿Qué aspectos de Lawson crees que atraerán a los lectores de habla hispana que no han leído nunca la serie?

En primer lugar, seamos realistas, los vampiros son populares hoy día. Y también son populares en español. Eso es definitivamente bueno para Lawson. Al igual que en Estados Unidos, hay muchos lectores que no les interesa mucho un “vampiro que brilla” y prefieren un personaje e historia de carácter más amenazante. Eso también es bueno para Lawson.

También he notado una tendencia entre jóvenes de unos veinte y tantos años a los cuales les gusta la televisión, la música y la cultura japonesa. Aunque Lawson no está precisamente dentro de esa categoría, existe una clara influencia. Amor del personaje principal y su conocimiento de Japón, con su entrenamiento en Ninjitsu no pueden pasar desapercibidos. Especialmente a lo largo de The Kensei.

El concepto de un Ninja vampiro, comando-espía y combate mano a mano es muy entretenido y atractivo; sin importar el idioma.

5. Your own background in the military and living in Panama as you do gives you great insight into Lawson’s character. Did you have any interesting thoughts about the character as you worked on the translation? Is he ready for a global audience?

I must admit that I was able to sympathize with Lawson a lot. I understood his sarcasm, frustration, commitment, and conflicting emotions. I really wanted to highlight that. There is a certain attitude found in military, and former military, men and women throughout the world; regardless of the country. A certain approach to things, a marked intolerance for ignorance and idiocy. That observation made it easier for me to think of Lawson as primarily Spanish speaking and have a better idea how a man like him would express himself in Spanish.

I can’t say if Lawson is ready for a global audience, but he has many likeable aspects that make him appealing to many different people in any market. As I mentioned before, the Vampire Ninja and commando-spy concept is very enticing. Also, Lawson and Talya’s relationship adds a touch of “humanity” to Lawson. It is very romantic, and women love a man who is willing to sacrifice for them, so that’s another point to widen the market.

5. Tu propia experiencia en las fuerzas armadas y el residir en Panamá te dan una perspectiva detallada con relación al personaje de Lawson. ¿Tienes algunas reflexiones interesantes sobre el personaje que tradujiste? ¿Crees que Lawson está listo para una audiencia global?

Debo admitir que pude simpatizar mucho con Lawson. Comprendí su sarcasmo, frustración, compromiso y emociones contradictorias. Realmente quería resaltarlo. Hay una cierta actitud en militares y ex militares, hombres y mujeres en todo el mundo; independientemente del país. Un cierto enfoque a las cosas, una marcada intolerancia a la ignorancia y la idiotez. Esta observación hizo más fácil para mí pensar en Lawson hablando español y tener una mejor idea de cómo un hombre como él podría expresarse en el idioma.

No puedo decir si Lawson está listo para una audiencia global, pero tiene muchos aspectos simpáticos que le hacen atractivo a muchas personas diferentes en cualquier mercado. Como he mencionado antes, el concepto de vampiro Ninja y comando-espía es muy tentador. También, la relación Lawson y Talya añade un toque de “humanidad” a Lawson. Es muy romántico, y las mujeres aman a un hombre que está dispuesto a sacrificarse por ellas, eso es otro punto para ampliar el mercado.

6. You did an amazing job on the translation of The Fixer. What’s up next for you and the Lawson Vampire series?

Thanks Jon! It has been an amazing experience. What’s next? Well, can you guess what El Evocador means?

6. Has hecho un trabajo increíble en la traducción de The Fixer. ¿Qué es lo siguiente para ti y la serie de Lawson?

¡Gracias Jon! Ha sido una experiencia verdaderamente increíble. ¿Qué es lo siguiente? ¿Bueno, adivina lo que significa El Evocador?

Kindle US | Kindle España
Nook | Kobo

Kindle US | Kindle España
Nook | Kobo