THE FIXER Graphic Novel Cover Art Revealed

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Artist Brian McCulloch has delivered the final painting for THE FIXER graphic novel cover and it’s fantastic stuff! I especially admire how well he was able to capture actor Brandon Stumpf and the background of Vienna (where the first part of the story takes place). This is going to be a gorgeous book and Brian’s skill definitely adds a great deal to its worth. If you haven’t ordered the book yet, you need to now. Don’t wait because these will go quickly once it’s done. Right now, there are no plans to offer this through a traditional distributor, so unless you get in on this great book now, you won’t be able to find a copy unless you search the secondary market and don’t mind paying hundreds of dollars for it. You can get it right now for just $19.95 ($14.95 + $5 shipping anywhere in the world) by using the form below.

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TV GUYS – Chapter 1

Note: This is a reprint of a column I started writing last year that fizzled out as my schedule got more complex. I’ll be reprinting the columns here over the next few months and then continuing where I left off last year. Enjoy!

If I were pitching my current project as a movie in Hollywood, here’s what the logline would sound like: “Two guys with no real experience in the television business decide to ask private investors to front them millions so they can produce 13 episodes of a new supernatural TV series that they will then sell broadcast rights to domestically and internationally, thereby hopefully making hundreds of millions of dollars and turning the entire Hollywood business model on its head.”

Sounds absolutely ludicrous, right?

But that is, in fact, what my business partner Jaime and I are doing. Let me back up for a moment and give you a few more details.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I’ve had over a 16 novels published, co-authored two non-fiction books, had scores of short stories appear in print alongside some heavy hitters like Stephen King, and have written ad copy for everyone from Polaroid to Red Lobster Restaurants. I’ve scripted comics, screenplays, and turned four 3-minute webisodes into a novel. I don’t just write in one medium, preferring instead to try my hand at anything that helps me bump my game up to the next level.

Over the years, I’ve flirted a lot with Hollywood. There’s been some serious sexual tension, culminating a few times with deals that looked reasonably good on paper. But I’ve never jumped into the sack and here’s why: Hollywood doesn’t pay writers enough.

If you’re interested in how Hollywood makes its money, there is no finer book to read than THE BIG PICTURE: Money & Power in Hollywood by Edward James Epstein. I read that book several years ago and it opened my eyes.

Novelists especially tend to have a very fairytale image of Hollywood. They imagine that if they write a book, that Hollywood will come calling with an option (this is a small price – almost a rental fee, really – giving the producer or exec the ability to shop the project around and possibly secure financing, cast, crew, etc. within a certain time frame (usually 6-18 months)) or an outright rights purchase. If the movie then gets made, the studio will cut the writer a handsome check and the novelist gets the thrill of seeing their book turned into a movie.

When I started cutting my teeth in publishing, I imagined it would be an incredible experience. What I didn’t count on was the interminable wait, the endless teases, and the fact that Hollywood doesn’t want novelists writing anything or sticking their noses anywhere into the process.

Some writers can live with that. They take the money and run, knowing that the end result may well be such an extreme departure from their original novel that it bears resemblance in name only – if they’re lucky.

But when studios wanted my work, I knew what they could reasonably expect to make off of my creations. And I wanted more than they were offering. Of course they balked and all the whispered promises evaporated.

Last year, exhausted at the number of television shows that were coming out that were, to be overly kind, crap, my friend Jaime and I sat down and discussed the idea of trying to do something ourselves.

When we hashed out the concept of using my un-vampire vampire series of novels as our first project, the first person I bounced the idea off of was a good friend of mine who works in the film/TV industry. He’s well-known, so I won’t mention his name here, but he pretty much knows everyone worth knowing in Los Angeles and New York City. I called him and told him what we were planning. Then I asked him if we were crazy.

What he told me was this: “If you can make this work, then the sky is the limit. You will open doors that have never been open to you before and you will change the way Hollywood works in TV.” Then he offered to come on and be part of our executive board.

That was good enough for us. We started New Ronin Entertainment and chose THE FIXER as our first project. Ronin, in feudal Japan, were masterless samurai – called “wave men” because they owed allegiance to no lord. The name felt appropriate and our mission seemed sound, albeit tough as hell.

We would find private investors willing to back us in the production of thirteen episodes for the first season. (Networks usually greenlight, or approve, a pilot and then order up to twelve additional episodes for a first season run). We would put a team together to shoot, edit, and package the series, as well as sell it domestically and internationally. I would write all the episodes, thereby guaranteeing that the sanctity of my novels stayed intact and that I had complete control over the story lines and characters. The novels take place in New England; the cast and crew would be from New England; and we hoped that our investors would also be from the region. THE FIXER would be born and raised in our backyard. We thought that was pretty cool.

We enlisted two experienced directors who had worked in both television and independent films for years (therefore they knew how to work on a tight budget). Our sales force was composed of industry vets who had shepherded major films to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sales. Experienced vets and up-and-comers made up our crew. And our art & marketing department worked hard to develop a consistent look for our flagship project. You can see the results thus far at our official website

But we needed money to pull this off. There was no business precedent whose plan we could use to attract investors, so we put it together after weeks of research into Hollywood budgets, sales forecasts, and more. Trying to divulge what Hollywood spends and what it makes is harder than cracking into the National Security Agency, but at long last, we felt we had a workable business prospectus.

Our offer was generous; we knew it had to be. We offered a 50% return on investment within 24 months to those who chose to back us. The task now was to try to convince wealthy Bostonians and New Englanders that a TV series entirely produced in their backyard was a viable and worthwhile investment.

But first, we had to find them. And then we had to get in the front door…

You get What You Pay For…

So, one of the more interesting things this weekend was a little “spat” I engaged in over on a certain forum with an indie author touting his new ebook, a guide for women to prevent rape.

Regular readers of this blog know that one of the things I care most about is making sure people have the tools to keep themselves safe. When I read the post trumpeting this particular book, I wanted to investigate a little further. The author’s bio reads as follows:

“I began my martial arts studies by entering private classes in Wing Chun Kung Fu in 1980. I passed my fifth level black belt test on November 25, 1987, and became a master in Wing Chun Kung Fu and Chinese Ninja. For years, I have studied martial arts. During those years, I’ve had the privilege to teach many girls and women. Most of these females ranged in age from eight to thirty. I have taught rape prevention seminars, and demonstrated the techniques that you will learn in this book. I know that these techniques are effective in women’s self-defense. I have taken in and instructed females who frankly seemed hopeless, yet after teaching them the basic concepts contained within this book, they left my private instruction with the confidence that they need never fear rape again. I didn’t always have the desire to teach women these rape prevention techniques. On the contrary, the first three years that I taught martial arts I concentrated almost exclusively on teaching men. ”

So, in other words, this guy started training in Wing Chun and seven years later was already a 5th degree black belt? Huh? Given that most martial arts schools take anywhere from 3-5 years to promote to a 1st degree black belt, the idea that this guy was a 5th degree in just seven years seemed a little…rushed. Of course, this was quickly overshadowed by the fact that he also claims to be a Chinese Ninja.


Allow me to put this as succinctly as possible, just so there’s no confusion: there is no such thing as Chinese ninja.

When I pointed this out, he quickly pointed to a book (the book in question has been around a long time is a source of unstoppable laughter in the martial arts community, having been acknowledged to be the work of a white guy who took a Chinese name to give the BS he wrote more credibility) as evidence of the fact that Chinese Ninja existed. More dramatics ensued. And I then took a few key points out of the excerpt from this “ultimate” book he’d written on rape prevention to task for their sheer stupidity. namely, when the author suggested that women trapped in a bathroom while their attacker pounds on the door outside might be well-served by using a lighter attached to an aerosol of some type (presumably hair spray) to concoct their own flamethrower.

One of his other suggestions was to use a towel “like a whip to the eyes of the attacker.”

This was a one-page excerpt from his groundbreaking treatise on rape prevention. Judging from his bio and the tactics he advocates, it’s pretty safe to assume that the only thing he might possibly offer is BAD ADVICE.

Therein lies the problem with a lot of what passes as sound information in the realm of self-protection. It’s just bad. This guy (maybe) studied Wing Chun for 7 years and claimed to be a 5th degree black belt. That’s ridiculous. Wing Chun is a good style and the practitioners I know would probably shake their heads at a guy like this pretending to be a master when he’s anything but. Add to that the claim that he’s also a Chinese Ninja, followed by the horrible techniques and you’ve got the makings of someone reading this piece of crap, trying this bad advice, and finding themselves in an even worse situation.

Be careful out there. As practitioners of authentic Ninjutsu for over 20+ years, the men I train with and I have all seen the thousands of scam artists out there purporting to be this master or that Ninja/CIA super spy/Rambo/Batman/whatever. They’re always out for a quick buck and know they can fleece a lot of people because not everyone does their research before they plunk down their money for lessons. Tragically, some of them even write books.

This guy was charging a dollar for his book on wicked neat-o rape prevention techniques.

That’s far more than it’s worth.

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New Stuff Coming Your Way…

I’ll be uploading a few new things to the Amazon Kindle store over the next week or so.

First off, NINJA – the novella written in the vein as Robert E. Howard’s Conan, will be up (I hope) today. I’ll update this post as soon as it goes live. This is the first in what I hope is a new series – authentic ninjutsu mixed with sword & sorcery – what’s not to love?

DANGER-CLOSE – my first Jake Thunder mystery/thriller starring the former USAF specops commando turned paraplegic private eye will also be up shortly.

SHADOW CHASER – this is the novel I wrote right before THE FIXER, years back, and after reading through it, I still think it’s a fun read. An espionage thriller filled with all sorts of intriguing characters, it’s a good time.

I’ll also be uploading a bunch of short stories and two new non-fiction ebooks. But I’m keeping mum on those for right now. More updates as they become available. I hope you enjoy them all!

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Chapter Twelve

The pain echoing around inside my skull dragged me back to consciousness with all the gentleness of a runaway train hitting a watermelon. My eyes popped open, brilliant white light made me scream and wince, and then I vomited all over myself.


I would have wiped my mouth, but my hands were tied behind my back. Instead, I spit the remnants of whatever I’d last had to eat on to the ground and then cleared my throat. “So glad you find this amusing.”

I didn’t get a response and so I opened my eyes again.


Another wave of concussive light poured in and made me groan. “Turn off the fucking light.”

More laughter. “Ain’t no light.”

I eased my eyes open while staring at what I presumed was the ground. This time, I could see he was telling the truth. We were outside, but not in the city any longer. I was sitting cross-legged on the ground in a pool of my own vomit. The stench made my stomach roll again but I bit down and fought back the urge to repeat myself.

“Where am I?”

“High plains, Mr. Lawson.”

I risked a quick look up. Judging by the ebony skin and white smile staring back at me, Joobah’s men must have somehow found Andrian and me and chosen to keep me alive. At least for the time being…

© 2010 by Jon F. Merz All rights re­served

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