Zombie Ryu: The Gathering

I’ve launched a brand new project using Kickstarter called ZOMBIE RYU: The Gathering. This is the first in a planned trilogy of books about an elite group of warriors and a 16 year old girl who must battle zombies in feudal Japan while searching for the evil monk who unleashed them. It’s got samurai, ninja, and zombies.

Can’t you just feel how awesome this is going to be? 🙂

Nonstop martial arts mayhem, outlandish battles between the living and the dead, and the struggle between good and evil played out against the backdrop of feudal Japan, an exotic landscape, and the hidden destiny of a very special girl.

If I’d pitched this to traditional publishing, it would take months to get an answer. And I don’t like waiting, so I’ve launched it on Kickstarter to see if I can drum up the necessary funds to produce the book. The incredible Greg Ruth is coming on board to design the cover if we get the funding we need and if we do better than our goal of $18,000 I’m hoping I can convince Greg to do some interior illustrations as well. The thing about Kickstarter is that it’s “all or nothing,” in other words, if I don’t reach the goal of $18,000 in the next 13 days, no one gets charged for backing the project.

So your support is crucial to the success of this entire project.

Please take a moment to visit the official page for it, check out the rewards I’ve set up for backers, and consider supporting it. I’d also appreciate you spreading the word to friends and family via social media like Facebook, Twitter, and even blog posts.

Own Your Experiences-Appreciate Your Past

The longer I train in martial arts, the more I come across people attempting to steal the experiences of others as a way of elevating their perceived ability among those of lower ranks. People claim to own certain notes, or techniques, or that they were present at certain seminars with this teacher or that teacher, or even that they have a certain perspective on things – when frankly, they can’t do the basic material in the first place. All of this bravado and acting is very revealing.

It shows that the person engaged in this behavior is trying far too hard to impress people of lower rank and skill. To what end, that varies. It could be economic: meaning the person could wish to have more people hire them to do seminars, teach classes, buy their “secret” manuals, whatever. (although in truth, they’re simply conning people through false representation.) It could be massive insecurity: meaning the person likely does not believe in themselves enough and has to pretend they’re better than they actually are. It could also be massive ego: meaning the person actually *does* believe they’re better than their seniors and by engaging in this behavior, they are stating to the world that they are numero uno. Or it could be a combination of all three (or more) factors.

It also shows that the person doing this does not truly care about their role as a teacher – that they think very little of the students who look up to them as role models and indeed, pay them for their knowledge. The person in question does not fully embrace the serious mantle of responsibility that goes along with being a teacher. To them, it becomes all about the mighty dollar, so they willfully prostitute the very legacy they claim to honor and respect by lying about their past and their experiences in order to sell more.

As insulting such actions are to the people whose experiences are, in fact, genuine, this type of behavior is also rather tragic.

It’s tragic in the sense that the person who engages in fraudulent behavior is actually stating to the world that they are ashamed of their own past and their own experiences.

So much so, in fact, that they have to pretend to be something they’re not, or pretend they were some place they never were, or pretend they trained with someone then they never did.

What they fail to realize is that their students will be far more appreciative of honest experience more than any sort of set of notes, or secret technique, or affiliation with a certain individual. And even if you haven’t had the same experiences as another person, the experiences you HAVE had are no less valuable for the simple reason that they’re YOURS. They belong to YOU and you alone. In studying martial arts, no two people will ever experience things the same way. Everyone might know the technique, but no one else will have the same experience practicing and training with it. THAT is what becomes more and more important the further you progress in martial arts training. It become LESS about the actual technique and MORE about your experience learning and using that technique.

Clearly, when starting out, you need to know the mechanics of the technique itself. But the life/energy behind the technique is derived directly from the experiences of learning, using, teaching, and reflecting on it. Anyone can open a notebook and pantomime a certain throw or punch. It takes a real teacher – one who is honest, humble, responsible, and still quests to better themselves – to convey the essence of a technique. And it is that transmission of essence that will open up the gateway to mastery of the technique within the student.

If you don’t own your experiences, if you don’t appreciate your past, if you are forever attempting to be something you’re not, then people will eventually see it and go off in search of a better teacher. In the end, you only end up fooling yourself. And in your wake, you leave behind a lot of disappointed students, and any of the honor and respect you might have garnered during earlier years.

Don’t do it.

Each student on the path has their own experiences. They create their own past. And that’s something to be proud of, regardless of the good and the bad. If you can proud of your experiences and your past, if you can admit when you know something and when you do NOT know something, if you can still be a student even when you’re a teacher, then that’s a good thing: not just for you, but for those who look to you as a role model or teacher.

Own your experiences.

Appreciate your past.

They are what truly belong to you – what make you unique – as you walk the path of Budo.

Elite Fans Wanted…

The first draft of THE RIPPER will be finished by Wednesday of this week, and I’m very pleased with it. Since this book is not going to be published through a major New York house (as you’ll recall, I walked away from a deal with St. Martin’s because the numbers weren’t good enough to justify publishing with them) I want to make sure that it still goes through a bit of a vetting process prior to it being released as an ebook in January.

To that end, I’m looking for a handful of elite fans to be the first to read THE RIPPER and let me know what you think. I’m looking specifically for people who have read all of the previous novels in the series, and hopefully all of the novellas and short stories as well. I’m also looking for people who aren’t afraid to let me know their honest opinion, provided they do more than say, “it sucks,” or “it rocks.” What I’m looking for is something along the lines of, “Why in chapter two does Herbie insist on a bizarre food fetish scene when El Capitan is outfitting the Sandinistas with the latest phaser technology? Wouldn’t it be more important to show Herbie using the yogurt cannon to neutralize the phaser before the food fetish scene?”

You get the idea.

I’m hoping to get about a half dozen eager folks who can read this first draft quickly and get it back to me within a matter of weeks with your notes. I need to edit this in December and get it ready for a January release. Why January? Because the ever-awesome Misty Rayburn is dedicating the entire month of January to Lawson. Throughout the month, she’ll be highlighting the entire series from start to where it’s at right now. And I want THE RIPPER ready to debut when all that publicity is churning. It’s a bit of a squeeze, but I’m sure it can be done.

Haven’t read the series yet, but want to participate? Go and get the books and start reading! 🙂

Okay, so if you’d like to be one of the elite fans who gets to read THE RIPPER first, simply drop me a line at jonfmerz AT verizon DOT net and let me know. I might ask a question or two to verify that you’ve read all the books, so watch out for a pop quiz! 😉

Thanks everyone!