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!

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: A Special Offer from Author Jon F. Merz

By Jon F. Merz

This week is, of course, Thanksgiving. On that day, millions upon millions of Americans will devour many, many turkeys and enjoy a tryptophan-induced coma while watching football and spending time with family and relatives. In recent years, this formerly luxuriously-relaxing day has been invaded by the retail giants as they try to get you to leave the comfort of home and family in order to head out at night in the freezing cold to spend your money in their stores. In order to do this, they have lured you with promises of amazing deals. Many of you have done this and will do so again this year as you search for gifts for family and friends.

But there’s another way to enjoy Black Friday & Cyber Monday without leaving home: you can do it from the comfort of your laptop or wireless device.

And you do it by gifting ebooks.

You may not have known that you could gift ebooks. Many people don’t. But on each of the three major platforms that I sell on, the option to gift any of my ebooks is there.

Here’s where the gift option is on Amazon.com – and here is a link to all of my ebooks on Amazon.

Now, here’s the gift option on Barnes & Noble, which they make pretty small and hard-to-find. And here is a link to all of my ebooks on Barnes & Noble.com

Finally, here’s the gift option over on Kobo – very easy-to-see. And here’s a list of all of my ebooks on Kobo.

Now at this point, you’re probably wondering, “Well big deal – I don’t see any specials or discounts or stuff that would normally make me forego sleep in order to drive in the wee hours of the frigid morning the day of or after a major holiday. What gives, Merz?”

Here’s the deal: gift at least three of MY ebooks on Black Friday or Cyber Monday this year, send me the receipt at jonfmerz AT gmail DOT com, and I will do a couple of things, depending on the amount of the gift.

  1. Gifts of at least $10 will receive a personalized post card from me to both the recipient and the gift giver. For the recipient, I’ll put a nice “welcome to my fiction world” message, customized for them. The gift giver also gets a nice thank you post card from me.
  2. Gifts of at least $20 will get the above added extra, along with a select cover flat from one of the first four Lawson Vampire novels for both the recipient and gift giver.
  3. Gifts of at least $50 will get the post card AND a signed copy of THE KENSEI – again for both the recipient and gift giver.
  4. Gifts of at least $100 will get the BIG GIFT OF MERZ: a special personalized letter from me to both the recipient and gift giver, a signed copy of THE KENSEI, a box of author copies from my Rogue Angel writing years, cover flats, and Advanced Reader Copies of the NEW Shadow Warrior series coming in 2013 from Baen Books. (NOTE: the ARCs will ship when I get them, since I won’t receive them for a while yet).

Remember: not only is it TOTALLY cool to gift my ebooks, but in doing so, you – the gift giver – also gets a nice something special. This is a win-win and you don’t even have to deal with the insane crowds, mace incidents (remember last year), and early alarm clocks on a day when you should be sleeping.

In fact, I’ll go ONE STEP BEYOND all reason and sanity: I’m opening this up to anyone who gifts my ebooks between NOW and December 18th. Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday – you can SHOP NOW and get it done!

With more people getting e-readers for gifts this year, the gift of ebooks to read on those e-readers makes incredible sense. And since I’m an indie, you can get MY ebooks for cheaper than those traditional BIG CONGLOMERATE publishers who price-gouge you like there’s no tomorrow. Your ten dollars goes a lot further with me than it does in a store and you get HOURS upon HOURS of entertainment. Ebooks are the perfect gift for anyone – if they at least have a smart phone, they can read ebooks!

So here are the links again to my ebooks on Amazon (KINDLE), Barnes & Noble.com (NOOK), and KOBO (other e-readers and computers). One final note: this offer is open to anyone from around the world! Send me your gift receipt to JONFMERZ at GMAIL dot COM once you’ve gifted the ebooks and I’ll get right to work creating your perfect present. (Please note: I’m unable to ensure that my part of your gift will reach them at the same time the ebooks do, but it will still rock their world to get a personalized gift from an actual author!)

One final thing: if you feel like doing so, please SHARE this post with your friends who might not know about “gifting” ebooks. I’d also appreciate Facebook LIKES, retweets on Twitter, and re-pins on Pinterest. Thank you!

Have fun & Happy Holidays!

Evolution vs. Dogma in Martial Arts

By Jon F. Merz

I’ve been fortunate to train for over twenty years with Mark Davis of the Boston Martial Arts Center in Allston, MA. Back when I started training, there were only a handful of folks in the dojo (which at that time was held in parks across the city of Boston, in rented space in other dojo, etc.) and we were all very like-minded individuals. We’d all trained in other arts and styles and we all wanted the elusive teachings of the art of Ninjutsu. We would stop at nothing to get more information, to train harder, and to test ourselves as much as was possible in a variety of environments. The training back then was hard, most often painful, and bonds formed in the group as so often happens when under stressful situations. Back then, our Friday nights were usually three hours worth of hard training followed by a shared meal afterward where we would laugh and joke. We were all young; we all had little in the way of family obligations; and we all had an unquenchable thirst for training.

Times change. Nature changes. Life evolves.

The Grandmaster has said that our art evolves, that it is a living, breathing art. And after training for over twenty years, it’s easy to see that. The art changes with each new generation that is exposed to it – to meet the needs of that generation. It would be foolish to think that a student walking into the dojo today should be expected to train the way we did back then. My teacher has said that he didn’t know as much twenty years ago as he does now. His understanding of the art and the material has grown exponentially over the years. He no longer needs to rely on the brutality of only physical power to make the art work for him. And trust me when I say that his technique is far scarier and more elusive now than it has ever been. He is truly embodying what the Grandmaster expects of all practitioners.

Not everyone who practices or teaches martial arts feels that way, however. There are some who still cling to the old ways, boastfully proclaiming that theirs is the only right way to teach their style, that tradition is more important than anything else. I have to wonder whether that is because they simply are unable to allow their minds to evolve or because they know that they cannot understand higher level material and therefore feel safe within a certain comfort zone. I’ve certainly seen it in numerous styles: the practitioner cannot do a certain technique and rather than admitting as much, their ego demands they try to explain away the waza or revert to something they know they *are* capable of doing. Instead of learning, they never move out of their comfort zone.

I teach my sons various techniques from my art. But I’d be robbing them of their own personal experience and evolution if I demanded they train the way I did. That’s not putting my “students” first; it’s mindless bullying. Lectures about loyalty to some ideal, lectures about respect, all of those things are preaching a dogma rather than teaching an actual art. People who demand respect only gain scorn from those they bully. In the end, they drive away some students while find others who only reinforce their bad practices. These “followers” of this cult-like behavior form a protective bubble around their teacher, further reducing that teacher’s interaction with reality. Eventually, this cycle spins downward into oblivion and rather then up in steady progression. And the skills of all involved – the teacher and the students – diminish until they have a very scant arsenal. Had they recognized the need to always move out of their comfort zone, the vicious cycle would stop. With new learning comes new opportunity; with no learning only comes an eventual degradation of mind, body, and spirit.

Classic examples of dogma over evolution are senior students who bark orders at junior students, seniors who allow themselves to get lazy and out of shape and adopt a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do philosophy, and those who think they are beyond reproach or have nothing to learn from those junior to them in rank. Boastful proclamations of one’s ability or position with a dojo – especially those accompanied by threats – are sure signs that the teacher has fallen prey to his ego and no longer possesses the clear thinking that should be present whenever one assumes the mantle and responsibility of teacher.

And if students are getting hurt during training, that is frankly even worse. I’ve known some teachers who espoused such methods with haughty statements of, “Well, how else are they supposed to learn?” If a teacher has only injury to offer students as a means of showing them how to deal with the dangers of combat, then something is very wrong with that teacher. Had they evolved instead of staying rooted in dogma, they might have better techniques that are capable of conveying the duress of battle without the need to injure. After all, there are units in the military that quite effectively prepare people to face death and are able to do so without injuring their troops. If they can do it, then why can’t martial arts teachers?

As practitioners of martial arts, we are supposed to have flexible minds and attitudes that enable us to use whatever is at hand to make the best of a bad situation. But stating that things are the way they are because it’s always been that way is doing a huge disservice to students and teachers alike. Being able to flow effortlessly from one variable to another in the course of combat is a skill that begins to form very early on within students. Depriving them of that by clinging to the “old ways” or “the good ol’ days” is like clinging to an anchor amid a sea of your own ego.

Dogma is rigid and fixed in only the single perspective of one’s own egotistical certainty; evolution is a natural and organic free-flowing mindset. If you teach martial arts or train in martial arts, are you rooted in dogma?

Or are you evolving?