THE CONTAINED: A New Digital Series Created by Jon F. Merz

By Jon F. Merz

It’s been a while since I last posted (mostly due to the fact that my hard drive crashed and that kept me away for about a week and a half). But the larger reason is that I’ve been incredibly busy preparing this amazing new project for its debut.

And today…we launch!

I’m proud to announce that THE CONTAINED is officially live! Based on the my first piece of published fiction (way back in 1996!), “I, the Courier,” THE CONTAINED is the story of one man’s journey to rediscover his forgotten past and battle against his nearly inevitable future. Along the way, he trips and stumbles down a winding road of conspiracy, corruption, and the very fate of mankind itself.

Imagine a world where people transport deadly diseases in their bodies for pharmaceutical companies. They easily travel across international borders, bypass national health laws, and help big pharma reap enormous profits. Hunted by assassins from rival pharmaceutical companies and always at risk from being killed by the very diseases they transport in their bodies, the life of a COURIER is high-risk and high-reward. For those that succeed, they become incredibly wealthy. For those that fail – a quick death is a merciful one.

THE CONTAINED is a brand new digital series from bestselling author Jon F. Merz, New Ronin Entertainment, and Human Punch Bowl featuring a cast of both fresh faces and veteran talent brought together in a maelstrom of high-octane adventure.

But here’s the thing: we need YOUR help to make this possible! Your donations – in whatever amount you can afford – will go directly toward the production of this incredibly exciting new series. You can help right now by going to the Indiegogo page and donating – we’ve got some very cool perks for those who do support us. And be sure to watch our exclusive awesome teaser trailer! It’s guaranteed to knock some awesome into your day!

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 might recall a few months back I asked a lot of you what you’d think about an idea I had to develop what was basically a Jon F. Merz magazine – something much more than just a newsletter, with free fiction, reviews, non-fiction, and more in it. Based on your responses, I’ve decided to reformat my official newsletter BOSTON NOCTURNE and turn it into a newsletter/magazine very much along the prototype I asked you all about.

Tomorrow, issue 1 – the February 2010 edition – launches.

BOSTON NOCTURNE is free. Free fiction. Free reviews. Free opinion. Free practical safety tips. And free much more. Imagine an innovative experience unlike any other author newsletter and you get BOSTON NOCTURNE. It will be published monthly and delivered straight to your email, hassle-free.

The only way to get it: send me an email. That’s it. Quick, simple, easy, and best of all – free.

One more thing: if you’re already subscribed to my original newsletter from way, waaaaay back, you don’t need to resubscribe. I’ll import your email address from that list and get you going right away. But if your address has changed or if you haven’t gotten any recent updates, you’ll definitely want to send a new email to receive BOSTON NOCTURNE.

Updates & Notes

Couple of tidbits and an informal poll for all you cool readers out there…

First off, my good pal Joe Nassise (with whom I’m co-authoring the HELLstalkers series on the Verizon/Vodafone networks) has launched an ambitious new novel project, THE MIRROR’S ROAD. This is a pledge-driven project over at Basically, you pledge a certain amount toward his goal of reaching $5,000 and you can get all sorts of insider tips, see how he writes, behind-the-scenes stuff and much more. It’s a pretty intriguing project, and Joe only actually gets the money you pledge if he reaches the funding goal. All payments are handled by and it’s perfectly safe. If you’d like to read more about the project, please head on over and give the page a look-see – then pledge something!. Joe’s an international best-selling author and his stuff is good, real good. Plus, he’s one of the few folks I actually consider a true friend in this crazy business. He’s good people; so please lend some support.

Still waiting for news on when HELLstalkers will be up and running. Apparently, there are some technical issues that need to be worked through. More hurry-up-and-wait, which is frustrating but at least it’s better to get them out of the way now. News on the release when I have it.

THE FIXER television series is progressing slowly. We shot a second teaser trailer and there’s a bit of a hold-up on the audio side of things. So while that’s being worked on, we’re up to some other stuff but it’s all top secret and I can’t discuss anything yet.

Speaking of the Lawson Vampire novels, I *should* have some other news on them to release soon. Wish I could say more about this, but… 🙂

If you’ve been a fan of Lawson for a while, or even if you’re new to the series via the television show, then you might know that for a while now, it’s been a goal of mine to chronicle some of Lawson’s earlier adventures when he was operating more on an international scale. Lawson got really active in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s before being assigned to the New England AO (area of operations) and I haven’t detailed most of these missions as yet (although we are running THE MADAGASCAR MATTER right now and we’re already up the chapter 3 of the fun. You should subscribe and get in on the the fun!) but have wanted to. My thought has always been that doing so would be especially fun as a comic series or a graphic novel. Seeing Lawson come alive in illustrated form has always appealed to me and it’s another media platform I’d like to get involved with. But before I do, I’d like to ask you a few questions. Feel free to post your responses in the comments section immediately after this post, over on my Facebook Fan Page or email me.

1. Would you prefer a 5-issue comic series or a complete graphic novel for these missions? (Each mission would take approximately 5 issues of comics or one graphic novel)
2. Most graphic novels cost around $15.95 for a glossy trade paperback edition. Are you willing to pay this?
3. If so, would you be willing to pre-order it? (If I get enough pre-order now, I can secure the artist and hopefully we can get this out by October)

Hope you all have a great Friday! Thanks for taking part in my informal survey! Feel free to retweet this or share it around Facebook – the more input, the better!

Christmas Round-Up

I hope you all had a truly wonderful holiday – mine was very nice indeed. It was an official “white” Christmas around here with several inches of the flaky stuff sitting on the ground to add to the festive mood. With the lights on at night, things looked quite nice. Christmas Eve was spent in Lowell at my sister’s house for the traditional Italian feast. This year it was gnocchi and homemade meatballs with the family’s secret sauce recipe. Great stuff. The smell of homemade pasta and sauce is one I never get tired of, since growing up it was omnipresent at my grandmother’s house whenever we would visit. Christmas Day, the family and I flew to Zurich and then drove to our chalet in the Swiss Alps where we overindulged in goose and lots of other goodies. You can see the pictures over on my Facebook Page.

Actually we weren’t in Switzerland; we were in Marshfield, but my sister-in-law’s house looks like a chalet and the backdrop really added to the vibe, lol…

We did have a very nice time, however, and I got to spent more time with my god-daughter Kiley, who is pretty much the most preciously adorable bundle of joy on the planet.

2009 is winding down now, and in its wake the remnants of an up-and-down year disappear slowly under the waves. I don’t ever spend much time looking back and wishing that certain things were different. To me, that’s a bit of a waste of time. I prefer to focus ahead at the prow cutting through the waves, figure out what it is that I want to accomplish in the new year and then steer the ship so that I meet the challenges head-on. I don’t usually indulge in any “best of” lists or spend time thinking of the “top ten things I wish my genitalia had done in 2009” because I’m too busy looking toward the future I want to create and figuring out how to implement steps necessary NOW to make it happen. So I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t digress and waste your time with yet another list. 🙂

So what IS on the horizon for 2010? Lots, baby. Lots.

January kicks off with a bang. The Madagascar Matter, a new serialized Lawson Vampire adventure, debuts in the first week of the new year and delivers a chapter each week over the course of 2010. It’s by subscription only, however, which means you’ll have to sign up in order to travel back in time with Lawson and his former mentor Zero to the early 1980s in Africa. You can do so by clicking the order form below:

File Format

Otherwise, there will be much more Lawson Vampire news. THE FIXER is coming, of course, and with it, a lot of other Lawson goodness. HELLstalkers is also finally getting ready to launch, so Joe Nassise and I will have mucho news on that front as well. As usual, I’m extremely optimistic about the coming twelve months. Life is exciting, unpredictable, and glorious. I hope you all take the time to revel in the fact that we’re all hurtling through the universe together and that each of us has the power to make our own lives an example of goodness, generosity, compassion, and bold action. The world has too many lazy, cheap, selfish, negative “people” only out for themselves, forsaking family and stranger alike as they trundle through life never truly experiencing joy, only the illusion of supposed personal gain acquired at the expense of those who used to love them.

Don’t be like that.

Take this time to reflect and imagine how you can turn 2010 into a year of adventure, action, and unbridled enthusiasm for everything that life has to offer. Banish complacency and laziness from your world.

Who Dares Wins.