Two Steps To (Finally!) Writing Your Book In 2015…

I don’t make “resolutions”—I’ve found no shortage of others with fine suggestions on how I might improve myself, so it’s futile to add my own mite of Personal Pressure there—but in 2015 I shall try to encourage Others…

…to plant butt in chair, apply fingers to keyboard, and “just WRITE the flippin’ thing, okay?!?”

Yes. It IS that easy.

The rest of it is just ignoring The Fear—not “overcoming” it; few writers ever do.

Sure: what shows up on the paper or screen may not threaten Shakespeare’s position in the pantheon of great writers.

So what? I mean, he’s dead… and you’re not. That’s a not-inconsiderable advantage for you; use it.

Editing & re-writing is always easier when you aren’t eyeball-bleeding fixated on a blank screen or sheet. “Fixing it” will, I assure you, be far easier than the “building” of it.

But you have to start construction, and all it takes is writing one line—hell, one WORD—at a time.

And then the next.

It will come to you. Just keep typing. At some point—usually at the point when you’re thinking in “dialogue” and “narrative” and blanking out so badly that you become a public danger when you’re driving—the story will take over: you’ll be merely the person transcribing.

There are other advantages, some of which may supplant the need for those New Year Resolutions you likely wouldn’t have kept anyway: personally, I’ve found that I drop 15 pounds (an average; your mileage may vary) of body-weight during the couple of months a book takes to write. I also spend far less—on gasoline, on movie tickets…even on my utility bill, since forgetting to shave & shower can save one big-time on water bills. And while your mental health may suffer in some areas, there’s the countering advantage that you’ll be far less woeful & depressed from those news headlines & social-media postings you won’t see for The Duration.

You just have to start: tush to chair, fingers to keyboard. Apply, and repeat.

Trust me: at some point you will grin like a lunatic—okay: a smelly, hermit-beard’d or Clydesdale hair-leg’d lunatic, depending on gender—and type in the two most beloved words any writer can pen: “The End.”

And having done it once, you’ll know it won’t be.

It will be the beginning, because you have proved you can do it again.

It’s 2015. Happy New Year.

Now get to that chair, and get started…

— EM

As Ferguson Verdict Nears, YOUR Finger Is On The Trigger Too…

When the findings of the grand jury looking into the events this past summer in Ferguson, MO are released—likely this week, it’s speculated—let me ask in advance that my various friends on Facebook and other social media do one thing: carefully think through your comments before you hit the “post” button.

It was inevitable that the shooting there would become, to many, “symbolic” of something sincerely held in your own beliefs: “endemic racism,” or “vicious police violence,” or “justifiable law enforcement response,” or “bleeding-hearts coddling criminals.” The list could go on. And on.

And even further on, because that’s how all humans are hard-wired. A event, no matter how tragic, “must” be symbolic of something larger…else it makes no sense to us, even undermines our own efforts to ponder the meaning of our own individual existence. So we recreate it as a symbol.

Symbols can kill as easily as any firearm.

And seizing on an actual event as a symbol can be as morally indefensible as were the motives of any lynch-mob in the darkest hours of this country’s history.

Please: ask yourself, before creating a “symbol,” a simple question: “Regarding the event itself, what do I actually KNOW?”

Differentiate this from what you’ve heard, or read, or otherwise been told second- or third-hand; force yourself to consider the motives of the sources on which you’re relying to make your judgment; weigh, carefully and honestly, your own motives and the prisms through which you believe you “see” the issue.

That Facebook “post” button is a trigger. If you’re going to pull it, remember that you too are assuming a dreadful responsibility for what happens next.

— Earl Merkel

Two Tales Of Smokin’ & Sharin’…

 By Earl Merkel

Commentary & Humor

October 5, 2014

Two events, narrated if not quite confessed, which may illustrate…SOMEthing about our somewhat contentious world today:

Some time ago—as I relaxed outside a bookstore, enjoying a Fine Tobacco, Filter-Tipped Product I made myself on this cunning little machine I bought, which provides said product at a cost of about 2 cents per—a lad of perhaps 5 years pulled from his mother’s hand as they stood a dozen feet away waiting for the “walk” sign to light. He rushed to stand before me, then said: “My mommy says smoking is BAD.”

I blew a trail of also-blue smoke into the sky, courteously away from the lad, nodded, and said: “And yet she didn’t tell you of the dangers of talking to strangers.”

Mom, hearing this, rushed and collected lad, who both rushed to cross—against the light.

Yesterday, while in my car and parked outside a local drug store—again, imbibing in aforementioned, handmade, lower-taxed Product—a middle aged woman about a dozen feet from my window stopped, scowled and offered, “You know, those things are going to kill you.”

“I didn’t know!” I said, astonished. “Thank you! By the way—appros of nothing in particular—did you know that the risk of diabetes is sharply reduced by dropping forty pounds of body weight?”

She must have already known, because she did not thank me for this potentially useful information.

True stories, both. <sigh> Perhaps we all communicate too freely these days. To strangers.

Oddly, when I imbibe a public pipeful of my favored Black Cavendish, communications are usually less contentious. “That smells SO good,” one pleasant young-lady jogger—presumably, health-minded herself— said as she passed my park bench a week or so back.

Perhaps it’s just the paper tube that makes the difference. I’ll have to think that question thru a bit more, as I look for my lighter…


Visit us at

Watch the “video book trailer” for my thriller, FINAL EPIDEMIC, offered for your minute-and-a-few-seconds consideration at:

And if you liked THAT, you might enjoy my earlier DIY book-video; please feel free to view the FIRE OF THE PROPHET video-trailer at:

(As always, these videos are best-experienced at full-screen, “max” audio settings.)


Comments & Additional Commentary:

Carmen Trombetta, Dana King-Esquer, Denise McDonald Dorman and 8 others like this.

Yasmine Phoenix LOL the one about the kid is great!!

19 hrs · Unlike · 1

Earl Merkel I’m tempted to write “my bail hearing is scheduled for next week,” Ms. Yasmine. But then the story wouldn’t be true, and I have my standards, y’know.

19 hrs · Like · 1

Yasmine Phoenix Standards? We don’t need no stinking standards

19 hrs · Unlike · 1

Earl Merkel Nor estinkin’ badgers, or whatever he said.

19 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

Lori Hays Lol!

19 hrs · Unlike · 1

Earl Merkel And to all concerned Faithful Readers who have just restrained themselves from scolding me in this FB venue, let me assure you all that I do intend to “stop” someday. But it will be in accord with my Rule involving all my favorite Vices: “I’ll stop when I need thicker glasses.” *** So far, still clear of vision, I’m still a-holdin’ on to ’em all…so to speak, of course.

19 hrs · Edited · Like · 2

Rich Le Cropane Yeah, I intend to quit someday, too. I’ve left instructions that my funeral shall be closed-casket, but that my forearm should be left sticking out from under the lid, with a cigar in my hand. That’ll be the day.

19 hrs · Edited · Unlike · 2

Earl Merkel <grin> Just to name-drop—and since I notice Hanley clicked a “like”—another true story: several years ago, at the last Love Is Murder writers’ conference I had the opportunity to attend (and y’all should: it’s the premier Midwest conference for scribes), Lee Child bummed a smoke from me as we stood shivering in the mid-winter winds. G’wan: bet’cha most of you writers would START smoking for a chance of a one-on-one, five-minute conversation with one of the best writers of our generation. <bigger grin> Tell me you wouldn’t, you envious liars.

18 hrs · Edited · Like · 3

Earl Merkel <chuckle> I’m tempted to add: “Lee Child did, and I was quite informative to him.” <sigh> But then this story wouldn’t be true, alas! Those standards I mentioned, y’know.

18 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

Yasmine Phoenix You should probably have your eyes checked, compensating by increasing the font doesn’t mean you don’t need new glasses. One year at RWA a chapter mate of mine stood outside and had a smoke with Nora Roberts. Almost enough to make me smoke per chance I might meet her.

18 hrs · Unlike · 1

Marilyn Balon I love that one about dropping 40 lbs.

18 hrs · Unlike · 1

Earl Merkel <sigh> T’would that emotion have been shared by the recipient, Ms. Marilyn. Not sure it was…

18 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

Marilyn Balon Who cares? She told you what she thought and you reciprocated.

18 hrs · Unlike · 1

Blackie Noir Why is it that people who bum smokes are usually in a better financial position than those they’re hitting up? i.e. Lee Child story (unless, of course, your tomes are selling better than Lee’s).

17 hrs · Unlike · 1

Tina Conway Pater Upon reading the “diabetes tip” I actually gasped and said (to my phone), “you didn’t!” Then I remembered who wrote it. Lol miss you on Wednesday nights, just saying.

15 hrs · Unlike · 2

Earl Merkel <chuckle> It’s WHY I no longer show up on Wednesday nights at the writer’s group, Ms. Tina: the same philosophical style of conversation. It also translates poorly during commentary/critique time, I’m afraid, making my writing advice sound too much like encouraging suicide. Alas! T’was never my intent! Usually, I mean. <wink> Just sayin’, too. *** But I miss youse guyz too.

14 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

Earl Merkel <wink> With the price of tobacco these days (save for those of us who can roll our own fine filtertips), it’s likely NOT buying their own that contributes mightily to their financial worth, Blackie.

14 hrs · Edited · Like · 1

Del Stone Jr. Meanwhile, those were hilarious comebacks.

13 hrs · Unlike · 2

Earl Merkel Meanwhile, those of you who know Ms. Tina should, someday, merely walk up to her and say “You’re gonna need a LOT more chocolate, Ms. T.” Guaranteed to get her to erupt that marvelous window-shattering laugh o’ her’s, trust me…

11 mins · Edited · Like · 1

Earl Merkel Thank you kindly, Mr. Del. Alas! While my smokes have filters, I seem to have none myself.

13 hrs · Edited · Like

Tina Conway Pater In that particular instance, you speak the truth.

13 hrs · Unlike · 1

Bob Auler same social critique of my life: i was about to enter an intersection when a late-pregnant woman strolled across the end of my green light. i jammed on the brakes and she gimlet-eyed me. i rolled down the window and said, “lady, you can get knocked DOWN, too!”

11 hrs · Unlike · 1

Earl Merkel <chuckle> I’d suggest we think about a comedy club team-up, Bob, maybe taking it on the road…but I’m starting to suspect neither of us should be allowed ON the road, or sidewalk, or… well, certainly not where our fellow humans congregate. They tend to form lynch mobs so quickly these days…

Bottom of Form

Politically Speaking, Civil Discourse Lives! (Available in bottles or on tap, too.)

Recent conversation over beers, myself and a good friend of Hispanic heritage whose parents may not have been fully documented; conversation paraphrased, but pretty close to verbatim:

Him: “What, are they going to deport eleven million people? Who have been here for years?”

Me: “I hope not. But I sail a lot. If I get a big-a** gaping hole in the hull, the first thing I might want to concentrate on is stuffing a plug in it. THEN we can debate the pros and cons of running the pump, or even decide if we need to. But the analogy only fits if you think the water flowing in is a problem.”

Him: <shrugs, and sips> “Yeah, it’s all politics now. Both parties want our votes. But they don’t want to lose any votes, either.”

Me: “That’s why the upcoming executive order’s gonna wait until after November.”

Him: “What a dumbs**t move, right? It’s like a guy telling his wife on Friday night ‘Hey, I’m moving in with my new girlfriend on Monday. But let’s not wreck our weekend together over it, okay?'”

Me: <nods, and sips> “By Sunday night, I’d be worrying she might have watched the Lorena Bobbitt Story on Lifetime cable, myself.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This real-life snippet presented in hopes of providing comfort to all those cynics who insist that civil discourse, in our polarized era, is no longer possible.

You’re welcome.)

— Earl Merkel

Free Speech, Health Regulations, & Cow Farts

An early breakfast, from our lamentably non-humorous “Food For Thought” -files today:

More than a few legal and poli-sci “experts” have pondered that government control of health and “health-related issues” poses a distinct “unintended consequences” danger: since virtually EVERYthing can have an impact –real or perceived– on health, virtually everything can/should be subjected to government control.

Including free speech, one pioneering columnist (link below) now posits.

Pretty esoteric, one might argue. But a few years ago, the concept that cow farts should be regulated by the EPA would have been the fodder of comedy clubs, not the topic of court deliberations and Congressional hearings.

Sticks and stones break bones; but if words can also “cause” (emotional) health problems, are we only a regulation and/or Supreme Court ruling away from a “nuanced re-examination” of that pesky First Amendment?

Link to referenced article:

— Earl Merkel

* * *

Visit us at

Watch the “video book trailer” for my thriller, FINAL EPIDEMIC, offered for your minute-and-a-few-seconds consideration at:

And if you liked THAT, you might enjoy my earlier DIY book-video; please feel free to view the FIRE OF THE PROPHET video-trailer at:

(As always, these videos are best-experienced at full-screen, “max” audio settings.)

Your Kids Skip School? Not After This PSA Video!

I’ve seen those “CBS Cares” and NBC’s “The More You Know” public-service spots…

…but none have ever been, IMHO, more potentially effective –and, to be honest, likely also as legally insane– as this one from the Land Down Under.

(gulp!) I’m betting Aussie school-attendance stats spike rather dramatically.

— Earl Merkel

* * *

Visit us at

Watch the “video book trailer” for my thriller, FINAL EPIDEMIC, offered for your minute-and-a-few-seconds consideration at:

And if you liked THAT, you might enjoy my earlier DIY book-video; please feel free to view the FIRE OF THE PROPHET video-trailer at:

(As always, these videos are best-experienced at full-screen, “max” audio settings.)