More Merrill revelations – 5 years on

It is both commendable and crazy that I and a few other genealogy super-sleuths have been searching for Merrill for a whole five years now. Why bother? Well – the case of Merrill’s mysterious disappearance 80 years ago and the consequential investigations in the 21st century do provide hope for family historians still searching for more mundane snippets of info to bolster their Family Tree.

Just this week, I discovered Merrill’s middle name for the first time. I always knew the initial – E. I will not disclose the name or research source, just yet (because it’s not in the Where’s Merrill? book), but I was rather disappointed by the name after years of speculation and theorizing. I had guessed that the name had Biblical connotations which didn’t suit Merrill’s thoroughly modern lifestyle in the 1920’s and 1930’s – hence he kept it secret from everyone, at work and in social circles. Something like Elijah or Ezekiel came to mind; a name that a Christian regular non-attendee at church might like to hide in Midwest business boardrooms and bars.

Anyway, the choice of a child’s name says more about the child’s parents than the poor youngster-cum-adult who has to live with the moniker into old age …. normally. A second discovery this week was a photo of Merrill’s father taken not long before Merrill “disappeared.” It prompted me to compare it to the earliest photo I found showing William Harrison, father of Merrill. Both of these are shown below.

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Book #review – ★★★★★★ – Can you award a book 6 stars?

What an incredible captivating read.

So much so that “Where’s Merrill?” is the first book in years that I’ve read twice. After the first chapter or so I was hooked and it was my sole activity until I had finished it. This fact-based novel is a great advert for the practice of genealogy. I loved the idea of different colour text creatively used to distinguish the different activities occurring in different eras and countries involved in the “Where’s Merrill?” saga. Never come across that before in all my reading years.  Will be on the lookout for any further works by this writer.

D …. Formby…. UK.

Get the book here!

Great Read !! #bookreview

I was always taught that when you start reading a book you have to be captured almost instantly – certainly within the 1st chapter – to know whether it’s worth reading the rest of it …well I was certainly captured with “Where’s Merrill?”

Amazon - Top Ten Thrillers

I can tell you that !!!!

M T Cooper (somewhere in England)

More ways to get a copy of Where’s Merrill?

The real-life genealogical thriller “Where’s Merrill?” is now being distributed by the Draft2Digital platform. D2DThis means that e-book readers who prefer to purchase their novels via Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, Scribd or KOBO are all catered for.

page foundryFurthermore, “Where’s Merrill?” can now be purchased from the growing e-book online retail store that is Page Foundry (aka inktera.com).

 

Where’s Merrill? a genealogical thriller

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Paperback Payback

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WWhen “Where’s Merrill?” was published as an e-book, 18 months ago, many of my clients and associates asked if they could purchase a copy of the novel in paperback. At that time I said that the answer was ‘no’ because paper-printing costs were unrealistic. You see – my novel was written for the e-book market. It was written “in color” – a new concept – and there are several (crucial) color photos and diagrams embedded within the story.

BUT – I always wanted to see a paper version (before the movie, of course). So I have formatted a colorful paperback edition, and made it available from an amenable publisher, at a {ahem} rock-bottom price. WELL – at a little over 20 dollars, it’s an expensive book …. but that’s the going rate if you want full colour and glossy, combined.

“Where’s Merrill?” has featured regularly in Amazon’s Top Ten Best-Seller chart in the genealogy category. This is unusual for a novel also listed in the fictional mystery and thriller genres. It’s a cross-over book. Fact-based fiction, I call it.

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 The author will not make a cent from paperback sales. It’s payback time!

Thank-you clients … for sharing your unique and wonderful family histories.

Purchase at Amazon (in paperback)

Bobbi King of EOGN reviews “Where’s Merrill?”

 

 

EASTMAN’S ONLINE GENEALOGY NEWSLETTER

It’s relaxing to sit down and read a book just for pleasure’s sake. Set aside the hefty genealogy reference guides and just escape into an easy and comfortable read.

Where’s Merrill would be a good story to slip into. I have it on my e-reader, and it’s an agreeable way to pass the time on a crowded airplane, relax while on vacation, or read just propped up on the living room couch.

Merrill is a fictional genealogical thriller based on factual events and people, but written with artistic license permitting character embellishment and dramatic plot building.

The central character is Merrill Harrison, whose story begins in 1890s-era Kansas. The author narrates two stories back and forth between Merrill and Jed, the researching genealogist of today who is unraveling the background of the Harrisons. But not disconcertingly so, the narrative is clearly-presented and easy to follow.

There are several characters, of which Merrill is the most dissolute. He becomes an embarrassment to his family and the kind of ancestor we don’t want to find in our family trees. Family box charts inserted into the chapters aid in keeping everyone straight, a familiar approach to us all. There are twists and turns to the plot, and interesting research tactics to read about as the professional present-day Jed character goes about methodically stalking the elusive Merrill.

Mr. O’Neary has a quirky way of writing. It’s a little stumbly, and he doesn’t break any new ground in the creative writing genre, but I didn’t find any of that to be a detriment to the read. Mr. O’Neary obviously likes to write, he obviously likes to tell a story, and that’s exactly what he did.

We can enjoy his story, and he should be pleased that he got his story into publication, no mean feat by anyone’s standards.

We’re all happy.

You can purchase Where’s Merrill from Amazon as a Kindle ebook at http://goo.gl/uAOk4U.

If only all genealogies were this simple

First off, the formalities. It was our Shankley’s fourth birthday on US Independence Day, yesterday. Straightaway I should point out that Shankley is a pedigree male Bengal domestic cat because a pet named Shankley appears in my genealogical thriller novel “Where’s Merrill?” in a different guise. Being a Bengal, Shankley’s 4th birthday is a significant milestone for him. He can now be classed as an adult and he is certainly refraining from starting childish daily play fights with his younger feline house-mates as was his way a year ago.

As part of the birthday celebration, we took out Shankley’s birth certificate to respectfully remember his parentage. Yes – pedigree animals have their own birth certificates – and some breeders provide documents which are far better in content than human counterparts. Take a look at Shankley’s birth cert below. Professional genealogists would be obsolete if national authorities ever started to request such detailed information when the birth of a human baby was registered.

2010 birth cert (Shankley) copy As you can see, the new arrival’s full name of Sunstorm Shankley was registered as the progeny of his named father and mother, termed as Sire & Dam. Only a few obscure places in the human birth registration world bother to record an infant’s grand-parentage – but by reference to his birth document, our Shankley can name all eight of his great grandparents, and quite remarkably all sixteen of his great great grandparents. Each ancestor is given a brief physical description, and former champion show cats are highlighted in red text. It is clear that Shankley is descended from cat royalty on the paternal side of his concise Family Tree.

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                                        All grown up, at age 4?

Happy birthday to Shankley and the USA

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     Hi, I’m David

If you’ve read Where’s Merrill? a genealogical thriller then I would welcome the submission of your considered review at my askDavid author page – just click on the book title link above.

Is it memorable ★★★★★ or forgettable ★ ?

You decide. Thanks.

★★★★ Reviews #genealogy “WDYTYA” in Michael Crichton style

Larry Kenyon from California writes:

I read the Kindle version of “Where’s Merrill?” on a flight to Ireland, and it kept me engrossed enough to read it in the one sitting. If you are into genealogy you will no doubt enjoy this novel, based on a real research case. I couldn’t help thinking I was reading a Michael Crichton story, but with a genealogy theme. I’m ready for a follow-on case, this time involving Ireland and Irish history rather than the U.S.

NHVest - collage-for-website-header-2Nancy H Vest from North Carolina writes:

Where’s Merrill? is described as a genealogical thriller. That is an accurate description! Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down until I knew the truth about Merrill. There are actually two stories going on in this book – the story of Merrill and his family, and the story of the researchers learning about this family’s history.
The author used dates and place names to keep the reader abreast of what was going on, and he did well with this. Interaction between the main characters is believable, but I especially enjoyed the secondary characters, like the townspeople, who added spunk to the story.
Reading Where’s Merrill? gave me a sense of how others might feel when I talk about the many members of my own family during one conversation. At times I felt like I needed to make some notes as to who was who, and I assigned some details to the wrong people as I read along. That is to be expected, though, with a story of this kind. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story at all since I was able to quickly regroup the cast and details in my mind.
Long narrative paragraphs are present in several places which made me want to skim over and rush past. I am a short paragraph kind-of-girl.
The author asked me if I’d like to review Where’s Merrill?, and he provided me a copy. That in no way has influenced my review. I liked this story, and I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it easily to anyone who enjoys a mystery that is light on graphic violence. There were twists in the plot, and I was truly surprised by a few of the revelations.

Link to Nancy’s Blog

★★★★★ Review

Diane writes:

First, a disclaimer…. I have had a business relationship with Mr. O’Neary, as he has done some research on my Irish roots in the past. However, this has nothing to do with my review of “Where’s Merrill?” My review is based totally on its own merits.

As somewhat of an ancestry buff, I was interested in reading “Where’s Merrill?” I too have Irish roots, though other than being Irish, my family bears little resemblance to the Harrison family.

Where’s Merrill?” is a well-written ancestral mystery. I enjoyed the dual stories of the past and the present, as it seemed to tie into my own interests of digging into the past with my own family. I, too, have sought out & found distant relatives, and it’s quite fun to find relations you never knew you had! “Where’s Merrill?” certainly tops my own family in terms of real drama & mystery! I’m afraid my own family is quite boring compared with Merrill’s!

I would definitely recommend “Where’s Merrill?” to others who are interested in ancestry & a little mystery! Here’s a suggestion to others who are reading “Where’s Merrill?“: throughout the book, there are several family tree graphics. Bookmark these pages so that you can easily refer back to them. I found it a little hard to keep track of “who was who” along the way. It’s useful to be able to refer back to the family tree graphics to refresh one’s memory. I had at first thought it would be good to have one complete family tree graphic at the beginning of the book. But that would have, in fact, spoiled some of the surprises in this family mystery! So bookmarking along the way seems to work out best if you are like me, and need visuals to help your memory.

Overall – a good book!! And looking forward to more books by O’Neary!!

2014 April - Amazon #1b

You can choose your friends – but not your Ancestors

A recent purchaser of my novel “Where’s Merrill?” posted a mediocre review, and made the following bizarre observation:

“Write about someone more interesting next time”

Considering that this true story is sub-titled a genealogical thriller, and that it is now listed for sale as a genealogy reference book as well as a fictionalized thriller, the reviewer seems to have completely missed the point about Family History research. You cannot choose your ancestors. They are who they were. They are not made-up characters or a figment of a fantasy writer’s creative but far-fetched mind. It took all my willpower to not commit the author’s Cardinal Sin of responding directly to the negative reviewer with my personal feelings about the ridiculousness of their publicized opinion.

When you research your own family history, you might start out with a little knowledge about your ancestors’ backgrounds based upon memory or passed-down tales. However, when a genealogist is commissioned to research the ancestry of a complete stranger, possibly from a different country, then no-one can predict where the trail is going to lead. This is what makes genealogy so interesting, and such fun at times, and occasionally and tragically, so very sad. One thing is certain – you cannot manufacture your findings to be “more interesting” than they are.

It is also difficult to fathom why my dissatisfied reader finds Merrill to be dull. His researched life story was selected from over 3000 genealogy case histories to demonstrate the surprises that can lurk in anyone’s ancestral closet. Outwardly, as a young man, Merrill appeared to live a dream life; a successful businessman with a beautiful wife and two children. Then cracks start to appear. Hints at unsavoury vices, violent outbursts and dramatic lifestyle changes creep into the tale. Why? What caused this man to spiral downwards until he just vanished from the planet? And why would no-one talk about what happened? That is what makes Merrill so very, very interesting. It is not fiction. I have no control over the places Merrill resided in or the people he associated with. More importantly, I cannot change who Merrill was related to in a tangled Family Tree inhabited by some very dark characters.

Merrill had his good points and his bad points – like us all. No-one should be judged purely on their final chapter.

1934 October (Merrill)

“Where’s Merrill?” in most book shops (not all)

When I advised that my novel Where’s Merrill? is available in most of the popular book outlets in many sales territories, I should have clarified that my Genealogical Thriller is not stocked in this particular shop:

Wong Book Store #1

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The complete novel

is available at:

© AMAZON or

© LULU or

© SMASHWORDS

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#1 AMAZON Best-Seller (Genealogy Category)

2014 April - Amazon #1aOn 6th April, the true family history saga novelized as “Where’s Merrill?” hit the #1 Spot in the Amazon Best-Seller hit parade. A big thank-you to all readers, whether you be fans of genealogy or mystery thrillers. The book obviously has appeal in both categories having scaled the heights in both best-seller lists.

And the interest continued … and #1 was not a flash in the pan >>

2014 April - Amazon #1b

Where’s Merrill? …. where’s the novel

The e-book version of Where’s Merrill? [A Genealogical Thriller] was published on 28th February 2013 and subsequently released in paperback during 2014. It is available to purchase for just a few dollars from:

© AMAZON or

© LULU or

© SMASHWORDS

WM manuscript cover blog #1 copy

          #1 AMAZON Best-Seller 2014

Go on …. read it and try to help solve some lingering mysteries