Summer of Reading

Will this be the “Summer of Books” for you? I always look forward to summer because it’s a time when the pace of life seems to allow for more time to read and reflect.

Perhaps The Temporary Typist and The Count of Chartres: The Reluctant Crusader (both are novels) will be a part of your reading list. Both are available on Amazon as e-books. And each book can also be ordered as paperbacks.

For more information go to: You will find there synopses of the books, and ordering information. Do it now, and be ready for summer!

For my Shanghai friends, I will be at the Spring Bazaar hosted by the Shanghai Community Center on Biyun Lu this coming Saturday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stop by and say hello!

This is my last post from this website. I am shutting this down, and moving everything over to the “Timothy Merrill” website at I hope you will take a look.

I plan to post articles and columns about the writing craft periodically on the new site. I have one such column on my desk in draft form right now.

I hope you have a great summer. And thank you for reading my books.

Exceptional Writing … Phenomenal Attention to Detail!


Just wanted to let you know that I just finished your book. I anticipated that you would write well, but this was exceptional. You captured the time and place of Iowa and Chicago perfectly. Your attention to detail was simply phenomenal.

Did you have to kill off Tippy? Giving Rondo, er, Ronald a pass was outrageous.

What was absolutely brilliant was having the two ladies as the heroines: 王心花 [Wang, Xin Hua] and Frankie. Masterful!

I saw a little of you in both Coop and Cushing.

I certainly want to chat with you about this. How in the world did you get to know these places, like Chicago, so well?

You set out the clues very nicely so the dénouement was intricate, credible, and full of surprises. A most worthy mystery novel!

This lovely note comes from a former Federal prosecutor who purchased a copy of the book quite a few months ago. He requested an author’s signature. I complied. And then I forgot about it and I didn’t hear from him. I never ask people if they’ve read the book. If I don’t hear from them, I assume they’ve not got around to reading it, or didn’t really care for it.

Then, out of the blue comes this wonderful endorsement of the book.

Have you finished your first summer novel? Perhaps you are nearing the end of your first summer book. Order your paperback version today and it will be in your mailbox next week. Just click on the link above.

Or, get THE TEMPORARY TYPIST within seconds, by going to and downloading an electronic version to your Kindle or iPad, or smartphone.

Need help with your publishing project?

Used to be that the only way a write could get published was to throw his or her manuscript through the transom window above the door of a publisher and hope for the best.

Or, the writer wrote scores of letters, or e-mails, to publishers or literary agents. This was followed by reading scores of rejection letters.

That sort of thing still goes on, of course. I am still looking for representative for The Temporary Typist, for example.

But today, with print-on-demand technology available, writers like myself, no longer need to wait. We can self-publish.

I have been there and done that, self-publishing several books, plus a 10-volume set of diaries my grandfather wrote back in the mid 1900s, and a memoir written by my mother of growing up on the sagebrush prairie of southern Idaho in the 1920s.

Do you have stories, a manuscript, or memoirs you’d like to publish as family keepsakes? Do you have a fiction or non-fiction book you’d like to see in print for friends or anyone else interested?

Would you like to get your book on Amazon as a Kindle download?

I can help you with that. I am leading two workshops at the Community Center on Jinxiu Lu. One is April 25, and the other May 9. Here is a link for more information:

I continue to get great feedback about The Temporary Typist. Going on Spring break? Download it from Kindle Amazon now for only $5.99! If you’re in Shanghai and want a paperback copy, let me know. U.S. friends can order from Lulu. Just click on the tab at the top of this page.

Spring Break Reading

Right now, I am reading My Name Is Red, by the Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize for Literature winner. It’s set in 16th century Istanbul, and although the early chapters are slow-going, I am enjoying it.

Spring break is approaching fast. If you want a paperback copy of The Temporary Typist awaiting you at your U.S. destination, order within the next 10 days. Simply click on the Lulu link above. For your iPad or Kindle, click on the Amazon link above.

I had a great time with a local book club last week. The conversation focused on two things: my grandfather’s diaries from the 1940s and 1950s, and print-on-demand technology that allows people easily to publish their cookbooks, memoirs, diaries, poems, and so on. I was able to explain the process, and show them the possibilities.

More unsolicited feedback (I never ask, “Hey, did you read my book? How did you like it?”): One lady said to me, “I really like that town Bathington!” A man told my wife, not me, that he so enjoyed The Temporary Typist that he ordered a copy for his mother.

Happy reading, people!

Fan Mail

(posted this on Facebook today)

Fan Mail.

It’s great! Kristen, 25, of Tennessee writes: “Just finished “The Temporary Typist”! What a page turner with a lot of twists and turns but still very believable! I felt like I was back in the 50s looking in into everyone’s lives. It’s almost a book you want to read twice to catch things you didn’t the first time around and to read it differently after knowing who everyone is!”

I don’t know who Kristen is, but “Thanks, Kristen” for your kind words.

This morning, an American business executive in Shanghai sent his driver from Puxi over to Jinqiao where I live to pick up a copy of “The Temporary Typist” with ¥120 in hand. Wow! I wrote him a nice note on the title page.

But here’s my real reason for writing this post. It occurred to me that my Facebook friends might have some BRILLIANT marketing ideas to help me get out the word about this great little novel of mine, “The Temporary Typist.”

So, if you have suggestions or ideas that might work in promoting the book let me know. For example, if you could book me on Jimmy Fallon and “The Tonight Show” or Jimmy Kimmel or Piers Morgan, LET ME KNOW! 

Thanks for all of your support.


Unsolicited Feedback

asian-girl.jpgThis past weekend, several people approached me and mentioned THE TEMPORARY TYPIST.

No, I didn’t try to be sneaky and work it into the conversation, fishing for a reaction. I was minding my own business, and BAM, they brought up the novel and talked about it.

Two people approached me during Shanghai American School’s Winter Ball at a swanky downtown Shanghai hotel. One person described how much he was enjoying the book, and was now near the end.

Another person found me and said he was reading the book little by little as nighttime reading before going to bed. He also had high praise.

I appreciated these comments because these people did not need to offer them. Unsolicited.

I have assumed that women are more likely to enjoy TTT than men, but both of these guys were really into it.

On Sunday, after church a woman breezed by me in a hurry, but she said in passing, “I really like that Coop character.”

Yeah, I do too.

So now, having got some unsolicited feedback, let me solicit some. Feel free to tell me what you think. Criticism is welcome, too. One man wrote saying he was muddling through the chronology and thought it could be clearer. Another man wrote to me saying that the Prologue didn’t do anything for him, but was glad its relevance was cleared up later.

I enjoy hearing from readers.

Selected Quotations from THE TEMPORARY TYPIST

FRONT COVERON BEING USEFUL: Then Coop says what he’s thinking: “I think that if you’re alive you’re of some use, or the Creator wouldn’t have put you here in the first place, or keep you around past your usefulness. Are babies in the cradle ‘useful’? Are madmen in an asylum ‘useful’? You don’t have to produce something to be useful, I don’t think.

ON CHURCH SECRETARIES: Heretofore, the unwritten rules—given that the church secretaries had historically been women—were that the secretary could be neither too young nor too old; if the former, the threat of scandal was too great, if the latter the lesser risk of incompetence. If young, it was paramount that at the very least the Church Secretary not be attractive, and failing that, she should be married. Miss Crenshaw is eminently suited for the job inasmuch as she—although without a matrimonial attachment—is lacking in both youth and beauty, deficiencies which trump all other concerns.

ON PETTING: Millie had sat at the table after Frankie left pondering her daughter’s last question. Yes, she did listen to herself. Actually in this case, the person she’d been listening to had been her mother who had had the petting conversation with her when she was Frankie’s age. Her mother had framed the discussion differently. Millie’s body is a temple—a sacred temple. This temple is holy. It must be kept clean and the doors locked. Not just anyone should come in to her temple to worship. She had said to her mother: “The doors locked?”

ON WOMEN: In a rare moment of sobriety, Jules once declared to Coop, when they traveled to Waterloo to attend the Cattle Congress, that there are two kinds of women in the world: Those who need money and must save it in order to spend it, and those who have money and spend it because there is no need to save it. Mrs. Broughton belongs to the latter caste.

ON JEWS: “He’s Jewish for one thing,” counters Bandy, “and that certainly makes him different, and if you ask me, this country is becoming the Jewnited States of America as it is, together with its capital, Jew York, Jew York.”

ON VOCABULARY: Her vocabulary, Coop had learned, consisted of a mix of four words, sweet, adorable, cute and delicious, which were usually applied to babies, dogs or food.

ON MAKING CHOICES: “You can always do whatever you want,” Naomi would say to Frankie and Tink, “as long as you’re prepared to pay the price. That’s right. Isn’t that amazing? Whatever you want. But you has to be willing to pay the price. You better know what the price is, though, because sometimes it’s pretty steep.”

ON HYPOCRISY: “Hypocrisy. Most people don’t really like to be saints, but they’re not willing to be considered sinners, so they play the role of a saint. I’ve found that small town saints are also big time sinners, and often you can’t really know who they are or what they’re thinking. All we see is the role they’re playing in public.”

ON BEING JEWISH: So Wasonenskar was raised Jewish, although the Reverend Mother who made these arrangements died of natural causes, and her replacement was not so zealous and sometimes Wasonenskar had to attend Catholic masses. He became in practice, if not actual belief, a Catholic Jew, or he thought, a Jewish Catholic. In any case, he carries around more guilt than all the felons in the Cook County jail put together. He is the sorriest fella Carlo has ever met. He is always saying he is sorry for this, that or the other thing. And if he isn’t observing Lent, he is doing Passover, and he traverses easily between Chanukah and Christmas. He is bi-religious, bilingual and bi-cultural and as such he approaches life with a certain lassitude and detachment.

ON CHURCH ORGANISTS: Organists are a breed apart. You can tell a piano player what to do. Even a choir director will listen to your ideas about possible and future anthem choices. … You can work with bullies, thugs and miscreants, and make a deal with the devil. But organists cannot be told a blessed thing. One cannot reason with the organist. One cannot make deals. Bribery will not prevail nor flattery avail. The morals and spirituality of organists are pre-Christian, antediluvian and pagan. There was never a more obstinate personality of such intense egocentrism created than that of the church organist. They play what they prefer and show up at rehearsals according to their good pleasure. They play as loud as they please, and regard the non-musical world as a community of cretins. They are bilious, natural born complainers conceived under the twins signs of Melancholia and Hypochondria.

ON EASTER FASHIONS: From the rear of the auditorium the congregation looks like it is bedecked in facsimiles of unidentified flying objects. Frankie and Vic have matching pink bonnets. The men and laddies are in suits. Rosy-cheeked popsys are beaming in chiffon frocks, pinafores and colorful taffeta dresses with rosette necklines. On their feet are black patent leather shoes with white anklets, and their heads are crowned with Easter bonnets of every color of the rainbow. And, although the temperature is mild, several women view Easter as the last opportunity to wear fur; there is more than one fox stole slung over the shoulders of the Bathington women in church this day, with the snout of the beady-eyed Reynard resting lightly on the matronly breast. Thus, the sacred auditorium is a polychromatous marvel of dead flora and fauna, fabrics, textiles and straw, arguably more spectacular than the Resurrection itself.

ON BENIGN MIDWESTERN RACISM: Although the good people of Bathington are certainly no strangers to benign Midwestern racism, or even anti-Semitism, race in the case of Miss Alice Xiao Hua Wang seems to be a positive factor. Even Mrs. Broughton, although suspicious, understands that she is innately suspicious of everyone, and she admits to herself privately that she finds the little Chink appealing. There is no thought whatsoever of a link with the Communists. She is as American as all the Dagos, Krauts and Wops who seem to be pouring into the upper Midwest these days from the eastern seaboard.

ON DAUGHTERS LEAVING THEIR MOTHERS: “Remember you’re a good Christian girl,” Millie says, dabbing at her eyes with a pink, wet handkerchief on which are embroidered lavender forget-me-nots, her voice quavering. But she is quietly weeping less for the daughter stepping out with the young man waiting on the landing below than she is for the mother whose daughter is walking through that door. Any mother, of course, has every reason, yea, a right and responsibility to be weeping at such a moment as this. For when the girl walks through that bedroom door, approaches the stairs at the bottom of which far below is a young man, why, that girl has stepped through the Portal of Childhood and Innocence and is now negotiating the Stairs of Responsibility, Decision-Making and Choices, away from all parental restraints. It’s a defining moment, a tear in the fabric of the universe that changes everything, that will from that moment on create an alteration in the relationship between the mother and the daughter. A mother at such a time as this must wail, for the daughter who passes through that door is, in some respect at least, never coming back. And therein lies the conflated and irrational knowledge that slices like a double-edged rapier through the heart of every mother, to wit, that the daughter who leaves is never coming back, and further that it would be a disaster if she did. A mother is slain either way. It is the way of the world. Daughters leave their mothers.

ON SEXUALITY: His angina is acting up and he’s sure his blood pressure is off the charts. Kissing a woman for the first time in years will do that to an old codger he surmises. He’s mildly surprised at himself, because he didn’t just receive a kiss, he returned it as well. He smiles. He didn’t know he had it in him. He thinks of himself as a piece of fruit—dried and wrinkled on the vine, still hanging on until the day he’ll drop to the soil and be one with the earth. Dust to dust. But so much lately has been happening. His lecherous thoughts about a lithesome Chinese girl young enough to be his granddaughter. The half-naked Sally Ann Hildebrand and her enormous bosom. Penny’s hand caressing his leg and setting fire to his loins. Her lips upon his, flesh upon flesh. He’s 68 years old, for God’s sake. He’s a widower. He’s lost a wife, and a son in a senseless war, and now in many ways alone, no longer a father, no longer a husband, and now all … this! Old men arriving at his station in life are supposed to be gentlemen, cultural eunuchs, devoid of passion, assumed to have outgrown the desires of the flesh, to have come to some crazy state of pseudo-sanctification, sexless beings whose only contribution to society is to reminiscence about the past, to offer advice and wisdom which is routinely rejected in any case. Old men like him, well, we’re not blind now, are we? Temptation is no respecter of age, is it? The same blood runs through the veins of an old man as runs through a youth of 19, right?

ON BOYS AND GIRLS: “Boys don’t like smart girls,” Naomi observes. “No, I think it’s that smart boys don’t like smart girls,” complains Frankie. “So whoever does ask us out are likely to be as dumb as posts. Smart boys want dumb girls, Nomes, ’cause they think they’re sluts. That’s probably how that Clare Goodnow girl got knocked up—a dumb girl with a smart boy.” “Shut up, Frankie,” says Naomi. “You’re making me depressed …

ON GETTING SAVED:  “… the music which—I can’t explain it—just reached into my soul and grabbed me, and it was like the preacher was preaching right to me, like there was no one else in that big tent but me, so when he gave the invitation and altar call, I got up off the bench where I was sitting and I marched right down the sawdust trail to the front, got on my knees and asked Jesus into my heart and to forgive me all my sins, every last one of them, and to wash my robes white in the blood of the Lamb, and to make me a new creation in Christ and to write my name down in the Lamb’s Book of Life and give me eternal life. And Miss Cooper, Mrs. Cooper, and Mr. Cooper, when I did that, when I prayed the sinner’s prayer, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner,’ you can’t imagine the feeling, the relief I felt, it was like I was carrying a hundurd pound load of corn on my back and it was just lifted off, like I could stand straight in my soul for the first time in my life.”

ON MORAL RELATIVITY: “Well, you’re probably right. People like you of selective moral ideals are people with no morals at all. Morality is not something you choose, you know. Religious values are not something for which you shop at the department store. Ethics and morals are not plates or entrées at a cafeteria and you get to pick and choose what you like and what you don’t like.” Now the granny shoes begin to move. In a shrill, stage voice, and prancing around like a show horse mare, Broughton continues: “I’ll have the tenderloin instead of the meatloaf, the broccoli instead of the beans, the crème brulee instead of the pudding. I’ll take a little lie today instead of a little honesty, a little malice instead of modesty, with a side dish of vulgarity, and for dessert a trollop and a tart. Perhaps on the morrow I’ll partake of some faith, hope and charity and some good, old-fashioned decency.” … Well, none of that for me. Oh, no. I stand for something. I make things happen. You … you are just a happening.”

ON MARKSMANSHIP: [Alice] “No we don’t, Mr. Bandy. Your life is in my hands. I can put a bullet in your head at any second, even as I am talking. I am a dead shot. I can shoot the dick off a mosquito from twenty yards. So you’re only alive at this moment because I think there’s still a chance that no one needs to die. But my finger’s getting tired and itchy, and my patience is running thin, and worse, here’s the thing, Mr. Bandy, I got to pee. I don’t know what happened, but I got to pee bad. And I can’t hold this much longer. So you’re going to have to decide pretty quick, or I’m just going to shoot you.”

Miss Crenshaw

FRONT COVERMiss Crenshaw is one tightly put together package. Everything about her is pulled, tucked, pressed and severe. She looks very holy. She isn’t unattractive, but no one would call her a beauty, either. Yet there is a simple goodness in the lines of her face that is appealing. Her face, pale and drawn, is heart-shaped with a wide forehead and narrow cheeks devolving to a diminutive chin. Her hair is pulled taut and sweeps upward and back into a simple chignon. Her complexion is waxy with a hint of rouge on the cheekbones. On her nose rest wireless eyeglasses. Her mouth is small, lips are narrow and pursed like she’s just sucked on a lemon. From her face alone can be inferred a lifetime of earnest probity, utmost practicality and religious piety. She wears a long-sleeved white Antoinette high collar blouse with a pleated bib and frills at the wrists. Around her neck is a delicate gold chain from which hangs a small bejeweled cross. Her pleated black skirt extends to well below the knees. On her feet are T-strap black heels. Mr. Cooper can see she is wearing a girdle so firm you could crack a bottle of Dom Perignon on her backside like you were christening the Queen Mary. It makes his skin crawl the way she says “buh-bye” and “dear.” –Chapter I, The TemporaryTypist

Write a review of The Temporary Typist

B7You can help other readers understand more about a book if you write a quick review of the book and post it on Amazon, Kindle or Goodreads, et al. It’s not at all hard to do because when you write a review you’re simply sharing your reaction to the book.

Here’s what to do:

1. First sentence: Identify the book and author, and perhaps the genre (historical fiction, biography, literary fiction, crime/detective, romance, etc.)

2. Next few sentences: Summarize the plot and storylines without giving away the ending or significant twists in the plot.

3. Describe why you like/don’t like the writing. Why is the writing strong or weak?

4. Characters: strong? Good development? Weak (cardboard figures)?

5. Did you want to keep reading, or did you have to force yourself to keep going to the bitter end?

6. Would you pass this book on to a friend?

7. “I loved (hated) this book because …”

8. How many stars would you give this book out of five (5 being the highest)?

Speaking of stars, after reading The Temporary Typist, please go to Goodreads, Lulu or Amazon and give the book a rating. This really helps!

I hope these questions and suggestions make it easier for you to write quick reviews for some of your favorite books. Here’s a review of THE TEMPORARY TYPIST that is on Amazon right now: “What a treat to read this first novel by Timothy Merrill. The story, set in Iowa in the 1950s, contains a lot of small-town humor, mystery, intrigue, and especially rich dialogue between a teenage girl and her grandfather. It is a real page-turner, and sure to be a book you will enjoy!”

Now YOU try it!

Don’t know how to get a copy?

Timothy head shotSunday after church, a young man said he had been on this website and could not find a way to order the book. Haha! THAT’s not good. I’m still working on this site, believe it or not. You will see some changes soon.

But ordering:

KINDLE VERSION: Use your Kindle device to download the book. Search BY TITLE (“The Temporary Typist”). Or, go to Amazon and type in the TITLE in search box and follow instructions.

e-book. Don’t have a Kindle? You can download the book to your iPad, but you first need to download a FREE Kindle app. Then read above and repeat!

Want a paperback hard copy? Simply. Go to and type the TITLE in search box and follow instructions. Order as many as you want. You will have them–depending on your shipping choice, in about a week.

Thanks! Tell your friends.