All In Books – West Bend

Barnes & Noble – Bayshore Mall

Barnes & Noble – Brookfield Square

Barnes & Noble – Madison East

Barnes & Noble – Madison West

Barnes & Noble – Mayfair

Barnes & Noble – Racine

Books & Company – Oconomowoc

Book World – Mequon

Book World – Sheboygan

Book World – West Bend

Breadloaf Bookstore – Lake Geneva

The Civil War Museum Gift Shop – Kenosha

Frugal Muse Books West – Madison

Martha Merrell’s Books and Toys – Waukesha

Mystery To Me Books – Madison

Pathfinding Books – Waukesha

A Room of One’s Own – Madison

Tribeca Gallery Cafe and Books – Watertown

The Velveteen Rabbit Bookshop – Fort Atkinson

“Black Iron Mercy” can also be purchased in paperback on Amazon.com or at Deedspublishing.com.  It is available on Kindle, as well.


The Synopsis

Posted: June 20, 2016 in Writing
Tags: , ,

For the writer, there is no proper synopsis for his creation. There is no genesis or completion for anything he has written. It is all one blurb, one moment, one nexus. This is the reason the writer has such difficulty in summing up his production in one short clause. To the writer, the entire story is one fantastic, beguiling memory.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Join us at the Hartland Public Library, 110 E. Park Ave, Hartland, WI in celebrating the release of my debut historical novel Black Iron Mercy.

The event starts at 6:00pm, and will feature the following:

* A meet and greet with the author
* Free food and soft drinks provided by Domino’s, Arby’s, and the members of the Hartland Fire Department.
* A presentation by the author: “Iron Forged in Blood,” a 15-minute program on how our Wisconsin boys (and some Indiana boys,too) earned the metallic moniker, “The Iron Brigade.” This program will begin at 6:30pm.
* Book sales
* A book signing! Pick up your copy at the event or order Black Iron Mercy here: http://deedspublishing.goodsie.com/black-iron-mercy


My debut novel, Black Iron Mercy, is now available for pre-order!  Click the link below to reserve your copy today!  Expect a late May/early June launch!




Where should I start?  The beginning, I guess.

My historical novel, Black Iron Mercy, began as a notebook filled with research more than four-and-a-half years ago.  The project started as a pledge to tell the story of the Iron Brigade from the viewpoint of a common soldier, inserting a fictional protagonist among the actual participants.  Nine months of research followed, utilizing 19 books, countless articles, and the help of many friends, colleagues, and experts, to produce a rich, historically accurate and entertaining epic about one Wisconsinite’s exploits before, during, and after the American Civil War.  The result was a poignant tale of love and faith, war and discord; a family shattered by loss and sorrow, and a man who struggles every day to hold onto hope.  Deeds Publishing, of Athens, Georgia, is the company that has changed my life forever.  The advance reading copies, for endorsements and reviews, will be out later this month.  The expected launch date for the general public is mid-June.


Success!  Oh, it feels so sweet.

How did I get here?  More research!  Even as the research stage of this project was ending, I began to research the publishing industry in earnest.  Over the last few years I spent nearly twice as much time researching the business as I did the novel, because failure was not an option.  For new authors, there is no advice I can give you that is more important than “Do the research.”  Learn the industry, including things like literary agents and agencies, query letters, synopses and synopsis writing, book marketing, book publicity, and formatting.  Nothing will lead to failure faster than showing the publishing world that you’ve spent zero time getting to know their business.  This blog was created strictly because I did my homework.  The publishing industry wants you to have a nest in order to promote and sell your work when the time comes to do so.

In June of 2015, I was ready for the querying process to begin.  I had a notebook filled with literary agents willing to take on historical novels.  I knew each of their expectations, their quirks, their requirements, and their attitudes toward eager, new authors.  You must remember that each literary agent has a very strict, detailed list of requirements.  If you stray from them even a little, you’ll be rejected before any of your material is even looked at.

Allowing myself one full year to find an agent, I sent out a total of 66 queries… usually in groups of five to eight.  Some contained only a query letter.  Some contained a synopsis and the first three chapters.  Some contained a synopsis, the first fifty pages, a photo of me, and a bio.  And although it felt like some contained the kitchen sink, not one of them contained the entire manuscript for Black Iron Mercy.

In time, I received 32 rejections.  Yes, the first couple were difficult.  Nobody likes to be rejected.  Not for a date, not on the dance floor, not in the publishing world.  But after a while, even I could appreciate being rejected, because receiving a rejection letter is better than being rejected without notice.  Many literary agents will warn you up front that they do not have the time to respond to all queries.  Because of this, I actually looked forward to receiving a rejection.  Quite frankly, I felt like I deserved a notice when rejected.  It’s not difficult to fire off an email that reads, “Not for us, thanks.”  (an actual rejection, my favorite… because it’s not a form letter.  It may be short, but it’s personal.)



By November, I had grown weary of the whole query process.  Sure, I had received 32 rejections, but I had actually been rejected all 66 times, whether they had sent notice or not.  But here’s the kicker:  NOT ONE OF THE 66 REJECTIONS WAS BASED ON THE ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT!  No one had even seen the entire manuscript.  Few, if any, had more than fifty pages of the double-spaced document, which equated to one-sixth of the entire novel.

Now, wholly bitter about agents and the agent process, I decided to forgo the agent course, and began researching publishers in the same way I had researched agents six-months prior.  I needed a publisher who would not only publish a historical novel, but who would do so for a first-time, unagented author.  So, I took five weeks to explore this option, compiling a list of 86 possible publishers, and whittled it down to the top three.  These, I queried on December 29, 2015, sending each of them a query letter, a synopsis, and the entire manuscript.  To one of them, I attached a comprehensive, six-page marketing plan aimed specifically at their company.

The very next day, I received a warm, personal note from the CEO of Deeds Publishing, saying that he would try to read at least 10% of my manuscript over the next week.

Wow!  I couldn’t believe it!  I was so emotional, I sat and read his message over and over and over.  Someone was actually gonna read my manuscript.  Life couldn’t have been any better than at this moment.  Or could it?

From an email dated January 2, 2016, just three days later:

“I am reporting that here at 8:00am on Saturday, January 2, I had read 10% of your book – and it grabbed me so completely that this morning I finished the last 10 pages. I have read your whole book – cover to cover.”

I wept.  I sobbed uncontrollably.  I’m not ashamed to admit this.  This book has been my life for the last five years.

After much discussion, Deeds Publishing, LLC offered me a contract.  I sat on it a while, an excruciatingly painful thing to do, while I obtained some legal advice.  Then, on the 15th day of January, another extraordinary event occurred:  I was offered a second contract by one of the other publishers I queried.

Are you effing kidding me?  A month ago I couldn’t get anyone in the world of publishing to look at my material.  Now?  I’ve got choices!  I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening!  I’m still in disbelief.


I signed with Deeds on January 21st.  The book is in layout, and a front cover is being designed as I write this.

Authors:  Don’t give up.  If you’re being rejected, keep trying.  If you’re still being rejected, circumvent.  There’s always a way.  Don’t allow anyone else to be responsible for your failure.  Sooner or later, you’ll find the one that says, “Yes.”



I’m so very happy and proud to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Deeds Publishing of Athens, Georgia, to publish my novel, Black Iron Mercy.  Final edits have been applied to the manuscript and it’s on its way to the creative director for the layout process.


Whew!  It’s been four and a half years since I started the research for this project.  Nine months of research, two years of writing, a lifetime of editing, and five long months of querying and rejection have culminated in success.  It’s been a long road, but could have been so much longer if not for the help and support of my family and friends.

Thank you to all of YOU, my friends and followers, for your continued support through your words of kindness and encouragement, assessment and criticism.  So many of you have said the right words at just the right moment, providing motivation and inspiration to continue this voyage.  I’m grateful!

Eric Schlehlein, Author/Freelance writer


Capt Rufus R Dawes, CO K, 6th Wisconsin Volunteers

Mr. Dawes is quite a remarkable man. Forever cemented in the histories of the Iron Brigade, the affections of Mauston, WI natives, the leadership of the 6th Wisconsin, and the spirit of the “Lemonweir Minutemen,” Dawes wasn’t even a Badger by birth.

Like everyone else in early 1861, Dawes got swept up in the excitement of Lincoln’s call for Volunteers. Dawes, who happened to be in Mauston, Wisconsin with his father on extended business at the time of the firing on Fort Sumter, chose to raise a company of volunteers right there, rather than return to his home town of Marietta, Ohio to do so.

In a letter to his sister dated May 4, 1861, Dawes writes: “I have been so wholly engrossed with my work for the last week or I should have responded sooner to your question: ‘Are…

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Eric Schlehlein, Author/Freelance writer

There’s a custom in America, and I suspect a few other countries, to place useful things on a useful space in a useful room and then to issue an edict throughout the house, stating that such things are hereby off-limits, rendering those things useless.

The custom of placing decorative towels on a hook or a rack or upon a shelf next to the dried flowers or above the wicker basket that holds the decorative soaps that we are not allowed to use has been going on for at least three generations, testing the self-discipline of children — and grown men — since the end of the depression.  

decorative towels

Look, but don’t touch… and by God, keep your damn hands off my flower, too.

In my house, such towels often become the magnet for the toothpaste left over after tooth-brushing regimens, the streaks of white or blue evidencing the failed self-discipline…

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Eric Schlehlein, Author/Freelance writer




A long time ago I was watching a piece on television about the assassination of John Lennon.  The report was claiming that, after taking two bullets from Mark David Chapman’s pistol, Lennon had staggered into the lobby of his apartment building, the Dakota, and exclaimed to a nearby concierge, “They’ve shot me.”

Apparently he never said, “They’ve shot me.”  Doing a search online about the last words of John Lennon will get you a couple of different stories.  One will claim that instead of “They’ve shot me,” he uttered, “I’m shot,” before collapsing on the steps inside the lobby of his apartment building.  Another story says that he was conscious but incoherent in his last moments, answering “yeah” or “yes” to officials asking him if he’s John Lennon in the back of an ambulance.

What a stupid…

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A MIGHTY 3,000!

Posted: July 31, 2015 in Followers
Tags: , , , ,


I’m very proud and humbled to announce that this blog has reached the 3,000 follower milestone.  Thank you to each and every one of you for being a part of my writing world.

Peace and love!