John Scalzi, Jeff Klinkenberg, Sherryl Woods, Mary Buser, D.W. Vogel, Robert Strauss … and me

I’m always writing about my own books in this blog.

Which makes sense since, you know, I want to sell books.

And man, they are selling at an alarming clip. My latest royalty check was for $2.27. Pretty soon, I’m going to have enough money to buy a movie ticket. Matinee, of course. No candy, though.

Anyway, for those who forgot, my books, featuring amateur detective Noah Greene are:

TITR is first in the series, TOC is the second, and MGID the most recent, and all are available in paperback and eBook formats at Amazon.com.

But, today’s blog isn’t about me, though I have to admit I am my most favorite subject.

It’s the other writers in my circle of family, friends and acquaintances that have done, and are doing, wonderful things, and who continue to motivate me.

To wit:

Mary Buser: Mary is my loved one’s cousin and she has written an excellent book about the terrible abuses at New York’s Rikers Island. The book is called “Lockdown on Rikers: Shocking Stories of Abuse and Injustice at New York’s Notorious Jail.” Mary was once a social work intern at Rikers and saw the awful conditions up close and personal. It took her years to write the book, time well spent because this is a riveting read. It has put Mary to the forefront of the prison reform discussion and rightly so. Read this book.

John Scalzi: Maybe the best Sci-Fi writer working today. John and I worked briefly together at the Fresno Bee. He was an excellent writer then, but I had no idea he had this kind of talent in him. His “Old Man’s War” just knocked my socks off and returned me to my love of science fiction. I’d lost it over the years, but “Old Man’s War” rekindled my interest. I could write reems about John but suffice to say he’s reached the top of Everest, planted his flag and is doing a happy dance. He’s written a dozen best-sellers (check out his author page) and is on a par with the greats of the genre such as Arthur C. Clark, Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.

Sherryl Woods: Another former colleague, Sherry and I worked together at the now defunct Miami News (I have killed many newspapers, but that’s another story for later). She was the TV writer at the time and I worked in the sports department. Somehow, I talked her into writing a screenplay together. It bore a remarkable resemblance to today’s “Ballers” series on HBO starring Dwayne Johnson, but our effort was, shall we say, a bit before it’s time and was roundly rejected by anybody who bothered to read it. Sherry managed to survive that disaster by going on to become an esteemed romance novelist with dozens of titles too numerous to list here. (Do check out her author page, however.) Not long ago, her Chesapeake Shores series was picked up by Hallmark for a series that’s now in its fourth season.

Robert Strauss: Geez, what a good writer he is. And a hustler. He worked for a time at the Asbury Park Press, the Philadelphia Daily News and Sports Illustrated, but at some point decided to strike out as a freelancer. Trying to find paying freelance gigs is like trying to find ice water in the Mohave. But his work has appeared extensively in the New York Times and other such notable publications. Several years back, he wrote a wonderful book called “Daddy’s Little Goalie: A Father, His Daughters and Sports,” which prompted me to do a piece on him while I worked at the Cherry Hill Courier Post. He followed that up with “Worst. President. Ever,” and, no, it’s not about who you might think. The subtitle is “James Buchanan, the POTUS Rating Game, and the Legacy of the Least of the Lesser Presidents.” Whew. It will take you longer to say the name than to read the book. That’s how good a writer is Strauss (everybody calls him by his last name). You will fly through the pages.

Jeff Klinkenberg: Jeff and I met as young sportswriters at the Miami News. You may not know this, but sportswriters are a competitive lot. Jeff, myself, Jonathan Rand and others would vie for space on the front page of the sports section. We all thought we were the better reporters and, more importantly, the better writers. Because the News staff was small, we all also doubled on the sports desk, reading and editing each other’s copy. At first, I thought I’d make some … improvements in Jeff’s stories about the outdoors, which was his specialty. A week, maybe two later I discovered that Jeff Klinkenberg was – and is – one of the finest writers I’ve ever met. Not just about outdoor sports, but about anything. I couldn’t find a darn thing in his stories I could change or improve on, try as I might. It depressed me. Still does. Jeff went on from the Miami News to dominate outdoors coverage in Florida and has written a slew of non-fiction books about everything from sharks (“The Shark Attack Files: Investigating the World’s Most Feared Predator” to tomatoes (“Building a Better Tomato: The Quest to Perfect ‘The Scandalous Fruit.’” Try having that kind of range as an author. His latest great read is “Son of Real Florida: Stories from My Life.”

D.W. Vogel: I met Wendy in a writer’s group I’d joined and was immediately struck by her presence, her willingness to help others and, of course, her ability. She has written a series of sci-fi novels called “Horizon Alpha” and they are a pure joy to read. Alien planets. Dinosaurs. Teens in peril. What’s not to love? Wendy is a veterinarian, scuba diver and … a cancer survivor. As someone who lost a breast to a tumor when I was 18, I have a particular affinity for anyone battling this insidious disease. Unfortunately, Wendy’s still experiencing some issues, but nevertheless finds time and determination to write. She is freakin’ awe inspiring.

These are the folks that continue to show me that I have the potential to someday afford a late movie and a candy bar.

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