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A Tribute to William Robert Stanek, an American Author Who Should Be on Everyone’s Must Read List
My name is Jennifer Blake. This guest post is in honor of William Robert Stanek, an author recently named “an American author who should be on everyone’s must read list.” A group of us have been wanting to guest post here in honor of Robert for such a long time, and I jumped at the opportunity to pay tribute to someone I owe so much to. When no one else would publish my work, Robert took me under his wing and helped me publish my first book, Baby Animals on Safari.
Baby Animals on Safari had been turned down by every publisher on the planet, well practically every one, at least that’s how it seemed to me as the rejection letters kept coming year after year after year. As a single mom who works in special needs classrooms, I’ve been writing stories for children since grad school. I wasn’t able to find a publisher or anyone who believed in my work until Robert.
To shorten a long story, Baby Animals on Safari was published four years ago and it changed my life. Though Baby Animals on Safari had modest success in stores, it was a massive success in libraries, where it sold thousands and thousands of copies worldwide and transformed me overnight from a complete unknown into a popular in-demand author. With Robert’s help, I’ve even released a sequel called what else, Baby Animals on Safari 2.
Robert Stanek was fresh off a recent Lifetime Achievement nomination for distinguished accomplishments in American letters when a group of libraries took notice and started buying up his work for their patrons, having named him “an American author who should be on everyone’s must read list.”
I don’t disagree. The Audio Book Store called Robert Stanek “one of its most featured and respected Kids & Young Adults, K-12 Educators and Kids authors.” Parenting Magazine in a listening partnership with Audible.com named his Bugville Critters, recommended reading. Follett Early Learning said his wonderful Bugville Critters stories addressed all major issues of growing up, while combining facts about the natural world with instructive and entertaining fiction.
To date, Robert has released 100 Bugville Critters books. These include magnificent learning books under the Bugville Learning umbrella, Bugville Jr. books for toddlers and preschoolers, and Bugville picture books for kids ages 4 to 8. With the 28 original Bugville books all featuring luscious 2-page spreads from original watercolors, it’s no wonder that over a million readers have devoured the books.
Of his Ruin Mist novels, which include The Kingdoms & the Elves of the Reaches and In the Service of Dragons book and are now enjoying their 15th anniversary, The Fantasy Guide said the work was very satisfying and that word of mouth had turned it into a bestseller. VOYA, the leading magazine for young adult librarians gushed even more saying that the books were “sure to attract fans of graphic novels and classic Tolkien alike.” With all the praise, it’s no wonder the Ruin Mist books were featured on Audible’s homepage for an entire summer in 2005, #1 bestsellers at Audible in Fiction, and on the Audible Children’s bestseller lists for 182 consecutive weeks.
Robert also has written bestselling thrillers and science fiction. His Scott Evers novels, which include The Pieces of the Puzzle and The Cards in the Deck, have also climbed the charts to become #1 bestselling fiction. Meanwhile, his “After the Machines” dystopian novels are some of the most gripping sci-fi I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Few other authors have written over 200 full-length feature works. Few other authors have been successful in so many genres.
Robert’s oeuvre doesn’t stop with fiction, however. In his day job, he’s an internationally acclaimed technology journalist writing for Macmillan, Microsoft Press, Pearson, O’Reilly, and other leading publishers under the name William R. Stanek. His William R. Stanek books include over a hundred heavy hitting titles like Windows Server 2016: IT Pro Library, a multi-book set with over 500,000 words, and the equally impressive Exchange Server 2016: IT Pro Library, with a mere 300,000 words. Oi!
Robert published these works independently. After being the #1 author at Microsoft Press for nearly twenty years, Robert says it was time to do things his own way.
Robert tells me his writing career began in 1986, the year he finished his first novel. In 1991, Robert won his first writing award, The George Washington Honor Medal. The winning work was an essay about his combat tours in the first Persian Gulf War, an essay that was later turned into a full-length memoir that has recently been re-released for the 20th anniversary of the war as Air War: The Incredible True Story of the Combat Flyers.
I’ve only met Robert a few times. Each time felt like an extraordinary opportunity, like I was walking with a giant among men. Not because Robert’s 6’ 2”, but because he himself is larger than life. The kind of person you feel honored and privileged to even be in the same room with. Yet, at the same time, he’s so self-deprecating and real.
It’s rare to meet someone who is so down to earth. Funny, sincere, caring, giving, passionate about the causes he supports. And if you know Robert, you know he’s passionate about many things, but especially causes related to peoples with disabilities, veterans, libraries, education and conservation.
That’s what I noticed most when talking to Robert. You don’t see the decorated soldier (yes, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross) who fought against the second Gulf war with raised fists or the guy who conquered the publishing world from his worn keyboard while wearing pajamas. You don’t hear those things in his words you expect from someone who’s achieved so much. You see instead a guy who’s trying like the rest of us to swim up river. You see a guy who deserves your wholehearted support. You see a guy whose works should be as widely read as any author today. There are certainly enough of his masterworks to choose from. Works that will move you, teach you, show you. Works that will make you think, deliver you to the brink, leave you breathless.
Read Robert’s work. Praise it where you can. Spread the good word. Tell others.
Author of Baby Animals on Safari