Honors Heaped Upon Me (Just Kidding!)

As a living-room famous author (there are stages to these things, you must realize: living-room famous, locally-famous, nationally-famous, world-famous, and from there it just gets silly), one of the things expected of me is to have an author biography. This is used in various places including, but not limited to, my living room. Other outlets, such as my website, my blog, my Amazon.com author’s page, my Facebook page, my AllPoetry.com site, etc. also use one version or another of the bio.

I’m not going to reproduce the existing bios here, you can hop around to the aforementioned places if you’d like to read them, although I can give you the highlights:

One version states I was born in New York City in 1960 and two years later formed a musical combo known as the Beatles. The bio might lead one to believe this is something I did on my own, but I’d like to use this forum to officially recognize the other guys involved, although I don’t recall any of their names now.

Another bio relates the episode which occurred when I was in first grade, wherein I uncovered a massive Soviet plot to copy sensitive nuclear documents by unwitting six-year-old students, using those oversized pencils without erasers that were so popular in the 1960’s. Mention is made of the class mascot, a nefarious hamster named Comrade Gibbles, who was used to spread fear among the children. I have nothing to add to or subtract from this story. It’s history. Deal with it.

But, in addition to relating important episodes in my life, I think it prudent to enumerate some of the honors I have accrued during my writing career, though I do so with great humility. So I’ve decided to use this forum, (this is a forum, right? I’m using the word correctly?) to explain a little bit about just how freaking awesome I am. (See? Humble!) You, therefore, get to be the first to see my new bio section…


S.J. Varengo has accumulated a literal roomful of awards over the years, having early on learned that the secret to doing so is to study the writers who have previously won those awards and break into their homes to steal them. Here is a list of his triumphs:

  • 00nobelErnest Hemingway’s Nobel Prize for Literature
  • A Hugo Award for Science Fiction, formerly in the possession of Isaac Asimov
  • A Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature, once proudly displayed by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Two Pulitzers, John Steinbeck’s for Grapes of Wrath and a recent acquisition, Harper Lee’s for To Kill A Mockingbird, which just became available during the confusion after her passing.
  • national_award_1118A National Book Award that William Faulkner wasn’t using anymore.
  • Of course, there are numerous others, some well-known, some lesser-known, and some that turned out to be absolute garbage, barely worth the risk involved in obtaining them.

EGOTOn the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s notable that Varengo was the first person ever to complete an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards), completely through the use of larceny. Oh, and, in the case of the Oscar assault and battery; Sally Field is way tougher than she looks.

While his writing style has been characterized as “infused with humor and tenderness in an amalgam that makes it just shy of readable,” his B&E [Breaking and Entering] skills have been praised as “nearly flawless, leaving behind not so much as a teaspoonful of DNA in most cases.”

He has been invited to readings, usually of his rights, in the leading police stations of the U.S. and abroad.

His work has been featured on several popular television programs including “Unsolved Mysteries” and “America’s Most Wanted,” and he is a frequent contributor to the “6 O’clock News.”

When discussing his vast array of honors, Varengo is typically humble and gracious to those who no longer possess the awards, calling them “A great bunch of guys and gals who might want to consider updating their security systems.”

That’s it!

I think it captures the scope of my accomplishments while giving ample credit to the “little people,” which is what I call the race of tiny, two-headed quasi-humans who dwell in the mystical land of “Under My Bathroom Sink.”

But, ultimately, that is a story for another day.


I Have No Idea Why You Wouldn’t Do This

A lot of people like action-packed spy thrillers. I know this because I know a lot of people. I also know myself, more or less, and I like action-packed spy thrillers. I think this pretty much proves everything I’ve ever said is true.

assignmentSo now you know that what I’m going to say next is also true: you need to read Assignment: Paris, by Craig A. Hart with S.J. Varengo. And, as one of the two aforementioned authors, it pleases me to tell you that now you can.

How? You just asked that question, didn’t you? Yes, with me you also get mad psychic skills. Well, the easiest way would be to click this link if you have a Kindle or this one if you have a Nook. It’s also available on iBooks, and I think Craig even copied it onto a really big rock, which you can ask to borrow. The hardest way would probably be to go door to door until you find someone who has already purchased the book, talk them into inviting you in, and looking over their shoulder as they sit comfortably in their living room, or perhaps their den, and look over their shoulder as they leisurely page through the book on their Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or really big rock.

Now, even though I’ve already proven that everything I say is to be trusted, I’ll share a couple of real live reviews that are totally not made up by me:

“Scott is a nice boy and always smiles at doggies, so you should read Assignment: Paris.”

OK. I made that one up. But not these:

Reading Craig Hart is like taking a short vacation from reality. His short stories are a delight with completely satisfying endings. Assignment Paris brings two new characters into play. Perry Hall, a SpyCo operative, and Piet, a SpyCo techno specialist. Perry is called up for a special assignment due to his very special skills. We follow him to Paris, where his wife had been murdered three years earlier.

Perry battles his emotions as he unknowingly seeks the man who killed his wife and the egomaniacal monster who will sacrifice all of Paris for his own financial gain. Can Perry stop this maniac? Can he find the man who took his wife from him? Come to Paris with us and find out. Craig Hart carries you into the intrigue and mayhem of SpyCo vs Scorpion with the skill of a true craftsman.

– Cathy A. Thibeault

A wild ride from this author. Great plot and characters. A must read. 

– mima48

An action-packed spy thriller with a great plot, and an unlikely last-minute hero. (No I won’t tell you, you will just have to enjoy the book yourself to find out.) Take a trip to Paris, and save the world at the same time without leaving the comfort of your home. 


I really enjoyed this novella, well written, fast with the right amount of humor, twist and turns you do not expect, definitely keeps you guessing, at first I thought one thing then another, so yes extremely interesting. If I had one slight fault to be fair, I was enjoying so much. I would have liked it to go on and on, however. I genuinely think Craig A Hart is one of the best out there, and would definitely recommend his books, brilliant.

-marj Venmore

And on and on it goes. People are really enjoying Assignment: Paris, and so will you. And did I mention that for a limited time you can own this highly-touted, and let’s face it: a modern masterpiece, for the mind-bendingly low low price of $0.99. For those of you who can’t read numbers, that’s zero dollar and ninety-nine pennies.

So, I repeat the assertion I made in the title of this post: I have no idea why you wouldn’t want to do this.

Well Now, Here’s Something!

I’ve written about new directions that might or might not have been coming down the pike in recent posts, and now it’s time to be a little more transparent about what those changes/new projects might be.

For some time now I’ve been feeling the tug to try my hand in a different genre, namely the crime thriller/espionage/suspense sort of tale. I’ve even been kicking around an idea for a story that I thought might be fun. I’ve shared a little bit about it with some writer friends and got some very positive feedback. Basically, the only thing holding me back from moving forward was that I was nervous to try something so far removed from anything I’ve done before.



The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Then I got a message from this guy. That’s right, it’s award-winning author, father of two, husband of one, and all around likable bloke, Craig A. Hart. Readers of this blog may recall that I was privileged to interview Craig a while back, (see the post from 3 May 2017, entitled “The Interview That Will Change Direction in Which the Earth Spins.”). He’s the author of the Shelby Alexander Thriller series, which currently includes the books Serenity,  Serenity Stalked, Serenity Avenged, and the newest, Serenity Submerged. He is presently working on the fifth installment and hopes to release it before the end of the year.


Anyway, yeah, he messaged me and asked if what I thought about ghostwriting. I assumed someone had offered him a gig doing so. I asked him if that were the case, and wondered how the heck he’d fit that into his schedule, (he had twin toddler sons, remember, in addition to writing like a fiend). Of course, we were talking electronically, so I couldn’t actually hear him laugh, but I’m pretty sure he did when he answered my question by saying, “No, I was thinking of offering you one.”

Please believe me when I tell you that was the last thing I expected to hear. We talked back and forth for a while longer as he told me what he was looking for and the time-frame in which he was hoping to have it done, then he said, “If you want, sleep on it and see what you think in the morning.”

Sleep on it. Like I was going to sleep after getting an offer like that! I actually did sleep for an entire hour or so. When I got up in the morning I sent the following message:

“After a long period of intense soul-searching (= six minutes of childlike giggling)… I have decided to accept your offer unless you have come to your senses and have withdrawn it.”

I’m happy to say he did not come to his senses.

The project in question was to write the second installment in his novella series, chronicling the case files of an international covert espionage organization known as SpyCo. The first book, entitled Assignment: Athens had been so much fun to read that I had to pinch myself at the thought of being able to actually write one.

Craig gave me a lot of autonomy. I could create my own characters, as well as use the ones he’d introduced in the first book, pick my own setting, and pretty much go to town.

I secretly started writing a couple of weeks prior to the start date he and I had talked about, partly because the book I was working on, (the third installment of my series, Cerah of Quadar,) had hit a wall that I was having tons of trouble climbing over, but mostly because I couldn’t wait any longer to get working on it.

The arrangement, as we originally made it, was a straightforward ghostwriting deal. I’d write the book, Craig would receive my work, make changes, and publish it under his name as part of the SpyCo series. I was perfectly happy with this because it meant that something I wrote was going to be made available to Craig’s readership, which is a whole lot bigger than my own, and that I would know I’d done the work if people liked it. (Conversely, I would also know I’d done the work if they hated it, but I was hoping more would like than hate!)

I must admit that as the story began to take shape I sometimes caught myself being a little melancholy over the fact that no one would know I had anything to do with it. I felt like it was a fairly decent story with some interesting characters, and I was becoming proud of it. But I was also still very content to honor my commitment.

Then Mr. Hart blew me away a second time. But before I tell that story I have to tell this one:



Fifty Years A-Comin’

On the day I was officially slated to start working on the project, 1 October, I was watching the CBS Sunday Morning show. They did a segment about a recently found Mark Twain sketch of an idea for a book that he’d never written. The segment was called “Mark Twain, Ghostwriter.” I considered this portentous for two reasons: first the obvious, the appearance of the word Ghostwriter, and second, there is a little-known fact that I’ve always clung to.  Mark Twain died on 21 April 1910. That happens to be fifty years to the day before I was born. I once joked that I was his very tardy reincarnation. It took fifty years for his spirit to find a worthy vessel.


So I dashed off a message to Craig telling him the story and we shared a laugh about it. Then he said: “Also, how would you feel about having your name on the cover, something like Craig A. Hart with S.J. Varengo?”

As always, my reply was very calm and collected. “I would not object to being mentioned alongside the great Craig Hart,” to which I promptly added, “Hopefully when you read it you won’t have any either.”

My reply may have been cool, but I was geeking out. I’m very glad that there are approximately 888 miles between his home and mine because that is just about how far away one would have had to have been to not hear my cheers.

assignmentThe reason I’m taking 8 million words to tell this story is that Craig announced the release date of the book that was the result of his offer, Assignment: Paris. It’s slated for an October 24 release and is currently in the process of the final edit.

If you are a Craig Hart fan, fear not. He took what I wrote and made some awesome improvements, to give it the sound and feel of another Craig A. Hart winner.

And if you’re an S.J. Varengo fan… haha! I couldn’t finish the sentence! I know there’s no such thing… yet! But perhaps after a few readers get a chance to read A:P, as I call it when I’m being lazy (most of the time), I may see a few fans crawl out of the woodwork. I am completely serious when I say I’m honored to be associated with Craig professional now, as I have been to be associated with him personally for the past six years. We’ve shared a lot of lawls, as we like to say, and I’m predicting many more in the future.

So here’s to us!

























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































ve it feel and sound like another Craig A. Hart winner. If you are an S.J. Varengo fan…

Sorry, couldn’t finish that sentence. I know there’s no such thing… yet.

I’m hoping that a few S.J. Varengo fans might crawl out of the woodwork as a result of Assignment: Paris. It was a blast to work on, and I am being completely serious when I say that it is truly an honor to be associated professionally with Craig, as it has been to be his friend for the past six years. It’s a fun story, and I’m guessing readers will get a kick out of it.