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Entries in POD (1)


CBI Writer Fulfills His Dream of Becoming a Novelist!

By Craig R. Waters

Generally, in CBI and CBI Unbound, we celebrate the achievements of others—of club operators, fitness equipment manufacturers, etc. But we have a few success stories of our own. One of them has to do with Stephen Wallenfels, a longtime CBI contributing editor and, now, the author of POD, a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel for young adults.

Steve, an employee of the Tri-City Court Club in Kennewick, Washington, first came to our attention 11 years ago when he submitted a humorous column on staff meetings over the transom. At the time, we didn’t publish satire, but Steve’s piece was so funny and on-target that we decided to bend our editorial policy. That was the first of many delightful and insightful columns that Steve produced for us.

Eventually, however, recognizing that we’d happened upon a journalistic diamond in the rough, we prevailed upon Steve to try his hand at reporting and nonfiction writing—a very wise move, on our part. Since then, he’s interviewed many of the industry’s most prominent movers-and-shakers and profiled many of its leading companies. (To read his CBI article about Augie’s Quest, click here.)

Steve owes his progress to his love of writing, his sensitivity, his patient honing of his skills, his uncompromising work ethic, and his incredible ability to expertly juggle many different responsibilities. At the moment, for example, he performs capably in the following roles at Tri-City: marketing director, climbing-wall director, gymnasium director, racquetball director, and IT support.

But, when it comes to writing, Steve’s true passion has always been, and remains, fiction. The infatuation began when he was in high school and continued through college. In 2005, “a pretty darn scary dream” gave him the idea for POD—a project that he’s worked on, intermittently, ever since. A few years ago, when he attended the Whole Novel Workshop, an intense, seven-day session in Boyds Mill, Pennsylvania, his manuscript attracted the interest of a guest speaker, Stephen Roxburgh, an editor and publisher.

What followed was something of a professional writer’s trial by fire: an up-and-down, on-again/off-again, start/then-stop, energizing-and-completely-exhausting process that involved countless consultations, edits, and rewrites. But Steve persevered, and performed, and, eventually, POD made its debut as a print-on-demand book published by namelos, a new company formed by Roxburgh.


Then the reviews began coming in, and Steve couldn’t have hoped for better ones. One in particular, however, stood out: the Kirkus Review, a prominent and highly regarded publication, gave POD a starred review, and wrote, in part, “This masterful debut grabs readers by the throat from the first page and never lets go.” (For a sampling of POD reviews, log on to

That, in turn, led some Hollywood types, who weigh the film possibilities of promising new books, to contact Steve…which prompted Steve to look for an agent…which led to his signing with Amsef, LLC, a relatively new film-development agency headed by Michael Ovitz, the former chairman of Disney and a featured speaker at IHRSA’s 2007 Annual International Convention (see CBI, January 2007, pg. 43).

…And that, in turn, has already led to contracts with Putnam/Penguin for North American trade paperback rights for POD, and with Allen & Unwin, based in Australia, for European rights. The book can be purchased at or, and, next summer, will also become available in bookstores. Steve, meanwhile, is busy working on POD II, the second part of a planned trilogy…and patiently waiting to hear whether a film version of POD might materialize. 

We think a new star is about to be born!