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Writer. Storyteller.


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The Write Note Podcast:

New episode live now


The Write Note is a podcast I am co-hosting with author Keira F Jacobs, a newbie writer on the independent scene who also happens to be my daughter. We discuss writing, storytelling, and publishing in all its forms. Tips, tricks, picks, reviews, and recommendations are all on the table as we explore the writing universe from creativity to how the written word impacts popular culture.


Listen to our latest episode with this link to the podcast website.

Camp Fire


I’ve always loved storytelling. I think it's the pleasure of sharing an exciting tale that drives me. I want the reader to take a thrilling ride, feel the rush of a narrow escape, and stand in the company of heroes on a desperate mission. I want them to gasp at the turn of an unexpected twist, and witness the power of love and friendship.
I strive to capture the timeless bond of companions trading tall tales around a campfire, or friends sharing stories down at the local pub. Of sitting down in a movie theater as the lights dim, or listening to your grandfather recount the adventures of his youth.
So grab a pint, take a seat near the glow of a warm fire, and let me tell you a story ...

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April, 2024

Spring is upon us. Beach weather ahead, and one thing you need on the beach is a good book. I recommend EQUAL MEASURE. It's a thrilling tale filled with mystery, history, and action. This Great Lakes thriller is just the thing to chill with under the sun. Blending Prohibition era lore, contemporary underworld intrigue, and a forgotten piece of naval aviation history, EQUAL MEASURE weaves a modern tale of outlaws, lawmen, and the shadowy players in between.

          Back cover summary

Charter pilot Kade Mitchell is on the road to redemption, but a chance encounter with a doomed cargo ship on Lake Michigan sends him into a shadowy world that is all too familiar. Driven on by the memory of a lost love and a tragic mistake, Kade embarks on an elaborate game of chance to right a past that went terribly wrong. But when the game takes a dark turn, Kade must rely only on his piloting skills and brash ambition to take the last trick and survive.

DHS Agent Ely Edwards is on the trail of a riddle. After a series of Great Lakes merchant ships mysteriously sink, Ely comes to believe a frightening new order is reshaping the drug trafficking underworld. But who is the architect of this new order and why is it happening? Each step he takes closer to the truth, Ely is confronted by familiar faces, and a heartbreaking history that time will not heal.

As an echo from the past drifts menacingly into the present, both Kade and Ely realize that old demons do not die easily, and the price to put them down for good may be more than either of them can bear.


Great Adventure on the Great Lakes

"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."

- Rudyard Kipling

I'm often asked if I write historical fiction, as most of my stories focus on or revolve around a historical account from the Great Lakes past. The answer to this question is no, I write contemporary fiction with history serving as the foundation. I love discovering a forgotten or obscure piece of history and building a story around it, and then imagining how it might ripple forward into the present. This process has led me down many intriguing and unexpected roads.

Below are my previously published books for you to browse. Please feel free to get in touch and share your comments or questions. I’d be more than happy to hear from you and answer any questions you may have.


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February, 2006

She's out there stalking the Great Lakes, vintage fleet submarine USS Silversides. More than seventy years ago she sent 90,000 tons of Japanese steel to the bottom. Now mercenaries have commissioned her in a bloody campaign, and only Warren McCallum, former US president, knows the reason. But McCallum isn't talking, and lead security agent Dylan Reese has his suspicions as to why. When a pattern emerges from the marauders attacks those suspicions are confirmed and Dylan realizes that before this nightmare can end, he and McCallum must confront the assassins face to face.
Order your copy today and let me know what you think.


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June, 2009

The coins were trouble from the beginning, but twenty-million dollars in West Michigan gold is a prize difficult for maritime salvager Jack Sheridan to ignore. He begins assembling pieces of a puzzle scattered 150 years ago, and embarks on a white-knuckle venture that leads him across the expanse of the Great Lakes, down desolate streets of a lost city, and into the depths of his own storied past. Each step draws him deeper into conflict with others intent on seizing the gold for their own hidden purpose. What Jack finds in the end is more than he bargained for, and the adversary he must confront will force him to question everything he knows.



August, 2012

Jack Sheridan is determined to find Flight 2501, an airliner lost in the Great Lakes more than sixty-five years ago. But what begins as a humanitarian mission soon becomes a treacherous odyssey with the sudden appearance of embittered mercenary Donovan Rafferty. Pressed into a secret accord, Jack walks a tightrope between ally and enemy, and into the tentacles of a terror plot that has reached across the decades to threaten the nation's security. Only one thing can stop the coming devastation and all sides are desperate to find it. Lines between friend and foe blur and Jack's convictions are tested like never before, for resting on his shoulders is not only the lives of thousands of Americans, but of the one person he will go to any length to protect.


Word on the Street

Home: Testimonials

A real page turner. Fenzel keeps you guessing until the very end ... Very powerful.

V. O. Van Heest,  Director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates and the author of  true salvage adventure "Fatal Crossing."


What people are saying

[Descending from Duty] is a crisply-paced military thriller which steams full speed ahead around Lake Michigan.

Dave LeMieux, Muskegon Chronicle

This is a wonderful action story...Descending from Duty is a smooth and exciting read.

R. Alfred Schneider, Great Lakes Historical Society

Fenzel has managed to weave a seafaring yarn, political intrigue, and a detective story into one enjoyable read.

C. Williams Coane, Rear Admiral USN (Ret), Exec. Director of Naval Reserve Association

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What people are saying

J. Ryan Fenzel takes familiar and twists it around with colorful characters, biting wit and surprises beyond every ebb and flow…This is an enjoyable, exciting summer read.

Nancy A. Schneider, Great Lakes Historical Society Quarterly Journal

A fine read crossing large chunks of time and geography...Reading an adventure on Lake Michigan is not a bad way to spend a few cold, winter nights.

Steve Begnoche, Ludington Daily News

A great, fast read...historical romance, mystery, lots of action, and good pacing throughout.

Maria Wolf, Michigan Library Association, Cromaine District Library

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What people are saying

An exciting and suspenseful saga.

Midwest Book Review

In the best style of W.E.B Griffin and David Baldacci, Fenzel’s skill with action pulls the reader into the thick of the fray. A great read.

Nancy A. Schneider, Great Lakes Historical Society Quarterly Journal

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One of the greatest perks of my job is getting feedback and interacting with readers. Contact me if you’ve got any comments or questions for me, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for submitting!

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