John Rezell

Biography

Born and raised in Wisconsin, John Rezell has visited 44 states, lived in seven, and calls Oregon his home.

He began his newspaper career in high school, writing for the sports section of The Brookfield News.

While studying journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, he wrote for the student newspaper and worked for the Janesville Gazette.

Once out of college, he began a career of climbing up the newspaper ladder, beginning with smalltown journalism at the Jefferson County Daily Union in Fort Atkinson, WI where he was a do-it-all sports editor — writing, editing, layout pages and taking photos.

From there he crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa to work for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Continuing his Westward march, he spent the bulk of his newspaper career at The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, CA. There he created the weekly cycling column, as he focused on off-beat sports like beach volleyball, surfing, running — any assignment that might include bringing suntan lotion.

After a freelance career establishing himself as the premiere cycling journalist in the US, he became editor of VeloNews magazine. Later he started the e-magazine bike.com, and eventually came full circle back to newspapers as an outdoor columnist for The Register-Guard in Eugene, OR.

In 2015, he will publish three ebooks.

Two of the books (Taken for a Ride and A More Simple Time: How Cycling Saved My Soul) chronicle his early days of covering bicycle racing, including his relationship with a young Lance Armstrong (Taken for a Ride).

The third book, You Can't Cook a Dead Crab and Eat It, is the life-changing story of how John and his wife Debbie decided to find the perfect place to raise their daughters. In 2005, they sold as much of their belongings as possible in an endless Moving Sale, packed the rest into storage and spent 85 days traveling 8,000 miles while living in a pop-up camper as they explored the American West in search of a place to call home.

John is working on his next book, based on his outdoors column he wrote for The Register-Guard that focuses on adventures in nature with his family in Oregon and many National Parks.

Smashwords Interview

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
My first story I remember writing was when I was in third grade. It was about a guy driving a car that loses control and crashes off a bridge into a river. It was all about fighting to get out of the car and everything running through his mind. Just as he is about to die, of course, he wakes up.

Thing was, at the time I was deathly afraid of driving over bridges. I'd literally hide on the floor of the backseat of our station wagon (back before seat belts) while my older brothers gave me a running commentary of what I was missing: "Oh, my gosh! This has to be the tallest bridge ever! Oh, NO! There's a big hole in the road!" Stuff like that. The worst was when they said we were over the bridge, and I'd get up and we'd be halfway over.

The worst was the bridge over the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa. It had an actual angle/turn in the middle! So it looked as if you go straight you'd go right over the edge. Interestingly enough, my second job out of college was working for the newspaper in Dubuque, and I drove over that bridge with sweaty palms the first time, and never had a problem again.

The beauty of writing my first story was that my Dad realized I had an interest and a pinch of talent, so he began paying me a penny for every five words for anything I wrote. In sixth grade I started producing my own sports magazine, and left fiction behind.
What is your writing process?
Let it flow. This comes from years of working at newspapers when I'd rush back to the office after a night sporting event and have to hammer out a story in short order. Sometimes 10-15 minutes.

I've stressed to my daughters that your brain has figured out most of your story already, so don't get in the way. Let it flow. Besides, what makes good writing great is editing. So don't edit until you've got the flow out, since editing flow is the toughest.

Since the chances of a copy editor having any real time with a story were slim, I'd write the lead. Then read the lead and write the next blast. Then go back to the top and read through, then write. It helps with flow of the story, as well as tightening up the beginning.

Most important is to not stare at a blank screen. Just start writing and keep writing, even if you think it sucks. You can't edit in your head, you have to get it out.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find John Rezell online

Books

A Bucket List for Thank Yous: Your Chance to Thank the Special People in Your Life
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 14,260. Language: English. Published: November 7, 2020. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » Personal inspiration
A Bucket List for Thank Yous is a compilation of Thank You letters I've written to the people who have had the biggest influence on my life. This book is for everyone who finds it difficult to put the words together to thank those who have left an imprint on their life. My hope is that you find inspiration to thank those individuals, and send them a copy of this book.
A More Simple Time: How Cycling Saved My Soul
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 123,710. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Bicycling, Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
By twist of fate cycling became more than a hobby. It became my beat. As America's top journalist covering US cycling (1989-96), I watched the rise of extraordinary athletes from Linda Brenneman, Alison Dunlap and Dede Demet to Steve Hegg, Bobby Julich and Kent Bostick. They shared their quests, one pedal stroke at a time. It's a ride to the Atlanta Olympics that changed my life and saved my soul.
Taken for a Ride: Chasing a Young Lance Armstrong
Price: $12.99 USD. Words: 60,540. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Bicycling, Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
I met Lance Armstrong in 1992 and began a journalist-athlete relationship that lasted, roller-coaster style, for eight years. This is the story of the young Lance, before he became world famous, and later, infamous. Lance influenced a lot of people. He changed a lot of lives. Some for good. Some not for good. I only know that he changed mine for the better. I can’t change that. I wouldn’t want to.
You Can't Cook a Dead Crab and Eat It
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 107,070. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues
Imagine spending 85 days living in a popup tent camper while driving 8,000 miles around the American West in search of a place to call home. We didn't imagine it. We lived it. This is the story of that journey. An unforgettable time when we taught our daughters an important lesson: When your life isn't going the way you envisioned, take control and make your life what you want it to be.