I write for my own enjoyment (though I do have a target audience in mind when I write most of my stories) but there are a handful of people I hope to earn the Head Nod of Respect from one day. These are people who aren't celebrities by any means (though some have audiences far larger than mine). They are creators whose work I have known for some time and whose work I in turn respect and enjoy. I won't list those people (that would feel like I was begging for attention), but I will list some people who I believe have earned it from me.
You need to check out the stuff these people produce. I've sung their praises before, but you can't say too many good things about a person.
JC Hutchins - He's one of the reasons I got into podcasting my own fiction. He consistently tells amazing stories in interesting ways. He also likes to try new things and isn't afraid to set those things aside when they don't work.
Paul Cooley - One of the smartest horror writers I know. If you like a good scare, you need to be reading his work.
Terry Mixon - I've just started reading Terry's work. Not everything he's written is my cup of tea, but he knows his ish when it comes to writing.
Christiana Ellis - One of the funniest and most gentle spirits in the world of podcasting. She's put so much amazing stuff out into the world I just can't begin to list it.
Mike Plested - He started a podcast on getting published and then worked his butt off to get it done. If you like good YA or heck, just good fiction period, you need to check out his stuff.
Tee Morris - One of the father's of podcast fiction; Tee has a biting sense of humor, amazing taste in beer, and constantly surprises me with the variety of fiction he tackles.
Jared Axelrod - Seriously one of the most multi-talented artists I know. I can't say enough good things about what he's done for me as a creator (whether he realizes it or not).
Philippa Ballantine - Another early presence in the podcast arena, Pip has gone on to be quite the success with her husband and writing partner Tee and on her own.
Skinner Co. - I'm a podcast junky and I know how hard it is to put good work out there on a regular basis. These three people do that and then some. They've built a tremendous community and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.
Jake Bible - Seriously one of the most thoughtful and hardest working writers I personally know. He's living proof that horror writers can be sweet, kind, and not at all what you would expect.
Starla Hutchton - A savvy business person, a great writer, and a sharp designer; Starla is a whole lot of talent in one package.
I hope to give more head nods down the line. Please feel free to give your own in the comments and provide links!