A Far Gone Night

Have Yourself an O'Shea Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving Day is past, and so is Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you will continue to be deluged with ads on TV and radio extolling all the “perfect Christmas gifts” for your loved ones.  Everything is “that perfect gift.”  For example, a six-pack of Tidy Bowl is perfect, and so is a new Lexus. Diamonds, dog beds, electric toothbrushes, ear wax remover, exercise equipment, Omaha meat,and Michael Jordan underwear all seem to qualify as that “perfect” gift.

Now, to be transparent, I am going to make a suggestion for a nice gift for Christmas; really a stocking stuffer kind of gift, not guaranteed to make your significant other fall in love with you or simply smother you with kisses. If you have someone you care about who is a person who reads lots of books, I suggest two.  Both of them were written by me, and are the first two in a series about Thomas O’Shea and his adventures.  (The third in the series is done and due to come out in early 2017, and I’m working on the fourth.)  Their titles are Signs of Struggle  and A Far Gone Night.  They combine mystery, intrigue, romance, and homicide with humor in a small town in northeastern Iowa. Really.  You’ll like them, and your friends and family will, too.  You can purchase them on Amazon, hard copy or e-book.

Whether you purchase these books or not, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But if you do buy the books, you won’t be sorry.  Way better than a pair of red and green boxers, or a Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer car freshner. Seriously.

Taking a Page from Stephen King

Some famous author once said that when a writer finishes writing their novel, a sort of depression sets in, not unlike the postpartum blues women suffer from right after having a baby. I can't relate to postpartum depression, nor can I say rightly that I get down after completing the last chapter of a novel.  you see, I just finished the last chapter to my work, a 97,000-word "upmarket commercial" effort.  And I did not get depressed.  What I wanted to do was immediately start revising, so I did, looking specifically for two of my blind spots - passive voice and "echo," a term we writers use to describe using the same important word twice within close proximity of each other.  That proximity blind spot can be annoying, a speed bump interfering with the reader's flow and proximity to a smooth narrative.

So I did that, weeding out my blind spots.  What's next, you may ask?

When Stephen King finishes a novel, he sets it aside for a month or more and does something else, such as going for long walks or watching Boston Red Sox games, or reading what other writers are publishing.

My urge was to get back to working on my fourth Thomas O'Shea novel, since the first two are published (Signs of Struggle 2012 and A Far Gone Night 2014) and a third (The Face on the Other Side) is scheduled for an early 2017 release.  So I plan to get after number four in the series, Of Mists and Murders.

I am a professional writer, so I have a compulsion to write, and I am itching to produce that next O'Shea novel, and it nags at me.  But first, I am going to follow King's example and take some time off, starting with a long road trip with my bride, watching college football on TV (especially my Iowa Hawkeyes), and enjoying the changing of the seasons leading into my favorite month - October.

I will, however, keep a notebook in close proximity at all times, just in case I need to jot down a piece of dialogue that comes to mind, a vivid setting, or a conflict among my characters I had not thought of previously.

So, no more blogs for a while, but please look to hear from me and my writer's journey when the leaves turn to gold and orange and red.king

Writing Wednesday Writer's Plug

Now that Memorial Day is over and June is here, many of you are planning vacations - to the beach, to the mountains, to the back yard.  When that happens, a grand old American tradition is to get one's hands on novels with page-turning plots, colorful characters, humor, and maybe even a bit of mystery and action.  Ideally, romance is sprinkled into the mix with healthy portions. I would like to make two recommendations, knowing that these novels include all of the above ingredients for a good read.  I know this because I wrote them, and here they are:  Signs of Struggle in which the protagonist, Thomas O'Shea, who has lost his family in a tragic car accident, comes upon a beautiful woman, bloody and screaming, running down a country road.  He considers not helping; after all, he has his own issues, but his heroic side wins out, one thing leads to another, and he discovers an enormous plot to sell tens of millions of dollars' worth of prime Iowa farmland.  He starts snooping into the situation and then people try to discourage him.  Attempts are made on his life, but O'She is a tough guy with nothing to lose as he struggles with the loss of his family, drinking, women, and his guilt for precipitating so much violence in the little town where he now lives.  Ron Rash (Serena, The World Made Straight, Above the Waterfall, The Cove) says "Signs of Struggle is both a gripping murder mystery and a compelling study of one man's recovery from tragedy.  John Carenen is a gifted writer and his novel is an impressive debut."

My second recommendation is the sequel to Signs of Struggle and is entitled A Far Gone Night.  Suffering from insomnia, O'Shea goes for a late-night stroll and finds himself pausing on a bridge over the river that runs through the peaceful Iowa town of Rockbluff.  When he glances downstream, he sees the body of a dead girl. Teaming up with his friends Lunatic Mooning and Clancy Dominquez, an old buddy from Navy SEAL days, the men set out to bring justice to the dead girl, a quest that takes them to the Chalaka Reservation in Minnesota, seedy businesses adjacent to the Chalaka Casino, and straight into the world of organized crime.  Quirky characters fro my first novel, a fast-paced story, and laugh-out-loud moments continue to enliven the complex world of Thomas O'Shea.  Wendy Tyson (Killer Image, Deadly Asset, Dying Brand, A Muddied Murder) says, "Carenen has done it again.  Beautifully written ... A Far Gone Night doesn't disappoint."

So, whether you are headed for the beach or just enjoying your front porch, I am confident these two novels (the third in the series is at the publisher) will bring pleasure to your summer reading.  You can find them at Amazon books, of course.  If  you I've in the South Carolina Upstate, where I live, you can pick up both novels at both Fiction Addiction and Joe's Place in Greenville and My Sister's Store in Travelers Rest.  Also in "TR" as we call it, the novels are available at As the Page Turns (Southern Writers section) and The Cafe at Williams Hardware.  Just ask if you can't find them.  They're there.

So, I hope you'll pick up these novels, enjoy them, and say "I'm Facebook friends with this author!"

Books, not Guns

RedRyder_0 In still another instance of shameless self-promotion, let me say that, since it's Christmas, and that's the time of the year that people purchase gifts for other people, would you consider picking up either of my novels, Signs of Struggle (debut) or A Far Gone Night (sequel) to give to your friends and family who love to read?

I've never been good at "asking," which is why I would be a total failure in retail or any other kind of sales. I remember trying to sell All Occasion and Christmas Cards when I was a skinny pre-teen. The idea was to sell enough boxes of cards to exchange the receipts for a Daisy BB Gun. My approach was pitiful as I went door-to-door in my old, run-down neighborhood. With great trepidation I would ease up to front doors and knock timidly, hoping no one would answer so I could sprint away into the shadows. If someone did come to the door, I would ask, "You wouldn't want to buy any Christmas or All Occasion greeting cards, would you?"

Turns out I was clairvoyant because, as a matter of fact, they didn't. Somehow I just knew. I gave up early and often, easily discouraged by rejection. Thinking back, those turndowns were pretty good preparation for life as a writer, at least until my sails caught a little breeze with Signs of Struggle, and then a nice gust with A Far Gone Night.

But I went back, day after day for most of the summer until I had sold 1,549 boxes of cards which, in turn, became a gleaming Daisy BB Gun. Remarkably, the gun did not show up the day after I sent in my money. It took days, long summer days, with me, a grisly little urchin looking every day for the mailman to deliver the long box with my prize. Finally, it showed up, and off I ran to quell uprisings of Indians and nefarious activities of outlaws.

And I DID NOT shoot out my eye.

So that's why I'm reluctant to ask people to buy my novels, even though those who have seemed to like them. And that's why I hired Rowe Copeland, book concierge extraordinaire, to do that for me. Except this time.

Anyway, if you're interested in this gift idea, just follow the simple instructions that tag along at the end of this blog. I think you'll be pleased. See, I'm asking you . . .

(Rowe here)

Just call Jill at Fiction Addiction (864) 675-0540 by December 17th to order your book. Let her know which book you'd like and how you would like it inscribed and John (Dad) will come in and write whatever you're heart desires, assuming it fits in the blank space. Jill guarantees in-time for Christmas shipping.

My Writing Process

This week, I'm participating in a blog tour for writers.  Each writer answers four questions about their writing and tags a few more authors to do the same next week.  I'd like to thank Barbara V. Evers of  http://aneclecticmuse.blogspot.com who tagged me for this week.  Barbara writes epic fantasy and I can't wait get my hands on a copy of The Watchers of Moniah.

Now, on to the questions!

What am I working on?  
Right now I'm working on the third book in the Thomas O'Shea series. Book one, Signs of Struggle, was a success, and book two, A Far Gone Night is coming out on September 9th. I'm eight chapters into book three and looking forward to completing a first draft by the summer's end. I'm also trying to be faithful to my blog, "CurlyLarryandMe."
How does my book differ from others of its genre? 
Good question, because my books don't really fit any specific genre. They're just stories with the same protagonist and supporting cast of characters with weird names (Lunatic Mooning, Bunza Steele, Harmon Payne) in an obscure setting - a small town in northeastern Iowa. My books are different in that the protagonist is not a P.I., a retired cop, or any other standard protagonist. He's just a middle-aged guy who's lost his wife and two daughters in an automobile accident a couple years back and is trying to work out his approach to God, alcohol, violence, and relationships with the opposite sex while maintaining a kind of "tough guy" code.
Why do I write what I do? 
It all started with the Stephen King approach of, "What if?" I then thought about what would be the worst thing that could happen to me, and that would be losing my family in an automobile accident. What would I do? So I took that idea and applied it to Thomas O'Shea and came up with Signs of Struggle. To me, the story is everything, and writing from a first person point of view makes the story more intimate.
How does my writing process work? 
Of course, I'm always writing in my head and making notes here and there, but I'm pretty disciplined, writing when I can during the school year (I'm an English prof) and, when summer comes, sitting down from 8-12 and working. It's fun, especially in the summer because I know I'll have the time to really dig in and let 'er fly. I also have more time to do research, which I enjoy. I try to write a first draft in the summer (keeping in mind Hemingway's observation that all first drafts are "vomit") and then polish and shape after that during the year. Also, we host at our cottage, twice a month, an eclectic group of writers in a group we call "The Write Minds" which is useful for critique, suggestions, and insights. They're a little crazy, but talented and astute. They find my blind spots. That's about it on process.
Make sure to follow the tour next week (June 30) with the following authors:
Warren Moore
Image Dr. Moore received his B.A. in English from Excelsior College, his M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky, and his Ph.D. in British, American and World Literature from Ball State University. His Ph.D. work focused on representations of evil in literature, with particular attention to medieval literature, and a dissertation on the Seven Deadly Sins in pre-Shakespearean English drama. He was named Newberry’s Professor of the Year in 2006 by the College’s Student Government Association, and was named a South Carolina Governor’s Distinguished Professor in 2008.

Prior to joining the faculty at Newberry College in 2003, Dr. Moore worked in jobs ranging from magazine editor and freelance journalist to stand-up comic. He is a regular contributor to the New Chaucer Society’s annual bibliography, and to The American Culture, an online magazine. Moore's first novel, Broken Glass Waltzes, was published by Snubnose Press in 2013.

Blog: http://profmondo.wordpress.com
E-mail: prof.mondo.blog@gmail.com
Twitter: @profmondo

Dave Newell



Dave Newell was born and raised in the Midlands of South Carolina. After graduating in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism, he moved to Greenville, South Carolina where he currently lives with his family.

Red Lory his first novel, was published in 2013 and the film version is currently in production.

Keeping Tabs on Thomas

It's a good feeling to finish something that took nearly six months, and to be pleased with it. I'm talking about completing the sequel to Signs of Struggle, my debut novel in the general fiction field. I had no intention of writing a sequel, seeing SOS as a stand-alone story about a man in mid-life struggling with his demons and partly succeeding. Then my publisher said her mother wanted more about Thomas O'Shea, my protagonist. The publisher echoed her mom. And then several people who read SOS said they wanted to know more about Thomas. So I thought, okay, I can do that. And now I have. The sequel, A Far Gone Night, continues the story of Thomas O'Shea and his stumbling pursuit of the lovely and prickly Olivia Olson. All the usual wackos show up again, led by Lunatic Mooning, the Ojibwa Indian who runs The Grain o' Truth Bar & Grill in sleepy Rockbluff, Iowa. And there's also Sheriff Harmon Payne, Arvid Pendergast (who keeps playing dead to boost his business), and the rather straightforward barkeep/rassler/future surgeon - Bunza Steele. New characters include Clancy Dominguez, ex-SEAL friend of Thomas, and Boots Bednarik, bookstore owner. And of course there is the alluring and persistent writer, Suzanne Highsmith.

Throw these characters together and toss in a nude, dead body of an Indian girl floating in the Whitetail River, and things get interesting and interestinger. I'll keep you posted. Next stop: My book concierge, the gifted and talented Rowe Copeland, and then off to the publisher. No idea when the book will be ready to pick up, but I'll let you know.

Now, while sitting in a faculty meeting earlier this week, I found myself sketching notes for book number three in the life of Thomas O'Shea. And thank you all who purchased SOS and have even recommended it to your book clubs. What fun! I love writing!

The ladies, they love me (or, more accurately, Thomas)

Signs of Struggle In the last few days I've had two very interesting people provide observations on my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. They are both female, astute, interesting, and opinionated. They are also well-read. One is twelve years old and the other is ninety. The 12-years-old girl is the precocious daughter of one of my colleagues at the college, and has become a big fan of SOS. She gobbled the book up and declared it good and much better than anything written for people her age. She said, "It's got lots of action and moves fast and I liked the colorful characters. Much better than YA novels about teen angst." You gotta love it.

The other reader is my wife's aunt who lives in North Carolina and is a voracious reader herself. Her daughter (my wife's cousin) came to a book signing and bought two copies - one for herself and one for her mature mother. The seasoned citizen is a strong Southern Baptist, god-fearing, and wonderful woman who is an example of virtue and humility for all in the family to emulate. We went to visit her recently and she had not only read the book, but offered several observations, including one that I had been too hard on the pastor (a corrupt individual on several fronts). I reminded her that he was not a Southern Baptist, which eased things a bit. She went on to say she enjoyed the book and was curious about how things were going to work out between Thomas O'Shea, the protagonist, and Liv Olson, his romantic interest. I told her to please stay tuned, that the sequel, A Far Gone Night, might be available by Christmas.

Although some have characterized SOS as "a man's book," others have characterized it as "mainstream fiction," and still others call it a "detective series," it is important to note that it definitely appeals to a very comprehensive spectrum of readers, both sexes, and a multitude of ages.

If you haven't picked up a copy, consider doing so. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

More than just the page numbers

I was in the crowd when my friend, Will Shakespeare said, 'Things done well and with care, exempt themselves from fear.' We were friends back then, poaching deer after school; that is, when he wasn't sneaking off to Anne Hathaway's cottage to say hello to that early cougar. Anyway, what he said remained with me over the centuries as I began writing the sequel to my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. I hadn't planned on a sequel, but a few people for whom I have great respect, and my publisher and her mother, wanted more of the adventures of Thomas O'Shea, my protagonist. And, by the way, why didn't he hook up permanently with that delightful and spunky Olivia Olson? I read that Steve Wright once said, "I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done." I have mine, too, and not only do I have the numbers done, but I have words on all of them. Three hundred plus pages, and I wrote the last one on Monday. Now I am going to let it sit until after my high school reunion in early September. After that, I'll go straight through and make it better, turn it over to my book concierge who will make it even better. Then, she will send it on to my publisher who will make it even better. Hoping to have it out by late November/early December. But it's a long process and I'll just have to wait and see and start writing something else. So stay tuned for more info on A Far Gone Night.

Anyway, good to have it finished. Some writers suffer from a condition very much alike to post-partum depression when they finish a book. I do not, but I was briefly borderline-morose. However, the Red Sox season buoyed my spirits. Not to mention the care and comfort provided by my long-suffering and supportive bride, Lisa. So, thank you for reading this blog, and know that I'll keep you posted on publication dates. In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, go to Amazon or Neverland Publishing and pick up a copy of Signs of Struggle. You won't be disappointed.

A most sincere thank you

I just want to take a moment and thank each of you who purchased any version whatsoever of my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. I just received my first-ever royalty check from a publisher and I am humbled and happy. I truly set zero expectations for
sales. Well, y'all left zero sales way back in the dust and I'm very, very pleased. You have no idea how blessed I am to have you as readers.

Next, if you haven't already, would you kindly take a moment and go to Amazon and write a short(or long) review of Signs of Struggle? That is helpful to boost readership. Don't ask me how, but that's what the professionals tell me.

If you liked it, consider recommending it to a friend. Or two. Or three. That helps, too.

Finally, I'm happy to let you know that the sequel, A Far Gone Night, is now into its 11th chapter and I'm beginning to understand how it might turn out. It's the second in what is going to be a series called "Thomas O'Shea Mysteries." So, yes, there'll be more of Thomas, but also Lunatic Mooning, Bunza Steele, and Olivia Olson. I'll keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, thank you. You are the best.

Wonder as I wander

Sunday, February 3rd, was teh 54th anniversary of the deaths of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson of "Chantilly Lace" fame), and Richie Valens ("Donna," "La Bamba," etc.).  They were killed in a plane crash in Iowa, where I happened to be living at the time.  A big story.  Theyhad finished a performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake and were headed for the next stop when Buddy chartered a four-seater plane, going on ahead while the rest of his group would take a bus.  The plane crashed shortly after takeoff into a blizzard.  The pilot was not trained in instrument flying, and the crash killed everyone.  Buddy Holly was 22 years old.

Someone had posted the anniversary on Facebook, and I commented that Holly had $193 on him when he died.  Several people have wondered, with some trepidation, how I knew that.

It's because I'm a writer.

I am doing research on my sequel to Signs of Struggle, a Thomas O'Shea Mystery.  The second in the series is called A Far Gone Night.  Thomas, while taking a lonely walk in the middle of the night, discovers a woman's body in the river that runs through the Iowa village where he lives nearby.  The death is ruled a suicide and ... , but, well, nevermind.  The point is, I had to know a little bit about coronoer's reports, death certificates, who has access to such information and so forth.  And, in the process, I bumped up against a copy of Buddy Holly's coroner's report.  Not pleasant reading (his injuries were catastrophic) but useful.  It cataloged his effects, including money on the body.

As a writer, I engage in considerable research to make sure I don't write something stupid, or inaccurate.  Actually, I enjoy the research, and I learn things.  Imagine!

One final fascinating bit that came from my research.  Buddy Holly and a person in his band kidded each other about which one of them would take the last seat on the plane, and Holly won out.  He joked, "I hope your ol' bus freezes up."  The bandmate kidded back, saying, "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes."  The person who took the bus was Waylon Jennings.  He said his last words to Buddy Holly haunted him for decades.

On my way to where I need to be

John Irving once wrote that he spent half his life revising. I can relate, with multiple revisions made on my first novel, Signs of Struggle, before I turned it loose. SOS is the first of a series of mystery novels featuring Thomas O'Shea. Stephen King said the scariest part about writing is just before you write the first word. And Elmore Leonard said that if it sounded like writing, he'd revise. Think about that one for a while and it actually does make sense.

I am well into the sequel to SOS, working title, A Far Gone Night. But this is after two false starts where I wrote two chapters and twice completely deleted both chapters. They were boring ME! Yikes! 

But now I'm on my way to where I need to be, so you Thomas O'Shea fans who want to know more about him and who want to again enjoy Lunatic Mooning, Bunza Steele, and Liv Olson, please be patient. I will keep you posted.

Living the Dream

I have heard others who are enjoying their lives say they are "living a dream." The kid who works hard and makes it to the big leagues, the starving artist who begins to make a living with her art, the little boy who wanted to be a soldier and is now a Navy SEAL.

You can add me to that list, and part of my own "living a dream" took place last Saturday at the best bookstore in the Upstate, Fiction Addiction, owned and operated by Jill Hendrix. My book concierge, Rowe Copeland, with significant help from Jill, was largely responsible for refreshments, a cake with the book cover on it, and getting people to stop by and, in several cases, buy autographed copies of my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. (And trust me, signing copies of my novel is a big part of living a dream, folks.)

So, a big thank you to Rowe and Jill; my long-suffering wife, Lisa, who added glamour and dash to the gathering, and each of you who stopped by. Now, the show moves to Barnhills in Winston-Salem this coming Saturday, December 22nd, from 2-4 PM when I will be reading from SOS and then signing books after the reading. Living a dream continues. Hope to see those of you in the area at Barnhills.

Now, back to work on the sequel to SOS, A Far Gone Night.

Signs of Struggle Sequel....

Some writer once said that there is real fear when beginning to write something new. There is that blank page, or screen, and nothing to build on. Just the author and the idea and all that can be, or not. I admit, it is a little scary, but I am a writer, and I understand. And I've been pleased to have several people (including my publisher) who read Signs of Struggle tell me that they wanted a sequel; that the characters were fun, and more would be just fine with them. So here I go.

The novel's working title is A Far Gone Night and it will pick up where SOS ended, with Thomas finally able to look forward to the next stage in his life. I'm not for sure what's going to happen, what the big conflicts will be, but that's part of the fun of writing. Interesting things can emerge, and that's a kind of magic. But the magic doesn't occur until the writing begins.

I'll keep you posted, dear readers. Let's see now, how should I begin? Maybe,"'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . " Better not. How 'bout, "In the beginning . . . " Nope. Has a nice ring to it, but it's been done by a better writer than I.

Guess I'll go with: "Covington was the name of the Georgia State Trooper who told me my family was dead." Stay tuned.