Rarely have I experienced a more enjoyable evening in association with the arts than the one I attended with my wife, Lisa, last night.
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!"
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.
There's an enormous, hugely-exciting, and breathtaking social EVENT taking place this Saturday afternoon in Greenville, South Carolina, from 4-6 PM at Fiction Addiction, the best bookstore east of the Mississippi River. And, in a moment of shameful self-promotion, I must admit that it's a Launch Party for my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. Copies of the book will be available for signing, and not only that, but there will be free refreshments, ranging from cake to punch to veggie trays to hot cider. Conversation is free, of course.
So come on by Fiction Addiction (which has launched other authors' novels, including Moby Dick, Last of the Mohicans, True Grit, and The Old Man and the Sea) at 1175 Woods Crossing Road, Suite 5, Greenville, South Carolina 29607. Your GPS will get you there unless, like ours, it occasionally breaks into Mandarin Chinese. Or you can Google "Fiction Addiction" and get directions from their website.
In any case, I would be delighted to see you and sign your copy of Signs of Struggle. Blessings!