My Sister's Store

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!"

Local artist? Why yes, I am.

Travelers Rest, South Carolina, is a beautiful little village just north of Greenville. There is a thriving arts community, several wonderful restaurants, and My Sister's Store. My Sister's Store is a bookstore where authors sometimes have book signings. I had never done a book signing because I never had a book to sign. I didn't know where to begin. So, with a copy of my novel, Signs of Struggle, in hand, I pumped up my courage and approached Pam, one of the sisters, and asked if they would be willing to host a book signing for me.

I expected rejection. What I got was, "Yes, we'd love to host a book signing! We just love local authors!"

The signing was on Saturday, October 27th during an "Arts on the Trail" festival, with artisans, chefs, and half-naked runners all over the place. Lisa and I showed up, set up our table, and waited to see if anyone wanted to buy a book.

And you know what? I sold a bunch of books, including one to my niece and her husband from Dahlonega, Georgia, 3 1/2 hours' drive away, surprising us with a "drop-in" visit. Thanks, Kelly and Dan, you made my day. And you know what else? Pam asked me to sign and leave more books to be prominently displayed in the store.

Thankful? Yes. Grateful? Yes. Humbled? Of course. So it was a great day, and I had my first book signing done. Now, my Book Concierge, Rowe Carenen Copeland, has slated me for readings/signings in Greenville;  Athens, Georgia; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

I could get used to this.

Friday Felicitations and Saturday Signings

One of the many blessings that have come to me as a professional writer is the genuine friends I have made. One in particular, a fellow novelist and superb critiquer (is that a word?), is Melinda Walker. Last Friday night in her beautiful home she hosted a launch party to celebrate the publication last week of my novel, Signs of Struggle. The centerpiece on a table resplendent with home-baked goods, cheese, bundt cake (baked by my book concierge, Rowe Copeland), and other delectables was a replication of the book's cover, which consists of a bottle of Three Philosophers Belgian ale, a wooden cross, and a handgun with bullets scattered about. I was delighted and surprised to see that, as were all the other guests who showed up. A stroke of genius, but no surprise (the handgun did not have a clip in it).

Several fellow writers from my two critique groups came by, as well as other friends, and the evening turned out to be a delight, thanks to Melinda's efforts. (For a complete report, please check with the Greenville Police Department.) I look forward to hosting a launch party when her novel, Hidden Mountain, is inevitably published.

The next day I was able to secure my first book signing, which will be this coming Saturday, October 27th in Travelers Rest, a picturesque village just north of Greenville. My Sister's Store emphasizes the arts and is a regional favorite for locals and tourists. I will be at My Sister's Store from 9-4 where copies of Signs of Struggle may be purchased and then signed by me (in that order). The sisters, Pam and Phyllis, couldn't be more pleasant and easy to work with.

Hope to see you Saturday!