"I hate writing, I love having written."
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!"
Did the excitement of having my debut novel published on Monday go away? Nope. It's still there. And my Book Concierge is scheduling readings/signings here in the southeast, with more to come in the spring when I'm free of teaching duties and the book has had more exposure. Now, please remember if you are so inclined to purchase Signs of Struggle, consider supporting the small, indy book publisher in its competition with the big guys. Neverland Publishing is the place to go, although SOS is also available through Amazon and, very soon, Kindle.
I've been humbled many times in my life. Having bad eyes and trying to hit a curve ball was pretty humbling. Lots of cases like that, but being humbled by having something very good happen to me is much, much better. Everything about this novel is humbling; that Neverland Publishing took a chance with me and proved to be fine people; that several people I respect said nice things about the story (Ron Rash, anyone?), and that others are as happy for me as I am for myself.
I know what I deserve, and this is a lot better than that. Blessings, everyone.