John Carenen is a writer who excels at both serious and lighthearted work. His self-deprecating humor was established in his by-line writings in the Morganton (North Carolina) News-Herald and the Clinton (South Carolina) Chronicle, with one essay reproduced in Reader's Digest. Shagger is another RD credit. Son-up, Son-down, his novelized treatment of a successful group home approach, the Teaching-Family Model, was published by the National Institute of Mental Health. He's been a featured speaker at a number of Teaching-Family Model national conferences and, more recently, a panelist at Killer Nashville Conferences, where he won a Claymore Award in 2019.
His Thomas O'Shea trilogy (Signs of Struggle, A Far Gone Night, and The Face on the Other Side) received praise from famous authors. His work has been complimented by Ron Rash, Wendy Tyson, and William Ken Kreuger, among others.