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What's coming next for this writer...

By Kevin Patrick Kenealy

As a kid growing up, I remember going to the store and reaching for the next Goosebumps book. I ran my hand over the amazing cover design and the bumps on the title and thought about how I couldn't wait to get home and run my fingers through the pages. 

This is me standing outside Centuries & Sleuths bookstore where my book was displayed in their window.

By third grade, I was writing my own imitation Goosebumps horror stories with titles like "The Day the Halloween Decorations Came to Life" and "Tenth Planet" and distributing them around the classroom. Kids couldn't wait to get their paws on them and see what I would come up with next. "Tenth Planet" actually won me a Young Author's award, sending me down to Illinois State University for a writers' conference. I got a free signed book there, and the author gave a talk. It was pretty cool for an aspiring fifth-grader writer.

As I got older, I would love perusing any book aisle in Anystore, USA. I'd think of how lucky these select few authors were being able to regularly display their works to the world. I mean, every one of Stephen King's books was a bestseller. Every one! I imagined one of my books in these stores. I told myself that this would happen one day. I didn't know how, but it would. 

And then, in the summer of 2022, it did. I worked tirelessly on Neighborhood Watch, a mystery thriller story about a town gone wrong. It's a perfect Chicago suburb that's hiding a dirty little secret. The writing and editing process took me nearly three years. Nearly three years of waking up at four a.m. before teaching, taking care of my kids, going to graduate school, and then doing it all over again. I think back to that and wonder how I did it. But at the end of it all, it paid off. Review houses applauded the final product. Kirkus Reviews, perhaps the most well-respected and honest critique in the self-publishing industry, rated it four stars and wrote, "Superb characters headline this chilling, slow-burn crime tale." Readers Favorite followed it up with a five-star rating and commented "Thoroughly enjoyable with just the right amount of suspense." 

Currently, the book has 187 reviews on Amazon with a 4.5-star average rating. The critical reviews, matched with sending emails to bookstores and just the right amount of luck, finally landed me into a bookstore, Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park, which sadly closed down this past year. I was grinning ear to ear to go into a store and see my book not only there, but displayed in the window! But that wasn't all. Within a few months, my book appeared in Anderson's in Downers Grove, Barbara's in Orland Square Mall, and The Book Dragon in the United Kingdom. I went International! 

2022 was looking good. But sales plummeted since that year. I couldn't get into any more stores, and things looked tough. In the meantime, I worked even harder on a sequel, Neighborhood Watched. I must say, I think it's even better than the first one. So far, three reviewers from Readers Favorite have given it five stars. And it's currently being reviewed by Reedsy and Kirkus. 

I'm never satisfied. So, while what I achieved a couple of years ago was great, I want to be even better. Only time will tell.  If you are interested in buying Neighborhood Watch, it is available on Amazon or in one of the bookstores listed above. he he boothe stores listed above.

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