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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Stars



My first teaching and coaching stint occurred in Wyoming. Goshen Hole High School, at that time, was the second smallest school in the state. 72 kids in the high school, 110 kids in grades seven through twelve. I taught social studies and was the head coach of the boys’ basketball team. Great kids, great experience. Happy I did it. Wondering sometimes how I did it.

The town I lived in was Yoder, population 101. Yes, seriously. A gas station, a post office, and a water tower. A party line I shared with three other homes. Miles and miles of, well, nothing. There was an old song by the Who, the lyrics were, “I can see for miles and miles . . .” They didn’t lie.

Growing up in the city for most of my life, I hadn’t noticed how bright stars were until I moved to Wyoming. City lights dimmed them. They weren’t as bright. In Wyoming, especially where I lived, there wasn’t a “city” and there certainly were no lights to compete with the utter blackness of the night sky.

Stars, like a sprinkling of diamonds on a black velvet drape, shown bright and clear. The sheer expanse was breathtaking. Like in a child’s fairy tale, they twinkled, sparkled, and honestly, even now twenty-four years after calling Wyoming home for three years, I can still picture it.

Darkness. Blackness. Stars.

Another thought . . .

We just had three or four days of rain. Gray. Clouds. Dark. Dreary. Think of your own synonym, your own picture. I, probably like most everyone else, felt the weight of it. Tired. Rather depressing.

This morning, nothing but bright blue sky. The sun seemed to be brighter than normal.

Happens all the time, doesn’t it?

First of all, stars against the expanse of darkness. The sun after the grayness, the darkness of rain.

Each of us experience the dark times of life. We travel through periods where darkness seems overwhelming. We feel the weight of it. Tiredness, sometimes depression sets in. We feel lonely, if not alone.

Yet, even in darkness, stars shine brightly. They seem cleaner, and somehow, clearer. Even after the darkness of a cloudy day, the sun comes out brighter than ever. Clearer than ever.

And the thing about the sun and stars . . . they are always present. They are always there. They never go away. And, they aren’t going anywhere. There are times we can’t see them clearly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

At times, even in our darkest, bleakest days or nights, there are those we can lean on, those we can depend on, those we can count on. We might not see them readily. We might not feel their presence. Yet, like the sun and stars, they are there. They can be our own stars, our own sun.

I’m wondering . . . actually hoping and praying . . . that there can be more of us willing to be the star or sun in someone’s life. I’m wondering if, when noticing someone traveling through a dark night, a rainy day of life or of soul, someone . . . you or me, perhaps . . . can be that someone, that sun, that star. Willing to give it a try? I hope so. I pray so. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Live, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
My new book, Betrayed, will debut Nov. 12, 2020! It is a contemporary psychological thriller using some of the same characters from my previous work. It takes place on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeast Arizona.

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


Spiral Into Darkness:
Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm

Caught in a Web:
A PenCraft Literary Award Winner!
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis
                            
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis
                            
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.
http://tinyurl.com/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis                                 

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Photo courtesy of Sam Goodgame and Unsplash

Friday, February 7, 2020

Strength of Fear



Many of you know I write and that I have six books published. Last night I completed the edits on my seventh and shipped it off to the publisher. For any of us who write, or for that matter, for any of us who do anything in “public” there are several stages we go through.

The first is a feeling of pride. I accomplished something that many have not done. I feel good about the project. It’s interesting, entertaining, and this one will surely tug at heartstrings. There will be a lack of comfort- both while reading and most certainly at the end.

The second stage is tiredness. While I think I’ve edited it completely and thoroughly, my publisher will send it to me with editorial suggestions. Some of them are no brainers that I am embarrassed at not noticing or finding on my own. I often mutter to myself, “How stupid! How did I miss that?” But most are suggestions and I am able to pick and choose which ones to follow. The tiredness comes in the fact that I’ve already begun my next and I’d rather keep working on something new rather than something that is “done.”

The third stage is right before release. Excitement. Anticipation. All of that. There is the promotional aspect that, while I am not expert by any means, I’m getting better at. It is time consuming and again, it takes me away from my new project. So, while I feel excited, I’m also a bit annoyed.

The last stage for me is fear. What I write is not necessarily an easy read. It has controversy in it. Bad things happen to good people. There are personal decisions and dilemmas that my characters are faced with- some of them being tough to deal with. As I mentioned, this book will tug at heartstrings and might cause a tear or two. The ending is not neat and tidy. Sort of like life, I guess.

But the fear for me is what are people going to think of it? Are people going to like it? Will the reviews rip me to shreds that might cause readers to shy away from reading my book or will there be positive ones that move the reader to do so? What will my family think? What will my friends think?

I’ve lost sleep pre-launch. I’m a wreck as I watch the book rating on Amazon. Fear is, well, somewhat debilitating.

What’s that old adage about fear and anxiety? What does a rocking chair and worry have in common? Something to do but you don’t go anywhere. Something like that.

I think we’ve all been faced with fear from time to time. Will our kids make the right decision? When they drive at night- especially a long distance, will they arrive without incident? Some of us, probably most of us, are evaluated at some level or another. How will that turn out? Bills to pay and not enough money. Illness and injury to a loved one, to yourself.

Fear hurts the mind and it hurts the body. If you think it doesn’t, Google effects of fear on the body and see the results. And some of us, me included, have lived with fear for days, weeks, months. The unknown is scary, especially for those of us who like a modicum of control.

I know that many of you reading this live daily, minute by minute, hour by hour with some anxiety, if not fear. Many of you do it bravely by plastering on a smile. You live this each day trying to not let anyone know. Sometimes it causes a tear. Sometimes a harsh word to someone undeserving. Fear, after all, cannot be hidden too long. It seeps and oozes out at uncomfortable and unplanned moments. It catches us off guard- others, too.

Just remember the rocking chair adage. It’s something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Neither does fear and neither does anxiety. Using my new book as an example, people will read it or they won’t. People will buy it or they won’t. People will like it or they won’t. I have to take solace in the fact that I did the very best I could from the heart. I put myself out there and we will see what happens. I can only control what I can control. Mostly, I can’t control what I can’t control. Kind of like you. Kind of like a lot of us. Fear wastes us away and takes away the joy we can experience in the moment. We need the joy. We don’t need the fear. I think that is true for all of us. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

Photo Courtesy of Tom Pumford and Unsplash

Friday, January 31, 2020

End of the Week







Friday is one of my favorite days of the week. I find that my mood is lighter, I’m happier, and I tend to joke around more. The “push” from the beginning of the week is almost over, if not over. There is, hopefully, a sense of accomplishment. Some goal, some task was met and achieved. Perhaps, there is simply a sense of relief. Most certainly Friday brings us time to pause, time to catch one’s breath.

Friday. Just saying it or reading it makes you feel happier.

Several thoughts with that . . .

The first is that, if we are reflective, we can look back at what we’ve done, what we’ve said, how we acted, and consider if we did the best we could when we could with whom we could. Or, did we hold back and did we leave a bit on the table, so to speak. Because the end of the week allows us to consider our job, our actions, our intents . . . our heart. Then we can use the weekend to recharge, relax, refresh so that when Monday comes around, we can begin anew. We can get it right, or at least attempt to.

The second thought about Friday is that there are some among us who don’t have much to look forward to after today ends. There might be a lack of food, a lack of comfort, a lack of someone to share something . . . anything . . . with. We don’t know what others might be going home to. A lack of support, a lack of love, a lack of . . .

Same day, two different views, two different feelings.

I know there is only so much I can control. I have my world and there are those who enter it from time to time, some for a long time, some for a quick visit. In that time whether long or short, I can do my best to bring a smile, to create joy, to lift or help carry a load. I can bring some level of understanding, and if not understanding, I can at least let whoever know I heard, that I can listened. Sometimes, that’s all that might be needed. Sometimes, that’s all I can do. Sometimes, that’s all any of us can do.

But I think it is important to reflect on this Friday, to reflect on any Friday.

What did I do to make the world, this place we share, a little more joyful, a little lighter, a little more peaceful?

Or . . .

Did I gossip, tear down, use my sarcastic wit to cast shadows and hurt? Did I share a story – true or not – and not care whether or not I hurt someone? Did I pause in my busy day to care about someone, to listen to someone, or did I just go about my day, my week, without thinking who might have needed me for a moment? Was I so into my own world I forgot that others are pulled along with me?

It doesn’t take much to do one or the other. Seconds, minutes. To smile or frown. To laugh or add to someone’s sorrow. To be in the present. To be there for someone other than just me and my own. It doesn’t take much. And if we did slip up along the way this week, don’t worry too much about it. Monday is just around the corner and we get to begin again. We get to start over. And before you know it, it will be Friday once again. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
My new book, Betrayed, will debut Nov. 12, 2020! It is a contemporary psychological thriller using some of the same characters from my previous work. It takes place on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeast Arizona.

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


Spiral Into Darkness:
Spiral Into Darkness was named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm

Caught in a Web:
A PenCraft Literary Award Winner!
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis
                             
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis
                             
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.
http://tinyurl.com/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis                                

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Photo courtesy of Frederick Tubiermont and Unsplash