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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Perseverance


I’ve been in and around athletics for most of my life. I’ve either played it, coached it, or watched it. Kim and I began watching soccer when Wil was seven, and now that Emily played her last season and game last year, we have no clue what to do with our fall weekends. We think we might have to adopt a kid to go watch him or her play.

I’ve been fortunate to coach basketball at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels. Pretty remarkable, since I was only a marginal player myself, and ended up getting cut as a junior. The coach told me that there weren’t two seasons of football – one with pads and one without. I don’t think that was a compliment to my athleticism.

The thing is, I could see the game. I could spot an athlete, and more importantly, a basketball player.

I had the good fortune to have excellent players that made me look great. Rob, Gene, Mike (I coached three or so in high school), Steve, Tony, Al, Dave, Kurt, and so many others. Two ended up being “Mr. Basketball” for the state of Wyoming when they were seniors. Several went on to play at the collegiate level.

After winning a state championship in Wyoming, I was recruited to coach guards at the collegiate level. That changed when the head coach walked into the office, threw a credit card and a map of Chicago on my desk and said, “I need you to find me some players.”

I looked for more than a kid who could shoot. I like quickness, vision, “basketball smarts” as they say. But I also used to sit in the student section and would ask the kids around me about this player or that player. The kids were brutally honest and more than once did I turn away from a kid.

There are probably other qualities coaches and prognosticators can point to, but in my mind, one thing that sets one athlete apart from another is perseverance. The willingness to fall, pick yourself up, and risk falling again. To me, it’s this quality that sets one athlete apart from the others.

To reach the “star” high school level and most assuredly to reach the collegiate level, the athlete needs more than athleticism. There are quite a few gifted and talented athletes I passed on, both at the high school level and at the collegiate level. They might not have been “good people” or they sometimes took plays off during a game. They didn’t care enough about themselves at night or the weekend to remove themselves from alcohol or other substances.

But mostly, it was a lack of perseverance. They gave up too often and too early, particularly when it got tough.

My wife and I got back from a vacation we took with our daughter, their boyfriends, and dear family friends we haven’t had the opportunity to spend much time with. One of their boys, Jimmy, is getting ready to head to Temple on an academic scholarship. But he also runs cross country and track. Now, it was a vacation. One week at the beach. Great weather, although beastly hot. Who wouldn’t take a bit of time off from working out?

Not Jimmy.

Fourteen miles one day. Eleven another. A forty-five-minute workout after running a short six miles. Worked on his craft everyday during that vacation. Probably not the fastest runner in the world, though he is pretty darn fast. Might not make the Olympics. Will have to work at Temple. But he did work and he will work.

When I mentioned to his father that I was impressed and proud of Jimmy for how he worked each day, his father simply said, “It’s been that way for four years. Longer than four years.”

And, Jimmy is a nice young man. Bright. Quiet. Will talk if you speak to him, but is content to listen rather than not.

Athleticism goes a long way. So does character. Often, character will tip the scales in favor of this athlete or another. But as important as athleticism and character are- and in my mind, they are important, I will look at perseverance. In athletics. In school. In a marriage. In life. Perseverance sets one apart from all the others. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family. No one willing to talk, and three brothers are in danger.
My new book, Betrayed, is available for preorder at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/betrayed Use promo code: PREORDER2020 for a 15% discount.

Betrayed will debut Nov. 12, 2020! It is a contemporary psychological thriller using characters from my previous work. It takes place on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeast Arizona.


Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, and no one is talking.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise, even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans, and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

Here are some early reviews from other authors:

“Adopted and bonding as a family, with histories of death, destruction and for some...abuse, these boys band together—ready to lay down their life for their new family—to find a missing friend before dangerous gunmen find them.

A whirlwind of adventure, relationships, protecting family, hair-raising situations, and cold betrayal.”
—Tina O’Hailey author of When Darkness Begins

“Once again, author Joseph Lewis has written a fast-paced psychological thriller mystery that immerses readers into a dark world few encounter.”
— Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long Mystery Series

“Betrayed is at once an emotional chapter in author Joseph Lewis’ continuing coming-of-age story and an intriguing thriller. Following both law enforcement and a group of teens searching for a missing boy on Native American land, Lewis’ latest also provides a unique view into Navajo culture. A layered story that explodes into a bullet-riddled climax.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay

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  

Picture Courtesy of asoggetti and Unsplash
Betrayed Cover Designed by David King of Black Rose Writing 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Lessons From a Kayak


Just returned from a week-long vacation at the beach. Not crowded, and we pretty much kept to ourselves. Spent more time in the pool at the house than we did at the beach. Our two daughters, Hannah and Emily, came with us, along with their significant others, Alex and Q (Quaevon, but everyone calls him Q). Family friends joined us from Wisconsin with their three kids. A great time! Relaxing, enjoyable, peaceful. Hated to leave.

One evening, Kim, Emily, Q and I went on a kayak trip. We had a guide, a free spirit kind of guy who didn’t seem to want to settle down just yet, who helped us get in and out of the small craft, as well as guide us on our journey. Scotty, our guide, gave us interesting facts about the area and the history, and was entertaining.

I am not particularly comfortable in water. Neither was Q, though he wasn’t saying anything. I didn’t either, but I’m sure Kim and Emily read my expressions and body language. I’m not an outstanding poker player, so it was easy for them. Thankfully, both have a swimming background and both are or have been lifeguards, so I felt pretty safe.

Still . . .

Getting in was a chore. The kayak rocked and rolled. I was instructed to sit on the dock, place my feet into the kayak and then my butt. Sounds easy, right? Hmmm, not so much for me. After a whole lot of hesitation and perhaps any number of reasons why kayaking might not be in my best interest, I managed with the guide’s help. It wasn’t pretty, and I dared not look anyone in the eye for quite a while.

Okay, so far, so good. I have to tell you I relaxed quite a bit when Scotty told us he doubted that anyone would capsize, but it we did, just stand up. The water was at most three feet. Okay, got that! Sounded good to me.

Scotty instructed us how to hold the paddles, how to go forward and back, and how to stop. Seemed easy enough. I managed to not run into anyone.

The trip was benign. Tame. It lasted for about an hour and a half from start to finish. After about the first half-hour, I relaxed. I wanted to shift my legs to get myself more comfortable and the boat would sway first one way and then the other, so I settled in for the duration, not willing to risk it. Cramped comes to mind.

We saw the only covered bridge in all of North Carolina. Several osprey. The evening was not overly warm compared to the furnace blast of heat throughout the day (actually throughout the entire week).

When our adventure ended, I had to get out of the kayak. Hmmm . . . I didn’t want to repeat the entry into the kayak. I didn’t. It was worse. Sort of a barrel-role onto the pier. Way ugly. Happy no one captured it on film. I sheepishly took off my life vest and deposited it into the tub to be cleaned for the next group, wiped off the sand and gunk from my shirt, swimsuit and backside, and then stood waiting for the rest of our party.

I learned a few things on that trip. Some lessons.

Fear of the unknown and the uncomfortable can be paralyzing. Don’t let it. Dive in and take chances.

Trust your guide. It is okay to not know everything. There are others better suited for leadership of some tasks and in some situations. There are others who know more than you about certain things. That’s okay, and it is normal. It doesn’t mean you are a dummy, even though you might want to label yourself as such. Don’t.

Balance, not only in a kayak, but also in life. Keep it. Don’t lean too far one way or the other. Steady your course, but take chances.

Don’t be afraid to go both forward or backward. Don’t be afraid to stop and take it all in, to pause and think. To relax and enjoy. You are equipped with your own mental paddle. Use it to your advantage.

Did I mention that fear of the unknown and uncomfortable can paralyze? Yup, I did, but I wanted to repeat it. Our minds our powerful. Our imaginations are powerful. The messages we tell ourselves can harm us and cause us to shrivel up and wither away. Don’t let fear prevent you from living life, from loving life. There is too much out there to love and enjoy. Go live it. Go paddle your own kayak through life. It’s worth it. Something to think about . . .


Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family. No one willing to talk, and three brothers are in danger.
My new book, Betrayed, is available for preorder at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/betrayed Use promo code: PREORDER2020 for a 15% discount.

Betrayed will debut Nov. 12, 2020! It is a contemporary psychological thriller using characters from my previous work. It takes place on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeast Arizona.

Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise, even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans, and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

Here are some early reviews from other authors:

“Adopted and bonding as a family, with histories of death, destruction and for some...abuse, these boys band together—ready to lay down their life for their new family—to find a missing friend before dangerous gunmen find them.

A whirlwind of adventure, relationships, protecting family, hair-raising situations, and cold betrayal.”
—Tina O’Hailey author of When Darkness Begins

“Once again, author Joseph Lewis has written a fast-paced psychological thriller mystery that immerses readers into a dark world few encounter.”
— Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long Mystery Series

“Betrayed is at once an emotional chapter in author Joseph Lewis’ continuing coming-of-age story and an intriguing thriller. Following both law enforcement and a group of teens searching for a missing boy on Native American land, Lewis’ latest also provides a unique view into Navajo culture. A layered story that explodes into a bullet-riddled climax.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay

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

Picture Courtesy of Scotty, our guide.
Betrayed Cover Designed by David King of Black Rose Writing

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Anniversaries


Yesterday, July 11th, Kim and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. Remarkable on many counts. Way back, I didn’t know if anyone would put up with me for one day, much less 28 years. But she did, and we did, and we still do. I believe we will.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. A breakfast with the family and with friends who had flown to Wisconsin from California. A large gathering that morning that took over three long tables. Lots of stories and lots of laughter at those tables. Getting ready for the ceremony. My brother, Jim, our best man, pretending to lose the ring, and then pretending it was stuck on his finger. Handing roses to all the important women in Kim’s and my life. The reception and dinner. Such an outstanding day. Smiling as I write this.
           
Funny thing about anniversaries.

We celebrate them all the time, don’t we? Over and over, seldom forgetting them, honoring them in the same ways, maybe different ways.

Birthdays. Christmas. Hanukah. New Year. 4th of July. Others, I’m sure.

To me, anniversaries mark a significant “something” from a time ago. And it is interesting that there are some anniversaries we don’t wish to repeat. Ever.

For instance . . .

In October, we celebrate my dad’s birthday, my sister Judy’s birthday, and my brother Jeff’s birthday. But in that same month, we honor my nephew who died in a freak traffic accident and my sister Judy’s husband who passed away. One month, both kinds of events. A tough month for everyone involved. Hate to see that month coming.

The month of July, Kim and I celebrate our anniversary on the 11th. On the 12th, we remember our son, Wil, who died on this day six years ago. One day joy, the very next sorrow. Each year. Every year.

Same for many of you. Probably for most of you.

Anniversaries hold so much promise. A hope for the future. A reminder of what was, and what shall be. Memories are a look back. Some are sad. Many are happy.

And even though our own experience is unique, we share that same experience on so many levels, in so many ways. You, the reader who is taking the time to read this, might not know me and might live in a different part of the country or even a different country all together. Yet, we share, on some level, the same experience.

That is the beauty and wonder of the human heart. Our own unique experience and feeling isn’t that unique after all, is it?

So, my thought for today . . . everyday . . . is to remember with fondness and kindness the joy you experienced on each of the anniversaries. Embrace those memories that are harder and more difficult to celebrate because we grow from them. We learn from them. Both the anniversary and the memory are a part of each of us. They shaped us into who we are. They molded us into who we’ve become. Even those that were most painful, we learned from, grew from, and we became from them. While, at various times in our lives, there might have been as much tragedy as there was joy and happiness, we’ve grown and learned and became from both. Embrace them both. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make a Difference!

To My Readers:
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family. No one willing to talk, and three brothers are in danger.
My new book, Betrayed, is available for preorder at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/betrayed  Use promo code: PREORDER2020 for a 15% discount.

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.

Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise, even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

Here are some early reviews from other authors:

“Adopted and bonding as a family, with histories of death, destruction and for some...abuse, these boys band together—ready to lay down their life for their new family—in order to find a missing friend before dangerous gunmen find them.

A whirlwind of adventure, relationships, protecting family, hair-raising situations, and cold betrayal.”
—Tina O’Hailey author of When Darkness Begins

“Once again, author Joseph Lewis has written a fast-paced psychological thriller mystery that immerses readers into a dark world few encounter.”
— Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long Mystery Series

“Betrayed is at once an emotional chapter in author Joseph Lewis’ continuing coming-of-age story and an intriguing thriller. Following both law enforcement and a group of teens searching for a missing boy on Native American land, Lewis’ latest also provides a unique view into Navajo culture. A layered story that explodes into a bullet-riddled climax.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay

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

Picture Courtesy of Eilis Garvey and Unsplash
Betrayed Cover Designed by David King of Black Rose Writing

Friday, July 3, 2020

Puzzles



Over the Christmas holidays, our family has a mini-tradition of putting together a puzzle. You know, one of those 1,000 piece things that is a picture of a landscape or face. Sometimes, we work on a puzzle when we have snow days.

It isn’t necessarily an organized affair. Someone, Kim or her mother, maybe Hannah or Emily will spread out the puzzle on a table. The cover of the box is propped up so as we place the pieces together, we have a guide, something to go by. It makes it easier.

I don’t usually take part for very long. I am content to sit, watch and listen as I read or watch TV, sometimes as I write. Every now and then, I will sit in with them and put a piece or two together.

I am usually admonished, counseled, guided, and chided to begin on the outer edges and work inward. Usually, it is Kim who corrects my feeble attempts. I might continue to work on it in my own way, or I might take her correction and follow her suggestion.

The whole process takes time. The workers get up and leave for a snack, a meal, to do something else. Yet, they . . . we . . . return if nothing more than to check on the progress. More than likely, the workers who took a break come back to work on it again. There is quiet conversation. Laughter. Some reminiscing. In our family, quite a bit of teasing. All of it fun and enjoyable.

Eventually, the puzzle is pieced together and the picture resembles the cover of the box we used as a guide. There is a feeling of satisfaction, of accomplishment. The puzzle will remain on the table for a day or so, then taken apart, placed back into the box, and the box put away for another day, another time.

A couple of things . . .

The puzzle eventually gets put together. Sometimes later rather than sooner. Kim’s way of working the outer edges works. My way, to just jump in and build as I see it works. Kim’s way is faster. My way is slower. But, they both work. The puzzle gets completed, finished.  

In my mind, putting the puzzle together is second to the conversation, the laughter, the reminiscing. That is the real benefit of the puzzle. Teamwork, without calling it that, I guess, but so much more than that. As we work on the puzzle, someone finds a piece that works with someone else’s piece. There is sharing, giving, and taking.

Lastly, the cover of the box. The guide. The picture on the cover exists for a reason. Someone took the time to take the take the picture and cut the pieces up to make an interesting puzzle for us to work on. Without the guide, the work would be that much harder, if not almost impossible.

So, what can we learn from the puzzle?

That there is more than one way to solve it, to put the puzzle together. Working from the outside in or working somewhere within, works. Perhaps more quickly or slowly, but both work just fine. That, while completing the puzzle by one’s self can be done, it is so much more enjoyable when others lend a hand. We learn from one another. We help each other. There is joy in the process. Lastly, it isn’t the puzzle per se, that is the end goal, although the final product is satisfying. It is the process of storytelling and joking and teasing that, for me at least, is the highest value. It is the process of watching what others do, learning from it and working together to solve the puzzle that works for me. All of it has its place. Some in greater part than others.

Perhaps that is the gift we can give our kids, each other. The gift, not of the puzzle, but of the process the puzzle produces. That is the real gift, after all. Isn’t it? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family. No one willing to talk, and three brothers are in danger.
My new book, Betrayed is available for preorder at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/betrayed Use promo code: PREORDER2020 for a 15% discount.

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.

Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

Here are some early reviews from other authors:

“Adopted and bonding as a family, with histories of death, destruction and for some...abuse, these boys band together—ready to lay down their life for their new family—in order to find a missing friend before dangerous gunmen find them.

A whirlwind of adventure, relationships, protecting family, hair-raising situations, and cold betrayal.”
—Tina O’Hailey author of When Darkness Begins

“Once again, author Joseph Lewis has written a fast-paced psychological thriller mystery that immerses readers into a dark world few encounter.”
— Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long Mystery Series

“Betrayed is at once an emotional chapter in author Joseph Lewis’ continuing coming-of-age story and an intriguing thriller. Following both law enforcement and a group of teens searching for a missing boy on Native American land, Lewis’ latest also provides a unique view into Navajo culture. A layered story that explodes into a bullet-riddled climax.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay

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

Picture Courtesy of Joshua Hoehne and Unsplash

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Endings




Each of us face them. Days begin and then they end. Weeks start and finish. Months. Years.

I have nine days until I retire. When I began teaching and coaching in Wyoming back in 1976, I had no thought of when it would end. It never crossed my mind. Even when I briefly left teaching at the high school level for two years to coach college basketball and earn a master’s in counseling, I always knew I’d go back to teaching and coaching.

Back in the 1985 – 1986 season, I knew I had a great senior class, a great team. It wasn’t the most talented team I had coached. I won a state championship with one team and played for a state championship with another team back in Wyoming. Yet, Mike and Mike, Steve, Dave, Greg and Tom, and the others on that team were some of the best kids I ever got to hang out with. So, I resigned from basketball at the beginning of the season effective at the end of the season. It was time. I knew it. I felt it. And besides, I wanted to leave with my seniors, even though I had a great group coming up behind them.

I began counseling in the fall of 1986. Of all the “jobs” I’ve had, I honestly enjoyed counseling the most. I got to work directly with kids and their parents. Loved it. I said “jobs” because for those of us who love what we do, it isn’t really a “job.” It is a passion. It is fulfillment.

In 1987, I moved to California and became a counselor out there. Loved the sun and the warm weather. Loved what I did. I met my wife at one school and we started a family. Now, my kids are venturing on their own paths, their own lives. Proud of them.

One day, Ed decided he was going to retire. He had been a teacher, but mostly a counselor for over thirty years. I remember telling him that I never thought I would last that long. I mean, thirty years in any profession, in any passion, is a long, long time. I didn’t want him to retire. I wanted to work alongside of him longer. He was my friend and mentor. I mentioned this to him. He smiled – he had the best smile – and his eyes disappeared as they always did when he smiled and he said, “It’s time.”

As a kid once upon a time, I had heard of a pope who, on his deathbed, allegedly said, “I am ready. My bags are packed.”

Wow! I don’t know about you, but I intend to go fighting, screaming and kicking the entire way out. Not that I’m anywhere near my death, at least as far as I can tell.

But we all face an ending. For some, way too soon. My son, Wil, fell into that category. My mom, on the other hand, lived until she was 99. We never know.

So . . .

As I sit here and write this, I have nine days until I turn in my badge and my keys and walk away from my passion that I have been working and living at for 44 years. Nine days.

How am I going to go? Screaming? Kicking? Fighting? Hell, no. Way, way too tired for that. Will I . . . do I . . . have regrets? Absolutely. I think we all play the “wish I could have; I think I should have” game from time to time. But all in all, I am happy with what I have done. I’d like to think I had more successes than failures. I do believe that.

You see, I believe there is no such thing as a failure. I believe a failure is only a success waiting to happen if you learn from the failures you’ve made. That’s the key, isn’t it? To learn from each failure and turn it into a success.

All too often, folks seem to stop at the failure. They see that as “the end.” We cannot, must not stop there. We stop and consider, we think it through, and we learn. We turn the failure into a success.

Yet, each of us, in our own way and in our own time, will come to an end. A job. A passion (and I hope for you reading this, it truly is a passion). A life. It doesn’t pay to fret or worry. It doesn’t pay to dwell on the ending. I think the meaning and value in any life, in any passion, is to live the life you have fully and completely. Live it. Embrace it. Smile and laugh your way through it. It’s the only satisfying and meaningful way to arrive at an ending. 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.

Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

“Once again, author Joseph Lewis has written a fast-paced psychological thriller mystery that immerses readers into a dark world few encounter.”
— Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long Mystery Series

“Betrayed is at once an emotional chapter in author Joseph Lewis’ continuing coming-of-age story and an intriguing thriller. Following both law enforcement and a group of teens searching for a missing boy on Native American land, Lewis’ latest also provides a unique view into Navajo culture. A layered story that explodes into a bullet-riddled climax.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay

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