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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Perceptions and Expectations

 


Most of you reading this know that once upon a time, I was a basketball coach. I spent eight years coaching high school boys, winning one state championship, and a runner-up one other year. Some great teams with great kids, some of whom went on to play at the collegiate level.

I also spent two years coaching and recruiting at the collegiate level. I was recruited to coach the guards, but during my first month on the job, the head coach walked into my office, and threw a map of Chicago and a credit card on my desk and said, “I need you to find me some players.”

I’m sure that after you read those first two paragraphs, you might think to yourself that I might have been quite a player once upon a time.

No. No way. As a player, I sucked! I got cut my junior year. I couldn’t dribble. I couldn’t shoot. If I jumped high enough, you might be able to slip a piece of paper under my shoes successfully. Maybe. I could play defense and I could set picks. That’s it! As I said, I sucked! 

My players knew I was a terrible player. One day, I opened up the gym for a shoot around and for players to play pick up games. There were nine guys who showed up. They were going to either play four on four and rotate someone in, or they were going to play five on four.

I reminded them I was available to play. They declined the offer, politely, of course. I insisted. I told them I opened up the gym, and I rolled out the balls and lowered the hoops, so I get to play.

Do you know what they did? They spotted the team with me ten points. Yes, you read that correctly. They considered me a ten point deficit. I was that bad!

So, now you’re wondering, how in the heck did I ever become a basketball coach. I get that. Everything I wrote about my playing ability and my coaching is absolutely true. So, how was it I could coach?

First, I had great assistant coaches who not only knew the game, but could play it. Tim B, Dan D, and Mark W were fantastic guys who knew the game, knew how to work with kids, and were fun to be around. I give them the credit for implementing my system and for making it work.

Second, I had phenomenal kids. I loved them, especially the guys on my last team. I was a motivator. I could lead. The kids listened. They respected me because they knew I respected them.

When you read the first couple of paragraphs of this post, you figured that I might have been another “jock.” A guy who coached and was successful because I could play the game. If you did, you’d be dead wrong.

You had a perception of me as a coach, possibly as a person. Because of that perception, you had an expectation of me, as both a coach and former player. Your faulty perception set the stage for a faulty expectation. Somehow, I failed to live up to your expectation, because your perception of me was also wrong.

I’ll give you another example.

His name is Nate. True name for a kid in one school I was principal for in Wisconsin. He was the kid who, upon hearing just his first name, would cause an eye roll, a sigh, and a shake of the head. Difficult. Passive aggressive. Defiant.

That was my perception of him, and the perception of most every staff member in that school. We also expected many things from him- some of which were born to fruition, while others, not so much.

One day, a new ninth grader walked to class carrying several textbooks, some binders, and some loose papers. A junior bully (I actually privately referred to him as a thug- which he was at the time) tripped the kid on purpose. Books, binders, and papers flew all over the floor. The kid did a face plant on the linoleum.

It wasn’t Nate!!!!! But Nate was there.

It was Nate who, without a word and without being asked, set his books down in the hallway, and helped this freshman- someone he did not know- pick up and organize his things. He then escorted the boy to class, and before the kid entered the room, gave him a pat on the back.

Yes, Nate did that! That Nate!!!!!

When I was told of the incident, a picture formed in my head. Probably the same picture formed in your head. It was Nate that did the tripping, and it was someone else who helped the ninth grader pick up his things. Both of us were wrong. Because of our perception of Nate, we expected a certain behavior from Nate. Happily, that expectation was wrong. So very wrong.

You see, there are times we have perceptions of people and events, and because of those perceptions, we have expectations. Both can be wrong and both can guide us down the wrong path.

Maybe we need to hold off on perceptions and expectations, because if we don’t, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. Perhaps by waiting and withholding judgment, we can set ourselves up for a little more happiness, a little more joy, and less disappointment. We might help the individual or individuals we “set up” with our perceptions and expectations to keep from disappointing us. A little more joy for everyone. How can that hurt anyone? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference! 

To My Readers:
 
I have an author’s website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/
 
Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter
 at @jrlewisauthor
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author  
Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI / 
 
My new book, Blaze In, Blaze Out, is now available for preorder. Use the promo code: PREORDER2021 and order it at the publisher’s website at: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/mystery/blazeinblazeout

Book Blurb for Blaze In, Blaze Out: Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family, headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann, were the linchpins in the guilty verdict. The two detectives thought it was over. Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game, and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff, and four teenage adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers. But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time. The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril.

The one- or two-line promo for Blaze In, Blaze Out: 
Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko meant the end. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. A target is a target, and in the end, the target will die.

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx
 
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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 

Caught in a Web is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696    
 
The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.  
 
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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5
 
Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  
 
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 
 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 
Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives 
 

Photo courtesy of Raj Rana and Unsplash

 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Cracks


Al McGuire, the former Marquette basketball coach, now deceased, is one of my heroes. I met him long ago between my first and second year of coaching at a coach’s clinic in Denver. It was a small venue, and I sat towards the front on the aisle. He wore a polo shirt with a small coffee stain, deck shoes without socks, and he was animated and excited as he told us about his system of using three presses to apply pressure on teams trying to bring the ball up the court.

I asked question after question to the point where McGuire would embark on a topic or technique, stop and look at me to see if I had a question, and then move on. I’m sure I drove the other coaches crazy. I didn’t care, because McGuire was my hero, and I wanted to learn all I could.

After he finished, another coach stepped to the podium to talk about a defensive system. I wasn’t interested, so I took a break. As I walked down the aisle, McGuire sat in the very back, stopped me, and with a smile on his face, said, “Coach, do you understand any of the shit I just talked about?” I smiled, and said, “I think so.” He said, “Let’s go get a drink and talk some more.”

Here was this nationally known basketball coach, who was named Coach of the Year, who won an NCAA championship, and who was my hero, and he wanted to have a drink with me and talk basketball.

We sat in the bar. I had a Diet Coke or something, McGuire drank a beer, and we’d talk about basketball. He told stories. His eyes twinkled. We’d laugh. It was like I had known him all my life.

Much later in life after he retired from coaching, he became a basketball commentator. His partner, I forget who, asked, “When did you know you were ready to retire from coaching?”

McGuire smiled and said, “When my son, Allie, was fouled hard. He lay on the floor and was slow to get up. I walked over and asked him if he was alright. I had never asked any player if he was alright. Never. They were to get up and play. If they couldn’t play, I’d substitute someone else. But I never asked any player if he was okay.”

McGuire’s partner said, “I don’t understand.” McGuire said, “I was a coach. The players knew I cared about them. They cared about me. We were family. There was no need for me to ask any player if they were okay. They would tell me. So, when I asked Allie if he was okay, it was a sign that maybe I was becoming too soft. It was the first of several cracks that I didn’t know if I wanted to repair. I didn’t know if I could repair. But I knew that my time as a coach was coming to an end.”

Head scratcher, right? For McGuire’s partner. For me. Maybe for you.

As I listened to him answer that question, I recalled how philosophical McGuire got during our conversation during a beer and a Diet Coke in a bar in Denver. The conversation wasn’t just about basketball. It was about a philosophy of coaching. It was about a philosophy of life.

There were times during our conversation where he lost me, much like he lost his partner. To this day, I’m not sure I understand it completely. But I will try to explain it as best I can. I might miss what he was trying to say. I get that, but this is the meaning I took from it.

I think when we develop a crack in our persona, our psyche, we become vulnerable. When we become vulnerable, there is a chance we might get hurt. If we become vulnerable, there is a chance others might see who we really are. In that vulnerability, in that hurt, we become exposed. In that vulnerability, if we are exposed, people might know who we really are.

I think on some level, each of us fears vulnerability, that knowing, that exposure. For McGuire, he had a persona of a tough, hard-nosed New Yorker who coached major college basketball. It was not only a part of his game plan, it was him as a person. To have a crack, to expose himself, changed who he was and how he coached.

I think we develop cracks and become vulnerable. Ernest Hemingway wrote, “We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”

Maybe we shouldn’t be so fearful of a crack or two or ten. Maybe it’s okay to be vulnerable. I think so. Scary, yes. But it’s okay. After all, I’d rather be filled with light and live in the light than be filled with dark and live in the dark. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
 
I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: 
https://jrlewisauthor.blog/
 
Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter
 at @jrlewisauthor
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author  
Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI / 
 
Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx
 
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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 

Caught in a Web is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696    
 
The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.  
 
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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5
 
Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  
 
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 
 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 
Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives    

Photo courtesy of Mick Haupt and Unsplash

 

 

 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Kindness, a Blessing

Two weekends ago, Kim and I, and Hannah and Alex, and one of Emily’s friends helped Emily and Q move into their new apartment in NC. Surprisingly, it went smoothly and quickly, unlike some moves Kim and I made in the past.

Emily decided to treat us with super large cinnamon rolls and muffins from a bakery just up the street from their old apartment. When I say super large, I really mean super large. The muffins were equally big.

There was a group of middle-age to older men sitting at a table outside, and one of them yelled, “Go Pride!” as she walked from her car into the bakery. It didn’t register for her. Sometimes Em concentrates so well, all else is blocked out.

Em stood at the counter waiting her turn, and one of the men stood behind her waiting for a refill of coffee. She offered the man her spot, knowing her order was large and might take more time than a simple splash of coffee in a cup. The man declined and told her to go ahead with her order.

He told her he was an alumnus of Greensboro College. They talked about school and such, and when the server told Em the amount, the man said, “I have it.” Em protested it was too much, but the man insisted. His buddy who was with him said, “He likes doing this all the time.” The man who paid for Em’s order said, “I like to give a daily blessing to someone, and today, it’s you. Be a blessing for someone else.” She thanked him. He smiled and left with his friend.

Recently, I noticed an uptick in the number of stories on Facebook and LinkedIn about acts of kindness, not just between humans, but also humans to animals. Each story makes me smile, and each story does my heart good.

A cop opens a drainage gate in the street, crawls in, and rescues baby ducklings who had fallen through the cracks. He places them on the street so the frantic mother duck can collect them and march on their way. A fisherman notices a sea turtle struggling to swim. He and a partner haul the turtle into the boat and they cut plastic netting from the turtle’s legs and shell and set the turtle free. Two swimmers roll and drag a beached baby shark back into the water.

An elderly man slowly creeping in a crosswalk from one side of the street to the other and holds up four lanes of traffic as he does. A policeman spots him, hoists the man up onto his back, and he carries the elderly man to the other side of the street.

An elderly woman stands on a street corner wanting to cross to the other side. Cars, trucks, and busses race by and don’t stop, so she stands patiently waiting for an opportunity to cross. It doesn’t come until a young man on a motorcycle spots her. He parks his cycle, and helps the lady cross the street, forcing cars and trucks to stop and wait until she is safely across and he safely returns to his cycle.

A young man walks past a homeless man. By his own admission, he walked past him hundreds of times and never noticed the homeless man wore cardboard and plastic bags on his feet. The young man goes into a store and comes back out with a pair of shoes for the man.

An older man on crutches struggled up a set of stairs in what looked like a train station. The man was not only on crutches, but he had to lug a suitcase. A big burley Oriental man stopped him. The older man climbed onto his back, and the Oriental man not only carried the man, but his crutches and his suitcase, too.

Acts of kindness, or in the words of the man in the bakery, a daily blessing.

I’m hoping this post and these stories bring a smile to your face. I hope this post and these stories warm your heart. Simple gestures done without payment, done without fanfare, and done without any expectation on the investment of money or time. Done simply to be kind. To be a blessing. Perhaps you and I can do the same. Give kindness to the unexpected. Be a blessing to someone in need- big or small, young or old, human or not. Make someone’s day, and you will find it not only makes that person’s day, but it will make your day too. Try it. Something to think about . . .

Oh, and Em, I never got that cinnamon roll. Catch you next time!

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
 
I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/
 
Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author  
Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI / 
 
Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx
 
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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696    
 
The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.  
 
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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5
 
Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  
 
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 
 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 
Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives    

Photo courtesy of Mei-Ling Mirow and Unsplash

  

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Wake Up!

 

Way back in the early 80’s, two friends and I went camping one weekend at Devil’s Lake State Park. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Hiking the bluffs. Swimming in the warm lake. The smell of campfire and pine. All of it.

Both mornings we were rudely awakened by the biggest, blackest crow I’ve ever seen. Loud and obnoxious. It called just as the sun came up and would not stop. It was on a branch of a tall pine tree that hung over our tent.

Hugh or Mike had enough, and one of them crawled out of the tent and threw stones at the crow to get it to move away from us. He failed. The crow never budged and taunted us with its call. Wake up!

Years later, after Kim gave birth to our daughter, Hannah, she would wake us up in the middle of the night to get her diaper changed and to have a bottle. Hannah was tiny. After I changed her diaper, I would sit in the rocking chair in her room, and feed her a bottle. I almost had to force-feed her. She wanted to sleep. She would start out staring at me intently, her tiny hands wrapped around my fingers (and my heart), and drink her bottle. But soon, I’d have to wake her up to drink some more. This routine began after she’d cry out to us. Wake up!

Now, it’s just Kim and me rattling around in our big house with our two dogs, Daisy and Stella. Kim gets up way early to do her running before it gets too hot. Each and every morning. I sleep in. Or at least, I try to sleep in.

Kim will let the dogs out to take care of their business, and usually Daisy will race to the back fence facing our woods and bark at something. A brown bunny. Sometimes deer. Rarely, a fox. But her barking wakes me up. Probably our neighbors too. Kim runs to get her away from the fence and into the house, but her barking wakes me up. I might doze off again. More times than not, I toss and turn, and finally get up.

I was reminded in my morning devotional about something called a “death clock.” You open it up, type in your age, when you were born, answer a few questions, and presto, it tells you when you are going to die.

My question is, who would want to know that? Why?

I think I prefer to not know. I would prefer to live my life happily and blissfully ignorant of when I might die. I’m not interested to know when my death might occur.

I believe that if we are focused on our death and what might become of us, we lose focus on living in the here and now. We lose the joy of each day and what each day brings to us. We lose the surprises of each day.

I’m not naïve. I know there are disappointments. I know there is failure. I know there is sorrow. I know there is struggle and pain. I know that.

But I also know there is incredible joy in each day. There is joy in life and living. There is love. There is happiness. There is success. I know this too.

I would rather focus on beginning each day positively and fully. I would rather focus on all that life presents to us. The possibilities. The maybes. After all, life deserves to be lived. We deserve to live. Whether it is a crow, a crying baby, or a barking dog, Wake Up! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.  

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives    

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696    

Photo courtesy of Warren Wong and Unsplash

 

 

  

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Trinkets, Keepsakes, and Memories


Memorial Day weekend was a rarity for us. Both girls, along with Hannah’s fiancé and Emily’s boyfriend, were home. I relish those moments. I loved hearing the stories, though I know I’m guilty of retelling some of my favorite ones. I love the laughter. It’s fun watching how they interact with each other. Emily and Hannah are as close as can be, perhaps more so friends than sisters. Alex and Q fit right in, and Kim and I love them all.

Towards the end of the visit, before Emily and Q left for Greensboro, Emily, Kim and I went up to her room where she sorted out what she wants to take with her, what she wants to keep, but not with her at the moment, and what she wants to give or throw away. I watched. I might have questioned this or that, but in the end, I watched.

Mostly, I took the time to look at all the trinkets and keepsakes that brought back so many memories. Not so much sad, I think. Mostly poignant. Okay, it was sad, too. 

All lined up on her dresser were snow globes from her trips to different cities and different countries she traveled to as part of her travel soccer team. On one corner of the dresser were the trophies and medals from soccer and swimming she earned. On the floor was an ancient swim cap from her summer swim team. A red swim bag sat in a corner in her room.

On the other corner of the dresser were seashell ornaments and jewelry. Some I had proudly given her. Some she received from others. Some she purchased herself. A jewelry box. Nothing fancy, just cute. There were earrings galore, bracelets, necklaces. Name it, it was there.

On her nightstand was her dolphin “thingy”. Not sure what to call it, but I remember her getting it. I remember the day, the time, and the fun we had. In her closet was the Donald Duck stuffed animal from our trip to Disney. Clothes no longer worn. Shoes and soccer cleats too small.

On her wall were pictures of friends, some dating back to elementary school, others from high school. All there. All smiling or clowning. I have my favorites.

Her bookshelf. Books in a series, all in order from first to last. Just of a few of the many she’s read over the years. Others given away or borrowed by her sister.

I remember going through this with Hannah. The same sorting of keepsakes and treasures. Some still in her bedroom. The same sad, poignant feelings. The same.

I admit that every now and then, I wander into Hannah’s room and sit and think and remember. I hold on to this memory, that memory. Moments we shared, moments kept only in my heart, not spoken about to anyone. I wander into Emily’s room and do the same. Mostly at night before bedtime. The stuff of dreams, perhaps.

In the coming weeks, there will be thousands, maybe millions of parents and kids doing the same thing we did with Emily, and once upon a time with Hannah. A cover closing on a chapter of life. A new book about to begin. Each bringing with it a bit of sorrow and wistfulness as a life about to begin ends a life once had. It’s exciting for the kids. Perhaps they are a bit frightened and anxious. And as exciting as it is for the kids, it is poignant for the parents, for mom and dad, who release their child into a new life. Helping them to fly off on their own.

Knowing and hoping that their son or daughter knows the door is always open. Hoping that every now and then they will walk through the door once again. Time and time again. To tell their stories. To share in their laughter, and perhaps in their frustration and their tears.

We grow. They grow. And as proud as we are of our kids as they pack up and move out and on, we are saddened at the passing of time, the passing of their years. The passing of our time and our years. Yes, both proud and sad. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference! 

To My Readers:

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel 

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives    

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696    

Photo courtesy of Joseph Lewis

 

 

 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Taking it For Granted

 

 

Within the last week or two, my knee started to hurt. I can’t put my finger on exactly when, where or how, but it hurt. Ached, actually. Still does.

At first, I thought it was because of all the sitting I do while I’m facilitating online learning. I’m fairly glued to three computer screens as I check the progress of kids in their courses. I send email reminders. I send email encouragement. I open up tests, quizzes and grade various assignments when called upon. But all in all, my butt is in a chair and I’m staring at computer screens. 

I get up each hour to walk the hallways. I try, and usually do, get my 250 steps in each hour. I usually end up with more 250. I simply have to move.

But it was in those steps each hour I noticed my knee hurt more and more each day, especially as I traipse up and down stairs.

For whatever reason, yesterday was the worst. To the point where I took medication my wife used after her knee surgery. To the point where I sat with an ice gel pack on my knee. To the point where I started using crutches.  

Last night, I wore a knee sleeve to bed. Today, it feels moderately better, but I’m still taking the pain medication and something to reduce swelling.

All this got me thinking . . .

How much we take for granted our health. Now, I know I’m not the most “in shape” person in the world. No way. I do okay. As I said, I walk when I can, even forcing myself to move. While my job is sedentary, I still need to move, and I do.

I am also eating better, choosing wiser, healthier food than I had been. I think my waistline thanks me. Heck, I thank me.

As I get older, things won’t work like they once did. I get that. But what else have I taken for granted? What else have you taken for granted?

Our kids. Our parents. Our wife, husband. Our co-workers. Our job. Our home. Our life. The country we live in. Our freedom. Our rights.

What have we neglected, put off for another time? What is it we are so accustomed to that we don’t even think about?

Until they are gone . . .

Then suddenly, we realize what a gift we had. Then suddenly, we realize the importance, the significance of what he had.

Sometimes, it takes the absence of something to make us realize the true gift, the true beauty of something we had, or have, that we no longer have. And perhaps, it is the absence that comes into our lives, sometimes forced upon us as unwilling recipients that makes us appreciate what we have, or had, once again. Maybe even more so.

Don’t wait until you no longer have that gift: the child or children; your spouse; your job; your home; your country; your rights and freedom; your health. Don’t wait to appreciate what you do have. Don’t wait until you no longer realize what a gift life is. Don’t wait. Please! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page.
On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel. 

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 

Book Three of the Lives TrilogySplintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives   

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696    

Photo courtesy of Agustin Fernandez and Unsplash