Friday, October 11, 2019


I’m sure at some point when you’re driving down the road, you encounter a car with a turn signal on. You’re driving and wondering if and when that car will change lanes or actually turn. This could go on for yards or miles, one never knows! Perhaps the car eventually changes lanes or turns off. Other times . . . And embarrassingly, I have to admit that I’ve done this myself. The turn isn’t great enough to automatically turn off the blinker, so I’m driving along oblivious that my car is sending other drivers an unintentional signal.

At times, the opposite occurs.

You might be driving along when all of a sudden a car jumps into your lane without a signal, without a notice, and at the last moment. You have to slow down. Sometimes you slam on the brakes and lay on the horn. Maybe you’ve given them some other sort of silent . . . or not . . . communication. A hand gesture, perhaps (not that I’ve ever done that, mind you- at least not today, so far).

Our youngest, Emily, has been known to be oblivious to signals guys give her. While in high school, a guy texted her and asked if she wanted to go get ice cream at Carl’s. Now, this guy lives waaaay out and it would be quite the drive for him. Emily decided that she didn’t want ice cream. (Kim and I just shook our head). Days later, this same young man does the same thing. Again, Emily decides that she is in the middle of homework or a book or a movie or she’s tired or . . . Kim and I shook our head and one of us suggests that perhaps, the boy wasn’t so much interested in ice cream as he was in seeing her. She looks at us blankly and asks, “Really?” (Kim and I just shook our head).

Her current boyfriend tells the story of how they first met, or rather, sort of met. It took time.

He is a football player, Emily is a soccer player. They were on the turf field messing around, not at practice. Just messing around enjoying the sun and nice weather. He kept looking over at her. Emily mentioned to one of her teammates that “This guy keeps staring at me.” Her friend smiled and shook her head. Later that same day eating lunch in the cafeteria, Emily is sitting at a table with her friends when this same young man enters with a group of his friends, sees her and waves. Emily sees him and quickly puts her head down. Even she can’t explain why she did that. (As I write this, I shake my head).

Each of us send and receive signals to and from individuals around us all day long. Sometimes the signals are obvious, sometimes not so much. A smile. A frown. Head down and hands in pockets. ‘Sad eyes.’ A blush. Someone lingering nearby, sometimes someone’s absence.

Kids send unclear and mixed signals to adults. Perhaps it is because we’re adults and they are kids. Sometimes it is because of our title as teacher, as coach, as principal. And at times, we can send unclear and mixed signals to each other.

Sometimes what is said isn’t as important as the way it was said. Sometimes the message is hidden or couched in between the words used, and sometimes it is not so much the words used, but the absence of the words that could have been used that is the real message.

Think about that . . .

Hannah teaches fifth grade. Earlier this year, a boy asked her if she was married. She smiled and said, “No, but I have a boyfriend.” He blushed, nodded, and walked away head down.
There was a message that wasn’t expressed through his words.

Last year, Savannah, would see me in the hallway. She would stop and ask if I was okay. Lilly does that every now and then this year. I’m wondering what signal I’m giving off that caused Savannah to ask, and what signal I’m giving off that causes Lilly to ask. And, I wonder what signal those two young ladies are giving me by asking me if I’m okay. What is their signal, their message?

Kids approach us each day, all day long. We approach our colleagues each day, all day long. Sometimes the signals are upfront and obvious. Other times, not so much. Sometimes there is meaning behind the words, the gestures, the expressions. Sometimes, there is meaning in the absence of words, gestures and expressions. Signals all and nonetheless. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

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Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Good News!
Spiral Into Darkness has been nominated for Top Shelf Book Awards! That is quite an honor! I’ll find out more in late November or early December.

Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer for Midwest Review had some wonderful things to say about Spiral Into Darkness:
“Joseph Lewis excels in building more than just a 'whodunnit' mystery. His is a novel of psychological suspense that weaves a 'cat-and-mouse' game into the equation of dealing with a killer who is much cleverer than anyone he's run up against in his career as a detective. Tension builds in an excellent, methodical manner as Lewis creates a scenario that rests firmly on not just the actions of all involved, but their psychological foundations. The result is a powerfully written work of psychological fiction that is highly recommended not just for mystery and police procedural readers, but for those who appreciate literary works well grounded in strong characters, plot development, and emotional tension. Great buildup, great insights, great reading!”

Readers Favorites wrote:
“If you enjoy thrillers, especially psychological ones, Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis will grab you good and proper in the opening two chapters. You will find yourself avidly turning pages as a serial killer accosts his victims, confirms their identities and blasts away their faces with a .38 pistol. If you are interested in both the good and bad sides of humanity and why we each turn out as we do, Spiral Into Darkness won’t disappoint.”

Best Thrillers wrote:
“The Bottom Line: A thoroughly compulsive police procedural by one of America’s most promising new writers. Joseph Lewis, author of our Best of 2018 pick Caught in a Web, is back with another crime thriller featuring world-weary Milwaukee detective Jamie Graff . . . While Lewis savagely explores romance, drama, and sexuality with his wider cast of characters, Jamie’s interpersonal life is refreshingly free of drama for a cop, enabling him to be the determined, resourceful rock capable of cracking the case. The result is a thoroughly compulsive crime thriller.”

And, Spiral Into Darkness has made it into the Top 50 Indie Books by Reader’s Choice!

Best Thrillers had previously reviewed my book, Caught in a Web. It was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! Best Thrillers called it “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” I am both proud and humbled.

If you do read Caught in a Web, Spiral Into Darkness, or any of my other books, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

Spiral Into Darkness:
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.

Caught in a Web:
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.

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.                             

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.                             

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.                            

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.

Photo Courtesy of Hermes Rivera and Unsplash

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe