Saturday, February 29, 2020

Choice of Words

When I write, whether it is for my blog or one of my books, I choose my words carefully. I have to believe all writers do. We care because we are putting our sweat, our feelings including laughter or tears onto each page. It can flow with ease or sometimes ride bumpy as we hit pothole after pothole.

For example, in Betrayed which comes out in November (I do wish it was sooner), there were several passages that I rewrote and rewrote. I slaved over them because I know I have one shot at hitting the sweet spot with the reader. I have to feel it. And I did. I can tell you that I wept at three spots in the book. I believe the reader will too. There were times when I felt my muscles clench because of several intense spots in the book. As the author, I felt tense, anxious each time I read and edited the book, and I became tense and anxious even though I knew what was going to happen.

There is an axiom among writers I fully believe in: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. Meaning that we put our heart and soul onto each page, choosing the words specifically to elicit a specific response in the reader.

The magical part of any book is that no one book will read the same for each reader. How can it? Each reader brings his or her own feelings, experiences, past, present and future to the book when he or she sits down to read it. As the author, I cannot possibly guess how my books or this blog will “hit” you, because in so many cases, I don’t know you.

As any parent would, I suppose you will feel anxious and upset when my adolescent characters face danger. You might be angry towards those who would place them in danger. Normal reactions, I would think. Unless, of course, I failed to choose my words carefully that might elicit those feelings.

Which makes me consider . . .

As a person, be it in my profession or as a dad or husband, as a mentor or role model, do I take the same care with the words I choose to speak? Sadly, sometimes I think not. At times, I speak without thinking. At times, I speak without “feeling.” Sad, really. I slave over my writing, picking and choosing my words so carefully, when I sometimes don’t when speaking.

At times, I’ve been sarcastic and thoughtless. My words sting. I do myself an injustice because I truly, deeply care. I believe that in so many cases, words have an impact that sticks and stones do not.

In Betrayed, one of my adult characters tells one of the boys, “Sometimes it’s the hurt you don’t see that you feel the most.” The boy knew just what the adult was saying. The boy’s heart and soul had been ‘betrayed’ time and again. He was bruised in places you cannot see with the eye, only with the heart.

As we face a new week, I wonder if I . . . we . . . can choose our words a bit more carefully. I wonder if our words might bring peace and love, joy and a sense of caring to those with whom we speak to. We owe that to those we speak to, to those who we interact with. Mostly, I think, we owe it to ourselves, don’t we? 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. I will post parts and passages on my author page on Facebook.

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.

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.

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 Kyle Glenn and Unsplash 

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