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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

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