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Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Clearing

 

On several mornings this last week, I woke up to heavy fog. From our bedroom windows, I couldn’t see into the distance, certainly not the horizon. The sun looked similar to what the moon looks like at night. Silver and cold. Half-hidden and small.

By mid- or late-morning, the fog burned off and the sky was at times a brilliant blue or blue with cotton ball clouds like cotton-candy. Not too hot, not too cool, just right. Sweatshirt and jeans weather. Maybe a long-sleeved shirt.

My favorite kind of fog is the type that sits over a lake or a valley. The air is warmer than the water or earth or vice versa. I don’t know enough science surrounding fog to explain it. I know fog can feel damp, though you can’t touch or grasp it.

I am in the middle of a new novel. I got the title, Blaze In, Blaze Out, from a hunter friend. Nick explained that if you hunt, 80% of you has to be covered in blaze orange to prevent accidental shootings. You wear it in and you wear it out. Hence, Blaze in, Blaze Out. In your stand, you can wear camouflage to fit the type of terrain you are in (hope I stated and explained that correctly, Nick). 

For those of you who have read my books, I write what I call “Patterson Chapters.” I named them after one of my favorite authors, James Patterson. His chapters end in such a way that they propel the reader to the next chapter and so on until the book is finished. His chapters rarely give a reader a break. The reader feels compelled to keep moving, keep going.

I also like to bounce my chapters from one character to another, from one scene to another. Like the “Patterson Chapter” it keeps the reader moving along. I try to make them interesting enough so that the reader is frustrated just enough to want to read more to get to his or her favorite character to find out what happens next. 

I am at a point in Blaze where I can go one of three ways. I can continue with the previous scene. I can shift to another main character to bring the reader back to a particularly tense situation. I can check out the investigation into what is actually happening behind the scenes that places two characters (and if you know my work, several other characters) in danger. 

I am in a bit of fog.

I don’t know which way I will go. From my vantage point facing the cold keyboard and the previous 41K+ words I’ve already written, I can’t see clearly enough to know what I want to write next. All three will be tackled. I know that. But I’m not sure which path to take that pleases me enough to know that the reader will be content and pleased as well.

It isn’t a writer’s block. I rarely have that. Usually, I can and will write myself out of it if that occurs. My dilemma is a great one for a writer to have: a choice of three satisfying options in which to turn. Satisfying for me, which makes it satisfying for the reader. If it isn’t satisfying for me, I know it won’t be for the reader. You see, the writer and the reader meet and in some odd way, are married on some sort of mythical bridge. At times, we walk together. At times, me- the writer- will lead the reader onward and then leave the reader to walk on his or her own. But ultimately, if the story is big enough, satisfying enough, the reader takes the story and goes his or her way alone without my lead. In that respect, I- the writer- placed the reader on a path for him or her to walk and ponder and question all alone in his or her own way. 

But currently, I am looking into fog. A good fog, but fog nonetheless. 

A lot of life decisions are foggy, aren’t they? Not only in writing, but each day can present a type of fog to deal with, to try to see into, to catch a glimpse of what is beyond. It can be frustrating, at times, not knowing what lies ahead. Or, if we simply walk slowly, confidently, the fog will eventually burn off and the day and our vision of beyond becomes clearer. My suggestion is to throw on some jeans and a sweatshirt and walk with me into the fog. You and I both know that eventually it will disappear. It will burn off. You and I both know that eventually we’ll see clearly once again. Always. That’s half the fun of it, right? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Betrayed is now available for Kindle preorder to KDP Select at Amazon at: https://amazon.com/dp/B08GCTV2XH and it is also available in print at: https://blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/betrayed  
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, and no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but could result in the death of a fifteen-year-old boy.

Betrayed received three more outstanding reviews:

“The Bottom Line: A stirring and unusual tale of teenage love, adventure and murder. While author Joseph Lewis has filled Betrayed with a large and compelling cast, the story belongs to Brian, one of several characters from Lewis’ excellent crime thriller, Spiral Into Darkness. The relationship between Brian and his family is incredibly well-drawn and often touching. Readers will be rewarded with an explosive adventure.”

-        Best Thrillers

"This novel is an action-packed thriller that will keep the reader turning the pages. The descriptions of settings and characters are extremely well done, and the pacing is perfect. The ending ties up all the loose ends, yet you feel (and hope) there will be more from these characters in the future. Action and adventure are the words of the day in this thrilling, well-written page-turner from Joseph Lewis.”

-        Sublime Review

“To call Betrayed a thriller alone would be to do it a disservice. It’s a social inspection of Navajo reservation culture and life, and its probe of the roots of love and connection are wonderfully woven into a story of adversity and the struggle to survive on many levels. These elements make Betrayed particularly recommended for readers who look for psychological depth and complexity from a story of violence and evolution.”

-        Diane Donovan, Editor; Donovan's Literary Services; Midwest Book Review/Bookwatch; Author of San Francisco Relocated.

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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696    

Caught in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it at: https://www.beaconaudiobooks.com/audiobookreleases/high-school-drug-rings-gangs-and-revenge-are-all-encompassing-in-caught-in-a-web-by-joseph-lewis

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, each more dangerous than the next, 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:
The final chapter, the close of the Lives Trilogy. 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 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        

Photos Courtesy of Jakub Kriz and Unsplash.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

A Bucket of Balls

There was a story I came across this week watching the news. It was one of the few uplifting stories left on nightly news shows, and it was saved until the end of the broadcast. Thankfully. Something nice to savor.

An elderly man had cleaned out his garage and came across a bucket of baseballs. It stirred up any number of fond memories for the guy. You see, he used to throw hours and hours of batting practice to his son and eventually, his grandson. He coached them in games. Played catch with them in the yard. Great times for him and for them.

But as families do, kids grow up and have kids of their own. They move away. Time and distance sometimes separate that bond and what is left are just memories.

The man, Randy Long, decided that he couldn’t throw the bucket of balls away. Instead, he took it to a batting cage and left it with a note for someone to find. In part, the note read:

"Hope someone can use some of these baseballs. I pitched them to my son and grandson for countless rounds." 

Randy Long went on to say that his family is now grown and gone — but what he wouldn't "give to pitch a couple of buckets to them.  If you are a father, cherish these times."

Sad, isn’t it? Something so endearing, so precious to one, becomes just a bucket of balls to another.

This story, however, has a happy ending.

The bucket of balls and the note were found by Brian Robinson and his son, Carter. They took the note and the bucket of balls home with them.

This past week, Brian and his wife, Stormy, and their son, Carter, met Randy Long at a local park. Brian and Stormy explained that Carter’s grandfathers died when Carter was young and he never had the opportunity to have his grandfathers sit in the stands and watch him play. They invited Randy to one of Carter’s games. During that visit, Randy asked Carter if he wanted to play catch and they did.

For many of us on the backside of that mountain, what we did with our kids are memories. We try to embrace them. We try to recapture that moment. But somehow, it isn’t quite the same. Our kids grow up . . . as they should. Their lives become important . . . as they should.

For us, there is a bit of pride along with the pain. 

My daughter, Em, no longer plays soccer. Kim and I watched our kids play for twenty-six years. First Wil, then Hannah, and then Emily. Every year, every season. Em graduated from college and that was the end of that for Kim and for me. I had joked to some friends that she and I would have to adopt another kid or two so we could watch some more soccer.

I received a message from a parent letting me know that his son and a bunch of kids from my high school (I am retired) were playing a game and he thought the boys would love to have me come out and watch them. So, I did. I stood on the sidelines and watched with pride. Several of the boys came over during and after the game to say hello and thank me for coming. I was asked to have my picture taken with them after the game.

For me, I got to watch soccer again. Those young men mean something to me. I got to relive a moment or two. Just like it was for Randy Long and now for Carter, it was nice ending for me. For Randy Long, his baseball game went into extra innings. Who knows if or when it will end, but for the time being, Randy and Carter are playing some baseball. And, at least here and there, I get to watch some soccer. Not quite ready to close that chapter. Not yet. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:
Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Betrayed is now available for Kindle preorder to KDP Select at Amazon at: https://amazon.com/dp/B08GCTV2XH  and it is also available in print at:https://blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/betrayed  
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, and no one is talking.

Betrayed received two more outstanding reviews:

“The Bottom Line: A stirring and unusual tale of teenage love, adventure and murder. While author Joseph Lewis has filled Betrayed with a large and compelling cast, the story belongs to Brian, one of several characters from Lewis’ excellent crime thriller, Spiral Into Darkness. The relationship between Brian and his family is incredibly well-drawn and often touching. Readers will be rewarded with an explosive adventure.”
-        Best Thrillers

"This novel is an action-packed thriller that will keep the reader turning the pages. The descriptions of settings and characters are extremely well done, and the pacing is perfect. The ending ties up all the loose ends, yet you feel (and hope) there will be more from these characters in the future. Action and adventure are the words of the day in this thrilling, well-written page-turner from Joseph Lewis.”
-        Sublime Review

“To call Betrayed a thriller alone would be to do it a disservice. It’s a social inspection of Navajo reservation culture and life, and its probe of the roots of love and connection are wonderfully woven into a story of adversity and the struggle to survive on many levels. These elements make Betrayed particularly recommended for readers who look for psychological depth and complexity from a story of violence and evolution.”
-        Diane Donovan, Editor; Donovan's Literary Services; Midwest Book Review/Bookwatch; Author of San Francisco Relocated.

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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696   

Caught in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it at: https://www.beaconaudiobooks.com/audiobookreleases/high-school-drug-rings-gangs-and-revenge-are-all-encompassing-in-caught-in-a-web-by-joseph-lewis

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       

Photos Courtesy of  Wendy Scofield and Unsplash.