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: and it is also available in print at:  
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.    

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.    

Caught in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it at:

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, 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.   

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.       

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.        

Photos Courtesy of Jakub Kriz and Unsplash.

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