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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Wake Up!

 

Way back in the early 80’s, two friends and I went camping one weekend at Devil’s Lake State Park. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Hiking the bluffs. Swimming in the warm lake. The smell of campfire and pine. All of it.

Both mornings we were rudely awakened by the biggest, blackest crow I’ve ever seen. Loud and obnoxious. It called just as the sun came up and would not stop. It was on a branch of a tall pine tree that hung over our tent.

Hugh or Mike had enough, and one of them crawled out of the tent and threw stones at the crow to get it to move away from us. He failed. The crow never budged and taunted us with its call. Wake up!

Years later, after Kim gave birth to our daughter, Hannah, she would wake us up in the middle of the night to get her diaper changed and to have a bottle. Hannah was tiny. After I changed her diaper, I would sit in the rocking chair in her room, and feed her a bottle. I almost had to force-feed her. She wanted to sleep. She would start out staring at me intently, her tiny hands wrapped around my fingers (and my heart), and drink her bottle. But soon, I’d have to wake her up to drink some more. This routine began after she’d cry out to us. Wake up!

Now, it’s just Kim and me rattling around in our big house with our two dogs, Daisy and Stella. Kim gets up way early to do her running before it gets too hot. Each and every morning. I sleep in. Or at least, I try to sleep in.

Kim will let the dogs out to take care of their business, and usually Daisy will race to the back fence facing our woods and bark at something. A brown bunny. Sometimes deer. Rarely, a fox. But her barking wakes me up. Probably our neighbors too. Kim runs to get her away from the fence and into the house, but her barking wakes me up. I might doze off again. More times than not, I toss and turn, and finally get up.

I was reminded in my morning devotional about something called a “death clock.” You open it up, type in your age, when you were born, answer a few questions, and presto, it tells you when you are going to die.

My question is, who would want to know that? Why?

I think I prefer to not know. I would prefer to live my life happily and blissfully ignorant of when I might die. I’m not interested to know when my death might occur.

I believe that if we are focused on our death and what might become of us, we lose focus on living in the here and now. We lose the joy of each day and what each day brings to us. We lose the surprises of each day.

I’m not naïve. I know there are disappointments. I know there is failure. I know there is sorrow. I know there is struggle and pain. I know that.

But I also know there is incredible joy in each day. There is joy in life and living. There is love. There is happiness. There is success. I know this too.

I would rather focus on beginning each day positively and fully. I would rather focus on all that life presents to us. The possibilities. The maybes. After all, life deserves to be lived. We deserve to live. Whether it is a crow, a crying baby, or a barking dog, Wake Up! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.  

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives    

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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    

Photo courtesy of Warren Wong and Unsplash

 

 

  

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Trinkets, Keepsakes, and Memories


Memorial Day weekend was a rarity for us. Both girls, along with Hannah’s fiancé and Emily’s boyfriend, were home. I relish those moments. I loved hearing the stories, though I know I’m guilty of retelling some of my favorite ones. I love the laughter. It’s fun watching how they interact with each other. Emily and Hannah are as close as can be, perhaps more so friends than sisters. Alex and Q fit right in, and Kim and I love them all.

Towards the end of the visit, before Emily and Q left for Greensboro, Emily, Kim and I went up to her room where she sorted out what she wants to take with her, what she wants to keep, but not with her at the moment, and what she wants to give or throw away. I watched. I might have questioned this or that, but in the end, I watched.

Mostly, I took the time to look at all the trinkets and keepsakes that brought back so many memories. Not so much sad, I think. Mostly poignant. Okay, it was sad, too. 

All lined up on her dresser were snow globes from her trips to different cities and different countries she traveled to as part of her travel soccer team. On one corner of the dresser were the trophies and medals from soccer and swimming she earned. On the floor was an ancient swim cap from her summer swim team. A red swim bag sat in a corner in her room.

On the other corner of the dresser were seashell ornaments and jewelry. Some I had proudly given her. Some she received from others. Some she purchased herself. A jewelry box. Nothing fancy, just cute. There were earrings galore, bracelets, necklaces. Name it, it was there.

On her nightstand was her dolphin “thingy”. Not sure what to call it, but I remember her getting it. I remember the day, the time, and the fun we had. In her closet was the Donald Duck stuffed animal from our trip to Disney. Clothes no longer worn. Shoes and soccer cleats too small.

On her wall were pictures of friends, some dating back to elementary school, others from high school. All there. All smiling or clowning. I have my favorites.

Her bookshelf. Books in a series, all in order from first to last. Just of a few of the many she’s read over the years. Others given away or borrowed by her sister.

I remember going through this with Hannah. The same sorting of keepsakes and treasures. Some still in her bedroom. The same sad, poignant feelings. The same.

I admit that every now and then, I wander into Hannah’s room and sit and think and remember. I hold on to this memory, that memory. Moments we shared, moments kept only in my heart, not spoken about to anyone. I wander into Emily’s room and do the same. Mostly at night before bedtime. The stuff of dreams, perhaps.

In the coming weeks, there will be thousands, maybe millions of parents and kids doing the same thing we did with Emily, and once upon a time with Hannah. A cover closing on a chapter of life. A new book about to begin. Each bringing with it a bit of sorrow and wistfulness as a life about to begin ends a life once had. It’s exciting for the kids. Perhaps they are a bit frightened and anxious. And as exciting as it is for the kids, it is poignant for the parents, for mom and dad, who release their child into a new life. Helping them to fly off on their own.

Knowing and hoping that their son or daughter knows the door is always open. Hoping that every now and then they will walk through the door once again. Time and time again. To tell their stories. To share in their laughter, and perhaps in their frustration and their tears.

We grow. They grow. And as proud as we are of our kids as they pack up and move out and on, we are saddened at the passing of time, the passing of their years. The passing of our time and our years. Yes, both proud and sad. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference! 

To My Readers:

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel 

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ  

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives    

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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    

Photo courtesy of Joseph Lewis

 

 

 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Taking it For Granted

 

 

Within the last week or two, my knee started to hurt. I can’t put my finger on exactly when, where or how, but it hurt. Ached, actually. Still does.

At first, I thought it was because of all the sitting I do while I’m facilitating online learning. I’m fairly glued to three computer screens as I check the progress of kids in their courses. I send email reminders. I send email encouragement. I open up tests, quizzes and grade various assignments when called upon. But all in all, my butt is in a chair and I’m staring at computer screens. 

I get up each hour to walk the hallways. I try, and usually do, get my 250 steps in each hour. I usually end up with more 250. I simply have to move.

But it was in those steps each hour I noticed my knee hurt more and more each day, especially as I traipse up and down stairs.

For whatever reason, yesterday was the worst. To the point where I took medication my wife used after her knee surgery. To the point where I sat with an ice gel pack on my knee. To the point where I started using crutches.  

Last night, I wore a knee sleeve to bed. Today, it feels moderately better, but I’m still taking the pain medication and something to reduce swelling.

All this got me thinking . . .

How much we take for granted our health. Now, I know I’m not the most “in shape” person in the world. No way. I do okay. As I said, I walk when I can, even forcing myself to move. While my job is sedentary, I still need to move, and I do.

I am also eating better, choosing wiser, healthier food than I had been. I think my waistline thanks me. Heck, I thank me.

As I get older, things won’t work like they once did. I get that. But what else have I taken for granted? What else have you taken for granted?

Our kids. Our parents. Our wife, husband. Our co-workers. Our job. Our home. Our life. The country we live in. Our freedom. Our rights.

What have we neglected, put off for another time? What is it we are so accustomed to that we don’t even think about?

Until they are gone . . .

Then suddenly, we realize what a gift we had. Then suddenly, we realize the importance, the significance of what he had.

Sometimes, it takes the absence of something to make us realize the true gift, the true beauty of something we had, or have, that we no longer have. And perhaps, it is the absence that comes into our lives, sometimes forced upon us as unwilling recipients that makes us appreciate what we have, or had, once again. Maybe even more so.

Don’t wait until you no longer have that gift: the child or children; your spouse; your job; your home; your country; your rights and freedom; your health. Don’t wait to appreciate what you do have. Don’t wait until you no longer realize what a gift life is. Don’t wait. Please! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page.
On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel. 

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 live in separate parts of the country, the lives of 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 Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2 

Book Three of the Lives TrilogySplintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives   

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes 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    

Photo courtesy of Agustin Fernandez and Unsplash

 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

After 23 Years

 


This time of year, I would normally be knee deep in preparation for the end of the year and commencement. There would have already been at least two meetings with all of those who handle everything from parking to flowers, to stage rental and set up, to sound and music. Normally, there would be at least twenty people involved to some extent, with many, many more helping silently and with little recognition. They are the ones who truly make it happen.

By this time, I would have practiced my “principal address” which is actually a song I picked out that represents the class, or represents a significant event, or something meaningful that I needed to “say” to them before they cross the stage to pick up their diploma. Last spring, I had actually settled on one of three songs I felt fit the occasion and this class, the class of 2021.

There are so many seniors that mean a great deal to me- present tense, not past tense. Many still are in touch with me thanks to texts and other social media. I wrote letters of recommendation for many of them, not only to get into a college or university, but for scholarships and other financial aid. Much like I did during my last year as a coach, I had planned to “graduate” with my seniors. So, I wanted this year to be special for them and for me, since this would be my last as a principal.

Not to be.

Just before Spring Break last year, I retired. Going into a year with the pandemic and the uncertainty of the school year, I felt I needed to step down. As much as that decision hurt, and it truly did hurt, I feel as I write this, that it was the best decision for me and for my family, and for the kids at the school.

44 years in education is a long haul. Still, I wasn’t quite done. A friend and former administrative colleague called me and asked me for a favor. He needed someone to be a long-term substitute in his third grade. I doubted my own abilities since I had never taught any grade lower than seventh, and that was almost forty years ago. But I did and had a blast. The team of teachers I worked with led me, worked with me, cheered me on, and I enjoyed every minute. I hated to see it end.

Then, I received another call from another administrative colleague and asked me to be his facilitator for kids working online. I work thirty hours a week and I love that. I plan to continue in the same role next year, my forty-sixth year in education. I get to work with kids again. I get to rub elbows with other teachers. As I said, I’m having a blast.

Still . . .

I will miss giving my “principal address” at commencement. I will miss handing kids their diplomas. I will miss shaking hands, their hugs, their kind words. I will miss working with the teachers one last time. Yes, I will miss it.

I will miss the picture taking, seeing proud, happy parents and grandparents, other friends and family members. I will miss the kids marching into the stadium and taking their places in front of the stage. I will miss the beauty of the day. Yes, I will miss it.

To those who have kids participating in commencement, congratulations. Hold tight to that moment and those memories. It’s one more stepping stone on their way to adulthood.

To those young men and women who are participating in commencement, congratulations. I will be with you in spirit. I hope many of you will have fond memories of our interactions together. I am proud of each of you. As I said, I will be there with you as you process in, march across the stage, and as you process out. Throw a confetti stick for me. Maybe throw a cap. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. It is a special moment. Embrace it. God Bless! Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make a Difference!

To My Readers:

There are only two days left on the special preorder deal offered by the publisher for 15% off the Lives Trilogy and Prequel! The links are below! I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover, or perhaps, discover, the Lives Trilogy and Prequel. 

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 live in separate parts of the country, 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 futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/takinglives

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/stolenlives 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:

The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. No leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/shatteredlives

Book Three of the Lives TrilogySplintered Lives:

Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern was killed. He has no idea that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/splinteredlives

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page.

On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author  

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /   

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 

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     

Photo courtesy of Keith Luke and Unsplash

 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Carrying a Load

 


It was a Sunday, December 12, 1993, one month and one day after Kim gave birth to Hannah when I flew to Guatemala to pick up our adopted seven-year-old boy, William. Kim couldn’t travel yet because it was too soon after giving birth, so it was just me. Neither Kim nor I could speak Spanish well, so our little family became tri-lingual: English, Spanish, and Charades. A whole lot of charades.

Besides doing all the paperwork, getting passports and approvals for travel, meetings with embassy officials and lawyers, there was one day for sightseeing and limited travel. Wil and I had a “driver” named Walter who I learned late in my stay he was actually our bodyguard. Walter made sure Wil and I didn’t stray too far off the beaten path, didn’t wander down streets where “gringos” weren’t welcome.

On Wednesday of that week, Walter took Wil and I to Antigua to a mission and a market. We also stopped at the orphanage Wil had stayed in so he could say goodbye to his friends and I could meet them. Thomas and Elizabeth were the house parents for the boys and girls at this orphanage. It was tough on Wil and tough on me. Saying goodbye generally is, I guess.

On our way home, there were two Guatemalan women and one Guatemalan girl walking along the side of the road. They wore colorful clothing, and on their backs were what looked like heavy loads. Being ignorant and rather impolite as I think back, I wanted to get their picture to show Kim the countryside and the people. Walter stopped the car. The women were embarrassed, even after Walter explained to them in Spanish what I had wanted to do. One would push the other in front while the other woman hid behind her with her daughter.

I felt ashamed. I didn’t mean to embarrass them. Walter assured me it was okay. I ended up not taking the picture. But I won’t forget them, nor will I forget that day.

I reflect on that trip and that day often. I think back on those two Guatemalan women and the little girl. The girl was barefoot, and the two women wore sandals. The load they carried must have been heavy, because both women were stooped over. Even the little girl, maybe nine or ten, had a load to carry. Hers wasn’t nearly as big as the two women, but it was a load nonetheless.

I don’t know how far they had to walk. We were way into the countryside. I hadn’t seen a village nearby, but that isn’t to say there wasn’t one. There was no pickup truck to carry them or their load. They walked along a rutted dirt track up and down hills. Carrying their loads. Big and small.

This week, I was visited by a counselor who wanted to fill me in on one of the students I was working with. Mom and older brother suffering from severe mental illness. The boy I worked with had gotten beaten up by a group of other boys and lived in fear.

An administrator stopped me in the hallway to share some information about another student, a female who suffered. Much of it, brought on by herself, but she suffered just the same. So did her parents.

Each of those students, each of those families carrying a load. Unlike the Guatemalan women and the young girl, we, I, can’t see the load these students carry. Unlike the Guatemalan women and the young girl, we, I, don’t see the stooped shoulders. We might even see a smile- a façade, but a smile, or partial smile. Sometimes, not even that. Just a flat affect.  

And there are others walking hallways, sitting in offices, walking the streets, driving their cars or trucks, sitting on sofas in the living room, carrying loads.

Just because we can’t see the load they carry doesn’t mean they don’t have one. A relationship turning south. A job on the brink. Bills mounting with no income to pay them. Kids who suffer, who are unhappy, who are afraid, who might want to give up, who feel no one cares. Unloved. Uncared for. Hungry, not only for food, but for comfort, a hand, a shoulder, a hug, a kind word.

And we, you and I, can provide that for them if we just take the time to notice. Doesn’t cost much but time. Doesn’t take much to say something kind. Doesn’t take much at all. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Time is running out on the special preorder deal offered by the publisher for 15% off the Lives Trilogy and Prequel! The links are below! I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover, or perhaps, discover, the Lives Trilogy and Prequel. 


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 live in separate parts of the country, 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 futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/takinglives

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/stolenlives 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:

The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. No leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/shatteredlives

Book Three of the Lives TrilogySplintered Lives:

Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern was killed. He has no idea that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/splinteredlives

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page.

On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 

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     

Photo courtesy of Ives Ives and Unsplash

  

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Richard

 

He lived in a red brick house on a quiet, older cul-de-sac in a burb of Richmond. He was friendly with the young couple who lived next door, and he was buddies with Sunny, an elderly lady who lived across the street.

Richard and Sunny would go to breakfast once a week, and Sunny would grocery shop for him. They were, after all, friends. Richard would take his garbage and recycling to the street by himself. The young man who lived next door had offered to do that for him, but Richard liked to do that himself. A pleasant, but independent man.

He and the young man would have conversations about many topics. One of Richard’s favorites was political, and he’d rant about the previous administration, while hoping for the best for the new administration. When in the yard, he’d wave at the young couple and they would wave back. Neighborly.

The young couple noticed Richard hadn’t been around in a while. They would watch for him, but neither had seen him. They wondered. 

After several weeks, the young man asked Sunny if Richard was okay.

She explained Richard had fallen and had broken his arm. He had it mended, but was taken to a rehab center. When he wanted to come home, his daughter refused.

Richard was 103. Coherent. Aware. Intelligent. Friendly. Hadn’t suffered from any other malady.

Sunny told the young man that Richard had wanted to come home, but his daughter thought he was too much of a bother. So, not being able to have visitors because of Covid, not being able to go anywhere, Richard died alone in his room at the rehab center. Probably died more of a broken heart than the broken arm that got him there.

103. Alone. Died. He was too much of a bother. 

I don’t know why this story bothers me so. I mean, I didn’t know Richard. I think I saw him once from a distance. I’m a little over half of his age. I have a loving wife and two wonderful daughters. Hannah is engaged, and Emily probably will be too in a year or so after grad school.

Kim and I are in pretty good shape- Kim in much better shape than I am. Both of us independent, healthy. Nothing much in common with Richard.

I think back to July 2014 when Wil was shot and killed in Chicago. Though there were other pedestrians and drivers on the street, Wil was alone. By himself. And he died on the sidewalk alone. By himself. There are times I wish I would have been with him on that day. I don’t know what I would have said. Maybe something like, “It will be okay.” Maybe hold him. Something.

Richard wanted to come home. And like Wil, he died alone. Maybe that’s why Richard’s story affects me so. Maybe.

I hope that as I advance in age, I’m not a bother to Kim, or Hannah, or Emily. I hope they never feel I’m in the way. I hope I’m never in a place, in a room, by myself, alone, where I will die. I don’t want that. I pray that never happens to me, or to you, or to anyone. I don’t want to be like Richard. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
I am happy to announce that the Lives Trilogy and Prequel is now available for preorder! The links are below, and if you order now, you receive them at a 15% discount! I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover, or perhaps, discover, the Lives Trilogy and Prequel. 
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 live in separate parts of the country, 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 futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/takinglives

Book One, 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 will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/stolenlives 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. No leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/shatteredlives
 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern was killed. He has no idea that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide.A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 

Outnumbered and outgunned, George is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/splinteredlives

Betrayed received a Maxy Runner-Up Award! 

BETRAYED by Joseph Lewis 5 stars
Awesome read, hard to put down. Fast moving, great story of a family who adopted several boys who had nowhere to go. Some were Navajo. A problem came up on the reservation and one boy's friend was missing. Strange, dangerous things were happening. Great read.

I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page.
On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/

Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Finalist! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com 
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  

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, the FBI can protect him or his family. And he cannot protect himself 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 Huy Phan and Unsplash