Follow by Email

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Fear and Death


 I received a phone call from a dear friend, who is also one of my childhood heroes. Sr. Josephe’ Marie was my sixth grade teacher, and who was one of two teachers who absolutely and totally turned my life around. No hyperbole. Only the truth.

Many of you know my backstory, but from first through third grade, I barely received anything beyond a grade of C. Mostly, I received Ds. Back in those days, there were columns of things to work on, and there were a whole lot of checkmarks in those columns on my report card. I had a bit of a stuttering problem back then. We were poor. One teacher told me that I “was just another Lewis kid.” In those days, most classes were tracked. I was in the blackbird reading group, not the bluebird group or the cardinal group. You know what that meant.

I entered fourth grade and my teacher was Mrs. Gerald Mehring. Nancy, as I call her today. I don’t know what it was, but she saw something in me. She began calling on me for my opinion. I remember one time she had me give an opinion on a class disagreement. She, and the class, accepted it. That was the start for me. She turned my life around. By the end of the year, I was in the cardinal reading group. I was getting As and Bs on my report card with no checkmarks.

In sixth grade, we had this young nun, Sr. Josephe’ Marie Flynn. She would fly around the room, her robe rustling, rosary beads rattling. When she worked one on one with us, she would put her arm around shoulders and hug us. She complimented us, cared for us, played kickball on the church playground with us.

It was Josephe’ who started me on my love for writing with her story starter note cards. When we were done with a test or our work, we could take a story starter and complete the story. Three or four paragraphs on a notecard and, if we wanted, we’d finish the story. No grade. No credit. Just fun. 

I had heard about the Covid-19 outbreak at one of the elderly homes where nuns lived. There were many who got sick and many who had died. I had not heard from Josephe’ in several years, so I worried. I sent a letter off to the last known address and waited. And waited. Nothing. 

Then, Josephe’ called me last week. A couple of months shy of her 80th birthday. Still a ball of energy. Still upbeat. Still happy and laughing. Still full of joy.

She told me she had Alzheimer’s.

She didn’t tell me the stage or when it began. I am not a doctor, so I don’t know any of that, but I do know the end, when it comes, isn’t pretty.

Yet . . .

As I said, she wasn’t sad or down. She wasn’t depressed. She spoke just as she had spoken years ago. In my mind, with my ears, nothing had changed. Nothing. She put thoughts together. She was coherent and lucid. In my mind, she was, and is, Josephe’.

What she wanted to talk to me about was death. Her own. Mine. Yours. Ours.

Odd topic for a phone call from someone you hadn’t spoken to in ages. But that is what she wanted to talk about. Death, and God.

She talked about the lives and hearts of those who she touched. Or rather, as she said, God touched through her. People she knew, and people she never met before. God would speak to her, she would listen, and she would minister to them.

A middle-aged couple with a boy, all riding the bus together. She sensed they needed prayer. The four of them, Josephe’, the couple and the boy all got off at the same bus stop. Josephe’ walked up to them, let the mother know that, “It is going to be all right. Their boy would be safe. It would take six months, but it will work out. I promise. God said it was so.” The mother burst into tears and said, “They want to take my boy.” And Josephe’ smiled, hugged her, and told her that, “God will take care of you. Six months. Trust Him.”

And she walked away. And they walked away. They didn’t know each other, but Josephe’ remembered that the mother and the father smiled and nodded through their tears and she knew they felt peace.

One of many stories she told me. One of many she had told me over the many years since my sixth grade. I know of many more. I know there are many who, like me, know Josephe’ and heard stories about her from others. Healing. Peace. Love.

And she attributed all this to God. Her God, my God, your God- whether or not you believe. It doesn’t matter if you don’t, because He’s still there and He still cares. 

Mostly, she talked about death. And fear.

She told me that death isn’t something to fear. Death is one door opening to another grander, beautiful life.

What she told me was that fear kills. Fear destroys. Fear takes away peace. It places a roadblock in one’s life preventing love from getting through. Being loved, and loving in return.

We experienced that in our lives this past year, haven’t we? Fear. Fear of Covid-19. Fear of this party staying in power. Fear of this party taking over. Fear of this candidate, this policy. Fear of a loss of job, of a loss of income, of losing a home. Losing our loved ones.

Fear is debilitating. It ruins our immune system. It ruins our relationships, not only with others, but with ourselves. Fear.

Josephe’ recognized that her memory is fading. Like she has done for years, she has written things down, but also verifies these thoughts with others who don’t have Alzheimer’s. Fact-checking, if you will.

Her message that she wanted to convey to any and all who might listen is that death is not to be feared. It is fear itself, to paraphrase FDR. Her message is to live life, love it, and know that there is better beyond this life. Better.

I think about this in my very early retirement, and on the backside of my own life. Will I get to see and hold my grandchildren in the coming years? What will happen to Kim, to Hannah, to Emily upon my passing? Will they be okay? Will they be taken care of?

Those are my fears. Not of death, per se. But of missing out on their lives and the question of their safety, their own lives. I know what the death of a loved one feels like. I felt it when our son, Wil, was taken from us. That ripped apart our heart and soul. I don’t want that same feeling to occur upon my passing. I want Kim, and Hannah, and Em – anyone who has been involved with my life, anyone who I happened to touch in a positive way – that I’ll be okay. I will be all right. That they will be okay. You, too.

I want them, you, taken care of and know that death happens to all of us, but fear doesn’t have to. It doesn’t. Don’t give in to fear. Live. Be happy. Be joyous. Celebrate life around you. Be and live in the moment, the now. Smile and laugh. Don’t let fear overcome your life. Like Josephe’ said, it will be okay. It will be good. She promises! 😊 Something to think about . . . 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have a new author's website. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books. I release snippets from those books. I let you in on any interviews I have done. I will let you know of any events coming up for books sales and signings. 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 

Photo courtesy of  Guillaume de Germain and Unsplash

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Children Are Us

 

I have been in a rather nostalgic mood lately. I find it happening more so as I get older, especially around holidays. I remember over our Christmas break standing in front of the game closet with Emily. We were looking for a game to play as a family. I began to weep. Em asked if I was okay and I lied and said I was. No, I wasn’t. My heart ached.

I remembered how Hannah and Em would play this game or that game. How we would laugh and sometimes complain. A competitive bunch we are. Mostly, the stories and being together. But I wept because so much of that doesn’t happen any longer. Hannah and Alex have their lives, and Emily and Q have their lives, and mostly, it’s Kim and me. How I long for those days when Em would crawl up on my lap and nap. How Hannah and I would stop for breakfast on our way to school. Our routines. Our memories. Maybe just my memories.

I wrote a book, Spiral Into Darkness, about a serial killer. I started with the questions, ‘How does one become a serial killer? Are they born that way or is there a trigger that causes one to become one?’ In that same book, a thread of a storyline ran through it about family: what makes a family? Born? Adoption? Does Adoption somehow “ruin” a family? In that same thread, I have a character beginning to wrestle and struggle with sexuality. I’ve taken some “hits” with reviewers about that, but having worked with kids for 44 years, listening to their stories in the locker room or the counseling office, I understand, I think, what makes kids tick. Or at the least, what makes some kids tick. I’m not an expert and don’t claim to be. Just one guy who has been around and who has listened and watched.

More recently, I look at some of the hatred my fellow Americans have for one another. One group espouses hatred and intolerance of black people, brown people, Jewish people. I believe these fellow Americans have always been there. Next door. Down the street. In the supermarket. In positions of leadership. The priest, minister, the custodian, the mailman.

They’ve become more vocal, more out in the open.

As someone who worked with kids, I wonder about them, just as much as I wondered about the serial killer in my book. How does someone become hateful? How does someone become intolerant? Are they born that way- with a predilection of hatred towards one group or another, or is there a trigger that causes one to become hateful?

My belief is that kids are kids. They don’t know hate until they learn it, just like they don’t know love until they learn it. They play with each other, read with each other, attend the same churches, movie theaters, malls. It isn’t until they are taught to hate, to distrust, to disrespect that they become hateful, distrustful, disrespectful. 

Kids learn those behaviors. And, they learn those behaviors from us, from adults.

The picture I chose for this post was purposeful, just like the other photos I used for my other posts. I don’t know who took this picture, but the story behind it is that the kids were being read to by their teacher. The little girl was tired and without asking, she leaned over and used the leg of the little boy sitting next to her as a pillow. The little boy placed his arm on the little girl’s shoulder. Protective, maybe. Maybe just resting his arm. No words were exchanged by either the boy or the girl. It just happened.

The little girl didn’t look at the boy and say, “You’re black. I can’t rest my head on your leg. I shouldn’t even be sitting next to you.” No, she simple rested her head on his leg without asking, and the boy let it happen and protected her in doing so.

I remember when Emily was quite young, Wil, our son, explained to her that he was adopted by us. She didn’t understand what adoption was. She just “knew” that Wil was her brother, and that some families have “brown” kids. We laugh about it now, but Emily didn’t see color. She saw only Wil, who was her brother. It wasn’t until Wil explained to her that he wasn’t born of Kim and me, but adopted and came to live with us as a family, that she understood what adoption was.

Kids learn from each of us. Our actions. Our attitudes. Our words. They watch. They listen. They learn. Our children become us. Our children are us.

My question to you is, who do we want our children to be? What type of adults do we want them to become? They will, after all, inherit our world and all that is right . . . and wrong . . . with it. They will arrive in their thinking, their choices, their decisions having learned from us, the adults- their parents, their teachers, their significant others. Yes, they will go about life their own way and in their own time, but for a significant portion of their lives, they are taught, and molded, and formed by us. Are you happy with what and how you taught your children? Are you happy and proud of them becoming you, us? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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

I am pleased to announce that this past December, Betrayed has won the Literary Titan Silver Book Award one month after its release. I am proud of that accomplishment.

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.

"I was on the edge of my seat and holding my breath as I waited for these characters to get through the latest scrape." @MyBookishBliss

"The story whilst it’s a hunt for a missing friend also shines a light on teens who are struggling to find their place in the world." @MachinSharronm1

"Joseph Lewis has tactfully dealt with some difficult themes, and still managed to squeeze a nice amount of action and mystery into this novel." @caathycastling

"Excellent pacing, intriguing characters, and an action-packed plot line. Don't miss this one!" @jessicaxbelmont

"Well written and with real heart and honesty this is a beautiful and moving story about survival and kinship." @ramblingmads

"An action-packed thriller that grabbed my attention from the start. ... I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this book and getting to know all the characters." @ShazzieRimmel 

You can find Betrayed at https://amzn.to/2EKHudx You can also watch the book trailer at https://youtu.be/YE8jHbHqSC8

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  You can watch the book trailer at https://youtu.be/PrDxfbfqV_8 

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 You can watch the book trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd3YdNv_ayQ

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       

Photo Courtesy of Unknown and Facebook  

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Words

As a writer, I am careful and deliberate when it comes to what I write. I think all writers are. What I place on paper, what I choose to have a character say, and where I choose to have the character say it are deliberate choices. The are decisions I make that help the reader get emotional, and sometimes physically, involved in what I’ve written. There is an old adage that goes like this: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. I have to feel it first before you, the reader, feels it. If I don’t, you won’t.

Phyllis Whitney said, “Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.” And Shannon Hale writes, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box, so that later, I can build castles.” Writers are reminded all the time that no one ever sees the first draft of anything, and no one cares about the first (or second or third) draft- only the final product.

I am aware that what I write will cause someone to think, mostly feel. I write with emotion. Sometimes that emotion is uncomfortable for the reader, and it should be, because it was uncomfortable for me writing it. Mostly, I write to make myself think, which in turn makes the reader think. Yes, I want what I write to be “real” to the reader, since it is “real” to me. I also want it to be entertaining.

Each of my stories contain life examples. Many of these life stories come from the kids I’ve worked with over the years. I’m simply retelling what was shared with me in the classroom, the locker room, the hallways, the counseling office. So, what Brian, George, Brett, or Bobby (some of the characters in my books) are thinking, saying or doing, you can pretty much bet that there have been kids I’ve heard or watched doing the same thing. I think that lends a “realism” to each of my books. 

As careful as I am with my writing, there are times when I’m less careful about what I say. Admitting that pains me, but it is the truth.

There are times when I say something that I think is funny and harmless, but what I say ends up hurting someone’s feelings. That hurts me as much or more than it hurt the recipient. I honestly try not to let my emotions interfere with my words, my actions, or my judgment, but I admit I am human. I make mistakes. There are times when I’ve let my emotions get the best of me. I cause friction, hurt, and fail to live up to my own expectation to lift someone up rather than push someone down. Correcting that mistake is often a humbling experience, but a necessary one nonetheless.

There are folks who read my blog who don’t share my religious beliefs, my political beliefs, my beliefs on family, rights, or freedom and responsibility. While I don’t understand their thinking or reasoning, I’m certain they don’t understand mine. Life.

This last week was a particularly tough week in a year that has been particularly tough for many.

What bothered me, actually haunts me, is that words were said that pushed and pulled people to act in such a way as to hurt others. Five people died. There was damage to a public building. Things were stolen. People got arrested. Some got fired from their jobs. Others might end up resigning in shame or anger.

But the words that were used to spur action were deliberate choices. They certainly weren’t intended to lift up. They certainly weren’t intended to create peace. The words chosen were deliberate. And those deliberate choices of words had, and will have, consequences that reach far beyond the two or three minutes it took for those words to be uttered, and the four or five hours it took for the death and destruction that occurred.

I realize people make mistakes. I realize that people act in emotion rather than in thought. I realize that, because I have done it and probably will do it in the future. Probably yet today. And again, it pains me to admit that. But I know I am human.

It saddens me when leaders urge, or at the very least, support violence. It’s wrong. If words are meant to hurt or harm others, that is wrong. There is no other way to state that. No other way to think about that.

We need to do better. We need to act better. And, our words need to be better. I am on the backside of life. But my kids and your kids have a lifetime ahead of them. We need to do better, not only for ourselves, but for them. Our words have consequences. Our actions have consequences. Consider for a moment what you are saying now, what you are thinking of doing now or in the future. Will my children, and their children, be proud of it? Will what you say and what you do, what you are saying and what you are doing, make them better people? Will what you say and what you do make this world a safer and better place to live for you? For your children? For those you love and care about? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference . . . a Positive Difference, please!

To My Readers:

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

I am pleased to announce that this past December, Betrayed has won the Literary Titan Silver Book Award one month after its release. I am proud of that accomplishment.

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.

"I was on the edge of my seat and holding my breath as I waited for these characters to get through the latest scrape." @MyBookishBliss

"The story whilst it’s a hunt for a missing friend also shines a light on teens who are struggling to find their place in the world." @MachinSharronm1

"Joseph Lewis has tactfully dealt with some difficult themes, and still managed to squeeze a nice amount of action and mystery into this novel." @caathycastling

"Excellent pacing, intriguing characters, and an action-packed plot line. Don't miss this one!" @jessicaxbelmont

"Well written and with real heart and honesty this is a beautiful and moving story about survival and kinship." @ramblingmads

"An action-packed thriller that grabbed my attention from the start. ... I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this book and getting to know all the characters." @ShazzieRimmel

You can find Betrayed at https://amzn.to/2EKHudx You can also watch the book trailer at https://youtu.be/YE8jHbHqSC8

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 You can watch the book trailer at https://youtu.be/PrDxfbfqV_8

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  You can watch the book trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd3YdNv_ayQ

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      

Photo Courtesy of Brett Jordan and Unsplash  

Friday, January 1, 2021

Resolutions

 


My sister, Betty, had a New Year tradition that I found funny, if not a bit strange. Each year, she would have a can of sardines open. At the stroke of midnight, in one hand, there would be a sardine on a fork and in the other hand, a dollar bill. I believe there was a third thing, but I can’t recall what it was. She said the sardine represented enough to eat in the coming year. The dollar bill represented enough wealth to get by in the coming year. I believe the third thing dealt with health in the new year. For Betty and her husband, they seemed to have enough food and enough money for them to get by. In her later years, her health failed, and she passed away. This was quite some time ago after she spent time a long time in a hospital. A sad ending to such a funny and kind lady. Someone who could and often did poke fun at herself. I loved, and still love, her much.

Fairly regularly, I’ve made resolutions going into the new year, only to backtrack and then forget the resolutions I’ve made. Lose weight. Get in shape. This. That. Whatever. Like I said, I never finished what I set out to do. I think that is common among most of us.

This year, I would like to offer you a thought on resolutions that are not only painless, but will help both you and others. I’m sure you will be able to come up with others that are meaningful to your life, as well as others that will be meaningful to others in your life.

For me . . .

I will smile more.

Not that I don’t smile already, but I want to be more conscious of smiling more, because smiling, whether you realize it or not, can and will change one’s attitude. A smile is infectious. It spreads faster than Covid-19, and is certainly less painful and uncomfortable. A smile is a doorway for others to approach you, to interact with you. It is a welcome matt that sits in front of your heart and soul that says, “Hey, I’m okay, and you are too. Welcome!”

I will be kind.

I like to think that I am already kind, but I want to be intentional about it. I want to extend kindness to those who are unkind. I want to be kind to anyone without expectation of having kindness return to me. We already live in a world that can be cruel without knowing and is sometimes cruel purposely. We don’t have to be unkind. There are too many people who are suffering, who are fighting battles and demons. We don’t need to add to their tough fight. Be kind.

I will be gentle.

There are times when I can be harsh, sometimes rude. That is not my intention, honestly, but I know that my words will come out wrong sometimes, and I know that my actions can sometimes be perceived as uncaring. I want to be deliberately gentle to those around me, including being gentle with myself. I can be and often am my own worst nightmare when it comes to playing the if-I-could-have-would-have-should-have game. I am quick to focus on my own weaknesses and my own faults, rather than on my strengths and efforts. That needs to change.

I will forgive.

This is the hardest one for me. While I can and often do (sometimes don’t) forgive those who have hurt me, I am relentless with those who hurt my family. I don’t have the patience with them to see that they are hurting, which is sometimes why people act without thinking and hurt those who I love. All I focus on is that my wife or one of my daughters is hurt. I think I need to remember that I can forgive, but I can learn to not forget. That doesn’t mean holding a grudge. It means that perhaps my trust won’t be misplaced again. It means that there is a lesson that was learned that won’t be repeated. I know this will take a great deal of strength and fortitude on my part, but I know I need to forgive.

If along the I can shed a few pounds (and I know I have many to shed), and if I can get off my butt and move more (I have been working at it consciously), all the better. But I think my resolutions for the coming year, for many years after this one, might do me and those whom I love, the most good. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers: 

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

I am pleased to announce that this past December, Betrayed has won the Literary Titan Silver Book Award one month after its release. I am proud of that accomplishment.

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.

“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. 

You can find Betrayed at https://amzn.to/2EKHudx You can also watch the book trailer at https://youtu.be/YE8jHbHqSC8

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 You can watch the book trailer at https://youtu.be/PrDxfbfqV_8

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  You can watch the book trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd3YdNv_ayQ

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     

Photo Courtesy of Tim Mossholder and Unsplash