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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Touch Fouls

I coached basketball for a number of years, mostly on the high school level. Did a two-year stint at the college level as a graduate assistant, and even coached my daughter, Hannah, for her eighth grade travel team. Most years, I had success. Other years, not so much. Loved coaching except at the collegiate level, where I spent more time on the road scouting and recruiting than I did on the floor.

As a coach, you hope the game will be called fairly. You hope the officials will be consistent. You hope that if the officials call something on your team, they will call the same on the other team. You hope the officiating is not one-sided. Can’t say that always happened. I do believe there is such a thing as the home court advantage, and I do believe that a “winning” reputation has its perks when it comes to officials.

There were times when I was driven crazy by touch fouls, while the blatant knock down, elbow to the chest, back, or face was left uncalled. Typically, a touch foul was called up on the top where a guard would hand-check, sometimes hold the opposing player, while underneath there were body blows that wouldn’t be called.

As a coach, I was an equal opportunity screamer. It didn’t matter if I knew the official. It didn’t matter if I didn’t know the official. It didn’t matter if the official was young or old or somewhere in between. If I saw something that needed to be called, I would voice my opinion. Loudly. I will also admit that at times, I was obnoxious and annoying.

Now, I get the fact that officials are human. I do believe they do their best. There were some who, shall I say, needed better vision. And I have to admit that coaches are not always able to see both sides of a call or play. A coach wants his team to win. I never complained when my team received the benefit of the call. I might snicker without the official seeing me. I might raise my eyebrows at my assistants or players. But if the call went against us that was blatantly wrong (in my eyes), I let everyone on the court, in the gym, and perhaps the tri-state area know about it. As I said, I was loud.

I used to teach, coach, counsel my players to not give payback. By that I mean, if a player does something that might be a foul, such as an elbow, push, shove, extra hip, don’t retaliate. When that happens, the official, who didn’t see the original foul, will see the retaliation and they will call that. It hurts the player and it hurts the team. And, for a coach like me, it might cause me to lose my mind. 

When it comes to a playground game without officials, it is understood that there will be some non-calls. You can’t call everything. You play. You take your chances. For the most part, things come out even. Big things get called. Little things don’t. That’s the “rule” of playground hoops.

Such is life, I think.

All too often, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, teachers and principals, get caught up in calling the touch fouls- things that might not matter in the long run. A kid not putting dirty clothes in the hamper. A kid not closing dresser drawers or the closet door. A kid talking to the kid sitting next to him or her. Passing a note. Daydreaming. Sometimes, the big things are a result of too many called touch fouls. Nagging. Bickering. The “silent treatment.” And when that happens, life or the household or the classroom or the school building become toxic and unbearable.

I think if a touch foul is called in life, sometimes tone of voice, the timing, the setting can often times hurt the relationship more than help it. There is a way, a time, and a place for a gentle discussion on the hurts (the fouls) that occur. It doesn’t have to be at the top of one’s lungs. It can be a teaching moment- in the family, the classroom, the building, the workplace – whatever setting one is in.

I am opposed to letting so many “fouls” in life build up to the point where there is an explosion. It isn’t good for anyone. Sometimes, the “offender” might not realize what he or she is doing, so yes, it needs to be pointed out. (see paragraph above).

I am not against communication. Quite the opposite. However, sometimes I feel the way, the words, and the place are not appropriate. I think more can go wrong than go right. There becomes a tipping point between when to call the touch foul, where to call the touch foul, and how to call the touch foul, as much as determining “if” a touch foul actually needs to be called. 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 will be available May 25, 2021, with pre-orders available well before that. I edited, and in some cases, 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 in some cases, discover – the Lives Trilogy and Prequel. 

Betrayed is a Maxy Award Finalist! I found out last week, and I am excited about that.

I Received another 5 Star Review for Betrayed!

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

 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Made My Year


 Saturdays are my this and that day. Odds and ends. Typically, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house. Those sorts of things. Kim and I will relax in the afternoon. I’ll do some writing. Like I said, a this and that kind of day.

Yesterday was no different.

I was filling up my car with gas while a young man across from me was doing the same. Every now and then, he would smile at me. I nodded back. He finally asked if I was Mr. Lewis, the principal. I told him that yes, I was, but I had retired this past June.

He said, “You don’t recognize me, do you?” I responded, “No, I don’t. You look familiar, though.” He said, “My name is N_______ ______, and I know you remember that name.” I said, “Yes, I do. When did you graduate?” and he said, “2014.”

Now, my school graduated about 500 kids a year. 2014 was seven years ago, or approximately, 3,500 kids ago. Yet, I remembered his name.

He told me he had gotten suspended many times for fighting, popping off to teachers, “stuff.” Oh, I remembered! Yes, I surely did!

He told me that there was one thing I had said to him that had always stuck with him.

He said there was a meeting with his grandparents, his assistant principal, and me. It was during that meeting I had told him, “Your grandparents don’t deserve this. You can do better. You can make better choices, better decisions. If you aren’t willing to do it for yourself, look at your grandmother and your grandfather, and do it for them.”

It is something I might say to any kid who made a mistake. He remembered it, and this is what he had remembered from that meeting.

He was a good kid who had made poor choices. His grandparents loved him and wanted to help, but they needed some support. That happens. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I heard a parent or grandparent weep and say, “I don’t know what to do.” Heck, there were times as an administrator I felt the same way.

My philosophy has always been that all kids get it . . . eventually. Some get it sooner than others. Some get it later, hopefully before it gets too bad and before they get in too deep. But kids will get it.

It never paid to lose one’s mind over an action or a word. What good does it do? The kid did or said whatever he or she did. They know it. We know it. All that’s left is to apply a consequence, and hopefully learning comes from it. Hopefully.

What made my year and what brought a smile to my face and what warmed my heart was when he told me he had joined the marines, and that now he was a stockbroker.

Wow! Imagine that! He made my year!

A kid who fought, who walked the hallways angry and with a chip on his shoulder, a kid who was suspended repeatedly for violating this rule or that rule. A kid whose grandparents agonized over him and not knowing what to do or where to turn. A kid who finally woke up . . . not sure exactly when . . . but he woke up and turned into a seemingly fine young man. A smile on his face. A kid who seemed happy with life, with himself. This kid. Any kid. Really, all kids . . . eventually. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

 To My Readers:

The edits and revisions for the Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now complete! I am waiting to see the book covers. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I will keep you posted as to when they might be available for purchase on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble.

I Received a New 5 Star Review and Author Spotlight!

You can find the Review here:

https://writersinspiringchange.com/feature-review

and the Author Spotlight here:

https://writersinspiringchange.wordpress.com/2021/04/04/international-writers-inspiring-change-feature-book-review-betrayed-by-joseph-lewis/


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. My most recent post introduces you to Detective Pat O'Connor. I also 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 book 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
 
Betrayed: 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. 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, the FBI can protect him or his family. And he cannot protect himself 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 Ben White and Unsplash

 

 

 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

An Example


 There is one memory of my father that stands out among all the memories I have of him. It is permanently etched in my brain, and I can tell you it causes me to think about my actions and my words to my kids and to anyone I come in contact with. At least I try. Sometimes I fail, but I try.

We were living in the house by the river. I know I was little and shared a bedroom and bed with my younger brother, Jeff. I don’t remember how many brothers and sisters were living at the house at that time, but I would wager a good number of the ten of us. Probably my older sisters had moved out and had gone to college.

I know I had never thought I had lacked anything growing up, but I had come to realize that we were poor. The guy at the little market where dad liked to shop gave us healthy discounts on what was purchased. He was a friend of my dad. A good guy.

Again, I was little, maybe first or second grade at the time. We had gotten ready for bed, probably in bed, and I had gotten up for some reason. I remember walking past my parent’s bedroom, and I saw my dad kneeling down at the side of the bed, praying. His head was down. His hands were folded. He had stayed that way for quite a long time.

I watched, mesmerized. The kids in our family were brought up to pray. We went to church each Sunday, 9:15 AM at Holy Angels, third or fourth pew in front on the left. Heck, we could have had our names carved permanently in the wood. That was our place, all of us, each Sunday. During Lent, we’d pray the rosary as a family on our knees in the living room. A long prayer and it wasn’t comfortable. Back then when I was little, I couldn’t wait for it to end.

And while we prayed before meals, hands folded, head down and eyes closed, and while my little brother and I prayed each night before crawling into bed, I had no idea that my dad prayed by himself at night. I don’t know why I didn’t know that. I don’t know why I hadn’t considered that. It should have been a given, I guess. But it honestly hadn’t occurred to me.

But there he was, on his knees, hands folded, head down, in prayer.

I remember sneaking back once or twice after and saw the same thing. My dad prayed. By himself, with no one watching . . . except for me from a distance in the dark. And it stayed with me all these years.

I wondered, and still wonder, if my kids know I pray. My routine is the morning. I have a devotional I read that contains a scripture passage and a thought, which is followed by a short prayer. It starts my day out. At night, I’m usually in bed and I go over what I did or didn’t do. My mind plays and trips over all the things I could-have-should-have-but-didn’t-do. You know that game, right? I think we all do.

But I don’t know if Hannah or Emily know I pray each day. I don’t think I gave them the example my dad gave me. That bothers me. Prayer and spirituality play an important role in my life, but I don’t know that my daughters, or Wil when he was alive, knew that. Yes, we went to church. Yes, my kids were all Baptized. Yes, my kids had their First Communion, and many others since.

But . . .

It seems I left something out. They are older and have begun their own lives now. I reach out daily to them each morning and many times throughout the day, wishing them a good day. I do this with several of the kids I taught, or coached, or was counselor or principal for. But, do they know me in my spiritual life? Did I set an example for them? I wonder. Something I truly think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

The edits and book covers for the Lives Trilogy and Prequel are progressing. I redid and/or tweaked Taking Lives, Stolen Lives, and Shattered Lives, and I will begin the redo and edits on Splintered Lives this week. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I will keep you posted as to when they might be available for purchase on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble.

I Received a New 5 Star Review and Author Spotlight!

You can find the Review here:

https://writersinspiringchange.com/feature-review

and the Author Spotlight here:

https://writersinspiringchange.wordpress.com/2021/04/04/international-writers-inspiring-change-feature-book-review-betrayed-by-joseph-lewis/

 

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. 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
 
Betrayed: 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. 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, the FBI can protect him or his family. And he cannot protect himself 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 Nathan Lemon and Unsplash