It seems my brothers can fix anything. They take after my father that way. Jack can wire a house. Jim was a crew chief on a flight line in Vietnam for a year and a half, and an architect after that, and can pretty much do it all. Jeff worked in several jobs, both physical and technical. None of the three are afraid to get their hands dirty. Jack and Jim built our tree fort near the river when we grew up. I think both of them had a hand in building our raft. Jim destroyed it when the push pole got stuck in the mud and he couldn’t pull it out. The raft, traveling with the swift current, was headed for the dam, so he jumped off and the raft, and dam, crashed.
Drywall or Paneling? Ask one of them. Electric? No problem. Plumbing? As long as it’s fairly simple, any of them can do it. Cars. Name it. They can do it.
That particular gene, along with any interest, sailed so far above my head, my hair didn’t even move in the jet stream. I guess if I worked at it, I could get it, but I simply have no interest. None.
Back when Hannah was three or four, she had a Slinky. You know how it can get tangled so badly it won’t work? Well, that’s what happened to it. Hannah handed it to me and asked, “Dad, can you fix this?”
I looked at the tangle and mess of wire and wondered how on earth . . .? I thought it would be much easier to spend a few bucks and get a new one.
She surprised me. She must have read my expression, and said, “Dad, it’s okay. Give it to William. He can fix it.”
Wil was nine or ten at the time, I think, and Hannah had more faith in Wil than she did in me. I didn’t blame her. Not a bit. And you know what? Wil got it untangled, and it worked just fine. He got it right in a matter of minutes. Heck, I’d still be working on it to this day.
For years, I helped fix broken people. As a teacher, coach, counselor, and administrator. I guess I could say in those roles, I broke people, too. I tried not to, and I’d like to think I helped more than I hurt.
I look at the world we’re living in today, and it seems to be a mess of tangled wire, much like Hannah’s Slinky. People hurt, broken. People worried about their future, the world’s future. Not enough food to eat. Kids without clothes. Parents worrying about the roof over their head and where their family will sleep, what they will eat.
Like you or I did once upon a time, kids seek thrills and test fate. Reckless. Dangerous. The latest TikTok challenge to destroy school property, steal this or that. And kids, being kids, do. We shake heads. We ask, “Why?”
As parents, we do the best we can, don’t we? We try, at least. I think about the Biblical passage where the Lord asks, ‘Would you give your son a scorpion if he asks for an egg?’ Of course not! Who would?
But we’re broken. I see it in kids and parents crawling out from under the wreckage of 2020, only to find yet another partial wreck of 2021. Or perhaps it is the same wreck, only taking longer to get fixed. Hurricanes. Floods. Wildfires. Murders and shootings.
I wish we had an extended warranty on 2020, like we do on vehicles. But even if we did, I don’t believe it would do much good. Because in reality, the fixing will take all of us working together to provide some hope, some future for ourselves and our children. I think each of us will need to get our hands dirty. Some of us might take longer to get it right, while others, like my son and the slinky, will get it right in no time. But in the end, it will take all of us. It will take patience. It will take understanding. It will take love.
We might have to ignore some of the hurt done to us, but if we remember the good in our lives, the love and understanding in our lives, maybe we can extend that to others who are in need. It might be an effort for some. I get that. But wouldn’t it be better in the long run if the effort came from us . . . each of us? Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To My Readers:
Author Website: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/
I received several 5 Star Reviews for a couple of my books. Diane Donovan, a Senior Reviewer for the Midwest Book Review, and Editor of California Bookwatch, wrote one for Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy, and one for my newest book, Blaze In, Blaze Out. Stolen Lives also won a Literary Titan Gold Book Award, and was an Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers.
Stolen Lives represents an exciting probe of abduction and unusual connections between fourteen-year-old victims, and is recommended reading for thriller and intrigue fans who enjoy stories that focus as much on rescuers and victims as it does on the perps. Joseph Lewis builds a compelling tale filled with satisfying twists and turns.
As the boys struggle to survive and the police attempt to find answers and hope in a seemingly impossible situation, readers are treated to a scenario firmly rooted in the author's research into child abduction and real-world events that translate well to thought-provoking fictional milieus.
Human trafficking and murder are difficult issues to tackle, yet Lewis does so with astute social, psychological, and investigative insights that keep his story realistic, involving, and unpredictable.
Even though Stolen Lives is part of a trilogy, it ends on a satisfyingly complete note, which makes it highly recommended as a stand-alone story for readers who typically eschew series titles.
Collections strong in social issues, mystery and intrigue, and novels of survival tactics will find Stolen Lives a fine addition.
For Blaze In, Blaze Out, Donovan wrote:
Blaze In, Blaze Out is a detective story that takes place in the aftermath of the conviction of a Ukrainian crime ring, where Detectives Pat O'Connor and Paul Eiselmann have finally brought the perps to court and justice has been served.
Neither detective expected head honcho Dmitry Andruko to organize a vendetta against them from jail—but this is what takes place, and the quiet repose each officer seeks after their challenging case takes an ominous turn as elusive contract killers enter their lives to threaten everything they love.
Joseph Lewis specializes in a fast-paced action story that takes the time to build compelling atmosphere around its events. He also presents the point of view of the contract killer challenged to do his job. This nicely rounds out the dilemma and viewpoint of the detectives as they face their pursuers and struggle to survive long enough to capture them.
There are also many surprises, as when the killer proves to have a heart, saving a potential victim even as he plots to complete his assignment.
It only goes to show that proving guilt is sometimes the beginning of the journey—not the end.
Blaze In, Blaze Out is highly recommended for detective story readers and libraries catering to them. Mystery readers seeking a compelling saga will find this story of detectives and four teen adopted brothers who face a clever killer to be fast-paced, involving, and filled with satisfyingly unpredictable moments, tempered by fine tension that builds up to a thought-provoking conclusion leaving the door ajar for more.
The Bottom Line: A superb crime drama simmering with suspense and deep character studies en route to an explosive finale. Lewis employs chapters told from the killers’ points of view to great effect, building suspense as both groups stalk their prey. Featuring a taut, deliberate plot that builds to a crescendo, Blaze In, Blaze Out is a welcome break from end-to-end breathless action thrillers. Rather than relying on gimmicks, Lewis has created a village of sturdy characters that he moves in and out of his novels, and he centers their development around engrossing police procedurals. Since much of the boys’ individual coming-of-age stories begins in Betrayed, readers are strongly encouraged to read both books in tandem.”
Betrayed won Honorable Mention for Fiction-Crime-Mystery in the Reader’s Favorite Book Award contest. That marks the fourth award Betrayed has won.
My new book, Blaze In, Blaze Out, is now available for preorder. Use the promo code: PREORDER2021 and order it at the publisher’s website at: https://www.blackrosewriting.com/mystery/blazeinblazeout
Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko meant the end. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. A target is a target, and in the end, the target will die.
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 Reader’s Favorite Honorable Mention Award Winner for Fiction-Crime-Mystery!
Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and
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, do not know 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
Caught in a Web is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka
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
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: Editor’s Pick by BestThrillers! Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner!
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 to anyone willing to kill fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern. 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
Photo courtesy of Daniel Tafjord and Unsplash