Sunday, December 12, 2021

Lessons to Learn

I was twenty-two when I moved to Wyoming for my first teaching and coaching position. I had never lived there, and only traveled there once with my family when I was in middle school. I took that job because of my fascination with the west and with cowboy and Native American lore. I love that era of history. My books are filled with contemporary images and settings.

I lived in the very eastern, but middle part of the state, just miles from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, in what they call the Nebraska Sandhills. I lived in two towns while I was there, Torrington and Yoder. Torrington was the larger of the two, but still small compared to where I grew up. Yoder had a population of 101 when I was there. It had an elementary school, a gas station, a bar, and a post office. 

One of my students took me on a drive to a bluff, a small mesa, and we climbed to the top. Not at all a struggle. In fact, that image of and trek up that mesa became the image and setting in several of my books. I’ve not been back there in ages, and I even wonder if I could find it again.

Just like the song sung by the Who, ‘I could see for miles and miles’. Nothing but flat grassland and fields of wheat.

Even at a lower level of terrain, one could still see forever. I watched many storms build in the northeast and roll across the prairie. I watched sheets of rain creep closer and closer until I felt mist on my face and arms. I would then run for cover.

During one or two summers, I drove wheat truck for Gerald and his brother, Harold. The day would begin early, just before sunup. I’d climb in the truck and drive to the field. The harvester would pull filled with wheat, dump it in my truck, and I’d drive it to the granary to unload. Then I’d drive back and repeat the process, stopping only for lunch or to fill the truck up with gas.

Gerald and Harold knew the weather could be unpredictably predictable. They knew it would rain about three o’clock in the afternoon most days. Other days, especially in late summer, the storm could bring hail. They discussed taking out crop insurance in case a field or two would get wiped out, but in their experience, they’d take it out on one or two fields, not on the others, and the fields they didn’t get the insurance on would get the hail.

While disappointed them, they would shrug it off and accept it as something nature would do. It would happen whether they fretted about it or not. They would take it in stride, collect their remaining wheat from the untouched fields, and move on.

One rancher spent thousands of dollars on a bull. He had hoped the bull would provide stock for years to come. However, several days after the purchase, it was struck by lightning and it died. He had insurance on it, but as he said with a shrug, “I’d rather have the bull.” 

I spent three years in Wyoming, and I learned many life lessons. Who would not at age 22? Some lessons stuck with me, while I with other lessons, I still struggle.

Watching a storm creep along the prairie, I knew it was coming and there was little I could do about it, except to get out of its way and find some shelter. The storm would pass, and the sun would shine, and life would move on. There were many storms. But there were many wonderful days spent under the sun and the brilliant blue sky. Many more days like that than the ones filled with a passing storm.

And stuff, like hail hitting the uninsured field or lightning killing an insured bull, happens. Nothing I, or the ranchers, could do about it. It happened, and with a shrug of a shoulder, we move on.

I still struggle with the stuff happening lesson. I play the ‘what if’ game, and it drives me and others around me crazy. I can spend precious minutes, hours, even days, worrying and wondering about stuff I can’t control. Why bother? Maybe I should be more like Harold and shrug at the ruined wheat field. Maybe I should be more like Sonny and shrug at the death of the bull. Not much I, or we, can do anyway, right? Maybe we should learn to take care of the things we can control to the best of our ability, and then when things we can’t control happen, remember that we did the best we could.

If we see a storm rolling toward us, maybe we can remember all the sunny days spent under the brilliant blue sky and still smile. After all, the sun is still shining somewhere. We just can’t see it at the moment. It’s still there, and it will shine upon us once again in time. It always does. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I am pleased to announce that my book, Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy, has been named a Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards! That is the second award Stolen Lives has won. Previously, it received a Literary Titan Gold Book Award. I’m happy, as well as humbled, that there has been success with Stolen Lives.

Connect with me on Social Media: 
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Blaze In, Blaze Out, is available for preorder until 1-6-22. Save 15% by using the promo code: PREORDER2021 it at my publisher’s website at:

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.

BetrayedA PenCraft 1st Place Winner for Thriller-Fiction! 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 Paperback!

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.

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.

Caught in a WebA PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

Caught in a Web is also Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

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.  
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.
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.  
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. 
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 death?  

Photo courtesy of unknown and Facebook.



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