Sunday, January 16, 2022

Appreciating Both Then and Now

On December 12, 1993, I flew to Guatemala to pick up our adopted son, William. That sounds much easier than it was. Lots of papers to sign. Many people to pay. Excruciating appointments at the Guatemala embassy and at the United States embassy. A physical for William. More paperwork.

I had to travel by myself because on November 11, 1993, Kim gave birth to our daughter, Hannah. While Kim wanted to travel with me, we decided it would be better if she remain behind with Hannah. I think the trip would have been easier with her. I would still have the excruciating appointments and mounds of paperwork, but when pain is shared, it becomes less.

On Wednesday of that week, our “driver” took Wil and me to see Casa Shalom, the orphanage Wil lived in for a year while he waited to be picked up by us. I say, “driver” because, in actuality, Walter was our bodyguard. The adoption lawyer instructed him to never let us go anywhere without him. I didn’t figure this out until mid-week when the lawyer explained that the Guatemalan government was changing its attitude towards “gringos” and adoption.

The trip was both beautiful and sad at the same time. There were two incidents that I still see and feel to this day.

One was of two boys standing away from the rest. It turned out they were brothers. Both were crying, while the younger boy cried harder. I asked Elizabeth, the orphanage housemother, what the older one had said to the younger one. Elizabeth explained sadly that the older boy said, “Don’t worry. Someday we’ll have a daddy, too.” I wanted to take Wil and the two boys with me in that instant, and I knew Kim would have wanted me to. But, the Guatemalan government . . . the United States government . . .

The other incident took place as Walter drove us away from the orphanage. Elizabeth had the kids line both sides of the driveway and wave as we drove off. I barely kept my composure. Wil gripped my hand, and once he saw what the kids were doing, put his head down and wept. So sad. Gut-wrenching.

After leaving the orphanage, we stopped at a mission and an open-air market before we drove back to the city. I had seen missions while we lived in California, but Antigua, Guatemala, was much older than any I had toured. You could see it was old, but it was well-maintained. Dark and Catholic in design. My parents would have loved it.

The open-air market was like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced. Everything and anything you can imagine was on display for a price. Wil wanted to get Hannah a doll and a dress, so that’s what we bought. As we ventured into the darkened space in the back of the tent, Wil tugged on my arm and held his nose. I didn’t know what he was trying to tell me until the smell hit me like a heavyweight’s sucker punch. Meat hung from rope or string. Flies galore and the merchants didn’t wave them away. Perhaps they had given up. As I write this, I scrunch my face because the “smell” lingers in the recesses of my brain. 

I contrast the open-air market with my experience of grocery shopping at one of our local stores yesterday. I had a list in hand. A few items, not many, but I wanted to make chili because of the expected snow and colder weather coming our way. 

No smell other than a grocery store smell. No flies that I saw. However, there was nothing in the meat section but empty shelves. I bought one of the three remaining quarts of milk. I almost lost out on a can of Great Northern Beans I needed for the chili recipe, but a lady put one of hers back on the shelf. In the end, I escaped with what I needed, mostly. I was happy to get out of the crush of panicked people pushing grocery carts and standing in line to pay. Happy to come home to my house and Kim, our dogs. 

Both experiences, the open-air market and the local grocery store, made me realize that Kim and I have what we need. We’re okay. We’re satisfied. We’re content. And while we are doing okay, there are others who aren’t. Others who struggle to put food on the table, struggle to find a warm place to sleep or even a warm place to live. There are others who don’t have a well-stocked pantry or refrigerator. Some might not even have a pantry or refrigerator. Both experiences make me appreciate what I have and where I live. Happily so. I hope those of you reading this are content, too. And, I hope you think of those who aren’t, who have less. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I received great news this week! My newest book, Blaze In, Blaze Out won two awards and some recognition! Blaze won a Literary Titan Gold Book Award, an Author’s Shout Recommended Read Award, and was selected by BestThrillers as an “Editor’s Choice.” I am pleased with the recognition and the number of 5 Star Reviews Blaze has garnered.

The Goodreads Giveaway for Blaze In, Blaze Out ended yesterday Saturday, January 15. It was highly successful. There were 2239 entrants, and 2104 marked at as “To Be Read” on their Goodreads shelf. My Publisher, Black Rose Writing and I are giving away 5 copies to Goodreads members, and the winners are:

Karen Mikusak of Detroit, Michigan

Linda Kish of Nuevo, California

Ann Thompson of Lexington, Kentucky

Todd Rumsey of Albany, New York

Shannon Styles of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania

Congratulations! Your signed copy should arrive within two weeks!

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: 
Author Website
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor
Facebook at:  
Amazon at: /

Blaze In, Blaze Out, is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites!

Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko meant the end, but it was only the beginning. 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 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 Web: A 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 of Wil Lewis courtesy of Unknown.



  1. I wanted to let you know that my book came today. I look forward to reading it. Thanks so much.

  2. Thanks for entering the giveaway, and thank you for checking out my post.


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