Sunday, May 15, 2022

Two Strong Women

I’ve been blessed to have strong women in my life. A mother and six sisters. Of the six sisters, four of them are or were nurses. Two went into education. Through it all, there was a mother who did her best with what she had, and a past that was haunting, at least by her account.

Ten of us all together. The first four or five born were about 18 months to two years apart. Always one or two in diapers, and they weren’t the disposable ones, either. Mounds and piles of laundry. One income- my dad’s.

There was never enough food or money to go around. Often, both mom and dad made sure we had enough to eat, while they didn’t. Saturday was baking day. Homemade bread and rolls. Maybe a pie or two. And of course, laundry.

My dad busied himself with the Knights of Columbus and the Squires. He was one organizer of the local Big Brothers, Big Sisters chapter in the city. All of his time away, left mom to deal with us.  

At one point, mom suffered an undiagnosed breakdown. I was little at the time and didn’t understand it. I still don’t. My memory of it is foggy, and I’m lucky it is. No need for me to remember that. There were other awful memories that are best kept private. Safe to say my brothers and sisters and I are products either because of or despite our upbringing. That’s the way with all families. I choose to remember and write about the good and the positive.

Mom lived to be 99 years old. She hung in there to see all her kids marry and have children of their own. A tough life, but a good life. A life well lived as best she could. 

Because our family was so large, and because my mom needed help with those of us at the tail end of the Lewis line, we had a charge system. One of the older ones took care of one of the younger ones. My “charge” was my sister, Betty.


It was Betty who bought me my first day of school outfit. I spent weekends with her and with her husband. I am the godfather to their daughter, Nadine. She took me to movies, bought me ice cream and hamburgers. Later in life, my own family spent more than one Christmas with Betty and her family. There isn’t enough positive I can say about her.

Betty was the smallest of our family, standing four-foot-ten-inches in her nurse’s shoes. But in my mind, she was so much larger. She worked as an ER nurse, a surgical nurse, and a visiting nurse. I picked up her penchant for worrying, but I also think I picked up her compassion, her caring, and her sense of humor.

She loved to tell stories, especially those that poked fun at herself. She would often end up laughing well before the punchline or the story was finished. She tells the story of a turkey that hadn’t been thawed out enough, and the dressing floated around the pan as it baked. There was the time she put her husband’s underwear in the wash and dryer with the curtains- fiber glass, of course. On a skiing trip, she intended to go down a bunny hill, only to take a wrong turn, not once but twice, and went down a black diamond hill, the hardest, toughest run of the slope.

May is the month we celebrate mothers. I’m fortunate to have had two women who guided and protected me, molded me, and loved me. We are all products of our upbringing and the lives given to us. Along the way, there are people who move into and out of our lives, sometimes like waiters in a restaurant (to quote or paraphrase Stephen King). As children, we watch and we listen and learn. I believe (maybe hope?) we gravitate to the best that is offered to us, while some gravitate to that which isn’t. I’d like to think I am who I am because of my mom and my dad, and my brothers and sisters, especially Betty. I owe her so much more than anyone can imagine. 

I think that is the case with each of us. There is someone, perhaps more than one “someone” who helped guide us towards a path and helped us stay on it. I’d like to think that in my forty-six years as a teacher, coach, counselor, and administrator, I help mold those I worked with. Far greater is my role as dad and husband. I only hope that my daughters, Hannah and Emily, will look back on their dad, me, as someone who cared and gave and loved them with all he had to give. And I dearly hope they can forgive any of my misgivings, of which there are many. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I finished the edits on my ninth book, Fan Mail. I want one more go-round on it before I ship it off to the publisher. It differs from the other books I’ve written. It is more coming of age wrapped in a thriller. It is longer than my other books, and it was fun and satisfying to write. Like I have done in some of my other books, I laughed out loud and wept in spots as I wrote it. It will tug at your emotions and will cause you to reflect.

I subscribe to the belief that a good book, any book, is never finished by the author. A book is finished by the reader. His or her feelings and experiences with the book color the book and make it his or her own, aside from the author. I am happy to share it with you upon publication to see what it will do for you, do to you.

I will let you know the publication timeline on Fan Mail as I find out. Meanwhile, below are my other books for your enjoyment.

If you have read one of my books, I would like to ask a favor. If you could go online and write a review or, at the least, give a rating on the book, it would be of great help. Both a review and a rating would be wonderful. The review could be one or two lines. It doesn’t have to be long. Just let others know you read it and hopefully, enjoyed it. Obviously, 4s and 5s are the best. Thanks for this consideration.

Connect with me on Social Media: 
Author Website
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor
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Amazon at: /

Blaze In, Blaze Out: A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read! A BestThriller’s Editor’s Pick!

Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko, the head of a Ukrainian crime family, meant the end. It was only the beginning. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. Andruko hired contract killers to go after and kill O’Connor and Eiselmann. The killers can be anyone and be anywhere. They can strike at any time. They care nothing of collateral damage. Andruko believes a target is a target, and in the end, the target must 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. Greed can be all-consuming, and 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. So far, he has murdered eight people. 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. A violent gang, MS-13, 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. 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.  
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! A Crime Thriller finalist in the 2021 Best Thriller Book Awards!
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?  

Photos of my mother, Corinne, and my sister, Betty, courtesy of unknown.


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