This has been a wonderful end of 2022 and a wonderful beginning of 2023. It has exceeded all my expectations, and it makes me wonder what other joyous events and circumstances might be headed my way.
That’s not to say there won’t be down spots and troubling events, but I’m still smiling and I will still smile. That’s how I’m built.
Our youngest daughter, Emily, got engaged to a super young man. He’s been in Em’s and our life for about five years already, so it really didn’t come as a surprise. He asked us several months before he asked Emily, so we knew it was coming. Our daughter, Hannah, and her husband are expecting their first child, a boy, who will be our first grandchild. To say I’m excited is an understatement. Kim and I had joked that their two dogs and Emily’s one dog were our grandchildren, so while we love Teddy, Chip and Macey, it will be nice to welcome and love our first grandchild. Did I say I was excited? Um, yes, I think so.
March 30th, my ninth book, Fan Mail, is published. It is available for preorder now, and I am thrilled, yet humbled by the advance reviews it has received. It already won a Literary Titan Silver Book Award, and like I said, the reviews so far have been so good and so humbling. It is different from my other books, because it is a coming-of-age story wrapped in a tight thriller. No blood and guts or dead bodies. Well, that’s not quite correct. There is some blood, some guts, and some very tough and touching moments. But no dead bodies.
Like I said, the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023 have been terrific so far!
About a month ago, I had a conversation with Emily, who has begun her work as a therapist at a nonprofit. She is a clinical social worker and has taken on some difficult cases. She called because one of her cases troubled her. I can’t and won’t go into details- confidentiality and all, and she never shared much, only the bare minimum. But she wept because she cares and wants to do right by her people, as she calls them.
We talked, and I shared some of my tougher cases I had as a teacher, counselor, and administrator. She asked me, “How do you not let it get to you? How do you do that? You’re so positive.”
I’ve thought about that conversation a great deal and I think I have an answer. The answer might not “fit” everyone, but it fits me, so I thought I’d share it.
I think first, over time and through experience, I have been able to compartmentalize parts of my life. My writing self is different from my work self, is different from my teacher-counselor-administrator self. It has to be. When our son, Wil, was shot and killed in July of 2014, I still had a family to take care of, a school to run, and kids, parents, teachers and staff I had to work with. I grieved, perhaps not fully (do we ever grieve fully?), but I took care of myself as I took care of others.
The kids I worked with, the staff and teachers I worked with, also had issues and situations and circumstances, and I had to be there for them, as much as I was for my wife and my two daughters. I had to be.
But I also learned a few things about myself and about life that has helped me deal with big, tough, hurtful events as they arise.
First, I’m forever grateful. Always.
I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a wife who kinda-sorta loves me (he said jokingly), and two kids, a son-in-law and a young man will soon be a son-in-law. I have a part-time job doing what I love doing- working with kids in a setting I enjoy immensely. I write stories that allow me to express myself while I have fun doing it. I’ve won almost twenty awards along the way and have earned critical acclaim. How can I not be grateful?
I’m forever thankful. Always.
How can I not be? There has been so much beauty in my life, so much good. Sure, there have been some ugly moments, stupid decisions I’ve made, or that were made for me, but I’ve learned and grown from them. I have a steady income, I’m not on the street and I have friends who care about me, and a family and wife who love me. How can I not be thankful?
And I think my being grateful and thankful is based and rooted in my faith, my spirituality. It may sound corny and unmodern. It may sound that I’m not “with it” but being grateful and thankful has made me wise. Wise enough to know that there is a God who loves and cares about me, who has forgiven me, and who looks out for me- if I let Him. That’s the key for me. I can’t do it for myself, and I can’t do it by myself. I trust because I have faith. I have faith, because I believe. I think this has made me wise, and it is why I have a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart. And as Emily said, it’s why I can be, and am, positive. Something to think about …
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To My Readers:
Start out the New Year with a New Book! Inexpensive, and a good story lasts and will stick with the reader throughout life. Hint: I have nine available, and I hope you gift someone with one of my books.
My newest, Fan Mail, just won a Literary Titan Silver Book Award, and is Available for Preorder at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/thrillers/fanmail
Use code PREORDER2023 to receive a 15% Discount. If you head over to my author website at www.jrlewisauthor.blog/ you will find the cover to Fan Mail, along with the book trailer, and the first two chapters to preview. You can also PREORDER the Kindle Version on Amazon at: amzn.to/3WBbRps
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.
Fan Mail: New Release! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner!
A barrage of threatening letters, a car bomb, and a heart attack rip apart what was once a close-knit family of adopted brothers. Randy and Bobby, along with fellow band member and best friend, Danny, receive fan mail that turns menacing. They ignore it, but to their detriment. The sender turns up the heat. Violence upends their world. It rocks the relationship between the boys and ripples through their family, nearly killing their dad.
As these boys turn on each other, adopted brother Brian flashes back to that event in Arizona where he nearly lost his life saving his brothers. The scars on his face and arms healed, but not his heart.
Would he once again have to put himself in harm’s way to save them? And if faced with that choice, will he?
Blaze In, Blaze Out: Best Action Crime Thriller of 2022 by Best Thrillers! A Literary Titan Gold Book Award Winner! A Readers’ Favorite 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. https://amzn.to/34lNllP
Betrayed: Two Top Shelf Awards: 1st Place Fiction-Mystery; and Runner-Up Fiction-Crime; 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! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
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
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. 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 also available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka
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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696
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! 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. 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 death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives
Photo Courtesy of Kiy Turk and Unsplash.