I woke up this morning and considered what a gift it is to wake up and face a new day. This thought is not new to me, and it is something I consider each day. My kids have always complained that I’m too loud in the morning, and my wife will occasionally ask me, “Why are you so noisy?” What can I say? I’m a morning person at heart, and wind down towards the middle of the afternoon.
My thought this morning comes on the heals of Jimmy Carter’s announcement that he is entering hospice care. Carter is a kind and gentle man, a caring human being, and I’m hoping history will be kind to him. Perhaps not the best president we’ve ever had, but certainly by no means the worst. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I wish him well, and will always think of his smile, his attitude about life, his work building homes for others- even at his advanced age. God Bless him on his journey and I only hope the next few days, weeks, months will be peaceful and loving.
About a year ago, I published a post Sunrise and Sunset. As I watched the night fade and the morning chase it away, I thought of that post and decided there is no better time to repost it, with some edits, today. I think it says a great deal- my feelings on life and how respectful we need to be towards it. I hope you enjoy it this round, too.
Here is Sunrise and Sunset …
Those of you who have read my books (thriller-crime fiction) know my characters. Readers have their favorites, and I guess I do, too. Though I try to be impartial, I think the reader knows who I favor.
One character, George, is a full-blooded Navajo, adopted at age twelve by a single man living in Wisconsin. He joined a set of twins, who had been adopted a year and a half earlier. I won’t go into lengthy details, but it is a loving, supportive family who find themselves in a sometimes brutal mystery. Not of their own doing, but from outside forces. (There are now a mom and dad and seven brothers that make up the Evans family.)
At one time, George lived in Arizona on the Navajo Nation Reservation, known in Navajo as Diné Bikéyah or Navajoland. Raised traditionally by his grandfather, a Haatalii or shaman or medicine man among the people, George would dutifully get up each morning before sunrise. He and his grandfather would climb a low, nearby mesa, and greet Father Sun with songs and chants. Their way of morning prayers.
Together, they would look out over Diné Bikéyah and discuss life. How to live? What the coming day might bring? How can George make it better? Things most of us consider upon waking, I think. I hope. Since moving to Wisconsin and his adoptive family, George continues this morning ritual rain or shine, in hot weather or cold. He is disciplined and mindful of keeping his Navajo life alive.
Another character, also adopted in the same family, is Brian. As respectful and mindful of sunrise as George is, Brian considers each sunset important. At sunset or before going to bed, Brian considers the day. What went right? What went wrong? How he messed up and, more importantly, how can he do better in the coming day?
Both boys, now age seventeen, are thoughtful, reverent, and spiritual. Each boy had different paths, both tragic, that brought them into the same adoptive family. Each boy is disciplined and religious in their pursuit of happiness and discovering who they are.
Now, as an author, and as you, a reader, you know characters are composites of the author. Both boys, George and Brian, came from me and my imagination. These characters and the other members of the family are not me, per se, but they are me because it was I who gave birth to them in story form. I choose the way they act, react, and think, what obstacles come their way, who pursues them and, at least in my books, who wants to do them harm. Me, but really not me.
I tend to view the sunrise as George does. It is my time, upon rising, to read bible verses and my devotional to prepare for what comes my way during the day. The sunrise gives me a focus, a purpose, and my motivation in my attempt to do better. Not only for myself and those I love, but for those I encounter during the day. While I am a morning person, I move into the day slowly and reverently, as George does, because, as I said, I build a focus for the day.
I also tend to view the sunset as Brian does. Like Brian, as I lay in bed and before I fall asleep, I look back on my day and consider the things I said and did, how I treated myself and others, and I ask, what did I do right? What did I do poorly, if not wrongly? How can I improve, not only for myself, but for others tomorrow?
I think I’ve gotten better at it as I grow older. Maybe it’s because I am older, so I’ve gotten better at it. Whatever the case, I think focusing on both the start and the end of each day sharpens my focus and makes my decision making clearer. I find I’m not as stressed out as I once was. It could be because I’m semi-retired and no longer in the hot seat, as high school principals are.
Lord knows I’m not perfect. Not even close. (Just ask my wife and kids!) I still become impatient. I still lose my temper. I still unintentionally hurt others by a careless word or action. But I also know I am happier. I’m more content. I am more appreciative. I know I care more, not only about myself and my family. I care more about others, their feelings, and I find I put myself in their shoes to uncover what I might do to help.
I would like to suggest that my focus on the sunrise (morning) and on the sunset (evening) has changed who I am for the better. Again, I know I’m not perfect. But I’m willing to walk that journey to get there. And beginning each day, and ending each day in the same way, helps me to do that. Something to think about …
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To My Readers:
Need a New Book? I have nine available, and I hope you gift someone, maybe yourself, with one of my books. 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.
My newest, Fan Mail, 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 are a blogger, librarian or reviewer, Fan Mail is available on NetGalley for free.**
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
Photos Courtesy of Kim Lewis