Tuesday, February 7, 2023

What Now?

A movie Kim and I watch over and over is a rom-com, You’ve Got Mail. I must have seen that movie a hundred times, but after watching it this weekend, I received a different perspective from it. One of those Taco Bell gong moments!

Meg Ryan owns Shop Around the Corner, a neighborhood bookstore that was originally owned and run by her mother, now deceased. In comes one of the big boy all-encompassing B & N type stores run by Tom Hanks. She and her store cannot compete, and he puts her out of business. Sad, tragic. Her life, as she knew it, has changed. She does not know what she will do, having been working with books and the business for most of her life.

She was forced to ask the question: What Now?

In the midst of that significant and difficult change, she breaks up with her live-in boyfriend, ends up writing a book, and falls in love with Tom Hanks. All of that wouldn’t have happened if she continued to work in her bookstore.

Flash forward to reality …

When I retired from school administration June 2020 after 44 years in education, I honestly didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know what I would do. I wouldn’t say I was ill-prepared, but I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was, if that makes sense.                                                                                          

For 44 years, it was a button-down shirt and a tie, dress slacks and dress shoes. Suddenly, I could wear sweatpants (if I had them to wear) and a t-shirt with tennis shoes. Instead of waking up at five each morning, I could sleep in. I didn’t have to race out the door to get to school. I didn’t have to worry about paperwork, policies, or politics: the three Ps of drudgery.

 For the first couple of weeks, even though it was summer, I didn’t do much of anything. I wrote. I read. I watched TV. Then I’d go to bed and wake up and do the same thing. Weird! I was my own boss and other than my wife, Kim, I didn’t have to answer to anyone. And I never had to answer to her. We have a nice partnership, a great friendship, a wonderful marriage, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

One of the hardest adjustments was not seeing people, the folks I worked with for the last thirteen years I was the principal at that particular high school. Not talking to them. Not being around them. That was hard for me. 

That August, I got a call from a friend of mine who asked me for a favor. He wanted me to be a long-term substitute in a third grade classroom. Folks, I haven’t been “teaching kids in a classroom” since 1987, and I had never taught any grade lower than seventh grade. Talk about a mismatch! 

But you know what? I loved it! It was one of the best experiences I ever had and it brought me back full circle to why I got into education in the first place- being in a classroom with kids. After that gig was up, I received another call from another friend who asked if I would be his online learning facilitator. Again, back in the classroom with kids! 

I’ve now been doing the facilitator gig ever since and I still love it. I get to be with kids: the joking with, the teasing. All of that. I think I might actually retire for real in three years, but until then, I’m doing what I love. 

With my new gig as an online learning facilitator, I’m making new acquaintances. I have time to write more, and my writing has not only improved, it has become more interesting. I have far less stress than I knew I was under. By that I mean, I never really knew just how much stress I felt until I didn’t have it anymore. I am happier. I’m smiling more. I’m relaxed. Did I already say I was happier? Yeah, I guess I did, but it’s worth repeating. 

If I hadn’t retired, I would be back to second-guessing myself and being second-guessed by others. I wouldn’t have the time to write as I do now. Mostly, I wouldn’t be as happy and relaxed as I am now. 

I think it’s normal to worry and wonder about change. We all do. But sometimes, most of the time, if you trust your gut and trust the Lord, everything works out. It just does. Something to think about … 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Exciting News!

I am excited to announce that I was asked to take part in an online event called, Behind The Page, sponsored by the Central Rappahannock Library System on Thursday, February 9 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM. I will be one of two authors interviewed live, and I will be asked questions by a moderator and those tuning in. If interested, and I hope you are, you can find it the link to watch the event at the library’s Facebook page, facebook.com/crrlnews that evening, and you DO NOT need to have a Facebook account to watch and take part in the event.

Connect with me on Social Media: 
Author Websitewww.jrlewisauthor.blog/
Facebook at: www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author  
Amazon at: 
www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /

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, 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

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 hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

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. 
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? 

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Neel and Unsplash.


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