Sunday, January 28, 2024



Back when I first began writing, I wanted to be a part of Hollywood. I dreamed of writing the screenplay for a movie, or perhaps having one of my books adapted for the screen. I even took screenwriting courses and workshops at UCLA and Southern Cal, and a creative writing and an extra English course at a community college. Ahhhh, to dream, right? It hasn’t happened yet, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Okay, probably won’t, but I still get to dream, right?

I get a kick out of some who self-proclaim their celebrity status, and the public who buy into it. Whatever! Obviously, there are some who deserve the spotlight, while others try to grab the spotlight and miss. And there are many, many more who get into the spotlight for a short time, only to have that spotlight grow dark. What is that famous quote about five minutes of fame?

Among the many who, at least in my mind, deserve their celebrity status, and I know I’m missing many, are Keanu Reeves and Taylor Swift.

Keanu Reeves is a Canadian-born actor who appeared in films small and large. Some might be considered duds to be sure, but there were also many blockbusters. But it isn’t the acting or the movies I want to accentuate, nor the money and fame. It’s the stuff the cameras don’t record.

Reeves was abandoned by his father at age three. He wanted to play professional hockey, but couldn’t because of a serious accident. And he had his share of tragedy. His daughter died at birth and he lost his wife because of an auto accident. His sister has leukemia. There are reports he has donated massive amounts of money to cancer research and hospitals. 

Filming one movie, he overheard two costume assistants talking. One cried because she owed $20,000 to a lender and could not pay it. She was worried about losing her house. That day, $20,000 was deposited into her account. Guess who it came from? For some of his more famous films, he took massive pay cuts so the company and production team could hire other notable actors, and he has given motorcycles and other gifts to crew members. 

There is a cute story in 2010 took place on his birthday that makes me smile. He walked into a bakery, bought something, stuck a candle on it, and sat on the steps eating it. When passersby or bakery customers stopped to talk to him, he offered to purchase coffee for them. In 1997, he was spotted walking with a homeless man listening to the guy’s story. He rides public transportation- the bus- to get around. It seems he hasn’t lost his roots or his humanity.

The thing I like most about Reeves is that he doesn’t spout off or brag about what he does. He simply gets up each morning and goes about life, giving back more than he takes. He chooses to live life being a good person.

Dress me in pink, let me wear ribbons, and cover my butt with sparkles, because I am a Swiftie! Besides enjoying her music, especially her lyrics, I like what she stands for. Yes, she, like Reeves, has earned tons of money. She has earned just about every award the music industry has to offer, and like Reeves, she gives back.

Almost every city where she performs a concert (if not every city where she performs), she donates huge amounts of money to food banks and various charities. She gave her crew massive amounts of money in bonuses totaling millions during her Eras Tour. She uses her celebrity to get people, especially the younger generation, out to vote. 

As I said, there are many, many others I could have written about today. Pink. Shaquille O’Neal. So many others. And perhaps at some point, I might write about them. But for today, I wanted to write about two of my favorites- Keanu Reeves and Taylor Swift. They are more than their industry, their fame and fortune. They care and seem to be genuine. I like that about them.  

I’m not saying these two are saints, because I know, like all of us, they’ve probably made mistakes along the way. I will not judge them or look for fault- there’s too much of that in the world today. Instead, I want to honor their humanity, their kindness, their charity. I want to honor their giving- not only money, but their time, and I want to honor their using their celebrity to benefit others and not take from others. God Bless and carry on! Something to think about … 

To My Readers:  

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab. You can find all nine books, their descriptions, and links for purchase at the same site. I can also be found on Facebook at:

For your convenience, here is the description and purchase link for Blaze In, Blaze Out, named Best Action Thriller of 2022 by BestThrillers; 2022 Readers’ Favorite Honorable Mention - Fiction – Crime; 2022 Author Shout Recommended Read; 2022 Literary Titan - Gold Book Award Winner

A book Big Thrill Magazine wrote: “At its core, BLAZE IN, BLAZE OUT is about unbounded revenge, unrestrained vindictiveness, and callous ruthlessness.” and Sublime Book Review wrote, “Joseph Lewis uses carefully constructed settings and intriguing characters to create this unique and captivating action-packed thriller.”

Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann, were the linchpins in the guilty verdict.

The two detectives thought it was over, but it wasn’t.

Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff and four teenage, adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers.

But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone and could be anywhere and strike at any time.

The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril.

Photographs courtesy of Eric Smart and Unsplash, and the Internet.


Sunday, January 21, 2024


I am a diehard Green Bay Packer fan and Wisconsin Badgers fan, but I admit I love sports. While I don’t particularly care for baseball, I follow the Milwaukee Brewers because it is our home team. Same can be said about the Milwaukee Bucks. Not a real fan of pro basketball, but the Bucks are from Milwaukee. What can I say? 

Those of you who read and followed my previous posts know I was a basketball coach, both high school and two years at the collegiate level as a graduate assistant. I honestly and sincerely can’t play the game. I have no left hand, and I cannot jump or shoot. Being seventy-years-old and getting a hip replacement in February, I am not fast or quick. I never was. 

My players used to laugh at me. One summer running a basketball camp, I caught some of the players laughing. I asked what they were laughing at, and one brave senior, Mike, explained they were taking bets if I could jump and hit the net.  

Hmmm … 

I should have just laughed along with them, but to prove them wrong, I said not only could I jump and touch the net, but I could hit the fat part of the strings. That caused them to laugh even more. So, like a fool, I ran and jumped, but came more than a few inches away from hitting the net- completely, and not just the fat part of the net. Can you say, “Humble pie?” 

But I could coach the game. Two-time coach of the year. One state championship, one state runner-up, and one state consolation championship. Not bad for eight years of high school coaching. However, I wasn’t a great coach, per se, but I think I was a pretty good motivator. I had terrific athletes, players who could shoot and jump and who were tenacious on defense. Sincerely, I give all the credit to my players and my coaches. They made me look good, and I think we all had fun on that ride. 

Last night, Kim and I watched the Packers play the 49ers in the playoffs. 49ers were the number one seed, while the Packers, the youngest team in the league, were the seventh seed. We weren’t supposed to win, and we didn’t.

Yet … 

If the field goal was about six or seven inches to the right, the score might have been different. When the Packers went for it on 4th and inches and failed to get a first down, the game might have had a different outcome. If two passes would have been a couple of inches more on target, a drive would have stayed alive and again, the ending of the game might have been different from what it was. 

In the end, the field goal was missed, the 4th and inches wasn’t met, and the two passes weren’t completed- except to the other team. All three outcomes led to the score being what it was. The team that should have won, did. The team that shouldn’t have won, didn’t. 

If and inches …

Did the Packers fail? Perhaps on the scoreboard, if that’s the only thing you take into consideration. But did our first- and second-year receivers make a difference this year? A resounding yes. How about our first- and second-year defenders? How about the quarterback, whose first year as a starter set records? How about the team who wasn’t supposed to be in the playoffs in the first place- did they fail? Again, only if you look at the scoreboard, and in this day and age- for some- only the scoreboard matters.

But there is much the Packers can build on, and a message was sent to the rest of the league last night. A message of hope and optimism for Packer fans, and a not-so-subtle message to “just wait until next year …!” for the rest of the league. 

In our lives, how often do we just miss out on something we go after? If we would have tried a little harder, went after it a little sooner, been a little faster? If and inches … 

It takes 212 degrees Fahrenheit for water to boil. Not 211 degrees, but 212 degrees. One degree makes a difference, just like a couple of inches either way makes a difference. Often, our minds, not our bodies, let us down. We tell ourselves we can’t, instead of telling ourselves, yes, we can. One degree. One or two inches. Effort and belief. Not just in sports, but in life. All the difference in the world. Something to think about …

To My Readers:  

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab. You can find all nine books, their descriptions, and links for purchase at the same site. I can also be found on Facebook at:

For your convenience, here is the description and purchase link for Caught in a Web, a PenCraft Literary Award Winner, and a book BestThrillers named, “One of the best conspiracy thrillers of 2018!” and Midwest Review wrote, “…the right blend of tension and intrigue …”

“This important, nail-biting crime thriller about MS-13 sets the bar very high. One of the year’s best thrillers.” –Best Thrillers

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha 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 three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

What’s worse than revenge and death? Not knowing you are the target. PenCraft Literary Award Winner!

Photograph courtesy of Bozhin Karaivanov and Unsplash







Wednesday, January 17, 2024

More Than Disturbing

 I had every intention of publishing this over the weekend, but I needed a little more time to process it and make sure I used proper words to convey what I wanted to say. It’s too important of a topic.

This past weekend, I watched a movie, Sound of Freedom, that is based on the true story of Tim Ballard, an agent for Homeland Security, played in the movie believably, if not expertly, by Jim Caviezel. The story dealt with human trafficking, and in this case, with children. Again, I want to say it is based on a true story. 

In 2013, Roberto Aguilar, a poor father of two from TegucigalpaHonduras, is approached by a former beauty queen, Giselle. She offers to sign his young children, RocĂ­o and Miguel Aguilar, to child modeling contracts. The father accepts and takes them to the photoshoot. When he returns to pick his children up, they are gone. It is revealed that the children have been abducted and sold to be used as sex slaves. (Wikipedia)

When I was a counselor in California, I had volunteered to work as an adjunct educator for the Wetterling Foundation for Stranger Abducted and Sexually Exploited Children. The organization still exists, but I believe the name has changed. My job was to educate parents and caring adults on how to protect children and to spot signs of possible exploitation, and I taught kids how to protect themselves. 

Jerry and Patty Wetterling’s son, Jacob, was abducted one night in October 1989, in front of his younger brother and his best friend on the way back from a convenience store after they rented a movie and purchased candy. The abductor wore a mask and had a gun, and in the early to middle nineties when I worked for the foundation, this accounted for about 1% of all abductions (FBI statistics). Jacob was never found until 2016 when a suspect confessed to the crime and led authorities to Jacob’s remains. Jacob had died from a gunshot the same evening he was abducted.

When Kim and I had our children, Wil, age seven adopted from Guatemala, and Hannah, born to us naturally, I had to take a step back from my speaking because instead of picturing Jacob Wetterling, Elizabeth Smart, Johnny Gosch, and others, I pictured Wil and Hannah. But I always wanted to tell the story of missing kids, of kids who had been abused sexually, emotionally.   

As a counselor, I had thought I had heard it all from kids and parents, but each next story shared with me was a horror unto itself. One story doesn’t compare with another, even though the circumstances are mostly the same. In most instances, the abuse takes place by someone known to the child and the family, and is often a family member, immediate or extended. It is both tragic and horrific.

What many don’t know is that human trafficking is a $140 million dollar industry, and the underbelly of the United States is and has been involved. I applaud the men and women who work to put an end to all of it. They work tirelessly, and in most cases, in the shadows outside of the spotlight. They deserve much more credit than they receive. God Bless! 

As I said, I had always wanted to share the stories of the kids and parents who, behind closed doors, shared their stories with me. So in 2014, my first book Taking Lives, Prequel to the Lives Trilogy, and my second book, Stolen Lives, First Book of the Lives Trilogy, were published. I’ve won an award or two for Stolen, and both books rose as high as #3 and #4 on Amazon, which is pretty remarkable for a first-time author. While they are stories of abduction and sexual exploitation, the series is a story of hope and survival, of strength. And the awards, while nice, meant, and mean, nothing to me, because human trafficking still exists. 

Recently, a fellow author, Cam Torrens, wrote an award-winning book, Stable, which takes a different point of view on the subject. Torrens uses his expertise in Search and Rescue to tell his tale. A brilliant book and terrific writing.

For your convenience, I listed the links for purchase below in case you are interested. They are dark reads, but worth it. As I said, they are stories of hope and survival. 

But the main point I want to make is that we, as citizens of a great country, need to protect our most vulnerable from predators. We need to protect our children- and the children of other countries- from being exploited and preyed upon. It will take more than those in law enforcement entrusted to rooting out this evil. There aren’t enough agents and officers, so it will take all of us. All of us. Please help. Please. Something to think about …

To My Readers:  

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab. I can also be found on Facebook at:   

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?   

Stable, by Cam Torrens

From debut author Cam Torrens comes a gut-wrenching suspense novel based on an actual missing person case.

A 911 call sends Search & Rescue on a search for a missing girl in the Collegiate Peaks. They find a child…but not the one they seek.

Air Force pilot Tyler Zahn's life disintegrated when he lost his son. He discarded his family, his career, and his dignity, finding solace in apathy and beer. Eight years later, armed with new confidence, he invites his estranged daughter, Daria, to visit his Rocky Mountain home. Zahn tries too hard to mend their relationship, and as the tension between father and daughter increases, forgiveness seems out of reach. Especially when his Search & Rescue work pulls him away from Daria and she finds romance at the church camp next door.

But Zahn can't get the missing girl he found—and the one he can't find—out of his mind. Someone in this mountain valley is collecting children, and Zahn is gradually drawn into the case while still trying to break through to his daughter.

Then she disappears too.

Photo Courtesy of Loren Joseph and Unsplash

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Last of Christmas

The last piece of kringle sits lonely on a plate on the counter, next to the tins where Kim stored her baked Christmas cookies. I counted four left, three of one, and one of the other. Both my favorites. I saved the last piece of kringle for Kim, but it’s fifty-fifty if she eats it. She might save it for me, but I will hold back for her. It’s how we roll. 

The recyclers took our Christmas tree on Friday, the last fresh tree we will ever purchase. Kim and I decided to go with a nice artificial tree, on sale, for the years to come. Not sure how I feel about that yet. I think Kim is uncertain as well. 

The decorations have been taken down and put away in cupboards or in plastic bins and stored in the closet off the downstairs family room. All the everyday things are back on walls or on counters. All of this took place last week. Sadly, so.

Still waiting on a present each for Emily and Hannah. Should have been here by now, and I’m guessing they might never arrive. All of my other gifts have been tried on and put away. The four books I received will be read this year, and I’ve already begun one and I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s a thriller-crime-mystery by Patterson, the same genre my nine books and my soon-to-be-published #10 is in. I enjoy reading in the same genre as what I write.

We went back to school this past week. Me, for one day because I’m part time, while Kim worked two days as called for by her contract. Emily began this past week, too. So did Alex and Q. Hannah starts tomorrow. All back at our jobs, doing what we do.

No more Christmas movies- Hannah’s and Emily’s thing. Kim and I watch them only when the girls are here. A bit too sappy for us, but pleasant enough. No more Christmas music- something I enjoy. I favor the traditional carols with a few newer tunes by some of my favorite artists thrown in here and there. The peaceful, lush harmonies bring back memories of Christmas’s past. At age 70, it doesn’t take much to nudge me back in time, reminiscing. 

Gone is the hustle, the sometimes frantic pace of buying and wrapping presents, of cleaning so the house looks just right for guests. Gone is the family all together with laughter and quiet conversation, the family meals made with love and joy. Neighbors taking down or who have already taken down their outside decorations. And the last to disappear are the Salvation Army volunteers collecting money for those in need. All gone, all of it. 

But it doesn’t have to be. Really it doesn’t. 

Christmas is much more than that. It’s far beyond house decorations and Christmas cookies, kringle and Christmas movies. It is far beyond the deeply rooted feelings we have at this time of year. As my brothers and sisters said to their children and as I said to my children, Christmas will be in our hearts. Should be in our hearts all year, each month, each day. Needs to be in our hearts. 

The peace we feel at Christmas and the hope we have at New Year’s needs to last all year, every year. And why can’t it? We let it slip away and become an afterthought until next year, when all the decorations and baking, all the buying and wrapping, begin again. That’s on us, and it doesn’t, shouldn’t be this way. Can we make a concerted effort to keep the peaceful feelings we had, the gentleness we felt towards family and others all year and for everyone we encounter each day? Imagine what our world- personal and extended- might be like if we did. Just imagine. As always, something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference! 

To My Readers:  

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab.  

And if you’re curious, you can check out my nine books on the same site. I’ve won nearly twenty awards, and I write in the thriller-crime-mystery genre, but with a coming-of-age thread in each. My latest book, Fan Mail, just won a 2023 Silver Book Award and a Recommended Read Award, and was featured as Author of the Month from Reader’s Favorites. 

There will be some up-coming promotional deals through my publisher, Black Rose Writing, this month and possibly next. I also have a sale and signing event on Feb. 17th at Barnes & Noble in Central Park here in Fredericksburg, Virginia from 2:00 – 7:00 PM. These events are always fun. 

If you are an author or writer, veteran or beginner, check out my Author’s Blog tab on the same site. There you will find tips on writing, interviews with other authors, and excerpts from my own books. If you want to get a hold of me, use the Contact tab. 

I hope you check it out. Again, my writing can be found at 

I can also be found on Facebook at:  

Photo Courtesy of Joseph Lewis.