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Friday, March 25, 2016

Waging A War




Waging A War is destructive.

Duh, right?

I graduated from high school in 1972 and our country was in the midst of the Vietnam War. There was political upheaval over whether or not we should have been involved in the first place. I remember that it was the first televised war. The network news showed battles raging and reported losses on the six o’clock news. The war brought about conflict between the right and the left and between hawks and doves. There were even battles that were waged within households.

My brother, Jim, served, and it was tense for us. I was eighteen and my draft number was 25. I was scared. By all rights, I should have been drafted but I was exempted due to allergies and asthma. It was a scary time all around, and not just for me.

War destroys. War destroys homes and property. Countries are at odds and torn apart from within and from without.

War destroys people. People die. People get hurt. Families are torn apart. There is civilian loss- collateral damage, I guess is the political, sanitized term that is used.

And after all of that, there is the War in the mind. Men and women who cannot make sense of it all, who cannot come to terms with it.  

But I want to talk about a different kind of War. I want to talk about a type of War that harms us, not so much from without as much as it comes from within.  I think each of us Wages A War with ourselves.

We consider ourselves unworthy. We consider ourselves not good enough. We consider ourselves unlovable and much to our detriment, unworthy of love. And as a result, we don’t, forgive ourselves . . . perhaps cannot forgive ourselves.

We dwell on past failures and use these failures as the measuring stick by which we live our lives. We look back and consider all the things that were done to us, all the things that we did to ourselves or to others, all the things we should have done or shouldn’t have done for ourselves or for others.

We become enslaved by our thoughts and each word, each action is a result of the War we Wage on ourselves.

Perhaps it’s time to take a cease fire and consider that we don’t need to measure our lives by what we’ve done or said or not done or not said in the past. Perhaps it’s time to admit that who we once were is not who we are right now. Perhaps it’s time to move out of the past and into the present, and with an eye on the future. Because it is only by moving from the past to the present that we can truly live in the future. In essence, move on!

When I deal with kids who have been in trouble, I usually tell them that once the door opens, life goes on. I consider the matter, no matter what it was, over and done. A mistake was made and we learn from it and then we move on.

So, why is it so hard to make that admission to ourselves? Why is it so hard to admit a mistake was made, that we need to learn from it and then move on from it? Why do we continue to use that mistake to harm or injure ourselves and continue Waging A War with ourselves- much to our own detriment? Hmmm . . . something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
If you like thriller and mystery fiction, please check out these four books. Each come with excellent ratings from those who have read them.

Book One, Stolen Lives:
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’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.

Book Two, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

Book Three, Splintered Lives:
It began in Arizona and it ends in Arizona- in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him?

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 don’t know one another, the lives of FBI 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 that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Two Pieces Of Chocolate



In my writing, I spend quite a bit of time on the need for giving back, on the need for making a positive difference in the lives of others thereby making our own lives better and more meaningful. Constant themes in my writing are lending a helping hand because we’re all in this together . . . you and I . . . all of us. I speak of hope and instilling that hope in the lives of those around us, especially kids because that generation needs to feel and experience hope in order to bring about change and help make this world better.

In my fiction writing, The Lives Trilogy, a constant theme is survival, of hope, of love and of support, of belonging and rising above those roadblocks that are found in the way. I think that’s why the readers have singled out George and Brett as favorites because time and again, despite what life gave them, they rose above, they survived, and they found hope and love and helped others along the way.

That leads me to Two Pieces Of Chocolate.

Francine Christophe was eight years old when she and her mother were forced to go to Bergen-Belsen with many other Jews. As she explained, children were allowed to take something with them to camp. Not much, mind you, but something. Some chose a bit of rice or flour. Francine’s mother chose Two Pieces Of Chocolate and as her mother explained to her, they would be eaten only when Francine wasn’t feeling well or when she had a tough day.

Now I’m thinking, ‘Was there any good day at a Nazi death camp?’ Evidently, there was.

You see, there was a woman at the camp who was pregnant. She was so malnourished that she didn’t look pregnant. To look at her, one couldn’t tell. But the day came and this woman, with the help of Francine’s mother, gave birth to a baby girl. Perhaps a little joy in an otherwise ugly and dark place.

Francine’s mother came to her and asked Francine how she was doing. Francine answered fine, okay. Francine’s mother asked her if she could give the Two Pieces Of Chocolate to the new mother explaining, “She might die otherwise.” Eight year old Francine gave her mother permission to do so. At eight years old!

Flash forward many, many years . . .

Francine is now an elderly woman. She is one of the speakers at a symposium on surviving the death camp and what it took to do so. And how doctors, lawyers, therapists might help those who survive these god-awful events come to peace and survive emotionally.

A young woman, a doctor, gets up and goes to the podium. She begins by saying that she has something for Francine, and holds out a Piece Of Chocolate. You see, she was the baby born at Bergen-Belsen.

The entire story is inspiring and captivating and worth the couple of minutes it takes to view it. It can be found at:

This is yet another example of giving and not expecting any reward or return. This is yet another example of making a positive difference in the life of another.

I’ve written many times about growing up next to a river. As kids, we’d through rocks or stones into it to see who could toss it the furthest. We’d watch the ripples as they spread out and touch the shore. One after another, almost continuous.

You see, I am convinced that like the stone tossed in the river, the positive things we say or do cause ripples in the universe and they touch lives. These ripples can make a difference in the lives of others . . . positively. The kind word we speak. The smile we give. The hand we extend. Our presence and support in another’s life in a moment of doubt or despair.

Sometimes we might never know how that ripple affected the life of another. But sometimes, perhaps, maybe, we might get a return on that investment in time, just as Francine did so many years later. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!


To My Readers:
Catch up with the lives of Brett and George in the Lives Trilogy and Prequel found at:

Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy http://tinyurl.com/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Thanks,
JL

Friday, March 11, 2016

I Dare You!



One of my favorite movies of all-time, and I have to say I have several movies that fall into that category, is Christmas Story. You know the one they play at Christmas over and over on TNT or TBS. Ralphie. His dream of getting a Red Ryder BB Gun, even though he’s warned multiple times that he could shoot his eye out.

One of my favorite scenes is Ralphie trying on the pink bunny suit his aunt made for him. His father and his little brother laugh at him and the conversation goes:
           
Mr. Parker: He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny.
Mother: He does not!
Mr. Parker: He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare!

Even writing this causes me to smile.

There is another scene in the movie that I alternately smile and laugh at, but also cringe at. You know the one, right? The “stick your tongue on the flagpole” scene and the I Dare You! No wait, it’s bigger and badder than that. It’s the dreaded Double-Dog-Dare and the killer, Triple-Dog-Dare!

Flick: Are you kidding? Stick my tongue to that stupid pole? That's dumb!
Schwartz: That's 'cause you know it'll stick!
Flick: You're full of it!
Schwartz: Oh yeah?
Flick: Yeah!
Schwartz: Well I double-DOG-dare ya!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a "triple dare you"? And then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare.
Schwartz: I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Schwartz created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the triple dare and going right for the throat!

And who among us doesn’t know at least one kid who didn’t put his mouth on metal during the icy cold days of winter? Those of us in or from the north surely do. My mind flashes to Barb on the monkey bars during recess, to Bob on the merry-go-round. There are others.

Yeah, the I Dare You!

Can be funny. Can be sad. Will for sure bring back some memories good and bad for each of us.

But . . . I want to take you in a different direction on the I Dare You!

When was the last time you broke out of your routine? When was the last time you changed up, even a little? When was the last time you pushed and pulled yourself out of your comfort zone?

Jonas Salk is quoted as saying, “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.”  And Nikos Kazantzakis said, “A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.”

We rarely think of an I Dare You! when it comes to us . . . you and I . . . pushing ourselves a little or a lot. There is life beyond the ordinary. There is life beyond the routine. There is a whole world out and beyond the walls we erect for ourselves. And out there beyond the walls we erect for ourselves can change the ordinary to the extraordinary, the spectacular . . . if only we give it a shot. If only we give ourselves a little nudge. A little push.

So my challenge to you today is to give yourself just one small I Dare You! Just a small one. Try it out. It doesn’t have to grand or great or glorious. Just think of something you’ve never, ever done before, but always wanted to try. Give yourself the opportunity to open a door to something new, something different. “. . . Cut the rope and be free.” I Triple-Dog-Dare ya! Something to think 
about . . .

To My Readers:

I received two very nice 5 Star Reviews for Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy!

“This book was well-written just like the other two before. The characters and dialogue go hand in hand and it was easy to immerse yourself in their journey as the story unveiled. The plot twists and connections among the characters in this novel make you feel emotional connections to them as well. A great conclusion to the story and the trilogy. I suggest you read this when you have a chunk of time on your hands because otherwise, you will be anxious, looking for a chance to finish it.”

“Love, love, loved it! I almost read it in one day but fell asleep! It was my favorite I believe. Love the characters, the story line, action, drama, humor, sadness, it was awesome! Thanks for a very enlightening series!”

Book Three, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him?

Look for the whole series on Amazon:
Taking Lives, the Prequel
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 FBI 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 that Pete 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:
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’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.

Book Two, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

Thanks,
JL