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Friday, July 27, 2018

In Silence




There are times in the year when I feel particularly pushed and pulled. There are times in the year when I want to slow it all down. Times when I feel I can’t move fast enough. That is not to say I’ve ever moved very quickly, but I could, at one time, get around a bit.

We’re getting ready for the new school year. Parts of our building are getting a paint job. Floors are getting washed, waxed and polished. We’re deciding how we want to begin the year and sustain that effort and momentum throughout the year. It all takes time and planning and it seems that there isn’t enough time left.

Left . . .

Tomorrow, Hannah moves to Pittsburgh to begin her new life. She has a new job and a new apartment. Well, yes, she has been away at school for four or five years, but Kim and I always knew she’d be home for the summer or a weekend here or there. In Pittsburgh is her boyfriend and it seems to be permanence to it.

This time, there is a sense of finality. Yes, I understand that birds leave the nest. The butterfly emerges from the cocoon. Life marches on. Another chapter in the book of life. Whatever analogy you want to use, insert it here. I get it. You get it. But I don’t have to like it and I don’t.

I knew this day was coming. Sort of like standing on train tracks and staring at the bright light speeding towards me. It starts our slow and distant. But as it nears, the horn plays its discordant note, shouts it ugly tune. It picks up speed and then it’s on you.

I tried to prepare myself for it as best I can. But I have to admit, I’m hurting at the moment.

I’ve noticed that when hurting, I retreat inside a little. Maybe a lot, I guess. I become silent, perhaps brooding though I try not to do that. Brooding doesn’t do anyone any good.

I know Hannah is thinking about it too. So is Kim. But no one is saying much. Maybe because there is so much to say it’s overwhelming. Maybe because we don’t know how to begin, how to say it. There is so much feeling right now. The twist and turn of emotion- up, down, sideways.

And we’re left with silence.

At times, silence can be comforting. Silence can be like that fluffy soft sweater and comfortable pair of jeans with feet snug and warm in slippers as you sit on the couch in a corner and listen and think. Silence can be like the warm fire, snapping and popping along, the glow and shadow dancing haphazardly, rhythmically. A favorite chair. Feet on the hassock or curled under you as you sip a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Listening to the sounds of the house. Listening to the sounds of . . . silence.

The energy seems to leave you slowly, steadily like . . . life. That life. That one life.

And we’re left with memories. First steps. The coffee mug with her picture. The leather bracelet she gave me. The trip to Disney World way back when she was a kid. Scoring the goal for the other team because she had a breakaway in the wrong direction and her tears upon realizing that she had done something wrong. Dancing with me at her prom, neither of us caring what anyone thought.

Tears after a breakup. Her struggle with this subject and that teacher. An email asking for editing help. Endless laughter and stories about her day and kids and people within it.

So she’ll leave tomorrow morning and amongst the bags of clothes and shoes and knickknacks will be my heart. My heart forever hers. Forever. Enough of it, anyway, so that it will help her through busy times and hard times and all times in between. Enough of it so that she will know and remember and smile and find hope and love. Lots of love. Always love. Forever. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My book, Caught in a Web has picked up some terrific reviews recently. This particular one can be found on Amazon from Tiffany S . . .
“5+ STARS! Couldn’t put it down... read it from cover to cover in just a few days, AND I’m THAT reader who typically is in the middle of 3-4 books at one time and often does not finish one or two of them as I have so many interests and am highly active.

Spellbinding, well written, unapologetically graphic about a world that needs to be exposed to the public and a story that needs to be shared.

There were times in which I was “surprised” by the deep and loving relationships among Jeremy and the boys he has become a father to after they have all gone through these horrible experiences. However, I asked the author, whom I met at a book signing once, where he got his knowledge for these dark, highly disturbing subjects, and he told me that he had spent over a decade as a child counselor, so very sadly he has seen the children and teenagers who have suffered from all sorts of abuse. He was also a basketball coach and is now a successful senior high school principal. So, I give him the benefit of the doubt ... perhaps this is the sort of loving support that would be normal to help young people get their lives back on any kind of normal track.

Again, many thanks to the author for sharing the dark side of human nature and exposing it to the light.”

And this one from Justin B . . .
“Another fantastic book by Joseph Lewis. After enjoying his Lives series (dealing with human trafficking), I was eager to see how this spin off/sequel/continuation played out. I have to say that I was not disappointed! The characters from the Lives series reappear, with elements of the aftermath of that series playing a role. However, this book does not deal in human trafficking; this time, they are facing another, new issue that is relevant to today's society - a drug epidemic.

All of the mainstays of Lewis's writing appear - good dialogue and character development, a thrilling plot, and a slight edge of the supernatural. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and loved every moment. I highly recommend this book!”

So thanks to them and to all who have taken a chance on reading Caught in a Web. If you are interested in a copy on either Kindle or in Paperback, you can find it on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696 or on Barnes and Noble at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/caught-in-a-web-joseph-lewis/1128250923?ean=9781684330249

And if you do give Caught in a Web a shot, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

I have some exciting news:

Black Rose Writing, the company that published Caught in a Web has accepted for publication another of my books, Spiral into Darkness and it will be out in January 2019. On my author page on Facebook, I will post passages and snippets from time to time and keep you updated on the publishing progress. It is currently in the editing process.

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Wil-Full Act of Kindness


Those of you who read my blog know that I have a thing for people being kind to one another. I have a thing for people being considerate and compassionate and empathetic. I write regularly about these topics, whether they relate to kids or to adults.

The past two years at the commencement ceremony, I told the kids that my generation . . . our generation . . . failed. And I meant it. Still do.

Any newspaper, any newscast gives us example after example of people treating people less then. Put downs, sarcasm, disparaging remarks are part and parcel of our everyday language. Elected officials lying incessantly. Greed. Scandals. You name it.

July 12th is the remembrance of our son’s death. Four years ago, Wil was shot and killed at the hands of a kid involved in a gang. A .45 was given to this kid, then fifteen-year-old, by a thirty-one-year-old ‘adult’. One shot hit anyone and that one shot hit my son as he walked down the street on his way home from lunch and running errands. Just happened to be on the street as this fifteen-year-old tried to shoot and kill a gang rival. Our son was between them and he died on that sidewalk.

One of Wil’s friends, Sarah, messaged me on Facebook recently and suggested we call July 12th the Wil-Full Acts of Kindness day. I liked the idea. You see, at his celebration of life, my wife, Kim, and our two daughters, Hannah and Emily, witnessed firsthand the impact Wil had on others. No, Wil wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t a saint. Not saying that he was. Wil made his share of mistakes. We all do and Wil was no different.

But he was also a young man who made something out of the life he was given. Adopted from Guatemala at age seven. He struggled to learn the English language. He suffered from a learning disability, but he never let that hold him back. What I like most about Wil is that he brought a smile to others. He enjoyed laughing and causing others to laugh. Wil was a pretty sharp young man and I’m proud of who he had become. The day before he was shot and killed, Wil received a call informing him that he had received his dream job. He had been on his way.

So here is what we’d like you to do . . .

Simple really: Do something nice for someone. It can be great or small. A kind word. A kind gesture. Buy someone a cold drink if it’s a hot day where you live. Buy someone’s lunch or a cup of coffee if you have the means to do so. Hand someone a flower. Leave someone a smile. It can be anything you choose to do for someone else without any expectation of something given in return. It’s even possible you might not receive a thank you.

The only thing I ask, if at all possible and if you are comfortable in doing so, is that you explain you are choosing to do a Wil-Full Act of Kindness in honor of my son, Wil Lewis, who died four years ago. You may or may not have known him. You may or may not know me. That’s okay. But on July 12th you are trying to do something nice for someone, one small thing to lighten a load, ease a burden and lift someone’s heart.

That’s it. Pretty simple really. Simple, but I ask you to consider that if ten or more of us, a hundred or more of us do this on one day, July 12th, how much nicer that one day will be for someone.

And I’m also willing to bet that July 12th will be that much nicer for you too, for each of us. Because I believe that one can’t help but feel good and feel lighter by helping another soul, helping to make someone’s moment, someone’s day a little better.

So . . . could we try a Wil-Full Act of Kindness Day? Maybe? Perhaps? Thank you in advance for this consideration on behalf of my wife, Kim, our daughters, Hannah and Emily, and our son, Wil. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

About the photo: Wil was a fashion photographer. I don’t know who took the shot, but if I did, I’d be happy to give the person credit. This is Wil working on a photo shoot. It’s one of our favorite photos.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Where Ideas Come From


This is a departure from my normal fare, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless . . .

I have been asked over and over where my ideas come from. I only wish I had a nickel each time the question was asked. In answer, I have to say I subscribe to what Stephen King said.

He wrote: “I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it's seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question 'What if?' 'What if' is always the key question.”

That pretty much sums it up for me.

Most of you reading this know I’m currently a high school principal and former counselor, teacher and coach. This fall marks my 42 year in education and I’ve never really tired of it. Each day is interesting because whatever I had planned flies out the window on most days.

But I happen to blend and somewhat blur the lines of genre in my writing because of my background with kids, especially because of my background in psychology and counseling. If I had to pick my main genre, I’d say crime thriller fiction. But because some of my favorite and more memorable characters are adolescents, I have elements of young adult in my writing.

Basically, my ideas come from kids. I listen to them in hallways, in the cafeteria, sitting in the stands at games. I observe and listen and watch constantly. Robin Williams mentioned in an interview (and I’m paraphrasing, probably badly) that his mind never turned off.

As I writer, neither does mine. Everything I see or hear is fair game!

The first books I wrote, Taking Lives, Stolen Lives, Shattered Lives, and Splintered Lives were based upon my volunteer work with the Jacob Wetterling Foundation for Stranger Abducted and Sexually Exploited Youth. In fact, prequel to the trilogy, Taking Lives, is dedicated to Jacob Wetterling who at age 11 in October of 1989 was abducted at gunpoint in front of his brother, Trevor, and a best friend, Aaron, by a man wearing a mask as they were returning from a convenience store with a rented moving and candy. Jacob’s story is and was tragic and only recently his remains were found after someone confessed to the crime.

I wrote those books because I had wanted to give back, in a way, to tell the story of missing kids. The work is dark- but then again, why wouldn’t it be? The writing deals with the human trafficking of kids, boys. It’s a story many don’t want any part of, perhaps refusing to believe it happens.

But, the writing was based upon my experience with the foundation, with kids I worked with as a counselor and the stories they told me, and of course, a ton of research into the topic of human trafficking.

My newest novel, Caught in a Web, deals with kids dying from overdosing on heroin and fentanyl and MS-13, a vicious gang present in communities across the country.

Once again, as a counselor, I worked with kids and families who had substance issues. In fact, there is one touching and tough scene where a husband and wife deal with the substance abuse of their seemingly All-American son. He had great grades. Was a successful athlete. But that scene works so well because of the conversation I had with the father of that young man.

The gang element again stems from my counseling background. I worked in a school in Southern California that had three active gangs. I was a counselor to a young man who made the decision to “get jumped out” of the gang and he almost didn’t survive.

What I did was exactly what Stephen King stated: I put two elements together, drugs and gangs, and asked the question, ‘What if?’

I think any writer worth his salt is a keen observer of life. His own life, the lives of others. The writer listens to conversations, watches the interactions of others, and reads constantly- especially in the genre in which he or she writes. As King stated, “The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing; one comes to the country of the writer with one's papers and identification pretty much in order.” My belief is that if the writer doesn’t read, the writer never gains the tools needed for writing. Reading is to writing what weight-training is to the athlete. It’s that simple.

So . . . that’s where I get my ideas. Simply stated, from life around me. I take a couple of thoughts and ideas and events and conversations and ask, ‘What if?’

For My Readers:

I have some exciting news:

Black Rose Writing, the company that published Caught in a Web has accepted for publication another of my books, Spiral into Darkness and it will be out in January 2019. On my author page on Facebook, I will post passages and snippets from time to time and keep you updated on the publishing progress.

Caught in a Web, has been receiving some excellent reviews that I’m proud of, but I have to tell you the reviews are also humbling. So to those of you who have read it, thank you for passing on the positive vibes and for taking a chance on a novice writer. With five books to my name and a sixth coming out in January, yes, I still feel like a novice.


If you like Thriller/Suspense fiction and are looking for something to read over the summer and if you are interested in my earlier novels, check out:

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 don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Agent Kelliher and 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. http://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis                       

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
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. http://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis                     

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
Six desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis                      

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI /