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Friday, November 30, 2018

The Finish


I’m not a huge NASCAR fan by any means. Because I like practically any sport, I am aware of who the “names” are in the sport: Jimmy Johnson, Dale, Jr., Kurt Busch. Because he is from Wisconsin, I tend to follow Matt Kenseth.

However, I have no idea how that sport works or how anyone gets points. All I know is that cars travel at a high rate of speed in close quarters making a series of left turns with two straight-aways thrown in. There are collisions and at times, tempers flare.

There is a huge trust factor in that those who drive have to at least believe that the guy in front, behind, or next to him is as competent as he is. I can’t say I necessarily have that same trust or belief as I drive down the interstate or city streets. Do you?

Now, like most sports, the winner is the guy who is in front when the checkered flag is waved or when the final buzzer sounds or when the time runs out. He or she or the team can be behind the entire race or game or match, but when the flag falls or when the horn sounds or when the time runs out, if that person or team is in the lead, they are declared the winner.

Pretty fascinating when you think about it.

I think of the fable about the Tortoise and the Hare. The rabbit ran, dogged it for a time, and eventually, the turtle won. Slow and steady wins out. Biblically, I think of Paul. Here’s a guy who did his level best to do away with any Christian because he was following orders. However, he had a life-changing moment and as a result, instead of persecuting Christians, he encouraged and preached to get more people to become Christian. Quite the turnaround, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve always thought about individuals who have lived despicable lives, yet on their deathbed, recanted, came to the realization that their lives were way less than good or righteous, and asked for mercy and forgiveness. I’ve always wondered whether or not they were forgiven. I mean, who am I to judge, right?

I know in my own life, I think back to things I’ve done (or not done) or things I’ve said (or not said) and people I’ve hurt (intentionally or unintentionally) and I cringe and shake my head, hoping beyond hope that I have been forgiven.

But in reflecting back on my sport analogy, if I’ve made the effort to stay in the race just as Mr. Turtle did, even though I screw up along the way and even if I come from way, way back and somehow end up in front, am I not a winner after all when the checkered flag is waved or when the buzzer sounds or when my time runs out? Aren’t we all?

If I have . . . we have . . . truly hung in there and after this screw up or that mistake, if upon honest and sincere reflection, and I or we resolve to do better, to do some good and right a wrong, might I or we deserve another chance or even end up being a winner after all? I hope so. I have to believe so. Don’t you? Something to think about . . .

For My Readers:

Just In Time For The Holidays! Spiral Into Darkness is Available for Preorder!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He also has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.
“Look for strong writing and a great deal of suspense in this well-crafted thriller.” Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long mystery series
“Powerful! The best to date. Masterful use of imagery and the ability to manipulate the reader's emotion! An outstanding read!” T Storke
“Another excellent read – this author doesn’t disappoint. Fast-paced, intrigue and unexpected twists.” S. King
Use the promo code: PREORDER2018 Spiral Into Darkness to receive a 15% discount at http://www.blackrosewriting.com/suspense…/spiralintodarkness  

My book, Caught in a Web was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! I was nominated by a reviewer and received notification in the last week or so. It is also on the list for “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” by Best Thrillers. I am both proud and humbled.

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

If you do read Caught in a Web or any of my other books, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

Caught in a Web:
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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696

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

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

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.

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 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. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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

Friday, November 23, 2018

Four Things




This is my favorite holiday of all- Thanksgiving. I think part of it is that it is a family celebration and if taken seriously, a time of reflection, to be "thankful." And we have a great deal to be thankful for, don't we?

* To get up each day and face a new sunrise. With that new day, we get an opportunity to do over, to begin again, and to improve if even just a little.
* To know we have a purpose. I believe adults and kids, educators- all of us with and without a certificate or license- has a purpose to touch lives and make a difference. And we get the opportunity to do this each day, and each minute of each day. It is a powerful thought.

I presented for the Empathy Project that is taking place at my school. I told the students that if they walked out of my presentation and only remembered that Lewis had a son who was shot and killed because of poor choices made by five individuals in a car, then I failed. I wanted more because I believe the story had more. So I challenged them to remember four things. I make the same challenge to each of you. Please don't just remember that I had a son who died, but instead, please remember what his death means to me and to my family.

The Four Things to Remember are these:
1. Respect and Care About One Another, To Be Kind.
Without this, we have nothing and I think I can argue that we are nothing if we don't practice and take to heart these attributes. We need to do this each day, each minute of each day along with teaching exponents, the causes of World War I, photosynthesis, cutting and pasting on a keyboard, how to use a spoon or a microwave. If we aren't teaching to the heart along with the mind, we've lost before we have begun.

2. Live Your Life!
Not my life, not your Mama's life, your brother's or sister's life, but your life. That means to follow and pursue your dreams, your passion. To discover your passion. If you do this, you will find your life that much happier.

3. Make A Positive Difference!
Not just a difference, but a positive difference. If you do this in other's lives, you will find that you've also made a positive difference in your own life. As a parent or a teacher, you hold a child's hopes and dreams in your hand. You can crush them with indifference, with a stroke of a pen, with sarcasm, with "the look" and with a careless word. But . . . if we make a positive difference in the lives of others, you will find that you are making a positive difference in your own life and in the lives of those around you, those close to you. You will find yourself happier and you will in turn, make others happier. It costs nothing to smile, to say hello. Nothing. But it can make a difference in a kid's life, an adult's life, who is down and troubled. Same with a kind, compassionate word.

4. Make Sure Those Who Are Important To You, Know They Are Important To You.
This is the most important, which is why I saved it for last. Moments end and you cannot get them back. Frankly, I was able to tell Wil I loved him the day before he died. Kim was also able to. Maria, his wife, was also able to. The thing is, we never know when there will be an end. Don't waste the time. Don't waste the opportunity. Don't leave anything on the table or give anyone important to you an opportunity to doubt how much you love them. This is so very important.

Please consider these Four Things. Not just on Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Hanukkah, or on New Year’s Eve when you make that resolution, but remember them each day of each year. Please. The lives of kids . . . our own lives depend upon it. Something to think about . . .

For My Readers:

Just In Time For Cyber Monday! Spiral Into Darkness is Available for Preorder! 
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He also has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.
“Look for strong writing and a great deal of suspense in this well-crafted thriller.” Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long mystery series 
“Powerful! The best to date. Masterful use of imagery and the ability to manipulate the reader's emotion! An outstanding read!” T Storke 
“Another excellent read – this author doesn’t disappoint. Fast-paced, intrigue and unexpected twists.” S. King 
Use the promo code: PREORDER2018 Spiral Into Darkness to receive a 15% discount. at http://www.blackrosewriting.com/suspense…/spiralintodarkness 

My book, Caught in a Web was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! I was nominated by a reviewer and received notification in the last week or so. It is also on the list for “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” by Best Thrillers. I am both proud and humbled.

Thanks to all who have read Caught in a Web. If you are interested in a copy on either Kindle or in Paperback, you can find it on Amazon 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

If you do read Caught in a Web or any of my other books, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

Caught in a Web:
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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696

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

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

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.

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 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. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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

Photo: Ryan Parker at Unsplash

Friday, November 16, 2018

Choices and Consequences


Each day and sometimes in each moment, we make Choices. Some are easy and require little, if any, thought. The alarm rings and we either hit the snooze or pop up out of bed to begin the day. When the appropriate time arrives, we jump in the car and head off to work, mostly using the same trusty route we’ve always taken. Pretty easy, really.

I marvel at the quarterback in football. In split seconds while defense breathes down his neck, the quarterback has to survey the field, see where the coverage is, who is open, weighs the percentage, and lets a pass fly. As an Ohio State football coach used to say, three things can happen on a pass play and two of them are bad: a drop or incompletion; an interception; a completion.

Like in football, those decisions affect not only the person who makes the decision, but also has an effect on those around that person: teammates, coaches, fans- all are impacted to a greater or lesser extent.

In support of the Empathy Project, I spoke to all English classes, teachers and various staff members about Choices and Consequences each block over two days. The first day for the presentations was my first day back from the trial for the driver who was part of a group of five responsible for my son’s death four and a half years ago. The trial took place in Chicago, Cook County specifically, and was spread over the better part of two weeks. It was exhausting, emotionally and physically, both the trial and my presentation to the kids.

You see, each of those five individuals in that black Toyota made decisions- all poor with little, if any, thought. If I were to boil it down, it would come to this: the driver who was thirty-one at the time handed a .40 caliber handgun with an extended magazine to a fifteen-year-old with the order to “Go wet his shirt! X him out!” That was the second decision the driver had made. The first was to listen to the fifteen-year-old who wanted to kill a gang rival, who he had described as a “valued target.” He not only listened to the fifteen-year-old, but stopped the car- decision number one, and then handed the boy in the backseat the handgun- decision number two, and then gave him an order- decision number three.

The fifteen-year-old made the suggestion, his decision number one, accepted the gun, his decision number two, and then got out of the car, his decision number three. A seventeen-year-old was ordered by the driver to go with the fifteen-year-old, and the seventeen-year-old did, his first decision, and after the shots were fired and one innocent victim shot, he continued to follow the fifteen-year-old, his decision number two.

In all, nine shots were fired at a rival gang member. None struck him. But . . .

On that warm and beautiful Saturday afternoon in July of 2014, my son, Wil, took a break from working on a photo shoot and left his apartment to get some lunch and pick up a few items for his and his wife’s apartment. He was walking home and happened to be between the shooter, his partner, and the intended victim. It was surmised that Wil was hit with either the first or second bullet meant for the gang rival, and collapsed on the sidewalk. He later died at the hospital despite the best efforts of passers-by, EMTs and hospital staff. The damage to Wil was too great.

But as I explained to the kids in audience over those two days, the decisions, the Choices that were made had Consequences. No thought was given to the latter, only the former. And sometimes because no thought is given to the Consequences of one’s Choice, the result can cause lasting damage- not only to the person making the Choice, but sometimes there is lasting damage to those who are caught up in that Choice. These bystanders become the collateral damage of the Choices someone else makes. Not necessarily fair, but very real.

I think it is important to not only consider the Choices we make, but also consider carefully the possible Consequences of those Choices. Instead of acting off the cuff, instead of acting- or reacting- we need look closely at the Choices we make, the words we use, the indifference we show. And the sad fact is that no matter Choice we make- even for the right reasons- it can still cause hurt and damage to ourselves and to others. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I am happy to announce that the final edits to my new novel, Spiral Into Darkness, have been submitted to the publisher and the book was given the launch date of January 17, 2019. Of course there will be opportunities for preorder and as soon as I am given that information, I will publish them on this blog and on my author page on Facebook.

My book, Caught in a Web was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! I was nominated by a reviewer and received notification in the last week or so. It is also on the list for “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” by Best Thrillers. I am both proud and humbled.

Thanks to all who have read Caught in a Web. If you are interested in a copy on either Kindle or in Paperback, you can find it on Amazon 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

If you do read Caught in a Web or any of my other books, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

Caught in a Web:
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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696

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

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

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.

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 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. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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

Photo courtesy of Vladislav Babienko, Unsplash