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Friday, May 17, 2019

Carrying a Burden








On December 12, 1993, I flew to Guatemala to pick up our adopted son, Wil. He was seven at the time. Hannah, though younger, was our first born and only six weeks old. Kim wasn’t ready to travel, though she wanted to, but she also knew she needed to stay with Hannah. In the course of six weeks, we went from being a family of two to a family of four. Because neither Kim nor I spoke much Spanish, our family quickly became tri-lingual: English, Spanish, and Charades. A whole lot of Charades.

When I was in Guatemala, on a Wednesday, our driver, Walter, (who was actually our bodyguard- I found out just before we left to go back home) took us on a trip to see the orphanage Wil lived in after he was taken from his biological mother, and then to Antigua Guatemala, a tourist spot. While the visit to the orphanage was bittersweet for me, sad for Wil, the visit to Antigua was a nice look at the culture.

On our way back, there were three women walking along the side of the road. One was older, one was middle-aged, and one looked to be a teenager. I had the impression that the three were related, possibly a grandmother, a daughter and granddaughter, though I could be wrong. Each carried a heavy load on their head and on their back.

I felt sorry for them. The load looked heavy. The day was hot and humid, and the road they traveled had an uphill incline. I told Walter that I felt sorry for them, and he patiently explained that this is done all the time. This is the way they live.

The way they live.

Each of us carry burdens. All of us carry burdens. Some burdens we see, while other burdens, we don’t see. Some of us carry our burdens quietly, perhaps with a smile so no one even knows we’re carrying them. Others carry their burdens perhaps more visibly.

Some are dealing with sickness or pain- be it physical or emotional. Some are dealing with worry: financial, marriage, family members, or their own children.

Our children carry burdens: social, academic, what might be taking place at home away from school, what they go home to, will they have enough to eat- anything to eat, a place to sleep, their future- if they have a future.

And the thing about a burden, first we might not realize someone is carrying one, and secondly, we might never know how heavy the burden is. Because a burden for one, might be no burden for another. Still, a burden is a burden is a . . .

I think each of us has to realize that at some level, in some way, we are Carrying a Burden. Some heavy, some light. Some might come and go while others are forever and constantly with us. In all cases, the burden is real. It is there. And at times, there is no other focus and cannot be any other focus because the burden looms too large and is too painful.

So before we go off on someone, before we judge (do we really even need to judge?), let us realize that someone’s burden might be getting in their way. And if that is the case, perhaps we can choose to help lift that burden, help carry that burden so their own way might be made smoother, a little easier. And the nice thing is that in return, someone- perhaps that same person you had helped- will be there to help you with your burden. Because as I said, each of us is carrying some burden whether or not we see it. It’s there. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



There have been several great reviews for Spiral Into Darkness:

“If you enjoy thrillers, especially psychological ones, Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis will grab you good and proper in the opening two chapters. You will find yourself avidly turning pages as a serial killer accosts his victims, confirms their identities and blasts away their faces with a .38 pistol. If you are interested in both the good and bad sides of humanity and why we each turn out as we do, Spiral Into Darkness won’t disappoint.” Readers Favorites

“The Bottom Line: A thoroughly compulsive police procedural by one of America’s most promising new writers. Joseph Lewis, author of our Best of 2018 pick Caught in a Web, is back with another crime thriller featuring world-weary Milwaukee detective Jamie Graff . . . While Lewis savagely explores romance, drama, and sexuality with his wider cast of characters, Jamie’s interpersonal life is refreshingly free of drama for a cop, enabling him to be the determined, resourceful rock capable of cracking the case. The result is a thoroughly compulsive crime thriller.” Best Thrillers

And, Spiral Into Darkness has made it into the Top 50 Indie Books by Reader’s Choice!


Best Thrillers had previously reviewed my book, Caught in a Web. It was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! Best Thrillers called it “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” I am both proud and humbled.



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

Spiral Into Darkness:
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. 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, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm

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

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    
 
Photo courtesy of Ives Ives and Unsplash

Friday, May 3, 2019

Justice?






I’m sure at some point, someone, somewhere wronged you somehow.

I know it has happened to me. There are times when it really hurts, and I think this is especially true if the doer is someone close to you, or seemingly close to you. Sometimes, the hurt or the wrong is just keenly and inherently wrong regardless of whether or not the doer is close to you.

Most of the time, we want some sort of Justice, and Justice can take many forms. A verbal apology. A written apology. Money for replacement if something was taken or stolen or damaged.

Sometimes, however, we confuse Justice with revenge.

Revenge is payback. We want the doer to “hurt” as much as we do or did. We want to doer to suffer like we do or did. And maybe, we might want the doer to suffer even more than we do or did. Seems that way sometimes, doesn’t it?

The confusion between Justice and revenge is real. I think it goes back to our primal urges, that reptilian part of our nature where fight or flight lives (and sometimes, reigns).

Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my heroes. If you don’t know much about her, you might want to do a Google search because she overcame and rose up and in so many ways, contributed to the good of our society, and some of that good is still present with us today.

At any rate, I found a quote this past week that spoke to me. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.”

Think about that for a minute. Not just one side, but both sides need Justice.

That means when you or I have been wronged, yes, we have a right to expect that there will be Justice done. Yet, for the doer, he or she also needs Justice. Both sides deserve it.

So . . . what might Justice for the doer look like?

Maybe it is as simple as being heard. Maybe the doer explains what happened and why, and offers a sincere apology, makes an effort to “fix” or “repair” the situation. Much different than revenge, right? With revenge, we don’t care about the reason or the feeling. With revenge, we simply want payback, and at times, the more the better.

But with Justice, there is an effort to repair the relationship. To fix it. To understand. Franklin Covey in his book lists Habit #5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Tough to do sometimes, isn’t it? Sometimes the greater the hurt and the greater the harm, the less we want to understand. As I said earlier, the greater the hurt, we want payback. Justice, well, not so much.

But we are human. As I’ve said many times as I write these posts, we’re in this together. It is a lot easier to join in and be a part of a group, to connect, rather than ostracize. We are stronger together than we are alone. No one likes to be shunned, to be left out. Personally, I’d rather have someone yell at me than give me the silent treatment or to be excluded. To me, silent treatment or exclusion is way more painful than any physical hurt that can be done to me. I think most of us feel that way.

Justice for both. Seeking to understand, then to be understood. Sometimes a lot harder in practice than it is to pay lip service to, isn’t it? But to be understood and to have real Justice- for both- is in the end, much more beneficial for you, for me, and for society as a whole. 
Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor



There have been several great reviews for Spiral Into Darkness:

“If you enjoy thrillers, especially psychological ones, Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis will grab you good and proper in the opening two chapters. You will find yourself avidly turning pages as a serial killer accosts his victims, confirms their identities and blasts away their faces with a .38 pistol. If you are interested in both the good and bad sides of humanity and why we each turn out as we do, Spiral Into Darkness won’t disappoint.” Readers Favorites

“The Bottom Line: A thoroughly compulsive police procedural by one of America’s most promising new writers. Joseph Lewis, author of our Best of 2018 pick Caught in a Web, is back with another crime thriller featuring world-weary Milwaukee detective Jamie Graff . . . While Lewis savagely explores romance, drama, and sexuality with his wider cast of characters, Jamie’s interpersonal life is refreshingly free of drama for a cop, enabling him to be the determined, resourceful rock capable of cracking the case. The result is a thoroughly compulsive crime thriller.” Best Thrillers


Best Thrillers had previously reviewed my book, Caught in a Web. It was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! Best Thrillers called it “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” I am both proud and humbled.


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

Spiral Into Darkness:
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. 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, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm

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

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   
  
Photo courtesy of Peter Forster and Unsplash