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Friday, February 22, 2019

Mistakes




Recently, I attended a workshop as part of my recertification as a counselor. The workshop was mostly made up of other counselors, a couple of social workers, and another principal who like me, left counseling to become an administrator. In fact, he and I became principals in the same year in our current district.

The workshop centered on Adolescent Mental Health. A lofty topic, to be sure, and one that could be explored from many angles and through many lenses for multiple days. But this particular workshop was only meant to be a refresher for us.

Interestingly, anxiety was a major topic. Types. Symptoms. Causes. Results. Substance issues. Alcohol. Sex. Suicide. Time was spent on how to identify and speak to a teen (or anyone) who had these issues.

Parts of a video of Kevin Hines was shown and discussed. Kevin survived a suicide attempt when he had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge- something that is almost always lethal. His story can be found at https://www.psycom.net/kevin-hines-survived-golden-gate-bridge-suicide/ and it is worth the few minutes to read and watch.

For me, my reflection dealt with my role as dad. How I might have created stress and anxiety for my kids without realizing I was doing so . . . am doing so.

I am the first to admit that as a parent, I have made mistakes. I think as parents, each of us can relate to that statement to one extent or another. But truly, I’m looking at me and at my role as dad. So yeah, I’m ashamed to say I’ve made mistakes. It wasn’t out of meanness on my part. Honestly, it was out of love, out of concern.

I know it isn’t easy being a principal’s kid. Hannah was told she made varsity soccer and started at goalie because of me, not her talent, effort, or desire. Emily had a similar experience. So, I guess my role, my job had something to do with it.

In other respects, I stood helplessly by watching my kids head for a speed bump, as I call them, and wanted to intervene, to protect, to insulate. I wanted, and want, my kids to succeed, to do well, to do better than me and I think that is where their anxiety, if they have it, stemmed from.

Was my expectation too lofty, too great? Did I unknowingly apply too much pressure- perceived or real?

About a year or two ago, I wrote about a woman who found a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. It was weak and struggling. In an attempt to “help” the butterfly, the woman took apart the cocoon so that the butterfly would be free. But in doing so, the butterfly’s wings and legs were too weak to support it and the butterfly died.

Died.

In the attempt to help the butterfly, the woman accidentally brought about the butterfly’s death.

You see, the struggle from the cocoon is essential for the butterfly to live. From that struggle, the butterfly’s wings and legs become strong. Without that struggle, the butterfly won’t have the strength to live.

I see caring parents and caring adults intervene on behalf of their kids. “This punishment is unfair because he’s a good kid, he doesn’t do any wrong.” “My kid has never been in trouble before.” “My son should be playing more.” “My daughter should have made the team.” And so on. I hear it and I see it. In some cases, I suppose, justified. In other cases, well, not so much, and it only hinders or harms the kid.

I think a balance needs to be struck between when to help and run interference, and when not to. I still mess up. We will all mess up. Even with the very best of intentions we mess up. Out of love. Out of compassion. Out of care and concern. But sometimes, we have to realize that there will be growth and strength if we allow the struggle, and accept the consequence of a poor choice or decision. Ultimately, the kid will survive just fine. Perhaps not so much if we help remove the kiddo’s cocoon. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:


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

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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

Photo courtesy of Suzanne D. Williams and Unsplash

Friday, February 8, 2019

Jagged Edges




Way, way back when my younger brother was about to be married, which was shortly after my father passed away, our big family gathered in a living room so we could view some of my father’s slides he had taken over the years. It was fun seeing everyone as we grew up (though some of us don’t necessarily act our ages still). The older hair and clothes styles. Games we used to play. Trips we had taken, especially the camping trips.

My dad had a good eye, but sometimes his execution wasn’t the best. There were plenty of pictures with a thumb in the way. A few pictures of cracks in a sidewalk or of ceilings when the camera moved as the picture was taken. But these pictures caused laughter because it was a “dad” thing and we were used to it. Nice memories.

Ever take a picture of something you want to remember only to look at it later and it’s fuzzy? It happens to me often. Fortunately, we don’t have to waste money on a fuzzy picture, but can delete it if we want. Still, the idea behind taking the picture at that moment was to capture a memory and having the picture fuzzy (or a thumb in the way) is frustrating.

I think people, kids in particular, have Jagged Edges. We sometimes don’t fit nicely or cleanly into a perfect frame. There is fuzziness in our lives that sometimes causes the picture to be out of focus. Sometimes, we’re out of focus, fuzzy and jagged.

And the thing is, sometimes, we don’t realize we have Jagged Edges, and sometimes we don’t realize we’re operating with a fuzzy image, whether it is with our own eye or the fuzziness of the subject we’re taking the picture of.

Sometimes, our expectation is that others who pop in and out of our lives, kids in particular, fit in this nice frame we have for them. It’s our frame, therefore, they should fit it, right?

Hmmm, not really.

You see, we don’t know what might have happened the night before to have caused a Jagged Edge. Sometimes, we don’t know what might have happened that morning, on the way to work or school that might have caused a Jagged Edge. And sometimes, we just have Jagged Edges and don’t realize it.

We aren’t perfect no matter how hard we try to be, so how can we expect kids to be?

And the thing about kids . . .

They leave us. They grow up, move on, and move out. Sometimes we hear from them because they come back to visit. Sometimes we receive a letter, or not, or get a message from one on Facebook.

While they are with us, we might not know what will become of them. We do our thing. We teach. We counsel. Sometimes we talk with them. With a little luck and a whole lot of patience, sometimes we are able to smooth out some of the Jagged Edges, clear up some of the fuzziness.

Some of us will not have that one “Rudy Story” movies are made of. Instead, most of us will plant seeds. And like any seed, it takes time for the seed to grow. We might never know what fruit that seed brings. But if we do it right, with love and compassion, with kindness and care, mostly with patience, we can be certain that the seed we plant today will bring about a beautiful result. And who knows, we might smooth out some of those Jagged Edges. We might even smooth out some of our own Jagged Edges. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

The free Kindle promotion for my new book, Spiral Into Darkness has ended, but it is still available (and not that expensive).

The cover description reads as follows:
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.

I play with the question, Is a serial killer born or made? There are two sub-themes one of family and one on sexuality, and all three collide at the conclusion.

There have been several reviews already:

I received a Five Star Review from Best Thrillers! In part, it reads:
“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.

Thanks to all who have read Caught in a Web. 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, Spiral Into Darkness, 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.
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

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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

Photo courtesy of Sergei Akulich and Unsplash