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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





Friday, February 1, 2019

It Takes Just One



 
A teacher sent me an email earlier this week. Not a request or a hope for or a complaint. Nothing like that.

You see, this teacher sends “positive” emails to the parents of students every so often. Sometimes she hears back from a parent- generally a thank you or an I appreciate it type of email- other times she doesn’t receive anything. She gets it. I get it. Parents, like all of us, are busy.

However, this time, she received a response. It read:

            Ma’am,
            This email just made my entire week. Never in the history of having ___ in school have
            I received a positive email about him like this. He has always struggled in school, and
            loves your class. This just made my heart happy to read. Thank you so much for letting
            us know.

“Never in the history of having ____ in school have I received a positive email about him like this.”

Never? Ten grades of school? Never?

The teacher wrote to me:

            It broke my heart that no one ever took the time to write a positive message to this
            student’s parents. It makes me want to send a note home to all my students. I know it is
            extra work, but I never realized how important these little messages are. I know this
            might sound corny, but it is too bad we can’t get more teachers to do this. Just a
            thought…

When you think about it, having someone say something positive, something nice is always welcome, isn’t it? We like it, right? I know, sometimes it might feel uncomfortable because we have a tendency to feel we aren’t worthy enough to receive a compliment. Some of us don’t know how to receive a compliment.

We, like kids, receive criticism all the time. Maybe not all the time, but sometimes. And when we do, little is recognized for the good we do or attempt to do. It causes anxiety, a bit of fear and possibly, a lot of dread.

But we’re older. You’d think that will all of our experience with life, with people and the situations we’ve been in, we can deal with it, right? Hmmm . . . probably not so much. Criticism stings. It hurts. Human nature is that even though we receive four compliments, we tend to focus on that one criticism. (back in September of 2017, I wrote a post titled, “The Dot”)

Now if adults have a tough time with criticism, imagine kids. Kids are rookies when it comes to experiences. Babies when it comes to life’s circumstances.

I believe that one kid’s success is one caring, positive adult away.

Think about that. You all know my story about how a teacher, two of them actually, turned my life around. My last book, “Spiral Into Darkness” was dedicated to them. All it takes is one caring adult to turn a life around. One person to listen, to smile. Can you . . . will you be that one person, that one adult in the life of a kid . . . or adult? Please? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My new book, Spiral Into Darkness is available for Kindle, Nook and in Paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Shhhhhh . . . it will be FREE on Kindle from 2.5.19 - 2.7.19. Yes, FREE!

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 had this book for one day and already finished it. From the first pages, it draws you in. Great story about a madman going around and killing people for no reason, or so we think. Another great page turner.” Brent F., Librarian

“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

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. 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.

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 /

picture courtesy of Kyle Glenn and Unsplash