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Friday, March 29, 2019

Visible



A teacher came to me this week visibly upset and shaken. She has a student from Guatemala and this student has a sister also in our school. Every so often her aunt, who still lives in Guatemala, sends a video or an email to the girls. This last one was quite upsetting.

The video was of a scene where she used to live. She was able to point out that she knew this house, that archway, etc. But in the video, three individuals were murdered.

You see, in order for a taxi to travel on that street, the driver needed to pay a gang leader money. In this case, the driver didn’t have it. So he was dragged out of the car and set on fire, along with two other men. All of it captured on video, and this video was sent to these two girls.

The girl was visibly shaken. It not only upset the girl, but also the teacher to whom she showed it and who then informed me. The teacher had to vent and collect herself. She informed the parent of the video and did all the right things.

But . . .

Explain to me how this teacher could concentrate for the rest of the day? Explain how this girl could concentrate for the rest of the day? Test? Book report? Presentation? Essay? Not a chance.

This same week, an elementary teacher spoke to me about several students in her classroom. There is a fieldtrip heading to Jamestown and the cost is $30. She was concerned that some of her needy kids might not be able to attend because of the cost. While one or two paid for the trip, she noticed that the kids are on free or reduced lunch, so she wonders how they could afford the trip.

She also noticed that several of her kids wear the same clothes every other day, sometimes each day. One boy has grown so much that, because he only has one pair of jeans, they are now “high waters.” Near tears, she wondered what she could do to help.

And lastly, as I stood in the cafeteria one morning, a young man wanted to buy coffee. I know this young man doesn’t have a lot of money, so when he asked if I had a quarter to lend him, I gave him a dollar and told him to keep the change. I didn’t intend to embarrass him, but I believe I did. He came back the next day and wanted to reimburse me, but I told him it was a gift and it was okay. Me to him. He smiled and walked away.

I bring up these three incidents because they reinforced something I spoke to the staff about at the beginning of the year: The Invisible kid.

There are kids who walk among us carrying heavy burdens that we may or may not know anything about. There are kids in pain, who suffer from anxiety, depression. There are kids who are trying their hardest to navigate, not only the hallways and stairwells of this building, but of life itself. Often times I wonder . . . and worry . . . about what or if a student eats on the weekend or over a break when the school can’t provide. I feel a little guilty grabbing a cookie or grilling a hamburger when I know there are kids who lack, and when there are parents who suffer because they can’t provide for their kids.

Can you imagine a parent’s feeling of shame in not being able to provide for their kids? The elementary teacher who spoke to me this week mentioned that one of her kids hates Christmas because the kiddo doesn’t get anything. Can you imagine who that hurts? What that feels like?

This is sad to me. So sad. In a world of plenty, when my family and I have so much, there are kids out there who suffer silently, and are Invisible to our eyes. Maybe because we can’t see them. Mostly, I think, because we fail to see them.

Invisible.
The song by Hunter Hayes is worth the listen: https://soundcloud.com/hunterhayesofficial/invisible-1

Maybe we can help make all kids . . . and adults . . . Visible. Maybe we can notice and be gentle about it. Yes, it’s true the kiddo might not pass your test. Yes, it’s true the kiddo is so angry upon entering your room or walking down the hallway that he or she will lash out at the first person who provides a reason . . . or not.

Yes, it’s all true. I get that. But we can still help kids to become Visible. We need to. For their sake. And probably, for our sake. 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 by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Friday, March 15, 2019

Lesson from Rudolph


 
I’m sure you know the song and the story. Probably sang the song a million times and saw the movie every Christmas since you were born.

            Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!

So . . . here’s this reindeer with a red nose. Doesn’t seem like a big deal for you or me, right? In fact, it wasn’t a big deal to Rudolph until it was brought to his attention that he was “different” that he was “unusual” that he was “odd.” He was laughed at. He was called names. He wasn’t allowed to take part in any of the games the other reindeer played. Forced to leave or watch from afar. He was left out.

But then surprisingly, someone discovered he had a gift. More importantly, there was a need for this gift. It was foggy. The fog threatened Christmas and Santa’s ability to get to where he needed to go. Santa looked at Rudolph and said, “I can use you!” Santa decided Rudolph had a purpose . . . or at least his nose did. He would lead the other reindeer and guide the sleigh. Christmas was saved by Rudolph.

Suddenly, this outcast was loved by the other reindeer. Suddenly, not only was Rudolph accepted, he became a hero. All because someone looked at Rudolph differently. All because someone looked past a nose and saw a purpose . . . saw a gift. Perhaps, because someone looked past his own nose and saw a gift, a purpose.

Looked past a (his own) nose . . .

There are kids walking hallways, sitting in classrooms, trying out for a choir, a team, a play, or who eat in the cafeteria suffering the same fate as Rudolph each and every day. Each and every day. They might wander aimlessly around a mall or sit home on weekends because they have nowhere to go or no one with whom to do anything with. Only to come back on a Monday and do it all over again.

I’m sure some of these kids don’t know they have a gift. They’ve been told over and over how odd, how different, and how unusual they are that they’ve come to accept this oddness, this unusualness, this differentness as reality, as a fact. No one has taken the time to recognize a gift, a talent, an ability in the kid, but instead, either don’t take the time or don’t have the patience or worse, just dismiss the kid as odd and different and unusual.

I’m wondering, just maybe, if we might choose a kid or two . . . or six or seven . . . or each and every kid . . . and instead of being dismissive, we look for and help the kid discover the gift, the talent, the ability he or she might have, how different life might be for that kid. I wonder what kind of difference we might make for that kid, what kind of change we might make in that kid’s world . . . life. Turn each and every kid into Rudolph. 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 Tim Gouw and Unsplash