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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Miracles and Blessings - The Beginnings by Joshua K. McGuire

Miracles and Blessings is a new series that chronicles the life of Josh McGuire. The Beginnings is Book 1 in this series and starts a couple days after Josh graduates from high school and has to make the first decision on his own...where to attend college. This decision, like all decisions in life, sets in motion events that change the path he understands his life is supposed to follow. In time, after a gut wrenching event occurs with his girlfriend Carla, a new life path develops. This path begins filled with pain, but Josh's faith makes him determined to follow God and learn what God has in store for his life, no matter what the personal cost.  

Excerpt from book:

Carla chokes out some words, but I'm not listening. She asks again but I'm still not paying attention.
She repeats loudly “Where are we going?”
I finally hear her and say, again in a mono tone “I'm taking you home.”
She cries “No! You need to talk to me, you have to forgive me. It was a mistake, a horrible mistake. I didn't mean for it to happen.”
At that exact moment I'm stopping at a stop sign.
I turn to her and say “No, you didn't mean for it NOT to happen.”
Back into first gear and turn east onto the highway. I'm going up through the gears and to 60 much faster than I usually go. I think to myself 'I'm surprised I didn't hit the rev limiter warning buzzer that goes off in the dash at 5500 RPM. Maybe I did and just didn't hear it.' We turn onto the farm to market road she lives on. Another mile to the top of the hill and I turn right into their driveway, across the cattle guard, and down the 3/8's mile-long winding gravel drive to her house. The whole time God is pointing out a discrepancy in her story to me. As if He is wanting me to ask why they got in trouble for kissing. Didn't make any sense, but when we stop outside the barbed wire fence that keeps the cattle away from the house I ask:
“What type of trouble did you get into?”
Mostly because I don't know what else to say. Again she is stumped like she doesn't remember saying that.
She finally asks. “What do you mean?”
Me “You told me you and this guy got in trouble at school when you got caught kissing. What kind of trouble did you get into?”
She looks like she hadn't planned for my questions and doesn't know how to get out of it. So she tells the truth, or what I perceive to be the truth.
“We got suspended. But it was changed to probation. We can't be in the same class, and I can't accompany him for his recitals.”
I blurt out “You were kissing Milton Hooper???
I feel like I've been hit by a ton of bricks. She nods yes.
I say "I've gotta think about this tonight.”  

In Josh's own words from his introduction:
Hi, my name is Joshua K. McGuire. Everyone calls me Josh. Let me tell you a little about myself. First and foremost, I am a born again believer. I asked Jesus Christ to live in my heart at a sports led weekend revival at my home church in January, 1970. In July of 1972, I surrendered my life to full time Christian service. Following the lead of my Youth Minister, I feel I'm called to the area of Church Recreation and Youth work. He also instilled in me a love for Baylor University.
I was born and raised in Lawton, OK. I graduated from Lawton High School in May 1974 where I lettered in football three years and track all four years. While never gaining enough weight to be successful in football, I had moderate success running track. I started dating the girl of my dreams my junior year in high school, and knew from the first date she would be my wife. Her name is Carla Self. Even though she is only three and a half months older than I am, because of where our birthdays fall she is one year ahead of me in school. She is a music major at Cameron State in our home town and a talented pianist.

I invite you to experience this journey with me as it unfolds.......

Welcome to my blog Joshua.  Please tell me and my readers about you new book and work?
Tell us about your latest work—title, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
Christian romance/inspirational. Not sure I've figured out 'why' yet, except it was building in my mind for months while daydreaming.  I would go over the story.  Then start over and add or change then expand the story.  It got to the point that I was afraid I would lose part of the story.  I started "downloading" it into the computer on 9/1/15.  The next day I lost my job.  It has been an obsession ever since.  I input the story just sitting and typing what I already had in my mind.  When I stopped, I had over 220,000 words in my word processor. From there, I started some research on specifics, changed names and locations.  Expanded some of the story lines, subtracted a few that didn't make sense.  I found what zI thought were logical stopping points and split what I had into two books, plus another 13,000 words for book 3. With the call back from an interview to take the next step to a new job, I've got 2 weeks to get the first one online.  Then we'll see how fast the next book gets edited!

What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
Just my background as a Christian.  The fact that I did go to school to be Church Recreation Minister, though I ended up not pursuing that calling for several reasons.  The 38 years of marriage to the love of my life.  The trials we have gone through, especially the cancer diagnosis and surgeries we both have had in the last 5 years.  Those things needed to be expressed and this is how God is allowing me to do this. Even if not a single copy is sold, I'm happy with the story.

What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
Like I said above, 4 or 5 months of it playing in my head, then I sat down and typed.  I didn't plan on it being a book.  It turned out to be at least 2 and probably 3, maybe more.

What kind of research was involved?
Mainly locations and change of towns to make it fit. A lot of old calendar visits to make the timeline realistic.  Some searches on things like weather and sporting events and scores.  Again, to add realism.  But not every event or place matched. Like a scene where Josh goes out on a run when he has been blindsided by the girl he is in love with.  The terrain is from my home town.  I doubt the same exists in the Josh's home town.

How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
Quite a bit.  My character, loves, experiences.  A lot of that is there. But there is a lot that is fiction also.

How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
Right now my wife has to prod me to do anything around the house.  But the real test will be with what I hope is the new job.  We'll just have to see what, if any, time is available to continue this pursuit. I may have to give up the 4 TV shows I watch each week!

Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A:I'm not an avid reader.  Only one that comes to mind is God.  He commissioned a book of history that I live by to inspire the world! Because of that, I've done some research as to how a book should be laid out, length, etc.  Then just like other aspects of my life, threw most of that out and wrote what I wanted.😉

Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
As I approached 60, I started reflecting on my friends from college that I've never seen again.  Some have passed away way, far too young.  This started out as a way for me to keep their memories alive, and evolved into a purely fictional story that incorporates some of their character traits as a way to remember and honor their lives.

What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
This is book 1 in a series.  Book 2 is written and in the editing stages.  Book 3 is started, but shelved temporarily to get the first two books out.

Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
I'm learning on the fly.  This is my first attempt at writing. it's strange since I'm not even an avid reader!

What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
Write what what inspires you.  If you write what you think others want to read, you won't be able to project any passion.  Neither you nor your readers will enjoy it.

Thank you very much for your great interview and sharing your work with us.  Good luck!

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