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J.O.B., The Legend of Jonathon Oliver Biggs

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June 23, 2010 - Ortonville- In 2002, when Kevin Shorkey was a pastor in Arizona, he was going through some very rough times, struggling with a very difficult church situation.

Tired, he recalls whining and complaining to God. He began reading the book of Job in the Bible, and then woke up in the middle of the night with the idea to write his own book. It was 3 a.m., but he got out of bed, sat down with a pencil and piece of paper, and wrote down his idea.

Now, eight years later, Shorkey, 60, is the pastor of Hillside Bible Church here in the village, describes himself as "in a really good place, the happiest I have ever been," and has transformed his idea for a book into a reality. Last month, his book, "J.O.B. The Legend of Jonathon Oliver Biggs" was published.

"This is all a fun surprise, I'm just enjoying it. I never had aspirations toward anything like this before," said Shorkey, then laughs, "I wrote a poem in fifth grade, but everyone had to."

Shorkey describes J.O.B. as a mystery thriller, a novel loaded with action that moves quickly. The title character, Jonathon Oliver Biggs, is a third-generation cattle rancher who is married to Rachel. Neither had ever had any adversity in their lives, but then, Shorkey says, that changes. Their cattle become infected with Mad Cow Disease and people around Jonathon are murdered. Rachel becomes the heroine, motivated to find out who is behind the terrible events that are happening.

While Shorkey's book is somewhat patterned after the Biblical tale, he said the story is not overtly religious.

"The message is about character, family, relationships, and a relationship with God as well, but it's not preachy, not in your face— it's just an undercurrent," he said. "The idea is how people can deal with adversity."

Shorkey's journey to publication was a lengthy one. After formulating his idea, he spent six months reading books on how to write a novel. He then got a roll of newsprint and wrote how the story would flow, the outline of each chapter, and characters and stapled the newsprint to the wall. Because he didn't write everyday, he wanted something to keep track of where he was.

Shorkey wrote on his days off, and when his three daughters with his wife of 34 years, Sheila, were older and into college, he found he had more time. He used vacation weeks to write. Writer's block was never a problem, he said, because he has a very imaginative personality. Instead, perfection was Shorkey's nemesis. He kept rewriting the first three chapters the first year, because it wasn't perfect. He finally followed the advice of his brother Frank, who told him to write the book, then fix it after.

He didn't write the book to get published, he was writing it for fun. But when he finished it two and a half years ago, his daughters, two of whom are English teachers and one of whom is a radio station promotional director, edited the book and encouraged him to have it published. He sent query letters and tried to find an agent, to no avail.

His parents, both avid readers, kept pushing him, so he kept sending it out. About a year and a half ago, he received an e-mail from Tate Publishing, telling him they were interested. He talked to them on the phone the next day.

"They said, 'When will you finish your book?'" recalled Shorkey. "I said, 'I'll send it tomorrow.' It was unbelievable."

J.O.B. The Legend of Jonathon Oliver Biggs is available for purchase at amazon.com, borders.com, or barnesandnoble.com. The list price is $16.99, but visit jobthelegend.com, to be linked to whichever site has the current most inexpensive price. Shorkey will sign copies of his book from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., July 11 at the Borders bookstore located at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills.

The moral of J.O.B. is that regardless of what difficulties you have in life, you have to maintain your character, Shorkey said.

"If you're going through a tough time, it will reveal what your character really is and it will also grow your character," he noted.

"You're being grown and revealed at the same time and that is what happens to the character in my book. There is a lot of action and intrigue and you'll be asking yourself, what's going to happen next, who will it happen to and who's going to do it? There are lots of surprises."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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