My recent book is called A Field Trip to Hell. It is a Christian-fiction book that is, surprisingly despite the title, very encouraging, inspirational and informative. It is a versatile book with various characteristics to it. Some have even described it as being two books in one. It is autobiographical, doctrine and theology, Christian-fiction and evangelistic in nature. I begin by telling my personal story of going through pain and suffering or what we sometimes classify as going through “hell.” In this portion I describe many of the insurmountable odds that I had to over come to go from the worst basketball player in the playgrounds all the way to the professional basketball ranks. One of the trails I had to overcome was being sick to the point of death and the doctors gave me one day to live. Read about how a miraculous event happened that caused me to walk out of the hospital in three days. Afterward I transition into answering some questions about the ultimate place of pain and suffering called Hell. In this part I answer some of the most widely asked, tough and sometimes controversial questions about Hell. Next, I take my readers on an actual descriptive field trip or tour of hell and expose them to the 30 revealed torments of hell firsthand and explain why there are 30. Next I encourage readers to understand that God loves them which is the true focal point in life and lastly I pose some questions that appeal to my readers thinking so that they will evaluate their afterlife situation. I must admit that I pose some challenging questions that will really make them think.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and my background has been mostly centered around basketball. I am an ex-professional basketball player, Minister, Youth and Young Adult Pastor, Recreational Director and a Child Care Social Worker. I have been writing every since I was in 8th grade and have always excelled at and enjoyed English which was my favorite subject. Some things you guys might find interesting about me is that I have played against some of the best athletes in the world (some of who are my friends and I talk about in the autobiographical portion of my book) including Kobe Bryant (current Los Angeles Lakers), Rick Mahorn (former Detroit Piston), Aaron Mckie (current 76ers Assistant Coach), Eddie Jones (former Los Angeles Laker), Jerome Allen (former Minnesota Timberwolves and current University of Pennsylvania Head Coach), Yao Ming (current Houston Rockets), Rasheed Wallace (former Boston Celtic) and the list of great players that I have met and or played against goes on and on. While playing over in China I had the opportunity to meet and be featured with Jackie Chan on the front page of the Chinese News Paper. He is my favorite Martial Arts Action hero and i have seen all of his movies including the kiddie ones.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to use my personal and interesting story of pain and suffering to encourage people who may have and or are going through pain in suffering in their lives. I especially wanted to encourage people in the area of pain and suffering that they have gone through that was not their fault or that they did not ask for or plan on facing in their lives. I wanted to let them know that if I can survive what I have survived that they can and will too. Next, I also wanted to let people know that despite what ever pain and suffering they may have gone through in their lives that there is an afterlife place of pain and suffering called Hell that does not compare to anything that they nor I have ever gone through. I was also inspired to transition from my personal story of Hell to the afterlife place called Hell because of a REAL visitation to Hell experience that I had while I was in college. I understand that some are not in the habit of believing in visitation experiences because I was one of those persons until I had my own experience. Real or not? You be the judge.
How did you choose the title?
Because Hell is a very controversial and avoided topic I wanted to choose a title that was not threatening in any way. When one thinks of a Hell you think of eternal pain and suffering. However, when you think about a field trip, it sends a message that we are going there to learn. The definition of a field trip is a trip away from the classroom to gather data at first hand and this is what my readers do. Most importantly, field trip sends a message that you get to come back to the environment that you were in before you left. You get to come back to your everyday life. If this place is really real I would rather learn by way of a field trip that by way of eternity just hypothetically speaking.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I worked very hard to market my book on all of my websites, bloged, networked and built social media relationships with many people for eight months. I pride myself on posting credible social proof. My book was scheduled for release on Monday, Novemeber 1, 2010 and the Saturday prior to that Monday, I asked my publishers was my book ready for release on Monday, November 1, 2011 so that I could reflect the availability of my book on all of my websites. People were eagerly anticipating my book. I changed all of my websites and due to a lack of communication on both of our parts, it was not available for purchase. I left this misguiding information on my websites for four days and the way I found out was some of my friends calling me and contacting me on facebook to let me know that they could not get it. This was one of the worst days of my life. Peoples orders were cancelled and they got discouraged. While the book had not come out yet, I made three small corrections and told my publishers not to put it up on Amazon until the corrections were made. They put it up on Amazon on November 14, 2011 and then took it off Amazon a week later to make the corrections that I asked. I had already apologized to my followers on all of my websites once and had to apologize again especially because peoples orders got canceled for a second time. I lost a lot of interest. The book was down during Christmas which hurt pretty bad. It eventually went up on Amazon to stay for good on January 1, 2011.
The way I dealt with it was by plugging away even harder. I blogged, did T.V. and radio interviews, passed out thousands of flyers and just tried to stay motivated while in pain I must admit. One of the main things I did was, I was interviewed by the Trinity Broadcasting Network months earlier. My interview had not aired yet so I went down to the station and asked, begged and persevered to get them to air my interview as a social media proof and saving grace to let people know that my book really is coming and to try to hold onto some interest. They aired my interview and when it did I e-blasted it out to everyone I knew and this helped a lot. I also posted it to my website for people to see. This helped my book sales for a time but it only aired twice. I was grateful though.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Actually I did not at first. While I was in college, because of all the turmoil I was going through in my life, I used to kid around with my dad all the time by saying, “One day I’m going to write a book about this stuff.” To see it come to pass is almost amazing to me. My first dream was to play in the N.B.A. and my second dream is to be an N.B.A. Chaplin but when I had my Hell visitation experience I knew I had to write about this experience. Research supports that these experiences moves people to want to make a difference in the world and this is what this experience has done to me. I was always a writer every since I was in eigth grade but after this unusual experience, I knew I had to make being a writer official. I wanted to make a difference in the world even if people choose not to believe my story. That’ s O.K. I’m not offended at all.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I have one ritual before I start to write. I sit in a quiet room for about an hour and organize the procession of my thoughts and approach to what I’m writng in my head first. Then I put it on paper and then I type it out on my computer. When I’m done I save it on three different computers.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
In the autobiographical part of my book I actually use the names of real people because my story is true. I thought this added a special quality to my story being believable by using the actual names of people who readers would know or at least heard of in real life. In fact if it were not for the field trip to hell in chapters 8,9 and 10 my book would be categorized as Christian Non-Fiction.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I learned about the stages of publishing a book. For me it was writing the book in manuscript form, submitting it for freelance editing and then submitting it to publishers for consideration to be published. Once I was accepted by my publishers and agreed to go with them the process continued of course. They did their own editing, cover design, back cover design, interior design and decorating. At every step and every stage everything they did was submitted to me for approval. It was a very tedious process but when you have passion and believe in your book the taxing process does not matter. Once the book is published now the task at hand becomes marketing, marketing, and more marketing. You can have a great book but if no one knows about it it is not going to matter much. I once heard a marketing expert say of a tele-seminar that publishing a book is 10% publishing with all that it entails and 90% marketing.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would not change a thing. Even with the unexpected and challenging things that have happened throughout the process. Some people see the glass as half empty and some see it as half full. Though not always successful at it, I try to see the glass as half full. My publishers are awesome and the faith that I hold fast to encourages me in knowing that even with the challenges I face in life I’ll always come out on top. All I have to do is reflect back over my life and take encouragement in the fact that despite all that I have gone through in my life, I’m still here and still excelling. I have been through worse things in my life than the challenges that I have face throughout the writing and publishing process. To add to this, I have grown tremendously as a writer and more than that, as a person throughout this process. So therefore I would not change a thing and I mean that from my heart. Now, would I want to go through the negative challenges all over again? That’s another question in and of itself and the answer to that question is, “No way.”
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
Of course I read the Bible but I also love Poetry and Literature because of the symbolically creative use of language. I find these to not only be interesting but also fascinating as well. I took a Literature class in college, passed it and took the same class again just for enjoyment and passed it again. My favorite author is C.S. Lewis because I love Christian-Fiction and especially the Chronicles of Narnia, the books and the movies.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
No not at this time but I am considering writing another book. I don’t want to give to much away but I’m am considering taking my readers on another field trip to another unexpected and unlikely place.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
If you have an idea, concept or story and you really believe in it, go for it and keep writing. You have a message that came from your mind and heart that you are passionate about and believe can impact peoples lives throughout the world because you decided to write about it. Treat your book like a new born baby that you have given birth to, handle it with care and don’t put it in just anyone’s hands. As it pertains to publishing, there is some one out there who will publish your story, you just have to find and connect with them. Look for a publisher who will give you a personal touch and be connected with you throughout the publishing process. This is what I really appreciated about my publishers because the publishing process can be very impersonal with some of today’s publishers. You would not leave your child in the hands of someone you did not trust or did not have a personal relationship with so you don’t do the same with your book. Other than that, just never give up and things will work out just fine.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Of course Christians but anyone who is or has ever gone through pain and suffering in their lives, particularly that was not your fault or that you did not expect or planned on facing and needs encouragement. Anyone who needs a miracle and desires to be encouraged and inspired by my story while they wait for theirs to come. Anyone that wants sound theology and doctrine (three years of research) about the afterlife place called Hell. Anyone who wants to see what Hell is like firsthand with the benefit of not having to stay for eternity. Anyone that does not mind being made a little afraid and scared. If I had to give my book an age limit I would have to say form ages 11 or 12 and up because my audience is pretty broad. I even have some things that I talk to the youth about on behalf of parents because of the Youth Pastor in me. I believe that believers and non-believers alike would really enjoy my book. I believe that those who are not believers would enjoy my book even if they choose not to believe my story. At a minimum I think that they would find it an enjoyable read.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?