“It’s just not your time yet, Little Joe…”
Joe Laws is a man used to fixing things. After all, he’s fixed robots, water pumps, conveyors, and just about everything else that needs fixing at the automotive facility where he works. But when on July 17, 2011 a fall from the roof left his body broken and bleeding, even Joe knew it was beyond repair. He also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he had died.
It was a safe assumption, considering the extent of his injuries. The left side of his body was completely crushed; his back, neck, collarbone, and eleven of his ribs were broken. His lungs had collapsed and his heart had stopped. And, as the doctors of Vanderbilt University Medical Center would soon learn, he was in complete hemorrhagic shock, meaning that he had essentially bled to death from a ruptured spleen. As they tried frantically to save Joe’s life, his family prayed fervently that God would spare him.
Joe, in the meantime, was on the ride of his life. As he floated away from earth and into the skies above, he saw and felt a large hand cradling him, as a parent would a most beloved child. He knew immediately that he was being held, literally, by the hand of God. He was lifted toward a brilliant light, where he felt a love so powerful and all encompassing that it defied explanation. For what seemed an eternity, he played in “his Heaven”, visited with loved ones and learned about the true meaning of good, evil, and life itself. He rejoiced at being “home”, until God delivered the devastating news that he was going back into his body. It was not his time.
As it turned out, Dr. Richard Miller, Chief of Vanderbilt’s Trauma Unit, agreed. During a dangerous, five-hour surgery, Dr. Miller would use a revolutionary method—and titanium strips– to secure Joe’s crushed ribcage and save his life. After struggling for two years to recover physically and emotionally from his ordeal, Joe realized he could help others by sharing his experience. Held By the Hand of God is Joe Laws’ incredible story of Heaven, Earth and walking between two worlds.
About the Author
Joe Laws is an Industrial Maintenance Technician in Smyrna, Tennessee. A self-described “regular Joe” and accidental author, he seeks to inspire and heal others with his story of God’s love and the very real promise of Heaven. Joe lives just south of Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, Debra. Held by the Hand of God is his first book.
Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?
Joe: The decision for me to publish was really a suggestion from my wife that I should write my thoughts down on paper. She said it would be a means for me to help get over what happened to me; my falling off of my shed and killing myself. I am not an author by trade, far from it, I fix robots. However after a very eye opening experience at my local barber shop where I told a young lady my story of my death, my soul being lifted off the ground by the hand of God, and subsequently being shown heaven I told my wife that I will put my thoughts into the written word. I had to tell this story of what happened to me so that if I helped even one more soul as I did that day in the barber shop then my life, my death, and now my life again will not have been wasted.
On July 17, 2011 I fell off of the top of my shed. The fall broke my neck, back, shoulder, collar bone, eleven ribs, my spleen exploded, my lungs collapsed, and my heart was crushed. It quit beating instantly. I died! About ten to fifteen minutes later my heart started beating again and I immediately began bleeding to death through my spleen. After waking up on the ground broken all to pieces I began a slow crawl to my old truck. I wasn’t about to give up. And after spending thirteen days in the ICU at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN I began my road to recovery without a spleen and a brand new rib cage.
I returned to work on October 17, 2011 exactly three months to the day if not the second that I fell. I later found out that October 17 held a significance other than me. That was the day Noah’s Ark came to rest and he opened the doors to set the animals free.
RARA: What titles have you published to date?
Joe: This is my first book. I have started on a second book for children to be finished this winter. It is a true story and is in and of itself a miracle about my neighbor’s dog.
RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?
Joe: My book has not yet been released but the website is being built and is live now but there are more things to be added soon. It is www.heldbythehandofgod.com. I have not really started the marketing phase but realize that I do need to do that. This interview with Jill and reading her book was and still is a great help. The ideas from so many different authors are wonderful and priceless for such a small fee. I will use many of their tactics as I move blindly forward into the world of publishing. Hopefully it will help take some of the blinders off for me.
RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?
Joe: There are several different websites and books that I like that I have found to be useful. The first book I bought was by Allan Douglas, a fellow Tennessean and the title of his book is: “Writing for Profit or Pleasure”. It is a great little book that has many ideas that someone that is new to the business should read. Another is Jill’s book. Again, something that new authors should be required to read as they begin their journey. There are so many websites and books one can get overwhelmed by them all. However I do like Aaron Shepard’s publishing page. I don’t subscribe to him yet or have not bought his book yet but I intend to. He sounds like he knows what he is talking about.
RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?
Joe: My greatest challenge along this magical journey of publishing a book I would have to say is learning the ropes the hard way. My wife’s late father used to tell her, “Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see”. That is great advice! It seems there are multiple avenues for dishonest people in this industry to be unscrupulous at best is the nicest way I can think of to put it.
RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?
Joe: The best advice I could give a new author is do not quit your day job! “Trust but verify” as Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it as he brought the old Soviet Union to its knees. If it is too good to be true, then it is not true. There are many con-artists in this industry, in fact there are companies whose sole source of income is derived from unsuspecting budding authors. Check the Better Business Bureau with any company that you deal with. If there are multiple complaints, RUN! And my final piece of advice would be, “Don’t ever give up”. If I had given up on July 17, 2011 my body would be six feet underground right now and you would not be reading this.
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