When Shmack Happens: The Making of a Spiritual Champion by Amber Neben

When Shmack Happens coverTitle:  When Shmack Happens: The Making of a Spiritual Champion
Author: Amber Neben
Genre: Christian nonfiction/inspirational stories/sports autobiography
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Neben Px4 (March 18, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0991303008
ISBN-13: 978-0991303007

Purchase at:

Amazon USA:   http://www.amazon.com/When-Shmack-Happens-Spiritual-Champion/dp/0991303008/

Book website: www.whenshmackhappens.com

Amazon UK and Amazon EU

About the book:

Have you ever been through a hard time in life? Ever wondered why bad things happen? Amber Neben has you covered. The 2x Olympic cyclist for Team USA knows a thing or two about shmack- her word for describing adversity that comes our way in life. Follow Amber’s journey as she overcomes major obstacles both on and off the bike-and encourages you to join her in developing the perseverance, patience, perspective, and power than only Christ can give us. Very few people may know or understand what road cycling is, but everyone knows what it means to be an Olympian. The champion road cyclist chronicles her disappointments and failures, as well as amazing comebacks and victories-while thrilling audiences along the way with gripping stories of faith and hope. After reading When Shmack Happens, you’ll feel equipped and encouraged to face life’s tough moments, and find yourself cheering for Amber to get back on the bike…one more time. Learn what it means to be a spiritual champion in God’s eyes.

Excerpt:

From Chapter 10

Fear gripped me as I skidded to a stop against the guardrail and looked up at the entire peloton riding toward my head. Another rider had just slid into my front wheel, causing it to turn violently sideways, ripping the handlebars out of my hands, and instantly halting the bike’s forward momentum. Since my body was still carrying the 30-plus mph speed and energy, I launched with my arms out like superman until I hit the pavement. Hard. The combination of the friction of my body on the road followed by the impact with the guardrail spun me around, so I could see what was coming at me. For a few seconds more, I was terrified of being run over until the peloton had passed.

After this immediate danger was gone, I realized my finger was screaming at me. I hadn’t initially noticed it, but now it hurt like nothing I had ever felt. Fear grabbed me again as I connected the pain with the blood and the massive gash on it. I thought for sure I was going to lose the tip of it if I didn’t get help fast.

I had no idea what had just occurred. We had crested a climb and started an easy downhill. I was still up front on the outside of the group. The corner was sweeping to the left, and I was looking far down the road…when suddenly I was tossed. It wasn’t until later that night that the rider who was behind me explained what had happened, and why I had no chance to react or had any sense that it was coming.

I was in the middle of the 2009 racing season, coming off of the World Championship win the previous year. Only two days prior, I had won the time trial stage in this race, the women’s Giro d’Italia. The win had catapulted me into the General Classification (GC) lead, and although I had cramped the next day and lost it, I was still close enough to fight back. There were enough hill-top finishes remaining, and I wasn’t planning on giving up the race so easily. However, in an instant, everything changed. I went from being in contention, to being bloodied on the side of an Italian road in the middle of nowhere, waiting for the race ambulance and a doctor.Amber Neben photo

About the author: 

Amber Neben is a decorated international road cyclist with victories in 11 countries and multiple UCI Category 1 stage race wins. She is a 2x Olympian, 2x World Champion, 2x Pan American Champion and 2x National Champion. She holds a B.S. from The University of Nebraska and an M.S. from UC Irvine. Amber and her husband, Jason, reside in Lake Forest, CA. For information on speaking engagements or coaching visit amberneben.com.

Book Spotlight: Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy by Jermaine Gadson

TTand T of the Enemy 3D coverTitle:  Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy
Author: Jermaine Gadson
Genre: Spiritual
Publisher:Crossbooks – Division of LifeWay(June 2014)
ISBN:  9781462736362—Hard Cover
ISBN: 9781462736355—Soft Cover
ISBN: 9781462736348—eBook

Pre-order at: http://www.amazon.com/PRE-ORDER-Tactics-Trends-Equipping-Believer/dp/1462736351/

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy by author Jermaine Gadson is a must have resource for believers who want to be well equipped to be victorious against the strategies of the devil. The devil is cunning and deceptive, and he will stop at nothing to keep God’s people from reaching their potential in Christ. In this book, Pastor Gadson discusses how the enemy uses temptation, seduction, fear, isolation, guilt, shame, and other such things in order to steal and destroy a person’s life. Satan works tirelessly through various means and mechanisms to keep sinners from hearing and being receptive of the Word of God, in order to prevent them from being saved. If you have family or friends who are not born-again, this resource will help you to identify schemes that the enemy may be using to keep your loved ones from being saved. This book is intended to equip the Body of Christ to wage a good warfare against the strategies of the enemy. It is not God’s will for His people to be taken advantage of by the enemy because of ignorance. This book exposes who the enemy is, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will try to do in the future, as an enemy of God’s people. This book is written for the everyday believer to be able to understand and use. However, it is also a helpful tool for Christian leaders to be able to identify specific ways in which the enemy desires to attack them in order to steal their influence, kill their destiny, and destroy their reputation and ministries. In this regard, it is an encouragement to the Body of Christ to guard and protect their spiritual leaders.

BOOK EXCERPT:

Chapter One
Know Your Enemy
Before engaging in battle of any kind, it is very important to be familiar with the opposition. The more you know about your enemy, the greater you will be equipped to fight against them and be victorious. Knowing your enemy includes being knowledgeable of their strengths, weaknesses, habits, origin, and the like. When you are knowledgeable about your adversary, you become empowered to develop a plan of action or strategy to adequately defend against their opposition, overcome their threats and defensive mechanisms, and ultimately defeat them.
Athletes and those who follow sports are familiar and acquainted with this principle. Coaches and players spend hours upon hours viewing video recordings of not only their own team, but of their upcoming opponents as well. They view recordings to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses as revealed by previous games, and they do the same to identify strengths and weaknesses of the next team they have to face.
This principle is certainly pertinent in the area of the military as well. No military general, or top ranking official who has authority over military personnel will in their right mind authorize the use of military force without adequate information concerning the enemy to be attacked. Right decisions require right information. This is especially true if you want to come out victorious and on top.
Now that we can see the importance of this principle from a natural standpoint, it makes sense that this would also apply spiritually in relation to how we are to do battle with our spiritual enemy. As you read this book, I hope that you will be able to see the importance of this material in helping you towards this very end. The reason this book is so important is because the person reading it is like a ballplayer looking at tape of his or her opponent or a military general gathering intelligence on a terrorist organization. When you know where your enemy came from, what your enemy has done in the past, and what your enemy is presently capable of, you are more readily prepared to wage a good warfare and defeat him in any present or future encounters you may have.
The Origin of SatanSince we are dealing with the concept of knowing your enemy, it is important to understand the origin of where the enemy discussed in this book, Satan, also known as the devil, comes from. Here is what is considered to be the biblical account of Satan’s demise, in Isaiah 14:12-15:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.”The story of Satan originates in the heaven. In his beginning, he was created as an angel of God, who was called by the name of Lucifer. Lucifer was one of God’s chief angels, and as a consequence was given much power and authority. However, because of pride and jealousy towards God, his creator, he rebelled against God, wanting to be worshipped as a god himself. Through his rebellion, he lead one third of the angelic host to follow suit (Revelation 12:4). Today, Lucifer and the one third of angels who rebelled with him are now known as Satan and demons. The devil along with all the other demons, are simply fallen angels. They are angels who rebelled against God, and as a result were cast out of heaven, and striped of their original responsibilities and places of angelic authority (Jude 1:6).
The Point of No ReturnAngels have a special and unique role in the plan and purposes of God. Often in the Scriptures, as well as in other literature, angelic beings are referred to as the “sons” of God. This references the fact that the origin of all angels is God, the One who created them.
Adam, the first human being, is called the “son” of God in Scripture as well, simply because he originated from God who created him (Luke 3:38). Adam did not have an earthly father because he was the first human being. God was his father by mere fact of his creation. In the same way, angels are “sons” or children of God. Angels are spirit beings, and human beings are spirit beings at their core, and God is the Father of spirits. Therefore, God, who is a Spirit Himself, is the Father of all spirit beings (Hebrews 12:9). God has created all beings, angels and humanity, for His own glory and purpose.
Nonetheless, there are distinct differences between the angelic and human races that are vitally important to understand. The angelic race was primarily created to serve the purposes of God and His creation. The human race was primarily created for the pleasure of God, to be the glory of His creation. From this we see a difference in the distinct beings in how they were created in relation to God. Though all beings were created to praise and worship God, angels were created to serve God, and human beings were created to love God.
Without going any further into a deep discussion of angelology, demonology, or anthropology, the study of angels, demons, and human beings respectively, for the purposes of this discussion, there is one fact that is paramount. This fact is rooted in what I have stated above in connection with the purposes and differences in why angles and humanity were created. All angels, as far as we know, were created to serve God, and to stand in His presence. In this sense, they are primarily servants, because they were created to serve and do the biding of the Father. Therefore, sense their primary relationship with God is based upon their service to God, the moment that they choose to disobey God; they forfeit their privilege of being able to perpetually stand in God’s presence and to be called in His service. In other words, an angel who sins cannot be forgiven. Someone might say that this is not fair, how can God not forgive an angel who sins. The reality is not so much that God will not forgive, but rather that the angel has become so corrupt that they have no room in their heart for repentance. For example, do you literally think that Satan has, is, or is going to repent and turn from his wickedness? No way! Consider this; the angels get to experience the very presence of Almighty God, continually. God has invested in them powers, abilities, and responsibilities to govern and care for heaven, earth, the galaxies, and the universe. They enjoy the lavish luxury of heaven eternally. Is a person who is willing to give all this and much more up worthy of reconciliation?
Human beings on the other hand have the ability to repent. Therefore, a human being’s eternal destiny is not eternally lost because of sin. We have hope because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
This whole concept of Satan being our enemy, is not so much that Satan is concerned about us on our own account; rather, Satan is jealous of our relationship with God, and the position of authority that God has given to us as a race of spiritual beings. Our fight against the enemy is not just about us. The enemy attacks us because he knows that we are the glory of God’s creation. The devil’s attack on us is really an attack against God. The enemy cannot do anything to hurt God directly because God is God. However, instead of coming against God, whom he knows he cannot defeat, he comes against the ones that God loves.
Think of it this way, the devil is a criminal master mind. If you have ever watched TV shows or movies, where crime was involved, you would notice that whenever a criminal mind wanted to cause harm to an individual or manipulate the individual to do what they wanted, they would either kidnap, threaten to do harm, and actually do harm to someone of whom the individual loved. This is not a concept that originated in the entertainment industry to keep us on the edges of our seats. This is a tactic that originated with Satan, which he is still using today, and will continue to use until his ultimate demise.
The Outcome of SatanSatan is a sore loser. He lost the battle against Michael and the angels of God in heaven when he rebelled, so he is trying to do as much damage as he possibly can against humanity, and desires to take as many people to hell with him as possible (Revelation 12:7- 12).
When Satan led the rebellion against God, he had to fight against Michael the archangel and the army of angels who remained faithful to God. Satan and his forces lost, of course. As a result, they were cast down to the earth. By God creating mankind to rule the earth, God was in essence creating man from the very beginning to exercise dominion and authority over Satan and his demons. Satan seizing the opportunity to deceive Adam and Eve through tempting them to disobey God was his way of salvaging what little spiritual power he had left, in order to seek vengeance against the God who had created him and banished him for his corruption. And so, the saga continues. However, we already know what happens in the end. Lucifer, now known as Satan, and all those who followed him, will ultimately be defeated and sentenced to eternal punishment and damnation.
So, for us, we must understand that the fight against the enemy is a fixed fight. We have already won, for the battle is not ours, it’s the Lord’s. Our God has, is, and will forever be, victorious!
Names of the Devil Throughout the BibleI want to conclude this chapter by giving you a list of the names of the enemy, as they appear in the Scriptures. In a Hebraic and biblical perspective names are very important.
Names denote the character and destiny of the named. In the listing below you will see that the various names of Satan that are used are a description of his nature, character, and being.
1. Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12)
2. Satan (Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 12:9)
3. Tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5)
4. Enemy (Matthew 13:39)
5. Devil (Luke 4:2, 13; Revelation 12:9)
6. Beelzebub (Luke 11:15)
7. Ruler of demons (Luke 11:15)
8. Liar (John 8:44)
9. Thief (John 10:10)
10. The prince of this world (John 12:31)
11. The evil one (John 17:15; 1 John 5:18)
12. The god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)
13. Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15)
14. Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
15. The spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2)
16. Adversary (1 Peter 5:8)
17. Abaddon (Revelation 9:11)
18. Apollyon (Revelation 9:11)
19. Angel of the Bottomless Pit (Revelation 9:11)
20. Dragon (Revelation 12:7)
21. The serpent of old (Revelation 12:9)
22. Accuser (Revelation 12:10)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jermaine Gadson headshot

 

Jermaine Gadson is the Senior Pastor of Faith Ministries, Inc., a non-traditional church located in Birmingham, AL. Prior to starting Faith Ministries, he served as an associate minister, youth minister, and pastor for local churches and ministries in the greater Birmingham area. While, growing up in the Baptist church, he gave his life to Christ at an early age, and is a third generation minister of the Gospel.

He holds a B.A. in Religion with a Concentration in Congregational Studies and a Minor in Classics from Samford University, and a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School of Samford University. He is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Beeson Divinity School.

Gadson enjoys reading, writing, sports, outdoors, movies, and spending time with his family. He is happily married to his wife Kristy and they have one beautiful daughter, Khloe.

Visit Pastor Gadson online at www.JermaineGadson.com.

Connect & Socialize!

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Shopping for a Lighter Cross by Dr. C Book Feature

 

ABOUT SHOPPING FOR A LIGHTER CROSS

 


9781475996821_COVER_FQA.inddTitle:
 Shopping for a Lighter Cross
Genre: Biography
Author: Dr. C
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 64
Language: English
ISBN – 978-1-47599-682-1

Everyone has life’s challenges and can face them with fear or with trust. I choose to look at them as experiences where God blessed me with His curve balls thrown in. These curve balls are not the negative, painful or abusive life experiences that I have lived through, but rather the unexpected, blessings, gifts, and graces God threw in to help me through the experiences. I believe that these curve balls were given so that I can witness to His great and awesome presence in and through the experiences, the people in those experiences and in myself as living through and surviving the experiences as a better, not bitter human being.

Purchase your copy:

iuniverse


ABOUT DR. C

The author lives in Aston, Pennsylvania with her husband John, their golden retriever Clover and their two cats: Duchess and Graygray. Dr. C is a Pastoral Associate/Spiritual Director for a Catholic parish in Delaware County and John works for the Federal Government. Dr. C graduated with her Doctorate in Ministry degree in May 2013.

Book Spotlight: Darklight by Leonard H. Roller

Dark Light 7Title: Darklight
Author: Leonard H. Roller
Publisher: Friesen Press
Pages: 119
Genre: Poetry
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

From ancient Greece to the 21st century, poets have gazed at the heavens, trying to unlock the mystery and beauty of the cosmos in verse. In his charming new collection, DARKLIGHT, Leonard H. Roller, one of those poetic seekers, leavens his fascination with the cosmos and love of writing poetry with a gentle humor that will leave readers chuckling while they ponder the great celestial questions and What It All Means.

In the 77 poems in DARKLIGHT, Roller employs a range of poetic styles – from classical sonnets to free verse – to present his unique vision of such astronomical concepts as black holes, dark energy, the “Big Bang” theory, white dwarf stars , multiverses, the possible beginning and end of our universe and the existence of God.

Book Excerpt:

MULTIVERSE

A single universe is not enough
For God—behold the multiverse!
Many cosmos, made mostly of dark stuff,
Coexisting for better or for worse.
Unnumbered worlds, procession of dimensions,
Uncounted hosts of heavens and hells
All held in thrall by divine intentions,
Vibrating throughout time in parallels,
Endless firmaments, endless myriads
All generated by the single Word.
Infinity of strings both good and bad
That the Almighty tunes to chords.
Extensions of the touch of divine might,
The Lord keeps strumming ’til He gets it right.

Shopping for a Lighter Cross by Dr. C

ABOUT SHOPPING FOR A LIGHTER CROSS

9781475996821_COVER_FQA.inddTitle: Shopping for a Lighter Cross
Genre: Biography
Author: Dr. C
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 64
Language: English
ISBN – 978-1-47599-682-1

Everyone has life’s challenges and can face them with fear or with trust. I choose to look at them as experiences where God blessed me with His curve balls thrown in. These curve balls are not the negative, painful or abusive life experiences that I have lived through, but rather the unexpected, blessings, gifts, and graces God threw in to help me through the experiences. I believe that these curve balls were given so that I can witness to His great and awesome presence in and through the experiences, the people in those experiences and in myself as living through and surviving the experiences as a better, not bitter human being.

Purchase your copy:

iuniverse

 

ABOUT DR. C

The author lives in Aston, Pennsylvania with her husband John, their golden retriever Clover and their two cats: Duchess and Graygray. Dr. C is a Pastoral Associate/Spiritual Director for a Catholic parish in Delaware County and John works for the Federal Government. Dr. C graduated with her Doctorate in Ministry degree in May 2013.

In the Spotlight: External Forces by Deborah Rix

External Forces 7Title: External Forces
Author: Deborah Rix
Publisher: Dime Store Books
Pages: 268
Language: English
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: eBook

Purchase at AMAZON

Treason, betrayal, and heartbreak.

A lot can happen to a girl between her first kiss and her first kill.

It’s 100 years since the Genetic Integrity Act was passed and America closed its borders to prevent genetic contamination. Now only the enemy, dysgenic Deviants, remain beyond the heavily guarded border. The Department of Evolution carefully guides the creation of each generation and deviations from the divine plan are not permitted.

When 16-year-old Jess begins to show signs of deviance she enlists in the Special Forces, with her best friend Jay, in a desperate bid to evade detection by the Devotees. Jess is good with data, not so good with a knife. So when the handsome and secretive Sergeant Matt Anderson selects her for his Black Ops squad, Jess is determined to figure out why.

As her deviance continues to change her, Jess is forced to decide who to trust with her deadly secret. Jess needs to know what’s really out there, in the Deviant wasteland over the border, if she has any hope of making it to her 17th birthday. Because if the enemy doesn’t kill her first, the Department of Evolution probably will.

Prologue:

I haven’t slept in forty-eight hours.

It’s part of the Special Operations Assessment and Selection course, twenty-eight days of grueling work. The two days of no sleep are meant to disorient us, part of discarding our former selves. There are three hundred of us trying to figure out how to do what we’re told, when we’re told to, and how to do it correctly. Jay and I weren’t assigned to the same platoon, which was unexpected. I’m in the “civilian” platoon; we’re the ones with skills that don’t generally require brute force. I think Jay is in some kind of elite group because I haven’t seen him, I’ve only seen the G-men platoon. They are all about brute force; they’re the ones that opted for genetic enhancement at age thirteen without the supervision of the Devotees. But Special Forces is, well, special, so they have to prove they’ve got more than muscle and I’ve gotta prove I’ve got more than a quick mind.

If I don’t make it to Special Forces, my life expectancy in the regular army could be pretty short. And if I’m a complete washout, I’ll have to go to my assessment with the Devotees and they’ll find out about me, making my life expectancy even shorter. I seriously need to pass.

Zero dark thirty is when I have to haul myself out of bed in the so-called morning. My drill sergeant has been yelling at me for most of the past two days. The word “why” has been surgically removed from everyone’s vocabulary. Any individual hesitation in following orders means at least one private is getting smoked, if not the whole platoon, which usually means push-ups. We’ve done a lot of push-ups. I stare straight ahead as the drill sergeant walks by me and continues down the row of privates. I made the mistake of “eyeballing” him yesterday.

Never. Eyeball. A drill sergeant.

First Chapter:

Three weeks earlier – May, 2125

My mother thinks I’m a Deviant.

It’s the kind of thing that can really throw a girl for a loop.

The Devotees missed it when I was born, she said, but one day they would come for me. That was a few years ago, she didn’t know I was home when I overheard her; I got out of there lickety-split.

And it’s not as if I haven’t noticed the way my mother looks at me sometimes. If they had taken me when they had the chance, maybe her other baby would still be with her. I’m pretty sure that’s what goes through her head when she looks at me.

So the early assessment notice wasn’t entirely unexpected. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Lots of kids are called for early assessments and nothing happens; they show up at school the next day. Some of them are all excited because they got called to become a Devotee.

But some of them, well, they don’t come back.

I’m in the parking lot of my high school, West Liberty. It’s prom night, and I came with my best friend, Jay. He’s still inside; he likes this sort of thing. I haven’t told him the early assessment notice came this afternoon. I didn’t want to ruin tonight for him. The humidity has made my dress even more uncomfortable than it was inside. Jay owes me. At least he won’t mind if I go home; it’s not that kind of date.

A car door slams shut. There aren’t a lot of kids who can afford the fuel to drive their own car to the prom.

Uh-oh. Blake.

I take a step back. Blake is a popular kid, with the right look, the right home, the right pedigree.

Right.

Despite my attempts to blend in and stay in the background, Blake noticed me this year. When I didn’t respond like all the other girls do, I became his target.

His car keys jangle as he drops them in his jacket pocket. I stand still; maybe he hasn’t seen me.

“Hey, freak,” he calls as he comes around the blue pickup I was hoping would shield me. “Not leaving, are you?”

I smell alcohol as Blake backs me up against the truck.

His slicked-back hair smells slightly astringent, and his tongue slides over his upper lip as he looks me over from top to bottom. A shiver of revulsion goes through me. I can’t imagine what girls like about him. I can hear some voices, but they’re at the other end of the parking lot. It’s just me and Blake.

“I’ve got an early graduation present for you,” he says quietly. His face is close to mine, and I can see beads of perspiration on his forehead. Slick from the humidity, his hand glides down my bare shoulder, as if he’s entitled to touch me.

I don’t think I want a present from Blake.

I’m surprised when my hand moves. There is a wet sound as Blake’s head snaps back.

Blood spurts, and it seems as if time has gone into slow motion. The blood sprays toward me. I move my head to the side to avoid it, and watch it slowly drift by, suspended in the air.

I turn back to Blake and a thrill zips through me. Thick, glossy blood creeps down his chin from his mashed nose. His mouth is open in shock; blood colors his teeth and gums. He moves sluggishly, and each blink seems to take effort.

Drip by slow drip, the blood falls from his chin onto his shirt. Fascinated, I watch each droplet burst on his crisp white collar.

A wet plonk hits my forehead as a sudden coldness envelops me. The grin I’m shocked to find on my face sags. Fat droplets of rain release the pressure in the air and mix with the blood on Blake’s shiny shoes.

Hands to his face, he doubles over as time suddenly speeds up again. The rain pelts down now. I take two steps to the side and run. I hear a sob and realize it’s me.

What just happened?

It’s the morning after prom, and Jay saunters along beside me as we walk back to my house. I met him half way, as per my usual. His t-shirt is a bit wrinkled, but that’s on purpose, to go with jeans that are a little baggy in back. He’s over six feet and gets asked if he’s a model, which he laughs at, but I know he’s pleased. He could be quite popular if he wanted, but he hangs out with me instead.

Jay and me are Fifth Generation. We’re the ones born between 2100 and 2120. We found each other in the seventh grade. We were the last two kids left when we all paired up for gym class. He asked me why I wasn’t moving when we were supposed to be heading out to the field. I explained that I was trying to activate my special powers so that I could use them to transport me far away. Usually that kind of talk would send kids running, and they’d whisper that I must be a Deviant. But not Jay. He blinked at me, then asked if I would take him with me, should my special powers ever actually work. We’ve been best friends since, and tell each other pretty much everything.

“So, can you come to the thing?”

Uh oh.

I think I’m supposed to know what he’s talking about.

“Uh, when is it again?” I stall for time. What thing?

I push my hair behind my ears to help me think. It doesn’t always work. I have shoulder-length brown hair, parted on the side. My no-nonsense look is how I think of it. I still don’t know what the thing is.

“Wait. Jess. You’re joking, right?” Jay says with a laugh that’s on the edge of anger.

“I’m sorry.” I do my best pleading cringe. “I’m a little distracted.”

The early assessment and whatever that was with Blake last night are the distractions. I can’t quite believe I punched him, broke his nose by the look of it. He’s probably going to have two black eyes. But more than that punch, as surprising as it was, is the way time seemed to slow down around me. I want to say it was shock, or some kind of temporary fugue state, but that’s not what it was. Something happened.

“My mother’s thing, remember?” Jay practically yells at me.

“Oh, that,” I say with relief. Jay’s mother is hosting a party to celebrate his seventeenth birthday. That’s what the thing is. It’s going to be awful.

“We met up, what? Five minutes ago? And you’re already trying to drive me crazy?” He pinches my butt. Hard. He’s pretty worked up about this party.

I yelp and dance around. “No way. You are not blaming your crazy on me.” I give him a solid punch in the gut. “You had years of exposure to your mother before we even met.”

I go rock climbing, so my arms are strong. I’ve never needed to go to the gym to work out and “stay in shape” like some of the other girls do. I’m five feet ten and a half inches and the coach at school said I have an athletic body; he tried to get me to go out for track and field. I don’t like the idea of people watching me like that.

But hitting Jay is like hitting concrete. He doesn’t even notice my punch.

“And of course I’m coming, I already told you. That’s why I didn’t know what thing you were talking about. I thought you meant some other thing.”

“You didn’t actually confirm with my mother,” he complains, “and I know how you feel about people, in general.”

“I don’t have a problem with people, in general. Just the idiots,” I say. “And your mother.”

It’s kind of a toss-up, I suppose. A mother like mine, who actively avoids you and has already decided you’re not worth the effort, or one who pays too much attention and has too many expectations.

Jay nudges me as an unfamiliar dark-haired boy, a bit younger than we are, walks toward us. He doesn’t look right at us, but he flashes us two crossed fingers with his right hand.

I look up ahead and see them coming our way. Three Devotees. Jay and I mumble the greeting in unison, “Blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, soul of our soul,” and we look down as they brush past us in their crisp white lab coats. It’s best not to be noticed.

The Devotees work for the Department of Evolution —everyone just calls it Devo— and they do the work of Creation in partnership with God. The Department of Evolution is under the direction of Secretary Galton. Basically, she’s God’s voice here on Earth. In the midst of the genetic revolution a hundred years ago, when the Genetic Integrity Act closed America’s borders, strict protocols for border biosecurity were instituted to stop genetic contamination. But we were still in danger of being overrun by the Deviants on the other side. Galton took control, ordered the fortification of our borders and gave the military the authority to do what they needed to do. Most people agree; she did what was necessary for our survival by relinquishing certain powers to the military to ensure our protection. Including the ability to create proprietary, genetically enhanced soldiers. The G-men. Since then, Galton has been leading us through the current stage of evolution, Regenesis, removing unwanted traits and improving and enhancing our best traits with the guidance of God.

In Social Biology class, Devotee Theresa taught us that we must all work for the common good, whether we like it or not. The less intelligent are more fertile and must be discouraged from breeding. Only those with desirable traits are allowed to produce the next generation.

There’s this section, practically a whole semester of tenth grade, where we studied pedigree charts, and DNA, RNA, proteins, and ribosomes. DNA is a double helix that carries the genetic information for all life. If only one part of one gene is wrong, it can create a whole generation of imbeciles, and that is not in God’s plan. Or in Devo’s plan. All Devotees have that DNA double helix tattooed on their forearm, as a constant reminder of their purpose in life.

That’s what the crossed fingers warning represents, the double helix tattoo.

We come up to the old Palace Theater. It’s been shut down for a long time, and the large sign that hangs out front lost its first A, so it says PLACE. Someone found a way in down the side alley, and now kids hang out there. They say, “Meet me at the place.” If they’re overheard or an adult sees a message, it only says “the place.” So far it’s stayed secret. I’ve heard they have illegal sim-seats in there, ones that can scramble the biometrics and mask what you’re doing.

“Jess,” Jay says as he slows right down, “something’s wrong.”

“It’s time to wake up!” a skinny boy with curly red hair yells. He’s standing on a wooden crate, and people are hesitantly milling about. “People are dying! Out there, children are starving, and you send them poison. People are sick, and you send them plagues. The blood of our blood is on your hands!”

There are gasps at his blasphemy, but a few people cautiously move toward him in morbid fascination. His eyes are wild, there’s spittle on his lips. Jay grabs my arm to tug me backward.

When the bullet enters the boy’s left temple, it’s as if he doesn’t know it’s there for a moment.

He’s about to yell, his mouth opens, his lips form a word he will never say. Then he topples backward, and I hear the terrible thud as his head hits the ground. The people closest to him quickly step back. No one screams, no one looks up to see the Guardian with the rifle on the roof across the street. Everyone wants to blend in.

Another Guardian comes toward the Palace. The Guardians work for Devo and protect us from Deviants. The stiff collar somehow makes his slightly rumpled, brown uniform shirt look crisp. The yellow double helix is on the front of his cap, and above his left shirt pocket.

“Move along,” he says. “It was just a Deviant.”

We all know that the plain fact of his yelling out crazy stuff in the street like that is proof of his deviance. It’s what happens sometimes, but it’s most prevalent during adolescence. The deviance manifests and people become dangerous, psychotic Deviants, intent on our destruction.

The Guardian rests his hand on the butt of the holstered pistol hanging from his belt and waits for the brown panel truck with the whooping siren we can hear approaching.

Jay swears at him under his breath and keeps hold of my arm. We hurry off with the rest of the crowd, wanting to move as far away as possible. I look back in time to see somebody dart in behind the Guardian, dip a hand in the boy’s blood, and leave an angry red handprint on the front of the Palace Theater. A red hand. I’ve heard the whispers but never thought it was true. As I stare at it, I bumble into Mrs. Yamoto, one of my neighbors. She walks fast, gripping her daughter’s hand tightly. Last year, I saw the brown truck with the double helix on the side parked in front of her house. The Guardians had come to take her son.

Wes.

That was his name.

Book Blast! Ghost Sanctuary by Becky J – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

ABOUT GHOST SANCTUARY

Title: Ghost Sanctuary

Genre: Non-fiction paranormal/occult

Author: Becky J

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Pages: 166

Language: English

ISBN – 978-1-49180-336-3

 

Ghost Sanctuary is a factual accounting of a family’s struggle with ghosts living in their home. The book explains in detail the happenings faced by the family and their reaction to the invasion of the spirit realm into their own. The book contains fascinating photo and video evidence of what the family has and continues to experience. The author identifies how her own belief in God and the afterlife has helped her to overcome and understand the trials and tribulations of her family’s ordeal.

Purchase your copy:

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ABOUT BECKY J

Becky J. is an equestrian lover and spends her days in Western activities, teaching, riding, training, and breeding horses. For more information about her unusual nonfiction tale, please visit www.GhostSanctuary.com.

Pump Up Your Book and Becky J are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins December 11 and ends on December 25.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, December 26, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

Up Close and Personal with Joe Sergi, Author of ‘Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures’

Sky-Girl-Front-Cover

ABOUT SKY GIRL AND THE SUPERHEROIC ADVENTURES

Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible.

In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.

With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.

DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy–secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.

Purchase paperback from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-Volume/dp/1625530277/

Purchase digital version from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-ebook/dp/B00D4FHE7U/

Purchase paperback or digital from Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sky-girl-and-the-superheroic-adventures-joe-sergi/1115472264

The thing about me is that I am a writer because of George Lucas. 

Let me explain. I remember seeing Star Wars at the Uptown Theater in Washington when I was seven years old and I was immediately hooked on the George Lucas, Masterpiece. Why is this important to my writing career? Because after the show my mother bought me my first comic book (in truth, the first book I remember). It was the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars comic with an adaptation of the movie (I’m sure I had read other books, but this was the moment it began). That adaptation became a series and I was hooked. Every month, I picked up Star Wars–first, by mail subscription (which took forever and usually destroyed the book) and then at my local comic shop, where I would check in every Friday to see if the new issue of Star Wars came in (anyone else remember Friday book day?). Then, one day, I was riding my bike down to the local Krauzers (think the New Jersey Version of 7-11) and picked up Uncanny X-Men 177. Kitty Pride lay dead at the feet of Wolverine on the cover. I devoured the book and it blew me away. Claremont’s writing had me hooked (of course I hadn’t appreciated that at the time) and I bought every comic that little spinner rack had—every week (as well as every back issue I could find at flea markets). The comic’s industry upped the ante in the mid-80s with DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and Marvel’s Secret Wars and I knew I would be a fan forever (Especially after reading Byrne’s revamped Superman titles). I kept reading all through high school, college, and law school. Book day went from Friday to Thursday to Wednesday. I didn’t even lose faith after the dark days of the 90s. I stuck it out, and you know what, the books are better than ever. Recently, comics have attracted some really amazing writers both in the mainstream and independent markets (The artists have always been great) and I still spend a substantial part of my disposable income on these books. In addition, podcasts like Comic Geek Speak have created a sense of community among fans that hasn’t been seen since the 80s and 90s comics shops. In fact, I owe that first step of my writing journey, to the Comic Geek Speak Podcast, or more specifically their online forum of listeners. These fellow fans encouraged me to write my first comic and my first short story, which led me to write my first novel, and my eventual writing career.

When I first get up in the morning, I read and write.

There are two major philosophies that I have adopted for my writing career. The first comes from Ray Bradbury, who I had the privilege of meeting at San Diego ComicCon before he died. I asked him if he had any advice for writers. He said the best thing a writer can do is write. The second philosophy comes from Stephen King (in On Writing and not told to me in person), who said something like, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time to write.” So, I try to read and write all the time. On weekdays, I get up most mornings by 4:30 and try to read for at least a half hour (Saturday mornings are dedicated to read the week’s comics so I don’t fall behind.) On the writing side, I try to write creatively every day (I also write for my day job, but it is a very different structure and not very creative). I don’t hold myself to minimum page limits or time limits when I write fiction. Instead, I try to set aside 5 am to 7 am to write every day and see how much I can do. Some days it is very little and I end up throwing it away.

The most important thing in my life is my family.

At the end of the day, what else is there? I do a lot of things, but the most important thing to me is my family. You really have to make time for that. Whether it’s taking my daughter camping with the girl scouts and then writing stories after the kids are asleep. Or taking a red eye back from California from a hearing in order to go on a vacation, I do my best to get it all done. I have workaholic co-workers who believe that if they work hard now they will be able to spend more time with their children later. But, that sounds silly to me because if you wait too long, then your children will grow up and you’ll miss it. They grow up too fast as it is. A lot of people watch Mary Poppins and think that the story is about a nanny who takes children on wonderful adventures. The real story is about Mr.Banks, the businessman who “grinds, grinds, grinds at the grindstone.” He has to learn to connect with his children before “childhood slips like sand through a sift and all too soon they’ve up and grown and then they’ve flown and it’s too late for [him] to give that spoon full of sugar to help that medicine go down.” There are far too many Mr. Banks in the world

When I was growing up, my father owned his own business and he would get up long before any of us and then come home when my brothers and sister were all asleep. Still, he never missed a vacation (sometimes he joined us later), came to all the required school plays (where he proudly snored in the front row), and served as my little league coach. If one of our cars broke down, we knew he was only a phone call away. He provided for us and also was there for us. He has his faults, we all do, but I hope I can be half the father he was to my Sergi clan.

I love to travel to Theme Parks, in general, and Disney Theme Parks in specific.

I am a huge Disney fan. In fact, I got married in Disney World thirteen years ago in the shadow of Cinderella’s Castle. Wedding guests included Belle and the Beast, Lumiere, and, of course, Mickey and Minnie. When I need to recharge, I go to the Disney parks, or take a Disney Cruise. When travelling to California for work, I have annual passes and try to visit the Disneyland Park at least once (although I also admit to owning season passes to Universal Studios Hollywood and Kings Dominion as well). Now, I love experiencing Disney movies and parks through my daughter’s eight-year-old eyes. There is a lot of magic in the world. Kids see it and, if they are not paying attention, adults miss it. There is a magical escapism that Disney creates that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. (Although Universal Studio Island of Adventures comes really close.). Plus, the Disney customer service is the best on the planet. As a matter of fact, I just got back from a one week vacation to Disneyland and I am ready to head back, if only for an hour.

Of course, as a comics and SciFi fan, I also love the Universal theme parks. The Spider-Man ride is the greatest on the planet and the butter beer in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to die for.

In my spare time, I try to figure out what spare time is.

I really hate to relax and am not happy unless I’m doing at least three things at once. I’m not saying I am productive because that would be a lie since many of those things I do are video games and keeping up on current television/movies. I’m also one of those people that doesn’t sleep very much. I get a couple of hours a night. That leaves a lot of time when no one is around. I used to watch a lot of television infomercials. Now, I use that time more productively and write. Of course, that assumes that there isn’t a new video game (I’m currently obsessed with Minion Rush and Injustice: Gods Among Us) or a craving to binge watch television show (I just finished re-watching all of Smallville and am on the last season of Enterprise).

One thing I learned about life was that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and if you just keep swimming.

I am proud to say that I have accomplished a lot in my professional life. I’ve litigated some of the biggest high profile cases in my field (and some of the largest in the country) and I’ve had the privilege of teaching law students at George Mason Law School. There have been a lot of naysayers over the years. But, you have to tune them out and, when things appear bleak, you have to just keep going. In other words, when faced with an angry horde of jelly fish, you should make like Dori from Finding Nemo and “Just Keep Swimming!” Accomplishing dreams is hard work. But it’s that hard work that makes achieving them so much more satisfying.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of people tell me that I am too old to be pursuing a professional writing career. (Sometimes, when no one is around, I hear it from myself). But, here I am. I’m not sure I will succeed, but I know that if I don’t try, then I have already failed.

The sole mission I am on this earth is to hopefully make things a little bit better than when I came and challenge conventions.

We are only here for a short time and then we are gone. Hopefully, during my time I can help make the next generation to be prepared.

If you are asking what I would like to be remembered as in my publishing career, it would be as someone who challenged conventions. When I was shopping Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy around, several publishers were interested in the book but ultimately decided that the target audience for prose superhero fiction was too small. I do not believe that and hope that I can prove them wrong with my book. I do not believe that comic fans will avoid my book because it doesn’t have pictures in it. Similarly, I don’t think young adult, fantasy, and science fiction readers will avoid the book because it is about a superhero. There is a market for fun superhero stories and it does not matter what medium they are presented in, whether it be film, comics or novels.

I hope I am remembered for trying to challenge industry norms in an effort to reach new readers and dispel these misconceptions. I hope Sky Girl is remembered for helping me succeed in that challenge.

One little known fact about me that might surprise you is that I am a Supervillain.

In the Sky Girl books, the main character, DeDe, is an only child who lives with her widowed mother, Dianne. But, this wasn’t always the case. In the first outline of the story, DeDe’s mother had remarried and had another child, who would have been around 8 years old (the character’s name was Andy, based on my middle name.) I planned for Andy to be DeDe’s pesky little brother, who would serve as mostly comic relief (especially after he learns DeDe’s secret and tries to blackmail her). DeDe’s stepfather, James Peck (Jimmy Stewart+Gregory Peck), was going to be perfect in every way. This would have infuriated DeDe since he had essentially replaced her father. At some point very early on, it became apparent that these extra characters only complicated the plot and didn’t add anything to the main story. I also found that DeDe’s dislike for her step-father for such a long period of time diminished her likeability. So, they were cut from the novel. In short, I did something that the worst villain would never consider–I single-handedly wiped out the family of a superheroine. Personally, I believe the books are much better after this change. But, that doesn’t change the fact that these characters are forever gone and will never become part of Sky Girl’s world. I had become a supervillain. 

My favorite time of day is anytime I’m with my family.

Because my time is limited, it pays to have a supportive family. I have been married to my wife for thirteen years. I often joke that she is the only one who would put up with me. Although I think she would much rather do something (or anything) else, she is very supportive and reads my stories and listens to my ideas as I ramble on about superheroes, zombies and aliens. She is also my harshest critic and frequently informs me that my books are “not her genre.”

My eight-year-old daughter is more supportive than she will ever know. She accompanies me to conventions and book fairs (sometimes in a Sky Girl costume). She also gives hugs upon demand when the work gets tough or rejected, which is always helpful. What she doesn’t realize is that she is the inspiration for Sky Girl. As a comic fan, I wanted to bring her into my comic world and give her the same enjoyment I get from these books. But, as a father, I wanted to find a strong role model for her, which was lacking in the current pop culture. I created Sky Girl because she presents both a fun action story and is a good normal kid. I think she likes it since she is always asking to dress up as Sky Girl. And if you ever meet me at a show, there is a very good chance that you might just meet her. At the very least, I can at least show you a picture of her in her costume.

I am not going to lie and say things are perfect with my family. I get a lot of flack for not coming down for dinner when I’m finalizing a short story or for typing on my blackberry in the mall when an idea hits me. I also think it frustrates my family as to just how little money there is writing, especially in creator owned comics. I think Stan Lee once said that the best way to go into comics and end up with a million dollars is to start with two million. Every time I start a project, it’s with the goal of not losing too much money. I’m pretty sure the same has been true for my prose work (although, to be fair, I would be in better shape if I had actually received royalties from the first Sky Girl book). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I write because I love writing. Thankfully, my family understands this, it could be much worse. Writing is a pretty solitary thing. It is good to have people around you when you are not doing it. 

I love to write about triumphant heroes.

I love heroes. I love how they swoop in at the last minute and save the day with a one liner and a theme song. I can remember, at the age of eight, sitting in the theater watching Superman, the Movie. Margot Kidder had just fallen out of a helicopter and Christopher Reeve caught her. Strike that, Lois had fallen and Superman had caught her. He said, “Don’t worry miss, I’ve got you.” She yells, “You’ve got me, whose got you!” He brought her to a rooftop and told her that “statistically speaking, of course, it’s still the safest way to travel.” I cheered, the audience cheered, and all was right with the world. I still get goose bumps when I see that scene. Nearly thirty years later, I had the same sense of elation when Brandon Routh saved Kate Bosworth from a plane crash and told her that he hoped the experience didn’t put her off flying. “Statistically speaking, it’s still the safest way to travel.” Sadly, the remainder of the movie was not as good.

Everyone who looks forward to their weekly Wednesday comic book delivery knows who is going to win that battle. And no matter how dark the reign gets or even in the blackest of night, the heroes will fight the siege of that final crisis and ensure that they will have their brightest day and enter a heroic age. I love watching those and reading about those scenes. And now I love writing those scenes.

The most difficult aspect about writing is the editing.

The hardest part of writing Sky Girl, or really any work of fiction, is the editing–especially if you decide to cut something. For example, in the original draft, Dianne had remarried and DeDe had a little brother. Because of this, I had a completely different role for Michael Valjorge–he was going to be a school janitor that DeDe and Jason tried to avoid while they tested DeDe’s powers. In early edits, it became apparent that these extra characters only complicated the plot and didn’t add anything. So, they were cut from the novel and Valjorge came in as the boyfriend.

As funny as it sounds, the hardest part of editing the book was keeping track of spelling. Sky Girl takes place in a multitude of dimensions. There are aliens, villains, and magicians in the book, each of whom have a unique speech pattern. Not to mention that the story contains numerous fictional scientific and magic devices. While it was certainly fun making up these devices (the Forget-Z-Not, a memory eraser created by the villainous Professor Z, is one of my favorites), I had to keep a separate dictionary to keep track of them. I soon realized why Bruce Wayne just puts the words Bat in front of his equipment; it makes it much simpler and easier to keep track of.

Another issue that causes a problem for me is motivation to edit. I write because I have stories to tell. Far too frequently, I get the story on paper and that satisfies the need to get it out. So, I have to force myself to edit and then edit and then edit. If this occurs, I have to put it aside until the muse calls me back to it. Of course, that’s easier to do when you aren’t on deadline. However, if something is due, I just struggle through it and hope for the best. The other thing that occurs when you put your work aside for months is that you may lose the connection to the characters. This happened in a recent story I did called “The Tube” (in Indie Comics Horror #2 available in comic shops now) by the time I got back to the story, I had to rework the main character (from a school girl to a secretary) because I didn’t feel her anymore. I liked the way it turned out, but the original version was very different.

An additional challenge was Jason’s dialogue. Jason uses perfect English and doesn’t use contractions. This is deliberate. As a result, Jason’s dialogue is some of the hardest to write in the book because of the conscious effort it takes to not use contractions. I have to read it out loud and stress every consonant.

My most favorite aspect about writing is the readers.

Being a published author is awesome. While it is true that a writer is anyone who writes, it’s pretty cool that I can look at my shelf and see all the books I’ve written on my shelf and say, “I made those.” To know that after I am gone future generations will have the ability to see my imagination. But, by far, the best thing about being a writer would have to be the readers. I mean sure, authors are a pretty dedicated lot, who provide entertainment. But at the end of the day, I write for me—because I have a story to tell. I would write if no one ever read it. (For evidence of this, you should look at the sales figures for some of my earlier work). Readers on the other hand, have no such compulsion. They spend their valuable time and money on someone else’s work. There are a lot of great books out there by some amazing authors (living and dead). As a result, these people don’t need to take a chance on me (or any other unknown), but they do. I really appreciate that. So, the most rewarding part of being a writer is a no brainer. It is the people. I love going to conventions and meeting people to tell them about my books. I love the people that take the time to read my books and just come by and say hello and tell me they liked it. I just finished two days at Baltimore ComicCon. I am exhausted, worn out, and have no voice. But, you know what? I would not have traded that experience. I got to meet some great people and introduce them to my book. Some of them bought it and some of them didn’t. Nothing is more rewarding than someone coming up to me at a show and telling me that they really loved my book, or that it is their daughter’s favorite book, or that they made (or had someone make them) a Sky Girl costume for Halloween or a ComicCon. At my last comic con, two little girls told me that Sky Girl was their favorite book and they can’t wait for the third book. These people tell me their theories and guess at what will happen next. It was humbling. If you want to know a secret, book festivals and comic conventions aren’t that lucrative for me (I rarely ever make my table cost). But, writing is pretty solitary, so the chance to meet people is priceless.

To these people, I say “Thank you!”

There is a second, less tangible benefit of being a writer and that is the moment when you realize that your characters have come to life. For example, a major character doesn’t make it through the current book. I never intended for this event to occur. But, when I wrote that part of the story, I realized that there was no other way the tale could be told. Someone once said that a writer doesn’t tell stories, they discover them. When that happens, it is a great feeling. 

When I became a published author for the first time, I talked to Stan Lee.

In a strange coincidence, I received my first acceptance letter for Death Imitates Art (in reality, an email) while I was at New York ComicCon (as a fan). Specifically, I was on line for a meet and greet with Stan Lee when I got the email. If it was anyone else, I probably would have got out of the line. But, this was Stan, the Man, Lee. I told him I was a huge fan, he told me some jokes, and we took a picture. It was a great day all the way around.

The inspiration behind my book comes from the culmination of reading far too many great comics, finding far too few strong female characters and loving my daughter just enough.

I think it is fair to say that the entire Sky Girl trilogy was conceived in a comic’s podcast forum project and born out of a father’s love for his daughter.

Let me explain. I previously mentioned that the Comic Geek Speak Podcast is made up of a bunch of great guys that love comics. I have listened to them and appeared on their show for several years and am still an active member of their forums. It was on those forums that I learned about a proposed prose anthology, which would be written by the listeners of the podcast. I wrote a story called the Return of Power Boy, a story about a middle aged accountant, who may or may not be a superhero. (The anthology was never produced and the story was later featured in A Thousand Faces, the Quarterly Journal of Superhuman Fiction where it won the Haller for Best Writer in 2010.) The story was a very dark tale of what happens when a supervillain wins. One of the very minor characters was the accountant’s four-year-old daughter, CeeCee.

Sometimes writers don’t create their characters, they channel them and that’s what happened with CeeCee. After the story was finished, I kept coming back to that little girl. What kind of life would she live, would she develop her father’s powers, and what would she do if she did? Well, CeeCee became DeDe, and the character of Sky Girl was born.

By this time, I had a daughter of my own. And I can’t help but think that this is what converted the very dark Power Boy story into the light-hearted story of Sky Girl. As a proud geek daddy, I wanted to share my hobby with my daughter and looked for characters to inspire her. Sadly, I found very few. With a couple of exceptions, most of the female characters from early comics were merely eye candy fawning with unrequited love over the male protagonist or were relegated to the role of guest star (or even hostage) in their own books. Thankfully, things have gotten a lot better for the modern female comics character, but the industry still has a long way to go. Female characters should have the same chance to grow, develop, and overcome adversity, as male characters do. DeDe is a strong teenager and not defined by the men in her life. The series is really about DeDe’s journey to find herself and become Sky Girl. She makes a lot of good decisions, but she also makes some bad and selfish ones. But, at the end of the day she hopefully ends up in the right place. I hope she inspires my daughter to make good decisions.

At one point in the evolution of the story, someone had suggested that I make the main character into a boy (because comic readers are predominantly male). That idea never caught on because I think women and men handle conflict differently. I wanted to explore how superheroines react to conflict differently than their male counterparts and show how those different reactions turn comic book conventions on their head. A great example of this appears in the current book (Sky Girl the Superheroic Adventures) when Sky Girl meets Penny Pound, another heroine. The typical comic book convention is that the two characters would fight first over a misunderstanding and then team up to take on the real villain. As you will read, Sky Girl’s resolution to that conflict is unique and therefore less clichéd. Another example of the distinction between how girls and boys resolve conflict plays out in the third book, which is coming out next year. In one scene, a villain wants to prove he’s the best by challenging Sky Girl to a fight. Sky Girl responds, “Let me get this straight, you’re not going to hurt anyone or steal anything? You just want to fight to prove you’re better than me?” Bad guy nods. Sky Girl says, “Okay, you win. I’ve got better things to do today.” Then, she flies off, leaving a dumbstruck villain alone in the street. Faced with the same situation, a Sky Boy would probably take the challenge, fight, lose, and eventually emerge victorious in the inevitable rematch (probably with a new costume and chromium cover). The books explore these conflicts in a comedic way, because of course, Sky Girl’s best friend Jason (a diehard comics aficionado) finds her responses quite frustrating.

At the end of the day, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, and the character of Sky Girl is the culmination of reading far too many great comics, finding far too few strong female characters and loving my daughter just enough. 

The most asked question about my book is who in my life served as the inspiration for Jason and DeDe.

It’s interesting how many people I went to school with say to me that they have figured out that, “Nicole is so and so, or Jason is based on so and so.” Popular theories are that DeDe is based on an ex-girlfriend from high school and that Jason is based on me. Actually, I wish I could have been Jason. I was never comfortable flying my geek flag until I was much older. In that way, I relate much more to DeDe/Sky Girl. She’s trying really hard to be the cool kid on the outside, but really she’s almost as much of a geek as Jason on the inside. Instead, I base a lot of these characters’ traits on my nieces and nephews. Jason is actually an amalgam of several people I know in the comics industry. A lot of people, editors and reviewers mostly, have a real problem with the formal way Jason talks, especially the fact that he never uses contractions. They think it sounds stilted – but that is the point. There really are people that talk like him in the real world. I can think of four off the top of my head. There is a lot of Adam that comes from one of my best friends/neighbors growing up. And, although I generally like everyone, Nicole is based on some people (men and women) who sadly have gotten under my skin. Of course, because she’s so evil, this also makes her the most fun to write. And, much to DeDe’s and my dismay, I frequently give Nicole the best lines.

A lot of people ask for me to put them in my books. I think those people will be quite happy with Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures as I have managed to hide many Easter eggs in each adventure.

ABOUT JOE SERGI

Joe Sergi photo

Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available at www.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.

 

In the Spotlight: The Heart Stone by Sherry Kyle

The Heart StoneTitle of Book: THE HEART STONE
Genre: Christian fiction
Author: Sherry Kyle
Website: www.SherryKyle.com
Publisher: Abingdon Books

PURCHASE THE HEART STONE AT AMAZON

SUMMARY:

When the biological father of Jessica MacAllister’s son decides to break their custody agreement, Jessica and her son visit her Uncle George for advice and refuge…

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister…

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?

BOOK EXCERPT

“Jessi, it’s Andrew . . . Andrew Lawson.”

At the sound of his voice, Jessica MacAllister’s knees went limp and her palms grew moist. She sat down on the wooden stool near the kitchen counter and leaned her head on her hand, her elbow resting against the cold tile. Why was he call- ing? She hadn’t heard from him since he signed the papers relinquishing his rights to Jacob six years before.

“Jessi, you there?”

She fought the urge to hang up the phone. “I’m here.”

“I want to see him.”

Her heart beat a strange rhythm. She had prayed this day would never come. “Andrew, I—I—I don’t know,” she stut-tered. As a speech pathologist, she prided herself on her communication skills, but this man could trip her up regardless of her training.

“We can meet at a park. I’ll sit at a distance and watch.” The desperation in his voice was palpable. Jessica’s jaw clenched and her stomach churned. How could she trust that he wouldn’t rush up to Jacob and tell him that he was his biological father? Or worse, what if he wasn’t sober? His behavior when he was drunk could be . . . No.

She wouldn’t let a man who had no part in Jacob’s upbringing suddenly waltz into his life—especially someone who had shown her the ways of the world. But Andrew wasn’t entirely to blame. She’d given in.

“No. No, that won’t work.” Jessica ran her hand through her shoulder-length hair.

“How about a restaurant? I’ll eat at a separate table. I only want to see our son.”

Our son. Jacob was not their son. He was hers and hers only. Andrew wasn’t there for her when she was pregnant or gave birth. He’d never been there. Why the sudden interest now?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sherry KyleSherry Kyle is a graduate of Biola University with a degree in Communications, and a minor in Bible. Sherry is also a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. She currently has three books in print, her award-winning book for tween girls titled The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style all about beauty, fashion, and character, Delivered with Love, her debut contemporary novel, as well as The Heart Stone by Abingdon Press. Sherry and her husband have four children, three biological and one by adoption. She lives along the coast in central California.

You can find her on the web at: www.sherrykyle.com.

Connect with Sherry:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Book Blast: Lakesha Monique Ruise’s Thy Kingdom Come Win $25 VISA Gift Card

After petitioning the Father for answers to basic theological questions about the universal church, she took an eight-year journey with the Holy Spirit to provide clarity for herself about His vision.

Thy Kingdom Come provides readers with that clarity.

For anyone wondering what has happened to the Church, for anyone whose faith in God has been diminished, for anyone whose life has been destroyed by the yolks of bondage, Ruise offers new answers. She encourages her readers to follow along in the Bible itself to see how each of her lessons is validated by the Word of God.

“We perish because we don’t know how to survive,” writes Ruise. Thy Kingdom Come offers not only an apt diagnosis of the problem, but equips readers with the cure, as well. It is an excellent source book for Biblical history and spiritual revelation and it prompts valuable internalizing and soul-searching for veteran Christians as well as for new converts.

Link to book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1432787683/

Link to book at B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thy-kingdom-come-lakesha-monique-ruise/1114171729

Lady Ruise is a native of Thomasville Georgia. She is the First Lady of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ in Macclenny Florida. She medically retired from the U S Navy in 2007. Since her retirement, she obtained a degree in respiratory therapy and works as a Registered Respiratory Care Practitioner. She has a strong Christian background. She dedicated her life to the Lord at the age of 9 and became a minister at the age of 14. She has been licensed through the Holiness Church and the Baptist church as a minister for the past 24 years. She has been mentored by countless Pastors and Elders in the COGIC, Holiness Church, and the Baptist Church. She currently labors in ministry with her husband Pastor Joe Nathan Ruise as a praise team leader. She is also the president and founder of the Baker County Circle of Sisters in Macclenny, Fl. Lakesha Ruise is a prayer-warrior and intercessor, who is holy-ghost filled with an assignment from Jesus Christ to build his church!

Website Address: www.theerrorproofchurch.com

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/ThyCome

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/#!/lakesha.ruise.5

Pump Up Your Book and Lakesha Monique Ruise are teaming up to give you a chance to win some fabulous prizes!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. This promotion will run from March 8 – Apr 8. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on April 12, 2013. Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the Rafflecopter form doesn’t load, please visit the THY KINGDOM COME TOUR PAGE to enter the giveaway:

http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2013/02/24/pump-up-your-book-presents-lakesha-monique-ruises-thy-kingdom-come-book-blast-win-25-visa-gift-card/

Thy Kingdom Come Book Blast Schedule

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Friday March 8th
Monday, March 11th
Tuesday, March 12th
Wednesday, March 13th
Thursday, March 14th
Friday, March 15th
Monday, March 18th
Tuesday, March 19th
Wednesday, March 20th
Thursday, March 21st
Friday, March 22nd
Monday, March 25th
Tuesday, March 26th
Wednesday, March 27th
Thursday, March 28th
Friday, March 29th – OPEN
Monday, April 1st
Tuesday, April 2nd – OPEN
Wednesday, April 3rd
Thursday, April 4th
Friday, April 5th – OPEN
Monday, April 8th