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.


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.


Up Close and Personal with K. Madill, Author of ‘The Stolen Herd’

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]Title:  The Stolen Herd
Author: K. Madill
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (February 20, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1482640023
ISBN-13: 978-1482640021
Purchase at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00GBQ9V8O


Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

Up Close

The thing about me is that I – love to rescue things. Even teddy bears out of the garbage! I just adopted an emaciated horse from a rescue center and although her history is tragic, her future with me shines like the sun.  It is probably the best feeling I have ever had in my life, to be in a position to help her.  Now, that being said, it turns out she’s doing as much for my sense of well-being as I am (hopefully) doing for hers. I call her Sahasa, which, I am told, is the Hindi word for courage.

When I first get up in the morning, I try to avoid stepping on an animal. I seriously have so many pets that it’s like Disney’s Cinderella – only in reverse.  They don’t help me get dressed while I sing…the dog usually takes off with my socks while the ferrets steal out of my backpack. 

The most important thing in my life is to be as true to myself as I possibly can be. I have found that only by being brutally honest internally, can I truly be any good to and for the people and animals around me. I went through a period where I lived alone and took a lot of time to really look at who and what I was. I found the strength of my writing grew and life improved immeasurably.

I love to travel to Vancouver Island.  To me, it is one of the most breathtaking spots on earth.  You can’t ask for anything more lovely than a spot where the leaf of the forest meets the emerald ocean. Many a setting of the Mandamus and Luco series have been inspired by that stunning place.

In my spare time, I write! Read anything I can get my hands on.  Ride horses, practice roller derby, play my guitar, hang out with my animals, research for my next book, dig the sunsets, spy on outerspace through my telescope.

One thing I learned about life is it is constantly shifting. You either embrace that instability or face being very unhappy.

The sole mission I am on this earth is to write books about animal and human rights and publish them. Even if no one reads them, I know that I tried to make a difference.

One little known fact about me that might surprise you is I am extremely insecure about my writing and although I seem very social, I am quite introverted. I’m perfectly happy in a room by myself making things up.

My favorite time of day is…well, depends on the day. During the week, it’s when I pull up to my house after work and I know I’m getting a hug from my guy before I head to the stable. On weekends, it’s early morning, listening to my horse chew her hay.

I love to write about animals. With this genre (YA fantasy) I have the freedom to create all these animal characters with different histories and personalities.

The most difficult aspect about writing is my constant need for re-writes. I agonized over my first chapter. I must have re-written it no less than 15 times.

My most favorite aspect about writing is character building. Mandamus, Arkas, Luco, all of them – they’re so real to me. I have pages of history, backstories and family trees for every character.

When I became a published author for the first time, I drank champagne and celebrated – it was also my birthday!

The inspiration behind my book comes from my need to acknowledge that this world can be a very hard place. People and animals face destruction of their homeland, displacement and starvation. How Mandamus came into being was the oddest thing that’s ever happened to me – I clearly saw him standing in front of me one day. Crazy, I know.

The most asked question about my book is what is it about?  I tell people that, yes, it is a story with talking animals, but the bigger picture (there’s always a bigger picture, isn’t there) is that it is a tale of courage, love, and finding yourself.


Karai MadillA chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:
o By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
o Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
o Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
o Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
o Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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/


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.


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)


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!



Man’s Rejection of God: Who’s Responsible by RL Keller

Man's Rejection of God CoverTitle:  Man’s Rejection of God: Who’s Responsible?
Author: RL Keller
Genre: Religious/Spirituality
Paperback: 161 pages
Publisher:WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing(March 2014)
Paperback ISBN-10: 1490821481
ISBN-13: 978-1490821481
Hardcover ISBN-10: 149082149X
ISBN-13: 978-1490821498
Kindle:9781490821474/ASIN: B00I5076TU

Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Mans-Rejection-God-Whos-Responsible/dp/1490821481/ or http://www.amazon.com/Mans-Rejection-God-Whos-Responsible-ebook/dp/B00I5076TU/

About the book:

Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi has been quoted as saying “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This is a sad indictment of the Christian community as a whole.  Is it true?  Are believers in Christ the reason people keep their distance from Judeo-Christian beliefs and the God we embrace?  I feel there’s no question that we’re partially to blame.  In this book I touch on a wide variety of topics, but in the end call out Christians to immerse themselves in a time of reassessment as we all strive to be more genuine and consistent in our faith.


Chapter 11


“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Paul had a specific purpose for writing to the Corinthians. The Corinthian believers were becoming arrogant over their spiritual security and Paul needed to set them straight. As The Asbury Bible Commentary rightly points out; “Christian liberty unchecked may deteriorate into license and endanger not only the weak but the strong Christian as well.”

The idea of consequences isn’t relegated only to the New Testament. Nine times in the Old Testament 25 the word ‘consequence(s)’ is used. Each time it’s referring to the result of the sins of the people of Israel or of an individual Israelite. Whether an individual believes in God or not, consequences shall come upon them, just as they shall come upon us all.

The truth revealed in verse 23 should not be considered a Biblical truth alone, but rather a universal truth. While it’s true that we can do anything we want, not everything we do will be beneficial or constructive for either ourselves or those we love. In reality, this concept has nothing to do with God, for even if He didn’t exist, there would still be consequences as the result of our words, actions and reactions. Every choice we make in this life has resulting consequences. Even inaction has consequences. We can’t escape them; they are inevitable.

About the author:Rich Keller

Richard Louis Keller was born in Newark, NJ in 1955 and grew up in Middletown Township (NJ).  He graduated from Montclair State College in 1978 with a degree in Broadcasting.  Rich gave his life to Christ in 1979.  Since his conversion he has spent time ministering for the Lord in various capacities. God gave Rich the gift of communication.  He uses that gift by writing a daily devotional blog and has had two other books published.

Visit Rich online at www.breadoflifemin.net and his blog at www.minidevos.blogspot.com

Contempt of Court by Ken Malovos Virtual Book Tour in May!

Contempt of Court coverTitle:  Contempt of Court
Author: Ken Malovos
Genre: Legal thriller/mystery
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 23, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1484159454
ISBN-13: 978-1484159453


Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Contempt-Court-Ken-Malovos

About the book:

Sacramento trial lawyer, Mike Zorich, is finally coming to grips with the death of his wife from cancer five years ago. There is a new woman in his life.  His son is making his way in the business world. His law practice is going well. And he has a new case that promises to be very demanding.  Members of the Darnoff wine family are at odds with each other, amidst a divorce and partnership dissolution.

Then things go wrong. Mike becomes the target of some unexplained personal attacks.  He is mugged on the bike trail and his house is ransacked. Is it someone connected to the Darnoff case?  Is it an old client from his years in the Public Defender’s Office?  Is it some disgruntled witness from a trial? To top it off, Mike is held in contempt of court and remanded to jail.  The attacks continue and only get worse. The authorities don’t have a clue. Can Mike figure it all out before someone is killed?


The first thing he would later recall was the sharp blow to his right shoulder.  A very sharp blow.  It instantly took him to his knees. It felt like a karate chop.  He struggled to gain his bearings. At once, he was on the ground in the low-growing bushes and someone was on top of him.  The man was big and sweaty.  Beyond that Mike could not see much as he was face down. He felt the sharp pressure of a large rock as the weight of the man bore down on him and his knee and into the rock.  The man whispered into his ear that he wanted his wallet and keys.  But then he heard the same man say something entirely different.


About the author:Ken Malovos photo

Ken Malovos is a mediator and arbitrator in Sacramento, CA. Previously, he was a trial lawyer, a public defender for 12 years and a business litigator for 25 years. He is a graduate of Stanford University (philosophy) and UC Hastings College of the Law. Ken is a past president of the Sacramento County Bar Association and Legal Services of Northern California. He is a panel member for the American Arbitration Association, a fellow in the College of Commercial Arbitrators, a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and a member of the California Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. Contempt of Court is his first novel. He lives in Sacramento with his wife. You can visit Ken Malovos’ website at www.malovoslaw.com.



Contempt of Court Virtual Book Tour Schedule


May 5

First chapter review at The Book Connection

Book spotlight at Books Can Be Deadly

May 6 

Guest post at Authors and Appetizers

May 9 

First chapter reveal at Rebecca’s Writing Services

May 13 

Guest post at Lori’s Reading Corner

May 15

 Interview at The Dark Phantom Review

May 16

 Book spotlight at My Devotional Thoughts

Guest post at Murder By 4

May 19 

Book review at Vic’s Media Room

May 20 

Interview at Blogcritics

 May 21 

Guest post at Marilyn’s Musings

 May 22 

Character interview at Beyond the Books

May 27 

Book review at Maureen’s Musings

 Contempt of Court banner

Up Close and Personal with Kim Hilton


Taken word for word as heard from God,Closet Words is a collection of powerful and penetrating words written down in the stillness of a prayer closet. Hearing from God for several years, Kim Hilton began writing down what she heard. Encouraging, uplifting, and challenging words with a clear message to His servants, Closet Words gives a renewal and refreshing word to the Christian believer.



Up Close

The thing about me is that I want to 100% walk what I teach. 

When I first get up in the morning, I pray. 

The most important thing in my life is my personal relationship with Christ.

I love to travel to the Caribbean.

In my spare time, I study God’s word.

One thing I learned about life was it really is all about love for one another.

The sole mission I am on this earth is to teach others.

One little known fact about me that might surprise you is I have traveled to over 30 countries.

My favorite time of day is morning.

I love to write about our walk as Christians.

The most difficult aspect about writing is the time it takes.

My most favorite aspect about writing is the way it touches other people.

When I became a published author for the first time, I had chills all over as it was the first step towards my life-long dream.

The inspiration behind my book comes from God.

The most asked question about my book is, “How do you hear these words?”

ABOUT KIM HILTONKim Hilton photo

Kim Hilton, MCC, PCC, has a master’s degree in Christian counseling. Founder of Closet Words Ministries Foundation, Kim is a teacher on prayer and listening to God. An avid writer of several books, Closet Words was chosen as the first book to be published with the proceeds going to Closet Words Ministries Foundation. A sought-after speaker and Bible Study leader, Kim has spoken at both national and local events. She resides with her husband on their farm and enjoys spending time with their six grown children and grandchildren.  You can find more information on Kim on her website www.KimHilton.org and also on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/KimHiltonAuthor.

Up Close and Personal with Joe Sergi, Author of ‘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.


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.