Monday, July 7, 2014

Interview with Amber Neben, Author of When Shmack Happens

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

Twitter: @amberneben

Here is the (in)famous crash from the Tour of California that was originally seen live on NBCUniversal last year:

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Santa Ana, Orange, and Anaheim, California.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing blogs about my cycling adventures back in 2006.  I wrote a few articles published on Velonews years ago, too.  However, I didn’t start WRITING until last summer, when I was inspired to write When SHMACK Happens.

What is this book about?

At first glance, When SHMACK Happens is my story about perseverance, overcoming adversity, and the journey of achieving (and not quite) achieving big goals.  However, the bigger theme of the book is to encourage and share the tools the reader can use in their own lives to overcome their own challenges.  Adversity, or SHMACK, is universal to all of us.  It is not if but when.  And although the type and the intensity is unique, the tools we can use to overcome are the same.  I’ve used my life as a context to relate these in a tangible way… while also taking the reader on a ride where they will laugh, cry, and cheer.  I know my challenges are really minimal compared to many, but this God I know wants to act in everyone’s lives as much as He has in mine.  I hope to point people back to Him – to His love, His peace, and His strength.  In addition, hopefully I can open eyes and hearts to the idea that success comes with lots of hard work and perseverance.  Achieving a goal is going to be hard.  Adversity, failure, and redirection are all part of the process.  We need to remember that we are refined in the fires of life and rarely does growth come without struggle or stress.  

What inspired you to write it?

I wrote When SHMACK Happens as I recovered from the Tour of California crash mentioned above.  In the immediate aftermath, I had an amazing peace and stillness about me.  Although my world had been rocked, and I was experiencing one of the most painful physical challenges ever, I had a very clear mind.  I could hear God pounding on my heart to “write the story that I (the Lord) have written into your life.”  After weeks of prayer, I realized that I needed to share how God had gotten me through everything, how timeless His word really was, and how incredible His peace and strength can be in the midst of our challenges. 

How is it similar to other books in its genre? How is it different?

It’s an autobiography that covers the highs and lows of life through the eyes of an athlete.  It’s a story about overcoming adversity that will encourage and inspire.

It’s different because I actually think it crosses genres and is something young and old, male and female, athletes or not would enjoy reading. 

My goal is for the reader to see what God can do more than to see what I’ve done.  I’ve tried to weave the scripture that has carried me through life into the story, so that it can be easily reapplied to their own lives.  I’ve also paralleled each part of my journey with a bible character to help show how timeless God’s word is while again demonstrating another way to apply it.  Finally, I wanted to juxtapose the pursuit of becoming a champion in sport (which could easily be a metaphor for whatever the reader’s individual pursuit in life is) with what God was doing in me as He worked (and is still working) through my SHMACKS to make me a spiritual champion.  Of course, it is a process that won’t be completed until I receive the crown of life, but it is still possible to share and encourage by talking about what has happened to date!  I think the combination of my experiences and the approach I took makes it very unique. 

What is the most important thing readers can learn from your book?

If we can stand on the ROCK (Jesus) in the midst of our storms, not only will we survive, but God will be able to do great things in us and through us. 

Where can readers purchase a copy?

It is available on Amazon’s USA site or the Europe site.

Here is the USA link:

It can also be purchased at

What is up next for you?

Right now, I am healing from a sacrum fracture while praying about the next steps in my cycling career. 

I’m enjoying the opportunities to speak and share my story as they come.

I’m coaching, and I’m working on a new hand cycle vision for my nonprofit, The Dare To Be Project.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Nobody is too small, too weak, too young…or too anything in God’s hands.  It’s not about us or our job titles, because He will use us where we are.  It’s about what can happen when we make ourselves available and trust Him in the midst of our SHMACKS.  Christ’s power is always perfected in our weakness, and He wants to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  The challenge is to persevere and be patient while trying to take on the perspective that comes from God’s viewpoint.  

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