Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

PIXELATED by LS Murphy



L.S. Murphy is a fellow Bloomsbury Spark author, and I’m so excited that her book PIXELATED is finally out in the world. We’re so happy to feature it on Sporty Girl Books.

SGB: Linda, tell us about PIXELATED!

Pixelated is about 17 year-old Piper Marks who is forced to move from St. Louis to tiny Clarkton, Iowa for her senior year of high school where she falls for golden boy Les Williams IV who’s got a bit of a secret.

SGB: Can you tell us about the journey your book has taken to this point? How has it been different than you expected?

This book was a few decades in the making. Seriously. The opening scene of chapter 2 has Piper pulling up to her new school and seeing a row of tractors lined up in the parking lot. That hails back to my HS days when my creative writing teacher pointed out such a moment and said “If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is.” That’s one reason the book is dedicated to him.

SGB: I know you’ve written other titles—how has this process differed from those?

Each process is different. Each book has its own identity and personality. I can’t imagine them ever being similar. I also can’t imagine Piper  and Quincy (from REAPER) being in the same room together.

SGB: Writing instructors often tell new writers to "write what you know." How have your own experiences or emotions influenced this story? 

This is so close to my heart in many ways. Clarkton, Iowa is very loosely based on my hometown of Kahoka, Missouri. And some of Piper’s attitudes about small town life are things I’ve observed now that I live in St. Louis.

SGB: How does your book stand out in the expanding sporty girl book world? What makes it unique?

Football plays a small role in the story. Piper knows nothing about it, but she learns and begins to appreciate it in her own way. She has to step outside of her comfort zone so much. Plus the game itself is a bit of a metaphor for her new life.

Speed Round:
Pizza or sushi? PIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZA
Bike or run? Why isn’t sitting an option? Bike
eBook or paper copy? (reading preference) BOTH.
Dance to loud music or talk with friends?  Dance.
If you could be any animal what would it be? My cat… PIPER. Yep, I have a cat named Piper. J

Thanks so much for being on Sporty Girls--good luck and I can't wait to read PIXELATED!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Athlete Interview with Horseback-riding Julia

Julia is our youngest interviewee yet, at seven years old. She loves all things horses and has taken Western lessons over the past year. She lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and dreams of one day owning her own horse. 

Hi, Julia, and welcome to Sporty Girl Books. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
*giggles* I'm entering the third grade this fall, and I play the piano. I like to visit both my grandparents and ride their horses (though one of them only has English and one time she flung me off), I like to play outdoor games like Kubb, build forts, ride my bike fast, play card games (spoons is my favorite), and I read all the horse books I can find. I went to my first rodeo on the 4th of July. One day I want to be a barrel racer and live on a ranch.

Can you tell us about your horse lessons?
Riding bareback for the first time
I take lessons from Penny. The first thing she taught me was how to jump off of a horse and keep my hand on the reins. It's still one of my favorite things to do. I just hold tight to the reins, grab the mane, and slide off on the left side. I prefer to ride bareback, but sit a good Western saddle. Horse lessons are all about remembering who is in control, me, or the horse. As my teacher likes to say, "Itty bitty girl, big strong horse, but who's in control? Itty bitty girl."
If I don't pay attention, Wind Prince will ride me around the ring where he wants to go. When I ride, it's important that the horse does what I'm asking, and I don't let him take me around the ring, so we work to go and stop at my commands. One time my instructor told me to go twenty steps and then stop and hold still for as long as I could before going again, so I stopped Wind Prince, my favorite horse, and we waited for ten minutes. My teacher was shocked I could wait that long.

Can you tell us about this favorite horse?
Julia with her teacher Miss Penny
Wind Prince is a dapple gray. He is the sweetest boy, but I always remember that horses have two ends, the biting end and the kicking end. So far, I haven't been bitten or kicked, so that's pretty good. I like to groom Wind Prince after our lessons and we talk to each other. It's important to be gentle around a horse and get all the sweat from riding off them so they don't get sores. Did you know horses could get sunburns?

I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm around a horse! What are your favorite horse books?
For Christmas my mom got me the first book in the Horse Diaries series about an Icelandic filly named Elska. Now I've read all the Horse Diaries books. They're really good and written from the horse. (Now I'm reading Dog Diaries, which are the same thing, told from the dog). I also read Black Beauty.

I'll have to check out the Horse Diaries and maybe revisit Black Beauty one of these days. Thanks for being on Sporty Girl Books!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interview with Warren Firschein, author of Out of Synch

I am very excited to introduce Warren Firschein to you today. I had the pleasure of reading Warren's book, Out of Synch, a few weeks ago. It's the story of Katie Phillips, a thirteen-year-old swimmer who dreams of going to Nationals with her Synchronized Swimming Team but is being pushed by her father to place all of her energy into her traditional swimming. Katie's struggle trying to do something she loves when her family wants her to go another way is something that all tweens and teens can relate to, even if they aren't swimmers. 

I interviewed Warren to learn more about what inspired him to write this book.


What inspired you to write this book?

Out of Synch was inspired by my twelve-year-old daughter, Sophie, who has been a competitive synchronized swimmer since the age of eight. When she first joined her team I knew nothing about synchro, but through her experiences I learned what an exciting, fun, and incredibly difficult sport it is. Synchro combines swimming with gymnastics, ballet, and cheerleading stunts, and requires an unbelievable amount of strength, athleticism, and agility. Unfortunately, the sport has low visibility, and all most people know about it is from works of satire, such as the video of those fifth-grade boys performing a synchro “routine” on stage that went viral last year. I wrote the book as a way to promote the sport by introducing it to people who don’t know anything about it, and to hopefully inspire them to try it for themselves. 

Were any parts of the story hard for you to write?

Without giving away any of the plot, at times it was a challenge to write a story from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old girl, which obviously I’ve never been. Hopefully, I’ve done a credible job. Other than that, the hardest part was finding the proper balance between describing the sport in detail without interrupting the flow of the story.

How accurate is your description of the sport?

Very much so. Since many of my readers may not know much about synchro before picking up the book, one of my goals was to portray the team practices and meets as accurately as possible. Early in the story I describe a training accident during practice, and an older girl on my daughter’s team told me that it was “freaky realistic,” which made me very pleased. However, I took several minor creative liberties with the way a meet is run in order to advance the plot in certain places.

What was the book’s publication journey?

In a word, it was unexpected. Initially, I thought I’d try to get the book published the traditional way, starting with finding an agent to represent me. But while working through my final drafts, I learned that there were going to be some fairly significant changes to the sport starting with the 2014-15 season. For example, they’ve done away with trios and have drastically reduced the number of soloists who qualify for Nationals (which is now called the Junior Olympics). Instead of rewriting the story to reflect these changes, I focused on getting the book published as quickly as possible. To do so, I formed my own publishing company, which is called Chapter Two Press, and released the book myself. I’ve never owned a business before, but I think there’s a need for small presses, and I hope to publish works by other authors in the years ahead.

Katie’s dad puts a lot of pressure on her to give up synchro. What would you tell kids to do if they are being forced to give up the sport they love?

First, I think it’s important for kids in this situation to try to understand why they are being pressured to give up the sport they love. Although it may feel like punishment, that may not be the intent. In Out of Synch, for example, Katie’s father is drawing on his own experiences as a college athlete to help his daughter take the best path toward achieving a successful future. His efforts are misguided, but he is acting out of love. Once you understand your parents’ perspective, you may be able to find a compromise that will allow you to continue to compete while satisfying their wishes. For example, maybe you can offer to give up a spot on a travel team to focus on your schoolwork, and instead play in a local league. Some swimmers will get up early and swim laps before school. Sometimes being an athlete means learning to juggle many different activities, but there’s often a way to fit everything in if you are creative and think positively.

Were there any books that inspired you when you were a kid?

Of course! I loved adventure stories growing up, and I still do. I couldn’t get enough of classic science fiction, such as Isaac Asimov’s robot books and his original Foundation trilogy, but the books that affected me the most include The Hobbit and, when I was a little older, The Once and Future King, which is about King Arthur. When I was thirteen, my counselor at sleep-away camp read The Princess Bride aloud to the bunk throughout the summer, and that’s probably still my favorite book. 

What is one thing you would like your fans to know about you or your book?

Most of Out of Synch was written on a tiny netbook on the pool deck while my older daughter was at synchro practice. As for something about me, I’ve wanted to write novels since I was ten, but it took me a long time to learn how to craft a story and develop compelling characters. If there’s something you want to do, never give up, and don’t let other people convince you to stop trying to fulfill your dream. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? In a nutshell, that’s what Katie must discover for herself in this story.


Let me add that Out of Synch is available through online retailers, and you can purchase a signed copy through my website, www.warrenfirschein.com. I love hearing from my readers!

Thanks so much for doing this interview, Warren. Best of luck to you and Out of Synch.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Congratulations on the World Cup Team USA!

"You can't be what you can't see," says ESPN soccer analyst and past World Cup winner Kate Markgraf.

We at Sporty Girl Books hope that this Team USA win inspires a whole new group of young players to take up soccer and any other sport they want. To keep the momentum going, major networks need to continue to embrace women's sports during prime time not because it is a duty, but because action-packed sporting events with highly-skilled athletes are good for business. Audiences want to see the amazing level of athleticism that happens in every women's sport on the national and international stages.

Although Sports Illustrated editor Andy Benoit has apologized for his tweet, "women's sports in general not worth watching," he aired an opinion I'd presume a lot of sports journalism gatekeepers are keeping to themselves.  Hopefully the television viewing numbers for this evening, again reveal that the market is strong for prime time women's sports. The more coverage and advertising dollars there are for women's sports, the more these athletes and their coaches will be paid.

The following is from the Women's Sports Foundation website:
Gender Inequity in Professional Sports

  • Total prize money for the PGA tour, $256 million, is more than five times that of the LPGA tour, $50 million. Similar discrepancies exist throughout professional sports.
  • For a WNBA player in the 2005 season, the minimum salary was $31,200, the maximum salary was $89,000, and the team salary cap was $673,000. For NBA players in the 2004-2005 season, the minimum salary was $385,277, the maximum salary was $15.355 million, and the team salary cap was $46 million.
  • For finishing in third place in the 2003 Women's World Cup, each U.S. women's national soccer team member was awarded $25,000. They would have received $58,000 if they had won the Cup. For reaching the quarterfinal of the World Cup in 2002, the U.S. men's national soccer team members received $200,000 each. 

Celebrate Team USA's win with sparklers, paint your face red, white, and blue and then--as is the American way, write a letter to the editor or tweet to your favorite network. Let the editors and producers know that you want more women athletes and their sports featured during prime time. We shouldn't have to wait another 16 years for women athletes to get this kind of press.

-Anna E. Jordan

Congratulations Angela Ruggiero for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame!




She is a member of the International Olympic Committee, a four time Ice Hockey Olympian, Gold Medalist, AND she has two degrees from Harvard (BA and MBA). As a Massachusetts resident, I was excited to learn that she’s on the US Olympic Committee Board for the Boston 2024 proposal.

I can’t help but think that Penelope Spaulding would have her poster featuring prominently on her wall.

Here’s what the Hockey Hall of Fame induction committee said:

“The youngest member of the team that captured the first-ever Olympic Gold Medal in women's ice hockey, Angela Ruggiero went on to help the United States capture four more Gold and six Silver World Championship medals. The defenseman from Panorama City, California, was also named Harvard's player of the year three times.” 

"I've visited the Hockey Hall of Fame many times, and never get tired of learning about the rich tradition of the inductees," said Ruggiero, who is the fourth female ever elected for induction. "The fact that I'm now joining them is very special, and the greatest accomplishment I can think of as a hockey player.

For more, visit: https://www.hhof.com/htmlInduct/ind15Prolog.shtml

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sporty Girl News: France's Melissa Mayeux Becomes First Female to Make the MLB International Registration List

We posted this yesterday on our Facebook page, and the news was so exciting that we thought we'd post it again here on the blog. Melissa Mayeux is a 16 year-old shortstop on the French U-18 Junior National Team. Major League Baseball in the USA has added Mayeux to the International Registration List. This doesn't mean that she is going to get signed by an MLB team but only those on the list can be signed.

In the video, Mayeux says that she hopes to continue to play baseball as long as possible staying in France until she's 18 and then looking for a University or other opportunity abroad.

At Sporty Girl Books we are thrilled that the MLB is open to recognizing true baseball talent no matter the gender of the player. We know that Melissa Mayeux, Mo'ne Davis (who just got invited to play with the Harlem Globetrotters for her court skills) and other talented female athletes are eager to be recognized, respected, and signed.

A shout out to Justine Siegal and #baseballforall for helping to encourage and train the next generation of successful baseball players.



From MLB.com
At noon on Sunday afternoon, a 16-year-old French girl made Major League Baseball history.
Melissa Mayeux, a shortstop on the French U-18 junior national team, became the first known female baseball player to be added to MLB's international registration list, which means she will be eligible to be signed by a Major League club on July 2.
International prospects, Mayeux included, are typically added to the international registration list at MLB-sanctioned events after verifying their dates of birth and citizenship; while anyone can technically be added to the list, only those who have the potential to actually be signed are customarily registered.
Is it possible that Mayeux will be signed? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not, but the simple fact that Mayeux has been added to the list solidifies her status as a legitimate player. Mayeux, for her part, just wants to play. She speaks little English and is unaware that her presence on the registry might be seen as newsworthy in the United States.
"Melissa just wants to have to most opportunity she can in baseball," said Boris Rothermundt, a coach with the French national team who has been working with Mayeux since she joined the program two years ago as a member of the U-15 team. "She is not at all thinking about being the first female on the list."
Mayeux, who has been a presence on the international youth scene for a while, is simply focused on keeping her baseball career going.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Watching the Women's World Cup with Sporty Girl Books

The FIFA Women's World Cup is well underway. Here are some of our favorite soccer books for your sporty girl reader.

Winners Never Quit by Mia Hamm, Illustrated by Carol Thompson

Mia Hamm, American soccer champion tells a true–life–inspired story of learning that winning and losing aren't as important as being part of a team. Part autobiography, the book includes photos of how the author grew up with soccer. From School Library Journal, "Mia's favorite sport is soccer but she hates losing. In fact, she dislikes it so much that she quits in the middle of a game. Upset about her attitude, her siblings do not let her participate the next day. Mia learns quickly that there will be times when she will score a goal and those when she will not, but playing the game is the most fun of all."


Soccer Girl: Cassie's Story by Kara Douglass Thom

We love the Go! Go! Sports Girls. When Cassie’s best friend Anna introduces her to soccer, it’s only a matter of time before Cassie loves the sport as much as her friend does. Cassie wants to play with Anna, but they’re assigned to different teams. What will happen when their two teams compete?






The Kicks: Saving the Team by Alex Morgan
Twelve-year-old Devin loves to play soccer. If she hadn’t just left Connecticut to move across the country, she would have been named seventh-grade captain on her school soccer team. But now that Devin is starting seventh grade in Kentville, California, all bets are off. After all, some of the best players on the US national team come from California. She’s sure to have stiff competition. Or so she thinks.



Soccer Show-Off by Jake Maddox
Gina loves playing soccer, and she can't wait to join the team at her new school. But when Gina tries to be the star of the team, her new teammates don't exactly appreciate it. Gina has to learn that teamwork is more important than winning before she can go back on the field.








Beyond Lucky by Sarah Aronson
Ari Fish believes in two things: his hero-Wayne Timcoe, the greatest soccer goalie to ever come out of Somerset Valley-and luck. So when Ari finds a rare and valuable Wayne Timcoe trading card, he's sure his luck has changed for the better. Especially when he's picked to be the starting goalie on his team. But when the card is stolen-and his best friend and the new girl on the team accuse each other of taking it-suddenly Ari can't save a goal, everyone is fighting, and he doesn't know who, or what, to believe in. Before the team falls apart, Ari must learn how to make his own luck, and figure out what it truly means to be a hero.

What is your favorite sporty girl soccer book?