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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Like a Girl

According to Better Than Ezra, "There are six and three quarter billion people in this world
And 51 percent of them are girls. You roll your eyes like I'm full of it, But I Googled that sh**" (Crazy Lucky). 

Have you heard this song? I love it. But that's another story.

I *did* Google it and they are pretty accurate.

So if half the population are girls, then how did "you throw (or run, or whatever) like a girl" become an insult? Why is it that the most insulting thing you can yell at a boy is that he does anything "like a girl."

I'm even guilty of it myself. I recently revised a sentence in my own manuscript where the main character (a girl) was disparaging herself for "whining like a girl." (I revised it to whining like a baby.)

Why do we do this?

Have you seen this video from Always? It's fabulous. Basically, volunteers were asked to demonstrate running or throwing "like a girl." Older volunteers (of both gender) demonstrate "like a girl" by using exaggerated movements, or floppy arms. Girls under the age of 10 just did the activity like themselves. 

The video brings tears to my eyes. As the mother of a tween girl, I'm very aware of the barrage of messages that she sees everyday. And while it might be subtle--the very real message is that "like a girl" is less than/not as good as the alternative.
We *should* run like girls, or boys, or whatever we happen to be. And do whatever it is (run or walk or throw or sing) to the very best of our ability. 

I can't get the video to embed, but here's the link. Watch it!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Author Interview: Christina Fernandez-Morrow on Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts

When your father is Puerto Rican boxer José “Cheo” Fernandez, you learn to box. Christina Fernandez-Morrow threw punches and learned how to dodge the training pads her father swung her way. She learned along side her brothers and their friends in their Chicago neighborhood but it was Christina and her sister who outlasted all the boys.

In her currently unnamed Young Adult novel, the main character Zulima Diaz, Zuli, lives in a rough area of Chicago with her mother. It’s clear that Zuli does much of the caretaking. Zuli makes grocery lists, and makes decisions about which one or two items they might afford that week. While she eats mayonnaise sandwiches, she cleans up her mother’s messes from the night before– messes that include drug paraphernalia and sexual encounters.

Zuli is angry about her situation. She fights in school and has been suspended more than once. Is it synchronicity when Zuli keeps seeing the same poster – an open call for a mixed martial arts reality show– throughout the city? If she were to win, the prize money and scholarship possibilities would give Zuli a future she never thought she could achieve. Zuli gets onto the show and trains for the grueling and often violent mix of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and other unarmed combat sports.

Christina’s own boxing training lay dormant for many years while she pursued a college degree. Even though she liked creative writing, she knew that a business degree meant financial stability and as the oldest in her family she was the role model for her younger siblings. After college she married and started a family. She worked in corporate marketing for her day job and often helped other Latina writers market their work. She was thrilled that someone was writing about the Latina experience in the US. Along the way, she wrote the Iowa Latina Lifestyle section for Examiner.com. When she took writing classes, she wrote about teen characters. She made photo books for her foster children that included their creative writing. Her husband saw her as a writer, but that’s not how she saw her self. She was a business major and business majors went on to get MBA’s. However, when she entered a five-minute fiction writing contest, and her winning entry was published in Juice Magazine, she applied to Vermont College of Fine Arts.

In 2012, Christina’s husband died unexpectedly and his funeral coincided with her acceptance to VCFA. Would she go? Could she leave her daughter to further her writing career? She had to. Her husband had been the one person who saw her passion and calling.

The emotional pain of his death was overwhelming and, to help with her grief, she turned to writing. After a few semesters, she realized she missed boxing and found a trainer to help get in shape through boxing. The return to training was difficult. Still, the physical pain was easier to handle than the emotional pain of her loss.

“I could put physical pain into words, something I couldn’t do with what I felt inside. Writing about sore muscles, swollen knuckles, bloody noses and broken ribs became therapeutic for me, as was stepping out of my reality and into one that I could control.”

Soon, Zuli’s character came to her. Growing up in Humboldt Park, in Chicago, Christina had known girls like Zuli and families who faced similar challenges. As Christina faced her own training, she was researching Zuli’s.

Five minutes in the caged octagon might not seem like a lot but Zuli had to have amazing endurance. When Christina jumped with a leather rope for 15 minutes she knew what was like to have legs like cinder blocks. She studied videos of MMA training and read memoirs of women fighters. She learned about the fast, often bloody sport that had so few limitations its practitioners felt glory in just getting through. Her character, Zuli, wasn’t the only one who turned to combat sports when things were rough. Many of the real girls and women that Christina learned about were abandoned or neglected. They were scrappy fighters like Zuli whose anger and pain got them into trouble until they got into the cage.

Christina found that many fighters went on to college, that there was a movement to make MMA a college sport, that as a recognized collegiate sport there would be scholarships. She knew then, that MMA was Zuli’s way out of her bad situation and into a better future.

Christina Fernadez-Morrow was saluted as a Next Generation Latina at Latina.com in 2012 and featured in the Des Moines Register's article, 13 People to Watch in 2013.  With a finished manuscript and a newly minted MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Christina Fernadez-Morrow is looking for the right agent. She wants to get Zuli’s story into the hands of girls everywhere. Christina’s writing and boxing training makes her specially qualified for the grueling road ahead.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Interview with BREAKING THE ICE author Gail Nall

Gail and I are #5amwritersclub pals and also share a literary agent. I'm so glad she's willing to come on Sporty Girl Books and talk about her debut, MG novel, BREAKING THE ICE, out Jan, 13, 2015 from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

First, the blurb:

Twelve-year-old Kaitlin has always dreamed of being a champion figure skater, and she’s given up a lot to pursue her passion. But after having a totally uncharacteristic and decidedly NOT figure-skating-approved tantrum after getting her scores at a major competition she’s dropped by her coach and prestigious skating club.

When no other club in town will have her, she's forced to join the ridiculed and rundown Fallton Club, jokingly referred to as the Fall Down Club. At first Kaitlin thinks this is a complete disaster, but after meeting some of the other skaters, including a boy (who happens to have the most perfect hair she’s ever seen) Kaitlin thinks it might actually not be so bad.

But when she’s tasked with learning a whole new program right before Regionals and figures out that almost all the other skaters target Fallton, she thinks joining the Fall Down Club may just be the second biggest mistake she’s ever made.

In this figure skating themed debut, Kaitlin learns that when you fall down, you have to pick yourself up – even if it’s in front of judges and a crowd.

Now for the interview:

Kaitlin, the main character in your novel, is a competitive figure skater. Did you figure skate like her, as well? (I know you did)
I skated through my childhood and as a teenager, but I wasn't as good as Kaitlin. I loved going to competitions, but I was not at all competitive. I still skate; the best thing about the sport is that you're never too old for it. 

Kaitlin's story begins with her throwing a major tantrum at a competition. Can you tell us about the most difficult or embarrassing moment of your skating career? 
The absolute worst was when I was about 10 years old, and I was invited to join a synchronized skating team. Almost all of the girls were older than me, so I was super nervous but excited too. At the first practice, I flew off the end of a line of skaters whipping around in a pinwheel and crashed head-first into the boards. It hurt, and I was SO embarrassed. My mom had to make me go back out on the ice. Totally worth it though, because I ended up really enjoying the team! (Thanks, Mom!)

Oh, man. I would have been horrified too. Good thing for Mom's making us get back up! Growing up I watched The Cutting Edge repeatedly. Did you notice the smell of the ice? Did you ever compete in pairs? Ever watch the movie?
Toepick!! (Sorry, couldn't resist!) I love The Cutting Edge! Smell of the ice...yes! It's this combination of ammonia and feet and Zamboni fumes and something that reminds me of my freezer. It definitely has a distinct scent. Pairs--no way! Talk about scary. I don't think I truly appreciated how insane and hard pairs skating is until I saw it in person. Those girls are beyond brave. Unfortunately, it's really difficult for girls to find a guy to partner with in pairs. We need more boys to skate!

I'm glad I'm not alone in my love for that movie:) When and why did you start writing?
I always wrote as a kid, but then I didn't for a really long time. One afternoon in 2006, I was sitting in the law school library and started writing a book instead of working on my Con Law outline. Guess which one was more fun? ;)

Can you tell us about your road to publication?
I finished my first book in 2008 and sent a bazillion queries to agents. I got a whopping two requests. So I wrote a second book, queried that one some, and then set it aside while life got in the way. I started a few other books that I never finished. Then I started writing a third book (which became BREAKING THE ICE). While I finished that one, I resolved to start querying Book #2 again. A few months pass, and I'd decided to shelve Book #2. I had just begun querying BREAKING THE ICE when I got an offer from agent Julia Weber. That was February 2013.  In September 2013, we sold BREAKING THE ICE to Aladdin/S&S. So that's six years from when I started writing!

Have you always wanted to write about sporty girls?
I love characters who are passionate about something, and sporty girls definitely fit that description! Sports take drive and focus and discipline, and characters (and real people!) who have those characteristics tend to be fascinating and amazing people. Also, I'd wanted to write a skating book ever since I read Silver Blades in the '90s. 

Now I need to read Silver Blades, ASAP. What are you reading right now?
I just finished an ARC of Sandra Waugh's LARK RISING, a YA fantasy that comes out in September. Up next are ARCs of Becky Wallace's THE STORYSPINNER and Miranda Kenneally's BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE (a sporty girl book!).

Oh, those are some great reads. Do you have a favorite sporty girl read?
For MG, Silver Blades, of course, and I loved Kate Messner's SUGAR AND ICE. Donna Freitas wrote two great YA sporty books -- GOLD MEDAL SUMMER (about a gymnast) and GOLD MEDAL WINTER (skating!). 

You recently sold two more MG books to Aladdin. Are these also sporty girl books?
I'm co-writing the RSVP books with Jen Malone. They're also MG, and they're about four girls who start a party-planning business in a North Carolina beach town. The books are told from a rotating POV between all four girls. I absolutely love Vi, who is a total sporty girl! Vi is all about swimming, kayaking, surfing, beach volleyball, and she also plays soccer.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I had a lot of fun with the skating details in BREAKING THE ICE. Even though I know how a salchow jump is done, and what it feels like, trying to explain it was something entirely different. You get so used to doing something that you don't necessarily have to think through all the little steps to make it happen. You just do it. So I found myself setting my computer down and walking through moves on the floor, trying to remember when exactly you have to move your arm or bend your knee to make a jump happen. And if that didn't work, I'd test it out on-ice! I had one line in the book in which Kaitlin describes something very specific she sees as she's in a sit spin. It felt off to me, so one afternoon at the rink, I did a sit spin and sure enough -- everything was a huge blur! It's funny the details you don't notice until you need to notice them.

I hug trees, do camel spins, & write contracts - all at the same time! MG debut BREAKING THE ICE (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Spring 2015). PLEASE RSVP, Books One & Two, with Jen Malone (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Summer & Fall 2015). Contributor at www.kidliterati.com and member of http://fearlessfifteeners.wordpress.com/. SCBWI member. Represented by Julia A. Weber of J.A. Weber Literaturagentur.

Thanks so much for joining us. We're looking forward to reading BREAKING THE ICE.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Looking Back: February, March, April, May

This is the last day of our blogiversary. There is still a chance to win prizes if you comment on our previous posts, follow @sportygirlbooks on twitter, become a fan on Facebook, tweet about the giveaway, or join our site. And most important, introduce our blog to a sporty girl and tell us about her on our Your Story page.

Now for our look back!

In February we enjoyed watching the Superbowl and the Olympics. We posted a list of books for each event that any sporty girl would enjoy. Our athlete of the month was Noelle Pikus-Pace, an Olympic Hero. We also reviewed Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley.

In March we reviewed two books, Podium Finish by Beth Pond and Skinny by Donna Cooner. Anna shared her experience finding a new baseball glove waiting for her on the dinning room table.

April was the start of baseball season and the discovery that Take Me Out to the Ball Game was written for not one, but two female baseball fans. We introduced you to Go! Go! Sports Dolls (one of the fantastic prizes of this year in review), and to two sporty girl book readers, Hailey and Hannah. We also gave some tips for starting the new Spring sports season without injury.

In May we had a guest blogger and author, Katie Van Ark. We interviewed two more sporty girl book readers, Rachel and Jessica.

And that was our year. Come back next month for the winners of our giveaway, many more interviews and book lists, and lots of other fun and thoughtful Sporty Girl things.

Do you have a book you like or a topic you'd like to see us cover? Send us an email or leave a note in the comments.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Looking back: October, November, December, January

Welcome to week three of our blogiversary. This we are looking back at our second four months. Comment on any previous posts for more points towards prizes.

October brought us three great sporty book reviews and a look into the connection between fantasy and sporty girl books. Not all of the books scored points with our reviewers. Sporty Girl Books bloggers don't mind a little romance but we want believable sports (and world building), with female protagonists who learn and grow, and plots that surprise and engage. Check out these posts: 

WILD CARDS: a Sporty Book Review

Does Fantasy Have a Place in Sporty Girl Books?

In November, our bloggers reported on star lacrosse player Erin Kenedy from Cary, NC. She's dedicated and competitive and one to watch. Everyone in the ballet world is watching Misty Copeland. Read about her Black Girls Rock Award and Debbie Allen's picture book, DANCING IN THE WINGS. Whether or not you're a golfer you'll want to learn about The First Tee organization and their Nine Core Values for young (and young at heart) athletes. I'm a big fan of our Girls in Sports News Roundups and would love to see more of these. How about you?

If I had known then, that December was going to be the start of the winter from... well you know, I would have bought a lot more books, and I would have started with Racing Savannah which, after our posting, went on to get a lot of great press. We interviewed one of the top steeplechase runners of her generation, and a pre-med student at Yale University, Kira Garry.  Later in the month we got more philosophical with an essay on why role models are so important to young female athletes. Finally, we published holiday wishes for our readers. 

January may have been one of my favorite months because we had five (5) great blog posts. BEING SLOANE JACOBS, is a freaky Friday switch between a figure skater and a hockey player-- both named Sloane. Justine Siegal, baseball pioneer, graced us with an interview about the importance of allowing girls to play. Agent, Julia A. Weber talked about why publishing sporty girl books can be life changing for readers. Finally, we posted awesome videos and information about Women to Watch during the Sochi Olympics. Take a look! How did your favorites do?

Remember, you can help us celebrate our blogiversary all month long and enter to win either a sporty girl book we featured this year, a doll and book from Go!Go! Sports, or a copy of the July 2014 The Writer Magazine (that has a Sporty Girl Book blog shout out!). Take a look at the Rafflecopter widget to the right and enter early and often!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Looking Back: June, July, August, and September

Welcome to week two of our blogiversary. This we are looking back at our first four months. Comment on any previous posts for more points towards prizes.

In June we launched the blog by interviewing four of our favorite Sporty Book authors, Karen Day (No Cream Puffs), Catherine Murdock (The Dairy Queen Series), Maria Padian (Jersey Tomatoes are the Best), and Liz Fichera (Hooked). We also celebrated the 41st anniversary of Title IX with a book giveaway.

In July we kicked off the summer by sharing what we like to do at the beach. Our athlete of the month was Maddy Paige, a girl fighting to be allowed to play football on her school team. We shared a list of sporty girl picture books for your summer reading list, and looked back on all the stories we'd shared on twitter since our launch. We also interviewed writer and editor Taryn Albright.

In August we interviewed Sue Macy (Wheels of Change) and Keri Milkuski (multiple titles). We also interviewed self-published author Karen Avivi (Shredded), who has had quite a year. Karen went on to win the Spark Award, the first self-publishing award ever given by SCBWI. We interviewed her again after we got news of the award. We also just learned that Karen was interviewed in this month's (July 2014) The Writer magazine. Congratulations Karen and thanks so much for your shout out to Sporty Girl Books!

In September we got the amazing news that our own Sporty Girl Books blogger, Kristine Asselin, received her first sporty girl book contract. Here's the announcement:

Young Adult Contemporary
coming from Bloomsbury Spark in Fall 2014

Kristine Carlson Asselin's ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT, pitched as MYSTIC PIZZA meets THE CUTTING EDGE, in which the pizza business is all a fifteen-year-old knows until a chance meeting with a hockey player and a lucky shot opens her up to a new world on the ice, far away from the responsibilities and pressures of the family restaurant, to Meredith Rich of Bloomsbury Spark, by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. 

We also shared 5 things that physical therapists want you to be aware of as you start a new sports season. 

That's it for our first four months. Come back next week to look back at October - January. And don't forget to let us know you've been here! New prizes are added every week.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sporty Girl Books Turns One!

One year ago we sent out this message to the world:

We are so excited to start this new blog for girls who love sports. Whether you love to play sports or are just a huge sports fan, we hope you will come back and take a look at our content and book lists. Over the next months we will be adding stories about girls in sports, book lists, and interviews with authors who write sports books about girls. Please let us know how we are doing by leaving comments in our posts and sharing your own stories as a sporty girl.

Since then we have gotten the chance to interview some amazing writers, agents, and athletes. 

Our book list for teens has been viewed over 900 times, our middle grade list 400, and our leveled list for teachers has been used over 100 times!

People all over the world have viewed the site, from the United States to Canada, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Russian, UK, France, China, and Latvia!

Our Athlete Spotlight with Star Lacrosse Player Erin Kenedy was viewed 1447 times and many of our other posts are also in the 1000 pageview range.

We have 50 likes on Facebook, 352 followers on Twitter, and this blog has been joined by 33 people. 

But we're not done! Our goal is to reach as many people as possible to make sure that these amazing sporty books are getting into the hands of readers and that girls who love sports know that they are not alone. Please join us this month as we review the past year with Sporty Girl Books. Earn points for prizes by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, tweeting about our site, and joining this blog or signing up for our email list. You can earn 10 extra points (per day) for each sporty girl you introduce to this site and five points (per day) for commenting on past blog posts. 

We hope you have had a great year with Sporty Girl Books! Keep coming back for more!

All Our Best,
Stacy, Robin, Anna, and Kris