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, June 25, 2013

Interview with Liz Fichera, Author of HOOKED

In this, the debut month of Sporty Girl Books Blog, the regular contributors are introducing ourselves by way of some of our favorite books and authors in the sporty book world.

Liz Fichera is one of my new favorites! She's the author of HOOKED, which came out from Harlequin Teen in early 2013.
The blurb:

When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...GET HOOKED ON A GIRL NAMED FRED.
This book intrigued me from the first moment I saw the blurb. Some of you know that my pre-published novel takes place on a golf course—golf is near and dear to my heart. Books about golf are rare. YA books about golf are rarer. So I was psyched to see Liz’s book out there on the market!

Liz has enthusiastically agreed to join us this week as part of our month long kick off for SportyGirlBooks.
Thanks, Liz!

LF: Hi! Thanks so much for having me. Another golf lover?! I am beyond happy to meet you. J
KCA: So, first, I have to ask about the golf! Are you a golfer? What was it about golf that spoke to you?

LF: I do golf but I am not as good as others in my family like my sister, husband, and brother-in-law. My father also loved the game, and he did his best to teach me. Golf is a pretty popular sport in Arizona, particularly in the Phoenix desert where I live. In fact, there’s probably a golf course on every street corner (slight exaggeration, but not by much.) Golf and Native American culture are prevalent in the American Southwest. Arizona, in particular, has 22 tribes. What’s less common, however, are these two things together. I knew that I wanted—needed—to write a story that combined the two.
KCA: I love the character of Fred—she’s such a strong character, never wavering from her convictions. What was your inspiration for her?

LF: I’m fortunate to be neighbors to the Gila River Indian Community. One day I was driving along the reservation, after coming home from a hike, and I got this image of a fearless Native American girl in my head. She was waving a golf club at me. And so the seed of my story began.
KCA: I’ve had a bit of resistance (i.e., “I don’t play golf, so I don’t get your book.”) from agents and editors to whom I’ve queried my WIP. Did you have any golf-haters in your query search or submission process?

LF: Yes. I do remember one editor rejecting HOOKED saying something like, “golf wasn’t sexy enough.” But that’s okay. Rejection, regardless of the plot, is part of the process. Hopefully you have an agent that can find the right home for your story. The sport—whether it’s golf or football or hockey or whatever—is simply the vehicle that you use to tell the story. An agent/editor will see that and fall in love with your story. Don’t give up!
KCA: Do any of your other works-in-progress feature golf? Or girl athletes?

LF: PLAYED is the companion novel to HOOKED and comes out the summer of 2014. It features Fred and Ryan but the story focuses on Riley and Sam, two secondary characters in HOOKED. It’s less about sports and more about finding out who you really are, what you’re made of, and the lengths you’ll go to achieve your goals.
KCA: I love that there is a companion book to look forward to! Have you had any response to HOOKED from girls who golf? The LPGA?

LF: Yes! Lots of girl (and adult) golfers, several of whom had to do like Fred and compete with boys because a girls’ team wasn’t available. Hearing their reactions and stories to HOOKED has been beyond cool.  What’s been even more heart-warming, however, has been getting notes on Facebook and tweets and emails from Native American girls and woman who say they can relate to Fred. That has touched my heart the most.
KCA: And it’s not required, as many of us at sportygirlbooks were not athletes…but were you an athlete as a teen? If yes, what sport?

LF: Yes, I do love sports and did compete in tennis and track. I ran cross-country. I did not grow interested in golf until after college. I love to watch sports too, all kinds. Always have. I love watching the thrill of people compete at things they love.
KCA: Anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked?

LF: I recently learned that HOOKED was nominated by YALSA as Best YA Fiction so I’m pretty stoked about that. :)
KCA: That’s awesome! Congratulations! And my requisite music question...do you write to music? If so, fave band to get creative by?

LF: Always. I love all kinds of music but recently I’ve been really into New Country for the stories that the songs tell. I love The Band Perry and Gloriana and my list of faves grows every day.
I LOVE songs that tell stories, too! And I LOVE that Liz Fichera was able to be here with use today. Thanks so much, Liz, for being here on SportyGirlBooks today!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Title IX Anniversary Celebration!

Happy Anniversary Picture Cards
Title IX!!

What is Title IX and why are we celebrating it today?
Title IX is a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that states: 

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance...

Title IX is a legal act that has helped girls and women fight gender discrimination. Sinces its passing 41 years ago today, girls participation in sports has risen by 90%! 37 words that changed opportunities for thousands of women and girls.

How are we celebrating?
We have been celebrating all month with interviews of the authors of Sporty Girl Books. At midnight tonight we will be picking one lucky follower. That follower will win a copy of Karen Day's No Cream Puffs, a copy of a signed copy of Maria Padian's Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best, the choice of one of Catherine Murdock's books (any of her Dairy Queen books or her newest book, Heaven is Paved with Oreos which will be delivered on its release day, 9-3-13), and a copy of Liz Fichera's Hooked (interview coming next week). We are also adding to that a $25 gift card to Modells Sporting Goods

How can you win?
All you have to do to win is to let people know about this blog. Sign in to the rafflecopter giveaway on the sidebar and it will tell you all the ways you can add entries. We've given you so many options, it's definitely not to late to start now. 

How else can you take part in celebrating Title IX?
We would love to hear your experience as a girl in sports, as a sports fan, as a sporty book reader, or as a guy who supports girls in sports. Tell us your story by posting a comment on our Your Stories page. Our hope is that through your stories and comments, this blog becomes a community of people who care about girls in sports and the books written about them. We hope to hear from you soon. Watch this YouTube Video from Title IX's 40th to hear more about Title IX. Also make sure to check out our featured video that has the voices of women in sports.

Happy Anniversary Pictures

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Author Interview: Maria Padian and Giveaway of Jersey Tomatoes Are The Best!

In this, the debut month of Sporty Girl Books Blog, the regular contributors are introducing ourselves by way of some of our favorite books and authors in the sporty book world. Maria Padian is the author of three young adult books: BRETT MCCARTHY: WORK IN PROGRESS, JERSEY TOMATOES ARE THE BEST, and the recently released OUT OF NOWHERE.

Shop Indie Bookstores

I’m so lucky that Maria lives in my Maine town. We first met on the fields of the local college. We were not playing any sports but walking out dogs. Lucy is my yellow lab and Frisbee is Maria’s Australian Shepherd. For the interview, we met at the Little Dog CafĂ© and discussed all things kidlit and sports. Grab a cup of something warm and join us!

Soccer plays a role in Brett McCarthy… and Out of Nowhere. Tennis and ballet are in Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best. Are those sports in your background? What sports are you involved in now?

I’ve played soccer, softball, basketball.  I ski, hike.  Bike.  But the sport I’ve played most consistently, and which I love, is tennis. I started in third grade and play competitively to this day, on a USTA women’s team.  It’s great to still have sports in my life.  Another sport I’ve loved … but lost … is rowing.  I rowed crew back in college, first in Oxford (England) where I learned to row British style – faster hands and a three-part recovery.  I had to relearn when I came back to America, and rowed with a club in Atlanta, Georgia.  It’s a fantasy of mine to return to rowing again … you’re inspiring me, Anna!

How do you use sports as vehicle for character, conflict, and tension in your books.

I don’t usually go about a book thinking that I’m going to make a character an athlete. It’s more that my characters are naturally athletes. I’m drawn to young women who are not afraid to be bold, competitive and aggressive.

In Jersey Tomatoes Are The Best, Henry, a tennis player, is battling personal demons. She struggles to understand the point of competition, to question the expectation that she play tennis, and to win on her own terms. She asks, am I winning the way I want to win, being the athlete I want to be, and am I becoming the kind of person I would admire.

Eva is a committed ballerina, and I never saw her as an athlete but as an artist. Both of them struggle to take ownership of what they have become passionate about [tennis and ballet]. The struggle is between expectations and passion. Do you do something because people expect you to even if you don’t love it? Or, do you do something you love even though you might not be great at it?

Eva, in Jersey Tomatoes Are The Best, is dealing with anorexia. Talk to me about healthy eating and healthy habits for athletes.

You know, I think there is a misunderstanding about eating disorders. I think about this more as a mental health issue than a fitness issue. Anorexia is about dealing with stress and anxiety. Some girls rise above stresses and strains and some succumb to it.

You write the eating disorder as a male voice named Ed inside Eva’s head. How did you come up with that?
I went to see a play where the eating disorder was portrayed as male. The character was smarmy and cruel, dressed in a leather jacket and dark glasses.  He was emotionally abusive.  I tried to write Ed similar to an abusive boyfriend.  Eva is very vulnerable to those negative voices. I think a lot of it has to do with a person’s inner compass. What do we choose to believe about ourselves? So much of sports is about having a mental edge and great athletes are great optimists. I was playing tennis against someone who was better than I was and going at each ball with the thought, “Am I going to get it?” Then the person I was playing with told me to instead think, “When I get there, where am I going to put it?” That mental shift made a huge difference in my game.

Now for the lightning round:

What is your favorite sport to play?
First tennis, but rowing is a close second.
What is your favorite sport to watch?
If tennis is on TV, I’m there. I also live with a bunch of crazy basketball fans so I watch a lot of basketball.
Which athlete would you most want to meet?
Andre Agassi. His book OPEN came out at the same time as Jersey Tomatoes Are The Best and I’m really interested in his story.
I know you have a dog named Frisbee. Is Frisbee a good exercise partner?
Frisbee gets me out of the house on the days that the weather is so wet or cold that I’d normally stay inside. Once we’ve gone for a walk, I always feel so virtuous.

You too can be virtuous by signing up for our rafflecopter give away, which I’ve included in this post. The winner will receive a lovely collection of books including JERSEY TOMATOES ARE THE BEST signed by the sport Maria Padian. I also picked up an awesome pair of cycling tire levers (pink) at the recent women’s ride that I participated in so I’ll throw those in as well.

It is also virtuous to comment below! What do you think: Are eating disorders more about fitness or mental health? How much of your sport is about having a mental edge? I’d love to hear from you. Anna
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 14, 2013

Catherine Murdock's Favorite Sporty Read

(Robin here.) Laughing, dancing, and flailing, that's what I'm doing right now because I'm staring at an email from Catherine Murdock sitting all pretty in my email box.

And she was so sweet. She's offered to come on the blog later this year when Heaven is Paved with Oreos releases, so look for that in September! DJ, the main character from Dairy Queen, plays a major role in this companion book.

Are you ready for Catherine Murdock's favorite sporty read?
Here it is in all its glory:

My favorite sporty girl read as a kid was Fox Running, about a native American girl who wants to break the 4-minute mile. I still get goosebumps thinking about it! 

About the author: RR Knudson:
In an era when women's sports were virtually nonexistent, Rozanne Knudson blazed new trails by participating in male- dominated sports like football and basketball. She turned her then-considered roguish interests into many young adult books about strong female athletes. The classic novels Zanballer and Zanbanger feature a semi-autobiographical character with the author's own nickname, Zan. Knudson has done extensive research in many sports that has helped her write authoritatively on these subjects. In addition to her novels, Knudson has written biographies on Martina Navratilova and marathoner Julie Brown and has published two books of sports poems.

If RR Knudson were still living, I would have loved to have her on the blog. I'm excited to start reading her work and researching her life.

Thank you, Catherine Murdock, for sharing your favorite Sporty Read. We'll see you in September.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Catherine Murdock and the Dairy Queen Series

Robin here with my favorite sporty girl read for launch month. I have many favorite sporty reads, but the one that rose to the top, like the cream in those cows she milks twice a day, is Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock.
Book Blurb:
When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D.J. can't help admitting, maybe he's right. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn't so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won't even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league. When you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

Although the author, Catherine Murdock, doesn't play football-or any sports involving balls, for that matter, she is an athlete in her own right racing in triathlons like Sporty Girl Books own Anna Boll. We weren't able to interview her personally, but below are a few exerpts from her interview coutesy of Houghton Mifflin

How did you come up with the idea for this book?
It always sounds goofy, but I really did have a dream about a girl playing college football against a boy she loves passionately. When I woke up, my first thought was "What an amazing premise for a story!" Followed by "Babe, you don't know one thing about football." But that kernel stayed with me, just kept growing in me for days, as I thought about it and worked it – dream or no, the story idea was just a lump, and I had to do a lot of shaping. I immediately tossed the college notion – that was ridiculous – and I spent hours trying to figure out where to place the story... finally came up with Wisconsin. ... Then of course I had to develop the characters . . . The heart of the story, its essential climax, if you will, remains this dream-moment, when D.J. looks across the football scrimmage at Brian. All my work went into building up to that eye contact, which ultimately was only a couple of sentences, but I had to make it as real, as full of emotion, as I could. Hence the first twenty-eight chapters.

You don't skirt around the complicated relationship D.J. has with Amber.No, although it's not like I'm breaking new ground. I knew from the beginning that I'd have to address homosexuality at some point. Writing a story about a large, strong, assertive girl playing the hyper-masculine sport of football really brings that issue to the fore. But – given the inspirational dream I'd had – I very much wanted D.J. to be straight, and I loved the contrast between the "butch jock" stereotype being forced on her and her own passionate feelings for Brian. In a way, she's forced to break just as many boundaries in her yearnings for a handsome, popular boy as Amber is in her yearnings for D.J. That said, I didn't originally intend for Amber to be gay. But, again, I really felt D.J. needed to become increasingly isolated over the course of the summer, even from her best friend, and this seemed like an good way to develop her estrangement.

My Take:
From its opening line, DJ's voice pulled me in.

"This whole enormous deal wouldn’t have happened, none of it, if Dad hadn’t messed up his hip moving the manure spreader."

Catherine Murdock not only nailed this voice, but she also created a character I believed in, and more than that, one I ached for. Life and farming and Brian and being the only daughter didn't make life easy for DJ. I still can't believe the author never played football or worked on a dairy farm. She knows how to do her research, but then she does have a PhD.

One of my favorite movies growing up was Quarterback Princess. I'd never heard of a girl playing football in high school. I wanted to play football so bad after that (my parents squashed that one though). Reading Dairy Queen brought back so many of the same emotions of girls being girls, but being tough, able to do hard things, and keep up with the boys. I hope you'll give DQ a try.

For our mega launch giveaway (see the sidebar) I'm allowing my winner to choose either one of Catherine Murdock's DQ books or her newest book Heaven Is Paved with Oreos (delivered on its release day: 9-3-13). While not technically a DQ book, it is a companion novel.

Thanks for stopping by Sporty Girl Books. Have you read Catherine Murdock? Do you enjoy DJ's voice as much as I do? What's your favorite sporty read?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Interview with Karen Day, author of No Cream Puffs

No Cream Puffs
The month of June is dedicated to our favorite Sporty Girl reads. No Cream Puffs is the realistic fiction story of 12-year-old Madison Mitchell. Madison is the first girl to play baseball on an all-boys' little league team in Michigan. Although the book takes place in the 1970s, I thought that the story could easily have taken place in modern times where there are still many places where girls are alone playing ball with the boys.

I was very excited that the author, Karen Day, was available for an interview to help us with our launch.

What attracts you to stories about girls that play sports? Were you a sporty girl?

Yes, I was a sporty girl. Football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, tennis – I played most anything with a ball! Sports came easily to me. I could watch someone throw a ball, and my body seemed to understand intuitively how to do it. At age 12, I started traveling around the Midwest playing USTA tennis tournaments. Until I was 18, tennis was the primary focus of my life. But I think what draws me to stories about girls and sports is not so much the actual playing of the sport. It’s the internal drama sports can create. And of course the dynamics off court. I remember traveling the tennis circuit as a kid and being more fascinated by a particular girl’s crazy, overbearing father than I was with figuring out how to beat her. Maybe that’s why my tennis career fizzled over time!

Do you play still play baseball? If not, how did you write your baseball scenes?

I no longer play baseball. But like Madison, I was the first girl to play on an all-boy little league team when I was 12. I took a lot of what happened to me and put it into the book. Like Madison, I was a pitcher and batted clean up. And like Madison, I had a dramatic final game where I struck out the star of little league. However, I had more trouble writing the playing scenes than I did with any other part. My editor, Wendy Lamb, had me add more details to these parts. Again, what interested me most were the inner conflicts Madison felt and the dynamics that her playing created off the field. 

Why did you decide to set No Cream Puffs in the 70s?

In 1972 Title IX, the landmark legislation that required gender equality for boys and girls in public schools, was put into law. This meant that schools had to start offering equal sporting opportunities for girls. Which was great! But it would be a long time before this equality trickled down to recreational sporting opportunities. If a girl in the late 1970s wanted to play on a summer baseball team, she had to play with the boys. And so I wanted to write about what it would be like to be the “first” girl to do this. I also wanted to write about the Iranian hostage crisis so it was important that the novel took place while the hostages were still being held. That’s why I settled on summer of 1980.

Even though No Cream Puffs is a baseball book, it's about so much more than baseball. How did you decide how much actual playing baseball to include?

Well, deciding how much baseball to include was certainly a challenge. From the beginning I knew that Madison would strike out her nemesis, Billy, at the end of the book. But before this I had limited baseball scenes. Wendy and I talked through the plot and she suggested that I add more drama on the field. We came up with a new character, Randy. And I was conscious of drawing out the games a bit more. She really helped me see that the actual playing could be one of the stronger themes in the book.

What would you say to the girls out there who are still having trouble finding opportunities to play baseball?

I wish I had an answer for this! Over the years I’ve met many girls who played on boys’ little league teams. And I know that today it’s not unusual for girls to play on all-boy basketball teams, too. But I imagine that it’s still not so easy to do this. It takes a lot of physical and emotional strength to be the only girl out there with the boys. So, if you are tough enough, playing with the boys is a good option. To tell you the truth, I don’t understand why girls’ baseball never took off. Why softball? Why do boys play baseball and girls play softball?

Do you have any favorite sporty girl reads?

Yes! My all-time favorite sporty girl read is Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. This is a novel about 15-year-old D.J. who lives on a farm in Wisconsin and ends up playing football on the all-boy team at her school. We’re inside D.J.’s head as she’s going through this experience. It’s just a wonderful read – so true to life. And hilarious. I can’t recommend this novel enough.

You mentioned at a conference that you are currently working on another novel with a sporty girl main character. Can you tell us about it?

This is a novel I started 10 years ago but only recently figured out exactly what I want to say. It’s the story of two sisters – our narrator, Martha (age 13) and her older sister Jane (age 16). Jane is a star diver who is going through a crisis and doesn’t know if she wants to dive anymore. Martha observes what’s going on and becomes Jane’s confidant. It’s a story about what happens to a family when too much pressure, too much emphasis, is put on a particular family member. I see this scenario played out across all kinds of sports these days. Should children be encouraged to specialize in a single sport at such a young age? What happens when the pressure becomes too much? What role do media and expectations play? What role do helicopter parents play? How do siblings handle all of the attention given to the star? These are some of the questions I explore. Like No Cream Puffs, it’s a novel that addresses the inner conflicts and external dynamics that sports create.

One lucky follower will win a copy of No Cream Puffs along with some other great prizes. Make sure to fill out the rafflecopter on the sidebar to enter. For more information on Karen Day and her books, visit her website.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Play Ball!

Welcome to Sporty Girl Books. In our first month we will be discussing our favorite sporty girl reads and posting interviews with some sporty girl book authors. We will also be having a great giveaway for those who follow our blog and spread the word about our site. You can see the contest widget on the sidebar.

June is the perfect month for us to get started because June 23 is the anniversary of Title IX. Go to Faces of Title IX for some wonderful stories and pictures about all the opportunities Title IX opened for girls and women. Our contest will end on the end of that day.

It's been great to hear from many of you about your interest in this blog. Please continue posting your ideas for content, add to our book lists, and add your own stories. And don't forget to follow us!

Your Friends at Sporty Girl Books