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, January 27, 2015

Author Interview: Sara B. Larson and IGNITE

Hi, Sara! We’re thrilled to have you here at Sporty Girl Books to celebrate the release of IGNITE, the second book in the DEFY series (released from Scholastic). At Sporty Girl Books we celebrate girls standing up for themselves and playing sports they love. While the Defy series is fantasy, and not a book we typically spotlight, I was thrilled when you said you would be on the blog, because if Alexa isn’t a kick a** sporty girl, I don’t know who is. I reviewed DEFY last January after devouring it in five hours. (You can read my review here). It was such a fun, fast-paced, twisting read that I can’t wait to read Ignite. I’m so glad you enjoyed DEFY so much – and I certainly hope you will enjoy IGNITE as well!


From Goodreads: Spoilera Alert. If you haven't read DEFY, this gives a few things away:
Thanks, Sara! It was so fun to have you here. 

Murder, abductions, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson's acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.Alexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion's people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy -- before it's too late?

In her childhood, it was dangerous to be a girl. Could you tell us a bit about what she ran from and why she pretended to be a boy? In Alexa’s world, orphans were used to build the kings armies. Boys were forced into the armies and the girls had an even worse fate. Her twin brother convinced her to cut off her hair and pretend they were twin boys to avoid what orphan girls had to suffer.

I definitely wouldn't want to be a girl in her kingdom! Alexa excels as a warrior, she’s gifted enough to be the first of the prince’s guards. Did you take fencing lessons to learn how to write the Deny series? No, I didn’t – though I would love to! I’ve read so many books with sword fighting and watched so many movies, I would just picture the fight scenes as if they were a movie and then try to describe them. My agent is a ninja—literally, a black belt ninja—and has done sword fighting training, so I asked him if I’d got it all correct and he said I had!

Wow, I'm impressed, both in your writing and your agent's black belt. Can you tell us about where Alexa draws her strength from? I think Alexa is a very strong-willed and stubborn person, so much of her strength stems from that. But she also draws strength from her desire to protect those she loves. Losing her parents was a terrible blow, especially her father who she’d had a special bond with and who had believed in her with all his heart. Because of that she doesn’t always love easily, but when she does, she loves fiercely and would do anything to keep those people safe from harm.

If I remember right, you’re a runner. Do you run for the love of it, or for the workout, or both? I’m running again since i’ve had my baby and not yet back to the love of running, but I hope to get there soon! Do you play other sports, as well? Some of both, which I think is how it always is, right? Running is definitely a love/hate relationship. Most runs are hard. Especially because I have a bad knee that keeps acting up and not letting me add distance to my runs. But the times when you hit that elusive “runner’s high” – ahhhh, that’s what it’s all about. That makes it all worth it. I also take classes at my gym and do lots of weight training. I’m not great at any sports, but I do play most of them adequately. I used to swim and dive competitively as a teenager, and I loved playing basketball, soccer, and football with my guy friends growing up, before they got too big and wouldn’t let me anymore.

Yes, that elusive "runner's high." I'm running towards that, for sure. I have to be careful with one of my knees, as well. Could you tell us about your road to publication? It was long and hard! I queried for about 2 and a half years before I got my first agent. I was with her for two years and on sub three times, before we eventually parted ways. She was a lovely person, but just not the best fit professionally for me. I then queried for 9 months with two projects and while I got very close to getting another agent multiple times, it didn’t quite work out. But that’s when I wrote DEFY. And with DEFY everything was different. I had my first offer from an agent within two days, and I accepted Josh Adam’s offer a week later. We went out on submission right after that, and within a month, we’d accepted Scholastic’s offer!

I'm glad you kept pushing forward and believing in yourself. DEFY is a book I'm glad the world has, and I'm confident I'll feel the same about IGNITE. Have you always written fantasy? Are all your characters “sporty girls”? I usually lean towards having at least some magic in my stories, but not always. I do have a few books I’ve written in different genres. Not all of my female characters are super “sporty” but I’d say most of them are athletic, tough, and all of them can hold her own when it comes down to it.

What are you reading right now? MARK OF THE THIEF by Jennifer Nielsen – her awesome new MG that is coming out next month! I love her characters, they are always so great!

*Jealous* I want to read MARK OF THE THIEF. I'm on a MG reading kid right now. Do you have a favorite sporty girl read? Oh it’s always so hard to pick just one! How about a few recent faves? NIL UNLOCKED is the sequel to NIL and I really love Skye – she’s about the toughest, sporty girl you’ll meet—her dad’s made sure of it! In THIS SHATTERED WORLD Lee is also tough, but she has to be, as the commander over all those soldiers on such a difficult planet. Loved her, too! And finally GRAVE MERCY series: Assassin Nuns. Nothing else need be said.

I recently read the entire GRAVE MERCY series for the first time. Yes, absolutely brilliant books. I'll have to add THIS SHATTERER WORLD to my TBR PILE Is there anything else you’d like to share? Thank you so much for having me today!


Where you can find Sara: Blog, Website, TwitterFacebook
Where yo can find IGNITE: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

Sara B. Larson is the author of the acclaimed YA Fantasy DEFY that released from Scholastic in January 2014, and the sequel IGNITE (December 30th, 2014). She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes during naptime and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting of her sugar addiction. She is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

I'm lucky to be interviewing two authors today. You can check out my interview with Dianne K. Salerni on the 2nd book in her incredible MG series, The Eighth Day, here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cover Reveal for ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT



I am so excited to be able to reveal the cover for ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT. I hope you'll be seeing my beautiful cover all over the interwebs today! I've got a great team of friends who are helping me. The Sporty Girl Books blog is near and dear to me, though, so this is the only place you'll find the Rafflecopter giveaway (scroll down to the bottom.)

Without further ado...here's the cover and the blurb. Look for the book on your virtual bookstore shelves on April 7, 2015.
 
BLURB: 
Penelope Spaulding just can't catch a break. Between long hours at the family restaurant, homework, and her parents' plans for her future, it's hard to find a spare moment to breathe. But when she laces up her skates and steps on the ice, everything slips away...
Racing around the rink allows her to blow off steam after yet another fight with her dad about going to culinary school. So when Jake Gomes, the bad boy who lives down the street, dares her to join the Rink Rats, the local misfit hockey team, she surprises herself and joins in silent defiance of her father and his expectations.
The more she plays, the easier it is to keep lying, and soon Pen finds it impossible to come clean. She’s sneaking out to practice—and loving every minute of it. It doesn’t take long for her to fall in love with hockey…and Jake’s not half bad either. But she knows it can’t last. As soon as her dad finds out, she’ll be benched. For good.
She’s absolutely not going to tell her parents until she’s sure it will be worth the inevitable fight. Not only is she skipping shifts at Slice Pizza while a foodie reality show is on the horizon, but her lies are starting to take their toll on her game. It’s only a matter of time before everything falls apart.
With the team counting on her and with her relationship with Jake on the line, will she have to sacrifice the thing she wants most for the people she loves? Or can she step up and take her best shot?
ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT will be available HERE from Bloomsbury Spark on April 7, 2015. 

Mark it to read on Goodreads

About the Author:
Kristine Asselin lives in Massachusetts and writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. In addition to ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT, she is the author of fifteen children's books for the elementary school library market. The most recent, DANGEROUS DISEASES, was published in 2014. Kris is a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and loves Harry Potter, Doctor Who, classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s, and anything with a time travel theme. She is a proud member of SCBWI-New England, the Fall Fourteeners (a group blog of YA debut authors), Sporty Girl Books blog, and #MGLitChat.

Kris presents writing workshops at schools and libraries all over New England and loves talking with kids and adults about their favorite books. ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT is her debut Young Adult novel.
 
Blog

Here's the Rafflecopter Giveaway! I'm giving away gift cards, a query package critique, some books from fellow Spark authors, and a signed copy of DANGEROUS DISEASES.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Athlete Spotlight: Caitlin Tycz, Record Breaking Maine Swimmer on the Rise

Caitlin Tycz is a fifteen-year old elite swimmer who I've had the pleasure of knowing for the past ten years. When my youngest tried the swim team for a couple of years I was honored to watch her swim the butterfly. Even in elementary school, she sliced through the water like a dolphin causing me to ask her for some butterfly stroke tips. Sadly, even her wise words about arm release and breathing couldn't help what my family calls my "dying frog" stroke. Caitlin was listed in the December 11, 2014 PORTLAND PRESS HERALD as one of ten Maine female swimmers to watch. She is the "Defending Class A 50 freestyle champ and runner-up in 100 butterfly who had third-best time in 100 free and backstroke." I'm so pleased she agreed to share some of her thoughts on swimming competitively, records, athlete health, pressure, and of course books. Caitlin, welcome to Sporty Girl Books!

Fill us in on the last year. What are some of your recent swimming highlights?

I have had a very successful year, and have accomplished more than I ever thought I would. Last year at our High School Championships, my time in the 100 yard butterfly was fast enough to qualify me for an All-American status. This was a great honor, and only added to the excitement of that meet. Overall, the Brunswick girls placed second, which was a big surprise. This year in high school swimming, I am currently ranked first in all eight events for Class A Girls. Right now, my time in the 100 yard butterfly is ranked fourth in the country for fifteen year old girls in the USA Swimming League. I am very proud of my achievements, but I am always looking forward to improve instead of dwelling on my past.

​Wow. That's so exciting. It must take a lot of work to get to that level of competition. ​What does a normal week of training look like for you? Do you ever get an off season? 

During the winter season, I compete on both the Long Reach Swim Club (a Y team) and the Brunswick High School team. This means I have at least two workouts a day​--​sometimes more. A normal week usually has five​-​one and a half hour Long Reach practices, and three or four high school practices. On days that I don’t have high school practice, we will have high school meets. I also train with my personal trainer three times a week. On weekends, I usually have one meet with Long Reach. I compete in both a summer and winter league, so my off season is very short. I usually take off a couple weeks in May and all of August, but I continue to be active.

In the Girls 15-16 100 fly at the Bowdoin Open in December 2014, you swam a time of 54.39 breaking the old record of 54.88 set by Coby Harvey (CMA) in 2013. But this just one in a line of many record breaking swims for you. Two years ago at the 2012 Long Reach Swim Club’s Sprint Meet on June 30, 2012, you broke the Girls’ 11-12 100 yard Back, the Girls’ 11-12 100 yards IM, the previous 100 yard Back and the 100 yard IM. How do you approach the idea of record times? Are you thinking about the old record as you swim or are you focusing on your personal best? How does record breaking affect your training?

When I swim, I focus only on what I can control. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your times just don’t reflect what you are expecting. In general​,​ records are always something that all athletes shoot for​;​ it’s something to base your goals on. On a day to day basis, I try to think about the process of getting to these goals, instead of how challenging they might be. I am fortunate enough for these records to be manageable goals, and work everyday to keep improving. Even though these goals can be very stressful, I work to always find the fun in whatever I have to do, both in the pool and on dry land.


How do National competitions compare to State events? Have you swum on the international stage yet? If not, is that in the plans? Tell me a little about your swimming goals.

National competitions and State competitions are very different, but I think both are important to my swimming. Maine Swimming is overall a very small organization, which makes the whole experience feel like a family. This makes meets fun, and I have definitely made lifelong friends through the sport. On a National level, however, everyone there is challenging you for a spot in the finals. Its definitely more stressful, but as I become more experienced, I am learning how to cope with these differences. Last January, I competed in a meet in Austin, Texas which was an international meet. This was the biggest competition I have attended, and it was an eye opening experience. I was surrounded by National champions, Olympians from other countries, and even some of Team USA’s finest. This was an amazing experience, and being there helped me realize that my biggest goal is to be on Team USA. This goal is a little far fetched, but I continue to make smaller, more manageable goals.


In August you swam in an event that was televised? Tell me about the competition and how ​you did​? How did the TV coverage change the experience for you?

Over the summer I swam in Indianapolis at YMCA Long Course Nationals. I have been competing this meet for the past four years, and I have really enjoyed it. Although I didn’t perform to the high standard I set for myself in some of my events, I exceeded my expectations in the 50 meter butterfly. This year my time in the 50 meter butterfly was fast enough to qualify for a final swim. This means I was one of the top ten fastest time in that event. I knew this was an important meet for me, which made me really nervous. Of course, the cameras and crowds didn’t help, but I tried to ignore that. Overall, those National meets are a great learning experience for me, which will help my ability to succeed later.


This Tweet from you @CaitlinTycz made me laugh. 
Staying healthy is a big concern for me, considering my body and mind is the building blocks for my swimming. Since I am constantly wearing myself down, I need to stay as healthy as possible. With my busy schedule, sometimes it can be really difficult for me to find time to sleep and let myself rest. I always try to find fifteen to twenty minutes before I go to bed to just relax and reflect on the day. During the winter when my schedule is at its busiest, I tend to sleep a little less than I normally do. I also need to stay mentally healthy. If I’m not mentally ready to train and race, there’s no I way I can succeed. Even though swimming takes up a majority of free time, I always try to balance my time. Family, friends, school and being mentally relaxed always comes before swimming. Without any time set away for relaxation, the anxiety of swimming would take over my life.

Tell us about other sports that interest you. How would/do these other athletic pursuits compliment your swimming goals?

Honestly, I’ve never really been that interested in other sports. When I was younger, I did ballet and gymnastics, but never loved it as much as swimming. I commit all my time to swimming, and it’s hard to see myself doing anything else. This spring, I am going to try out crew with my local association. I’m excited to branch off and try something new during my off season, and am interest​ed​ to see what this sport will have in store!

I happened to know that you have two very big dogs. Tell us about them. Do they like the water?

I have a Saint Bernard, Sophie, and a Newfoundland, Nick. My dogs love going in the ocean, rivers, and any other water they can find. They are the sweetest animals around, and I love coming home to them every night.


In addition to swimming, what other extracurricular activities do you do?

Since swimming takes up two to three hours after school and sometimes an hour before school, it’s hard to participate in any after school activities. I do play the flute in the band at my school, which rehearses during the day. I also take any chance I get to volunteer in my community, it’s such an important part of my life.



You get tons of homework, you're musical, you swim... are you ever able to read for fun? If so, what books are your recent faves or what books are on your To Be Read pile.

Even though I have a busy schedule, I always try to find some time for reading. I have always loved reading, and I don’t want my other activities to lead me away from it. Some of my favorite recent books are We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowe, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Looking for Alaska by John Green, and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. My To Be Read pile seems never ending, and is a always growing. The Vacationers by Emma Straub, The One & Only by Emily Griffin, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte are all books I want to read soon!!

Speed round:
Pizza or sushi? Pizza
Bike or run? Bike
Ebook or paper copy? Paper copy
Dance to loud music or talk with friends? Talk with friends
If you could be any animal what would it be? sea otter

​Good luck to Caitlin as she strives towards Team USA. ​

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sporty Girl Books coming in 2015



There are some awesome Sporty Girl Books coming out in 2015. I’ve included the cover art, if available, though many of them have not revealed covers yet. I can’t wait for these! If you know of any more, please add them in the comments!

Descriptions are from Goodreads, so in some cases, details are limited.  If you have more information about a title, please let me know and I’ll update the post.

The Boy Next Door – Young Adult – Katie Van Ark – January 2015

Maddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls.

Gabe can't imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals. So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks.

But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared?

Breaking the Ice – Middle Grade – Gail Nall – January 2015

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.

Defenseless (Diamond Girls #3) – Young Adult – Elisa Dane – January 2015

High school senior, Claire Reilly’s world revolves around All-Star cheerleading. The Diamond Girls, are gearing up for a major competition, which, if they win will allow them to compete at Worlds for the first time. But the unimaginable happens, and both Claire and her team are rocked by a devastating loss. Determined to get to Worlds any way she can, Claire finds help from the last person she imagined would give it—up and coming UFC fighter and notorious bad boy, Ryker Vaughn.

Fouled out of the octagon by a dirty opponent and a vicious kick to the head, Ryker loses control when he learns he may never fight again. Angry over the loss of his mother, an unsupportive family, and the world in general, he gives up, gives in, and unleashes his rage—destroying part of his cousin’s cheer gym in the process. Things go from bad to worse when Ryker is given an ultimatum: help the Diamond Girls compete for a bid to Worlds, or go to jail.

Overwhelmed with anger, sadness, and grief, the unlikely pair learn that what you see is not always what you get, and that the most difficult losses sometimes open the door to a frightening, yet amazing new future

Any Way You Slice It - Young Adult - Kristine Carlson Asselin – April 2015

Penelope Spaulding just can't catch a break. Between long hours at the family restaurant, homework, and her parents' plans for her future, it's hard to find a spare moment to breathe. But when she laces up her skates and steps on the ice, everything slips away...

Racing around the rink allows her to blow off steam after yet another fight with her dad about going to culinary school. So when Jake Gomes, the bad boy who lives down the street, dares her to join the Rink Rats, the local misfit hockey team, she surprises herself and joins in silent defiance of her father and his expectations.

The more she plays, the easier it is to keep lying, and soon Pen finds it impossible to come clean. She’s sneaking out to practice—and loving every minute of it. It doesn’t take long for her to fall in love with hockey…and Jake’s not half bad either. But she knows it can’t last. As soon as her dad finds out, she’ll be benched. For good.

She’s absolutely not going to tell her parents until she’s sure it will be worth the inevitable fight. Not only is she skipping shifts at Slice Pizza while a foodie reality show is on the horizon, but her lies are starting to take their toll on her game. It’s only a matter of time before everything falls apart.

With the team counting on her and with her relationship with Jake on the line, will she have to sacrifice the thing she wants most for the people she loves? Or can she step up and take her best shot?

Play On – Young Adult – Michelle Smith – April 2015

In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma's flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she's also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there's something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek -- he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the fa├žade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

What Happens In Water – Young Adult – Diana Gallagher – September 2015

In which a girl afraid to take risks since a gymnastics injury must take charge of her future after her best friend's failed suicide attempt.

Little Red Gliding Hood – Picture Book – Tara Lazar – October 2015

A pairs skating competition is coming up, and first prize is a new pair of skates!

Little Red Gliding Hood knows she can win, but can she find a partner? Hansel already has Gretel, the Dish is skating with the Spoon, and the Seven Dwarfs are forming a hockey team instead! Well, there is one shady character who's interested...

(This isn't the cover, but Author Tara Lazar was kind enough to share some of the artwork from the interior with us!)

Cross My Heart – Young Adult – Mari Mancusi – December 2015

Cross My Heart tells the story of an eighth-grade snowboarder who returns to her elite mountain boarding school after an accident nearly destroys her dreams of Olympic gold, and finds herself faced with pressuring parents, frenemies, and first love.

On Ice – Young Adult – Cate Cameron – 2015

After her mother's sudden death, Karen Webber is shipped off to live with her estranged father and his new family, despite the fact that she's never met any of them. As she struggles to adjust to her new world, she finds Tyler MacDonald, star of the local Ontario Hockey League team, going through his own hard times. Together, they find strength to stand up for themselves, and for each other.

The Harder You Fall – Young Adult – Joy Hensley – 2015

About a girl in the world of mixed martial arts!

The Trick to Landing – Young Adult – Jenny Kaczorowski – 2015

The Trick to Landing is about Summer, a semi-pro skateboarder trying to build a new life after a DUI. After moving to Oceanside, she meets Bastian, a brilliant photographer fighting for a future beyond the bleeding disorder that defines his life.