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, September 24, 2013

Book Review: Roller Girls Falling Hard by Megan Sparks

 Over Labor Day weekend I read the first book in a Roller Derby series by Megan Sparks. I'll admit that I was a little apprehensive. I know nothing about Roller Derby and I wasn't sure whether or not reading about it would interest me. But after a chapter or two I was speeding along (had to pun, sorry). 

Blurb: When Annie moves from London to a small American town in the Mid-West, she struggles to fit in. She gets off to a bad start when she makes an enemy of her school's queen bee and Cheer Leader, Kelsey. But she discovers a new passion – the exciting sport of roller derby – and makes friends with the cool and quirky girls on her team, the Liberty Belles. She also meets Jesse, the friendly boy who works at the roller rink, and Tyler, a cute all-American sports star. Meanwhile her Dad is starting a new life running a local cafe.

Megan Sparks has created an interesting character in Annie, an English girl who has chosen to move with her dad back to his American hometown instead of living with her mother in England. Annie comes to America not quite sure what to do with herself since she recently had to give up gymnastics because of her height. I thought that Annie's struggle to fit in, not just in her new school and new country, but in her new role as a non-gymnist added depth to her character. I also really liked how Sparks portrayed Annie's dad and her new artsy best friend.

I also found myself fascinated learning about Roller Derby. Since Annie is new to the sport, the reader learns it through her eyes. I cringed as she bruised and cheered when she finally started playing. I also found roller derby on television and opened the book to find out what I was watching.

The only criticism I had is that while the Roller Girls were interesting and varied, the cheerleaders were portrayed as typical mean girls. I hope that in future books we learn more about them and find out that there is more to them as well.

I'll definitely be reading that next book, and the others in the series as well. If you are a middle grader who reads YA or a teen or adult looking for a fun sporty read, you should too.

Monday, September 16, 2013

THE SWEET SPOT: Kristine Asselin's Sporty Girl Book

I can’t believe I’m actually talking about my OWN sporty girl book on the Sporty Girl Book blog. I’m sure it won’t be the last time…in fact, you guys will probably get sick of hearing about it. Though, I hope not.

My colleagues here at Sporty Girl Books all have their own sporty girl book that I hope we’ll get to hear about soon.

I was thrilled that the term “Sporty Girl” actually appeared in my Publisher’s Marketplace announcement. Here’s the blurb:
Kristine Carlson Asselin's THE SWEET SPOT, in which it is hard enough being a sporty girl in a guy's world without having to figure out who wants to destroy her family business, especially when it could mean accusing her best friend… and secret crush, to Meredith Rich of Bloomsbury Spark by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

It’s been a long road for this book. It was written, revised, critiqued, workshopped, queried, submitted, rewritten, and queried some more before being picked up by Bloomsbury Spark. I’m about to dive into editorial revisions, and I couldn’t be happier! Writers out there know what I mean. It’s exhilarating to know that the book is about to be better than it’s ever been.

And even more exciting, then it’s going to be out in the world and sporty girls everywhere are going to have a chance to read it.

My main character, Kate, is a lot like me, though I would never have described myself as a sporty girl in high school. But the struggle of being one of a very few girls playing a sport was real to me. I was the only girl who tried out for the golf team my junior year—and I went to a high school with almost 2000 kids. While no one really gave me a hard time, it was awkward and weird enough that I didn’t try my senior year.

I gave up.
Part of why I wrote the book was to metaphorically give myself another chance. To explore what it would have been like to play and win against the boys. I hope there’s a girl somewhere out there who’ll read it and relate to Kate in a way that makes her proud to represent her gender in a field of boys.

That’s too deep, LOL.

Really. I wrote the book because I know that world. It’s real to me. Everything: the grass, the boys, the shop, the competition, the risks and the financial peril that come along with a family business, the crushes and the teenage heartache. The feeling of wanting to be treated like one of the guys, but not exactly wanting that either because  you’re not a guy. Wanting the boys to notice you as a girl, but not treat you any differently from the rest of the competition.

They say write what you know. And I know that world, so that’s what I wrote. And I can’t wait for you to read it.

Stay tuned. If anyone has questions about my journey so far, please feel free to ask in the comments! I'll also be on Robin Hall's blog later this month talking about my writing and querying process.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

5 Things That Physical Therapists Want Teen Athletes To Be Aware of this Fall Season

If you are a teen athlete in a fall sport, you are at risk of injury. Why? Many athletes arrive at practice for their fall sport and train and as if they never left. However, some of these same athletes have spent more time at the beach than doing any structured training. I asked three physical therapists, Kim Tycz, Matt Tycz, and Steve Vance, what can be done to reduce the risk of injury?

1. Warm-up.
The physical therapists agreed that many athletes fail to warm-up sufficiently. “Often, athletes will just run around a bit and think that they’re warm, but a warm-up should last 10-15 minutes until you break a slight sweat,” says Steve. A light jog, calisthenics, or a gentle ride on a stationary bike is a great way to warm-up. Your purpose is to elevate both heart and body temperature. The Tycz’s say, “[Start] low then gradually increase to a moderate level of activity.  Soft tissue (muscles/tendons/ligaments, etc) that are warm will bend then rebound under stress; cold ones break.  Most coaches are pretty good at this now during organized practice/games, so this might be more relevant for when the athlete is doing an individual workout.”

2. Stretch.
A lot.  All year long.  “Most people think about stretching just before their activity but you should stretch two or more times every day when trying to get more flexible and once daily for maintenance.  Hold your stretches at least 15 seconds, use a clock or count slowly to 20- we all count fast.  Flexibility prevents injuries and in most cases increases sports performance,” say Matt and Kim. Steve agrees and has seen many knee injuries due to tight hamstrings. Flexibility is also improved with adequate warm-up (above) and a strong base. (see below)

3. Build a base.  
“Foundational strength is integral to every sport and life activities as well,” says Matt Tycz. Core strength includes not just abs but also lower back, hips, and glutes. These muscles help us balance and are important for keeping healthy knees and spine.  Steve Vance treated Appalachian Trail through hikers who had very weak hips and therefore bad knees. Many of our sports: hiking, cycling, running are about moving forward instead of moving side to side. Take some time for leg lifts, walking lunges, or single leg dips that work the core. 

4. Take Head Injuries Seriously.
Don't ever ignore any symptom after hitting your head.  The list of concussion symptoms is very long and doesn't have to include loss of consciousness. “We are learning that concussions are much more common than we ever thought.   If you hit your head (even lightly) and feel anything other than completely normal (such as headache, nausea, hearing sounds/seeing lights/smelling weird odors that aren't there, trouble focusing, lightheaded, dizzy, not able to do simple tasks/feeling clumsy during sports activities or even something like tying shoes, overly tired, can't sleep, can't concentrate, etc)– tell your coach/athletic trainer/parent. We are talking about brain cells that could be permanently injured,” say Matt and Kim.

5. Don't ignore the pain.
“Most athletes will get hurt eventually, the key is early detection and treatment.  Some muscle soreness is expected with new or hard workouts, but pain that lasts for more than a few days or feels like it is in bone or joint is not normal.  Don't ignore it, tell a coach/athletic trainer/parent and if needed go to a doctor or PT.  Then listen to what they tell you to do and do it.  The sooner you take care of the little injuries the less likely they will become a big one that can end a season or multiple seasons.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Interview with Catherine Murdock, on her new release: Heaven is Paved with Oreos

Thanks for being on the blog today, Catherine. I'm excited to showcase your newest title, Heaven is Paved with Oreos (releasing today!)

Here's the book blurb:
 Fourteen-year-old Sarah Zorn intends to spend the Wisconsin summer with her “boyfriend” Curtis, waiting for a dead calf named Boris to decompose in time for the science fair. Her plans upend, however, when her fake-boyfriend strategy goes seriously awry just as her hippie Grandma Z invites her on a last-minute Roman holiday. As Sarah explores Italy’s ancient wonders, she can’t stop “boy-liking” Curtis . . . or puzzling over her grandmother’s odd behavior. Written as Sarah’s journal, this satisfying middle grade novel navigates the murky waters of first love, friendship, and family with heart and good humor.

RH: I love your title. How did you come up with it?
CM: thank you. And I didn't come up with it -- I saw it posted on a fortune-cookie fortune taped to a wall, just as it's described in the book. This must have been, oh, 20+ years ago, but the phrase always stuck with me. And now I get to use it in a book!

RH: You are a master of voice. Football playing DJ is one of my all-time favorite voices and I'm thrilled she's plays a roll in Heaven is Paved with Oreos. I'm excited to get to read the younger voice of fourteen year-old Sara. How do you find the right voice for your MC's? Was it harder to write a younger voice?

CM: Again: thank you! Voice is something I take very seriously, so I'm thrilled you noticed. I'm always a bit flummoxed when asked how I "master" a voice . . . It makes me feel like I should be reviewing Italian (ha) or practicing my figure skating (ha ha ha ha). Voice, to me, is something that you *say* -- the character is in your head and you need (recognize that I'm figuring this out as I type) to move your lips to let the character out -- not simply come up with the right words but develop the right tone, because the tone makes the words . . . I suspect that this sounds ridiculously flaky and also useless: "aspiring writers should simply speak with their characters' voices," but, yeah, that's what I'm saying. Equally important: if you can't speak with your character's voice, don't. Use another voice (omniscient narrator is always good) to tell the story. Otherwise it's a terrible distraction . . . at least it is for me.

RH: Have you had a Roman holiday like Sara (or are you planning one)? I know you've been learning Italian this summer.
CM: Yes, I've been learning Italian -- or more properly I *was* learning Italian, because I've forgotten it all already. Languages are so difficult! A trip I took to Rome years ago with my sister planted the seed for Heaven is Paved with Oreos, then I returned in late 2011 to research the book, and last fall to fact-check it . . . Obviously I love the city! The hardest part was trying to look at Italy from the POV of a fourteen-year-old girl who isn't terribly worldly. I had to keep remembering my own first travel experiences, when the tiniest things (trash cans, for example, or dogs) left huge impressions.

RH: I know your inspiration for Dairy Queen came from from a dream. Is that how you typically find inspiration for your stories?

CM: I wish! No, recently I've had to come up with books the hard way, by actually creating them. Much more challenging.

RH: Can you tell us what you're working on now?

CM: I feel like I'm not done with Rome quite yet. What comes out of this feeling . . . Everyone will have to wait and see. Including me, I'm afraid. Sigh.

RH: Since writing DJ's story you've been involved with sporty girls. Can you tell us about some of those interactions?

CM: I've had the great joy of emailing and meeting girls who played boys' football -- girls who sometimes played because of Dairy Queen! That's huge. I'm awed.

RH: Thank you for your support of sporty girls and for writing the types of characters we crave to hang out with.

To find Catherine's favorite sporty read check out this previous post