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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mo'ne Davis: Player of the Month

If you happen to follow the Little League World Series, then you couldn't miss all the hype around Mo'ne Davis and her opening game shutout in the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship. Sporty Girl Books has long been a supporter of girls playing baseball and is happy for the media attention surrounding the IDEA of girls playing all sports equally. Unfortunately, that also means that Mo'ne had to endure reporters from FOX news. Take a look at this clip.

More female friendly sport? 

The amazing thing about all of this attention was this 13 year old eighth grader's grace under pressure. Her focus on the game and on her team. She throws a 70 mile an hour fastball and can hit. She was on the Sports Illustrated! I love how she tells it like it is. "Just throw strikes. That's all you've gotta do. Just throw strikes." She cuts through the grown-up, sports industry, BS. She is clear, mature, and generous in this interview with ESPN. I hope you'll follow the link. (It wouldn't embed here on the blog.)

There's been a social media explosion around her performance. It's great to see sports celebs and other supporting her. I hope that she's able to navigate the hype and social media support without having to deal with the ever-present negativity, racism, and misogyny.

Congrat, Mo'ne!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crossing the Ice with Jennifer Comeaux

I'm so happy to welcome Jennifer Comeaux to the blog today. Jennifer is author of several ice skating themed sporty girl books, the most recent: Crossing the Ice. It's just out this month!

 The blurb:

Falling hard never felt so good.

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.
The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?
Sounds amazing, right? Jennifer took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions!
Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Jennifer!  I’m so excited to have a chance to showcase you and Crossing the Ice to our readers.

KCA: Crossing the Ice isn’t your first book about figure skating. What got you interested in figure skating? Are you a skater yourself?

JC: I’ve actually only stepped on the ice once in my life and I was terrified! I always watched skating on TV when I was a little girl, and I was always fascinated by it. When I got older, I decided to attend the national championships one year to see what a competition would be like in person, and I became an even bigger fan of the sport. It was such an incredible experience to watch the event live! After that I started travelling to multiple competitions every year.

KCA: How long have you been writing?

JC: I used to write a lot when I was a kid, but then I went many years without doing any fiction writing. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I started writing stories again.

KCA: What made you start to write seriously?

JC: I had an idea for a romance between a skater and her coach, and my friend insisted that I write it so she could read it. I was very rusty since I hadn’t written fiction in so many years, but I quickly remembered how much I loved it! The story was just supposed to be for family and friends to read, but then I decided I wanted to pursue my childhood dream of having a book published, so I turned that story into my first book Life on the Edge.

KCA: What genres do you write? Do all your books feature Sporty Girls?

JC: I write New Adult romance, and all my books do feature Sporty Girls! The heroines in my books are all female figure skaters chasing their Olympic dreams.

KCA: Can you tell us anything about your current work-in-progress?

JC: I’m currently working on some bonus scenes from Crossing the Ice and also a possible novella sequel to the book. Stay tuned for details!

KCA: Where do you find your inspiration?

JC: I get inspired by watching the beautiful performances of skaters and also from my travels to competitions. There’s so much real-life drama in skating to inspire stories!
KCA: Are you a full-time writer? What is your non-writing life like?

JC: My full-time job is very different from writing. I’m the Corporate Tax Manager for a large company. I love being able to write at night and on weekends as a creative outlet.

KCA: What is the biggest challenge you find with your writing?

JC: The biggest challenge I face is being a slow writer. Words don’t come to me easily, and I obsessively self-edit as I write, so it takes me about eight months to write a full-length novel. I envy those writers who can spit out a first draft in a month!

KCA: What are your favorite books or movies?

JC: My favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. Some of my favorite recent books are Flat-Out Love, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Fangirl. I have lots of favorite movies, including The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Breakfast Club, Beauty and the Beast, and Center Stage.

KCA: Do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” you can share?

JC: My favorite guilty pleasure is watching Catfish: The TV Show. That show is so crazy!

KCA: If people would like to get to know you better, do you tweet?  Blog?

JC: I do both! I love talking to readers, and you can find me on Twitter at @LadyWave4. My blog is jennifercomeaux.blogspot.com. I’m also on Facebook at Jennifer Comeaux Author.
Thanks to Jennifer for being here today and good luck with the new book!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Revision Strategies and Sporty Girl Books

This week, I'm going to tell you a little about what goes on behind the scenes in making a Sporty Girl Book. Writing is often a marathon, but I'm in the sprint portion of the revision for my YA work in progress about rowing. This portion of the journey requires a "head in the boat" mentality– keep my eye on the prize, nose to the grindstone, make revising my first priority, work hard no excuses.

The first 75 pages of this novel started as my creative thesis for my MFA degree at Vermont College of Fine Arts (January-June 2011). After graduation I completed a draft, and did a revision that I sent to an initial group of agents (Spring 2012). These agents each had something to say about the work which led me to a third full revision (Winter 2012-2013). A PEN New England Children's Book Discovery Award (Spring 2013) win led me to my fabulous agent, another revision and submissions to wonderful editors (read: declines and feedback-- Fall 2013). The revision that I'm working on now (Summer 2014) is based on an in-depth editorial letter received Spring of 2014.

This morning's post on Pub(lishing)Crawl from Janice Hardy, Dealing with Multiple Drafts, outlines a lot of what I'm doing.

Sometime last month I got completely overwhelmed with all of the threads, plots, time and character changes. I couldn't hold the requirements of the revision and the novel in it's many incarnations in my head any longer. I read through the novel again and created a sticky note for each scene. As I went through I wrote "cut" on some stickies and created some that had a general summary of a new scene I needed to write that said "new."

When were things happening? The editor was concerned about the lack of time markers in the form of regular calendar events that could be subtly added as the year went on. I also needed to be more explicit about what the rowing calendar looked like as not a lot of readers will come to this book with the knowledge about crew. Across the top, I wrote the months in the school year.

The colors of the stickies represented subplots and their important actors and vaguely symbolized place. I realized about halfway through that my original use of light orange for "scenes with the best friend subplot" slowly went away on the chart. But did that character really go away or were there just other players who were more center stage? Turns out that as with many books, the threads started to weave together in a natural way. Good to know. 

At the far left end of this behemoth are the numbers 1-10. As I did the original placement of the stickies, I made an arbitrary decision on the tension rating for the scene. Did an especially steamy or romantic scene really mean more protag/antag, dramatic or plot tension? Hmm... I think I had been confusing the two. I had to be careful.

My biggest issue was the tension leading to the climax. There was a dip at the end between the emotional climax and the plot climax of the book that caused a "spike" feel for the reader. Why was it there? Why weren't the stickies looking more like that gentle slope up plot mountain? Did they have to? Did my book have a different structure and was that okay? (The panorama doesn't show the end but the pic directly above does.)

I needed chocolate. And time... lot's of time.

I use Scrivener and love it. If you do too, you know that what I'm doing is not that different from Scrivener's capabilities, but for me the tactile sticking and moving of scenes both on the timeline and up or down on the tension axis has been helpful. As I change, cut, and add, I'm making those adjustments on my plot chart and will probably end up with a differently shaped story by the end.

Here's another unexpected side-effect of the plot chart: unrolling it before I get to work has become an important part of the preparation for my work sessions. A ceremony of sorts that let's my mind and body know that it is time to work.

If you have any questions for me, leave them in the comments! Until then it's nose to the grindstone, head in the boat, blinders on. :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tillie The Terrible Swede

How One Woman, A Sewing Needle, And A Bicycle Changed History

I picked this children's picture biography up on a whim at the library last month because the title is awesome, I'm a quarter Swedish, and I like to ride.

I'd never heard of Tillie Anderson before opening this book, but the author, Sue Stauffacher, and the illustrator, Sarah McMenemy, brought her to life so well that I feel as if we're dear friends.

Tillie is a great example of someone who doesn't let society dictate what they can do, but works towards her dreams, and in so doing, blazed a path for you and me. She came to America with her skills with a needle, but she wanted to ride a bicycle and feel the wind whip through her. But, ladies' dresses in the 1890s didn't go well with riding bikes.

History behind Tillie
Although Women's Bicycle Racing began in 1879, during the high wheel era, it was considered more a novelty than a sport until the advent of the diamond-framed safety bicycle in 1890.
Perhaps no one made a greater contribution to the acknowledgment of women as serious competitors in bicycle racing than Tillie Anderson.
Tillie, who from the years 1897 to 1902 was known as "female bicycling champion of the world," was born in Skane, Sweden on April 23, 1875. She was the fourth of five siblings. Tillie's reputation for having a strong will and perseverance began early.
After her father died when she was eight years old, she began working for a neighboring farmer during haying and harvesting to help support her mother, brother and three sisters.
In 1891, Tillie and her brother August emigrated to America, joining their older sister Hanna in Chicago. The rest of the family came to America the following year.
Tillie found work as a seamstress in a tailor's shop. In two years, she had saved enough money for a bicycle. Newspapers of that era like to say that she was thin and weak when she first came to America, but she was quoted as saying "I did not take to the wheel for my health, particularly. I suppose it was more for the reason that bicycles were being used by women and I wanted to try the fad."...
By Heather Drieth
Published in "The Wheelmen"

She put her skill with the needle to work and made (scandalous) biking pants. She trained hard and won many records in long-distance cycling, both outdoors and in the velodrome. Many people disapproved of her clothing and her training. (Woman shouldn't sweat.) Doctors even examined her to determine the effects of strenuous exercise on a woman's body. They even put a picture of her leg in the newspaper.

"Although Miss Anderson's limbs are not as regular from an artistic point of view, her general health is better. Simply put, front head to food, she is a mass of muscle."

The book is whimsical and fun in how the illustrator shows her life. All four of my children (boys included) enjoyed this book and requested it more than once.

I highly recommend giving Tillie The Terrible Swede a try, and then getting on your bike and riding fast and hard like she did.