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, July 28, 2015


L.S. Murphy is a fellow Bloomsbury Spark author, and I’m so excited that her book PIXELATED is finally out in the world. We’re so happy to feature it on Sporty Girl Books.

SGB: Linda, tell us about PIXELATED!

Pixelated is about 17 year-old Piper Marks who is forced to move from St. Louis to tiny Clarkton, Iowa for her senior year of high school where she falls for golden boy Les Williams IV who’s got a bit of a secret.

SGB: Can you tell us about the journey your book has taken to this point? How has it been different than you expected?

This book was a few decades in the making. Seriously. The opening scene of chapter 2 has Piper pulling up to her new school and seeing a row of tractors lined up in the parking lot. That hails back to my HS days when my creative writing teacher pointed out such a moment and said “If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is.” That’s one reason the book is dedicated to him.

SGB: I know you’ve written other titles—how has this process differed from those?

Each process is different. Each book has its own identity and personality. I can’t imagine them ever being similar. I also can’t imagine Piper  and Quincy (from REAPER) being in the same room together.

SGB: Writing instructors often tell new writers to "write what you know." How have your own experiences or emotions influenced this story? 

This is so close to my heart in many ways. Clarkton, Iowa is very loosely based on my hometown of Kahoka, Missouri. And some of Piper’s attitudes about small town life are things I’ve observed now that I live in St. Louis.

SGB: How does your book stand out in the expanding sporty girl book world? What makes it unique?

Football plays a small role in the story. Piper knows nothing about it, but she learns and begins to appreciate it in her own way. She has to step outside of her comfort zone so much. Plus the game itself is a bit of a metaphor for her new life.

Speed Round:
Bike or run? Why isn’t sitting an option? Bike
eBook or paper copy? (reading preference) BOTH.
Dance to loud music or talk with friends?  Dance.
If you could be any animal what would it be? My cat… PIPER. Yep, I have a cat named Piper. J

Thanks so much for being on Sporty Girls--good luck and I can't wait to read PIXELATED!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Athlete Interview with Horseback-riding Julia

Julia is our youngest interviewee yet, at seven years old. She loves all things horses and has taken Western lessons over the past year. She lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and dreams of one day owning her own horse. 

Hi, Julia, and welcome to Sporty Girl Books. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
*giggles* I'm entering the third grade this fall, and I play the piano. I like to visit both my grandparents and ride their horses (though one of them only has English and one time she flung me off), I like to play outdoor games like Kubb, build forts, ride my bike fast, play card games (spoons is my favorite), and I read all the horse books I can find. I went to my first rodeo on the 4th of July. One day I want to be a barrel racer and live on a ranch.

Can you tell us about your horse lessons?
Riding bareback for the first time
I take lessons from Penny. The first thing she taught me was how to jump off of a horse and keep my hand on the reins. It's still one of my favorite things to do. I just hold tight to the reins, grab the mane, and slide off on the left side. I prefer to ride bareback, but sit a good Western saddle. Horse lessons are all about remembering who is in control, me, or the horse. As my teacher likes to say, "Itty bitty girl, big strong horse, but who's in control? Itty bitty girl."
If I don't pay attention, Wind Prince will ride me around the ring where he wants to go. When I ride, it's important that the horse does what I'm asking, and I don't let him take me around the ring, so we work to go and stop at my commands. One time my instructor told me to go twenty steps and then stop and hold still for as long as I could before going again, so I stopped Wind Prince, my favorite horse, and we waited for ten minutes. My teacher was shocked I could wait that long.

Can you tell us about this favorite horse?
Julia with her teacher Miss Penny
Wind Prince is a dapple gray. He is the sweetest boy, but I always remember that horses have two ends, the biting end and the kicking end. So far, I haven't been bitten or kicked, so that's pretty good. I like to groom Wind Prince after our lessons and we talk to each other. It's important to be gentle around a horse and get all the sweat from riding off them so they don't get sores. Did you know horses could get sunburns?

I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm around a horse! What are your favorite horse books?
For Christmas my mom got me the first book in the Horse Diaries series about an Icelandic filly named Elska. Now I've read all the Horse Diaries books. They're really good and written from the horse. (Now I'm reading Dog Diaries, which are the same thing, told from the dog). I also read Black Beauty.

I'll have to check out the Horse Diaries and maybe revisit Black Beauty one of these days. Thanks for being on Sporty Girl Books!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interview with Warren Firschein, author of Out of Synch

I am very excited to introduce Warren Firschein to you today. I had the pleasure of reading Warren's book, Out of Synch, a few weeks ago. It's the story of Katie Phillips, a thirteen-year-old swimmer who dreams of going to Nationals with her Synchronized Swimming Team but is being pushed by her father to place all of her energy into her traditional swimming. Katie's struggle trying to do something she loves when her family wants her to go another way is something that all tweens and teens can relate to, even if they aren't swimmers. 

I interviewed Warren to learn more about what inspired him to write this book.

What inspired you to write this book?

Out of Synch was inspired by my twelve-year-old daughter, Sophie, who has been a competitive synchronized swimmer since the age of eight. When she first joined her team I knew nothing about synchro, but through her experiences I learned what an exciting, fun, and incredibly difficult sport it is. Synchro combines swimming with gymnastics, ballet, and cheerleading stunts, and requires an unbelievable amount of strength, athleticism, and agility. Unfortunately, the sport has low visibility, and all most people know about it is from works of satire, such as the video of those fifth-grade boys performing a synchro “routine” on stage that went viral last year. I wrote the book as a way to promote the sport by introducing it to people who don’t know anything about it, and to hopefully inspire them to try it for themselves. 

Were any parts of the story hard for you to write?

Without giving away any of the plot, at times it was a challenge to write a story from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old girl, which obviously I’ve never been. Hopefully, I’ve done a credible job. Other than that, the hardest part was finding the proper balance between describing the sport in detail without interrupting the flow of the story.

How accurate is your description of the sport?

Very much so. Since many of my readers may not know much about synchro before picking up the book, one of my goals was to portray the team practices and meets as accurately as possible. Early in the story I describe a training accident during practice, and an older girl on my daughter’s team told me that it was “freaky realistic,” which made me very pleased. However, I took several minor creative liberties with the way a meet is run in order to advance the plot in certain places.

What was the book’s publication journey?

In a word, it was unexpected. Initially, I thought I’d try to get the book published the traditional way, starting with finding an agent to represent me. But while working through my final drafts, I learned that there were going to be some fairly significant changes to the sport starting with the 2014-15 season. For example, they’ve done away with trios and have drastically reduced the number of soloists who qualify for Nationals (which is now called the Junior Olympics). Instead of rewriting the story to reflect these changes, I focused on getting the book published as quickly as possible. To do so, I formed my own publishing company, which is called Chapter Two Press, and released the book myself. I’ve never owned a business before, but I think there’s a need for small presses, and I hope to publish works by other authors in the years ahead.

Katie’s dad puts a lot of pressure on her to give up synchro. What would you tell kids to do if they are being forced to give up the sport they love?

First, I think it’s important for kids in this situation to try to understand why they are being pressured to give up the sport they love. Although it may feel like punishment, that may not be the intent. In Out of Synch, for example, Katie’s father is drawing on his own experiences as a college athlete to help his daughter take the best path toward achieving a successful future. His efforts are misguided, but he is acting out of love. Once you understand your parents’ perspective, you may be able to find a compromise that will allow you to continue to compete while satisfying their wishes. For example, maybe you can offer to give up a spot on a travel team to focus on your schoolwork, and instead play in a local league. Some swimmers will get up early and swim laps before school. Sometimes being an athlete means learning to juggle many different activities, but there’s often a way to fit everything in if you are creative and think positively.

Were there any books that inspired you when you were a kid?

Of course! I loved adventure stories growing up, and I still do. I couldn’t get enough of classic science fiction, such as Isaac Asimov’s robot books and his original Foundation trilogy, but the books that affected me the most include The Hobbit and, when I was a little older, The Once and Future King, which is about King Arthur. When I was thirteen, my counselor at sleep-away camp read The Princess Bride aloud to the bunk throughout the summer, and that’s probably still my favorite book. 

What is one thing you would like your fans to know about you or your book?

Most of Out of Synch was written on a tiny netbook on the pool deck while my older daughter was at synchro practice. As for something about me, I’ve wanted to write novels since I was ten, but it took me a long time to learn how to craft a story and develop compelling characters. If there’s something you want to do, never give up, and don’t let other people convince you to stop trying to fulfill your dream. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? In a nutshell, that’s what Katie must discover for herself in this story.

Let me add that Out of Synch is available through online retailers, and you can purchase a signed copy through my website, www.warrenfirschein.com. I love hearing from my readers!

Thanks so much for doing this interview, Warren. Best of luck to you and Out of Synch.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Congratulations on the World Cup Team USA!

"You can't be what you can't see," says ESPN soccer analyst and past World Cup winner Kate Markgraf.

We at Sporty Girl Books hope that this Team USA win inspires a whole new group of young players to take up soccer and any other sport they want. To keep the momentum going, major networks need to continue to embrace women's sports during prime time not because it is a duty, but because action-packed sporting events with highly-skilled athletes are good for business. Audiences want to see the amazing level of athleticism that happens in every women's sport on the national and international stages.

Although Sports Illustrated editor Andy Benoit has apologized for his tweet, "women's sports in general not worth watching," he aired an opinion I'd presume a lot of sports journalism gatekeepers are keeping to themselves.  Hopefully the television viewing numbers for this evening, again reveal that the market is strong for prime time women's sports. The more coverage and advertising dollars there are for women's sports, the more these athletes and their coaches will be paid.

The following is from the Women's Sports Foundation website:
Gender Inequity in Professional Sports

  • Total prize money for the PGA tour, $256 million, is more than five times that of the LPGA tour, $50 million. Similar discrepancies exist throughout professional sports.
  • For a WNBA player in the 2005 season, the minimum salary was $31,200, the maximum salary was $89,000, and the team salary cap was $673,000. For NBA players in the 2004-2005 season, the minimum salary was $385,277, the maximum salary was $15.355 million, and the team salary cap was $46 million.
  • For finishing in third place in the 2003 Women's World Cup, each U.S. women's national soccer team member was awarded $25,000. They would have received $58,000 if they had won the Cup. For reaching the quarterfinal of the World Cup in 2002, the U.S. men's national soccer team members received $200,000 each. 

Celebrate Team USA's win with sparklers, paint your face red, white, and blue and then--as is the American way, write a letter to the editor or tweet to your favorite network. Let the editors and producers know that you want more women athletes and their sports featured during prime time. We shouldn't have to wait another 16 years for women athletes to get this kind of press.

-Anna E. Jordan

Congratulations Angela Ruggiero for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame!

She is a member of the International Olympic Committee, a four time Ice Hockey Olympian, Gold Medalist, AND she has two degrees from Harvard (BA and MBA). As a Massachusetts resident, I was excited to learn that she’s on the US Olympic Committee Board for the Boston 2024 proposal.

I can’t help but think that Penelope Spaulding would have her poster featuring prominently on her wall.

Here’s what the Hockey Hall of Fame induction committee said:

“The youngest member of the team that captured the first-ever Olympic Gold Medal in women's ice hockey, Angela Ruggiero went on to help the United States capture four more Gold and six Silver World Championship medals. The defenseman from Panorama City, California, was also named Harvard's player of the year three times.” 

"I've visited the Hockey Hall of Fame many times, and never get tired of learning about the rich tradition of the inductees," said Ruggiero, who is the fourth female ever elected for induction. "The fact that I'm now joining them is very special, and the greatest accomplishment I can think of as a hockey player.

For more, visit: https://www.hhof.com/htmlInduct/ind15Prolog.shtml