Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pretty Tough Tuesday

Today I'm over at Pretty Tough profiling amazing Alabama athlete, Baylee Grace Alldrege, the third Pretty Tough Screwball contest winner. I received an email from her mom this morning. Baylee won her league championship last night and hit two homeruns! Way to Go, Baylee! 

Right now, I'm working out the details for a monthly book giveaway contest right here on my blog called Yay for YA. One of my writing gigs involves writing a column for a local magazine, South Jersey Mom. It's called Chick Lit Pick and I receive A LOT of ARCs. So every month, I'm going to giveaway TWO books, one of my current fave YAs and a book that I read for the column. I have a hard time parting with books, but they're starting to pile up on the floor of my office. And I absolutely LOVE chatting about and sharing good books, so I can't wait to share some of my faves.

Does anyone else hoard books? Or do you hoard something else? 

Screwball News: The marvelous Nicole B. from Word for Teens is sponsoring a SCREWBALL contest. To win a signed copy of SCREWBALL, you have to come up with a softball team name. Check out some of the extremely creative names here

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Interview with Weezie Mackey, author of THROWING LIKE A GIRL,

My friend and fellow author, Weezie Mackey, took time off from her busy writing and family schedule to answer a few questions about writing, sports, and the Dixie Chicks. 

1. Throwing Like a Girl is fantastic. What inspired you to write the book? 

Thanks for liking the book! Throwing Like a Girl is based on my experience coaching and teaching PE at Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas. I had such a great happy time there and was pleased to discover this new phase of my life as an athlete: coaching. I never dreamed it would be as satisfying as a player, but I loved it and I loved the girls I coached. I left that job to enter a MFA program in Creative Writing and toyed with trying to tell that story - of a woman who thinks her competitive athletic, team life is over and then enters a new phase, accidentally by taking this job as a coach. Essentially it was a chick lit book in my head. I must've started that novel five or six different times and I'd get forty or fifty pages into it and nowhere to go. I put it aside for years while I wrote other things, had jobs, got married, had two kids, and then finally it resurfaced. My husband, who fancies himself my manager/publicist of sorts, suggested I try it from one of the players' points of view. I stared at him blankly for a long time. Could that work? I wasn't sure, but I started reading a lot of YA fiction and loved the genre.  It was right up my alley. I sat down, began writing, and the story just flew out of me. I had a first draft in six months and an agent within a year. So, I'm delighted to give credit to my husband for nudging me to write this book. 

2. What character are you most like and why? 

All my characters have some level of familiarity to me, for instance, Ella is the youngest of four girls and so am I. Addie was a new coach in the middle of the school year and so was I when I started at Greenhill. But the beautiful thing about writing, to me, is the story that emerges from the seed of an idea or character. I found that I wanted to tell a story about a girl who discovers how powerful being a part of a team can be. It didn't matter what sport she played, necessarily. It mattered that she found herself by playing sports. I feel in a lot of ways, that was my experience. I played sports through high school and college and it helped define who I was. Being on a team made me strong and bold and connected. 

3. When did you decide you wanted to be an author? Who or what inspires you to write? 

I don't know that I ever consciously decided to be an author. I'm so amazed and impressed when I hear from young girls who say they want to be writers. I would love to sit down with any one of them and ask a million questions.  How do you know what you want to be? How are you going to do it? What do you see yourself writing? I mean, how honestly, how cool is it that someone who hasn't even finished high school already knows what they want to be? I stumbled around a lot. I was an English major in college and discovered my writing ability (actually a professor did). I never presumed that meant I would write a book one day or be published. I knew I would have to have jobs and I could always write on the side. I still don't mention it that often. Writing is private to me. 

Good books inspire me constantly. I read a ton, young adult, adult, The New Yorker, Captain Underpants, Dick and Jane. I just read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, first published in j1948. Loved it. Good writing in movies and television inspires me. Music inspires me (especially in my car with the windows down).

4. What is your favorite sport to play? What is your favorite sport to watch?

At this stage in my life, tennis is my top to play, though a neighbor has invited me to play on a local kickball team and that sounds like a lot of fun! My favorite sport to watch at the moment is Tadpole Little League Baseball because my son, Matty, is on the team and he is really good. I'd like to think he takes after me. On TV, I like to watch women's tennis and women's college sports. This past winter my husband and I got into watching high school volleyball. I just love watching girls be intense about something so positive (and the fans of those games are so loyal!).

5. What was it like coaching the Dixie Chicks? What positions did they play?

I coached Martie (as a high school junior) in softball and Emily (as an 8th grader) in soccer. Martie played right field and was a solid hitter, but her sport was soccer. I don't know what position she played, but she was fast. Emily and her teammates were undefeated. (I don't take any credit for this even though I was the coach.. they were SO GOOD! Once I went back to the gym to get our huge thing of water and they started the game without me. They were practically coaching themselves.) They were both great team players. 

My friend Jo Ann De Martini, who coached Emily volleyball during high school, told me the story of when Emily had to come to her and quite the team. She said her mom (who was a math teacher at the school) told her it was too risky to play volleyball when she needed her fingers to be a musician. Jo And said, "So you're telling me that the music thing is more important than the volleyball?" I don't think any of us realized what gifted musicians Martie and Emily were, except their mother. 

6. What was your most memorable moment as an athlete? As a coach? 

Wow, that a hard one. I won the state championship in field hockey my senior year of high school. That was really cool. But I think looking back, I would have to say that seeing my name on the varsity line up my freshman year of college was one of the highlights.. and I was standing alone in the locker room. Funny how that is. 

As a coach, winning the Division II softball title at Greenhill was probably my highlight. We had come a long way as a team. It was fantastic. 

7. What are you working on right now? 

Oh, I'm working two simultaneously! One is Halfway to Where I'm Going about two sisters, 15 and 16. The older one is the narrator and not nearly as confident or outgoing as the younger one. She wants to change this. Of course there'"Ts some romance in this one and mystery. The other one is another sports book, Kick, about a high school soccer star who discovers photography and realizes there is more to life than winning and losing, she also finds a little romance along the way. (Because that's so much fun to write!)

Thanks, Weezie! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pretty Tough Tuesday

Today, I'm blogging over at Pretty Tough.  I'm profiling Hannah Fulk, an infielder from Ohio and Jamie Roland, a California catcher. Both amazing athletes won the March Pretty Tough Screwball Essay contest! You go, girls! 

Speaking of girl power, I'm so psyched that Danica Patrick won the Japan 300 on Sunday. She's the first ever female driver to win a Indy Car race in the sport's history. My brother and dad are HUGE Indy Car fans and I've watched and gone to way too many races in my lifetime (I'm not really a big fan of car racing) so to see a girl take the checkered flag is amazing. 

What's everyone reading? Or what's on your TBR pile? 

I'm reading and loving Violet on the Runway by the fabulous, Melissa Walker. I love books that make me think and VOTR is definitely on my mind. Fantastic work, Melissa! :)

Screwball News: Check out Marjolein's Book Blog for another great review of Screwball. Thanks, Marjolein! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Real Ashley Clarke

I received an email a week or two ago from the 'real' Ashley Clarke. Check it out. It's pretty spooky, since I've never met Ashlie. And kudos to Ashlie, for letting me post. I can't wait to meet you! :)


My name is Ashlie Clark, it is spelled a little different than the character in your new book, "Screwball". Wait it gets better as I go on. I am a 12U second year pitcher who has played 14U for experience... and with the push of my dad. I have a best friend named Katie, just like one of the characters, 'Kate' in the book. On my team right now, there's a pitcher named 'Missy'. When I was playing my last year of league ball, I was on a team called the "Crush". Coach D is the first initial of my dad's first name, which was the coach of the Crush. I ordered your new book and read it in one whole day! I was really anxious to read the book! I really enjoyed every bit of the book! It's really crazy because there are so many similar things me and Ashley have. It's almost like you know me. As I read the book I noticed a couple of things I have been in the same situation as Ashley. I really loved the book and I'm glad I read it. 

It's so weird that there is an actual Ashlie Clark out there who not only plays softball, but shares so many similarities with the main character of SCREWBALL. Surreal, since everything I wrote is courtesy of my crazy imagination. 

Yay! - Nicole from the amazing book review site, Word for Teens, reviewed SCREWBALL yesterday. Thanks, Nicole! 

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fastpitch Filled Saturday

On Saturday, I spent the day selling and signing copies of SCREWBALL at the New Jersey Nightmares Fastpitch Tournament in Mercer County, New Jersey. Although bad weather ended a portion of the tournament, it was nice to see some awesome softball and hang out with some nice moms and players. Thanks for the tent! 

In an interesting twist of fate, one of my former favorite seventh grade students, Katie, was participating with her team and played some nice softball on Saturday. :) It was awesome to see Katie and her mom and it reminded me why I originally sat down to write SCREWBALL. For teen girls, but especially sporty girls, who don't have a lot of teen sports themed lit to choose from. 

On a side note, I need a new pair of sunglasses. I seriously look like a giant fly. How was your weekend? Did anyone watch "Rock of Love" last night? I did and loved it. What did you think of Bret's pick? Have a marvelous Monday! :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Brain Eating Amoebas

Yesterday, after Amy Addison mentioned triathlons, I started thinking about why I'll never, ever compete in a triathlon. Brain eating amoebas. They live in lakes and enter the body through the nose, nibbling away at the brain. Believe me, I can't afford to lose my brain, even a little nibble. 

See, I'm the kid who caught Lice on the first day of kindergarten, acquired mono in sixth grade after sharing water jugs with a teammate, and scratched chicken pox at three. You name it, I've probably caught it. Seriously, I'm a human petri dish. If there is a brain eating amoeba within a mile, I'll catch it. 

I'm curious. Any walking petri dishes out there? What freaks you out? 

Screwball News: This weekend, I'll be at the Mercer County Park in New Jersey selling and signing SCREWBALL at the New Jersey Nightmare Softball Tournament. A former student will be there and I'm so excited to see them! I'll post pics on Monday.. :) Have a great weekend everyone!  

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Last Sunday, I ran my second 5K race. When I ran my first 5K, this past November, I thought, it was going to be easy. I mean, how hard is running alone without a ball to dribble?  Well, I was wrong. My first 5K was terrible! Grannies, little kids, and runners pushing huge strollers easily passed me as I huffed and puffed trying desperately not to puke. 

After my first, running became my obsession. I had to win. Enter the Nike + system. It's this GPS thing that fits in your sneaker and attaches to your IPOD. I love it - it tells you have fast you're running, the distance, and calories burned. When I opened the device, I tossed the directions in the trash, hooked up the Nike +, and took off. I made amazing strides, even running sub eight minute miles. 

This time, I was in it to win it. I grabbed my IPOD and headed out the door, swearing I was going to bring home a medal. The start gun sounded and I took off. Sub eight minute miles? Nope. Sub nine or ten minute miles, more like it. My Nike + system was completely off. While I thought I was running five miles, I was really running three to four. And the sub eight minute miles? Not quite. I came in 76th place. :)

Lesson learned - first calibrate your Nike + system. And, 'serious' runners out there. You know who you are.. Wow, you are mentally and physically amazing. I take back everything I ever said about cross country and track practices. :)

Anybody else, been tricked by technology? Or is anyone trying something out for the first time?  

Happy News - Author, Cyn Balog blogged about SCREWBALL. :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My First Online Review!!

Yeah! I was so excited to wake up this morning and read The Compulsive Reader's review of SCREWBALL. The Compulsive Reader mentioned SCREWBALL's appeal to reluctant readers, which is something I hope to achieve as an author. As a one-time reluctant teen reader myself, I love receiving emails from teens who tell me they don't usually like books, but picked up SCREWBALL, loved it, and are eager to read more novels. With so much amazing YA out there right now, there is definitely something for everyone. :)