Nicole Leigh Shepherd is the Pretty Tough Series pseudonym for both screenwriter Liz Tigelaar (Pretty Tough and Playing with the Boys) and Keri Mikulski (Head Games, Stealing Bases, Making Waves, and Fifteen Love).i. Keri was a three-sport athlete in high school, Keri worked as a personal trainer, lifeguard, registered nurse, middle school teacher, columnist, and high school coach. Currently, she teaches college writing courses while working toward a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Rutgers University. Keri splits her time between the New Jersey suburbs and the shore with her family. Visit Keri's website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
This guest post first appeared on Attacking the Page and was re-posted on A Backwards Story with permission. This post first appeared at ABS on December 2, 2011, and was revived for Girls in Sports Week with permission from Keri Mikulski.
Why Sports? by Keri Mikulski
Many people have asked me over the years why I choose to write sports fiction for girls. The obvious answer is that I love sports and I have participated in athletics for over thirty years. But the main reason I write specifically for female athletes has a little more to do with literacy than the love of the game.
When I was in elementary school, I adored books. But by sixth and seventh grade, I fell out of love with reading. In fact, I became what educators refer to as a ‘reluctant reader’. This baffled both my mom and my teachers since as a child I was never without a novel or a notebook. And it’s not like I didn’t try. I cracked opened tons of novels including all the popular series. But most of the time I would read the first couple of chapters and then skim over the rest because I just couldn’t connect. For years, I searched for books that I could relate to. But over and over again I came up empty handed.
Later, while I was working as a middle school language arts teacher, I watched some of my sporty students fall out of love with reading just like I had a decade earlier. At that moment, I realized that my students and I became ‘reluctant to read’ because we couldn’t find books with main characters that we could relate to. We couldn’t find books about girls who played sports.
This realization led me on a journey to write the novels that my athletic students and I always wanted to read. Books about girls who play sports. Books about the lifestyle. Books about the drama on and off the field, court, and/or mound. Books about teammates. Books about boyfriends and crushes. The book that I always wanted to read. And here I am living my dream. ^_^
Keri, thank you so much for sharing this post that gets into the heart of why books featuring sporty girls are so important. I loved hearing your story, and am really glad you've written books featuring so many different athletic activities!
Title: Pretty Tough Series Author:Nicole Leigh Shepherd
Release Date:2007 ~ 2012
Publisher: Penguin Razorbill
Get the first six books in the Pretty Tough series: PRETTY TOUGH (#1) PLAYING WITH THE BOYS (#2) HEAD GAMES (#3), STEALING BASES (#4), MAKING WAVES (#5), and FIFTEEN LOVE (#6). Set in the privileged and picturesque world of Malibu, the books feature an ensemble group of girls who learn to play together on the sports field and in life. Against the backdrop of high-end lifestyles and even higher expectations, come stories of rivalries, romance, recruiting and more. FREE stickers, sports charm and a SURPRISE gift. Description from the Pretty Tough website, which is currently running this special bundle offer!