Thursday, December 8, 2016

If Donald Trump had been president 8 years ago, I wouldn’t be here


In January of 2010, my husband and I were sitting in a doctor’s office examination room practically giddy with glee. Five minutes earlier, we had found out we were having a son (a son!), and now we were attempting to agree on a baby name, discuss what his nose would look like, and text everyone we knew all at the same time. We were getting pretty far into our list too because the ultrasound tech had disappeared to find the doctor after having some “trouble visualizing the baby’s heart,” but who cared! We were having a son, and he was bound to be made of awesome!

And then the doctor arrived. And we found out our son had a heart defect, the worst one you can have. We went through all kinds of tests to figure out if he was a candidate for surgery. A few weeks later, we lost him.

We lost him.

That’s what I told almost everyone when they asked. It’s what I told my family because they’re very religious and were encouraging me to pray for a miracle. But the truth is, we were given a choice: we could terminate the pregnancy at that time or I could give birth to a baby, only to have him die in my arms. We’d have him for a few hours or a few days, but since his heart couldn’t pump blood on its own, he’d slowly turn blue and it would be like drowning but without the water.

It didn’t feel like much of a choice.

At the time, I was about 21 weeks. Most anatomy scans happen around 19-20 weeks, and all the extra tests to determine he wasn’t a candidate for surgery took some time. The current federal cut off for abortions is 24 weeks, a time when the fetus could survive outside of the mother’s body.

When people like Trump and Pence talk about pushing that limit back to 20 weeks, all I can think of is the women who will be in my position and be forced to carry a baby to term so they can watch it die. All I can think is, that could have been me. And I can tell you, I wouldn’t have survived it. I barely survived it as it was. It took therapy and lots of support from family and friends. If I had been made to have that baby, I honestly believe I would have taken my own life.

Please don’t let this happen to other women. If you’re wondering how common stories like this are, 88% of abortions occur during the first trimester and only about 1% occur after 20 weeks. Women aren’t using late term abortions as birth control. No one is having babies ripped out of their uteruses. Many of these women have painted nurseries, have felt their babies kick, have named them. These are heart-wrenching decisions best made individually by families, not by politicians.

If you hear about a 20 week ban (and these bans do not generally allow exceptions for fatal birth defects, in case you’re wondering), either at the state or national level, please think of stories like mine and call your representatives in protest.

Please protest the proposed 6-week abortion ban in Ohio: https://www.romper.com/p/how-to-protest-ohios-proposed-6-week-abortion-ban-24393 

If you genuinely care about reducing abortion rates (which I do – abortions are hard on women, both physically and mentally), please do it by supporting better birth control access and health care coverage, by supporting better sex education.

Please don’t let a man who appears to lack basic knowledge of the female reproductive system make decisions that reduce women to child-bearing livestock.

And please give love and support to any women around you who might be making hard decisions. You might be the person that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ten Characters I'd Name My Car After

Top Ten Tuesday - a meme from The Broke and the Bookish

This weeks topic is: Ten Characters I'd Name A Child/Dog/Cat/Car/Etc. After

I've had my car for a year now, and it still doesn't have a name. So, when I saw that this week's Top Ten Tuesday was YA characters I'd name my [something] after, I was like, yep. We're doing this. The contenders are below. And here's a photo of my car just so you can get a feel for her personality.



1. Mary Carlson: I just read GEORGIA PEACHES and adored it, and I'm not going to stop talking about it ever. Mary Carlson is the greatest, and her mix of sporty and feminine totally suits my car.

2. Prim: I don't know that my car is really a "Prim", but doesn't it just sound so dang cute?

3. Bellatrix: Because my car is badass. And she might have an evil streak. And Bellatrix is a really cool name.

4. Blue: Okay, so maybe this one is a little too obvious seeing how my car is, in fact, blue, but whatever, SIMON AND BLUE FOREVER!!!

5. Renesme: I kid!

6. Cricket: Cricket Bell is my favorite book boyfriend. And bonus: Cricket is a funny play on my car being a "bug". 

7. Neek-neek: If you know what this is from, you win all the things.

8. Flare: The invisible cheetah from THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER and just a great name all around.

9. Kestrel: BAMF.

10. If there's something better I haven't thought of, you let me know!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#30mdare 2015!

Do you want to write ALL THE WORDS this holiday season? Yes. Yes, you do. And the best way to make that happen is by playing #30mdare (it's basically a word count Christmas miracle).

How #30mdare Got Started

In 2013, Rebecca Petruck launched a spontaneous writing challenge during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day for a bunch of us from OneFour KidLit, a collective of MG and YA authors whose books debuted in 2014. We “dared” each other and anyone else who wanted to play to write the most words during 30-minute writing sprints with winner choosing the others’ Twitter avatars. And there were some doozies! In five days, fifteen of us wrote a total of 53,000 words. (See the Publishers Weekly article here.)

Last year was even better/stronger/faster with 38 participants, 74, dares, 6 manuscripts completed, and 242,296 words. Let's just pause for a second to let that number sink in. 242,296. That's a lot of words.

It would be fantastic to break 100,000 words again and encourage even more participation so writers everywhere can leap into 2016 feeling as energized and inspired as we all did last year. Please spread the word via your blogs, social networks, critique partners, and other friends.

THE DEAL

Official Week: 12/26/15 – 12/30/15, beginning at midnight, ending at midnight ET (for you Night Writers and non-ETs)

A Dare: Anyone may moderate, but a minimum of three must sprint together.
Check the #30mdare hashtag on Twitter to check if anyone is about to launch a dare. If not, put the call out that you would like to sprint at X:XX and see if you get any takers.

I plan to lead several dares a day. Twitter: @rachael_allen. Also keep an eye on Kaye M. @gildedspine, Jaye Robin Brown @JayeRobinBrown, Christina Farley @ChristinaFarley, Pat Esden @patesden, and Elizabeth May @_ElizabethMay in particular, though all will use the #30mdare hashtag, so you should be able to find a dare anytime. And remember you may always lead one yourself!

Dare! The moderator will call the official Start/Stop of the 30-minute writing sprint, collect the word counts, and declare the winner. The winner will choose an avatar for the others in his/her dare.

Avatars: Must be “worn” a minimum of 12 hours or until your next dare. Avatars should be funny, embarrassing, or both—but not indecent or otherwise inappropriate for a group of mostly kidlit authors! (You know who you are, stinkers!) 

IMPORTANT! Moderators please immediately post your date/time, participants, word counts, and a link to the assigned avatar to the shared spreadsheet! This is ESSENTIAL for those who wish to win fame and the right to crow outrageously on social media. Let’s hit 100,000, dare-junkies!

I'm making the spreadsheet public so that anyone can jump in to moderate a dare and update the spreadsheet info. Here is the link for everyone to check stats and add information.

Winners!

Winners of the following categories will be featured in a #30mdare 2015 wrap up blog post and receive the adoration of the people:

Highest total word count 

Highest single-dare word count

Most dares completed

Most dares won

Completed manuscript!
Your personal avatar will be photoshopped with a crown to use at will.

Funniest dare avatar (to be determined by a not impartial panel of judge(s))
Your personal avatar will be photoshopped with a mustache to use at will. (There may be daily or otherwise multiple winners.)
HONOR SYSTEM: The dares and prizes are for fun, and most of us are proud to wear silly avatars (except that one time because Jaye Robin Brown is Ee-Vill). Nothing we do here is worth building up bad karma! Simply have fun and be inspired.

Let’s make this a #30mdare Holiday Blitz of Awesome!



Also - a huge thanks to Rebecca Petruck for A) thinking of this, B) taking the helm on it the past two years, and C) letting me use her blog post and spreadsheet as my templates. She rocks and so does her book STEERING TOWARD NORMAL, and you should totally follow her on Twitter here: @RebeccaPetruck

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

YA Lit Truth or Dare Jenga

I really love dares. Enough to make all my best friends bachelorette dare lists. Enough to write a book about girls completing a list of dares as part of an elaborate plot to get revenge on the football team. And now, enough to make a YA Lit Truth or Dare Jenga set. Enjoy :)

How to Play: It’s just like regular Jenga, except you have to do what’s written on the tile you pull.

How the Points Work: There’s points. The points are bad. You can think of some ultimate dare punishment for whoever has the most points at the end, if you want. And if you want a game that’s more NA than YA, you could substitute a more grown up activity for the points. Like the kind for grown ups who are 21.

(Note: I put in book links in case people don't get all the references.)

1)    Categories (Pick a YA lit-related category – Harry Potter spells, Laurie Halse Anderson books, etc. First person to mess up takes a point.)
2)    Mila 2.0 (Do the robot. Feel free to crank some theme music.)
3)    Carrots (If there are any gingers at the table, please refer to them as “Carrots” for the duration of the game.)
4)    Sisterhood of the Traveling… (Swap an article of clothing with someone.)
5)    The Boyfriend List (You get to assign 1 point for every YA Book Boyfriend you can name in 20 seconds.)
6)    Fangirl! (What is the most embarrassing fan fiction you’ve ever written? Or read, if you’ve never written any.)
7)    Katniss (Volunteer as tribute whenever the Prim of your choosing is assigned points. But just until you’ve had your next two turns. Also, you know you have to do your best Katniss impersonation whenever you do this, right?)
8)    Dauntless (Group gives you a Dare.)
9)    Dauntless
11) Veritaserum (Group gives you a Truth.)
13) Alethiometer (Spin your Jenga tile, and whoever it points at has to answer a truth.)
14) Walk Off! (Challenge someone to an epic Beauty Queens-style walk off. Ladybird Hope would be proud.)
15) OCD Fan Story (What author are you so obsessed with that you made a total fool of yourself in front of them? And, yes, you have to tell the story, obvs.)
16) The Commandant (You make a rule that everyone must follow for the rest of this Jenga game. Feel free to torture anyone who disobeys – but, like, not really.)
17) Etienne St. Claire (Shortest person takes a point.)
18) Cricket Bell (Tallest person takes a point.)
19) Simon Says (If anyone is wearing a blue shirt/dress/yoga pants, send them flirty text messages whenever it’s their turn. Bonus if you can working in Oreos.)
20) The Renesme (Pick someone to imprint on and go sit in their lap until your next turn.)
21) Sons of Adam (Guys take a point.)
22) Daughters of Eve (Girls take a point.)
23) Bruxis/Scuppy (What would you do if you had a bruxis right now? And no, you can’t pick world peace. What would you do if you had a scuppy?)
24) Ship it good (Pick a Team – Team Jacob, Team Peeta, Team Will. Anyone not on your team takes a point.)
25) Professor Trelawney (Make a prediction about who you think will knock the tower down by pointing at them and saying “You have the Grim!” If you’re wrong, take 10 points. If you’re right, give 10 points.)
26) 17 First Kisses (Assign 1 point for every person you’ve kissed that you can name in 20 seconds.)
27) TTYL (You are only allowed to use teen girl internet speak until your next turn.)
28) Cinder + Iko (Pick a BFF. Whenever one of you gets or gives points, the other does too.)
29) Shahrzad (Tell the group a story about you that no one else present knows. And it better be a good one, or you’ll be executed. Or at least be given 5 points.)
30) Dumplin’ (Lip-sync Jolene by the legendary goddess Dolly Parton. If you’re half as good as Willowdean, someone at this table is guaranteed to fall in love you.)
31) Winterkill (Everyone has to say mayhap instead of maybe and if you forget, 1 point!)
32) Being Sloane Jacobs (Everyone says what character in YA lit is their Doppleganger.)
33) The DUFF (You are now the designated drink and snack getter for the rest of the game. But you’re not ugly. Or fat. In fact, your hair looks really great today. Also, the other players will refer to you as “Duffy” when asking, and if they forget, you get to give them one of your points.)
34) Pretty Little Liar (What would A use if she was blackmailing you? Don’t lie.)
35) Beware theWild (The bathroom is now the meanest swamp in Louisiana. If you go into the swamp, you have to pretend to be a YA character when you get back – at least, until someone guesses who you are.)
36) Wake (Please tell everyone about the last strange embarrassing dream you had.)
37) The New Hotness (Assign 1 point for every YA debut from this year that you can name in 20 seconds.)
38) Bella Swan (Pick someone else to put this tile on top of the tower for you because, let’s be real, you would knock over THE WHOLE DANG THING.)
39) Suitcase! (Cram yourself into a suitcase Open Road Summer-style. If there is no suitcase to be had, cram yourself into a space that is similar in its comical smallness.)
40) Puck (Puck’s a bad ass. Girl or not, she’ll ride in the Scorpio Races. And when she plays Jenga, you better believe she doesn’t pull the center tiles. And now neither do you.)
41) Gallagher Girl (Shhh. Be cool. Be cool. You mission: Touch your finger to your nose. The last person at the table to do so gets a point and is clearly not cut out to be a spy.)
42) Compose a toast for your favorite YA villain. (My money’s on The Darkling.)
43) Hate Spinnerbait! (Assign 1 point for every Sarah Dessen book you can name in 20 seconds.)
44) Just Visiting (Vic from JV has basically the hottest make out scene ever. And it’s in a field. What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever “Just Visited”?)
45) Genovian Princess (After you place this tile on top, do a royal wave that would make both Mia Thermopolis and the Queen of YA proud.)
46) Be the Bookshelf (Please demonstrate your best planking skills.)

I only made 46 even though there are 54 Jenga tiles because it’s always good to have some blanks in case of awesome tile epiphanies. Let me know if you have any!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#BFFdraft

Hi there! I’m a YA author, and I wrote a book about four girls banding together to get revenge on the football team. (It’s like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants takes on a football patriarchy! Yay!) Along the way, there’s a girls-against-boys scavenger hunt and all kinds of shenanigans, but most importantly, these girls develop a take-on-anything, life-changing kind of friendship.

My best girl friends are some of the most important people in my life – they’re brilliant and hilarious and I love them forever and ever. They’re exactly the kind of people you want in your BFF circle. And so are the girls in THE REVENGE PLAYBOOK.

Which got me thinking…We should totally do a BFF draft!

And in case you’re like “Wait. What?” - here’s how you play:

On June 16, 2015, use the hashtag #BFFdraft to talk about who you’d want in your ultimate BFF group. You can pick YA characters, celebrities, girls who are doing cool stuff to make the world a better place, girls who are already your besties. Anyone. But it’s not like a fantasy football draft where once someone gets picked, no one else can have them. (So, don’t worry. You can all be best friends with Taylor Swift.) You can also talk about what friendship means to you and what you look for in someone you #BFFdraft.

Then tweet your picks, or post a photo of you and your BFF on Instagram or Facebook, or a gif of a celebrity pick on Tumblr, all with the hashtag #BFFdraft. If you have room to add #RevengePlaybook too, that would be wonderful, but if you need those extra characters, I totally get it :)


Some examples:










Want to help spread the word? That would be awesome! Here's a link to Thunderclap (you can pick your social media platform, and Thunderclap will make sure your post goes live the day of the event): http://thndr.it/1ML4mSM


Or you can tweet or share the following on June 16, 2015:

Who would you #BFFdraft (YA character, celebrity, girl you already know) to be in your BFF crew?  http://rachaelallenwrites.blogspot.com/2015/06/bffdraft.html  #RevengePlaybook





Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why I love #yafeministchat

There's never really been a name for the type of young adult books I love most. The books with female characters you're dying to be besties with. The ones that make you want to stand up tall because just reading them makes you feel proud to be a woman.

In my head, I've always called these books "girly YA," but I'm usually afraid to say that out loud, let alone tweet it. I'm scared of the backlash. You know, the "Calling a book girly makes it seem different - less than - other books! Labels like that alienate male readers! They should all be called contemporary! Pink covers are the devil!" backlash.

And those are excellent points (well, except maybe that bit about the pink covers - I do love a good pink cover), BUT. The books I'm talking about ARE different from a lot of contemporary YA. And they don't even have to be contemporary (A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray is one of my favorites). So what is it about these books that makes them so special?

1) Female relationships take the forefront. Girls are shown navigating relationships with their friends, sisters, mothers.  

2) Issues of particular importance to girls feature prominently (beauty, rape, eating disorders, female sexuality and double standards). I'm not saying these issues can't be important to boys too, but they affect girls more forcefully.

3) There's some element of girls against the establishment, women challenging the status quo.

4) The main character, at some point during her character arc, has an “I am woman. Hear me roar.” moment. A young woman finding her voice for the first time is incredibly powerful, and it's something I love reading about.

5) Shenanigans, including but not limited to: sleepovers, séances, singing into hairbrushes, shopping, dancing, makeover montages, pranks, games of never have I ever, pacts (bonus points if said pact is made over a Cosmo a la SHUT OUT by Kody Keplinger), and just, in general, fun. Because I firmly believe that you can change the world and have fun at the same time.


This is what I think, and these are the types of books I'm looking for. But I've mostly just fretted over the fact that "girly YA" maybe wasn't the best label, and searched harder for them on Goodreads. And that's precisely the problem with NOT having a label for these books. If you don't acknowledge that they're different - beautifully, wonderfully, life-changingly different, it makes it harder for the people who want and need them to find the books that are going to expand their hearts and change their world views.

So, to whoever thought of #yafeministchat, THANK YOU. Thank you for giving a name to the books I love. Thank you for providing a forum where I can discuss them with my friends. Because the book recs alone are making my year.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: LIARS, INC. by Paula Stokes

I'm super excited for another book by Paula Stokes because THE ART OF LAINEY was so. Much. Fun. Check out the cover and blurb for her next book:




For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV's How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.



Are you freaking out yet because I am FREAKING OUT. I need this book! The cover is gorgeous, creepy, evocative, and the premise. Love. I get chills every time I read the part about Max hooking Preston up with a cover story and Preston never coming home. So, yeah, I'm going to be devouring this book in approximately 6 days.