Tuesday, December 19, 2017

#TaxonomyofYALove Giveaway

Hi there! I wrote a book called A TAXONOMY OF LOVE about a boy named Spencer who uses taxonomies to make sense of the world, so I thought I’d explain a little more about what taxonomies are and why I think they’re so awesome.

Taxonomies are a way to classify every living thing in the world, from sea monkeys to honey badgers.

I’m a scientist by day, so making the taxonomies was really fun for me. I love the idea of facts fitting inside of each other like nesting dolls and being able to see how everything is interconnected. I liked getting to take abstract ideas and organize them using this system, like “A Taxonomy of Reasons People Leave” or “A Taxonomy of Almosts.”

I think Spencer is drawn to taxonomy because he feels like, “If I can’t figure out where I fit in, at least I can figure out where everything else fits.”

I thought it would be really fun to create some YA-related taxonomies and see other people’s taxonomies, so…giveaway time!

How to play: Post your own YA-themed taxonomy on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TaxonomyofYALove by December 31st. They can be as simple or as complicated as you want (see examples below), and could include your favorite YA book boyfriends or the 2018 books you’re most excited about or which Harry Potter ships you cannot abide. I’d love it if you tag me at @rachael_allen (Twitter) or rachael.stewartallen (Instagram)!

What you win: A chance at an annotated copy of A TAXONOMY OF LOVE. (You know you want to know top secret stuff about my mom.)

Thanks, y’all! I can’t wait to see what people come up with!

            xo, Rachael Allen

Example Taxonomies!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

#KidlitForAleppo Final Stats

I was feeling pretty powerless when I emailed my friend, Dana Levy, last week. I kept reading stories about Aleppo and feeling so very much like I wanted to do *something* to help, but at same time, I kept wondering, what can one person really do in the face of tragedy that large?

After some rapid-fire emails back and forth and some even more rapid-fire postings in kidlit spheres around the interwebs, #KidlitForAleppo was a go. Dana explains it all so much more eloquently than I ever could in this post. (Side note: Do you see why I'm friends with her?)

Since then, we've been blown away by the response from this community. We never expected it to grow into anything so large, and it's a testament to how open hearted and passionate all of you are. The final stats for #KidlitForAleppo are:

100+ authors/editors/agents/kidlit people
150+ donations
$4000+ raised for The White Helmets, Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, and other organizations doing work on the ground in Aleppo.

IN TWO DAYS. It's unbelievable, and I know I haven't even captured all the numbers, and they're probably much larger.

A huge thank you to everyone who offered prizes, donated funds, or took the time to signal boost. Thank you for pushing through that feeling of powerlessness and Doing Something. I can't tell you how grateful Dana and I are. You are all amazing human beings, and we are so proud to be a part of this community.

I'm going to end with Dana's words because I like them so much.

The whole “light a candle instead of cursing the darkness thing” — it can feel pointless. After all, one candle doesn’t feel like much. But when everyone lights a candle…
Well. The light gets brighter, that’s all.

I think the light just got a whole lot brighter.

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.


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 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

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


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.