For Agents: Current projects, more about Allison

Hi, I wanted to share more about my current work and idea for my next book, in case anyone is interested to know more after the YA portion of #PitchWars opens Nov 5. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. First off, I’ll be in NYC December 1-5, in case anyone wants to grab a coffee and meet in person.
  2. I am on the board at Hugo House, an excellent literary nonprofit with national recognition. I spend a significant amount of time there between volunteering and learning to improve my craft. We offer classes and events, create a safe space for expression for all (including youth groups), and provide scholarships. We are also building a new home in the heart of Seattle’s arts neighborhood. More below, including what Lemony Snicket said about us!*
  3. What I’m looking for in an agent: I’m open to many styles and personalities. When I worked at The Field Museum, I was often tasked to work with difficult personalities because I get along with all kinds of people. Not that I’m actively looking for someone difficult (!), but I don’t need my agent to be my best friend to have a successful business partnership. Of course, it’s always fun to get a beer together.
    • It would be nice if my agent believes in my work and understands that I am actively building a long-term fiction career. More on that later, but I want to be writing and producing regularly, as I always have (just now in fiction instead of non-fiction).
    • Someone editorial would be great. I’m used to revisions, and don’t take it personally. I want to build the best books possible. That is what is important, not my ego.
    • That said, if an agent just wants a finished product, I have plenty of people to help critique and get me to a good end-point. I have had an excellent and steady CP for the past two+ years, and am owed many favors by others for all the books I have read and edited.
  4. I have a new book in the works. It took me one year to write “OVERBOARD,” and I plan to write the new book at the same pace. I have been told by several published MG and YA authors not to share the new idea because they think it is very good and that I should write it first and then pitch. Sorry, that’s such a tease, but it makes me excited to work because those people have already volunteered to be CPs for me. I am actively working on pages and characters, and am outlining now. I can tell you that it deals with siblings, religion (not what you think), and Nepal, and maybe a little cross-cultural romance. I also have two more novel ideas I’d love to write, and am working on several short stories.
  5. I have never missed a deadline. I was a freelancer on top of full-time work for 15 years, so I am used to juggling projects and getting things done. I am definitely a planner, not a “panster.” There is debate among my writer friends as to what those terms mean. Planners front-load their time building structures and reading craft books, and the MS evolves over that framework as we write. Pansters tend to think long and hard about their books before they sit down and just jam it out. I suspect Pantsers are doing the same work Planners are, only they’re better at pulling ideas from memory, whereas the rest of us need to write everything down so we don’t lose our minds.
  6. Now that I’m done editing, I can read again. Currently reading: “Forever” by Judy Blume (again); the new Black Panther comic by Ta-Nehisi Coates; “Highly Illogical Behavior” by John Corey Whaley.
  7. That’s probably more than you needed to know, but if you’d like to know even more than that, please feel free to reach out to me at:


Above is my novel “OVERBOARD” in “Planner” format. I’ve created a system based on Syd Field, Joseph Campbell, Vogler, and Robert McKee, as well as other readings on the Hero’s Journey. I also draw heavily from “Bird by Bird,” for laughs.

*More about Hugo House: our amazing Executive Director Tree Swenson is a National Book Award judge this year for poetry (Tree also co-founded Copper Canyon Press, the people who found the lost Neruda poems). Sherman Alexie and Maria Semple teach classes here. Alexander Chee is speaking this week. E. Lockhart spoke before that. Past authors include Roxane Gay, Luis Urrea, and Anthony Doerr (before he got famous–we loved him first!). Upcoming authors include Karen Russell, Mary Gaitskill, and Terrance Hayes. When Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) was here, he opened his talk with, “Hugo House needs money to buy their new home. They are an amazing place and all my author friends are jealous I’m speaking here–give them whatever they want!”