>You know, I love it when I meet a fellow writer who not only loves chocolate but writes amazing books! If you haven’t bought her new novel The One I Want – really guys, you should. I loved the book. Still love the book. And yes, I’m still thinking of Tilly Farmer …. (the main character).

Allison was kind enough to grant me an interview – and imagine this – I didn’t even have to bribe her with chocolate! I know, I know … now that is my kind of girl (cause you all know how hard it is for me to share my chocolate … geesh, I even had a hard time mailing those gift boxes out …)
Anyways … here is the lovely interview. But … make sure you read it because there is a fabulous give a way hidden amongst the interview!

Oh … and she had a fabulous contest on her blog right now … she’s giving away a blackberry, sunglasses and so much more (no chocolate though – boo hoo) … so if you do buy her book, email her the reciept and you have a chance to win – this contest ends this weekend though, so don’t miss it!
(ME) Do you have a routine you use for starting a novel? Please tell me it includes chocolate and coffee 🙂  Are you a panster or a plotter?(ALLISON) Well, a lot of my life in general includes both chocolate and coffee, so the obvious answer is yes! With that out of the way, I’m a pantser, so as far as routine, I don’t have much of one. I tend to start out with a very big idea and a very good idea of who my heroine is and the circumstances she’s found herself in. From there, I just take it as it comes.

(ME) Your first novel that you queried – please tell me you didn’t land an agent off that first query! Did you find Elisabeth right away or did it take some time? When she read your query – did it take some re-writing before she fell in love with your writing or did she fall in love with it first and then started with the re-writes? I read on your blog that she found a few of her clients through your blog – how did that happen? 
(ALLISON) Not only did I not find her right away, but she was my second agent after my first agent more or less gave up on me. I’m telling the full story over at Meg Waite Clayton’s blog (on June 1), but the short version is that agent A didn’t think she could sell my debut novel, but I believed enough in it to take the chance of finding a new agent who DID think she could sell it. My second agent search was faster than my first – I think I probably queried about 20-30, but then, this manuscript was in much better shape than the first one anyway. Agent A and I had already edited and revised it, so by the time Elisabeth (and others) read it, it was more or less finished. Which goes to show you that quality does matter – take the time to really, really polish your draft. I got a few offers of representation on that manuscript, and it’s not a coincidence. As far as her finding a few clients via me, mostly, those come from referrals. I have a pretty good sense of what she’s looking for, so if I hear of something that I think will strike her fancy, I’m happy to send it her way. Of course, my referral means nothing other than she takes a closer look – the quality of the manuscript is for her to judge alone.

(ME) Do you wait until after you’ve completed edits on your own before sending your work to betas or do you use alpha’s as you write?
(ALLISON) I like to send chunks off to both my agent and editor. Usually, at about page 100, I send it over to them because I like to ensure that I’m more or less on track, and if not, where I can get put back on track before I dive into the next 2/3 of the book. Those first 100 pages are the foundation, and if there are cracks in that foundation, I like to fix them before I build the rest of the book on top of it. Generally, once those 100 pages are polished, I write the rest of the book without too much feedback.

(ME) How many books have you written in total? How many of those are published? (HERE’S THE SURPRISE … I HAVE A SIGNED COPY OF THE ONE I WANT TO GIVE AWAY … just comment below 😉
(ALLISON) I’ve written 5 1/2 manuscripts, and of those, three have been published, with the fourth coming next summer. The first got me representation with agent A but never sold and was, in hindsight, quite awful (after that book went unsold, I wrote the manuscript that would turn out to be my debut, and THEN parted ways with agent A). Then, in between my debut and Time of My Life, my second published book, I wrote 150 pages of a book that I realized – 150 pages in- I had no passion for. So I ditched it, and thank goodness. From there, came Time of My Life.

(ME) I’ve recently realized I’m a goal type of girl – if there is a reward, then I’ll do my best to meet that goal – such as I need to write 2000 words today before I can sample that delicious coconut vanilla cake I just made 😉  Are you like that?
(ALLISON) Yes and no. I, too, set word counts for my day, but usually my reward is just being able to screw around for the rest of the day once I’m done! Does that count as a reward? 🙂 Hey, I’m a working mom, so I think so.

(ME) Finally – the usual – if there was ONE piece of advice you could give to those who are in the trenches of writing/editing/querying but haven’t reached that ‘agented’ level yet – what would you tell them? (the important question)(ALLISON) I always say that aspiring authors need to listen to criticism and take their egos out of the equation. Too many folks – myself included – think that their early/first work is untouchable, when, in fact, it’s far from it. The only way to improve is to figure out where your weaknesses are, and in order to do that, you need to be open to constructive advice. I can sincerely say that if I hadn’t taken criticism early in my career, I never would have been published. Sometimes, you think you know what you’re doing when, if fact, you have no idea.