Allen worked as a social worker and middle-school social studies teacher before becoming a primary-school librarian. She earned her bachelor's degree in sociology and biology from Cumberland College and two master's degrees in elementary education and library science from Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky, respectively.
in love with children's books as a graduate student, and after ten years
of perseverance, she published her first picture book in 1999. As she put it, “I am continually surprised that up-town
editors understand the writing of this up-holler Kentuckian.”
She has written
articles for Book Links, the Good Apple, Back Home in Kentucky,
M Magazine, Kudzu, and Children's Book Insider and short stories for the Cup of Comfort books. She received a writing grant from the Kentucky Foundation of Women. She is a member of several organizations, including the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association, Society of Children's Books and Writers and Illustrators, Appalachian Authors Guild, Writers of the North Fork, and Art of the Mountains.
in the same log cabin in which she grew up in Hazard, Kentucky. She resides with her husband, Larry, and two assistant writers, miniature schnauzers Jazi and Roxi.