These days that's a kind of "Man Bites Dog" story, but a deal just concluded by ICM agent Amanda Urban for young New Yorker assistant editor Nell Freudenberger actually involved accepting a very low six figures—from Dan Halpern at Harper's Ecco imprint—instead of a reported mid-six from several other interested publishers. They were all panting for a story collection, based on the promise shown in Freudenberger's "Lucky Girls" in the magazine's recent fiction issue. The stories, about American girls in tricky situations in Asia, are based on the author's own experiences, and so far only a handful have been outlined. Halpern, who found it encouraging that author and agent would take less for what they saw as the right imprint, hopes to publish in spring 2003—by which time there'll have been another fiction issue of the magazine, and probably more fireworks.