Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 2, 2014

Free Fall Friday – Results

CALL For: Mother’s Day and May Illustrations- 500 pixels wide

samanthafor litagency biocropped

Below are the results for the four first pages critiqued by agent Samantha Bremekamp from Corvisiero Literary Agency for April.

1. Next Friday on May 9th, editor Jenna Porcius from Bloomsbury will critique 4 more.
2. On May 16th Agent Marie Lamba from Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency will critique 4 more. You have until May 8th to submit a first page for Marie. Her critiques will post on May 16th.
3. QUINLAN LEE, Agent, Adams Literary GUEST CRITIQUER will end MAY 2014 with her four critiques posted on May 30th. Deadline to submit: May 22nd.

Here’s the Results:

HALF A HAND SHORT by Johanna Bilbo (young YA)  

Chapter One — What Royalty Wants

He was my joy; he was my mission. When my yearling colt, Pippin, made a clean, high leap over his gate, he landed in a year of trouble for both of us. For the sake of my father, and to spite our king, I had to find us a way out.

I’d whistled for Pip from the lane beside his field. He raced to greet me, jumping wide across a tumbling brook. His dappled coppery coat gleamed in the late spring sun; his red-gold tail streamed like the banner of a king riding into battle. Yesterday, he’d slowed to a stop and pranced, feathery mane tossing as he waited for me to let myself through the gate. This time, he sailed over it with room to spare, and trotted down the lane to meet me.

My stepfather screeched. “Gillian, get that devilish animal out of here.”

“Impressive,” another voice said. “Your dowry, Gillian? I would stake gold on that leap.”

Those were the two men who wished to control my fate, just as a decree by our king would decide the fate of my horse. Or so they thought—but not if I could help it!

This was the second time I’d given my heart to a horse or pony. The Lady Elizabeth had taken my first love, Cinder, when I was twelve. Now, two years later, I would not let my Pippin be subject to the whims of her father, King Henry the Eighth of England.

I, Gillian, was the daughter of Sir William Goodway, a knight who’d been in the service of King Henry. Father was as good a horseman as his monarch; I, his only child, had been sure of myself in the saddle for as long as I could remember.

On a clear September day two years before Pippin’s fateful leap, I was being considered as a companion to Lady Elizabeth, Henry’s younger daughter. I had trotted across the grounds of an old palace on my childhood pony, Cinder. He was a fine gray gelding, and I adored him. I did not then suspect that royal whims about horses would knock my life a-kilter.

Samantha Bremekamp First Page Thoughts on Half a Hand Short:

The author uses beautiful descriptors for the horse Pippin who is easy to cherish as the main character does on introduction. The people on this first page are hard to picture as all the descriptors went to Pippin. I would love to see that use of details on what the two men who control Gillian’s fate look like as well since they play such a key role to Gillian as well as the plot of this book. If Gillian recognizes both voices, she wouldn’t need to have “another voice said” but should identify who it is so the reader knows also. The author created a strong voice in Gillian easily identifiable and someone the reader can root for as long as the main character continues to share all of the details she already knows with the reader. There is a good market for lovers of horses although it is younger than Young Adult, I see that it says, young Young Adult and I would consider working this for younger readers perhaps middle grade or tween/teen… Clearly it is a bit hard to judge on the entirety of a book based off of one page, but marketing wise for horses this is my suggestion.


  Carol MacAllister/ Never Trust A Monkey /First Page

On the sunny island of Puerto Rico, a tall thin tree grew in the old man’s yard. A big ripe papaya hung at the very top. He spied its bright orange color.

“Um… My favorite fruit. I wonder if Grandmother will make some tasty papaya juice?”

“Just bring me the fruit,” she said.

From his home in the tall grass, a trickster monkey also spied the colorful papaya. “Um. My favorite flavor.” How can I pick it, he wondered. When I run into the old man’s yard, he chases me away with a stick.

The monkey watched the old man stretch up. He stood on his tippy-toes, but the fruit was still out of reach. He jumped as high as an old man could possibly jump. But it wasn’t high enough.

“Hm,” he sighed. “I can shake the tree and make it fall. But if I don’t catch the fruit just right, it will hit the ground and smash apart.” He thought for a moment. “Ah. I can use my ladder.”

He carried it across the yard. He leaned the ladder against the tree’s wobbly trunk and climbed up two steps. The ladder tilted sideways. The tree shook. His feet slipped from the rungs and he bumped his knee. The round fruit swayed.

“Oh, no!” he called up to the papaya. “Don’t fall.”

The monkey laughed. “I can easily climb his tree and pick the tasty fruit.” He swaggered over. “Why do you sit there like a bundle of sugar cane?”

“I fell off my ladder trying to pick that papaya. But the fruit is much too high.”

“Well,” the sly monkey said, “I can climb your tree and bring it to you.”

The old man’s face brightened at the monkey’s offer. “But what do you want in return?”

The trickster tapped a finger against his bristly chin and grinned. “I only want a small piece. Just a tiny one. Nothing more.”

Samantha Bremekamp First Page Thoughts: Never Trust a Monkey

Who doesn’t love a mischievous monkey? If this is a picture book, which I think it is and rightfully so, the author would be able to let more of the art show rather than tell with words, an example would be the monkey thinking about being chased away by the old man waving his stick. In the beginning the use of the word/sound “um” would be better exemplified with the word “mmm” which is what I believe the idea is. “Um” is often used to portray a teen who uses “um” while coming up with an excuse for why they didn’t, um, do their assignment. The “mmm” sets the tone for the monkey and the old man both wanting that delicious fruit. I already feel bad for the old man as I know how sneaky monkeys can be when it comes to fruit! I hope they become friends and share it equally and that the lesson is learned.



Detective Shearlock Holmes was TOOT-TOOT-TOOTING his tuba when the phone rang at 221 Bleater Street.

“Come to Farmer Doyle’s stables right away!”

Shearlock and his assistant Woolston hurried to the farm.

[ART: Dialogue bubbles of horses shouting: “Someone made off with our manes!” “I didn’t need a haircut!” “My neck is nippy!”]

“It seems we have a barnyard bandit on our hooves,” said Shearlock, examining the horses’ hacked hair.

“Sir,” said Woolston. “A clue.”

“That’s a polar bear hair,” cried Shearlock.

The horses rolled their eyes.

“I think that’s sheep’s wool,” whispered Woolston.

Shearlock didn’t hear. He was pointing his magnifying glass at a mound of mucky mud.

Woolston urged him on to the sheep pen.

[ART: Dialogue bubbles of sheep shouting: “Someone fled with our fleece!” “My beautiful wool coat!” “I’m freezing my lamb chops off!”]

“The barnyard bandit strikes again,” said Shearlock, inspecting the sheep’s short shave.

“Sir,” said Woolston. “Another clue.”

“Penguin feathers,” cried Shearlock.

The sheep shook their heads.

“I think those are chicken feathers,” whispered Woolston.

Shearlock didn’t hear. He was poking in the dirt with a tiny toothpick.

Woolston nudged him towards the chicken coop.

Samantha Bremekamp First Page Thoughts: Shearlock Holmes…:

I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and have been since I learned how to read. This is a very cute adaptation of the famous Sherlock and Watson entering the scene to solve the case. Animals are always a successful market for children; it is a sweet introduction for them to learn about the great detective and his partner. In my understanding of this first page, Woolston second guesses everything Shearlock points out. In the real Sherlock stories and all of those adaptations Sherlock is never wrong. If the author is portraying Woolston to be a goof and not liking to be undermined by Shearlock that could work, but if Woolston is right and Shearlock is always wrong than the dynamic doesn’t quite work based on the famous and well-known Sherlock Holmes and Watson dynamic, unless this is the one time that Watson/Woolston finally outsmarts Sherlock/Shearlock. Depending on the outcome of the story it could be a hard sell as the brand of Sherlock has been around for so long. Children will enjoy the silliness of the thrill of the chase of the barnyard bandits while collecting clues with the main characters.


Willa’s Flying Stars / Picture Book /Jennifer Reinharz


The week the carnival came to town, Willa and her family camped out to count shooting stars. It was her favorite summer tradition.

“Tonight starts the Perseid meteor shower,” said Grandma.

“Per-see-id,” Willa said. “This year I’m big enough to stay awake all night.”

Grandma smiled. “Do you have your blanket and binoculars?”

She reached into her tool belt.


“Popcorn and pillows?”

“Check,” Willa said again. “Now I’m ready to watch the stars fly like fireworks!”

            Zoom. Flash. {Illus note: A shooting star flies overhead}

“One!” Willa squealed. “They go fast.”

            Zoom. Flash.

“Two! Look how high!”

            Zoom. Flash.

“Three! I want to fly with the Perseid stars!”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Grandma said.

Willa spent the whole night thinking of something. The next morning, she tightened her tool belt and opened the big closet.

“I need to go fast,” she said.

Willa pulled the clothes off the hangers, and the hangers off the rod; except for one. She wrapped her hands around it like a steering wheel.

“Fly-EEE” she sang.

Samantha Bremekamp First Page Thoughts on Willa’s Flying Stars:

I love stories that include a child with their grandmother experiencing something out of the ordinary. This is a very sweet storyline. I always enjoy books that encourage children to use their imagination and that anything is possible. The author was able to easily bring the reader into the life of Willa bringing a bit of information like how to say Perseid without it reading like a homework assignment. The joy of children’s books is the gift of the author being able to teach without preaching with the use of few words that meld together with a solid plot-scape achieved by picture. I think the reader would be excited to see what Willa comes up with to fly with the stars using her imagination and a hanger from her closet!


Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in May: Please “May First Page Critique” or “May First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Please attach your first page submission using one inch margins and 12 point font – double spaced, no more than 23 lines to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail and then also attach it in a Word document to the email.

DEADLINE: May 22nd.

RESULTS: May 30th.

Use inch margins – double space your text – 12 pt. New Times Roman font – no more than 23 lines – paste into body of the email.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you Kathy for the opportunityand Ms. Bremekamp for the positive critique. Best of luck to all the participants with your writing!
    Jennifer Reinharz


  2. I really enjoyed reading these first pages and the editor’s responses. Thanks for this regular feature that is always instructional.


  3. Kathy. Thank your for the opportunity to participate in First Pages. I appreciate Samantha’s remarks and will incorporate them. Always wonderful to have professional input. There are so many worthwhile aspects in your bog!
    BTW: the old man and the monkey share the fruit. MMM.


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