Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 30, 2015

Free Fall Friday – Carly Watters


Carly Watters – VP & Senior Literary Agent P.S. Literary

Carly Watters began her publishing career in London, England at the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency and Bloomsbury PLC. She completed her BA in English Language and Literature at Queen’s University and her MA in Publishing Studies from City University London with a thesis on the social, political and economic impact of literary prizes on trade publishing. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents. If you would like to send a query to Carly, please click or tap here to review our Submission Guidelines.

WITCHES DON’T LIKE NAIL POLISH by Sharon Sorokin James – PB (Two voices – Mom & Child)

“Charlotte, there’s our new house. Like it?”

“No! It’s a witch’s house.”

“It’s just old and dark. We’ll paint it white, with gold, green, pink and blue trim.”

“Like a gingerbread house.”

“Exactly. Go check it out while I unpack.”

“Nope. That’s how the witch got Hansel and Gretel.” Charlotte gathered white pebbles in the clearing.

“Oh my. Straight upstairs for a bath, princess.”

“Chicken feet! It’s a witch’s bathtub.”

“It’s an old-fashioned claw foot bathtub.”

“It’s going to run away and boil me up for dinner!”

“Don’t be silly. These feet are just for decoration, like your sparkly red shoes.”

“You can’t fool me.”

“I’ll cover them up.”

“I know they’re under there.” Charlotte went to bed dirty and woke up dirty.

“There’s something wrong with this house.”

“Nothing that a can of paint can’t fix.”

“Paint won’t fix this. I heard the witch last night, going whooo.

“That’s a great horned owl. It lives in the big oak tree.”

“Which is a witch’s tree.”

“If you don’t take a bath soon, you’re going to turn into a witch.”

“I can’t take a bath. I have to cast a spell on the witch’s tree.”

“After your spell, bath.”

Here’s what Carly had to say:

Witches Don’t Like Nail Polish

I really liked the title, so that started off the read on a great note. I was expecting a fanciful children’s book and that’s what it was. Because there were two voices (mom and child) I was a little confused as to which voice was speaking at any given time. I know picture book authors are told that each word is precious and to write like it’s a poem, but we still need a bit of direction now and then. I got the sense that the house has a personality but it wasn’t jumping off the page as much as I’d hoped. I thought that the house might take on a greater role, so even though this is one page I didn’t feel that the story had a plot as much as it was a commentary on what they were seeing in front of them. I think the story would benefit from a lighter touch and spending more time on the important details of the house and of the plot so we can eagerly follow along.


Jennifer Reinharz / Joe the Nose / Picture book

Joe the Nose was afraid to blow ever since he was born.

As a button, he sniffled and snuffled.

A nugget, he got by with a wipe.

Now a schnozzle, Joe’s snorts drew attention; still he was worried to try.

Uncle Roman gave him a handkerchief: initialed, old-fashioned, and soft.

“Today school begins; be brave, one blow.”

I could split a sniffer, pop an ear or worse take flight.

“They’re running empty,” Joe flared. “Really; I’m fine.”

In class, Ms. Muzzle shared her technique. “Lean forward. Press. Toot.”

“Joe,” she said. “Seize the treasure. Take ch-AARRG-e.”

Dueling pirate porcupines swinging Cat O’ Nine Tails.

He flinched and crammed the hanky into the desk, “I’m a little bit scared.”

Tissues tried a tickle approach on the playground after lunch.

“I’m your best pal. Here; use my sleeve.”

Shooting spaghetti rockets and meatball comets. No way.

“Can’t take the chance,” Joe squirmed. “Don’t bother me.”

Joe shuffled home watching nuggets whiff waffles and buttons bask in bouquets.

He sensed something was wrong.

Joe tasted salty tears; rubbed a red, runny tip.

He twitched. Sniffed. Then wiped…a lick?

“Dander! No! Not kisses!” {Illus: Dander is Tissues’s dog}


Here is what Carly had to say:

Joe The Nose

This is a cute concept. It’s easy to conjure up imagery quickly with something so accessible: a nose. There was also a hook from the start: Joe was afraid. Great! So we know we’re going on a journey with him. I thought the first 8 lines were terrific, and then I started to get lost. Is Joe only a nose? Is Joe attached to a face? How does he go to class? How much belief do we suspend? Any of these scenarios are okay, but you have to convince the reader to take this ride with you.


After the Horizon A middle grade novel by Ben Conlon            

The neighborhood was still. The only sound on the street was the steady hum of air conditioners straining against the late August heat wave.  A dragonfly moved lazily over doorsteps, driveways and empty lawns. It drifted down to a picnic table, landing softly on a single soda can. Wings folded, the insect crept along the rim, thinking itself alone.  It was not alone

Another pair of eyes was aimed on the very same can. Crouched behind a bush ten yards away, Sam Torwey held a slingshot in his right hand and a grey pebble in his left. Never looking away from the can, he slipped the stone into a cradle of elastic and slowly pulled it back.  Beads of sweat trickled down his temples as he waited for the dragonfly to fly off.  The insect was in no hurry.  As Sam stretched the elastic further it began to tremble.  “Come on,” he murmured.  “Leave… You’re on my target…” The dragonfly moved from one gob of syrup to the next, devouring the sugary treat. Only when the metallic rim was completely clean, did it unfold its wings and zip lightly away.”Finally,” whispered Sam.  He breathed in deeply and tightened his grip. “Three…two…one…”   CRACK The brittle arms of the slingshot snapped under pressure, sending shards of wood and elastic into his unsuspecting face.

“DARN IT!” he screamed, voice echoing down the vacant street. “DARN IT!” He slammed the broken pieces into the grass and rubbed his stinging cheeks. He’d spent two weeks on the slingshot. A complete waste of time. Just like the last one and the one before that. Just like the whole summer. How had it happened? It was supposed to have been the best summer ever. He thought back a few months…

All spring he made plans with his best friend Roger.  It would be a summer to be proud of, filled with one adventure after the other. By the end of fifth grade, the anticipation was keeping him awake. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.

Here’s what Carly had to say:

After The Horizon

What a great setting: hot late summer day. Everyone can picture what that sounds like and feels like. Especially as a kid when you’re on summer holidays. Everything doesn’t need be a metaphor, but I wasn’t particularly drawn to this opening scene when Sam tries to sling shot the soda can. Opening pages are among the most important for reasons many writers already know. So this one left me a bit confused about why this was the chosen scene. The things I learned were that Sam spends lots of time alone, he likes to be outdoors (or is forced to be outdoors), and he lost his friend Roger for reasons we don’t know. I was left without an invested feeling in Sam because I didn’t learn that much about him and we didn’t start with many questions other than why Roger left. I would count this page in the pile of ones that I wouldn’t read more of because I didn’t know why I was reading it. That said, I can tell the author can paint a scene! But in the opening pages you need to paint a scene where something happens.


Johanna Bilbo Staton – THE TATTLETAIL’S CLAW – middle grade

I lick a paw, and swipe it across my whiskers. I, Clawdia, a calico cat, am at Grunkle Goodway’s farm visiting my best friend, retired police horse Hershey. Curled atop his warm, wide bay-brown rump, I am only half listening to what he tells me.

“. . .and that, Clawdia,” says Hershey’s voice in my head, “is why you must never let human know what we Monitors—”

Zzzzt! A huge horsefly dive-bombs us. I swat at it, and miss. Hershey flicks his tail; whipping horsehairs send the fly tumbling past his legs. He stomps a hoof and his rump becomes an earthquake. I’d hate to tumble into the water trough next to us, so I jump to a split-rail fence.

“Sorry about that,” he says. He rubs his head against the edge of the trough, scratching what he calls the “unicorn lump” that mars his forehead.

“Lunchtime, Clawdia.” A human voice—my favorite person!—calls from the back porch of the Schwartz Veterinary Clinic, across a gravel drive from the horse farm.

I leap from the fence. “I knew she’d come again!” Dakota MacDougall visits her grandparents every summer, and MamaMae Schwartz has been tidying an upstairs bedroom for her granddaughter. Dakota jumps from the porch, trips on a small bush, then races toward me. We meet in a tangle of paws and hands, calico fur and brown skin, purrings and kisses.

We rub noses. I look deep into the dark teardrop-shaped pupils of her eyes. They aren’t round like those of every other human I know, nor slits like mine.

“I could hardly wait to see you, Clawdia!” She runs finger circles along my sides, through the black, white, and orange of my fur. (Of which I am very proud, I might add!)

“I’ve missed you!” I rub my head against her cheek.

Her forehead furrows. “I can tell you’ve missed me.”

Startled, I jump out of her arms. She couldn’t have heard me. No way.

Here’s what Carly had to say:

The Tattletail’s Claw

The page opened with a lot of ‘telling’ and less ‘showing’ than it’d have liked. But I see how the author was quickly trying to get us into the story. The anthromorphism doesn’t need to be explained, so I was confused why the cat said “Hershey’s voice in my head” because we can assume the animals can speak to each other. I was confused by what Hershey was saying too, about ‘monitors.’ I think the story begins at “Lunchtime, Clawdia.” Not on the horse farm. If you start the book when the cat goes to the vet clinic for lunch you’d prevent a lot of confusion and get to the plot of the story faster: does the girl actually hear Clawdia speak? It’s a cute concept and lost a bit when the author spends so much time on the horse farm to start.


Thank you Carly for sharing your expertise with us. Your involvement has help more than just the four writers who were chosen this month. It is very much appreciated.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for the positive feedback, Ms. Watters and for the opportunity, Kathy! Good luck with your writing, everyone and Happy Friday! – Jennifer


  2. Interesting insight! Thanks for sharing.


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