Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 3, 2017

Free Fall Friday: First Page Results with Deborah Warren


Deborah Warren founded East West Literary Agency in 2000. After 17 years at Harcourt, she has a strong background in sales and marketing. She is a strategist, incorporating long-term goals to help E/W clients not only grow their career, but to flourish within that career. With over 35 years’ of experience in the publishing industry, and over 16 years at the helm of the Agency, Deborah not only represents authors and illustrators—both debut and established–in picture books, board books, concept, novelty, multicultural, non-fiction, middle-grade and young adult markets.

Deborah’s looking to fall in love with character-driven stories with heart, enhanced by a hook, told in a unique, fresh or distinctive way. Her sweet spots: short, quirky picture books and smartly layered, memorable and insightful MG and YA fiction. And she LOVES finding debut talent – in fact, it’s a bit of a specialty for the Agency.


Joy Givens                                         A BEASTLY BEAUTY                                       YA Fantasy

My night of freedom had arrived, and I wasn’t wasting a moment. The gate clicked behind me. At last I was on the right side of our estate walls again—the side where the rest of the world awaited, noisy and chaotic and beautiful. I nudged my horse’s flanks, and he snorted.

“All right, Domino,” I whispered. “Let it out.” My stomach jumped as he broke into a gallop. We were going to town.

If I could kiss the full moon with gratitude, I would. Once each month, the curse was contained. Between moonrise this morning and moonset tonight, I looked like a human instead of a nightmare.

I urged Domino faster and faster until the wind whistled through my hair. He was likely as sick as I was of trotting in sedate circles around the courtyard like a tethered pony.

He leapt over a log, bouncing me in the saddle. My stomach flipped at the feeling, but this wasn’t a night for nerves. It was a night for dancing and billiards and… Maybe this night would be the night. The night I had grown up dreaming of.

The night I’d find a way to break the curse.

Once Domino and I made it off the crest of the hill, I glanced back at our estate. Inside the stone wall, on the far end of the castle, the upper windows were dark. In a few minutes my father, the frosty Marquis of Molinas, would settle into his bed for the night. But his secret cursed daughter, the invisible Isabella? I was already gone.

Under the luminous sky and over the warm ground, my night was just beginning.

I had Amelita to thank for it. After my sixteenth birthday, she had decided that I ought to spend the evening of the full moon beyond our grounds and have a little bit of freedom. That night I had sneaked into town. Since no one in Molinas knew that the Marquis had a daughter, it was easy for me to give a false name and blend in as a visitor.


A BEASTLY BEAUTY:  So far, the writing in this Beauty and the Beast-kind of format sets a good tone for fantasy, which indeed, continues to be a sweet spot in the market. We’re not yet sure what the curse is, or why our main character’s been cursed to be a “monster” (outside of one night a month), but we want to find out. We do know that she is the Marquis of Molinas’ secret daughter, Isabella, and that this isn’t her first foray into town. Your strong set-up moves along quickly with good pacing.  You’ll want to continue to layer in anticipation and further develop multi-dimensional characters.  First page did its job well – intrigued!


WHAT IS A BABY GOOD FOR? by Teresa Robeson – Picture book

I’m tired of the big fuss about the baby. What is a baby good for?
[a newborn is shown at the start, getting a little older with each segment; older sibling is about 4 years old]

A baby can’t…

…sleep through the night,

…use the potty,

…or sit on his own.

A baby doesn’t…

…chew gum,

…drink with a straw,

…or stop drooling.

A baby shouldn’t…

…rip my books,

…knock over my block towers,

…or throw his bib at my head.



…a baby can

…blow bubbles with his nose,

…laugh at my silly faces,

…and smell like cotton candy.

A baby will…

…hug me tight during a storm,


WHAT IS A BABY GOOD FOR? This is a sweet concept, but there are a lot of baby vs sibling picture/board books that already have established shelf space as evergreen backlist titles.  Thus, there’s strong competition in the marketplace for this category. A ms targeted to this market, therefore, really needs to shine and I think this “baby” needs a bit more coddling. For example, you indicate that the narrator’s point of view is that of a four year old but I doubt a four year old would think that: a baby doesn’t chew gum …  or sit on his ownAll in all – though I admire the concept — I’m missing that emotional connection. Bring your very own “shine” to the ms.  When you do so, the manuscript will better “shine,” too.



A new cat’s in charge here at the North Pole. I’m Santa B. Claws, I’ve taken control.

Santa fell ill so I took his place. Packed on the pounds, glued a beard to my face. I’m making changes cuz I’m not very nice. First I’ll fire the elves and replace them with mice. >

My mice build the toys. My mice stuff the sack. My mice Yummy, Yum! Sure make a great snack.

So you better watch out. You better complain. Cry  BOO HOO HOO! Yes be a real pain! Snear! 
Smirk! And sniffle! Turn that smile upside down. Cuz Santa Claws is coming to town.

Hey kids it’s my way or the highway so listen on up. This Christmas Eve get rid of your pup! I won’t deliver if I see a dog. For further instructions, go check out my blog. There’ll be no gifts for good girls and boys. Only the brats will get brand new toys.

I’m making a list. I’m checking it twice. Yes for the naughty and no for the nice. 
I want mugs of milk, but cookies are out. Organic tuna is what I’m about. So you better watch out. You better complain. Cry  BOO HOO HOO! Yes be a real pain! Snear! Smirk! And sniffle! Turn that smile upside down. Cuz Santa Claws is coming to town.

This Santa Claws gig is quite a big chore. Lounging around is what I adore. I’m a cat after all, so 
I’ll be on my way. I’ll pass on my duties, my mice and my sleigh. But, there’s no way the real Santa’s coming back. A new friend of mine will carry the sack.

So you better watch out. You’re gonna complain. Cry BOO HOO HOO! Yes be a real pain!  Snear! Smirk! And Sniffle! Turn that smile upside down. Cuz next year…. A New Santa CLAWS is coming to town.



Even though this is a picture book, it needs a strong narrative arc, an engaging plot as well as “page turns” containing memorable actions and great scenes for illustration.  It’s been said that — for the reader to be fully invested — you need to create interesting characters who grow throughout the story to a kind of epiphany where h/she rethinks her/his original attitude.  Humor is always good … and kudos to you for your imaginative story, but just not sure this mean spirited cat has 9 lives! 


Judy Pressler – TUNDRA COURAGE – Middle Grade

The tinkle of the brass bell echoed in my ears. I straightened against the back of my seat.

Mrs. Harris had rung her little bell to silence the class. While the others in my fifth-grade grade class had talked to each other, I had daydreamed again, this time about school. Three years from now it would end. I didn’t look forward to that, but my small Alaskan village didn’t have a high school. What would I do when I didn’t go to school every day? Today, my class would talk about what we wanted to do after eighth-grade. I loved animals, especially sled dogs. In Kalsak, I doubted anyone would pay me to work with their dogs.

When Mrs. Harris asked for our goals, one boy announced, “I’m going to be a bush pilot.”

I glanced at Andy. In his plane, he would bring food, medicine, and current news.

“Wow, how exciting! I have great respect for the bush pilots who come to our village.” Many of my classmates nodded to agree with me.

It had become an ordinary thing for girls to get married after they finished school. I didn’t want to become a wife and mother then; but Annie and Jenny, friends of mine, looked forward to that.  Some of the other girls talked about careers in nursing or teaching. That didn’t interest me, either. Besides, I didn’t want to leave Kalsak. A few of the boys in the class wanted to join the Army so they could see the world. I supposed I could clean houses in larger villages like Bethel, but I’d have to leave my home.

I chewed my lip; then decided to raise my hand to ask, “Do people take care of animals for a job?”

A few of the boys laughed. Tillie, a mean girl in my class, snickered and said, “How dumb!” I caught those words, even if Mrs. Harris hadn’t heard. I rubbed back of my neck. Had it turned cherry red?


TUNDRA COURAGE: You set a vivid sense of place here in Alaska.  Based on this first page, the content seems somewhat dated – unless it’s a historical novel instead of a straight MG as stated?   In any event, our main character’s budding interest, that of working with animals; in particular, sled dogs — “something a girl would not be hired to do”—is promising, indeed. It has the earmarks of “moving that plot” to develop a problem/conflict that readers will care about.  OH; and maybe this is just me, but since the story is told in the first person, I’d love to know our MC’s name in this first page, especially since you’ll want us to root for her “tundra courage” from the start.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great job to all who submitted!! And of course, thanks, Deborah!




  3. Thanks so much for the thought-provoking feedback, Deborah, and the opportunity to have yet another critique, Kathy! I always learn so much from all the critiques. 🙂


  4. Thank you so much for taking the time to review these and provide feedback, Deborah! And thank you to Kathy for the opportunity to participate!


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