Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 29, 2018

Agent of the Month – Linda Camacho – First Page Results



Before Linda Camacho moved to Gallt & Zacker Literary, she was with Prospect Agency and held various roles on the publishing side. After She graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in Communication. She’s held various positions at Penguin Random House, Dorchester, Simon and Schuster, and Writers House literary agency. She’s done everything from foreign rights to editorial to marketing to operations, so it was amazing to see how all the departments worked together to bring books to life. Somewhere in between all that (and little sleep), Linda received her MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Now at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency, Linda continues to work with colleagues and clients who inspire her every day in both the children’s and adult categories.

Besides books, she loves chocolate, travel, and far too much TV. In terms of submissions, She’s pretty omnivorous and indulges in a variety of categories and genres, ranging from picture book to adult, from clean and lighthearted contemporary to edgy and dark fantasy.


• MG and YA, both commercial and literary
• Graphic novels (writer-illustrators only)
• Select Picture Books (writer-illustrators only)
• Adult fiction across all genres (particularly romance/women’s fiction, upmarket/book club fiction, and literary horror)
• Diversity of all types (ethnicity, disability, sexuality, etc.)



WORTHY by Eileen Boggess Young Adult 

Collected Excerpts from Police Interviews, June 1985

SCOTT: I guess it started at Heath’s birthday party in April. He was the first of us to turn 18. I think he was held back or something.

HEATH: It’s called Developmental Kindergarten.

STEPHANIE: It was the last Friday in April. The Dairy Barn was packed. There was a taste-testing of New Coke versus Regular Coke ice cream floats. I had to work late.

KATIE: Stephanie didn’t get to the party until almost ten. Laura was hammered by the time she got there.

STEPHANIE: Everyone was wasted. Katie was bragging that she drank two packs of wine coolers. I ended up driving them both to Katie’s house after the party.

SCOTT: Worthy—that’s what I call Charlie—slammed a quarter of a tequila bottle in five minutes. I’ve never seen him get so drunk so fast. He usually sips one beer all night.

HEATH: Since my dad is chief of police, our lawyer says I can’t talk about that night, but I can say my parents didn’t know about the party. Only a couple of people were invited. I don’t know who told the whole school about it.

SCOTT: I might’ve mentioned it to a few people. It turned into one hell of a party.

KATIE: Charlie was there that night. I hate to say this, but I hoped he was going to ask me to prom. Thank God he didn’t, or else I might be the one who ended up dead.

STEPHANIE: I don’t know why he asked Laura instead.

KATIE: I went to prom with Heath.

STEPHANIE: In the end, Charlie didn’t even go to prom. You know, because of the accident.


Worthy by Eileen Boggs: I like the cliff-hanger at the end. Mentioning “the accident” certainly makes for an immediate page turn. The only thing to be careful of is the introduction of so many names at the outset. It can be a little much to keep straight, especially because the reader is getting grounded into the scene. Too many characters up front can get a little confusing.


Ester, Called Maria by Bonni Goldberg – MG Historical Fiction

CHAPTER 1: Lisbon, Portugal: 1536 (Christian calendar) / 5296 (Jewish calendar)

Who taps my shoulder as if checking a cabbage?

“Aren’t you Maria Cordova, the tailor’s daughter?”

“Yes, Senhora Romero, good morning.” I curtsey. I’d rather run. Her onion breath wets my face. A crusty wart on her cheek bobs as she speaks. I wish I hadn’t stopped in the Square to watch the blacksmith show off his new swage. I would be home instead of here. At least Isaac isn’t with me. He’s almost nine, but I still can’t trust what my little brother might say.

“Ah, I see you already know who I am, as all devout new Christians should.”

She looks me up and down. I keep my gaze low. Let someone come down the street and greet her so I can leave.

“What is your favorite meal, child?”

Just like Mama treats me. I’m not a child! I’m practically twelve. What’s the right answer? “Mutton and chickpeas, Senhora.” The first one I think of.

“Tell me, do you add milk to the sauce?”

That would be meat with milk. A trick to find out if we follow the Old Laws? I’m too clever for her. “I don’t prepare the dish, Senhora.”

“Really?” She scratches her ear. “Well, I would like to invite your family to dine with us this Friday night, my dear. Will you be able to join us?”

Friday night. It’s another trick to find out if we keep the old Sabbath.  I’ll outsmart her. “I’m sure our family is honored by your invitation, Senhora, but we only dine at home.”

Her eyes widen. “Oh really, on Fridays?”

She trapped me. What do I do? I cough while I try to think.


Ester, Called Maria by Bonni Goldberg: It’s certainly an interesting scene! The thing of it is, though, is I’m not grounded enough. I feel like I stumbled onto a scene without the proper context for the tension you’re trying to set up. I’d need a little more before this scene, so I get the context and feel invested in the characters.


Trouble in Hemlock Hills by Juliana Jones – Middle Grade Contemporary

Brian Malone wasn’t prone to grinding his teeth, but when Dad raced down the interstate exit ramp at seventy miles per hour, he nearly cracked a tooth. “Whoa. I know we’re in a hurry, but sheesh.”

Dad tapped the brakes and the car shuddered on its way to the stoplight at the bottom of the hill. He stared straight ahead, his slender fingers squeezing the steering wheel.

Brian unclenched his jaw and wiggled it around. “Where are we supposed to meet Nonno?”  The sun beat down on his head through the moon roof, but the vent blasted frigid air. He shivered, waiting for Dad’s reply. Dad hadn’t said a word to either Brian or his younger brother Marcus in the last hour, not since they’d gotten on I-81.

“Dad? Did you hear me?” Brian’s voice sounded little, like he wanted to jump in the back and join Marcus in his booster seat.

The light changed to green and Dad zipped into a gas station. He pulled up next to a pump and got out of the car. “Look for your grandpa while I fill up.” Hot July air whooshed in before he slammed the door shut.

Marcus yawned and asked, “Are we there yet?”

Brian unbuckled his seatbelt. “No, we have to switch cars. We’re going with Nonno, remember?” He turned around to face his brother.

“But what about the beach?” Marcus kicked the back of Brian’s seat, flipping off his sandals. “Mommy can meet us there.”

Brian blinked back tears. “No, she can’t.”

“Then I want to go with Daddy to see Mommy.” Marcus kicked the chair again. “Right now.”

“Yeah, I want that too.” He squeezed the back of the seat. “But it’s not going to happen.”

Trouble in Hemlock Hills by Juliana Jones: Strong opener! The family is on a journey and there’s definitely tension. And there’s the implication that they boys’ mother isn’t around, for whatever reason. I recommend cutting “Dad hadn’t said a word to either Brian or his younger brother Marcus in the last hour, not since they’d gotten on I-81″ to make it stronger. We don’t need this bit of backstory, especially because I want to feel like the scene is continuing to move forward on the first page, rather than reflecting back a bit. Showing the dad’s silence is enough.


STEPPING UP by Patrick Thornton – MG

I don’t want to think about it anymore.

Trying to shut it all out and get my mind on summer baseball or what eighth grade will be like in the fall isn’t working. I’d go outside and do something, anything, but there isn’t time.

The chart I made with the two time zones is on the wall. Tomorrow I’ll use it to know what time it is for Dad when I’m getting up in the morning or whatever.

For now, I just want to turn my brain off. I want to put the war—what could happen to Dad, what could happen to all of us—out of my head.

“Think fast!”

I jump like I’ve been electric shocked and look up just in time to grab the video game case flying at me before it hits me in the chest.

“Nice catch.” Dad stands in my bedroom doorway wearing his National Guard uniform, all brown and green camouflage. There’s an American flag on one shoulder and his MP patch on the other. My bed creaks when he sits down next to me. In my hands is the new Xbox game we’ve been waiting for.

“I’m letting you hold onto that for us until I get back,” he says pointing at the game. “Gives you a chance to practice up on it so I don’t embarrass you.” Dad and I have been playing video games since I was a little kid. He used to let me win. Now it’s all out competition.

It takes some effort but I twist my mouth into a fierce grin and look up at him. “Fat chance.”

He claps me on the shoulder. “Dill,” he says. My name is Dillon. Everybody calls me Dill. Except Mom when she’s ticked off at me; then I’m Dillon Benjamin Gilbert. And Stan, my best friend since kindergarten, sometimes calls me Pickle. You know, because of dill pickle.

“Uh huh.”


Stepping Up by Patrick Thornton: Nice scene! Very good so far. Generally, it’s best to avoid backstory in the opening pages (especially the first one). We have some in these lines: Dad and I have been playing video games since I was a little kid. He used to let me win. Now it’s all out competition.  And also, My name is Dillon. Everybody calls me Dill. Except Mom when she’s ticked off at me; then I’m Dillon Benjamin Gilbert. And Stan, my best friend since kindergarten, sometimes calls me Pickle. You know, because of dill pickle. The latter works pretty well as is, but the former doesn’t necessarily need to be explained. It’s more telling versus showing. The interaction between the dad and son shows us they bond over video games without you having to explicitly state it. Do we need to know how long they’ve been playing? Not necessarily.


Thank you Linda for sharing your time and expertise with us. I’m sure the four writers and everyone else will find your comments helpful. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Interesting reading the feedback


  2. Great insight on how an agent “sees” first pages.


  3. Well…I sure want to read more!


  4. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    Ooh la la!


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