Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 1, 2022

June Agent of the Month – First Page Results




Regina A. Bernard-Carreno , Literary Agent and Manager

Regina is a literary manager currently accepting queries for true crime, memoirs, picture books, middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, cookbooks, and lifestyle artisan books.

Regina joined Martin Literary Management in 2021. She holds a PhD in Education from the Graduate and University Center at the City University of New York, and graduate degrees in African American Studies from Columbia University and Philosophy from the Graduate Center (CUNY). She holds other degrees in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). Alongside writing and teaching, Regina facilitates Reader Discussion Groups, Private Reading groups and has served as a reader and sometimes editor for both literary and academic journals. She has published widely in academia as well as in trade magazines. The work she hopes to accomplish as a literary manager is to help writers, as well as author-illustrators, think through their projects, see multiple opportunities where perhaps they don’t readily exist and help shape their work into successful books. Ultimately, she looks forward to championing great ideas.

Below is what Regina is looking for:

Picture Books: Regina is looking for picture books that deal with a little magical realism, immigrant stories, bilingual picture books, and stories that deal with children and their relationship to animals, earth, and the environment. She’d love to see folktales from a wide variety of places reimagined, especially from authors-illustrators.

Middle Grade: Regina is seeking chapter books and middle-grade novels dealing especially with adventures, solving mysteries, and facing/overcoming hardships and developing friendships.

Graphic Novels: Regina is looking for Middle Grade, Young Adult, and adult graphic novels. She’d love to see more writers of color telling stories of MG & YA and has her eye out for BIPOC creators in this genre. For adult graphic novels, Regina is interested in projects in the vein of Marjane Satrapi’s work and projects in that spirit telling of immigrant stories.

Young Adults: Regina would love to receive rom coms of all kinds. Think Hallmark cards and movies geared towards young adults, complete with heartbreak, friendships, and triumph.

Non-Fiction: In non-fiction, she’s open to seeing true crime projects (No crimes against children or graphic gore against women/children) as well as memoir. Regina also loves cookbooks that help the reader travel to new places. She wants to see cookbooks that have personal narratives tied to them, whether that’s a personal story woven throughout, cultural traditions and practices, and/or dishes that tie together cultural memories. She is also accepting submissions for artisanal projects such as crafting (think knitting, sewing, crafting, home-gardening/homesteading, apothecary/healing, and alternative health practices).



THE BAD FEELING by Kerry Hansen – Contemporary, Upper-Middle-Grade Ghost Story

The second our tires crunch up the gravel driveway, I want to turn around and drive back to Chicago. Dad parks instead.


“We’re here, Finn!” Mom cheers, and my stomach lurches around the lukewarm string cheese I ate ten minutes ago.

Swallowing a lump of dread, I glance out the windshield. At the end of the driveway, surrounded by weeds taller than my knees, looms our new house. And by new I mean reeeeeally old. Like horse-and-buggy old.

I admit the house itself is kind of pretty, made of tan bricks and topped with a dark-green roof, but “pretty” isn’t enough to compensate for the rest of it. Black speckles of mold creep up the corners by the rusty drain spouts, and the wrap-around porch is doing more collapsing than wrapping. We get out of the car, and I half expect a family of pioneers to stream out the front door and start churning butter.

“Smell that fresh country air,” Mom says. “Brings back memories.”

My parents close their eyes and inhale, as if they’re absorbing a mocha latte through their pores. Neither mentions that the fresh country air is less fresh and all country—as in, manure. Their happy memories of growing up in Wisconsin must be clouding their sense of smell.

“Retirement looks good on you,” Dad croons and drapes an arm around Mom.

“You too, Mr. Silver Fox.” She runs her fingers through the grays at his temples.

“I’m right here.” I groan.

Who are these people and what did they do to my parents?


The fact that this is a ghost story is particularly exciting because of the way the beginning is written. Everything feels so “regular” and “everyday slice of life kind of thing. It makes me want to keep reading to find the spooky parts and how that develops. I really like this play on ideas: looms our new house. And by new I mean reeeeeally old. Like horse-and-buggy old. It gives precusors as to what we can imagine as coming in the future. A great set up for a haunted house (even if that’s not the case).

The actual description of the house is also well done. I think it could use a description of the neighborhood or the block just to give it some extra description as the house is centered in this new place.

A great start!


Suzanne Morrone,  If Wishes Were Horses , Contemporary YA

Sadie knows she looks ridiculous waving to the car that’s already out of sight, but she can’t seem to stop. One last look at the house behind her, the place she could run to when things got out of hand at home. Annalise was her best friend, but the house had been her sanctuary. Now for sale. A new family moving in. And Sadie’s hopes for her future vanishing just like the Uber did, on its way to the airport.

She has to stop at the corner store on her way home. She better get moving.

Sadie leans over a homeless man blocking the antique iron gates to her apartment. She almost bumps him with the heavy grocery bag she’s carrying. He’s breathing, so she steps over him. The gate’s familiar screech mimics the mounting anxiety she feels every time she enters the courtyard.

The bougainvillea’s neon flowers drip over the arch of the stairway, and hummingbirds dart everywhere sipping from the riot of plants lining the stone walkways. The scent of baking chocolate mingles with the flower’s perfume and Sadie pauses, closes her eyes and searches for the gratitude she knows she should feel. At least the homeless man isn’t dead, and neither is Rose. She can hear her singing even from down here. A wave of sorrow rushes over her. It’s pointless to wish for the impossible, but Rose’s voice is pretty. Sadie longs for the time when Rose could focus enough to play her guitar as she sang.

The muscles tighten in her neck, her head pounding. Today has already been a shit-show. Why would anything be different at home, this afternoon? Is it ever? Mom’s either here, drinking, or working at the bar (and drinking), and her much older sister, who used to look out for her, is, well, Rose.

Sadie trudges up the stairs, the grocery bag and her heavy backpack weighting her down. Instead of turning left to head for the northern arm of their U-shaped apartment house, she turns


There is a very beautiful feeling to this piece as it opens. The visual language is done quite well. The biggest area that could use some further work is the pacing. In the first paragraph we learn of Sadie waving to a car, her best friend has left and their house is up for sale and a new family is moving on. After re-reading it a couple of times I realized it was Annalise her best friend leaving (in the uber?) and headed to the airport. This just needs some more stretching out so we get the sense of the loss Sadie is feeling for this person she’s just said goodbye to.

The narrator tells us that Sadie has to stop at the store but by the end of this short sample, she’s trudging up the stairs back home with her grocery bags. It would be great to see this teased out with some more detail used throughout this scene. Maybe she feels lonely, or is feeling the loss of her best friend. This is a great time to share that moment with your reader. We walk to walk with Sadie and feel what she feels/experience what she’s experiencing.

It might also be worth considering to place Rose’s introduction earlier. We first learn that Sadie misses her and then we learn that she’s Sadie’s sister but you could save some room teasing this out by just telling us that she misses her sister, Rose.

Overall, I think this is a great start to what will be an interesting story. If attention is paid to pacing, the reader will be more invested in wanting to keep reading. Having just the right speed in a YA is important and taking time to develop the characters is also important. With the combination of beautiful, descriptive language that is evident here, plus, the use of a slowed-down/illustrative pace, this will be a great first introduction to the story.


VERA*SIMILITUDE by “VERA” (PD Webb) – YA/Contemporary


I should be arrested for being so ignorant. Why did I say yes to something that I can’t possibly commit to?

Because I am an extra credit junkie.

The lure of an “A” has often caused me to do things I regret later. Out of all my extra credit pursuits I

have done though, I haven’t ever gone so far as to sign up to write what amounts to a four page essay every

day for thirty days. Forget about being arrested for committing a crime of stupidity, I should just be committed.

So what did I sign up for? National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo,or NaNo for short. Mrs. X must

have been channeling her inner creative writing teacher when she announced, “If any of you are willing to go the

distance of thirty days, writing at least 30,000 words, and receive a certificate of completion, it’s worth fifty points.”

We were all stunned. She never hands out that much extra credit. That’s the value of a unit assessment,

which would definitely boost my lackluster “C+” up to a possible “A.”  I didn’t allow reason to have any voice

when I signed up. Oh, yes. She made us sign up and post it on the bulletin board for the entire class to witness.

As an added incentive she said we will get an extra fifty points if we create a blog. One hundred points of EC?

I’m in.


How fun! This piece really packs a lot of excitement into the first few paragraphs and clearly presents the problem very early on. I’d love to get a sense of the protagonist and who they are, who the teacher is, what the school is like/the classroom/the usual day the student would normally experience before this contest is announced. I think that could be done in a few sentences and doesn’t have to take up too much space.

I want to feel the narrator’s expression or what they are feeling in the classroom just before the announcement. Also, a lot of readers know what the contest is about but I think the introduction could stand a little more about it, both giving the reader some clarity (readers who might never have heard of it) or readers who want to feel connected because they DO know about it.

Also, the piece mentions a C+ average but also being an extra credit junkie… so is it that the extra credit is never enough? Or the character never gets full credit?


IMPROVISANDO by Wendy Parciak – Genre: MG

Chapter 1. The Conquest

You have to attack that first note. The B. It hints of everything to come. Quasi improvisando, the music says. Put your life into it, Brook reminds me every time. Show that you can be wild, fanciful, dramatic, free.

Basically, everything I’m not.

Velvet curtains clung to my shoulders in the musty backstage darkness. The music was wrong. So was Brook.

I hurried toward my dressing room. Cello would be waiting for me, ready to help me win—and keep my twin brother close. Even if Brook refused to settle on a path to perfection in two days with the rest of this year’s new teenagers, I’d be able to reserve him as my assistant. He wouldn’t be assigned to work the dirty, dangerous Perimeter Patrol like other scatterbrained kids. He’d be protected forever.

“She’s just a baby,” one of the failed contestants whispered. She mustn’t have realized how easily sound traveled through stale backstage air. “How’d she make it to Finals?”

“She has big hands,” another one said, clearly not caring what I overheard. “Look at the length of her fingers.”

I wrapped my fingers around the dressing room door handle. Not abnormal. Merely the perfect length for playing a tricky piece on a huge slab of wood. I slipped inside the small windowless space and hurried to my instrument. The silky back of its neck warmed to my touch. Thank you for waiting, Cello. My best friend always knew how to calm me.

Master Musician Loyola tapped on the door and strutted inside with my bouquet of laboratory-grown magenta roses, their heads as large as cello scrolls. Sickly sweetness coated my nostrils.


What an interesting beginning.

We get the sense of the impending anxiety over a performance and this feels palpable and real. I think this was done really well. What could be worked on a little more is the way in which the information is presented. Even if this is an early chapter or will be the introduction to the book – the reader will want to get a firm grip on who people are, where they are and these two things tied into the setting.

This part felt a little unclear (and if part of her anxiety, then that’s okay but it still needs to be ironed out some) and keep my twin brother close. Even if Brook refused to settle on a path to perfection in two days with the rest of this year’s new teenagers, I’d be able to reserve him as my assistant. He wouldn’t be assigned to work the dirty, dangerous Perimeter Patrol like other scatterbrained kids. He’d be protected forever.

I don’t get a clear understanding of what she’s referring to here and is this an audition, contest and how does her win make this a pathway for her brother?

Overally, small explanations or just flattening this early chapter a little more will help the reader on the journey with this protagonist even through an early chapter. It’ll keep everyone reading!


Regina, thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us. We really appreciated you reading the four first pages. We can all learn from your thoughts. Keep in touch. Thanks again!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you Kathy and Regina for this opportunity. Helpful and insightful commentary.


  2. Great feedback! Thanks Regina and Kathy!


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