During the month of May, Black Lawrence Press author Leigh Camacho Rourks is on board to critique fiction manuscripts. Leigh Camacho Rourks is a Cuban-American author who lives and works in Central Florida, where she is an Assistant Professor of English and Humanities at Beacon College. She is the recipient of the St. Lawrence Press Award, the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for several other awards. Her fiction, poems, and essays have appeared in a number of journals, including Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, TriQuarterly, December Magazine, and Greensboro Review.
Leigh is accepting everything from flash fiction to novels for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:
- Flash fiction, up to 2 pages in length, $25
- Short stories, up to 20 pages in length, $50
- Chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $195
- Novellas, up to 100 pages in length, $325
- Short story collections, up to 180 pages in length, $450
- Novels, up to 300 pages in length, $700
All manuscripts should be double spaced and formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is May 31. Leigh will complete her work and respond to all participants by June 30.
Leigh's Statement of Purpose
One of the most exciting things about storytelling is that it is not a one-size-fits all discipline. The cornerstones of narrative—character, place, plot, language—are shaped not simply by perfecting rules, but by exploration, by finding and pushing boundaries or playing within in them or even shattering them. It is the story’s voice that helps readers understand the shape of a narrative, that guides readers into a story that can and might do anything at all. It is the voice of a story that keeps them there. So as a a reader, I approach a manuscript as openly as I can, and I let it teach me where it wants to go and (perhaps more importantly) where it could go. And while there is no element of narrative that I take preference over, I do believe that looking closely at the voice of a manuscript will better guide its revision, so that is where I begin both my own exploration of the manuscript and my discussions with the author.
Once we have a better idea of how the narrative voice is functioning, we can use that as a lens through which to examine the other elements that make up the story, for they are all interconnected. For example, the voice is the lens through which readers see characters, and characters are both products of place and makers of it. Revision of a narrative, then, must take into account these interactions, it is rarely an act of brute force overhaul. Instead, I am a fan of looking at revision as a two-step process, first we see where the path we have laid out best travels, and then we fine-tune it to get it there. A good example of this method is to consider imagery—is there an image or set of imagery that is serving the story and its characters well? If so how best can we amplify it, make it resonate?
I love stories that surprise me, but I am also amazed by the quiet stories that may not shatter my expectations, but instead just color them slightly. In other words, I like all kinds of stories, all genres, all voices. It is the diversity of narratives that I truly love. So, my goal is to help you find and fulfill the potentials of your unique story, instead of simply remaking it to fit my expectations. I am happy to read both realism and genre fiction (and all the possibilities in between).