During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press author Shena McAuliffe is on board to critique fiction manuscripts.
Shena's novel, The Good Echo, won the Big Moose Prize and the 2019 Balcones Fiction Prize. Her short stories have been published in Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor of Fiction at Union College, and is on the faculty of the Cornell College Low-Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. She earned her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, and an M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.
Shena is accepting everything from flash fiction to full-length novels. 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 October 31. Shena will complete her work and respond to all participants by November 30.
Shena's Statement of Purpose:
There is no thrill quite like reading the first paragraphs of a truly delicious story: that fresh sense of wonder as one is seduced by a new voice and vivid images, the music of the words that promise more delights to come. I like my narrators with a keen sense of humor, compelling questions, or unique observations. I’m always looking for complex characters. And the shorter a story is, the more inventive the form must be, the more perfect the sentences.
I am, of course, only one reader, but I will read your prose with curiosity and openness, noting places where my attention is rapt, where your language is at its most lyrical or unique, where your story is at its most inventive or compelling. I’ll also identify places where my attention flags, and I’ll consider the choices you’ve made as a writer and how you might push them even further. I will occasionally propose other possible directions. I’ll respond to your writing via in-line comments and a letter that addresses the bigger picture, reflecting back to you the questions and ideas that seem pressing, central to your work, or the most captivating to me. I’ll look for patterns and anomalies in your writing that might help you identify your own obsessions and hone your style.
Much of my own writing—whether fiction or nonfiction, long or short, historical or contemporary—is sparked by research, which I define broadly. To help me write more convincing, compelling narratives, I read, listen, watch, visit archives, collect photographs, make things with my hands, take field trips, daydream, and make extensive notes. As I read your work, I’ll look for opportunities for deeper exploration and places that could benefit from research or expansion. I’ll also celebrate that which you’ve already included, and I’ll read with attention to how well you’ve integrated your research, knowledge, and imagination.
I am compelled by the many forms and voices that stories can take. I am an omnivorous reader, but I want to be surprised by how a writer tells a story. I love novels-in-stories, like Joan Silber’s Improvement or Evan Connell’s Mrs. Bridge, and those that accumulate via vignettes or fragments, like Justin Torres’ We the Animals, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, or Steven Dunn’s Water & Power. I also admire the playful prose and digressive worlds of Salman Rushdie, the inventive short stories of Julia Elliott and George Saunders, and those cut gems, puzzles, and dreams we call flash fiction.
My central aim as a consultant is to help you see your own work more clearly and with new energy, and to encourage you in your work as a writer. I look forward to spending time with your words.