Ends on August 31, 2018

Multiple price options

During the month of August, Black Lawrence Press author Tom Cotsonas is on board to critique your in-progress works of fiction. Tom, who won the St. Lawrence Book Award with his collection of short stories Nominal Cases, teaches writing at Rutgers University.

This month's program is open to a wide variety of fiction manuscripts. The fees and page length parameters are as follows:

- Flash Fiction, up to 2 pages in length, $15

- Short Stories, up to 20 pages in length, $45

- Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150

- Novellas, up to 100 pages in length $250

- Short Story Collections, up to 180 pages in length, $350

- 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 August 31. Tom will complete his work and respond to all participants by September 30.


Thomas Cotsonas' Statement of Purpose

“Language is a drug,” Ben Marcus tells us, and our stories are the delivery system. I want stories that know this, stories that take hold, stories that get to my nerve endings and into the lining of my veins. I want to see, more than anything else, a mind at work. I want to be exposed. I want to come in contact with the strong and the strange, the idiosyncratic. I want stories that mean it.

When I read your work at first, I’ll read to see what it seems to want to do. I’ll concentrate on what I think the work’s intentions are, and what it does or does not do to fulfill those intentions. We may differ in this respect, but whatever differences we have are what makes the consultation a conversation, a shared back-and-forth to make the work as strong as possible. I’ll give you technical advice as well, observations and suggestions concerning elements such as structure, point of view, narration, characterization, dialogue, and syntax & diction.

I am completely without bias with respect to genre. I draw no meaningful distinctions between what’s called Realism, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Crime, Gothic—whatever. I am drawn to fiction writers who often think like poets, fiction writers for whom there are no genres. Prose writers I read and love include Nicholson Baker, Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Jorge Luis Borges, Lydia Davis, Don DeLillo, William H. Gass, Maggie Nelson, and Marilynne Robinson. I take any chance I get to praise the staggeringly underrated and -read Sarah Orne Jewett, whose 1896 book Country of the Pointed Firs is possibly the best short story cycle in U.S. lit.

In my own work—especially with shorter texts—I like to play with form. I’m interested in consciousness, memory, the concept of time, paradoxes, and characters who may not know the difference between certainty and uncertainty. I like puzzles, but never at the expense of character, and never with indifference to the reader.

If possible, I’d appreciate an informal cover letter with your submission. Nothing elaborate: just a short bio type-thing. I look forward to reading, to getting to work on your work!