Black Lawrence Press

Fiction Consultations with Thomas Cotsonas

Have a short story that could use an expert eye? Trying to get your collection into tip-top shape? This month, Thomas Cotsonas is on deck to critique both individual short stories and full-length collections. Winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award for his exhilarating, multi-voiced, genre-twisting collection Nominal Cases, Thomas also teaches creative writing a the university level. In short, he’s got some serious skills and he’s ready to put them to work on your fiction.

The fees are $30-$50 for individual stories and $250-$350 for collections; pricing is dependent on the length of the manuscript. All submissions must be formatted in 12-point font and double spaced.

Thomas will complete all consultations by April 30, 2017.

Space in this program is limited, so be sure to submit your manuscript soon!


Click Here to Submit

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!

By Thomas Cotsonas

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions and payment of the entry fee exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

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Upcoming Consultations

We’re planning some great consultations for 2017! Creative nonficiton with Abayomi Animashaun, fiction with Kelly Magee, poetry with Jessica Piazza and much more. Stay tuned for details!

Thomas Cotsonas

Thomas Cotsonas was born and raised in Rochester, New York.  His work has appeared in several journals, including Web Conjunctions, Western Humanities Review, and Puerto del Sol.  Nominal Cases, his first book of fiction, won the St. Lawrence Book Award.  He teaches in the Writers House at Rutgers University and lives with his wife in New York City.

Cotsonas Thomas Author page