How it Works

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We're pleased to offer personalized, one-on-one manuscript consultations and coaching with our esteemed faculty members. From first chapters, to MFA applications, to full novels, these instructors offer a wide range of services. Instructors can help with line edits, query letters, structure, and more. The items below must be emailed to info@storystudiochicago.org. A credit card will be held on file in case we are unable to reach a client at time of payment.
We'll screen your application and coordinate with your requested author(s) over consultation possibility. Once all parties are in agreement, we will connect you with your author and you two can set up your dates, times, and any other necessary information to conduct your consultation. We will also send you details about the deposit and credit card capture. At the beginning of each month, we will bill you for the appropriate amount of hours worked in the previous month, after which time you will be required to pay via PayPal or check within 14 days. Each month will be billed for the hours worked, though the consult can last for as long as both parties are willing.
Kenyatta Rogers

Kenyatta Rogers

Services: MFA Application, Poetry Consulting (3-5 poems), Short Lyric Essay (No Longer than 5 pages), Submission Consulting (Poetry Specific), Written Feedback with a One-on-One Meeting Genre: Poetry and Lyric Essay Rate: $100/hr Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been awarded multiple scholarships from the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. He has also been nominated multiple times for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. His work has been previously published in or is forthcoming from Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, The Volta, PANK, MAKE Magazine among others. He is as a co-host of the Sunday Reading Series with Simone Muench, an Associate Editor with RHINO Poetry and currently serves on the Creative Writing Faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.
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Anca L. Szilágyi

Services: Coaching, full manuscript reads, partial manuscript reads, written feedback, line editing, in-person meetings, submission consulting, award/residency application consulting, research, preparing for literary performances/readings Genres:Short stories, novels, literary fiction, speculative fiction, historic fiction; book reviews, lyric essay, food writing Rate: $100/hr Anca L. Szilágyi is the author of the novel Daughters of the Air, which Shelf Awareness called "a striking debut from a writer to watch." Her writing appears in Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, and Orion Magazine, among other publications. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from Lilith Magazine, Vermont Studio Center, Artist Trust, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Hugo House, and the Jack Straw Cultural Center. She earned an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University and an MFA from the University of Washington. Originally from Brooklyn, she has lived in Montreal, Seattle, and now Chicago. Find her at ancawrites.com.

Cyn Vargas

Services: One-on-One coaching sessions, Read Complete Manuscript and provide feedback, Read partial manuscript and provide feedback, MFA application consulting Genres: short story, novel, personal essay, memoir Rate: $120/hr for meetings and $3.50 per page up to 20 pages; $4.50 each additional page thereafter (meeting optional) Cyn Vargas’ short story collection, On The Way, received positive reviews from Shelf Awareness, Library Journal, Heavy Feather Review, Necessary Fiction, among others. Book accolades include: Book Scrolling’s Best Short Story Collections of All Time, Newcity Lit’s Top 5 Fiction Books by Chicago Authors, Chicago Book Review’s Favorite Books of 2015, Bustle’s 11 Short Story Collections Your Book Club Will Love, and Chicago Writers Association 2015 Book of the Year Honorable Mention. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago.

Vincent Francone

Services: full manuscript reads, partial reads, written feedback, in-person meetings, outline or synopsis reads, copyediting, and line editing Genres: poetry, short stories, memoirs general and speculative fiction (no fantasy or sci-fi), personal essays, screenplays, hybrid works, book reviews, and thrillers Rate: $120 an hour for meetings and $2.50 per page Vincent Francone is the author of the memoir Like a Dog and the essay collection The Soft Lunacy. His work has appeared in Three Percent, New City Magazine, Rhino, and other journals. He is at work on a collection of poems and stories. He hosts a podcast called Drinking and Talking. Visit www.vincentfrancone.com to find out more.
Valentine-author-photo-C-Marcello-Rostagni

Sarah Valentine

Services: Online/video/phone meeting; Coaching; Full manuscript reads; Partial reads; Written feedback; Outline or synopsis reads Genres: Poetry; Short stories; Novels; Memoir; Historical; Nonfiction; Literary journalism; Book proposals; Personal essay; Screenwriting; Thriller; Translation; Travel; Hybrid Rates: $120/hr Sarah Valentine’s memoir, When I Was White, was an Amazon #1 Bestseller and a must-read from Essence, Bookriot, The Millions, PureWow, and Bustle. Kirkus Review called it “Deftly written… A valuable contribution to the literature of race.” Valentine has taught literature and creative writing at Princeton, UCLA, UC-Riverside, and Northwestern University. In 2013 she won a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency and Prairie Schooner’s Best Emerging Writer Award. Her work has appeared in Waveform: Twenty-First Essays by Women, diode, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and more. Valentine holds a Ph.D. in Russian literature from Princeton University.

Susanna Calkins

Susanna Calkins

Services: Read first 20 pages of manuscript and written feedback, in-person meetings or via skype Genres: historical fiction; crime fiction (any genre); fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian Rate: $110/hr Susanna Calkins writes the Lucy Campion historical mysteries set in 17th century London and the Speakeasy Murders set in 1920s Chicago (Minotaur/St. Martin’s). Her fiction has been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, the Agatha, the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery (Lefty) and the Anthony, and was awarded a Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award (the Macavity). Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives in the Chicago area now, with her husband and two sons. Check out her website at www.susannacalkins.com.

Mike Zapata

Services: Full manuscript reads, partial reads, one-on-one coaching, in-person and/or Skype meetings, line editing, guidance in applying to grants/awards Genres: short stories and novels including the following: literary, historical, speculative/science fiction. Rate: $110/hr Michael Zapata is a founding editor of the award-winning MAKE: A Literary Magazine and the author of the novel The Lost Book of Adana Moreau (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins). He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction; the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program award; and a Pushcart Nomination. As an educator, he taught literature and writing in high schools servicing drop out students. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and has lived in New Orleans, Italy, and Ecuador. He currently lives in Chicago with his family.  
Jennifer Ann Coffeen

Jennifer Coffeen

Services: coaching, full manuscript reads, partial manuscripts reads, written feedback, outline/synposis reads, submission consulting Genres: short stories, romance, historical, personal essay, performance writing Rate: $80/hr Jennifer Ann Coffeen is the author of several historical romance novels (Priceless Deception, Lover’s Gamble, A Deal with Lord Devlin) as well as short stories. Her short story “Tooth” (Streetlight Magazine) was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize.  She is a founding member of the kates and performed with Live Lit shows including Write Club, Story Club, Serving the Sentence, and Guts & Glory. Jennifer is a writing instructor and the Festival Director for StoryStudio Chicago.

Rachel Swearingen

Services: Read individual pieces of short fiction or nonfiction up to 10,000; Read complete manuscript; Read first 25 – 50 pages; Read first two to three stories/essays in collection (up to 20,000); one-on-one coaching sessions. Genres: short stories, novels, memoir, query letters, book proposals, personal essay, hybrid, magazine writing, screenplays and plays, book reviews. Rate: $120/hr Rachel Swearingen’s stories and essays have appeared in VICE, The Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Off Assignment, Agni, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. Her story collection, How to Walk on Water and Other Stories, winner of the 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize, will be published in 2020. She is the recipient of the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction. In 2019, she was named one of 30 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex. She is a former editor, and holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a PhD from Western Michigan University. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.
Kim Brooks

Kim Brooks

Services: memoir coaching, developmental editing, full or partial manuscript review with in-person or written feedback, MFA application consulting, line editing, one-on-one personalized writing courses Genres: memoir, personal essays, literary short fiction, novels, hybrid forms, op-eds, long-form journalism, narrative non-fiction Rate: $95/hr Kim Brooks is the author of Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear, an NPR Best Book of the Year, described by the National Book Review as “an impassioned, smart work of social criticism and a call for support and empathy.” Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Chicago Magazine, Salon, Buzzfeed, and other publications. She has spoken as a guest on CBS This Morning, PBS Newshour, 20/20, NPR’s All Things Considered, Good Morning America, the Brian Lehr Show, and many other radio shows and podcasts. Her novel, The Houseguest, was published in 2016. She lives in Chicago.

Denise Santomauro

Services: Coaching; Full manuscript consultation reads; Line editing; Partial reads of first two chapters or up to 25 pages; MFA application consulting Genres: Middle Grade fiction and nonfiction; Young Adult fiction and nonfiction; Novels; Personal Essay; Plays; Any work intended for live reading/presentation Rate: $100/hr Denise is a writer, performer, editor, and teaching artist. She has contributed content to several blogs, been published in the Dear Sister anthology, developed plays and scenes for young people through her work with theatre programs, and written middle grade and young adult novels. In addition to acting in plays, she has been seen on stage in live lit shows around the city telling embarrassing stories from her life. As an educator, she has taught fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting classes, and explores the performing arts with young people as a way to help them tell their stories. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is an editor with Angelella Editorial. You can find out more about her at denisesantomauro.com.
Abby Geni

Abby Geni

Services: Full manuscript reads, partial reads, written feedback, in-person meetings and/or phone conversations, one-on-one coaching. Genres: Novels and short stories. Rate: $95/hr Abby Geni is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Wildlands and The Lightkeepers, as well as a short story collection, The Last Animal. Her books have been translated into seven languages and have won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Chicago Review of Books Awards, among other honors. Her latest novel, The Wildlands, was named one of the best books of 2018 by Kirkus and Buzzfeed and was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize. Geni is a core faculty member at StoryStudio Chicago and recently served as Visiting Associate Professor of Fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. 

Sarah Terez Rosenblum

Services: creative coaching, developmental editing, full and partial manuscript reads, written feedback including line editing, one-on-one personalized writing courses, in-person/phone/zoom meetings, outline or synopsis reads, MFA application consulting and portfolio feedback, submission consulting, agent coaching including query letter and synopsis edits, teen writing help Genres: Open. Including but not limited to novels, short stories, memoirs, personal essays, plays, hybrid works Rate: $95/hr Sarah Terez Rosenblum is Pushcart Prize nominated. Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as Third Coast, Underground Voices, Carve and The Boiler. She has written for sites including Salon, The Chicago Sun Times, The Satirist, and Pop Matters. She was shortlisted for Zoetrope All Story’s 2016 Short Fiction Contest, receiving an honorable mention. Most recently, Sarah was a runner-up for Prairie Schooner’s annual summer Creative Nonfiction Contest and her work will be forthcoming in their Summer 2020 issue. Sarah holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and teaches creative writing at The University of Chicago Writer’s Studio. Her 2012 novel, Herself When She's Missing, was called “poetic and heartrending" by Booklist.

Mary Ruth Clarke

Services: Full Play/Screenplay/Teleplay critiques. One-on-one coaching sessions for adapting novels/memoirs into drama in any of its iterations, with developing original ideas into viable plays and screenplays, and help with drama structure, outlines, TV pitch documents, screenplay formatting. One-on-one personalized writing courses and submission consulting. Written feedback, Zoom meet ups (my account), phone consulting, and in-person meetings. Genres: Plays/screenplays/teleplays -- Comedy, drama, dramedy, musical theater books Rate: $100/hr for meetings; $450 for full critique with written feedback Mary Ruth Clarke co-wrote and starred in the original Meet the Parents and co-adapted it into the blockbuster version, starring Robert De Niro. Her dramedy teleplay Broadway, Ohio is under a short option, and has also advanced to the second round at the Sundance Episodic Lab 2020. Her play Bonhoeffer’s Cost just finished a run at The Agape Actors Co-op in Austin, Texas and has been produced at the Beacon Theater in Philadelphia, and the Provision Theater in Chicago. Mary Ruth is a screenplay consultant for clients in LA and Chicago, and she has critiqued about a gazillion plays and screenplays. She is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, where she teaches screenwriting and TV writing, and also teaches screenwriting at Story Studio. She’s a regular guest lecturer at the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network monthly meet up and the Off Campus Writer’s Group. She’s been a guest artist at the Story Studio Writers Festival, Chicago Independent Film Project, Renaissance Theaterworks Milwaukee, and the Michigan City library. She is a member of the Writer’s Guide of America East and the Dramatists Guild.

DIKA LAM

Services: Developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, fact-checking/research, authenticity reading, submission consulting, one-on-one coaching, full or partial manuscript review, written feedback, meeting via phone/Skype Genres: Short fiction, novels, travel essays and articles, personal essays, memoir Rate: $95/hr and $5/page copyedited Dika was an assistant editor, production editor, and social media manager for Frommer’s travel guides and has worked as a freelance copy editor for clients such as Condé Nast (Epicurious and Brides). Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in This Is Not Chick Lit (Random House), A Stranger Among Us (OV Books), Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops, American Fiction Vol. 12 (New Rivers Press), One Story, The Rumpus, Frommers.com, and elsewhere. Her book reviews have appeared in The Nervous Breakdown and The Cincinnati Review. A New York Times Fellow in New York University’s MFA program, she also earned a BA in comparative literature from Cornell University. She has received awards and residencies from the Sewanee and Bread Loaf writers' conferences, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She won the Bronx Writers Center Chapter One Fiction Competition and first prize in the American Fiction Contest.