Here’s how it works…

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 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 7 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


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.

Michael 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 MAKE Literary Magazine and the author of the acclaimed novel The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, winner of the 2020 Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, finalist for the 2020 Heartland Booksellers Award in Fiction, and a Best Book of the Year for NPR, the A.V. Club, and BookPage, among others. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program Award. He is on the core faculty of StoryStudio Chicago and the MFA faculty of Northwestern University. As a public-school educator, he taught literature and writing in high schools servicing drop out students. He currently lives in Chicago with his family.

Julia Fine

Services: full reads, partial reads, written feedback, in-person or virtual meetings, one-on-one coaching, line editing 
Genres: short stories or novels in the following genres: literary, speculative/sci-fi, historical, magical realism/low fantasy; query letters
Rate: $110/hr
Julia Fine is the author of What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award. Her second novel, The Upstairs House, is forthcoming from Harper in February 2021. She has taught writing at Columbia College Chicago and DePaul University, as well as with Catapult and StoryStudio Chicago. She lives in Chicago with her husband and children. Check out her website at

David Welch

Services: full manuscript reads, partial reads, written feedback, in-person meetings, MFA application consulting, & line editing
Genres: poetry and short stories
Rate: $110/hr
David Welch is the author of Everyone Who Is Dead (Spork Press, 2018) and a chapbook, It Is Such a Good Thing to Be In Love with You (The Laurel Review/Midwest Chapbook Series, 2015). He is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Society of America, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Welch lives in Chicago and teaches at DePaul University, where he is Assistant Director of the DePaul Publishing Institute, and is a member of StoryStudio’s core faculty. Visit him virtually at

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Vince 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 to find out more.

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


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.

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.

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. 

Jen 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 Coffeen writes historical romance with The Wild Rose Press (Priceless Deception, A Deal with Lord Devlin), along with short stories and flash fiction. Her short story “Tooth” 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 currently working on Season 2 of Creepy History, a weekly podcast she co-hosts with Fraser Coffeen. She is a writing instructor and the Festival Director for StoryStudio Chicago.

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,, 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.

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.

Blair Hurley

Services: coaching, full manuscript reads, partial reads, written feedback, one-on-one online meetings, outline or synopsis reads, MFA application consulting
Genres:short stories, novels, memoir, query letters, speculative, book proposals, personal essay, travel, thriller, hybrid, magazine writing
Rate: $80 per 1-hour meeting,
Full-length Manuscript: $480 + reading fee ($3.50/1000 words)
Short stories/essays: $240 flat rate, max 25 pages
Blair Hurley received her A.B. from Princeton University and her M.F.A. from NYU. She is the author of THE DEVOTED, published by W.W. Norton, which was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. Her work is published or forthcoming in Electric Literature, The Georgia Review, Ninth Letter, Guernica, Paris Review Daily, West Branch, and elsewhere. She received a 2018 Pushcart Prize and two Pushcart Prize nominations in 2019. Blair teaches creative writing at Grubstreet, Catapult, and elsewhere. She is the host of the Writerly Bites podcast.

Megan Stielstra

UNAVAILABLE – please do not contact

Services: full manuscript or partial reads, longform or shortform work
Genres: Memoir, personal essay (stand-alone or full collections)
Rate: $120 per 1-hour meeting, plus $2.50 a page (no written feedback)
Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections: Everyone Remain Calm, Once I Was Cool, and The Wrong Way To Save Your Life, winner of the 2017 Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in the Best American Essays, New York Times, The Believer, Poets & Writers, Longreads, Tin House, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, Museum of Contemporary Art, Goodman Theatre, and regularly with The Paper Machete live news magazine at The Green Mill. She is a 2020 Shearing Fellow in creative nonfiction at the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas and a 2021 Civic Media fellow at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California.

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: $100/hr with sliding scale available
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

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 (inquire about need-based sliding scale)
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.

Anca Szilágyi

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

Juliet Bond

Services: coaching, full manuscript reads of picture books and early readers, and partial reads or full manuscript critiques of middle grade and YA drafts, written feedback, in-person meetings when safe to do so, outlines, synopsis reads, MFA application consulting, editing, and submission consulting
Genres: kidlit (all writing for children through young adult and new adult), query letters, and essays for university or college admissions
Rate: $95 for readings, written feedback, and editing; and $140 for in-person or Zoom meetings
Juliet C. Bond, LCSW is an award winning writer and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She writes kidlit (from picture books to YA novels and plays.) Juliet’s first book, Sam’s Sister, was published in 2005, and has sold over 50,000 copies. In 2014, Juliet collaborated with Newbery winner, Joyce Sidman, to publish the stage adaptation of, This is Just to Say. The play was produced by Mudlark Children’s Theatre in Evanston, IL. She then completed a playwriting residency at Ragdale, and fully staged a production of her play, Affluenza, in 2018, at Piven Theatre. Juliet’s, Jazzy’s Quest, early-reader series started as a collaboration with co-author and best-selling author, Carrie Goldman. Juliet’s shorter works can be found online in the, SCBWI Prairie Wind, Chicken Soup for the Soul, (Middle Grade and Tough Times,) and The Copperfield Review. Juliet is proud to be a core member of the teaching staff at StoryStudio Chicago and honored by her volunteer awards, including: a 2014, city-wide Volunteer Recognition Award from Northwestern University, the Evanston Community Foundation, and Evanston Township High School; a 2019, distinguished alumni award from the University of Illinois School of Social Work; and a 2019, Daily Points of Light Award. 

Suzy Kahn Weinberg

Services: Personal essay for college brainstorming, coaching, refining; Application essay consulting; Personal narrative story brainstorming, coaching, editing; In person/ zoom meetings
Genres: Personal narrative short stories; Personal essay
Rate: $120/hr
A writer, producer and personal narrative storycrafting coach, Suzy’s personal and professional career center on the power of storytelling.  Suzy is currently a co-producer of a monthly live storytelling series called Is this a thing?featuring true personal tales told on stage. She has been an active mentor and volunteer with Chicago Scholars, helping students from underserved communities in their college process. Big Shoulders Storiesis Suzy’s latest venture harnessing her skills, talents, and deep commitment to better lives in Chicago into a focused offering: partnering with Chicago’s nonprofit organizations to identify, nurture, and showcase storytellers and their stories in live,  and recorded events.

Tim Horvath