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Editors to Offer One-on-One Critique Sessions at 2020 CityLit Festival


UPDATE! The 2020 CityLit Festival Has Been Postponed Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak. More Details to Come When Available.

Do you have an essay, memoir, screenplay, story, or poetry sitting in a drawer or deep in your hard drive that shows promise?

Back by popular demand, the
17th Annual CityLit Festival is offering One-on-One, 30-minute Editorial Critique Sessions, from 10 am to 12 Noon, on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. The fee is only $10.

Here are this year’s group of expert editors:

  • Laura Ballou (Playwriting, Screenwriting)
  • Tara Campbell (Speculative Fiction, Poetry)
  • Chelsea Lemon Fetzer (Poetry, Fiction)
  • Karen Houppert (Creative Nonfiction, Fiction)
  • Rebekah Kirkman * (Creative Nonfiction, Memoir)
  • Bret McCabe (Creative Nonfiction)
  • Rosalia Scalia (Fiction)

* This editor prefers to read manuscripts in advance... Materials should be emailed in advance ASAP to: Subject line should read “One on One".

See below for bios of the editors.

Registration is Required! The cost for each Critique Session is $10.

To register, follow this Eventbrite link:

(Simply select and purchase slot of the author and time you prefer.)

If you have any questions about the Critique Sessions, please call CityLit Executive Director Carla Du Pree, 410-271-8793.

Editor Bios


Genre: Playwriting, Screenwriting

Laura Ballou is an educator, writer and script supervisor. She’s currently co-writing a teen sci-fi/socially conscious TV series with Emmy Award Winning Director, Mary Maderias and as a Script Supervisor with Tunnel Vision Productions. She earned a Professional Certificate in Screenwriting from UCLA and received her script supervising training with Kimberley Roper in Los Angeles. Laura is a Northern Virginia Writing Project teacher-consultant at George Mason University. Her screenplays have placed and won various film festivals and screenwriting competitions, notably, best screenplay at the Rising Above Film Festival, second round placement at the Austin Film Festival, finalist at the LA Live Film Festival, best screenplay at the Snowdance Film Awards, long list selection at the UK Film Festival, semi-finalist at the Shutter Speed Film Festival, quarter finalist at the Page International Screenplay Competition and official selection in the WIFV Spotlight on Screenwriters Catalogue. Born in Puerto Rico, Laura is honored to be a part of a movement to bring the Latino community of creatives to the forefront of Hollywood’s series television. Laura's Puerto Rican heritage, faith, love of history, teaching experiences, and living and traveling around the world as a military spouse have been the inspiration for her writing.

Twitter: @LauraBallou3


Genre: Speculative Fiction, Poetry

Tara Campbell ( is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Monkeybicycle, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising. She's the author of a novel, TreeVolution, a hybrid fiction/poetry collection, Circe's Bicycle, and a short story collection, Midnight at the Organporium. She received her MFA from American University in 2019.

Twitter: @TaraCampbellCom

Instagram: @thetreevolution


Genre: Poetry, Fiction

Chelsea Lemon Fetzer holds an MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in journals such as Callaloo, Tin House, Mississippi Review, Minnesota Review, and Little Patuxent Review. Her essay “Speck” appears in The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about being Mixed Race in the 21st Century. She’s the winner of a 2019 Rubys for her work to support The Shape of a Boat, a young adult novel that weaves parallel stories between Sophia, a biracial fifteen-year-old living in a small Minnesota town in 1990 and Samuel, a southern U.S. born enslaved man brought by his owner to the same landscape in the 1840s. Fetzer currently teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Baltimore and serves on the board of CityLit Project.


Genre: Creative Nonfiction, Fiction

Karen Houppert is the Associate Director of the M.A. in Writing Program at Johns Hopkins. She was a contributing writer for The Washington Post magazine and now freelances for many magazines, covering social and political issues. A former staff writer for The Village Voice, she has won awards for her coverage, including a 1991 National Women’s Political Caucus Award for feature writing, a 2003 Newswomen’s Club of New York “Front Page Award,” a 2011 Council on Contemporary Families Media Award for Print, and Maryland/DC/Delaware Press Association Award—as well as bringing in 18 MDDC journalism awards for her staff while she served as editor in chief of Baltimore City Paper. She was twice an ASME National Magazine Award finalist and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016 for her essay “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Interrupted.” She has won numerous fellowships, grants and residencies including a John Jay/H.F. Guggenheim Reporting Fellow, a John Jay Public Welfare Reporting Fellow, a Kaiser Media Fellow, multiple Nation Institute Investigative grants, among others. She’s the author of three nonfiction books, a contributor to five, and co-author of the Obie-award winning play “Boys in the Basement” based on her trial coverage of a rape in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

Twitter: @karenhouppert

Instagram: @karenhouppert


Genre: Creative Nonfiction, Memoir

Rebekah Kirkman is the managing editor of BmoreArt. An artist, writer, and editor, Rebekah moved to Baltimore in 2010 to study at MICA. She later became the visual arts editor for the Baltimore City Paper, as well as its intern manager and fact-checking coordinator. Her criticism, reporting, essays, and poetry have appeared in the Baltimore Beat, Baltimore Fishbowl, The Outline, and elsewhere.

* After registration, email your manuscript to:

Twitter: @rebekahkirkman

Instagram: @slidingdice


Genre: Creative Nonfiction

Bret McCabe has been an arts and culture reporter, critic, and a freelance features writer and editor over the past 20 years. His work has appeared in the Baltimore City Paper, Dallas Observer, BmoreArt, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, among other magazines, newspapers, and websites. He was a 2010 finalist for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism Arts & Culture Fellowship and a 2010 fellow at the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Classical Music and Opera at Columbia University. He is the senior humanities writer at the Johns Hopkins Magazine.

Twitter: @bretmcbret

Instagram: @bretmcbret


Genre: Fiction

Rosalia Scalia is the author of the forthcoming story collection, Stumbling Toward Grace, due out in 2021 (Unsolicited Press), a finalist for the 2019 Hawk Mountain Award for a Short Story Collection.

She writes fiction and nonfiction. Her magazine and newspaper articles have appeared in local, regional, and national publications, including but not limited to The Baltimore Sun,, and, among others. Currently, she serves assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University, and is working on her first novel, Delia’s Concerto. The first chapter was one of seven finalists in a competition held by the National League of American Pen Women and a more recent version was published as a story titled “Soul Music,” in Crack the Spine #109.

Twitter: @rscalia

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