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Nicole VanderLinden has over 20 years of experience leading and participating in writing workshops. She lives in Iowa City with her family and a bunch of shelter dogs, where she currently serves as the fiction/nonfiction book review editor for Colorado Review and as a reader for Ploughshares.


Her fiction and book reviews appear in various publications, and in 2020, Lauren Groff selected her story "The Names You Choose" as the winner of the New Ohio Review Fiction Prize. Recent work has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, The Best of the Net, and The Best Small Fictions and has been long-listed for the St. Lawrence Book Award and the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize. She’s been the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals award, and in 2021, she was awarded a Tennessee Williams fiction scholarship by the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.


Nicole has an MFA in fiction from Colorado State University. Additionally, she’s worked as an editor and writing instructor--including as co-director of Cornell College's Writing Studio--and she’s volunteered time as a crisis intervention specialist at CommUnity, where she was selected as the 2018 Volunteer of the Year. 


She recently completed a short-story collection (Sorry, Thank You, Hello) and is putting the finishing touches on her first novel, an excerpt of which was long-listed and published as part of the Masters Review 2021 Novel Excerpt Contest. In 2024, she'll launch Storied, a program geared toward helping novelists build writing processes that work. 


More information is available at

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Open to: fiction—short stories (including flash), story collections, and novel manuscripts; coaching clients


Word limit: 100,000 words


What you'll submit: your short story or book-length manuscript


What you'll get: My specialty is in finding and bringing curiosity to the beating heart of a piece. To that end, I consider my experience as a reader, but more importantly, I use where your manuscript sings as a starting point for exploring how to realize your vision.

I don't think writing critiques are about identifying what works or what doesn't. Instead, I consider my role as helping you find out what you really want to say and how and where to say it. My feedback is both compassionate and constructive, and I like to focus on specific, direct questions for further contemplation, although I'll also offer comments on what lands.


I’ll review your writing with a focus on the big picture. This might include examining the overall arc of your story, how it unfolds, characterization, theme, pacing, and more. 


You’ll receive a review letter of 2-10 pages (depending on the length of the work) and comments in the body of the manuscript, although I will not focus on line-edits, and the majority of the feedback will be given in the letter. 


After you’ve received my feedback, we’ll schedule a half-hour Zoom or phone consultation to further discuss.




  • $300 base price plus 2 cents a word for manuscript critique

  • $100/hour for coaching services (building your own writing process, staying accountable, exploring various aspects of craft, revising)

Critique turnaround:


  • Prose up to 3,000 words: one week

  • Prose up to 10,000 words: three weeks

  • Prose up to 50,000 words: four weeks

  • Prose up to 100,000 words: six weeks


Please contact Nicole at or schedule a free 20-minute chat to discuss your needs here.

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