Mentoring Program

Make an investment in your writing career!

Writers at every level can use guidance when it comes to shaping and refining their work. Creative Nonfiction's Mentoring Program gives writers one-on-one access to accomplished mentors who are not only great writers, but also experienced teachers and editors.

No matter how big (or small) your project, our mentors can:

  • Help develop your technique and approach to creative nonfiction composition
  • Review your manuscript and offer a detailed evaluation and plan of action
  • Help you revise, edit, and shape your manuscript from the first page to the last
  • Assist with book proposals and help you navigate the publishing landscape

Since all writers, and writing projects, are different, every program is customized. Whether you’re trying to find your voice as a writer, draft a book proposal, receive specific feedback, or publish, Creative Nonfiction can create a program that’s right for you.

Please follow the links below for more information about:

Please note: CNF's Mentoring Program is most beneficial to writers with a project already in the works, as well as those who can set and meet their own deadlines.

If you're looking for a more structured learning environment that will help you produce new work, check out CNF's Online Classes.

The Programs

The Basic Manuscript Review

This program is designed to help you with a projectregardless of its conditionthat needs an honest read, an unbiased opinion, and a healthy dose of constructive criticism. This mentorship is meant to advise you on general writing technique and goals, and includes line edits and margin comments, a written evaluation, and a follow-up phone call, email, or Skype session with your mentor. 

The Basic Manuscript Review + Revision Review

This unit combines The Basic Manuscript Review with a critique of the revised manuscript. Following the first review session, you will have the opportunity to rework and resubmit your manuscript. Your mentor will provide the same level of response and critique from the first session, which includes line edits and margin comments, a written evaluation, and a follow-up phone call, email, or Skype session. This program can be customized to include as many rounds of revision and review as you choose.

The Book Proposal Program

This program is designed to guide you through the process of creating a book proposal, including writing and revising a cover letter, project introduction and overview, chapter outline, marketing analysis, sample chapters, and a query letter. The standard book proposal course is an eight-session program to be completed over the course of six months, though this program is also customizable, and can be broken down to focus on each component (chapter outline, sample chapters, etc.) separately.

The Book Proposal Review

This unit covers some of the same ground as The Book Proposal Program, but is best suited to writers who already have a proposal drafted and need help polishing and refining the manuscript before sending it out to agents and publishers.

Customized Modules

Don't see a program that's exactly what you're looking for? We allow for alternative mentoring structures. Writers of all levels can use a push in the right direction, and our skilled mentors will build a plan to meet your individual writing needs.

Contact us for more details »

How to Enroll

We enroll writers in our mentoring programs year-round. We structure a course to meet your schedule, and never ask for registration fees until you know exactly what you're signing up for.

To get the process started, please take a few minutes to answer the following questions, and send your answers in an email to Chad Vogler (vogler[at]

  • What is your background as a writer?
  • What do you think your strengths are as a writer? Your weaknesses?
  • Do you have a manuscript in progress? If so, what is it about?
  • What do you like about the manuscript? What's giving you trouble?
  • How long (pages and word count, please) is the manuscript?
  • What exactly do you hope the CNF mentoring program will do for you?
  • Ideally, what would you like to take away from this program?
  • Is there a particular mentor you're interested in working with? Who? And why?
  • For more information, please contact Chad Vogler with your specific questions. Email: vogler [at]


The cost of each program depends on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to) the size and scope of the manuscript, the number of sessions required to complete the program, and an estimated time commitment required of the mentor.

You will never be asked to pay for any mentoring program until:

  • You have been in contact with CNF's mentoring director to discuss your project
  • You have agreed on the parameters and cost of the program
  • You have approved of the mentor assigned to you
  • Enrollment fees are due prior to beginning any mentoring program, and flexible payment plans are available for longer term, multi-session programs.

Please note: tuition is non-refundable once a program begins.

Our Mentors

Creative Nonfiction's mentors teach everything from technique and writing methods to confidence and professionalism. These experienced writers and editors aren't looking for typos. They're looking for promise and potential.

Please note: though we do our best to honor requests from incoming mentees to work with specific mentors, since all of our mentors are also working writers, editors, and/or teachers, they are not always available. 


Mary Jo Cartledgehayes is a freelance writer and author of Grace: A Memoir and To Love Delilah, as well as a founding director of the Mentoring Program.

Rebecca Cook writes poetry and prose and is particularly interested in the intersection of these forms, of language and story, of every possibility of the essay. Cook is a Bread Loaf Fiction Scholar (2009), and has published one novel, Click, (New Rivers Press, 2013) and two collections of poems, The Terrible Baby (Dancing Girl Press, 2006) and I Will Not Give Over (Aldrich Press, 2013 ). Her essay “Flame” (Southeast Review 2012) was a notable essay in the 2013 Best American Essays. Cook’s poetry and prose have appeared in the Georgia Review, New England Review, The Rumpus, the Nervous Breakdown, Jubilat, Antioch Review, Massachusetts Review, Seneca Review, Luna Luna, Map Literary, and many others. She holds BA, MA, and MFA degrees in literature, writing, and creative writing (creative nonfiction and poetry). She is represented by Pamela Malpas at Harold Ober Associates, and she blogs at

Anita Diggs has twenty-four years of experience in publishing, beginning her career as assistant to the CEO of New American Library (Penguin). Later a senior publicist at Time Warner Trade Publishing, she moved to the editorial arena and helped shape the careers of aspiring and experienced novelists. Her extensive editorial and publicity experience launched her into the position of senior editor / director of One World Books (Random House), where she built a strong list of fiction and nonfiction titles covering autobiography, biography, memoir, pop culture and fiction. Anita has lectured across the country on the topics of creative writing, book development, and how to get a literary agent, and she has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, C-Span, and the New York Daily News. She holds a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing, and she teaches fiction and essay writing at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Lise Funderburg is the author of the bestselling memoir Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home, as well as the oral history Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; MORE; the Nation; Prevention; the Chattahoochee Review, CleaverArchitectural Digest, and many other publications. Topics include race, community, health, end-of-life care, trashpicking, gardening, familial bonds, and food. Lise has worked as an editor for Garden Design, Vogue, and Mademoiselle, and teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University Creative Writing MFA program.

Diana Hume George is the author of The Lonely Other: A Woman Watching America. She writes about gender, race, travel, and contemplative practices, and teaches in the creative nonfiction MFA program at Goucher College and at the Writer’s Center in Chautauqua.

Aaron Gilbreath is the author of the personal essay collection Everything We Don't Know (2016), a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and This Is: Essays on Jazz (2017). His essays and articles on music, relationships, food, people, history, and travel have appeared in Harper's, the New York Times, the Kenyon Review, Tin House, the Paris Review, Saveur, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Morning News, Southwest Review, Columbia, and the Threepenny Review, and have been notables in Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing. He's an editor at Longreads and currently works at Portland State University's Writing Center.

Kelle Groom's memoir of loss and redemption, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster), is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice selection, a Library Journal Best Memoir of 2011, and O, The Oprah Magazine selection. Her publications include three poetry collections, most recently Five Kingdoms, and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, and Best American Poetry 2010. She is on faculty of Sierra Nevada College's MFA program.

Lisa Catherine Harper is the author of the award-winning memoir A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood (U Nebraska, 2011) and coeditor of The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (Roost/Shambhala, 2013). Her essays and stories have appeared in a range of journals, newspapers, and anthologies. She holds an MA in fiction and a PhD in American Literature, and has taught graduate-level fiction and creative nonfiction for over a decade in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco.

B.J. Hollars is the author of several books, most recently From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us About Life, Death, and Being Human, as well as a collection of essays, This Is Only A Test.  He serves as the reviews editor for Pleiades and a contributing blogger for Brain, Child and Michigan Quarterly Review. A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he lives a simple existence with his wife, children, and dog. For more, visit his website and the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild; read a sample of his work at The Huffington Post.

Kelsey Osgood is a graduate of Columbia University and Goucher College’s creative nonfiction MFA program.  She is the author of the memoir How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. She has contributed to the New Yorker’s Culture Desk/Page Turner blog, Salon, New York, and Time, among other places, and has written on subjects as varied as Hasidic punk rockers, python hunting in the Everglades, and Icelandic liquor. Kelsey was also a consultant to former head of the FDA David Kessler, MD, on his book Capture: A Theory of the Mind. Her interests include religion, psychology, and literature. For more information, visit her website.

Leslie Rubinkowski directs the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at Goucher College.  She has also taught at the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University, and has lectured at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. The author of Impersonating Elvis, her essays have appeared in Harper's, River Teeth, and Chautauqua.

Carol Spindel has taught nonfiction writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for over twenty years. Her first book, In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove, a memoir of living in a village in northern Ivory Coast, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her second book, Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy Over American Indian Mascots, raised public awareness about stereotypes of American Indians. Her short pieces have been published in magazines including African Arts, Horticulture, Oxford American, and the Writer's Chronicle, where she wrote about the ethics of memoir. In 2011, one of her radio commentaries received the PRNDI for Best Writing from the National Public Radio News Directors.

Becky Tuch is the founding editor of The Review Review, a website dedicated to reviews of literary magazines. She has received literature fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and The Somerville Arts Council, and her fiction has won awards from Moment Magazine, Glimmer Train, Briar Cliff Review, Byline Magazine, and elsewhere. Other fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Salon, Virginia Quarterly Review online, Salt Hill, Summerset Review, Barrelhouse, Hobart, Quarter After Eight, and other print and online publications. For more information, visit her website.