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 learning environment with more structure and 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 »


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, MFA VCFA, was a Bread Loaf Scholar in 2009, and her essay, “Flame,” was a notable essay in the 2013 Best American Essays. She writes poetry and prose and is especially interested in the myriad possibilities of the essay—lyric essay, fictitious essay, one sentence essay, fractured essay, and on and on. You can find her work online in The Rumpus, Atticus Review, The Nervous Breakdown, The Cortland Review, Sliver of Stone, etc., and in print journals including The Georgia Review, New England Review, Antioch Review, Massachusetts Review, and Southeast Review. She has taught creative nonfiction at UT Chattanooga for over ten years. Her book of poems, I Will Not Give Over (2013), is now available, and her novel, Click, is coming soon from New Rivers Press.

Anita Diggs is a publishing consultant and writing coach.  She has worked as a Senior Editor at Random House/Ballantine Books and as a developmental editor at Time Warner Trade Publishing.  She holds an MFA in Memoir from Hunter College.

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; and many other publications. Topics include race, community, health, end-of-life care, trashpicking, and food. Lise has worked as an editor for Garden Design, Vogue, and Mademoiselle, and teaches creative nonfiction at The Paris American Academy and the University of Pennsylvania.

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 Chatauqua.

Rebecca Godfrey is the author of two books. Her most recent, Under The Bridge, a blend of literary narrative and investigative journalism, was awarded Canada's largest award for literary nonfiction. Godfrey's articles and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies, newspapers and magazines. Prior to her publications, she was an editor at Alfred A. Knopf Canada and has since worked as a freelance editor on projects published by Random House (U.S.).

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 Oprah O 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. 

Jessica Handler is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss. Her first book, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir was named one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read.” Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Drunken Boat, Brevity, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and More Magazine. Topics include writing the medical experience, documentary filmmaking, and American cultural history, particularly the Southern labor movement. Jessica teaches workshops nationally about the craft of writing well about difficult subjects.

Lisa Catherine Harper is the author of the award-winning memoir A Double Life: Discovering Motherhood (U Nebraska, 2011) and co-editor 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 MFA program at the University of San Francisco.

B.J. Hollars is the author of Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence and the Last Lynching in America and Opening the Doors: The Desegregation of the University of Alabama and the Fight for Civil Rights in Tuscaloosa.  His hybrid text, Dispatches from the Drownings: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction will be published next fall. He has also edited Blurring the Boundaries: Explorations to the Fringes of Nonfiction. Topics of interest include race, family, animals, and hybrid forms.  B.J. teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Karen Livecchia is a publishing consultant and developmental editor. She has worked as Managing Editor of Cosimo Books/New York and as a Developmental Editor at Managing Editorial Services in New York, and is now at ESB (Eat. Sleep. Books.) CONSULTING/NYC. She holds an A.L.B., cum laude, from Harvard University and an M.S. in Publishing from New York University's at the School of Continuing and Professional Education. Karen has recently launched an all-digital publishing venture, Ardent Street Press.  She is currently interested in developing works of creative nonfiction as well as memoir/autobiography, essay/opinion, and works of general nonfiction.

Emily Loose is an independent book agent, editor and publishing consultant. She has worked as a senior acquisitions editor at three of the big five general trade publishing houses, Crown Publishers of Random House, The Penguin Press of Penguin Books, and Free Press of Simon & Schuster, signing and publishing seventeen New York Times bestsellers in that time, as well as for John Wiley & Sons and the Cambridge University Press. She has specialized in science, history current affairs, popular social science, narrative nonfiction and business, and has worked with many academics on award-winning and ground-breaking books, including works by two Noble Prize-winning economists, Douglass North and Elinor Ostrom. More information is available at

Dinty W. Moore is the editor of Brevity and the author of numerous books, including The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life, Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction, and the memoir Between Panic & Desire, winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize. He is also the director of the creative writing programs at Ohio University.

Jessica Olien's writing has been published in Slate, Salon, Bust, Jezebel, Nerve, Marie Claire,, Budget Travel, Condé Nast Traveler, and many others. She's worked as a journalist based in Thailand, Egypt and The Netherlands. Her work has been cited by The New York Times, The Economist, the New York Observer, The Daily Beast, PBS and many others, and she's appeared on international television and radio programs, including NPR's Talk of the Nation, to discuss her work.

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 written on subjects as varied as Hasidic punk rockers, python hunting in the Everglades, and Icelandic liquor.  Her interests include religion, psychology, and literature.

Lisa Roney is the author of the memoir Sweet Invisible Body. Her writing focuses on health, illness, place, home, and cultural commentary. She is on the MFA faculty at the University of Central Florida.

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 Writers’ 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, and one of the founders of the literary blog Beyond the Margins. 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 writing has appeared in Salon, Virginia Quarterly Review online, Hobart, Quarter After Eight and other print and online publications. Find her at

Susan Zakin is the author of Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement (Viking), described by The Christian Science Monitor as “brilliant and irreverent" …. "the most thorough and thoughtful survey of the American environmental movement.” Zakin’s work spans the nonfiction genre, including books, literary essays, and political columns. She is a nationally recognized environmental writer, but in recent years her work has focused on globalization and civil society, particularly in Africa. She is at work on a novel.


John Falk is an award-winning freelance magazine writer and editor who has led various workshops and seminars in creative nonfiction. He has written feature stories for Esquire, Vanity Fair, Details magazine, National Geographic Adventure, GQ, Radar, and Outside Magazine, among others. He is also the author of the memoir, Hello to All That (Henry Holt/Picador, 2005). He is a scriptwriter and member of the Writer's Guild of America/East, with several of his pieces having been adapted into feature films, including the recent movie The Hunting Party, starring Richard Gere and Terrence Howard.

Judith Kitchen is the author of two creative nonfiction books, editor of the creative nonfiction anthologies In Short and In Brief, and poetry reviewer for The Georgia Review.

Sam MacDonald has a BA in history and economics from Yale University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh. His memoir, The Urban Hermit, was published by St. Martin’s Press in November 2008. His first book, The Agony of an American Wilderness (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005) explored a growing environmental conflict in northwestern Pennsylvania. A former journalist, his work has appeared in Reason, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh City Paper, Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, Preservation and other outlets. He was formerly a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow.

Kat Meads is the author of the creative nonfiction collection Born Southern and Restless and teaches in Oklahoma City University’s low-residency MFA program. Her work has received two Notable Essay citations in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Best American Essays series and nonfiction awards from New Letters, Drunken Boat and Lyra Magazine. Her creative nonfiction has also appeared in Agni, Crazyhorse, American Letters and Commentary, The Southern Review, Chautauqua, Crab Orchard Review, and other literary journals.

Irene Prokop is a freelance writer, editor and publishing consultant. Formerly, she served as the editor-in-chief of Jeremy P. Tarcher, a division of Penguin/Putnam, and senior editor at Crown/Random House and Perigee Books.

Mike Rosenwald is a staff writer at the Washington Post. He is also an accomplished magazine writer whose work has appeared in the New YorkerEsquire, Smithsonian and Popular Science. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in feature writing.

Sarah Saffian is the author of Ithaka: A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found. She is a teacher at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, as well as an adjunct professor at New York University and the New School. She is the former editorial director of She Writes, senior editor for Entertainment Weekly, and staff writer for The New York Daily News. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesSmithsonianYoga JournalThe San Francisco ChronicleRedbook, and Slate, among other places.

Rebecca Skloot is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Her award winning science writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Discover, and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s Nova ScienceNOW

Kathleen Tarr has taught creative writing at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, and is the former Program Coordinator of UAA’s low-residency MFA program . She received her MFA in nonfiction from the University of Pittsburgh. Her work is forthcoming in The Sewanee Review, and has appeared in TriQuarterly, Cirque, America Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and various magazines and anthologies. She was recently appointed as a Mullin Scholar at the University of Southern California’s Center for Advanced Catholic Studies and has recently completed a manuscript for her first book---a spiritual memoir involving Thomas Merton, Alaska, and Russia.


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.

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 our director of educational programs, Anjali Sachdeva (sachdeva[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 the director of educational programs, Anjali Sachdeva, with your specific questions. Email: sachdeva [at]