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Cate Culpepper Mentoring Program
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Cate Culpepper: 1957 - 2014

About the Program

A number of our award winning authors volunteer their valuable and limited time to "pay it forward" by helping new writers of lesbian fiction – novels or short stories. They will help you hone your writing skills, polish your manuscript, provide guidance on how to take your writing to the next level, and they can walk you through the process of submitting your work to a publisher. We are able to offer this kind of help to authors of lesbian literature for free, thanks to the generosity of our author-mentors.

The Cate Culpepper Mentoring Program offers three tiers of mentoring, so that no matter where you are in your writing development, you will be able to get feedback from mentors. 

If you are interested in reading some testimonials, click here



Tier One:

You will be provided with a detailed critique that will include useful advice on how to improve your manuscript, along with useful tips on the craft of writing, and where you might want to spend a little time learning more about certain skills. You are welcome to re-submit a revised manuscript for consideration for a higher Tier of mentoring, or to receive additional guidance at this level. 

In Tier One, your submission will be reviewed once by a talented team of mentors, and a summary of their critiques will be sent to you. These critiques will be extremely helpful, but will remain anonymous, since there will be no back and forth between mentor and mentee at this point in the mentorship process. 



Tier Two:

A one-on-one mentorship for applicants whose manuscript shows great promise, but still needs some work before being in the final stages of completion. By Tier Two, you are expected to have at a minimum mastered grammar and general formatting and basic foundational writing skills (e.g. Point of view, story arc, plot and setting, etc.). The mentor will provide guidance on how to get a deeper appreciation and understanding of aspects of the craft of writing that you need to improve, and how to take your manuscript to the next level. The mentor at this Stage is there to help you advance your writing skills to a higher level, but she will not play the role of line or copy editor.  

In Tier Two, your manuscript will be reviewed by a single mentor.  You will have the opportunity to follow up with the mentor on her review, ask questions, and then resubmit a sample of your manuscript showing how you have implemented her suggestions, for a second review.  She will provide you with additional feedback and suggestions for you to use as you then re-work your manuscript based on her feedback.   The timeline for Tier Two can vary from 3 weeks to 2 months, depending on whether you are submitting a short story or a novel; and on how fast you are able to get a revision back to your mentor.  

Please note that at the end of this level of mentoring, your manuscript will still need significant re-working, and you will be expected to implement the recommendations from your mentor before applying for a Tier Three mentorship.



Tier Three

Tier three is a one-on-one mentorship for manuscripts that are in the final stages of completion – i.e. ready to submit to a publisher, or for self publishing. The submissions must be thoughtfully edited and polished, so your mentor can focus on important elements of the craft, such as story, plot, character development, point of view, and world building.   She will guide you towards having a final product that will potentially grab the attention of publishers and readers.

In Tier Three, you will work closely with a mentor, via email.  You will have multiple opportunities to follow up with the mentor on her review, ask questions, rework your manuscript until you and she believe you are ready to submit your manuscript – or you know what is left to do, before submitting it. The timeline for Tier Three can vary from 3 weeks to 3 months, depending on whether you are submitting a short story or a novel, how much work is needed on your manuscript, and on how fast you are able to get your revision back to your mentor and vice versa.  



Requirements for Submissions:

  • Novel: 8,000 word writing sample and a maximum one page synopsis of your novel. 
  • Short Story: 2,000 to 6,000 words and brief synopsis (no longer than 500 words). 
  • Your writing sample must be from the manuscript you plan to submit for mentoring, and one that you believe you have taken as far as you possibly can without mentoring.  
  • Your sample and your manuscript must have correct formatting, spelling, good grammar, and have had some degree of editing.  
  • Submissions much be a Word file (.doc or .docx)   

Formatting guidelines: 

  • 12 pt Times New Roman, 
  • double spaced, 
  • indent at the start of new paragraph, 
  • no spaces between paragraphs, 
  • adhere to standard dialog formatting, 
  • spell/grammar check your submission before uploading the file on your application.

Mentee Application Process:

1) Sign in to your GCLS Account on our website at
2) Go to:  Education / Cate Culpepper Mentoring Program and click the link to the Mentee Application
3) Fill out the application – but do not submit - see (4)
4) Upload your writing sample, including a brief synopsis, to the application form.
5) Complete the simple math problem, this is to prove the application is being made by a person and not a ‘bot. Then click send.

If you have any questions, please contact us at


Want to be a Mentor?


Do you have a number of books already published, and have you won at least one award for your writing? Have you taught or mentored before?  If you have, then we would love to talk to you about donating some time to help our next generation of authors improve their craft and become our future writers of lesbian literature! 

As a mentor, you can help authors at any of the above Tiers/Levels of mentoring.  Tier One is a straightforward, critique of a new author's first attempt at writing.  Your critique will be shared with the author anonymously, and there is no interaction.  Tier Two, there is actual interaction between you and your mentee.  At this level, there is still work to be done to be ready for a more in-depth mentoring at the Tier Three Level.  Tier Two mentees will still need to leave the mentoring session with much work / re-writing to be done of her manuscript.  Tier Three mentees are looking for someone to help polish their manuscript and make it ready for publication - whether self or submit to a publisher.  For example, can he world-building be improved by introducing (or removing) and small element?  Is there a small hole in the story arc? Hopefully, at this level, there are not huge issues to be resolved and re-worked.  Your mentee may even ask your advice on how to submit, and on writing the cover letter.

If you are ready to "pay it forward" please apply to be a MENTOR today.  You can mentor at any one of the above Tiers, or two or all three.  It is up to you, your available time, and your patience / personality - which only you know best.  We would be honored to have you as a part of our team!

Make sure you are logged into the GCLS site, then click here to apply.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

2017 Tee Corinne Finalists

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