Open Call for Submissions: 2015 Diaspora Dialogues Mentoring Program

Diaspora Dialogues is excited to announce the 2015 mentoring program, focusing on the creation of long-form manuscripts and offering emerging writers greater in-depth opportunity to hone their craft, and prepare a book-length project for publication.

Diaspora Dialogues invites submissions from emerging writers who currently have a full or near-full draft of an original full-length novel or collection of short stories. Complete or near-complete means that the writer has up t o 85,000 words or 300 double-spaced pages of prose; or up to 25 poems (no more than 50 pages maximum). Submissions will consist only of excerpts from these works (see Guidelines).

Through an adjudicated process, the most promising emerging writers will be chosen for the opportunity to work over a six-month period with a mentor via correspondence (either email or post) between January and July 2015.

Diaspora Dialogues is committed to supporting a literature of Toronto that is as diverse as the city itself. Writers are encouraged to keep this mandate in mind, but addressing this theme directly is not essential in the submission.

To download the application form, FAQs, and read about the experiences of past mentees, please visit the Diaspora Dialogues website.

Submission Guidelines

  • The greater Toronto region must exist in each novel or collection.
  • Work from which the excerpt is submitted must be in a full draft or near-full draft stage.
  • Excerpts submitted can be one chapter from the novel or one short story from the collection up to but not exceeding 5,000 words; poetry can include up to 10 poems but not exceed 15 pages.
  • Submissions must include a one-page description of the novel or collection.
  • Submissions must include a short biography in paragraph form (no more than 250 words.)
  • The work must be original and not previously published.
  • Submissions must be in English. If you would like your submission returned, please include a self-addressed envelope with correct postage.
  • Each writer may submit only one manuscript.
  • A completed submission form must be included.
  • Submissions will not be accepted electronically or by fax.
  • Commentary/feedback is not available on submissions.

Formatting Your Submission

  • All submissions should be on standard, white, 8.5×11’’ pages.
  • All submissions should be in a type face size 11 or larger, no particular font style preferred.
  • Please do not staple or bind any pages of your submission (paper and binder clips are acceptable.)
  • Please do not double-side print your submission—print on one side of each page.


  • Writers must not have a previously published full-length manuscript (although appearances in magazines and/or anthologies are acceptable.)
  • Any writer of any age can apply—alumni of Diaspora Dialogues mentoring program are eligible.
  • Writers must be living in the greater Toronto region, which includes York, Halton, Peel and Durham.

Deadline: Friday, October 31, 2014.

Submissions will not be accepted after the deadline (they must arrive, and not just be postmarked by October 31.)

Decisions will be made by December 2014 and mentoring will begin in January 2015.

Please read through all of the guidelines and FAQs carefully before submitting.

Diaspora Dialogues Mentoring Program

Open Call Application Form, 2015

Please print clearly and complete in full.


Name: _______________________________________________________________________


Address: _____________________________________________________________________


Phone number: _______________________________________________________________


E-mail (please print clearly): _____________________________________________________


Title: ________________________________________________________________________


Type of work: Novel   Short story collection   Poetry collection


Submission Checklist


Completed submission form


Sample from a manuscript at full draft, or near full draft, stage


Short biographical paragraph


One-page description of the work


Self-addressed stamped envelope (if you would like your submission returned)



Total page count of submission (including this page): ____________



Please mail or drop off (Mon-Fri, 9-5) submissions by Friday October 31, 2014 to:


Diaspora Dialogues

170 Bloor Street West, Suite 804

Toronto, ON M5S 1T9



Can I email or fax my submission?

No. Please send your submission by post only.

What if my manuscript is far below or above the length limit specified in the open call?

If your manuscript is not long enough, please do not apply to the program. We will be reintroducing a short-form mentorship program later in 2015.

If your manuscript is in excess, only submit material up to the specified amount, omitting chapters, poems or stories of your choice and adding brief bridging material where necessary.

What level does the work need to be?

If some/any of the following apply to you, you’re most likely to benefit from the program: you have spent at least a year working through drafts, developing character, voice, theme and plot; you have an ending or something close to it. It’s been read/workshopped in writing groups and mentorship programs; you have a good sense of what you are trying to achieve and where you are at in relation to that goal and what need to do to reach it; you feel like you can’t go any further without set of outside, expert eyes; you are able to receive, consider and incorporate criticism.

What does it mean to have the greater Toronto region exist in the novel or collection?

This means more than just using the city as a physical setting, although it can certainly be that. It can mean exploring what the city means to you in a psychological or metaphorical way. It can mean writing about a person, issue or geographic location that is Toronto-specific. The definition is broad, but Toronto must be somehow present in the work.

To get an idea of how some Canadian authors have treated Toronto in their work, please consult the excellent book Imagining Toronto by Amy Lavender Harris (Mansfield Press, 2011) or visit

When will results be announced?

Email notifications will be sent out on Monday December 01, 2014.

If accepted, when do I have to confirm my participation?

Within one week of the notification email.

How often does the program run?

Once every year. The next open call will be in September 2015, for a program start date of January 2016.When does the 2015 program start?

Monday January 5, 2015.

When does the program end?

Monday July 6, 2015.

What does the program offer?

A subsidized opportunity to complete a revised draft of a full manuscript with the guidance of an established author who is also an experienced mentor, helping mentees hone their craft and bring their work closer to publication standard.

Who have been your mentors in the past?

Cynthia Holz, Shyam Selvadurai, Olive Senior, Moez Surani, David Layton, Martin Mordecai, Ian Williams, Leanne Simpson, Elizabeth Ruth, Shani Mootoo, and many others from our short-form mentorship program, who can be found at

How does the program work?

On Monday January 5, accepted writers email the full draft of their manuscript to Diaspora Dialogues and to their mentor. If the mentor prefers hard copy, Diaspora Dialogues will provide printing and couriering services.

Some mentors prefer to work on a limited number of manuscript pages at a time. In this case the mentee will send a full draft to Diaspora Dialogues, but only the requested number of pages to the mentor (either directly by email or post via DD).

The mentorship proceeds by correspondence. The basic cycle is thus: based on a frequency and page count mutually agreed upon by mentor and mentee, the mentee sends the mentor his/her manuscript pages, receives feedback from the mentor, and either resends the same pages after working on them or sends the next set of pages. The latter is recommended so that the mentee can receive the benefit of having the mentor’s input on the full manuscript. This is the point of the program.

A recommended schedule: January 5: mentee sends mentor first 25 pages. January 19: mentor sends the pages back with comments. January 20: mentee sends mentor the next 25 pages, and so on.

An alternative recommended schedule: January 5: mentee sends mentor full manuscript (max. 80,000 words or 300 double-spaced pages). March 5: mentor sends full manuscript back with comments, OR mentor sends sections of the manuscript back with comments every two to three weeks starting January 19.

The above are just recommendations. Each mentor and mentee will decide on a frequency that suits their schedules and work habits, while ensuring that the full manuscript will have been worked on by the end of the program.

Please note: mentees should send their last set of pages to the mentor by mid-June, so that mentors have enough time to complete their feedback by the end of the program.

What kind of feedback should I expect?

The mentoring process will address character, story, structure, pace, writing style and substantive aspects of the work, and no copy editing (i.e., spelling, grammar, word usage etc.) will be provided.

What happens after the program ends?

After July 6, mentees can take up to three months to polish their manuscript before sending it to DD for review. Within three months of receipt, during which the manuscript will be read and reviewed internally and externally, DD will hold a meeting with the writer to advise him/her on the readiness of the manuscript ready to be sent out to publishers. If ready, DD will create and facilitate a plan for manuscript submission (publication, however, is not guaranteed), leveraging our relationships within the Canadian publishing community and adding an enthusiastic letter of support. Otherwise, DD will suggest areas of improvement and remain committed to reading further drafts and providing consultation.

Is there a fee?


Can I choose my mentor?

No. But you are welcome to suggest author(s) who would be ideal mentors for your work. DD will make an effort to contract those writers or similar. But the ultimate decision stays with DD.

How do I know who my writing mentor will be?

At the time of acceptance, or shortly thereafter, DD mentees will be introduced to their mentors via email.

Will I meet my mentor in person?

Close to the start of the program (mid-December or late January) DD will hold an informal Long-Form Mentorship 2014 Wrap/2015 Launch party. If both you and your mentor are able to attend that party, you will meet at the party. Otherwise, mentors and mentees can arrange their own meeting(s) or phone calls at any point during the program, but this is at the mentor’s discretion.

Will I meet the other writers?

Yes, as many as are able to attend the 2014 Wrap/2015 Launch. DD is also looking into the possibility of distributing an email list and/or hosting up to four optional writers’ support group meetings at two month intervals during the program, during which writers can discuss aspects of their work or share their writing.

DD also holds three professional development seminars, called Lunch N’ Learn. These seminars are open to past and current participants of DD writing programs, so writers can also meet then.

Who can I contact if I still have questions?

DD’s’ Mentorship Program Coordinator Rebecca Fisseha is available to mentees Mondays-Wednesdays 9am-5pm, by phone or email: Rebecca Fisseha

416.944.1101 x 360 |