Join me on Patreon

Join me at Patreon for The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement, a nook for hard-working commercial fiction writers to refill the well, remember that creativity is a powerful thing, and take the work to another level.  Join me at

In other news–it’s been quite hectic around here–I finished a new book for Lake Union, which will be out in July.  It’s a juicy story about secrets, mothers and daughters and a wreck of an inherited English mansion. Plus second chances at love, of course.   We also adopted two puppies, chow mixes, and my son was married in NY in June.  Now the cool, wintery weather is blowing in and I’m hunkering down to write, write, write.

Have you read my latest column for Writer Unboxed?  Vanquishing the Killer Critic

And as ever, you can find me chatting on Facebook and posting photos of the puppies on Instagram.  xoxo!

Boot Camp For Writers

NWC-300x250Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference, August 15 – 17, 2014, Los Angeles, CA Plot Your Novel’s Course

Move closer to your goal of completing a tightly crafted novel that will capture and keep the attention of publishers and readers. Learn from industry-savvy speakers and deepen your knowledge in focused sessions.

All this is brought to you by the editors of the industry’s most trusted source for writing advice and insight for more than 90 years—Writer’s Digest.


Experience start-to-finish instruction in the art of crafting a well-written, saleable novel. Many of publishing’s most respected and knowledgeable writers, agents and editors will be on hand to guide you. Hone your craft fundamentals, explore the future of publishing and get the tools you need to advance your career as a writer.


From the numerous opportunities each session offers to connect with its speakers, to the workshopping with other novelists, the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference is your chance to establish real connections with both your fellow writers and industry insiders.

BOOT CAMP:  Romantic Fiction with Barbara O’Neal 
Join me for a three hour intensive on all aspects of writing the romantic novel for a leg up on finding the exact right place for your novels. Strengthen your weak areas and shine in your strong ones with this in-depth, hands-on workshop.


There is a $50 discount to the conference when you register with the promotional code WDSPEAKER.

Who Attends Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference?

Writer’s Digest’s reputation attracts a uniquely dedicated group of writers to the Conference. Most have been writing for years and many have already published. They want and expect relevant information to further their writing careers— whether in the educational sessions or through exposure to valuable products and services.

 Questions? Email me at awriterafoot  @, or ask away in the comments section.  Hope to see you there!

New! Online Voice Class available this fall

Finally!  I have a couple of months that are a little less demanding so I can offer the voice class again this fall. It’s been almost two years!  I love teaching this, and believe deeply in the power of voice, so I’ve missed it a LOT.

What it is:

A six week writing intensive designed to help each writer recognize the unique elements that form her own voice, and to recognize voice as a whole.    Each week, I’ll post a set of exercises, and you will have several days to complete them.  Then you will post your work to the group, and we will then discuss what elements of voice have been showcased that week.   There is plenty of time to discuss questions that come up, and to address each writer’s concerns about her own voice.

The exercises are mostly timed writings, and are designed to build, week by week, to help you see what elements make your voice unique, and how you might be able to best match it to the marketplace. Are you a funny ethnic writer with a thread of poignance?  A serious historical novelist with deep roots in a particular time?  What influenced you to come a writer, who taught you to talk, what have you read and loved?   All these elements form the developing writer.

It’s a very deep workshop, very hands-on, and I believe it can be very helpful for writers who are floundering for whatever reason–too many contest judges, too many rejections, a crazy critique group, an editor who undermined you. Maybe you aren’t at all sure where you belong in the writing universe and need to figure out where you fit.  Over the years, a number of students have found their voices in all kinds of surprising and interesting ways, and have formed friendships with other writers as well.


The class is SMALL, and very intimate, and I will be reading and commenting on your work personally, which is why this is more expensive than the average online workshop.  I do offer two scholarships every time, so if you are aching to do this and just can’t swing it, please drop me an email at with SCHOLARSHIP REQUEST in the subject line and I’ll put your name in a hat.

Start date: August 31, 2010

Price: $225

If you are interested, send an email with Voice Workshop in the subject line to

And any of you out there who found it helpful, either online or in person, please let me know that, too.

Plotting blog and “Magic” class

Two things this morning: 

#1  Posted a blog to Writer Unboxed this morning, Plotting for the Severely Right-Brained.  Might be helpful for some of you who have a brain like mine. 

#2 Reclaiming the Magic class starts on Monday.  The published workshop is nearly full (one spot left), but there is plenty of room in the aspiring class.    I really thought it would go the other way!  This is not divided for elitist reasons, but so that we can focus on the issues writers have at different stages of their careers. 

Some of the things that might specifically come up for aspiring writers:

How do you keep writing after three or five or ten years when you haven’t published and people around you have stopped believing you’ll ever publish?  How do you keep believing in yourself?  What tricks and techniques can help you get your work done even when you’re exhausted from kids/work/life?   How do you recover from a string of painful rejections or bad contest commentary?  How do you deal with other people publishing when you’ve been writing longer?   If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, please email me.

And DON’T FORGET: THERE ARE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE FOR BOTH PUBLISHED AND ASPIRING WRITERS! Only a couple of people have tossed their names in the hat this time.  If you’d like to take the class but just can’t afford it, you might as well give it a shot, right?   Send me an email with “scholarship” in the title.




New class offering: reclaiming the magic

For those looking for Voice, that one is on hiatus until summer, probably in June. This class is new, condensed from the original plan for Circles of Quiet and Girls in the Basement, along with material taken from my columns.

How to get your groove back and find the joy in writing again

I will offer TWO sections, one for published authors and one for aspiring.  This is to help everyone feel more comfortable and free to talk about your problems.  In addition, if you’d like to be anonymous, I have figured out a way to make that happen.  This seems to be a particular concern for published writers who might have had publisher issues or other sensitive problems that have undermined their confidence and joy.  

Some of the topics we will explore are:

Clearing the Decks: remembering the original lure into the writing business. What to keep? What to throw to the seas?
Manifesto and Connection: honoring yourself and your own call to write; connecting to the inner approval guidance system: getting back to your own agenda
Particulars: individual challenges
Celebration: remembering all the great things about being a writer
Flexibility, reinvention, staying in the game

Begins March 2
4 weeks

Enrollment is limited. To reserve a place, email me.

As always, I’m offering two full scholarships.  If you are interested, please send me an email with “scholarship” in the subject line.

A class-y fundraiser

This just in:

Bronwyn Jameson and Anne Gracie are offering a 4 week on-line romance writing course to raise money to help pay the massive hospital bills fellow author Jo Leigh is facing after her husband died of cancer earlier this year. A place in the course will cost US$100 –we are hoping to raise $1000.

The course description: Start the New Year with a gift to yourself, honing your story idea or draft with Anne Gracie (Berkley Historicals) and Bronwyn Jameson (Silhouette Desire.) Anne and Bronwyn are award-winning authors and multiple RITA finalists, much in demand as writing presenters down-under. Presented on-line over the month of January, the course will include lectures, exercises and workshopping. Topics include: mining your premise for gold, exploring your theme, delivering on emotion, creating page-turning tension, structuring memorable scenes, and more. Restricted to 10 participants.
To secure a place in this course bid here:
To read more about the fund-raiser:


This might be a great gift to yourself for the new year.  Anne and Bronwyn are both wonderful teachers–and lots of fun, too.  

Voice classes

Classes are filling.   3 slots left in VOICE I, which begins October 1.    2 slots left in Voice II, which begins October 22.

Email me with questions or to reserve a space.

Or use the comments section to ask general questions or post your own experiences with the classes.  I’m also considering new courses, so if you have something you’d like to see, post here.

On-line Voice Classes Schedule

Two voice classes are in the offering this fall.   Voice II, Holy Callings and Practicalities, has been scheduled to begin October 22.  There are a few openings for those who have already taken Voice 1.   See below for more details.

I have had quite a few inquiries for a Voice 1 class, so I will offer that class this fall as well, beginning October 1.  Details are below.

(And yes, I know these classes are more expensive than some on-line offerings, but they’re quite intensive and student-centered.   If you have questions, email me.)


A six-week writing intensive designed to help writers understand voice as a whole, and to understand the elements that make her own voice unique.

The exercises are mostly timed writings, and are designed to build, week by week, to help you see what you have to offer the world with your work. Are you a funny ethnic writers with a thread of poignance? A serious historical novelist with roots deep in a particular time?  What influenced you to become a writer and what do you want to get from it?  Who taught you to speak, and what have you read and loved?  These are all elements of the writer’s voice.

The class runs from Tuesday to Tuesday, and is comprised of lecture, exercises and discussion. Due to the reading and writing requirement, class size is limited to 8.  A 20% discount is offered for groups of five or more, and there is one scholarship available for each segment.  To be considered, email me with “scholarship” in the subject line and specify which class and date you want to be considered for.

Questions? Email me.

COST: $225
DATES: October 1, 2008


What is voice, exactly?
Childhood and cultural influences
Becoming Aware: ourselves and our places
Voice vs. Style

WEEK THREEOther influences: other writers, stories, genres.
Individual truth and emotional honestly; why writing is scary sometimes, even if you’re making it up and the heroine is a princess for heaven’s sake

Check in: how does it feel? Discussion.
More on influences and exercises on how to see them, see yourself, see others, pick out a voice
Illustrating the differences.WEEK FIVEExercises designed to show individual voice and quests.
Two part exercise designed to illustrate each individual voice. Reading, side by side posts.

Pulling it all together. A worksheet and discussion to help each writer answer lingering questions, put all her ideas in one place, and have a chance to display her own work.

Begins October 1, 2008
Limit 8 students


Many students have asked for a continuation of the voice class, and after much thought, I have fashioned a syllabus that will build on the foundation we use in Voice I.    Using the same format of small, intimate groups, timed exercises, and discussion, we will discuss the passions, ideas, and compulsions we want to express in writing, as well as the practicalities of finding times, fitting ourselves to the right markets and learning to shape voice to style.  As with the other classes, there are scholarships available.

Prerequisite: Voice I or my permission.

Cost: $225
Length: 6 weeks
Class limit: 8

2008 start dates:  March 11; October 22
Email me to hold your place.

Week One–Holy Callings

Week Two–Genres and connection

Week Three–Seminal events


Week Four–Practicalities

Week Five–Path

Week Six–Pulling it all together

A flower to start the spring

yellow tulip

It has been amazingly cold here. I’m contenting myself with forced bulbs over the kitchen sink. This is one given away at the home show last weekend. Such a lovely color. The sunlight helps me remember that it will eventually be real spring, and I’m posting it to help you remember it will be spring in your world, too. A cold blustery March is trying! I haven’t even been able to get out and train much at all. The dogs and I rush out, shiver and chatter in 40 mph winds, then rush back to the warmth to read. Well, I’m rushing to read. They don’t, really, seem to care much about the wind and cold.

For locals: I’m teaching a three hour voice workshop tomorrow at Cottonwood Artist School, at 10 am. Cost is $25, and some of us will have a late lunch afterward. Join us. I’m sure we’ll be laughing and thinking.