For writing groups and RWA chapters, I offer workshops on developing both craft and career.

Listening to Voices and Delving Through the Trash: Character Development
Understanding what a character WANTS is our first challenge in shaping a story; but one of the ideals that has guided writers for nearly a century was described by Strunk in The Elements of Style:
“The surest way to arouse and hold the attention of the reader is by being specific, definite and concrete.”

Although we may not use all the details we have gathered about our characters’ histories, fears and preferences, those particulars will inform and shape the approach they take to the world, the choices they make and the consequences they must deal with.  Truly knowing our characters starts with being open to their voices in our heads, but where do we go from there?  Learn how to bring your characters to life with the telling detail—from what they can’t live without to what they throw away in their trash.

What’s It All About: Crafting a Synopsis
You’ve crafted your novel and honed those first three chapters till they gleam.  But the editor or agent responding to your query says “Send me a synopsis,” and your palms get sweaty and you start to hyperventilate.  Your avoidance mechanisms shift into overdrive, you pull the comforter over your head and burrow with a box of chocolate.

For those who’ve conquered the 300-page manuscript but grow pale at the prospect of distilling it into a 3-page synopsis, “What’s It All About?” offers straightforward advice on moving past the paralysis and shaping a compelling synopsis.

Setting Your Voice Free
Your writer’s voice is as distinctive as your fingerprint or the pattern of your iris.  It is an expression of “you” in a deeply personal and visceral way.  But as writers we often flounder trying to achieve a distinctive voice.  Rather than seeking to capture your voice, come discover how to set it free.  Explore the roles perception, memory and emotional honesty play in developing and refining your unique voice as a writer.

Raising the Dead:  Transforming History into Fiction
I have always been fascinated by how our histories shape us—from the intimacy of family history to the broad sweep of political history.  Consequently, my stories have always been populated by characters who are deeply influenced by both their temporal environment and their intergenerational relationships. But those stories were always told within the frame of the present—through letters or memories or “family stories.”

When I tackled a full-blown work of historical fiction, I ventured into new territory that required a specific set of skills. As I made my way through the underbrush, hacking away with a figurative machete, I learned a few things. This workshop will cover conducting research, organizing materials, distilling information, and focusing on the “story” within the facts.

If you are interested in my leading a workshop, please contact me at

Stories of the search for connection and belonging