Summer 2016 Workshop a Wonderful Success! At least I Thought So

Summer 2018 Writing Workshop Dates To Be Announced by January 2018

Sometimes we just need the company of like-minded folks embarking on a similar journey to inspire us. Also, we often need to give ourselves permission to excuse ourselves from daily life so we can settle down and focus on our work.

At the end of July, I am offering a writing workshop in my home in Oakland, California July 22-24 2016. The focus of this workshop will be prose or poetry.

For one evening and two full days, we will focus on your manuscript/piece through a process of lecture, discussion, writing, reading aloud, and further discussion.

Each day will start with a lecture, a writing exercise, and then culminate in an afternoon of workshop.

We will start with a festive dinner buffet, meet-and-greet, and brief writing the evening of the 22nd. The following two days, a continental breakfast and coffee and a full lunch will be provided as well as beverages and snacks. We will be in my home in the Oakland hills with view of cypress and redwood trees, coffee and lunches out on the patio and deck. I will provide hotel/motel accommodation information for those from out of town. A very local and amazing ARBNB property is often available and sleeps up to three, if you want to share. This house has a five bridge view! Also, I can provide suggestions about evening meals in Oakland (we have amazing restaurants).


I’ve been teaching novel writing for UCLA Extension for fourteen years, and several of my former students have gone on to publication. I am a tenured professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, where I’ve taught creative writing since 1990. I’m the author of twelve traditionally published novels (Penguin, Kensington Books). My thirteenth, How to Bake a Man, was published October 21, 2014 from Ghostwoods Books. A Pushcart Prize nominee, my short stories, poems, and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Pebble Lake Review, Compass Rose, The Smoking Poet, AOL News, and other online venues.

Class size maximum 10

Cost: $250 per person

Please email me at for further information.

Comments from former workshop participants:

Jessica Barksdale provided a warm and creative environment at her workshop where we could learn about, think about, and write about our characters, settings, and plots.  She is an incredibly knowledgeable literary scholar and an expert at her craft.  Learning from her was a gift.

-Terri, Truckee, CA


Jessica Barksdale is just a really great writing teacher.  As someone who has studied the arts most of my life (ballet, acting, singing) it strikes that many of my teachers had such difficult personalities that it made it hard to digest what they were actually teaching.  I appreciate how skillfully she presented information, the concrete doable writing exercises she had us do, and the considerate way she dealt with each student.

Jessica is personable, likable, and pretty silly at times.  She is also very able to provide direct useful criticism. I think everyone left the workshop with an enthusiastic sense of direction.  I know I did.

- Adriane, Los Angeles, CA


I had always dreamed of going to a writing retreat, several days of learning and writing with writers in a serene environment. When Jessica’s email announcing a four-day retreat at her home popped up on the screen, I was ready to go. The retreat was more than I had imagined. I never doubted I’d learn a lot. I have always learned from Jessica over the years. She’s been my best source for inspiration and learning the craft.

Ten writers assembled and after four days together, I have new friends who encourage, critique with kindness and wisdom, and like to laugh together. The homemade food was delicious and we begged for the recipes. We practiced what we learned for improving our writing in cozy chairs on three levels inside the house or sitting on desks surrounded by trees. My dream came true. Thank you, Jessica

-Julaina, Martinez, CA

And from former students:

"She was so approachable and kind.  She set the tone for the group.  She gave everyone consideration and time.  [Her] feedback helped me break through an area I was having trouble recognizing and changing.  I have never had a more enthusiastic or more "natural" teacher.  She clearly has a grasp on how to teach writing"...."Wonderfully expressive, well steeped in her craft, savvy and realistic"...."Jessica gave me just the right toolbox I needed to get started and she did it in an entertaining and concentrated dosage"...."A perfect mix of both information and practical writing exercises and evaluation."...."Just wanted to let you know that the novel I worked on in your class, The Divorce Domino, (now The Island Escape) is number five in the Kindle Bestsellers chart over in the UK. I couldn't have done it without your help and I'm so grateful to you - still carry those lessons and words of wisdom from you around as I approach the next one, thinking, 'Hmm, I've no idea how I did this before!'."