Work With Me Privately

I can help you get your writing project off the ground, troubleshoot a troubled manuscript, or coach you through a writer’s crisis.

I have waded through the slush pile and bounded past the gatekeepers for not one but three  literary agents, and can advise you on putting a submission package together. I also work with people wanting to boost their creativity, identify personal priorities, or need someone to cheer them on. All sessions are conducted by email, telephone and/or video chat.


If you need a check-in, burst of inspiration, or feedback on a handful of pages, consider a one-hour session.

Single session: $100/hr


  • Feedback on 10 pages, double-spaced: $35
  • Feedback on 30 pages, double-spaced: $100

Accountability calls: $55 for 30 minutes



Mentorships include a combination of advice, assignments, inspiration, and feedback on your work. You’ll have someone in your corner for a specified period of time to help you meet and accomplish your objectives. I bring over 25 years of teaching, coaching, and publication success to my relationship with you.

Mentoring packages are paid in full at the start of the program, and must be used within one year from the start of the first session. The mentoring program is best suited for writers who desire ongoing feedback and accountability for their work with a specific goal in mind. Mentorships works specifically to move a writer from Point A to Point B in their creative life, and assumes the writer is seeking guidance and partnership in making that journey.

Choose the payment package below or request a quote for a custom package.

Monthly (recommended)

  • 1 hour phone call once a month
  • Writing packet and cover letter submitted once a month, up to 30 pages
  • Feedback on your work
  • Three payment options:
    • $190/month, due the 1st of the month
    • $171/month for six months, due immediately ($1,026, save 10%)
    • $161.50/month for twelve months, due immediately ($1,938, save 15%)

Submitted work (aka the “Packet”): You may submit up to 30 pages in a Word document, double-spaced, 1” margins, 12-point Times New Roman font. Your submitted work must be accompanied by a cover letter (two to five pages, single-spaced) in which you can provide an overview of where you are, what’s going on with you, what you’re working on, what’s in the packet, any challenges/successes or any questions you may have. The cover letter is also the place to discuss your thoughts on any assigned reading.

You will receive feedback on your work using the Track Changes feature in Word. This is not an edit or proofread, but thoughtful consideration and analysis of your work, with suggestions if appropriate. You’ll be able to discuss any questions brought up by the feedback at the next phone call.

Your packet should be sent to me by the agreed-upon dates. Packets arriving later lose their place in my reading queue and may take longer to get a response.

Calls and packet dates may be rescheduled as needed. Calls cancelled within 24 hours are not refundable.

The fine print: If a client misses two phone calls and/or two packets, the mentoring relationship may be terminated at my discretion. I reserve the right to refund or refuse a project as necessary. Sessions are billed for the full hour (or half hour for accountability calls) even if you choose to end your call early. All sessions must be paid for in advance.

Manuscript Critiques

I offer manuscript critiques for completed work or work-in-progress for the following genres:

  • fiction (literary, mainstream, commercial, literary, family saga, women’s fiction)
  • memoir
  • creative nonfiction
  • poetry (collections of manuscript of chapbook length--or a group of poems)
Price based on length of manuscript and depth requested. Contact me for further details.

Comments from former clients:

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!'."