• Thank you for your valuable teaching and support. After I won the 2018 Writing It Real contest, my prize, your consultation, launched my dream, this book.
  • “After taking your essay course I have to say thank you. I really wanted to see my writing move forward, even inch by inch, and it has. Working on one longer piece in sections helped. The class feedback was helpful as well. Your advice after I submitted my fourth essay was exactly what I needed to hear.” ~ Debra Gilbreath 
  • “Your prompts, the weekly post requirements, feedback from friends (classmates) work for me.” ~ Sylvia Bowman
  • “Yesterday I received an e-mail from one of the editors from ThrewLine Press — Hartskill Review, and he is going to publish my poem about “speak falsely, tell an untruth” — written in our last workshop!  I had revised it a bit, per comments from you and the group. I am so overjoyed by having this poem able to be read more widely — the whole point of our writing is to speak our truths to others — and it is a wonderful affirmation at this point in my life — and I thank you for the inspirational group work you offer!”
    ~ Barbara Simmons
  • “Sheila, thank you so much for being one of my most important inspirations! This writing I did in your workshop at Pima Community College. It is my first submissions ever of anything I ever wrote, and it got published in the Pima College Art & Literary Magazine Cababi. I am on my way. I am a Writer! And I am published!!!”   ~ Katherine Jackson
  • “I find Sheila’s feedback to be some of the very best I have ever received to help me move my writing to better, higher, deeper levels.” ~ Teri Wunderman
  • I’m still pinching myself…to have found you as a teacher is simply a miracle. This is the first time in a while that I can see how to take my writing up another notch.” ~ Sher Laughlin
  • “I feel like you really are able to get under our skin and feel and see what’s important to us, and say that back to us complete with suggestions of how to say it better. This has been an incredible gift to me, and others too, I’m sure. (I cried a lot as I read your response.)” ~ Marianne Vincent
  • “This is the best writing class, the best group of writers and the best teacher I have ever worked with.Thank you, all of you, for helping me along this path and kicking me in the behind to keep me writing! I had been searching for a writing class online for years and have tried so many but they all left me empty…. yours has filled me with energy and a spark that has ignited my psyche!” ~ Ruth Ewers
  • “The essay you helped me with, “Of Birds and Bees and Spiders, Too” won 1st place in the Arapahoe Community College Literary Contest in the nonfiction category. (That was the essay about deciding whether or not to help a bumblebee out of a black widow spider’s web.) I incorporated your comments and apparently it worked! Thank you again for your spot-on editor’s eye!” ~ Joyce Deming
  • “You are so careful, Sheila, to edit out without adding in. It is like this: I ride the horse and do it well, but have no idea that I have not asked the horse to really run to win. I am just riding the horse well. You take your seat in the saddle, put the horse through its paces and then release him to really run, haunches bunched, breathing hard, riding the rail, tail flying, nostrils flared, to cross the finish line under the wire to win. You trot back to hand me the reins and say, “See how it’s done?” Like it is all in a day’s work.” ~ Barbarann Ayers
  • “Sheila has the unique ability to take a writer’s rough narrative and identify the essence that could be developed into a worthwhile literary piece.  Sheila’s careful feedback helps writers revise, compress, and expand, whatever the piece needs.” ~ Mary Ellen Talley
  • “.. this has been a very productive class for me. I’ve learned a lot and feel like I have grown a lot in the process.” ~ Margaret Riordon
  • “You’re a generous and insightful teacher.” ~ Ray Soto 
  • “What I am particularly struck by with Sheila is that she presents a great comforting wisdom from her background and experience; yet she also has an enthusiasm for the craft of writing that feels like she just got started yesterday.  The enthusiasm is contagious and really inspired me to open up and let my inner critic take a break.. it is a great skill and talent to mix nurturing support with honest critical comments.  I feel Sheila possesses that type of talent and finesse.” ~ Wendy A. Johnson
  • “I`m really enjoying it, by the way. Your exercises always at first make me scratch me head: “What could I possibly have to say about THAT” and then all this stuff flows out, things I haven`t even thought about…” ~ Brenda Horrigan
  • “I appreciate all we did in this class. And it was great having the 3-step response method as a guideline for responding to everyone`s work.” ~ Sandra Braden

Thank you Sheila for setting up such a positive class experience…it has been very helpful.

—Carolyn Leitch

I just wanted you to know that I`m sorry this is the end of class. It`s been an eye-opening experience for me and I think that`s exactly what I was looking for. The feedback from you, especially the editing suggestions, and from the other members of the class was very helpful and encouraging.

— Drew Wilson

I am shocked at what I do not see in an essay until I read Sheila`s response. Some of it I feel while reading, but do not notice until I see her response. Some of the feelings I get, I think I should not respond to. No wonder people pay for another`s experience! It is so required for us to learn. This is an apprenticeship class for me!

— Verna Tracy

I am charmed by this idea and am thinking very seriously of hiring myself as a journaler and all-purpose writer. Thank you Sheila!

— Mai Lon Gittelsohn

I was trying to write about the moon talking to me…one of the assignments on our course with you…I couldn`t get anything `good` down.. It is 7:15 am in Istanbul and I have been at it for half an hour…thirty minutes of meaningless writing…So I needed to `read` something…and this just seemed to be the thing to read. I see why now. I need to `allow myself to create a developing solution with my words, a matrix on the page that could reveal my soul`s news.” and maybe the revelation won`t come today. Thank you for showing me once again to just trust the writing and the soul, as both will reveal what it is they need to.

— Yesim Cimcoz

You thoroughly know how to get thinking on the page to workable prose and communicate feedback clearly and efficiently. It was satisfying to get these stories out and the workshop gave me the confidence to keep at it and to write even when life dissolves into chaos.

Over the years, I`ve done other workshops from places and names you would instantly recognize, but yours by far was the best.

I also appreciate you being available during and beyond the workshop dates and for keeping in touch to keep us moving through the obstacles. That is rare in an online workshop where other instructors often take advantage of the Internet by hiding behind it or not giving as much as if the class and teacher were face to face.

You have my admiration for your deep skills and high commitment as an instructor.

— Michele Picozzi

I have really enjoyed this class. I have learned a lot about my writing from you and the others in the class. Lots of talent.

— Cathy Donker

I have so much enjoyed this class and reading the others` work. Thank you.

— Enid

Thanks for a great class. The exercises inspired writing that I was surprised to find myself capable of, and your comments were insightful and encouraging.

— Debra Baxter

I have been doing these classes for a year and a half, off and on. I am wanting to say things more clearly to others (and to myself) about my experiences of life on this earth and how I see things in the world close to me and sometimes far away. Sheila`s method, especially in group, has been a very helpful tool for my own growth— -as a writer and as a person. Her classes keep me committed to this work. I have seen beauty and progress in what I am doing and what others are doing. It really, really feels like a privilege to be here…I want to keep learning how to edit without feeling like I am censuring myself or another. Sheila`s program is good stuff.

— Melanie Supan Groseta

Sheila`s gentle hand may make a writer out of me yet.

— Judith Lavendar

What you said at the workshop was a breakthrough thought for my own work, to consider an organizing metaphor to bring thoughts to a more integrative, cohesive piece of writing. Thank you, Sheila. The way you taught us from your own experience did not go unnoticed by me.

— Melanie Supan Groseta


Two intensive days of writing exercises, frank discussions, and thorough critique of the work each participant brought made for a unique experience that would be difficult to find elsewhere. We were six women coming from different lives and different perspectives, but through Sheila`s careful and attentive guidance, we were able to learn so much about the personal writing style each of us has within. A passionate, caring instructor, six fascinating, competent writers and exciting, healthy lunches made this an experience I will never forget. Thank you, Sheila, for sharing so much of yourself and making this experience possible. And I thank everyone of my fellow participants for sharing so much of yourselves.

— Karen Nelson

 I took my first writing workshop with Sheila Bender in the 80`s. Little did I know that we would reconnect in 2007 via a Writing It Real weekend retreat. How wonderful! Sheila has retained and perfected her teaching style. Her well-structured workshops are great because of her memory for student work, her ability to help students get at the heart of their writing, her skill at suggesting revisions, and her ready retrieval of helpful references at the drop of a hat. Sheila does this while creating a supportive and facilitative environment, thus insuring camaraderie and collaboration among her students.

— Mary Ellen Talley

I am honored to have met you all. That was the best writing group experience I have ever had.

— Kriss Erickson