Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


IWSG: Free writing classes!

Am I the only one who wants Christmas back? I was happy to see the end of 2020, but so far, 2021 has brought me: a broken filling (ouch), “fun” with an insurance company who wrongly terminated my benefits, a kitten that was so destructive he had to be given back to the shelter (first time that’s ever happened to me and I’m still so sad we couldn’t make it work); and an upsetting conversation with a friend whom I’m realizing isn’t very good for me. Fun, right? I’m just not ready to pack away the twinkling lights and return to the real world yet.

But for you — or at least those of you who are interested in writing classes — I have some good news:

In my last post, I mentioned three upcoming writing classes I’ll be teaching. Well, thanks to some lovely government funding, the first two of these classes will be offered for free. No catch! And they’re still available to anyone, anywhere in the world.

All class times are 7 to 9 p.m. CST, and the classes will be taught on Zoom.

To find my classes, you need to scroll to the bottom of the McNally Robinson site page once you’ve clicked on the links below. McNally Robinson is an amazing bookstore.

Finding Joy in Writing: Techniques for Writers of All Levels (Jan 18, 25, Feb 1, 8, 22, March 1)

The rewards of writing are many: it’s a stress release, a creative outlet, a much-needed escape, and self-guided therapy. Join award-winning author J.H. Moncrieff as she helps you discover the essential building blocks of a great story, including voice, character, setting, point of view, creating suspense, and more. The class will be customized to the needs of the students. Students can submit a sample of their writing for detailed feedback.

Beating the (Writers’) Block (March 10, 17, 24, 31)

To be successful, a writer must vanquish many foes, including time constraints, negative self-talk, endless distractions, and a lack of inspiration. Award-winning suspense author J.H. Moncrieff will teach you a variety of techniques and tricks to jumpstart your writing muse, conquer self-doubt and fear of failure, and carve out time to write from an overwhelming schedule.

Writing a Page Turner (April 12, 19, 26, May 3)

Want to write a book that will keep your readers on the edge of their seat? There’s an art form to building and maintaining suspense. Award-winning suspense novelist J.H. Moncrieff will take you through the techniques you need to master in order to create a page-turning novel or story, including voice, beginnings and endings, and character development. This course is suitable for every genre, as no one wants to write a book that’s easy to put down. Come prepared to write!

How were your holidays? Any projects planned for the New Year? Resolutions you’re excited about? Tell me your good news — I’d love to hear it!

Happy New Year!

The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThose who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Avatar

    Dear Miss Moncrieff
    Happy New Year, it can only get better.
    Losing a friend is never easy, but if that person was a negative influence they are best left to others on their wave length, rather than being allowed to bring you down. Sometimes, you just have to let go.
    I cannot think of anything sadder than having to return your kitten, but do not be too hard on yourself, the rescue centre will find it a forever home before too long. I have taken in countless strays over the years, some of which were even feral, so I sympathise with your plight for lost/broken/torn, clothes/ornaments/books, etc. One day I returned from work to find my treasured crystal fruit bowl-the only nice thing I received custody of when my partner and I split-smashed to pieces on the kitchen floor, and five very guilty pairs of eyes looking up at me as if to say, ‘It wasn’t me, daddy.’ I still cry about it…Perhaps I need therapy! Anyway, the Egyptians treated cats like Gods, and they have never forgotten that. It’s like they say, dogs have owners, cats have staff…What can you do?
    Sorry, I’m rambling (my poor fruit bowl).
    Have a very happy, healthy and successful 2021. Take care, and stay safe.

  2. Avatar

    That’s a rough start to the new year. It’s hard when you realize a friend isn’t being a true friend, or that your beliefs are quite different and a relationship with them becomes difficult, if not toxic. I would be sad about the kitty, too, but you can’t save every critter. This one wasn’t the right fit for your “family.”

    I just signed up for a writing class with an author I know in Minnesota. I got a grant, so I was able to pay for it and offer a scholarship to another author. I’d love to take one of your classes. I’ll see if it works in my schedule. Glad you got the government funding for your classes.

    Here’s to improvements to health, career, and relationships in 2021!

  3. Avatar

    Sorry your year started off a mess! Keep those lights out a while longer.
    Free classes – cool!

  4. Avatar

    Ugh on the start of the year! I tend to fall into the trap of thinking the year needs to start out perfectly and/or that the year will be perfect. I have to remind myself that a year is long and will have lots of ups and downs. Your “ups” will come soon! 🙂

  5. Avatar

    I think I’ll have to take advantage of your classes! I’m working on a project right now, so it can only help. Thank you for offering these. I hope your new year gets a hefty lift of spirits now, this week, and I’m with Alex, keep those lights out! Bright colors can always help!

  6. Avatar

    I would love to take one of your classes. Too bad I work nights, even with the time difference I’d never be able to make it. I do hope all your classes go well. What a blessing to have them free.
    I’m happy to be moving into my new home and trying out some new platforms this year. Happy New Year!

  7. Avatar

    That is a rough start.

    That’s wonderful the classes are free. That’s why I like offering mine through the community colleges – the college pays me and the class is free for attendees.

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    Wow. I thought 2020 was bad until I read the beginning of your 2021. Hang in there. It has to get better.

  9. Avatar

    That’s no way to start the year! Hope things get better fast, and best of everything to you in 2021.

  10. Avatar

    First, congrats on the writing seminars which I know you will teach quite well. Which Kitten did you have to return? This is sad news and I am sorry you had to bring kitty back. As for the friend, It hurts but, as time goes by, you may ponder on the relationship and realize it was probably one-sided and that friend made you feel guilty or defensive etc… so the friendship was not true on their side. As for your tooth..I hate dentists and sorry you went through that too.

  11. Avatar

    I’ve had a few 2021 snafus already and want to go back to the blinking lights too. Actually, the tree is still up. LOL.
    Sorry about your kitty. Hang in there!

  12. Avatar

    So sorry to hear about the sucky start to the year, especially that you had to give back the kitty. Been there, so I know how hard… Still, the courses sound excellent. Just think, the year can only go up from here!!

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    I hope that the rest of 2021 is better and kinder!

  14. Avatar

    I hope 2021 gets better for you! Thanks for the info on the classes–I’ll check my schedule and see if I can make one of them work.

  15. Avatar

    That’s great you got funding for 2 of the classes.
    I hope 2021 decides to be more kind for the rest of the year.


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