The following testimonials have been provided by former clients and students who have taken my classes.

Personal Coaching

Manuscript Evaluations

Testimonial: “Lisa has read two manuscripts for me now, one a short piece of narrative nonfiction and one a full-length novel. Her feedback on both was excellent. She provided an overview document with detailed suggestions on the narrative arc, character development, and more. She also provided page-by-page suggestions and line edits on the entire manuscript. I would highly recommend Lisa even to the most experienced writer.
– Katie Rose Guest Pryal, author of Entanglement

Testimonial: I felt stuck in writing my memoir and having never worked with an editor before, I searched for editors through the Editorial Freelancers Association website. When I contacted Lisa Ellison, she answered my questions in a sensitive, yet diplomatic way. I felt she was a perfect match for me and waited eagerly for her ten-page developmental edit. I wasn’t disappointed. Beautifully formatted and easy to understand, it contained a wealth of detailed feedback tailored to my writing goals. Lisa’s objective and critical thinking lifted me from my quicksand of confusion and set me on a path to streamline my narrative arc. My only regret is that I didn’t contact Lisa sooner!”
– Judy Ochs

Developmental Editing 

Testimonial: “Since I’ve known Lisa Ellison (we met at the VQR conference in August 2015), her incisive commentary on my work has been extraordinarily helpful. It’s easy to see from the outset that she’s genuine and generous, and puts those traits to work in everything she does. Apart from the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing, which she is also good at, she got me to see my work in a different way and to imagine new possibilities. What more could you ask for?”
– Phil Quam, Indonesia, author of "Inmates," published in Word Riot

Testimonial: “I’ve benefited from Lisa’s writing and editing knowledge, expertise, and passion over the course of the past year-and-a-half as I’ve embarked on writing a memoir manuscript. Lisa’s insights and knowledge of the craft have proven invaluable in helping me gain clarity on how to tell my story. She’s a thorough and thoughtful reader with a keen eye for identifying specific ways to make any piece of writing great. She offers excellent feedback on things like structure, plot, narrative arc, pacing, characterization, point of view, scene dynamics, and dialogue. Her feedback has not only proven practical but also inspiring.”
– Thomas Haynes, Charlottesville, Virginia

Testimonial: I met Lisa through one of her writing classes at Piedmont Community College in 2016. I mentioned to her one day that I’ve written some stories over the years, but that I’ve never known how to finish them.  I was elated when she offered to help me, and have been sending stories to her ever since.  Through her encouraging comments and positive, insightful feedback, she guides me toward the finish line with each one.  She asks questions that help me see when a character needs more development, or when to pull back on my descriptions. I rework my stories, and then I rework them some more.  I’m so grateful to finally feel finished with each one I send her.   Lisa is very good at what she does.  AND, she encourages me to keep writing.  I need that!
– Mary Dudley Eggleston, Afton, VA


Testimonial:  “I first met Lisa in a writing class in Charlottesville a few years ago. We shared our stories over the eight weeks of the course. During this time I was impressed with Lisa’s ability to provide helpful feedback on structure, characterization, plot and narrative arc. Her comments enabled me to develop my writing further in a positive direction. I have also been in touch with Lisa for the past year and I have found her insight invaluable. She has a knack for seeing the bigger picture, while at the same time focusing on detail. She also listens well, an important attribute to anyone providing editorial feedback. I would recommend Lisa as an editor of outstanding ability.”
– Jane Cotter, Melbourne, Australia

Testimonial:  I took Lisa’s daytime creative nonfiction class in 2017 at WriterHouse and subsequently met with her privately three or four times to revise a personal essay which is now under consideration by an outstanding literary magazine. When I started to work with her, I was trying to transition from scholarly writing to a genre that people would actually want to read, and it proved to be a very difficult move: I was not at all prepared to take the kind of risk that personal essays require. I’ve made a lot of progress in that regard, and without Lisa’s coaching, I might very well have relapsed into the cool objectivity of philosophy and finance. As a teacher and writing coach, Lisa reads thoughtfully and critically, yet she is eminently respectful; she offers gently persistent suggestions but wants the finished product to be entirely your own work. She considers the structure of the work and the balance between scenes and exposition as well as the voice and style, flags the passages that move her, finds opportunities to strengthen a piece of writing and encourages you to keep working on it, even when you’ve taken it as far as you think is possible. I’ve had several pieces accepted—Silver Needle Press published a personal essay called “The Uses of Adversity,” and Flying South will soon publish a memoir piece called “After the Leaves Have Fallen”—and I’m writing every day. But I’ve just asked Lisa to guide me in revising a new essay, and I know I’ll continue to develop my craft, thanks in good part to her caring, intelligent support. July 28, 2018

–Philip Lawton, Keswick, VA

Classes and Seminars

Memoir in a Year Part II: Complete and Revise the First Draft of Your Book-Length Manuscript

“The course promised a lot and Lisa really delivered. She adapted to our needs throughout the course.” 

“Lisa is the most compassionate yet knowledgeable instructor I’ve ever worked with. Her preparedness, structure, and time management are superb.” 

“I didn’t ever think I would finish this book, but now I think I have a chance.” 

“Highly recommend. Well structured; pushes you to finish manuscript, excellent feedback.” 

“Lisa is the best instructor I’ve ever worked with. She is wise, compassionate, and insightful.” 

“If you want to learn how to write, get excellent feedback from an instructor and others in the class, this is the course for you.”

“I would say it will help you get to the first draft of your nonfiction book. Lisa is a fantastic teacher and mentor, but you will have to work hard

“Run, don’t walk. 100% recommendation. 

Memoir in a Year Part II Students, December 2019

Eight Week Class: Story Matters: Forgive Your Characters, Empower Yourself

“As a mental health counselor, award-winning essayist and editor, and an early student of Brene Brown, there is no better person to teach a course on forgiving real-life characters than Lisa Ellison. Her empathic approach to coaching–coupled with her expert insight into the ins and outs of the forgiveness process–left me in awe of my ability to reckon with the complicated, lovable people who play a role in my story. I walked away from Lisa’s course a changed writer.” –Dana Mich

“This class was informative and revelatory for my writing process. I highly recommend it!”

“Through this class, I found compassion for myself which in turn has greatly improved my writing.”

“Become the hero of your story. Take this class. It’s life-changing, empowering, freeing!”

“Patient, supportive, generous and insightful, Lisa met students where they were and then lovingly nudged us into deeper water to do the hard work. She always remained available as support.”

Story Matters: Forgive Your Characters, Empower Yourself Students, Fall 2019

Conference Breakout Session: How to Write About Trauma without Retraumatizing Yourself 

“Great topic for CNF writers and fantastic resources handed out to attendees!

 “I learned many useful tips from this workshop. Tips I plan to incorporate when I write about traumatic events in my life.”

“The presenter was extremely well versed in her subject, and offered useful tools for writers, even those who are on the fence about calling what they’ve experienced ‘trauma.’ I almost didn’t go to this session because the term trauma is overused these days, but I’m very glad I did go. I also appreciate the workbook she printed for all attendees, making it more likely that we’ll bring the tools she shared into our everyday writing lives.”

“Really well-organized presentation. The speaker’s personal and professional background lent credibility to her presentation.”

 “Reassuring to get expert advice on how/when to tackle difficult experiences in writing and how to manage the process so that you can take care of yourself along the way.” 

2019 HippoCamp Conference Participants, Summer, 2019

Six-Hour Workshop: The Art of Forgiveness: Writing as a Form of Letting Go (6 CEUS for Counselors)

“The focus on the writing experience The experiential activities built on one another so that we could gain insight into the process of forgiveness. Lisa is a wonderful teacher and an inspiring model.”

 “I enjoyed the whole process.”

 “So much helpful information. It is perfect. Lisa is a wonderful presenter. Professional and warm.”

“Very organized and well presented with a variety of activities which kept us all engaged.”

“Learning the process of forgiveness. This will be beneficial in counseling clients. Enjoyed and appreciated Lisa’s style!”

 “I enjoyed that we also went through the process rather than just telling us the steps”.

 “The presenter’s gentle, inviting style. It was excellent and I appreciate the opportunity.” 

James Madison University Summer Institute in Counseling Participants, Summer, 2019

Yearlong Class: Memoir in a Year Part I: Writing the First Draft of Your Book-Length Memoir 

“I have taken Lisa’s courses before, so I know her style, and I really like her candor, her
warmth, her encouragement and the way she treats everyone as a colleague, not a student.”

“Lisa kept everything interesting and varied the material, class activities, homework. She is
great at a variety of methods, selection of readings, and analysis.”

“Lisa is one of the most thoroughly conscientious teachers I have known. She brings a wealth
of information and compassion for the process.”

“Outstanding, thoughtful, creative instructor. Excellent preparation. Encouraging. Excellent

“Organized, motivating, compassionate, available. She held us accountable to our own

“Lisa is attentive, patient and dedicated. Also caring.”

“ Lisa creates a safe space for the writer and the writing. Her knowledge and compassion are

WriterHouse Students, 2018

Daylong Seminar: The Art of Forgiveness – A Writing Retreat (co-taught with Debora Prum)

 “Instructors created a warm, safe atmosphere for dealing with a difficult topic.”

“Both instructors were excellent listeners and created a safe space.”

“Experienced and patient. Good sense of pacing and creating a safe environment.”

“Anyone dealing with hurt or pain will find this workshop useful.”

“Yes. I would say we did a fair amount of writing, which I was glad of.”

WriterHouse Students, Fall 2018

Week-Long Intensive Class: Memoir 101- The Inciting Incident

Kind, caring, compassionate above all—knowledgeable, supportive, encouraging.”

“She kept us to the task of writing in a very friendly and unthreatening ways.”

“She brings out the best in us.”

“Lisa is clearly very experienced. I appreciated how she kept us focused on the topic, and beginning and finishing on time.”

“The teaching was excellent. The classroom was a safe space as well as a place of inspiration.”

WriterHouse Students, Summer 2018

Two-Hour Seminar: (HE)ART Speaks – The Mindful Connection Between Poetry and Art (Co-taught with artist Jum Jirapan)

“Both instructors helped and participated, training the class with their processes.”

“I liked how calm and relaxing the experience created by the instructors was.”

“Open. Positive. Engaged.”

“She was great! She gave guidance and made herself available for questions.”

“Knowledgeable. Organized. Good presenter.”

“They described the work and what was expected of us and let us explore.”

WriterHouse Students, Summer 2018

Full Day Seminar: Writing to Heal: The Power of Personal Writing (6 hours CEUs)

“This was fantastic! Lisa is a wonderful and knowledgeable instructor. The material is relevant to my practice and I’m looking forward to using it with clients. This has resparked my desire to write for myself as well!”

“Lisa Elison empowered me to feel comfortable using writing in my work at a mental health nonprofit and gave me ideas for how to make my creative writing classrooms richer and more thoughtful. Thank you.”

“Thank you for your thoughtfulness and communication leading up the event. You are clearly an expert and very organized. Thanks for a great day.” 

James Madison University Summer Institute in Counseling Participants, Summer, 2018

Half-Day Seminar: The Sexy Art of Critiquing Manuscripts

“Take it! Pacing and variety of exercises excellent—great use of lecture, small groups, discussion.”

“Lisa came well-prepared with a great packet of hand-outs. She listened and responded to each person.”

“Lisa has the wonderful ability to break things down so they’re easily understood.”

“Lisa always has great hand-outs and obviously comes well-prepared. She creates an excellent balance of instruction, participation, questions, and feedback.”

WriterHouse Students, Summer 2018

Retreat: The Gifts of Grief: A Retreat on Writing Through Your Loss, (Co-taught with Deborah Prum)


“Lisa and Debby are excellent, clear, organized, insightful, and compassionate.”

“Kindness, reassurance, acceptance. It was well-structured. Writing vs non-writing activities. Time flew by.” 

“Great women. Really gently and thoughtfully approached the topic as a way to make the space safe for all.” 

WriterHouse Students, Winter 2018

 8-Week Class: Your Life as a Story, WriterHouse Class Fall 2017

“Very supportive environment. I really did feel the “love it to the next level.” It was instructive and interesting but required no defenses.” 

“Lisa is an outstanding instructor. She is able to combine teaching the craft of writing with a sense of what is important to the writer—to write honestly and what is true for you.”

“Lisa is a gentle, knowledgeable, kind soul who is so generous with her time, talent and concern.” 

WriterHouse Students, Fall 2017

Half-Day Seminar: The Writer’s Life: Setting Goals and Planning What’s Next

“Created safe atmosphere for sharing; knowledgeable about writing challenges and how to work with them.” – WriterHouse Student

“Lisa is easy to be with, a wonderful facilitator of time. She gave excellent tips and answered questions beautifully.” – WriterHouse Student

“I loved Lisa’s fluency with mental health, holistic living material, and her continued mention of ‘what serves you.” – WriterHouse Student

WriterHouse Students, Fall 2017

8-Week Class:  Daytime Creative Nonfiction

“Keeps time well. Moves class along at good pace. Like the meditation moments, timed writings. She gives every person encouragement, understanding; articulates her impressions of our work well.” 

“Lisa creates safe a container for difficult memories and painful feelings.” 

WriterHouse Students, Summer 2017

8 Week Class & 5-Day Intensive: Writing 101: The Elements of Good Storytelling

“Excellent instruction. Personal commitment to mindfulness. She knows her discipline and can convey information from personal experience as well as scholarship in the field. Encouraging!” – WriterHouse Student

“She was very organized, gave appropriate examples, and extensive feedback. I cannot think of any ways she could improve. It was great!”

WriterHouse Students, Spring and Summer 2017

8 Week Class & 5-Day Intensive: Writing 101: The Elements of Good Storytelling

“Excellent instruction. Personal commitment to mindfulness. She knows her discipline and can convey information from personal experience as well as scholarship in the field. Encouraging!” – WriterHouse Student

“She was very organized, gave appropriate examples, and extensive feedback. I cannot think of any ways she could improve. It was great!”

WriterHouse Students, Spring and Summer 2017

8-Week Class: Writing with an Open Heart 

“Managed the class and goals well. She had a great array of authors for us to learn from and I really liked the excerpts she read before class. Also, just being aware of our needs as writers and how we can grow!” 

“Always encouraging. Knowledgeable about writing. I learned a lot about memoir.” 

WriterHouse Students, Fall 2016 & Winter 2017

4-Week Class: Writing Down Your Bones

“Lisa has a very strong presence as a teacher and was excellent at facilitating us as a group” 

“The writing exercises and mindfulness were interwoven so effectively, instructor/ encouragement really top-notch” 

Piedmont Community College Students, Spring and Fall 2016

Testimonial: “Lisa is both an accomplished teacher and very talented practitioner of mindful writing. She is a very capable, empathic and insightful writing teacher, who creates and sustains a safe, warm space for students to learn and become successful mindful writers themselves. Lisa is nurturing, attentive and generous — everything one wants in a teacher of such a practice. Students will benefit from her kind, insightful and truly mindful attention, and will grow under her tutelage and guidance.”
Rita Hart, book publisher Melbourne, Australia

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