Students Speak

How Ripe Fruit excels…

“I did a week-long intensive with a nationally known writing guru and a workshop that lasted about a year. Quite honestly, I feel that the material presented in Ripe Fruit (structure, content, exercises) was vastly better than anything I’ve experienced in any other writing class or workshop.” S. I.

How Ripe Fruit feels…

“I just wanted to say, I love how I feel after your writing class – energized and optimistic, thrilled to be a writer.” Sande Smith

Ripe Fruit is a relationship..

“YOU ARE A TRULY GIFTED TEACHER and what I learned in your classes —- your circles –now functions as the basis of WHO I AM AS A WRITER.” Maria Carmen Fraser


“You pull everything out of us.”

for Writing:

“I reclaimed my writer’s life. The RIPE FRUIT philosophy, structure, exercises, feedback are all great. The curriculum and pedagogy are wonderful. Leslie clearly takes teaching seriously and has put alot of time and attention into content and methods: developing writers’ skills and practice, forming a community of writers is a brilliant strategy – it helps people see beyond themselves, appreciate the uniqueness of each voice while encouraging us to reach beyond our own idiosyncracies so we can commune-icate!” Nina Jo Smith, Director, Women’s Services, writer

“I wasn’t aware of all that was in store for me — that this workshop would be so much more than simply finishing a piece, that it would be the source of so much joy, peace of mind, confidence and excitement for all the options open to me as a writer.” Amy Carden

“This course managed to elicit fearless writing from me! Never before had I dared go to the places that I was taken in this course, knowing that limits only exist in my imagination.”

“My writing is more alive, deeper, and I’ve ‘crossed the line’ several times. Writing is not nearly as scary anymore. I’m opening up. I am awake now to the five senses and to metaphor. My vocabulary has improved and I have successfully edited to the point of completion for the first time!” Amy Atlas

“Fresh air has blown through and refreshed my new writing and has given me ideas for how to sculpt old writing (literally reams of it). As a school teacher, I also feel that I have more authority and confidence when talking about language in the classroom.” Lisa Suneson, school teacher

for Life:

“I am much closer to my creative self than I have been in years. I am more attuned to nuance. I think in metaphors.I am into the craft of it and it spills out into everything!”

“I realized I was using language in new ways, appreciating the beauty and complexity of it, even changing how I communicate orally with others. Amazing!”

“I feel I have given my heart fair play and an honest ear. This class has been a creative anchor for me.” Tracy Page, world traveler

“Thank you for exposing me to a world I never knew existed within my walls.” Cristie Chamberland, wine sales manager

“I am so much more alive to my surroundings – trained to spot the potential for poetry in the most unexpected and mundane situations.”

“My mind feels so much more agile. I look at things differently. I see things in more depth.” Heather Ive, writer

“I’m able to bring the philosophy into my daily life. It’s a foundation.”


“I’m excited about writing again!”

“I would leave RIPE FRUIT feeling alive, drained, frustrated, refreshed, challenged and GROWTH. Leslie pushed us all to go to places we didn’t know existed within us.”

“The RIPE FRUIT philosophy of writer’s training is just phenomenal to me. I’ve never felt so loose, so ‘safe’, so daring.” Kate Machi, masseuse

“The teaching was so brilliantly subtle that it was undetectable. Yes, we grew. All fruit does when the perfect conditions are made available. It’s called a greenhouse for good reason!” Bryan Burch, theater technician, writer

“This workshop had amazing powerful positive energy!”

“Stimulating and inspiring. Ripe Fruit’s very uniqueness is what makes it fun & special. Lots of humor!”

“I loved the fertile environment and the emphasis on digging into that elusive right brain for the creative spark!

“The workshop gave us permission to write with great freedom while at the same time pursuing excellence.”

“Your workshop was one of the best things I’ve done in my life.” Debbie Mein, landscape architect


“The instruction does not model, it triggers creation.”

Exercises & Structure

“The teaching and exercises were dead-on-target – excellent!! There is a precision to the point of the exercises per se, but plenty of freedom to move around within them. The writer’s training, then, seemed almost effortless. A very sturdy jumping off point – just what I needed to get started, and now equipped with tools I will come back to over and over again. This has been a turning point in my life. Thanks a million!!”

“I definitely achieved a DOZEN new tools for being more focussed in my writings.” Gary Bencomo

“The pacing was perfect! The workshop progressed from ‘no sweat’ to WOW in a manner that made me feel Leslie’s confidence in us.” Tracy Page

” Having a reading at the end was a great goal for me! Being able to write together, read aloud and work on a continuing basis on a single project taught perserverence and the importance of intention! Giving each person a chance to read each week was very important for encouragement and safety.” Robin Fisher

“The exercises were: fun and unexpected and radical. They helped me to stretch.” Mariana Doig, therapist

“The exercises were and are incredibly useful. The teaching was very balanced and full, emotionally charged and professional.” Meaghan Gannett, singer and lyricist

“What meant the most to me was the emphasis on the freedom to experiment and fail — Leslie allowed that to happen by being honest, not judgemental and obviously not self-conscious, which I appreciate most about her ability – meaning nothing embarrasses her (hence it doesn’t embarass me). Leslie’s obvious love of poetry and language was contagious.” Terry South, advertising

“I thought you built the units up in good order – first working on perceptions, then image, then moving into listening to the writing with line, sound, voice, etc. The “pan for gold” idea is brilliant: to know that within the gross production of writing, the “gold” is there, really helped me to let go and ‘just jump’!

“Our lessons and assignments give me the important structure I need for a voice newly resurrected. Trust that what must seem like flakiness or lack of commitment might be a struggle to regain a foothold in life. If writing is truly a part of that soul, it will be the life preserver or lighthouse. This has certainly been the case for me…”

Feedback & Critique

“…each voice was welcomed.”

“The quality and quantity of feedback was excellent.”

“The critique was clean and focussed on attaining the best work possible, ie. precisely what the writer wanted to say – not what anyone thought they should say.”

“Ripe Fruit’s emphasis on poetic thinking, and not grammar, rules, etc. enabled me to liberate my language and gain confidence in what I have to say. Too often our “infant” and budding creativity is stifled by those who insist on adhering to convention and what is supposed to be. What really is SUPPOSED to be anyway?” Cristie Chamberland, wine sales

“Leslie’s feedback was both honest and constructive. It challenged me without making me feel exposed.” Barbara Saunders, journalist

“Jealousy and intimidation have no place in the room and the teacher does a super job of guiding discussion away from focussing on one single person’s comments.”

“The teacher’s comments on our writing were always insightful, on target, and inspiring.”

“The practice we all got in reading aloud was extremely helpful and productive.”

“The teaching style fostered a true sense of community within the group.”


“Leslie is a rare spirit…”

“Wow! One of the biggest strengths of the course was Leslie’s teaching. She constantly encouraged and pushed us to delve into our imagination, to find the heat and pursue it, to be aware of each word, and to love it. Her passion is inspiring.”

“Leslie gives a good balance of relaying information and keeping it exciting and fresh. Her enthusiasm makes me excited about my choice to be a writer! Also, she pushes us to ‘produce’ without it feeling either like pushing or producing. I want to do all the work assignments and she gives the right balance of challenging without being punitive. Her comments are so helpful and thorough. I felt she really read my work.” Lisa Suneson, school teacher

“Leslie’s teaching style is very inspirational and encouraging yet unafraid to use the pruning shears for a fruitful plant! Her enthusiasm for our work & potential as writers was a great motivator.” Heather Ives, writer

“Leslie is a fantastic facilitator. Her energy, her philosophies and convictions all added up to a keen sense of focus. I admire her frankness and direction.” Julie Fought

“The teacher has a great sense of humor! ”
Deb Silberberg

“Leslie has a very unique and personal style that seemed seamless. Everything fit with everything else.” Howard Crane, sports and speech-writer

“Your passion, enthusiasm and positive regard for the people in class create a safe, challenging, & liberating environment where I felt present and able to take risks. Your urging us to leap, to ‘go into the abyss’ is liberating – just the permission people need to show their real selves. Thanks again for your bold and courageous spirit, Leslie!” Robin Fisher