I started writing Dating the Alphabet as a sitcom, but after spending a year or two trying to get it up I realised my best chance was to actually write it as a book.  Great idea but I really didn’t know how to do it, so after a few false starts and dwindling enthusiasm I went looking for the best teacher to help me get back on track.

Fiona’s Commercial Fiction Masterclass really stood out from other courses on offer, not only because Fiona was at the helm, but because of all the opportunities the course offered. A supportive and positive environment, feedback both in writing and from Fiona personally, plus a three minute pitch with a publisher.  I knew these opportunities were invaluable and highly sought after, and here they were being offered in one course!

I’m so excited that Dating the Alphabet is being published as an ebook with HarperCollins later this month and I know if I hadn’t done Fiona’s Masterclass it would still be floundering and this would all still be just a pipe dream.  The course will inspire, motivate and give you opportunities that you won’t get anywhere else, and the cherry on top is you get to know Fiona!”

Samantha Napier April 2014 Masterclass Graduate
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins

I had been struggling to write a novel for over four years before I attended Fiona’s inaugural Commercial Fiction Masterclass and I can honestly say I have never looked back. From day one, Fiona’s love was tough, but I swallowed my pride and spent the rest of the masterclass really listening and putting into practice her teachings. The guest speakers were not only an inspiration, they provided a real insight into the world of publishing today. The contacts I made were invaluable.

I had never contemplated writing a book about restaurants; for me it was just a job. Fiona helped me realise I was already sitting on a potential goldmine of material about this very on-trend world. I went back to my hotel room and began writing Yes, Chef! before the masterclass had finished.

One year later I had shelved my work in progress, changed genres, completed a manuscript, edited it according to Fiona’s instruction and was offered a publishing contract with Destiny, the digital-first imprint of Penguin Books Australia. Three weeks after the ebook was released, my editor phoned with the brilliant news that the book had been so well received, Penguin were commissioning a print edition under the Michael Joseph imprint. Now my editor wants me to publish two books a year!

All of this happened in less than fourteen months after that masterclass. That’s the kind of empowerment Fiona can give you. I now have the potential for a real career as a novelist. If I can do it, why not you?”

Lisa Joy April 2013 Masterclass Graduate
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Australia

Before I attended the Commercial Fiction Masterclass, I’d done all the writing courses, read all the writing books and written manuscripts in every genre, and I wasn’t sure why I’d never been published.

In one week, Fiona transformed me from a flip-flopping procrastinating over-planner into a gun-slinging organised professional. She didn’t just give me tips on how to make my writing better, and some amazing contacts in the industry (although that was all in there), but she changed the way I write forever.

After five days I was ready to go after my publishing aspirations with gusto. Now I’m writing more and have more confidence in my writing than I’ve ever had before. And I had fun along the way and formed a great bond with and an amazing bunch of like-minded scribes. Fiona is such a passionate, supportive, generous and knowledgeable person. She knows how to nurture writers of any age and any genre, and most importantly she will be the boot up your bum that most writers need to transform them from dreamers into doers!

And I’ve just recently been signed! My first children’s book will be published with a major international publisher next year.

I honestly feel the Masterclass is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my writing, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It will blow your mind.”

Adam Cece April 2014 Masterclass Graduate
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Without reservation or hesitation I can honestly say that Fiona McIntosh and Masterclass got me published. I’d gone back and forth in making a decision about whether to commit and attend, weighing up so many options and things in my life at the time, but now, as I sit in front of my computer with a book deal with Harper Collins and a career as a writer, I am so thankful I made the right choice.

As I sat in the picturesque setting of The Adelaide Botanic Gardens on the first day of Masterclass, I watched as one after the other, strangers similar to me, entered the room. The atmosphere was extraordinary. Common goals, excitement and so much to look forward to saw us launch into our writing with fierce determination. Fiona set tasks that made me think, took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to see things from perspectives I hadn’t considered. Sometimes it was hard and sometimes it was easy, but it was always fun.

An inspiring teacher and someone who will tell you like it is, Fiona immediately told me what was working in my writing and what wasn’t. She armed me with the tools I needed and went a step further in introducing me to the very publisher who would eventually contract my book.

I cannot thank Fiona and the Popular Fiction Masterclass enough for this amazing and once in a lifetime opportunity. (The snacks and coffee were also to die for!)”

Susan Murphy April 2014 Masterclass Graduate
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins

I might already have been published in romance, but Fiona’s Masterclass helped me find my mainstream feet (and my title – The Tide Watchers, which my publisher wants to keep). I went home from Masterclass and rewrote the book right from the opening scene, with a fire in my belly and the lessons [Fiona] taught burned into my psyche. Two months and one complete rewrite later, I submitted it to my agent who said, “This is it!” After interest from two major US publishers, it sold.

I got my contract a month ago. It was an incredible thrill to see “HarperCollins Publishers” on it. I truly believe I wouldn’t have sold to a major New York publisher but for Masterclass. I already had the plot, but [Fiona] unlocked my mainstream creativity and gave me permission to write my book, my way, without apology. Thank you again and again for that … It was a career move well worth making, wasn’t it?”

Lisa Chaplin September 2013 Masterclass graduate
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins

Having access to the knowledge that Fiona shares with humour and generosity was a fabulous opportunity. What I learned at the Masterclass made me look at my writing with fresh eyes, to rework and rethink. Made me realise I was a professional, put my fingers to the keyboard and my bum on my chair and just get on with it.

Besides Fiona’s expertise, the Masterclass provided the opportunity to engage with fellow writers who had a variety of experience across many genres. Fiona very quickly had us feeling like a family, working with each other in a comfortable environment that allowed us to test and share without fear of failure. It was amazing. We still keep in touch, supporting and encouraging each other.

Without a doubt the Masterclass is a valuable opportunity. Fiona delivers a total package – a writing course that not only gives you hands on experience and access to a wide range of writing strategies and tools but also empowers you to believe in yourself as a writer. If you’re committed to becoming the best writer of commercial fiction you can be – this is the class for you.”

Tricia Stringer April 2013 Masterclass graduate
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Harlequin

Yes—we’d like to publish your book. The words came four paragraphs into the email when I’d almost given up hope … the seven best words I’ve ever read. And it probably wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t participated in Fiona McIntosh’s Popular Fiction Masterclass in April 2013. After five days with Fiona, and a room full of other inspiring writers, I came away knowing commercial fiction was what I write, and what I want to write … I feel the life I was made for has finally begun in earnest. My first book comes out at the beginning of 2015 – and aren’t they just the sweetest words!”

Meredith Appleyard April 2013 Masterclass graduate
Genre: Commercial Women's Fiction
Publisher: Penguin

A few years ago, a colleague who read Tarot cards told me I was about to find a new love (even though I was happily married!). It wasn’t until the following year when I enrolled in a professional writing class that I realised the new love my colleague had predicted was actually creative writing.

Within a short time of discovering this new past time I had entered and won my first writing competition and had some short works published. But I just could not catapult the novel I had been working on into the arms of a publisher.

Attending the Fiction Masterclass introduced me to the astoundingly talented Fiona McIntosh, taught me precisely what had to change in my writing, and helped me to meet other passionate writers. And I have now also finally discovered the numbing bliss of opening an email announcing that a large publishing house wants my novel!”

Dianne Maguire April 2014 Masterclass Graduate
Genre: Commercial Women's Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins Impulse

I was already a huge fan of Fiona’s writing and business savvy so the decision to attend this masterclass was easy.

Fiona has a way of making the intangible clear, and broke up the intensive study with light-hearted moments of explanation through singing and dancing (honest). The sharing sessions gave participants the opportunity to learn from one another in a nurturing environment. More than anything, Fiona showed me that all I had to do to succeed was to behave like I was already a success, be professional in everything I do, and never EVER give up.

Fiona provided five days of challenges and ‘aha’ moments at the Masterclass and, as Bryce Courtenay said, she did it with ‘pizzazz’.”

Sandy Vaile April 2013 Masterclass Graduate
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Crimson Romance


“Fiona McIntosh’s masterclass requires a significant investment in personal commitment – but like all good investments it pays amazing dividends. Fiona gives generously of her extensive experience as a top Australian author. She throws her explosive enthusiasm and energy into ensuring fledgling authors understand the craft of commercial fiction. More importantly, Fiona inspires every one of her apprentices with the confidence that they will see their own name on the bookshelves…”


‘I can now approach my writing with an organised and achievable method. The idea of writing effective fiction was stripped back and built back up and it’s as though a light has been turned on. The concept of showing and not telling was thoroughly consolidated and after 5 days I am already writing differently. Before Masterclass, I knew I wanted to be an author, but it felt as far away as Mordor; now I feel like my career has begun. Thank you Fiona, it was worth every second for this young writer.’


From the outset Fiona was kind but honest. By the end of the second day I had let go of a manuscript that I had been working on (that was going nowhere), and had embraced a whole new idea and genre that had been simmering inside me for years, without me even knowing. I honestly believe that if I had not done the Masterclass, that story would never have surfaced.

To have someone of Fiona’s calibre and experience tell you that she believes you can be a published author is indescribable. She has given me back my confidence as a writer after years of being alone with my “writing demons”. She has made the tough and mysterious road to becoming a published author seem clear and – most importantly – achievable.

Fiona’s Masterclass is easily one of the best things I have ever done in my life. I can’t put it any more simply than that. If you want to be a commercial author in any genre, you can’t afford not to do the Masterclass. Push your hang-ups, your insecurities and doubts aside and book in. You will not regret it!

M-A, South Australia

You will leave Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass not only with a strand of her pearls of wisdom but with the inspiration and confidence to wear them.

Jenny K … NSW

‘I never thought anyone could have so many light bulb moments in five days! Between the laughing and (good) crying I have learnt so much from Masterclass and would hands down recommend it to anyone who asks. I’ve been gushing about it non-stop to everyone who hasn’t asked! – Emma’

Emma B … NSW

The numbers don’t lie! In five days, 19 strangers become a united cohort of writers with a common purpose to be published. Fiona McIntosh has synthesized everything required to be a productive writer to its essence. She has crafted a safe, creative, generous space in which the sheer wackiness of the writing life can be shared, explored and above all challenged!  I finished the week with a sense of purpose and the collegial support of other writers, an invaluable resource in the lone marathon of the long-distance writer!

Faith Ansell – April 2016

I like to think about Masterclass like this: writing a book is sometimes like planning a wedding. There are lots of elements that need to go into it to make it a fantastic day, but once you’ve wowed them with your dress and the fabulous reception is over, you’re left with someone you love dearly and a marriage stretching into the future. You’re going to need to look after that relationship and keep working at it if it’s going to last. There’ll be times when you need your crew around you to help you through.

This is where Fiona McIntosh and her Masterclasses are like nothing else out there. Yes, Masterclass is about the writing. But it is also about beyond the writing. You will have contact with industry professionals who share their experience, give you hints, tips and frank advice, and are ultimately, the start of your professional network. You will be amongst people who understand you, the way you think and your goals, people who will become your cheer squad, your shoulder, your troubleshooting comrades. And you get to take it all with you when Masterclass is over, because there is an ever-growing, vibrant online community of alumni to welcome you.

I have been so fortunate to be part of it. I’ve made some brilliant and hilarious new friends. Without it, I never would have created my website, www.melissa-sargent.com LOVEthatBOOK for reviews, which has now attracted major publishers who are sending me books to review. I wouldn’t be so many steps closer to holding my own book in my hands and the work life I’ve always wanted. It’s ALL good.

Mel Sargent

Life changing. How do you thank someone for handing you back your self belief?”


A better understanding of commercial fiction/genre writing from 5 days than after a 2 year writing course. Inspiring and generous.”


This was an eye and mind opening experience in to what it takes to be commercially successful in your writing. Having a boost of hints, lessons, wisdom and experiences of someone who is 10 years and 29 books further down the road from me was a real shot in the arm. Suddenly the vague road from struggling to write a novel to being published and then commercially successful is in sight.”