A nationally- and internationally-bestselling novelist with 12 books in print, Ms. Hightower’s books have appeared on The New York Times “Notable” list, The London Times bestseller list, and have been selections of The Literary Guild and The Mystery Guild. She also is a recipient of the Shamus Award, and her latest book, When Secrets Die, was published by Atria/Simon & Schuster.  Lynn’s novels have been published  in numerous foreign countries, including Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Israel and The Netherlands.

One-on-one mentoring/manuscript consultation is available by private arrangement. Please use the Contact form.

Instructor Statement

Every writer follows an individual path. Our class is a way station on the journey where we can come together and work through the techniques of craft, the practicalities of thriving in the writing life, and methods for tapping into your creativity.

Think of me as a writing coach — someone who can answer your questions, help you solve your writing problems, and show you how to hone and exercise your talent to get it in the best possible shape. We’ll be working on craft and creativity, with no fear of ridicule or aspirations to greatness — just some light so that you can find your way.

  • In the last three years, six of Lynn’s students have landed publishing contracts.

Student Signs Deal for Vintage Auto Mystery Series

Bob Baty, who studied novel writing with Lynn Hightower, recently landed a book deal with R.J. Buckley for his Vintage Connor series. His first novel, The Case of the Blonde in the Lotus Elite, follows retired cop Ray Connor as he looks for vintage cars, reconnects with an ex, and gets wrapped up in solving a  mystery. The book is set for publication in June 2011, with a  second book, The Girl in the MGA, to follow.

“For me, it all came down to Lynn Hightower. She made all the difference. I wanted to write crime fiction, and her enthusiasm and support just as I was starting this project, as well as her insightful comments, inspired me to keep going on this long and winding road to publication.”

Congratulations Bob!

WP Student Publishes Mystery Novel

Writers’ Program student Rochelle Staab debuts a new mystery novel in November 2011 on Berkeley Prime Crime. Featuring tarot cards, a cursed spell book, and a best friend falsely accused, Rochelle’s mystery, Who Do, Voodoo? follows Los Angeles psychologist Liz Cooper in an unlikely partnership with a religious philosophy professor in order to track down a killer.

Rochelle says, “My Writers’ Program instructors are an amazing group of authors who truly care about their students. On my journey from Novel I through Novel IV, instructors Jessica Barksdale Inclan, Lynn Hightower, and Caroline Leavitt taught me the discipline and skills to take a story from concept to publication. I followed the process and ended up selling my first novel!”

Writers Studio Participant Publishes First Novel!

Lynn Sheene attended Jessica Barksdale Inclan’s Writing the First Novel course at the 2007 Writers Studio and went on to take Novel Writing III and IV online with Lynn Hightower.  Now she’s reaping the rewards of her hard work: Berkley Trade is publishing her first novel, The Last Time I Saw Paris, and it will hit bookstores in May 2011.

The novel follows a young Jazz-Age Manhattan socialite who heads to Paris to escape her secret past, only to be swept up in the danger and drama of the French Resistance. It’s already receiving rave reviews from the likes of Rebecca Cantrell, award winning author of A Night of Long Knives: “The Last Time I Saw Paris glows with the faded but indomitable beauty of the city herself.  Sheene’s research is impeccable, her writing lyrical, and in Claire Badeau she has created an unflinching heroine who haunted me long after I regretfully devoured the last page. Sheene is a powerful writer and I cannot wait to read whatever comes next.”

Lynn thanks the Writers’ Program for providing the support she needed to realize her goals.  “I had previously written screenplays, but this was my first novel. I wrote my first scene at the Writers Studio and continued online through Novel IV. I am eternally grateful for the guidance, inspiration, and friendships that came from my time in the Writers Program.”


Last Spring, I took a wonderful class with the brilliant Lynn Hightower through UCLA Extension. It was called, “Novel Planning: Bringing Order Out of Chaos.” The course introduced me to a great process for blocking out essential pieces of information before the actual writing. Sort of like going on a cross-country road trip, Lynn’s process showed me how to map out the places I wanted to hit along the way, without needing to commit to an exact route or timeframe. Because of that class, I was able to complete a full length YA manuscript in a year and a half, which is a pretty quick pace for me, halving the time I spent on my previous novel.  –Veronica Rossi, author UNDER THE VANILLA SKY, coming out from Harper Collins, 2012.

The tools you gave us in this class were very liberating.  I found myself going in directions I wouldn’t ordinarily have gone but when I realized I wasn’t happy with it, I could just as easily hit the delete button (admittedly, it took me a week to figure that out).  I am now on version 14 (or thereabouts) of the plot.  I am getting closer to the one I want to build my book around and I have you to thank for that. — Writers’ Program student

“I love love love Lynn! She is awesome, honest and funny. But most of all she pulls the best out of you even when you feel there isn’t a thing in you worth a damn.” — Writers’ Program student

A big hello and happy holiday wishes from a former student!

I just couldn’t let the year end without thanking you for all you taught me during our UCLA classes.  You made me a better writer and a better reader! — Writers’ Program student

I wanted to personally thank you for the incredible job you did in conducting this class.  As I mentioned in my discussion board introduction, I’ve been writing for about ten years.  During this period of time, I’ve read countless books on writing and taken many, many workshops and classes.  I believe that out of all of this, your class stands out as one of the most valuable.  The lectures are right on the mark, and each assignment is a learning experience by itself.  Your critical homework reviews are worth the price of the class by themselves.  Each week, you manage to pinpoint my weaknesses and suggest ways to for me to improve my submission. — Writers’ Program student

This class is the real deal.  It is rigorous and I am getting exactly what I need.

I really feel like a writer, I’m thinking about my scenes all of the time and I  have blank sheets of paper next to me  here at work so I can jot down the ideas and conversations that are going on in my head.

The exercise last night helped me so much — finding out who the main characters are and how they relate to one another.  It really helps me in terms of the story telling. — Writers’ Program student

“Lynn Hightower was the best. She knew her stuff, was helpful in assisting with our needs, and never failed to give us feedback on our issues. She’s an excellent teacher, dedicated, tireless and entertaining.” — Writers’ Program student

“I am very grateful to Lynn Hightower. If not for her, my novel would still be lying in my own personal rejection pile. Her comments are insightful, thoughtful, and most of all very real- exactly what an editor or future agent would say.”  — Writers’ Program student

“Working with Lynn has been the most eye opening, enlightening experience that I’ve had. She has the ability to see problems in your work before they occur and offers ideas to help you work through those areas. She’s encouraging, hard-nosed, wonderful, amazing, unafraid to tell you that your story isn’t working, and drives home the necessity of plot. I call it The Hightower Treatment. She gives it to you straight, with absolutely no chaser. I love it!” — Writers’ Program student

“Lynn Hightower is fantastic, so much so that I have enrolled in another of her classes for summer quarter. She is confident but still caring. She communicates well. She is a healthy balance of encouragement and challenge. Lynn knows how to teach the structure of plot. Her lectures were very clear and insightful. The text she chose fit right into what she was teaches and added to the learning. Lynn was also very accessible and willing to help in any way, often going above what was expected of her. I cannot say enough good things about her.” — Writers’ Program student

Lynn Hightower is the best! She goes out of her way to explain her feedback, communicate with her students and attend to the craft of novel writing like no instructor I’ve had before. I highly recommend her to anyone. — Writers’ Program student
Lynn did an excellent job. Her love for the craft makes you want to meet whatever problems you’re facing as she nudges you forward every step of the way. — Writers’ Program student

Lynn Hightower is a tough but excellent instructor. She is also encouragaing to students and is always open to any questions one might have. — Writers’ Program student

Lynn was wonderful, extremely engaged, offering encouragement and detailed feedback. I look forward to taking another of her classes at UCLA. — Writers’ Program student

Lynn was very generous with her time and she welcomed questions throughout the course. She also offered to speak with students by telephone. — Writers’ Program student

The instructor was excellent, knowing when to cajole and when to praise. Her communication skills and insight were wonderful. I wish the students in my group had given me more feedback, but what they gave was helpful. — Writers’ Program student

Lynn Hightower is fantastic. So much so that I have enrolled in another of her classes for summer quarter (something I had not planned to do). She is confident but still caring. She communicates well. She is a healthy balance of encouragement and challenge. Lynn knows how to teach the structure of plot. Her lectures were very clear and insightful. The text she chose fit right into what she was teaches and added to the learning. Lynn was also very accessible and willing to help in any way, often going above what was expected of her. I cannot say enough good things about her, and I honestly can’t think of any criticism to add. — Writers’ Program student

I felt extremely challenged by the material. I was pushed, as a writer, to face writing blocks that until this class, I was extremely content to avoid. But now, I know there will be challenges to face, and I will have had the experience of this class to help me face them. 😮 — Writers’ Program student

Working with Lynn Hightower is always a wonderfully challenging and rewarding adventure into the very depth of your creative abilities. She never lets you accept less than your very best in both story and structure. Using her mantra, “never dream harder than you work,” she pushes you to dig deep, have your story make sense and to tell your reader the story you’d like to hear. — Writers’ Program student

Lynn Hightower is a rare combination of toughness and understanding in a professor, especially an online one. She is extremely open to discussions, is always there for her students, and has the greatest advice and encouragement of any instructor I have ever known. But, she doesn’t let you get away with slacking off. She wants you to be your best writer, she knows you have it in you. She doesn’t tell you directly, but I know there’s no such thing as ‘can’t’ in her vocabulary. It’s simply because she knows each and everyone of us can. — Writers’ Program student


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