Join me in the world of words.


My latest work

Blood Sisters

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Blood Sisters

Blood Sisters

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Never Too Late

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Never Too Late

Never Too Late

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The Runaway

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The Runaway

The Runaway

(Graffiti Grandma)
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Her Last Words

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Her Last Words

Her Last Words

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Reader Reviews
  • “Edith awakens on Christmas day to find that her husband of more than forty years, has passed away in the night. One would think this would devastate her, but it doesn’t ... Once again, Ms. Barney weaves a tale that I found very difficult to put down and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.” – Margaret Millmore, Goodreads Review
  • “... a woman entangled in a web of real and imagined betrayals she must unravel ... I hate to part with her.” – Nancy, Amazon Review
  • “All I can say is wow! This was an emotional roller-coaster ride. For me it was a story of guilt, giving up, disillusionment, unhappiness, and settling for second best or maybe even fifth or sixth best. But the real story beneath all the emotion, is it is never too late to begin again.” – Vera Mallard, Goodreads Review
  • “... how nice it is to read a book with the main character in (her) 60s facing real problems of this age group, someone who learns, at an advanced age, to live (her) life to the fullest.” – Sue, Goodreads Review
  • “... great family saga that you can’t put down wanting to know the outcome and Edith proves that it is never too late to take control of your life.” – Sally Colels, Goodreads Review
  • “... it gives some real insight into a character we don't see enough of as a main character of the story – that of a woman in her 60's. The ways in which she finds her strengths will surprise the reader.” – Susan R., Amazon Review
  • “This book had such a powerful beginning that it proves extremely difficult not to be immediately drawn in, and the continued intelligent writing makes sure you are kept guessing and almost living Edith’s life until all the secrets are revealed by the end.” – Karen Mace, Goodreads Review
  • “… a solid fiction story revolving around family drama ... the secrets that are kept in order to keep the family unit together, but eventually cause life to crumble and rear its ugly head. It's up to the characters to decide if these secrets will make or break them.” – Sage Adderly, Goodreads Review
  • “I loved the way the author handles race in this novel. Edith’s (who is white) sleuthing takes her to a predominately black establishment and her dialog (both internal and external) is so honest. She doesn’t try to be politically correct; that was refreshing.” – Kelly Cain, Goodreads Review
  • “(A) multifaceted narrative with quick shifts in time and focus to show how flawed individuals overcome, or are destroyed by, failed relationships.” – Publishers Weekly
  • “Ostensibly about a serial killer, Barney’s novel is about much more than that. It’s also the story of people who are down but not out and a rumination on family, courage and responsibility – a book that reverberates long after the last page. A gripping book with compelling characters who don’t want your pity.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review, Best Books of 2013
  • “Family, in all its weird and wonderful forms, is the surprising theme of The Runaway, a tension-filled look into the life of a lonely elder and the violent world of homeless kids.” – Peggy Bird, Amazon Review, author of Running Scores
  • “An unvarnished look at the life of homeless youth. At times violent, their stories present some of the reasons these kids leave home ... all of whom are looking for some sort of family.” – Linda E., Amazon Review
  • “You know a book has made an impact when ... you walk outside and look differently at the homeless young people around you ... a most unusual novel, but one which had a real ring of authenticity.” – J. Young, Amazon Review
  • “A quick read that draws you into the lives of homeless children, their experiences on the streets and the search for family ... I am a sucker for happy endings and this book's ending was the best conclusion for this book.” – Lynelle Clark, Goodreads Review
  • “How are a tough old woman, a runaway, a cop, and an abusive, controlling homeless man connected. ... a hard read at times, but will also make you shed a few tears.” – Brandi Nyborg, Goodreads Review
  • “Barney delves into the lives of street kids. (She) writes from a basis of knowledge and research that should be taken seriously by innocent bystanders as well as City leaders.” – Carol, Goodreads Review
  • “Old college friends ... come together every few years and pick up where they left off. Events in their young lives (have) bonded them forever. Jo succeeds in creating four distinct relatable women characters. When one asks the other three to help her complete an illicit plan, they react with varying degrees of willingness; well-written.” – Eye Doc, Amazon Review
  • “When I first started Her Last Words I had the eerie feeling I was a voyeur looking at these women from another dimension and eavesdropping on their private lives. I was so intrigued I could not put the book down.” – cozyreader, Amazon Review
  • “Many times since I read the book, I have found myself pondering over her decision and wondering how I would have handled the situation.” – J. Young, Amazon Review
  • “We feel their emotions, we get to see inside, not only they're lives but their soul.” – Read-along-with-Sue, Amazon Review
  • “She ... writes in a down to earth kind of way that the reader gets involved with without you even realizing it, and the time just flies by reading.” – Sue l958, Goodreads Review
  • “Jo has written a book (that) draws you into the story and makes it so you just can’t put it down.” – Pam, Goodreads Review
  • “... a uniquely beautiful and emotional read. I loved each lady in their own way; they were so flawed and endearing.” – Serenity, Goodreads Review
  • “A book about relationships, about struggles, making decisions that took (the four characters) on different paths, each battling her own why's and how's and at the end settling with who they have become, still remaining friends.” – Lynelle Clark, Goodreads Review
  • “A thoughtful evocation of circumstances that I could easily feel myself living through.” – Anne’s Reviews, Goodreads Review
  • “The ending had me in tears. 4 women, a friendship that spans over 40 years and a bond that can't be broken.” – Sam, Goodreads Review

About Me

Let me introduce myself

I'm very pleased you are visiting my place. Here you'll find me and my books and ways to talk with me if you'd like. And I'd love to meet you, learn more about your life, because I write about people like you (except for the serial killer, of course.) So pour a cup of coffee, relax, spend a few minutes turning pages and enjoying. Then find a book or pick up your e-reader or your own journal and join me in the world of words.

After graduating from Willamette University, I spent the most of next thirty years teaching, counseling, mothering, wifing and of course, writing. For a couple of years, though, I did none of this, preferring to live a little.

While I was working as a counselor, my writing appeared in small literary magazines and professional publications. Since retirement, I've had the time to write four novels and two screenplays.

The first book used my teaching life as inspiration, and served as a way to leave a profession I loved. The second story focused on my then-prodigal son, the hockey player. I believe he is relieved that it has not yet been published even though he served as my consultant on the icy details. My third novel, Her Last Words, is an intimate, almost true, story of four women a lot like my own long time friends. The Runaway examines the lives of an old woman and the underworld of the homeless in living the forest nearby. The next book, Never Too Late, tells of Edith, who wakes up one morning as a widow.

If it appears that my protagonists are growing old, well, so am I.

My stories and essays, as well as the novels, reflect my observations of women's lives and the people who inhabit them: the children, husbands, parents, friends, strangers who happen by and change everything.


We'll post any book signing events here as they are scheduled.

In the News

Featured in The Oregonian/OregonLive: Chick Lit? Portland author, 81, focuses on the 'hens', July 29, 2016

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

George Eliot


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