One day workshop in Lafayette, CA

The perfect spot to listen and learn for one very full and intense day.

The perfect spot to listen and learn for one very full and intense day.


For anyone who has wanted to move up to a new level with his or her writing by studying with Joyce—but lacks the time for a longer experience—this workshop is a great place to start.

As with all of Joyce’s workshops, she asks that each writer submit—a couple of weeks in advance of the class—a manuscript of a first person true story (a self-contained essay or an excerpt from a longer piece of work), no more than 2,500 words. These essays will be shared with the group in advance of the workshop, so by the time the group gathers, everyone is familiar with each others’ story. In some cases, a participant may opt, instead, to send a letter describing the story he or she wants to tell—but hasn’t yet written. 

The class takes place over a single intense day (plus an evening to get acquainted, the night before). Because the group is limited to just eight writers—male and female both welcome—each person have his or her work discussed in depth by Joyce. Equally important, each member of the group will benefit (a lot, Joyce says) from participating in the workshopping of their fellow writers’ stories.

By the end of the day, everyone will have seen how Joyce takes apart—and puts back together—eight pieces of memoir, in a way that is just about guaranteed to transform everyone in the group into a stronger, clearer, and more authentic writer. That’s a big promise to make, but it comes from Joyce’s 20+ years of experience in teaching the art of memoir in workshops like this one. Just about every writer or writer-in-the-making who has attended one of Joyce’s one day workshops describes this as an experience that has changed and deepened her (or his) as a writer. For many, it serves as a breakthrough.

The group will meet at Joyce’s New Haven apartment on the Friday night prior (April 12th) for wine or club soda, appetizers, and a chance to get to know each other and share a little of where each person is coming from as a writer.

The next morning, at 8 am sharp, the group will gather again at Joyce’s for coffee, tea, and coffeecake to begin the work of examining each person’s story. Unlike some writing workshops, Joyce takes a very strong role in directing the discussion of each person’s manuscript (generally involving work on Joyce’s giant white board)—though there will be plenty of opportunity for participation from the group.

The group will disperse for an hour at lunchtime to pick up something to eat at one of the many great, affordable little restaurants within a few blocks of Joyce’s apartment, then get back to work. We’ll finish up around 6 pm with a well deserved meal from the legendary Pepe’s Pizza.

To be considered for this workshop, send a writing sample of no more than 500 words, accompanied by a short letter about your writing goals. For those who prefer, it’s also fine to send only a letter if it clearly describes the writer’s goals for coming to the workshop, and the story he or she would like to explore.

Applications should be sent to

A NOTE ON HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION: The workshop coordinator, Melissa Vincel, is always available to answer questions about the workshop, but cannot be responsible for assisting with travel arrangements or hotel. (It’s not difficult to get to New Haven. The Hartford airport is a one hour drive away. Metro North trains from Grand Central station run all day and into the night and take just under 2 hours. A quick Uber or Lyft ride from New Haven’s Union Station can get you to to Joyce’s apartment, very near the Yale campus. For those who drive, parking is easy. For accommodations, the Courtyard Marriott hotel is just a block away from Joyce’s apartment. Another option—particularly recommended for those able to spend a little more—is The Study, also a nice, easy walk to Joyce’s. Airbnb lists a number of inexpensive rooms. For those who go that route, look for a place described as close to the main Yale campus.)

NEXT SESSION: April 13, 2019 (with welcome circle held on April 12th evening)

WHERE: New Haven, CT


COST: $495

APPLY: Tell us what you want to work on, where you are at in your writing life, and provide a sample if you have one (500 words or less). Send your inquiry to Melissa Vincel, Workshop Coordinator.



"Today's workshop was one of the richest and most fun times I've ever had. Even though it was by the clock a long day, it felt so quick and refreshing. It was a privilege to spend time with such a talented and authentic group of women. A special thanks to you, Joyce, for creating the arc of the day so beautifully, and with such astuteness and generosity. Thanks again."  (Lorrie Goldin, San Anselmo, California)

"Words cannot describe my first writing workshop. I was moved by each one of your life stories, and they evoked in me, some kind of parallel story-telling. Thank you, Joyce, for creating a beautiful writing workshop."  (Vijaya Nagaran, Berkeley, California)

"I learned (and re-learned) so much from you at the workshop. Your ability to tune right into the heart of the matter was amazing and appreciated. Your workshop has prompted me and given me permission to write my truth in memoir form about my childhood and life My tears shocked myself... but at this point in my life, I just accepted them... you (and others) touched my heart... and I responded." (Mickey Fernandez, Santa Rosa, California)

"It was fabulous! The next morning I bolted awake at 5:40 a.m., rolled out of bed, tip-toed to the computer and began editing my piece. That to me is the mark of a good workshop! Thanks to all for the feedback, and to Joyce especially for bringing together all these fabulous women, then feeding, nurturing, and mentoring us. Truly a holy day."  (Alicia Rouverol, Santa Rosa, California)

"I've taken two weekend seminars from Joyce. I found her to be one of the most unusual, talented, and amazing people that I have ever met. Her wit and sense of humor make her one of the funniest people I've ever met as well. One of the qualities that is so endearing is that she is unassuming--she is not remotely arrogant, and she is very, very kind.

When she teaches it is like watching a work of art under construction. One time last fall as I watched her take us through writing a story spontaneously, I kept thinking that the whole scene could have been set to a Mozart piece. Pure poetry in motion, to use a trite phrase, which by the way, Joyce hates.

She has an unparalleled talent at showing us, as aspiring writers, how to access the emotions that underlie the things about which we are writing.

She reminds us to tell our stories, but to do that we have to KNOW our stories. She taught us that telling our stories is practically a birthright, because our stories are so profoundly ours, and no one can alter that-no matter how powerful they are.

The weekend classes that I took were total emotional tour de forces because almost everyone who writes a personal essay writes about something devastating in their life. Joyce is so gifted at orchestrating the class through the emotions that I kept wondering if she had a degree in counseling.

There is so much good energy and such a tremendous and unforced joie de vivre in Joyce. Anyone who has an opportunity to take a class from Joyce should take it. I can't imagine that it could be replicated anywhere.

— Roxanne Kontzer, San Jose, California