One day workshop in Lafayette, CA

Students relax on the porch after another long, inspiring workshop.

Students relax on the porch after another long, inspiring workshop.


This workshop is for anyone who has always wanted to do in-depth work with Joyce but can’t get to her weeklong Guatemala retreat, or doesn’t have a whole week to spend on a workshop.  For the first time, this summer, Joyce will be offering a 3-day workshop on memoir and personal storytelling.

The workshop will be held at Joyce’s lakefront home in Greenfield, New Hampshire—an easy 1 hour drive from the Manchester, NH airport; a 2 hour drive from Boston; or 5 hours from New York. We’ve arranged for the rental of two cabins within walking distance of Joyce’s home on the lake for those who’d like to stay very close.  (For those looking for somewhat more luxurious accommodations, we recommend the Hancock Inn, or the Greenfield Inn, about six miles down the road.)

As with all of Joyce’s workshops, she asks that each writer submit 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.

We’ll gather on Thursday night, July 11th, for drinks and appetizers on the dock of Joyce’s house on the lake.  This will be a time for the group to meet and get to know each other.  The serious work begins the next morning.  

joyce at nh whiteboard.jpg

Friday morning, the group meets for coffee, tea, fruit and cinnamon toast at 8 a.m. on Joyce’s porch.  At 8:30 a.m., we get to work.  Each manuscript will be studied closely by Joyce, with participation by the group.  

joyce in nh circle.jpg

The group will break for a simple lunch of sandwiches, with time for a quick swim or writing, then get back to work until around 5:00 pm.  Joyce will make the shift from workshopping to giving her one-hour craft talk on the construction of the short, personal, Modern Love-style essay (what Joyce calls “a container essay”, because it allows a writer to explore a large theme in her life within the framework or container of a single dramatic story.)    

Everyone is on their own for dinner.  (We’ll suggest a number of nice nearby options.  Or you can bring your own food to heat up at your cabin.  Writers may wish to dine together in the lovely little town of Peterborough, ten miles down the road, or the lovely Hancock Inn, even closer.)

Saturday morning, the schedule remains the same, with a second pre-sunset craft talk, from 5 to 6. The group will share a catered dinner together that night.  Those who choose may take a sauna and a swim, or explore the lake on a paddle board. Or write, of course.

Sunday, we’ll meet for a final time after a breakfast quiche from 8:30 to noon.  The workshop finishes at noon—leaving plenty of time for those who need to get to the airport to catch a flight home.  Though your lakeside accommodations end on Sunday morning, some may want to stay on in New Hampshire for another day or two.  It’s a beautiful time of year in New Hampshire (and Joyce will be happy to provide some suggestions for great places to visit, nearby.)  

A NOTE ON HOUSING AND TRAVEL: The workshop coordinator, Melissa Vincel, is always available to answer questions, but hotel reservations and arrangement for post-workshop stays are the responsibility of the student, as are your travel arrangements for getting there. 

NEXT SESSION: July 11 - 14, 2019

WHERE: Greenfield, NH


COST: $925, includes several meals

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