Workshops for 2019! Our 20th Year Programming is New!

This year, we are offering one and two-day workshops throughout the country.

Can you believe it? VONA is coming to you! Please check out our calendar below! Click here to see who is offering their workshops

Can you join us? Seats are limited. Click here to apply.



April 3:  Kim Euell—  Character Development for Playwrights in Minneapolis 

Description: Whether you are just embarking on a new play  (or any kind of character driven writing) or if you previously got off to a strong start but are now feeling stuck, investing creative time in getting to know your characters on a more profound level will almost always lead to exhilarating breakthroughs. In this generative workshop, we will explore a variety of writing exercises and approaches to creating characters that come off the page. Everyone participating in this workshop is strongly encouraged to attend a free staged reading of instructor Kim Euell’s play, The Dance, at The Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis on April 1st & 2nd, at 7 PM.        

May 25:   Jervey Tervalon Creative Non-Fiction  in Pasadena, CA                                   
June 28, 29:    Elmaz Abinader —We Witness – Testimony  in New York City (2 different locations)

Writers are invited to shape their witnessing into narrative/poetry/lyrics/essay/play in this generative workshop. Through writing inspirations, they are asked to interrogate their lens on the world and themselves, to pull through the perspectives and develop at least 3 pieces of work. The workshop includes reading, writing, talking, exchanging, a maybe some movement.

August 3, 4:     Kiese Laymon — Employing Comedy to Work through Trauma in Non-fiction Writing in Oxford, MS  
August 17:        David Mura Narrative Construction in Fiction and  Memoir,  in Minneapolis   
August 22:       Daniel José Older —Structure and Crisis: Mapping Out Story in New Orleans   

How can taking a bird’s eye view of the story help us make sense out of the complicated work of structure? In this workshop, we’ll engage with turning points and the central heart of what gives a narrative meaning, exploring strategic approaches and discussing our own work and experiences with the process. Students are encouraged to bring a story of their own to diagram out and analyze.

September 8:  Reyna Grande — Writing What We’d Rather Forget, Transforming and Being Transformed: The Power of Memoir  in Woodland, CA   

Memoir begins with memory, but it isn’t a collection of memories. It is about turning life into art. A memoir then is a work of art filled with deep meaning and truths that resonate with and illuminate the lives of your readers. Unlike autobiography, a memoir captures a meaningful slice of the writer’s life, so where to start and where to end, what to put in and what to leave out are crucial elements in the crafting and shaping of the book. In this workshop, we will discuss what memoir is and what it isn’t, the different approaches to structure, and determining what, exactly, your story is about. You will learn techniques borrowed from fiction writing such as characterization, dialogue, and plot, to transform personal experiences into artful stories relevant to the reader. Through concrete exercises, studies in craft, and using successful memoirs as models, you will obtain the knowledge and confidence on how best to tell and shape your story.

September 14: Elmaz AbinaderWe Witness: Narrative From the Front Lines  in Oakland, CA

Arab-American, Muslim and Middle Eastern writers are invited to this generative workshop in all genres. Our stories/poems/plays/essays serve as a witness to our experiences and our sense of history and culture. Using photographs, letters, articles, as well as, memory, inspiration, and disruption, we create works that deepen the story of our cultures, lives, and communities.

September 15  Faith Adiele   Hybrid Stories for Hybrid Lives: Assembling the Mixed Experience in Santa Fe, NM 

POC and Indigenous writers who identify as hybrid or mixed (Multiracial/ Multicultural/ Multilingual/ Multinational, etc.) are invited to this generative workshop. Using personal and collective memories embedded in our bodies, as well as artifacts (photographs, letters, diaries, maps, and research), we will strategize how to challenge linear Western story structure and leverage our multiple worldviews and cultural journeys into innovative forms.

Other Workshops To be Announced! 


“VONA exceeded my expectations. I learned more this weekend about story, my own writing and myself than I ever have.”