Debra Silva Rivera

Writer, Middle Grade

Voices of Our National Arts (vona)

VONA is a summer writing workshop for diverse writers. It was co-founded by writers, Junot Diaz and Elmaz Abinader.

I was lucky enough to attend two VONA writing workshops. In my first year of attendance I worked on my writing with travel writer Faith Adele. It was a great experience. Every day for a week I listened and shared my writing with Faith and ten other writers. I learned so much.

Two years later, I applied again and was in a class with writer, Chris Abani. Again, a great experience. After this workshop I made the decision to focus my time and energy into writing. Chris gave me some great advice and it paid off. I completed my first manuscript. It’s a middle grade novel and I’m currently in the process of seeking an agent to help with publishing. Chris was a guest poet at Cornell University and I went to see him. I sat in the middle row of the auditorium and when he walked in to read his beautiful poetry, he spotted me and came right over and gave me a big hug.  He was so welcoming and I couldn’t believe that he remembered me from the summer writing workshop. That’s how special he and all the teachers at VONA were.

 

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