Class Title: Family Vignettes: Uncovering, Honoring and Sharing Family Stories
Instructor: Naomi Sandweiss
Class Term: January 21-February 18, 2019
We are not accepting any more enrollments for Naomi's class; the class has started.


Family vignettes are "snapshots" of meaningful moments in your life or someone close to you. Over four weeks, you will mine your memories and work with creative prompts to compose four vignettes. These vignettes can take the form of short story, poem, personal essay, memoir or can be incorporated into a larger work of fiction.

Class Description

Each week for four weeks, participants will receive an email prompt encouraging them to think deeply about family stories and memories and create a family vignette. Prompts are based upon themes rather than chronology and take us far beyond typical memoir-type writing questions.

At the end of this class, students will be able to use tools to access meaningful memories and share them through vignettes. They will also connect memories to larger themes to form the basis of longer pieces.

Students will receive a weekly email prompt and submit written work by email. We will also share writing, experiences and photos as desired through a Yahoo group.


  • Unit 1: Introductions; sacred family stories; mining memories. Theme: Here's to the one. Relating family experiences to larger themes.
  • Unit 2: Theme: Borders and thresholds. Respond to weekly prompt and feedback.
  • Unit 3: Theme: Collections. Respond to weekly prompt and feedback.
  • Unit 4: Hiding Places: Respond to weekly prompt and feedback. How to creatively incorporate family vignettes into writing projects. Wrap up, feedback.

Student Skills, Equipment, and Time Required

Students should be able to use email, download documents and be willing to join and interact in a Yahoo group.

Time Commitment: Approximately 2-3 hours per week.

Tuition/Fees for this course

SCN members: $128. Non-SCN members: $160.

Instructor Bio

Naomi Sandweiss Naomi Sandweiss thinks of herself as a history sleuth, uncovering stories and sharing what she learns about communities, customs and cultures. Her research and writing have taken her from Taos, New Mexico, to Venice, Italy and many places in between. Her publications include Jewish Albuquerque: 1860-1960, in which she used more than 200 historic images to illustrate the city's fascinating Jewish history. Naomi edits the Legacy, the publication of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, where she also serves as a board member. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous publications; she teaches University-level writing and communication courses and is currently working on a novel set in 17th c. Venice.

Praise for Naomi's Classes

  • Naomi Sandweiss offers thought-provoking prompts inspired by nature. The course supports any genre of writing, and I felt encouraged to take risks. —VJ K., London ON CANADA

  • Thoroughly enjoyed taking [Naomi Sandweiss'] course. Liked the small number of people, and the good exchange we were able to have because of it. Still have questions that need answered, but Naomi gave us good sources and encouragement to find answers on our own. —Karen D., Columbia MO

  • This was my first attempt at an on-line writing class, my first attempt at writing fiction, my first attempt at writing historical fiction; it was my first attempt to put down on paper an outline for a story that I wish to incorporate into my storytelling repetoire. It was a great success. Naomi Sandweiss was spot on with her assignments, gave helpful hints and suggestion and supported my efforts in many positive ways. I have recommended your site to many of my women writing friends. Thanks. —Thea N., Des Moines IA

  • Naomi Sandweiss offers a class that is engaging, supportive, and full of good resources and suggestions. She encouraged interaction between class members, and I came away feeling that I had learned more about the craft of writing historical fiction, with the added bonus that I learned new things from the interesting historical stories that my colleagues presented. I would definitely recommend this course. —Karen D., Columbia MO