Southampton Children’s Literature Conference –

I just returned from the Southampton Children’s Literature Conference July 11-15, at Southampton Stony Brook University.  Wow, what a memorable week!  A highlight for me was finally meeting Emma Walton Hamilton, after studying with her for two years.  She is warm and generous.  She truly is in her element with all the wonderful work she is doing as conference director for the  Children’s Literature Conference.  Her choice of workshop teachers and afternoon panels speakers was excellent.   I also enjoyed  attending another summer workshop with my colleague and friend,  Beth Stilborn.

Emma Pat Bethimagejpeg_2_2

I studied picture book creation with Peter H. Reynolds, an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator of The Dot, Ish, The North Star and I’m Here.   He prefers to be called a storyteller.

Every morning for 3 to 4 hours, I was inspired, encouraged and challenged to think out side of the box.  Working with Peter  was a joy.  He’s a fabulous teacher.  Peter nudged us to think visually.  We were there to make our mark in our own unique way.  We created something original every day.   We normally had two writing assignments daily, which were challenging and fun.  I had three goals in mind when I arrived — to create something new, break some rules and keep my writing short.  I accomplished all three.   Our class bonded immediately and spent a lot of time together.   We even ate lunch in our classroom to keep the energy flowing.  And Peter taught us simple animation.  It was a fun, supportive and creative environment.  Peter took time to work with each one of us individually, and review any manuscripts we brought.  He read mine out loud — it doesn’t get any better than that.  Oh wait it does.  Peter sees everything visually, so as he read my manuscripts, he was drawing illustrations in the margins.  I had him sign them.

Beth participated in Kate McMullan’s Middle Grade class.  Last Sunday morning the children’s literature classes presented their work before the writing conference.  There were other writers participating in creative writing,  poetry, non-fiction and short story classes led by Matt Klam, Mary Karr and Melissa Bank.  There also were workshops for playwrights, directors and actors.

One of the unique aspects of the conference was meeting so many different artists.  Some of us were dorm mates.  And we all dined and talked and learned from each other.   It was very exciting to be surrounded by such an artistic and stimulating group working on their craft.  I came home with my head full.  The second session this week includes YA fiction with Patricia McCormick, and screenwriting and digital film.

I hope those of you reading this will seriously think about participating next year.  Start saving now.   Only 12 people are selected to participate in each class, which adds to the intimacy of each workshop.  It is the best hands-on writing conference I have attended.  I can’t wait to go back!

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

46 thoughts on “Southampton Children’s Literature Conference –

  1. Wow! I am so thrilled you had such fun and a great time, and learnt so much as well as achieving your goals. Peter does sound like a guy I would enjoy learning from, as you have mentioned, to me. I wish I had been there. I hadn’t realised the sessions were so small and intimate. Now you are home, the skys the limit for you, Pat!

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    • Diana, you would have enjoyed working with Peter. And yes, the small classes really allowed us to participate. Nothing was right or wrong. Two memembers of the class were illustrators, the rest of us were what Peter called “challenged illustrators,” meaning we couldn’t say we weren’t artists. Everyone has potential. Hope you consider attending in the future. It was an intensive writing week, but inspiring.

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  2. LOVE that Peter drew illustrations on your manuscript and signed them!! What a practical and creative time you had. Excellent goals and very happy that you met all three, Pat. Thanks for sharing your Southampton time with us.

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    • Joanna, it was really cool. It’s all a part of who he is. He drew 50 characters one night in two hours for one of our assignments. Yes, I was very excited about what I learned.

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  3. OMG! How totally awesome! I am SO sorry I wasn’t able to attend this year and will have to do my best to make it next year. How cool that Peter drew in your mss! I’m glad you had such a wonderful time!

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    • Susanna, it was awesome. He is an excellent teacher! I really hope you can think about attending Southampton next year! It more than met my expectations. The small classes really aided our work. We worked as a team and we all we were involved.

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    • Cathy, I hope you think about attending in the future. The entire program was fantastic. It was such a memorable experience. I loved interacting with playwrighters too and listening to what they were doing — very foreign to me — but exciting. Yes, the doodles are cool.

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  4. What a wonderful opportunity! It reminds me that when opportunity knocks, no matter how packed our schedule feels, we have to leave room to say “yes” to those things that will feed our souls for months or years to come. Otherwise, we can busily starve our souls until there’s nothing left.

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  5. Sounds like the place I would love to be next year. So much depends on my mother and her needs. But, one day…

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  6. Pat, you are so LUCKY! It sounds like such a wonderful experience. I think conferences are amazing. I love the people I meet and the things I learned. In fact, your post here helped re-motivate me! I’m so glad you had a good time and accomplished all 3 of your goals. 🙂

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    • Leigh, thank you for your comments. Glad I motivated you. I was very lucky! Peter Reynolds was a terrific teacher and a breath of fresh air. He has so much to share. And, I didi meet some amazing people.

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  7. I agree with the others. Lucky you. Workshops are a lot of hard work. I can’t wait to hear how you use all this in your writing. Happy you were able to attend AND meet Beth and Emma.

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    • Stacy, it was hard work. But, I felt amazing tackling each assignment. It was fun to be away from all the distractions of home and just write. And, yes it was fun to meet Emma. Beth and I met last summer at SCBWI, so it was fun attending with someone I knew — although we were both so busy with our classes, that we didn’t see a lot of each other after the conference started.

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  8. That sounds like such a great experience! I imagine it was challenging, but it sounds like it was the kind of challenge that leaves you happy tired! 🙂

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    • Erik, there are good writing groups for kids with competitions. Ask your teachers. There’s a national program I know of, but have forgotten then name. Will ask my friend. It was a fun conference. By the way, I flew through Philadelphia and thought of you. Almost didn’t get out Sunday night with the bad storms going through. Left just before midnight.

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  9. So good to read your recap, Pat. I need to get some much-needed sleep before I can attempt to blog about the conference, since it took me a very long time and a circuitous route to get home this afternoon (instead of yesterday evening), but it was great to read your experiences. Wonderful to hear about the Peter H. Reynolds doodles!

    I can hardly wait until next year.

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    • Thanks Beth. Just wanted to share my experience. I know we both worked hard. It was so much fun connecting with you at the conference, having lunch together at your hotel, and spending some time together before I left. Two summers together at workhops — cool. We did have a fabulous time!

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  10. Patricia,
    The conference sounds wonderful. I’m so glad that you enjoyed and soaked up the experience. I have only been able to attend one conference so far and it was refreshing and wonderful…so I am envious of your experience!

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  11. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip Pat! I’m glad you were able to go and enjoyed it so much! How exciting that Peter chose your story to read aloud, and illustrate! =) I’m sure that’s an experience you’ll always treasure!

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    • Amanda, it was quite an experience. Peter read my story just to me during our special time together. It was a treat though to have him read MY work. That’s when he drew illustrations on my MS. Yes, I will treasure that workshop!

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  12. Wow, Pat! You’ve convinced me to try for the conference next year. Paintdreamer took the words right out of my head. I had no idea of the intimacy of the workshops nor the individual attention provided. So happy that it was all that you had hoped for.

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    • Gary, I’m happy you want to apply for the conference next year. Check out the Southampton Children’s Literature FB page or the Southampton Writer’s Conference FB page to follow this summer and learn more about next year’s conference. Info can also be found on the Children’s Book Hub FB page. There was so much individual attention, and we also worked as a team! It was a week to really work on your writing and Well worth the money.

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    • Julie, you would be amazed at the teaching level of the conference and find it a very stimulating and productive experience! I hope you do think about attending! Discovered your first post to me ended up in my spam box. Don’t know why.

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  13. Pat, thank you so much for sharing your conference journey! Congrats on having your work read aloud…we are not surprised. 🙂
    Attending workshops and conferences for one’s craft is something I really need to get busy planning for…I hope next year will see me attending one at least. 🙂

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    • Thank you Vivian. It was a great conference. All of us presented our work. It was just fun having Peter Reynolds read my WIPs outloud to me during the private meetings he had with each of us. Sorry, didn’t mean to mislead. I hope you attend a conference. What made this one special was that we only had 12 people in each class with an author. And, we wrote daily. Hope you consider it as a possibility.

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  14. Looks like a truly inspiring conference with wondrous take-aways in the company of lovely friends and gifted writers, Pat. Thank you so much for sharing all this with us. I feel like I’m there too!

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    • Myra, Thank you. It was a very inspiring conference to attend. So much talent there. It was fun to connect with authors as well as playwrights, directors and actors. Exciting conference!

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  15. This sounds like a wonderful exerience. I am so happy for you that you got to go and I would love to attend next year. It is so important to go to conferences and ones that are well done and inspirational are the best! You came away with a lot- and I thank you for passing on what you learned to us. 🙂

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    • I am so glad you stopped by and read of my fantastic experience at the Southampton Conference. If you seriously have an interest, start saving now. It is the best conference I’ve been to. Nothing like working in a small group with a celebrated author. And, meeting writers from all genres. Exciting time for me!

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