Become the Next Suzanne Collins, or Emma Walton Hamilton, in the Children’s Literature Fellows Program

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As young adult (YA) fiction remains a commercial and critical force in publishing, the Stony Brook Southampton Children’s Literature Fellows, a one-year graduate level certificate program sponsored by the college’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program, announced this week it is now accepting applications for 2015.

Developed by author and Children’s Literature Conference Director Emma Walton Hamilton—a Sag Harbor resident—as well as MFA in Creative Writing Director Julie Sheehan and YA author/faculty member Patricia McCormick, the year-long course of instruction is accomplished largely in a distance learning format. The program aims to offer aspiring children’s and young adult authors a more affordable and flexible option than matriculation in a two-or-three year MFA program.

The Children’s Literature Fellows do their work within a framework tailored to their needs and in total earns students 16 graduate level credits. Twelve Fellows are accepted into the program per year. The Fellows work independently with the accomplished writers who make up Stony Brook Southampton’s faculty—award-winning, best-selling authors such as Maryrose Wood, Libba Bray, Patricia McCormick, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Christopher Barton, Tor Seidler, Rachel Cohn, Dan Yaccarino, Peter Lerangis, Samantha Berger, Cindy Kane and Ms. Walton Hamilton—in a highly individualized curriculum that is primarily accomplished from home. Twice a year, the Fellows come together as a cohort: once in July during the annual Southampton Arts Writers Conference and a second time in January for a special Publishing and Editing Conference, during which they have the chance to meet with editors, agents and other members of the publishing industry.

During their year, each Fellow completes either one publishable YA or middle grade manuscript, or, for chapter and picture book writers, three to four separate manuscripts.

“There are very few programs like this out there for aspiring children’s literature authors,” says Ms. Walton Hamilton.  “But children’s literature and YA are among the strongest and fastest growing sectors of the publishing industry right now, so this is valuable for writers on a number of levels. And thanks to the program’s primarily distance learning format, aspiring authors from all over the world are able to take advantage of what it offers. We have participants in California, Arizona, Florida – even Australia.”

She added that the few places where graduate level programs like this are offered tend to be remote, while Stony Brook Southampton, with its satellite campus in Manhattan, is near to the heart of the publishing industry in New York City, and offering more opportunities than most. In addition, the publishing industry tends to be very closed to writers not represented by agents making the Editing and Publishing Conference is therefore a key part of the program.

“The Children’s Literature Fellowship was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself,” says Florida-based middle grade novelist Janas Byrd. “It is a one-on-one mentorship with awarding winning authors who are also brilliant teachers. As a middle school teacher and mother of two, time is a hot commodity. This fellowship allowed me the flexibility to write when it was most convenient for me. I finished and polished my novel in nine months, a feat that would not have been possible to accomplish on my own.”

Admission to the Children’s Lit Fellows program is highly selective, and the application process is now open and underway. The application deadline for 2015 is December 1, 2014. For more information, visit childrenslitfellows.org. 

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