Programs for Teens & Adults

He Continues To Make A Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard

This program uses poetry, photographs, and creative visualization to explore the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the world. In 1998, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, robbed, beaten, and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. Lesléa Newman was the keynote speaker for Gay Awareness Week at the University of Wyoming that year, and arrived on campus the day that Matthew Shepard died from this horrendous hate crime. She spoke to a devastated campus and community, and vowed to work to erase hate from that day forward.

Her book October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard explores the impact of Matt’s murder in a cycle of 68 poems. Written as fictional monologues in a variety of voices including the fence Matt was tied to, the stars that watched over him, and the doe who kept him company, this powerful presentation challenges audience members to look deep inside themselves and find a way to make a difference to create a safe world for everyone.

“The best assembly I have seen in 12 years of teaching.”

Audience: 9th grade through 12th grade, and adults
Length of program: can vary from 40 minutes to an hour
Size of audience: small group through large assembly

It Takes a Village to Raise a Children’s Books Writer

Lesléa Newman loves to quote her favorite statistic: “One-hundred percent of all authors had, at one time in their lives, never published a book.” How does one move from writer to author? With a little, and sometimes a lot of help from her friends, including teachers, editors, mentors, colleagues and other writers.

In this presentation, Lesléa Newman shares the journey she has been on since she was eight years old and made the decision to become a writer. As the author of dozens of books, she has a lot to say about where ideas come from, how to write and rewrite (and rewrite and rewrite), and how to nurture your beginning drafts into finished manuscripts that become books. She reads excerpts from rejection letters and editorial letters (you may think that once a book is accepted your job as a writer is over, but in many cases it is just beginning) and talks about book contracts, how authors get paid, book promotion and publicity, working with agents, editors and art directors, and the importance of writing groups. Plenty of visuals, including handwritten drafts, art samples, book dummies, press sheets, contracts, author questionnaires and much much more.

Length: 45 minutes to an hour (including Q&A)

I Love It, But…The Author/Editor Tango

Someone once commented to Lesléa Newman, “It must be easy to write a picture book. There aren’t even that many words!” Rest assured, even the simplest picture book has gone through many drafts. In this presentation, Lesléa Newman reads first, second, third and fourteenth drafts of two very short picture books, interspersed with actual letters from editors at top New York City publishing houses, to show the audience just how an author and editor work together to bring a book from idea and first draft to final product. Audience members will be surprised at how many drafts these picture books have gone through, and the amount of thought, time and effort that goes into a manuscript that contains less than 400 words. Featured books: Where Is Bear? and Skunk’s Spring Surprise.

Write from the Heart

A wonderful writer named Elsa Gidlow once said, “Writers are not special people. Every person is a special kind of writer.” Lesléa Newman firmly believes that everyone has important stories to tell and the ability to tell them. This workshop is for those who want to write but think they have nothing to say, or those who know they have something to say but don’t know how to say it. Using simple writing exercises, participants will learn how to use memory, observation skills, and imagination to write stories that express the emotional truths of their lives. No previous writing experience necessary. Each participant should bring something to write with, something to write on, and an open heart and mind.

Note: Workshops with specific goals and/or focus can be designed to suit the needs of your group, whether you are all beginning writers, all experienced writers, or some combination thereof. Examples include: Writing the Novel, Character Development, Dialogue, Poetry, Revision, The Business of being an Author, Writing the Picture Book, etc. Suggestions are always welcome!

Length: 1 to 3 hours, weekend and week-long workshops also available.