Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summertime's Calling Me!

My writing life has been derailed this week by a visit from the Crown Prince, aka my son, Alex.

Alex came home to get his wisdom teeth extracted, and I've been his chauffeur, nurse, cook, and maid. As you can see, I haven't been doing a stellar job on the maid part.

My blogging will be pretty spotty for the rest of July. I am planning to do some of this:

And this:


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Orlando SCBWI Conference Review

The Orlando conference was held on Disney property at The Dolphin. I snapped the above picture just outside my bedroom window.

I took a Middle Grade Novel Workshop with author Deborah Wiles and Candlewick editor Carter Hasegawa. Deborah's presentation was about excavating your life for stories. She shared how her life has influenced her books. Deborah asked us lots of questions to start us mining our pasts for stories. For example:
  1. When you think of home: what does it smell like, sound like, taste like?
  2. When was your life derailed?
  3. What scares you?
  4. What breaks your heart?
  5. Who are your heroes?
Answering those questions often provides ideas to enrich your stories.

Carter told us that he's read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card about fifty times. So if you write that type of book, I'd say Carter would be a great editor to send it to.

Carter also led a discussion about writing diverse characters. The thing he said that made me think the most is, "What gives you the right to write the other?" We have to earn the right to write stories about people that aren't like us. That reminded me of my friend Nancy Bo Flood and her book Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo. Though Nancy isn't Navajo, (at least I don't think she's Navajo), she does live and work on a Navajo Indian Reservation. Her life experience has earned her the right to tell this story.

One last tip from the workshop is to check out Deborah's Pinterest boards. The way she collects historical images and videos would help any writer, but especially those of us who write historical fiction.

Rumor has it, we'll be back at The Dolphin in June of 2015. You can't beat the setting, or SCBWI Florida. You're invited...come on down!

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Debut Year In Review!

THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL recently won the Crystal Kite Award for the Southeast Region. That was the perfect way to end my debut year. Looking back, here are some of the highlights:

Pre-publication: My cover art was revealed on September 15, 2012. Shortly thereafter, I worked with my publisher on flap copy. With the help of Linda Kaufman, my website designer, I overhauled my blog and website. Wendy Hostetter Davis designed my book trailer. You can watch it here:

Publishers Weekly gave The Ballad of Jessie Pearl its first professional review. Kirkus, Booklist, SLJ, and several others soon followed. My publisher collected all my reviews and posted them on the namelos website.

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl's official book birthday was February 1, 2013. JESSIE and I were featured on the front page of my hometown newspaper, The Yadkin Ripple. My friend Regine Gordon threw a launch party for all my Tampa friends. I had a book signing at my hometown library in East Bend, North Carolina. This picture is at the library with Brad Matthews, one of my friends from elementary school.

Since the initial launch, I have spoken at the 2013 ALAN Conference on a panel of Southern writers, cheered when Booklist Online named JESSIE'S cover art as one of the year's best, led a workshop at the North Carolina Reading Association Conference, and been interviewed in the ALAN Review.

My debut author journey has been a satisfying experience and winning a Crystal Kite Award was like getting an extra cherry on my nut sundae. The only thing more exciting is that I get to do it all again! My second novel, Carolina Girls will be edited by Andrea Pinkney and published by Scholastic. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


I am thrilled and amazed that my book won the Crystal Kite for the southeast region, (Florida, Georgia, SC, NC, and Alabama). That means my book earned a sticker. And though I'm much too old for kindergarten, I am still excited about that!

I was in the bathtub when I got "the call" from Linda Bernfeld, my Regional Advisor. Luckily, I had the phone close by. Who am I kidding? I'm a mom...the phone is always close by. Linda asked if I'd looked at my email. And then I knew. I just knew deep down that JESSIE had won! Forget relaxing in the bathtub. I had enough adrenaline pumping to launch a rocket ship!

It will be a week tomorrow since Linda called, and all I can say is thank you. JESSIE and I feel truly blessed.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Crystal Kite Finalist!

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl is a finalist for the Southeast Region's Crystal Kite Award. 

Other finalists include:
  1. Anubis Speaks by Vicky Alvear Shecter
  2. Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes
  3. Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals by Heather Montgomery and
  4. The Culling by Steven dos Santos
I am proud JESSIE is a finalist and send hearty congratulations to the other authors and their wonderful books!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Looking for the History in Historical Fiction

When presenting to students and teachers about my book, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, I always mention Jim Murphy's non-fiction title, Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never Ending Search for a Cure. So it was with great interest that I read a blog post by Lisa Storm Fink called Looking for the History in Historical Fiction: An Epidemic for Reading.

Lisa shares ways teachers can use historical fiction and nonfiction titles about communicable diseases in the classroom. I particularly like that she offers two attachments:

  1. Questions to Consider While Reading Historical Fiction and
  2. A List of Applicable Titles.
Several more books about infectious diseases have been written since the list in number two was compiled. I would suggest teachers also consider the following:

1. Winnie's War by Jennie Moss, (Spanish Influenza).

2. Blue and its sequel Comfort by Joyce Moyer Hostetter, (Polio).

3. The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock, (Tuberculosis).

4. Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The ALAN Review: A New Voice In Historical Fiction

Here's a selfie of me holding the Winter 2014 issue of The ALAN Review:

On pages 62-65 is an article about me called, "Shannon Hitchcock: A New Voice in Historical Fiction." The article was written by KaaVonia Hinton, a professor at Old Dominion University. KaaVonia had blogged about THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL shortly after it was published and that led to a subsequent interview.

It's very exciting for me when teachers recognize the history in my book and find ways to use it in the classroom. A big thank you to KaaVonia for introducing JESSIE to the ALAN community!