Monday, October 30, 2017

My #FAME17 Experience!

Attending the Florida Association for Media in Education Conference was a wonderful experience!

Right off the bat, Sharon Powers and her son made me feel like a rock star. When they picked me up at the airport, this sign was in their car window: 

And then authors got cookies at registration:

And of course being a Scholastic author always makes me feel important:

I participated in my first ever "speed dating" session, which basically means I moved around a packed room, going from table to table, telling educators about RUBY LEE & ME.

And then Augusta Scattergood and I rolled out our presentation, "Writing Bravely--Tackling Tough Topics With Books," and followed that up with a signing at the Scholastic Booth.

FAME was my only appearance in October, but next month, look for me at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Books on November 11th, and at NCTE on November 17th and 18th!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rural Settings And Friendship

It was a nice surprise to see RUBY LEE AND ME on the Top Ten Books With Rural and Small Town Settings list by Elaine Fultz! (Nerdy Book Club)

And RUBY LEE AND ME also showed up on Better Together 10 of the Best Friendships in Middle Grade Lit by Dena McMurdie!(Read Brightly)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

RUBY LEE & ME--Nominee for Iowa Children's Choice Awards!

I just found out this morning that RUBY LEE & ME is a nominee for the Iowa Children's Choice Award! List of Nominees

That's RUBY LEE & ME's third state list: Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and now Iowa.

The students also made a really cool book trailer. book trailer

I'm a little nervous about Hurricane Irma and my home in Tampa so this news made my day!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ChLA Conference--Just Say Yes!

 When Dr. Joan Kaywell asked me to be a co-presenter at the 2017 ChLA Conference, I said yes first and asked questions later. The reasons I automatically said yes were:

1. I love Dr. Joan!

2. The conference was being held in Tampa, practically in my backyard. And...

3. I actually enjoy public speaking.

My first question for Dr. Joan was: What are we going to talk about?

Her answer: When Will We Ever Learn? Linking Relevant Fiction With Nonfiction to Examine Equality in the United States.

Dr. Joan went on to say all she really wanted was for me to talk about my books, and she'd handle the rest.

The burning question was how did my books fit into the topic? It turns out Dr. Joan is smarter than I am, and though I'd never really thought about it, all of my books have an equality theme running through them.

The BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL is set in 1922, two years after women got the right to vote. My heroine, Jessie, wants nothing more than to go away to teachers' college, but household chores, the expectations of her family and community, and a tuberculosis epidemic, all stand in her way. THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL has a Women's Rights theme.

RUBY LEE & ME's theme is evident. It's set in the summer of 1969, the summer before the local elementary school in Shady Creek, NC will become integrated. Two girls--one black, the other white, must confront how racism affects their friendship. RUBY LEE & ME's subplot tackles Civil Rights.

My third book, ONE TRUE WAY, forthcoming on February 27, 2018 has an LGBT rights theme. The book is set during 1977, using Anita Bryant's Save Our Children campaign, as a backdrop. If you're not familiar with Ms. Bryant's crusade, there are great YouTube videos about it, like this one here:

To date, I've written about Women's Rights, Civil Rights, and LGBT rights. I'm excited to see where my writing takes me next.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


I've been away on vacation and had a nice surprise when I got home. A sixth grader in Ohio had sent a letter telling me how much she loved RUBY LEE & ME. She had even included a braided yarn bookmark, which I'll put to good use.

Below is a copy of the reply I mailed off:

Dear Alyssa,

Thank you for writing to let me know how much you enjoyed RUBY LEE & ME and for the braided yarn bookmark.

I grew up on a farm like Sarah Beth. I hope you got a chance to look at the photos of my family in the back of the book. I know you didn’t like the part where Ruby wouldn’t answer Sarah’s letter, but Sarah had called her a really mean name. Words matter. Some kids wouldn’t have forgiven Sarah, not ever, but Ruby had a big heart.

I’m enclosing two RUBY LEE & ME bookmarks, one for you, and one for a friend.

Have a great summer!

Shannon Hitchcock

Corresponding with kids about topics that matter is one of the best parts of my job!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cover Reveal of ONE TRUE WAY! (Scholastic, Feb. 2018)

I'm excited to share my cover with the world today!

And if you'd like to know why these girls are hiding their friendship and the inspiration behind ONE TRUE WAY, head over to the GROG for an exclusive interview with me!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Eulogy For My Uncle Harold

My dad and his brother, Harold, were real characters. Neither ever met a stranger, both always lived on our family farm, and even in their seventies, still liked new toys.

Dad on the red lawnmower and Harold on the green one.

Uncle Harold died a couple of weeks ago. When I got the call, I could hardly believe it-- death had snuck up on me once again. I dreamed Harold's eulogy and woke with tears on my face. It was a privilege to be his niece.

Uncle Harold

When people ask me how I came to be a writer, I tell them it’s because I grew up listening to great storytelling. My dad and Uncle Harold were two of the biggest storytellers I ever knew. If you asked them a question about when they were young, one story flowed into the next, and pretty soon a whole afternoon had passed by.

My earliest memory of Uncle Harold is in Ma Williams’s kitchen. He pulled me on his lap and asked, “Who’s your favorite uncle?” I giggled and said, “Billy.” He proceeded to tickle and torture me, as I went through, the other names, “Junior, Jimmy, Howard,” until finally I howled through my giggles, “Uncle Harold.” “You finally got that right,” he said, “and don’t forget it!”

When I was growing up, Uncle Harold was in and out of our house nearly every day. He loved to come just as we were finishing supper. He’d eye the leftover stewed potatoes and biscuits, and Mama would always tell him to help himself. There was no such thing as a leftover if Harold was in the vicinity!

Though he acted tough, Harold had a tender heart. The first time our family was actually scarred by death was when Uncle Junior died. We were all gathered in the funeral home, and it’s hard to say who was crying the hardest. It felt as if my heart would break, when suddenly I was wrapped in a pair of arms as strong as a bear’s—Uncle Harold’s. “It’s not fair,” I sobbed. “No, it sure ain’t,” he said, “but Junior wouldn’t want you to cry.”

Uncle Harold loved kids. When I’d visit after Alex was born, Harold could hardly wait to see how much he’d grown. And Harold never visited empty-handed. He’d always pull a dollar out of his pocket, and when Alex got older, the dollar turned into a ten or a twenty, as he asked him, “Have you got a girlfriend yet?”

In later years, my memories are of Harold pulling up to visit in his golf cart. He was like a kid with a new toy. And his smile was always biggest when I’d ask about Cleo and Cross. He loved bragging about what his grandkids had been up to.

Last year my dad was in the hospital for over a month. Mama and I were struggling with whether or not to remove the ventilator. Uncle Harold said to me, “Mack wouldn’t want to live like this. If he could, he’d fight that ventilator with everything that’s in him.” After that, I knew what we had to do, because outside of my mama, dad’s brothers knew him best.

When I got the call that Uncle Harold had passed away, I could hardly believe it. He always loomed larger than life, but here’s what brings me comfort. Uncle Harold lived a long, wonderful life. Kelly took pictures of his last Easter, and the smile on his face showed me he was happy until the very end.

As we’ve lost more and more members of our family: Junior, Ma and Pop Williams, Eric, Nelda, Jim, Robin, Tony, Little James, Abby, Max, and now Harold, I’ve gotten this image in my head. Ma Williams is standing in front of her old wood cook stove. She just pulled a chicken pie from the oven. The dining room table is loaded with a chocolate pound cake and all sorts of sonkers and custards. Some family members have arrived early, and they’re waiting for the rest of us, but there’s no need to rush—we’ve got all of eternity.

I love you, Uncle Harold. Rest in peace.

Your favorite niece, Shannon