Author Shannon Hitchcock has agreed to Giveaway a copy of her new book RUBY AND ME. She sent me a copy and I can’t wait to read it. I’ll tell you about it when I announce the winner.
All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.
Everything’s changing for Sarah Beth Willis. After Robin’s tragic accident, everyone seems different somehow. Days on the farm aren’t the same, and the simple fun of riding a bike or playing outside can be scary. And there’s talk in town about the new sixth-grade teacher at Shady Creek. Word is spreading quickly–Mrs. Smyre is like no other teacher anyone has ever seen around these parts. She’s the first African American teacher. It’s 1969, and while black folks and white folks are cordial, having a black teacher at an all-white school is a strange new happening. For Sarah Beth, there are so many unanswered questions. What is all this talk about Freedom Riders and school integration? Why can’t she and Ruby become best friends? And who says school isn’t for anybody who wants to learn–or teach? In a world filled with uncertainty, one very special teacher shows her young students and the adults in their lives that change invites unexpected possibilities.
I first connected with my editor, Andrea Pinkney in 2012 at the Orlando SCBWI conference. I had written a picture book about school integration and specifically attended the conference hoping to meet Andrea. I signed up to have CORN SILK critiqued, but was not assigned to work with Andrea. Not to be deterred, I attended every workshop Andrea taught that weekend. At one point she asked if anyone would like to read their first page out loud to her. I did so, and afterward Andrea gave me her business card and asked to see the manuscript as a formal submission. My agent, Deborah Warren, subbed it to her.
About six months later, Andrea rejected the PB, but said she would like to see a MG novel from me that had the same themes as the PB. The thing was I had a MG novel that featured a friendship between an African-American girl and a white girl. I started wondering if I could combine the two ideas. I drew up a new outline and basically started from scratch. I took a completed draft to a namelos Whole Novel Workshop and worked with the amazing Carolyn Coman. When I felt the draft was strong enough, Deborah subbed it to Andrea. That same day, Andrea asked if I would consider rewriting the manuscript from third person to first person. I agreed to do so. Then Andrea and I spoke on the phone and she shared her vision for the manuscript. I took copious notes and continued to revise. Finally it was ready to send back to Andrea.
Deborah Warren shared that Andrea liked the revision, but then nothing happened for a while. Several months later, Deborah called to say it was too close to the holidays and a bad time for Andrea to take the manuscript to acquisitions. We agreed to wait. Deborah, Andrea, and I had a private meeting at the Miami SCBWI Conference in 2014. Andrea shared that she would be taking the manuscript to acquisitions and we would have an answer by the end of February. On February 27th, 2014, nearly two years after the Orlando Conference, I got the call. My novel, Ruby Lee & Me was published by Scholastic on January 5, 2016.
Nothing happens easily for me in this business. It’s like that Mary Chapin Carpenter song, “Everything I got, I got it the hard way.”
My love of stories began with my mother’s voice. In her slow Southern drawl, she read the fairytales, “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” I shivered when the mean ol’ giant chased Jack. I clapped with delight when Jack chopped down the beanstalk.
Though I loved stories, I had trouble learning to read. Our first grade teacher divided the class into three reading circles. The Blue Birds were the best readers; the Red Birds were the second best readers, and the Yellow Birds were last. I was a Yellow Bird and ashamed of myself.
But that changed with the help of two wonderful teachers. Mrs. Pauline Porter patiently taught me to read. With her help, I moved from a Yellow Bird, to a Red Bird, and finally to the coveted Blue Bird reading circle.My second grade teacher was Mrs. Barbara Hutchens. She sponsored a contest to see which student could read the most books during the school year. I won the contest, and Mrs. Hutchens changed my life. She introduced me to the biographies of Annie Oakley, Betsy Ross, and Nancy Todd Lincoln. I became a lifelong reader.
My teachers turned me into a reader, but it was my sister who turned me into a storyteller. Snuggled under the covers, Robin said, “Tell me a bedtime story.”
So I began, “Once upon a time, there was a boy named Billy who rode a beautiful horse named Blaze.” Robin loved the Billy and Blaze books by C. W. Anderson.
But, one night she said, “Not those stories. Make up stories about us.”
The “us” was Robin and her pony Surelick, our cousin Penny and her pony, Tennessee, and of course there was me – Shannon and my pony, Spot.
That’s how I became a storyteller. Whispering stories about “The Carolina Cowgirls” to my sister late at night.
It would be many years before I captured these stories on paper. I grew up and worked as an accountant, a human resources manager, and an office manager. Later, I became a mother. I read a library full of books to my son and dreamed of publishing stories of my own.
In 1999, my sister Robin died in a car crash. She was 34 years old. I decided that life was too short for unfulfilled dreams and started to write. THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL is my debut novel.
The ALAN Review hailed Shannon Hitchcock as, “A New Voice in Historical Fiction.” She’s the author of the Crystal Kite award-winning novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, and a second novel, Ruby Lee & Me, a nominee for the 2017-2018 Nebraska Chapter Book Golden Sower Award. Shannon’s writing has also been published in numerous magazines, including, Highlights for Children, Cricket, and Children’s Writer. She currently divides her time between Tampa, Florida and Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Look for Shannon’s next book, One True Way, forthcoming from Scholastic in 2018.
Thank you Shannon for sharing your book’s journey and offering a copy of RUBY AND ME to one lucky winner. Here’s the link to Amazon.