My KidLitCon adventure began a day before the actual conference, so I'm calling this installment of the report "Day 0."

On this lovely Thursday, I met up with my friends Rachel and Marie just after 1 p.m. We drove the three hours to Chicago in style - with Rachel at the wheel and lots of yummy snacks. Ladies' road trips are the best, and the talk always makes the time fly.

Our first stop in Chicago was IKEA. (I know, this has nothing to do with KidLitCon or even books but just wait! I am about to impress you with my amazingness!) At IKEA I helped Rachel and Marie get their furnitures all picked out and such, and I finally got a new set of measuring cups for myself. I've been missing the 1/4 cup for a long time, since I melted it that one day. (Wait for it ...)

Rachel, on a spinny cow stool.
Marie, on a pink plastic chair.

We were about to check out when -- oh no! -- Rachel had lost the claim slip for the bed she was buying. The checkout lady called up to the furniture lady and while they tried to get it sorted, I slipped back into the warehouse part to look for the missing paper. Three aisles and two false alarms later, I found it! (Permission to be amazed: granted.) And where did I find it? Underneath Rachel's cell phone. That's right, her phone was almost lost forever in IKEA Chicago. (And now I am taking a bow, to all your applause.)

Quickly, we loaded our purchases into Rachel's Expedition and zoomed off to Anderson's Bookshop (and here's where the books come in). We snuck in just a minute or two late for Shannon Hale's appearance.

Shannon gave as charming and vivacious a presentation as I have ever seen her give. She was, in fact, jumping up and down at one point. Very lively. She took questions from the audience and talked about how going back to writing Miri's voice (for Palace of Stone) was easy for her -- typically, she said, she starts with a story and then finds the character in the drafts. This time, of course, she knew Miri well and had to find the story.

Shannon told us that she is working on a series of Easy Readers, to be called The Princess in Black. The series was inspired by her then-four-year-old daughter who was wearing a skirt and naming the colors. "Pink is a girl color, purple is a girl color, but black isn't a girl color," she said. Shannon protested. Her daughter countered, "Princesses don't wear black." So the books will be about a pretty pink-clad princess who, by night, dresses in black and rides out to do battle with monsters. She is also working on a science fiction book set in the present day -- as yet untitled.

After questions, Shannon Hale signed books. And this is where things start to get lucky for you, Evereaders. I couldn't wait until the end of September to read a Shannon Hale book that came out in August. And I couldn't get a spot in the signing line without ordering a book from Anderson's. So . . . I have an extra, signed copy for one of you!

A signed copy of this excellent book, delivered to your mailbox?
Learn how to win, below!
Just leave a comment on this post (perhaps you will tell me a question you would have asked Shannon Hale?) to be entered in the contest. Whoever asks my most favorite question will win. Or, if I can't decide, it will be a random drawing. Either way, I will announce the winner next Wednesday, October 10.

{This contest is now closed, but you're still welcome to comment!}

Good luck! I hope you win!

The three of us at Wendy's after the signing.
Why did I take no photos of Shannon Hale?
It is a mystery even to myself.
p.s. Oh yeah! After the bookstore we went to dinner and then to our hotel. I was very relieved that it wasn't shady -- since I booked it online two nights before. For some odd reason I got the biggest thrill walking into the hotel room. I yelled, "We're here!" Somehow being in the hotel made New York and KidLitCon the next day seem so much more real. Day 1 report, coming soon!


  1. I love girl road trips! And I can't wait to see Princesses in Black. Sounds like a conversation many moms have had! I am embarrassed to admit that I don't know Shannon Hale's work (sounds like I should remedy that!) so I don't have a question other than, "Can I please win the give away so I can read my first Shannon Hale book? Thank you." Sorry to have missed you at KidlitCon too! Can't wait to read about your experience.

  2. Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun! And, pictures sometimes escape me as well, lol.

  3. Why *didn't* you take your picture with Shannon? (Kidding. That's not really my question, although it is a good question.)
    I'd have asked her...which cultures influenced Palace of Stone? Mount Eskel is a VERY different place from the capital city. And what kinds of things did you research to make the city feel like a real place?

  4. I was supposed to be a "water girl" for one of Shannon's book signings at a conference a few years back. Before she started the signing, I was able to get to know her (aka worship her) in person for a few minutes. I told her how much I love her writing and asked her which book was her favorite. She said, "Which one is your favorite?" I told her I couldn't choose. She said, "Neither can I. They're all like children." :)

  5. I own Princess Academy but haven't read it yet. So my question is this: How eager should I be to read the first one in order to read the second?

  6. Alex, if I were you I would NOT read the second until I had read the first. Unlike her Bayern series, with this one the story is a direct sequel and there would be major spoilers that, if you were me, you would regret being spoiled about.

  7. So as soon as I finish Fablehaven I need to read Princess Academy. Done!

  8. Wow! Nice save at the IKEA! That store is so easy to loose things in... including children.
    I miss going to book releases, sadly, not too many authors make it to Dallas.
    If I was there I would have asked Shannon if she had any insight about when Austenland the movie is coming out! I love her Austenland books!

  9. Did she recognize you? And did you call the phone to find it?

  10. Good job in Ikea. I am quite impressed with the find. That was like a needle in a haystack!

    Hmmm...I would ask her who her favorite author is and/or who she feels inspired by.

    I would LOVE to win this book because I'm dying to read it, too cheap to purchase it new (being student and all, still - I know) and I'm like at least 158 on the wait list at the Library. Who has a wait list that long and only buys one copy of the book for their library?! (OK, so 158 is an exaggeration but 58 is more accurate and still potentially 58 MONTHS too long.)

  11. How are some people just so darn good at writing? I'm so glad you turned me on to Shannon Hale's books. You really can't beat princesses for a good book topic. Although I'm very intrigued by her sci-fi book coming up.

  12. Hmm, if I could ask Shannon Hale a question it would be:
    'Do you think if people tried hard enough (and I mean REALLY hard enough with all the focus and commitment of the world) they could communicate to others telepathically the way the Mt. Eskel villagers did with quarry speaking?'

    Because that would totally make the world very much more interesting indeed.

    Thanks guys! :)

  13. In a previous interview, I remember Shannon saying something about how writing the character of Miri in Princess Academy was almost painful, because Miri had so much of Shannon's younger self. I would have asked Shannon if she had a similar experience while writing Palace of Stone.

  14. Good work at IKEA, indeed. A cell phone lost in Chicago is a sad thing indeed.

    I remember Shannon said she threw out the first 80 pages of Goose Girl. Does that happen every time for her? Did she need to do that while finding the story with the character of Miri?

    Of course, I'm also curious about Nicole's question - what about Miri is similar to Shannon's younger self?


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