I was lucky enough to be invited to the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute at the end of January. If it was inspiring to be with small groups of booksellers on my pre-sell tour, it was like a rocket launch to be surrounded by hundreds of booksellers, many of whom had already read my book or very much wanted to.

I’m so grateful to the Indies Introduce panelists, especially Joy Dallanegra-Sanger of ABA and Billie Bloebaum of Third Street Books, for choosing me and The Beast Is an Animal to be among the short list of debuts included, and for allowing me to do my first-ever reading from the novel.  Billie called me when I was hiking on an island off the coast of Maine last summer to give me the news that I’d been selected. I shouldn’t even have had cell service, and I’ll never forget the thrill of getting her call while I stood in the woods.

I especially want to thank my publisher, Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster for sending me to Minneapolis in January, and for hosting such a lovely bookseller dinner for me and their other authors present. Jason Wells, the VP of children’s publicity and marketing, was our shepherd and charmer-in-chief, and I cannot express enough gratitude to marketing director Chrissy Noh, marketing manager Emily Hutton, and head of children’s sales Christina Pecorale for talking up my book so passionately over and over and over again and persuading even booksellers who claimed not to like YA fantasy that they really should read my book.

I also want to thank fellow S&S author Shaun David Hutchinson for sharing a signing table with me and being such a lovely colleague all weekend.

Finally, once again, I was brilliantly guided and watched over and generally lucky to have Faye Bi as my publicist.  I don’t know how she’s as focused on my book and responsive to me as she is while also having so many other responsibilities, and I’m so grateful.