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Preview: Sarah's Journal

Sarah's Journal

Random Thoughts of Writer Sarah Beth Durst

Last Build Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2017 14:58:30 +0000


THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM out today in paperback!

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 14:58:00 +0000

Very excited that the paperback edition of THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM is out in the world today!!! And with a lovely new cover! Thanks so much, Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!  Monster is so excited to now exist in an all-new, much more bendy format.

*shares cupcakes with everyone*

(Cover art by Manuel Sumberac)

ALA Alex Award Medal

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 18:49:00 +0000

Look what came in the mail! My ALA Alex Award medal for THE QUEEN OF BLOOD! It's so cool, and heavy! Thanks, American Library Association!


Starred Review for THE RELUCTANT QUEEN!

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 16:35:00 +0000

Starred review from Publishers Weekly for THE RELUCTANT QUEEN!!!  Yay!  So happy!

Announcing THE DEEPEST BLUE!!!

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:32:00 +0000

I'm thrilled to announce that there will be a 4th Renthia book! Sold THE DEEPEST BLUE, a companion novel to my Queens of Renthia series, to Harper Voyager, for publication in spring 2019!!!


Excerpt from Journey Across the Hidden Islands

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 19:29:00 +0000

Just posted the first two chapters of my upcoming MG fantasy book, JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS! Check 'em out here:

Redesigned Website

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 16:05:00 +0000

Cue drumroll and trumpets...  Very pleased to unveil my newly redesigned website:   Tah-dah!  Do you like it???


THE QUEEN OF BLOOD won an Alex Award!!!

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:16:00 +0000

My book, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, just won an Alex Award!!!!! It's an American Library Association (ALA) award given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults. I am so honored, grateful, and thrilled! Thank you to ALA and the Alex committee!!! And congratulations to the other winners!

*Snoopy dance of joy*


Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:28:00 +0000

Excited to reveal the cover art for my first picture book, ROAR AND SPARKLES GO TO SCHOOL, illustrated by Ben Whitehouse and coming out this June from Running Press Kids! Get ready for the cute!!!


Mon, 12 Dec 2016 16:22:00 +0000

So excited to share the cover for my next epic fantasy novel, THE RELUCTANT QUEEN, book two of The Queens of Renthia series (coming July 2017 from Harper Voyager)!!!  Thanks so much to the artist, Stephan Martiniere, for continuing to grace my books with his gorgeous artwork.

The Wall

Sun, 02 Oct 2016 16:58:00 +0000

My sweet and wonderful husband got THE QUEEN OF BLOOD book jacket framed and added it to The Wall. :)


THE QUEEN OF BLOOD comes out today!!!

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 13:08:00 +0000

I'm so excited to share THE QUEEN OF BLOOD with you!  It's the first in a new epic fantasy series from Harper Voyager called THE QUEENS OF RENTHIA, and it's set in a world filled with nature spirits.  But these aren't your sweet, frolicking pastoral sprites... These spirits want to kill all humans, and only certain women -- queens -- can control them.

This book was born in blood.

Ooh, that sounded nice and dramatic.  Must remember that line.  Anyway, this is what happened: I had just arrived at a writing retreat in the Poconos.  Beautiful place.  Forests.  Hills.  Prancing deer and babbling brooks, and so forth.  Every writer was given an adorable wood cabin nestled beneath the pines.  I was walking up to mine, marveling at the trees, reveling in the bird song, not watching my feet... and I tripped on the step up to the porch and fell flat on my face.  Cut my lip.  And that was the exact moment that this book -- specifically, the idea of bloodthirsty nature spirits -- was born. 

Trees + blood = story.

Despite its thoroughly embarrassingly klutzy origin -- seriously, the step was right there!  I saw it! -- I loved writing this book.  It was such an immersive writing experience.  Every day I'd sit down at my desk and feel as if I'd walked through a portal and into a city suspended between massive trees, where, let's face it, I probably would have been instantly killed, but Daleina and Ven -- an idealistic student and a banished warrior -- worked to protect their people.

I have always loved fantasy.  I was that kid curled up in the corner of the library with a David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Robin McKinley, or Mercedes Lackey book, reading it for the twelfth time.  Every night, I checked the back of my closet for a way into Narnia, and every birthday, I wished for a magic wand (a real one, please, not a toy) or a dragon's egg (that would hatch a friendly telepathic dragon, of course).

The thing that I love the most about both writing and reading fantasy is the way it takes you on a journey -- sweeps you off on an adventure, and then brings you back again, maybe slightly changed, a little stronger, a little braver.  I believe that fantasy literature, at its core, is -- or can be -- a literature of hope and empowerment.  That's what Daleina and Ven's story has been for me.  And so, I hope you'll join me in journeying with them!

Welcome to Renthia!  Just watch out for the trees.  They bite.

Excerpt: First Three Chapters of THE QUEEN OF BLOOD

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 21:30:00 +0000

THE QUEEN OF BLOOD comes out tomorrow!!! Woohoo!  *checks stash of chocolate, eats stash of chocolate* The first three chapters are now online:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


Thu, 15 Sep 2016 22:12:00 +0000

Very excited to announce the sale of my next middle-grade book, THE STONE GIRL'S STORY, to Anne Hoppe at Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!!! Huzzah!!! 

Excerpt: First Two Chapters of THE QUEEN OF BLOOD

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 20:38:00 +0000

THE QUEEN OF BLOOD comes out one week from today!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! The first two chapters are now online:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Excerpt: Chapter One of THE QUEEN OF BLOOD

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 22:01:00 +0000

It's exactly 2 weeks until THE QUEEN OF BLOOD comes out! Eeeep! You can read Chapter 1 here:


Wed, 27 Jul 2016 16:53:00 +0000

So excited to reveal Brandon Dorman's gorgeous cover art for my next MG book from HMH/Clarion Books, JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS!!!

Starred Review for THE QUEEN OF BLOOD from Publishers Weekly!!!

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:12:00 +0000

THE QUEEN OF BLOOD got its 2nd starred review, from Publishers Weekly!!! So happy!!!!!

Starred Review for THE QUEEN OF BLOOD from Library Journal!!!

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 14:32:00 +0000

Just found out that THE QUEEN OF BLOOD got a starred review in Library Journal!!! Eeeeeep!!!

Blurbs from Terry Brooks and Tamora Pierce!

Thu, 16 Jun 2016 17:51:00 +0000

Eeeeep! Excited to share blurbs from Terry Brooks and Tamora Pierce for my upcoming epic fantasy THE QUEEN OF BLOOD! Double eeeeep!


Cover Reveal for THE QUEEN OF BLOOD!

Mon, 02 May 2016 01:44:00 +0000

Last week, Barnes & Noble revealed the cover for my upcoming epic fantasy novel, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD!I can sum up my reaction in a single word (or letter!): "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!"I am so, so, so thrilled with it and so excited to share it with you!The B&N post also includes an interview with me and the amazing artist Stephan Martiniere about the cover creation process.  I am so honored to have Stephan Martiniere's art on my book.  I've admired his work for some time, and I think he did an absolutely fantastic job in capturing the feel of the novel and the grandeur of the forests of Renthia.  Thank you so much to Stephan, my editor David, and the wonderful art department at Harper!!!THE QUEEN OF BLOOD is book one in the Queens of Renthia series.  Here is the description from the jacket:Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits' restlessness -- a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it's bathed in blood.I had the most wonderful writing experience working on this book!  It was pure joy from start to finish.  Every day felt like walking into another world.  THE QUEEN OF BLOOD will be out on September 20th from Harper Voyager, and I can't wait for you to come walking in Renthia with me!  Just watch out for the bloodthirsty nature spirits.......[...]

10 Year Agent Anniversary

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 14:13:00 +0000

Exactly 10 years (and 10 books!) ago, I signed with my amazing agent, Andrea Somberg.  I know this because I have the letter she sent me framed on the wall beside my writing desk.

My life changed that day, and so I just wanted to say thank you, Andrea, for believing in me, for making my dreams come true, and for being absolutely awesome!  Happy agent-anniversary!


Tue, 03 Nov 2015 05:18:00 +0000

I am delighted and thrilled and completely ecstatic to announce that my 10th book, THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, comes out today!!!THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM is a fantasy novel for kids, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Clarion Books.  It's about a girl whose family owns a secret dream shop where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams, and the adventure that she and her best friend -- a loyal and cupcake-loving monster named Monster -- go on when someone starts kidnapping dreamers.  (That's Monster right there on the cover, the one with the tentacles next to a pink ninja bunny.)This book was born from a wish.  Or maybe I should say... a dream.When I was six, I had a reoccurring nightmare: a robot from outer space who looked exactly like Gonzo would invade the Earth and shoot M&M-sized beetles out of his curved nose, killing people.  Freaked.  Me.  Out.  So every night at bedtime, I'd chant, "Dream about dragons.  Dragons, dragons, dragons!"  Sometimes it worked, and I'd get a fun dragon dream.  Other times, killer robot Muppets.  I used to wish I could bottle the fun dreams and save them for scary nights.  The truth is I still wish that.That's where this book came from.  It started with an image of a secret shop, filled with blue bottles that stored swirling, shimmering dreams.  You drink a bottle; you dream the dream.  Flying through the clouds, picnicking with pink bunnies, befriending monsters… everything in the infinite world of the imagination is available to you, if you dare.I wrote the first scene four years ago, while I was supposed to be working on an entirely different book.  It sneaked up on me, the way Monster sneaks out of the closet and becomes part of Sophie's life.  I knew someday I'd write about this girl and her best friend, a six-tentacled monster who may or may not like to eat small children with ketchup, but I didn't tell anyone.  Sophie and Monster waited patiently, my secret, tucked away in a file on my computer, until it was time to write their story.About halfway through writing THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, I had an epiphany, one of those so-obvious-why-didn't-I-think-of-it-before kind of epiphanies: that this is why I'm a writer.  I'm trying to create my own dream bottles.I've always thought of books as magic, and I believe that being a writer is the closest you can get to being a wizard -- to creating a spell that takes people out of their own lives and brings them into a shared dream.So here it is, my story, bottled in book format, and I am inviting you to drink.  I hope you enjoy it and that it keeps the killer robots away.  Happy reading!  And happy dreaming!You're Invited!I'm having a book launch party, and I'd love it if you could come!  The party will be on Saturday, November 14th, from 1 to 3pm, at Books of Wonder in Manhattan, one of my absolute favorite bookstores, and I'll be joined there by Bruce Coville, one of my absolute favorite authors, who has graciously agreed to play emcee and lead our discussion of the book, writing, and lots more.  Please feel free to bring the whole family, as well as anyone else for that matter.  The more the merrier!  Here's the info:BOOK LAUNCH PARTY FOR THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM BY SARAH BETH DURST, IN CONVERSATION WITH BRUCE COVILLESaturday, November 14th, from 1pm to 3pmBooks of Wonder18 West 18th StreetNew York, NY&[...]

Happy Back to the Future Day!

Wed, 21 Oct 2015 15:18:00 +0000

Absolute best moment in "Back to the Future" is when George McFly opens up his box of books. I remember thinking as I watched it in 1985, "I want that." To this day, whenever that box of first copies arrives, I always call it my Back-to-the-Future box.

Except that one time I forgot and accidentally named it after some other 80s movie, and my husband had to tell me, "There's no such thing as a Breakfast-Club box."

Happy Back to the Future Day, everyone!

New York Comic Con 2015 (Part 2)

Thu, 15 Oct 2015 02:43:00 +0000

I had SO MUCH FUN on my panel at New York Comic Con last Thursday!  Best panel topic ever.  It was called "Fantasy Draft League," and we were asked to create an all-star fantasy team that included a wizard, a warrior, a cleric, a thief, and a wildcard, drawn from our favorite books.The authors drafting teams were Bradley Beaulieu, Zac Brewer, Sarah Beth Durst (me!), and Eleanor Herman; the judges (to decide who created the best team) were Naomi Novik and Sam Sykes; and the moderator was David Pomerico from Harper Voyager.Here's who I picked:1. ClericSo when I first started to think about this panel, I sat down and whipped out a list of the best wizard, warrior, thief, etc... and then I looked at what I'd written and realized that every character was from a David Eddings novel.There are two reasons for this: one is that I adore all those books.  Between the ages of ten and twenty, my mom and I reread the Belgariad so many times that we wore out three sets of paperbacks.  After that, the Elenium and the Tamuli have become my comfort food reading.But the second and more important reason is that David Eddings's characters are the best of the best.  The best warrior in the world.  The best thief of his generation.  The best wizard ever.  He doesn't tell the story of the unlikely hero.  His heroes are VERY likely.  He picks the most competent people as his protagonists... and pits them against the biggest bads imaginable.So for my cleric, I chose one of the strongest Eddings characters out there: Sephrenia, the High Priestess of Aphrael.Sephrenia is the most powerful sorceress ever.  There's no spell she can't do, and she will do it better than anyone else around.  She is also accompanied by Aphrael, the childlike goddess who can manipulate time and persuade anyone, including other gods, to assist her.  In short, with her, I pretty much don't even need anyone else.2. WizardI toyed with choosing a classical wizard: Gandalf, Merlin, Allanon...  But I've already got the spell-casting kind of magic covered with Sephrenia, plus Gandalf and Allanon are overbooked.  They'd probably flit off mid-quest to go defeat an evil demon-possessed druid or something.  And Merlin has way too much emotional baggage, with all that happened in Camelot.So for my wizard, I picked someone with an entirely different magic: wild magic.  Daine, from the Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce.Daine has animal magic.  She can talk to any animal, transform into any animal, and adopt any animal attribute (like bat hearing).  I know that doesn't sound all that impressive when you say it like that, but hear me out...  Daine isn't limited by distance or quantity.  She can summon any number of animals over any distance.  Imagine you're in a city and every rat, every pigeon, every pampered pup decided to attack you at once.  You won't be having a very good day.  Now imagine you're out on a quest in the woods...  Yeah, Daine is awesome.She also has the bow skills of Katniss Everdeen.3. ThiefI wanted to choose Silk from the Belgariad by David Eddings, but I'd already chosen Sephrenia and the rules said no repeat authors.  (True story: in sixth grade, I had to write an essay on "the person I admire the most," and I picked Silk.  I have no idea what my teacher thought of this choice.)Anyway, I n[...]