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Preview: Sarah's Journal

Sarah's Journal

Random Thoughts of Writer Sarah Beth Durst

Last Build Date: Tue, 16 May 2017 11:21:32 +0000


Hudson Children's Book Festival 2017

Fri, 05 May 2017 14:01:00 +0000

Tomorrow, Sat May 5, I'll be at the Hudson Children's Book Festival in Hudson, NY. So excited!!! The festival is from 10am to 3pm, and I'll be reading from ROAR AND SPARKLES GO TO SCHOOL at 12:30pm. Hope to see you there!

Paperback Release Day for THE QUEEN OF BLOOD!

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:44:00 +0000

Today is the mass market paperback release day for THE QUEEN OF BLOOD (Book One of The Queens of Renthia)!!! You can now experience bloodthirsty nature spirits in an all-new bendy and extra-portable format!

I squealed when I saw them. Really loudly. Loud enough to startle the cat. You see, when I was a kid, I was only allowed to buy mass market paperbacks, so that's the format that all my childhood favorites are in (like The Blue Sword, The Pawn of Prophecy, Dragonsong, Arrows of the Queen, The Sword of Shannara, The Summer Tree...). So it feels extra special to have my book look just like those.


TLA 2017

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 14:38:00 +0000

Very excited to be heading to San Antonio for the Texas Library Association (TLA) Annual Conference!!! I'll be there on Friday 4/21/17. Here's my schedule:

10:00-11:00am Signing in the HarperCollins booth for The Queen of Blood
1:30-2:30pm Panel: "YA Authors Writing for Adults" with Zach Anner, Sarah Beth Durst, and David Williams
2:30pm Signing (immediately following panel) for The Queen of Blood
3:15-4:00pm Signing in Author Signing Area for Journey Across the Hidden Islands

Hope to see you there!


Tue, 04 Apr 2017 13:02:00 +0000

I am over-the-moon excited to announce that today is the pub day for my newest book, JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS!!!

This book began on a random afternoon a couple years ago.  I remember I was in the kitchen, probably looking for some cheese (I love cheese), and I said to my husband, "I want to write a book with a winged lion."

He said, "Great!  Um, anything else?"

"Winged lion," I said.

"Don't you need, I don't know, a plot?  Characters?"

"Winged lion."

"Um, okay.  Have fun."

And that's how this book was born.  Everything else -- the islands protected by a magical barrier, the monsters that hunt in the sea and sky, the sister princesses, the journey to the dragon -- grew from that one solitary idea.  Sometimes that's how it happens: one stray thought sparks a whole adventure.

JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS is a fantasy adventure for kids, published by Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  It's about two sisters, one winged lion, and a LOT of monsters.

The traditional Emperor's Journey is meant to be uneventful.  But as the princesses Seika and Ji-Lin -- twin sisters -- travel to pay respects to their kingdom's dragon guardian, unexpected monsters appear and tremors shake the earth.  The Hidden Islands face unprecedented threats, and the old rituals are failing.  With only their strength, ingenuity, and flying lion to rely on, can the sisters find a new way to keep their people safe?

For more about JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS, including the first two chapters, please visit my website.  And welcome to the Hundred Islands of Himitsu!!!

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.......[...]