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Preview: Sarah's Journal

Sarah's Journal

Random Thoughts of Writer Sarah Beth Durst

Last Build Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:22:10 +0000



Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:20:00 +0000

Look at the pretty!!! So excited to share with you the cover art, by Brandon Dorman, for my next book for kids, THE STONE GIRL'S STORY, coming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Clarion Books in April 2018!


Tue, 04 Jul 2017 13:19:00 +0000

Happy 4th of July!!!

I'm beyond excited to announce that today is the pub day for THE RELUCTANT QUEEN!!!  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!  It's book two of my epic fantasy series The Queens of Renthia, published by Harper Voyager.  (Book one, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, is available now in paperback.)

Renthia is a world of extreme beauty: sky-piercing mountains, endless glaciers, and towering trees with cities nestled in their branches, all thanks to an overabundance of nature spirits.  But the spirits who created all this glorious beauty aren't sweet, frolicking pixies.  These spirits want to kill all humans, and only certain women -- the queens -- have the power to control them.

THE RELUCTANT QUEEN is the story of three women: a young queen who is dying, a powerful queen who hungers for war, and a middle-aged woman who wants nothing to do with the power she could wield.   It continues the story of Daleina and introduces Naelin, a woman who is (rightfully) afraid that if she uses her power, her two young children will die.

At their heart, these books are about power: who has it, who wants it, what you do with it, and what it does to you.  But they're also about choosing your own destiny and who you want to be.  And they're about soaring on a zipline through a massive forest, befriending a wolf, fighting murderous trees, concocting a few poisons, and trying to save the world.

If you're interested, more information can be found on my website, including the first two chapters.

When I was a kid, I used to "borrow" all the scrap paper in the house, tape it together, and draw massive maps of fantastical lands.  I doodled invented plants in the margins of my school notebooks.  And I kept a file box full of index cards, each card with a made-up name, paired with a magical power and a talking animal sidekick.  (I really, really wanted an animal sidekick!)  I buried myself in books by Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, and Tamora Pierce, and I dreamed of someday writing my own epic fantasy with a sprawling world and danger and adventure around every corner.

Many years later, this is it!  My epic.  And writing these books has been every bit the magical, incredible experience that I hoped it would be.  Usually when I finish a book, I'm sad -- you live with the characters, fall in love with them, and then you have to say goodbye.  But when I finished writing THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, I didn't have to say goodbye (except, you know, to the ones I killed off -- sorry!).  I was able to immerse myself in their lives and their world again with THE RELUCTANT QUEEN, and I loved that.

So I'd like to invite you to visit Renthia again with me.  Just watch out for the trees.  They bite.


Tue, 27 Jun 2017 15:40:00 +0000

One week 'til pub day!!! To celebrate, I'm giving away a signed hardcover copy of THE RELUCTANT QUEEN over on Twitter:

Retweet on Twitter by 6/28 for a chance to win!

ALA 2017 Schedule

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:10:00 +0000

Very excited for ALA this weekend!!! I'll be in Chicago at the American Library Association Annual Conference on both Saturday and Sunday.

On Sat 6/24:
1pm Signing JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt booth #3111
2pm Signing THE RELUCTANT QUEEN at Hoopla (Midwest Tape) booth #4420

On Sun 6/25:
9am YA Author Coffee Klatch in Room S105
10:30am The 2017 Alex Award Panel in Room W179a, followed by signing THE QUEEN OF BLOOD
1:00pm "Science Fiction/Fantasy Adult Books with YA Appeal" Panel in Exhibit Hall on PopTop Stage, followed by signing THE RELUCTANT QUEEN
2:00pm Signing THE RELUCTANT QUEEN at HarperCollins booth #3611

Hope to see you there!

10th Anniversary of INTO THE WILD!

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 17:39:00 +0000

Today is the 10th anniversary of the publication of my 1st book, INTO THE WILD!!! Thank you for sharing this journey with me!


THE RELUCTANT QUEEN Excerpt -- Chapter Two

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:17:00 +0000

Just two weeks until release day for THE RELUCTANT QUEEN! Time to post another chapter! Chapters 1 and 2 are now available to read here: #RQCountdown 



Thu, 15 Jun 2017 22:06:00 +0000

I've got news!!!!!

So happy to announce the sale of my next middle-grade book, STORM GUARDIANS, to my wonderful editor Anne Hoppe at Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! It's about lightning beasts... and resisting injustice.

THE RELUCTANT QUEEN Excerpt -- Chapter One

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:57:00 +0000

Today marks three weeks 'til pub day of THE RELUCTANT QUEEN!!! To celebrate, I posted the 1st chapter here: #RQCountdown

26 Days Until The Reluctant Queen!

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 14:25:00 +0000

Harper Voyager is going all out for the July 4 pub day of THE RELUCTANT QUEEN, Book Two of my Queens of Renthia epic fantasy series. My editor said there'd be fireworks above the East River! #RQCountdown



Tue, 06 Jun 2017 11:53:00 +0000

I am thrilled to announce that today is the pub day for my very first picture book, ROAR AND SPARKLES GO TO SCHOOL, illustrated by the amazing Ben Whitehouse and published by Hachette / Running Press Kids!!!Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!Aren't they cute???Here's the official description:Let first-day-of-school worries soar away with Roar and Sparkles!Roar is worried about his first day of school. He's worried that he'll have to do really hard things, like molt his scales or fly over a volcano. And what if his teacher doesn't like dragons?Big sister Sparkles reassures Roar that school is fun! And when the first day arrives, Roar finds his worries melt away. He meets new friends, plays dragon games, listens to fun stories, and finds a way to thank his sister for her support.And here's a sneak peek at the first few pages:   I loved writing this book, imagining Roar and Sparkles and their dragon-esque world.  I loved seeing the illustrator, Ben Whitehouse, bring them to life.  And I love that today it's going out in the world -- flying on dragonback to kids who might be a little nervous about their own first day of school.Happy book birthday, my little dragonets!  Fly high![...]

Busy Weekend: BookCon and Books of Wonder!

Wed, 31 May 2017 02:38:00 +0000

Very excited for this weekend!!!  I will be at both BookCon and Books of Wonder in NYC.

On Sunday 6/4 at 1pm, I'll be at one of my all-time favorite bookstores, Books of Wonder, talking about and signing my new MG fantasy novel, JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS, as part of the "Fantastic Middle Grade Reads" panel with Lisa Fiedler, Sarah Beth Durst (me!), Carol Goodman, and Sarah Jean Horwitz.

And on Saturday 6/3 and Sunday 6/4, I'll be at BookCon, talking about and signing the first two books in my epic fantasy series for adults, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD and THE RELUCTANT QUEEN.  My BookCon schedule:

- Sat June 3, 11:30am-12:00pm: Signing of The Reluctant Queen in HarperCollins booth
- Sat June 3, 1:30-2:30pm Panel: "Megan Whalen Turner Super-Fan Panel" with Tomi Adeyemi, Holly Black, Joelle Charbonneau, Sarah Beth Durst, and Megan Whalen Turner, moderated by Martha Mihalick
- Sat June 3, 3:30-5:00pm Signing in VIP Lounge
- Sun June 4, 3:00-5:00pm Panel: "Cult Classic Throwdown: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Film, Lit, and Pop Culture" with Sasha Alsberg, Jordanna Max Brodsky, S.A. Chakraborty, Zoraida Cordova, Lindsay Cummings, Sarah Beth Durst, Michael Johnston, Swapna Krishna, and Jenn Northington, moderated by Petra Mayer

Hope to see you this weekend!

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. :)