Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Cover Art Reveal: CHASING POWER

Please imagine your favorite drummer performing a stupendous drum roll...

I am so, so, so excited to be able to share with you the cover for my next YA novel, CHASING POWER, coming from Bloomsbury on October 14, 2014:

What do you think?!?  I'm quite in love with it.  I especially like the hint of blue and purple in the glass of the bulb.

Bloomsbury is giving away an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of the book to celebrate. Follow this link to the announcement on Twitter and retweet for a chance to win!

Here's what the book is about:

Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind -- things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers -- and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both.

When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel -- a boy with the ability to teleport -- he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family -- and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.

I'm so excited for October!  I can't wait for you to meet Kayla!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Excerpt from THE LOST

Two months until THE LOST comes out!!!

Very tempted to make a joke about how I lost track of time and am shocked that it's only two months until pub day, but I'll resist.  I can't wait for people to meet Lauren and Peter and Claire!

If you're a reviewer, librarian, bookseller, or other publishing industry professional, please note that the eGalley (digital advance reader copy) of THE LOST is now available.  Click here to request it on NetGalley!

And no matter who you are, I'm excited to invite you to read the first two chapters of THE LOST, which I just posted on my website.  I hope you enjoy them!  Here's how it starts:

Things I lost:
a stick of Chapstick
a few quarters
one turquoise earring, a gift
my old college roommate's new phone number
my left sandal
Mr. Rabbit, my favorite stuffie from my preschool years
my way

Chapter One

For the first hundred miles, I see only the road and my knuckles, skin tight across the bones, like my mother's hands, as I clutch the steering wheel. For the second hundred miles, I read the highway signs without allowing the letters to compute in my brain. Exit numbers. Names of towns. Places that people call home, or not. After three hundred miles, I start to wonder what the hell I'm doing.

In front of me, the highway lies straight, a thick rope of asphalt that stretches to a pinprick on the horizon. On either side of the highway are barbed wire fences that hem in the few cows that wander through the scrub-brush desert. Cacti are clustered by the fence posts. Above, the sun has bleached the blue until the sky looks like fabric stretched so thin that it's about to tear. There are zero clouds.

I should turn around.

Instead, I switch on the radio. Static. For a moment, I let the empty crackle of noise spray over me, a match to my mood, but then it begins to feel like prickles inside my ears. Also, I begin to feel self-consciously melodramatic. Maybe as a sixteen-year-old, I'd have left the static on, but I'm twenty-seven. I change the station. Again, static. And again. Again.

First option: an apocalypse has wiped out all the radio transmitters.

Second, much more likely, option: my car radio is broken.

Switching the radio off, I drive to the steady thrum of the car engine and the hiss of wind through the cracked-open window. I wanted the radio so I wouldn't have to think. I listen to the wind instead and try to keep my mind empty.

I won't think.

I won't worry.

I won't scream.

Click here to read more.

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Sunday, March 09, 2014

18 Things

The other day, I ran across an article called "18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently" on the Huffington Post.  It's an interesting article.  Written clearly.  Nicely organized.  Relevant Getty images.  Etc.  But it totally stressed me out.

I consider myself a fairly creative person.  I write books for a living.  Fantasy books with were-unicorns and gods in human bodies and creepy visions and so forth.  I live half in my imagination.  I've never ever been in an airplane without imagining unicorns hopping on the clouds.  (Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this!)

But this article listed out the 18 things creative people do... and I don't do them.  Not all of them.  So I wanted to write this blog post because I believe that you don't have to fit into a particular mold to be a creative person.

1. "They daydream."

Okay, yeah, totally do that all the time.  Skipping ahead...

2. "They observe everything."

Nope.  Definitely not.   Especially when I'm daydreaming (see #1).  I've actually failed to observe an earthquake.  (A couple years ago, we had a minor earthquake.  Very rare.  The next day, everyone was sharing all their where-were-you-when stories.  And I had no idea what they were talking about.)

3. "They work the hours that work for them."

Hah!  I wish.  It's a luxury to choose what hours you work.  I write in the hours that I have.  Or minutes.  If I only wrote when I was at peak freshness or when I felt inspired...  You don't have to wait until the perfect moment to be creative.

4. "They take time for solitude."

Quiet freaks me out.  I write to music because it distracts the critical side of my brain and allows the creative side to play.  But, sure, yeah, I guess I'm more productive when I'm alone?  I'm happiest, though, when I am both writing and have my family around me.

5. "They turn life's obstacles around."

Art can come from a place of pain.  There are many artists and writers who take their pain and transform it into art.  It can be part of the process of healing, or it can be a cry in the darkness.

But art can also come from a place of joy.

I think sometimes people forget that.

6. "They seek out new experiences."

In fiction, yes.  In real life, not so much.  I'm perfectly happy to not be the one to try the spiciest food or leap off a mountain or dive to the bottom of the ocean.  My characters can do that for me, thank you very much.

7. They "fail up."

Agree with this 100%.  You have to  be persistent.  In fact, if I had to choose one trait necessary for success in writing (and all art), it would be this: Don't give up.  Unless you're unhappy doing what you're doing.  Then give up and go do something that makes you happy.  There's no shame in discovering you don't love what you think you're supposed to love.

8. "They ask the big questions."

Hmm, define "big."  I ask things like "What would happen if a unicorn stabbed a vampire?"  Or "What fun things can you do with telekinesis?"  Does that count?

You can be the kind of creative type who asks the big questions and explores the mysteries of the human psyche.  Or you can be the kind of creative who studies the small moments and captures them in a perfect jewel of words.  Or you can be the one who wants only to entertain.  Or you can be some mix of all of those.

Personally, I am a big believer in "story first, theme later."  I've been known to write an entire 300 page first draft and then say, "Oh, so THAT'S what the story was about."

9. "They people-watch."

Ooh, I do this all time.  I wish it were socially acceptable to plop down next to someone and say, "Tell me your life story."  Only my grandmother can get away with that.

10. "They take risks."

Creatively, yes.  I intentionally broke writing rules right and left in Conjured.  In real life... not so much.  I hate when people are mad at me.  And I really don't ever want to break any bones.  So in real life, I'm rather risk-averse.

11. "They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression."

Not really.  Sometimes I just like to eat tortilla chips and have no interest in making it into performance art.

12. "They follow their true passions."

Guess this is true.  I'd lump it in with #7.  Stubborn persistence is key to success in the arts.

13. "They get out of their own heads."

Yeah, this one is kind of a job requirement for me.  If I only wrote about myself, booooooorrrrrring.  (On the other hand, there are writers that can write brilliantly about themselves...)

14. "They lose track of the time."

True for me.  Especially when writing is going well.  Writing can be an immersive experience.

15. "They surround themselves with beauty."

*looks at crumbs on floor and teetering pile of junk mail next to kitchen table*  Um...

16. "They connect the dots."

Guess so.  But you don't have to see the connections when you start a story.  You just have to trust yourself that it will all connect someday.

17. "They constantly shake things up."

The article quotes someone who says (and I'm paraphrasing here) that habit is the killer of creativity.  Nonsense.  As with all of these, it might be true for some people.  But for others...  Habit can be the thing that makes you feel safe enough to take the mental and emotional risks that allow you to create.  Living in a safe environment, surrounding yourself with people who love and believe in you, avoiding unnecessary angst and drama... that's what gives you the strength to fly.  See #5.

18. "They make time for mindfulness."

Am I supposed to be meditating?  Oops.

The article does mention needing a "clear and focused mind," and I do think that can help.  But I would like to point out that "clear and focused" doesn't have to mean linear.  In other words, you don't need to know what you're doing to do something cool.  But you do have to sit down and do it.

So those are my thoughts.  What do you guys think?  Do you fit all 18?


Monday, March 03, 2014

CONJURED Audiobook & New Title for My Next YA

A few announcements:


My latest YA book, CONJURED, is now an audiobook!!!

It's produced by Audible and narrated by Holly Fielding.  I can't express how very, very cool (and admittedly freaky) it is to hear one's words read by someone else.  Kind of feels like drawing a picture of an imaginary girl, and then having the girl say hello and walk off the page.  The narrator does a fabulous job and hits just the right hauntingly creepy tone.  You can listen to a sample here, if you're curious.


For almost every one of my books, the process of finding just the right title required sifting through many, many not-quite-right titles.  With only one exception, the title I gave the book while writing it was not the one it ended up with.  (The exception was VESSEL, which was always VESSEL.)  The fact is, titles are hard!  You've got all the pressure of naming a new baby -- you know, pick something that can't be mocked on the playground and won't otherwise scar him/her for life -- but you can't go with any traditional names.  It's fine to name your new baby girl Emma, but it's frowned upon to name your new book OF MICE AND MEN or GONE WITH THE WIND.

I am very pleased to announce that my next YA novel (formerly titled MIND OVER MAGIC) now has a new, final title:


It will be coming out in October 2014 from Bloomsbury/Walker and is about a girl with telekinesis.  I'll be posting more about it soon!


Speaking of soon...  my first book for adults, THE LOST, is coming out in less than three months!  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

In honor of this, I redid my website to showcase the lovely blue cover:  What do you think???

I've also updated the Appearances page to include my spring events.  (Is it spring yet?  I am so ready for spring.  All our trees and bushes are still bent from the weight of all the snow and ice.  Oh, and the gutter fell off our roof.  Fell.  Off.  The.  Roof.  It filled with ice and crashed down, taking out an outdoor light fixture and bending a hose spigot on its way to the ground.  That was exciting.)


It's not spring yet.

But it will be soon.  I hope.

Happy almost spring!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

3 in 2014!

Still not used to the fact that it's 2014.  Every time I write the date, I have to double-check my calendar to confirm that yes, it really is 2014, even though that sounds so futuristic and where's my hover-bike?

I also keep double-checking my calendar because my husband bought me this adorable cat calendar with fluffy, innocent kittens posed next to poems with titles such as "I Can Pee On That," and it amuses me more than I should admit.  We've had several dramatic readings of that poem already.

Anyway, I'm actually very excited that it's 2014 because I have 3 books coming out this year!!!  *flails arms like a muppet*

First up on May 27, 2014, is THE LOST, which is now available for pre-order and has a shiny new (blue!) cover that I love:

It's the first book in a new trilogy from Harlequin/Mira, and it's about a woman who is trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people.  It's my first book for adults, and I'm really excited about it. 

The second book in the trilogy, THE MISSING, will be coming out in December 2014, followed by the third book, THE FOUND, in April 2015.  I'm working on the third draft of THE FOUND right now.

My next YA book will be coming out from Bloomsbury/Walker in fall 2014.  It's currently called MIND OVER MAGIC, but it most likely will have a new title soon.  (And a cover!  Yay!  Books feel so much more real once they have a cover.)  I'm really excited about it too.  Just finished reviewing the copyedits so it's nearly done.

So my 2014 looks like it will be filled with lots of words, which makes me very happy.  Hope your 2014 is filled with lots of things that you love!  Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013


*emerges from writing cave, blinks, looks around*

Oh, hi!

It seems to be mid-November.  Hello, mid-November.  You're cold.  And dark.  And a little bit snowy.  I don't think I approve.  October here was lovely, full of surprisingly warm days and colorful leaves that clung to the branches just a bit longer than usual.  Also, a lot of nuts.  Our lawn was peppered with acorns, and the street had so many beech nuts that it sounded like popcorn when you drove down it.  The squirrels should be happy.  Always good to keep the squirrels happy.  You never know when they might decide to band together and attack.  Tricksy squirrels.

Anyway, the reason that I'm emerging from my writing cave to say hi is that I just finished revisions on my next YA novel.  (Yay!!!)  I really loved working on this book, and I'm really, really excited about it!  It's called MIND OVER MAGIC, and it's Kayla's story.....

Lies, secrets, and magic -- three things that define Kayla's life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it.  Born with the ability to move things with her mind -- things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers -- she has become a master shoplifter.  She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again.  Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel -- a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it.  Daniel has a talent of his own.  He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels.  Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother.  But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family -- and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.

MIND OVER MAGIC will be out from Bloomsbury/Walker in fall 2014.

And now I'm going to dive back into my cave to continue work on THE FOUND (book three of THE LOST, my upcoming adult trilogy).  Also, to escape the army of squirrels.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Stuff I've Learned: Writing Log

Continuing on in my "Stuff I've Learned" series...  There's something else important that I've learned about writing that I want to tell you about:

Brains lie.

If writing is going well, my brain thinks that it's always gone well, will always go well, and I'll be done this novel by next Tuesday, even though I started it three hours ago. If writing is going poorly, my brain tells me that I'm doomed forever, I will never be able to form a sentence again, and furthermore I've never actually written a full paragraph and maybe the cat wrote all my prior novels.

To counteract this effect, I keep a daily writing log.

This is just a simple Word doc where I note the date and write down how many pages I worked on. No details. No value judgement. Just:

October 14, 2013, Monday
worked on The Found, pages 122-129
wrote blog entry


Doing this has several benefits:

1. It forces my brain to face reality. (Yes, I wrote yesterday. Yes, I'll write again tomorrow. And it will all be fine.)
2. It makes me accountable. (Here's proof of whether or not I've met my page goals. No fudging in either direction.)
3. It gives me a realistic idea of how long it takes me to write a book. (Very useful when agreeing to / setting deadlines.)

This is definitely one of those your-mileage-may-vary things. But for me, I love having the data. I find it comforting to know precisely where I am in a book and at what speed I'm moving through it. It helps keep my expectations realistic. And it helps me plan for the future. For example, because of this log, I realized that I'd started writing faster -- and that I could increase from one book a year to two books a year.

I know of other writers who keep much more elaborate records -- spreadsheets that include word counts and time-of-day and so forth -- and I know many, many others who don't keep any kind of records at all.  But I've been keeping my writing log since 2002, and it works for me.

Another method that I've heard about recently but never tried is the sticker trick.  You get a calendar, buy some stars or adorable whatever stickers, and put a sticker on the calendar every day that you reach your word count goal.  Author Victoria Schwab explains it in this video.  If I weren't already so attached to my log, I'd do this.  I may still try it someday.  I do like stickers... and I've learned not to trust my brain.

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Monday, October 07, 2013

Thanks for participating in the YASH!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the YA Scavenger Hunt!

(Every time I think "scavenger hunt," I expect to see a slew of people trying to find pine cones.  I don't know why I associate scavenger hunts with pine cones.  Somehow, I just do.....)

Anyhoo, pine cones or not, the YA Scavenger Hunt is now over, and I hope you had fun!  A special thank you to everyone you entered my CONJURED giveaway!

The winner of a signed copy of CONJURED is: Tiffany W.

Congratulations!  (I'll be contacting you directly soon.)

Other YA Scavenger Hunt winners, including the grand prize winners, will be posted by 5pm on Monday on the YASH blog.

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Fall 2013 YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the fall 2013 YA Scavenger Hunt!

I'm Sarah Beth Durst, your host for this leg of the hunt.  I'm the author of 7 fantasy novels for teens.  *points to sidebar and to top of blog*  I have ridiculously curly hair and am afraid of skunks.  And my favorite number is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.  I'm thrilled to be participating in the hunt this year!

The YA Scavenger Hunt is a tri-annual event started by author Colleen Houck.  This year, 60 YA authors are participating (including yours truly!).  On this hunt, you will have access to exclusive bonus material from each of the participating authors, plus every author will also include their favorite number.  (If you missed the hint above, then see the bottom of this post for mine.)  Add up all the secret numbers, and you can enter for the grand prize: one signed book from each author in a team!  But play fast: this contest will only be online for 72 hours!

You can start right here, or you can go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt, including links to all the authors participating. This year, there are THREE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM -- but there is also a red team and a blue team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!


Directions: Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up.

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, Oct 6th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


Today, I am hosting Melissa West on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!  Welcome, Melissa!  *waves*  So happy to have you here!

Melissa lives in a suburb of Atlanta, GA with her husband and daughters. She pretends to like yoga, actually likes shoes, and could not live without coffee. Her writing heroes include greats like Jane Austen and Madeleine L'Engle.

She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and an M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.


On Earth, seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander was taught to never peek, but if she hopes to survive life on her new planet, Loge, her eyes must never shut. Because Zeus will do anything to save the Ancients from their dying planet, and he has a plan.

Thousands of humans crossed over to Loge after a poisonous neurotoxin released into Earth’s atmosphere, nearly killing them. They sought refuge in hopes of finding a new life, but what they became were slaves, built to wage war against their home planet. That is, unless Ari and Jackson can stop them. But on Loge, nothing is as it seems…and no one can be trusted.

Find out more information by visiting Melissa's website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads page.  And you can learn more about HOVER here!


And now, for your reading pleasure, a peek at a deleted scene from HOVER:

Jackson removes his jacket and drapes it around his chair, exposing a fitted black T-shirt that shows off the contours of his chest. I have no idea how hard I'm staring until he laughs easily, and my eyes drift up to find him watching me. He reaches for my hand. "Let's dance."

He leads me through the crowd, and I follow without hesitation, which I know must be whatever I just drank. Jackson takes us to the center of the crowd so we’re surrounded on all sides. The song switches and though the music is still upbeat, it’s slower, more intimate. He pulls me to him, so close our bodies connect from chest to thigh, our faces inches apart.

He rests his head next to my ear and holds one of my hands close to his chest. My eyes close as we move, lost to everyone around us, lost to the worry that wrecks my mind. All I feel is Jackson. All I can think about is Jackson…and how he is nowhere near close enough. His warm breath dances down my neck, causing a shudder to move through me, and before I can stop myself I release a small sigh. It feels like forever since I've let myself go around him. I lean further into him, wanting to close any distance between us. He continues to guide our bodies, and I know we're the only ones dancing so slowly.


I shake my head. "Don't. Not now."

He pulls me closer still, his breath warm on my neck, his lips close, and I want more than anything for him to kiss me, to feel his full lips envelop mine. His draws a breath and blows out slowly, sending a cool breeze over my skin. And it’s too much. I tilt my head toward him, knowing I'm pushing this further than I'm ready to go. His lips graze over my neck, as soft as an afterthought, and my chest begins to burn with passion. I grip him tighter, my free hand smoothing over his forearm and up his bicep, before slipping into his hair. He pulls away to look at me, his eyes searching mine for answers, permission, something, but we are way past asking. Without another thought, I rise onto my toes, my mouth crushing into his.


Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books (including my book Conjured, HOVER by Melissa West, and many more! To enter, you need to know my favorite number*. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the gold team and you'll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

And don't forget to enter the additional giveaway that I'm hosting here.  Enter to win a signed copy of CONJURED below! (US mailing addresses only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Jessica Brody!

* When I was in fifth grade, a babysitter told me that I wasn't old enough to read and appreciate the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  So of course I read it.  Ever since, my favorite number has been 42.  So that's my secret number for the YA Scavenger Hunt.  Good luck!

** On a related note, that same babysitter also told me I wasn't old enough for Little Women, and she was right.  Hated that book in fifth grade.  Loved it later, but in fifth grade... spoiler alert... I was so so so upset about Beth and that Amy married Laurie.  (Now I think Jo totally dodged a bullet.  Still sad re Beth.)


Monday, September 30, 2013

October Events

Happy October!

I can taste the change in the air.  It tastes like... Three Musketeers.  And Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Maybe a Nutter Butter that I can't decide if I like.  Certainly candy corn that I know I don't like.  And those Hershey's miniatures that I know I do like.  Seriously, how did it get to be October already?  And why is there no Halloween candy in my house yet?

I am still clinging to summer, wearing short sleeves in the day and forgetting to turn on the heat at night.  It was a great summer, and I was sad to see it end.  But I love fall too.  Especially perfectly crisp blue-sky days.  We've had a bunch of those lately, and I'm looking forward to more before winter descends.

I'm also looking forward to three more book events this month:

Wednesday, October 2nd from 6 to 7:30pm
New York Public Library, Jefferson Market Branch

425 6th Ave (at 10th St), New York, NY
Teen Author Reading Night with Kate Brian, Zoraida Cordova, Jocelyn Davies, Sarah Beth Durst, Jennifer Hubbard, Kass Morgan, Emil Ostrovski, Allyson Schrier, and Jon Skovron

Sunday, October 6th from 2 to 4pm
Booktrader of Hamilton

2421 Nottingham Way, Mercerville, NJ

Sunday, October 13th at 4pm
Oblong Books & Music

6422 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck, NY
Hudson Valley YA Society Event with Sarah Beth Durst, Carol Goodman, Jeff Hirsch, and Dan Krokos

I'll be reading from and talking about my new YA book Conjured at all of these.  If you're in the area, I hope you'll come say hello!

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