Tuesday, September 16, 2014

CONJURED Paperback!

Things that are bendy:

1) Squirrel tails
2) Garden hoses
3) My hair
4) Olympic gymnasts
5) Polaroids
6) Pipe cleaners
7) Really old carrots
8) Fresh chocolate chip cookies
9) Ferrets

For those of you who prefer your books in a more fun, bendy format..... I'm excited to let you know that today is the pub day for the paperback edition of my recent YA novel CONJURED!

CONJURED is a fantasy novel for young adults, published by Bloomsbury.  It's about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program, who, haunted by visions of carnival tents and tarot cards, must remember her past and why she has strange abilities before a magic-wielding serial killer hunts her down.

It was a Mythopoeic Award finalist and a Cybils Award finalist, as well as a Junior Library Guild Selection.  Horn Book Reviews said, "Disorientation, curiosity, and fear course through the story, offering tight suspense and satisfying mystification even up to the last pages. An unusual blend of magical worlds, psychological thriller, and teen romance."  And Kirkus Reviews said, "Durst excels at describing grotesque violence and gorgeous magical transformations alike, painting a touching portrait of first love against a backdrop of Twilight Zone–type terrors."

More about CONJURED, including the first chapter, can be found here.  If you're interested in the story of where CONJURED came from, you can read it here.

And if you'd like to see more things that are bendy, check out these Cirque du Soleil contortionists.  (I listened to a lot of Cirque music while I wrote CONJURED.)

Happy reading!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Excerpt from CHASING POWER

Two months until CHASING POWER comes out!!!  I can't wait for you all to meet Kayla!  She was so much fun to write.

I just added the first two chapters to my website, so you can get a taste of her story.  Here's how it starts:

Razor blade.



A ball of tinfoil.

A dull fishing hook.

Kayla checked each pocket in her jean shorts, knotted the straps of her bikini top tighter, and pulled on her favorite black hoodie. She frowned at her bare feet. She'd blend in better with flip-flops, but she could run better in sneakers, if anything went wrong. After a half second, she chose the sneakers. She believed in herself, but she also believed in the supreme idiocy of people and their tendency to interfere in the most inconvenient way possible.

Click here to read more.

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

In related news, CHASING POWER received a lovely review from Kirkus:

"Snappy dialogue, snarky teens and explosive exploits. A quick but complex read -- enjoyable on both counts." -- Kirkus

As well as two blurbs from two wonderful writers:

"A riveting adventure tale. Action-packed, suspenseful and a lot of fun!" -- Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Bloods series

"Chasing Power took me on a magical rollercoaster ride through dusty tombs and ancient catacombs at such breakneck speeds, the only thing I could do was tightly grip the safety bar and hope I made it through to the other side. Part Indiana Jones, part Jumper, the heroes travel faster than the speed of light but even that isn't quick enough for them to escape the treachery, mystery, and danger waiting around every corner." -- Colleen Houck, New York Times bestselling author of the Tiger's Curse series

And I also got word last week that production has started on the CHASING POWER audiobook, which I'm really, really excited about.  I can't wait to hear what Kayla sounds like -- you know, outside of my own head.  (Kind of a freaky thing when the voices in your head start actually talking out loud...)

Anyway, I hope you all have been having a wonderful summer, and I hope you enjoy the excerpt from CHASING POWER!

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014


I have news!!!

Look what appeared in today's Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf:

Anne Hoppe at Clarion Books has acquired YA author Sarah Beth Durst's debut middle-grade novel, The Girl Who Could Not Dream. The book tells of a girl whose family owns a secret store where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams, but who can't have any of her own, and the adventure that she and her pet monster go on when someone starts kidnapping dreamers. Publication is planned for fall 2015; Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger negotiated the deal for world rights.

Pausing now to toss confetti into the air and dance madly under it...

I am so, so, so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For those of you keeping track, this will be my twelfth book, and it means I am now writing young adult books (ages 12+), middle grade books (ages 8-12), and books for adults.  I am so very grateful to have the opportunity to write for all these markets and I hope to write tons more of each in the years to come.  The next YA book, CHASING POWER, will be out in October, and the next book for adults, THE MISSING, will be out in November.  After that comes THE FOUND (adult) in April and THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM (MG) in fall 2015.

As to why I chose to write an MG novel...  Honestly, it's the same reason I chose to write an adult novel, or a YA novel for that matter.  I didn't choose.  The story chose.  I know that sounds a bit twee, but it's true!  I had the idea for a dream shop, and every time I imagined the store, I pictured a young girl in it, shelving bottles of dreams, wanting to drink one...  That made this story an MG.  Others are YA.  Others are adult.  Story ideas don't come out of my brain wearing labels, but once they do worm their way out of there, it's usually not too difficult to parse them into buckets.  And I'm quite grateful to now have a third (MG) bucket for my ideas.

My new MG publisher, the Clarion Books imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has been absolutely wonderful, and I'm thrilled to be working with Anne Hoppe, my amazing new MG editor.  Currently, I'm in the middle of revisions for THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, and I am loving working on it.  I can't wait for you all to meet Sophie and Monster!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

THE LOST comes out today!

Lost your way?

Your dreams?


Welcome to Lost...

I am so very thrilled to announce the release of my new book, THE LOST!!!  This is my first book for adults, and the first in a new trilogy, published by Harlequin/Mira.

THE LOST is about a woman trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people.

One morning, Lauren Chase gets into her car to go to her dead-end job, but instead of making a left at the light, she drives straight.  And drives and drives until she runs out of gas in a town called Lost.  Once there, she can't leave.  Lost is surrounded by an impassable wall of dust.  And the only people who aren't trying to kill her are a mysterious wild man called the Finder and a knife-wielding six-year-old girl...

If you're interested, you can read the first two chapters here.

I loved writing this book.  I felt like I was breathing with Lauren, laughing with her, crying with her.  Usually, I swear by outlines, but this one... I followed Lauren to Lost and discovered its quirks, horrors, and beauty with her.  I fell in love with this bizarre town where socks and keys clog the gutters, feral dogs roam the alleys, suitcases litter the parking lots, and a single red balloon always floats overhead.  And I can't wait to share it with you!

So, welcome to Lost!  I hope you find what you're missing.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Playlist for THE LOST

I love listening to music when I write.  It focuses me.  I know that makes zero sense to people who need silence to focus, but for me, music distracts that part of my brain that gets caught up in the minutiae of life.

You know the part of the brain I mean.  The part that likes to babble.  The little voice that prattles on and on: "I should do the laundry.  I wonder if it's bad that I don't separate the light colors from the dark.  I wash it on cold.  It hasn't caused a problem.  Except that time I turned all those socks blue.  Oh, and the pink underwear incident.  But not lately.  Need to remember to check all pockets for tissues.  Really hate when I forget.  Impossible to get that stuff off.  It's like cat hair.  Cat hair clings to everything.  You could weaponize it.  Coat the enemy in fuzz.  And dryer lint.  Isn't there an artist who creates pictures out of dryer lint?  I don't remember her name.  I'm sure Google knows..."  And from there, you're off to Google and somehow you end up on a website about an Icelandic elf school and you're just about to send off your application because it's totally a real thing and you really, really want to go... before you remember you're supposed to be writing.

So to avoid all of that -- and also to avoid doing the laundry -- I listen to music when I write.

For my new book THE LOST, which comes out on May 27th (!!!!!), I created a playlist to keep me in the right frame of mind while I wrote.  THE LOST is about a woman trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people.  It's a very atmospheric novel, so these are all very atmospheric songs:

"Hotel California" by the Eagles

"Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega

"Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles

"The Dreaming" by Kate Bush

"Henry Darger" by Natalie Merchant

"Dust in the Wind" by Kansas

"Are You Out There" by Dar Williams

"Building a Mystery" by Sarah McLachlan

"There Is No Arizona" by Jamie O'Neal

"Mad World" by Adam Lambert

"Rolling in the Deep" by Adele

"Fireflies" by Owl City

"Top of the World" by Dixie Chicks

"Prayer for an Innocent Man" by Vertical Horizon

"A Mistake" by Fiona Apple

"Galileo" by Indigo Girls

"What I Am" by Edie Brickell

"Blackbird" by Sarah Mclachlan

"The Beauty of the Rain" by Dar Williams

"Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall

Happy listening, and happy reading!

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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: www.sarahbethdurst.com.  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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