Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cover Art for Out of the Wild!

Just got an email from my editor with a lovely, lovely, lovely attachment... cover art for OUT OF THE WILD!!!

That's Julie flying a magic bathmat! And in the top right corner is Gothel on her broomstick with Boots on her back! Squeeeeeeee!!!

I have been staring at it for... oh, hours now. Like the cover for INTO THE WILD, it's designed by the awesome Jose Nieto of square zero. Below are the two covers side by side. Don't they look cute together? (Yes, I am doing the Snoopy Dance of Joy.)


I added the new cover to the Books page of my website, and I wrote up a little description of OUT OF THE WILD to accompany the pretty new cover...

Warning: The following contains spoilers for INTO THE WILD. If you haven't yet read INTO THE WILD, please avert your eyes.


Out of the Wild
by Sarah Beth Durst
coming June 2008
from Razorbill / Penguin Young Readers

Julie's long-lost dad is a fairy-tale prince. Literally. And when he is suddenly and inexplicably freed from his fairy tale, Julie thinks she's finally found her happily-ever-after. But when he dashes off to save a damsel who's distressing, it's up to Julie to bring him home, protect the family secret, and while she's at it, save the world.

Join Julie on a magical road trip across America. A flying bathmat, a very drowsy princess, a fire-breathing dragon, and several thousand magic beanstalks... Julie's world, our world, will never be the same again.


What do you think? Do you like the cover for the sequel? I think Jose did a wonderful job, but I suppose I'm a bit biased...

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Friday, September 28, 2007

A Culinary Discovery

I have made a brilliant discovery.

We're talking a stand-on-the-rooftop, shout-'til-you're-hoarse discovery. A discovery deserving of fireworks and parades with elephants. May I have a drum roll please... Introducing, from your local supermarket, a delicious culinary treat...

Fritos and red pepper hummus.

"Ewwww!" you say??? As said I before I was enlightened. But do not mock until you try it. It is unnaturally delectable. The perfect storm of snacks.

The key is it must be red pepper hummus. Not just ordinary hummus. And not garlic herb hummus, not lemon hummus, not vegetable hummus, not any other kind of hummus. Roasted red pepper hummus, preferably Cedars brand.

And it can't just be any kind of chips. Be warned: Tostitos will not work! It must be Fritos, preferably the scoop kind, though I suppose you could substitute the original variety in a pinch.

Sooooo yummy. Seriously. I now buy two tub
s of the hummus and two bags of Fritos so that my husband and I don't have to share. Within days, it's all gone. This is what we look like when we're done.

But it's sooooo worth it. And really, this is a totally healthy treat. You see, just plain hummus wouldn't cancel out the unhealthiness factor of Fritos, but hummus with red peppers... that's two veggies for one chip. Two minus one equals one, and one veggie is totally healthy. Right?

Go. Try it. And let me know what you think!

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Out of the Wild

I have news.

Okay, I know it's not really news. Virtually every interview with me has included the question, "What are you working on next?" And the contract for INTO THE WILD was a two-book deal. So it's not like there's any big mystery here...

Wait, this is coming out all awkward. I can't believe I'm still shy about talking about my writing. I've been shouting from the rooftops about INTO THE WILD for months now. But I feel all weird talking about new work. Do any other writers out there have this problem? It's like a superstition. I'm afraid that if I talk about the next book too soon, I'll trip on a black cat and break a mirror under a ladder.

Or maybe it's that I want to be a writer so terribly badly that I'm afraid that if I talk too loudly too soon, I'll wake up from this dream.

Let's start over. Close your eyes and imagine... Wait, don't close your eyes. You can't read if your eyes are closed. Just imagine: I'm in the kitchen, cutting up a banana... Cue the wavy flashback effect, please.

[phone rings]

Me: Hello?

Husband: [singing] 978...

[I scramble for paper, thinking this must be a phone number. Or a safe combination.]

Husband: [continuing to sing] ...159-514...

[Or maybe the secret code to unlocking the mysteries of the universe... Right. Because if someone discovered the secret code, the first thing they'd do is call someone and sing it. Obviously, this is a phone number, and my husband is somewhere without a pen and wants to make sure he remembers the number. Okay, why didn't he just call the number instead of calling me...]

Husband: [still singing] ...1590!

[Not a phone number. Too many digits. That was... oh, wow, that was 13 numbers! I know what's thirteen numbers!]

Me: Is that... is that an ISBN?

Husband: Go to Amazon.

Me: [dropping banana peel on the floor, thus ensuring a future stereotypical sitcom moment that no one will believe really happened, and bolt to the computer] Okay, I'm there. Load, little Netscape, load, load!

Husband: Now search for Sarah Beth Durst.

Me: Hey, that's me!

Husband: Yes, I know.

[Pause while I type. The screen loads... Four items appear: one of them is INTO THE WILD (hardcover). Another is DIPLOMATIC IMPLAUSIBILITY by Keith R.A. DeCandido, an excellent Star Trek novel in which I'm thanked in the acknowledgements for helping with polar bear research -- the book includes evolved polar bears as its aliens, and I happen to be very fond of polar bears. And the other two items...]

Me: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's real! It's real! It's really, really real!

This is then followed by a major Snoopy Dance of Joy. You see, the two additional items that appear when you search for my name are (drumroll, please):

Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst (Hardcover - Jun 19, 2008)

Into the Wild
by Sarah Beth Durst (Paperback - May 29, 2008)

It's real! It's real! It's really, really real! I know it was technically real before now. After all, book two was under contract, and it has been through copyedits. But somehow, having the ISBN makes it feel all official. So without fear of black cats or ladders or mirrors, I am now officially announcing...

OUT OF THE WILD, the sequel to INTO THE WILD, will be coming out next summer, along with the paperback version of INTO THE WILD. (Please imagine that in that voice-over movie guy's deep voice.)

I am so, so excited. I have absolutely loved writing about the further adventures of Julie. I can't wait to share them with all of you!

Returning now to the Snoopy Dance of Joy...

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Friday, September 21, 2007

My Penguin Sister

At the SCBWI Winter Conference this year, I discovered that I had a Penguin sister. Not a penguin for a sister. That would be totally different. And kind of weird. I doubt she'd appreciate me cooking her fellow birds for dinner, so my chicken stir-fry would be right out. And Thanksgiving would be awkward to say the least. Though she'd be all set for any black-tie weddings... But I digress.

My Penguin sister is Laini Taylor. We share a book birthday. Both my INTO THE WILD and her FAERIES OF DREAMDARK: BLACKBRINGER were published by Penguin Young Readers on the same day, June 21st of this year. Both are fantasy adventures, and both are our d
ebut novels. Here's a picture of Laini's book with mine:

Don't the two book sisters look cute together. Or if Laini and I are Penguin sisters, does that make our books first cousins? In any case, they certainly can't marry each other, or their kids would have three spines. (Get it. Books. Spines. Ha! Thank you, thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I'll be here all week...)

I met Laini and her husband Jim Di Bartolo (who did her very cool cover art) at the SCBWI conference in February. They are both super-awesome. And so is the book. I have been meaning to blog about it for ages.

BLACKBRINGER (first in a series called FAERIES OF DREAMDARK) centers around Magpie Windwitch, a pint-sized, demon-fighting faery. Accompanied by talking crows, she roams the world destroying demons who are accidentally released by ignorant humans. In BLACKBRINGER, she returns to the glittering and declining home of the faeries in order to face her worst foe yet.

BLACKBRINGER is a brilliantly beautiful book. Its strength is in the quality of writing and the world-building. This is the kind of novel that casts a spell while you read it and lets you step somewhere else and immerse yourself in a whole other mythology and universe. Laini creates a world that is rich and deep. It utterly envelopes you. I highly recommend it.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Princeton Children's Book Festival (Trip Report)

On Saturday, I was one of the participating authors at the Princeton Children's Book Festival. It was AWESOME.

I am happy to report that I did NOT head the wrong direction on the New Jersey Turnpike this time. This was the result of me repeating over and over for about three hours: "south and west, south and west, south and west, except for route 18 where you're briefly north... south and west, south and west."

Seriously, I'm like a sheep when I drive. I don't trust my own sense of direction. Whenever I see lots of people taking a particular exit, I start wondering if I should have taken that exit. Where are they going? What do they know that I don't know? What's wrong with the way I'm going? Maybe there's construction up ahead... or the road ends... or there's a wildebeest stampede...

Anyway, I made it to Princeton at precisely 11:30am. I greeted the awesomely-organized-and-nice librarians and volunteers who run the festival, as well as the wonderful Mary and Robert Brown from Books Bytes and Beyond who were selling books (including mine!) at the festival. I was then introduced to my assistant for the day, Sasha, who helped me set up my vines and lay out bookmarks and such.

All of this took about 28 minutes, which left me with exactly 2 minutes before the festival was scheduled to begin. Two minutes is just enough time to agonize over whether or not that's enough time to go get lunch. Of course, by the time you decide that is enough time, the two minutes are up. So no lunch for me. Probably should have asked my assistant to fetch me some food, but I didn't know if that was appropriate. I've never had an assistant before.

I was seated between two very awesome people. On one side of me was the wonderful Margery Cuyler, author of many fabulous picture books such as The Bumpy Little Pumpkin (just read it -- very sweet) and Skeleton Hiccups. On the other side of me was fellow Class of 2k7er Rose Kent, author of the very cool Kimchi & Calamari (which I can't wait to read -- isn't that a great title?).

For the next several hours, I proceeded to talk to anyone who was foolish enough to venture close to my table. Met lots of really great people, including one woman who had gotten a galley of Into the Wild at NY ComicCon and bought a hardcover at the festival anyway, for me to sign. How cool is that?!

Twice, I left my booth in the hands of Sasha so that I could meet other authors at the festival, specifically Michael Buckley and David Wiesner. Michael Buckley is the author of the bestselling Sisters Grimm series. I had such a nice time talking fairy tales with him. So great to meet him. He is really super sweet and very cool. And he bought a copy of Into the Wild, which grants him extra sweet-and-cool points.

David Wiesner is the multiple-Caldecott-winning author and artist of Flotsam, Tuesday, and others and is also super-sweet. My conversation with him went something like this:

Me: [gushing] Hi. I just wanted to tell you that I think your books are beautiful and brilliant.

David: You're Sarah Beth.

Me: [long pause in which I replay what I said to see if I'd said my name -- I hadn't] Yes.

David: I read your book. I really liked it.

Me: You read my book.

David: I was looking forward to meeting you.

Me: You read my book.

David: My kids had gotten it so I read it.

Me: You read my book.

David: I thought the image in the beginning with the Wild under her bed was especially great. I wish I'd thought of that first to paint it.

Me: [sound of jaw hitting pavement] You read my book.

Okay, maybe I was a wee bit more articulate than that, but seriously, I nearly did the Snoopy Dance of Joy right there. David Caldecott-Winning Wiesner read and liked my book!

Also very cool: I met and had a very nice conversation with Wendy Lamb (of Wendy Lamb Books). We chatted about Princeton (as she's been living in the area for the past few months). And she bought a copy of my book!

At 4pm, I did my reading in the Community Room of the Princeton Public Library. Several girls who had bought my book came to hear me read. I did the Little Red scene (chapter ten), which is my favorite scene to read since it gives a taste of the Wild without giving too much of the plot away. And I get to do Little Red's voice.

But the coolest thing of all was a moment that was repeated many times through the afternoon: a young girl (about the age that I was when I started writing) would come up and ask me to sign a copy of Into the Wild. I'd bring out my trusty purple pen and sign it. Then the girl would thank me, and I'd watch her walk away hugging my book. I could see myself in those girls so clearly. I was them.

The festival ended at 5pm. Allison Santos, the event organizer extraordinaire, gave each of the authors a Princeton Children's Book Festival T-shirt (which I'm wearing right now as I write this), and everyone packed up and headed home.

Okay, everyone else headed home. I headed for FOOD and then home, which brings me to my final bit of coolness for the day: mango muffins. Hands down, the yummiest muffin I've ever eaten.

And that was my Saturday. Hope you all had a good weekend!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Princeton Children's Book Festival

This Saturday, I'm off to the Festival. The King's Festival?!? To dance with the Prince?!?

No way! I don't have the shoes for it. And riding around in a giant gourd isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I'm off to the Princeton Children's Book Festival, at the Princeton Public Library, where I'll be one of the participating authors. From noon to 5pm, I'll be signing books at my table, which will be lovingly decorated with fake vines and bookmarks. And at 4pm, I'll be reading from Into the Wild in the library's community room. Here's the key info:

Saturday, September 15th from 12-5pm
Princeton Children's Book Festival - Reading at 4pm
Princeton Public Library
65 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ

I'm really looking forward to this. Back in May, I participated in the Princeton Teen Book Bash, and that was a lot of fun. Really well organized. Plus, I always get warm fuzzies when I visit the town of my alma mater, and I'm sure this trip will be no exception. And lots of awesome authors are going to be there, including (fellow Class of 2k7 member) Rose Kent, Michael Buckley, Trinka Hakes Noble, Tina Louise (Ginger from Gilligan's Island!!!), David Wiesner, Robin Friedman, and the list goes on...

So, if you're in New Jersey on Saturday, come say hi! I'll have a big bowl full of free candy... :)

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Sunday, September 09, 2007 Blog and Waldenbooks

Some coolness to report from the weekend:

1) Book Blog

I'm on the Amazon Books Blog! How cool is that? Seriously, I think this deserves a Snoopy Dance of Joy.

[pause for dancing]

I was interviewed by Jeff Vandermeer, author of Shriek, who asked lots of fun questions. Click here to read the interview.

2) Waldenbooks Trip Report

On Saturday, I had a book signing at the Waldenbooks in the Smith Haven Mall (near where I live on Long Island). I really, really loved Saturday. It was my first mall signing, and it went GREAT. I ended up staying twice as long as I'd originally planned and selling many more books than
I'd expected. Here I am at the book signing:

Me and My Trusty Purple Pen

And here are some of my favorite moments:


Me: Hi. How are you? I'm doing a book signing today. Would you like a free bookmark?

Elderly man (looking frightened): I just want road maps.


Man: Would you like a book? Here, honey, the author is here to sign it. Would you read this book if I got it for you?

Girl (kindly): Dad, reading's just not my thing.

Man: Why don't you like reading? What do you like?

Girl (consolingly): I like shopping.

Man (to me): Can you sign it to [name deleted] and say "with hopes that you'll read it"?

Woman (to me): She stopped reading when she noticed boys.

Me: It's tough to compete.


Girl: I really, really want your book, but my mom said I can't spend any more money.

Me: You can take a bookmark, if you like.

[ten minutes later, the same girl returns]

Girl: Mom said if I want it that badly, then I can have it!


Girl: Your book looks great. How much is it?

Me: $15.99.

Girl (to Boy): I don't have enough money. Can I borrow some?

Boy: I'll buy it for you.

Me: Who would you like me to make it out to?

Girl (to Boy): It's your book if you're buying it. She should make it out to you.

Boy (to Girl): But I'm buying it for you. She should make it out to you.

Girl (to Boy): How about she makes it out to both of us?

[moment of adoring smiles]


One of the best moments, though, happened after the signing was over. I was walking into the Cheesecake Factory with my family, and we passed a woman and her husband at a table. The woman was pointing at me, and I saw her turn to her husband and say, "There's the author!"

I swear I nearly did the Snoopy Dance of Joy right there in the restaurant.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Waldenbooks at Smith Haven Mall

You know how I said I was taking a couple weeks off from book events to do important things like buy socks, call Roto-rooter, and read HP7? Well, I'm fifty pages from the end of Harry Potter 7 (Must Go Read Now!), the washing machine no longer floods, and... okay, I haven't bought socks yet, but see prior point about functional washing machine. So it's okay that I scheduled another book event, right? C'mon, it was just too cool to pass up.

This Saturday, I will be signing copies of Into the Wild from 1-3pm at the Waldenbooks in the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, NY. This is my local mall bookstore! The store I've traipsed past (an
d through) dozens of times! In fact, on Monday, my husband and I very subtly traipsed past and took this photo of me standing next to the sign in the window announcing my book signing.

We fled quickly afterward so as not to look like total dorks. Anyway, if you're in Long Island this Saturday, please stop by and visit me. Here are the key details:

Saturday, September 8th from 1-3pm
Waldenbooks - Lake Grove - Signing
Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove, NY

Hope to see you there!

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Sunday, September 02, 2007


Happy blogiversary to me.
Happy blogiversary to me.
Happy blogiversary to Sarah's Journal.
Happy blogiversary to me!!!

One year ago today, when I posted my very first blog entry, I set out to share the experience of my lifelong dream of publication coming true. Somewhere amidst the fairy tales, the Pollyanna-esque rambling, and the blatant self-promotion, I hope that I've helped to inspire others to pursue their dreams no matter how hard they have to fight. Today, 149 blog entries later, the best part has been all the wonderful people who I've met along the way. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and making me feel like I'm not alone on this journey.

I hope you'll stay with me for many more fairy tales, continued Pollyanna-esque rambling, and (with luck) lots more books as this journey continues. It's a funny thing about dreams-come-true: they don't quench your thirst, they just make you dream bigger.