Sunday, July 29, 2012

London Olympics 2012

I love the Olympics.  It's full of stories about people reaching for impossible dreams.  I eat that stuff up for breakfast (along with my Olympic-themed Wheaties*).

A few thoughts, in the order in which I watched events:

Opening Ceremonies

Very nice.  I like how they transformed the idyllic agrarian Middle Earth into the Age of Orcs and then forged the One Ring.  Somewhat disappointed that the torch was not lit by Ents.

Also disappointed that Katniss didn't ride out during the Parade of Nations.

And I don't understand why the Opening Ceremonies has commentators.  It's like watching TV with an overly talkative friend that you didn't invite.  I kept expecting to hear Bob Costas munching on chips.


Never watched Olympics archery before.  Surprisingly satisfying, even though Merida didn't appear and no one split an arrow down the middle (which the movies have taught me happens in all archery tournaments). 

I do wish the event had taken place in Sherwood Forest.

Beach Volleyball

I love that it was someone's job to create a massive sandbox in London.  Hope they let kids play in it when they're done.  Also hope they don't have too many cats around.  Wonder if it's someone's job to clean out that oversized litterbox every morning.

Water Polo

Always disappoints me that water polo doesn't involve swimming horses.  Or (as my Twitter friends suggested) giant seahorses or hippocampi.  Or for an extra dose of danger: kelpies**. 

Skeet Shooting

After hitting 99 out of 100 skeets (best score for any Olympics), gold medal skeet shooter Kim Rhodes said, "Sometimes you just miss."

I kind of want that on a mug.

* Full disclosure: I've never tried Wheaties.
** I mean the murderous water horses of Celtic mythology, not the fluffy puppies.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

VOYA Starred Review for Vessel!

I'm thrilled to report that Vessel received a highlighted review from VOYA!!!

VOYA, Voice of Youth Advocates, is a trade magazine for YA librarians.  It has its own book rating system -- see graphic below -- but a highlighted review is essentially the VOYA-equivalent of a starred review.

I was so excited to see this and am overjoyed that people are enjoying Vessel!

Here's the review:

Durst, Sarah Beth.  Vessel.  Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster, 2012.  432p.  $16.99. 978-1-4424-2376-3.

Liyana of the nomadic Goat Clan is destined from birth to be a vessel for the goddess Bayla. When her goddess and those of many other tribes are kidnapped by a vengeful citizen of the Crescent Empire, vessels bereft of their divine possessors are killed outright or left to die in the desert. Survivors have little choice but to track down the abductors to save their deities and reclaim a place in their clan. Also struggling to survive is young emperor Jarlath of the Crescent peoples, who are suffering through a terrible drought. Believing the magic of a far-off lake will save his people, he attempts to protect the empire at the cost of losing all the neighboring tribes to a famine. With sand wolves and giant worms, the folklore of the tribes comes to life as magic wielding gods and goddesses join the cast.

Vessel is a fast-paced, thrilling adventure set in a hostile world filled with complex clan feuds and strong traditions. Throughout the book, characters share stories of their clans. The storytelling culture is reminiscent of other peoples with strong oral traditions, like many Native American tribes. In addition to the unique history Durst has created as a backstory, the highly descriptive writing forms intense visuals for the reader so that characters, animals, and locations feel rich and realistic.  -- Laura Perenic.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012


I have news!!!

I sold my first novel for adults!  Actually, three novels -- my very first trilogy!

This is how I feel about it:

Or in words:


Here's the announcement in Publishers Marketplace:
Fiction: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Sarah Beth Durst's THE LOST, THE MISSING, and THE FOUND, about a woman running from her bleak life who finds herself trapped in a small town where all things lost -- luggage, keys, people -- are mysteriously deposited, to Mary-Theresa Hussey for Luna, by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger (world).

I am making my debut into the world of books for adults.  But don't worry!  I'm not leaving the YA world!  I will be writing two books a year -- a book for adults and a book for teens -- and I am tremendously excited about this.  (Pub dates are still up in the air, but my best guess at my upcoming publication schedule is here.)

You might ask, "Why two books a year?"  Quite simply, I'm a faster writer than I used to be.  (Or more accurately, I'm more efficient with my writing time.  I think it's because I understand my own writing process better.  This was a really pleasant discovery.)  Also, I have more stories that I want to tell!

You might ask, "Why books for adults"?  In a recent interview, I was asked about writing for different audiences.  Here's what I said: "I love writing fantasy.  I love creating a story that could never happen and taking readers on a journey into the impossible.  Some of these journeys call for a younger protagonist; some call for an older one.  I actually try hard not to think about the audience as I write.  I think about what works for the story and its characters."  This trilogy calls for an adult protagonist.

You might ask, "What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"  Well, the average cruising airspeed of a European Swallow is roughly eleven meters per second, or twenty-four miles an hour, but I'm not convinced that's a relevant question.

I'm really, really excited to write these books and to share them with you.  And I hope that you'll join me in performing the traditional Snoopy dance of joy!!!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kirkus Starred Review for Vessel!

Super excited to report that Vessel received its first trade review, and it's a starred review from Kirkus!!!


Without further ado (though you should know that I am completely doing the Snoopy Dance of Joy as I type this), here's the review:

By Sarah Beth Durst
(McElderry; ISBN: 9781442423763; September 2012; Fall catalog)

STARRED REVIEW.  When a summoning goes awry, Liyana must try to save her people and learn how to live for herself, in this sweeping adventure. Chosen as a "vessel" to host the Goat Clan’s goddess, Bayla, and abandoned when Bayla doesn’t come, Liyana finds herself alone in the desert. Korbyn, god of the Raven Clan, rescues Liyana and provides her with a purpose: find the four other vessels who are also missing deities. Soon, Liyana and Korbyn pick up stalwart Fennik (horse god Sendar), princess-y Pia (silk goddess Oyri) and angry Raan (scorpion goddess Maara). Besides the desert’s many dangers, the ragtag group faces the massed army of the Crescent Empire, led by a young Emperor and his malicious magician, Mulaf. The tribes need their gods to save them from illness, starvation and drought, but the gods need to possess vessels to work magic—an arrangement whose logic several characters begin to question. Liyana is self-sacrificing but not a saint; stubborn, loyal, and curious, she finds new reasons to live even as she faces death. Durst offers a meditation on leadership and power and a vivid story set outside the typical Western European fantasy milieu. From the gripping first line, a fast-paced, thought-provoking and stirring story of sacrifice.

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Monday, July 09, 2012

VESSEL Countdown Widget

As I mentioned last post, I'm starting to get unreasonably excited about the upcoming publication of Vessel, now just two months away!!!  And since I'm now, quite literally, counting the days, I figured I'd make the countdown a bit more official by adding a snazzy little countdown widget to the Vessel page of my site.  Check it out:

If you'd like to join in my countdown, please feel free to grab it for your site/blog/etc by clicking the "Get Widget" button.

Let the countdown begin!!!

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Website Makeover and VESSEL Excerpt

Happy Fourth of July!  (Or, to those of you outside the US, happy random Wednesday!)  Today, I did all the traditional Fourth of July things:

- Cooked hamburgers and hotdogs.  Except I cooked them on the stove instead of the barbecue grill because a squadron of yellow jackets has colonized the grill, and I chose to grant them their independence.  So sweet of me.  Or cowardly.  But let's go with sweet.

- Watched fireworks.  On TV, because it's so much calmer and simpler that way.  No parking.  No crowds.  No mosquitoes.  And total access to my fridge (which is also, incidentally, a lovely perk of being a writer).  I don't really understand why the Washington DC fireworks are always shown hidden behind a bugle corp.  Makes the fireworks look like one of those cheesy school picture backdrops.  But I adore the Manhattan fireworks with their four barges worth of fireworks in sync to the music.

- Updated my website.  Okay, maybe that's not really traditional in the, um, traditional sense of the word.  But in addition to being the birthday of our nation, it's now about two months until the pub date for my next novel, Vessel, so I gave my website (and the backdrop of this blog) a Vessel-centric makeover.  Click here to check it out!

And while I was Vessel-izing the site, I decided that today marks the official beginning of my personal countdown to Vessel (during which I will get more and more deliriously excited as we get closer to September!!!).

So I posted the first two chapters of Vessel on my site!  Hope you like it!

Here's a taste.....

On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family's tent to see the dawn. She buried her toes in the sand, cold from the night, and she wrapped her father's goatskin cloak tight around her shoulders. She had only moments before everyone would wake.

She fixed her eyes on the east, where the sky was bleached yellow in anticipation. Shadows marked each ridge, rock, and sand dune. Overhead, a few stubborn stars continued to cling to the sky, and a raven, black as a splinter of night, flew into the wind before angling toward the dark peaks of the distant mountains. Liyana felt the wind caress her cheeks and stir her hair. She'd left it loose last night, and she'd counted the strands when she couldn't sleep. The wind stirred the sand at her feet, and it whistled over the dunes and rocks. She listened to it so intensely that every muscle in her body felt taut.

She had wanted to be calm today.

Click here to read through the end of chapter two.

Go ahead.  I'll wait.

*taps feet*

*tries to whistle, but fails*


Yay, you're back!  Did you like it?!  Did ya?!?!  Did ya?!?!?!

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