I have a thought about ‘kill your darlings.’ There seems to be a general notion out there in the ether that the phrase means, 'Hunt down every sentence or image you really love and cut it down like a pernicious weed.’  That, my dears, is bullshit.

In my opinion, what it really means is, 'If you’re rewriting a whole scene just so that a paragraph or conversation you’re in love with will work, and it still kind of doesn’t, maybe it doesn’t really belong in this story and you should print it out and put it in a lovely, decorative folder labelled DARLINGS to read on those days when you hate every sentence you’re writing.’

—  Delia Sherman, American fantasy writer
For me, creative energy is like an old-fashioned ground-water well. When the well is dry, it’s dry. I can dig all I like, and all I’ll get for my pains is sore hands, some very bad prose, and maybe (if I’m lucky) a few odd droplets of notes I can actually use. Or not. It’s usually not worth it. After many years, I’ve discovered that it’s better to wait until some ground water seeps back into the well rather than to try and lick up every drop as it emerges.
—  Delia Sherman

I am beautiful, you say, sublime,
Black and crystal as a Winter’s night,
With lips like rubies, cabochon,
My eyes deep blue as sapphires.
I cannot blame you for your praise:
You took me for my beauty, after all;
A jewel in a casket, still as death,
A lovely effigy, a Prince’s prize,
The fairest in the land.

But you woke me, or your horses did,
Stumbling as they bore me down the path,
Shaking the poisoned apple from my throat.
And now you say you love me, and would wed me
For my beauty’s sake. My cursed beauty.
Will you hear now why I curse it?
It should have been my mother’s – it had been,
Until I took it from her.

I was fourteen, a flower newly blown,
My mother’s faithful shadow and her joy.
I remember combing her hair one day,
Playing for love her tire-woman’s part,
Folding her thick hair strand over strand
Into an ebon braid, thick as my wrist,
And pinned it round and round her head
Into a living crown.

I looked up from my handiwork and saw
Our faces, hers and mine, caught in the mirror’s eye.
Twin white ovals like repeated moons
Bright amid our midnight hair. Our eyes
Like heaven’s bowl; our lips like Autumn berries.
She frowned a little, lifted hand to throat.
Turned her head this way and then the other.
Our eyes met in the glass.

I saw what she had seen: her hair white-threaded,
Her face and throat fine-lines, her eyes softened
Like a mirror that clouds and cracks with age;
While I was newly silvered, sharp and clear.
I hid my eyes, but could not hide my knowledge.
Forty may be fair; fourteen is fairer still.
She smiled at my reflection, cold as glass,
And then dismissed me thankless.

Not long after, the Huntsman came, bearing
A knife, a gun, a little box, to tell me
My mother no longer loved me. He spared me, though,
Unasked, because I was too beautiful to kill.
And the seven little men whose house
I kept that Winter and the following year,
They loved me for my beauty’s sake, my beauty
That cost me my mother’s love.

Do you think I did not know her,
Ragged and gnarled and stooped like a wind-bent tree,
Her basket full of combs and pins and laces?
Of course I took her poisoned gifts. I wanted
To feel her hands combing out my hair,
To let her lace me up, to take an apple
From her hand, a smile from her lips,
As when I was a child.

— Snow White To The Prince, by Delia Sherman.

Artwork: Snow White, by Jasmin Darnell.

Some humans make strict (and often bizarre) distinctions between the genders. The list of supposedly “masculine” and “feminine” behaviour is as absurd as it is arbitrary- and you needn’t bother to learn it since all the hippest humans ignore it anyway.
—  The Essential Bordertown by Terri Windling & Delia Sherman


Writing genre fiction can be a lonely business for teens. The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop brings together young writers, aged 14 to 19, for eleven days of creation and peer review critiques. At the end of the workshop, students leave with new skills and a vibrant network of support.

Tamora Pierce, author of young adult series such as Protector of the Small and The Provost’s Dog, has instructed at the workshop every year since its inception. This year, instructors include Ellen Kushner, author of the beloved Riverside books recently adapted into an award winning Audible series, Delia Sherman of Freedom Maze fame, and two-time Andre Norton Award-nominated Alaya Dawn Johnson.

Alpha works hard to keep costs low–every staff member is a volunteer, and the tuition is kept at the lowest possible level–but prospective students often require financial aid. This year–as they have for the past several–alumni have contributed writing and art to an illustrated flash fiction anthology and offered it as a donor reward in the entirely alumni-organized scholarship fund drive.

The Alpha alumni scholarship drive will run March 17-26. Please consider donating. It really does change the course of our young writers’ lives.


On a bright October day in 1996, Delia Sherman & I were married before our families and a vast trouping of friends from every phase of our lives, in the splendid marble halls of the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center in Massachusetts. We have bags of printed photos (taken with box cameras by everyone there) that we really should scan … meanwhile, I’m grateful to my high school friend Alex for sending me just a few of the many glorious photos he took that day, for me to post for you here.  

October 26, 1996. 

We’d been together 4 years already - but Delia kept on proposing to me, like Peter Wimsey, in the oddest places until I finally gave up and said yes.

Our dresses were by Alicia Mughetti - and we’ve worn them many times since, at everything from the Nebula Awards, the Audie Awards, other friends’ weddings…. to our actual legal wedding, in our little backyard in Somerville, Massachusetts, in August 2004.

But this was the huge one with the dresses and the flowers and the wine and the live band….And just about everyone we knew and loved at the time turning up to make it the start of a genuine marriage.

If you’re getting married yourself . .  . tell me all about your dress! I just love weddings.  I’d have another one, if they’d let me.

feuervogel  asked:

Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner, as well as The Fall of the Kings, by Kushner and her partner Delia Sherman, have bisexual protagonists. Kushner has stated that everyone in the series is bisexual! They're fantasy, but more fantasy in the "this isn't the world we live in" than "elves and magic."

Excellent!   I’m really enjoying all these fantasy suggestions.   You guys are awesome!  

- Sarah 


Would you like to study writing with Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and me?

Ellen & Delia will be teaching, once again, in the MA/MFA Program in Children’s Literature at Hollins University in the Summer of 2015 – and this time, I’ll be joining them there as the 2015 Writer-in-Residence. You’ll find more information about the program on Ellen’s blog, Puggy’s Hill.

“The program encourages all levels of students,” Ellen says. “Seriously.  And there is Financial Aid. It’s a 6-week summer semester, a chance to find out just what you’re capable of.”

That’s my favorite picture of Ellen, me, and Delia above, taken some years ago when they were visiting me here in Devon, England. (We’ve been friends for a long, long time.) We’re all older and, I certainly hope, wiser now…so come join us at Hollins in 2015, and let us impart some of what we’ve learned about writing over all these years to you.

- Terri Windling

Art above: “Jo Writing in the Attic” (from Little Women) by Norman Rockwell


Ellen Kushner has a new website which she is touting today:

The top picture (not the first page) is my favorite. I adore that graphic–it’s the French cover for Swordspoint. The first page has lovely graphics and info about all of the audio books of her work released up to this point in time. The Fall of the Kings just came out in audio last week.

Anyway, have fun with this website. It has a lot of pages relating to her books and her other work. There is a great page entitled “The World of Swordspoint” and also, among other things, a page with links for her gorgeous novel Thomas the Rhymer (stunning and somewhat overlooked by the fans who are all a-squee over the admittedly fabulous denizens of Riverside and the Hill and the relationship of Richard and Alec).

Check it out. She is testing it today–it is working really well for me. Kind of like a kid in a candy shop.


The Worlds of Riverside by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman ~ Series Summary

This series created its very own genre. As you journey through these tales you will encounter a beautifully created secondary world with a unique system of politics. You will savor romance, honor, sharp wit and even sharper swords. What you won’t see is magic – atleast not until book three. No, the fantasy element here is all in the creative worldbuilding and the vividly complicated characters who inhabit it. 

All in all a delightful change of pace from the overly dark epic fantasy I’ve been reading lately. Oh don’t get me wrong. This series of stories has plenty of darkness, violence, death and danger. However it is beautifully balanced by honor, love, loyalty and lovely elegant prose.

To read the Series Summary and the individual book reviews please visit Dragons, Heroes and Wizards

Definitely recommended!

To celebrate the advent of a new Riverside Audiobook - narrated by your humble co-author - we’re throwing a little contest, to give you a chance to win a FREE download of our latest from Neil Gaiman Presents, The Fall of the Kings, by Ellen Kushner & Delia Sherman.


for food described in any of the “Riverside” books … or food that you think one of our characters would enjoy … or a MENU for a meal they might eat … . You can even name a new dish for a character ( Cherries Tremontaine, anyone?) …   And, of course we welcome recipes for how to make a really good cup of chocolate.


1) Post your recipe (or menu) somewhere online where all your friends can see it, explaining what it’s for

2) Post a link to that in the Comments on this page (EK’s LJ)


The most delectable 10 entries will each get a FREE DOWNLOAD of the new audiobook!

Contest ends at 5:00 pm EST on FRIDAY, August 23rd

-in time for us to judge them, & to send out the Secret Audiobook Prize Code in time for you to dowload THE FALL OF THE KINGS AUDIOBOOK on Release Day: Tuesday, August 27!


The Great Detective

Victo Ngai

A piece for the original fiction “The Great Detective by Delia Sherman. A really fun steampunk-ish Holmes-ian story takes place in Victorian England, with a ghost inhabiting a mechanical doll. Intrigue? Read the story here. Big thanks as always to AD Irene Gallo!


Goodreads: Vaginal Fantasy Hangout discussion – This topic is about Swordspoint.

Goodreads’ discussion of Ellen’s Kushner’s novel Swordspoint.

ETA: A couple of people asked about Swordspoint and the reference to Riverside. Cutting and pasting an old description in answer to the same question on my LJ a while back.

Riverside is a mesmerizing and colorful neighborhood in the City featured in Ellen Kushner’s unique fantasy novel Swordspoint and in the two novels and a series of assorted short stories and mini-novellas which followed it and centered around that same world. As you can guess, I adore the books. I think she is so much better a writer and world builder than most of the more popular fantasy writers being published today. Here is a link to the introduction to Swordspoint on Ellen Kushner’s website ( along with a look at the other works written in the series. Most people first fall in love with the marvelously romantic and dysfunctional couple of Alec and Richard and their ongoing adventures, but the cast of characters continues to expand, along with the details of the society surrounding them and its history throughout the three novels. I personally think the books are fabulous.

Delia Sherman’s story of Neef, a mortal changeling who lives in the fantastical world of “New York Between,” presents itself in exactly the whimsical fashion a book set in a world of mythological, fictional, and imaginary creatures of all cultures should. The young protagonist and heroine herself in Changeling is ordinary, save for the fact that she’s the only mortal in Central Park, which makes her all the more believable amidst a whirlwind of creatures both helpful and dangerous.

Spoiler warning.

Neef’s double, the fairy changeling left in her place in the mortal world, even joins in on her quest. Her habits and mannerisms are strongly reminiscent of an autistic child’s, though we’re given no real explanation for why she acts the way she does. Still, she provides a central character with whom autistic and neurodivergent readers of the series might relate.

End spoiler warning.

Though I found the book somewhat lacking in POC, save for a handful among the creatures Neef encounters and the mention of one mortal character, their presence at all puts this book above many other, more white-washed fantasy novels. Sherman does seem to draw on more than simply white cultures for the creatures in the novel, and there is no shortage of diverse female characters.

Slightly above average in representation and reasonably well-written, Delia Sherman's Changeling is a decent, quick read for those looking to break up the monotony some in their YA consumption.

Folk Music & Fantasy, Sunday Dec. 15th in NYC

  Delia Sherman & I are doing a holiday “house concert/lecture” - just think of it as coming and hanging out with us in a living room on the Upper West side, while we shoot the breeze about the way that fantasy literature and traditional folk music play nicely together and make beautiful children.   Come with your own examples of books and stories that do the trick, or get ready to hear us talk - and sing! - about Ellen’s World Fantasy Award-winning novel THOMAS THE RHYMER (based on a Scots Border Ballad), and Delia’s multiple short stories, like “The Maid on the Shore,” plus, of course, her novel THROUGH A BRAZEN MIRROR (from Martin Carthy’s rendition of the ballad “The Famous Flower of Serving-Men) … and how Ellen stole - er, recycled one of its plotlines. And, yes, there will be singing.

To find out the Secret Location, call Heather at (212) 957-8386 for reservations and information. General admission: $15. Folk Music Society of NY members or full-time students: $12. Folk Music & Fantasy Sunday 15 December, 4:00 – 6:00 pm Upper West Side (98th/Broadway) NYC (Call IN ADVANCE for directions: (212) 957-8386) Presented by the Folk Music Society of NY
Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers


Are you a writer between the ages of fourteen and nineteen? Do you love dragons, wizards, spaceships, robots, and/or ghosts? Would you FLIP OUT if you got the chance to spend ten days with nineteen other fantastic young writers, the world’s coolest and most amazing teachers, and a bunch of guest authors (this year’s authors are Tamora Pierce, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Alaya Dawn Johnson)? 

If so, you should apply to the Alpha Workshop. I am not exaggerating when I say that Alpha was one of the best experiences I have ever had. It changed my life and helped me figure out my path as a writer, and I’m still in touch with nearly all of the wonderful people I met there. Plus, did I mention that you get to hang out with Tamora Pierce for a few days??? 

The deadline for applying is Sunday, March 1, so get on it!!

Review #15: The Essential Bordertown edited by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman

The Essential Bordertown, as with all the Bordertown anthologies, is an incredible new kind of teen urban fantasy. It deals with all the well-known “teenage problems” – particularly cultural identity – in a magical, energetic way by turning them into wonderfully plotted metaphors that are both entertaining and insightful. That said, Bordertown is more than a series of self-help essays in fantasy short-story format. Bordertown, in its own way, represents a bit of a movement in teen fantasy, which offers a dark, interesting, and altogether original world.