The Star Shard

     Waves of agony Cymbril had never expected rolled through her as tears spilled from her eyes and her nose ran.

     “Little bird.” His palm brushed her hair, gently as the falling of light. “This is a song I’ve not heard from you before. But it is a good song, too, and makes the world better, not worse.”

     “I don’t know what to do,” Cymbril gasped when she could. “I thought I knew what I wanted.”

     “And so you will,” said Urrt. “Your heart knows. When the time is right, it will tell your head. Have courage.”

                                                                         — from “The Star Shard”


My novelette “The Star Shard” is running in a serial in Cricket Magazine this year. It began in the April 2008 issue. If anyone missed that first installment, back issues can be ordered directly from Cricket at Or, yes, you can also simply read that part of the story on their web site at this link: (Probe around — it’s there, I promise — you may have to click “Look Inside.”) One thing that makes this event so exciting is that the editors tell me this is only the second time in the magazine’s long history (they began publication in 1973) that they’ve printed a story of this length. [The first time, for you Cricket history buffs, was M. M. Kaye’s The Ordinary Princess — I remember it!]

Anyway, “The Star Shard” is beautifully illustrated by Emily Fiegenschuh. Some of Emily’s early professional work was for Wizards of the Coast, including illustrations for the Monster Manual II. Her soft, pastel style and expressive character faces are perfect for young-adult fantasy that’s full of fantastic contraptions such as the Thunder Rake and non-human people such as the Urrmsh and the Sidhe. Stories, at their core, are about characters, and I think I like Emily’s characters most of all. On Cricket‘s site, you can see many of her preliminary sketches and read her notes on them. I was given a chance to see most of them before they were finalized, and we were all in pretty close agreement (Emily, the editors, and I) over which versions we liked the best. Her Thunder Rake is based with very few alterations on a detailed sketch that I was asked to make.

Most exciting of all is that, for the first time ever, readers of Cricket can log onto the site and write in questions for Emily and me to answer. We’re both eager to do so, so we hope those questions will come pouring in!

I suppose this is also the best time to say, for anyone who doesn’t know, that you can find a complete and updated bibliography of my published writing on my web site. Either click the “Frederic S. Durbin” link on the Blogroll at the right of your screen, or else point your browser toward

And Happy Midsummer’s Eve to all!


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