mystery street

mystery street

Mystery Street is a good place to find what you’re looking for, if you can find Mystery Street itself.

There’s a sign, of course. And it is somewhat near Illusion Square, which you can see only if you face it from the east. (From other directions Illusion Square appears to be a park full of small dogs catching large frisbees.) Once you cross Illusion Square, you take two left turns and two right ones (not necessarily in that order) and then you should be able to see the sign.

If you get hopelessly lost you can ask a cat for directions. Blue-eyed cats will only speak in half-truths, but half-true directions are better than no directions at all.

You’ll know you’ve found Mystery Street when you see the sign. After that, well, you should be able to find whatever it is you’re looking for. You can find pretty much anything on Mystery Street, once you get there.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

creative messes

While I’ve been in revisionland I’ve been silently bemoaning how messy my writing process is. I’m not sure what I expect would be better, or less messy, but it seems to tend toward chaotic. I have handwritten notes scrawled sideways on paper in two different colors of pen. I have snatches of dialogue scrawled in between. I have a Scrivener file open with bits of potential new scenes written in no particular order and odd bits highlighted so I know where I need changes. I have a hard copy of the current manuscript that I’ve started to mark up with purple gel pen.

It’s messy.

But when I was working on the bastet postcard (already sold!) yesterday, I realized my art process is just as messy, particularly toward the end stages.

This is a picture of my workbench, taken right after I finished:

creative mess

There are several things in this photo that I didn’t even end up using (the gold metallic worked better than the copper, for example) and yes that’s my hand covered in Mod Podge. There was an incident. I promise my camera hand was clean. Comparatively.

So I thought, looking at this mess, why should I expect my writing process to be different? Just because it’s words and not paint doesn’t mean the process is all that different, I make writing/painting analogies all the time. Of course my writing process is going to involve weird notes and seemingly disorganized bits and pieces. Clearly, I am the type of artist that needs to put paint I’m not going to use on the table and get my hands dirty.

I used to have this complex about working messy with my art. I thought all the paint should actually end up on the painting and not on the table, on me, occasionally on the cats. I got over that somewhere around the time I started splattering things. It’s difficult to splatter things and keep paint properly contained. But I liked the finished product, I liked the way it looked and it’s become something of a signature technique now.

Time to apply the same train of thought to writing, methinks. At least writing messily doesn’t involve as much cleanup.


I realized I have been rather bad about actually blogging the current writing/agent search situation. Maybe because I’ve been talking about it nonstop and working so much that it just seemed like that would have shown up on the blog by osmosis or something.

But oddly, things only show up on the blog if I actually type them up and post them. So, this is the state of the novel-querying nation. In as short a form as possible, since it gets confusing:

I had an offer for my novel, but it came contingent on a pretty major revision. I alerted other agents that were reading and got some more input and suggestions and after a lot of thought decided not to accept the original offer outright, and instead I’m working on revising independently based on all the feedback I’ve received. I have three agents waiting to see the revised version when it’s finished.

So what does this mean? Mostly, it means I still don’t have an agent BUT THAT’S OK. Really, I’m happy with how things are going, it’s giving me a chance to look at my manuscript again and push it further and have the ball back in my court for the moment. It’s nice to have some control again, to have something to work on actively instead of sitting around waiting. Not that I didn’t have other things to work on, but the circus is warm and fuzzy and familiar and I like being able to play in it again.

And probably most importantly: I am 100% sure I am making the story better. I have a long list of suggestions/problem points/issues to address and I’m having a wonderful time working on it. Seriously, it’s like I’ve been given permission to have more fun with it. For about a week and a half I’ve been mulling things over and taking notes and saying “What if I did this?” to the boy (who has read every draft) and he’s responded with varying degrees of “That would be AWESOME.” Which is rather happy-making.

I’m still writing down notes and trying to get all the new ideas to fit with what’s there, figuring out what needs to be added and removed and changed. I’m starting to see the new version, or the idea of the new version, and while I still have a lot of work ahead of me I’m pleased with how it’s going so far. This week’s phase is combing through the current version with a purple pen to mark it up for surgery.

Though today I have mostly been writing snippets of new scenes and turning this photo of Tessa into postcards from the gods: bastet, which should be up on Etsy later today.

bastet tessa

So that’s where I am right now. Revision-o-rama. I’m hoping I’ll be done by mid-September, so I can hand it off to a couple of beta readers before sending it back to agents. And then I can figure out what to write for this year’s NaNoWriMo. It may finally be the year for Edwardian Boston Pirate vs. Ninja. Maybe.

sweet oblivion

sweet oblivion

They line up for it, in eager rows. It is an honor to be chosen. They are extremely patient and on their best behavior.

It is what they were made for, what they anxiously await with unblinking eyes.

One voice of dissent mutters that four dollars is too low a price, but he is ignored.

It is an honor to be chosen, regardless of price. They all know that the price is just a formality.

To have all thought, all cares obliviated by sticky sweetness.

Nothing matters after that. Nothing at all.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

minor things

I spent part of this morning changing the layout of the flax-golden tales page over on They’ve added more layouts since I started posting over there and I think this is an improvement. It’s a bit crisper and I like the lighter background.

I have tomorrow’s tale all ready to post. I actually wrote it ages ago and had forgotten about it, and it kind of insisted on being posted this week.

I’m having kind of an off-kilter week. I blame the combination of the weather and Monday being crazy concerting day. Getting stuff done, but more in little bits and pieces than any major accomplishments.

I’ve had this window open for about an hour trying to think of something else to add. Clearly, there is nothing else and I should just go make myself a cup of tea.

on boston & tori

My feet hurt. But I am not particularly surprised by this considering I wandered around Boston most of the day yesterday and I desperately need new sandals because my old ones, while comfortable, are sort of falling apart and I think they’ve forgotten about a little thing called arch support.

Wandering around Boston reminded me that I don’t particularly miss living there, especially in the summer. I actually prefer Boston buried under winter slush to sweltering in that concrete-flavored heat.

We were in town for the day to see Tori Amos at the WhateverBankIt’sNamedAfterNow Pavilion, but we went in early and walked around and went to see Julie & Julia. I thought it was delightful, even beyond being a 2+ hour air conditioned respite from the weather. It’s a tad too long and made me desperately hungry, but overall I thought it was marvelous. I commented to the boy that it was fun to see a movie that felt like a romantic comedy but was about already established relationships and the romantic stuff wasn’t the core of the film. I can’t think of anything to compare it to, really, but I very much enjoyed it. A great deal of it is about writing, too. Recommended, but do yourself a favor and eat fist. I was crazy hungry afterward.

(After the movie we went to dinner, of course. Good, but not enough butter.)

We were pretty much melting by concert time, but Tori was all kinds of wonderful as usual. This was our sixth show, and we had better seats than we’ve ever had (17th row, dead center) and oddly most of the row in front of us was empty. The show was great, the encore was amazing and really, other than some nitpicky qualms about the setlist (we’d seen a fair deal of the same songs on the last tour and had been hoping for a bit more variety – setlist, for those wot care) and the thermal discomfort it was marvelous. Tori is simply stellar live. All the stuff from the new album was gorgeous. I’m running out of adjectives, but you likely get my point. Really, it’s difficult to write anything other than OMGILOVETORI and things about rocking socks. Not that I was wearing socks, but if I had been they would have been rocked.

Now I have that post-Tori depression where I rather desperately want to see her play again as soon as possible. And my feet hurt.

In other, less foot-hurting news: I spent a large portion of the weekend (and part of the wandering around in Bostonian hot yesterday) bouncing novel revision ideas off the boy and I think I’ve come up with a good handful of ideas worth pursuing. So I’m very pleased about that and I’m going to try to spend some time today and tomorrow outlining & organizing & letting the ideas simmer some more, and hopefully before long I’ll have a nicely seasoned revision stew to eat, or write. Analogies getting away from me again, tricksy things.

five easy steps

five easy steps

Fantastical Expeditions in Five (Comparatively) Easy Steps

1. Draw a ship. It is wise to add sails or oars for ease of travel.
2. Pack for your journey. Be sure to bring extra shoes, a towel, a lucky penny, and a journal to record your adventures.
3. Believe your ship is real.*
4. Climb aboard, very carefully.
5. Politely tell the ship to go wherever it wants to go.

*This is the most difficult step. Practice is recommended.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

yawning tessa

Tessa looks how I feel right now. Maybe without the yawning. But she’s been sprawled out in front of the fan all day and I would really like to be able to do the same but I don’t think I’d fit on that table and I have work to do. Lucky kitten.

I know, I should have the a/c on when it’s this humid. But we’ve had such a mild summer that we haven’t put the air conditioners up. It’s really not that bad with the fans, but it’s uncomfortable enough that I don’t really feel like doing much and would rather flop like Tessa. But I’m trying to be good.

Tarot Queens are going slow, mostly because the humidity makes it hard to paint. I still should be able to finish them by the end of the week, the base layers are down already and they mostly need detailing.

There will be sharable news on the literary agent search soon. I’m still playing the waiting game so nothing is definite yet. I think I’m actually getting better at the waiting game because I stopped biting my nails and I don’t freak out quite so much every time I have new mail.

I am not a summer creature, despite being born in July. I’m craving autumn already, with crisp leaves and pumpkin spice lattes and apple picking and none of this horrid humidity.

yarn merchant

the yarn merchant

She spins her yarns from dreams and hopes and forgotten wishes on a wheel made of alder wood and dragon bone. She sells them every third Saturday at the market, unless there is no moon. Prices vary by color and content and valor of customer.

The yarns made with nightmares cost extra. Nightmare yarn is volatile and must be handled with great care.

If you are not worthy of her yarn she will turn you away, regardless of what you are willing to pay. She will appraise you in a single glance and there is no arguing with her once you have been dismissed with a wave of a many-ringed, wrinkled hand.

There are other places to purchase yarn at the market, and they have fine yarns, but nothing to compare with these.

Oh, the things that can be knit with these yarns! Provided you have proper needles.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

I finally updated WordPress (thanks Paul!) and now the shiny new interface is freaking me out. I am easily distracted by shiny things.

This has been rather a crazy week, and I’m kind of surprised it’s Thursday already. Lots going on in the great literary agent search but nothing I can really talk about yet.

(There should be So You Think You Can Dance for agents. I have nowhere to go with that thought that doesn’t end up someplace weird involving sequins and spandex, so maybe I just want an option for call-in agent voting. And a panel of judges to critique everything for me. Wouldn’t that be great, for every decision you ever had to make to be able to consult a panel of experts that would give you advice and pithy remarks and scream a lot when something exciting happens? I’m going to close this parenthetical before it gets out of hand. )

Anyway, everything at the moment is kind of uncertain and I’m still playing the waiting game, though I do have a sort of vague time line now. I really don’t know which way things will go from here, but it should be somewhere interesting.

I think this is the point where I would ask longingly for a crystal ball, were it not for the fact that I could easily walk down the street and purchase one if I wanted to. I’m not very good at scrying of any sort, though.

I could get one for decorative purposes, though. They are pretty. And I do have that weakness for shiny objects. This one was sitting in the window of a shop on Essex Street.

crystal ball

I think I’ll stick with my tarot cards for now. Queens are being painted at the moment, in deserts and oceans and mountains and night gardens. They should be finished sometime next week.