doll parts

doll parts

A limb goes first. The joint will come loose, or the threads will weaken and snap. Arms and legs are easily lost.

Torsos are fragile things. Once the limbs are gone the torso will soon follow.

The heads last longer. The heads remain for quite some time.

Sometimes the eyes will linger.

In other cases the eyes will tire of staring and roll quietly away.

It is difficult to pinpoint the moment when it is no longer a doll.

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

it’s that time again

nano_09_red_participant_120x240.pngI think this is the first year that NaNoWriMo has pretty much snuck up on me. It’s October 28th, you say? Seriously?

It likely doesn’t help that we’ve had a lousy rainy sort of October around here, so it hasn’t felt as festive as usual. I have had my Pumpkinfest beer at the Salem Beer Works several times, though, so that’s something.

But anyway, October has flown in rainy (occasionally snowy) quickness and now it is very nearly November, and November is National Novel Writing Month.

For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. You can read all about the wonderment that is NaNo on their website.

This is my seventh NaNoWriMo. I’m really not sure how that happened. I’ve won every year except my first try, and I blame that on not really knowing what I was getting in to and being overly invested. I went in with a story I’d been trying to write for almost a year, I got annoyed when it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, and I gave up around 15k. The second try I went in with no expectations and reached the mythical 50k mark fairly easily.

The novel that was just revised and sent back to agents started life as a NaNovel in ’06. The current version bares a very slim resemblance to that 50k, it’s been revised many, many times since then. (I actually cheated a bit and continued in ’07, so I had 100k to work from. Bad me.) One of my major characters doesn’t even appear in the NaNo drafts.

Which is why I find it kind of baffling that people think NaNoWriMo is about starting & finishing a novel that is “done” on November 30th. It’s not, in my opinion. It’s about writing a draft of a novel. Writing it in a condensed period of time with a deadline that makes it easier to shut up the inner editor and just write write write.

And then you can see what you have and start revising it into something resembling a novel.

For me, NaNoWriMo is about exploring and discovering. I’ve never started a NaNovel with more than a handful of characters and a vague plot concept. And that’s the way I like it, because it allows for possibilities. Anything can happen! It’s an adventure! You don’t even have to leave your house, all you have to do is type. A lot. But you have to type a lot to find things. There are things that you find at the 30k level that you won’t find at 10k. It’s like creative excavation. The deeper you go, the more interesting artifacts you find.

I still haven’t dusted off NaNovel ’08. I love it, but it needs a lot of work. It didn’t really find its plot until the 40k mark, so there’s a lot to polish. But I have a lot of story there to work with that only took me 30 days to get down on the page. And it’ll get there.

For NaNovel ’09 I haven’t had much time to plan. Not that I ever do a whole lot of planning. But I have a handful of characters and a vague concept, so once I stock up on red wine and chocolate I should be all good.

invasion advice

invasion advice

As a general rule, is better to appear friendly. Apparent friendliness yields a higher rate of success.

Split into small groups as not to be overwhelming. Three to five is best.

Do not approach your prey. Let it come to you.

Patience is key. There is plenty of time.

Keep your mouth shut until they are too close to get away.

Disguising yourself as some other sort of creature is recommended, but not mandatory.

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

the end is in sight

I’m in revisionland again, in case the radio silence hadn’t made that terrible obvious.

I would like to take a moment to say that I have fabulous beta readers. They found the elusive things that were missing instantly, because they are brilliant. Everyone needs extra pairs of eyes to look at things from different angles, and I have three pairs of great ones.

And even better, I knew as soon as they pointed out the weak spots what I needed to do to fix them.

So I’ve been fixing. Added two new sections which I finished writing today, and now I have to tackle a few changes through the rest of it and then it will be shiny and polished and novel-shaped again.

And of course, there will be another round of index card ordering on the studio floor. I’m sure Bucket will enjoy that.

But the end is in sight. And beyond that, November is looming in a NaNoWriMo shaped cloud of loomy thing. I should have at least a few days to get armed & ready. Hopefully.



Ghosts are everywhere.

They dwell in cabinets and old shoes and shrubberies, waiting to sneak up on you when you least expect them.

They hide in the scent of crisp leaves on windy days. They curl around your feet and pull you back into autumns past with unanticipated force.

They do not wait for you to be prepared.

You might assume they are relegated to haunted places. Cemeteries and abandoned houses and foggy moonlit depths of night.

But ghosts are not afraid of the sun. They are everywhere, everytime.

And there is no avoiding them.

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

sleep no more

Yesterday was wedding anniversary number three. Three years already! Doesn’t really seem like it. Did you know that the traditional third anniversary giftage is leather? Yeah, we weren’t about to pass that opportunity up. The boy got me these. His present is going to be slightly belated because I had to custom order it, but it is just as leather and possibly just as awesome.

We usually go apple picking on our anniversary, but the weather has been cold and rainy and not apple picking conducive, so we came up with alternate plans.

We went to see Sleep No More, a Hichcock-flavored version of Macbeth staged in an abandoned Brookline school. I am very thankful that I am still on the A.R.T. mailing list, I hadn’t heard of it until a postcard landed in my mailbox last week and it seemed the perfect Octobery anniversary thing to do.

I have been trying all day to come up with ways to explain the sheer wonderment that is this show. It doesn’t even seem proper to call it a show, that sounds too passive. It’s an experience. It’s exploratory theatre. You enter this place and you’re set loose in a creepy, beautiful, moody wonderland of darkness and mystery and Shakespearean goodness.

I loved every second of it. The boy and I split up fairly early to explore solo, which is absolutely the way to do it. I think it’s the only way to really immerse yourself in the environment. We both had wildly different experiences and we both adored it and thought all three hours flew by. It’s not enough time to see everything, even though we left sweaty and exhausted and the boy ended up with (stage) blood on his shirt. We’re going to go again before it closes. I am vaguely bitter that I don’t live in the UK to better access everything Punchdrunk does, but I feel very, very lucky to be able to have this production a comparatively short train ride away.

I have to admit, I don’t like going to the theatre. I think I overdosed on it back in the day when I was a theatre major and now I find it draining and uncomfortable. I tend to avoid it entirely and I despise audience participation. But I was too curious about this to resist checking it out. And I adored it, possibly more than any theatrical experience I’ve ever had. It was inventive and experimental without being pretentious. Giving the audience members masks provided a brilliant sort of comfortable anonymity. Loved it. LOVED.

I can’t wait to go back.

Careena Melia Hector Harkness



It is lovely in its simple complexity.

A methodical tangle of string.

Airy and weightless. Fragile.

Until you touch it and it won’t let go.

They call it a web, but it is more than that.

It is a boundary. It is a cage.

To keep things in.

To keep things out.

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


I am so close to the end of revisionland I could throw rocks at whatever land it is that lies beyond revisionland from here.

Technically, I don’t have any more writing-writing left. But there is ordering and formatting and fun stuff like that between here and the point of done-done so it doesn’t feel finished yet.

It doesn’t feel finished in general, actually. There’s something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m hoping my team of fabulous beta readers will be able to help with that, and I’ll be able to give it another post-beta polish after they read it.

But for now it is index card time! I am sure most writers do this in outlining phases, but in my wacky, non-linear way I seem to have made a habit of writing out of order and worrying about how to put all the pieces together after the fact.

I’ve added and dropped enough sections from the previous draft that I have some serious reordering to do. So I made all new index cards.

index cards

They’re color-coded by type of chapter (circus tents proper got to be silver this time around, because metallic silver Sharpie is always good times) and then color-coded again by which characters are featured. These still need dates written on them, I have those broken down on a list (in approximate book order and again chronologically.)

Tomorrow I get to spread them all out on the floor and play the “no, this has to come before that” and “too much of this character in this area” and “Bucket, stop sitting on the index cards” game. It’s a good game, until kittens start eating the cards.

I am so ready to hand this off to the beta brigade, and distract myself with tarot kings and NaNoWriMo planning while I wait for feedback.