the happiness store

The Happiness Store does not have a permanent location. It travels from place to place on wheels, like an extremely large ice cream truck.

(Ice cream is not available at The Happiness Store.)

When it arrives, it sets itself down and with the wheels folded up into its foundation it appears as steady and solid as any brick and mortar store, though it is one that can and will depart at any time.

The thing that sometimes catches customers by surprise is that everything inside the store is wrapped. The contents of the shelves and displays are meticulously covered in paper or sealed in opaque bags.

Nothing may be opened until it has been paid for.

There are no refunds or exchanges, and nothing ever goes on sale.

But free samples are available (one per customer), in tiny boxes tied with ribbon.

Though the management recommends that such samples be passed along to others, to those who are unable to visit The Happiness Store themselves.

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


Gather ’round, kidlets. Story time.

In 2003, I tried doing NaNoWriMo for the first time, because I’d always wanted to write but had never been good about sitting down and actually doing it. I had ideas in notebooks but nothing concrete.

I tried. I failed. Burnt out around 15k.

In 2004, I tried again. I made it to 50k that year. That novel is not a novel, it is a sprawling mess of post-apocalyptic… something.

In 2005, for NaNo #3, I had no plot but lots of atmosphere, and when I reached the 30k mark and had no idea where to go with it, I sent my characters to the circus.

In 2006, I spent NaNo working on that circus. I ended up with something interesting, but not novel-shaped.

In 2007, I did another 50k worth of work on the circus. In NaNo terms this is cheating. I’m sorry.

Throughout 2008 I took the 100k+ of circus… stuff and attempted to shape it into a novel.

I don’t know how many drafts it went through. Four, maybe? It started to have something resembling a proper shape in the beginning of 2009.

From 2008 to, well, now, I started learning about the publishing industry.

On June 2nd, 2009, I sent out my first batch of query letters.

I sent six queries out in that first batch. Within 20 minutes I had a partial request and a full request. I got another full request two hours later, two rejections the next day, and a third full request a few weeks later.

Ten days later those first two full request turned into rejections. The partial joined them in rejectionland soon after.

I sent out more queries. I got more requests. I got more rejections.

In August, I got a full request that turned into a phone call. A very nice phone call that I’m pretty sure I did nothing but stammer during, and was a request to rework the book almost entirely, but it was still an offer of representation.

I got in touch with the other agents who were still considering. Some of them passed. I had more phone calls. I think I stammered less in those.

I ended up not taking any offers at that point. I decided to revise independently, because everyone seemed to be saying different versions of the same thing.

I spent September and October of 2009 revising. I pushed around what I had. I tried to have more *stuff* happen. I polished it. I wrapped it up in pretty bows.

I sent it back to the three agents who wanted to see it.

More phone calls. More e-mails. All three of them said different versions of “well… not there yet.”

So I sighed. I ate a lot of chocolate. I wrote a completely different story for NaNo ’09. I took December off.

In January of 2010, I checked into the Revisionland Hotel.

I tore everything apart. I changed the format. I changed the plot. Well, I changed what little plot there was into an actual plot. I took over 25k out and put other stuff in. I sent it to old beta readers and new beta readers. I changed it some more.

I sent it back to agents two weeks ago.

Last week I had one offer of representation.

On Monday I had three.

I thought about it. A lot. I was extremely lucky to have three wonderful agents spending their time on me and my work, offering wonderful advice throughout this process.

In the end I signed with the same agent I had that very first stammering phone call with back in August.

I am now represented by Richard Pine of InkWell Management.

Almost exactly a year after I started querying.

The series finale of LOST is on tonight, which you probably already knew unless you live on a deserted island without a television.

The awesome posters that were going around the interwebs way back at the beginning of the season are going to be available on I kind of want the bunny one.

It’s weird to have something that’s been part of my life for so long come to an end. Six years is a long time. I watched the pilot episode in a teeny apartment in Boston on an equally teeny television what seems like half a lifetime ago. Since then I’ve gotten married, moved away, written a novel, painted a tarot deck. Tessa wasn’t even around for the premiere, that’s how long ago and far away it was.

The boy & I spent part of the cocktail hour at our wedding flailing about the greatest use of the Red Sox on television, ever, from the episode that had aired that week, back in Season 3.

And yes, I picked the polar bear photo for this past Friday’s flax-golden tale on purpose.

I doubt I’ll ever have this again. I don’t watch that much television. I certainly don’t watch that much television that keeps me theorizing and hypothesizing and occasionally flailing around like a fangirl. Like, I don’t buy tv stuff, yet I have Dharma shot glasses & I’m wearing a shirt with the numbers on it right now, even though I’m rather annoyed that the numbers themselves haven’t gotten a satisfying resolution yet. I suppose they have a couple more hours to explain.

I’m excited and nervous even though I’ve been kind of nonplussed about the last few episodes and I’m still mad about Frank. I’m making frozen pina coladas later. Soon there will be Hawaiian pizza.

I likely won’t be posting thoughts on the finale, because I know there are people who won’t be able to watch it tonight, or haven’t even watched the show at all and if you’re one of them you really should, I think it actually works better watched on DVD instead of week-to-week.

So goodbye, LOST. You’ve meant a lot to me even when I wanted to throw things at the TV. You had mystery and cleverness and bunnies. You are responsible for my massive crush on Michael Emerson. You made me laugh. You made me cry. (The latter I blame mostly on Michael Giacchino.) You always kept me guessing.

You’ve been a special kind of awesome. The kind that dares you to look death in the face and say, “Whatever, man.”

Thank you. I’ll miss you.


I was three when I fell in the polar bear pool at the zoo.

My parents say it’s a miracle that I didn’t drown.

Always that I didn’t drown. Not that I didn’t get eaten by the polar bear. Maybe they don’t like to consider that possibility.

I don’t remember much of it. I’m not even sure how I managed to fall in, and everyone else’s recollections of the actual air-to-water transition vary.

I remember how bright and blue the water was.

I remember how desperately I wanted the polar bear to be friends with me.

Sometimes in my dreams I am back in that impossibly blue water, and sometimes it feels like home.

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


I wanted to go on an excursion today, so we took a drive out to Concord.

It was a gorgeous day for it, sunny but not hot. We saw lots of adorable dogs and almost ran over a great many cyclists. Also, there were very loud geese.

We walked around the Old North Bridge area for awhile, and then went over to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, so now I have my own photos of the graves from Author’s Ridge that are more or less exactly the same as the ones from the Wikipedia entry. (Apparently they forgot Hawthorne, just like I did.)

There are more photos on my Flickr photostream. And I have a new photo of me up on my about page, too, so that’s actually up-to-date for a change.

It’s an odd sort of day when you find yourself standing on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grave. Good, but odd.

enjoy your stay

The Hotel is a place that is stumbled upon, often unexpectedly, by anyone who is in need of a stay.

There is already a reservation in their name at the desk.

A suite awaits with wrapped chocolates poised precariously on perfectly fluffed pillows.

Room service brings anything a guest might desire, completely free of charge.

(And they do mean anything.)

The light in the hallways is soft and pleasing to the eye, no harsh fluorescents casting twitching shadows.

The entire Hotel, from the lobby to the penthouse, is glowing and serene.

It is an oasis from the outside world. A respite in which anything can be accomplished.

And still, guests spend most of their time in the bar.

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


And revisions are done. Beta-ed, adjusted again, re-beta-ed & polished to a high shine.

It is almost disgusting how much better it is than the last draft. Seriously.

I’m not leaving the Revisionland Hotel because I have too many friends here and I like the bar. But I’m done. Done done done.

Sending the New & Improved version back to agents first thing tomorrow. Kind of baffled that I’ve finally reached this point.

Anyway, while I was unplugged last week I did mostly nothing but rewrite and rework and make good sentences great and listen to so much Pandora radio (Arcade Fire station) that I blew my 40 free hours for the month. Might have to invest in fancypants Pandora.

Y’all were also spared a rant about last week’s LOST. Um, I still love it like candy but that episode made me mad. Like, livid, throwing things mad. And not just because I love Frank. Sigh. Am nervous about the rest of the season. I didn’t think they’d be able to lose me at this point, but now I’m kind of concerned.

I also started knitting a new scarf, because nothing says spring like new scarves.

Not sure what I’m going to do with myself once this thing is out of my hands again. Reading & yoga, most likely. For now I have champagne sorbet.

this is not twue wuv

You send me all these roses.

Every time I think the last bouquet has arrived, finally, another turns up.

I’m running out of vases.

I didn’t know roses came in so many colors.

You say they’re the perfect symbols of love because they have thorns and love is pain.

I say life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

And you don’t get it.

You say you love me, but you don’t speak my language.

You don’t even realize I’m an orchid girl.

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

unplugging again

I am sequestering myself in the Revisionland Hotel this week.

I am very close to done with my additional, post-beta reader revisions. I am extremely pleased with all the changes so far, and what’s left is all sorts of thoughtful detail stuff. I’ve rebuilt the entire room and now I have to finalize the window treatments and upholstery and possibly move that one chair into the other corner where it will get better light.

Excuse me whilst I make interior decorating analogies about writing.

Anyway, in order to focus on revisions I am taking the week off from the internet.

I will be checking my e-mail if you need me for anything.

I will be back on Friday with this week’s flax-golden tale.

I hope y’all have lovely weeks!




So y’all know I have a thing for Etsy vintage. Remind me to post pictures of the boy’s new fedora.

Months ago, I stumbled upon vintage cookie cutters & couldn’t think of any good reason not to get them, so I did.

But I had no rolling pin, so I couldn’t really do anything with them.

They’re fun. There are five of them, in playing card suits (heart, diamond, spade, club) and there’s an extra bonus star.

I ended up getting a rolling pin about a week ago, you can see it in the background of the photo. It’s black! A nice gothic touch to baking time.

So today I finally baked sugar cookies.

I need to work on my rolling skills because they ended up rather uneven, but they taste good and they don’t look half bad, so I’m calling that a win. Especially considering it was my very first sugar cookie attempt.

Will eventually make a batch with black & red icing. Not feeling daring enough for that just yet.