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flax-golden tales: a bluer blue blue sky

bluer blue blue skya bluer blue blue sky

I steal the color from the sky sometimes.

Sorry.

Though technically it’s not the sky’s own color anyway, it’s a reflection of the ocean. Also technically it is borrowing and not stealing because I always give it back.

I keep it in a specially made glass ball that I hang from a tree in my backyard for safekeeping until I decide to give it back. The glass is clear when it’s empty but when the sky is inside it turns blue blue and gets slightly heavier.

I should probably feel bad about it but I don’t.

I think people appreciate the blue blue sky more when they don’t see it all the time.

They miss it on the empty color sky days and the missing makes the returning happier.

And it makes the blue blue look even bluer.

 

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

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ponies! gala! i <3 kentucky.

I am attempting to not do many events this year because I have a book to write, but when I was asked to go to Lexington, Kentucky because they had chosen The Night Circus as their One Book, One Bluegrass community read the invitation said something about a “gala” and who am I to resist a gala?

First, though, there was proper library talking and book signing in Frankfurt on Friday night and then on Saturday during the day there was pony racing! (I admit, beyond the word gala the whole “ponies” and also “bourbon” thing made the entire weekend appealing, and it more than lived up to my expectations.)

ponies

Kentucky is just gorgeous, with stretches of green field and blue sky and wooden fences stretching as far as the eye can see. And I had never seen proper in-person pony racing before. I am really, really bad at guessing which pony is going to win. I didn’t loose that much money, though.

And then on Saturday night there was the gala. I’m not sure it can be properly explained, but it was amazing.

barn

 

My original event info that said “gala in tents & barn.” Now, I’m from New England. When I hear “barn” I picture something boxy and red or possibly white.

Barns in Kentucky do not look like that. Barns in Kentucky have chandeliers.

enter

I’m not sure I can even explain it properly. It was big and buoyant and there was so much to look at, from performers and musicians to countless guests in amazing costumes. (I had considered that I might be overdressed when I was packing my corset, I really had nothing to worry about.) There was an aerialist and a marching band and the whip guy! And cocktails in commemorative glasses and food and a silent auction of of beautiful art and jewelry and things and really the only minor negative is that it was chilly, which I realize upon re-reading the prologue of the book was probably my fault. Sorry.

And seriously, the most beautiful barn. It looked like a cake! All round layers and twinkly lights. I am told there were over a thousand people there, yet it always felt busy and bustling and not crowded, and everyone appeared to be having a fantastic time.

I’m already not entirely sure it actually happened, or if I dreamed it, but there appear to be a great deal of photos. (There are a few more over on my tumblr.) Even the next day when I spoke at the beautiful Lexington Library it seemed far away in a dreamlike haze. And now I’m home in NYC. No circus, no ponies. At least I have bourbon.

I am eternally grateful to everyone who spent so much time and effort in planning and coordinating a truly astounding feat, and to the performers and vendors and all the deliciously lovely people who attended. I was honored to have been there.

For future circus events, the bar has been set. It’s been set really, really high.

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flax-golden tales: possibly imaginary (but still perilous) sea journey

possibly imaginary sea journeypossibly imaginary (but still perilous) sea journey

We found a round old-fashioned map on a ball so we decided to take a sea journey because most of the map ball is oceans.

Parts of it are worn off and it has lot of lines and dots and numbers, with distances in “nautical miles” which we decide are what kilometers turn into when you are in a boat.

We toss our guide ball in the air so it can have a better view of where we’re going but it always says things are in the same place when it comes back down, it is very sure of itself.

We hit rough seas and almost lose our guide which would have been tragic but tragedy was averted because we held onto it tightly enough. We make a life vest for it out of a scarf and some string and we make it wear the vest and tie it down whenever the boat starts to sway too much.

There are sharks but they don’t bother us because we are polite and also because they just had their lunch which we suspect was fish but they don’t say, they only smile.

We travel along the blue dotted line from Yokohama to Honolulu because we like the sounds of the names but we get bored halfway there and drift in lazy circles instead.

We wonder if we are allowed to visit New Ireland before we visit Old Ireland, which we cannot find on the ball and assume it must be on one of the worn-off spots but we don’t know which one and we think guessing might prove dangerous.

A mermaid gives us a little flag with a clock on it when we pass the International Date Line and we let it flutter in the wind as we sail into the future or possibly the past.

(We are not quite certain which side is which.)

 

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

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upcoming kentucky extravaganza

Tomorrow I am heading to Kentucky for a number of events as part of One Book, One Bluegrass. They chose The Night Circus for their 2013 community read.

I am keeping events to an absolute minimum this year because of that book I need to be writing, but this proposal sounded too fun to decline. There’s a gala! How could I refuse a gala?

So, my schedule is as follows:

Friday April 19th at 6:30pm – reading/babbling/signing/etc at the Paul Sawyier Public Library 319 Wapping Street, Frankfort, KY.

Saturday April 20th 7pm-11pm – The Night Circus Gala at The Red Mile-Round Barn 1200 Red Mile Rd, Lexington, KY. There will be magicians and dancers and fire and a whip guy and tarot readers and costume contests and all sorts of circusy wonderments. (And bourbon, I was told there would be bourbon.) Also I will be signing books and possibly wearing a corset.

Sunday April 21st 2pm – reading/babbling/signing/etc at the Lexington Public Library 140 East Main Street, Lexington, KY.

It should be great fun and these will be the last proper events I do for quite awhile, so I will try to babble as much as possible before I come home to NYC to shut up and write another book.

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boston

Last year I took this photo:

marathon flags

Marathon Monday is one of my favorite days. I love watching people do extraordinary things.

I’d spent that morning last year watching the marathon coverage on tv and then wandered out into the unseasonably hot afternoon to watch runners cross the finish line and take pictures.

Yesterday when pictures of the explosions started showing up on Twitter everything looked surreally familiar.

I spent much of yesterday afternoon worried, particularly about my parents because my sister and I couldn’t get in touch with them. They were in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel across the street, and they’re both fine.

I don’t have words, not good proper ones to express the heavy-heart feeling. It’s strange for me to be in New York right now when I’ve spent most of my life in or near Boston. It’ll always be my city, wherever I end up in the world.

Yesterday I watched people do extraordinary things. They were more extraordinary than I had anticipated. The thing I will never forget about watching that footage on my computer was seeing how many people ran forward to help.

I love you, Boston. Stay strong. Stay extraordinary.

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flax-golden tales: lion with a rabbit heart

lion with a rabbit heart

lion with a rabbit heart

Quiet was safer.

My roars would roll out choked with fear

Dissolving into coughs

Until I discovered

It is possible to be both

A lion and a rabbit at the same time.

Soft and hard

Afraid yet still strong

Staring down the future with trembling heart and twitching ears

Ready to pounce.

 

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

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on writing and publishing and paths

I would hope it’s not necessary but I would like to say that all statements herein are one writer’s opinion/journey/thoughts/observations (that is, mine) and I think publishing is far too vast and complicated, especially lately, to say that a single author experience speaks for an industry or a movement or anything but its own self. One thing I’ve realized from meeting lots of writers in the past few years is that every single person’s journey is different and personal. It’s not a particularly straightforward job trajectory, after all.

So the wise and lovely Chuck Wendig has been posting a lot of wise things about self-publishing lately and I’ve been following along and having Thoughts from my admittedly unusual perspective on such things and the Thought that I’d most like to get out there in response is this:

Had I self-published The Night Circus it would have been a lousy book with no plot and likely would have disappeared into the ether. I will stand by that statement, though in all honesty I probably wouldn’t have self-pubbed it and instead let it languish on my harddrive while I wrote another book.

The entire saga of manuscript-to-agented is detailed back here but the short version is I got my manuscript to the point where I didn’t know what else it needed and it seemed like the right point to start sending it out. I did. It got requests because I had a query letter that made it sound like it had a plot when it really didn’t. It also got a lot of rejections.

And then my messy, plotless manuscript reached people who politely informed me that it was messy and plotless and needed a lot of work. But they also said they would be interested if I worked on it more and basically completely rewrote it.

I could have decided they were wrong and not listened and turned around and self-published the manuscript I had because at that point I was in a bit of denial about the whole messy plotless thing.

I’m really, really glad I listened.

(I will fully admit I dragged my feet. I did two rounds of revising and the first was a “stick bells and whistles and glitter on it” attempt to not actually re-work the entire damn thing and the second was a proper re-working of the entire damn thing.)

To be clear: no one ever told me what to write. Ever. All choices were made by me, all words were written by me, all fiction-fueling tea & chocolate was consumed by me personally. But agents and later editor and my very dear critique partner all gave me lots of feedback about what wasn’t working, what was working, and what I could do better along the way. No one ever tried to alter my artistic vision, they just helped me make it clearer.

An example: The initial draft that I queried with has no competition. One suggestion was to make the circus more of a background setting and that combined with the already black and white color scheme and the fact that I didn’t want it to be just setting led to thinking of it as a chessboard, and that’s when I started playing with the competition angle.

(Then I realized I had characters that would never consent to being truly antagonistic because they’d have too much respect for each other’s work and that’s when the Romeo & Juliet flavor came in.)

Publishing professionals who get too often grr-ed at and called gatekeepers wanted to help me tell the best story I could, because all of those people at the gate and behind the gate are people who love books, people who love stories. I’ve yet to meet a person in the publishing industry who doesn’t love books. They are booklovers. Most of them are booksluts. I mean that as a compliment of the highest order.

It’s a hard thing to write a story, because you can’t read it. I can never have the experience of reading The Night Circus because I wrote it, I know all the surprises and the motivations and the backstories and I can’t watch it unfold properly. But I had to figure out how to fold it up so it could be unfolded by a reader in a coherent, entertaining, satisfying way.

I, me, myself, personally, could not have gotten this particular story to that point by taking a drastically different path to publication.

The tricksy thing about a path is that you can’t untake it, so I can only speak for my own path, my own footsteps, my own book. That’s all anyone can speak for, and one path’s success does not negate another. I can point at my path and say “this path was successful!” and so can a lot of other people who took wildly different routes. There’s an enlightenment analogy here, or possibly a Wizard of Oz reference. Something about shoes, maybe.

Different paths work. Old ones, new ones, combinations of the two. Tunnels probably work, too. I don’t think there’s a best way or a better way, I think it’s about each individual writer finding the right path for them to get the best stories possible into the hands and heads of their readers.

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flax-golden tales: finish one thing

finish one thingfinish one thing

It’s only one thing.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to finish.

It wasn’t difficult to begin

It happens all the time. A thing creeps into my mind unbidden. Appears out of nowhere or crawls out from the dark spaces between a lot of little ideas strung together.

And it sits there, glowing and existing and refusing to be ignored.

That one thing takes over my brain and I can’t focus on anything else.

So then the thought of being finished with that one thing, of letting it go, feels scary because my mind would be so empty without it.

Until the next thing comes along.

 

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

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cocktails

I’ve been a little bit obsessed with cocktails lately. I’d always been more of a red wine person with the occasional gin & tonic and I knew I preferred Manhattans to Martinis but I hadn’t ventured very far into the often intimidating world of the cocktail.

I’ve been venturing for over a year now and I’m still pretty sure I haven’t gotten that far, but it’s been very fun and educational. I’ve found gorgeous speakeasy-esque bars and developed a thing for coupe glasses (if anyone knows where to find good ones let me know, I have a few I got from Pottery Barn that I love but they no longer have them, hrmph.) My favorite cocktail that I can actually manage at home with some decent flair is a Bee’s Knees, a prohibition era concoction of gin, lemon & honey. (I have made something of a sub-hobby out of trying them with different gins and different honeys.)

(It is worth noting that in a strange sort of way this is all book research. If the circus with all its chocolate mice and Midnight Dinners was a food book, the new one is most definitely a cocktail book.)

(This post has too many parentheticals already.)

This is the first of what will likely be a series of cocktail-related posts as I continue to research and explore. I may include favorite recipes as we go on, but I have something fun for today.

A few weeks ago I discovered (via Twitter, of course) Julibox, which is something like a cocktail of the month club where you get ingredients and instructions for different cocktails sent to your door in a box full of boozy wonderment.

So of course I pondered for all of a few hours before I signed up. I got my first box (collection #7) in mid March.

Everything arrived gorgeously wrapped in pretty paper with matching stickers and I am such a sucker for an aesthetically pleasingly wrapped package that I almost didn’t want to unwrap anything.
julibox wrappedBut I did, because cocktails.

julibox unwrapped

This month’s collection was elderflower liqueur themed which meant lots of St Germain which was happy making because I love St Germain. I suspect I love it even more because it comes in the most beautiful bottles.

There are fancy, incredibly easy to follow recipe cards:

julibox cardsIt includes 2 different cocktails and there’s enough to make 2 of each. (4 drinks total.) They email you beforehand to let you know what you’ll need that’s not in the box, which was lime, lemon & grapefruit for this box. (I always have limes & lemons on hand but I did have to go out and get the grapefruit.)

Both of the cocktails in this box were lovely, one was a spin on a Hemingway daiquiri and the other was a lovely fizzy pear vodka concoction, and of course both had St Germain. I’d give the very slight edge to the fizzy pear one just because it was more in line with my tastes but it was wonderful to try something with light rum that was different than the rum drinks I’ve had in the past. (I tend to be a gin girl, I’m thinking this will be a good exercise in trying things I might not order off cocktail menus or create from my own bar.)

julibox pear flower

I’m already looking forward to next month and I can’t wait to see what cocktail surprises are in store.

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