flax-golden tales: steps


Step 1 is not the hardest, though it has a reputation for being such.

(It has been worn more than all the others, by countless feet that have passed before you so it is softer and lower and easier to climb.)

Step 2 and Step 63 are the most difficult, for very different reasons.

There is no step 72, for superstitious reasons.

There are 59 different steps filled with doubt.

Step 99 will boost confidence, but only if stepped on with both feet.

On step 147 you will realize whether you should be going up or down.

(It will likely be opposite of the direction you had been traveling, but you will find new steps on the reverse trip.)

You may stop and rest whenever you need, revisit past steps or never look back.

The steps are what they are, for you to use as you decide.


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

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happy giving of thanks

thanksgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Hanukkah!

Holiday greetings from warm climes with cold wine and no turkey! Cornish game hens with lemon and rosemary and white wine and garlic instead. They were an experiment but came out surprisingly well.

I am Thankful for so many things this year. Too many to list. For those lovely souls who listened to me cry and held my hands and gave me moonshine, they know who they are. For old friends and new friends. For my family up in Massachusetts who are likely colder than me at the moment but I know they have plenty of cookies. For people who read books and write books and sell books and blog books and whatever the proper verb is for librarians and books. (“Lend” does not seem to cover the full scope of librarian ability.)

This has been a strange year. I think I am ready to wrap myself in the holiday season like a cinnamon-scented blanket and bid 2013 a slow farewell. If today was any indication, I am off to a delicious, cozy start with that.

(Though I was mildly disappointed that the Pekingese didn’t win Best in Show at the National Dog Show. It looked marvelously like something out of a Studio Ghibli film.)

For now I am going to pour espresso over toasted almond gelato and be filled with the sort of thanks that is difficult to put into words.

Wishing you all warm delicious cozy things.

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flax-golden tales: the gulls who guard the lake

the gulls who guard the lakethe gulls who guard the lake

they call them seagulls because lakegulls is not a word

but they are gulls of the lake and it is the lake that they guard

they cry alerts that are too often misunderstood

interpreted as demands for scraps of bread

guardian gulls are not beggars

their reputations are tarnished by ill-mannered gulls who call less treacherous waters home

no one thanks these gulls for their service

but they keep their watch, never sleeping

they know what lurks beneath the waters

they fret, concerned that when the time comes, their warnings may not be heeded.


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

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So last night we stopped at FAO Schwarz after dinner and in the Central Park Zoo section there was a plushy fennec fox and we had to take him home. I mean, how could we not?

fennec fox

I carried him home sticking out of my purse like a small dog and as far as I could tell no one even noticed. I kind of love New York for that. (I have, for the record, only asked the fox what he says about a hundred times.)

Also in adventures from last night: I very much enjoyed David Blaine’s Real or Magic, I am fond of his style anyway and Ricky Gervais’s lovely rambling reaction at the end about real things disguised as illusion reminded me of the circus.

In other news, off to warmer climes for extended holiday season stuff soon, though I can hardly believe it is so late in the year already. This year flew, like a little fast thing with wings.  I will likely be even more MIA from the internet than I have been already due to the wonderment that is NaNoWriMo. (Current word count: 38,415.) I will probably Instagram Thanksgiving cooking adventures. Also I have downloaded Welcome to Night Vale to listen to on the road trip because I have heard endlessly good things about it.

There are lots of random things to post about and hopefully I’ll find more time to post about them in December, and I’m keeping all my crossables crossed that 2014 ends up being a bit calmer than 2013 on several levels. I hope you are all well & wonderful.

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flax-golden tales: bargain-priced wisdom

bargain-priced wisdombargain-priced wisdom

I can feel them sneaking glances at me from across the room but they don’t swivel their heads and fix their giant owl eyes on me until I get closer.

“We will share with you the Wisdom of the Ages!” one of them chirps.

“For less than 30 Euros!” the other adds.

“How much less?” I ask, even though I can read their price tag.

“One cent!” they chirp in unison before bursting into hooting laughter.

The shopkeeper thanks me when I buy them and appears to enjoy muffling their exuberant cries about going on “a box-journey” with tissue paper as she packs them up for me.

I put them on the mantelpiece when I get them home. They criticize my taste in furniture and complain that the fireplace makes their feet too warm.

I contemplate returning them and then they start doling out the Wisdom.

They punctuate each mind-expanding revelation with hoots and bad jokes but I’m too busy looking for a pen to care.


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

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magic & dreams & art, brought to you by twitter & tea & kickstarter

I have talked about the magic of Twitter here, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned the time a burlesque dancer I’d never met before asked me to tea.

I am shy. (She ended up having to ask twice if I recall correctly.) But I am slowly teaching myself to be more adventurous and after the initial introvert hesitation I agreed.

That’s how I found myself drinking tea in a 1920’s train car that I didn’t even know was in the middle of midtown Manhattan, having one of the most delightful afternoons I’d had in a very long time.


I am so very glad, because Veronica Varlow is one of the loveliest souls I have ever had the pleasure to meet & I have a feeling she will be my friend for a very long time.

So I’d like to try to send some magic back to her, if I can.

Veronica and her husband Burke (and their chihuahua Niney) are kickstarting the feature film they have been planning and preparing and pouring their dreams into for years, Revolver.

You can go to their kickstarter page to read and see lots more about the film (including their award-winning trailer) and follow their updates to see photos and videos from the road trip that they’ve been on for the past month while they’ve been fundraising.

But I want to put this video here, so you can see Veronica talk about why they’re doing this herself.

There are only a few days left, they need to reach their goal by or before this Friday November 15th, and they’re getting closer and closer, but they’re not there yet. The wonderful thing about crowdfunding is that little bits add up, so even a $2 donation can make a difference if enough people pledge.

(Also, they have some fabulous backer rewards. I’m getting a tarot reading with Veronica that I’m very much looking forward to.)

So, maybe we can spread some magic and make some dreams come true and on top of that, we’ll get to have more wonderful art in the world.

I think that would be lovely.


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flax-golden tales: secrets in the sea

secrets in the seasecrets in the sea

You may whisper your secrets to the sea

And the sea will keep them for you

Cover them with crashing waves

Carry them out on retreating tides

Pull them under

Tuck them into coral-adorned recesses and between the curves of seashells.

The sea will hold your secrets in its depths

And if you need them back, you need only ask

They will be returned to you

Damp and salt-kissed and safe.


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

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november is national novel writing month

I probably don’t have to tell you all that November is National Novel Writing Month.

And you probably already know that The Night Circus started life as a tangent in a NaNoWriMo novel and was then further developed through subsequent NaNo-ing. (It very likely played a part in the circus itself being autumnal, since I was always writing in November. Also, autumn is my favorite.)

But unless you follow me on Twitter you may not know that this year I’m participating again, for the first time since 2009.


I am cheating. Oh wait, no, I am a “NaNo Rebel” which is a nicer word for cheater. One is supposed to start fresh and write a new novel and I’m not doing that. I’m working on not one but two projects, my already started novel-in-progress and a secret new something. My goal is to get 50k of shiny new words written between the two of them before the end of the month.

This is the most I’ve been writing in bulk in awhile, for a number of reasons, and it’s weird to get back into it. I am already failing at one of my old standard NaNo practices of getting a head start. I would always try to bulk up my word count on day one or two so I’d have that extra buffer of comfy words but I’ve been staying more or less right on pace through this first week, I only managed to pull a teeny bit ahead of daily average today.

I’m mostly working on the new thing, to get my brain into non-editor, no self-criticizing, just-keep-writing NaNo mode and so far it seems to be working. I’ve come up with several bits that are not completely terrible in amongst the stuff that is completely terrible but led to the not so bad stuff. (And one particular thing which is so delightful that I am far too pleased with myself and pretty much assures that I will try to turn this into something salvageable someday if only for that one fantastic thing that should really live out in the world and not just in the demented part of my brain that it sprang from.)

Here’s the part of the post where I show off my little wordcount widget:

And here is where I link to NaNo-related things.

This is the official NaNoWriMo site.

This is my official NaNoWriMo Pep Talk. It includes my best advice and tips and a tangent about a taxidermied marmot.

This is a post I did with other links and informative NaNo-related things last year.

This is a quote from that post, regarding people inevitably saying and posting disparaging things about NaNoWriMo that I think deserves to be restated:

I cannot fathom disparaging anything that encourages storytelling.

Get into the nuances of the issues or problems with it all you want, and I will be first to say don’t dare start contacting literary agents on December 1st, but disparaging the entire endeavor makes me growly. Grr.

And this is an Instagram photo of me and NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty.


flax-golden tales have been pre-written and prescheduled for the month (the one from the first of the month is, of course, for all the NaNo-ers), in-between blog posts will likely be photo heavy or NaNo progress updates.

This is, by the way, the tenth anniversary of my very first NaNoWriMo. I failed that year. Didn’t fail the next year. I feel pretty good about this one so far, but it’s only the 7th. We shall see.

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flax-golden tales: the story trees

story treesthe story trees

They string histories and myths and fancies and fables together and hang them in the branches of the story trees.

The garlands of tales catch the light and shimmer in the branches, half-hidden in the leaves.

If you listen closely, you can hear fragments and quotations repeated by the wind.

They add new stories and old stories and retellings often.

Daydreams and nightdreams and wishes and lies.

Fairies rub story-shoulders with murderers and innocents and lawyers.

Happy endings lead to new adventures and lost loves and never-there loves and new loves and back again.

There are always more stories to add.

But the branches are strong.

There is room for them all.


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

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