I don’t know if it’s because I just needed a bit more of a challenge, but somewhere down the line, I started writing fortune cookies into my books. First of all, let me tell you, I LOVE fortune cookies. They taste yummy (when they’re fresh) and like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get until you open it up. Sometimes it’s a gem, sometimes it’s a clunker.
Anyway, a couple of years ago, I found a good one and slipped it in my wallet. Then I got another one and added it to the pile. Now I have a big jar full of them. That’s where I keep the rest of them, but I also have a little jar where I keep the good ones. The good ones are ones that I can possibly write into my books.
I think I started when I was trying to find ways to describe one of my characters in book three, Roger. As I do with many of my characters, I like to use their intimate surroundings (his study in this case) to subtly describe them. It was that week that I got a fortune that said “No man is free who is not master of himself.” Talk about a good one! This was good for Roger for many reasons. First of all, Roger is obsessed with maritime history. The “Master” in this cookie, could be subtle as a reference not only to Roger himself, but also as in the Master of a vessel. But it also described Roger’s independent spirit.
So how do you work this cookie, seamlessly into a novel?? Good question. Here’s how you to it:
The Blood that Binds, by Jennifer Geoghan: “A minute later I found Roger in his study, sitting at his desk with a book in his lap he’d obviously not been reading. I walked over to the far side of the small room and leaned against the wall of wooden bookshelves. I hadn’t noticed it before, but the room looked exactly like a ship captain’s quarters on an old sailing ship. It seemed very appropriate for Roger. On the wall above his desk hung a needlepoint sampler with No Man is Free Who is Not Master of Himself embroidered on it. Again, somehow it seemed appropriate. Putting the book down on his desk, he swiveled in his chair to face me.”
Now it’s sort of a game with my fans. After I publish a book, I’ll have them guess where the fortunes are. Here’s some of the other ones I’ve used in my last three books.