Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Cryptic Cookie: Warm Christmas Wishes Edition!

And now dear friends, let us embark on another adventure with the cryptic cookie.  A cyber-romp into speculation and absurdity, where you unlock your creativity as a writer based upon the message I pry from the jaws of a fortune cookie.

This week's message is courtesy of Bob, the amazing sushi Itamae at Rice, the fabulous restaurant in Cumming, Georgia.

I gave Bob my card after we had a fun discussion about writing, and he asked if I would use his fortune cookie in my next cryptic cookie post.

 Drum roll please?  In my hand, I hold a fortune cookie.

Now I will make a small tear at the corner of the plastic packaging, and  remove the cookie, to reveal it naked in its' golden glory for all the world to see (I bet this is how Hugh Hefner opens a fortune cookie).

And the message reads..

Awesome!  "A vacation to sunny shores is soon in store for you."  Thanks Bob for giving me a cookie with a message I truly adore.

For those of you who know me best, I like to go snow skiing, but can only tolerate it for a day or two, then I want to head for warmer climates.  Like Miami or further south.  I'm an island girl, at heart.  Maybe it's because I was born in Puerto Rico, but don't let my blonde hair fool you, I wanna go where it's warm!

Enough of that, let's do some analysis of my cookie message and how it could relate to my manuscript and the characters.  But before we delve further into the message, we're going to take a short break so I can go pour myself the first cup of coffee for the day.

Enjoy Elton John's "Island Girl" while I go make my steamy cup and ponder this message for a while.  I think his fedora is fabulous.  One of the best concerts I've ever attended, incidentally.  Now these are lyrics, and they are beyond sultry and sexy.  Enjoy this amazing entertainer, and part-time Atlanta resident, as he gets fierce on the keyboard.  I just love him!  Let the lyrics get you ready to write your response to this cookie message and jolt yourself from the misery of writing malaise.

Are we ready now and in the mood to discuss the cookie message?  Are you feeling the warm breeze?  Can you smell the salty air?  Are you wishing as I am, that you could trade in your North Face jacket for a bikini?  If so, then join me in a little smidgen of fantastical fiction.

So "a vacation to sunny shores is soon in store for you" is the cookie message.  Immediately, the character of Lee Stanton comes to mind immediately because she's in for not one, but two trips to distinctly different yet equally sunny shores.  My main character, a divorcee, mom, and nuclear medicine technologist, will find herself suddenly at a medical convention on two small islands next to each other, off the coast of Georgia.  The two islands I'm talking about are St. Simon's Island and Jekyll Island.

These two little gems are off the coast, less than 90 minutes from Savannah, in what we call the Golden Isles.  The Golden Isles are magical, and are places rich in both history and romance.  Many industrial and political magnates of the early twentieth century called this area home (can we say Rockefeller?), and escaped harsh, Yankee winters.  Let me give you a taste of the Georgia's Golden Isles right now:

^St. Simon's Island with it's luxurious homes.

^St. Simon's Island lighthouse.  I took a haunted history tour of the island and let me tell you, this place
has it's own story to tell.  Somewhere on an ancient SanDisk card of mine, there's a photo that defies scientific explanation made of the lighthouse and keeper's home.  "Ghost Adventures" would kill for it.

^The King and Prince Hotel, St. Simon's Island.  Stayed here many times.  Fell in love here too.
Same guy.  He's in the other room, and I still feel as much passion for him now as I did the day during our stay in the historical wing here.  

^the natural beauty of Jekyll Island.  Yep, I did this also
when I fell in love on one faithful four day trip.

^Jekyll Island Hotel, magical place.  I have walked barefoot in front of this hotel on the 
lush, soft, green grass.  Again, part of the whole falling in love thing.  We walked around the corner, by the river, near the Crane cottage, and held hands.  

So there you have it, mental imagery and brief descriptions of the two of the more famous Golden Isles, which  are like a classic pearl necklace adorning the neck of the beautiful state of Georgia.  It's still somewhat of a secret destination, with Savannah hogging all of the attention courtesy of John Berendt, so remember to keep it just between us.
My cryptic cookie translation:

In my novel, Lee Stanton has had to go back to work, for financial reasons, and is sent to her state medical convention to catch up on some well-needed c.e.u.'s (continuing educational units), in order to remain in good standing for her medical license.  

Money is tight, and at this point in her life, she hasn't had a vacation in years, so she is thrilled to go visit a place she's never been to before.  

New to the state of Georgia, she enlists the help of her best friend, Tracy, to be her map-reader as they begin the long drive from Forsyth county (a little north of Atlanta) down to the golden sands.  Lee is also emotionally spent, having recently finalized her divorce from Mark, her cheating ex, and is so numb after all the heartbreak, she is convinced love will never find her again, and that she should simply get used to this new life as a single mother.

Her sister, Riley, offers to take her son for a week, as a favor to let her attend to the convention and be able to attend the classes without any disruption.  Riley will take Lee's three year old son,  Mason, to Rosemary Beach, on the Florida panhandle, on their family spring break vacation, so he can have loads of fun playing with his nephew (Riley's son), Sam.  

I would imagine Lee to be thrilled at the chance to even have a little getaway, and that, after getting the news from her boss at work, drive home and begin tossing about clothes left and right in her closet, looking for the perfect skirts, heels and swimsuit for the convention.  She daydreams about palm trees, shrimp and grits, and moonlight shining through trees, dripping with Spanish moss.

She hasn't had a girl's vacation, since spring break in college back in 1992, so she's excited. 

But this isn't the only trip to sunny shores Lee will take.  Oh no, she will be off to more exotic sands very soon, but this time, it won't be for fun or education.

I think the little cookie did its' job today.  It got me excited thinking again about my characters, their adventures, and what lies in store for them in the pages ahead.  That's the point of this exercise, to unlock the creativity, and make you end a writing stalemate.  Suddenly my characters have become more real, it's almost as if they are alive once more, and the drive to write the story is burning within.

With your work-in-progress, are there any characters you are writing about who might be the recipients of a vacation to a sunny shore?  A vacation perhaps?  Maybe they aren't going to venture to a sunny shore, maybe it's to a secluded mountain chalet or to an ultra-modern city like Berlin, or maybe to a centuries-old city in South America?  

Dabble here, write here, and let the creativity flow.

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