Monday, January 19, 2009

Make Your Fiction Meaningful and Chocolate Ritzy Butter Patties

Where Are You Going With Your Writing?

In the past, I may have been reading too much "women's lit-rah-tyer" and "oh god, wasn't it awful"memoirs; but when I recently read two best-selling novels, I was surprised at the subject matter. Current events. World events. Political events. Financial events.

Though the topics were spun in the sugar of sex and violence, I have a feeling the authors were serious about their subjects and were giving them a palatable coating to entice some of us mental lightweights to read the books and maybe begin thinking about and understanding some unpleasant realities. (Note: Now that I have finished the second book, I'm not so sure about my above statement.)

James Patterson, know for his Alex Cross detective series character, as well as his Women's Murder Club series, in his recent book, Cross Country, takes us with Alex Cross on a murderer's trail that leads from Washington, DC to Nigeria where, through the eyes of this character we know and trust, we see the horror of corruption, refugee camps, and young boys trained into killers . It's a novel, right? Exaggerated for effect, right? Yet, maybe not so far off from what is really happening there, seemingly overlooked by the United States and other countries.
Now I am reading One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell. When my library request for it was filled, I looked at the cover and wondered why on earth I had requested this book. When I read the dust cover author bio I was even more puzzled. Candace Bushnell is the author of Sex and the City. I have neither read the book, seen the TV show or the movie. Likewise for her book and TV series, Lipstick Jungle. Nevertheless, I began reading. Ah, now we are in the world of wealthy New York co-op owners, Hamptons weekenders, shoes-collecting-entitlement-demanding-plastic-surgery-perfected-twenty-somethings, and -- best of all (she said sarcastically) -- a genius mathematician hedge fund manager who purchases part of the stock exchange in China. Having finished the book yesterday, I can say I think I have never read a book with such a cast of unlikeable characters. I'm wondering how I am going to make what I thought was my point about writers shining a light on the ills of the world. If there is anyone who is not already fed up with the super rich and super sexed and super excessive, reading this book should take care of that. And that, I guess, was my point. The author has so clearly drawn, and exaggerated, the acquisitive nature of our recent past, that any wannabes surely must see how shallow and morally corrupt that way of life is, instead of wanting to emulate it. Or -- maybe not. The reviews of this book mentioned only that it was "entertaining."

Here's the point: you, like these two authors, can add an extra dimension to your novel by bringing in a social aspect. Create a compelling story and interesting characters propelled by social or world events and you have a potential best seller. It doesn't have to be brutality and sex. Think Grapes of Wrath or To Kill a Mockingbird. Ask yourself, what it is you care about, what riles your righteous indignation? Include that in your writing and readers will be unable to put down a book you have written.

And -- if you create the following recipe, you won't be able to put these yummy little morsels down either -- Chocolate Ritzy Butter Patties.

This recipe comes from Terri Lynn, an excellent cook. However, these little gems were given to Terry Lynn during the holidays. She plans to include them in the gift bag of goodies she gives next year. (Thank goodness I'm on Terry Lynn's gift list.) She didn't know what they are called so let's just name them Chocolate Ritzy Butter Patties.

Chocolate Ritzy Butter Patties

Spread a generous amount of peanut butter between two Ritz crackers. Dip into melted almond bark chocolate (not the white kind). Place on wire racks or waxed paper to harden. Repeat for as many Ritzy Patties as you need/want. Store in airtight container. Will keep for three weeks (unless, of course, you eat them before then).

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