Friday, May 25, 2012

Believing in good fortunes...

HALLIE EPHRON: I have a confession: I read my horoscope every single day and I save fortunes from  fortune cookies. I'm an opportunistic believer in their predictions -- I listen when they say what I want to hear.

Sometimes the advice is completely useless, as with this recent warning in my horoscope:
* Avoid snap judgments.
Yuh, right. As if I could.

But more often than not, there's something I need to hear, once I've twisted it around so it's meaningful for my writing life. Like the fortune I got when I was waiting to hear back from my agent on whether a publisher wanted my first standalone novel NEVER TELL A LIE: "If your cookie is in 2 pieces the answer is yes."

It was! A few days later I had an offer. The little slip with that fortune is scotch-taped to my printer.

Here's what my horoscope said one day when I was stuck in the mushy middle of my work in progress:
* Just keep in mind that your current growth phase isn't finished; you simply have a chance now to move a project along at your own speed by taking a good idea and developing it further.

When I lost the Mary Higgins Clark Award:
* Working with amazing people doesn't have to rob you of your self-esteem.

When I was thinking about exhuming a character I'd excised from an earlier novel and inserting it into my work in progress:
Reconnecting with someone from your past is possible as amorous Venus turns retrograde this week. Yet it's best not to expect that history will simply repeat itself.

A day when I was planning to outline a new book:
* Don't be cocky and think that everything you imagine will unfold according to your plans. Just allow your daydreams to flow without analysis; you will have plenty of time to make sense of it all later on.

The day I finally get a decent Kirkus review:
* Just don't let your confidence grow into arrogance because you're still likely to encounter a little turbulence along the way.

And the best writing advice I ever got came from a horoscope:
* Go ahead and set your sights on a far-off galaxy, strap on your seat belt and prepare for blast-off. if you experience self-doubt, remember that he who hesitates is lost. Ultimately, you can figure out a way to make it all work.

Here's the fortune I got when I was down in the dumps and considering giving up writing:
* You will succeed in a far out profession
(I saved that one, too.)

So, Readers and Reds, your assignment for today: Go find your horoscope or crack open a fortune cookie and let us know what useful bit of advice it has for you, or maybe it just gives you a good laugh.

If you haven't got one handy, here's the horoscope page in the LA Times. (Mine begins: Nurturing others comes naturally to you, especially today...)


  1. My favorite fortune is still "You will meet the man of your dreams." I wasn't out to my dinner companions, so it made a bit of an awkward scene, but it was dead one -- and 10 years later, the little cookie is still true.

  2. OMG! I should have read yesterday's horoscope before I eloped. "Mental clarity, discrimination, and your ability to separate fact from fiction is diminished now. Miscommunications and an inability to formulate your ideas coherently are likely. Avoid making binding contracts at this time."

  3. such a great post Hallie--you don't need friends with fortunes like those!

    Lucy's horoscope for today: Your more intense, deeper emotions are aroused today, dear Capricorn, and you tend to be quite hungry for the emotional excitement that comes from a feeling of connectedness with others and with your own more private self. This hunger, if unfulfilled, can lead you to create some kind of emotional drama if you're not careful, perhaps by imagining slights or remembering previous hurts. Otherwise, it can help you to seek out new meanings to the world around you, and help you to understand it better.

  4. Jeffrey - That's so sweet! Though I laughed so hard I spilled my coffee on the typo. And I know you don't write murder mysteries...

  5. Lucy, that horoscope definitely has you pegged. Hilarious!

  6. Love this post, Hallie. I've saved a few fortunes myself. One said "You will live a long life" and that two days before scary surgery. Another said I'd be famous someday. I can only hope it's for my writing.

  7. Ruth, I saved the one that said "You will soon have an addition to your family." At the time I was pregnant but I didn't know it. Pasted that one in daughter #1's baby book.

  8. OH, I just ran to the refrigerator, repository of all fortunes. The two that I've saved recently are:

    "Luck happens when hard work meets opportunity."


    "Endurance and persistence will be rewarded."

    I was so thrilled to get those!

  9. "If you’re dreading it, that just means it’s long past time for it to get done!"

    In other words, time to start working seriously on that plot hole problem I could drive Pit Bull's tour bus through. Thanks, Hallie, I think.

  10. Now I'm hungry for chow mein and fortune cookies. I just "Googled" fortune cookies and found this:

  11. Forgot to say, this is my online fortune:
    You have a deep appreciation
    of the arts and music.
    Yes, I do!

  12. Darlene -- love that image, a Pit Bull's tour bus...

  13. You're welcome, Darlene. Most definitely.

  14. I just went to the random fortune website. I'm not going to tell you what I got until I see what happens as the day progresses..

    Darlene, you and I are in the same situation, it sounds like. I am worrying worrying worrying--but I keep thinking--I have to do it. And it will work. So I'll just imagine it working, as it always, crossing fingers, does in the end.

    And now I'll look up some more fortunes.

  15. Thanks, Hank, I'm glad it's not just me.

  16. Hallie, you stole my post!!! I'd been meaning to write about fortune cookies for ages. Our weekly ritual is that we get take out from Pei Wei on Friday night (only night I don't have to cook) and watch a movie. So I always read my fortune, and I save the ones I like. I even have some taped in my journal. (Why would you save the ones that predict a disaster will befall you?) From last Friday: "There will be many surprises. Unexpected gains are likely." I liked that one a lot.

    My Gemini horoscope for today: "Don't be surprised if you feel cloudy and emotional today. You might wake up, groan, and pull the covers back over your head! The idea of sleeping in probably appeals, even to someone as active as you. Some days are just like that. Take it as easy as you can. Most of all, be honest about your feelings, at least with yourself. Talking them over with someone can help you make sense of them."

    I'm going to take a nap now.

  17. Well Hallie,
    I never check my horoscope. But went to the Huffington Post and got the below. Except for the fact that I am often blindly unrealistic about my abilities, not to mention the amount of time even the most able person can accomplish something, I couldn't figure out the below:

    Sometimes you're so confident that you have absolute faith in a wildly unrealistic idea. Ironically, reality seems to encourage you to turn up your volume even higher now. Be careful; if you're in need of a reality check, someone may come along and pull the plug to teach you a lesson. Instead of responding defensively today, be quiet and pay attention to your own feelings. Rushing off to start another project will only distract you from what you need to learn in the present moment.

    AND THEN I EMAILED you about the PW self-pub thing and it all became CRYSTAL CLEAR.

    Do not start a new project that requires marketing when YOU (meaning me) really hate marketing.

    GREAT post BTW.

  18. Fun post, Hallie! I enjoy a good horoscope, fortune cookie fortune. I'm with Hank; I checked the random fortune site but am waiting to see.

    The horoscope says "You're in a highly objective state of mind today. Strong feelings guide every choice you make and action you take." Um, yes!

  19. Debs, you're like me--you can't take a nap--have to finish the darn book!

    I know I've saved fortunes but I can't find them...can't stop to look and straighten up my mess until I finish my 1000 words for the day!

  20. Have you ever found a fortune cookie with a bad message?
    I confess to believing just a little when the message is apt. The strangest fortune came recently from my granddaughter's folding fortune teller. It said "You will write a book that sells a million copies." And it wasn't anything she put together. it was a commercially made toy.
    So yes. I believe that one.

  21. Oooh, I love (and yes, save) horoscopes. After moving back to Boston and finally settling in our new home last year, my husband, daughter and I ordered chinese food. Naturally, we received 3 fortune cookies. After dinner, we opened them at the same time and to our surprise received the EXACT same fortunes. What a letdown. Lol!

  22. According to my LA Times' horoscope, I will have a bad day and be in a bleak mood. I wasn't, until I read the horoscope.

    Best fortune that lives on my fridge: "You love Chinese food."

  23. My LA TIMES fortune today: Remember, there's no shame in slowing down every now and again to recharge your internal batteries.This also applies to thinking of the past instead of being future-oriented, as you usually are.

    Oh, and my mood is "tricky."

    Yuck. But yeah, I feel like I'm dragging around a carcass.

    The fortune I like, but didn't understand.
    "Playing with fire is only playing."
    Does that mean I should really play with fire and get burned? Can't figure it out.

  24. JR Reardon: This reminds me of a stunt James Randi, the great debunker, did. He'd find out people's astrological signs, dates of birth, and then hand out horoscopes. He'd ask how many people thought there's was insightful. About 3/4 raised their hands. Then he asked them to pass their horoscope to the persom next to them. EVEYRONE HAD THE SAME HOROSCOPE.

    We sees what we wants to see - but I don't like nasty horoscopes. Or pointless cookie fortunes.

  25. What a fun post, Hallie! I'm a sucker for fortune cookies and horoscopes, but like you, I pick and choose. And Rhys, I want that cookie!

    My Scorpio horoscope today reads in part: "You may need to let go of something that’s been holding you back from expressing your creativity. Be open to and curious about new ways of perceiving your work and the contributions you make to the world. Be open to unexpected events and realizations that provide you with ways to know yourself better. It?s a time of changing the way you express yourself to the world."

  26. In 1992 I was preparing to fast for 4 days before surgery. Specialists were absolutely certain that I had ovarian cancer that had spread to my colon and lungs and were preparing to resect and other nasty stuff. They said I would die soon. I had just been accepted to graduate school, but if I wanted to, they would set me up to have chemo in Boston. I was hoping to make it through one semester... just to do it.

    It was Friday. Surgery was scheduled for Wednesday. The night I was to start my fast, Scout took me to my favorite Chinese restaurant. The waiter brought the fortune cookies. I opened mine. It said, "Wednesday is your lucky day."

    Honestly and really, when do you ever see a fortune like that? It was right. No cancer. The specialists were wrong. All the test results were a string of coincidences. I'm really glad I was only depressed and not suicidal. Because I was fine. There was nothing wrong with me except a false positive CA125 test, a hemorrhoid, a blood clot from an injury, and a lung infection. Not great- but not terminal cancer.

  27. Oh, Reine! I hope you saved that fortune! What a great story!!