Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Forget Me Not

I’m getting the silent treatment.

I know, that's awful, isn't it? The worst of it is, I don’t even know what I did. Everything was going along swimmingly, and then bam, Richard and Jane—two of the most important people in my life right now— suddenly clammed up tighter than old Scrooge’s wallet.

Was it something I said? Probably not, since when we are together—which was almost all the time until this past week—I usually don’t talk, only listen. Now see? I’m a good listener, I care about them, I want to showcase them in their light, and what do I get for my trouble?

Nothing. Nada, zip, zero.

The hero and heroine of my second manuscript seem to have left the building. And with perfectly awful timing, thank you very much, seeing as I have to send my contest entry for the Golden Heart—only the biggest contest of them all—in by Friday. In order to do so, I have to finish the blasted book. I’m so close, it’s killing me—one flippin’ chapter!

So since they won’t talk to me, I thought I would write them an open letter. [cracking knuckles]

Dear Richard and Jane,

What happened to us? In the beginning, you chattered like finches in my ear, keeping me up at night and my fingers busy typing away all day. We laughed, we cried, we stayed up til two in the morning braiding each other’s hair. Oh, wait—scratch that last one. We did share a lot of late nights together, though.

And now . . . nothing. I don’t understand. Don’t you want a happily ever after? Aren’t you tired of the witty banter and the smoldering looks—surely you are ready to move on to the next level? Richard, did I not give you all the best lines? Did I not mold a heroine from scratch just for you? One who is smart, and sweet, and knows how to whip you into shape?

Jane, what other Regency heroine has ever been given a bakery? All those delicious treats you made—I gave you those recipes! And did I not plop the most handsome, charming (if somewhat bedeviling) hero ever right into your shop? All along, the two of you have leapt off the page, taking up 90 percent of my waking brain power. Eating breakfast I plotted, in the shower I crafted scathing come-backs, making dinner I mulled ways to grind you into the dirt so you could spring back, better and happier than ever.

What do I get in return? Complete and total silence. For shame, you two. For shame. Do you think you can just forget me? Turn your backs and disappear from view? Clamming up just before things get really good—real mature, guys. Honestly, I have half a mind to kick you to the curb and start over with sweeter, more cooperative characters. That’s right, I said it. [nodding decisively] How do you like them apples?

[Collapsing to knees] No, wait! I take it back! I didn’t mean it, I swear [dramatic crying]. I need you. Please don’t leave me. I’ll do anything. When I asked how you like the apples, Jane, I only meant wouldn’t you like them for some of you famous apple tarts. Yes, that’s it! See, I was trying to be nice. Richard, you love her tarts, don’t you? DON’T YOU??


So, in conclusion, I would really appreciate it if you would pop in and tell me the details of your happily-ever-after. I promise to put my heart and soul into crafting it into the perfect ending. And if you are really nice, I will even let you pop in to say hello in the next book.

There now, all better.

Hugs and kisses,


So, am I the only writer to have her character’s suddenly clam up? What have you done to get your characters talking again? For all you readers, have you ever been frustrated by the ending of a good book, because you think the author let things go off course?

Today’s recipe is a direct plea to Richard and Jane: Forget-Me-Not Meringue Cookies. Since Jane always changes things up a bit in her recipes, I decided to change the standard chocolate chip variety to peppermint white chocolate. This one is super duper easy—though it is beyond difficult to walk away and leave them in the oven over night. . . .

Peppermint White Chocolate Forget-Me-Not Cookies

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp mint extract

1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

(If you have a stand mixer, it makes this process a LOT easier)

Beat eggs until foamy, then slowly add the sugar in. Beat until mixture forms stiff, creamy peaks (should be several minutes). Fold in vanilla, mint, and white chocolate.

Place parchment paper over a cookie sheet, and drop mixture by tablespoons onto the sheet. Place into preheated oven, then immediately turn oven off.

Walk away from the oven, people. Let sit 8 hours or overnight in the oven . . . just don’t forget them!

Enjoy :)


  1. Ha! Love love love this! You are a real writer now that you have experience this dreaded but oh so necessary milestone. It's a good thing, really, the characters just need you to know who's boss. And the most important thing is that you don't force them. Be ready to listen and when they're ready, they'll come back to you. Thankfully your characters WILL eventually start talking again -- they need you as much as you need them. Like the yucca moth and the yucca plant. Yep, I'll inject a little biology lesson into this writing lesson:) This letter was an awesome step in the right direction, I'm sure they won't be able to help but respond. And the cookies are extra clever. Can't WAIT to read that book when it's finished...I know it will be soon. And if those characters are being extra stubborn, just put them away and work with some new characters....jealousy is a great motivator!

  2. When my characters go quiet, I just wait for them to come back while I move onto to a couple who does want to talk. However, I am sure I wouldn't be so calm about it if there was a deadline looming. They sound like a couple of spoiled children to me. Maybe if you threatened punishments such as no cookies or cupcakes for a week, if they don't come back right now.

  3. Great post, Erin. When my characters shut up, I look for mirror scenes. I make them do the same thing they have done before, only change it to show character development. But don't sweat the GH. Your entry is delightful and you only have to finish it. No one is actually going to read the full at this point. Good luck!

  4. Erin, I completely sympathize! I think maybe your characters don't want their story to END, so that's why they've pulled this disappearing act. :)

    I would leave them alone for a bit, and I use the "jealousy technique" too--it works very well. I'm intrigued by Clarissa's mirror scene technique. I might have to get more detail from her to use on my own characters!

    Hang in there, and good luck in the GH!

  5. Far as I'm concerned, this post should win the GH. I can hardly wait to read the book.


  6. Oh, Erin. I know this feeling SO WELL. I was about 2/3 of the way finished with Twice a Rake this spring, and suddenly: crickets. That was all I was getting.

    I thought maybe I had pushed my characters into doing something they wouldn't have done, so I read back through and tried to figure it out. That didn't work. I tried journaling. I tried skipping ahead. I tried just about everything that anyone could suggest.

    It was driving me INSANE, because my usually very outspoken heroine, in particular, was silent. She wouldn't say a word. Finally, after a couple of weeks of agony for me, I came to the realization that silence was her response to what she was going through. She'd lost her voice because of all of the crap I put her through (she had a hand in it too, though. I refuse to take all the blame). So, with that realization, I was able to move forward.

    I don't know what it will take for you. Each circumstance is different. I only hope you can sort it out with Jane and Richard soon.

  7. LOL, Kara, I guess it was a necessary step to being a true writer :) And believe me, if all else fails, I will most certainly resort to jealousy!

    Amy, that's hilarious. Jane, you no talk? I no let you make cookies! I love it :) And I can tell you one thing, Richard's mother would *not* be pleased to hear that he has been misbehaving ;)

  8. Clarissa, you are so sweet, and genius at that! I love your mirror technique, and will give it a go today!

    Yes, Donna, I like to think that, like a kid who pouts when it's time to leave the party, J & R are just sad to see it come to an end. Me? Not so much. I want it done!

    PS - Clarissa, you should write a blog about the technique on Lady Scribe'sblog!

  9. Aww, thanks Petrina! I felt much better for having written the letter :)

    Wow, Catherine, your characters gave you a really hard time, didn't they? Great insight on what the problem was. That may have something to do with it—after all, things did get awful bad for poor Miss Jane...
    Thanks for thougths, and for stopping by!

  10. I'm feelin' ya, Erin. My two characters in my second novel talk to me in spurts. Weird and crazy spurts. And...I. Am. Not. Amused!

    Here's hoping they all start talking again.

  11. Amen, Marquita! There is nothing like wanting to throttle imaginary people, lol! So glad you stopped by — hopefully we can get together and commiserate over lunch soon :)

  12. Okay Erin you don't have time to wait so listen up. This is un-blocking methods bootcamp. First you need to grab a piece of paper and pen. Yes no computers. Sit somewhere other than where you normally write. Outside works wonders. And start asking questions. Write the question down and then answer the question in thier pov. Real questions that pertain to the book. In the last scene pick the biggest turning point and ask why? How did she feel? What does she think she needs to do now.

    If that doesn't work then take a walk and plot in your head.

    The craziest suggestion but it works, get the hubby involved act out the scene and then let him ask questions and see what his brain comes up with. And you have to answer them. It totally works. Although my hubby loves to plot though lol. I hope yours does too.

    And then if that doesn't work you may need to take some out, step away and go read. I know you don't have time but take one night to read and maybe that will jar the creative side of your brain.

    Now get moving soldier! And I better hear great results by tomorrow night. LOL I am the queen of writing block Erin and if I can get out of them anyone can LOL. =)

  13. It's so awesome you're getting such great suggestions!! I've never heard of the mirror technique, but I like it. I also love walking and plotting, that does work for me. And asking the hubby to act out -- well I can't wait to hear how that one goes! xo

  14. All wonderful suggestions, Melissa! I'll give them a try, and see if I can report success by tomorrow :) Thanks, sweetie!

    I know, right, Kara? All wonderful thoughts. I won't be walking since it's raining, but I'll give the others a go :)

  15. Maybe you could have an Ian Flemming character swing by to MAKE Richard and Jane talk? He'll have a sinister mustache and go by the name "The Surgeon". A nefarious table of twisted metal instruments and truth serum will get those two yapping like they've never yapped before! Then again, maybe the cookies will do the trick.

  16. I have no insight...I just wanted to pop in to say that was quite hillarious!

    Seriously, though...I read somewhere that everything you need to finish a book should be planted within the first 3 chapters...and in my experience, that has been true. When I was stuck on "Sweet Enemy" and I had finally reeled my characters back in (after letting the miscreants almost run our story completely off track), I wasn't sure how to end things.

    I went back and read the first 3 chapters and voila! The way to end it was right there, staring me in the face, and tying things up nicely, as well. Good luck!

  17. I don't know Ryan, Bond-esque tactics may indeed be in order . . .
    Thanks for the suggestion ;)

  18. So glad you got a kick out of it, Heather :) And really, I feel better having vented. Today I went back a few chapters, and I think I may have pinpointed where things veered a little off course.
    Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions - here's to finishing by tomorrow!

  19. Although these well wishes are too late by now, I hope everything worked out with yhour three. Good luck on your submission and thanks for the delish recipe.

  20. Thanks, Jenny! I happily finished the manuscript and got my Golden Heart contest entry off this week :) Hooray!
    So glad you stopped by :)

  21. LOL - this was hysterical...and something I think we've all wanted to write to our characters. I hope they opened up again for you.

    I popped in to take a look at the "competition" from Deidre's speed dating contest. Good luck to you! I can already tell I love your style and would love to read one of your books someday. :)

  22. Aha - my competition! ;) Gina, I'm so glad you decided to drop by, and that I could make you laugh. Indeed, Richard and Jane opened up a few days later and I was able to finish and get the whole thing off to the good people at the Golden Heart :) It was rather cathartic to write this letter - I highly recommend it!

    Good luck with the speed date! I'm heading over now to have a look at your blog, and see what I am up against ;) Cheers!