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Why I Wrote A Hallmark Christmas Movie


Okay, I'll admit it! This time of the year, I get sucked into watching all the sappy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel. Sometimes, when I'm cleaning the house I'll even have the same movie showing in more than one room so I won't miss anything. (Embarrassing fact: I've watched most of them multiple times) This was the case a couple of years ago when my husband James, who was on his way out the door, stopped in front of the living room television and studied the screen.


"Hey, I think I've seen this one," he said. "Doesn't the girl lose her memory?"


I shook my head at him, amused because he loves to harass me about watching these movies. "Well, first of all, if you've seen one Hallmark movie, you've seen them all. The formula is always the same: beautiful girl/guy meet, throw in some drama (family, work, ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, siblings, etc.), beautiful girl/guy fall in love then, there's some terrible misunderstanding or mishap where it looks like their relationship is beyond saving, but in the last couple of minutes of the movie they always end up together."


James considers this for a couple of beats as I continue, "Oh, and then there are the ones where someone has lost their Christmas spirit. Of course, Hallmark ties everything up with a big red bow before the credits roll and the next movie begins."


Still eying the show, James reaches for his tennis bag. "But this is the one where she loses her memory, right?"


Although he's not looking at me, I give him the mother of all eye rolls and reply, "Well, it's one of the movies where the girl loses her memory! Don't worry, as I said, everything turns out all right in the end!"


Of course, it does! After all, it's a Hallmark movie! Where else can you go to immerse yourself in a world where the worst thing that happens is your best friend stealing your Christmas cookie recipe? Hallmark has given us all the ultimate gift of escapism—even if it's just for two hours. (that's including the thirty or so minutes of repetitive commercials you must endure to get through them!)

Not long after my conversation with James, our son Jacob, home for the holidays. took objection to the lighthearted, non-stop Hallmark movies airing throughout the house. "These are the dumbest shows," he complained. "Why do you watch them?"


"Because they make me feel good," I answered. "Think about it— there's no violence, no profanity, no crazy sex scenes, just good, wholesome, family-friendly love stories."


"But they're not even believable!" he objected, pointing to the television. "Look at all that fake snow!"


Quick to defend my guilty pleasure, I told him, "They have real snow in a lot of the movies."


Of course, I'd noticed the fake snow before but, in the spirit of Christmas, had always happily overlooked it. But, since we're talking about artificial snow, here are some of the other unrealistic things I've discovered about Hallmark movies:

* What town or city do you know of that waits until Christmas Eve to light their Christmas tree?

* Why are the kids' school Christmas pageants on Christmas Eve?

* All the actresses sleep in full makeup and wake up looking amazing—and on that note, do they wear bras to bed because even in the sheerest nightgowns there's never any visible signs of . . . well, you know!

* Everyone cries "pretty".

* Even the homes owned by the wealthiest families have dollar store-looking decorations plastered everywhere. (Hallmark must have a tiny budget for set decorations)

* The "secondary" actors and actresses are never quite as good-looking as the leads.

* No one's purse ever looks like it has anything inside it.

* Their homes are almost always completely clutter-free and very minimalistic. (That is, except for the dollar store bows and garland on the walls)


I'm sure after I post this I'll think of many more, but that's good for now. It's time to address why I wrote two books and submitted them to Hallmark in the hope of having them made into movies.


So, getting back to my conversation with Jacob . . .


"It's true," I told Jacob. "There are a lot of things that make these shows unbelievable, but I guess the romantic in me buys into them." I thought about it for a minute, then added, "I could totally write a Hallmark movie."


"You've been saying that for years, Mom," Jacob said. "So, why don't you just do it?'

Freeze Frame!


If you know me, you know that I love a challenge—especially when someone calls me out on something like Jacob did. A couple of weeks after Christmas, he moved to New York and I blew the dust off a romance novel I'd started writing the previous fall.


He's right, I thought. It's time to quit saying I can do it and just do it! Hallmark, here I come!


Interestingly enough, I found that Hallmark was accepting submissions from previously unpublished authors. (It's normally next to impossible for an unknown author to get the attention of an established entity like Hallmark or any other publisher), Since the only book I'd published was I Have A Complex, But I'm Managing It, was a completely independent project (and, I might humbly add, a successful fund-raiser for The American Red Cross), I dove right in, bundling up my first romance novel, It Happened In The Hill Country (the working title was Hill Country Holidays, which I thought was right up their alley), and sending it on to Hallmark.


I felt pretty confident that It Happened in The Hill Country would rock Hallmark's world. Frankly, I was pretty miffed when I received an email from them telling me they "were going to pass on it".


They didn't state the reason for their rejection. (Have I mentioned, like most people, I loathe rejection?) And, further efforts on my part to get to the heart of why they "took a pass", went unanswered.


This left me to wonder . . .

Was It Happened In The Hill Country, "too Texas?" (I mean, Hallmark did state on their submission guidelines that they preferred "snowy locations"—cue the fake snow!)

Was the main character, Jill Murray too strong a personality? Was she too rich? Too sexy?

Was there too much adventure?

Was there too much action?

Was the mention of infidelity and divorce a deal-killer?

Did the characters imbibe too much?

Was the suggestion of an afternoon rendevous too much? (I'm sorry—But, Dave Wilder is really HOT!)

Perhaps the idea of someone with mental illness was over the top?

Would it have been too expensive to produce? (I'm remembering the budget for decorations . . .)


The fact is, I'll never know, but rest assured, when I received Hallmark's "thanks but no thanks", email, I decided to take matters into my own hands. And so, I moved forward and published It Happened In The Hill Country with help from Christian Faith Publishing.


If you love to read and haven't picked up your copy of It Happened In The Hill Country yet, I'd love it if you did it now. The story, set in the majestic Texas Hill Country (with no mention of snow, btw) is an exciting romance novel that takes place during the holiday season. It's available at barnesandnoble.com as well as Amazon. And, while it might not be quite as innocent as the sugary sweet Hallmark movies, it's still pretty tame—at least nobody dies . . . well . . .maybe.

I'll blog later about my second book, Thirty Love, and why I was truly surprised that Hallmark decided it was not their cup of tea, either. In the meantime, there are no hard feelings on my end. These days I spend most of my free time at my keyboard working on my fourth romance novel. And when I need to escape, I'll just click on the television and return to a happy place where the snow never melts, mascara never smears, and everyone lives happily ever after. At the end of the day, we have Hallmark to thank for that!

Closet ClotheSure Week 41

Monday -

I decided to start Monday with this fun floral dress from White House Black Market. By now you all know that I love anything with pockets and this piece really fits the bill! It's equal parts fun and festive. I have the perfect taupe jacket to throw over it when there's a little nip in the air! Keepin' it!












Tuesday -

This jacquard, dark blue dress from Eva Mendes (New York and Company) has been a long-time staple of my workwear.


Although it's flattering and I have the perfect necklace to accentuate the deep blue tones of the dress, it's time I kissed this one goodbye!


I feel it's a little "young" for me and have the perfect person in mind who will look great in this dress.


#greatrun #feelinglikeaten





Wednesday -

So, Carol Brady called and she wants her yellow vest back! LOL


I bought this long, butter-yellow vest (and the matching satiny blouse underneath it) at White House Black Market several years ago.


The off-white trousers are from Ann Taylor and although they're a great fit, I can't find it in me to love the way the hemline bunches around my ankles. (I know, I know . . . I'm always complaining about the challenge of finding pants that are long enough on me!)


All three pieces get the boot!



Thursday-

Brings us to this silk black v-neck top from Ann Taylor, paired with a lovely blue pencil skirt from White House Black Market. The skirt was a gift from my friend Deb and I really adore the color! I'll hang onto both of these pieces for now. #feelinglikeaten


From The Garden


Ordinarily, I'd post something from our yard in this spot, but from time to time I like to shake things up a bit and share something different! Such is the case this week. One of my favorite places to visit is the Dallas Arboretum. I swear I'd be there once or twice a week if I could. It's just such a magical setting and every time I'm there, it's a different experience.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Janet and I were planning to visit, but the weather didn't cooperate, so we spent Veteran's Day afternoon there. (That's us on the left in our red, white, and blue!)


It's the first time I've seen the gardens all decked out for Christmas. Let me just say, we had the most amazing time!


This year's Holiday at the Arboretum (presented by Reliant Energy) was incredible. It featured "snow globes" with The Twelve Days of Christmas, each with its own Christmas music playing which really adds to the fun!


If you visit the Arboretum, wear some comfy shoes so you can trek all around the gardens and enjoy all the beauty this wondrous place offers.


For the past several months, I've been signing off by encouraging everyone to remember that God is in control and hope is on the move!


I think today I'll just shorten that a bit. With all the unrest going on in our world, I'm praying for peace and that we'll love and be kind to one another. Please remember, God is in control!


Love,

Monica






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