I love the independent bookstore Books & Books. I’ve been to the flagship store in Coral Gables, Florida (in fact, I did a book talk there a few years ago) and it’s a fabulous place, with room after room of books, a courtyard with a full restaurant, more books, a coffee shop, more books, and a calendar of great author talks and signings. (And more books!) There are three stores in South Florida and several other affiliated stores, most of them in Florida. Today I happened to be on my way to an event in Miami and came across the Cafe at Books & Books at the Adrienne Arsht Center. I had a delicious cup of coffee and bought two books, including a birthday gift for a friend. So glad I happened to be driving by that corner.
I had never read anything by Karen Joy Fowler before reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and I’m not even sure how I came across it, but I ended up downloading it onto my iPad and I’m so glad I did. (By the way, I’m about half and half when it comes to paper books and e-books. I like e-books for travel and prefer them for night reading, but I still really love the good old feel of paper.) Anyway, I loved this book. I think Fowler is an amazing writer. I was hooked from the beginning – the characters (dysfunctional family, but with reason), the plot, the writing style, which is beautiful, and the way the book made me take a different view of the world around me. There’s a big reveal fairly early on – a moment when I uttered an audible, “Oh!” And from that point on, I couldn’t help asking myself (every few pages), how did she do this? It’s a Pen/Faulkner Award winner. No surprise to me.
The legendary singer, Al Jarreau, has just died, and I feel as though I’ve lost a friend. I’ve been a fan of his for years, always loving that great blend of musical styles he delivered. I was fortunate to see him perform four times. Once was in the Napa Valley when I was attending a writer’s conference. Some guests at the inn where I was staying in St. Helena told me Al was giving a free outdoor concert that night at a vineyard. Of course, I couldn’t miss it. He gave a wonderful show to a very appreciative crowd. Toward the end of the concert I made my way to the front and got a chance to see him up close. We will miss you, Al.
Several years ago I was on a Delta flight, going from New York to Florida, and on the last page of the airline’s in-flight magazine I found an essay entitled, “Writing, a Romance,” by author Libba Bray. Although my first novel had not yet been published (that wouldn’t happen until the summer of 2013) or even accepted (that took place in January of 2012), I was far enough into writing it that I understood well what Bray was talking about, and could appreciate her sentiments and her humor. If you’ve ever written anything that’s required a lot of work and many revisions, you’ll probably relate to it as well and find yourself laughing, as I did on that flight. Read Libba’s essay.
I went to an interesting art exhibit today and saw some works by Max-Steven Grossman. He creates wonderful “bookscapes” by arranging digital images of various bookshelves he’s photographed. The end result is one huge photograph covered with glass, with lots of interesting titles to peruse – all tied to a theme.
A friend who I met a few years ago on a trip to Paris told me about the Netflix series, “Call My Agent.” I’m not a huge fan of TV, but there are a few shows I think are good and this is one of them. It takes place in Paris and the stories are about the people who work in a talent agency. The writing is clever and solid. The story lines are interesting and funny. The acting is well done. Yes, it’s in French with English subtitles, but the show is so good you’ll soon realize it’s not an inconvenience. Check it out. C’est très bien.
I loved this novel by Delia Ephron. It’s a page-turner about two couples (and the child of one of the couples) on vacation together in Italy and Sicily, Siracusa being a town in Siciliy. It’s about deceit, betrayal, past and current relationships, and how life can come undone quickly. Ephron tells the story by alternating narrators among the four adults and it’s fascinating to see how each one views the events that take place. For the most part, these are characters you love to hate, making the tale even more delicious. You’ll remember it long after you read the last page.
The Irresistible Blueberry Farm, the movie based on my first novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café premiered October 2, 2016 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. The movie stars Alison Sweeney (who is also one of the executive producers), Shirley Jones, Marc Blucas, and Kavan Smith. It will air four more times on the Hallmark M&M Channel. To see more information about the movie, please click here.
The Irresistible Blueberry Farm, a movie based on my first novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, will air Sunday, October 2 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Alison Sweeney, Carolyn Jones, Mark Blucas, and Kavan Smith star. The movie will also be shown on Tuesday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m.; Thursday, October 6 at 2:00 p.m.; Monday, October 17 at 5:00 p.m.; and Wednesday, October 19 at 8:00 p.m. Click here for a preview: The Irresistible Blueberry Farm Preview
This is the story of the incredible two days I spent this week on the set of The Irresistible Blueberry Farm, the Hallmark Chanel movie based on my first novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café. The movie will be aired October 2, 2016 on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel. On Monday morning, one of the drivers took me from my hotel in Vancouver, Canada to the first filming location of the day. I arrived at this pretty yellow house in the town of Brackendale. In the movie, this is the house in Beacon, Maine, where Ruth, grandmother of the main character, Ellen, grew up.
I went inside and got to meet the incredibly talented Alison Sweeney, who is fantastic as Ellen and who is also one of the executive producers of the movie. Alie and I had talked by phone and had emailed, but this was our first meeting. She had read my novel, loved it, and wanted to turn it into a movie for Hallmark, so this whole project came about because of her. (Thank you, Alie!) Here we are, both wearing the appropriate color! I also began to meet some of the other members of the cast and crew, a group of very talented and dedicated people.
Filming was being done in the attic of the house when I got there, so at the first break in the action I went upstairs to watch. In this photo, Lisa Durupt, who plays the current homeowner, Susan Porter, is holding the “Porter” baby, a gorgeous little girl. Shirley Jones, who I’ve admired my whole life, is in the far right corner. She plays Ruth. (Yes, I know Ruth isn’t alive . . . you’ll just have to see the movie!). And in between are lots of important folks doing very important things to make the movie.
Cast and crew broke for lunch and I got my first look at the “circus,” the area where most of trailers were parked. A few trailers went to the actual shooting locations and the rest stayed behind, although close by, because of the need for abundant parking space.
After lunch Ali and I visited Wayne Russell, who styled her hair.
We then went to the second location of the day, the place that was used as The Victory Inn, the rustic little B&B where Ellen stayed while she was in Maine. Several trailers, all full of equipment, were brought there.
A few different scenes were filmed, including one in which Ellen is surprised by her mother, Cynthia (middle, played by Rebecca Staab), who shows up at the inn, unannounced. Also in the photo is Samantha Ferris (left), who plays Paula Victory, the somewhat rough-edged proprietor who knows everything that’s going on in town.
In this photo Ali is with Marc Blucas, who plays Roy, the man who rescues Ellen from a near-drowning experience when she first arrives in Beacon. Ali and Marc filmed part of the dart game scene. Who do you think won? If you’ve read the book, you already know.
On Monday evening, cast and crew moved to Gibsons, a small coastal town which can only be reached by ferry. I woke up very early Tuesday morning and took the first ferry (7:25 – ouch). The first location was “Roy’s” house, the brown houseboat with white trim, on the left side of the photo. If you look closely you can see people from the crew on the dock to the right of the houseboat.
Here I am with Jorge Montesi, the “A Camera” operator. By the way, that camera is worth half a million dollars … and that’s without a lens. The cameras were wrapped in plastic because it was a drizzly day.
All of the equipment was moved back onto land in order to shoot other scenes. The “B” camera, operated by Sean Cox, was set up on top of the ladder to take additional film of Ali from above. The black tent on the left was set up as “video village,” an area with monitors inside so Randall Platt, the director of photography, and Holly, the script supervisor, could follow what was going on.
Taking a picture of someone taking a picture … Jorge adjusted his camera and I took this photo.
The whole experience of being on the set was magical. I loved every minute. How could I not? I was with a great group of talented people and they all made me feel so welcome. I can’t begin to explain how much I enjoyed seeing what everyone – producers, cast, and crew – brought to the story. When I left on Tuesday evening to catch the last ferry back to the mainland, they were still working and I didn’t want to leave.