I enjoy weaving music into my novels. In my latest, The Wedding Thief, Sara Harrington loves the music commonly referred to as the Great American Songbook – music by Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, and Johnny Mercer, among many others. Sara’s late father, a Broadway producer, was a big fan of that music and Sara grew up listening to it. Of course, the real fan is me, but I also love classical, Broadway tunes, jazz, blues…. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. I mention more than twenty songs in The Wedding Thief. If you’d like to see what they are or to have a listen, click here to check out the playlist on Spotify.
Back in 1981, I watched the British TV series that was created from this novel and broadcast on PBS. It was the vehicle that made Jeremy Irons a household name. I since found out that it took two years to make that 11-episode series, and if you watch it you’ll understand why. It’s so beautifully done. Every bit of it. Anyway, that’s how I fell in love with Brideshead Revisited the first time. After watching the series, I thought I’d better read the novel, and I did. I thought it was wonderful.
Fast forward a few decades. I’d thought about the story many times over the years, as it’s one that’s not easily forgotten. A month ago, I bought the DVDs on the Internet and binge-watched them over a weekend. After that – you know where this story is going – I bought
Don’t get me wrong. I love having instantaneous access to the huge selection of movies, television shows, plays, music, and everything else we can get our hands on with the click of a button. But there’s a little nostalgic part of me that remembers the excitement of settling down to watch a movie like The Wizard of Oz, which only came on television once a year. Yes, once a year. From the time I was so young that I covered my eyes when Dorothy and her companions went down the frightening green tunnel [Read more…]
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.
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.
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.
I’ve just inked a deal with Crown Media for a Hallmark Channel movie of my first novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café. Alison Sweeney will star and produce. They are already into pre-production, and filming will begin this month in Vancouver, Canada. I’m hoping to fly out there and watch the filming for a couple of days. Unfortunately, it’s taking place during a time when I already have a lot of travel going on with my family. That said, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I’ll have to figure it out somehow. What an odd (but fun!) feeling it will be to see and hear people act out the parts of characters I’ve dreamed up.
My book is number 1 on Germany’s mass market best-seller list! I’m pinching myself to make sure this is real, but I know it is because my editor there, Eva Schubert, has been tracking the book’s progress ever since it hit Germany’s best seller list, at number 44, in April.
Here is part of the message Eva emailed to me this morning:
This is a very special moment for me: I’m about to
give you the best news an author could possibly receive from her editor:
YOU’RE NUMBER ONE IN GERMANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Move over John Green, Elizabeth George and many, many more ….”
I love this photo of Eva (right) with Nicola Bartels, Publisher, and a “Number 1” blueberry pie.