The Story Behind My Movie
In the book The Emotional Craft of Fiction, literary agent Donald Maass claims that only misguided writers dream of having their novels made into movies. I read this book with my writing group and told them, "Being misguided is fun." I've never NOT wanted to have a book made into a movie, but I also never dreamed it would happen this way.
My debut novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley released a decade ago.
I researched Sun Valley with my bestie. It had originally been set in Sweet Home, Oregon, but they needed more Idaho stories.
I don't know if you remember, but there were a lot of Love Finds You books set across the country, and a few were made into movies. I didn't know that at the time. I just watched Love Finds You in Sugar Creek, thinking, "Wow. That author must have had some kind of Hollywood connection. How cool."
Then I saw that Love Finds You in Charm was being made too. I was Facebook friends with the author, and she posted a picture from a film festival with actress Courtney Cox in the background. Admittedly, I was a little jealous. But I started wondering, "Could Love Finds You in Sun Valley ever get made into a movie?"
I googled Love Finds You Movies on my phone. The first article that popped up had my hero's name in it. With shaking fingers, I tapped on the article to find out that seven of the Love Finds You books had been optioned. My book was the first one listed.
I ran to my husband and held out my phone. "Read this." I needed him to read it so I could verify I wasn't imagining things. With the way I was acting, he'd thought someone had died. Nobody had died except for me since I'd pretty much died and gone to heaven.
I checked with my agent and found out that the movies were being made one at a time, and mine may or may not be produced. Sadly, it never filmed. But I met another author who'd written Love Finds You books, and she told me what was going on.
Miralee Ferrell had been called by the movie producer directly. She was going to get the rights back to her books and publish them under the titles of Finding Love so the producer could film those instead. She offered to help me do the same.
We rereleased my debut novel as Finding Love in Sun Valley and made it the first book in the series. The second book I tailored to become a TV movie. I set it on a ranch at Christmas because the movie producers seemed to like ranch stories, and we all know Hallmark likes Christmas.
I didn't know anything about ranches, so when hit with writer's block, I called up my friend who owned a farm and asked if I could visit. Thank you, Corinne!
Then my husband and I took a Harley ride to Montana.
I also stuck these ladies in my book. They clean the bathrooms at our church and make everybody who enters the bathroom feel like they're walking the red carpet at the Oscars. Their names are Leslie and Rosie, but I named them Dot and Annabel. They'll be your favorite characters.
I made my main character a diabetic like my bestie and dedicated the book to her.
Finding Love in Big Sky was optioned for film before it even came out in 2016. First, the producer retitled it as Bright Star Christmas.
At one point, I looked for it on the website for American Cinema International under their films "in development" and thought it was gone, but it was simply rebranded Starlight Christmas.
Every year I would get updates as they pitched the movie to film festivals. I heard the rights sold to France. I heard there was a new investor who wanted to make Christmas movies. I heard they were pitching Netflix, etc. I'd get excited and share on social media, then nothing. This happened for five years.
I heard it all again at the beginning of this year. It was nice that my sweet little story still had hope. But I wasn't going to be the boy who kept crying wolf. So I tucked that hope in my heart for safe keeping and moved forward with other writing projects.
Then I got THE call. I was in line for checkout at Walmart. I almost didn't answer, but I'm so glad I did.
"They start filming tomorrow!" Miralee said.
What? This was really happening? I ran home to tell my husband and to dance around the house like Sleeping Beauty in the clouds.
Miralee sent me the script. There's not as much conflict or humor as there is in my novel, but it's very sweet. They've also taken Christmas out of the story because Hallmark's holiday spots already filled up for the year. So the title is back to Finding Love in Big Sky. It's interesting to see the process.
One cool thing is that they are actually able to film in Montana.
A cooler thing is that Jim and I get to go up there this weekend and be extras in the cowboy ball scene. I'm still trying to find the perfect dress.
My husband's biker buddies are all vowing to watch my movie. I think because of their interest, Jim keeps saying he wants to play a mechanic in the film. I told him the mechanic is an Asian woman named Charlie, but he plans to take his coveralls just in case.
There's no page for my movie on the International Movie Database (IMDB) yet, but I've been researching the actors. If you want to check them out, their names are Hedy Nasser, Johnathan Stoddard, Raechel Wong, and Nathan Kehn.
Next week at this time, I will have returned from Montana and have a lot more to share. I look forward to taking you all on this adventure!!!
For a chance to win a copy of my book autographed by the actors in the film, answer the following question: Do you have a favorite Hallmark movie?