Why I'm Bingewatching Hallmark Movies

If you’d asked me a few months ago whether I was into Hallmark films, my reply would have been an adamant, “No way.” They were too predictable, too alike, too rosy even for me who loves all things rosy. Things change.

My husband enjoys action and sci-fi films, and a few detective shows. Because he’s wonderful, he also likes to watch my faves, too: movies from the thirties and forties, and a few, carefully selected, newer TV comedy shows and flicks, and a couple of PBS mini-series. Hallmark was hardly our style.

One night, our streaming service stopped running, and we resorted to Hubby’s iPad. Readily available was a romantic film from Hallmark, a Christmas movie in May, starring a TV star from a show we regularly watched. We were game. The next night we watched another Hallmark…and we’ve been watching ever since. Why? WHY??? What’s the big draw for films that likely took a short time to write, about the same time to film and where all story lines were just about the same? Because they’re pleasing to the eye, cast members come in all ages, shapes and colors, and the story lines make us feel good.

Take last night’s movie: my first reaction was to turn it off. The typical Hallmark heroine (a smart, professional, well-dressed, perfectly made-up woman, who appeared to own her own nicely decorated home (don’t they all?), but had made a poor choice in the man she was dating) was a bit annoying. But as the movie unfolded, the appeal grew. What Hallmark movies provide are reminders and examples of positive behavior: a woman who took her husband for granted realized the vital role he played in her life and her love for him, the heroine’s initial immaturity blossomed into maturity when she took over (reluctantly, at first) temporary responsibility of her three nieces and nephew, and she dumped a boyfriend who showed his true colors when the chips were down. Granted, there was a lot of cheese-ball and corn in the movie, but ultimately, who doesn’t love a happily-ever-after with plenty of eye candy and people who mostly treat each other kindly? Count me (and my hubby) in.

Procrastination: A Writer's Friend or Foe?

There was a time, in the recent past, when procrastination held me captive by my thumbs (it’s not easy to write or type without thumbs, believe me). I caught a bad case of procrastination right after I became a published author. It especially reared its meddlesome head as I tried to complete book three in my Southern California Mystery series (due out June 25th, for wondering readers out there).

I find the word itself icky, like lumbago or bratwurst. Procrastination is like walking in a pair of dress shoes across a floor oozing with crude oil. Wreaks havoc on the soles. Even worse, too much procrastination can fill you with self-loathing. But that’s not necessarily all bad. It may actually turn into a motivator that forces you to return to writing. I disliked the lousiness I felt from putting off writing so much that my only option to feeling good again was to write.

Here’s a fact: when we’re procrastinating, we’re not doing nothing. We’re just doing something other than the pressing task. Granted, building bookshelves, pulling weeds or baking cookies is putting aside the task at hand, but we’re not being idle, right?

Thankfully for me, I overcame procrastination and finished my novels. How? I followed sage advice provided by author Raymond Chandler. He wrote detective novels by setting aside four hours a day and following these two rules:

a) You don’t have to write.

b) You can’t do anything else.

Chandler likened the rules to being in school. “If you make the pupils behave, they will learn something just to keep from being bored.”

Rewards help, too.

How about making a deal with yourself to write for one hour, then watch TV, paint or do whatever you find rewarding? However, I suggest no online shopping (dangerous territory here, as one can plummet headfirst into a time sucker, speaking from personal experience, with little to no satisfaction. Climbing out of that rabbit hole can be very slippery). The better option is to write longer. Chandler had it right with four hours – a respectable amount of time to get the job done. And we’d rather be respectable than procrastinators, right?

Ending a Novel Series: Wrapping It All Up

Please join me in welcoming authors Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger as my guest bloggers today to tell us the ins and outs of wrapping up a series. Take it away, Janet & Will!

P.S. Isn’t their latest book cover fabulous?

My husband, Will Zeilinger and I co-write the Skylar Drake Mysteries, a hard-boiled detective series that takes the reader to 1950s Los Angeles and other areas of the West. Our new book, GAME TOWN, is set in Hollywood and exposes a scandal that rocks the toy industry in Los Angeles. GAME TOWN is the fifth and final book of the series.

People asked, “How hard is it to finish a novel series?” I would say bringing everything full circle is tough!

Since each of the five books stands alone, we needed to close the arc and tie up all loose ends with perhaps hints of underlying mystery for each character’s future. In other words, the reader needed to know the characters will be okay if we never write a sequel or spin-off. However, with multiple plots, characters, and sub-plots, it can be a monumental task. Having a co-writer helps enormously.

Throughout the series, we used a Genealogy Chart to map out our characters’ relationships, and the part they each played in the individual books, including their secrets and flaws. This happened by accident when we were finishing our second book, STRANGE MARKINGS, and discovered we used a name for a character we had already used in a previous series! Concerned we would “plagiarize” ourselves, we used this system. We also were able to track who was related to who through this system. (For cozy mystery writers this works well).

We also found if there is something that needs to be revealed, do it early in the last book. If you’re lost, well, you know what they say: Grab the bull by the tail and face the situation. After all, you are the creator of the world you write.

It was difficult ending the series. Both of us got attached to the characters. They lived with us for five years; it was sad.

GAME TOWN is the fifth in the series and yes…we are still married!

Website: Janet Elizabeth Lynn – www.janetlynnauthor.com
Website: Will Zeilinger – www.willzeilingerauthor.com

BIO: Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn wrote individually until they got together and created the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1956-57. Janet has published seven mystery novels, and Will has three, plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.

The fifth Skylar Drake Mystery, GAME TOWN, the final book in the series, was released April 15, 2019 and yes…they are still married!