Friday, February 17, 2017

When a Book Becomes a Movie!

Jenn McKinlay

Jenn and Kate, drinking wine. Shocker.
The book to movie conundrum. I don't think there is an author alive who doesn't think about what will happen if their book becomes a movie, so I am thrilled to have Kate Carlisle, my long time friend, mentor, wine-drinking buddy, and partner in shenanigans, share her perspective of this very thing, since Kate's fabulous Fixer-Upper Mysteries were brought to the small screen by Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, in the first of what will be a series of movies starring Jewel and Colin Ferguson. Yay!

 
Kate Carlisle is the New York Times bestselling author of the Bibliophile Mysteries and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries. 

Learn more about her books at www.KateCarlisle.com.

Kate: On January 15, I had the honor of seeing characters who were born in my head come to life on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. It was quite a milestone in my career. And here's the best part: I loved the movie!


Jenn: I did, too! Jewel and Colin had real chemistry and as an amateur sleuth she was utterly charming.


Kate: The feedback from readers has been overwhelmingly positive. I have heard from a few who questioned why the producers made changes to the story. The way I look at it, Shannon now lives in two parallel universes—in the books, and in the movies. We can enjoy them both for what they are, even if they're not identical.

Jenn: Agreed. They are such different formats. Still, your sly sense of humor, snappy dialogue, and clever plotting was evident in the film just like your books. Such a treat for me and all of your readers to see your work in a new medium.

Kate: When I'm writing books, I don't have the same limitations that filmmakers have. I can write a car chase without worrying about how I can afford to total two cars. They also have only two hours, minus commercial breaks, in order to tell a satisfying story. That means they need to limit the number of characters, and get all emotions across as best they can through dialogue and the actors' expressions.






As a novelist, I have no limits other than my imagination, and that I stay true to the world I've created. In the small resort town of Lighthouse Cove, California, the best man for the job is a woman—Shannon Hammer, owner of Hammer Construction Company and an expert in Victorian home restoration and renovation. Shannon discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors' closets, but murder victims, too! Book 1 is A HIGH-END FINISH.

Jenn: I loved this book! The whole series is just wonderful. BTW, Mac is my fictional boyfriend! 

FIVE THINGS THAT SURPRISED ME ABOUT TURNING MY BOOK INTO A HALLMARK MOVIE

1. The initial offer. I wasn't shopping my books around to producers. I had no idea this was in the works until my agent called to tell me that Hallmark was interested in my series. Can you imagine how I danced around the house as soon as that phone call ended?


2. The casting. Right from the first call, I was told they were looking for a project for singer/songwriter/actress Jewel, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. She is the perfect blend of feminine, smart, and tough to capture Shannon's character. And Colin Ferguson, her male lead, is handsome, intelligent, and has great comic timing. Here I am with him (and a copy of THIS OLD HOMICIDE) at the red carpet gala in Hollywood the night before the first movie aired.

3. Seeing my name in the opening credits. "Based on the Fixer-Upper Mysteries by Kate Carlisle." Pinch me!

4. The explosion. In the first scene of the movie, a boat explodes. That wasn't in the book, but wow, did it make a great impact on screen. It kicked off the mystery with a bang. Literally.

5. The secrecy. I wasn't allowed to publicize the movie until given the go-ahead. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries issued a press release, but I couldn't say a word. Filming started. Jewel and Colin Ferguson both posted videos and pictures from the set on their Instagram account, while I remained silent. For months, readers would email me or post questions on my Facebook page about the Hallmark movie because they'd read about it online, and I simply… couldn't answer.

But now I can shout it to the world—and the good news hasn't stopped coming. That was just the first Fixer-Upper Mystery movie! Filming on the second will happen in February. I'm planning to visit the set this time, and I'll be sure to share pictures in my newsletter. Sign up at www.KateCarlisle.com. While you're there, check out the free goodies available to members of my mailing list in the Secret Room.

Jenn: I can not wait to see pictures from the set! Very exciting!

So, Reds, what is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Any questions for Kate?

80 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Kate . . . I’m a fan of the Hallmark Mystery Movies and thought the Fixer Upper Mystery movie was a great addition to the series. I enjoyed the film and thought Jewel and Colin Ferguson were perfect.
    I don’t know that I have just one favorite book-to-movie adaptation but “To Kill a Mockingbird” is high on my list of favorites . . . .

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    1. Oh yes, that is a classic! One of the all-time best book-to-movie adaptations. Gregory Peck was perfect as Atticus Finch.

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  2. It was a delightful movie. Congrats again, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

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    1. Thank you, Mark! As it happens, I'm heading to the set of the second movie today. I'll try to take lots of pictures!

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    2. Oh, I can't wait to hear all about it. Pics with Jewel, please. Love the one with you and Colin.

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    3. yes, I want to see a photo of Kate with Jewel.

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  3. Kate, I hate to admit that I missed your movie, but I plan on going back and picking it up. I think Jewel is a perfect choice for the character you describe. I'm already on your mailing list and, thus, I have access to the Secret Room on you website, but I haven't really taken advantage of it. I wanted to start reading the Fixer Upper series first, which I plan to do soon. I have A High End Finish on my Kindle waiting, so I'll be ready to go.

    Like Joan, my all-time favorite adaptation is "To Kill a Mockingbird." However, others that I have really enjoyed are The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler; all the Harry Potter movies; The Help by Kathryn Stockett; Roald Dahl's Matilda and The Witches; The Shining, Misery and Dolores Claiborne and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King; Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth); The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg; Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman; The Hunger Games (all) by Suzanne Collins; Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans; Chocolat by Joanne Harris; and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I know there are others I will recognize as ones I enjoyed, too, from others' listings here. Looking forward to seeing what other books to movies commenters especially liked.

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    1. Hi, Kathy! Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will be replaying Framed for Murder lots, I'm sure, since they do that with all of their other mystery series. Thank you for joining my mailing list! I hope you'll love A HIGH-END FINISH.

      Oh, the Harry Potter movies were really wonderful adaptations of the books. I agree! It certainly helps that the books were so visual, much more external than internal. That translates so well to the screen.

      I've read The Help, but I haven't seen the movie. I'll have to check it out! Thanks for all the recommendations.

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  4. What a thrill, Kate! I missed it, too, alas.

    As an author, I am used to non-authors thinking I probably bring in the big bucks from my writing. But does the Hallmark movie gig actually make you some decent money? Or does it all get cut away by various agents, the studio, and so forth?

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    1. I don't want to respond about contract terms publicly, but buy me a drink at a conference sometime, and you might get more out of me. No promises! But I have on occasion been indiscreet after a couple of glasses of wine.

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  5. Congratulations, Kate! What a ride!!
    My favorite adaptations are the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... ALL of them. The Wizard of Oz. The Hours.
    The one no one ever seems to get right is Anne of Green Gables.

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    1. Thank you so much for the warm wishes, Hallie. It has, indeed, been quite a ride. I'm heading up to Canada today to visit the set of the second movie. I hope my plane has wifi so I can keep checking in while on the flight! (If not, I'll be AWOL for a few hours but then will be back online ASAP.)

      I haven't read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books, nor seen the movies. I'll have to add them to my TBR/TBWatched lists. ;)

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  6. This was so exciting! I loved watching it and having a connection that was deeper than usual to the story. I'm trying to think of a favorite adaptation but I'm drawing a blank - they are such different formats. Fried Green Tomatoes was good but I agree, Hallie, they never get Anne of Green Gables right. Oh wait, I have it - Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth - BEST ADAPTATION EVER!

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    1. OMG, Colin Firth as Darcy... SWOON!!!!!!! He is just so deliciously pained in that movie, with repressed emotion emanating from him at every moment. Good call, Jenn.

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    2. BTW, Jenn, I had to laugh at the picture you posted. Pretty sure we went through a whole bottle of wine that night and I have the red cheeks to prove it!!

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    3. And the whole lake scene - deliciously pained - a perfect description!

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    4. Also deliciously pectoral in that scene!

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  7. My mind's a blank too on the favorite adaptation question...But Kate, really enjoyed your Hallmark movie! and what fun to have Jewel star--and even sing:). I can imagine it would be a little bit hard (though mostly exciting!) to cut your baby loose and let other people run with their ideas about the story. Did you have any mixed feelings?

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    1. The singing was a total surprise to me, though of course, it shouldn't have been! But it was wonderful, and that song was absolutely perfect for the scene. Book Shannon doesn't sing. ;)

      I really didn't have any mixed feelings about putting the world of Lighthouse Cove into the hands of the producers. Maybe it's because of my own experience as a TV producer. I knew they would have to make changes to suit the new format, and I was fine with it. I just hoped that the end result would be an interesting, watchable movie--and it was! I thought they did a fantastic job, and the whole experience has truly been an honor.

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  8. To Kill a Mockingbird, of course. Pride & Prejudice tv series (w/ Colin Firth) of course. Little Women! I've seen all 3 of the movies and think the one starring Winona Ryder, was , overall, the best. Practical Magic, though I didn't like it at first. They had to leave a lot of the book out. But it's grown on me. Jenn and Hallie, did you ever see the CBC tv series of Anne of Green Gables, from 1987? I think they got had the time and funding to get it right and had a terrific cast, including Collen Dewhurst. Fun blog today. :-)

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    1. I'm ashamed to admit this, but... (ducking my head)... I've never read Little Women. I know, I know. I can hear you all gasping. I've meant to, I swear! Someday I will.

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    2. I have not sen the CBC version. I will most definitely check it out. Anne is very precious to me so it simply has to be done right.

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    3. Coming from Canadian public broadcasting, you can be sure it was precious to them too! And like Pride and Prejudice, being a series, that didn't have to make big cuts. That's how I feel about Little Women- get it right. Katherine Hepburn was terrific in the old version but the men were awful. There was something solid and real about the one with Winona Ryder.IMHO

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  9. Missed both the movie and the series, Kate--but that's the fun part--look what I have to look forward to now!!! And I would still be floating on cloud-nine--to have your series picked up AND to have a great adaptation? Fabulous!

    My favorites--Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter--to do so many movies and to get them so right! And I fully understand the limits between the media used to tell the story. Some of my favorite bits of the HP movies, for instance, were original to the movies.

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    1. My precioussssssssssss....

      Interesting about your favorite HP moments being original to the movies. I don't think I read closely enough to distinguish which moments hadn't been in the books. The whole world in general was just captured so perfectly. Such an imaginative series! I might need to read those books again. It's been a while.

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  10. Ann in Rochester, persistantFebruary 17, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    I enjoyed most of what the others mentioned, and most recently THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. That plot stayed so close to the book, and the acting was superb.

    I think my all time favorite adaptation is VERA. I know Ann doesn't write the scripts, and the series is based only loosely on the books, but finding Brenda Blethyn to play Vera was a stroke of genius! I think this is the problem with many adaptations, that the actors don't match my interior notion of the character. In this case, Brenda IS Vera, write down to the scruffy scarves around her neck.

    Thinking of GONE WITH THE WIND, I think the movie is far better than the book, maybe because I've read it only once, when I was about 13, but I've seen the movie at least once a decade since my first viewing.

    Good luck, Kate, on this new adventure. I'll see if I get the Hallmark Channel on Roku and watch your movie. Enjoy your day on JR!

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    1. Confession: I've never read Gone With the Wind. Like Kate with Little Women (which I have read) I mean to, someday, I swear!

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    2. I feel so much better, Jenn! Thank you for sharing your shameful secret, too.

      Brenda Blethyn is perfect as Vera!

      Did it bother you at all, Ann, that the movie version of GIRL ON THE TRAIN was set in America, though the book was set in London?

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    3. Not at all. Emily Blunt's portrayal of Rachel grabbed me from her first scene and I never looked back

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  11. What fun. Charlene Harris and Kate Collins, as well as Craig Johnson, have talked about how different the TV shows have to be from their books, too. Of course the producers have major constraints, and it's fun for longtime readers and fans to pick out where the stories and characters diverge.

    To all the movies and shows listed by others, I'd add Outlander, which absolutely gets it right in the TV series. Of course for twenty years my mind has stubbornly refused to make Jamie a redhead, but the TV show has cured me of that nonsense.

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    1. I haven't watched Outlander *yet*. I've seen pics of the actor for Jamie, however, and am pretty sure I will develop a Scottish problem if I start watching! LOL.

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    2. LOL on the redhead remark, Karen. :) I haven't seen the TV series, but the books were epic. Maybe I'll get the series on DVD.

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    3. Oh, Karen, how did I leave out Outlander in my lengthy list? I was so happy that the television series got it right, and I've always had Jamie a redhead, but Sam Heughan exceeds even my wildest dreams.

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    4. Kathy, did you know that Sam Heughan isn't a natural redhead?

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    5. Yes, Karen, but he should keep his hair red. Hahaha!

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  12. I'll admit, I wasn't totally on-board when I saw the pictures of Jewel. Her hair looked weirdly fake and they did a terrible job of posing her to look natural and competent (it may have been her - she can't be great at everything can she?) but I love Kate's books; Colin Ferguson has been a favorite since Eureka; and I will watch anything with Erin Karpluk. I decided to reserve judgement and just watch it.

    It turned out great. The changes worked (I tend to not get worked up about those kids of things unless it changes the story considerably so that it's only the name that's the same or by ruining a main character's personality/motivation/integrity - those people who whine that 'so-and-so's eyes are supposed to be emerald green with a hint of amber and her eyes were just hazel' make me laugh); Jewel did such a great job as Shannon that I forgave the hair people; Colin hit all the right notes as gallant, fair, and funny; the scenery was gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you for keeping an open mind, Aimee! Book Shannon has red hair, but that's just superficial. I love your comment that Jewel's great acting helped you forgive the hair people. LOL I agree, she did a wonderful job. She's perfect in the role, in my opinion, because she's feminine but not girly. She's a capable woman, and she captured that part of Shannon perfectly.

      And Colin Ferguson... OMG, he was wonderful, too! I loved his reaction to Shannon's estimate, and how he joked that after she finished remodeling his house, he wouldn't be rich anymore. His comedic timing couldn't have been better.

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  13. How wonderful not just A movie, but two! (And fingers crossed...a series?)

    Books and movies/plays teleplays are pretty obviously two different animals, so it always seems odd to me when viewers complain that the performance wasn't like the book. I mean, just for starters, when was the last time you could read a movie character's thoughts, as you can in a novel?

    I can't pare down my list of really good book-to-film adaptations because there are so many, but I can certainly name the movie that was BETTER than the book: The Bridges of Madison County. The novel was a male fulfillment fantasy as written by an MFA graduate student. The movie, with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, was a lovely, underplayed reflection on late-in-life love.

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    1. Julia, I'm so glad you brought up this example--I think in many cases the movie was superficially dismissed because of its source material.

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    2. That is so funny Julia! The book made me gag. I couldn't watch the movie because the book was so ridiculous.

      Pat D

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    3. I had a hard time seeing an extramarital affair as romantic. Though Eastwood and Streep were as amazing as always.

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  14. SO amazing! And so exciting. And so risky! It's fabulous that it's turning out so wonderfully.

    I was so excited to see The GOlden Compass, which, sigh, completely lost its charm on the screen. (Did you see he;s written a new series? Hurray!) And I never read The Devil Wears Prada, but the movie was so wonderful!

    at channel 7--rushing...xoxoxo and off to the airport. More to come!

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    1. We'll be in the air together! I'm already aloft. Thank heavens for in-flight wifi. (We live in the future.)

      Meryl Streep is always a revelation. Somehow, she managed to make that character, if not likeable, empathetic.

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    2. Hank, I would love to see Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series in a movie or television series.

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    3. Waving, Kate! xoxoo And yes, we live in the future.. or some weird physics time thing..

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  15. Welcome, Kate and congrats! I hope you have a blast on the set!

    Maybe this adaptation wouldn't stand up to the test of time, but I remember loving "The Thorn Birds" when it was first aired, eons ago. I read the book, too, and enjoyed it, also.

    I read an interview with Stephen King, and he talked about fans being upset that the TV show "Under the Dome" was different from the book. He suggested readers think about the two projects as being fraternal twins born of the same mother: they started in the same place, but then grew to be very distinct entities. What a great way to think about it.

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    1. Oh, I love that!!!! I'm going to start quoting King on that, for sure. Excellent analogy! Thanks, Ingrid.

      And yes, Thorn Birds!!!!!! Sigh!

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    2. Ingrid and Kate, The Thorn Birds should definitely have been on my list of favorites.

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  16. I find you have to consider the book and the movie/tv versions as different animals. I enjoy Longmire on TV but the tone is so different from the books. I much prefer the books. Bones is another example. As far as I can there is no resemblance between the books and the show, but I enjoy them. I read The Godfather eons ago and then saw the movie. Know what? The movie was better. It cut out a LOT of unnecessary stuff.
    Pat D

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    1. Bones is completely different! You're right. Same occupation... and the similarity pretty much ends there. But I love both iterations.

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  17. Kate, how did I miss knowing about this movie? First of all, hubby and I are big, long-time Jewel fans. And we live in, if not Victorian, a post-Victorian (1905) house and have been fixing up for twenty years:-) I hope we can find out when it will air again, and in the meantime, I'm starting the books.

    I'll go for a "better than the books" TV adaption--Morse. Not that I didn't love Colin Dexter's books, but the combination of casting, acting, scenery (Oxford!!) and Barrington Pheloung's gorgeous music made that series so special.

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    1. Oh, I'm going to have to add those to my watch list. Sounds terrific.

      Your home is a twenty-year project so far? I'd be wildly intimidated! Do you find yourself wanting to redo thing that you redid twenty years ago?

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    2. According to the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel guide, "Framed for Murder" will air again on Monday, 20 February at 3:00 pm Eastern, 2:00 pm Central . . . .

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  18. Coming in very late, but congratulations! Book to movie adaptations always make me a wee bit nervous when I liked the books, but this sounds like a good job.

    My favorites have to be the Colin Firth version of "Pride and Prejudice," "To Kill a Mockingbird," all of the "Harry Potter" movies, and "The Lord of the Rings" (the first three, not so much the Hobbit movies although Martin Freeman was phenomenal as Bilbo).

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    1. Not so very late! It's still morning on the West Coast, Mary. :)

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  19. Congratulation, Kate! I really enjoyed the movie and am looking forward to watching the series of them. I usually prefer a book to its big-screen adaptation, but except for one series of Hallmark movies from the cozies (which I won't name, just my preference) I have really enjoyed them all. Happy to see Hallmark producing so many. They are a bit different from the books but that's fine because they still capture the character and flavor of your (and the other authors') books. So now I have double the pleasure - books and movies!

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    1. I love your attitude! (Should I call you Grandma? It seems so presumptuous. ;) )

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    2. Please do :-). I have been Grandma Cootie (like the bug) forever and ever to my grand- & great-grandbabies but when I chose it as my username I didn't think ahead to all the blog posts I might make!

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  20. Sorry to digress here. I loved the 1987 adaptation from book to movie for Anne of Green Gables with Megan Follows. I read the book after I saw the movie and I thought they did a wonderful adaptation. The BBC used to adapt books to movies very well until recently. The new Poirot movies, IMHO, are not as well as the old ones. Believe it or not, the Hollywood adaptation of Christie's Murder on the Orient Express was better than the new adaptatim book to movie with a very different ending. Even if Agatha Christie was disappointed with the choice of Albert Finney as Poirot, the movie was still pretty close to the book.

    Back to Hallmark movies, I love Hallmark movies. However, I have been disappointed with recent Hallmark mysteries. The ones I really liked were too short lived (Mystery Woman, Gourmet Detective, Flower Shop, etc). The only new one I like now is the new Kate Carlisle series with Jewel. The fixer upper lady is not a shrinking flower. She is smart.

    Question for Kate Carlisle: I thought they picked Jewel for the role because she looked like you so it was interesting that they were looking for a movie for Jewel before they asked you.

    Question or two: did anyone think you were in the movie?

    Looking forward to more Fixer Upper books. I love your book restoration series.

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    1. I agree - while I love David Suchet as Poirot, I thought the Finney adaptation of ORIENT EXPRESS was much better.

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    2. LOL! Oh, I wish I looked like Jewel! That is so flattering. Thank you. <3 No, no one thought I was in the movie, but.... this is pretty exciting.... on the set right now! I've posted one picture already to my social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), so follow me if you want to get the inside scoop.

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    3. I was reading about Jewel and it looks like she went to the same music camp that my cousins went to! Small world! I can imagine how exciting it is to be on the set! That sounds like fun! I will look for you on FB so I can see the photos :-) Sometimes I wonder if authors create characters that look like themselves.

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    4. Mary, I feel the same way as you do about Suchet as Poirot too.

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    5. No, in the books, Shannon is a redhead. I've never pictured her as looking like me at all. :)

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    6. Kate, it is funny that Shannon had red hair in your books because I notice some people cannot tell the difference between red hair and blond hair. For example, some of my relatives tell me that I had blond hair when I was a baby up to 18 months. However, when I look at my baby photos, my hair looks red to me! And when I was a young child, my hair was auburn.

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  21. Oh, it was so much fun to watch your movie and live-tweet with my friends at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! We didn't all get the Hallmark channel, so we watched together by Skype -- and in your honor, Kate, I promise we were all drinking wine! Congrats, and we look forward to the next!

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    1. I was watching via Skype, too! I wanted to watch along with the East coasters and Central time zone, so my assistant Skyped me to her TV. It was hysterical and so much fun!!! Thank you for joining the party, Leslie. I'd love to do it again for the next movie in April.

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    2. Count me in. I had to wait until 10 pm in AZ to watch it.

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    3. We are lucky to get the Hallmark channel. I am not a big fan of most of the cable channels. Great to be able to watch it via Skype!

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  22. The Wizard of Oz, which is one of the best movies ever made (IMHO), as well as a terrific adaptation. And the movie, Adaptation (adapted from The Orchid Thief), which is one of the best and most hilarious screenplays ever.

    I missed your movie because we're too cheap to get a cable package that includes the Hallmark Channel, but am looking forward to streaming it someday soon! Congrats, my dear! You da bomb!!!

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    1. Excellent choice, Leslie! The movie was so good that some people probably thought the movie came first. ;)

      Just to be clear, the Fixer-Upper Mystery movies are not on the Hallmark Channel. They're on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which is a whole separate channel (and of course, one of my favorites!) I'd love for it to be streamed and/or released on DVD. That would be fun.

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    2. Leslie, which cable company do you use? I am surprised Hallmark is not included in your cable package. It is in my basic cable package. Perhaps it is different in Santa Cruz? I get both Hallmark channel and Hallmark movies and mysteries channel. However, I do not get Starz nor HBO. You will need to pay extra for these channels.

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  23. I like both of your books! The fixer upper remind me of Nicole Curtis on rehab addict! Hope it goesbon Netflix!

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  24. I like both of your books! The fixer upper remind me of Nicole Curtis on rehab addict! Hope it goesbon Netflix!

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    1. I hope so, too, Donamae! That would be wonderful!

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  25. Oh, gee, it's not on DVD? I don't have TV but I look for movies or TV on DVD when something sounds interesting. I'm working my way through that series, Kate, and I have a picture in my mind of the town. I'd love see the movie to see if it matches up with the image in my head!

    Deb Romano

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    1. It's not on DVD yet, and I haven't heard of any plans to make it available on DVD, but I hope it will be!

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  26. Ummm....The Lord of the Rings trilogy anyone?

    Also, I know Robert B. Parker didn't like it, but I loved the Spenser: For Hire TV series.

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