Writing Contemporary Romance for the Hallmark Movie Channel

Covid-19 had me in lockdown, surfing a tidal wave of annoying TV commercials. Suddenly, my trigger-finger paused on the Remote—as if by divine intervention.

I’d landed on the Hallmark Movie Channel, which was promoting another “Christmas-when-it’s-not-Christmas” marathon. As a frequent viewer of this channel, I feel safe to conclude that Hallmark’s primary audience is women, who enjoy funny, upbeat—and Inspirational—Romance-novel adaptations.

Hallmark Doesn’t Think Like Me

Unfortunately (for me, anyway,) Hallmark prefers Contemporary Romance. In all the years that I’ve been watching Hallmark, I have yet to see a Romance-novel adaptation, whose setting predates 1900.

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This realization begged the question: “Why am I not writing contemporary Romance?”

My brain promptly supplied a flood of whiny rationales, but the most insightful one was this: My Muse had never inspired me with a contemporary story-hook that I’d liked well-enough to write.

With nothing better to do (the bottom had fallen out of the Historical Romance market,) I decided to take on the challenge of writing Contemporary Romance with a Christmas setting. I even brainstormed three story hooks that would be appropriate for Hallmark. (And I thought they were pretty good!)

Now for the Hard Part

Flushed with excitement, I sat at my computer and tackled my first (and favorite) story idea. I proudly typed into my manuscript header, CONTEMPORARY CHRISTMAS ROMANCE. Then I proceeded to write Chapter 1, in which a young woman time-travels to Regency England.

Uh… huh?

Yes, my friends, my heroine existed in the Contemporary era for exactly 10 pages. But what’s really hilarious, is that I didn’t recognize I was writing another historical novel until the middle of Chapter 2! (I blame this “Dufus Moment” on my Covid diet. As a public service to all my Writer Friends, I must warn you that cheese puffs rot your brain.)

The Writing Tribulations Get Funnier

But all was not lost! I still had Story Hook #2, right?

Faithfully, I started to write it. And rewrite it. And rewrite it some more. (GAWD!) After 4 months, I had 3 stale chapters and a numb brain. (Seriously! How do you Contemporary authors DO what you DO?!)

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Never say die, right? I went back to Story Hook #1 and dreamed up a new setting: Breckenridge, Colorado, during its annual Ullr Fest. (Viking Cosplay is involved, but no Time Travel.) Before writer’s rot set in, I managed to write half a chapter… 

Okay, FINE. That’s a lie. I wrote 3 PAGES before snoring, face-down, in my cheese puffs.

Sorry. Techno Babble Bores Me!

Pathetic, right? Apparently, my brain isn’t gonna squeeze out a Contemporary Christmas Romance any time soon. (I’m allergic to writing about technology, like smart homes and the latest cell-phone du jour.)

What happened to Story Hook #3? Nothing. It’s still in my back pocket. But I’m pretty sure Hallmark won’t choose to make a movie of that book. Hallmark wants Christmas books, set in snowy locales. The setting of my book is a fictional town in Texas.

Could I re-set Story Hook #3 in some northern town to appease Hallmark? Not really. The humor exists in the story because the book’s set in Texas. 

The other problem with Story Hook #3 is that the subplot involves magic. True, Hallmark will occasionally purchase a Christmas book with a little bit of magic (so I’m willing to be wrong!) But I just can’t imagine that story set in any locale other than Texas. (Believe me, I’ve tried.)

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So what’s next? Good question. I’m having a long talk with my Muse…

I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

GOOD NEWS!

Date: Like, a GAZILLION months later…

Howdy, Folks! I’ve come back to report.

I FINALLY came up with a snowy setting, a humorous story hook, an endearing hero and heroine, and THE #1 guaranteed sales-generator for all things Hallmark: adorable kid- and animal-characters. Hooray! (Picture Adrienne doing her happy dance.)

Of course, I thought the same thing 4 brainstorms ago…

But seriously, if I can keep the faith, then you can too. Never, EVER give up on your writing dream!

Gotta go rewrite again. Talk to you soon! 😀 

Hugs,

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