True Sentiment versus Sentimentality by Janine Donoho

Trumpeter Swans fly through morning light streaming through clouds to silhouette Whitehorse mountainLast night I finally watched Hallmark’s prerecorded Away and Back. Don’t judge me. I resisted for a time because I intensely dislike attempted emotional coercion and that’s been Hallmark’s modus operandi for too long.

Still, trumpeter swans… Then appealing characters and storyline charmed me into staying. Gone the silly and soapy scrum of recent Hallmark movies in celebration of the return to story and true sentiment. Okay, a few glitches, but more on that later.

Flawlessly cast adult protagonists delivered on story as battered widower Jack Peterson and truculent swan conservationist Ginny Newsom. Empathetic and gritty 10-year-old Frankie emerged as the fictional daughter I’ll never have. And saving Cygnus buccinator—balm to a conservation biologist’s heart.

Trumpeter swan by Brian StevensThe cinematography stunned me to tears with trumpeters silhouetted against the sun or harvest moon. Sweeping scapes of other natural beauty and even a subtle message of hope amid the human interactions lifted me. Mostly.

Now a lesson for all of us conduits of story. Hallmark engaged me until the last twenty minutes, when they imploded into the black hole of clichéd sentimentality. At that point, I forgave them—this time.

The earlier glow carried me through this misstep. They dished up the real deal Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015for much of the movie and maybe next time around, they’ll persist with honest emotion and storytelling.

Until then? I’m reading and writing. Plus launching SOUNDINGS, WATER ELEMENTAL into the world—a novel brimming with story, impactful characters and yes, true sentiment. Or at least that was my intent.

How do you feel about sappiness and overt attempts to influence us? Where do you draw the line as viewer? As reader? As writer?Trumpeter Swans

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Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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