Happy Monday, Reader Friends!
Today I’m talking with the awesome Jennifer Chastain about her Christmas book, The Mistletoe Contract. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with us!
Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today! Why don’t we kick this off with questions about your writing. What is your writing process like?
I have to sit on an idea for a while, let it “marinate” so to speak. I’ll talk through the idea (with myself) and then I’ll bounce the idea off writer friends. So, once I have a general idea, I then start working on character traits, background and personality. Again, this usually takes me a while because while I’m doing this, sometimes the characters will surprise me with something new about themselves. Then I work on my SEQ – this is the story equation that I use from Novel Academy. I’ll talk to the characters, try to find out what really bothers them, what their greatest dreams are, as well as their fears. Finally, I do a rough story plot. Then I’ll go back and talk through the story again with friends, talk through possible plot ideas and work out any holes or inconsistencies in my story. Once this is done, I’ll set up my template in Scrivener, take a deep breath, pray for words and start writing.
Toni: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Jennifer: I think I knew this when I was a little girl. I loved to read, loved going to the library and would make up stories for my Ken and Barbie dolls. About 20 years ago, I knew God was calling me to write but life got in the way, I had only been married a couple of years, my husband and I moved to Chattanooga, TN and I was putting him through college. Then about six years ago, I felt God nudging in this direction again. Frankly, He wouldn’t leave me alone! So, I Googled “how to write a novel” and the first item under the search was Novel Academy/My Book Therapy. I signed up for Susan May Warren’s Story Crafter class and the rest, as they say, is history.
Toni: Tell us a little about your story?
Jennifer: In order for Nate Rutledge to assume the leadership position of his family’s company, Rutledge Corporate Developers, Incorporated, he must be married. In addition to the stress of finding a wife, someone has been embezzling company funds. When Meredith Mitchell walks into his corporate offices to conduct the forensic audit, sparks fly. Because Meredith didn’t expect to see the one man who broke her heart 8 years ago. Added to the stress of seeing Nate, Meredith needs money for her mom’s medical bills. When Nate proposes a marriage of convenience, is it the answer to their prayers? Or is their modern-day marriage a disaster waiting to happen?
Toni: What would be the verse that fits your story and why?
Jennifer: Hebrews 11:6 – “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?” ESV
But another one that popped into my mind as I was answering these questions is Romans 8:28. God will work through the details of our life, no matter how messy.
Toni: What life verse would your main character choose and why?
Jennifer: Hmm, that’s a good question, because when the novel opens, she’s had a crisis of faith at this point. She feels as if God has forsaken her and it takes Nate to show her that God has always been there for her. But I think, deep down, Meredith knows that God is with her. Hebrews 13:5b “…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ESV
Toni: What message do you hope readers will get out of reading your story?
Jennifer: I want my readers to hopeful after reading my story. That God is good, He will provide for our needs and that He is always with us, no matter the chaos that surrounds us or is threatening to drag us under.
Toni: Why should a reader choose your books if this is the first time they’ve heard of you?
Jennifer: If a reader enjoys a good, clean romance, one that’s filled with grace, forgiveness and second chances, then I believe they would like my book. And let’s not forget that a book needs conflict in order to make it interesting and move the story along. If I get to the end of a book and there is a cliffhanger, let’s just say I’m not too happy with the author! But at the end of my novel, my main characters do get their happily-ever-after.
Toni: Do you like coffee or tea? Chocolate or candy? Beaches or mountains?
Jennifer: Well, don’t hate me, but I don’t like coffee or tea. Unless it’s a pumpkin spice latte during the holidays! I drink a lot of water. And the occasional Diet Coke. When it comes to chocolate, I much prefer dark chocolate. My 2 favorites are a Belgian Dark Chocolate from our local grocery story, Harris Teeter, or Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bar.
I love both the beaches and the mountains- I’m not picky! But I find that the mountains are more peaceful, have a relaxed pace and you can feel God’s presence in nature. We hiked up in Cherokee, NC last fall. Even though there were a lot of people around, there was a stillness that can’t be found anywhere else. But if I’m at the beach, I’m in awe of the beauty of a sunrise as it crests over the horizon. The very power of the ocean waves as they hit shore is awesome. Not only that, but I also love to listen to the waves at night, it’s a great way to fall asleep.
Toni: What’s a normal writing day like for you?
Jennifer: I don’t think there is anything normal about my writing days! Sometimes, I’ll get up early and work on my social media posts before I go to work. After work, I’ll write a bit, maybe 30-45 minutes, while dinner is cooking. I then try to write 1-2 hours before bed 3-4 nights a week. The bulk of my writing is done on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoons.
Toni: Who would you cast to play the characters in your book?
Jennifer: Wow – this is a tough one. If I could have anyone play Nate, I would have to say Brant Daugherty or Zac Efron. Both have the physical looks and they just ooze charisma. Meredith is a tough one. I think Amanda Seyfried would make a good Meredith. Tori should be played by Mila Kunis – Tori is exotic and Mila has those gorgeous eyes. Clay should be played by Jude Law – he can pull off any kind of role. Kyle should be played by Chad Michael Murray. Finally, Cole, who is ex-military and is now a PI, should be played by Jensen Ackles.
Toni: What’s next in your writing?
Jennifer: Right now, I’m finishing up edits on my second novel and I hope to have that sent off to the editor soon. I’m also working on another shorter novel for NaNoWriMo in November. I have the story all plotted and now I just need to sit in my chair and write, no matter how bad the first draft is!
Toni: Last but not least, sow can we pray for you?
Jennifer: I’m juggling a full-time job, trying to find writing time as well as assist my mom with my dad’s recovery from major cancer surgery. If you could pray for my dad’s healing in addition to my writing, I’d appreciate it. I need wisdom with trying to balance all these areas of my life.
Toni: Readers, do you have any questions for Jennifer?
About the Book
He needs a wife. She needs money. Is their modern-day marriage an answer to their prayers or a disaster waiting to happen?
Confirmed bachelor, Nathan Rutledge shut his heart to romance when he was forced to break the heart of the only woman he ever truly loved. Now, with his father’s retirement from the family conglomerate, the torch has been passed to him. But there are two problems—first, he needs a wife in order to take over the family business. Second, someone has been embezzling company funds. With the pressure mounting, and time expiring to find both a wife he can trust and the thief, Nate needs a Christmas miracle.
Forensic Accountant, Meredith Mitchell’s life is in a shambles. Her mother needs a lifesaving transplant, Mom’s medical bills have bankrupted Meredith’s meager savings, and she’s sold everything of value, but it’s still not enough. To make matters worse, she’s now tasked with discovering accounting errors for a new client—none other than Nathan Rutledge—the same man who gave her a broken heart for Christmas eight years ago.
Meredith wants to run. Nate wants the chance to right his wrongs. So, naturally, when he proposes a modern-day marriage of convenience, she balks at the idea. But he desperately needs a wife, and she really needs the money he offers. Is this the answer to her prayers? Or will this mutually beneficial arrangement re-open old wounds that can’t be healed?
About the Author
Jennifer Chastain is a member of ACFW, ACFW-NC, and Word Weavers. Several of her other stories were finalists in the Blue Ridge Mountains Foundations contest and she was a finalist in the Touched by Love contest, sponsored by the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of RWA. Her contemporary romance stories contain the themes of redemption, grace, and forgiveness.
A hopeful romantic, Jennifer loves dark chocolate, Diet Coke, old movies and a good romantic movie. She loves to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen and when not cooking, she’s baking. Growing up in the snowy North, Christmas has always been her favorite holiday, with the scents of cinnamon, vanilla, and pine scenting the air.
She and her husband have been married for over 25 years and they are permitted to co-exist with their black rescue cat.