The Christmas Checklist

A cozy, inspirational Christmas romance with a “Pay it Forward” feel


The Christmas Checklist

Lisa Hepner

Lisa Hepner is a produced screenwriter specializing in Christmas Romance. This is her debut novel.

Two movies that Lisa wrote are due to air on TV this Christmas 2021: Christmas Wish in Hudson and Christmas Lover’s Anonymous.

This story is inspired by her own grief from losing her own mom, Ruby, and trying to get through the first Christmas without her. (Lisa and her mom pictured, left.)

The movie version of this story is currently being shopped and will hopefully appear on TV soon.

Meet the Characters


Emily is an ultrasound tech who took a leave of absence from her work to come back to her hometown, a cozy town in Colorado, and take care of her sick mother. But now her mom’s gone and she’s unsure about her future. Emily has always relied on her mom and now needs to discover self-reliance. She’s sweet and caring but makes poor decisions when it comes to men. Being raised by a single mom she never saw an example of a healthy relationship. She’s shy until you get to know her and has a habit of laughing when she’s nervous. She bites her tongue a lot and never says what she really feels. Through the Christmas Checklist she learns to be independent and to follow her heart. She becomes brave enough to take chances and risks. She finds joy and discovers that love is all around her and that love never dies.


Noah is a freelance writer hoping for a full-time staff position at the Ivywood Gazette. He’s charismatic and very observant—he has to be for his job. He’s a “great catch” except for the fact that he was hurt in the past and is afraid to open up his heart again to love. Until he meets Emily! He’s down-to-earth and would do anything for his younger brother but has an estranged relationship with his dad. He learns to open his heart to love again and he also learns about forgiveness and heals his relationship with his dad.


Emily’s “boyfriend.” He’s an x-ray tech but hasn’t come to visit Emily once since she came back to Colorado. They have a physical chemistry but Emily is realizing she needs more in a relationship. Dave is competitive so when he thinks he’s losing Emily he makes an attempt to come visit her for Christmas.


Emily’s best friend and former coworker. The kind of friend we all need—one who tells you how it is without sugar coating things. Kat is the one who encourages Emily to read the Christmas Checklist article after she feels betrayed and convinces her that Noah didn’t need her permission for the article. She’s married with two kids, but her relationship has fizzled out in the “romance” department…until she reads the Christmas Checklist. Her kids are also inspired to do work in the community because of the checklist.


Noah’s younger brother. The two live together and while Noah took care of his brother while growing up, Isaiah is the more secure one financially. He continues a relationship with their father and urges Noah to do the same, to no avail. He has a crush on the next-door neighbor, Renee, but is too afraid to ask her out. Through the checklist he decides to ask her out.


Noah’s boss and publisher. She’s going through a divorce and is looking for an inspirational Christmas article. Her work is her baby and that’s the reason she’s getting a divorce. She’s very successful at what she does but doesn’t take personal time to herself. Through the checklist, she realizes she doesn’t want a divorce and decides to take more time for herself and her marriage. She realizes that life isn’t all about work.