To those who choose to date in their friend circle, here’s some personal advice…

During the last few months, I’ve decided to stop being a wimp and ask out the friends I’ve been interested in for a long time. But naturally I was very worried about ruining good friendships. However, I had many great experiences, going on dates with those guys, realizing there wasn’t a mutual spark, and still maintaining a solid friendship afterward. Granted, it’s still a bummer on both ends when there isn’t a spark. But neither of us can say, “What if…?” anymore.

But it really grinds my gears is when the expected drama ensues. So here’s some advice I had to learn the hard way.

Let’s say you’ve already been on a date with that friend, and you’re interested in a second one. Be prepared for them to not return that interest. In fact, they may not know how to turn you down, so they may choose to say nothing at all. They might go so far as to avoid you altogether. This is in no way your fault and you can focus your energy on someone who WILL care about you, even enough to say, “I think you’re great, but I just want to be friends.” Because you at least deserve that much.

But keep in mind, that person may come crawling back for another chance. Proceed with caution. If they rejected you the first time, quite often they come crawling back because they’re looking for temporary validation and believe you’ll care enough to give it to them. You are worth so much more than being someone’s second choice or after thought. Because usually, those people get over it very quickly, and will walk away from you again. Or during that time, they’ll want to keep it a secret from your mutual friends. They might go so far as alienate you from them so it won’t make them look bad. In this case, tell anyone you feel comfortable confiding in. You don’t want your friends turning on each other, which can be avoided by saying things like, “They’re horrible because they did this…” and perhaps replace it with, “I’m sad because this is what happened.” And to the friends who are listening, their hurt is very real and only want someone to listen. You might have information that will give them some peace of mind, and that they’ve been treated isn’t personal. Often, that’s what they need to hear.

Now if the circumstances are less dramatic and look a little more like this…here’s my advice to you. If the friend you asked on a date says yes, make sure you set up a date and time for when this will happen. If you say, “Let’s do something this week” there’s a chance that might not register fully. It might go so far as to finding out come Friday night, that friend was with someone else.

If that person WAS with someone else, do not say passive aggressive things like, “The party turned out to be lame. Hope you had fun with your date.” They’ll likely take it as a sincere wish, or understand your upset quickly defend themselves. In the later case, you could end up apologizing for getting irrationally upset. But the truth is, you’re feelings aren’t irrational. You’re upset because you had said, “Let’s do something this week” and they hadn’t been paying attention enough to make that mental note.

If you choose to say something about it, best case scenario, they’ll make an effort to set up a date with you. Worst case scenario, they change the subject and end the conversation right there. The last thing they want is for you to be upset with them, so they might hurry to reassure you, preventing your negative feelings from escalating, and just avoid it in the future.

That can often lead to another week going by and they’ve stopped acknowledging you altogether. By now you probably feel a bit gipped, and that’s warranted. You’ve likely seen how they’ve treated the people they’ve liked and made an effort to pursue. They took them to fun places, showed them genuine affection, and made them feel special. It’s very easy to start comparing yourself to them, which takes a heavy toll on how you value yourself.

But you might choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them more time. You even ask directly, “When are we going to go on that date?” and they say, “I’ll think of something.” But once again, if no solid plans are made, the way you value yourself diminishes a whole lot more. And so at this point, you have two solid choices. The first would be to let it go, because sometimes avoiding conflict is the best option. But if you choose to be honest about what’s been bothering you, here’s my advice to EVERYONE in this scenario.

Confrontation is scary. We sometimes enter it thinking we’re going to get an apology, or that person will immediately change and provide what you asked for in the first place. But most of the time, they will respond with their own prepared defense, and will do anything to avoid facing your anger and upset. It’s a very realistic and human response, which can’t be held against them. But if you find yourself with more anger than you know what to do with, say it! But of course, say it without the purpose of cutting them down.

Avoid, “You did this to me” or “You’re a terrible person because…” Instead, try, “I’m upset because this is what happened between us, and this is how it made me feel…” And if someone is upset with you, listen! Their hurt is very real and deserves to be acknowledged. They cared about you more deeply than you did them, and that isn’t going to go away over night. It may require some action on your part, but an apology goes a long way, and compromising has a great way of saving friendships and relationships. But more importantly, it lets that person you know you really DO value you them at a person; that you value them the way GOD values them.

And sometimes, relationships will end. People will choose to walk away altogether and there’s nothing left but to respect that decision. But at the very least, you did all that you could, and that person will move on a lot quicker than they would have holding a silent grudge.

To wrap things up, I think it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy and grateful for what I have, but being single has its set of lonely challenges. Many broken relationships, unwanted drama, and everything in between. It’s a bumpy ride, but at some point it’ll all be worth it. Until then, cheers to my fellow YSA’s who receive some peace of mind knowing I’m right there with you.

Cheers to you, XO


How I See You ~ Part 4


There’s nothing I like to hear more than someone saying, “I trust you as my friend and an artist.” And it was last summer when I looked at Melissa during a boating trip wearing her brand new swim suit, wind in her hair, sun on her face, that impressed me to say, “You are totally a mermaid.” Of course, she naturally accepted this answer in joking way. But at a quick glance, she is a smart woman in college, kind to everyone, sweet personality, and attentive listener. In my perspective,however, Melissa has a wild side that comes out when her friends need it the most. Though her actions stay within reason, her imagination and love for fantasy inspired me to dress her up as I see her. And naturally that is a mermaid. Beautiful, sweet, and mischievous 😉

With a hot glue gun, store bought shells, and a plastic pearl necklace, I put together a crown for the fantasy sea queen she is. Her and features and fair complexion worked wonderfully with the color palette I chose last minute. And we giggled the whole time as we set up our makeshift underwater cove, and she posed like a champion with every direction I gave her. The whole project is always worth it when they let go of any insecurity they might have and see the finished product. Hearing Melissa say, “Oh my gosh, I really am a mermaid!” means I did my job right.

Here are her best photos from the whole shoot!

The Heroes of Burnheart – The men from my upcoming novel “The Burnheart Redemption”


Adam Garrow is determined, steadfast, and known to make a show of things. Raised as the son of Lord, he is a gentleman and honest worker. But after discovering the truth of his lineage, Adam embarks on a six-year journey to redefine his life’s purpose. And on the day of his return, fate allows him to cross paths with the lovely and kind Solana Rosenlund.

But when tragedy strikes, Solana is caught in the crossfire of an unseen force threatening to destroy the Garrow family legacy. With the help of his brother, Phillip, and loyal friend, Ian, they fight to keep each other alive and ultimately regain everything they lost.

All Adam has to his name is the Burnheart estate his father left him before he died. Though the house is condemned to ruins, he chooses to find redemption by rebuilding the foundation, as well as his relationships. One of which, he hopes to rebuild with Solana.


Phillip Garrow is honorable, strong, and known to take action when leadership is needed. As the sole inheritor of his father’s business and estate of Fairbrooke, he steps into his shoes to continue the Garrow legacy. Along the way, he quite literally runs into the enchanting Iris Westmont; the youngest daughter of a well-known horse breeder. They soon fall completely in love with plans to marry.

But when a mysterious villain attempts to off Phillip entirely, he requires the help of his brother, Adam, and loyal friend, Ian, to bring him back from danger.

With only Burnheart to return to, Phillip is determined to keep his claim of Fairbrooke, discover who this villain is once and for all, and find his way back to the love of his life.



Ian O’Connor is a charming Irishman, resilient, and stubborn enough to see every plan through. As Cedric Westmont’s top horse trainer, he has a respectable job, and is close friends with his eldest daughter, Abigail. Though she’s above his station, Ian is enamored by her beauty and kindness; and the two have an unspoken flirtation that must be kept hidden from everyone.

But Ian is no longer welcome when he is blindfolded and attacked by men who question his honorable intentions, and despise his Irish heritage.

Relying on the help of Adam and Phillip Garrow, he returns the favor by risking his own life on their behalf, and seeking justice where it is needed. In the end, he is resigned to let go of Abigail entirely, but fate usually has a way of bringing hearts back together.

Coming soon…The Burnheart Redemption

This story is very near and dear to my heart because it’s the first full manuscript I’ve ever written! At nineteen I did nothing but daydream as I dove into the world of pure romance. Before then I wasn’t much of a reader, but my college roommates introduced to me to so many wonderful novels, I was inspired to write my own.

During the course of six years, this story has been reshaped numerous times. I thought I was genius back then, and after the year it took to finish, I sent countless query letters to publishers. Of course I received an equal amount of rejection letters, and it was enough for me to put on the shelf for a while. At nineteen I wasn’t very experienced in the romance department. Never had a boyfriend, hadn’t been kissed yet, or even been on a real date! Everything I wrote was either guess work, or inspired by other author’s words. Like a patchwork of fabric that clashed in the weirdest way. Imagine a quilt made of orange taffeta and denim. I mean…you can see the effort, but it just didn’t work too well.

But as time went on, I grew up, lived my own romantic experiences and suddenly…I had a real voice. I had perspective. I had a philosophy. And I became inspired to write other stories that made it to Cedar Fort Publishing. My first book “Unseen Road to Love” was published last year. And after many writer’s conventions and advice from editors, I decided to dust off the novel that started it all.

I had kept the concept of this story and reworked it into something a million times better in my eyes, again, thinking myself a genius, and sent it out. Within two weeks, I received a call that it would come to life in April 2018! I was ecstatic, and going through the motion of designing this cover was an emotional process. I had a lot of say in the design, and by the time it was ready, I did my happy dance! But by the time I reached the subedit…I was in a for a new challenge.

First rule of writing…never believe you are a genius. There will always be other perspectives that will catch the things you miss. And boy did my editor catch about five mistakes on every page. Plot holes, oddly structured sentences, too much telling, contradicting information, no character development, too much intensity, and bombshells that left me in a fetal position. I cut out thirty pages of content, and added a whole new ending that left my nineteen-year-old self a little solemn. I stayed up a full twenty-four hours to make the deadline and when I submitted my revised work at 5:18 AM, I realized just what it means to be a writer. I learned a lot from this experience to understand how to create a beautiful and believable story. One would think after publishing a romance already, I know everything there is to know about writing, but it’s fun to discover new ways of sharing something I believe to be wonderful. And I hope you do as well.

I can’t wait for you to read this story, and I’d love to publish a sequel!

Cheers to you, XO


My Many Faces

It’s no secret that I love to play dress up. Putting on makeup, a wig, a costume, fancy clothes, or assuming a  new identity altogether is fun for me. Of course it isn’t easy when I have a tight budget. I mean straight up dollar store makeup budget. But I get by with a few special purchases every now and then. Here’s some of my favorite looks during the past few years.

Ariel – “The Little Mermaid”

(Wig bought online, bow I made out of ribbon, clothes bought from a secondhand store – sewn together myself, and makeup bought from walmart)

Harley Quinn – “Suicide Squad”

(White foundation bought online, hair colored by crayola markers, tattoo I painted on, shirt bought from hot topic and makeup from Walmart)

Jessica Rabbit – “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

(Wig and gloves bought online, and makeup from walmart)

Me – Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)

(White foundation I already owned, dollar store eyeliner, acrylic paint, and Walmart makeup)

Me – Unicorn Awesomeness

(Walmart makeup, dollar store sparkly eye shadow, and crayola markers for my hair)

Me – Just me really liking my makeup that day

(Dollar store sparkly eye shadow, and black lipstick from Kat Von D makeup collection)

How I See You ~ Part 3

My sister, Aleigha, has a insanely active imagination and colorful personality. After seeing Courtney’s transformation i my first “How I See You” post, she willingly sat on a stool for an hour while I painted her face until we got these incredible photos above.

The way I see her now isn’t the same as I’ve seen her as a little girl. Then, she was everybody’s girly girl, a petite little princess who enjoyed the spotlight.

But like may teenagers do, she’d begun to redefine herself as she slowly developed her skill as an artist. While I paint and sketch portraits, she’s dived into the world of animation, cartoons, comics, and anime; growing int our favorite nerdy tomboy.

I could tell her desire to look and feel beautiful never went away. We both struggle with our self image in a similar way, but she would have kicked and screamed if I’d put her in a dress. Her style didn’t go with the flow of modern trends, so I decided to try something a bit out of the ordinary. The art she creates is a pure reflection of herself. BOLD, FUN, DRAMATIC, and EXPRESSIVE. A true character one would find in a classic Archie Comic. Because classic is probably the best way to describe her.

How I See You Project ~ Part 2

It only takes one photo to tell a story. The man you see here is someone I had the pleasure of meeting last September. He just returned home after being stationed in New York. After his active term in the Army was over, he started a life that was much different than the chaos he was used to, even since childhood.

While respecting his privacy, all I can say his how much I admire him for following his desires to find peace and truth. In Palmyra, New York, he learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For a year he read the Book of Mormon, taking his time to read, ponder and pray until he chose to learn more.

When he moved back to Arizona, I won’t lie, I was immediately fascinated after spotting him at church. And thankfully he was more amused then creeped out, but eventually our friendship solidified and I learned just how awesome he truly is. At first glance, one could easily assume him to be a nonmember or convert. His tattoos are the first to give that impression, but to me they’re proof of his artistic talent considering he did a few himself.

What’s cooler is his heritage. Just recently I learned that not only is he Mexican descent, but part Native American as well. Lately he’s been diving into family history, which brings us to this photo here. We took a very long road trip to St. George, Utah to hike Zion’s National Park, and walk the grounds of the oldest running LDS temple in history. We stood on decades worth of history and he asked me to take a picture of him.

Originally I had the intention of taking different posed photos with him. I wanted this project to highlight some of his best features, which includes his smile. Instead, I found the best angle and pose to take one photo that spoke volumes to me.

On the way there, someone was very quick to profile us. I didn’t blame that person for jumping to conclusions. But what they saw in my friend was only the surface. But what I’ve seen since the beginning is a man who has always turned his back on the past to face God’s light. Not that he forgets it entirely, but embraces where his past has lead him so he can learn and continue to move forward.

If he’s reading this right now, he’s for sure laughing at how much of poetic cheeseball I am. He’s not one for being in the spotlight. But how I see you, is how God sees you. And I hope this picture will remind everyone to do the same for all people. I think I speak for everyone when I also say, thank you for your service.

New Photography Project! “How I See You”

As an artist, I love trying new mediums and expanding my creativity beyond the paintbrush. Recently I decided to do a new project where I capture the closest people in my life in the way I see them. My first subject is my youngest sister, Courtney.
Courtney was born under severe circumstances that left her in the NICU for 8 days, three weeks sooner than doctors expected. She grew into a brilliant girl with an active imagination, known to be our tough as nails Tom Boy. But as her big sister, watching her blossom into a young woman, a trait I always saw was how delicate and graceful she is with timeless features.  To me, angelic and fairylike. Her response to that…a sarcastic, “Okay, Chelsea. Whatever you say…” She never really liked getting her picture taken, but with endless pleading…she agreed.

My original plan was to create a fashion forward look using products I found at the 99 cent store, which I did! I purchased her makeup and made the flower crown myself the night before. The dress was once owned by an old roommate who gave it me, and I passed onto Courtney. The whole look cost under 20 dollars.

Courtney was skeptical at first, especially when I started using the liquid liner and dusting eye shadow on her cheek bones.

But after 3o minutes of hair, makeup and finding the perfect angles, I began to edit…and as soon as I got what I was looking for, I showed her the final product. Her face lit up. “They turned out better than I expected,” she said with the biggest smile on her face. No matter what time of day, in whatever state she’s in, Courtney has always been a beautiful girl. And like many, it takes a new perspective for us to see ourselves as others see us. And it wasn’t just the hair and makeup…it was the persona she stepped into. These pictures reminded me how much she loved dressing up as Cinderella when she was little. The funny thing is, no matter how old we get, we never stop playing dress up. And this was a lovely reminder that once Cinderella, always Cinderella!

Here are the final favorites!

Pick up a paintbrush and hope for the best

On top of my writing, I’m an artist too! These are my latest projects, commissioned by friends and family members.

The process for this one took me about 6 hours. My cousin had sent me a beautiful photo of his wife and infant daughter to sketch for Mother’s Day. I started with a grid and drew basic outlines. I filled in clothing details first, since that’s the most tedious part, and then the faces after. Since it’s easier to erase mistakes when the shading is lighter, I darken the shadows for the final touches, and there you have it! This piece took a few days, but a year to create the concept. A good friend of mine had discussed me doing a large piece for his living room the day we met. Since then, we through dozens of ideas to make sure what I created really matched his personality and made a statement. If someone were to walk inside, what’s the first thing I want them to notice? And my friends, this one was NOT easy. Despite how random the colors look, it took bottles and bottles of acrylic paint, a large brush, a pallet knife, and a redo to get it just right. When my special friend hung on it his wall, sending messages of praise and gratitude, I slumped on the couch with the feeling of a job well done.

This last piece wasn’t a commission, but a photo posted by a professional photographer that truly inspired me. Quite often I’ll see photos published on Facebook or Instagram, and right I see a hundred different story lines with dozens of possible feelings. Right then I’m prompted to paint at least one of them.

Because in the end it’s not about the commission, it’s about the reaction. It’s something I do because it’s how I focus all the chaotic energy inside me. It’s how I forget about myself and the world so I  can think about someone else. It’s how I connect to the artist’s in my family who have passed on. It’s how I brings another’s person’s feelings to life.

It’s how I feel the most alive.