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.

 

Behind the Scenes of Unseen Road to Love

It’s official! “Unseen Road to Love” is now here! And to celebrate I want to share with you the unpublished author’s note about the events in the book inspired by real people and events.

SPOILER ALERT!

#1 – Logan’s accident was inspired by my real life accident. It occurred December 7, 2012. I was walking across the street that evening (literally a block from my apartment) when two people turning right at the intersection didn’t stop at the stop sign. My left knee and face was lacerated, my nose crushed-in, and I received a severe concussion. In that moment I wasn’t unconscious. I remember laying in the road, feeling blood on my face, seeing how scared the men were, and the courage and kindness it took for them to make sure I got to the hospital safely. I was in the hospital 3 days, and took my college finals the following week. To this day I have no long term injuries. A real miracle in my life.

#2 – Logan’s height. Throughout the years I’ve had several guy friends close to 6’4. They always gave the best hugs, but holy Hannah, I’ve been knocked off balance a few times by them not knowing their own strength. Worth it 🙂

#3 – Annie is based on my real life friend! In the book she is described as “fun sized” just an inch below 5 feet. Featured in the phot above on the left. We were college roommates, and is best known for her cute style and memorable laugh. She married her high school sweetheart and is still one of my most influential friends today.

#4 – Savannah “Savvy” is real too! Though her love story with James is my own creation, he sparkly personality, nursing skills and boss cookies…all her! Featured in the above photo on the right. In fact both Annie and Savannah were both my college roommates at Dixie State University. On the About the Author page, these are the very friends who introduced me to all things happiness in books, and pumpkin cookies!

#5 – Addie and Logan’s musical talent. I’m not a gifted song writer, but I did write a custom love song titled “Heaven on Earth” for my dear friend, Alisa’s, wedding. She couldn’t find one with the right voice, lyrics, and meaning that fit the way she felt for her now husband. Secretly, I wrote one for them as a wedding present. Grant Matheson, who is a current member of the band Advent Horizon, generously recorded the melody on his guitar, and the famous and talented, Joy Frost, beautifully sang the lyrics. Music has always been a big part of my life, but this event inspired me to add more music in the story. The experience gave me lasting inspiration until the very end.

#6 – Dixie State University is my alma mater. I lived in St. George for three years, teaching preschool. Like Logan, I didn’t have a car and often road the Sun Tran everywhere I went.

#7 – “Farkle”. During the holidays, occasionally my extended family and I play the infamous dice game. One year I was reigning champion, and I never let anyone forget it. 😛

#8 – Andy Grammer. He really did perform at Dixie, and it was coolest experience! His music inspired pretty much the whole story. You can read more about it in my previous tribute post to him.

#9 – Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy: It’s a very brief snippet, but Logan mentions using one after his accident. It’s a chamber one sits in as pure oxygen is pumped into the body to aid in tissue repair. I used one twice, before and after my own accident. And the man who introduced me to hyperbaric chambers inspired a lot of Logan’s personality towards the end.

#8 – Mark and Logan’s brotherly bond. While living in Salt Lake, I befriended a set of brothers, and they were 6’4 studs who often referred themselves as “the Weasley Twins”. Grant, who was previously mentioned above, and Jon who has the sweet motorcycle skills, and will no doubt be featured in a future novel 🙂

#10 – Zucchini brownies: Alisa, who was mentioned in the fact above, is notorious for her zucchini brownies, which are healthy in a sense…before she adds the chocolate chips and frosting.

#11 – “Scum”: A game my singles ward friends often gathered to play, and dominate at. One of my favorite card games.

#12 – Addie’s profession: Like her, I taught preschool in St. George, Utah and moved back home to teach at an elementary school. The most rewarding and hectic times of my life.

#13 – Tommy: Though my dad is still on this earth, he was in the military when I was younger. His voice is exactly who I heard as I wrote Tommy’s letter. Another snippet: Just like Addie’s dad, mine would let me stay up late and watch Star Wars with him until I fell asleep.

#14 – Pizza: The first dates Logan takes on are based on a perfect day when a really great friend treated me to an amazing pizza place that changed my life. This was the beginning inspiration for Logan’s character. It made for a lasting memory I needed to share. Shout out to Rusted Sun Pizzeria in SLC, Utah! And to Adam MacKay, for being awesome in every sense of the word.

#15 – Flirt running: A boy I went on a date with did just that! I found it very cute and clever.

#16 – Addie’s song: I’ve always wanted to learn the ukulele, because I loved it when friends brought them out to jam. At my friend’s wedding reception, she had brought one out to sing to her new husband one of the happiest love songs ever. If you read the book, you know what part I’m talking about!

#17 – Peggy: Is based on the amazing Peggy Matheson! And she the real mother of the mustache brothers featured above. Having spent time in her home as I wrote this novel, and watching their whole family interact, I was inspired to no end. Not just a fantastic for who she is in general, but also a talented actress you may know from the 2014 film “The Saratov Approach”.

Words On The Rocks

As a Mormon millennial, and a young single adult, the singles ward can be an intimidating place. With the talented Rockford Lines, we give you the survival guide to the world of DATING.

 

Does everyone remember my first post, “Do The Creep”? Well it was actually direct response to this guy! He had posted a video sharing his opinion, and we banded together to talk about the creepers in the world from both male and female perspectives.

 

FUN FACTS:

  • We came up with the idea of the show on a group hiking trip.
  • During the long drive to the trail, we figured out we had a lot to talk about and both wanted to start a web series.
  • It took us an hour to figure out our background, camera placement, lighting, and to come up with what we were going to say.
  • The title is based on Rockford’s name if you haven’t guessed already.
  • The intro was my idea, and Rockford geniusly recorded the music for it.
  • I roped in Rockford’s brother to hold the Sprite bottle in intro.
  • Everything we say isn’t scripted, nor do we know what the other person is going to say next. We pretty much lay out a topic and start talking.
  • Rockford and I met a year ago and we still attend the same singles ward.
  • No, we are not dating.
  • Rockford did all the cutting and editing himself.
  • His full name is Ruskin Rockford Lines IV. But he strongly prefers Rockford.
  • Only because some have asked…yes, this is my natural hair color. I’ve never dyed it.

 

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

 

To Andy Grammer and Jon Schmidt

Have you ever listened to an album and felt chills run down your spine, inspiring a vast spectrum of emotions imploding in your brain and chest cavity? I’ve had many different reactions to different artists, but today is my tribute to two particular artists – Jon Schmidt and Andy Grammer.

 

In June of 2012, Andy Grammer came to perform at Dixie State where I attended college. At that point in my life, I live in a bubble. I hadn’t heard of him, nor his opening act, Rachel Platten. Of course, it was before her hit singles, “Stand by You” and “Fight Song” even existed, but still…holy crap, I was in a room full of talented greatness! Some may disagree, but the sound, lyrics and energy was everything my soul needed at the time.

 

Towards the end when Andy had someone take a photo of he and the entire audience I was in, it completely made my night, especially when Facebook resurfaced that memory after 5 years. I found it so poetically perfect sense it was his newer album, Magazines or Novels, that inspired my upcoming novel, Unseen Road to Love.

Ideas for my book had been roaming around my head for years, but I wasn’t motivated to begin the writing process until after my friend’s birthday party. His girlfriend at the time had planned a big surprise, and I showed up to find his friends, family, food, cake and massive blowup slide in his backyard. And if said friend is reading this right now, call me, it’s been awhile. Anyway, there was a moment amidst all the awesome chaos when I noticed them gravitate towards each other. And for a few minutes the world around them disappeared.

The exchange was sweet and gave off a genuine feeling that suddenly inspired my main characters, Logan and Addie. I could see their personalities, their lifestyles and what their interaction would be like if they were put in the same room. Right then the story had a foundation, but now it was time to learn about their history, and determine their future. In doing so, I discovered Andy Grammer’s album.

“Kiss You Slow” – Logan’s secret sensitive side his connection to Addie.

“Pushing” and “Sinner”  – Logan’s desire/struggle to be spiritually helped.

“Back Home” – The bond between Logan and his family.

“Co-pilot” – Logan and Addie’s relationship.

In the book, a particular musician, Jon Schmidt, is mentioned, as well as one of his songs, “Christmas Medley. This was before he was officially a part of The Piano Guys. He frequently performing at my high school back in Riverton, Utah, and that song not only inspired the whole scene it’s mentioned in, but the whole nature of the book. It’s what inspired me to give the whole book and Christmas/redemption theme, and I get chills every time I hear it. Like “Hedwig’s theme” is to Harry Potter… “Christmas Medley” is to Unseen Road to Love. At least in my point of view.

So to Jon Schmidt and Andy Grammer, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your musical talents with the world. I hope I can inspire in a similar way, and perhaps one day I’ll get a real photo with my heroes lol.

As far as inspirations go, I have so much more to tell, but I’ll wait until after April 11th to give you more of the juicy details. There’s quite a few shout outs to real events and people who inspired the book. Some of which are intense and awesome in my opinion. So stayed tuned for next time!

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

While the momentum is going, I want to tell everyone about the book, Daughter of Ishmael, that gives a true definition of feminism and how it will inspire modern day women. No matter what religion you are from, I encourage EVERYONE to read this book.

As a writer, it’s super cool how I get to meet incredible authors and recently I got to know the amazing Diane Stringham Tolley. She gave me the opportunity to read Daughter of Ishmael before it was sent to print, and after doing so, I can easily say her story is a truly captivating and emotional take on the strong and courageous women we know from the scriptures. Many of us have probably guessed what it would be like to be the wife or daughter of a prophet, but this book gives a detailed perspective on how strong and important they really are.

This last week, the media has been filled with stories of women defending their rights in multiple ways. How I’ve chosen to recognize my rights as a woman is comparing myself to the character Tolley chooses as her main voice. I think about my childhood, worrying mostly about my education while she thought about her service to her family. I thought about how sad I was to move into a different home and leaving all my friends, while she was forced to travel into the wilderness, leaving behind all wealth and treasured possessions behind.

As a teenager, I thought the boys I had crushes on and excited I was to attend my first dance. By that age, she was betrothed to man of her father’s choosing; a man she worried about when it came to his moral character. I thought about the 12 hour car trips I’ve taken that felt long and tedious, while she traveled for years in the desert on camel back with no certainty of when and where her family would end up.

I think about my discouragement of finding my future spouse and one day starting a family, and she feared her complete inability to have children during a time where producing healthy posterity determined a part of a woman’s value. If not, men took on more wives to ensure that posterity. I sometimes fear how hard motherhood will be, while she carried her child and gave birth on a boat with no doctors amongst family members threatening to kill one another. I think about how few responses I get to my posts—making what I have to say unimportant. She feared her family would literally start a war if they wouldn’t heed her advice about peace and the gospel.

The very fact I can express this to you right now, is a pretty solid reminder to me that I’ve had more freedom than I recognize on a daily basis. I choose to express it differently, but at the very least our leaders heard what we have to say and hopefully will take it into consideration. I’m not worried or scared about the future, but mainly because I’ve been so blessed to live in a country and time period where I can live comfortably and do what I love. I’m choosing to thank previous leaders who were inspired by the woman I described and saw value in that. I also admire the men in my life who do as well.

Again, no matter what religion you are from, Daughter of Ishmael is absolutely brilliant. If these women can cross oceans without rights, imagine what we could do with ours. Until next time…

Cheers to you XO

~ Chelsea

P.S. You can order your own copy with link below

https://www.amazon.com/Daughter-Ishmael-Promised-Broken-Heart/dp/1462119662

Amazing Brownies and Mistletoe Madness

There’s a brownie recipe at the end 🙂 so keep reading.

At the annual conference for the American Night Writer’s Association, I heard a cool guy say, “Something amazing happens here” should be written down when you can’t figure out how to bridge the chapters in your book. Turns out the same thing can be applied to life.

A year ago I was sitting in my old apartment in Utah, planning out my entire year on a piece of poster board and a green Crayola marker. I made so many plans; mostly short term goals set for each month. The kind I’ve wanted to achieve in years past and you guessed it, most of them were not accomplished.

Naturally life still gave me incredible things anyway. Sometimes we writers have the beginning and end to our novels, but have no clue what to put in the middle, so we leave it blank and write, “Something amazing happens here” and get to it when inspiration hits.

We don’t really know how the story comes together until it’s finished. But when it does, it’s rarely anything we would have originally planned for. But that’s the cool part! We surprise ourselves, we learn what inspires us, we discover what great and hard things it took to put those words down.

The same thing applies when we make our New Year’s resolutions while we look back on the ones we made the year before. I had no intentions of moving to Arizona, of quitting my two stable jobs, packing all that I could in my jeep, and driving through the desert to a future that wasn’t planned out at all. I gained new friends, a new family even, and the greatest opportunity of getting my book published. They were dreams I dared not hope for because they were goals I didn’t think were reasonable enough to accomplish.

But yesterday I was driving down the road, thinking about the goals I didn’t get around to; long term ones that had to do with my health and relationships—the usual ones that can take a toll on our self-worth. And I ended up pulling into a Walmart parking lot, cutting the engine and having a good cry for no other reason than to just let go of the hurt built up over the year.

In every story, amazing things happen, but not without conflict. Otherwise characters don’t grow. But it’s the conclusion where all the work is put together into something great. Sometimes it takes more than one full rotation around the sun to get there.

So I don’t give up hope, but a little discouragement is natural and it’s okay to take a minute to grieve about it. I ended up making brownies, and I think most can agree there’s something therapeutic about baking something—not from a box—but from scratch, that heals the soul.

After a brief indulgence, I thought about what to plan for 2017. I have a basic blueprint, a few dreams floating in my head. But like the great J Scott Savage said, “Something amazing happens here.” And keeping that attitude every day, usually gives room for the universe to make it so.

And because I promise you a bit of mistletoe madness, my story of the week doesn’t involve mistletoe, because I never received a mistletoe kiss before. It’s still a goal I have, and a goal I’ll never give up on. But as far as romance goes, I recently helped a good friend of mine surprise my roommate with a bouquet of white roses, which I think gives us all hope that classic romance is not dead.

And my friends, I don’t know how the universe was on my side, but it actually went perfectly. Those two ended up having a mistletoe kiss, which I didn’t resent…much, at least 😉 But truly, they were another couple I could add to my list of relationships. The ones where people try to make it work.

The honeymoon phase will end sometime, but being able to say, “Hey, remember when you totally lied about breaking our date, plotted with my roommate to ‘call the pizza guy’ who hid in the bathroom so I’d open the door to find you standing there with a bouquet of flowers?” …it brings back the memory of all the funny and gooey feelings you had when it happened. And because memories do fade over time, taking a second honeymoon, or three, or seventeen ain’t a bad idea.

Chelsea’s Homemade Brownies

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1/2 cup flour

With an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs slowly. Then stir in cocoa powder and flour with a spoon. Pour into a greased 9’9 pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Until next time with whatever amazing thing comes to mind, I wish you all a happy New Year.

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

Do the Creep

Today I’m posting a quick response to a good question brought up on Facebook. “Why are there so many creepers?” Well friends, here’s my answer…

Creepy has become a term that quite a few people use loosely. When some people, not all, but a hefty majority say, “I was out with this person, and they were super creepy.” It really means, “I’m just not attracted them, but I don’t want to come across as a hater, so I’m gonna blame it on them in the most vague way possible.” Or maybe… “I’m just not attracted to them, so I’m emphasizing little things that bother me to prove my point.”

Because let’s face it, no one wants to be labeled a hater, or be that person who points out flaws in others for no reason. But lately “creepy” has become a word that legitimizes the criticism of someone’s normal personality, but just didn’t quite meet a particular person’s standards.

Okay then…so they don’t meet your standards. That’s fine. It’s okay to have them. It’s okay to have certain desires and requirements. But “creepy” is preferably defined as any type of noun that makes a person uncomfortable or sometimes unsafe. But what’s uncomfortable or unsafe to you may actually be endearing to someone else. We live in a weird world where it’s okay to be expressive and some people roll with it differently.

So be very careful who you label as a creeper, because it could actually ruin a good person’s reputation. If you do start to feel unsafe; feeling threatened or insecure by someone, then it’s absolutely okay to make it known. You have intuition and you should use it. I address not one specific gender, by to all by saying get out that pepper spray.

But right now I’m talking about the genuine people who work very hard to lower their pride and gather as much confidence as possible to make a conversation with someone who is very hard to approach. Because good for them! They’re taking initiative and you should commend them for that. And commend yourself for being a person someone wants to get to know. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re interested in you romantically. Basic social skills are required in start up situations.

But until they ask for your number, don’t assume they want it. And if they do for the romantic reasons, and you’re not interested, there are many responses you can give without figuratively kicking them in the dirt. Like, “Thank you for asking, but I’m not interested in you that way. But you’re great and I wish the best of luck to you.” And if they start putting you down for that type response, or continue to pressure you until you’re uncomfortable, then you may call them a creeper because that’s just crappy behavior.

If you aren’t straightforward, they might not take the hint. In fact they may take it as playing hard to get, which can actually make the situation worse. Neither of you need that kind of stress in your life.

At the same time, if a person accepts a date or gives you their number, proceed with caution. That person is considering getting to know you better. It doesn’t always mean, “I’m super into you and hope after the date is over, we start planning the rest of our lives.” A date is not a contract, so neither of you should act under that impression. If after the first date and they’re not interested…congratulations! At least they gave you a chance and it just didn’t work out. You don’t have to think, “What if?” anymore.

And if they don’t initiate conversations with you after that, it’s likely they’re putting their time and energy elsewhere. And please believe me when I say it isn’t worth it for you to keep a friendship alive when that happens. Unless they put the same amount of friendship effort as you do, they’ll start freaking out irrationally. And usually, not always, but usually the people who don’t know how to say, “I’m not interested” they think ignoring is the way to go. And to you people who think so, it’s not. Again, it’s just crappy behavior.

And to all you people who do get a polite rejection, please understand that those people might not have anything against you. It doesn’t mean that you’re unattractive to everyone. It just means they have a particular standard and know beforehand that a relationship isn’t going to work. That standard is sometimes brought up with a certain background, religion or chemistry that they already know won’t match up with yours. If those standards don’t meet, odds are you two won’t last very long. So please don’t wallow in that. You don’t have to be happy about it, but at least be content in knowing you probably avoided a catastrophe of some sort.

It’s also not worth it to wallow over the people who are just plain mean. Some people try to get your attention in rude ways. And some people enjoy rejecting others because it gives them a sense of power. And that’s because they both carry insecurities they’re still sorting through, and it isn’t your job to try and break down those barriers. They’ll start taking advantage of your willingness to receive that attention. It’s too much drama, and IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Trust me.

And sometimes those people probably experienced enough creepers in their lives where if anyone were to show interest in them, they start to shut down. Again, not your job to push past those barriers. Sometimes walking away is the best option regardless of good intentions. If it’s not received, it doesn’t work. But you did try, and that’s all that matters sometimes. And if you’re the one who has insecurities, don’t let it stop you from having a conversation. It’s okay to be cautious, but you might gain a real support system that will one day help you through it. I know it because it happened for me.

Now I know my advice doesn’t apply to all. You know yourself better than I do. I simply enjoy living in a world where everyone in a room can be friends.

So until next time…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

Whoopee Cushions and Dreams of Cowboys

Advice to all you people out there, if you’re ever set up on a blind date, the first 60 seconds are critical in making a first impression. Which is why if you show up wearing a whoopee cushion costume, unless they’re into that, it’s probably not going to work out the way you expect.

About a year after I started college, I could count the amount of dates I’ve had on one hand. I was awkward and still learning how to dress myself. But a friend had agreed to set me and my second roommate up on a group date for Halloween. It was going to be very low key. Bowling and going for shakes after. No plans to dress up or doing anything Halloween related.

Lame? Yes. But we were excited, and this was back in the day when not everyone had social media, and flip phones weren’t going extinct yet. So I had no idea what my date looked like until he showed up on my doorstep. Now I don’t blame the guy for wanting to make a lasting impression. He was truly a sweet guy and fun to bowl with. But boy was it hard to take him seriously wearing a costume that represented a toy that makes fart noises when you squeeze it. Kinda kills the mood when you’re hugging the man goodbye.

It would be a few years before my dating life really took off, but getting closer to the holiday season that year, the colder it got, the more we stayed indoors. And tis the season to sniff and sneeze, because I dove into reading when I came down with a nasty two week cold before finals. Missing work and classes was not an option for me, so reading romantic Christmas themed novellas helped me unwind after the busy, miserable hours on my feet.

My roommates had been throwing books my way, sometimes literally, and I remember reading “Dusty Britches” which was another Marcia Lynn McClure novel that open a new idea for me, as well as help me discover I’m a huge sucker for old western romance. Especially when they involve dreamy cowboys.

The leading woman, having a broken heart and a strong distrust for men, learned how to let her walls down and really love a man she hadn’t stopped loving since she was young. Like her, letting go of pride, anger and old grudges was something I learned the hard way a bit later in my life.

Halfway through book, I sat in my college apartment dining room, and by that I mean table in the corner of the tiny kitchen, eating strawberries in my pajamas, when my roommate’s entire family showed up on our doorstep to surprise her. Her parents and five siblings had driven 5 hours just to visit their two daughters on a completely random day just for the fun of it.

At the time my parents had been divorced about a year, I was the only adult child who sat through endless phone calls with one parent while they vented about the other. Though I commend them for how hard they worked to keep things as civil as possible for their children’s sake, at the time it had been years since I didn’t worry over things falling apart at a family gathering. And to witness it was like observing a Steve Irwin’s wildlife special.

*Crikey! Here we have a loving family in an unnatural habitat. The cubs have real high energy, but the parents sit and watch together with pride and love, while they laugh, catch up on happy family news, and share a hearty meal at the watering hole.*

But seriously though, growing up, I didn’t see my parents showing affection very often. There was some here and there, but not like the way her parents sat on the couch and held hands without even thinking about it, her resting her head on his shoulder; or sneaking kisses whenever they had the chance, and being incredibly cute while taking pictures together. And not once did their daughters groan or say, “Ewww!” when it happened. It usually followed with one watching them lovingly, saying, “Aren’t they adorable?”

Suddenly it wasn’t just a fictional novel I was reading anymore. This was a real couple with a marriage that lasted over two decades. And the feelings they were sharing was strong enough to be seen and felt by others. It impacted me so much, I wanted to know their story and what it took to get to that level. Most importantly, I wanted to know how it felt myself.

Watching them was the water and nutrients I needed for the seed of hope that was planted. Little did I know it was only a matter of time before I learned firsthand what that felt like, and also, it’s polar opposite…

So until next time with some holiday love and mistletoe madness…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

Cheers to You

Have you ever been sitting in class, driving to work, washing your dog, cooking rice, or fixing your toaster, and have the idea…?
But then you dramatically pause, twisting your face in that “Is something fishy burning in the kitchen?” kind of way, and wonder what the heck you’re gonna write about. That’s when you throw the hopeless toaster in the dumpster and start looking for a purpose. Or maybe you start writing about the toaster, but either way you’re thinking of ideas. Your planting seeds hoping to find a purpose in the book you want to write.

I was 16 when my purpose was planted after hearing a quote from a TV show, “Love is what’s left after the passion and the romance dies.” And I heard the married person in the room sadly agree with that statement.

It was like taking a rubber band snap to the heart. I mean, did that happen with everyone? Is that why marriages didn’t work out? Is that why all the relationships I looked up to were falling apart?

Well obviously it works out for some people, so what keeps the spark alive for them? Is it even a spark? People keep talking about it, so what does it feel like? And ladies and gentlemen…that’s when the seed began to take root. But it wasn’t until I was 19 when I saw the sprout. I wasn’t much of a reader, but my roommates were, and one had shoved a novel into my hands and said…
I wasn’t all for the idea…
Convinced, I read the book “Take a Walk with Me” by Marcia Lynn McClure. It was a Christmas themed love story and the lead male character says to the female love interest, “There’s no conflict, Cozy.” – “Sometimes people really do just fall in love and live happily ever after.”


There it was! It was Marcia who had a philosophy, wrote it by telling an incredibly happy story that left me smiling the whole time, and it led me to new questions, theories and a determination to find out more. Obviously relationships get messy, so what happens then? But there I was, 19, with no dating experience whatsoever, so what did I need to learn to start something that lasts forever? Better yet, happily ever after?

And that’s why I read close to 400 romance novels in the last 5 years. No joke. I didn’t get out much for a while. But in truth I wanted ideas; the kind authors and filmmakers put out there because they enjoy true love stories as much as I did. And those stories began to turn my purpose into idea, which then turned into stories of my own.

When I started writing them down, I simultaneously lived my own experiences. And gradually my stories changed as I began to figure out my reality. I found out firsthand what that spark was, but learned a little of what it takes to ignite it into a flame. Books and movies, though created for entertainment, are possible answers to our “what if?” questions. Sometimes it happens quickly, and there isn’t much conflict involved for two people to be together. And sometimes it’s extremely wild and messy. But if it’s worth fighting for, then it’s worth keeping alive. Or finding again if it’s ever lost.

And for all the characters I could personally relate with, it was wonderful knowing there was someone out there who knew my story; who could put words to my feelings. But more importantly, inspire me to look for something great and not settle for anything less. And right away I wanted to do the same for someone else. Everyone deserves to believe the passion and romance lives on and grows stronger with every passing year and battle won.

So until next Sunday with some personal hilarious date stories and what specifically inspired me…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea