Tag: family

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.

 

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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 And to celebrate I want to share with you the unpublished author’s note about the events in the book inspired by real people and events.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”.

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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

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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

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