Believe Him

Have you ever felt the whispering of your maker, telling you to create? If so, have you listened? Or, like me, does it take a few years and a few different impressions to catch your attention and confidence?

At seventeen, my two high-school best friends told me to take AP Literature, and, like a teenage follower, I agreed. 

I had zero experience reading classical literature. I had zero experience analyzing and discussing reading like the rest of the class. The teacher was stern, a bit scary even; she picked the most difficult books she could have, and she made us discuss uncomfortable elements of those books.

17-year-old Heather felt like an underdog. I had to read with a dictionary as a companion. I struggled to understand symbolism (like why the dress was red instead of orange or which biblical story the author was alluding to). The discussions usually went over my head, as did much of the reading (for example, I had no idea that Tess in Tess of the D’Urbervilleshad been raped until the class was discussing it…). 

Also, there were two girls in the class that brought 2″ binders FULL of their own novels. I remember feeling like a complete outsider. I felt like I faked my way through each essay, faked my way in the discussions, faked my way in every single aspect of that class.

And then, one morning after I’d arrived, a thought screamed at me. “Heather, you will write books one day.” The thought did not come from me. If you have ever heard God speak to your heart, you understand what I mean. However, I argued. “Me? Write books? That’s the most egotistical thought ever. Who am I to write books?” 

The impression came again, and I argued again. 

These thoughts persisted. For ten more years, I would have similar experiences before I actually tried to write a novel. And, in those times that I felt discouraged with my attempts, Heavenly Father would speak to me again—this time in a burning in my chest, a confirmation that I was following the path he wished for me. 

Hindsight is everything. I see how he laid the foundation for my writing from a young age—much younger than 17. Stories have always held my heart. 

My point in sharing this… Believe God when he speaks to you. Believe Him when He tells you He has things for you to create, things for you to do. The only one we fool when we argue with such impressions is ourselves. 

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Bermuda hat to Regency Bonnet

I am thrilled by a project I have in the works… a multi-author series with some of the greatest regency writers– Sally Britton, Rebecca Connolly, and Ashtyn Newbold! The ideas we have for this one-time series (which will consist of stand-alone novels linked by a common theme) is a lot of fun!

In preparation for this project, I am headed to a college town with the most amazing photographer out there (Amanda Conley Photography) for a photoshoot. In preparation for this shoot, we’ve collected a handful of gorgeous models, props, studio space, and costumes! The one thing we’ve struggled to find, however, are regency-period bonnets.

Enter: creativity and a dollar-store Bermuda hat.

If ever you are in need of regency bonnets– say for that house party you’ve been secretly planning–Bermuda hats are just the thing. With a bit of deconstructing, steaming, gluing and sewing, you too can be fit for a Jane-Austen outing.

I can’t wait for the photoshoot! I’ll post some sneak peaks tomorrow!


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Stories: the reason we travel

Sometimes I get stuck, looking through all my Europe pictures. Mark says I need to move on. But…The days were full of stories, entertainingly silly and serious ones.

We met amazing people… and strange people. I made friends I keep in contact with via social media. I was mistaken as a home wrecker (ahhh), an 18-yr old American that went to London to drink (because we were stranded in London at 1am, but hey….18?!), and a local Parisian more times than I can count (I played along until my non-french speaking abilities became way too obvious). I bonded with Pat (the best tour guide, also about 80 yrs old), was serenaded by a bus driver (because we shared chocolate), made a dear friend in Jess Harnell (see you in a few weeks, buddy!), and saw the most incredible sights! We learned how to mime when we couldn’t communicate, and I learned that kindness is universal (as is grumpiness…).

There were also the not so great things… blisters galore, scary uber drivers that said they wanted to keep me forever (and kind of did keep us hostage in the car for forever…), long bus rides with my traveling buddy after she ate ice cream (bahhhhhahah, dooooozy if you know what happens to lactose intolerant people), missing my family, getting lost in London (multiple times), and in my friend’s case, getting trapped in an elevator…

but even the not great things ended up as GREAT STORIES.

One time, on an overnight flight to Ireland, I met a friend named Colum. He grew up in Ireland and told me all about the land and his wife and his kids and where he lived in the states, and we got on marvelously. I was in heaven listening to him speak with his Irish accent.

Meanwhile, my friend was sitting in the row behind me. A while later, I fell asleep (naturally, that’s what you do on these flights). I guess dinner arrived. And so, Colum turned around and WOKE UP Amanda Conley and said “Should I wake Heather up for dinner?”

hahahaha.

Amanda, as you can imagine, was super bugged. She whopped me on the head, which made me jump, and said, “Hey, wake up for dinner.”

I die every time I think of this, especially, because I can see Amanda’s ticked expression… fluttery eyelashes and all.

Oh, Colum. So considerate.

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The Fairest Heart

My newest ramblings are about to go out into the world. The Fairest Heart, a regency fairytale retelling of Snow White will be up for preorder on Amazon tomorrow!

But, before that happens, I wanted to pay tribute to inspiration, particularly one of my greatest loves– IRELAND.

When I travelled to Europe this fall, I had no idea it was possible to FALL IN LOVE with a place. But, Ireland stole me heart, and by the time I got on the plane for London, I was heartbroken. I cried. And, so naturally I got out my keyboard and penned a love letter.

The notion seems so silly now, but the emotions were real. And so, readers and friends… Here is my love letter. I hope you giggle and laugh, but I also hope you dream a bit about a faraway place.

It was on the steps of the Blarney Castle that I thought of fairytales and regency-style retellings.

Dear Ireland, 

I didn’t expect you. Not fully anyways. Growing up, I always imagined you’d be beautiful and dreamy. I saw movies depicting your countryside and landmarks. I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and felt drawn to the music and folklore.

But… you’re kind of like Clark Kent. Don’t get me wrong— Clark Kent is appealing and all, but once I got here, you whipped your shirt and glasses off, revealing a perfect picture of beauty and strength. 

I love your culture, your historic buildings and festive streets, your statues and bridges, your silly city signs and funny pulsing crosswalks. 

I love your warmth, your constant “are you well”s and “are you ok?”s, your “love”s, your laughter, and your quick smiles. I love the way you speak, and I’m not just talking about the accent (though seriously!). Your phrases are poetic and lovely. Your tones are musical and alluring. 

I love your music, the way everyone joins in at the pubs and becomes one family, the way tradition continues to live on in a time of forgetting, the fact that manliness isn’t lessened by singing or dancing, and the way you’ve embraced everyone into your arms. 

I love your cities by the sea and your castles on the outskirts, your motorways and manners, and your ice cream. My gosh, doesn’t anyone in the USA understand how to make real ice cream?! 

I love your Sunday’s and Monday’s and how you know how to lay low. I love your lighthearted people and religious vibe. I love that God makes his way into most conversations. I love how the airport gate is empty until ten minutes before. You’ve got life figured out. 

No phones nor iPads are anywhere to be seen—except for in the hands of tourists like me. You breathe life in, deeply and fully, with both eyes wide open and arms stretched out wide and willing to embrace those in need. 

Basically, you’ve stolen my heart, dear place. I will forever dream of you, and I’ll probably write volumes about your details.

But for now, my heart flutters in a strange and irregular way, like it’s rolling in a bed of sewing pins. The pricks are small, but there are many. So many things I love that I will miss. So many things I wish I could keep forever. 

And so, my darling land, I finish this love letter, hoping you reciprocate— even the tiniest slice. 

Until my dreams,

H. Chap

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Forever Elle

At last, my lovely little ode to my grandparents’ farm is HERE. This story was written about two years ago and has since been through multiple editors and multiple drafts. I am so happy that Elle’s story is finally HERE! Grab a copy.

The story of Elle holds a special place in my heart. So much of her story came from parts of my own past (don’t read into that too much… general feelings and growth and the messiness of growing up and falling in love). I hope you’ll fall in love with the Tetons and rural living and the main characters as much as I have.

Spoilers: I wrote a story around my favorite place (my grandparents’ farm, which is no longer on Driggs’s Main Street), keeping the house and land as I remember it. I may have fed animals when I was dressed in high heels… once upon a time. And my childhood best friend may have sprained an ankle following suit. I may have had a brother string me in a tree, and I may have had a few other things from the book happen to me. Writing from experience is always the most fun.

…Now, don’t read too much into the rest of the story. 😉 <3

You can find Forever Elle on Amazon, Deseret Book, Seagull Book, Walmart, Target, and many other online retailers!

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“I wish I was a boy,” and Other Things My Daughter Taught Me

It was another mom day.

The kitchen sink overflowed with dishes. Laundry piled on the sofa. I lay on the floor, hoping the bout of pregnancy nausea would pass.

My five-year-old looked out the front window, hoping for the sight of my husband’s truck. “I wish I was a boy.”

My breath caught in my chest. “What did you say?”

“I wish I was a boy, so that I could grow up and be a Daddy. Boys do fun stuff. Girls do boring stuff.”

I cringed. I wanted to correct her, but I couldn’t. I had shared her sentiments so many times over the years. Being a wife and mom has its days (diapers, laundry, cooking, cleaning, ABCs, scrubbing, teaching, mopping, sweeping, mediating). And for those like me—the ambitious and restless and goal-setting women—stay at home motherhood is even more challenging.

My daughter’s words haunted me, and on restless nights, I would lie awake thinking of her words. How could I show my daughter the joys of womanhood? She was only five. It was too early for her to question gender differences. It was too early for her to dread motherhood. It was heartbreaking.

Fast forward to five months later…

One afternoon, I laid on the concrete floor of the garage, putting together a toddler bed while eight months pregnant.

Ruby’s eyes were glued to me. She handed me screws and tools when I asked, read the instructions alongside me. After I put the last screw in place, she took my hand. “Maybe moms can do cool things, too.”

My eyes darted to hers. “What was that?”

“It’s okay I’m a girl because I’m starting to think girls can do cool things too.”

Tears sprung to my eyes at the realization of her meaning and the recollection of her words from months earlier. I took her in my arms, and we had a lovely chat.

I am the model for my three girls. They see womanhood and motherhood through my experiences—the good and bad. And for Ruby—my tenacious, brilliant, middle child—I have to show her joy. I have to show her she can chase her goals while still being a woman, wife, and mother.

This experience had a profound effect on me. It’s left me determined to chase my dreams, and not just for me, but for Ruby. I want my daughter to grow up knowing that motherhood goes hand in hand with dreams.

So, I’ve pursued writing with new zest and published three books (a fourth due out this December), I started exercising consistently (I’m still waiting for the astounding results…), I’ve pursued new talents (baking, calligraphy), and I booked a trip to Europe (September, people!).

All it took was a little girl, dissatisfied with what she saw ahead of her, to teach me how to find joy. I’m so thankful for this whole mom-growth-learning-curve thing.

 

<3 H

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My Valentine: Part 3

My parents had tried to warn me about those ‘fixer-upper-type homes’. First it was chiseling off the laminate backsplash in the kitchen, then painting the cabinets. Now, I had gotten the bright idea to cover the pink laminate counters with faux concrete. As always, Mark was game.

After dusting the entire house, running the vacuum nonstop, and a week of work, the counters were finally ready for sealing.

“You can’t use the stove, Mark,” I said one day in passing. “The sealant needs 72 hours before it’s cured.”

“Got it,” Mark said, nodding.

It was no more than five hours later that I saw the stain– greasy splotches all over my beautiful concrete counters and right by the stove. I screamed and scrubbed the stains with a rag, pleading for them to lift. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” I kept saying.

“What’s wrong?” Mark said, turning into the kitchen.

“The counters,” I cried. “Did you use the stove?!”

He pulled back, a sheepish expression covering his features. “Well, yeah… why?”

“Why? The counters! I told you not to use the stove.”

Mark lifted his hands, warding me away. “Now wait a second. You said not to use the counter for three more days.”

“Mark!” I dropped my face in my hands. “I said not to use the stove.” Tears slipped down my cheeks. The exhaustion of the week caught up to me, the physical and emotional toll finally making itself known.

“Don’t worry. I can fix this. It’s easy. I’ll just do another layer of concrete. Don’t cry. It’s going to be just fine,” he said, darting toward the back door.

He spent the afternoon trying to patch over the stain, but nothing worked. It only got worse and grew to the size of a beach ball. I became an emotional (possibly PMSing) mess. I forgot how much better our kitchen looked than before. I forgot how much fun we’d had DIYing together.

I spent the next week grumbling each time I passed the stain. My perfect counters were blemished, and it could have been avoided! If only Mark had paid attention to me. I stewed, and I stewed, until it got to the point where I would bring the counter up in any marital conversation about communication. “You have to listen to me. Remember the counter?

Two months later.

“Let’s just finish the grout tonight,” I plead. We were so close.

“I’m too tired,” he said. “Let’s finish in the morning. We’ve got all day tomorrow.”

I huffed. “Maaaaarrrrk.”

Then I saw his eyes, his bloodshot and puffy eyes. He had worked all day cutting and laying the backsplash. What right did I have to ask for more? I had only stood around critiquing– “A little to the left”, “that edge isn’t straight”, blah blah blah.

“Go to bed, Sweetheart. I’ll finish up the grout myself.”

“By yourself? Are you sure you can do that?” he asked, sniffling. The family cold had caught up to him. “I have to go to bed. I don’t feel well. Are you sure you can do it by yourself?”

“Sure. It’ll be a breeze. I’ve watched Fixer Upper and Property Brothers enough to know how to do grout! Just go to bed,” I said, giving him a quick squeeze. “And thanks for all your hard work today. It looks great,” I said.

I went to work, mixing the grout and slathering it over the tiles and into the cracks. I waited the allotted time, then grabbed my sponge to clear off the extra. Piece of cake.

Except for it wasn’t. It was hard. The grout was hardening too quickly. I scrubbed until my knuckles were literally bleeding, and I had only cleaned off 1/6 of the grouted tile. Tears formed at my eyes, and I scrubbed harder, longer.

I scrubbed and cried until it was clear I needed help, and fast. It was 2 am. I was only a half of the way done. I had been working for 3 hours. The grout felt like concrete at this point.

It took setting aside all my pride to wake Mark. With tear-filled eyes, I begged. “Mark, I’m so sorry to wake you up. I know how tired you are. I know you have a cold. But, I need help.”

He squinted at the sight of the hall light.

I came closer, repeating myself.

He saw my tears, my bloodied hands, and he got up right away.

He finished cleaning the concrete-hard grout in 30 minutes, without a single complaint. “It’s okay, Heather,” he said when I kept apologizing.

The next morning, I walked past the stove. The grease stain from Mark’s mistake months ago shone back at me. I had held it over his head for the last two months, unwilling to forgive such a stupid mistake. And yet, Mark had dealt with my tile disaster without a single rebuke, a single guilt-inducing comment.

I ran my fingers across the stain and smiled. I would forever love that stain, for all it represented. I would never hold onto such a silly grudge again. It wasn’t worth it. I turned to the backsplash on the opposite wall. Instead, I would try to be more like my husband, willing to help at a moment’s notice. I would forgive always.

 

 

 

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