Nicole Chilton

Nicole Chilton is a multi-media abstract artist and writer living in Southwest Missouri. She works quickly and intuitively, capturing emotion rather than reality, and uses vivid color and floral motifs as inspiration. Her current project, The Dream Diary Project, explores dream interpretation through art journaling, and can soon be found in workbook format for all dreamers.

The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams.

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

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Dear Diary…

Ever since I was old enough to write, I have kept a diary or journal. And because of the extreme satisfaction I receive from completing a full notebook (or using all the ink in a pen), I have a hard time getting rid of them, although I probably should.


{If I die unexpectedly, they are in a safe place and I have a few friends who know where to find them and to BURN THEM.}

A few years ago, I had some deep dark mental health issues, and thought that writing out my thoughts would be good therapy. Turns out, it was quite the opposite, and I stopped altogether. My hands ached to put pen down on paper and my brain churned wanting to puke out its thoughts, so earlier this year I decided to work on a new form of journaling: a visual diary. I already knew I wanted to make intentional creating a part of my daily habits, but I had no idea that starting my mornings off with art journaling would be so therapeutic.

With a new year quickly approaching, I’m eager to get my calendar set up for 2018’s journal. I learned so much this year, and I’m ready to share the process with you! So many of my friends have expressed concerns that they aren’t “artistic” or they could never do it. But trust me, it’s not true!! If you can scribble and if you have a few minutes of free time to tune in and zone out, I know you can be a successful “art journaler.”


I have culled information and ideas from dozens of books about art journaling, and I think I found the perfect blend for my time commitment and goals. What works for me won’t work for everyone, but if you are interested in a workshop, I am in the works of compiling a few evenings of art journal goal setting and set-up.

Join me in December {date and time to be determined} for an evening of setting up your very own yearly journal. The workshop will cost about $50, and include a dynamic journal and supplies to get it set up and snazzy to your liking, plus inspirational prompts, brainstorming ideas, and, duh, snacks.

Check back soon for registration!


Q&A with Rachel



Rachel McElroy

I remember the first time I met Rachel, we were living on the same floor of Johnston Hall at MU, and she was sitting on her dorm room bed, reading The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing. We exchanged a few sarcastic comments. I became a fan of hers from that moment, and am still one today.

In college, Rachel was a writer, and had an amazing opportunity as an intern and editor at The Missouri Review. She always made sure I clung to my creative roots, and even gave me a set of fancy watercolors as a wedding present.  I absolutely love following along on her adventures, which now include motherhood and podcasting.

Small world story: My husband and her husband work together, but didn’t know Rachel was a mutual connection!

  • Current City: Austin, TX
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? a writer
  • What are you now? A grant writer for a regional community college, a podcaster and a mom
  • How did you get to this point?  I focused a lot on creative writing in undergraduate (Mizzou) and graduate (University of Chicago) school. I also did some work at nonprofits and on the administrative side of higher education. A lot of stops on my path involved happy accidents. I got into grant writing because a coworker of mine left her grant writing position and shepherded me into the role because she knew I’d been coveting her position. Podcasting (and motherhood) was a result of meeting and marrying my husband in 2013. Griffin’s a podcaster that has been in the game for years. He recommended we start Rose Buddies after we exchanged regular quips while watching TV at home and with friends. Luckily, he had all the equipment and skills to get us up and running.
  • Are you getting paid doing what you love? Yes! It took me about eight years after completing my Bachelors degree, but I found my career(s) of choice!
  • Current projects: A podcast called WONDERFUL! and my nine month old son Henry. It’s a podcast for enthusiasts that love to hear about the passions, big and small, of other people. We’ll be talking about things we love each week and inviting listeners to write in with things they love. Topics may include movies, television, sports, books, drinks, eats, animals, methods of transportation, cooking implements, types of clothing, places in the world, imaginary places, fictional characters, and fonts to name a few. You can find it on the Maximum Fun network. Henry is an eight month old baby that is doing everything in his power to avoid moving himself. You can find him mostly on his stomach or back.
  • What are you reading/watching/listening to? Thanks to the baby, I don’t do a lot of reading these days. But I definitely do a lot of watching (the Nest cam) and listening (to the baby monitor). Seriously though, my biggest creative undertaking is listening to podcasts. Wonderful! is on the Maximum Fun network and I listen to a ton of shows there (and not just those created by my podcasting McElroy family). I’d recommend The Turnaround for those that like to hear individuals talk about their craft (in this case the craft is interviewing).
  • How do you express yourself creatively? When I started out as a creative person, my focus was on writing poetry and short fiction. After graduate school, I got a little burnt out and found it difficult to generate new work. Lately, it’s been easier for me to react to the work of others. I’m hoping to return to short fiction soon.
  • Have you ever written a fan letter? The ones that sticks out are the fan letters I wrote in elementary school to Fred Savage and Chelsea Clinton. Fred never wrote back, but I did get a nice letter from the White House telling me that Chelsea was very busy. It was signed by President Bill Clinton.
  •  Drink of choice? Anything Izze or San Pellegrino (non alcoholic) or Tito’s vodka and lemonade or ginger beer.
  • Who inspires you and why? My husband. Griffin is a tireless creator. He is constantly making new, original video and podcast content. He is funny in a way that lifts people up, which is rare and comes through in everything he does. His dedication to perfection and originality is awesome.
  • Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…) I’m currently working part-time as a grant writer which has Henry in daycare a few days a week. While I’m at work, my life is Google calendar. While I’m at home, I have a literal dry erase calendar on the fridge. My mom always had one on our fridge growing up and I can’t break that habit. It helps for me to see the whole month at once.
  • What is something you have learned this year? Everything is terrible until it isn’t. That sounds simple, but it helps me when I’m struggling. It’s a less elegant way of saying “this too shall pass.” Oh and the other piece of advice is: pee first. I learned this after a few months with a baby. He’d wake up or start crying and I’d drop what I was doing and run to him only to pick him up and realize I had to use the bathroom. Pee first. That’s good advice for parenting, but probably for life too.
  • What can people do to make the world a better place? Recognize that everyone is vulnerable and no one is purely good or evil. Most of the time, people are trying their best to do right for the people they love.
  • Where can people find you? @rachelcmcelroy on twitter. WONDERFUL! Podcast downloads here.

Q&A with Miss Cheryl T.

Cheryl was my oldest child’s first teacher at daycare, and I knew from the moment I met her that the two of us were kindred spirits. She left after a semester to pursue her true passion, writing, and since then I have had the extreme pleasure and good fortune to have her as a Mentor, a writing critique partner, and a coffee date companion.
Having published one book, and another on the way, Cheryl has learned a lot since her first novel. I can’t wait to see more of her work on shelves!
  • Name: Cheryl Tuggle
  • Current City: Springfield, MO
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? A jockey.
  • What are you now? writer/novelist
  • How did you get to this point? Reading, observing, writing, more reading, more observing, more writing..
  • Are you paid doing what you love? Yes, but not enough to live on. Enough for a couple Pineapple Whips each summer.
  • Current Project(s): Just finished a novel called “Lights on the Mountain” which is being considered for publication at HarperLegends and have a novel in infancy with the possible title of “The Last American Pilgrim”.
  • What are you Reading? I’m always reading several books at the same time. Right now it’s: “The Faith of a Writer” by Joyce Carol Oates, “The Uses of Enchantment” by Bruno Bettelheim, “Animals and Man: A State of Blessedness” by Joanne Stefanatos, DVM, “Poems That Make Grown Men Cry” and “The Man Within” by Graham Greene.
  • Watching? Does reading in the same room with my husband while he watches American Ninja Warriors count? If not, then nothing.
  • Listening to? I don’t have I-tunes or any of the apps for music and the CD player in my car is broken so it’s NPR, KSMU and 107.7 The Lake. I did recently get to hear Levi (Thomas) play a set from his new album at the Outland last weekend and it’s very, very good.
  • Making? I am gearing up to sew bridal separates to sell on Etsy or through Instagram.
  • How do you express yourself creatively? I express myself creatively through my writing, both prose and poetry.
  • Have you ever written a fan letter? No.
  • Drink of choice? Top shelf margaritas.
  • What or who inspires you, and why? Humans. I’m inspired by people. Every day, all the time. Yesterday I watched a homeless man who walking down Kearney street approach another man who was sitting on the curb holding a sign. The first man paused, reached into his backpack and gave some money to the man with the sign. Without any further conversation, he zipped up his backpack and continued down the street. That’s inspiring.
  • Favorite tool to stay productive (a certain set of watercolors, a planner, an exercise program, for example)? Exercise: I walk/run 4 or 5 miles very early in the day. It’s my best time to think.
  • Something you have learned this year: That life after motherhood is like moving to Iceland.
  • What can people do to make the world a better place? Be kind.
  • How can people find you? I’m hard to find, temporarily, I think.

Q&A with Mora B


  1. Name  – Mora Brinkman
  2. Current City – Chicago, IL
  3. What did you want to be when you grew up? – There were several phases: Fashion designer, Broadway singer, Professor, Queen of America (The Presidential role didn’t interest me.)
  4. What are you now? Director of Marketing Communications for a medical device company and Independent Consultant for Arbonne International.
  5. How did you get to this point? I studied advertising in undergrad, public relations in grad school and have held positions at advertising and PR agencies. A few years ago I went to the “Client Side” which may as well be “Dark Side,” as ad execs discuss it. But it’s pretty great — it’s a thriving industry and, everyday, I work with marketers, engineers, manufacturers, designers and writers to develop integrated communications platforms for companies and products. I have always liked the science + art of brand management. It also gives me an opportunity to strengthen my writing muscle.
  6. Are you paid doing what you love? If not, what would you like to be paid to do? I get paid doing what I like. I have always wanted to do communications for a large art center/museum. Communications is the common thread, though. I hold a deep respect for people in the healthcare world. It’s a complicated space and I find a lot of satisfaction in simplifying it as much as possible for patients and caregivers.
  7. Current project(s): Re-building my company’s brand from the bottom >>> up!
  8. What are you reading/listening to/watching/making: “How to Fascinate,” “Big Magic” and “Someone at a Distance.” I journal regularly. I write a lot of bad poetry in which I turn our political leaders into barnyard animals. It helps me digest our political environment.
  9. How do you express yourself creatively? Writing, mostly.
  10. Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? No, but I’ve had really awkward run-ins with celebrities. Re: to 14-year-old self casually chatting up Brad Pitt.  
  11. Drink of choice? Cocktail: G&T; wine: I have seasonal preferences
  12. Who inspires you, and why? Funny ladies. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Carole Burnett. Being a successful comedienne is so rarely appreciated that I find the success and creativity of these women inspiring.
  13. Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…) Microsoft Outlook? My moleskin notebook.
  14. Something you have learned this year? Enjoy and appreciate the moment.
  15. How can people find you? Met4bd on instagram, FB, LinkedIn or write me at
  16. What can people do to make the world a better place? Express themselves creatively. Bring beauty to the world.

Q&A with Lindsey A.

Last year, Lindsey messaged me to ask if I would help her with a project she was working on. I. Was. Shocked. It was like I was in The Twilight Zone…or at least, the high school version of me felt that way. Let me tell you a bit out Lindsey: she was the girl in high school who could do it all. Cheerleader, dancer, actress, beautiful, smart, funny. I thought she was soooooooooo cool. I was too intimidated to ever talk to her.

And here we are, years later, the two of us are working together on her creative passion project, which mark my words, will be in print and film version in the very near future. I’ve loved every minute of collaborating with her, helping her take a literal dream she had one night, and turning it into a complex, timely, thrilling novel. Through the process, we both have learned a lot, and she has found a calling in becoming an advocate to end human trafficking across the globe. She’s a natural talent and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

{Tapioca Note: I stole this picture from @ShowMetheRavi’s Instagram. Lindsey was hired to do the hair and makeup for one of Ravi Patel’s tv shows.}

1. Name: Lindsey Arellano
2. Current City: Kansas City
3. What did you want to be when you grew up? Everything 😉 Author, Teacher, Actress, Photographer, Comedian, Scuba diving instructor on a small island far far away, voice over for animation
4. What are you now? Everything 😉 Aspiring author, choreographer, makeup artist, mom of four which is basically like a janitor or zookeeper
5. How did you get to this point? I ask myself that question everyday, before sobbing into my pillow. But seriously, I walked through open doors and took hold of every opportunity. There have been many a freelance job that I hesitated taking before reminding myself that each open door is a new possibility. You never know what connections are waiting. You may have the chances to better yourself, further your skills, make a new friend, or get another job.
6. Are you paid doing what you love? If not, what would you like to be paid to do? I get paid to do makeup jobs. I don’t get paid for my day job which is changing diapers, cleaning spills, and feeding children all day long. I would love to sell my novel and get paid for my writing.
7. Current project(s): I recently finished my first novel, AMONG THE DAHLIAS, thanks to my insanely terrific editor: Nicole Chilton!
8. What are you reading/listening to/watching/making: I just finished Paula Hawkins INTO THE WATER, I am taking a break from Television/netflix (gasp) so I can get some work done on my second book that I’ve already started (15,000 words in)
9. How do you express yourself creatively? Writing, choreography, music, art. My daughter, Wren, and I sat on the patio painting water color recently and I could have stayed there for days undisturbed.
10. Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? Yes. My first one was to Annette Funicello (original mouseketeer) around the age of seven or eight. Recently I have written emails to a few of my favorite authors (now that I know how much hard work and dedication goes into finishing a novel, querying, and actually selling it!) A few include Laura McHugh, Mary Kubica, and Megan Miranda
11. Drink of choice? coffee
12. Who inspires you, and why? 
  • My husband. He is the most self-less, hard working, caring person I know. During his service in the Marine Corps, he was hit with a grenade and shot. Doctors told him he would never walk again. He is currently training for his second Tough Mudder. He lives every day like its his last, squeezing the most out of every moment, seizing every opportunity to bless someone else and to laugh as much as possible.
  • My sister is a the most unwavering driven person I know.  She never backs down from a challenge.
  • Also, my kids because I see their souls untainted by the world, by other people’s opinions, social media, etc. They are fearless, uninhibited, frequently naked, and don’t think twice about singing or dancing in public.
13. Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…) No, if you know of a way, besides ical, please tell me.
14. Something you have learned this year?
  • I have learned that convenience kills quality.
  • Nothing good comes from taking the quick or easy way (including healthy meals).
  • I’ve learned that I’m a lot tougher than I thought, much more resilient.
  • I’ve also learned that if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of others.
  • Also, I love beautiful landscaping but I don’t like laying a flagstone patio myself.
15. How can people find you? I struggle here. If I could remain anonymous forever I probably would. Alas, artists have to put themselves out there. Insta: lindsey.arellano
email:, website that is nowhere up to par:
16. What can people do to make the world a better place? Love and kindness. Love the people around you the best you can regardless of shared opinions and beliefs. Love yourself and your body its the only one you have. Love your family in a way that shatters your comfort zone.

Recent posts

  • Dear Diary…

  • Q&A with Rachel

  • Q&A with Miss Cheryl T.

  • Q&A with Mora B

  • Q&A with Lindsey A.

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Tapioca Dance is an e-newsletter featuring creative movers & shakers, do-ers, and makers, written and curated by Nicole Chilton. Subscribe here for weekly inspiration!