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courtneyg

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So, You Want to Write a Book Part I: The First Draft

I am so excited to introduce my “So, You Want to Write a Book” 5 part blog series! I get messages all the time from people who have a goal of writing a book and don’t know where to start. Truthfully, I didn’t either and I sometimes feel as if I’m still learning! Though there are so many pieces to writing a book and different ways of doing things, I am going to be sharing 5 important steps and how they worked for me. Be sure to subscribe now so you can receive each part of the series in your inbox every Monday morning. Let’s get started!

So, You Want to Write a Book: Part I

Decide what you want to write about

The very first piece to the book writing puzzle is simple –figure out what you want to write about. Narrow down your choices by asking yourself a few of these questions.

1. What type of book do I want to write? i.e. fiction, non-fiction, full length novel, novella, poetry etc.

2. What am I passionate about? Romance, history, science fiction, vampires, real life lessons, celebrity gossip, mystery

3. Who am I trying to reach? Adults, teens, children

4. What do I want to say?

5. What message am I trying to get across?

6. What do I want people to get out of the story?

Once you’ve answered a few of your own questions and narrowed it down, the next step is easy!

Start Writing

Now, here is something that will absolutely vary with each author and that is the structure in which you will write. Some authors outline their novel from beginning to end. Others write as they go. I classify myself as other. I have never written an outline for any of my 4 novels. Once I figure out what I want to write about, I focus on the climax. What is the big WOW moment in my novel? Where does the story all come to a boiling point? That’s always the part I write first and then I build everything around it.

Starting from the beginning, I build up to the climax, but sometimes while I’m writing, a scene or quote for later on in my story pops up and I go with it. It doesn’t matter that it may be long after the scene I’m currently writing, I write it anyway. I can always go back and close the gaps, but that idea may be long gone if I wait until I get to that point in the story.

This brings me to my next piece of advice…

Don’t go back and edit

You will have plenty of time for that, trust me. You will be editing so much it will feel like your eyes are falling out. No matter how much you want to go back and change something, DON’T DO IT! Keep writing. Keep the story going. The first draft isn’t meant to be fabulous, it’s just meant to be finished.

Your story is going to change with each draft. If I were to hand you the first draft of Tear Stained Beaches, you would be astonished at how completely different it is from the final product. To be honest, it kind of sucked. It was boring and unemotional. The words didn’t portray the emotions I was trying to get out, but that first draft was the foundation in which I built on. Don’t destroy your foundation, have patience, what you create upon that foundation will be magical.

Enjoy the journey

Sometimes when I reread my novels, I cry. So many hours will go into this novel you plan to write. The emotions you will experience as you type are ones a select few will experience in life. Your soul bleeds into every single word. Your eyes will hurt, your heart will break and you will drive yourself crazy wondering if it’s enough, but let me tell you something, when you hold that very first printed copy in your hands, it will all be worth it. Enjoy the entire journey from start to finish, because it is that journey that makes you a writer!

Subscribe to my blog today so you don’t miss out on Part II: Finding the Right Beta Readers! What are Beta Readers? Why do we need them and how do we find them? I’ll be answering it all!

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Let’s Get Organized! – Planner Download

Does anyone else feel like there is way too much to remember on a daily basis? I can barely remember what I did yesterday, let alone what I need to do today and surely it’s asking a lot for me to remember what is going on in a whole month!

So, on top of having a planner that accounts for every hour of my day, I decided to create a monthly planner insert that lays out all of the important things I need to remember for the month ahead and I’m pretty proud of it. It keeps everything all in one place for reference. I can write down the due dates for all of my bills, days and times for my appointments and meetings and even special dates like anniversaries and birthdays.

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Since May is right around the corner, I’m sharing the love today with a free download! Join me in the journey to a more organized lifestyle next month with a PDF of this planner overview template. Just CLICK HERE to enter your email and you’ll receive a download in your inbox. I bet you’ll feel like a boss as soon as you here, “you’ve got mail!”

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Sparkling Lavender Lemonade Recipe

With summer just around the corner, I am republishing my Sparkling Lavender Lemonade recipe that I created last year after a weekend getaway to Little Rock!! I’m going to be trying some new flavors this year, so stay tuned!

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Sam knows how much I’m all about trying unique restaurants when we go somewhere new. The day before he ran the Little Rock marathon we had lunch at a cute cafe called The Root. I ordered a sparkling lavender lemonade and when I got home I was determined to figure out how to make it.

I did a little research and then ventured down to the Savory Spice Shop in Franklin to pick up some lavender. My replica recipe was pretty spot on so I’m sharing if you’re looking for a fun new drink idea. I can picture me making many of these for sunny summer days while writing by the pool.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (juice from about 1 and 1/2 lemons)
  • 1-2 tsp of lavender
  • 3/4 cup carbonated water (I used my soda stream, but I think club soda would work well too)

Directions

  • In a small sauce pan over low heat bring 1/4 cup water, honey and lavender to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Add lemon juice to mixture and stir.
  • Pour mixture through strainer into a glass over ice and then add 3/4 cup carbonated water.
  • Stir and sip!

*If you want a stronger lavender taste, let the boiled mixture cool for a longer period of time, 1-2 hours, before straining and serving.

Read more by Courtney here!

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4 Types of Friends Who Make Your World a Better Place

My friends are like puzzle pieces, if one of them were missing, I wouldn’t be complete. So, today I’m giving tribute to my girlfriends both near and far. I’m raising a nice chilled glass of sweet Moscato wine to the ones I could never live without.

She’s Rough Around the Edges

She doesn’t sugarcoat anything. If you don’t want to hear it, it doesn’t matter because she’s going to tell you anyway. She’s the friend who will keep you honest. She’ll keep you on the straight and narrow and when you veer off the path just a little bit, she’ll be right next to you to jerk the wheel back in the right direction.

So don’t get angry when she doesn’t sympathize with you. Don’t get upset because she doesn’t feel sorry for you. Thank her for making you a stronger person. For showing you that excuses will get you nowhere and that a self proclaimed pity party can only last for so long before you need to put on your big girl panties, suck it up and get back out into the world.

She’s Always Your Last Call

She thinks of you all the time. She sends random messages to let you know that. You don’t talk every day, but in all those years she’s been your friend, she’s never let you down. She’s always been there when you need her. When you cry, she cries with you. When you are broken or hurting, she feels it too. When it’s 3am and you just need someone to talk to, she’ll be there. It doesn’t matter if she just fell asleep twenty minutes ago because her child finally did or she’s had a bad day of her own, if you need her, she’ll be there. Just like she’s always been because that is what she does.

Even though physically she may not always be able to be there for you, she is the girl who walks with you, step by step, each and every day while you cross canyons and climb mountains. She is the friend who throws rocks at those who hurt you (metaphorically speaking of course) and is ready to put up a fight against anyone who dares to cross you. She is the one that will show you that real, true friendships do exist. That lifelong bonds can survive silence, distance and everything in between.

She Just Gets It

There was a time in her life when she was right where you are now. Whether going through heartbreak, a life changing event or a midlife crisis, she understands you more than anyone else at the moment. She doesn’t judge you for the choices you make or the way you live your life. She lets you be free, run wild and even comes along for the ride. She knows exactly what you need to do in order to find yourself and accept your situation. She guides you slightly from time to time to make sure you don’t completely fall off the cliff, but for the most part, she lets you do your thing.

She’s the only one you can talk to about how you feel and what you’re going through and although she knows you probably won’t take any of her advice, she gives it to you anyway. She’s the one you look to when you lose hope. She gives you faith in brighter days. Her strength, her loyalty and her companionship prove that good people do exist.

She’s Wild and Reckless

She takes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to try things you’d never do on your own. Your feet are barely ever on the ground when you’re with her because she’s always moving so fast, but that’s okay. Sometimes you need a timeout in life and she’ll be the one to give it to you. After a rough day at work, a fight with your significant other or when the stress of everyday life becomes too much, she’ll help lift your spirits and break you out of that funk with an all night extravaganza that will help you leave all your worries behind and find your inner party girl you forgot even existed. You need her to remind you that life shouldn’t always be taken so seriously. That a little bit of fun never hurt anyone.

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The 2 Things I Started Doing at Night for Clearer Skin

When I was in my early 20’s I was the girl everyone used to ask, “what type of cover up do you use?” My answer was, “I’m not wearing any.” I miss those days :)

Ever since I moved from New York to the south my skin has hated me. On a very regular basis I would be breaking out and have dry patches on my nose. I was never able to leave the house without heavy coverage and when I got home, I could feel the breakouts coming. It’s been awful to deal with and I have tried so many different kinds of face washes, masks and toners. It would work for a little while and then go right back to dryness and breakouts.

So, as 2019 set in, I decided to really focus on my skincare routine by doing 2 things every single night and guess what?!? My skin has improved by leaps and bounds! The secret…. well, I guess there really isn’t one, I’ve just been neglecting the obvious. Here it is:

WASHING MY FACE

Every night! No matter how tired you are or how busy you get, don’t ever go to bed without washing your face. Get all the dirt, oil and makeup off so that your skin has a full night to breathe.

MOISTURIZING 

I had no idea how much this would change my skin and I follow the same rule. Never go to bed without moisturizing. I like moisturizer that is light and once it’s soaked in, doesn’t feel like it leaves a heavy residue. The dryness on my nose has pretty much disappeared and I have seen an improvement in the evenness of my skin tone.

Pretty simple right?!? I’ve used a couple product lines over the last year that I really like: Formula 10.0.06 and Honest Beauty. They don’t leave a residue and my skin feels clean when I’m done.

If you are like me and you’ve been neglecting your pour skin, go ahead and give this a try and be patient. It took at least a month of consistency before I started noticing any changes, but the results were definitely worth it.

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6 of My Favorite Ways to Wind Down at Night

Sleep has always been something I suck at. As a writer, I find most of my creativity comes at night. I don’t start writing until at 10 and then when I’m on a roll, the next thing I know it’s 3am and I have to be up in less than 5 hours. Switching my schedule from night owl to early bird has been something I work hard at. These are 6 things I’ve found to really help get in a nighttime routine and calm me down so I can actually get some sleep and wake up feeling rested.

Shower Bomb

Since I don’t have a bathtub, I was ecstatic that I found these shower bombs at my favorite bath and body shop in Florida! I purchased a couple lavender ones specifically for night time showers. As it lays under the running water, it releases a soothing scent that helps me relax. A few deep breaths and I am ready for bed.

Exfoliate

I try to exfoliate a couple times a week. It leaves my skin super soft and I feel like I have a natural glow that lasts me through the following day. This is one of my favorite scrubs, but truthfully you can make your own with just a few simple ingredients at home. Search it on Pinterest and I’m sure you’ll find a ton.

Honey Face Mask

About once a week I like to go all natural … with my face mask that is. Right before I’m ready to brush my teeth, I’ll wash the remnants of the day off my face and add a little life back into it with honey. I spread it across my face and leave it on for about 10-15 minutes. Don’t put too much on or you’ll turn into Mrs. Doubtfire. When I use it consistently I find that my face holds its moisture longer and doesn’t dry out as quickly. It also have natural antibacterial functions to help with acne.

Warm Cup of Tea

I love the feeling of holding a warm mug between my hands and drinking a hot cup of something. To be honest, I don’t think tea helps put me to sleep, I think it’s more of the experience of lounging on the couch in my pjs sipping a warm cup that calms me down at night. Also, because it is hot, it keeps me sitting there rather than getting up and down to do laundry, grab a snack or distract myself with other chores.

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Read a Book

I’ve always heard that an hour before bed you should turn off all electronics. There’s too much stimulation of the brain with the movement and colors and screen and all of that. Reading is a great alternative for me. It’s great studying as I work on my novels to see how other people write and what really draws me into the story. Getting immersed in a whole different world is the perfect way for me to release tension and forget about anything around me as the day comes to an end.

Sleep Stories

This has become my absolute favorite thing to do every night as I fall asleep. I use CALM right now. You can use the limited version for free if you don’t mind repeated stories, or pay a monthly fee for more options. Very very rarely do I start a story I don’t fall asleep in the middle of. It helps my mind not to wander and I sleep better on the nights I listen. If you are one of those people who’s mind cannot shut off at night, I highly recommend trying it! – P.S. I am not getting paid for this, personally it has really improved my sleep and anxiety over the last year and I love to share anything I believe can benefit others.

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Disney Recap: Finding the Magic as an Adult

When you’re an adult, I think that Disney World is the place to go for revival. To inhale all possibilities and exhale your doubts. The magic that surrounds you at every turn is enough to break down the barriers you continually build in your every day life, reasoning with yourself about why you can’t do something.

I went to Disney a couple weekends ago as part of an extended trip for my cousin’s wedding and came back feeling inspired. The magic of the mouse resurrected the dreams that somehow fizzled out in the midst of real life expectations. I began building plans and breathing back to life ideas that had gone so long without air. I can’t wait to share those with you in the near future, but today, I’m sharing a bit more about Disney and the different kind of magic you find at 35!

EPCOT

Somehow Epcot felt smaller than when I was 8 years old, but not in a way that was disappointing. Being able to capture a glimpse of different cultures in one night shows possibility if you are willing to take the leap. We look at a map and want to experience greatness, beauty and adventure on the other side of the world not realizing that all three surround us much closer than we think. The mountains and glistening waters of Canada, the eye of London, wineries of Napa or deserts of the west only a half day’s drive or flight away. Epcot for me was the place that reaffirmed my love of travel and how much there is to see in this world.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

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Film production has always been fascinating to me. I think it’s amazing how a set transforms on the big screen and how actors develop characters from an idea on a page. I’ve always wanted to create my own film, maybe bring one of my books to life or something completely new, not sure what, but it’s on my bucket list, so of course Hollywood Studios renewed my creative mind for that.

We met Woody and Jesse from Toy Story. The line was about an hour long, but we didn’t mind. As a huge Toy Story fan, Sam wanted a picture and I could see the happiness in his eyes when we were next in line. I love the joyful spirit moments like this bring. I think he was automatically swept back in time to the age of innocence when nothing else mattered but saving the toy world with Woody and Buzz.

MAGIC KINGDOM

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Ah, Magic Kingdom… it truly never loses it’s magic. I was dancing with 3 year olds as the parade came through Main Street. We walked through the Swiss Family Robinson tree house twice and Pirates of Caribbean was as fascinating as I remember. I definitely wasn’t leaving without hopping on the buggy through the Haunted Mansion either. I’m thankful to fast pass for both of those. My recommendation for Magic Kingdom would be to get the fast pass. It’s my personal opinion of course, but I felt as if it would be worth the money. Waits in the regular lines that were about an hour took us 10-15 minutes in the fast pass line. I don’t do well in traffic, so I know I wouldn’t have done well in those lines.

There wasn’t anything food wise I was looking forward to more than chocolate covered rise crispy treats. It’s been more than 2 decades since I was able to walk the Kingdom with one in my hand. I ate half of it before dinner thinking I would save the rest for a midnight snack, but all the dinner fun distracted me and I left the other half at the table (I’m still kinda bitter about that). Speaking of dinner,  I’ve always wanted to do a character breakfast, but an evening buffet with Pooh and friends was just as fun. It will cost you a pretty penny, but when else will you get hugs from Tigger, Pooh and Piglet?

After Magic Kingdom we took the monorail to the Grand Floridian because no matter how old I am, it’s the one place I step in and become Cinderella. It’s also where my favorite bath and body shop is, so of course I didn’t leave empty handed.

Needless to say, Disney was everything I needed to remind me that we get one life, one that is far too short to not believe we are capable of building our own kind of empire.

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4 Things I Started Doing to Reduce Stress in the Mornings

So, let’s be real. I am very high anxiety. I freak out about pretty much everything and always have to stop and remind myself that it’s not the end of the world when something goes wrong. I’m always running at a hundred miles an hour and flying out the door only minutes before I have to be at work. My normal routine was waking up, getting ready, taking the dog out, packing lunch and snacks, making coffee and then shoving food down my throat before I run out the door. This left absolutely ZERO time for me to just relax, breathe in the moment and prepare myself for the day.

That kind of lifestyle benefits nobody. It left me stressed out and it left my boyfriend stressed out for me, so I decided to sit down and reevaluate my morning routine. These 4 changes have helped immensely in reducing my anxiety and making me feel way less stressed as I start my day.

Prepare the night before

Lunch and snacks I have started putting together before I go to bed at night. They all go in a bag in the fridge so I can just grab it. I’ve also started figuring out what I am going to where and setting it on my closet shelf. That way I don’t have to try on and take off 3 or 4 different outfits before I decide on the right one. You’d be surprised (or you may already know) how much time that saves!

Hand over responsibilities

My dog is very high energy. He NEEDS to go for long walks at least once if not more every day. I was trying to fit a 30 minute walk in with him when I barely had any time to spare. So, instead of walking him every morning, I now share the responsibility with my boyfriend. He takes him out a majority of time during the day because he’s home a bit more, so I felt guilty not doing the morning walks, but the truth is, he has more time and doesn’t actually mind sharing in the morning walks with me. Now, the days I do walk him are the days I go into work a little later in the day, so I feel as if I’m on less of a time crunch.

This one was hard for me. I’m very independent and feel the need to do everything myself. The truth though is I’m not alone. Don’t feel as if everything needs to fall on your shoulders. Look around you and ask for help. Sharing daily responsibilities lightens the load. Don’t be afraid to try it!

Set an alarm for bedtime 

It’s always been a struggle for me to get up in the morning because I’m a night owl. Switching to an early bird lifestyle has been an adjustment, but I am improving! I realized that if I want to get up earlier, I need to go to bed earlier. That’s why I set an alarm to remind me one hour before bedtime. In that one hour, I prefer for the next day, get myself ready for bed and then wind down before pulling up the covers.

Let the world be still

The one thing I always find very hard is making time for myself. Spending just 5-10 minutes a day doing absolutely nothing but taking care of me. It’s so freaking hard, but recently I was reminded that if I don’t take care of myself, how am I going to be well enough to take care of anyone else. Meditation has been such and amazing insertion into my life this past year. It’s something I try to do regularly before bed, but it’s also something I try to find just a moment for each morning. Meditation can be different for everyone. For me, it’s sitting on the couch in peace and quiet with my eyes closed. I don’t think about yesterday or the day ahead, but the simple sound of my breath.

Life can be hard, sometimes seriously overwhelming, but life is also a blessing. We were given this amazing opportunity to make memories, explore and live every single day as if it was our last because we never know when that might be. It’s too short to be stressed out, so if you are feeling like me, sit down. Take a look at everything around you and try to figure out where you can incorporate changes to take a little bit of the load off. Start small, even the littlest steps in the right direction will make a huge difference.