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courtneyg

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Hold on a little longer

Be the type of person who holds on a little longer than they should.

Always try one more time.

Never walk away from anything you believe in without a fight.

Sometimes that means you might get hurt a little more often, but that’s okay because in the end,

when it’s time to let go, you can do so with no regrets and no reason to ever look back.

 Be who you are. Give everything you have to give.

That type of heart will draw the right people into your life and when they arrive, you will know it.

They are your people. Your forever tribe. They will accept you for everything you are.

Never be ashamed to love hard, forgive quickly and trust slowly.

It’s what make you, you and that is beautiful <3

 

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Throwing Expectations Out the Window

“Instead of following the rules, she started rewriting them. Banishing all expectations and living life on her own terms.”

Always find ways to feed your passion. Never let the light dim. Forget excuses. Ignore expectations. There is always a way to do what you love. When life is pulling you in all directions, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “what do I want?” Be sure to listen. Everyone has an opinion of what your life should be like, but the only opinion that matters is your own. You  are born with a passion inside of you for a reason. It is not meant to be surpressed, but flourised. You are in the driver seat. Steer yourself in the right direction and if you ever get off track, turn around, go back and try again.

Y O U R     L I F E    .    Y O U R     T E R M S

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The Runner Inside Me

Getting back into shape is hard. Not only doing you have to focus on not beating yourself up for all the time you spent getting out of shape, but you have to stay motivated enough to keep up the routine that is going to get you back into shape. Finding motivation in the middle of a Nashville summer probably wasn’t the best idea, but I have been pushing myself. Even though the humid air tries to swallow me whole, I try to push through. I don’t go far, I maybe run 20 minutes a day because my calves are burning so bad I can’t stand it. My feet ache, my knees hurt, my breath is heavy and my mind is telling me it’s had enough. Sweat is covering my eyes and the breeze that I felt within my first few strides has since subsided.

I take a deep breath in and then let it out, praying each time my foot hits the pavement the cramp in my side will go away. With every song that plays I wait for the voice through my headphones to tell me I’ve at least run a mile, but when I unlock my phone I’m barely at a half. “I can’t do this,” I tell myself, “not today.” But, I keep going, I don’t stop. The runner inside me is not giving up. The runner inside me will not settle. She knows better. She knows my body is strong enough to finish. She will not let my mind, my self doubt or my insecurities win.

The more I focus on my breathing and my stride, the quieter the voice of doubt becomes. I coast off every now and then to sing a few of the lyrics playing on my iTunes, but my calves are screaming. It comes in waves. I push through it until it subsides and embrace the peace until it hits again.

The sun is beating directly down on me and I can feel the stillness of the air much more than before. I’m starting to get dizzy and the ponytail on my head is becoming heavy. I feel the sweat seeping out from under the brim of my hat.

You’re almost there.”

I can hear her loud and clear. She’s pushing me with every bit of strength she has left. With each bead of sweat that is now pouring off of me, she cheers me on. She will not let me disappoint myself. She knows how badly I want this. It’s only one mile. That’s what I’m fighting for. Far less than what I used to run, but that’s where I am. I can’t be mad about it, I have to fight for it. That voice in my head, she’s my best friend and my worst enemy. She is the runner inside me.

That one mile isn’t as easy as it used to be, but it’s all I have to hold on to right now. Every time I step out on that open road I fight the battle between heart and mind. What do I want more? To give up or get ahead. So I fight for it long enough to make it.

I did it. She did it. We did it. I can’t thank her enough on days like this. She pushes me harder, she keeps me going, she won’t let me give up. She has faith in me when I don’t have faith in myself. She is there exactly at the moments I need her the most and because of her I have been able to accomplish goals I never thought possible. All because she believed in me. It took me awhile to find her, but I’m so happy I did. She is the runner inside me.

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Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites

I used to make these all the time when I lived back in Charlotte. I don’t think I’ve made them even once since I’ve been in Nashville, but I did this week and I have a feeling I’ll be making them on the regular now. These frozen blueberry yogurt bites were so easy to make. I desparately needed an alternative to the M&Ms I’ve been eating while binge watching Gilmore Girls and these hit the spot.

The key to these are the makeshift pastry bag I used for the yogurt. I loaded a plastic ziplock bag with yogurt and cut a small slit at the corner. Then I squeezed out a dime size amount across tin foil and placed a blueberry in the middle. After that, into the freezer they went and about two hours later they were the perfect consistency to eat. I used greek yogurt because it’s thicker. Vanilla so it had a hint of sweetness.

Go ahead, try it! They are so good!

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Oat and Peanut Butter Energy Balls

I’m always up to try a new Pinterest recipe especially when I’m in heavy edit mode on my manuscript. When I’m on a roll with writing, I hate stopping to have to prepare something. So, I did a search and found these energy balls. They were super easy to make and I loved that I could pack them in my computer bag and take them with me to the coffee shop. A girl needs energy while scrolling through thousands of words trying to figure out how her story is going to end.

Is anyone else still trying to master the art of multi-tasking? Juggling real world responsibilities with finding ways to pave your own path? Sometimes it’s exhausting and by 8pm my eyes are heavy and I’m ready to crawl into bed. Somedays I give in and others I can’t until I finished what I started. If any of this sounds like you, try the energy balls!  I found the recipe on I Heart Naptime, but altered it a little adding in 2 tbsp of chia seeds and a quarter cup of unsweetened coconut.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

MY ADDITIONS

  • 1/4 unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp chia seedS

HOW TO MAKE

  • Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix (I used my hands. It’s messy, but way easier to mix)
  • Line freezer with parchment paper or tin foil
  • Roll mixture into bite sized bals and place in freezer for about 1 hour to firm up

For storage info and all the details click here.

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Travel Recap – La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Happy Monday! I am back to reality after an amazing extended weekend in Costa Rica! My best friend from college and I take a trip every year together and this year we decided to be adventurous and head to Central America. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere more green. May is part of Costa Rica’s rainy season so it rained all day for 2 of the 3 days we were there, but luckily being in the rain forest and surrounded by waterfalls, we barely noticed. We stayed in La Fortuna, about 2.5-3 hours from the San Jose airport. Below is a recap of our adventure!

Getting to La Fortuna

We had private transportation arranged for us and once we passed through customs, we found someone holding a sign with our name on it to point us in the right direction. I would do private transfer again. It was totally worth it and with there being SO MANY people waiting for you outside the airport to take you places, it was great to know we had that secured and just looked for the sign.

The drive to La Fortuna is not for the faint of heart, or those with weak stomachs. The roads are windy and speed bumps come out of nowhere so it’s a lot of stop and go. If I had known that I may have brought some Dramamine! I kept my eyes closed for most of the ride. I did open them around San Ramon to see the town, but other than that I tried to sleep.

Staying in La Fortuna

We stayed at Hotel Lavas del Arenal. It was part of our adventure package and although nothing glamorous it had everything we needed. There was an outdoor restaurant open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was great, dinner not a huge amount of options if you don’t eat me. The pool was a bit chilly, but it was clean and we swam anyway and played Foosball. It was very quiet which we loved and it even had a mascot that greeted us as we arrived! Her name was Mia and she was the sweetest dog!

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Eating in La Fortuna

I’m so glad that we were able to eat out while we were there because the food in Costa Rica was SO good! We met an amazing group of people while on our trip and had a group dinner at a new restaurant called The Boathouse. I ordered fish in a mango sauce with coconut rice and it was mouthwatering.

Jessica and I went to downtown La Fortuna go dinner one night at Nene’s. I got the traditional shrimp and rice for dinner and we split Ceviche for an appetizer. I highly recommend the Ceviche. It was super tasty!

My favorite meal was at Organico Fortuna. We had lunch there on our last day. I loved the outdoor seating and everything on the menu was organic from my avocado sandwich to my energy boost coffee with a bamboo straw and Jessica’s banana bread for dessert. I wish I could pick this cute place up and bring it back to the U.S. with me!

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Adventure in La Fortuna

We did so much in 3 days thanks to Groupon!! Yup, we planned our vacation through Groupon. We found an awesome deal with a company called Adrenaline. Our tour guide Chris was amazing and made our trip 10 times better than we ever thought possible! He was so passionate about Costa Rica and genuinely wanted us to get everything out of our trip that we could.

Rio Celeste 

This was about an hour or so drive from La Fortuna. The hike is a workout, but totally worth it. We played roulette with this tour because with it being Costa Rica’s rainy season, the rain can turn the turquoise water brown, but we went early enough in the day that it was thankfully still blue! You definitely need hiking shoes and I wore long yoga pants and lots of bug spray. Jessica brought a waterproof phone case which was a life safer!  We wouldn’t have gotten such cool photos without it since it did rain pretty consistently the whole time.

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Chocolate and Coffee Tour

We did this tour on our last day in Costa Rica. With 2 full adventure packed days behind us, I am so glad we chose something less strenuous.The plantation was covered so we didn’t have to worry about rain, but there was still mosquitoes, so bug spray is a must.

It was really neat to hear the history of Costa Rican chocolate and learn how their coffee is made. We even had the opportunity to make our own chocolate bar. It tasted awful, but we tried. We ended up bringing home authentic chocolate bars made from professionals.

Hot Springs

I loved this!! It was so relaxing after 3 days of adventure. It was only a 20 or 30 minute drive with such great scenery along the way, including a volcano. When we got to the hot springs, we slid in and enjoyed an hour of relaxation.

Arenal Munda Adventure

Arenal Munda Aventura was day 2 of our trip, but was the day that was more action packed than them all. We did SO much here. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. We started with a hike to the La Fortuna waterfall. There are a lot of stairs and a couple hanging bridges along the way. Thank goodness I wore my bathing suit and water shoes because to see the waterfall you do have to wade across a river.

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After the waterfall we did our first of 7 zip lines. Some of them are the longest, the highest and the fastest. I learned that no matter what always keep your head to the side, your legs up and your strong hand far from the pully! This way if you can’t break, which I sucked at, the guides can help.

In between the zip lines, we learned how to rappel. The experience ended up not being as scary as I thought, but the first step off the platform was petrifying. Thank goodness for the amazing guides at the park. They explained everything to us and took their time. They didn’t force anyone to hurry up.

Once you were officially hanging, you realize that you control it all. You move only as fast as you pull the rope. The first 100 ft. or so you are lowering and finally get to the wall that you push off of. Always keep your feet wide so they stay in front of you and you won’t twist. Poor Jessica took a hit with her back.

Rapelling

The absolute hardest part of rappelling for me was the climb back up. You have to climb multiple ladders, some of them completely vertical and it’s exhausting. My arms were so tired about half way up, but it’s the only way so really you have no choice. Don’t look down, just keep climbing and eventually you’ll get there! The stairs after the ladders are super slippery so hold on tight. I let go for a second and scraped up my shin a little.

After zip lining and rappelling, we ended the day on horseback. It was a short ride, but by then I was soaked and covered in dirt so I didn’t mind. I was ready to go back to the hotel for a long hot shower.

Jessica and I still can’t believe we did all that! It was such a rush!

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Travel Tips

  • Rainy season is not a term of endearment. Bring your rain coat and fast drying clothes. You WILL need them!
  • Bring lots of bug spray!
  • Bring more clothes than you think you’ll need. With the humidity, our clothes didn’t dry as fast as we expected and at the end we were running out. I recommend a change of clothes each day.
  • Bring a pair of hiking boots, maybe two. Bring walking shoes separate from those and a pair of flip fl0ps.
  • Don’t forget water shoes and a bathing suit. They came in handy for the hot springs and waterfalls.
  • If you’re doing an adventure vacation, bring band aids and antibacterial ointment. Battle scars are part of the charm.
  • You can drink the water in Costa Rica, but for the most part we drank filtered and bottled.
  • Transportation isn’t cheap. Gas in Costa Rica is about $7 a gallon, so expect to pay for it.
  • Bring cash! It was much easier for taxis and tips to have cash. La Fortuna did have a few banks in town and I did have to use the ATM once. The transaction fee is about $5.
  • US Dollars are widely accepted and easily converted
  • Getting Back into the States – Download Mobile Passport!! This is the second time I’ve used it coming through customs and it saved me so much time. You have to complete your mobile passport within 4 hours of arriving at your port of entry. I did it on the plane as soon as I landed in Atlanta. You answer questions, take your photo and complete the customs questionnaire all on the app. Then once you’re off the plane you follow signs to the Mobile Passport line which is MUCH short than the regular line. I was actually the only person in that line, so I didn’t have to wait at all.

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at authorcgiardina at gmail dot com and I will do my best to answer them for you!

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So, You Want to Write a Book: Part V -Formatting & Publishing Resources

When new to the writing process or with technology forever changing, it’s always hard to keep up with where to go to find the best info. Luckily, since I use Amazon as my main publishing stream, I go straight to the source. They have step by step guides and even videos to walk you through it all. Below is a breakdown of formatting for both ebooks and print on demand books and links to the best resources I’ve found from Amazon.

Ebook Page Formatting

  1. Set your margins BEFORE your start writing
    1. First line indent to 0.2
    2. Spacing – set before and after to 0 pt, and line spacing to single
  2. Add Page Breaks
    1. When you are done with one chapter and before you start the other, you’ll want to add in a page break so that the last page of your chapter ends on a different than your next one begins
  3. Choose Your Font
    1. Fonts should be legible and easy to read. They should be large enough where there is no need to squint. Steer clear of cursive.
    2. Standard fonts are Times New Roman, Arial or Courier. I like Georgia, but I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.
    3. Stick to the same font throughout the entire story
    4. Only change it for the chapter headings if you choose

Click here for full guide

Ebook Cover Formatting

If you choose someone very familiar with creating book covers, you may not need this resource, but I as I talked about last week, I sucked my brother into helping me create my book covers, so we had to make sure before he started designing, we had the right size photos in the right format and that everything was inside the lines so it wasn’t cut off.

Here are the details are creating your book cover


Print Book Formatting

Not everyone does print copies of there novel anymore, but I always love the idea of physically holding my work in my hands, so I do. CreateSpace and KDP have merged since I last published my book so I had to do a little digging.

Paper and Word Color

There are a few options for your printed book.

  • Black ink on cream paper
  • Black ink on white paper
  • Color ink on white paper

For Tear Stained Beaches I used a cream color paper because I thought it went better with the warm tones of my book cover. Holding on Georgia and Behind the Strings I used black ink on white paper.

Choose Your Book Size

All my novels are 6×9. I think it makes for great cover quality and great book length and layout. There are many options to choose from though. Once you do decide, you will need to download the template zip file and open the template with your book size. Copy and paste your formatted ebook manuscript in. Don’t be afraid, parts of it may look funny once you do that, but you’ll just need to go through and fix pieces here and there. For the most part it should copy over quite well.

Be sure to go through this slowly as sometimes you may need to format as there is a blank page or the last line of a chapter may be all by itself on a new page. You’ll be able to receive a proof copy in the mail before ever setting up your print publishing, so you’ll be able to make changes before you go live!

Templates and Formatting Guide

Amazon Can Help

There is a lot of reading and trial and error when it comes to formatting. I’ve always done it myself, but Amazon does offer services to assist all parts of the formatting and publishing process. So, if you are struggling, Amazon makes it pretty easy for you!


 

Publishing Your Book

Once the formatting is set, you are almost home free! Now it’s time to get through the final steps for the publishing. You’ll login to your KDP account, enter all of your book details like ISBN numbers (I purchase mine here), keywords, pricing etc. Then you’ll upload and be able to preview before you publish!

Steps for Publishing Your Book

I hope this series was inspiring and helps you start that book you’ve always wanted to write!! Any other topics you want me to cover on the blog, send over an email to authorcgiardina at gmail dot com!

HAPPY WRITING!!!

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3 Infused Water Recipes to Keep You Hydrated and Your Skin Glowing!

Summer has arrived in Nashville with 90 degree heat and humidity. The only way to stay sane is to stay hydrated. I will be honest, I hate water. I can’t drink it plain, but I know how important it is, so I have been experimenting with natural ways to flavor it to help me drink more of it. Below are 3 tasty examples of my fruit infused water concoctions. They’re all very light tasting and refreshing and give just enough flavor to keep me drinking all I need.

I also did a little research and found out some great information about the benefits of the ingredients I used. Scroll down to see all the infused water fun I had this past week.

Cucumber – Lemon – Mint

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  • Lemon aids in digestion
  • Cucumber aids in a healthy skin complexion
  • Mint helps improve allergy symptoms (if you live in Nashville, you know what I mean)!

Watermelon – Rosemary

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  • Watermelon can help with muscle soreness. Good for me to know as I’m always super sore after a killer barre or pilates workout!
  • Watermelon provides a good source of Vitamin A and C
  • Rosemary can actually help improve concentration and memory (raise your hand if when you walk into a room you can’t remember what you went in there for).

Blueberry Acai Water

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  • Just one teaspoon of YourSuper Forever Beautiful antioxidant mix and you have a drink that rejuvenates skin is high in antioxidants and micronutrients and is a great plant-based source for essential fatty acids and protein.
  • Made with all organic ingredients, this is a great option if you aren’t up for cutting up fruit. Just scoop, mix and go!
  • If you’d like to try it out, save 15% off your order by clicking here and entering SUPER-COURTNEYG at checkout.

Got any infused water concoctions of your own? Share them with me! I’d love to try more flavors!