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How to Become a Boss Writer

Last week I made my first official podcast appearance  with the Hustle Babes. I’m so so excited to share with you all that you can HEAR IT NOW on their SoundCloud!!! I talk all about my journey as a writer and the ups and downs that come with it. I also give lots of tips such as:

  • How to stay motivated toward your goals
  • The one thing I do that keeps me organized
  • How I deal with self-doubt
  • My favorite ways to unwind after a long day
  • and more!!!

So, if you’re a writer, dreamer or entrepreneur or just need a little motivation to get back on track with your goals, head on over and give it a listen!

Hustle Babes Podcast Photo

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Valentine’s Date Night In Ideas

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and if you’re like me and enjoy nice quiet nights at home in yoga pants and a ponytail, here are some fun date night ideas for staying in.

Play Board Games – This Valentine’s Day Jenga is a cute idea to remind each other all the things about the other you fell in love with.

Homemade Sushi – I’ve always wanted to make my own sushi at home. If you love cooking in the kitchen with your better half, this would be a fun one.

Fondue Picnic – Enjoy your own fondue night! Fondue kits are easy to find, like this one here. Lay a blanket on the living room floor, pour some wine, serve fruit or cheese on a platter, dip and enjoy.

Root Beer Floats and a movie – I love the idea of this root beer float kit. It would be the perfect treat to a night of movies like Grease or Sixteen Candles.

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Dreams Don’t Take Weekends Off

This past Saturday, at a desk in the back corner of the Nashville Public Library, I opened my computer and pulled up a chair. I put my phone on silent and tucked it away in my computer bag to hide any distractions and for three hours I wrote more of Celia’s story. I then came home and wrote for seven hours more.

For those of you who haven’t read my newest novel Behind the Strings, it’s all about a love triangle in the midst of the country music world. It ends with a cliffhanger to the main character, Celia’s story and I’ve been stuck on the sequel for about two years now with no idea how I wanted it to end.

In that library though on Saturday afternoon, I felt as if the gates had opened for me and the words came flooding out. 5,500 words later Celia’s path was clearer. The ending is near and the two final words of draft one are on the horizon – THE END.

It’s been a long journey and it’s far from over. After draft one comes draft two. After draft two comes the beta readers and then draft three. Then comes the editor and the edits and so so much more. It’s exhausting. My eyes hurt and sometimes I cry from frustration because I want to get it just right. When it’s done though, when the very first proof is delivered to my door and I get to hold all that hard work in my hands, that makes it all worth it.

Nobody said that dreaming was easy. Fulfilling your passion or finding your path in life, it takes works and dedication. It takes drive and sacrifice. You can’t keep saying, “I want this” and expect it to be handed to you. You have to get up and put in the work and if you do, I promise it will pay off.

The hardest part isn’t getting to the finish line, it’s whether or not you have the courage to step up to the starting block.

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About Behind the Strings

As oBehind the Strings Official Coverjpgne of Nashville’s hottest music bloggers, Celia Westbrooke spends her days chasing stories and her nights mingling with country music’s rising stars. Her life is a whirlwind, but it keeps her mind from remembering a past she left behind. That is, until a new assignment forces her to face the one person she thought was gone forever.

Logan Kent is on the fast track to country music stardom. It was the dream he had worked his entire life for. A dream that cost him the one person he ever truly loved. The same dream, that five years later, will be the reason she returns.

In the heart of Music City, Celia and Logan will be forced to relive the remnants of a relationship they thought would never be. And just when they think they have what it takes to put all the pieces back together, one night could tear it all apart. Secrets will be revealed, loyalties will be tested and both will be left to decide if what they really want, is worth what they’ll lose in the process. More

 

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Nashville Eats and Birthday Treats

YAY IT’S MONDAY!!!

This past weekend I spent WAY too much money, ate WAY too many calories and enjoyed EVERY minute of it. I probably should’ve woken up this morning feeling guilty about it, but I don’t. Why? Because every now and then you just know that your soul needs a little rejuvenating and you can’t feel bad about pampering your inner self.

And, it’s my birthday! What better excuse for a time like this?!?!

For the past few months I have been reducing the amount of meat, dairy and coffee from my diet, but I do allow myself to eat it sometimes and this weekend was one of those times.

So, for those of you who haven’t been to Nashville or Nashvillians who need some new places to add to their “must try” lists… I give you all the places that broke my bank and my food regimen this weekend!

5th & Taylor

Taste and atmosphere at 5th & Taylor stole the show for my official (early)  birthday dinner.

I drooled over the ‘duck’am with blackberries, smoke cabbage and red wine gravy. I could’ve finish it though because I ate every spoonful of the Roasted Pumpkin Soup for my first course.

Be careful of the granola on top. Those suckers will get you if you talk with your mouth full :) Thankfully the waiter was on top of filling my water glass that evening.


Black Rabbit

I’m slightly afraid to share the Black Rabbit because it’s still a little bit of a secret here and I kind of like it that way. The live jazz, the fireplace seating and ridiculously knowledgeable mixologists are all the reason I kind of want to keep this all to myself.

I was super intrigued with the idea of their cocktail menu layout. If you’re a traditionalist, order from the left. If you’re a risk taker, order from the right. And if you’re not quite sure which one you are, ask the bartender, they’ll definitely lead you in the right direction.

I got the Jubilee and I would definitely order it again, but it goes down like fruit juice, so take it slow.


Mike’s Ice Cream

We had a choice between one more drink at another bar or ice cream and hot chocolate. We chose the latter. I ate the ice cream first and warmed up with the Hawaiian Coconut Hot Chocolate as we waited in the wind for Uber.

*Side note, does anyone else give up on remembering how to spell Hawaii? I literally just type a bunch of vowels every time so auto correct can help me out.

Okay, enough on how poor my grammar is. On to the next!


E+Rose Wellness Cafe

Previously known as Daily Juice, E+Rose Cafe is no longer a franchise, but a locally owned cafe. They make, in my opinion, THE BEST, acai and breakfast bowls in Nashville. With that said, after a 3 mile walk along the lake, I was freezing and needed something to warm me up a bit. So, I tried their vegan broccoli cheddar soup and avocado toast.

Thumbs up for both, but don’t let my healthy lunch fool you. I made up for it during Saturday’s dinner.


Hopsmith

After a 3 hour nap because clearly I can no longer stay out past midnight and fully function, we went to Hopsmith, a new pub in midtown. I was proud of myself for trying a couple new beers  before dessert. This cookie skillet was a pretty solid replacement for the normal cookie cake I always ask for on my birthday. A little bit of caramel drizzle and a whole lot of chocolate chip cookie was exactly what I needed to round out the night.

And in case you were wondering, I did share with Sam, but I ate both cherries. 


Holler & Dash

And for the last meal of the weekend… I went to brunch on a Sunday in Nashville and didn’t have to wait an hour in line. We were welcomed as soon as we walked in the door. Everyone smiled at us and we both chose sweet over savory.

Isn’t it a rule that you don’t count calories on a Sunday? I know, wishful thinking. 

A big high five to their biscuits though. I know everyone lines up outside and around the corner for Biscuit Love, but I’m happy to take an open seat at Holler & Dash again for these ones!


And there you have it! A little tour of some of Nashville’s finest eating establishments according to me!

It’s a bit sad the weekend had to come to an end and reality is looming around the corner. I hit the schedule button for this newsletter with a green juice in my hand.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Coffee with Court and hope you have a wonderful start to a great week ahead!


If you came here from somewhere other than your email…. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS NEWSLETTER NOW so you don’t miss out on all the fun every Monday! 

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End Game – More than a Taylor Swift Song

Happy Monday All!!

Last week was an exciting week! I had the opportunity to be featured on Mavenly + Co. They are a blog that provides resources and inspiration to design a career + lifestyle with a purpose. I got to talk all about my struggles, biggest influences, key elements to success and my advice for other authors. I’d love for you to check it out! Just click here :)

I also kicked off the giveaways for my Tear Stained Beaches celebration. I can’t believe I published my first novel 5 years ago. It’s crazy to think I still hear from new readers about the power of the message. Those messages are the reasons I keep writing, but lately it doesn’t seem like I’ve been getting much of that done.


 

End Game

I’m still struggling with the time to sit down and write the book I started 2 years ago. After pushing it aside for all of 2016, I started working on it again last year. I had a goal for it to be finished by end of 2017 and here we are, the third week into the new year and it’s still not done yet.

I’m working 3 jobs and for one of them it doesn’t matter if it’s 10am or 10pm, when they call, they expect me to answer and when it’s a pretty large entertainment company and a major project that comes out in just a couple of weeks, I guess I get it.

But, in the midst of real life, I have to remember the end game. 

The end game… it is more than a Taylor Swift song that plays on the radio every time I turn on my Jeep. The end game for 2018 was to gain some momentum with my writing.  To begin to make a living sharing my stories, my words and my adventures.

I wrote Tear Stained Beaches in 2013 and then stood back and thought it was going to sell itself and sure, it does pretty well, but imagine how much better it and the other 2 novels I have out there would do if I put a little effort into it.

For the past 5 years, it’s like I’ve been riding one of the bikes in a spin class. The pedals are turning a hundred miles an hour, but I’m going nowhere. Why? I had no end game, no plan and no goal to reach towards. I just wrote a book and published it and then left it alone, but not this year.

This year, I am going to try harder. I am going to make less excuses and when I pedal, I’m going to move forward. So, for anyone else who may feel the same way with something in their life, here’s a few things this girl is going to do to make sure of that!

  • I bought myself a planner so that I could organize my life all in one place
  • I scheduled time in my day to actually write
  • I wrote out a plan – a monthly social media and marketing plan to make my posts more relevant and strategic
  • I’m going to bed way earlier than I’ve seen in a long time to make sure I’m at my best
  • I’m setting time limits (limits on social media, Netflix (sigh…so hard) etc.) – It’s so easy to get consumed, but there is work to be done
  • I’m learning to say no. No, I can’t stay an extra hour at work today. No, I can’t go out for a drink tonight. 
  • I’m going to start treating my hobby as if it was my job – just because you don’t feel like working some days, doesn’t mean you can’t show up.

I hope it helps to know you’re not the only person who feels like their life is spinning out of control with no results and that the list above gives you a place to start on pressing that break.

I’m open to any other tips you might have to offer! So, if you have some, send them my way!

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Looking Back as the Snow Falls

I can’t help but think of home every time it snows here in the south. It’s so much different than it was in New York. When the streets were covered in snow along Lake Ontario, life went on. We would just bundle up, scrape off our cars and go.

I barely had any snow days when I was in school. The plows would be out all night long so the roads were clear enough in the morning for the buses to get us there. 

It’s not like that in the south. When the snow falls, it’s as if life stops. You get to hit pause on the craziness of your every day responsibilities and for just a minute you get to breathe. 

I sat outside on my balcony as the snowflakes were falling. This was my first real snowfall in Nashville. Holding on to my sweet matcha latte in my new Starbucks mug as the snow covered the railing of my corner apartment balcony, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about the first time I saw snow in the south.

It was in North Carolina. The entire city of Charlotte was pretty much shut down for about two days and I had nowhere to go. Lucky for me though, I had 3 of my favorite people living in my complex. We stayed up until well after the sun went down playing board games and laughing. We had no responsibilities and no place to be. We were just a group of people enjoying each other’s company.

I smile at how amazing those years were. I mean who gets to live in the same apartment complex as some of your favorite people? Friends had nothing on us. When I was bored I would just walk down 2 flights of stairs and knock on a door, knowing that at least one of them would open. There aren’t words to describe how much I miss those people or those memories.

I moved to Nashville to pursue a dream. I’m grateful that I was brave enough to do it because over the past year and a half I’ve found out so much more about myself that I didn’t know before, but I’m not yet ready to call Nashville home. My heart is still in North Carolina. 

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This year’s snow day I sat in my room with a cup of hot chocolate binge watching Young & Hungry. It’s a far cry from my all night board game adventures. I have tears rolling down my face as I write this, knowing they’re in the past. At the same time though, I love the fact that I have those memories to hold on to.

I’ve spent a lot of time while living in Nashville looking behind me. Wondering if I made the right choice. I think it’s really easy for people to look backwards. That when they start getting scared of the unknown they wish that they could relive the good times. When life isn’t going the way they’d hoped they wish they could go back and change something because maybe they’d end up somewhere different. I’m right there with all of them. I’m guilty of that too.

As I sat out on the balcony this weekend smiling about a life that used to be, the writer in me remembered something. We cannot live in a chapter forever. In order to continue our story we have to turn the page. Every now and then we can glance back at a chapter in order to remind ourselves of how we got here, but we cannot stay there. So much more of our story is yet to bet written.

I can never get Charlotte back, but what I can do is stop punishing Nashville for not being the city I left and start embracing it for what it has to offer and be thankful what it has given me so far. 

We can’t be sad for the things we no longer have. We can’t be angry for the things we cannot change. All we can do is focus on today and hope for tomorrow. We have to hold on to what we have right now and let go of what we cannot control.

Funny how all of this came to me while sipping a latte and watching the snow fall. 

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CGIARDINA

Through a Writer’s Eyes

2017, you came in like a lion and went out like one too. You were rough. You challenged my spirit and made me question my life’s path. At times you knocked me down, but at the same time, you reignited my passion. You brought out my strength and made me believe that I can be whoever it is I choose to be.

In 2017, I put writing on the back burner. For whatever reason, I just didn’t have it in me. Days and weeks would pass when I didn’t write a word. I kept using time as the problem by saying that I didn’t have enough of it. The truth though was that I did have time. I just had more excuses. I didn’t want it bad enough. I needed a break.

This week, as I sit down to reflect on my goals, I can feel it. I can feel the fire slowly burning inside of me. I want to write again. I want to finish the story I started two years ago and then… I want to write more. I want to create more stories for people to escape to. I want to write about life, adventure, love and truth.

Along with those words, I want to show the world through the eyes of a writer. How I interpret what I see around me. Where my inspiration comes from. The way words heal my soul and how I escape when it becomes too much.

So, if you’d like to tag along, you’re in the right place. I’ll be writing all about the journey here and you can subscribe below!

2018, I can see it now. You’re going to be the best year yet!

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Holiday Cocktail Recipes and More!

 

There is just one more week until Christmas Day! So, let’s talk cocktails. Who doesn’t love a holiday cocktail? Eggnog, cider, Christmas punch, there are so many fun recipes. Below is a list of a few I found while searching Pinterest that I would love to try and make this year!Head over to Twitter and let me know which is your favorite!
Very Merry Ornamentini – See Recipe
Eggnog Float – See Recipe
Gingerbread Latte Martini - See Recipe
Blackberry Ombre SparklerSee Recipe
Quotes and Coffee will return in the new year! SUBSCRIBE TO QUOTES & COFFEE NOW! so you don’t miss out on all that is to come!

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