Chia Seed Power!

From the start, I loved the sound of the Mayan word “chia” and its meaning: strength. Originally grown in Mexico, these seeds were valued for their nutritional and medicinal properties. Runners and warriors used chia seeds as fuel while running long distances or during battles. Aztec warriors claimed that one spoonful of chia seeds could sustain them for 24 hours.

Recent research has found even more benefits. An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and antioxidants, chia seeds support the heart and digestive system, build stronger bones and muscles, promote healthy skin, and can help reverse diabetes.

Definitely a superfood and one that can be easily incorporated into our daily diets. A reassuring fact for non-foodies who don’t like to cook.

Here’s my quick and easy-to-prepare recipe for chia seed pudding…the perfect solution for breakfast-on-the-go or a delicious snack.

Ingredients

2 cups almond milk (Use coconut milk if you’re trying to steer clear of nuts)

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 packet Stevia

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 scoop plant-based protein powder, unflavored or vanilla (Optional)

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for one to two minutes until completely smooth.

Pour mixture into a jar or glass container and refrigerate for at least four hours. I prefer to let it refrigerate overnight so it has time to thicken into a creamy texture.

Stir a few times within the first hour to help the mixture gel evenly.

To serve, divide among bowls and top with your favorite fruit. I like to use berries, cantaloupe, honeydew, and grapes.

Makes 4 servings

Note: If you would like more color and/or variety, consider these variations while blending:

~Mix in 1/4 cup cocoa powder.

~Add a pinch of ground cardamom and cloves.

~Add 3 tablespoons each of nut butter and jelly.

~Add one banana.

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

Posted in Recipe, Soul Mate Publishing, What's Up With Joanne! | 2 Comments

One Hundred Days, One Hundred Words

As you now know after reading my most recent Soulmate Press Blog Posts, I am a recovering blocked writer. After nearly a year of a research project for work, requiring a lot of time, travel and energy, I was unable to write fiction, and starting to believe I might never be able to finish another novel,

Taking writing classes helped, as well as putting away the Urban Fantasy manuscript that required more research and more energy than I had. I started to write in a new genre (for me), a Contemporary Western Romance. It could also be considered Women’s Fiction with Romantic Elements. That’s because I write what I know, and I am deeply involved and passionate about current events with my nonfiction as well. And since childhood, have loved everything to do with cowboys, cowgirls, and horses.

I’m trying not to get derailed by what this novel is. I have always written genre mashups, and just the fact that I had 20,000 words and a basic outline was good enough. But I couldn’t find the time, or discipline to write everyday. Until I got a random Facebook announcement sent to fellow SMP authors about Happy 100s: A 100 words a day for 100 days challenge. That seemed karmic since I’ve been avoiding Facebook recently, both because of both the distraction and distress factors.

I joined, a few days late. And I missed a few days along the way while getting the research project, Powerpoint and poster ready for presentation. But the Contemporary. Western, Women’s Fiction manuscript, which might need the disclaimer “the events are real but names have been changed to protect the innocent–and the guilty,” now totals 67,000 words. Most days I wrote at least 500-1000 words, and sometimes up to almost 5000.

I was waking up at night with dialogue in my head so good, I had to get up and put it on paper. It’s a sloppy first draft, but that’s okay. And that’s also why I get up to type instead of scribbling in the dark, which is mostly unintelligible the next morning. My kid was yelling that I, once more, wasn’t paying attention to anything except my stupid computer.

I was panicked on the last day, because the accountability really does help. But a few of us have decided to continue on–which means I do not have to stress with NaNoWriMo.

I hesitate to say I’m cured. But I’ve entered some contests with both this manuscript and the urban fantasy, and have the fourth book in the Unfinished Business series started. I’ve weaned myself away from social media and am focused on writing.

With any luck, I’ll have two novels finished by this time next year. Even if I’m not cured, my writer’s block is in remission.

 

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Mindset Matters

By Jeanine Englert

Mindset matters. It does. What you believe you’re capable of can truly fuel your future, so if you have one of those fixed mindsets that says, “I’ll never finish the book, no one will publish it, and I’ll never be as good as ________,” I challenge you to a 30 day growth mindset reboot.

Ready to try it?

In case you’ve never heard of the idea of fixed versus growth mindset, the concept was born from Carol Dweck while she did research on intelligence and explored the idea of whether intelligence was fixed or if it could be enhanced and changed over time. She found that students with growth mindsets could indeed close gaps in their academic achievement and in a sense grow their intelligence. How you ask? By the way they worked through challenges and what could be perceived as setbacks.

In essence, she proved that you can influence and improve your success by letting go of fear, reflecting on your process, and changing your beliefs. For example, instead of “I’ll never finish the book,” you can say “I’ll find a new writing process that helps me take smaller steps towards completing my book.” Or instead of “no one will ever publish my book,” you can say that “I’ll continue to explore publishers until I discover the right one for my project.” And instead of “I’ll never be as good as so and so,” you can say “I’ll see what he/she is doing and try that.” The idea is to focus on where you are, where you wish to be, and on the process that will get you there.

I had the privilege of teaching a workshop on “Mindset and Mapping Out Your Writing Future” just this past weekend at the Georgia Romance Writers “Moonlight & Magnolias” Conference. As with every workshop I get the opportunity to teach, I left feeling that I had gained just as much as I had given to the members of my session as they shared their fears, their hopes for the future, and problem solved through ways to shift from a fixed mindset of fear to a growth mindset of success as they discussed their plans for their writing future.

So, I hope you too will take a moment to jot down your fears (your fixed mindset thoughts) and craft them into growth mindset statements. Let the words you say aloud and in your head help you move forward rather than hold you back, and try the 30 day growth mindset reboot: every time you have a fixed mindset thought, stop and rephrase it, and see what happens. Heck, even write them out as goals! You might just be amazed by how your mindset shapes your future for the better.

And as always, happy writing, friends.

Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.

When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.

Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.

Where you can find me:

Website: www.jeaninewrites.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JeanineWrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46222432-lovely-digits

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanineWrites

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jeanine-englert?list=about

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Fall Reflections – And a Recipe

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. The change in the air from warm and humid to crisp and dry . . . the beauty of the leaves putting on their best, most colorful show before they flutter to the ground . . . the aroma of those fallen leaves, dusty and earthy.

And the aroma of homemade banana bread.

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When I was a kid living in rural New York, my mother was a homemaker, with plenty of time to cook and bake. She also loved it. In the fall, when she could crank open the windows to disperse the heat from the oven in our tiny field-stone house, her baking let all the neighborhood know what was in the oven. After my younger brother and I climbed down off the bus and made our way up the steep, curving driveway toward our home, we knew before we got to the door what treat awaited us there.

In the fall, besides yummy apple and pumpkin pies, my mother’s go-to recipe was for banana bread. Homemade, of course, from bananas that had gone nearly to black. We’d storm through the door and clamor for a piece, even though suppertime was imminent.

When the fall leaves scuttle across the ground and the days grow shorter, I’m reminded of a time in my life when the biggest thrill of the day was a piece of homemade banana bread, warm, slathered with butter.

Sadly, after several decades and numerous moves across five states, Mama’s recipe for banana bread has been lost. I’ve found a nearly-as-good substitute, though. You should give it a try – as long as the bananas are good and ripe. Almost rotten.

The link to the recipe (on AllRecipes.com) is here. (My only suggestion would be to add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, for those who enjoy a spicier bread.)

I also wrote a essay about this time in my life, one that was sadly cut from the final edition of my memoir. I’m offering it to my Soulmates as a harvest offering. You can find it on my website here: https://clairegem.com/autumn-reflections

Enjoy the season. Enjoy your family while you still can. And never, ever let old traditions dry up and blow away like autumn leaves.

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Navigating Different Creative Seasons

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The weather is finally changing! (Was fall late wherever you live as well?) Watching the leaves slowly molt from green to brown makes me think about the different creative seasons in our lives. I know I tend to blog a lot about different seasons and rhythms, but I think it’s because they are as inescapable as gravity. You can ignore the rules of physics as long as you want, but in the end, Newton’s Law wins. I can burrow straight through all the different seasons of my life, ignoring all of life’s signals, but it the end, it’s gonna catch up and the price is steep when delayed.

We have rich times where our minds explode with stories. We have dry times where we can’t make anything, but we absorb details around us with near osmosis. But here is a different type of creative season: The times where we might not reach for a laptop or a notebook to create but a different medium.

I personally dabble in multiple creative mediums. Like the seasons, they rotate in and out of my life, but all are truly essential to my overall creativity. The nudge is gut-tug, and I can feel the pressure built until I finally indulge and let it release.

Music keeps my fingers dexterous and my mind sharp with an otherworldly language.

Painting hones my problem solving skills, keeps me attentive to detail, and lets me practice letting go of results.

Photography teaches me to slow down and take my time to notice beauty in unlikely places.

I even dabble in planner decorating, which has been my go-to lately, because it helps me choose to structure my day in thoughtfulness and kindness toward my body.

But all make my writing, and my creative mind, much richer.

What season of creativity are you in now? Dry or Rich? Writing or preferring to dabble elsewhere?

abby-j-reed-headshot-smilingABOUT ABBY:
Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if.She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her second novel, WHEN DREAMERS FALL, will be published May 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at http://www.abbyjreed.com.

When Dreamers Fall ebook cover 505x825

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PRAIAS – COAST OF THE ALGARVE

I haven’t been to the French Rivera. I haven’t been to the cliffs of Amalfi. I have driven, toured and run the soft sparkly sand through my fingers at the Algarve. The Algarve is Praia eo Camilo (Lagos)150 kilometers/90 miles of coastline

We drove to S. Vicente, the Cape Cod of Portugal, the most southern point, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

It isn’t true if you’ve seen one beach, you’ve seen them all. Each has their own characteristics.

The Hawaiian personality of the thatched umbrellas were at the Falesia Praia, picture below, and at no other.

We discovered all the beaches are topless, but not all the women were. No, you can’t see the ones that were topless. I don’t have them to share.

The path begins at the Nossa Senhora da Encarnação fort (GPS 37.09474, -8.46976), which is at the top of the steep hill leading to the left (east) side of the beach. The boardwalk extends for 570m to the car park at the top of the Algar Seco cliff (GPS 37.09332, -8.46556). A typical walk takes around 10 minutes but often takes much longer as the beautiful scenery is admired. The wooden path means that it is suitable for all and is perfect for less mobile visitors or families. At the base of the Algar Seco cliffs is the Boneca Bar, a great setting for drinks and light meals.

Do note: The Carvoeiro Boardwalk does not extend down to the Algar Seco and to reach the base of the cliff a long flight of steps needs to be descended.

The town of Carvoeiro, where the stars reside, is a town known for entertaining kings and queens. You can find cafes at every turn. There were so many cafes,  it was hard to choose.

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Cafe Pine Cliffs hotel, Algarve

We didn’t see any famous stars. The praia was the star, with hills, cliffs, houses in the cliffs, sheer dropoffs, eloquent seascapes. Fishing boats right next to beach umbrellas, people at rest, children at play.

custard tarts & a bica coffee (those tarts are outrageous) This pastéis de nata recipe makes as-close-to-authentic Portuguese custard tarts with a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp pastry. Tastes like home, even if you’re not from Portugal.
Portugese sundae, yum (atypical)

Coffee is serious business in Portugal. Usually espresso is served after every meal. After lunch at one of the cafes in Carvoeiro, we indulged. Decaf, brewed of course. We were horrified at our Tivoli Hotel in Villamoura, where they served Nescafe, a decaf espresso, not brewed. It wasn’t too bad. And that’s only b/c it was Nescafe. I tried another brand, not brewed, it tasted like bug spray smells.

Tres Irmaos Praia

The sand was soft and reflective. The waves broke against the rocks and splashed up sizzling in the sunlight with colors of the rainbow.

Alfama, Portugal is Lisbon’s oldest district made famous for it’s tight winding corridors and for having been one of the few neighborhoods to survive the devastating earthquake of 1755. Photo by Laura Pastores from Westminster College. – See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.Fr8RfmW1.dpuf
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Football Junkies Unite

I confessed on a SoulMate blog post last year that I’m a sports nut. Since my favorite baseball team does not have a post season, I’ve now turned to my next favorite sport. Football.

I love football. The college teams play like there’s no tomorrow and the pros generally give you your money’s worth. At what those dudes get paid, they should.

The game is physical and bursting with testosterone. The grunts and slaps and leaps into the air to grab that ovoid coming straight at you, or a little to the side, or over your head makes for a great show. My favorite parts are the victory dances in the end zone when a touchdown is scored. Michael Jackson couldn’t have done better.

Second confession. Years ago I joined the family football pool. I picked teams that were cats or bears…shunned the birds and occasionally chose a team because I liked the uniforms. I came in second to last.

The next year I vowed to do better. I studied the teams, the age of the quarterbacks, the standings, the weekly injury list, the talking heads’ projected winners. I read tweets and interviews and knew which players had axes to grind against an upcoming competitor. The regular season ended and guess what? I won. My moniker was Jackson’s Grandma (Jackson is a big loveable dog), and I smiled every time someone said, “but she doesn’t know anything about football.”

Football is so ingrained in our culture that it even pops up in church. On a recent visit the pastor stood in front of the congregation, asking for volunteers to pass the collection plate. When nobody stood up, he asked those whose teams had won a game on Saturday to stand. About eight rose and were promptly recruited to pass the plate.

The college games are in full swing now, as are the pros. My team is UCLA which has not had a good year in a long time and except for an occasional brilliant spurt, appears to be headed for another short season. My kids have their favorite pro teams, but the family football pool, sadly, has been retired.

What does a confessed sports junkie do when not watching sports?

She writes, of course.

Check out my latest Regencies, Scandal’s Bride, with 63 ratings on Goodreads of 4.2 average, or Scandal’s Child with over 506 ratings at 4.18. or if you like early California romance of the ranchos, there’s Shadow of the Fox which just won the historical category of the Toronto Romance Writers Northern Hearts contest.

Happy reading (and football watching).

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 5 Comments