Thursday, February 27, 2014


"Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman."
- CoCo Chanel

As I focus on the rebranding of Tonia, the author, and begin to spend more time networking with individuals of like minds, I have begun to rely almost solely on Pinterest, my secret addiction, to keep me stylish and fabulous in the public eye.  For those of you that are not familiar with Pinterest, it is a pin-board style photo sharing website that allows users to strategically group photos onto custom made boards. Thanks to Pinterest, I have planned my wedding, babyshower, decorated my dream home, and planned my 30th birthday party, even though I am not anywhere near marriage, pregnant, rich, or quite near 30.  You can call it delusional, but I would just call it being proactive.

Visit Tonia TheAuthor's profile on Pinterest.

Until recently though, the only board that I had actually put to use had been my recipe board.  I think that I am something like a Chef Roble when I step into the kitchen, even if I'm only boiling water for my nightly tea. However, the recent influx in networking events and mingling with the trying to be rich and famous has caused a surge in my Pinterest usage and inspired the idea of #Pinspiration.

I did not coin the term #Pinspiration, however it has become a integral part of my life.  If you have read past blogs, then you are aware that my time for things that are not business or branding related is extremely limited.  Before #Pinspiration, I often caught myself at the mall on borrowed time trying to put together a outfit for an same day event that I found out about last minute.  However, three significant things have led to a drastic change in my preparation process:

  1. Rebranding has cut my shopping budget down significantly
  2. My three closets and dresser are over capacity
  3. I was one outfit away from being the next star on Confession of a Shopaholic

As these three things begin to sit on the forefront of my mind, I had a strike of genius.  I decided to put my fashion Pinterest board to use.  Instead of spending my limited time and funds at the mall or online shopping, I made the decision to use Pinterest and my current wardrobe to recreate fashionable outfits. Follow my ToniatheAuthor Instagram page to see all of my #Pinspiration recreations!

Tonia The Author


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fine as Vintage Wine

"Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes." -Robert Hutchins

Every time that someone overhears one of my conversations about working out or committing to a healthier lifestyle, it is always followed by the same types of comments, "But why, you're so small? You need to eat, etc."  This is just another example of the double standards that seem to plague society.  My slender build suggests that I am a workout guru, food deprived, and starving for more than affection.  However, if I was to respond to an overweight person with, "Maybe I should eat some of your lunch chunky monkey, because you don't need it," I would be escorted to HR trying to plead my case.  The skinny girl battle is one that I have fought all of my life, and I don't think anyone but another skinny girl, can relate to the struggles of gaining healthy weight.

Currently, I am 5'4, 108 pounds.  Even my mere 108 lbs can be viewed as an accomplishment, because the freshman 10 lbs that was promised to me in college decided that I wasn't worthy.  It wasn't until I hit my 20's that for the first time in my life, I was able to reach a weight over 100 lbs.  Ideally, I would like to be between 115-120 lbs, but this has been more than a difficult feat.  Anytime that I have come anywhere near my desired weight, I get food poisoning, suffer from a bad breakup, become overtaken by stress at work, or some other ailment that snatches my lbs off like I owe money.

Along with thousands of others, wellness and fitness were part of my New Years Resolution.  I started off hitting the gym hard everyday for cardio and abs and was enjoying my newfound energy.  However, when my work schedule increased, my workouts decreased and next thing I knew, I was back to being a sofa bum after work.  However, I had gained weight, my appetite was healthy, and I was enjoying the way that I had started to fill out my clothes.  And then the inevitable happened.  A bout of food poisoning would sweep through after Valentine's Day and literally shake me back down to size.

So, for the month of March, I have picked up a challenge that many have already started and quit since their New Year resolution inception date.  My schedule rarely allows time for careful meal preparation in conjunction with a workout schedule, so I have joined many other Americans and turned to a meal preparation company.  These companies prepare your meals for the week and restore a piece of your schedule, in return for a piece of your paycheck.  As a picky eater, my weekly dinner choices are going to be limited to tilapia and chicken, but that has to be better for my new workout plan than one of the normal heavy pasta or red meat dishes that I usually whip up following a day saving the world, one child at a time.

In my delusional mind, I pictured myself having a six-pack for my photo shoot this coming weekend, but just like about every other woman in America, I have perfected the suck-in (yes, skinny girls can have a little pooch too).  So, tonight when you get ready to go to bed, say a little prayer for me and my fitness aspirations, because I'm going to need it.  After my initial 30 days of working out, I will start posting pictures of my progress on my IG page, ToniatheAuthor.  They say it takes 30 days to form a habit, so let's hope that they are right (whoever "they" are).  And if you don't see any shirtless pics on my IG page in April, that means I've probably fell my ass off the bandwagon (insert clenched teeth emoji).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To Publish or not to Publish

Many of you do not know me personally, and therefore, are not familiar with the many hats that I wear on a daily basis.  In order to help you understand the complexity of my life, let me first tell you a little bit about me, outside of just being an author.  While I am attempting at making a name for myself in the literary world, I am also an educator, counselor, coach, after school program cooking instructor,  and youth activist. Most of my work days are 10 hours or longer, and more times than not, I am forced to take work home.  Even though I stopped grading papers at home after shaking off my newbie teacher wings, I have my hands in almost everything that goes on at my campus....I'm the sponsor of our girl's club that helps to build character and resilience among impoverished adolescent girls, I write and direct our annual black history program, I am the go-to unofficial counselor for grade levels 6, 7, and 8, and there is always planning, plotting, or organizing that takes place after regular work hours.  I think I forgot to mention that I am also studying to take my LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) exam in June, so that I can own my own practice at 30.

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.  Go out and get busy." -Dale Carnegie

And on top of all of this, I still believe in my dream enough to keep writing, keep grinding, and keep pushing to satisfy my loyal readers and hook new ones.  I've known for a while that I would only be able to play superwoman for so long, and I have forfeited sleep gladly.  However, there comes a point when you must refocus and re-stratergize to help reach the goals that you have set forth to achieve. 

Through self-publishing and launching my first novel, I have realized that there is much about the book industry that I do not know like, how many novels does it take to become a bestseller, what are the best ways to market a novel for an unknown author, who should I be networking with to launch my novel into the next selling bracket, etc.  I have made many mistakes and had to learn a lot of hard lessons along the way, but that has not detoured me from continuing to write and push sales.  However, I want more for my novel and more for my readers. 

The urban fiction market is becoming over saturated with poorly edited, rushed release novels making it hard for new authors to gain recognition and a fan base of readers.  Let's face it, the reality is that readers would rather spend their hard earned money on authors that have already proven themselves in the industry.  Don't forget that I am a reader too.  And since I don't #writetoeat, I #teachtoeat, unfortunately, I don't have the time or resources to spend selling books out of my trunk 12 hours a day until I've sold enough books to get put on the map.

It is my longing to be a successful author and my limited amount of time that are starting to sway my mind towards seeking a major publishing contract.  When I first set out to release Fashionably Deceptive, I was offered a contract, but I quickly declined after reading that I would basically have to sign my life away.  That reason, along with the advice of other authors that felt they had been duped into selling their soul, quickly had me all gun-hoe for self-publishing.  However, the reality is quite bleak.  I don't have the resources, the time, or the unlimited funds to continue pushing quality novels and still remain focused on accomplishing dreams more pressing than my book career, at this point.

So, this weekend I did the inevitable.  I decided to halt editing and graphic designs for A Fashionable Revelation (no death threats please) and seek publishing from a major company.  I can admit that I am afraid of the future, because I am leery of a publishing contract, but I am also leery of continuing to half-invest my time and energy in my writing.  My readers and my writing career deserve so much more.  Contracts are negotiable, and I have one of the best entertainment contract lawyers on hand, but how much am I willing to sacrifice in pursuit of my dream?  Am I willing to give away all the rights to my book with limited royalties to become a best selling author?  Will my sacrifices pay off in the end? 

God, I am putting it in your hands, however, I will not allow my time to be idle.  Over the next couple of  months while I wait for a response from publishing companies, I will still be promoting Fashionably Deceptive and building my brand.  People will have a more in depth look into my life: the woman, the youth activist, the aspiring fashionista, the educator, and the counselor in the making.  Stay tuned for this is only the beginning.....


Friday, February 21, 2014

Livin' Single- (A Single Girl's Valentine Tale)

Why haven't I got a husband and children?" mused Greta Garbo to the Dutchess of Windsor, "I never met a man I could marry.”
-Greta Garbo

In my world, every holiday is a celebration and an opportunity to let your hair down and enjoy good times with good people. I'm a joyful giver on Christmas, food connoisseur on Thanksgiving, drunk Irish on St. Patty's Day, egg hunting champion on Easter, the list goes on and on. And even though Valentine's Day is usually reserved for happily dating or happily "pretending" couples, it still falls onto the list of being one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. Chocolate covered strawberries, gourmet chocolates, heart shaped confections, and confessions of undying love; it's hard for many woman to not get wrapped up in the charm of this liturgical holiday commemorating a saint of love. As much as social media would like to portray us career-oriented women as illogical happily-independent single tyrants, I can admit that I am a sucker for Valentine's Day. It would be untrue to say that I didn't wish that I had already met my soul mate and was embarking on a life of romantic getaways, candlelight dinners, and undying love, but unfortunately, we have not yet crossed paths. So instead of spending the day with any man, just for the sake of having a Valentine's date, I decided to spend the holiday with people I love doing things that I love on the day of love. I'm just very traditional that way.

"Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with."

Sometimes I tend to treat holidays like birthdays, and celebrate them over a stretch of a few days, instead of just on the one assigned day. That is exactly what happened this Valentine's Day, because there were just so many fun things taking place. The holiday festivities started on Thursday with the Houston's Museum of Natural Science Mixers and Elixirs. This "themed" event takes place ever so often, and as of yet, is has not let me down. One of the highlights of Thursday's event was being able to name a roach after one of your least favorite exes and race it against others. And while I think that roaches are the most vile creatures known to man, I couldn't resist donating my $1 towards a good cause (I have to remember to send him this blog). I figured that my roach wouldn't be the winner though, because after all, it was named after a loser.

valentine, single

Friday, the official day of love, was marked by celebration amongst our antsy students as they overindulged in sweets and ran amuck in the hallways. While some students were graciously escorted to their buses at dismissal, my girls club and I, accompanied by a couple of other organizations, decided to spread some cheer at a nearby nursing home by delivering handmade Valentine's Day cards to the residents.

After returning from our short but eventful field trip, I celebrated the holiday at one of Houston's premiere cocktail lounges, the Rosemont Social Club.

On Saturday, I ended the holiday celebrations with another excursion to the Houston Musuem of Natural Science, but this time it was to embrace my cultural side at the Fabrege egg exhibit showcasing eggs that included those of the Romanov family.

I can admit it, I have a slight infatuation with the story of Anastasia and can be quite fanatical when it comes to things that involve the Romanov family. Contrary to popular belief, single girls can also enjoy Valentine's Day. Leading up to this holiday, social media has been saturated with the posts of bitter individuals complaining about how they don't celebrate Valentine's Day, and its just a Hallmark holiday, and that everyday should be Valentine's Day blah blah blah... Any holiday should be an excuse to enjoy life a little more, smile a litte more, and celebrate a litte more. I don't have to be in love with someone else to sometimes just live.....

“I think we are going to have to love ourselves. Fuck.”
-Liz Tuccillo

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Team #SingleForever

In a conversation amongst acquaintances on a lovely Taco Tuesday, where adult beverages and tacos seemed to continuously replenish themselves, the conversation about black women and marriage was brought to the table. This conversation ended up sparking an intense debate that continued to play through my mind this morning.

All three members of the conversation, myself being one, were all educated, career oriented individuals, however, perspectives were vastly different. 

According to the one male in the conversation, black women in their late 20s and 30s are becoming increasingly content with being single and independent, causing a majority of men in their age range to seek younger, more impressionable women. 

While I have noticed a trend in men dating younger women, I have also noticed the degenerative state of many relationships this era. Many relationships are plagued with infidelity, and there seems to be a recent rise in the come ups of the side chicks. 

And even though, many women would like to blame the recent influx of side chicks on the callous actions of other women, in reality, a side chick is nothing more than the product of a unstable relationship.  A woman can't take a man from you that wants to be with you, and contrary to popular belief, these men are sleeping with and having kids with these women out of their own pure lust. While many women choose to be angry at the "other" woman, the reality is that she owes you nothing. Your commitment was with your significant other, not with this woman, and even though her actions may be morally wrong, the fiber of your relationship was already in trouble before her appearance. 

Thus, my argument became that it is not that black women are content with being single, however, many of us that have been in "damaging" relationships, are less apt to join this trend of faddish relationships. By a faddish relationship, I mean a relationship that originates just for the sake of saying I have a significant other and is plagued by lies and infidelity. 

I've cheated and been cheated on, I've loved and loved hard, and I know how it feels to be in a mind state of being broken beyond repair. And while my experiences have not made me bitter, they have made me wiser. I'm no longer the "girl" in my early twenties looking for gratification from a man, because I have truly grown to enjoy the company of myself. More than I want a boyfriend to use as an accessory like a overvalued Louis Vuitton bag, I want honesty, I want someone that motivates me, I want someone that loves me more than I love them, I want butterflies, and I want to wake up every morning without doubts about where my man is, and who he is with. 

I take marriage very seriously, and I am only exchanging vows one time. And since people in my family tend to live a full life to well in their 80s or 90s, the man that I date is one that I have to be with for at least the next 60 years. So, I think I am justified in saying that it is okay that I haven't met him yet (or at least I don't know it). In the meantime, I will continue to become a better me, so that when he comes I can be ready. I will never attest to being team #singleforever, but I will testify to not settling because society says I'm too old to not be married.


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