I like Demi Lovato’s new song, Heart Attack.
There I said it. When my daughter is not in the car I crank it up and sing my heart out. Yes, I know I’m 34 years old, but hey—you like what you like.
Another thing I like is her new hair color. She stepped out Tuesday night at the 2013 National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Washington, D.C., showing off her lighter and straighter locks.
I think Demi is one of those girls that can change her hair into almost any color and still look great. But what I’m worried about is the damage all the constant coloring is doing to her hair! In the past year, she’s dyed her hair dark red, rich brown, and blond, and has added streaks of pink, green, and blue. And yet, somehow, despite the frequent color treatments, her hair always looks glossy and gorgeous.
She told OMG! in October, she has no idea how her hair stays so healthy.
"My hair is really soft and really long right now and I just went even blonder, so I have no clue! I guess it’s the salon that I go to is really incredible—Nine Zero One in Los Angeles—and they know how to lighten hair without damaging it. I also have some pretty awesome deep conditioner, and I try not to wash my hair as much as possible … maybe every two or three days."
I agree, the conditioner is probably a big improvement in the health of her hair. And it’s great that she keeps her hair in the hands of professionals, that definitely helps keep her hair where it belongs—on her head!
Like I said, I think the color is stunning and great for the summer. What do you guys think? Love it or leave it?
As a writer, it really makes my day to hear from my readers. Truly, it’s a wonderful thing to open an email and read that someone was touched by something I’ve written.
I also know how important it is for readers to hear back from their favorite authors. I remember sending an email to one of my favorite authors—Barbara Delinsky. I’d just finished her book, The Secret Between Us, and loved it and thought I should tell her so. So I sent her an email, never expecting to hear back from her, she was a bestselling author, so I understood that she would be very busy. Imagine my surprise when I received an email back! What really touched me is that she ended the email with, (and I’m paraphrasing) “Be careful this weekend, it looks like rain is heading your way.” I was blown away by that—that little detail meant so much to me. The fact that she would think to include that in her email made it feel very personal.
I always take the time to respond to anyone who contacts me. A young lady contacted me last week, and it took longer for me to get back to her because I caught a wicked stomach bug, but I did respond back to her.
So even though this post applies to writers, truly it applies to everyone. If someone takes the time out of their busy schedule and writes you a letter, respond. Did someone buy you a wonderful gift recently? Send them a thank you card. (And not a thank you text, email, or phone call, send them a real card!) Did someone who lives long-distance make the effort to give you a phone call? Call them back. The point is, respond to people when they reach out to you. Your response, as simple as it can be, could make a difference in someone’s life.
Keeping a blog up-to-date is tough business! It really is.
And I must admit I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. One thing about it, when you take a break from something it can be soooooo difficult to build it back into your busy routine. Some people say that blogging is dying and not necessary with so many social media outlets. While that may be true, for me I really like blogging because it builds my writing muscles. It’s like stretching before taking a good run—something your body will notice if you skip. Once I crank out a blog post, it’s easy for me to transition into writing or editing my current WIP.
While I do know that I’ll be blogging more regularly, I’m not going to make the mistake of saying that I’ll be blogging daily. That just won’t be happening with everything I have going on, and especially with the busy summer that is approaching. But I do know that I will be posting something at least twice a week. Maybe more.
So my advice to any writer that hasn’t blogged in a long time? Figure out if you still want to blog. It’s okay to have a change of heart, but let the faithful readers—who’ve been reading your posts for years—know that you won’t be blogging anymore. Have a simple post that explains why and officially sign off. Don’t let people hanging, just end it if this isn’t what you want to do anymore.
But if you still want to blog? Then pull a Nike and Just Do It. Just sit down, explain your absence and get back to blogging. You’ll discover the love you had for it at first. Did you start your blog so readers could see the ups and downs of being a writer? Did you mix your two loves, (like me) and wanted an outlet for your beauty, cooking, gardening, traveling adventures? Reconnect with your readers by sharing pictures of what you’ve been up to.
I dabble in gardening, and I know first hand that digging anything is hard work. But planting something new is justification for all the hard work. I decided to keep breathing life into my blog. Figure out if you want to do the same.
I haven’t been a fan of Fantasia’s hair since the old days of American Idol. I had so many clients coming in asking for that hairstyle I could do it in my sleep!
But she had her listening party for her new album, “Side Effects of You,” on Tuesday, and I loved her hair!
I love the dark auburn color and how soft and healthy her hair looks. This is a win-win for me.
She looks great, her hair is beautiful, her makeup is tasteful, I really like her in this look. What do you guys think? Love it or leave it?
I’m so happy that one of my very good friends is here on Curl Up and Write! Toni has taken so many drastic steps in her life, and as a busy motivational speaker, she’s put the steps that helped her change her life into a program that we can all do! Her book, Sometimes You Have to Take a Drastic Step to Turn Your Life Around, has compelling stories on how Toni turned her life around, but also it contains the stories of other successful people who moved past the fear to take a drastic step to change their life. I’m also so fortunate to be included in this inspiring book. If you live in the Houston area, click here to get details on how you can attend Toni’s book launch party this Friday!
First off, I love your title! It’s direct and to the point! Did it take you a long time to come up with it? Or do you know the title of your book before you even begin to write it?
Thank you. The title of the book surrounds my entire speaking platform. The drastic steps platform came about when I had to give an impromptu speech at a speaker’s meeting. The emcee asked me for a title of my talk and I didn’t have one. I knew my talk was about my weight loss journey through gastric bypass. So when prompted again I said, “Sometimes You Have to Take a Drastic Step!” and it stuck.
How long did it take to write your book? What challenges did you face in getting it published?
How the book came about is a drastic step in itself. I’m very, very busy however I knew I needed to have a book that supports my speaking platform, so I elicited the help of a ghost writer in January 2012. She and I started interviewing and writing the book. My deadline for the book was June because I had a very important speaking engagement where I was determined to go with a book. The writer was supposed to have the manuscript to me by mid-May. By the end of May, I had not heard from her. She would not return my calls, texts, emails, nothing! She had literally dropped off the face of the earth! I was devastated to say the least. At this point, I had a decision to make. I could give up on the book or I could take a drastic step and find another way to get it done. I decided to find another way. I contacted another ghostwriter, Shirley Carney, and she took on the project. We worked together with very little sleep for 20 days and the book was done! It was a phenomenal journey that I wouldn’t trade because it was a true testament to what can happen when you take a drastic step!
You’re an accomplished public speaker! What led you to start doing motivational speaking?
I have been doing public speaking since I was 3 years old. This led me to a training career in Corporate America. I discovered that I had a motivational style when the company I was working for asked me to speak to their monthly training class of new financial advisors. My talk was consistently the top ranked session and I knew I had a gift for motivating and inspiring people. After being laid off from that job, I decided it was time to take my show on the road and that’s how my speaking business was born.
You’re a big fan of social media! Would you say that Twitter and Facebook are important to an author’s career?
Absolutely! Social media allows us to reach people across the world. Done right, social media can open doors and put an author in front of audiences they might not otherwise be able to reach. The key to social media marketing is to be consistent and tenacious at getting your message out. Check out my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/drasticsteps and my Twitter at www.twitter.com/toniharrisspeak.
You juggle so much! What advice do you have for women as they struggle to find balance between career and family?
This is the biggest challenge for all of us. No one knows more than me. Last year was a huge year of balancing for me. I was a full-time student (I received my Bachelor’s degree in October 2012), running my business while helping my husband to battle colon cancer. I took advantage of time wherever I could get it. I would bring my computer to his doctor’s appointments and worked while we waited to be seen. While he was taking chemo I would work. I would get up early and stay up late. When he would sleep, I would work. I also would stop working when it was time to spend quality time with him or for my spiritual activities. Turning off the television and other non-essential activities like talking on the telephone is also key to getting it done. In a word, BALANCE is the key!
Your book talks about the drastic steps you’ve made in your life. What drastic step have you taken recently that wasn’t included in the book? How did it change you?
I am currently living through my next drastic step. Since the death of my husband I am reinventing myself. I am focused on my speaking and coaching business which includes helping small business owners to take drastic steps to grow their businesses. I am also working on my master’s degree which I will complete in February 2014. I’m taking several drastic steps personally which includes being content as a single woman and doing me.
What drastic step do you think most people are afraid to take?
From my experience, I see many people who hesitate to take the drastic step of starting a business and following their passion. I coach people to find their passion and take the drastic steps to execute the plan. My advice to those who want to follow their passion is to create a plan and start to execute the plan a small step at a time. Do not do it alone! Identify other people who have walked the path you want to be on and ask for help. You will be amazed at how people want to help and support you when to take the drastic step to ask.
What’s next for Toni Harris? I know you will be definitely writing future books, anything you’re working on now that you want to share?
It is my desire to have a drastic steps series. I envision a series of drastic steps books and audios. There will be drastic steps for women, drastic steps for love, drastic steps for finances, drastic steps for the small business owner, etc. I am also increasing my speaking business and taking my show on the road. I am currently working on a coaching program for aspiring speakers and small business owners to grow their businesses.
And now to your hair! I know your stylist is your secret weapon! What’s your go to hairstyle?
You are right, my stylist is the best. What’s funny about me and my hair is that I don’t have a go to hairstyle! I get bored easy so I like to keep life interesting by changing my hair often. I tell people that they can never describe me by my hair because as soon as they do, it will change! My friends never know which Toni is going to show up. I like to keep them guessing! It works for me.
What’s your styling disaster? (Bad haircut, bad relaxer, bad color Share!)
Relaxers are not my friend. They are such an illusion for me. They make my hair feel incredible and increase my confidence all while taking my hair out. I haven’t had a relaxer in almost 3 years which was a HUMONGUOUS drastic step for me! Since then my hair has grown past my shoulders but I still prefer to wear weaves rather than my natural hair because weaves give me more versatility in styles and colors.
Big thanks to Toni Harris for taking time out of her busy schedule to stop by the blog! Want more of the Turn Around Queen? Keep checking her website for updates on future speaking engagements, pick up her book, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook! Want to catch a peek of Toni in action? Watch the video below!
No blog posts in March! *slaps hand* Shame on me! Well, what can I say? Saying that I was busy is just an understatement—dealing with a home remodeling project, Spring Break—and that’s just naming two of the many things going on this month.
And of course, my writing has suffered. I haven’t been working on my new book, and I haven’t sent out any queries in two weeks! For me that’s a big no-no, I try to write something new at least four times a week. But I’ve definitely been letting my writing sit on the backburner. At first, I felt really bad about it. I mean writer’s write, so not writing for long periods of time makes me feel out of sorts. I don’t feel like me when I’m not writing. But before I let the guilt settle in, I decided to really think about everything I had going on this month. It was a lot, and something had to give. And for me it was my writing.
I didn’t write while my daughter was on Spring Break. Not a blog post, a character sketch, nothing. I really wanted to focus on spending time with my daughter and having quality family time. I didn’t write while my kitchen floors were being jackhammered up and carpet being torn out. Dust was everywhere, and yes, I could have taken my laptop to my mother’s or my friend’s house and gotten some writing time in. But I didn’t. I chose to spend that time with my friend, with her smiling daughter on my lap, or sitting and catching up with my parents. That’s how I chose to spend my time. And I don’t feel guilty about it—well at least not anymore—because having a life outside of writing, just makes my writing better. So yesterday I spent thirty minutes in the bed writing this post, and then right after I got back to my job. Writing.
I’ve been getting a few emails lately of people wanting to know what a critique partner is, how to find one, or how to be one. I’m no expert, but outside my Mama and Hubby I rely on two great writers to read my work.
For those of you who don’t know, critique partners are just that, people who objectively read your work and offer an honest critique of what they’ve read. It depends on the relationship you have with your partner on how deep you want your critique to go. Some only want to get critiqued on a few chapters, to see if the story is going right. I, on the other hand go all in. I want my whole novel read and I want to know what needs work and what does work.
For those of you who want to find a critique partner:
- Start online. I found my critique partners through my blog. It started simply enough, we started commenting on each other’s posts, liked each other’s writing style and really vibed with each other. Over time, we began asking each other to read each other’s work, a chapter or so at a time until eventually we trusted each other with our complete novels. Use Facebook and Twitter to follow some of your favorite authors and watch their timeline to see if you think your personalities will gel.
- Find an author whose work you admire. And then just ask them. But I must caution you on this one. Don’t go blasting your favorite bestselling authors to be your critique partner. Remember, you’ll have to read their work too and they probably get bombarding with people asking them to critique their work. Pick a partner on your same writing level, someone who can clearly see that having a critique partner is a win-win situation and not a burden on their time.
- Get recommendation from your fellow authors. If you do happen to ask a fellow writer about being a critique partner and they say no, don’t give up! Ask them for a few recommendations from other authors. You never know who could be looking for a first reader of their work, and after a few conversations you may build up a trust to read each other’s work.
- Don’t just search for partner’s within your genre. Of course, if you write romance you may feel more comfortable approaching a fellow romance author. But don’t limit yourself to just searching in that genre. When you’re doing your research, check to see what kinds of books they like to read. They may love to read a great mystery, or a tear-jerker family saga, but they only write political thrillers. Good writers can see good writing, regardless of the genre. So search widely and don’t limit yourself.
So you’ve found that great partner, (or two). Now what?
I think some ground rules should be set. For me, I didn’t have to set any rules with my critique partners, we have a general respect for each other and our work. So it wasn’t necessary for me, but I’ve heard of others who’ve had to set up a few rules. Even if you never discuss these rules with your partner, try to keep these things in mind:
- Start positive. I can’t stress enough how important it is to start your critique off positive! Always start off each critique with what you loved about their novel, focusing on their strengths. Then remember that a critique is not about you forcing your ideas onto your partner. It’s about having a common goal about making their book the best it can be. So offer suggestions—it’s up to your partner to apply them.
- Be patient. Remember that your partners are writers too! They have their own deadlines and lives, so give them time to read your work and don’t hound them as they take the time to do so!
- Figure out how you want your work critiqued. For me, I like about a page or two of what they liked and what needed work in my novel. I don’t need a page-by- page blow of what needs work, once they steer me in the right direction I can take it from there. I tend to know what my novel’s strong points are, and I know what might need some retooling. My critique partners help me by showing me what’s wrong, and a lot of times they mention things I didn’t even think about. If you need more detail about your work, ask for it, but again try to respect your partner’s time.
- Encourage each other! Send an email every once in awhile cheering each other on as you finish your work. Writing is a tough and lonely business so getting encouragement is much needed to keep going.
So a special shout-out to my critique partners. You ladies are wonderful and I couldn’t ask for better partners!
So most of you know that while I’m on the agent hunt that I’m outlining my next novel. One thing about writing a book, the beginning stages are very exciting. (For me anyway…) It’s exciting to see your story develop, and get to know a new crop of characters. So that’s what I’ve been doing in the few spare moments I have—working on my next book.
When I write—especially in the beginning stages—I really like to go in a writing cave. Meaning, I don’t like a lot of social distractions for a few hours each day. I say social distractions, meaning people. I can write with the TV on low, or I can listen to music to set the scene. (For some reason writing in complete silence is a bigger distraction to me then background noise!) What I mean is socially hanging out, lunches with friends, shopping with friends, or visits from friends have slowed a bit. The good part is that I have a great bunch of friends who don’t need babysitting. They know that if we’re not hanging out as much as we used to that it has no reflection on our friendship. That we’re still as close as we used to be, but now instead of bi-weekly visits, we chat on the phone more and see each other once a week or every other week. I also feel thankful that all my friends are incredibly busy with their own time restraints that they juggle as well. I never have a problem if I have to take a backseat and let them take care of important things. Because that’s what friends do, we give what we can, when we can. When I need to cry on someone’s shoulder I know who to call. And likewise, I know when it’s time to finish that chapter or pick up the phone and give a friend a call.
The same goes for TV watching. I love my reality TV, but I’ve had so many shows add up on my DVR I know I’ll never find the time to watch it all. So I’ve deleted several of my shows. I’ve kept some of my favorites, but I have to really love a show to record it. My plate is so full right now, so with juggling being a mom, and a wife, and a sister, and a friend—it can add up. Family time is still such a priority, as well as my spiritual goals and responsibilities, but TV alas has slowly dwindled down.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that all of us from time to time go into a cave to just huddle in and get things done. Some of us go into our cave to hibernate, to do some personal reflecting. Whatever the reason, it’s good to have moments of solitude. So right now as I’m stretching out of my cave, I’m glad I put things like TV, Facebook, and Twitter, in their place—when I have time for them.
That’s just me, is there anything you guys do that requires you to have some solitude for awhile?
Bangs. Not many women can pull them off. On some they can look juvenile or just plain wrong. And for most hairstylists, giving someone bangs—which seems like the easiest thing to do—is actually a very difficult cut to accomplish.
But Michelle Obama gets it right!
I love this look on her! I like how she keeps her traditional layered bob but updates it for the new year with soft bangs. Her hair is so shiny and healthy, which is always a great recipe for a beautiful haircut.
Can you see how such a small tweak can totally change your face? This should give every woman motivation to update their look. Even something as small as changing the way your hair is parted can make a big difference. So how can you change your hair for the new year?
And traded them in for new chocolate tresses! Ivanka is known for her golden blonde hair, but a few days ago via Twitter she showed off her new brunette hair.
To be honest, I’m just not sure how I like it. I’ve grown so accustomed to Ivanka with her blonde hair, this will take some getting used to. It’s not that I don’t like it—she’s a beautiful woman and can get away with many different looks—but this one is so dramatic, I’m still undecided on whether I like it or not. But I will say that she looks younger as a brunette, which can never be a bad thing.
What’s your thoughts? Love it or leave it?