Common Services for Indie Authors: Are They Worth It?

I’m in the process of finalizing my first non-fiction book for publication. (So stoked!) I’ll reveal more about that soon, but today I want to explore a topic all indie authors face: where to invest our money.

It’s no mystery that self-publishing requires a financial investment. The last thing any serious author should do is write a book, attempt to edit it themselves, slap on a makeshift cover and send it to Amazon. But we also need to be mindful of that little thing called a budget.

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Most indie authors don’t make huge income quickly or at all through their books—though both are possible. It takes awhile for most of us to break even upon publishing, then go on to profit. (It took me a good year to start profiting from In Her Shadow.) Many companies profit far more than writers from self-publishing, and there can be a fine line between a worthy investment and being taken advantage of.

1. Quality cover design — worth the investment

In some cases cover cheapness really shows, and could serve as the only sign a writer published her own book versus was published traditionally. There’s no shame in self-publishing, of course, but we want our books to be as respected as those on traditional shelves. And folks really do judge books by their covers.

Do your research. Shop around, ask for artist work samples and referrals from trusted author friends whose covers you adore. Go to Google Images and search for your genre, noting which covers immediately grab your eye and attention and what you dug most about them.

2. Contests and awards — sometimes helpful, sometimes a money drain

Some contest companies charge hefty fees and give out loads of awards purely for the sake of their own profit versus celebrating worthy writers. In such contests, virtually everyone wins and has the option to purchase extras, such as award stickers and certificates. They promise exposure on their website, which may have low traffic. While these awards may influence buyers to some extent and sound groovy in your bio, they aren’t known to boost sales over all.

There are plenty of credible contests, which charge more modest fees (say $10, versus $99), care at least as much about about writers and the literary world as personal bank and whose kudos would shine more brightly.

Research contests before entering. Find out important details, such as who is hosting the contest and who the judges are. Any contest that is not transparent about its judging panel may not be worth your time or entry fee.

To learn more, read this Salon article: Vanity Book Awards.

3. Professional editing — hugely worthy

No one can edit their own work well, and writing and editing are completely different skill sets. Again, do your research. Get referrals and make sure your editor is credible. I was fortunate to meet mine at a writers’ conference. After he critiqued a sample of my work, I knew he was the right fit for me and my story.

To save your editor time and you money, do your best to get your book in tip-top form before handing it off. As my novel’s editor—who’s also a prolific author—Mike Sirota says on his blog, “You’ve already put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, time, and coffee into your story, so why dash to the finish line?”

4. Credible editorial reviews — potentially helpful

Kirkus Reviews reviews indie-authors’ books. In this case, the fee, while steep, isn’t wonky or misleading. Traditional publishers pay for these services, too, and at least in the case of Kirkus, the review process is exactly the same. You can submit to Publishers Weekly for free, but your book won’t necessarily be chosen for review. (You can also pay PW’s indie program, PW Select, for a listing in their guide.)

I’m a bit biased, as Kirkus gave my novel a pretty shiny review, but regardless, I like the fact that these publications critique books with a critical, professional eye and are well-respected throughout the literary world. They’re known to be tough on books, which is something I desired. A positive review from either may influence agents and publishers, should you decide to go hybrid or traditional later on, and can add impressive light to your bio.

If you have the funds to submit to Kirkus, consider it. If not, fear not. The review won’t make or break your success as an author. If you get a negative review, you can ask that it not be published on their site and bypass using a blurb or the full review yourself. Steer clear of paid reviews that seem sketchy or unethical; they probably are.

5. Any service that seems necessary, but that would suck our time and energy if we did it ourselves — wise and worth it!

I know me. I am not going to take the time to learn how to format my manuscript for each outlet. It would be tedious, headache-inducing and draining, and my energy seems best spent elsewhere. Like many writers, I wear multiple hats and would rather pay someone.

I’m hiring Jenn Oliver of The Author Sidekick to take care of this for me, and I’m thrilled already. She’s sharp, experienced, enthusiastic and reasonable price-wise. To check her services out, visit theauthorsidekick.com.

As in life, choose where you invest your time, funds and energy wisely. ♥

“Hot Girls Wanted” and Problems with Porn

Young women clicking through Craigslist ads, lured by notions of free trips to Miami, quick cash and escape from their small town lives. Here opens Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary produced by Rashida Jones, that follows a group of 18 to 25-year-old women as they navigate the paid amateur porn world as performers.

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Seconds into the film available on Netflix, they’re flashing their blurred breasts for the camera, going for joy rides and discussing newfound opportunities they’d never have in their hometowns. But as their Twitter and bank accounts flourish, their well-being gradually suffers. One woman acquires an STD. Numerous feel pressured to participate in violent scenes known as facial abuse.

As the film progresses, Tressa, aka “Stella May,” a 19-year-old from Texas, grapples with whether she’s made the right decision in pursuing porn, particularly after she’s told to (unnecessarily) slim down, to practice fitting an unfathomably large dildo into her vagina and offered big pay to perform BDSM, a style she doesn’t seem comfortable with.

Tressa’s story is important, as are many of the issues brought featured—but the film doesn’t offer solutions for the problems it raises, clarity about these problems or highlight the more positive side of the adult industry.

Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus originally planned to cover male consumption of porn on college campuses, according to the Telegraph. When they discovered that girls fresh out of high school appeared in these films, they shifted focus.

People are watching and appearing in adult films at strikingly young ages.

People are watching and appearing in adult films at strikingly young ages.

Why young women enter the adult industry through sketchy online ads would have been a fascinating exploration, yet the film seems to tell another story: The porn industry is bad and the ultra young women entering it are misled, abused and exploited.

When the adult industry is vilified, sex workers suffer. They are “slut” shamed, seen as low-class citizens and, in some cases, threatened. All of this seems hypocritical, seeing as porn remains one of the largest industries in the world, watched readily by Americans of virtually all ages, including women.

Viewers suffer, too, but not because of porn. Without comprehensive sex education, a lack that remains throughout the U.S., kids turn to porn for sexuality answers at continually younger ages. Porn depicts sex as entertainment, which is far different from physical intimacy in our lives. Extremely few are taught the difference, and that takes a tole.

This is the message most kids learn about sex, which causes more damage than good.

This is the message most kids learn about sex, which causes more damage than good.

No film should be expected to solve the complex problems involving porn—but any responsible documentary should at least mention potential answers and alternatives. Feminist porn, for example, depicts performers of all ages, races and orientations in healthier acts. (Think erotic sensuality versus hard-core violence.) The only alternative Hot Girls Wanted seems to present for performers is quitting, and none are offered for viewers.

Comedian and former porn star Alia Janine relates to the film.

“Although, I found the film to be edited and presented in a way that will want to make people look down on the adult film industry (as every other documentary done on the industry from people with no background in it), I found this film to be fairly accurate,” she said on her podcast. “I only say this because it is basically how I got into the industry, from Craigslist’s ads in Florida. It’s how most of the girls get into the industry.”

Industry executive Jack Spade agrees with Janine. After working as a porn actor, he launched his own agency and now runs two professional representation firms.

“Unfortunately, [Hot Girls Wanted] does show a real part of the industry, but I was upset that they didn’t show other aspects, a more professional side,” he said. “I wish it acknowledged that there are people that try to do it a better way.”

Spade, whose agency prizes professionalism first, pointed out that Reynolds, the agent featured in the film, lacked licensure at the time of filming.

“If you’re going to do a documentary on a mainstream agency,” he said, “would you go out and find an unlicensed one, and let that be seen as the norm?”

Yes, even the porn world has credible agencies and other firms looking out for its talent.

Many viewers of Hot Girls Wanted are concerned about the young age at which females are entering the business. Janine says that’s a social and economical issue—not an industry one.

“If people don’t like seeing 18-year-old girls being ‘taking advantage’ of, they should ask their government to raise the legal age of an adult to an age where the human brain is more developed,” she said, “or simply raise the age to be able to shoot adult content.”

“If the general public is bothered by women using their bodies to make a living wage in America; they may want to talk to their government and ask them why a middle class family can barely support their family, and can’t pay for college,” she added. “The sex work industries are only going to get bigger, and pay rates are going to get lower if the bigger picture isn’t looked at. But blaming the adult industry seems so much easier than trying to figure out why so many people are having to turn to it, instead of wanting to.”

Most of the problems within or related to the porn industry are cultural, yet the industry itself consistently takes the heat.

Reviewers have called Hot Girls Wanted “a damning portrayal of an industry in crisis.” I don’t think that’s accurate. In a society where kids learn virtually nothing about sexuality in early education and violence is celebrated in the very films nipples are banned from, the real culprit seems obvious; it’s our culture, not porn.

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How a woman expresses her sexuality is her choice, made complex by our society’s harmful attitudes and mixed messaging. The idea that women are “sluts” or “prudes” depending on how we dress and behave is an antiquated and unjust mentality that needs to stop.

I’m grateful for the conversations Hot Girls Wanted has spurred, but wish they did more to offer solutions to the risks many women (and men) in the adult industry face rather than shun them or the entire industry. If the film had gone beyond seedy side of porn, it would have provided more sound and helpful messaging.

Rather than discuss whether porn is good or evil, let’s talk about ways to empower females to embrace their bodies and sexuality from early childhood up and men to respect women and their sexuality—no matter how they choose to express it.

Regardless of your career path, one message from the film rings markedly true: Never trust a shady Craigslist ad at face value. When it comes to sex as entertainment, remember that every performer is a human being with thoughts and feelings like the rest of us.

To hear or watch my Girl Boner® Radio episode on Hot Girls Wanted, visit this link

When Lingerie Models Are Body-Shamed #moonbodylove

I was a healthy sixteen-year-old the first time someone told me to lose weight. With one sentence the renowned photographer affirmed my long-held fears that I was destined for fatness and flawed as I was.

“You could be modeling in Paris if you lost 10 or 15 pounds,” he said.

So I did, gradually losing not only weight but my sense of self, until I nearly died of an eating disorder.

It would take years of hard, healing work to recognize that what I’d really feared was not mattering or measuring up—not by a scale’s standards, but the world’s.

In a culture where females are told in countless ways that we must appear certain unrealistic ways to be considered attractive or even valuable, every person who stands up for authenticity matters.

When I first learned of Neon Moon, an empowering lingerie company that features un-photoshopped images of models of varying shapes, sizes and races, I about burst out of my too-snug undies from excitement. (Yes, I got rid of those!)

Earlier this week, the company and its philosophies were under attack. A photo of one of their gorgeous models was nipped, tucked and shamed for all the world to see. Heartbreaking doesn’t seem a strong enough word.

To learn more, read Body Shamers Photoshopped Our Lingerie Model To Make Her ‘Perfect’ on Neon Moon’s blog. 

In response to the bullying Neon Moon launched a campaign, asking women to post photos of themselves online, stating what they love about their bodies as they are and including the hashtag #moonbodylove.

That is how we better the world—by standing up in the face of adversity and shedding light on what counts.

I’ll share my entry but first, here is a “before” image. Before I’d learned to fully embrace myself. Before I realized my true passions. Before I grew from recovering emotionally from the ED to healed, past tense. Before I learned that “model perfect” is a complete failure of words, even when you’re being paid to present it.

Me, circa 2004

Me, circa 2004

I recall the makeup artist working hard to hide my tan lines with what seemed like tan paint better suited for fences. (Even with sunscreen, a partial tan prayed tell of my beloved, mind-clearing Miami beach jogs in shorts.) The stylist chose a suit that covered my appendectomy scar, which I’d adored since the surgery saved my life a few years prior. In effort to avoid the need for editing, we waited all day until the “golden hour,” when the sun begins to set and all the world glimmers sublime.

The photo is lovely in some ways. The scenery indeed shines, and I liked the suit that reminded my of my dad’s long career with UPS.

But it’s far from authentic. I never looked like this woman, even then. Where is my smile? My fervor for life? The scars and lines illustrating that which kept me whole? The image wasn’t photoshopped but I was caked in makeup, spritzed with glossy-something and performing as someone else versus living freely as me. And while I was no longer anorexic, I was still investing more time and energy in thinness than wellness back then.

What would happen if the world glorified women in more real, natural states (as Neon Moon does)? Would the young girls desperate for approval see hopes and dreams instead of diets and reasons for shame? I have to think so.

Here is my #moonbodylove entry, a photo taken a few months ago during my first ever cruise. Now in my mid-thirties, I feel lovelier than I ever did in my twenties or while modeling—not because of my looks, but because of my improved relationship with myself. That relationship has attracted more beauty of all kinds into my life. Everyone deserves that.

MoonBodyLoveWhether you’ve learned to love your body yet or not, I hope you’ll join this campaign. I can almost promise that doing so will strengthen you while inspiring others, and let bullies who wish to keep women small (physically and emotionally) know who’s boss! We are, if we choose to be. United, we’re much stronger than on our own.

To participate, post your photo and why you love your body as it is, on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter, including the hashtag #moonbodylove. I can’t wait to celebrate real beauty with you! ♥

Healing From Abuse and How to Stop “Slut” Shaming

I was so honored to spend time chatting with Sophie Ullett on Girl Boner Radio last week, the show’s second time being filmed! We need more voices like Sophie’s and countless conversations on stopping the epidemic of sexual abuse and “slut”-shaming. (And yes, they are sadly linked.)

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The episode also features a teaser for a not-to-be-missed documentary and tips from Girl Boner’s current sex-pert, Kait of Passion By Kait. (She’s fantastic!)

Stream the episode on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or my homepage, or scroll down to watch the video. If you’re short on time, feel free to jump to the portions you’re most interested in, using the following time line.

*Please note that the episode contains brief descriptions of sexual abuse for educational purposes.

0:30: I introduce the show.

1:10: See a teaser for UnSlut: A Documentary Film, directed by Emily Linden!

2:20: I introduce featured guest, actress and singer Sophie Ullett! We chat about her background and when she started acting.

*6:20: Sophie discusses the sexual abuse she endured as a child, including her mixed emotions at the time and how she eventually spoke up about what happened.

15:15: Sophie shares how she healed from the trauma and related alcohol abuse. Did she see a therapist? What helped most?

19:15: How did Sophie feel about herself while acting out sexually? Then we talk about growing and healing through sex, and some of the double standards involved with “slut” shaming—such as women being “promiscuous”versus “guys will be guys.”

22:30: More on slut-shaming—including bullying fellow women online, “slutty” Halloween costumes and Define Slut—the groovy t-shirt campaign led by Emily Linden’s UnSlut Project.

26:00: I read a question from a listener whose love of sexting her boyfriend has spurred tension in their relationship. Then our resident Sex-Pert of this month Kait Scalisi, MPH shares awesome advice!

32:00: Sophie and I discuss Kait’s suggestions, then I remind listeners about Kait’s fabulous Sexual Clarity Quickie Package—which is only $98 and includes a huge bonus for Girl Boner fans. (Woot!)

36:00: What is Sophie’s life like now? Learn about her biggest passion and ways we can all put an end to sexual bullying and the message she most wants anyone struggling with the effects of trauma to hear.

42:00: Outro – I share ways you can support Girl Boner® and wish everyone a beautiful week!

What did you think of our chat? How have you been “slut” shamed? What’s your take on sexting? I love hearing your thoughts! ♥

4 Things You Need To Know About Your (Beautiful) Vulva

Don’t play with her heart. Play with her vulva. It feels better. 

I couldn’t find a single happy vulva quote archived online. Can you believe that? Considering the mighty wonder of the area, it’s remarkable that vaginas get most of the attention. Don’t get me wrong—vaginas rock!  But what do you say we take some time to celebrate its pleasure-centric, splendiferous sister, Ms. Vulva?

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4 Things You Need to Know About Your Vulva

1. It’s not your vagina. 

If your first thought when spotting this post was, “My vulva… I know it’s somewhere down there, but…what is it again?” you’re far from alone. Many folks confuse vaginas with vulvas. Your vagina is the passageway into your body. Your vulva is everything outside of it—including your labia (lips), the mounded area over your pubic bone, your clitoris. To see medical drawings via the Cleveland Clinic, click here.

2. You shouldn’t scrub it.

The vulva secretes oils that protect its delicate skin from friction we all experience regularly. Scrub away those oils with cleansers or douche, and you’re likely to experience irritation. Keep it clean by washing it gently with warm water when you shower and letting it be. For added health and safety, avoid thongs, girdles, feminine sprays, scented tampons and rough toilet paper.

3. It’s super capable of pleasure. 

Women experience intense amounts of pleasure outside the vagina—which is one reason intercourse alone doesn’t bring most women to climax. The combo of both, however, inner and outer “down there” play paves the way for mind-blowing, intoxicating pleasure.

4. It’s beautiful as it is.

Your vulva isn’t ugly, stinky, oversized or wrongly hairy. Far too many women feel pressured to futz with their genitals in order to feel beautiful or merely okay. Do what makes you feel most comfortable, keeping safety and well-being your top priorities. When you feel pressured to alter your gorgeous girl parts, ask yourself why. Chances are it’s societal messages that need changing—not you. ♥

For more on this topic, check out my DAME Magazine article: Stop Futzing With Your Vagina!

My Latest Product Fave!

Speaking of vulvas, I have to tell you all about my latest product crush. *drum roll* …VULVA BALM! Did you know it was a thing? Sensuous Beauty makes it, and it’s fabulous.

Vulva balm

Dab it on your gorgeous vulva to prevent chafing or manage dryness. Vulva Balm is formulated for menopausal women, but as a younger woman, I found it luscious and fun. (Even when we’re wet inside, some added gliding power outside is nice, IYKWIM!) You can also use it as a gentle lube. The body and eco-friendly deliciously scented balm has a smooth, decadent texture you’ll wanna slather on (think Carmex, only natural + sexy. ;))—but you won’t need to. A small amount goes far.

Disclosure: This is an honest review for a product sold by Good Vibrations, a company I’m affiliated with. If you purchase Sensuous Beauty Vulva Balm for $12.99 – $18.50 through this link, a portion will support all-things-Girl Boner.

You can also support GB by purchasing other products. Simply click the Good Vibrations image in the sidebar (or below, if you’re reading on your phone) to shop away! The company is women-friendly, discreet and all around AWESOME.

What do you love about your vulva? Did any of these facts surprise you? Think you might try Vulva Balm? Remember, there’s no shame or judgment here—just gratitude, love and respect. 

Girl Boner: The Sex Ed Story That Started it All

Eighty weeks and episodes ago, I sat down before the mic at Global Voice Broadcasting and nearly peed my pants from giddy excitement. Seconds later, I was hooked. Girl Boner® Radio has been, and continues to be, a wild and gratifying ride.

Now that much of that ride is being filmed, I decided to share the story that started it all on YouTube. The video below isn’t Hollywood-“perfect” visually (not that that’s ever my aim), but it’s chock-full of heart and was a blast to make.

Stream below to hear a shortened version of my premiere episode set to a slideshow featuring fabulous guests, Charlie Brown as you’ve never seen him, my dynamic dog’s radio debut and more. I hope you enjoy it!

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What did you think of the video? What was your sex ed experience like? Wishing you a beautiful, Girl Boner-embracing week! ♥

8 Surprising Facts About Female Orgasm

Happy National Orgasm Day! Nope, I didn’t make that up. Today folks across the country are celebrating the big and luscious O. Fabulous, right?

I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some tantalizing facts about Girl Boner-gasms. Check them out, then let me know what you think! I LOVE hearing from you. ♥

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1. You could have one without realizing it. Don’t believe me? Listen to my episode on brain-gasms and my orgasm MRI. In short, some women mistake the feel-good sensations of climax with simply feeling good or, sadly, experience so much shame around sexuality that they don’t allow themselves to recognize or embrace what’s happening.

2. They’re POWERFUL! Unlike guys’ orgasms, which are also groovy, she-gasms send shimmery pleasure and elation throughout the whole body—from our heads to the tips of our toes. No wonder they help everything from pain and tension to low moods.

3. And contagious. Now there is something worth catching—yum. Our partners may literally get-off on our getting off. This is one reason men delight in facilitating orgasm meditation—the slow stimulation of a woman’s clit with the fingers alone.

4. Self-stimulation rocks! Did you know that self-sexy-TLC is the easiest way for most women to climax? It’s also a beautiful way to learn more about your body and connect more deeply with your partner, if you have one. I’m also a big fan of couple masturbation. Sharing in each other’s pleasure side-by-side or face-to-face without going pelvis-to-pelvis can be hot on multiple levels.

5. Some women climax through breath or thoughts alone. If a sexy dream has ever sent you over the edge physically, you’ve done so. You can also experience breath-gasms through tantric exercises, as I explored with Dawn Beck on Girl Boner® Radio this week.

6. Our attitudes count. Women who embrace their bodies and sexuality tend to have more frequent and stronger orgasms. This is one reason so many of us experiences greater intensity and fulfillment in the bedroom as we age. (Yes, that we peak in our 30s is a myth.)

7. It’s okay to desire or experience them more than your guy. As Dr. Megan said on my show recently, guys shouldn’t be expected to be superheroes in the bedroom. Similarly, we gals shouldn’t criticize ourselves if we desire sex more than our partner.

To learn more about females having higher sex drive, check out my latest column for The Good Men Project: When You Want Sex More Than He Does – What’s a Girl to Do?

8. There’s no right or best way to have one. Whether you climax frequently or some of the time, namely on the outside of your gorgeous body or deeper within, engage your G-spot or not or reach orgasm quickly or over time, you’re a-okay in that department. Our orgasms are as unique as we are, and 1000% embraceable.

**Another fab way to celebrate! Click the Good Vibrations ad in my sidebar and purchase a sexy product or two. A portion of your purchase will go to all-things-Girl Boner. Thanks so much for any support.

Which fact struck you most? What’s your favorite thing about she-gasms? How will you celebrate this glorious day?

Celebrating Vulnerability and Links I LOVE

vulnerable adj. vul·ner·a·ble: easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally; open to attack, harm, or damage – Merriam Webster

There’s something missing from this definition. Vulnerability doesn’t merely leave us more easily hurt but wide open to greater love, sensitivity, awareness and compassion. Without it, I’m not sure we’d ever grow.

The past few years have been a near crash course in the V-word for me—from blogging my heart out to launching my show. In addition to being “where good girls go for sexual empowerment,” Girl Boner® Radio is where I go to stand strong in my beliefs, explore controversial issues and speak from my heart, sans script or the editing manuscripts and articles require. Last week it was filmed for the first time, providing more chances to explore Vulnerable City with my tribe of giddy butterflies. (I love them so.)

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Today I want to highlight some stellar reads from the blog-o-sophere—all of which serve as proof that vulnerability is a near superpower, and equal parts magnifying glass and compass if we embrace it. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! If you do, check out their blogs and follow them on Twitter.

Three Posts That Rocked My World

Why the Lingerie World Gets on My Tits via Neon Moon—an empowering, world-shifting lingerie company y’all must check out! Here, Hayat Rachi shares the personal experiences that inspired the revolutionary brand.

Neon Moon quote

The Expedition of No Return by KM Huber—my friend and fabulous zen blogger shares how she’s discovered “life anew” after learning she was at high risk for quadriplegia and having surgery that challenged her values. She’s a miracle.

KM Huber

Why We Hate Photos of Ourselves by Alexandra Rosas (via Purple Clover)—a gifted friend I met through BlogHer shares how she learned to embrace photos of herself after her mother’s passing. It’s rich with valuable insight.

Alexandra Rosas

What have times of vulnerability taught you? What rewards have you gained in the process? What did you think of these posts? I love hearing from you! ♥

A Middle-Age Sex Chat and Intimacy After Illness (Special Offer!)

Hi, all!

I hope you’re having a splendiferous week. This is a quickie post, as I’m on my way to #BlogHer15. (So stoked!)

You know what else I’m stoked about? Yesterday’s Girl Boner® Radio episode, featuring spectacular guests, mega-fun girl talk and a phenomenal offer for listeners from a sex educator.

I chatted with friend and fellow blogger, Chloe Jeffreys, who’s also an experienced labor and delivery nurse, about estrogen decline, libido boosters and intimacy during middle-age. She’s equal parts know-how, zest and candor—you’ll love her!

ChloeJeffies

Chloe Jeffries

Resident expert Dr. Megan Fleming weighed in on a reader’s concerns about dealing with her guy’s lower-than-hers libido, and Natalie Hatches invites listeners to take her awesome Intimacy After Illness e-course. She’s offering it at a huge discount for Girl Boner® fans, and offering some groovy extras! (Learn more below.)

To stream the episode, click one of these links:

iTunes   Stitcher Radio   AugustMcLaughlin.com

To register for Love Chat with Nat’s 8 Week Transformational E-Course on Intimacy After Illness: A Holistic Approach, go to: www.lovechatwithnat.com/go/8weekcourse and use the code girlboner for $200 off the usual price ($497) until Monday 7/20. After Monday, use the code to save $5o.

You’ll also receive:
A gift bag from Ana Ono Intimates
3 – One hour educational sessions with Love Chat with Nat – $525 value
One year complimentary membership to Love Chat with Nat’s Love Goddess Program – $228 value
Weekly check-in during the E-Course to answer questions
Unlimited Email Support for 30 days after E-Course

This is such an awesome deal! I hope it finds the folks who most need it. ♥ If you’ve listened to the episode, I’d love to hear what you think! Could you relate to any of the topics? Which suggestion seemed most helpful?

The Worst Advice I’ve Ever Received

This week marks the start of my relationship advice column for The Good Men Project. I can’t tell you all how stoked I am for the opportunity. If you’re new to GMP, a diverse community of thought leaders who explore men’s evolving roles in modern times, I hope you’ll check them out. To read my first weekly segment, answering a question on finding bliss and “the one,” visit this link.

To celebrate, I thought I’d share some of the worst advice I’ve ever received. Most has been well-intended, some I had the wherewithal to ignore and some came from the person closest to me: myself.

authenticity quote

1. Darken your eyebrows.

When I was a teen and first entering the modeling world, I took advice from all industry pros to heart. Much of it was good (don’t pay anyone to model, don’t sign anything your agent hasn’t read and approved), darkening my eyebrows with brownish pencil made me look like I had furry worms crawling on my forehead.

Lesson learned: Don’t wear makeup 50+ shades darker than your face, and anything that makes you look like a creepy-crawler magnet. Aim to look like you.

2. Die your hair platinum blonde.

See explanation #1. When a stylist remarked, “You’d make a great platinum blonde,” I raced off to a salon and left two hours later with Barbie-esque hair. For about two weeks I loved it, relishing the attention. (People stare at you when your head glows.) But then roots appeared, making my naturally light hair appear dishwater-brown by comparison. Meanwhile, I felt like a faker. The frantic upkeep made me and my bank account crazy.

Lesson learned: Don’t color your hair vastly different colors than your natural shade, unless want to rock hot pink or rainbow stripes.

3. Don’t break up with a guy until after Valentine’s Day (or other holidays).

Strategic, right? *quivers* I gave this to myself and took it, multiple times, in my early twenties. Not keen on hurting a guy I planned to break up with more than necessary, I also wanted to make sure I had a date for those holidays. *moment of silence to commemorate personal growth* (If any of you guys are reading this, I’m so so sorry.)

Lesson learned: Staying in a wrong-for-you relationship is lonely, especially on holidays. Pretending you’re invested in a relationship hurts everyone.

4. Create fake identities to have conversations with yourself on others’ blog.

Eek! I’m so glad I didn’t take this. An acquaintance/internet genius suggested I do this when only my parents and 1.5 strangers read my blog. In doing so, he claimed, I’d intrigue people into clicking my (actual) name and visiting my blog.

Lesson learned: Being an industry professional doesn’t make someone an expert on you or your work. Also? Authenticity is everything.

5. Don’t quit.

I’ve heard this many times from well-intended folks—including when I’d decided to leave my first marriage, to trade financial stability in Miami for countless unknowns in LA, and to stop working on a novel to focus on non-fiction. In all of these cases, my instincts told me to leap. With one minor delay (clinging on to the novel for a bit), I did so. These leaps were some of my most empowering and important.

Lesson learned: There’s a big difference between giving up and moving forward. Staying in a relationship or venture because it seems safest or right to others can mean saying NO to our dreams—including those we haven’t yet conjured.

*****

I now realize this list could’ve gone on and on, as could the list of awesome advice I’ve received. For now, I’ll leave you with these five and open the floor to you. What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received? Did you take it? Do you relate to any of mine? I love hearing from you! ♥

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