#BOAW2015 FAQ, Update and Prizes!

Hi Beauties!

I hope you’re enjoying the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV as much as I am. Once again, I’ve been blown away by writers’ insightfulness, bold sharing and uniqueness. Thank you for bringing light to real beauty, and inspiring so many—me included. The fest collectively reached well over 1,000 people on day one. BRAVA!

Since the fest is carrying on here, I thought I’d pop into my blog living room and share answers to your questions and a bit more on our fantabulous prizes!

FAQ:

Q: What if I can’t comment on a  post?

A: Two or three of the blogs either don’t allow comments, or have technical kinks to be worked out. If you’re going for maximum prize points, by commenting on all posts, simply comment on all of the posts you can! Then tweet the posts you can’t seem to comment on, including the hashtag: #BOAW2015.

To simply share your (respectful, of course!) thoughts on those posts, feel free to find that writer on Facebook, Twitter or their own website. You can also post comments on the #BOAW2015 Facebook event page.

Q: I’m running behind! Can I still enter as a blogger?

A: You sure can! Just make sure you follow the remaining guidelines detailed here. (Commenting on posts that appear after 2/23 won’t be required for full points in the prize drawing.)

Reminders:

♥ Don’t forget to enter the raffle! Doing so supports our prize sponsors and could land you a stellar prize. Enter through the fest page, or through the Giveaway tab on my Facebook author page. Bloggers and readers can enter through March 1.

♥ Support fellow festers! Participants supporting one another is one of the best parts of BOAW—and the more we do so, the more people we reach. Huge thanks to all of you who are reading and sharing others’ posts. You rock!

♥ Post your #BOAW2015 selfie! For a fun way to keep the conversations going while bringing added light to the fest and your fine work, post a selfie with the hashtag, letting us know what makes YOU feel most beautiful. Here’s mine, as an example:

#BOAW2015 selfie

Prize highlights:

#1: Rayne, of Style by RayneVirtual Personal Styling by a Hollywood Stylist + a Bathing Suit From Sunsets Inc + Corpus Dei Perfume by Natalie Bolton   Value: $395.00

#2: #BOAW2015 Original Artwork, created by A’driane Nieves and Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson + #YouSparkle affirmation sticky notes  Value: $250.00 each (2 prizes)

#3: Organic Intimacy Products from Good Clean Love: 2 oz. Restore Moisturizing Personal Lubricant, 1.5 oz. Cinnamon Vanilla Personal Lubricant, 4 oz. Indian Spice Love Oil, 2 oz. Spicy Orange Body Candy  Value: $64

#3: Highly-Textured Original Contemporary Arylic Paintings by artist, Stephen Vanek, donated by Jan Morrill

#4: Rekindle Your Desire Workshop Pack Includes a 60-minute audio track, a companion workbook, access to a live Q&A, and lifetime access to a private FB page, led by clinical psychologist Dr. Megan Fleming. Value: $79.00

#5: Professional Manuscript Evaluation, from Jenny Redbug  Value: $600 – $1500
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#6: Filmmaking Q&A + a Signed Women Kick Ass Postcard, from Melanie Wise, founder of the Artemis Film Festival! Value: $300.00

Learn more about these prizes here.

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Any additional questions? Or thoughts to share? Let me know! I always love hearing from you.

10 Ways to Look and Feel As Lovely As You Are #BOAW2015

OMG, it’s blog-fest day! Woo hoo! Can anyone else feel the sparkles in the air?

The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV is taking place at this link from 8am today through March 1. Head over there to read incredible posts from many talented writers, and for chances to win some awesome prizes!

Our grand prize sponsor, Rayne, and I created a little video gift for you all. We hope you enjoy it!

10 Ways to Look and Feel As Lovely As You Are

 

For practical, entertaining style tips delivered to your email box each week, make sure to sign up for Rayne’s mailing list. Do so this week, as part of the #BOAW2015 raffle, and you’ll also gain four chances to win a prize! We’re giving away incredible prizes this year, including a personal style consult, swimsuit and perfume from Rayne, original artwork, professional manuscript analysis, a filmmaking consult, intimacy products and more.

Which tip was your favorite? What would you add to our list? We’d love to hear from you! ♥ 

50 Shades of Controversy: My and A Sex Educator’s Take on “Shades”

Before its opening weekend, I’d planned to see Fifty Shades of Grey, namely out of duty. As a sex-positive activist and radio host, I couldn’t justify not seeing it, even though I, admittedly, haven’t read the books.

Once reviews started flooding social media, I knew I had to see it pronto. How could the same story bring fun and empowerment to some, and sheer anger and hurt to others?

I suppose I shouldn’t have been that surprised, given the fact that the way sexuality is dealt with and viewed in our culture tends to promote such dichotomy, and stir up more negativity than anyone deserves.

But it’s a movie, I figured. A fictitious story. A writer’s fantasy, played out on the screen. How bad could it be? It might be boring, I thought, or weak in plot, or offensive, based on many people’s reactions.

I was surprised when I actually—brace yourself—enjoyed it. With respect for people who’ve seen it and disagree, and compassion for anyone who’s felt hurt by the film, I found it to be entertaining and yes, in some ways, empowering. (Some of the previews before the movie, on the other hand, not so much.) While I’ll be one of the first to assert that the way women and sexuality are portrayed in the media and entertainment can and do damage how we feel about ourselves and relationships, this film didn’t raise red flags for me.

To me it seemed like an erotic thriller with strong characters, one of whom is a controlling, turmoiled stalker, both of whom, while conflicted, enjoy some BDSM. I can’t help but wonder if some of the angst over the film derives from the fact that Anastasia, the leading lady, takes pleasure in unconventional (but consensual) sex. I personally wasn’t turned on by the BDSM activity, but I found her enticement extremely hot. And beautiful.

I knew I had to explore Shades with someone who knows the world of BDSM far better than I, so I asked my favorite expert, Jean Franzblau, to join me in the studio. A celebrated sex educator, coach and activist who tours the country, Jean leads workshops geared toward cultivating sexual self-esteem.  She also wrote, produced and performs the educational one-woman show, Coming Out Kinky, about her own journey to sexual embracement.

I had no idea what Jean thought of the film before we chatted, and have heard mixed reviews from other experts. But I knew she would bring a sensible, compassionate viewpoint and offer keen, practical insight. And did she ever.

We discussed our thoughts on the movie, the surrounding controversies and some common myths about BDSM. (Who knew handcuffs aren’t common?) She also addressed the vital issue of abuse disguised as BDSM, which is an exception, but horrendous—like all abuse, when it happens, how to tell the difference and how the film might be triggering for some.

I’m so grateful for the important conversations Shades is bringing to the surface, and for the chance to have a respectful, informed one with a woman who seems to who understands all sides. I also hope the film’s success means great things for female erotic writers.

To learn more, listen to our chat on iTunes.  

Jean Franzblau Girl Boner Radio

I suspect this is to-be-continued!

I also had the pleasure of chatting with Garren James, the owner of Cowboys4Angels, the world’s large straight male escort agency, which you may recognize from the Showtime series, Gigilos. His stories about helping make women’s fantasies come into fruition amid difficulty were truly touching.

For another take on Shades, check out I Watched 50 Shades of Grey and I Liked it. Sort of. by Chloe Jeffries. I loved what she had to say about consent and who’s in control of the relationship, and found her comparison to the book intriguing.

As a side note, if you’re seeking some incredible fiction that steps outside of conventional sexual boundaries, I highly recommend Roni Loren’s books. She’s such a talent!

What did you think of our interview? Or the movie? Did you agree with Jean’s points, or mine? What’s your take on the controversies? I love hearing your respectful thoughts. ♥

Psst! The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest kicks off on Monday! If you haven’t yet signed up and would like to, visit this post.

Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV: Tips and Reminders! #BOAW2015

Wow, the Beautiful of a Woman BlogFest IV is less than one week away! Is anyone else as stoked as I am?

As you prepare your posts, here are some tips and reminders to help ensure that you get the most out of the beauty-full, collaborative experience:

♥ Choose an interesting title that clues us in on your topic, rather than merely “Beauty of a Woman BlogFest.” Include #BOAW2015 if you wish!

♥ Remember to include the logo from your category, link your post to the fest pagehttp://www.augustmclaughlin.com/boaw15/. Invite your readers to stop by the fest to read more posts and potentially win awesome prizes! There will be a digital raffle on the fest page.

♥ Schedule your post to appear between 12am and 6am PST on February 23rd.

♥ If you signed up using a different blog identity than you’ll be using for the fest, let me know in a comment on the signup page. (And yes, you can still sign up!)

♥ If you haven’t yet joined the Facebook event page, do so now for more tips and reminders. And feel free to invite your pals!

FAQ:

Can I still sign up? Yes! Bloggers can register through 2/21. (In the past I’ve even snuck in a few last minute-ers the day of, so don’t hesitate to ask!)

Can I run a giveaway on my post? Sure!

Can I enter both categories? Absolutely! Just make sure your posts appear on different blogs/websites. The fest brings lots of exposure to participants’ sites, and we want to be fair in divvying it up. :)

Can men enter? Definitely! We welcome guys.

Prizes! We have such awesome prizes this year! Here’s a sneak peek at a few. To learn more about all of our prizes, including style consultations, swimwear, original artwork and more, visit this link.

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I can’t wait to celebrate with you all! Until then, wishing you a brilliant week. If you have any questions I haven’t addressed here, let me know in the comments or via email.

♥ August

Why Valentine’s Day Can’t Get a Self-Loving Woman Down

Is it just me, or does Valentine’s Day get as much hate as tax day and go-to-the-dentist day? While opinions vary, I’ve heard a lot more loathing lately than praise.

Here’s what I think: It’s whatever we make it, and rocks most when we embrace ourselves. ‘Cuz, think about it:

♥ If you love and respect yourself, you’re probably either single—because you want to be or refuse to settle and haven’t met the right person yet—or in a healthy, happy relationship.

♥ If you’re in a healthy, happy relationship, you and your partner probably communicate well. He or she knows how you prefer to celebrate the holiday (if at all), and vice versa. And you both respect each other’s desires. There’s no competition or standard to meet, other than one of mutual respect.

♥ If you’re a self-loving single, you won’t let the day zap your happiness. When degrading memes crop up, poking fun at being single on Heart Day, you’ll be all, “Dude! I’d so rather be on my own or with friends on V-Day than lonely in the wrong relationship.” You’ll ignore those memes and invest your time, thoughts and energy elsewhere.

It’s just a day, people! And you’re WAY too groovy to let it bring you down.

Valentine's Day quote

If you are going to let the cupid extravaganzas get you down, at least laugh at the goofiness they inspire—and perhaps yourself. For some inspiration, check out Jilly and Shawn’s latest episode of STOP IT!

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? How will you spend this one? I love hearing from you!

#OrgasmQuest, Depression and Sex in the Digital Age

As soon as I saw the Huffington Post’s headline, This Woman Is Live-Tweeting Her Quest To Have An Orgasm While On AntidepressantsI knew I had to learn more. The more I learned, the more stoked I became about the story’s leading lady, Crista Anne. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when she agreed to an interview.

The sex educator, blogger and mother of four has struggled with depression since birth. When a new medication began improving her wellbeing significantly, all would’ve been fabulous—if it didn’t interfere with her ability to orgasm. Sex-positive to the core, she set her sights on restoring climax capabilities, sharing her mission on Twitter and her blog and quickly attracting media attention.

Crista Anne had wonderful thoughts to share on mental illness, our bodies and the damaging taboos surrounding both. Listen to our chat using the link below, then pop back to read our after-chat.

The episode also features my interview with Chad Kultgen, a controversial author whose novel Men, Women & Children brilliantly illustrates ways internet technology affects many people’s lives and relationships. Oh, and he also shared one of the most incredible animal stories I’ve ever heard. Seriously, you don’t want to miss it! I may never look at squirrels the same way again…

Girl Boner Radio with August McLaughlin:

#OrgasmQuest and Sex in the Digital Age

iammightypurewand

Crista Anne, in all her rainbow wonder! #OrgasmQuest

An After-Chat with Crista Anne of #OrgasmQuest

August: What’s one thing you wish would change in how we deal with or view mental illness in the U.S.?

Crista Anne: Narrowing it down to one thing froze my brain for a moment there. I suppose most of all I wish that mental illness was viewed like any other serious health condition, because it is. Cancer kills, so does depression. That would be a glorious start.

August: What’s one of the most common myths about depression?

Crista Anne: That depression can just be willed away. That people can just decide not to be depressed, or that we’re lazy. Depression is an illness. The brain can get sick, just like any other part of your body.

August: I love that sex toys, along with masturbation, have helped you manage your illness. Any personal favorites?

Crista Anne: My personal favorites as of this moment are the Njoy Pure Wand, Original Magic Wand and the Tantus Tsunami dildo. The combo of the magic wand and tsunami is was helped get me that first masturbatory orgasm!

August: What type of toy would you recommend to someone who’s new to, er, toyland?

Crista Anne: A lot of people suggest weak, “non-threatening” vibes to folks who are new to toys, which actually annoys me a great deal. A weak vibe isn’t going to show people the glorious things that sex toys have to offer! A We-Vibe Tango is a “lipstick” style (the shape of the vibe resembles new lipstick with a flat area at the head, which is where they get the name) bullet vibe that has a great deal of power, is decently quiet, waterproof and rechargeable.

August: Many parents aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about sexuality. Any suggestions for newbies?

Crista Anne: Start early with simple things like modeling consent (they don’t have to give hugs if they don’t want to, stop tickling when they say stop) and using anatomically correct terms for body parts. When they are young, we started telling the kids that we needed Mommy & Daddy time to spend together without kids around so we can have special grownup time. When kids naturally start exploring their bodies, we teach them that we only touch our bits (since we have kids with penises and vulvas it’s our catchall term) with clean hands and when they have privacy. Visit the Scarleteen website, which is geared for teens but has a great deal of information and ideas on how to start these conversations. Kids are going to pick up on how uncomfortable their parents are when having these conversations, so try and get an idea of what you want to before hand. Practice if needed so you can come off as approachable instead of uncomfortable and unapproachable.

August: May I send you some Girl Boner goodies as a thanks for being awesome?

Crista Anne: Always! I am shameless when it comes to swag. I’ll return the favor when I restock my Crista Anne goodies.

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How exciting! You know what else is exciting? Crista Anne will be joining us for #BOAW2015. If you haven’t yet registered and would like to, visit this post. For tips and reminders along the way, RSVP on the Facebook event page.

What did you think of the interviews? How about #OrgasmQuest? Has mental illness affected your ability to maintain a healthy, happy sex life? I always love hearing from you! ♥

The Banned and the Beautiful: Celebrating Women Writers

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

As you may have heard, the Ozarks Writers’ League conference coming up the weekend of February 21 was booted from its venue of 30 years this week, largely because I’m set to speak there.

My topic? Cultivating self-confidence for increased success. Not exactly controversial. My advocacy for female sexual empowerment, however, apparently is. The venue heads also disapproved of award-winning author Velda Brotherton‘s workshop on writing sex scenes. The conference program has never before been questioned or analyzed, but this one’s theme, Celebrating Women Writers, invited scrutiny.

“Doesn’t that make you mad?” an acquaintance asked me when she read the news. “I’d be so offended!”

Nope, I replied. It’s unfortunate that OWL had to scramble for a new venue, as they successfully did, but the venue’s response merely illustrates the importance of the kind of work I and other women writers do.

we-can-do-it

Many people in our culture find anything related to sexuality shameful. It’s one of the most heartbreaking and damaging notions of our time, in my opinion, and anyone who abides by it has been victimized. I and many, if not all, women I know have been hurt by negative views and damaging myths about sexuality and our bodies at some point—in some cases, profoundly. The moment we lose compassion for folks we’re trying to help through our writing and advocacy, we lose our ability to make a positive impact. It’s as though we’ve lost compassion for ourselves.

As revolutionary Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Trust me, I’ve had those pissed-off times in the past. But I learned that if I hoped for change, I had to take action—loving action. That’s why I made the transition from health writer to health and sexuality writer, launched Girl Boner on my blog and welcomed the chance to bring my work to the radio/podcast waves. It’s also why I adore artists, who are some of the most compassionate souls around.

OWL’s community is a prime example. In response to the recent controversy, they’ve not only publicly supported Velda and I, but increased their efforts to support and celebrate all writing women. I can hardly articulate how touched and grateful I am. Writers uniting. What a beautiful thing.

It’s with giddy pleasure that I invite you all to join OWL’s campaign to celebrate women writers! Simply post and engage with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #WomensRightToWrite.

If you’re in the Missouri area, I hope you’ll join us at the conference, which has a new location. To learn more, visit www.ozarkswritersleague.com.

Going Green is the New Sexy! My Chat with Alexandra Paul

“As consumers, we are so powerful. Every day we have a choice with what we buy to do the right thing.” — Alexandra Paul

A few weeks ago, I was streaming Ted talks while cooking dinner when one stopped me in my tracks. Alexandra Paul, the actress internationally known for her portrayal of lifeguard Stephanie Holden on TV’s “Baywatch,” shared a story from her childhood—the moment the rapidly increasing population prompted her decision not to have kids.

“I felt alone in my beliefs,” she said, ” and thirty-seven years later, I still feel alone in my beliefs.”

She went on to explore the human overpopulation crisis, why virtually no one discusses it and impactful steps we can take to preserve this beautiful planet we call home. This was only a glimpse of her awesomeness.

The star of over  75 TV shows and feature films is a prolific, award-winning activist who uses her skills as a speaker, writer, producer and huge-hearted human being to educate others on causes she holds dear, most prominently human overpopulation and animal rights.

She also glows, literally radiates, with the rare kind of beauty that shines from within. Based on our chat, I can only assume much of that light derives from living authentically, passionately and inline with her values.

Last week Alexandra joined me in the studio for what turned out to be one of my most insightful episodes yet. We discussed her acting career, our shared history with eating disorders, powerful ways to preserve the planet, simple ways to shift toward an animal-friendlier lifestyle, veganism and more.

To download or stream our chat, visit this link on iTunes:

Girl Boner Radio: Going Green is the New Sexy with Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul_GirlBonerRadio_August McLaughlin

It’s also available on Stitcher Radio. To learn more, visit alexandrapaul.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Watch her powerful TEDx talk here: Overpopulation Facts – The Problem No One Will Discuss.

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#BOAW2015 Don’t forget to sign up for the 4th annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest! For tips and updates along the way, RSVP through the Facebook event page once you’ve registered. As a participant, you’ll have chances to reach hundreds, perhaps thousands, of readers and win fantastic prizes, such as artwork, organic intimacy products, a gorgeous bathing suit and stylist consultation, gift cards and more.

A Special Freebie: In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, my novel inspired by my experience with anorexia, In Her Shadow, is free on Kindle until February 5th. If you’d like to check it out, hop over to Amazon. Derivative sales support eating disorder awareness and prevention.

What did you think of Alexandra’s insight? What steps are you taking to lead a planet- or animal- friendlier lifestyle? Has overpopulation influenced your decision to have kids? I love hearing your thoughts! ♥

Revenge Porn and Relationship Privacy: An After-Chat with @DrJaneGreer

“There is no sexual, visual, acceptable picture without my consent. Without my consent there is only violation.” — Emma Holten

Our bodies and sexuality should not be used as shame-inducing weapons. Who’s with me?

I know Emma Holten is. After an ex posted explicit images of her online, the Danish activist chose to share her own nude photographs on her own terms. *pauses to happy-dance* I adore her for that, and for using her experience as a platform for making positive difference.

sexuality quote

One in ten ex-partners have threatened to release explicit photos post-breakup, according to a 2013 MacAfee Survey. Sixty percent of them act on the threats, and 90 percent of victims are women. Despite these risks, says the report, 36 percent of Americans plan to send sexy photos to their patterns through email, text or social media on Valentine’s Day. I personally don’t see a problem with that. Sharing our sexy selves however we see fit with a trusted loved one (or the world, for that matter) is awesome and should never be shunned.

What bothers me about ‘revenge porn’ is the lack of consent and intentional pain former partners intend to inflict—regardless of the medium. It also saddens me that our bodies and sexuality are so often used to induce shame. If we all embraced our bodies and sexuality as natural and beautiful, folks wouldn’t care whether such images were posted online. (This is probably why none of my exes have made attempts—just saying.) Without associative shame, they can’t be used as weapons. But as a culture, we’re so far away from that.

Last week, I had the pleasure to interviewing the spectacular Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist, author and creator of the popular celebrity sex and relationship commentary, “SHRINK WRAP with Dr. Jane Greer.” She also hosts a dynamic radio show I had the honor of appearing not long before Girl Boner Radio launched. (You can find that episode in the show’s archives here, and via YouTube here.)

We explored some of the biggest lessons we can derive from celebrity relationships, how to keep selfishness out of our own relationships and more. She was also kind enough to share a few more thoughts here, including her take on revenge porn. Read our quick after-chat below then check out our interview on iTunes, Stitcher Radio for lots more!

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August: Social media has made it tougher for celebrities to maintain privacy, which can pose challenges within relationships. What can we learn from the ways celebrities use social media? 

Dr. Greer: 

We can learn that it’s important to be open with people and to share; however, be mindful about what you share in order to keep some things private. Maintain personal privacy and don’t feel like you have to share everything. For example, say you’re in a new relationship – you don’t have to share all the personal details of what you did on your first date, all of your common interests, etc. Keep the intimate details of your relationship to yourself.

August: Revenge porn has been a big topic in the media lately. It saddens me that the victims are so often blamed, and that how they decided to express their sexuality becomes a tool to induce shame. What’s your take? 

Dr. Greer:

It’s hard enough to go through a breakup and deal with the loss of shared intimacy, but however angry you may be, violating the trust and intimacy you had with your partner by sharing your sexual relationship with the public really destroys any semblance of trust or respect that may be left. Even though it looks like you’re retaliating against your ex-lover, you’re compromising your own integrity and disrespecting yourself as well. The fact that the victims are being blamed is wrong because this material was to be shared only between the two partners, and if anything it suggests the person sharing the material now was not trustworthy. The victim should be more wary of sharing something so intimate in the future.

August: If you could spend an evening with one celebrity couple, who would you choose and why? 

Dr. Greer:

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I think they’re the most fabulously talented country couple, and I love their music individually. Not only that, but I find them intriguing as a couple!

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To listen to my Girl Boner Radio interview with Dr. Jane Greer, visit this link on iTunes, or stream it via Stitcher Radio here.

Dig it? I’d love to hear from you! Post a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or share the links with your friends to keep the conversations going. To learn more about Dr. Greer, visit DrJaneGreer.com and follow her on Facebook.

What’s your take on revenge porn? What about Holten’s reaction? Which thoughts from Dr. Greet struck you most? I love hearing from you. Like, SERIOUSLY. 

Announcing the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV! #BOAW2015

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” — Sam Levinson, The Beauty of a Woman 

Three years ago, when I was a blogging newbie, I decided to share a story from my experience with an eating disorder I was diagnosed with while modeling in Paris. I have no idea why it struck me that particular day, but it did, so I went with it.

The post, Does Dirt Have Calories? My Story, was longer than many pros suggest, but I believe all of our writing should be as long as it needs to be. And heck, I was sharing it because my gut said to, for cathartic reasons, I suppose, and because I figured a few people struggling with similar issues might read it and find a new glimmer of hope.

sunrise-eiffel

I was blown away when far more happened. For days, I received a steady stream of comments, emails and shout outs on social media. More importantly, I was connecting with writers, many of whom I consider friends today, and realized for the first time the power of this-thing-called-blogging.

Whether we pour our hearts out, let our goofy selves play or share wisdom, writing what we’re compelled to brings mega rewards.

We grow as writers, learn more about ourselves and befriend kick-ass, like-minded readers. The artistry that once brought fulfillment in solace evolves into connectedness as we build a community of mutual support. And we’re inspired to pay that all forward. I know many of you know what I mean! Successful blogging isn’t about “the numbers,” IMO, but authentically sharing and connecting, whether that’s with a few people, a few thousand or more.

As a thanks to folks who supported my story shortly after, I decided to host a blog fest celebrating real beauty. I wasn’t even sure how to host one (“Blog fests are a thing, right?”), but figured my best try couldn’t hurt. Again, I hoped a handful of bloggers would participate, yet many more did—poignantly, hilariously, masterfully. Thanks to hundreds of incredible writers and thousands of readers, BOAW has turned into an uplifting event I look forward to each year.

I suppose if there’s a moral to the story it’s this: Follow your enthusiasm, whether you feel skilled enough, confident enough, fill-in-the-blank enough or not. Gusto will not fail you, particularly when there are awesome people out there who likely share your interest. Why not let that spark evolve into a luminous flame? Uniting has that power, but only if we act on our inclinations. You veteran festers have taught me that. I’m so grateful for another chance to collaborate with you all next month!

I’m honored and excited to announce the 4th annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. WOO HOO!

Here’s how it works:

♥ Like last year, we’ll have two categories: Original, centering on beauty, however you define it, and Girl Boner, for exploring the beauty of female sexuality. While all posts will appear on the same day, they’ll be separated by category on the fest page.

♥ To participate as a blogger, register by posting a comment below indicating your desired category. Then write your post sometime before 2/23.

♥ Publish your post on your blog on Monday, 2/23 between 12am and 6am PST.  If you’d like to schedule your post to publish in advance and aren’t sure how, find instructions via Wordpress here and Google/Blogger here.

♥ Make sure your post includes the logo for your category, and a link to the fest page: http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/boaw15/, inviting readers to stop by to participate!

♥ On 2/23, your name and post link will appear on the fest page at 8am PST. Anyone who stops by between then and 8pm March 1 will have chances to win awesome prizes by reading participants’ contributions, posting comments, sharing the fest and more. (It’s so fun!)

♥ Prize winners will be selected through a digital raffle on the fest page, and announced on my blog in early March. All prizes are valued at $50 or more, and include artwork, gift cards, a style consult, intimacy products and more!

A fun new twist!

This year, I’ve decided to celebrate women entrepreneurs—because, well, you’re spectacularToward that end, I’ve commissioned artwork from two gifted artists to offer as prizes, and for use in this year’s logos. (I almost hated adding text to their masterpieces. Fear not! If you win one, yours will be text-free.)

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE….

Thanks to Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson, here is our logo for the original category:

Renee Jacobson art

And here is our Girl Boner category logo, featuring the artistry of A’driane Nieves:

Addey B Nieves

*SWOON* Aren’t they gorgeous? I hope you find them as inspiring as I do!

More on prizes:

In addition to these masterpieces, I’ll be giving away prizes from generous sponsors. Good Clean Love is contributing organic intimacy products, and Style by Rayne, has offered up a fab style consultation. I’ll also feature two participants on Girl Boner Radio, who will have the option of chatting with me on the air or having me read and discuss their post on their behalf.

If you’d like to sponsor a prize with a value of $50 or more, contact me by February 14. To donate a smaller prize, such as a book or smaller gift card, feel free to join up with others to create a goodie box!

Tips for bloggers:

  • To ensure more reads, use a creative or otherwise interesting title.
  • For more visibility on social media, include the hashtag #BOAW15 with your title.
  • If you’re wondering if you’re eligible for the fest, the answer is YES. The fest is open to everyone, including guys, poets, visual artists and blogging newbies. The fest is a great way to expand your network of readers, no matter where you are on your journey—all while having a fab, inspiring time.
  • Not sure what to write about? Consider these prompts:

What makes you feel beautiful? What’s helped you embrace your body/appearance as it is? What area are you still working on—or should you? What makes you feel sexy? What helped you embrace, rather than shame, your sexuality? What’s stopping you? How do you define real beauty or sex appeal? Who epitomizes beauty and sexiness, IYO? What advice would you give your younger self or a girl in your life about beauty and/or sexuality? 

Participants’ names and posts will appear in the order you sign up on fest day. The sooner you sign up, the better!

Ready? Set? Sign…up! Simply post a comment below, letting me know which category you’d like to enter: Original or Girl Boner. And feel free to invite your friends! The more celebrants, the better, I say. :)

**For updates and tips along the way, RSVP via the Facebook event page—optional, but recommended!

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