The Book Idea That Took Over My Life

When I revealed the cover for Embraceable last week, Facebook reminded me that my cover reveal for my first novel, In Her Shadow, took place exactly three years before that.

Kinda trippy.

Most everything else, however, was different in my professional life back then. There was no Girl Boner® blog, brand or radio show to speak of. I was focused on my first book release, with my second thriller-in-progress on the back burner.

“I’m going to write a novel per year!” I’d exclaimed numerous times, to which my then agent said, “Great plan!”

In order to build a lasting career, he and others told me my best bet was writing and publishing the next thriller, then the next, then the next.

My heart had other plans.


As the giddy euphoria and hectic-ness of my novel release settled, I honed in on finishing the sequel. I forced myself to plug along, feeling as though I were writing under water—which is quite an awful feeling for a hydra-phobe like me.

I kept recalling an epiphany I’d had several years earlier after an intensely erotic experience (which you can read about in Embraceable) that prompted me to think seriously about sexual empowerment—and, more specifically, my historical and other folks’ lack thereof.

Girl Boner… Girl Boner… Girl Boner…

Long one of my favorite terms used for inside jokes and flirtations, Girl Boner kept bouncing around in my thoughts. (Is anyone else digging that visual???) I had to do something about that term and all it stood for in my mind.

Here’s one of my favorite things about being a deeply sensitive person—as most artists are: We have a low tolerance for angst. What others might be able to brush aside as “no biggie,” we ache over. Cry over. Lose sleep over. Hopefully, at some point, we act. How else would we survive, much less thrive?

So act I did.

One morning I woke up, sat down to work on my novel and screamed at the top of my lungs said, “NO MORE.” That manuscript wasn’t the best place for my energy, I sensed, at least not then. If our hearts aren’t in our work, the work suffers, and so do we. My whole body seemed to exhale as my mind, soul and pen found synchronicity.

I would write a book called Girl Boner, I decided—a good girl’s guide to sexual empowerment. In effort to build a platform to hopefully attract publisher interest, I applied to trademark the term (holy difficult, but worthwhile process), then launched my blog series.


Since then, I’ve switched agents, written several book proposals, gotten praise and rejections from publishers, launched my show, began speaking publicly about all-things-Girl Boner® and decided to publish my first sexuality book (the soon-to-release Embraceable) myself. While I still have lots of growth to cultivate and work to do, I’ve never felt more authentic.

During what’s been an incredibly tumultuous time in the world, it’s easy to feel helpless. I sure have. But I also know at my core that we’re not. We can all make a positive difference by staying true to our paths and asking the right questions of ourselves to ensure we stay on it. This is a practice and a journey for me, something I’m not sure one can ever fully master to a point that the work is no longer necessary. Luckily, the work itself is an awesome reward.

When have you gone with your gut instead of listening to others’ advice? How did it pan out?

EMBRACEABLE Cover Reveal and an Opportunity for Bloggers!

There is little as butterfly-sy and beautiful as a book release—especially when the subject matter practically is your heart. Or so I’m learning!

In the coming weeks, my first non-fiction book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality, will be available. The e-book format will release first, followed by the paperback. To say I’m stoked is a ginormous understatement. (Hey, sometimes oxymorons work. ;))

I’m thrilled to share with you all the front cover, created by gifted artist and illustrator, Emily Ford:

ebook cover v5-3

Here’s how the back cover will read:

A provocative blend of memoir, anthology and inspiration, Embraceable is a celebration of women’s sexual empowerment. Learn how August McLaughlin, creator and host of Girl Boner®, found her way out of the sexual repression to which too many girls and women are prone. She then weaves research and inspiring facts around stories contributed by women who’ve cultivated sexual empowerment in their own lives—on topics ranging from asexuality, kink and burlesque dancing to religion, “slut”-shaming and surviving sexual assault. Learn what girls do (and don’t) learn in sex ed, the truth behind widespread damaging messages, the role body image plays in embracing our sexual selves and more.

Includes a foreword by Susan Harper, PhD and stories by:

Velda Brotherton         Trish Causey     Kitt Crescendo     Elle the Author

Mona Darling    Jean Franzblau     Lana Fox      Erica Garza    Lea Grover

Lauren Jankowski        M      Nicole LaBonde     Emily Linden        Jann Robbins

Kendra Tanner      Rachel Thompson        Dani Longman       Kelly Wilson

Each of these women will be featured on Girl Boner® Radio over the coming months. Some you’ll recognize from earlier episodes. As I mentioned in my last post, they are all powerful examples of bravery in motion. I can’t wait to share their voices and stories!

Opportunity for bloggers:

Girl Boner® is all about conversation, and so is this book! If you’d like to participate in my Embraceable blog tour, please email me here—or directly, if we’re already email connected—sharing a link to your blog. Participating bloggers will send me 5 – 8 questions related to the book (nothing’s off limits!), for a fun chat-style Q&A post to publish on their blog during a designated week starting in January. As a thanks, you’ll receive a Kindle copy of the book upon release. I’ll also promote your post on social media and my blog. I have limited available slots, so please contact me soon, if you’re interested!

You really are, you know—EMBRACEABLE. ♥

Bravery for Breakfast: The “Small” Acts That Change Our Lives

Three years ago last week, I launched Girl Boner® on my blog. I heard a range of reactions when folks first learned of the series. “OHMYGOD, you’re doing porn?” asked one woman. (Um…no. But good guess!) “Girls get BONERS?” asked others. (Yep! Learn more here.)

Numerous others told me how brave I was for openly discussing sexuality. I appreciate that sentiment, trust me—but to me, Girl Boner® has always felt natural and exciting. So while I’ve certainly had my share of giddy butterflies along the way, I’m not sure brave is the term I’d use.

There are many definitions of brave: possessing or fearless, exhibiting courage, daring beyond discretion, to defy. To me, brave doesn’t mean an absence of fear, but moving forward in spite of it. A brave soul lets something greater than fearfulness drive them, often accepting scariness as part of the deal.

I’ll tell you about a time I really felt heroic.

I was in my early twenties, and had decided to turn my life around amid my struggle with a severe eating disorder. I’m not talking about the day I collapsed in Paris many of you are familiar with, but the morning I woke up after an intense binge, having consumed enough to feed a small family for a full day in one sitting. Stomach distended and palms sweating, I sat at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal, struggling to put spoon after spoon in my mouth, reminding myself of the commitment I’d made the night before:

I won’t let you live this way anymore… Try something new.

As I savored these banana pancakes and veggie sausage the other day, the ease wasn't lost on me.

As I savored these banana pancakes and veggie sausage the other day, the ease wasn’t lost on me. #savoredeverybite

To end the binging/starving cycle and heal from the disorder that ruled my every moment, I knew I had to wake up that morning and eat a post-binge breakfast. No attempts to “compensate” through starving. No excessive, self-punishing exercise. Just…breakfast. The seemingly simple act billions of people around the world do daily without much thought seemed to shatter my heart that day, as much as it would begin to make it whole again.

Forcing thoughts of I love you…You’re going to be okay, I made it through the meal I, for once, hadn’t measured or over-analyzed, finding a smidgen of light on the other side. It would take months (upon months) of such efforts, but eventually the “love” I’d professed felt authentic and I wasn’t merely okay, but more vibrantly alive.

Not long after, I began to recognize the link between my body image issues and a lack of sexual empowerment, changing the course of my life and eventually leading me to Girl Boner®. I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had I let E.D. win and skipped that meal that day. Sometimes it’s the seemingly smallest of steps that have the most profound impact.

I’ve had bravery on my mind a lot lately, much thanks to some very special women.

Very soon, I’ll release my first non-fiction book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality. It features not only my own story of self, body and sexual embracement, but those of over fifteen other women who’ve fought their way to the same.

One common thread throughout the book is bravery. It’s tragic to me that embracing our full selves—including our sexuality—has become such a rare and bold act, particularly considering the devastation that can derive if we never do so. All of this, I feel, makes this book and these women’s stories particularly important.

I can’t thank you all enough for sharing in my Girl Boner® journey thus far, and hope you’ll stay tuned for more details on the book. In the meantime, as the incredible author Cheryl Strayed shared at an event last week—on Girl Boner®’s third birthday, as chance or fate would have it—stay brave! I’m cheering for each and every one of you. ♥


When have you felt brave? Has a seemingly “small” act made a huge different in your life? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Imagining An End to Sexual Shame (and an Invite to a Twitter Party)

Remember when your daydreams involved unicorns, exotic vacations and working as a pop DJ in the mountains of India? (Er, maybe that was just me.) Nowadays I fantasize about more important things, like seeing an end to sexual shame.

Imagine what puberty alone would be like if we actually liked and respected our bodies and sexuality beforehand? Can you even visualize it? I’m no psychic, but I can almost guarantee that it would be less of a dizzying world-flip. It might even be empowering.

Sexual shame

Considering the demeaning societal messages and long-held myths surrounding female sexuality, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that girls are at such high risk for depression, anxiety, heightened stress and eating disorders from adolescence on. If only they all saw the glory in their bodies, in their capacity for pleasure, in their innate sexuality—no matter what its specifics. #WhatAWonderfulWorldItWouldBe

Here’s what I think (and lots of research suggests) an end to sexual shame would bring:

♥ Less depression, anxiety and stress

♥ Fewer battles with disordered eating

♥ Happier, healthy intimate relationships

♥ Fewer sexual health problems

♥ Women having more gratifying, orgasmic sex

♥ Less beating oneself up for being “too” or “not enough” anything

♥ A heck of a lot more joyful, authentic living

So how do we get there? It starts in our own lives—making the decision to move forward, then taking the necessary steps to do so. Every effort to more fully embrace our sexuality is a worthy one.

To gab with me, Dr. Megan Fleming and the Artemis Films crew about this subject, play trivia hosted by the super groovy Jess Witkins and potentially win an awesome prize from Good Clean Love, hop onto Twitter between 7 & 8pm PST this Thursday, October 29. Search for the hashtag #WomenKickAss. Learn more more on the Facebook event page. I hope to see you there!

twitter party fb post r1

What steps have you taken to minimize shame around your sexuality? Will you be joining us on Thursday? I love hearing from you!

#AskDrMegan: When Is Porn-Use a Problem?

“Ultimately, sexuality and intimacy are about giving and receiving pleasure.” — Megan Fleming, PhD

Last year after speaking at the National Women’s Studies Association annual conference on ways the digital age affects how women feel about their bodies and sexuality, I hung around to take one-on-one questions. I quickly realized that the entire presentation could’ve easily centered on one of my sub-topics: porn.

“My boyfriend uses it every night and I feel weird about it,” one woman said. “I feel guilty about that—and a little prudish.”

No one is “prudish” for having concerns about porn. It’s common to have mixed feelings about it, especially in a culture with messages around sexuality just as mixed.

“I’m all into visual sexual expression,” said another, “but why is porn so violent and over-the-top?”

Thankfully, it’s not! If you like the concept of porn but find the content offensive, I highly recommend feminist porn as an alternative. The genre dedicated to gender equality and social justice doesn’t demean women, or anyone. IMO, that’s dang sexy. I’m also a big fan of Cindy Gallop’s efforts to bring authenticity into sexy TV. (You can hear my interview with Cindy here.)

So how do you know if porn is detracting from your life or relationship(s)? I couldn’t think of a better resource to explore this than Girl Boner®’s resident relationships expert, Dr. Megan Fleming.

Check out this short video I recorded during my recent NYC visit. You may recognize the audio from the latest Girl Boner® Radio episode. In this excerpt, Dr. Megan answers two common questions about porn-use, including one of the above. I have a feeling you’re going to love what she has to say.

Stream the full episode, which also features my chat with adult star Moe “the Monster” Johnson, on iTunes, Stitcher Radio or my homepage.

How has porn affected your sex life? Any questions of your own you’d like answered on Girl Boner® Radio? As always, I welcome your respectful thoughts! ♥

Bipolar and Hypersexuality: A Chat with Suzy Favor Hamilton

Last week on Girl Boner®, I had the honor of interviewing Suzy Favor Hamilton, a celebrated athlete and three-time Olympian whose newly released memoir Fast Girl — My Life Spent Running From Madness details her struggle with bipolar disorder and the hypersexuality it brought on.

Suzy Favor Hamilton credit Daniel Acuna

Prior to being diagnosed, Suzy led a double-life—one as a mother, wife, realtor and public speaker, another as a high-end escort in Las Vegas. While she doesn’t blame the disorder for that work (and has tremendous respect for sex workers), she doesn’t know how vastly her path would’ve been had she learned of her disorder sooner.

Her story is one we can all learn from, whether we’re directly affected by mental illness or not. In our chat, Suzy shared what it was like growing up with a brother with bipolar, how silence about his illness plagued her family and how she ended up developing an eating disorder and having breast reduction surgery after being shunned for her less stereotypically runner-like body. She talked about the day she made herself fall at Olympic trials when dark thoughts had taken over, why she decided to share the truth publicly and more.

Fast Girl jacket art

I hope you’ll listen to the full interview (links below), but I had to share this particularly insightful portion—a message that should be heard and absorbed by many.

When I asked Suzy what she hopes people will most take away from her story, she said this:

I want people to understand that life I went through all this, but life isn’t a fairytale right now. It’s not all happily ever after. It will be a struggle for the rest of my life. There’ll always be situations that come up about this that I’ll deal with, and I know I’ll deal with them and strength, and no shame.

I want others to feel that the stigma of mental illness should not make them feel shamed—one bit. We need to, as a society, really come together and understand mental illness… It’s an illness, just like cancer. And once the disorder takes over the brain, things are going to happen—look at the rate of suicide, how high that is. We can prevent this by educating ourselves to help the ones around us, to recognize the signs.

I’m hoping that people will read this book and look at bipolar in a different way and reach out to ones that they see destructive behaviors happening. Because my story shows and tells so much that is personal, that always isn’t shown in somebody—so maybe asking the right questions, and looking at my behaviors and asking that hard question about the hypersexuality.

Doctors even have a hard time talking about that. They may be embarrassed. So we need to look at sex in a different way, not as a taboo or in a bad way. There is the component of this disorder and sex, and somehow people have a hard time when it comes to sex and a disorder. They don’t want to talk about it. And we need to go there.”

To listen to our full interview, which also features thoughts from Dr. Megan Fleming on how to differentiate between hypersexuality and a healthy, happens-to-be-high sex drive and more, click one of these links:

iTunes    Stitcher Radio

PS If you’ve enjoyed Girl Boner®, I’d love to have your vote in Kinkly’s Sex Blogging Superhero awards! Simply click this link and then “vote.” Thanks for any support! ♥

6 Ways You May Be Body-Shaming Without Realizing It

I was in New York City recently, celebrating World Sexual Health Day (SO much fun) and doing a heck of a lot of people watching. Observing others, daydreaming about their lives and experiences, is seriously fun—until it reveals bullying.

While watching others people-watch, I heard numerous demeaning remarks about other folks’ appearance. Some were obvious, others not so much.

“She definitely does not have the body for that,” I heard one woman say about another’s yoga outfit. I couldn’t help but butt in: “I think she looks great, and comfortable.” There’s no right or wrong shape or size for particular clothing. We should all feel free to dress as we wish.

body shaming

Do you agree? I sure hope so. If not, I hope you’ll think more about these issues. Criticizing comments may seem like no big deal, but they can cut deep, contributing to larger cultural problems that affect us all.

When we judge and shame others for their aesthetics, we make the world a harsher place—for everyone, but women, especially. Whether we make brash comments aloud or silently, they’re worth eradicating. As a bonus, doing away with negative-other talk allows us more time and energy for goodness.

Here are six common ways people shame others’ appearance, often without realizing it:

1. “She’s obviously had work done.”

Whether or not a woman (or man) has had work done shouldn’t matter to you. Who cares? Many people seem to make this kind of statement as a way to belittle another, with this kind of mentality: If so-and-so had work done, they cheated, thus I win the attractiveness contest. Psst! There’s no contest. At least, there shouldn’t be.

When you find yourself wondering if someone’s had a cosmetic procedure, stop yourself and remind yourself that it doesn’t matter. If you notice they’ve had excessive amounts, have compassion. Chances are, they’re struggling with low self-esteem and body image.

2. “Wow, you look great! Have you lost weight?”

Praising weight loss suggests that you have to be slim to appear attractive or healthy. Society may tout this as true, but it isn’t. Health and beauty come in all shapes and sizes. And people often lose weight for very unfortunate reasons, such as stress or illness.

One of my favorite perks of recover from decades of poor body image—and worse—is the fact that I don’t look at others and see shapes and sizes. I see people. Aim for that. It’s wondrous.

3. “You don’t look that old!”

Sure, it’s impressive when people maintain a sense of youthfulness longterm—but you can be impressed without shunning aging. What’s wrong with being or appearing older? Nada. Aging reflects our paths and experience, which is a groovy thing.

4. “Women’s Halloween costumes are so slutty.”

If you use the word “slut,” other than to discuss the problematic nature of its existence, STOP IT. Please. No matter what a woman wears on Halloween, or any day, is her decision and not shame-worthy. So don’t shame her. For more on this topic, check out my post from last year: What’s Really Wrong About “Slutty” Halloween Costumes.

5. “At least I have legs!”

I’ve heard variations of this many times, and it’s always bothered me. Not until I saw Stella Young’s phenomenal TED Talk recently did I understand fully why. “We’ve been sold the lie that disability is a Bad Thing—capital B, capital T,” she says. It’s not, she explains, adding that our culture objectifies people with disabilities for the benefit of non-disabled people. Here’s an example: You may dislike how your thighs look, but at least you have them! There’s nothing wrong or unattractive about a body without fewer or different parts than yours. Stop shunning them.

6. “Real women have curves (or six-packs or fill-in-the-blank).”

Trust me, I get it. Celebrating curves you have is far better than bashing them—and curvier, heavier-set women get more body-shaming than thin women. But reversing the discrimination isn’t the answer. Suggesting that you must have curves (or a chiseled, muscular look—a newer trend I’ve noticed) insults people without them. That’s not how we do away with societal’s harsh pressure to appear particular unrealistic and limited ways. We rise up by accepting all looks, while not overvaluing any of them.

*For more on this topic, check out the latest on NEON MOON’s blog: The Truth Behind Fake Body Positivity.

Harsh comments about others’ shape, size or appearance typically have a lot more to do with the sayer than the person being talked about. If you’re prone to making these assessments, take a look within. Trust me, some self-work in this area will be well worth the effort.

What body-shaming remarks have you heard lately? Have you made any yourself? What steps will you take to shift your habits for the better? I love hearing from you!

6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” Is a Risky Diet in Disguise

The number of people who say they are dieting is at an all-time low, according to research released in 2013. To anyone who realizes how risky dieting is, fueling everything from nutrient deficiencies to obesity, this could seem like spectacular news. But here’s the thing:

Many people are now dieting without realizing it.

The weight loss industry is extremely smart from a financial standpoint. (They must be, to profit over $60 billion per year.) As dieting’s risks and almost zero percent success rate became widespread knowledge, many diet makers have responded by changing their packaging. “It’s not a diet,” many claim. “It’s a lifestyle plan!”

While this may be true in some cases, I’ve come across loads of “lifestyle plans” that are merely risky diets in disguise. If you’ve developed one or more of the below problems since adopting a dietary plan, it’s time to make some changes.

An unhealthy diet can take many different forms.

6 Signs Your “Lifestyle Plan” is a Risky Diet in Disguise

1. You have wretched breath. Halitosis is a common side effect of ultra-low carbohydrate, aka ketogenic, diets. Without enough carbs, the body releases chemicals that stink up your breath—and that’s only one of many known risks. When I was working as a consulting nutritionist, I could almost always tell if someone was “low-carbing” with one whiff.

2. You’re lethargic and grumpy. There’s a reason psychologists coined the term “Atkins Blues.” Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel source—and the cells in your brain need twice as much as the rest of your body’s cells to function normally, stay energized and produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. (Ideally, most of your carbs will derive from nutritious sources.)

3. You’re anxious and stressed. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common downsides of dieting, and derive from physical and emotional factors. Without enough carbs, your body can’t efficiently produce calming brain chemicals. The highly restrictive nature of many diets also brings a sense of deprivation, which is stressful. You can’t dine out with ease or end up fighting perpetual hunger—which is another red flag.

4. Sleep is a problem. The same chemicals that promote positive moods make way for restful sleep. Consuming too few carbs or calories can make it really difficult to snooze restfully. Stress and anxiety from dieting (aka “lifestyle planning”) can also fuel insomnia. You could also end up exhausted over all, feeling as though all you want to do is stay in bed.

5. You’re prone to diarrhea, constipation or kidney stones. High-protein diets commonly contribute hugely to constipation and kidney stones, especially if you skimp of fiber-rich carb sources, such as legumes. If you can’t stick to a diet plan without taking laxatives (including herbal forms, such as senna or “detox tea”), it’s not a sound plan. Juice fasts that promise detoxification often also cause digestive upset, along with a slew of other complications.

6. Your sex life is suffering. Risky diet plans lack balance. They’re often way too high in protein or far too low in calories, carbs and sometimes fat. All of this can tinker with blood flow, which is crucial for arousal and sexual function, and brain chemicals linked with turn-on and orgasm. Low moods and bad breath from dieting can also make the naked tango less appealing.

So what’s the answer? Listen to your body. Respect it, rather than starve it. Aim for a diet based on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eat when you’re slightly hungry, stop when you’re comfortably full. Avoid diets that make grandiose promises, while, of course, avoiding any foods you’d don’t tolerate. Incorporate enjoyable activity into your lifestyle, cultivate a healthy sleep routine and pursue your passions. (Stress and unhappiness play a huge role in physical health.) Allow some wiggle room for foods you eat purely for enjoyment, keeping in mind that no one eats perfectly. The good news is, you don’t need to.

*If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and they don’t seem diet or lifestyle related, or if they’re severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor. 

Related articles:

Can you relate to this post? What have dietary plans taught you? What steps do you take to gain wellness without losing your self? I love hearing from you! ♥

5 Ways to Choose the Best Shoes for Your Feet #HeelFree

“She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.” — Naomi Wolf

Most articles on choosing the right shoes for your feet aim at managing problems caused or worsened by high heels, or athletes, who tend to care more about their extremities than the average Joanne. One thing my #HeelFree campaign has taught me is that foot care is an invaluable form of self-care. We should all prioritize it.

1. Know your foot type and needs.

Back in my acting and modeling days, I was a leg double for a film actress in a photo shoot. I spent hours walking up and down a runway in shoes that were too small and narrow for my feet—which haven’t been the same since. Shoes that don’t fit aren’t worth it (even if you’re being paid to wear them).

Size is only one important consideration while shoe shopping. Stop by an athletic store or see a podiatrist for a proper fitting. If you have high arches, you need a flexible shoe with good cushioning, says sports physician Dr. Low Wye Mu. If you have flatter feet, you need greater arch support and stability. If you have bunions you’ll need a roomier toe box, and all shoes should fit comfortably—while you’re sitting, standing and walking.

Women are encouraged to have fittings for bras, dresses and even jeans—yet our shoes, apparel that play a significant role in our safety and well-being, get little attention…until something bad happens.

2. Avoid heels.

If you really want to prevent or manage foot and body pain, keep your body in proper alignment and guard against heel-related injuries, such as sprains and fractures, and chronic conditions, such as bunions and osteo-arthritis, you’ve got to stick to supportive shoes. If you simply can’t let go of taller, angular shoes yet, shift to lower heels. While you’re at it, limit time wearing them. (To learn more about high-heel risks, click here.)

3. Avoid non-supportive flats, too.

While they don’t offset your alignment or bring as much pain as heels, flip flops aren’t the safest or most supportive bet either. Don’t make flip flops, ballet slippers and anything that strips of material tied on with string your regulars. Wear them around the house, if you’d like. Take your flip flops to the beach. For other daily activity, stick to more supportive options such as quality flats, walking clogs or sandals, athletic shoes and heel-free boots.

4. Invest in quality.

Very often, we get what we pay for in the shoe department. In some cases, lower prices brings the greater risk. A recent study showed that women have an average of 20 pairs of shoes. I’d rather have five or six pairs of sturdy, comfy shoes that cost a bit more than loads of cheap, potentially hurtful ones. Find deals by shopping the clearance section of athletic and quality shoe stores. (These shoes are often simply last season’s model, and still great quality.) As a bonus, quality shoes last far longer. The investment will pay for itself over time.

The turquoise number are Pasadena Drea sandals by Dansko—love them!

The turquoise number are Pasadena Drea sandals by Dansko—love them!

5. Choose styles you dig.

No matter what your shape, size or height, you can look and feel sexy in ultra-supportive shoes. (Shut up, society. You’re wrong.) To do so, you’ve got to shop for shoes that bring you joy, says motivational stylist Rayne Parvis of Style by Rayne. “If you’re going to go out and buy cheap flip flops, they’re not going to bring you joy,” she said on Girl Boner® Radio last week. Choose styles and prints you love, she suggests. Dress in color and start seeing your own beauty precisely as you are.

To learn more about #HeelFree fashion and ways to feel sexy no matter what your height or size, listen our chat here or watch the video below. The episode also features Shannon Hammer, a healthy living advocate who overcame decades of disordered eating.

What’s your favorite pair of comfy shoes? How much time and consideration do you invest in foot care? What’s your favorite way to nurture your feet? I love hearing from you! ♥

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.

Circulation in business

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

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


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