11 Fun Facts About “Embraceable”

At least I find them fun. I’m only slightly biased. ūüėČ

Embraceable is currently being formatted for publishing. (Woo hoo!) I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some tid bits/teasers about the book.

‚ô¶ Susan Harper, PhD, who penned the foreword, is an educator, writer, activist and advocate for a variety of groovy causes, including LGBTQ equality, gender equality, partner and sexual violence prevention and healthcare equality.

‚ô¶ My memoir portion starts with an, um, bang‚ÄĒa literally climactic experience that changed my life.

‚ô¶ You’ll then read my “Does Dirt Have Calories” and sex ed stories, fleshed out (no pun intended) and in context.

‚ô¶ Numerous of the story contributors have uniquely spiffy jobs, including professional cuddling and sex work.

♦ Several authors (and their stories) are religious. Another wrote about escaping a cult.

‚ô¶ The story contributors range in age, from 20-something to 70-plus.

‚ô¶ Several women who either contributed a story or agreed to an interview with me requested anonymity for safety reasons, privacy or both.

‚ô¶ One of the contributors was married to one of the world’s best-selling authors of all time. (And that’s only one of many fascinating things about her.)

‚ô¶ Editing the stories (before passing them off to the awesome Mike Sirota for final edits) was challenging and rewarding. It was an honor‚ÄĒand, admittedly, nerve-racking‚ÄĒto hold women’s deeply intimate, personal stories in my hands, making changes I hoped would make them shine even brighter.

‚ô¶ A couple of the stories made me laugh out loud. Many are heart-wrenching. All of them inspire me.

‚ô¶ 100 percent of the proceeds will go to my work and advocacy to empower girls and women to embrace their sexuality, bodies and selves.

Embraceable book cover red

Embraceable will be available via Amazon and iTunes soon!

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¬ģ 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.

‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to write a novel per year!‚ÄĚ I‚Äôd exclaimed numerous times, to which my then agent said, ‚ÄúGreat plan!‚ÄĚ

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.

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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‚ÄĒwhich is quite an awful feeling for a hydra-phobe like me.

I kept recalling an epiphany I‚Äôd 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‚ÄĒand, more specifically, my historical and other folks‚Äô 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‚Äôs one of my favorite things about being a deeply sensitive person‚ÄĒas most artists are: We have a low tolerance for angst. What others might be able to brush aside as ‚Äúno biggie,‚ÄĚ 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, ‚ÄúNO MORE.‚ÄĚ That manuscript wasn‚Äôt the best place for my energy, I sensed, at least not then. If our hearts aren‚Äôt 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‚ÄĒa good girl‚Äôs 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.

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Since then, I‚Äôve switched agents, written several book proposals, gotten praise and rejections from publishers, launched my show, began speaking publicly about all-things-Girl Boner¬ģ 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‚Äôve never felt more authentic.

During what’s been an incredibly tumultuous time in the world, it‚Äôs easy to feel helpless. I sure have. But I also know at my core that we‚Äôre 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‚Äôm 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? ‚ô•

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‚Äôt make huge income quickly or at all through their books‚ÄĒthough 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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‚Äôs editor‚ÄĒwho‚Äôs also a prolific author‚ÄĒMike Sirota says on his blog, ‚ÄúYou‚Äôve already put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, time, and coffee into your story, so why dash to the finish line?‚ÄĚ

4. Credible editorial¬†reviews ‚ÄĒ potentially helpful

Kirkus Reviews reviews indie-authors‚Äô 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‚Äôm 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 ‚ÄĒ 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. ♥

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‚ÄĒincluding 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‚ÄĒincluding 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!¬†‚ô•

The Question Too Many Women Ask

I’m just returning from a fabulous trip to my old stomping grounds‚ÄĒthe Twin Cities, in Minnesota‚ÄĒwhere I gave a talk on blogging at the Bloomington Writers Festival. Afterwards, an attendee emailed me (let’s call her Kat), thanking me for giving her permission to explore whatever topic she wishes on her blog. She often holds herself back, she explained, for fear of what others will think.

“So here’s what I’m thinking of covering,” she wrote, then listed¬†incredibly unique and insightful topics. “You honestly don’t think people will think I’m weird or crazy for these? Sorry to ask again, but I’m nervous and could use some reassurance!”

What a kick-ass woman, right?¬†I love that she’s planning to step out of her comfort zone and reached out for support.¬†She didn’t need to apologize, of course, but I imagine most of us can relate to what she’s experiencing‚ÄĒthat apology included.

On the plane ride back to LA, I spent¬†some¬†time daydreaming preparing for upcoming radio segments (okay, same thing). Tomorrow, I’ll interview¬†Stephanie Berman, creator of an intimacy product that helps lesbian couples get pregnant.

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Who wouldn’t daydream to this? View of the Grand Canyon, from my plane window

Amid controversy and criticism, Stephanie has succeeded, and continues to better the lives of many. I plan to ask her how she’s managed to deal with naysayers, answers to which I think will apply to the most brutal type: those that rise up within¬†ourselves.

I’ll also¬†answer a few questions from listeners,’ which happen to tie into this theme. Nearly every email I receive from listeners features similar lingo, and while the specifics vary, they ask virtually the same question. Women want to know, “Am I normal?” I think they’re really asking, “Am I okay?”

We want to be¬†extraordinary and unique, but without ruffling anyone’s feathers; to feel beautiful just the way we are, but without others judging us harshly against their standards; to live full, authentic lives, but without¬†letting others down by not living up to their expectations.

If we truly want¬†extraordinary, authentic lives in which our dreams not only come true, but better the lives of others (which is exactly what authentic lives and dream-work do), we’ve got to kick those BUTs and ‘their’ worries out the window. It’s not often easy, but learning to shift the focus from self-doubt to self-¬†awareness and embracement¬†may be the closest thing to magic I know¬†of.

Ask questions and seek support, particularly when it comes to important yet wrongfully taboo topics¬†like¬†sexuality. When you find yourself asking questions that have more to do with doubting yourself¬†than a particular thought or behavior, though, dig deeper: Why are you doubting? What’s the worst that could happen? Does what others think of you matter more to you than leading a happy, healthy life?

My Minnesota trip ended with a visit with my first modeling agent, Teqen, who I hadn’t seen in years.¬†He was one of the first to offer support when I was diagnosed with anorexia, regardless of the fact that my hiatus to focus on healing meant that I¬†wouldn’t¬†be bringing any cash or esteem to their company.

“What you do isn’t important to us,” he said back then. “What matters is who you are.”

I’ve held those words close to my heart ever since. More than a decade later, Teqen and the Vision crew¬†continue to embrace me as family. I feel the same way about them.

The reunion was another¬†illustration to me just how powerful self-embracement is. Gone are the days when I let insecurity cloud my days, keeping me from living, except from a distance. Back then, I’d have worried that he was judging me, that I’d say the wrong thing or simply would not have shown up. I certainly couldn’t have written authentically then.

Instead, I reconnected with a friend of the truest variety, the kind who cares more about your soul and well-being than your details.

We’ll always doubt ourselves on occasion; it’s part of being human. What’s important is not letting it stifle us. Doing away with a self-doubt mindset allows us to be more¬†present and grateful in our lives and for others, rather than caught up in, “Am I okay?” Because, quirks and all, there’s never a doubt that we are. The only permission needed to get there is our own.

August and Teqen

Reunion with Teqen

“…and the day came when the risk to remain tight, in a bud, became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”Elizabeth Appell

The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV: Wrap-Up + Prize Winners! #BOAW2015

‚ÄúFor beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.‚Ä̬†‚Äē Audrey Hepburn, poem by Sam Levenson

Wow, what a week! You are all such rockstars. The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV reached thousands, no doubt inspiring as many. I was blown away by the uniqueness, poignancy and boldness of this year’s contributions.

I was also moved by participants’¬†support of one another. So before we get to the raffle prizes, I’m thrilled to¬†announce¬†a brand new prize category:

Fab Fester Awards!

The following participants not only contributed remarkably insightful posts, but supported other festers the most, through thoughtful comments, shares and overall interaction. They epitomize what makes the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest not only fun and inspiring, but successful in reaching so many.

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Kate, Kitt, Patricia and Karen, THANK YOU! Please accept this blog badge, to share on your sites as you wish. ♥ Thanks also to the multitalented Amber West for helping me make this superhero look beautifully human!

Highlights from Fab Festers’¬†posts:

‚ÄúThe idea, perpetuated by our society, that women should hide their sensuality, reject their sexuality, and diminish their emotions hit home far stronger that day than it ever has before. These women did none of that. They flirted, undulated, and flaunted their feminine asses off. They were bold, beautiful, and brassy. Their emotion captivated, their strength inspired, their vulnerability enthralled.‚Ä̬†‚ÄĒ Kate Wood

“It‚Äôs all about ownership. Of herself. Her body. Her wants and needs. Does it mean she has to be the aggressor? Only if she wants to be. But it does mean that she‚Äôs responsible to communicate. To explore her own body and discover what feels good.” ‚ÄĒ Kitt Crescendo

‚ÄúI worry about the world today, where the media focus is more frequently on stereotypes that deliver a skewed vision of ‚Äúbeauty‚ÄĚ to fertile young minds. I want my granddaughter, and all girls, to grow up in a world that is safe. A world that gives the right messages.¬†I want girls to grow up proud, confident, educated, and kind-hearted, with a strong social conscience.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ Patricia Sands

‚ÄúPerhaps beauty is the key to the door of equality that we cannot seem to unlock. Far too often beauty has been seen as a barrier rather than as an avenue to equanimity‚Ķ¬†The beauty of a woman is in her having the freedom to be who she is, free to evolve as the unique human she was born to be.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ KM Huber

Raffle Prize Winners!

Huge thanks to our wonderful sponsors, and all of you who entered the raffle by supporting others, the fest and these companies! Here are the lucky winners:

1: Style by Rayne Virtual Styling Consult + a Bathing Suit From Sunsets Inc + Corpus Dei Perfume by Natalie Bolton WINNER: Michelle Williams

2: #BOAW2015 Original Artwork, created by A’driane Nieves and Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson + #YouSparkle affirmation sticky notes  (2 prizes) WINNER: Jess Witkins & Kate Wood

3: Organic Intimacy Prize Pack from Good Clean Love WINNER: Alica McKenna Johnson

4: Two 12×12 Highly-Textured Original Contemporary Arylic Paintings by artist, Stephen Vanek, donated by Jan Morrill WINNER: Brandi Dagwan

5. Rekindle Your Desire Workshop Pack from Dr. Megan Fleming WINNER: Kitt Crescendo

6: Professional Manuscript Evaluation, from Jenny Redbug WINNER: Jenny Hansen

7: Filmmaking Q&A + a Signed Women Kick Ass Postcard, from Melanie Wise, founder of the Artemis Film Festival WINNER: Susie Lindau

Mini-Features on Girl Boner Radio:

I selected Lana Fox and Shan Jeniah, for their brave and insightful Girl Boner posts. Thank you, ladies! ♥

NOTE FOR WINNERS: I’ll send the¬†sponsor of your prize the¬†name and email address¬†associated with your raffle or fest entry.¬†If you do not¬†receive an email within the next¬†few days, please contact me.

Lastly, I would love your feedback! If you have a minute or two, please complete this survey so that I can keep improving the fest you’ve all made so wonderful.

What was¬†your fest experience like?¬†Any highlights to share? I love hearing from you, and hope you’ll join us next year¬†for the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest V! ‚ô•

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:

‚ô• 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 page: http://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.

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

‚ô• 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!)

‚ô• 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. ūüôā

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.

‚ô• August

The Banned and the Beautiful: Celebrating Women Writers

‚ÄúHow wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.‚Ä̬†‚ÄĒ 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.

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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‚ÄĒin 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‚ÄĒloving 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.

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.” ‚ÄĒ 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.

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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‚ÄĒpoignantly, 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:

‚ô• 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.

‚ô• 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!

‚ô• 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‚ÄĒbecause, well, you’re spectacular!¬†Toward 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‚ÄĒall 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‚ÄĒor 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‚Ķup! 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. ūüôā

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

Patience and Epiphanies: Maximizing the In-Between Time

“Dreams take more than hard work.¬†They take passion, perseverance, authenticity and the ability to sit still for more than a few milliseconds at a time without pulling¬†your hair out.” – me

When I was a tyke, my mom gave¬†me¬†“quiet time” in the corner when I became too much of a handful, which was often. I recall standing with my nose in the corner for hours, aching with all of my might to¬†jump, dance, sing and sprint around the house, wondering how I could possibly survive this¬†torture!¬†A few years ago, I learned that I rarely¬†stood there for more than a few minutes. It seems how we spend the in-between time¬†makes a big ‘ol difference.

My Girl Boner book proposals (yep, multiple) have been in the hands of the same considering publisher for over a year, or 10.6 million years in 3-year-old-ese. I suppose I’ve grown up a little, as¬†as much as I’d anticipated¬†a swifter¬†process, I honestly haven’t felt impatient.¬†I’m grateful for their interest and my agent’s diligence as¬†we work to find the best way to package my work. Even so, I’ve been unsure lately¬†whether the process is going as it should‚ÄĒparticularly as more time passes. I’m at what you might call a watershed moment. Which is exciting.

I’ve learned to trust the path, keep my options open and follow my instincts. Rather than allow myself to feel impatient or tortured with my nose in the corner, I now work on myself, craft and career, as dedicated creatives¬†do. Recently, I’ve added meditation to the mix, a practice I’d long¬†deemed impossible for my monkeys-partying brain. I can’t tell you how transformative it’s been. Perhaps that’s why my perceived confusion¬†of late¬†feels like a watershed.

Waldo finds himself

Most of all, I continue to pursue my passions, even when I don’t know precisely where I’m headed career-wise. I’m guessing some of you can relate‚ÄĒyes?

If so, you know that such efforts pay off in all sorts of ways. I adore my show, listeners and readers, have some awesome speaking engagements and¬†potential film and TV projects on the horizon, and can feel myself growing in ways I can’t quite articulate.¬†And yet, something seems missing. (All of you who relate to this, too, say AYE.)

So I asked myself the other day: Self!¬†What is missing? What would fill that elusive void that’s keeping¬†your panties¬†in a bunch?

August McLaughlin blog

Almost immediately, women flashed in my mind‚ÄĒthe many I’ve interviewed, heard from and spoken to since Girl Boner was born. It isn’t the¬†the delay in securing a publishing contract that irks me, I realized. It’s that¬†I’m not doing as much as I could for these women. Simply writing that brought tears, as YOW went¬†my heart.

That doesn’t mean I’m rushing off to self-publish, though I’m always grateful that’s an¬†option. I am, however, committing to doing more. Later this week, I’ll share one of the stories I wrote for my¬†initial proposal, based on an interview with a courageous woman named Butterfly. I can’t wait to hear what you all think. While many women have inspired me these past few years, seldom does a day or week go by that I don’t think of Butterly.

In the meantime, here¬†some quotes I love that can help us¬†maximize the¬†in-between time, whether you’re between projects, seeking representation or simply aren’t living the life of your dreams just yet:

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” ‚ÄĒ¬†Oprah Winfrey

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”¬†‚ÄĒ Joyce Meyer

quiet butterfly quote

‚ÄúYou need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” ‚ÄĒ Sarah Ban Breathnach

“It’s not about what I can get, it’s what I can give.” ‚ÄĒ Marie Forleo, Super Soul Sunday

Can you relate to any of this? How do you move forward when things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d hoped? Are you meditating, like me and Waldo? I love hearing from you!¬†‚ô•