Young Adult Summer Scavenger Hunt: Secret Word

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Young Adult Summer Scavenger Hunt: Secret Word

Young Adult Scavenger Hunters—thanks for stopping by!

If you’re here for the young adult summer scavenger hunt, you’ve come to the right place. Hopefully, you’ve already visited the stop ahead of me, Debbie Manber Kupfer. I know you’ve got lots of stops to make, so we’ll keep this one short. My secret word is further down so keep reading…

For those of you having problems finding it, as the rules stated, my secret word is in bold type and all caps. It’s in the text of the post itself, so just keep reading this post and you’ll find it.

Book Banner for Alchemy Empire books #1-3

As part of the scavenger hunt, I’m doing a giveaway of my own. If you enter, you’ll have a chance to win 1 of 10 box sets (ebook format) of my Alchemy Empire series #1-3.

And one lucky person will also win the grand prize—a handmade steampunk journal made by yours truly. This journal is blank inside for writing or art, and the cover is a steampunk-themed mixed media collage.

Steampunk mixed-media altered art journal

I’ll do the drawing on June 8th, the day after the scavenger hunt ends.

By entering, you’ll be signing up for my mailing list. You’ll also receive a free novel, If Two Trains Leave At Midnight, a young adult contemporary romance with a bit of humor and a bit of magical realism.

If Two Trains Leave At Midnight 3d book cover

High school senior Cate Morely secretly wants to be a writer, but her parents are pushing her toward math and science. When she has to hire her own math tutor, she turns to middle-school nemesis Gavin Blake, who is now a geeky-cool math genius in college. She’s surprised to find how much in common they really have, but their budding romance is threatened when secrets get revealed. It might take a Dungeons and Dragons group, a steampunk larp (Live Action Role Play) date, a British celebrity heartthrob, and a giant, invisible talking swan (yes, really) to help this word nerd and math geek find the solution to the trickiest equation of all—each other.


I’ve got other goodies too, for those who choose to stay on my list—digital art pieces I’ve created, news on other promotions and giveaways, and excerpts from my other novels. My newsletter comes out 4x a year, and in total, once the initial email series is done, you’ll hear from me maybe 1-2 times a month. I respect your privacy and do not share or sell any email addresses.

If this giveaway sounds like something THAT you’d like to be a part of, take a minute to enter the giveaway at the link below before heading to N. M. Howell’s page!

>>>>> I Want To Win Steampunk Books and Journal! <<<<<

 

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Young Adult Fiction Summer Scavenger Hunt Coming June 1-7, 2017!

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Young Adult Fiction Summer Scavenger Hunt Coming June 1-7, 2017!

I’m so excited to be joining about 140 other young adult authors for a mega scavenger hunt June 1-7, 2017! The details and rules are below, but basically, you collect key words from a post on each author’s page and that makes a secret “legend” that you’ll submit to be entered for a grand prize–a $500 Amazon gift card.

Along the way, most of us are also holding our own giveaways and contests, too. I will be doing a drawing for an ebook box set of all three Alchemy Empire books to 10 winners who join my Wildwood Missives email list, as well as a grand prize to one of those winners for a handmade (by me) steampunk journal. This grand prize is a package worth $70.

Steampunk mixed-media altered art journal for the 2017 summer young adult fiction scavenger hunt

I’m sending this altered-art, mixed-media steampunk journal to one lucky scavenger hunt participant!

Here are the full rules and the list of participating young adult authors–scope them out before the scavenger hunt starts!

In June, the Alliance of Young Adult Authors is sponsoring a massive young adult scavenger hunt. This is a chance to meet some new authors, grab a bunch of free books, and sign up to win a whole bunch of epic prizes!

RULES

Each author will be given a special keyword, which will be bolded and all caps like this: BUTTERFLIES.

All you have to do is visit all the author’s sites in this order, write down the special keywords to discover the short story, then enter the giveaway with the completed secret legend HERE.

There will be one main giveaway for the main prize, but most of the participating authors will also have smaller giveaways for free books, amazon credit and author swag, so make sure you read their post carefully to see what else they’re offering while you’re on their site for the keyword.

THE MAP (participating authors)

  1. Cindy Ray Hale
  2. Katherine Bogle
  3. Melle Amade
  4. David Kudler
  5. A.M. Yates
  6. Alethea Kontis
  7. Stevie Rae Causey
  8. Katlyn Duncan
  9. Debbie Manber Kupfer
  10. Meredith Rose
  11. N.M. Howell
  12. Lara Ann
  13. K.M. Robinson
  14. J.A. Culican
  15. Heather Karn
  16. Rob L. Slater
  17. Dylan Keefer
  18. Sarah K. Wilson
  19. L.J. Higgins
  20. Gina Marie Long
  21. Em Kazmierski
  22. Travis Hall
  23. Heather Young-Nichols
  24. Anna Santos
  25. J.L. Weil
  26. Jo Schneider
  27. Rebecca Fernfield
  28. Kristin D. Van Risseghem
  29. Martine Lewis
  30. Tara Benham
  31. Stacy Claflin
  32. Beth Hammond
  33. Erica Cope
  34. Nicole Zoltack
  35. Char Webster
  36. Sabrina Ramoth
  37. T.J. Muir
  38. Raquel Lyon
  39. Beth Rodgers
  40. S.L. Beaumont
  41. Eva Pohler
  42. Melanie McFarlane
  43. Cheryllynn Dyess
  44. Audrey Rich
  45. Amanda Zieba
  46. Sandie Will
  47. Elle Scott
  48. Angie Grigaliunas
  49. Ashley Maker
  50. Mandy Peterson
  51. Audrey Grey
  52. Elisa Dane
  53. Amy McNulty
  54. Melinda Cordell
  55. Monica Leonelle
  56. Claire Luana
  57. Frost Kay
  58. Preeti C. Sharma
  59. Bentz Deyo
  60. April Wood
  61. Lena Mae Hill
  62. Angel Leya
  63. Wendi Wilson
  64. Wendy Knight
  65. Chogan Swan
  66. Tamara Hart Heiner
  67. Norma Hinkens
  68. Patti Larsen
  69. Megan Crewe
  70. Jamie Thornton
  71. Jessie Renée
  72. T.A. Maclagan
  73. Lydia Sherrer
  74. Phyllis Moore
  75. P.D. Workman
  76. J.A. Armitage
  77. K.N. Lee
  78. Angela Fristoe
  79. Rhonda Sermon
  80. G.K. DeRosa
  81. Erin Richards
  82. Ali Winters
  83. Larissa C. Hardesty
  84. Kristine Tate
  85. Debra Kristi
  86. Bella Rose
  87. Cortney Pearson
  88. Jeff Kohanek
  89. Kristal Shaff
  90. Rachel Morgan
  91. Emma Right
  92. C.L. Cannon
  93. Joanne Macgregor
  94. Lindsey Loucks
  95. Farah Kuck
  96. Erin Hayes
  97. Jesikah Sundin
  98. Dorothy Dreyer
  99. Danielle Annett
  100. C.J. Ethington
  101. L.C. Hibbett
  102. Madeline Dyer
  103. Katie John
  104. Nicole Schubert
  105. Rachel Medhurst
  106. Tee G Ayer
  107. May Freighter
  108. Heather Dyer
  109. Jen Minkman
  110. J.L. Gillham
  111. Karen Tomlinson
  112. Kate Haye
  113. Megan Linski
  114. Martina Billings
  115. Jo Ho
  116. Brian King
  117. Inna Hardison
  118. Rachel Bateman
  119. Sally Henson
  120. J.L. Hendricks
  121. A.L. Knorr
  122. T.M. Franklin
  123. Konstanz Silverbow
  124. felisha Antonette
  125. Jake Devlin
  126. S.F. Benson
  127. Laurie Treacy
  128. Emily Martha Sorensen
  129. Leia Stone
  130. T. Rae Mitchell
  131. J. Keller Ford
  132. Kat Stiles
  133. Jessica Hawke
  134. Elyse Reyes
  135. Sophie Davis
  136. Bianca Scardoni
  137. Jenetta Penner
  138. David R. Bernstein
  139. Olivia Wildenstein
  140. Derek Murphy
 Starts June 1st!

Just go through the “treasure map” above to find the keywords and reconstruct the secret legend. Once you’ve got it, enter for the grand prize HERE. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for other giveaways or free books as you search for the keywords, most authors will be offering their own prizes as well!

For rules, updates or trouble-shooting, make sure to check out this main post which will stay updated.

Young Adult Fiction Summer Scavenger Hunt 2017: 1. Follow the map and visit each young adult author's website. 2. Find the secred word and enter more giveaways. 3. Reconstruct the "lost story" to win the grand prize. Get dozens of free books just for playing!

TIMELINE

Authors will post the rules and the full list of participating authors sometime in June, and have their post up and visible on their site/blog, with their keyword, by June 1st. Readers just need to go through the list, find the words, and use the story to enter for the grand prize.

I hope to see lots of you–if you love young adult fiction, this is the scavenger hunt you’ve been waiting for!

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Is This the "Best" Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Have to Offer?

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Is This the "Best" Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Have to Offer?

NPR’s “Best” Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels–Dated and Sexist

I just read this interesting article in The New Statesman written by avid science fiction and fantasy reader, Liz Lutgendorff, who decided to read all 100 of NPR’s list of “best” science fiction and fantasy novels.

She writes in the article’s opening:

When it comes to the best of anything, what do you expect? If it’s science fiction and fantasy novels you want epic adventures and getting out of impossible situations. But what you often get is barely disguised sexism and inability to imagine any world where women are involved in the derring-do.

She goes on to detail some of the worst offenders on the list, both for science fiction and fantasy. From ubiquitous rape with no consequences to utter passivity to a lack of genuine emotions or relevance to the plot, the faults of these novels in their representation of women are numerous and sobering. She describes the disgust she felt by the time she finished the list and how it almost ruined her favorite genres for her.

It raised some questions for me:

  1. Who at NPR compiled this list and what criteria did they use? Did they think about the representation of women and minority groups? Or did they just go by “common wisdom” or nostalgia?
  2. Why are these novels considered the “best”? Lutgendorff mentions that several were considered ground-breaking or progressive for their times. In what way? Who decided that? How did they define “ground-breaking”?
  3. Along with that, why are there few recent books on the list? Have there been no ground-breaking science fiction or fantasy novels in the last fifteen years?

There isn’t just one definition of “best.” And that’s the biggest problem with NPR’s list. Along with that, NPR is hampered by their reputation of being a bit more high-brow than the general masses. One reason they probably didn’t include more recent books on the list is because science fiction and fantasy are popular fiction genres–meaning they aren’t seen as “literary” by academic or critical circles–the circles that are an important part of the NPR audience. NPR would face scorn if they placed current popular fiction on that list. The older books can be pointed to as “classic” now, which gives them a more refined sheen. They are less likely to be in the hands of teenagers or have movie adaptations or anything else that would point to widespread pop culture acceptance. So it’s more acceptable to put them on a “best” list.

But in terms of representation, there are far more ground-breaking science fiction and fantasy novels now than ever before. I would like to see “best” explored in more depth. What does it mean to be “best”–by whose criteria? A novel might be “best” in one area and utter rubbish in another. There are recent novels that most people generally agree are badly written but whose impact and reach are undeniable. There are others that are beautifully written and ground-breaking, but hardly anyone has heard of them. Fifty years from now, there will be science fiction and fantasy books from 2015 that will be considered classics. That won’t mean they were the “best”–it only means they managed to survive longer than other books that may have been equally good.

This is why, in spite of some of the things I really dislike about GoodReads, I love Goodreads Listopia. So what if Goodreads doesn’t have the literary snob appeal of NPR? (And I love NPR, for the record, okay? But let’s face it–literary snob appeal abounds.) Any list, anywhere, compiled by a wider array of readers will have a better chance of providing fairer representation than a list compiled by one (or even a few) people at an organization that has a high-brow reputation to uphold.

With something like Goodreads, I can narrow down how I’m defining “best” for my purposes. “Best Fantasy Books With Gay Main Characters” or “Non-Caucasian Protagonists In Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Paranormal Romance” or “Best Strong Female Fantasy Novels” or “Best Steampunk Books.” These lists are moderated, but anyone can add to them, so there’s a better chance of a wide variety of reader perspectives being included. I may not agree with every inclusion on the list, but at least I know many voices–instead of only one or two–are being heard. And I know what criteria is being applied to define “best.”

I think the difference is in purpose. NPR’s list’s purpose seems to be for honor and recognition of science fiction and fantasy books they deemed to have made an important contribution to the genres–mainly in the past. I suppose that is a fine purpose, though it seems to be largely ignoring contributions made by women and minority writers. Goodreads’ Listopia purpose seems to be to connect readers with books they will have a good chance of enjoying right now–whether or not those books are considered classics fifty years from now.

As a reader, I know which list I’d rather try. As a writer, I’d love to find myself on an NPR list someday–it’s definitely an honor, but I’d much rather have my books on a Goodreads list where readers who will enjoy them can find them.

Source: I read the 100 “best” fantasy and sci-fi novels – and they were shockingly offensive

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Sun

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Sun

This is Part 4 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Here are the previous posts relating to the fashion editorial:

Part One: Introduction explaining why I did the fashion editorial 

Part Two: the “Trapped” set

Part Three: the “Warrior” set

I will add a link to the final post in the fashion editorial series when it’s up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Gaia

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Lioness

There is a time to fight

to rage

to hunt with the

skill of a lioness

to wage a private war

against the darkness

of the soul

and fears

and lies

that bind the heart

and wound the mind

for all of this

there is a time

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Walking in Light

But now I walk

bathed in light,

The hours are golden

And I am right to take off

the armor,

lay down the spear

the more I stop caring

about what you think

the less I fear

the dark

the more I embrace

who I really am

and fall in love with living,

the more I am at peace.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: I SeeI see you now in a different light

the candles, the fight, the way

you saw me and

how I saw myself

it wasn’t right—any of it—

broken, jagged shards

making you my enemy

when what we really are

and always will be

are fellow wanderers

on this journey

together

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Resting

I close my eyes to rest,

to breathe

for once not haunted

by what I’ve been told

by what I’ve seen

or the fears of what will happen

if I dare to be

more than what you thought

I should.

 Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Dreaming

I dream

of love that burns away

the hate and lies

a love so strong

that judgment dies

and all that remains

is the fiery knowledge

that there is a time

to learn to be wise

to open my eyes to what is true:

that you,

that I,

we are part of something good

sacred

divine

and beneath all the pain

that drives us apart

what matters is

I must see your heart.

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Eyes Open

If you like my writing, you should check out my books! My latest project is a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Flowers” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page. All fashion editorial photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Enemy

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Enemy

This is Part 3 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Read part one here (intro), part two here (the “Trapped” photo set), and part four here (the “Flowers” photo set). I will add links to the other posts relating to the fashion editorial once all of them are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Minerva

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Who I AmThey think they know me.

They’ve got me filed, slotted, defined.

Fenced in by the color of my skin

my hair

my eyes

the size of the gap between my thighs

and my waist-to-hip ratio.

 

They think they can

tell me who I am

because anyone who says the things I say

can only be a certain way.

It has to fit the pattern.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: ArmorFools. They only see the things

I let them see.

It’s all body armor, down to the last dangly earring

protection from prying eyes and sharp tongues

a shield for my heart.

They can’t see inside of me

where every day I do battle

against the echoes of their voices

their faithful soldiers warring on

long after they have gone.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Silent BattleI fight their quiet whispers.

A sword makes no sound as it slices through flesh,

so it is with words

and images

the unspoken ways they have

of cutting up my heart.

 

I fight

a silent battle

against their judgment

against their hate

against the part of me that waits

for them to change and wants their love.

I battle that most of all.

 

I’ve come to see

they’re not my enemy

not really.

It’s me.

But I’m still trying to find

a suit of armor for my mind.

Can I negotiate a truce

for peace

or will this struggle never cease

between the part of me that’s soft and cares

what they believe

and this warrior rising up, she

who laughs at their demands

like a goddess

who doesn’t give a damn?

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Warrior Rising

If you enjoyed this poem, please give my books a try too! Right now, I’m writing a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Warrior” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page. All photos from the fashion editorial are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Dark

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Dark

This is Part 2 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Read part one here–it explains what the fashion editorial was all about. Part 3 is here: Facing the EnemyPart 4 is here: Facing the Sun. I will add links to the other posts once all of them are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Nyx

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot photoFear the night

dark impulses of

passion

dream-drenched mist

curling at the edge

of wakeful thoughts

 

Stay near the fire

don’t question the light

it’s everything that makes

man good and right

and safe and

all that the wild things

can never be

even though they

not you

are free.
Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

Be beautiful

but don’t be vain

you’re here to

fill our eyes

and flame

desire

in your cage of

candlelight

hide yourself

the sight

of you

makes shadows

of us all

it’s your fault

that we fall

 

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot photo

You’re everything

we love

we hate

ideal

shame

you captivate

 

Be more

yet less

be good

yet never good enough

think

but not too deeply

lest you hear the voice

inside you

saying

 

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

It’s time

to leave

this cage of man-made light

where nothing you do

will ever be good

or right or beautiful

enough

it’s time

to cut the vines of fear

 

The night

is beauty too

and you

cannot be free

as long as you

are here.

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

Did you enjoy this poem? Then I’d love to show you my books! I’m especially excited about my current project: a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Trapped” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page.  All fashion editorial photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or fashion editorial photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Camera

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Camera

This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on the photoshoot. You can find the other parts of this series here:

Part 2: Facing the Dark (“Trapped” set)

Part 3: Facing the Enemy (“Warrior” set)

Part 4: Facing the Sun (“Flower” set)

I will add links to the other posts once they are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

In June, 2013, an eclectic group of eight descended on a seedy extended-stay hotel outside Council Bluffs, IA. Their mission: to transform a weedy vacant lot into a magical wildwood, and to transform a geeky fantasy novelist into a goddess.

This is the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot, a fashion photography editorial by Hooton Images. 

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the Fellowship of the Ring, but it was darn close. We had among us the following:

  • The Photographers: Heather and Jameson Hooton, the talented force of Hooton Images, creating kick-ass fashion photography in Omaha, NE.
  • The Wardrobe Stylist: Cora Leigh, designer and stylist, with a knack of finding the most amazing stuff on Etsy and vintage stores.
  • The Hair and Make-up Artist: Michelle Beran, who took me from “just got up” to “Wildwood Goddess” in the space of an hour. She spent the afternoon battling uncooperative hair extensions and racing the clock so we could get the perfect sundown shots.
  • The Intern: Uh…what was her real name? Everyone just called her “Intern.” Oh, that’s right–Hannah Kerr! (Just kidding, Hannah–we adore you!) Hannah is an emerging photographer of fashion photography in her own right and she was an essential part of the team for this shoot. She’s got the most adorable pink taser–and at one point nearly had to use it! (Creepy guy in elevator–eek!)
  • The Supportive Spouse: My husband Jason, who did everything from hanging birdcages from trees to chasing away dodgy-looking men. He couldn’t have been more wonderful.
  • The Creative Daughter: My then-12 year old daughter, Catrin, came with us for the day to take behind-the-scenes videos and snapshots and to help in any other way she could. It was a long day and she was fabulous.
  • The Novelist-turned-Model: That’s me! For a day, I got to be the model. It was harder work than I expected, but nothing compared to how hard everyone else worked.

Behind-the-Scenes: Meredith being silly

Such a nerd! Kissey, kissey!

I am the last person I would have ever thought would do a fantasy fashion photography editorial shoot. In high school, I was the geek, never the fashionista. My strength has always been my mind, not my body. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a geeky, flawed, and odd-looking girl with crooked teeth, spotty skin, glasses, and a less-than-Hollywood figure.

But over time, I learned that my feet could dance, my voice could sing, and my hands and my eyes have artistic ability I never knew about. I could tell a story with color and shape and texture, not just words.

As I became an adult and grew more confident about my own style (yes, it took well into my adult life for that to happen), I would see beautiful fashion photography in magazines, and I thought–why shouldn’t that be me? Why not give it a try?

Michelle Beran doing Meredith's hair extensions

That’s Michelle Beran, make-up artist extraordinaire, putting in my hair extensions.

It was an intimidating thought: Me? Model in a fashion photography shoot? Just having professional headshots done for my book covers was stressful enough. But I realized I needed to do this–needed to challenge myself and my commitment to accepting and celebrating the gift of my body. So that settled it. I may not be what fashion designers are looking for to model their next line of clothing, but dammit–I’m worth photographing anyway!

My husband used to say that he wished I could see myself as he sees me, just for a minute. By facing the dark eye of the camera, by letting go of my fear, that finally happened. Far from being the judging, revealing force I always had run from, the camera showed me a version of myself far kinder and more profound than I had been able to see with my own eyes.

Meredith Rose photo

I am beautiful. I am flawed. And some days, the beauty seems to be deeply buried somewhere (maybe in the same place all my missing socks are). But my body is a gift and worthy of being loved and cared for. And yes, even photographed, like art. Because it is.

Heather and Jameson told me that fashion photography and editorials should tell a story. Being a teller of stories already, that worked great for me. I took that advice more literally (pun!) than probably most people would, and actually came up with a simple narrative that we used to group the photoshoot into sets.

The Wildwood Goddess photos tell MY story, and the story of so many women. A story of feeling trapped–by fear, by insecurities, by the expectations and repression of our culture. A story of learning to break away, to fight, to find our inner strength, confidence, to become the people we were meant to be. And a story of finally reaching that place of peace and rest, of knowing who we are and being able to live in that knowledge without striving.

Over the next three weeks, you’ll get to experience that story for yourself. For now, if you’d like to see the series of headshots we did or find out more about the photoshoot, take a look at the Wildwood Goddess photoshoot page.

Meredith Rose photo

If you enjoyed this post, you should try my fiction, too! My latest project is a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

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Art in the Wildwood: China Hutch Makeover

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Art in the Wildwood: China Hutch Makeover

I like remodeling and upcycling vintage stuff, and I have a thing right now for the distressed-yet-graceful French Country look. I bought a china cabinet off Craigslist awhile back so I could do a cool china hutch makeover like you see on Pinterest, and those crazy artsy vintage diy blogs.

What I really wanted was to use the china hutch as a bookshelf. I needed it to have a good French Country shape and have wood shelves so I could put books on them. I bought this china hutch for about $100. Not the best bargain in the world, but it was in really great shape and had the look I wanted, and no glass shelves. We took the glass out of the doors and sides so it’s easy to reach in and grab books.

Time To Start the China Hutch Makeover:

China Hutch Makover: Before pic

This is what the china hutch looked like moments before I began the grand China Hutch Makeover. Wow–look at all the dust!

I didn’t have any other place to work except for the front porch, so the china hutch got dragged out there by my long-suffering husband. We couldn’t figure out why it was so heavy, until I started working on it and realized–duh, we forgot to empty the drawers!

It actually stayed out there for the better part of the summer and fall because…well, I got sidetracked. But I figure a few thunderstorms and some dust only added to the weathered look, right?

First step (after actually emptying the bottom part of the china hutch) was to remove all the hardware and take off the doors.

Then I sanded the whole piece enough to scuff up the finish. I hate sanding. For awhile, I dreamed of learning how to make furniture. But you can’t really do woodworking without sanding. It’s dusty, and it roughs up my fingers, and it takes effort. Yes, I’m whining. Deal.

China Hutch Makeover: Sanding

Step two of the China Hutch Makeover: sanding. Oh joy. My favorite.

After I got all the sawdust cleaned up, I glued little carved wood appliqués to the doors. You’ll see them in a bit. Then, it was time to do a little prep work for later when I would age the china hutch. See, in a lot of French Country decor, the pieces are supposed to look old, weathered, chippy, with multiple paint layers and scuffs and crackles. Sort of like the whole “shabby chic” thing in some ways. That’s the look I wanted for this china hutch makeover–a really worn, old look.

But who wants to sit around waiting for their china hutch to age naturally? Not I. So there are some tricks to make it easier to speed up the process. The first is to use some type of wax–some people use candle wax, but I used paste wax–and spread it lightly on any place you want to later have chippy or worn-away paint. I put it on corners, edges and curves–any place that an old china hutch might have its paint worn or chipped away by wear.

Next, I painted the entire thing a peacock blue. Right over the wax. I used an eggshell or satin finish–nothing too glossy. It had a primer built into the paint so I didn’t need to prime separately.

China Hutch Makeover: Blue

Blue China Hutch! I thought it looked pretty cute this way, too.

China Hutch Makeover: Blue doors

See, there’s one of the wood ornaments I put on the china hutch doors! This door is upside down. You can also see some of the places where I put the paste wax already showing through.

Once the blue base coat was dry, the next step in the china hutch makeover was crackle-painting! Have to say, I have a love-hate relationship with crackle glaze. Love the finished result–when it turns out well, but I find it quite tricky to work with.

Basically, crackle paint works when you paint it over a dry base coat and then paint over that with a top coat of paint in a flat finish–usually in a contrasting color so the base coat shows through the crackles. I used a shade of white–only on the outside of the china hutch. The glaze plus the difference in finishes makes the top coat of paint crackle. You have to put the glaze on, wait just the right amount–not too quick, not too slow–and then paint over the top of it with the top coat color.

That’s the theory anyway.

I’ve used Elmer’s glue as crackle paint before–it’s cheap and supposed to work well. I didn’t have good results, but it’s probably just my inexperience with it. This time, I got crackle glaze. It worked a little better, but it’s too easy to mess up the crackle finish by painting over an area more than once. It’s also more difficult to use on vertical surfaces.

You also don’t want to crackle paint the entire china hutch. That’s a bit overkill, even for someone like me who loves crackle finish.

After the crackle glaze and top coat were on and dry, I found I needed to touch up non-crackle areas with the white top coat paint because the blue was showing through more than I wanted it to.

When all the painting was complete and dried, then it was time to get out the sandpaper again–this time for a task much more fun.

Or should I say, it was a task that was much more…distressing?

Remember all the corners and edges and such that I put paste wax on? As soon as I brushed the sandpaper along those areas, the paint came right off. I sanded away other areas too, trying to make it look realistic. The key is to figure out where the china hutch would naturally wear, and then sand those edges.

About that time, the bug guy came to spray our house for bugs. He’s a very nice fellow, but not artsy at all. He thought I was going to strip all that crackle and chippy paint and make it look brand new. When I told him this was a china hutch makeover to make it look older and more beat up, he seemed truly confused!

After all this distressing work (I know–I’m wearing that pun out, but I can’t help myself), I decided the china hutch needed to look even older! Enter…gel stain.

I smeared gel stain all over the cabinet, little bits at a time and then wiped it down with a clean rag. I didn’t want the stain getting too dark. But it settles into the chips and cracks, and brings out all those details as well as making the china hutch look old and even dirty.

The guys at Lowes didn’t think gel stain would work over a painted surface. They obviously don’t read home diy design blogs. It works great–just have to let it dry and not overdo it.

I didn’t like the way the gel stain looked on the blue inside the china hutch. So I decided to add fabric on the inside. I glued it using spray adhesive, and smoothed out all the bubbles with a brayer.

After that, the paste wax made another appearance. I rubbed it on as a top coat and sealer on the china hutch. Wax on, wax off…ooh, some of you are too young to know where that’s from. Let me help you. After most of the wax was rubbed off, I went back over it, buffing and rubbing until it had a soft shine.

I let the china hutch sit for about a day so the wax could harden, and then my husband helped me put all the hardware back on. I found some really cute knobs at the craft store, so I added those, too.

And here’s the china hutch, makeover complete! I really love how it turned out. The fabric was a perfect addition. You can’t see it in the picture, but there is a bit of gold shimmer to the fabric in the center.

China Hutch Makeover: After

I just love looking at it! Can’t wait to fill it up with my books, but I’m letting the wax cure a bit longer before putting things on it.

China Hutch Makeover: After Door detail

Closeup showing the door–with its ornamentation, new knob, and worn, distress-y goodness.

China Hutch Makeover: After detal

Here you can see the fabric I put up along the back of the china hutch.

China Hutch Makeover: Before and After

I think even the bug guy would have to agree that the new version is best!

China Hutch Makover: Before pic

Before: Boring.

China Hutch Makeover: After

After: Amazing!

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