Finding Joy: One Teen’s Journey

I hide the bruises while they say hippie wannabe, dog, and freak. But I am Joy. Its my name! And I’m really trying to live it.

A Tale of Abuse and Discovery

About Laurie: The author of Forests Secrets and Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Velveted Blades: A Poem

Skin of blades

Velveted by day

Sheathed under layers

Of false smiles

And soft words.

But as night falls

Hinge outward

Extending scythes

Of umbrage

Razor-sharp

Piercing embrace.

Photos by David Stroup

About Laurie: The author of Forests Secrets and Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Disembodied Embrace: A Poem

Disembodied embrace

Of a dream lover.

He who exists beyond the

Corporeal plodding through

The mundane, that muck of life

That seeks to pull us under.

Ethereal, his voice transcends

Skin, scent, and taste

Until we are afloat

In a buoyant fantasy

Soaring in the sublime

Photos by David Stroup

About Laurie: The author of Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Thank You Queen Elizabeth

A life of service, dignity, devotion, and love for her country. Promises kept. Always maintaining composure even in the most trying of times. An example we all can learn from.

As I watched the events during the United Kingdom’s official mourning period, I couldn’t help but see the stark contrast between her life and that of other leaders throughout history. How many other prime ministers, presidents, kings, emperors, or other heads of state have kept promises made to serve? Just as she did on her twenty-first birthday.

An example we all can learn from. You served us all. Thank you Queen Elizabeth. Your footprint on humanity will long be felt.

You make me want to be better. And serve in my own small way.

About Laurie: The author of Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Thorns: A Poem

I have been on a path to find my way back to myself
But I’m so lost that I can’t tell if this bramble covered ground
Is a road, a garden, or a kingdom.
I reach for shears to cut through the thorny vines
But they have long since rusted
And crumble in my hands.
I try wading through the woody sharpness
And look down to find my feet torn and bleeding.
I remember Jesus imploring me on that night
So long ago.
With unspoken words that touched and terrified me.
And decide that this is not a path
But a snare.
I entrap myself in again and again.

Photo by David Stroup

About Laurie: The author of Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net


Sludge’s Revenge: An Artania V Excerpt

With a final glance over his shoulder, Sludge stepped onto the shack’s dilapidated porch and knocked on the twisted door. When no Crone appeared, he tried the knob. “Locked. Of course.”

Expecting this, he pulled out the key he’d made. A year or two back, when the Crone was in the kitchen making worm tea, he’d grabbed the key on the wall and pressed it into a block of clay in his pocket. Later he’d taken it to an Artanian blacksmith he knew he could trust who forged a new one.

“Crone?” he called inserting the key in the lock.

No answer. She was probably meeting with the Mud Princess. She often did to scheme and plot. Sludge allowed himself a moment to imagine a dance with that alluring creature, torchlight illuminating their wreathing bodies as his minions looked on in envy.

Yes, the Shadow Swine will long tell tales of my glorious dance. He stared at the door. His lips curled up and serrated teeth glinted in the firelight.

 A splash behind him made him turn. He glanced back at Swallow Hole Swamp where larvae hatched. Even before he’d bowed before Lord Sickhert on the banks of the River of Lies, he’d practiced dream draining on his fellow nymphs there.  

Magnificent memories.

A dark worm crested the swamp, its segmented back rolling in and out of mossy waters.

“Swim, nymph, swim. Into shadows below,” Sludge whispered before stepping over the threshold. “Are you here, old one?”

Her shack was as quiet as a death.

“I’m coming in,” he said to the air.

 Once inside, he turned right toward the exact room he wanted. While each held a boiling pot, some forged like serpents or krakens, with others as round as witch’s kettles, the one he needed was misshapen and warped. 

This one held answers.

The view inside looked the same as it had weeks earlier when he’d stood there with the Crone. The firepit still lit the room in. The three-legged cauldron still held a long ladle and flames continued licking the bent and twisted iron.

Here he’d seen that human’s face floating in mist long ago. The artist who had gloriously drowned in mud months before young Bartholomew was born. Oh, the nightmares he’d sent Hygenette after that. They ensured that she would forever turn from art.

This had gained him recognition and put him in Lord Sickhert’s favor. But now the Crone suspected the truth and just a few choice words could strip all of that away.

If he wasn’t careful.

“Are you investigating me, Crone?” Sludge said stepping closer to the kettle.

The boiling surface was misty at first. No images. Not even the slightest hint of a human or Artanian. But as Captain Sludge looked deeper, a faint outline began to appear.

He leaned in closer. A sandy beach emerged. Melting clocks. Cliffs. Some hazy forms took shape. Two of the animated figures gesticulated wildly while a third with red hair paced nearby.

“New humans in Surrealia? How can that be?” Sludge gasped and stumbled back.

He mused for a moment. What was going on? Only the Chosen Ones should be able to enter portals. That’s how it had always been.  Had Thinker done this? If so, it made no sense. Artania’s leader was known for safeguarding humans. Only calling upon Alex, Bartholomew, and Gwen when necessary.

Maybe Crone had shown Lord Sickhert their new powers and now could open larger portals. Sludge straightened two of his hair spikes, thinking.  But no, she often ranted and raved about him being too strong. She would never share such powerful knowledge with their lord.

But she might take some for herself and leave Sludge behind.

Whatever the reason, he had not slogged through the marshes of Swallow Hole Swamp to waste this opportunity. When he first set out, he’d hoped to find what the Crone was up to. But never in his wildest dreams had he imagined that vulnerable humans would now be in Artania.

He nodded. This turn of events just might work in his favor.

He rubbed his hands together. “I think I’ll craft a bit of amnesia to send your way.”

Taking a deep breath, Sludge blew a long stream of black mist over the simmering liquid. The dark smoke entered each gurgling bubble before rising on the steam. Sludge smiled and blew more.

The hazy image of four teens on a beach rose higher over the kettle as the outline of a brain took shape in the boiling waters. A moment later it ascended, and Jose and Zach’s faces materialized in the air. Licking his lips lasciviously, Sludge blew harder, and all images sharpened.

“Blankness, oblivion, shade,” Sludge chanted between panting blows.  A cloud filled the brain image then darkened and drifted toward the teens’ faces.

Jose and Zach’s mouths dropped open.

“What do you think you’re doing?” an ancient voice cried from the doorway.

Sludge didn’t turn. “Capitalizing on an opportunity.”

“I didn’t give you permission.”

“Yet here I am.” He blew again. “Watch.”

The floating image enlarged until it filled the room. Then Jose and Zach’s eyes clouded to milky white. An instant later there was a loud pop, and the smoke cleared.

Sludge ran a claw-tipped hand over where the image had been.

The Crone nodded approvingly and slapped him on the back. “Well perhaps you are not quite the pupae I took you for.” She began to cackle.

Sludge joined in and their screeching voices filled the shack and floated toward the quivering nymphs of Swallow Hole Swamp.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Curtain Call: A Poem

You want me to perform on stage

For you alone

An actress reciting lines written long ago

When you first imagined nubile girls

And felt stirrings sensual and strange

You ask for a curtain call

But the first act has not yet begun

Or even been rehearsed

I am outside this theater looking up

At its neon lights.

Wondering whether to step inside

Or run from their harsh glare

To the soft twinkling

Of country summer.

You want my ecstatic dance

To rise like a crescendo before your eyes

My limbs twisting and convulsing in

Tribal rhythms

But the music has yet to play

And I am wrapped in the silence.

You want an aria, a magnum opus

A soprano hitting notes so high

As to shatter hearts.

But I am just a woman.

And can’t even sing on key.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.ne

Review of The City of Dreaming Books

This book by Walter Moers is wonderful combination of fantasy and ridiculous farce. Probably the most imaginative book I’ve ever read with absolutely unique settings, characters, and symbolism. It is told in first person by an author-wannabe-dinosaur named Optimus Yarnspinner. He begins his tale in Lindworm Castle at the deathbed of his authorial godfather, Dancelot Wordwright. Wordwright gives him a manuscript, which he claims to be the greatest piece of writing ever. Upon reading the manuscript, Yarnspinner is so blown away that he feels he has to go to the City of Dreaming Books to find its author. There, Yarnspinner meets the shark grub Pfistomel Smyke, who offers to help find the author. Unfortunately, Smyke is not who he seems; he poisons Yarnspinner with a hazardous book, and maroons him in the city’s catacombs. Here he must watch out for bookhunters, harpies, the fearsome booklings, and the legendary Shadow King.

Will he ever find his way out to become the writer he has heretofore only dreamed of? Read this amazing tale and find out!

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

World Building: Creation and Prophecy

How do writers world build their fantasy novels? Is there a technique to help visualize details? There are several strategies for writers from sketching to outlining to stream of consciousness journaling but two that I’ve found effective are the creation myth and a prophecy.

When I started writing Artania some years ago one question I asked was, “How could an art-populated land begin?” It made sense to me that it would have begun with the beginning of the first art. So I researched ancient archeological findings and used this to envision early humans making cave drawings. From there it was easy to visualize the cause and effect relationships for these art pieces to birth an entire planet. The next logical step was to wonder what might endanger Artania and how soothsayers would give their people hope. This lead to writing The Prophecy in poem.

Reading The Prophecy Using Voiceover

The Prophecy has helped to guide my writing multiple times over the years. I’ve used it in both the books and here in videos. So if you’re trying to world build and are frustrated, why not try creating your own.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Book Trailers Made Easily

Are you looking for new ways to market your book? Would you like to share your story with a wider audience? Have you wanted to make a book trailer but thought it was too expensive or complicated? Lots of authors find the idea of making a book trailer daunting. But with just a few simple tools, and programs like Animoto or IMovie, you too can make book trailers that shine.

Step 1: Think of your elevator pitch. How can you condense your story into just a few sentences? Write them out.

Step 2: Download IMovie, other movie making software, or subscribe to a service with built in templates like Animoto which is just a few dollars each month.

Step 3: Make a file of photos that convey the mood of your book.

Step 4: Begin to add photos and captions to the templates.

Step 5: Watch your movie, make changes to scenes that feel off.

Step 6: Share on social media.

Here’s my first attempt with an Animoto template.

I like how it conveys the book in a gentle way. However, it didn’t have quite the excitement I wanted.

So with my second novel, I went back to the drawing board. How?

  1. I took my book cover  and cropped a a few elements to make multiple images like  this:

2.  I browsed through the Animoto templates. I watched dozens until I found one that felt right for me.

3. I began to drop in photos with captions, watching the video multiple times with the preview button until it felt right.animotoedit

Here is the final product.

I was pretty jazzed about how it came out. Not to mention how friggin’ fun it was to create in a new medium.

I hope you all enjoy making book trailers a much as I did!

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net