Martin Luther King Jr: A Quote

Dr. King said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact violence merely increases hate…Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

More than fifty years have passed since Dr. King spoke these years yet many still hold onto the false belief that violence can stamp out evil. But it is the violence itself that is a blight on society. Destroying a few individuals with hatred will not bring a stop to it. Isn’t it about time that we learned to walk a new path? I have seen children from gang families, abused kids, homeless students, and the impoverished act with more empathy than many adults.

We could learn a great deal from them. And by remembering these words spoken so long ago.

Elementary Students Volunteering to Create Peace at My School

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

Memories: A Holiday Wish

Happy holidays to you all!

Memories Over The Years

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

Surrealia Calls: Artania V Excerpt

Rubbing the dust from his eyes, Bartholomew Borax III glanced up at the crumbling arch. A few bricks overhead loosened and teetered. “Alex, watch out!” he cried shoving his best friend out of the way.

Alex fell against a wrought iron post. The mass of bricks plummeted downward as the curly-headed fifteen-year-old bounced off the gaslight. He landed on all fours panting and the bricks crashed onto the path with a tremendous boom. Choking dust swirled, darkening the afternoon sky.

Bartholomew knelt at his side. “You okay?”

Coughing, Alex gave him a thumbs-up.

The ground rumbled again, and long jagged cracks appeared. They widened and muddy heads emerged from the splintered soil.

Alex gasped. “Shadow Swine?”

Bartholomew pulled his friend to his feet and backed up. “Lions! Help us!”

With a roar, the carved lions overhead leaped off their coat of arms perch and vaulted over to the boys. They bowed their stony heads and faced the emerging army.

“It won’t be enough,” Alex said.

Bartholomew turned his head right and left. True art? True art? What can I create here?

He had only been in this unfamiliar place for scant minutes so didn’t know the lay of the land. But after multiple journeys into the mystical Artania, the blonde boy had learned that if he could work paint, clay, or wood, the Creation Magic would do the rest. He and his fellow Deliverer Alex had made amazing things these past five years. From swords to skateboards and dragons to great snakes they had wrought weapons and comrades in this long war against the Shadow Swine.

But still Sickhert’s army returned. Ever stronger. With new tricks and powers.

Like today.

The lion on the right snarled at an approaching Shadow Swine. Alex grabbed Bartholomew by the collar. “We have to do something.”

Bartholomew felt dry leaves crunch under foot and stepped back. He kicked at a pile. Then he saw them fluttering through the air and wondered. It just might work. He closed his eyes and focused on the image. Scooping up a handful, he turned to Alex.  “Remember Subterranea? They battled well.”

“Of course. I should have thought of that.” Bending down, Alex brushed away more leaves exposing the moist soil below. He plunged his hands into the clay and formed them into a mound.

Bartholomew plopped some leaves onto Alex’s s pile. Then more and more.

The two boys molded the materials into an animal shape. Without a word, they both knew where to place their hands. They scooped, pulled, and smoothed as if their minds were one. Hands tugged and pressed, sculpting faster and faster.  A leg appeared. Then another. Paws. A larger-than-life head. Soon, they were moving at the speed of light. 

One final pinch, and the sculpture shimmered. Fur sprouted all over its body. Two silvery eyes looked up at them. Bartholomew sat back on his haunches and smiled. “Glorious.”

He had but a microsecond to admire the work before the Swiney was upon them. With a long swipe of his battle axe, the pig-nosed creature tossed the first stone lion aside. He raised an arm to attack the second when the newly sculpted wolf lowered its head and butt him in the gut.

The Swiney toppled over.

“More!” Alex scooped up a fresh handful of mud and the boys repeated their sculpting performance, this time faster than the speed of light. Within seconds half a dozen wolves were growling and snapping at the jack-booted army.

For a moment all was silence. Then as if a great unmute button had just been pressed; a cacophonous roar filled the air. Wolves ripped into the hunchbacked Swineys. One stone lion leapt at a tall Shadow Swine, knocking the monster on its back. The second feline hurdled toward a dog Mudlark with red glowing eyes, one ear completely gone and the other in jagged shreds. The black lab’s contorted face was scarred and twisted as if raking claws had hollowed out great swaths of skin.

 Two snarling wolves closed in on a spike wielding Swiney. The monster swung once. Twice. Three times. The newly formed canines dodged and snapped at his heels. Then the larger wolf clamped down on the Shadow Swine’s trench coat. He stumbled.

Bartholomew had just dug up a handful of soil to form a sword when he felt the vibration. His hand began to shimmer. Shaking his head, he glanced over at Alex who appeared to be filled with sparkling glitter. He shrugged at his best friend.

And Artania faded from view.

The excerpt above is from the first chapter of my upcoming novel, Artania V: Persistence of Memory. The scene takes place at the Arc de Triumf in Barcelona in the early 1900’s. Of course, since it’s Artania all of the sculptures in and around the arch are alive.

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

Azurean Zeppelin: A Poem

Past faces intent on lines

Drawn by others

And lights

Too often flashing

A helium soul

Floats over congested freeways.

Bobbing on the breezy radio

Waves of rock-n-roll.

The timbre of myriad voices

Inflate her imagination

Creating an

Azurean zeppelin

Drifting beyond

To a cleared road ahead.

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

Carburetor Ghosts: A Poem

Automotive graveyard

Where carburetor ghosts

On a windswept plateau

Howl through a parking lot of vines.

Did lovers discover youth’s first

Venereal sting on those ancient springs?

Did children gaze out these windows

Eyes wide on falling stars?

Did old men curse at transmissions

That were fixed in first gear?

Each ancient jalopy interned

Within its own mound

Where fallen hoods stand askew

As tombstones

Without inscriptions

Where urn shaped trunks

Cry out for mourners’ offerings

That never come.

In this field of vine and rust

No requiem for the dead was played.

The metal carcasses discarded.

But even today

After years of rot and decay

Every window remains.

No nubilous glass is shattered

In these former chariots

To places both sublime and mundane.

Their diaphanous veils

Reflect the passing of storm clouds

Moon phases and dusk

Giving us a glimpse

Into the crystalline void

Of yesterday.

(Photo by David Stroup)

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

Veteran’s Day: A History Poem

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Of 1918

An armistice began.

In the war to end all wars

And the world heaved

A collective sigh.

1919

A president speaks.

Commemorating this date with thanksgiving

And prayer

And exercises designed to perpetuate peace

Between nations.

They called it Armistice Day.

Years passed.

1954

A president speaks.

A new name.

Veteran’s Day.

And we came together

With thanksgiving

And prayer

And exercises designed to perpetuate peace

In honor

Of all who served.

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

Don’t Go in the Forest!

The half-tree, half-human beings lived a secret existence deep in the old growth forest.

Until now.

When 11-year old Daisy Castillo disobeys her mother and ventures into the woods alone, she comes face to face with a strange creature. She then sets off on a mysterious path and discovers a plot to destroy the forest. Although danger waits in every shadow, she battles to halt this approaching evil and keep the magical beings from being discovered.

She know that if these corrupt men succeed, the Forest People will die. And Daisy can’t let that happen. Fate hangs in the balance as Daisy faces her deepest fears, including heartbreak from the past, to rise up against all odds to keep the old growth forest safe for all.

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

Drifting Light

Dylan Thomas said, “Do not go gentle into that good night.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Yet T. S. Eliot said, “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”

As the hot air balloon floated upward on yet another birthday and mortality ever more visible, their words drifted into my mind. My son had surprised me at dawn with, “Get up Mom! We have to go.”

“What’s up sweetheart?”

“We’re going on a hot air balloon ride. We have to leave in ten minutes.”

With sleep and tears in my eyes, I brushed my teeth, threw on some jeans and tennies, and applied a quick swath of lipstick. During the forty-five minute drive Nick and I got caught up on how San Francisco State was treating him, his new job training students for the climbing wall, and concerts he’d recently worked as a bartender. Before we knew it we were at the Los Olivos Market meeting our guide and pilot, James Lawson, owner of Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. Two husband-wife couples milled about nearby as we made last minute pit stops to the restroom and snuggled into jackets to keep out the chill morning air.

The seven of us boarded the shuttle and drove a short distance to Santa Ynez Valley field where the basket lay on its side next to the deflated balloon. After James gave us a few safety tips, he yanked the pull cord on the huge fan a few times and the blower engine revved. As the balloon filled, we were asked to enter two by two for photos inside its belly. Nick and I stood arm in arm giggling, the strong winds blowing back our hair and clothes. Next, we all stood at a safe distance and they lit the burners which shot two yards of blue and red flame into the bag. While the fabric billowed and rose we were witness to Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy pulling the basket upright.

“Okay, line up,” James ordered us. “You’ll be three by three on either side of the basket.”

Using footholds cut in the side of the gondola, we climbed aboard and situated ourselves in the compartments. Ours was a six-person basket with the burner directly over us warming our heads with the blasting flames. There were multiple roped hand holds surrounding us making me think that this was going to be some roller coaster of a ride. Afraid I might tumble into Nick, I grabbed one, just to be safe. Then James pulled on some levers, and the burners hissed. Tension built in my shoulders.

And I waited.

And waited.

I cocked my ear to the side. Weren’t we going to take off? Then I realized. We already had.

I felt nothing. No jarring jolts. No rattling shudders. Not even a wobble at lift-off.

Yet moments later we were airborne drifting over the golden grasses of a California autumn. Everyone grew silent, as if in prayer, communing with the moment. And the world and all its worries withered making space for the quiet of wind and fire.

Below red and valley oaks stood sentinel on hillsides flanked by coastal sage scrub and grasses. The sun’s rounded shoulders arced from under the horizon changing the peppered cirrus and altostratus clouds from tangerine to lavender and finally alabaster.

The ground waned as we ascended becoming a blanket for the behemoth that is our Earth. I pulled out my phone, trying to capture a few snippets of the venture while still remaining present. My fellow passengers seemed to have the same sentiment, shifting from detached photojournalist to awe-struck spectator every few minutes. The balloon shadowed the undulating chaparral below reminding me of an angel with interlocked wingtips unfurled.

Our pilot and guide not only navigated the balloon but also his spiel expertly. As he guided the craft in and out of oak forests, over green vineyards, and even over a field to hover and pick up a pumpkin from one of his crew, he recited tales of land and man, geology and climate, history and biology. He would speak intermittently, allowing each of us meditative moments to breathe in this singular experience.

My boy and I exchanged few words during the flight but multiple loving glances. I could tell how thrilled he was to bring me joy, something he has done many times since becoming an adult. Nick has taken me on mother-son dates to rock concerts by Neil Young and Robert Plant, long hikes to remote places, and even a Halloween rave party. That boy loves giving to his family.

With memorable days like this one.

Yep, I may be another year older with mortality rearing its Medusa tentacles my way. But on this one day, I got to rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

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

Mona Lisa Kidnapped?

Get Kidnapped Smile Here

Kidnapped Smile inspires children everywhere to find the artist within.






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

Is This The Matrix?

Is this all an illusion? Am I truly here on this planet revolving around the sun or am I a dream in someone else’s imagination? Is my mind my own or the extension of a large factory?

The movie The Matrix poses these questions with superb symbolism and poetic ideologues.  Through the use of a futuristic world whereby a machine race has enslaved mankind as a renewable energy source, we both question our own existence and our purpose here on Earth.  If we are but a dream inside of an elaborate world of dreamers, and controlled by image-makers is there any free will?  How can we fight injustice and inequality if life is only a mirage?  Perhaps we believe we are at battle but truly all is a simulacra; a construct of our minds and we are in conflict with our own alter-egos.

As the story unfolds we find ourselves intrigued by the young man, Neo who searches for something he calls the Matrix.  Isn’t this a symbol of our own search for a spiritual existence in a technical world?  As we further remove ourselves from a nature and find comfort and company ever more in electrical images does it not make sense that a quest for spirit would take place on the Internet?  Yet when Neo delves deeper into this world of computers he finds not a God but a race of machines who have declared themselves God.  So, does he embrace them and kneel before their alters? No!  On the contrary! He joins a force which seeks to destroy their temples in a holy crusade.  He is an unbeliever at first.  He doubts what he cannot see or touch.  But then again, what has he ever felt or touched that he can trust?

Morpheus says, “Welcome to the real world.” But Cipher quips, “Why didn’t I take the blue pill?”

Do we constantly take the blue pill?  We wrap ourselves up in the digital world of computers, TVs, cellular phones, hidden behind cubicle dividers or car privacy glass. Hell, we could have hundreds of conversations in a day while never touching another living human being. Constantly cut off from real interaction with the world.

Although violence is often a gratuitous tool used by Hollywood to entice movie goers, the violence is essential to the plot in this film.  As Neo combats the machine constructs within the digital Matrix, he must face his own doubts and fears thus seeing that there is more to his world than meets the eye. It becomes a symbol of man’s struggle with himself. It forces us to ask what is more important in the intellect versus the body or faith versus fact questions that have long plagued human kind. Do we live the life we choose or one of enslavement?  Neo fights his way through and overcomes internal struggles in trying to discover who he is and where he is going.

Just like me.

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