My Sixth Novel is Out!

Can it really be true? Did my publisher just release my sixth novel? Or maybe I’m dreaming…

As I look back over the past five years I have to pinch myself. I went from self-publishing my first book to ghost writing Dean and JoJo and watching its release by Random House in Germany to sending out Artania I to agents and publishers and getting rejection after rejection.

Oh, I got close a few times. An agent here and there might be interested but eventually they’d pass. Random House even had it under consideration and one editor wanted it, but when it went to committee…Well you know.

Then in 2017, an author friend who I’d helped with a manuscript contacted me. He said that his publisher was offering finders fees for authors who found new talent and he thought of me. Was I interested? Heck yeah!

I polished my synopsis and with fingers crossed sent in sample chapters to the publisher. And the waiting began. Every day I’d check my in box for news.

Finally the email came. With a contract. And not just for Artania I either. They offered me a contract for all three Artania books I’d written. Champagne time!

Now I’m thrilled to see Portal Rift available so all of you can join the adventure too!

Get Portal Rift Here

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote 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 artania.net

 

Portal Rift: An Artanian Excerpt

Far away, in a magical art-created land, the sculpted Thinker gazed into his steely hand as sparks fizzled down his bronze arm. The images of Alex flickered in his palm and faded.

How could this be? Alexander shouldn’t be seeing visions; nor traveling to Artania and back. Never had one Deliverer traversed their worlds without his knowledge, much less two.

He thought back. For millennia, every time a human lifted a paint brush or dipped hands in clay, a wondrous being, like himself, had been born. Over time, Artania’s population grew into a perfect blend of watercolor, collage, and mosaics; a mix of multihued lives.

As art changed, separate countries emerged. From the Renaissance Nation where the competing Michelangelo & Leonardo watched over Mona Lisa to the Land of Antiquities where Greek, Roman, and Egyptian gods raced over sands to Gothia where medieval knights fought dragons; he had watched his world expand.

Until the time of danger.

Shadow Swine horrors were becoming all too common. The new millennium brought constant tales of Sickhert’s army attacking from their underground lair. With increasing frequency, they pulled his brethren below to become mindless slaves. Or, at chosen times, they opened their horrible mouths, and with great slurps, swallowed brilliant chunks of this land’s beauty.

Like a fading photo, every bite turned the earth whiter causing the Blank Canvas to grow. Now they were attacking the Impressionist Republic, that place where muted light and color capture a moment in time.

Closing his bronze fist, The Thinker lifted his gaze to the man in the bushy beard and linen suit in the wooden chair opposite. His words echoed in the nearly empty cafe as he spoke. “The Shadow Swine seem to have some new power. I fear for the soft hues of this land.”

Claude Monet took a long draught on the stub of a cigar in his mouth and blew a wisp of smoke over The Thinker’s head. “As do I.”

“The Blank Canvas grows.”

“Oui, there have been reports of new areas bleached white. The sinking village of the Alps.”

“When you ceased dipping brush in paint.”

Monet looked at his feet and nodded sadly. “I was immersed in depression.”

“Do not berate yourself, friend. It was he who painted you. His poverty got the best of him and no one, not even I, could have altered that.”

“Gauguin would argue otherwise.”

“Is he spouting more talk of revolution?”

“Larger crowds come to listen. Many say you are growing old and unable to lead us.”

“My strength does not wane with age but with the belief in the power of creation.”

“I know that, but others do not.”

The Thinker shook his head. “It seems that no matter how hard we try; it is never enough. The Shadow Swine capture more and more of our kind.”

“We are weighed down, every moment, by the sensation of Time. And there are but two means of escaping this nightmare: pleasure and work. Work strengthens us.”

“True. I only hope Bartholomew realizes this before it’s too late.” The Thinker shook his head.

“Yet now he struggles.”

“Leaving ripples of despair here. If he’d just–”

The Thinker heard a buzz. Then a whine. The gaslights in the café began to flicker. Tilting a confused head to one side, the sculpted man glanced up. Every glass lampshade was quivering and expanding as if Vulcan was filling each with superheated magma.

As the sound amplified into a din, Monet dug his boots into the floor and scooted his chair back. Although a painting, Thinker knew that his friend could be injured as easily as any human and rose to protect his ally.

Diving over the table, he extended his bronze arms and tackled the gaping painter to cover the creation’s body with his own. A moment later, the crystal globes exploded in a deafening blast, shooting glass in all directions.

Streaming shards sharp as knives rained down. The Thinker pushed Monet beneath the table.

Strong back heaving, he glanced to the side at the blinking barkeep, now dusted with glass shards. A few slivers jutting from the painted man’s balding scalp began to bleed.

“Help me,” he said, lip quivering.

Artania’s leader had just begun to stand when a hissing sound from under the floorboards stopped him mid-crouch.

A stunned Monet angled a finger at the ground where rotten steam rose from cracks in the wood. “Shadow Swine, here?”

White tendrils twisted upward filling the café with sulfuric fumes. Then, as if someone were using a crowbar to pry them open, the floorboards next to the bar began to part, and a dark arm slithered from the opening.

The barkeep gasped, stepping back. Opened and closed his mouth in silent screams. The arm grasped him by the ankle and the painted man stumbled. He fell against the wall.

The crack in the floor widened, swallowing half his leg, then a thigh and soon his hips.

Arms outstretched, Thinker vaulted toward the barkeep, crossing the room in two strides.

He reached out, clutching at air.

It was too late. The injured barman was gone. Another water-colored being taken below to become a mindless slave in Subterranea.

“No!” he cried as the floorboards closed.

Kidnapped Smile: An Excerpt

Sweat poured down Alex’s face and ran into his eyes. The ship’s galley was like an oven. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand envisioning a cool protective suit.

Until he could work.

“Toss the iron balls in the flames,” Vulcan instructed between hammer beats on the anvil.

Alex followed each step carefully. When the metal inside the stove changed from black to red, he removed it with tongs and placed the crimson coals on Vulcan’s anvil.

The smith-god demonstrated how to strike the anvil and then handed the hammer to Alex. Alex raised an arm and began. Clang. Iron met steel. Pound. Teeth and scales emerged. Bang. A body took shape.

Buy Kidnapped Smile Here

Faster his arm fell as the creation force cursed through his veins.  Lumber became flicking tongues and iron swaying heads.  A long thin tail appeared.

“Thank you, Vulcan. Nearly–”

Smash!  Snapping teeth crashed through the hull just inches above his head. Alex leapt back just inches from dripping jaws.  Ducking down behind his incomplete snake, he attached the last green plates.

Its body grew as long as the ship and thicker than the mast. Cool scales shimmered, and the sculpture morphed into a two-headed cobra ready to do his bidding.

Alex cradled one face in his hands. “Wake up,” he said.

Blue slits opened.

“Attack the Leviathan. Now!”

It swayed back and forth as both cobra heads rose, forked tongues flicking at the air. One head hissed.

In response, Leviathan gnashed its jaws.  Double rows of sharp teeth tried to close in on Cobra, but the snake heads dodged in opposite directions.

Bellowing, Leviathan struck again. This time Cobra whipped around, each head sinking curved fangs into its neck.

Sickhert’s monster thrashed and shook, but the snake held fast. Pupils dilating, it jerked to one side. Alex scrambled out of the way as its huge head smashed against the galley walls.

“The poker!” Vulcan cried pointing at the hot stove.

Alex leapt over a barrel and grabbed it from the fire. The end glowed red, a steel cigarette poised to strike. Alex jabbed but came up short.

Leviathan turned toward him. It jaws snapped like a thousand slamming doors. Alex felt a tug and clapped a hand to his head. His hair was wrapped in those teeth lifting toward that hole.

Gritting his teeth, he jerked. “Yow!” he cried gaping at the tufts of hair still in the Leviathan’s mouth.

Dropping to one knee, Alex raised his firebrand and waited for the Leviathan to sway his way again. Counted. Four seconds. Five. At six he thrust, and the metal punctured the creature’s jaw like a hot knife in wax. Slowly, Alex stood and drove the poker deeper into the creature’s mouth.

The shrieking monster jerked its head throwing Alex backwards. He landed with a thud near Vulcan’s barrel.

Cobra sunk its fangs in deeper as the monster retreated out of the crack in the hull. Then, with a sucking whoosh of air, both creatures disappeared into the sea.

Alex peered out the jagged hole in the wall. The setting crescent moon and the patchwork of stars barely illuminated the water. In the faint light, all he could make out was the splashing of dark waves against the ship.

Boom! The cannon shot again, lighting up the sea just enough to see the thrashing monsters. One snake still had its fangs in the Leviathan’s neck.  The other one was somewhere beneath the surface.

When they rushed up on deck to watch, Alex grasped the railing and stared out to sea. The water began to bubble and simmer in a tangle of twisting scales. In the lanterns light he could just make out Leviathan’s scaly back, spiked wings, and clawed feet. With gnashing teeth, it rolled, pitched, and plunged until Cobra raised one head and jerked Leviathan below.

A few minutes later, the sun began to light up the sky turning the sea a steely grey. The reflecting moon looked like a snake’s fang, one he hoped would strike any moment. He could make out the Italian coastline but no movement anywhere.

Gwen sidled up to his side. “See anything?” she asked.

“They disappeared,” Alex replied continuing to scan the waves.

The Mediterranean was as smooth as Venus’s skin. Then far off he saw the waters rise.

“Look.” Alex pointed.

Like braiding seaweed, the monsters wove through the waves. Coiling and wreathing, they battled. He couldn’t tell who was winning.

“Go on. Dig your fangs in.”  Alex said.

“Yeah, get him.” Gwen punched at the air.

They were about fifty yards away when the battling monsters rose out of the water. The sea dripped off the Cobra’s hooded heads. Their triangular faces hung suspended as if on invisible threads, but they didn’t attack.

Alex raised his hands in exasperation wondering what they were waiting for. More seconds ticked by.

When Leviathan rolled over, both heads struck. Curved fangs sank into the tender flesh of its soft underbelly. Convulsing venom glands pumped poison through their teeth.

The weakened Leviathan slapped at Cobra with its tail. Thrashing from one side to the other, its jaws snapped open and closed three times. Then a lolling tongue drifted over jagged teeth.

Alex’s two-headed snake edged closer to the ship, the limp Leviathan in tow. At the port bow Cobra unhinged both mouths.

It floated on the sea.

“Whoa,” Gwen said.

“Well done, Deliverer.” Vulcan reached out to shake Alex’s hand.

“Thanks, it–” Alex started to reply. Then Leviathan raised its horned head.  “Cobra, watch out!”

Leviathan’s tail smashed against the hull. Almost losing his footing, Alex grabbed the gunnels.

The monster leaned back, head poised to crash into their boat. Then two snakes rose, dripping water like gaping wounds and coiled around the monster’s neck. Once. Twice. Three times.

The Leviathan threw its horned head back with a guttural bellow that drowned out all sound. Tighter Cobra constricted, twining round a fourth and a fifth time. The great beast thrashed wildly in their coils trumpeting its protest.

Bloody tears began to weep from its eyes, but the snake squeezed more, muscles rippling as it twisted and tightened.

The Leviathan opened and closed its jaw in silent protest. It raised its head toward the sky as if imploring the clouds for help.  With a final convulsion, it withered in the snake’s coils.

And moved no more.

Only now did Cobra release it. Leviathan’s body bobbed on the surface before shrinking back into the sea.

“Yes!”  Alex cried taking Gwen in his arms. He swung her around and around laughing hysterically. Until he realized that he was hugging a girl. Then he set her down abruptly and stepped back, blushing.

Did she notice? He quickly turned to shake Leonardo’s outstretched hand, hoping that no one had seen the red creeping up his cheeks.

Suddenly Michelangelo, Leonardo, and the crew were all on deck applauding and congratulating him. The Three Graces joined hands, hummed in harmony, and began dancing in a circle. Meanwhile, Alex’s snake crisscrossed from bow to stern their gentle splashes lapping off the hull in time to the music.

“Our world was born from the magic of two, magic of two, magic of two,” their tinkling voices sang.

But many will perish before they are through. Alex thought as he stared at the Leviathan’s watery grave.

           

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote 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 artania.net

Dragon Sky: Discounted

Right now Dragon Sky is only $0.99!  My publisher is discounting the book until Friday. Join the adventure for less than the cost of candy bar here: Buy Dragon Sky

 

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote 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 artania.net

Giveaway: Artania The Pharaoh’s Cry

Looking for an adventure like no other? A place where all art is alive and creation a superpower? Right now my publisher is offering Pharaohs’ Cry for free. But act fast. This offer disappears on December 18th.  Get your free book here  

Enjoy!

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote 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 artania.net

 

Reviews: Thank You Readers!

 

Thank you to all of you for your kind words about the Artania Chronicles. I am humbled.

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and 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 artania.net

(Cover photo by David Stroup)

Kidnapped Smile: A Book Trailer

Do you ever find yourself stuck in your novel? Wondering where the heck to go next? I sure do. So, why not try taking a break from crafting your novels to create a book trailer? It is a total blast to mix different images with summarizing phrases until you get just the right sequence to tell your story.

What I do is build it little by little. I add a few scenes, before viewing the beginning of the video to get the gist of it. If the mood is right I add more. Then I repeat this process, again and again until I’m satisfied.

Here’s one about the Kidnapped Smile I had fun with over the weekend.  Enjoy!

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and 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 artania.net

Dragon Sky: Free

Looking for an adventure like no other? A place where all art is alive and creation a superpower? Right now my publisher is offering Dragon Sky for free.  Get your free book here

Here’s Chapter One:

Alex gripped his skateboard even tighter and tried not to think of how high the ramp was. So what if it was fourteen feet straight down? As dorky as his gear looked, with elbow and knee pads, a helmet and even wrist guards, at least he was protected.  All Mom’s idea but he didn’t care what other kids thought. In 6th grade he’d almost lost her and now he’d wear an elephant costume if it meant keeping her weak heart from worrying.

Anyhow he’d skated in rocky caverns with slime-covered monsters in hot pursuit and lived to tell the tale. This was just Santa Barbara. Okay it was the Volcom Games with hundreds of people watching and he’d only been skating vert for nine months. But still his life wasn’t in danger.

He hoped.

He glanced at the audience below and saw his skateboarding buds, Jose, Zach, and Gwen, give him a thumbs-up. Not easy acts to follow. They’d each wowed the crowd with backside airs, fakies, and real clean kick flips. Alex raised three fingers for a quick wave wondering if his best friend had been able to make it, but Bartholomew’s white suit was nowhere to be seen.

“And next we have thirteen-year-old Alexander Devinci in his first competition. Give it up for the Southern Cal Kid.”

The crowd cheered.

Heart pounding, Alex stepped up to the ledge. He tried not to look down as he set the board’s tail over the coping. When he saw the dizzying height, he took a deep breath and forced himself to anchor the wheels in place with his back foot. Closing his eyes, he imagined that he was safe at home standing in front of his easel, paintbrush about to create wonder.

And he was there. Ready.

Like a furious hand slapping paint on canvas he stomped his front foot and dropped over the vert wall. Wind whooshed past his face causing the few curls that had escaped the helmet to whip and tickle the nape of his neck. His eyes narrowed as his wheels rolled ever faster.

He hit the bottom of the ramp ready to scale the other side when the doubts began.

Were his feet in line with the bolts on deck? He’d fallen buko times over the summer because of bad foot placement, ripping five pair of jeans, scraping his knees and arms, and even dislocating his shoulder. Mom wasn’t too thrilled about that but since he’d called Dad to take him to the hospital she only had to deal with it after the joint was back in place.

The glare of summer sun on the vertical blinded him for a moment. Blinking, Alex shifted his weight and tried to remember all the tips Gwen had given him about rolling up the transition. On the ascent, Alex tried to gauge his speed. Was he going fast enough for the backside ollie he planned to do over the rail?

“Go Alex, rip it!” Gwen cried from the crowd.

With a quick nod, Alex aimed his board at the sky. He’d lay it down just like Tony Hawk or Christian Hosoi.

“This Santa Barbara kid is holding his own,” the commentator announced over the loudspeaker.

Higher Alex rolled, aiming straight for the lip. Everything was perfect.

He looked up. There, amongst the wispy clouds he saw something red shimmering. No, it was a sparkle. A glistening reflection off the underbody of a creature.

The creature opened its long snout in a plaintive wail.

Dragons over Santa Barbara? What the?

And that’s when he fell.

******

A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and 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 her novels on the Central Coast of California.

Creation Dreams: A Video

Artania: A fantasy series that inspires the artist within. At the same time it teaches kids about the major periods in art history with lands representing each. From the Renaissance Nation to the Land of Antiquities to the Impressionist Republic children will meet famous artists and watch their masterpiece creations have adventures. Mona Lisa comforts while The David hurls stones at monsters. Egyptian hieroglyphs battle to keep this world safe as tapestry-inspired dragons take to the skies.