Burst: A Photo Collage

 

 

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

Break On Through to the Other Side

“You know the day destroys the night

Night divides the day

Try to run

Try to hide

Break on through to the other side.”

With a voice as savage and untamed as his vision Jim Morrison calls us to action in “Break on Through.” But this is no gentle supplication. Using raw energy  palpable in every syllable he summons that hidden part of us to emerge from light and find shadow, entreating us to throw off our ideas of what is proper and moral while crashing through glass to another place.

The Doors Break On Through

I have heard this song my entire life, but it wasn’t another hollow-eyed night that I tried to find some meaning in their words. During the sleepless hours I tossed and turned, clutching at lonely sheets wondering how to break through in a relationship pierced with gashes weeping the piquant odor of  wounds.

In my personal life I am fearless. I have no problem traveling the world and leaping into the abyss of new experience. I’ve scuba dove through coral caves and kelp forests, hiked over lava flows with steam rising all around, backpacked over unmarked mountains, and flown over remote glaciers where bear roamed below.

My interpersonal life has been more cautious. Ever since the discovery of my ex-husband’s multi-year affair and subsequent divorce, I have lived in fear. So afraid of the hurt I might incur or the inevitable lies all relationships seem to have that I could not break through.

I want that to change.

So I listen to Jim.

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

 

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)

She Gets Me! Thrilled by Recent Review

 

Recently The Online Book Club posted an official review of of Dragon Sky which got me all choked up. This reviewer, kandscreeley, not only understood the message of Artania, but she also likened it to Harry Potter.

Feeling such gratitude I could hug everyone!

Her post is here. Official Review

 

 

 

 

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.

Kidnapped Smile: Chapter One

While the smiling Mona Lisa strolls the cobblestone paths of this art-created world, dark forces wait.

“I’m perfectly fine. Now stop being so silly.” Placing a painted hand on The Thinker’s bronze arm, Mona Lisa patted it.

“But child. The attempts.”

“Failed. And now you and Father have me tucked away in this fortress. Worry not.” Without giving him a chance to argue more, Mona Lisa turned and glided down the stone steps of the castle.

Artania’s leader leaned over the parapet of the castle gazing at the renaissance city below. Florence. Red tile roofs topped sunflower yellow or misty white walls. Crushed granite alleyways and cobblestone side streets zig-zagged from one end of the town to the other. The Arno River snaked through this muted palette as gently as dear Mona Lisa’s smile.

Mona Lisa. Ever since the attempted kidnapping, she had stayed within these castle walls. Making the sweet child restless. Today was the first time he’d agreed to let her stroll along the river. Accompanied by soldiers in striped bloomers and metal helmets of course.

“Nicolo, you must be ever vigilant.  You know what will happen if the Shadow Swine capture the Smiling One,” he had ordered the guardsman earlier.

“Yes, as do all citizens, whether they be painting, sculpture or sketch,” Nicolo said.

“Keep her close. Keep her safe.”

“I do swear,” the guardsman said, bowing with one hand across his chest.

 

Nicolo’s presence should have calmed The Thinker’s fears, but for some reason he still felt uneasy.  All around, soldiers patrolled the parapet wall or stood guard behind the notched battlements in the rectangular towers.

The iron grating of the portcullis was down leaving only doors vulnerable. And after the last kidnapper had made his way inside, The Thinker had ordered them locked at all times. Even so he knew that in these terrible times anything could happen.

His bronze gaze rested on the river and the short docks built beside the walkway. The Smiling One emerged from the doorway below and gave him a short wave before turning toward the cobblestone path skirting the river. All was as it should be.

He thought.

He had just relaxed his shoulders when a flash caught his eye. He shouldn’t be there!

A man dressed in rags leapt out of one of the rowboats tied to the dock and began running toward Mona Lisa. But with her back to him, she didn’t notice

“Lisa!” The Thinker cried.

When she turned, the snarling man grabbed her by the arm and began pulling her toward his boat.

“Let me go!” Mona Lisa screamed.

Soldiers appeared and rushed down the embankment, Guardsman Nicolo in the lead.

Mona Lisa strained against the beggar’s grip. But it was no good. He was half a head taller and probably outweighed her by fifty pounds. He dragged her ever closer to the rowboat. A few more feet and they’d be on the river.

“No!” Mona Lisa cried, clutching her veil in a milk white grasp.

“Halt,” Nicolo cried, booted feet flying toward the dock. “Halt, I say!” He sprung over the cobblestone path and drew his sword.

The ragged man dragged her closer to the water. The Smiling One’s feet skidded over wood.

“Hurry,” The Thinker whispered.

As soon as they reached the dock’s edge, the beggar shoved Mona Lisa behind him. And turned.

With a snaggle-toothed grin, he bent forward and unleashed a tremendous kick. Crying out, the painted girl hurled upwards. She shot over pilings arcing toward the river below.

The Thinker’s bronze heart froze. He gripped the coping stone tighter.

Mona Lisa splashed and disappeared beneath the murmuring waters.

All eyes turned toward the river. Every Artanian from castle keep to the guard tower and down the stony walls held a breath. Waiting in silence.

But the waters remained calm.

“Find her!” the bronze man cried.

With a desperate leap, Nicolo dove into the River Arno. The Thinker scanned east and west for a veiled head but only the guardsman surfaced.

Nicolo submerged again, his booted feet kicking deeper. Only to break the surface for quick gulp of air before diving down. Twice. Three times. Seven.

When the exhausted soldier floated up after the twenty-fifth descent, he turned to the gathered crowd with a sad shake of his head. “She is gone.”

The Thinker fell back against the wall and sunk to the ground. “All is lost.”

Believing in Yourself

Am I good enough?  As a writer there are many times when I doubt my abilities. Times I wonder if the words I write touch anything in others.  Times I fear that my work is too different to be understood. Are they simply the ramblings of a lady who sees the world through a very strange lens?

And then I shout to myself, STOP!

Truth be told, being different is a gift. There is no one who sees the world like me. No one who writes like me. No one who puts the sentences together on the page like me.

That is the wonder of being human.

As is true for everyone.

I once went to a writing workshop hosted by screenwriter, novelist, and radio talk show host, Dave Congalton. After depressing the class with a sobering list of statistics about the slim chances of getting a book deal, he paused. Then he said something that has stuck with me ever since.

Dave said, “I may not have a blockbuster idea or a New York Times bestseller material. But I do have stories I can share. Stories that are uniquely mine. And I am not going to let some publishing-house gatekeeper keep me from sharing them. ”

He then went on to outline his process of self-publishing his book Ho Ho: The Dog Who Saved Christmas and the joy he felt in finally having his story in print.

I was inspired.

Later that year I began the process of self-publishing my first novel, Forest Secrets. It took months of hard work, rewrites, editorial consults, and quite a bit of money.  When I finally held that book in my hands and ran fingers over the smooth over, a lifelong dream came true.

That is the moment I return to in times of doubt. Yes, I am different. No, I have not made the New York Times bestseller list. But I believe in myself.

As should you.

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.

Interview with Author Julia Sutton

British author Julia Sutton may chase children at a a primary school daily,  but the rest of the time she is chasing her lifelong dream of writing. Recently, I had the privilege of getting to know this author of  The School of Dreams, Visions of the Heart,  and Student Affairs.  And this is what she had to say.

Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? Who are you? Where are you from? Etc.

Hello Laurie 😊 I’m Julia from Wolverhampton which is a bustling city in the middle of England.  I’m 46 and as well as being a writer I work as a lunchtime supervisor in a primary school.  I only work two hours per day but I do love my job as I have always loved working with children – especially the wee ones.  I’ve written since I was really young and definitely believe that you are born a writer. It’s sort of like an overwhelming urge to express yourself through the written word and you need to possess empathy – that’s the one.  A good imagination also helps 😊  

How many books do you currently have published?

I currently have three books published which are all available via Amazon and other online stores.  They are the first three books in the School of Dreams series and I’m just in the process of writing the fourth and final book.  

What has been your favorite book to write so far and why?

I really loved writing both Visions of the Heart and Student Affairs.  In Visions of the Heart I focused quite a lot on the characters of Will and Hema and enjoyed writing about their cross-cultural romance and the conflict between the two sets of parents.  I also loved writing Student Affairs, especially the romance between Juliette and the gorgeous lecturer –  swooning heart-racing stuff 😊

Are you currently working on a book/short story/project?

Yes I’m working on the fourth book in the series and have decided to call it The Year of New Beginnings – because it’s the end of university and the beginning of their new lives.  I’ve also written a few children’s stories and have been busy searching for a publisher for them.

Will this be your next release?

Yes, as soon as I’ve finished and edited it, I will send it off to the publishers (hopefully they will love it as much as I do).  They are pretty good in getting a book out there quickly and it is the final book in the whole series which is really exciting and kind of sad at the same time.  

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love immersing myself in a fictitious world and creating diverse and interesting characters.  I also love writing dialogue and emotional scenes, especially the kissy mushy scenes and sex scenes?  Yep, love writing them too! I just love everything about writing – it makes me very happy 😊

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Yes I do sometimes get writer’s block where my mind goes completely blank and I can’t see the words, but I overcome this by using pen and paper – sounds odd but it helps restart the creative process.   

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

The character Sophie takes lots of twists – she has a mind of her own and is so funny and over-dramatic.  And Evelyn has gone through a complete transformation – in book 1 she was so shy and now she’s all confident and determined.  Will and Hema have progressed so much too as well – their uncomplicated love for each other is so sweet.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why?

My personal favorite is probably Juliette because she is lovely and she has this amazing romance – envy – LOL.  I don’t have a least favorite – I like all my characters, even the mean ones. Nobody is perfect; we all have flaws and I like to convey that within my characters.  It makes them more interesting and realistic.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?

I think my favorite scene has got to be when Will was stabbed and had a near death experience – it was really exciting to write!

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?

I’ve learned that I’m actually super-organized and super-creative – I’ve always known it was there – it just took me a while to unlock it.  

My tips for newbie writers:

Don’t get disheartened by reviews – it’s just one person’s opinion.

Follow your heart and write about what interests you.

Don’t let anyone dissuade you from writing – do it for you.

If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why?

I would recommend The School of Dreams of course!  It’s the first in the series which has to be read chronologically, otherwise the reader will become all confused.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

This teaser excerpt is taken from chapter 16 of my work in progress… “After all the worry and fuss, the dreaded talk with Josh and Jake had taken less than twenty minutes.  For five minutes Sophie had skirted around the main issue by chatting about how well her boys were progressing at school. She then spent approximately seven minutes explaining what she had been like when she was a little girl.  

“What’s up Mum?”  Josh had asked in his usual forthright manner.  

Her very slightly older twin had always been perceptive, even as a toddler he was able to pick up on a tense atmosphere.  Whereas Josh was so laid back he was almost horizontal and the opposite in that life’s tribulations seemed to just fly smoothly over his head unnoticed.  

“Nothing’s up,” Sophie squeaked, mind racing, “I’ve just had some news – family news.”

Josh sighed, “what’s Grandma Fletcher done now?”

“Nothing,” Sophie’s laugh bordered on hysteria, “for a change!”

“Is it Dad?”  Jake was suddenly sitting up straighter, “is he okay?”

“Yes love he’s fine,” Sophie rubbed his hand, “sorry.  It’s me, this is about my family,” she sucked in a breath, “actually it’s news about my dad.”

“She means the Grandad no one ever mentions,” Jake eyerolled at his twin.

“I thought he was dead,” Josh admitted.

“No!”  Sophie said aghast, “did Grandma ever tell you that?”

“Nope.  But no one ever mentions him.”

“You never even told us his name,” Jake accused, with raised eyebrows.  

Sophie’s sigh was heavy and sad, “that’s because I was very upset with him.  Grandpa Fletcher has a new name now. His name is Anthony Coben and I’d guess he’d be in his sixties.”

“Why don’t you know how old he is?”  Josh was staring at her with wide, innocent eyes.  Time for the truth.

“When I was a little girl, younger than you guys.  Grandpa was very ill, so ill that he ran away and I’ve never seen him since.  And that’s why I don’t know much about him.”

Josh and Jake looked at each other with excitement.

“Was he in trouble with the cops?”

“Was Grandpa a criminal?!”

“No.  He was very poorly here,” she tapped the side of her head, “and he was frightened and felt all alone.  So he went to live in a different country until he felt better.”

“Poor Granddad,” Josh’s lower lip trembled, “is he okay?”

Sophie nodded, tears brimming in her eyes, “Granddad slowly got better and he met a new lady and they had a baby and…and that baby’s now all grown up and he’s called Barry; he’s your uncle and he’s lovely.”

“Uncle Barry?”

“Yes Uncle Barry – my brother, your uncle.”

There was silence for a few moments while the boys digested this new information.

“Can we go see him?”

Sophie wiped the tears away, “even better,” she said, smiling brightly, “uncle Barry is here.  He’s traveled all the way from Hong Kong.”

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?

I love reading romances and psychological thrillers.  I also love reading horror books by writers such as Stephen King and James Herbert but I don’t like gore.

What about television shows? Movies?

I don’t watch much T.V to be honest, but if I do I like Eastenders, drama series, and wildlife documentaries.  I love watching horror and ghost films but have to hide behind a cushion if they get too scary. I also love totally far fetched love films such as Twilight and The City of Angels and I love film adaptations of classic books.  Jane Eyre is my favorite.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?

Khaled Hosseini’s  A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is utterly brilliant.  I kept thinking about it afterwards and it made me cry.

Can readers find you at any live events, such as book signings or conventions?

Never done any live events or book signings but would like to one day – that would be awesome 😊

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?

Empathy. Imagination. Intuition. Creativity. Perseverance. Focus. Fulfilment. Power. Love. Vocation.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love reading, drawing, swimming, cooking, the sea, sleeping and that’s about it.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers?

I would be so pleased if you read my work and enjoyed it.  I’ve put my heart and soul into it and I’m so proud of me 😊

For more information about  Julia, see below.

Julia’s Amazon Page  Julia’s Biography

Thanks to Julia for sharing your story!

Artania IV: Almost Done…

Fifteen months. Sixty-three weeks.  Four-hundred forty-one days. Since I set out to write the new book.

For this installment of the Artania Chronicles I decided to push myself in new directions. No longer would my heroes spend long days  in that art-created world pursuing a near impossible task. This time they would pop in and out without notice. Alex and Bartholomew would be in the middle of  battling a raging fire or a clawed monster when, poof, they’d be transported.

To a place strange and unknown.

Disoriented, Bartholomew would cling to something solid while Alex dashed to The Thinker’s aid. Neither knowing if anything they were doing would help this imperiled land.

And so it went.

I researched Paris and Impressionists. Made lists of symbols. Spoke with teens near the age of my heroes. Tried to remember what it was like to navigate those early days of high school.

Slowly my outline turned into pages. And pages to chapters.

Now, I’m nearly done. But there is a battle to write.

And it’s time to sculpt some scenes in my mind.