Artania: The Pharaoh’s Cry 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 Pharaohs’ Cry for free. But act fast. This offer disappears on September 30th.  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

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

 

Cover Reveal: Portal Rift

Early this morning I received an email from my publisher saying, ”
Find attached the cover draft from our artist….Hopefully, we have  managed to capture the essence of your story in this cover. When you have a moment, could you have a look and let me know your thoughts?”

Personally I love it. What do you all think?

image (33)

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

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

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

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.”