Artania Writing Trek: Phase 1

When I first set off on a writing trek to finish Artania IV I didn’t know what to expect. I’d read about other writers who used solitude to create, setting off on adventures across the country while scribbling away at their yellow pads or pounding at ancient keys on black Royal typewriters.  The romantic in me imagined a Steinbeck, Hemingway,  Thoreau journey into the profound.

As I began driving down Highway 166 I could barely contain my excitement. I cranked the radio singing along  to “Are You Going to San Francisco”  and  “Free Fallin'” at the top of my lungs. I was in a twirling fantasy of whatever might come. I even stopped by the side of the road just to twirl in circles.

The further I drove the more beauty I saw. The hills grew softer, the sky bluer, even the cows were looking like sublime mythical creatures.

I was going inward to a place of my own making.

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.

Review of Number the Stars

Do people stand up to fascism? Who can find hope when their people are disappearing right and left? How does a single child survive a human-made holocaust? These are the types of questions Danes had to deal with during World War II. And their answer is found in Lois Lowry’s poignant novel, Number the Stars.

Number the Stars  is the story of two 10 year old friends, AnneMarie and Ellen, who live in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1943. The story is told by the Christian, girl AnneMarie, as she watches what happens to her Jewish friend, Ellen, when the Nazis gain power. The events seem innocuous  until one day some friends of the family disappear, and their business is shut down, as the Nazi “relocation” of the Danish Jews gets underway.  What ensues is a heroic adventure that reminds us all of the best and the worst in humanity.

Not only moving, but educational, Lowry’s book is based on real events of the evacuation of Danish Jews from Copenhagen during WWII. It is heartening to hear that when the Nazis threatened to relocate all the Jews in Denmark, the Danish people came to their aid and smuggled almost the entire Jewish population, nearly 7,000 people, to the safety of Sweden.

If only all peoples could band together like this. Just imagine.

Highly recommended.

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 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.

Book Trailers in 6 Easy Steps

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 $8.00 a 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!

True Art: An Excerpt

“Our world will be saved if their art is true!” Bartholomew shouted again.

Alex reached into his pocket and felt the brown button. Now he understood why it had lead him here and what true art was. When Bartholomew sketched Mom in class, that had been true. His paintings that came from deep inside of him, true as well.

When Mom had gotten sick he’d stopped going to that special place. Well, not any more. It ends here. He broke off a few soda straw stalagmites and swirled them in the water.

The swirling stalactites became paintbrushes as the water turned into a palette of colored streams. Alex dipped a brush into the softest of browns and made two dots on the ground beside him. Then for the peach. And the golden yellow. Her blouse had been aqua. Don’t forget white. Oh how her teeth had shone.

A tiny bit of light emanated from the gold ring. Mom’s fingers began to glisten. Alex reached out to touch her hand and it glimmered, growing brighter until the entire cavern was basking in a warm glow.

Alex embraced his mother. A single beam formed in the center of their chests. Alex took a deep breath. See it. Believe. A fiery rose bloomed between them and thousands of golden rays shot forth.

Just like Alex in Artania, we all forget our unique wonder at times.  But when we remember, man oh man, amazing things happen.