Dreams Do Come True

This book was the most challenging I’ve ever written, but it was a story I had to tell.

When I realized the book was published…

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 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

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

 

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

 

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.

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!

James Cudney: An Author’s Journey

I write because I love to tell stories, …share knowledge, and thoughts, ” says cozy mystery and family drama author James Cudney.  “I always wanted to be a writer…but ultimately found myself working in technology. ”

James did well as a technical writer for a telecommunications company  but as the years passed, felt like something was missing. There was constant buzzing in his brain. A whispering in his ears kept saying, You have other stories to tell.  Let them be known.   So after more than a decade of trying to ignore the whispers, James decided it was time to abandon the safety of a  day job and give full-time writing a chance.

He hasn’t looked back since.

Now some might dip into writing as if they were testing the waters of an alpine lake. First a toe. See if it’s too cold. Then another. And if it’s bearable, slowly immerse the legs. But not James. He took a deep breath and canon-balled right into those frigid waters managing in just two and a half years to write five novels, land a publishing contract, gain thousands of followers on his popular blog, and garner the respect of both reader and author alike.

If only we all could make such a splash, huh?

So, how has he been able to achieve so much success in such a short period of time? “I have a one-year-old shiba inu dog named Baxter who likes to keep me focused on him and only him!” he answers, acknowledging the challenges of being a full time writer.  He manages with organization, determination, and ignoring what others might find distracting still he was kind enough to grant me the following interview: 

Tell me about your work .

“My first two novels are stand-alone family drama contemporary fiction books—Watching Glass Shatter, Father Figure. My last three are part of a light and cozy mystery series about a college campus in Pennsylvania, coincidentally based on where I went to school. The Braxton Campus Mysteries includes—Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip. My books will always focus on family drama and mystery to varying degrees, as this is where my heart and mind work best. I am planning to dabble in other genres over the next few years. I wonder how it will turn out!”

Cudney books

Can you tell me about your writing process?

“Since my books tend to have complex story lines that weave clues and connections throughout all the chapters, I have to plan them. I start with a ~25-page outline that lists the basic plot, setting, characters, and goals. I include a few high-level descriptions for scenes within each chapter, noting which characters are involved, what their purpose is, and what settings will be used. From there, I write 2 chapters per day on writing days. With the first two books, it took ~6 months from start to finish. With the three lighter mysteries, each is about a ~3-month process to outline, write, edit and prepare for publication. When I’m writing, I tend to sit at my dining room table on a laptop staring out onto the terrace in my NYC apartment. I spend about three hours per chapter, but sometimes it can go more quickly or take all day!”

What inspires you?  How do you come up with your ideas?

“I’m plot-oriented. The first thing that comes to mind is some wicked or devious story that is chock full of surprises. Then I decide who the villain will be. Sometimes it’s a minor character, but others, I want to shock readers by making it someone core to the story. Once I know the villain, I create side-stories that allow me to show red herrings or create sub-plots to entertain and distract. I tend to be quiet and shy in person, so I’m often thinking about new books even while in a group setting. I listen and observe rather than talk and share in person. It’s a blessing and a curse!”

What is your favorite part of writing?

“My favorite part is interacting with readers to know what impression it had on them.”

How did you break into publishing?

“It was an alternative path. I started out by querying literary agents using an online database that matched author style and genre to agencies. I took 6 months while I was writing and editing Watching Glass Shatter to search for an agent to help me succeed, but like most people, I had very few responses and leads. I also had zero connections in the publishing world until I began writing a blog. After I posted two chapters, a fellow blogger read my work and privately messaged me. She was a life-savior who introduced me to her publisher, Creativia. Within a month, Creativia and I decided to partner together to build my career. Five books into it, I’m still shocked things are working out!”

What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research?

“How to create an explosion in a laboratory that has two different reactions—a minor one to distract a villain and a larger one to kill someone unexpectedly. It’s a good thing I didn’t get into science, or I might have blown up a few too many things! The scene will be in Flower Power Trip when it is published on March 30th, 2019.”

Any tips for new  or aspiring authors?

“Be sure you know what your goals are before you publish something. Is it for fame? Money? Prestige? Accolades? Self-worth? Boredom? Hobby? Profession? Literary merit? Humor? Until you know what you want to accomplish, you can’t define your marketing plans or your reaction to critics. Few writers survive on income from books alone. It’s important to know that and focus on the right plan to meet your goals.”

Tell about your writing education. 

“I took a few creative and fiction writing courses in high school and college.
Since then (20 years), I have done nothing formal nor obtained any
qualifications. I personally don’t learn from sitting in a classroom and
studying textbooks. I learn from talking with people, reading other people’s
works, and paying attention to what’s happening in the realm of publishing.
Should I brush up on grammar, yes. Should I take a course on marketing,
yes. But when it comes to building a character, I know enough from reading
and reviewing close to 1000 books in my lifetime. But it doesn’t mean I am
an expert. It means I have enough to be successful. I can always learn, and
if the right class came around about how to develop certain writing skills, I’d
fully jump into it!”

Who are your favorite authors and novels? 

“I’ve got a bunch depending on genre. For historical fiction, I’m obsessed
with Ken Follett and Kate Morton. For mystery, I adore Agatha Christie. For
contemporary fiction, I’m enamored with Fredrik Backman and Amanda
Prowse. I’m a huge fan of Follett’s Pillars of the Earth series, but ultimately, my two
favorite books are And Then There Were None’and Murder on the Orient
Express by Christie.”

What are your plans for the future?

“I’d love to have enough of a canon and following to spend time working with younger or newer writers. I’m adept at story development and figuring out what characters will attract readers. I’d love to mentor and give back in the future once I’ve proved my skills and capabilities.”

What are you working on now?

“I’m writing a sequel to Watching Glass Shatter and the fourth book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series. Hopefully I keep the plots separated!”

If his recent books are any indication, I’m sure he’ll have no problem.

“I write because I love to …develop characters, create settings, and share … with other people,” says James.

And we are all so thankful that you have.

 

For more information about James Cudney’s books see below:

Websites & Blog and Social Media Links

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/   Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

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.

 

My First Audio Book!

A few months back I was out to lunch with some author friends of mine talking shop. I’m always interested in new ways my colleagues might be sharing their work and was excited when several told me that Audible is not only easy, but affordable. And it helped to get a wider audience for books.

So I decided to give it a try.

I was surprised how pain free the process was. All I had to do was create a script, post a job on the ACX website, and wait for the audition tapes to come in.

And I tell you that when the auditions began to arrive I was a giddy kid. It was thrilling to hear the different ways that various actors interpreted Artania. One man made if very goofy and silly, a bit like Dr. Seuss. Another had a  raspy voice, nearly whispering each word.

But the actor I liked the best was K. C. Wayman. His deep rich voice reminded me of classically trained actors such as Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Stewart, or Lawrence Oliver. I approached him with an offer, which he soon accepted.

And we were off.

Within weeks I was able to sit back, close my eyes, and experience Artania: The Pharaoh’s Cry  in a whole new way.  For me it was an unmatched thrill.

How did he do? Give this sample a listen and decide for yourself.