Disembodied Embrace: A Poem

Disembodied embrace

Of a dream lover.

He who exists beyond the

Corporeal plodding through

The mundane, that muck of life

That seeks to pull us under.

Ethereal, his voice transcends

Skin, scent, and taste

Until we are afloat

In a buoyant fantasy

Soaring in the sublime

Photos by David Stroup

About Laurie: The author of Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Review of The City of Dreaming Books

This book by Walter Moers is wonderful combination of fantasy and ridiculous farce. Probably the most imaginative book I’ve ever read with absolutely unique settings, characters, and symbolism. It is told in first person by an author-wannabe-dinosaur named Optimus Yarnspinner. He begins his tale in Lindworm Castle at the deathbed of his authorial godfather, Dancelot Wordwright. Wordwright gives him a manuscript, which he claims to be the greatest piece of writing ever. Upon reading the manuscript, Yarnspinner is so blown away that he feels he has to go to the City of Dreaming Books to find its author. There, Yarnspinner meets the shark grub Pfistomel Smyke, who offers to help find the author. Unfortunately, Smyke is not who he seems; he poisons Yarnspinner with a hazardous book, and maroons him in the city’s catacombs. Here he must watch out for bookhunters, harpies, the fearsome booklings, and the legendary Shadow King.

Will he ever find his way out to become the writer he has heretofore only dreamed of? Read this amazing tale and find out!

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Artania V: The Crone’s Kettle Excerpt

With a final glance over his shoulder, Sludge stepped onto the shack’s dilapidated porch and knocked on the twisted door. When no Crone appeared, he tried the knob. “Locked. Of course.”

Expecting this, he pulled out the key he’d made. A year or two back, when the Crone was in the kitchen making worm tea, he’d grabbed the key on the wall and pressed it into a block of clay in his pocket. Later he’d taken it to an Artanian blacksmith he knew he could trust who forged a new one.

“Crone?” he called inserting the key in the lock.

No answer. She was probably meeting with the Mud Princess. She often did to scheme and plot. Sludge allowed himself a moment to imagine a dance with that alluring creature, torchlight illuminating their wreathing bodies as his minions looked on in envy.

Yes, the Shadow Swine will long tell tales of his glorious dance. He stared at the door. His lips curled up and serrated teeth glinted in the firelight.

 A splash behind him made him turn. He glanced back at Swallow Hole Swamp where larvae hatched. Even before he’d bowed before Lord Sickhert on the banks of the River of Lies, he’d practiced dream draining on his fellow nymphs here.  

Magnificent memories.

A dark worm crested the swamp, its segmented back rolling in and out of mossy waters.

“Swim, nymph, swim. Find darkness below,” Sludge whispered before stepping over the threshold. “Are you here, old witch?”

Her shack was as quiet as a death.

“Now to find out what you’re up to,” he said. Once inside, he turned right. He knew exactly which room he wanted. While each held a single boiling pot, some forged like serpents or krakens, with others as round as witch’s cauldrons, the one he wanted was misshapen and warped. 

This kettle held answers.

The view inside looked almost the same as it had weeks earlier when he’d stood there with the Crone. A three-legged cauldron with a long ladle inside still rested atop a fire pit, flames licking the bent and twisted iron.

Here he’d seen his face floating in mist. The Deliverer’s father, who had gloriously drowned in mud months before young Bartholomew was born. Oh, he’d reveled in bringing Hygenette nightmares after that. Ensuring that she would forever turn from art.

Those dream invasions had gained him recognition and put him in Lord Sickhert’s favor. But now with Crone suspecting the truth, just a few choice words could strip all of that away.

If he wasn’t careful.

“Are you investigating me, Crone?” Sludge said stepping closer to the kettle.

The boiling surface was misty at first. No images. Not even the slightest hint of a human or Artanian. But as Captain Sludge looked deeper, a faint outline began to appear.

He leaned in closer. A sandy beach emerged. Melting clocks. Cliffs. Near these some hazy forms took shape. Two of the animated figures gesticulated wildly while a third with red hair paced nearby.

“New humans in Surrealia? How can that be?” Sludge gasped and stumbled back.

He mused for a moment. What was going on? Only the Chosen Ones should be able to enter portals. That’s how it had always been.  Had Thinker done this? If so, it made no sense. Artania’s leader was known for safeguarding humans. Only calling upon Alex, Bartholomew, and Gwen when necessary.

Maybe Crone had shown Lord Sickhert their new powers and now could open larger portals. Sludge straightened two of his hair spikes, thinking.  But no, she often ranted and raved about him being too strong. She would never share knowledge with their lord that would give him more power.

But she might take some for herself and leave Sludge behind.

Whatever the reason, he had not slogged through the marshes of Swallow Hole Swamp to waste this opportunity. When he first set out, he’d hoped to find answers to what the Crone was up to. But never in his wildest dreams had he imagined that vulnerable humans would now be in Artania.

He nodded. This turn of events just might work in his favor.

He rubbed his hands together. “I think I’ll craft a bit of amnesia to send your way.”

Taking a deep breath, Sludge blew a long stream of black mist over the simmering liquid. The dark smoke entered each gurgling bubble before rising on the steam. Sludge smiled and blew more.

The hazy image of four teens on a beach rose higher over the kettle as the outline of a brain took shape in the boiling waters. A moment later it ascended, and Jose and Zach’s faces materialized in the air. Licking his lips lasciviously, Sludge blew harder, and all images sharpened.

“Blankness, oblivion, memory loss,” Sludge chanted between panting blows.  A cloud filled the brain outline. It darkened and drifted toward the teens’ faces.

Jose and Zach’s mouths opened in gaping confusion.

“What do you think you’re doing?” an ancient voice cried from the doorway.

Sludge didn’t turn. “Capitalizing on an opportunity.”

“I didn’t give you permission.”

“Yet here I am.” He blew again. “Watch.”

The image of the teens enlarged and then Jose and Zach’s eyes clouded to milky white. An instant later there was a loud pop, and everything disappeared.

Sludge ran a claw-tipped hand over where the image had been.

The Crone slapped him on the back. “Well perhaps you are not quite the pupae I took you for.” She began to cackle.

Sludge joined in and their screeching voices filled the shack and floated over Swallow Hole Swamp.

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

The Tombs of Atuan Review

This book reads like a myth. I felt like I was one of many villagers sitting around a fire centuries ago our ears cocked in rapt attention as we listened to the storyteller reveal her tale. It all began long ago in a poor but loving household where a toddler rushes into her mother’s arms. Father cautions Mother from getting too attached as this girl-child is not theirs and soon will be taken to fulfill her destiny. Since she was born at the same hour of the High Priestess’s death all believe her to be the guardian of the tombs reborn. Taken at just five years old, she is then raised as has been done for countless generations. She tries to accept her role as Arha,she who is eaten but then when she is in her teens a stranger appears who makes her question everything she has ever been taught.

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Furyborn: A Review

I recently was looking for a new book to read so went onto Goodreads to find some recommendations. One group was reading Furyborn by Claire Legrand and it sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try. What were my thoughts?

The first chapter pulls you right in with, “The queen stopped screaming just after midnight.” Then you meet a boy given an impossible task and start to root for him, only to change POV and time to years before. This made it challenging for me to continue because I didn’t like Queen Rielle at first and couldn’t relate to her. But I had committed to read the book in a Goodreads group who encouraged me to keep on. I’m glad I did! As the chapters unfold we get to know, Rielle and Eliana, two women struggling to find their way in two different worlds. For years Rielle has hidden the fact that she has all seven of the prophesied powers. When she uses them to save her best friend Prince Audric, Rielle finds herself participating in trials to find out if she truly is the queen of legend. Eliana, on the other hand, is a reluctant assassin. She is doing anything she can to protect her brother and find her kidnapped mother and finds herself waged in a war that is centuries old. She is hiding an important part of herself from the world for fear of how it will be used and who it could hurt. Both women are on separate journeys, but connected in ways they couldn’t imagine. In the end one of these women will save the world and one will doom it. A good start to a new fantasy series!

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Writer’s Block Sonnet

Praying for insight to come unto me

I write and then wander from room to room

Sipping yet another cup of strong tea

Suppressing  the words from coming  too soon

I fear they are lacking the perfect mate

So click goes  the brain box, images flow

The hypnotizing rhythm of modern hate

Summons the restraints of my constant foes:

Those remnants of fears that so often lied

Coerce the  mind  to remain in tethers

Self doubt and pity hold that muzzle tight

My pen awaits only scrambled letters.

A mute, I cry out against ancient wrongs

While gyves  bind  and muffle this poets song.

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Mona Lisa Kidnapped?

Get Kidnapped Smile Here

Kidnapped Smile inspires children everywhere to find the artist within.






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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Is This The Matrix?

Is this all an illusion? Am I truly here on this planet revolving around the sun or am I a dream in someone else’s imagination? Is my mind my own or the extension of a large factory?

The movie The Matrix poses these questions with superb symbolism and poetic ideologues.  Through the use of a futuristic world whereby a machine race has enslaved mankind as a renewable energy source, we both question our own existence and our purpose here on Earth.  If we are but a dream inside of an elaborate world of dreamers, and controlled by image-makers is there any free will?  How can we fight injustice and inequality if life is only a mirage?  Perhaps we believe we are at battle but truly all is a simulacra; a construct of our minds and we are in conflict with our own alter-egos.

As the story unfolds we find ourselves intrigued by the young man, Neo who searches for something he calls the Matrix.  Isn’t this a symbol of our own search for a spiritual existence in a technical world?  As we further remove ourselves from a nature and find comfort and company ever more in electrical images does it not make sense that a quest for spirit would take place on the Internet?  Yet when Neo delves deeper into this world of computers he finds not a God but a race of machines who have declared themselves God.  So, does he embrace them and kneel before their alters? No!  On the contrary! He joins a force which seeks to destroy their temples in a holy crusade.  He is an unbeliever at first.  He doubts what he cannot see or touch.  But then again, what has he ever felt or touched that he can trust?

Morpheus says, “Welcome to the real world.” But Cipher quips, “Why didn’t I take the blue pill?”

Do we constantly take the blue pill?  We wrap ourselves up in the digital world of computers, TVs, cellular phones, hidden behind cubicle dividers or car privacy glass. Hell, we could have hundreds of conversations in a day while never touching another living human being. Constantly cut off from real interaction with the world.

Although violence is often a gratuitous tool used by Hollywood to entice movie goers, the violence is essential to the plot in this film.  As Neo combats the machine constructs within the digital Matrix, he must face his own doubts and fears thus seeing that there is more to his world than meets the eye. It becomes a symbol of man’s struggle with himself. It forces us to ask what is more important in the intellect versus the body or faith versus fact questions that have long plagued human kind. Do we live the life we choose or one of enslavement?  Neo fights his way through and overcomes internal struggles in trying to discover who he is and where he is going.

Just like me.

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Review of Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sierra Santiago, a Brooklyn teen who loves making art, wants to have a fun summer. But all of that is interrupted when a corpse crashes the first summer party. As she races to escape one macabre creature after another, Sierra discovers shadowshaping magic that blends spirits and art. She is perplexed at first but determined to unravel the family’s secrets to keep shadowshaping alive for generations to come.

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net



View all my reviews

Finding Joy: A Book About Abuse

My name is Joy, Joy Chappell. Over the top, I know, but my Mom wanted me to sound all innocent. And maybe I was, in my own way.

Can a car stealing, pot smoking, LSD tripping chick be innocent?  I thought so.

Even though it was always on my mind. It, the thing we never talked about. It that Mom hid with Cover Girl and I lied to my friends about. It, making me dream that someday the light of hippie sun would shine down as we danced barefoot in meadows.

Naïve, I know. But when you’re a kid you see the world through your own eyes. And when you’re high to boot, everything is tinged with a soft mist, like an out of focus camera, and you trust people, thinking they just want to give you a ride.

Even with It, I never knew people were truly ugly until that night. I really thought the face inside was just a mask, one I could melt away with my Kodachrome soul. But I was wrong. And by the time I figured it out, it was too late.

I was seventeen, and I was about to die

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 Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored 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 Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net