Embedded in Vinyl: A Poem

Embedded in vinyl

Are hands over sheets

And the susurration of ever quickening

Breath

Its black grooves played

Until scratched and warped

Each sound crackles

With the resolute whir

Of closing zippers

And bodies turned away

Like records forever encased

In plastic sheaths.

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

Hull’s Feast: A Poem

Vultures circle

The line of metallic insects

Whose crystalline eyes see only

The flashing red thoraxes

Before them.

They wait for dimming lights

To swoop down

Break through lenses

And feast on

Our empty hulls.

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

No Ride: A Finding Joy Excerpt

The winter stars twinkled above the streetlamps in the midnight sky. Porch lanterns glimmered through the fog. A lone car’s headlamp shone in the distance.

But shadows prevailed. Dusky hands swiped from the gloom. A blackness I’d never escape.

I kept running. Rushing forward in a race against no one. Each breath drew shorter. I started gasping, chest tightening with every stride.

Palm trees swayed overhead, their sharp fronds whispering like necromancers creating curses. Repeatedly, they murmured, “Dog. Freak. Outcast.” Meanwhile, wispy clouds became wraiths assaulting the sky.

Praying that speed would shrivel the words, I tried focusing on my feet. And raced on.

If there truly was a fairy godmother, she’d tell me to close my eyes to erase it all. But when I tried, Angie’s sneering face remained etched on the back of my lids.

 I sprinted up one street. Down another.

Then I turned the corner and flew head long into the street. Saw the headlights. Too late. A horn blared and tires screeched. 

The next thing I knew I was splayed out in someone’s yard, watching a man in a dark Camaro roll down his window.

“Stupid kid! Watch where you’re going!” he shouted before peeling out.

If I’d had any buzz before that, it sure as shit was gone now. Panting, I hugged my knees as the wet grass soaked into my Dittoes.

The street was quiet now. Shivers tingled my scalp and pulsed down my spine until I was shaking so much, I thought that big earthquake they always talk about had begun.

I want to go home. Sit on Mom’s lap like I had when I was little, feeling her stroke my hair as she told me things that weren’t true like sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.

Take a deep breath, Joy. Think. You don’t’ know where you are, but you need to find out. It’s almost curfew.

My legs tightened as a full-on Charlie horse set in. Standing I limped over to a nearby street sign, grabbed the pole with both hands, and started to stretch out my right calf.

The sign said Malibu Avenue. Where had I heard that before? Wracking my brain, I tried to remember street names, but everything was fuzzy and mixed up.

Right or left? Both looked pretty much like dead ends, but I either picked one or stayed on this corner shivering all night. Eeenie meanie Minnie moe.

Left it is.

***

By the time I finally found my way home it was real late, probably past two. I thought maybe I could sneak in and my parents wouldn’t notice.

Turning the knob as slowly as I could, I slipped inside.

 “Where the hell have you been?” Ronny thundered, his eyes red and angry.

“Umm. At Janice’s.”

He grabbed me by the collar and pulled me closer. I could still smell the Seagram’s under the toothpaste on his breath. “Liar. We called. She was with her boyfriend.”

“But I was with them. Really.”

“You were whoring around, little slut.”

“No! I was with Janice and Lisa, I swear.”

Mom stepped into the entryway. “Tell us the truth Joy. Was it a boy?”

“No.” I sighed. Busted, I might as well tell the truth. “I was a party, okay? Some kids had a party.”

“Whoring around?”

“I don’t do that. just went to a party.” Then under my breath said, “Nobody’d want me anyhow.”

Mom’s face fell. “You lied to us?”

“I thought you’d say no. You guys are so strict-”

“I’ll show you strict you little slut!” Ronny raised an arm.

“Stop calling me that.”

Grabbing a fistful of t-shirt, he said, “Slutty jeans. Whore top.”

“Asshole!” I jerked away.

“Why you fucking little–” His fist recoiled off my face.

For the first time I ignored the pain and fear. Instead, rage filled me. Every punch Mom and I had ever endured. Every black eye and bruise. Every cruel word of derision. Every time I’d cowered behind my door. All turned to paper flashing flame.

I wish he’d just crawl in a hole and die.

I swung. Fists curled like he showed me. Connected with that fucking red face. Arms burning with rage. Imitating the blows he’d inflicted year after year.

Smack! Rapid fire strikes shot off from two pairs of arms. Child against adult. Girl against man. Victim against perpetrator.

 Mom’s screams did nothing to stop the conflagration. Too many years of fuel. I punched and punched. Not giving a shit as to how loud she cried or how much my face was swelling.

She got behind me and grabbed my waist. “Stop, now!” she said dragging me off him.

I stumbled back. Raised an arm toward her but then gasped when I realized what I was doing. A tear-stained face looked at me accusingly.

“What’s wrong with you?”

Ronny placed a hand on Mom’s back. “She’s a spoiled bitch, that’s what.”

Shaking my head, I backed up. Only now feeling the fire on my cheeks, I cupped them and froze. I hate him, fucking hate him.

 After lowering my hands, I ran to my room. With a loud door slam, I fell onto the bed and buried my face in a Tide-scented pillow. Pounding the mattress, I screamed, “I didn’t do anything!”

Asswipe.

And I’d really been trying lately. Not getting high so much. Working on my grades, friggin’ joined the school paper, even wrote two articles that got published. I tried getting home before curfew. Wasn’t my fault I couldn’t get a ride.

Why do I even try? No matter what I do, things suck.

A smoldering something changed in me that day. It blistered into a scalding char that burned under my skin. And the tears that flooded my pillow did nothing to smother it.

I fucking give up.

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

New Artania Synopsis: Thoughts?

I just reworked my synopsis for Artania I: The Pharaoh’s Cry. Since there are no other books I can find where all art is alive, it seemed fitting to explain the premise. Any thoughts? Ideas to make it better?

Imagine a world where all art is alive. A mystical land where every sketch, painting, and sculpture breathes and loves just like you and me. If it were in danger what would you do to protect it?

That’s the question the lonely Bartholomew Borax III asks himself when he is yanked into Artania, the land of living art. Just when he thinks his boring life will always suck, he and skateboarding painter, Alexander Devinci, discover that they are the prophesied artists destined to keep this land safe.

Artania has many realms: Renaissance Nation, Impressionist Republic, and Gothia all are populated with the art of their time. But below ground lives an evil race of creatures whose sole purpose is to destroy, attacking from their underground lair of Subterranea. These Shadow Swine have captured twelve pharaohs and if they are not rescued before the sands of time run out, The Land of Antiquities will turn to dust.

But only the prophesied Deliverers can stop them.

No way.

When he sees a struggling Artanian child pulled underground, Bartholomew finally agrees to help, not knowing if it will be enough. With Egyptian gods, goddesses, and warriors at their side, they brave a series of battles, duels, and skateboarding escapes. Bartholomew blunders again and again. Amidst dead and wounded comrades, his guilt grows. As his confidence begins to erode, he must use all of his talents to create the true art. For only its power can defeat Sickhert’s army and bring art back to the world. 

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

Bleached Memory: A Poem

Father’s memory betrayed.

In revisionist history

Sketch after sketch erased.

Canvases unpainted.

She hides his true face

From the world.

Morphing the second Borax’s

Paint-splattered cloak

Into the bleached mantle

Of a king’s antiseptic empire.

The above poem follows the theme of my new novel: Artania V. What is memory? Why is it important? Here fifteen year old Bartholomew realizes that his mother has always lied about who his deceased Father was.

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

Raucous Éclair: A Poem

The mute speak in raucous voices

Spewing chocolate éclairs and ice cream

At satiated audiences.

The blind behold paper movie-set flames

Licking the walls of war-torn villages

Where no one lives.

The deaf attend to the muffled sirens

Of disgruntled men in leisure suits

Who cry “Buy!” and “Sell!” into cellular phones.

I see only darkness through my colored contact lenses

As pop bands play, “My future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.”

I tap my foot, sans rhythm, to the minstrel mime blaring silent recordings on a blank tape.

Voices clamor for the sky.

Tears fall on the shadows of shoulders.

While I orate and conversate.

And emit passionate cliches and sublime euphemisms.

But only the mute hear me,

And they can’t respond.

Photos by David Stroup

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: Frozen in Time Excerpt

Hugging her knees, Gwen looked up at the sky where a bat suspended on silent wings defied gravity and all logic. The palm trees waited, mid-sway, their motionless fronds pointing at a distant plane hanging amidst stars.

She glanced around. Lacey Zamora’s finger was still poking Coco’s chest. Zach hung mid-air in a surprised leap. The tiki torches continued to cast icy shadows on Jose’s sexy face.

Rising, she stroked Jose’s cheek. His skin was kinda like one of those sculpted people in Artania. Of course, they moved and talked. But Jose… He just stared with eyes as cold as stone.

 Come on Gwen, try something. Anything.

She ducked under Zach’s suspended feet and looked up. The bottom of Mr. GQ’s dress shoes was stamped with a paisley pattern. “You are one stylin’ soul,” she said chuckling at her own pun.

But Zach said nothing.

Stylin’ soul. Get it, Zach?”

Shrugging, Gwen strolled over to the dance floor. Imitated a few kids’ poses. Even got a couple good Charleston kicks in. Paced back over to the pool with its unnatural ripples frozen in time.

When she bent over and saw no reflection, Gwen swallowed hard.

I don’t want to be alone here..

She backed up. A stiff hand caught her hair.

“Let go!” She jerked away but the statue kid’s fingers were still tangled. She recoiled, losing a clump of hair in the process.

Clamping a hand to her head, Gwen streaked for the French doors. She peered inside before bounding down a hallway. “Can you hear me? Someone, anyone!”

Gwen ran faster, dashing from room to room.  She poked a head inside the kitchen where the caterers were in the middle of chopping, slicing, and arranging gourmet hors d’ oeuvres. Turning on a heel, she rushed upstairs to the master bath where a motionless Mrs. Zamora faced a mirror and aimed a lipstick at her mouth.

“Sorry!” Gwen called as she exited, glad she hadn’t caught the woman in a more embarrassing situation.

She raced in one bedroom. Another. Back down the stairs. Down corridors and around corners. Nothing but frozen people everywhere. By the time she returned to the pool, she was out of breath and her red hair was sticking to the sides of her face. She wiped some of the slick sweat from her brow with the back of her hand.  

And waited, hoping for a repeat of the year before.

Last year when the world had frozen in time lightning had crackled the silence. Then, after the low rumbling of thunder and a pop, a confused Mr. Clean had appeared. She thought he was there to save the day, but he had no idea how to start time again.

The two had had tried buko things before finally getting it going. None of which she could do on her own.

“Where are you guys? I need you.”

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

Pandora’s Box: We Need Hope

Long ago, according to Greek myth, there were only gods. Then one day they decided to form the first woman and asked Hephaestus to mold Pandora from clay. Each of the gods next bestowed upon her a gift; femininity from Aphrodite, deceit from Hermes, and crafts from Athena. Pandora means, “she who bears all gifts” in Greek.

Soon the beautiful woman was betrothed to Epimetheus. As a wedding present she received from Zeus a box that she was told contained many more amazing gifts. In fact it held all the ills of the world. He told her to keep it safe but never to open it.

Pandora was wed and should have been happy. But that box called to her. Day after day she gazed upon it imagining the wonders it might contain. Finally, her curiosity got the better of her and she lifted the lid. This unleashed every imaginable evil upon the earth. She tried to halt the onslaught and quickly closed it. But that all was left at the bottom was a tiny bit of hope.

How do we use this myth as writers? I believe that every story whether it’s fantasy, horror, or tragedy needs what was left in the bottom of Pandora’s box. Without hope, the audience is left uneasy and unsatisfied. Battles may ensue. Lives might be lost. Love could be elusive. Yet still, the audience craves the fantasy that things just might be okay somewhere down the line.

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

Banished Butterflies: A Poem

We live in an age of love’s corporeal metamorphoses

Where butterflies are banished back to chrysalides

Veiled in pupal gowns

They emerge as larva crawling and devouring

Ever younger and greener shoots

Until the garden is denuded

And it is time to call upon corporeal lust

To nourish an emptying sky of butterflies

And as the wind is hushed from the beating of astral wings

And skyriders descend into the venery of a mucinous desert

Gypsy moths dance on their aborted souls

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