Sludge’s Revenge: An Artania V 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 my 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 there.  

Magnificent memories.

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

“Swim, nymph, swim. Into shadows below,” Sludge whispered before stepping over the threshold. “Are you here, old one?”

Her shack was as quiet as a death.

“I’m coming in,” he said to the air.

 Once inside, he turned right toward the exact room he wanted. While each held a boiling pot, some forged like serpents or krakens, with others as round as witch’s kettles, the one he needed was misshapen and warped. 

This one held answers.

The view inside looked the same as it had weeks earlier when he’d stood there with the Crone. The firepit still lit the room in. The three-legged cauldron still held a long ladle and flames continued licking the bent and twisted iron.

Here he’d seen that human’s face floating in mist long ago. The artist who had gloriously drowned in mud months before young Bartholomew was born. Oh, the nightmares he’d sent Hygenette after that. They ensured that she would forever turn from art.

This had gained him recognition and put him in Lord Sickhert’s favor. But now the Crone suspected the truth and 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. 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 such powerful knowledge with their lord.

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 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, shade,” Sludge chanted between panting blows.  A cloud filled the brain image then darkened and drifted toward the teens’ faces.

Jose and Zach’s mouths dropped open.

“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 floating image enlarged until it filled the room. Then Jose and Zach’s eyes clouded to milky white. An instant later there was a loud pop, and the smoke cleared.

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

The Crone nodded approvingly and 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 toward the quivering nymphs of 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

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

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

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

Memories: A Holiday Wish

Happy holidays to you all!

Memories Over The Years

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

Don’t Go in the Forest!

The half-tree, half-human beings lived a secret existence deep in the old growth forest.

Until now.

When 11-year old Daisy Castillo disobeys her mother and ventures into the woods alone, she comes face to face with a strange creature. She then sets off on a mysterious path and discovers a plot to destroy the forest. Although danger waits in every shadow, she battles to halt this approaching evil and keep the magical beings from being discovered.

She know that if these corrupt men succeed, the Forest People will die. And Daisy can’t let that happen. Fate hangs in the balance as Daisy faces her deepest fears, including heartbreak from the past, to rise up against all odds to keep the old growth forest safe for all.

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

Trampoline

Children

On fabric suspended by

Springs

Cartwheels

Hand springs

Pratfalls

Leaping ever higher

Making mystical nests of clouds

Touching dragons in the sky.

 

 

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

Hope for Peace: 10 Ways to Effect Change

Just like you, recent events have rocked me to the core. As humanity’s ugly underbelly is exposed with mange and open sores that continue to bleed, I’m seeking hope. For me, it lies with children. I have seen first hand that these innocents desire justice and harmony. I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want. Here are ten creative ideas I’ve used with my students. Let’s all begin the change.

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1. Make Peace Cards.

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2. Make an anti-bully poster.

images (1)

3. Draw cartoons dealing a bully.

images

4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.

peace

5. Create a Love the Earth card.

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6. Make a dream board.

2

7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.

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8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.

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9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

Colby Jeffers: Change the World

10. Paint a self-portrait.

frostselfportraits

Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

About Laurie: 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

Art Can Bring Peace: 10 Ways

I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want creatively. Here are ten ideas to begin the change.

983747_10152286569688030_3959075860435877513_n

1. Make Peace Cards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Make an anti-bully poster.

images (1)

3. Draw cartoons dealing with a bully.

images

4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.

peace

5. Create a Love the Earth card.

348d04fd5a196a7a13478bd60b21f7d4

6. Make a dream board.

2

7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.

SAM_0877

8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.

B00ER8HHIO_img2_lg

9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

Peace Song

10. Paint a self-portrait.

frostselfportraits

Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

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