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

Book Trailers Made Easily

Are you looking for new ways to market your book? Would you like to share your story with a wider audience? Have you wanted to make a book trailer but thought it was too expensive or complicated? Lots of authors find the idea of making a book trailer daunting. But with just a few simple tools, and programs like Animoto or IMovie, you too can make book trailers that shine.

Step 1: Think of your elevator pitch. How can you condense your story into just a few sentences? Write them out.

Step 2: Download IMovie, other movie making software, or subscribe to a service with built in templates like Animoto which is just a few dollars each month.

Step 3: Make a file of photos that convey the mood of your book.

Step 4: Begin to add photos and captions to the templates.

Step 5: Watch your movie, make changes to scenes that feel off.

Step 6: Share on social media.

Here’s my first attempt with an Animoto template.

I like how it conveys the book in a gentle way. However, it didn’t have quite the excitement I wanted.

So with my second novel, I went back to the drawing board. How?

  1. I took my book cover  and cropped a a few elements to make multiple images like  this:

2.  I browsed through the Animoto templates. I watched dozens until I found one that felt right for me.

3. I began to drop in photos with captions, watching the video multiple times with the preview button until it felt right.animotoedit

Here is the final product.

I was pretty jazzed about how it came out. Not to mention how friggin’ fun it was to create in a new medium.

I hope you all enjoy making book trailers a much as I did!

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

H2O

H2O: The one molecule that is common to all life here on Earth.  Water. We drink it. We exhale it. Our very blood is made of it.  When it is near we are calmed. The sight of river, pool, sea, or rivulet turns furrowed brows into softened gazes. The sound of liquid water quiets the chatter of worried voices, soothing din strained ears. The taste of the cool liquid on tongues renews one’s strength. Its touch cleanses, exhilarates, and revives.

If I were a single molecule of this amazing compound where might I journey? What wonders might I behold? Who might I become a part of? What life might I sustain? Or inspire?

As I follow this path

from cloud

                                    To droplet      

                                                            To rivulet

                                                                                    To  pool

From rivers large and small. Frozen in ice and snow. Traveling from sky to mountain to valley. And finally colliding with oceans and seas in an endless cycle of constant change.

Become the nomad. Drift over the Rocky Mountains.  Roam the falls of Yosemite. Trek across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. Feel the sulfuric mist of lava meeting salty sea. Or join in the warm humid breeze of a tropical night.

Then turn back. A hitchhiker on a trade wind. Blow north. Rest in the frozen tundra of Alaska. Or bob on a glacial ice floe. Bring life to the forest there. Smile at the good works you have done.

Sail across the world. Find another continent. Join in the changes of the centuries. From rings of stone to castles to the modern.  River Thames, Arno, and Tiber fueling the growth of European industry.  Stretch out your arms and touch the past.

Return home. See the small pools and fountains minds have designed. To bring peace to a park or a field. Or a home. Dip your hands in. Let the water fall between your fingers. Cleansing you. Renewing your spirit. Making you ever thankful for this wonder, this life-giving compound. H2O.

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 JoJo: The 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

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

A Work of Art Dies Not

Leonardo da Vinci said, “A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.”

I have read many quotes by this genius and others while researching my Artania Chronicles books. Many were profound and wise, but this one really spoke to me.

I believe, like da Vinci, that our artistic expression is eternal.  It never ages nor wrinkles nor swells with arthritic pain. When we are creating, we are as free as toddlers running over soft grass or swans taking to flight. Our souls soar, touch the edge of sky and the eternity of meadow. Our hands become floating clouds and our feet dandelions on the wind.

We are beauty and expression.

Living on.

Sharing the hearts of others.

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

Martin Luther King Jr: A Quote

Dr. King said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact violence merely increases hate…Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

More than fifty years have passed since Dr. King spoke these years yet many still hold onto the false belief that violence can stamp out evil. But it is the violence itself that is a blight on society. Destroying a few individuals with hatred will not bring a stop to it. Isn’t it about time that we learned to walk a new path? I have seen children from gang families, abused kids, homeless students, and the impoverished act with more empathy than many adults.

We could learn a great deal from them. And by remembering these words spoken so long ago.

Elementary Students Volunteering to Create Peace at My School

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

Drifting Light

Dylan Thomas said, “Do not go gentle into that good night.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Yet T. S. Eliot said, “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”

As the hot air balloon floated upward on yet another birthday and mortality ever more visible, their words drifted into my mind. My son had surprised me at dawn with, “Get up Mom! We have to go.”

“What’s up sweetheart?”

“We’re going on a hot air balloon ride. We have to leave in ten minutes.”

With sleep and tears in my eyes, I brushed my teeth, threw on some jeans and tennies, and applied a quick swath of lipstick. During the forty-five minute drive Nick and I got caught up on how San Francisco State was treating him, his new job training students for the climbing wall, and concerts he’d recently worked as a bartender. Before we knew it we were at the Los Olivos Market meeting our guide and pilot, James Lawson, owner of Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. Two husband-wife couples milled about nearby as we made last minute pit stops to the restroom and snuggled into jackets to keep out the chill morning air.

The seven of us boarded the shuttle and drove a short distance to Santa Ynez Valley field where the basket lay on its side next to the deflated balloon. After James gave us a few safety tips, he yanked the pull cord on the huge fan a few times and the blower engine revved. As the balloon filled, we were asked to enter two by two for photos inside its belly. Nick and I stood arm in arm giggling, the strong winds blowing back our hair and clothes. Next, we all stood at a safe distance and they lit the burners which shot two yards of blue and red flame into the bag. While the fabric billowed and rose we were witness to Archimedes’ principle of buoyancy pulling the basket upright.

“Okay, line up,” James ordered us. “You’ll be three by three on either side of the basket.”

Using footholds cut in the side of the gondola, we climbed aboard and situated ourselves in the compartments. Ours was a six-person basket with the burner directly over us warming our heads with the blasting flames. There were multiple roped hand holds surrounding us making me think that this was going to be some roller coaster of a ride. Afraid I might tumble into Nick, I grabbed one, just to be safe. Then James pulled on some levers, and the burners hissed. Tension built in my shoulders.

And I waited.

And waited.

I cocked my ear to the side. Weren’t we going to take off? Then I realized. We already had.

I felt nothing. No jarring jolts. No rattling shudders. Not even a wobble at lift-off.

Yet moments later we were airborne drifting over the golden grasses of a California autumn. Everyone grew silent, as if in prayer, communing with the moment. And the world and all its worries withered making space for the quiet of wind and fire.

Below red and valley oaks stood sentinel on hillsides flanked by coastal sage scrub and grasses. The sun’s rounded shoulders arced from under the horizon changing the peppered cirrus and altostratus clouds from tangerine to lavender and finally alabaster.

The ground waned as we ascended becoming a blanket for the behemoth that is our Earth. I pulled out my phone, trying to capture a few snippets of the venture while still remaining present. My fellow passengers seemed to have the same sentiment, shifting from detached photojournalist to awe-struck spectator every few minutes. The balloon shadowed the undulating chaparral below reminding me of an angel with interlocked wingtips unfurled.

Our pilot and guide not only navigated the balloon but also his spiel expertly. As he guided the craft in and out of oak forests, over green vineyards, and even over a field to hover and pick up a pumpkin from one of his crew, he recited tales of land and man, geology and climate, history and biology. He would speak intermittently, allowing each of us meditative moments to breathe in this singular experience.

My boy and I exchanged few words during the flight but multiple loving glances. I could tell how thrilled he was to bring me joy, something he has done many times since becoming an adult. Nick has taken me on mother-son dates to rock concerts by Neil Young and Robert Plant, long hikes to remote places, and even a Halloween rave party. That boy loves giving to his family.

With memorable days like this one.

Yep, I may be another year older with mortality rearing its Medusa tentacles my way. But on this one day, I got to rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

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