Dreams Do Come True

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

When I realized the book was published…

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and the middle grade Forest Secrets Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Here Comes the Judge!

I am thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected to be a judge in the New Voice Short Film Festival! And I’m the only woman chosen as a judge. What an honor!

This film festival is designed to showcase the work specifically for non-professional, non-union related filmmakers. If you are a filmmaker, writer, director, and/or producer at least 18 years of age and living in the Southern California area, you are welcome to submit your film project here:

Submission Information

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

A Hungering Muse

When the words are stilted, like a stubbed toe limp or a stunted tree seeking sky on a windswept cliff,  quotes  help me summon the muse.

muse in ear

Piers Anthony said: “Keep writing, because not only does practice improve skill, it gives you more chances to score on the market.”

piersanthony

William Shakespeare: “O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.”

shakespeare

Ray Bradbury’s advice is this. “To feed your Muse, then, you should always have been hungry about life since you were a child. If not, it is a little late to start.”

raybradbury

“Finish what you’re writing.  Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.” -Neil Gaiman

neilgaiman

What do you do when the muse is silent? Comment and let me know!

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

 

Burning: An Excerpt

Once, when I was a fifteen year old camper at Catalina Island camp, I snuck out to party in the lodge with some of the counselors. They were all all older than me, some almost twenty, and in my eyes way cool. I felt honored to be included with a group that had shared so much hippie wisdom with me,  that I probably grew an inch taller in that hour.

Well,  one minute we were all laughing and chugging down Boone’s Farm sweet wine and the next there was this horrific crash as I watched the party disintegrate into a jealous punching match.

Two of our ski boat drivers, Matt and Steve were on the floor rolling over and over in a vicious brawl. I guess they pined for the same counselor, a tanned California blonde named Gail. And when she turned her attention to Steve, Matt lost it. He attacked Steve with a vengeance even my step-father didn’t have.

They rose to their feet and I watched horrified as Steve’s face swelled under Matt’s bloodying blows.  He hit the door and then bounced back like a racquetball rebounding off a court wall. Even now Matt didn’t let up but hit him again and again as Steve tried like hell to block his blows.

“Stop!” I cried leaping out of the way. I shouted again but they kept at it. Now Steve bent over and head butt Matt in the gut forcing both of them against the pool table.

I retreated to the corner of the lodge and curled up into a ball. Why won’t they listen? I thought sobbing uncontrollably.

“You guys p-please, no more. No more. No more..”

I guess my tears must have finally got through to them because a moment later they were all gathered around me.

“This is horrible. You guys should f-forgive each other,” I begged between gulping sobs, hoping my  innocent eyes  would open their hearts.

They both shook their heads.

“But it’s wrong. There should be peace in the world.” I sniffled.

“Sorry, kid. That’s just a dream. Or a song on the radio. You understand?” Matt asked.

I shook my head. No, I didn’t. And all these years later, I still don’t.

(The above is an excerpt from a new novel I’m working on. I think this scene embodies its theme. )

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

Believing in Yourself

Am I good enough?  As a writer there are many times when I doubt my abilities. Times I wonder if the words I write touch anything in others.  Times I fear that my work is too different to be understood. Are they simply the ramblings of a lady who sees the world through a very strange lens?

And then I shout to myself, STOP!

Truth be told, being different is a gift. There is no one who sees the world like me. No one who writes like me. No one who puts the sentences together on the page like me.

That is the wonder of being human.

As is true for everyone.

I once went to a writing workshop hosted by screenwriter, novelist, and radio talk show host, Dave Congalton. After depressing the class with a sobering list of statistics about the slim chances of getting a book deal, he paused. Then he said something that has stuck with me ever since.

Dave said, “I may not have a blockbuster idea or a New York Times bestseller material. But I do have stories I can share. Stories that are uniquely mine. And I am not going to let some publishing-house gatekeeper keep me from sharing them. ”

He then went on to outline his process of self-publishing his book Ho Ho: The Dog Who Saved Christmas and the joy he felt in finally having his story in print.

I was inspired.

Later that year I began the process of self-publishing my first novel, Forest Secrets. It took months of hard work, rewrites, editorial consults, and quite a bit of money.  When I finally held that book in my hands and ran fingers over the smooth over, a lifelong dream came true.

That is the moment I return to in times of doubt. Yes, I am different. No, I have not made the New York Times bestseller list. But I believe in myself.

As should you.

Laurie Woodward is the author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. She co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California.

Artania IV: Almost Done…

Fifteen months. Sixty-three weeks.  Four-hundred forty-one days. Since I set out to write the new book.

For this installment of the Artania Chronicles I decided to push myself in new directions. No longer would my heroes spend long days  in that art-created world pursuing a near impossible task. This time they would pop in and out without notice. Alex and Bartholomew would be in the middle of  battling a raging fire or a clawed monster when, poof, they’d be transported.

To a place strange and unknown.

Disoriented, Bartholomew would cling to something solid while Alex dashed to The Thinker’s aid. Neither knowing if anything they were doing would help this imperiled land.

And so it went.

I researched Paris and Impressionists. Made lists of symbols. Spoke with teens near the age of my heroes. Tried to remember what it was like to navigate those early days of high school.

Slowly my outline turned into pages. And pages to chapters.

Now, I’m nearly done. But there is a battle to write.

And it’s time to sculpt some scenes in my mind.

Teaser from Artania IV

Bartholomew Borax III staggered back, bouncing off something hard. He thrust out his hands, but still tumbled over, landing on all fours. Gasping for breath, he dug his fingers into the ground and clung to the grassy soil.

Please stay this time. He prayed.

Arching his back, he gulped in a lungful of fresh air, choking on the ash in his throat. His body spasmed and he sputtered, coughing up dark phlegm. He spat twice.

Dew soaked through his silk pajamas to his knees. The boy leaned back on his haunches and tried to calm his breathing. He closed his eyes and began a silent count. OneTen…Thirty-one…Thirty-three. Once he could take a breath without spluttering, he opened them.

The shining moon broke through the clouds illuminating the Spanish style building beyond. The school was still standing?

But he had just watched it melt away.

A breeze blew back his blonde hair. He stood, bare feet slipping on the wet grass.

Bartholomew leaned against the flag pole and brushed his cheek against metal. Cool as the dark sky above. No hint of that fiery furnace now.

That he was back in the real world.

The fourteen-year-old had traveled into the mystical Artania three times before, and while each journey was unique, he’d never experienced anything quite like this. Every other crossing had been with Alex by his side knowing full well that something magical was about to happen. Knowing that he was about to breach an enchanted doorway.

Not this time.

This time he’d plodded into Mother’s office to dutifully say goodnight and submit to inspection. After taking his third bath and patting his head to tame the cowlick that refused to stay down, Bartholomew had applied hand sanitizer, deodorant, and cologne. Since Hygenette Borax’s sense of smell was stronger than a Mudlark elephant, he doubled each application before descending the winding staircase to make his way down the long hall toward her office.

As his footsteps echoed down the lonely hallway, he considered asking to return to school. Maybe the months of being extra clean were enough for her to say yes. It had been almost two years since the incident. But when he saw her from the doorway he knew it wouldn’t do any good.

The monitor light shone on her pale skin as she mumbled something about cleansers.  As she stared at her laptop on the Plexiglas desk, he felt a pang of pity. Those diamond blue eyes used to cut him to the core, but not anymore. Now, Bartholomew understood her cool glances were simply a mask protecting her from the world. A world where a husband can drown in inches of water and leave you to raise a child on your own.

“I’m ready to rest Mother,” the fourteen-year-old said.

Her gaze stayed fixed on the computer screen. Mother must have been preoccupied because, for once, she didn’t beckon him closer to look for dirt under his nails or specks of dust on his monogrammed robe.

He stepped up behind her. “Mother?”

“What?” she demanded, closing the laptop. She set a hand over it protectively.

That was strange. She usually reveled in sharing article about how germs live everywhere or a new cleanser. What was she looking at?

“I-I uhh have bathed.”

“Hmm,” she sniffed raising her nose in the air. “Hand sanitizer?”

He held up his hands for inspection.

“Fine. Good night.” She waved him away with a flick of her wrist but waited until he was back at the doorway before returning to whatever was on the computer screen.

Back inside his room Bartholomew pondered her strange behavior. Hygenette Borax was many things. Controlling. Fearful. And of course, obsessed with cleanliness. But one thing she had never been was secretive. All his life Bartholomew had heard her tell stories of the horrors that waited just outside. How if he weren’t careful, he could end up just like his father, drowning in mud.

For many years he’d believed her, but over time came to realize that it was all lies. Lies she told herself to explain Father’s death.

He shook his head and had just hung up his robe when the humming began. Then there was a flash.

And that crazy night began.

Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

A Hungering Muse

 When the words are stilted, like a stubbed toe limp or a stunted tree seeking sky on a windswept cliff,  quotes can summon the muse.

muse in ear

Piers Anthony said: “Keep writing, because not only does practice improve skill, it gives you more chances to score on the market.”

piersanthony

William Shakespeare: “O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.”

shakespeare

Ray Bradbury’s advice is this. “To feed your Muse, then, you should always have been hungry about life since you were a child. If not, it is a little late to start.”

raybradbury

“Finish what you’re writing.  Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.” -Neil Gaiman

neilgaiman

And multiple authors say the same thing.”If you want to write sit down and do it!”

So what are you waiting for? Put your butt in the chair and write!

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