Rubescent Jewels: A Novel Excerpt

Now that I’m a senior, you’d think my family would acknowledge something good about me, but I’ve slowly been turning invisible. Not like in comic books or old black and white movies on Sunday afternoon but the kind where people seem to look through me. When I walk into the living room Mom doesn’t acknowledge my presence but keeps her eyes fixed on that one spot in the wall. The hole we don’t talk about.

The one that’s all my fault.

Oh, I know. I fucked up. Shouldn’t have messed up Kourtney’s purse. But imagine what would have happen if she told everyone I was in her gang? Then I’d be beyond outcast, part of a freakizoid group.

Hell, I was barely clinging to Lisa’s friendship. She’d already been asked to three parties this year. Once right in front of me. I stared into the chick’s back and pulled on a stray thread unraveling from my t-shirt while waiting to hear, “Joy, you can go too.”

She just walked away.

One late Tuesday I got back from Lisa’s to find Kyle on his belly watching Superfriends on T.V. Even though I walked right in front of him half-blocking his view he kept his jaw in his hands. He didn’t even whine to Mom.

She was slumped in the club chair staring off into space.

I glanced from one to other, before trudging down the hall to drop off my books and binder. When I came in again both were still transfixed on other places. I opened my mouth to say, “Hello? I’m here. Do you see me?” when I noticed the shattered glass on the kitchen floor. I tiptoed toward it wondering why Mom hadn’t cleaned it up yet.

When anyone has dropped something, she was usually so quick to sweep up the broken shards you’d think a flash of lightning had just passed over the floor. When I say anyone, I mean me.  As Ronny always pointed out, I’m the clumsy one in the family. As if I didn’t know.

The glass was spread all over the floor. The quatrefoil pattern (Mom taught me that phrase for four-leafed when she picked out the avocado green linoleum) now looked like it was covered with jewels. For a moment I was transfixed by the beauty of rough-cut diamonds shining on four-leaf clovers.

Then I noticed a ruby amongst all those clear diamonds. I reached down to touch it and realized it wasn’t a piece of red glass but a droplet of blood. Recoiling, I pulled my hand back to see three more stains on the beautiful tableau, a trail of red flowers leading to the sink.

 Don’t look. I curled my hands into fists and stepped closer. There in the sink Mom scrubs daily until it sparkles like yellow daisies was a towel blooming blood.

I wasn’t high but my brain felt foggy when I turned back to Mom. She wasn’t just slumped but hunched over clutching her gauze wrapped forearm.

“Mom, you okay?”

She didn’t answer but kept staring at the hole in the wall. I knelt at her feet and touched her arm just above the bandage. She didn’t so much as flinch. Gently placing a hand over hers, I uncurled the clenched fingers from around her arm. A rose stain the size of my fist lay in the center of the cloth.

My heart fluttered. Red was a new color. Black and blue I was used to. Black and blue you could hide with make-up. Black and blue stays beneath.  But this…

“Mom?” I waited long seconds, but her eyes remain fixed and staring. After rewrapping her fingers around the bleeding arm, I strode into the living room.

I bent down next to Kyle. “What happened?”

Even at thirteen he knew enough to put a finger to his lips before pointing toward his room. My head a jumble, I trailed after him dreading what I’d hear. Once we were safely behind a closed door, he whispered that Ronny’s drink tasted bad so he threw it on the floor.

“Mom didn’t make it right,” he explained.

I give him an exasperated look but didn’t argue. He was always making excuses for his father. “Then what?”

“He told her to clean it up, well started to make her…” His voice trailed off.

“With his fists?”

“He didn’t mean it. He was just trying to get her to do it right.” Kyle jut out his lower lip and hugged himself.

There was no point explaining. Kyle would make this what he needed to.

With a sigh, I trudged back past my silent Mom toward the kitchen where I got out the broom and dustbin. Then, using my thumb and forefinger, I picked up four large pieces. Clunk. They thudded against the plastic trash bottom. Now you couldn’t even tell what had shattered on the floor. As I grasped the broom handle and dragged it across the floor, I understood why Mom always cleaned so quickly. Every pass of the brush erased some part of the story.

Sweep, sweep. The glass no longer sprawled in rubescent disarray but sparkled in piles. Brush. Swish. More of the quatrefoil pattern returned to its soft green.

The tinkling pieces cascaded into the trash like pebbles in a dying stream, yet the bristles kept seeking more fragments. I swept each corner, once twice, three times until every sliver was lying on the bottom of the plastic liner.

Soon the only reminder was the blood. Fucking smears on the linoleum garden. I ripped off a few paper towels and threw them on the floor. Then I stepped on the pile with both feet hoping that would soak up the stain. Still there. Shit.

With more urgency I grabbed another wad and moistened it. Get rid of it, now. I began rubbing like Hell to mop it up, but multiple strokes did little more than turn spots into blotches. I tossed a few bloody towels into the trash.

Began again.

Why the fucking stains wouldn’t disappear was beyond me. No matter how hard I scrubbed and scoured the smears remained. Without any help. Cartoons blared. Kyle kept his back to the kitchen. Mom’s gaze remained on the hole

Then I realized the stains were gone. Had been for several minutes. I hurled the last of the sopping pink towels in the plastic bag and tied it in a tight knot. This I carried to the outside bins. Slammed the lid shut.

When I returned to the living room everyone was gone.

Leaving me to float in silence like the invisible girl I was becoming.

shsadow

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

 

2019 Year in Review

New Year’s Blessings to all of you! May 2020 be all that you dream it will be!

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

Cover Reveal: Portal Rift

Early this morning I received an email from my publisher saying, ”
Find attached the cover draft from our artist….Hopefully, we have  managed to capture the essence of your story in this cover. When you have a moment, could you have a look and let me know your thoughts?”

Personally I love it. What do you all think?

image (33)

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

Mirror Mask: A Poem

In the mirror

Rubber wounds

Of torn flesh

And distorted features

Form a mask

I don.

Its warped reflection

Trapping  me

Inside the hot

Fetid

Breath

Of suffocating plastic.

 

(photo by David Stroup)

 

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. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Reviews: Thank You Readers!

 

Thank you to all of you for your kind words about the Artania Chronicles. I am humbled.

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. More about her work can be found at artania.net

(Cover photo by David Stroup)

Casa El Pelaire: A Hotel for Writers

Have you ever wanted to escape from it all and just  write?  Would you like to spend time in a peaceful place that inspires creation? Well, look no further because Casa El Pelaire, in the village of Perarrúa on the Esera River of  northern Spain, is just for you!

Hotel Exterior

When I was planning my summer trip to Spain, I searched high and low for a place that would provide the best backdrop for  writing. I wanted a quiet place in a small village that also had enough artistic flair to inspire my next novel. Since my Artania series features art history,  I needed places where I’d learn about Spanish artists. And when I saw Casa El Pelairie’s website I knew that it was the one.

And I was right. Those days at this Gaudi inspired hotel in the tiny village of Perarrua were absolutely unique.  Each room is individually designed with names like Amanacer (sunrise), Spring, Sakura, and Mare Nostrum which I stayed in.

When I entered my room, it was like stepping through an artist’s doorway. With seashells covering the shower wall, beds shaped like the ocean waves, and murals of the Mediterranean coastline on the wall, wonder waited in every corner.

 

But the beauty didn’t end there. Oh no. In addition, the kind owner owner greeted me with the peacefulness of a Buddhist monk, patiently helping me to find whatever adventure interested me. Whether it’s hiking in the nearby forest, river rafting, or simply strolling through nearby towns to see Spanish architecture, Javier was there to help me out.

Every morning I would rise, grab my computer, and skip down the stairs to the breakfast room. Here the peaceful owner, Javier, greeted me with a freshly made cafe con leche and a plate of cheeses, fruits, tomatoes, and eggs. Then in the quiet of the early morning, I’d look around and dream.

 

Later, when I had run out of ideas I’d  walk upstairs to my room admiring the sculpted light fixtures, statues, and broken mirrored tile reliefs skirt the stairway.

 

Then I’d explore the surroundings areas where travelers canoed, cycled, hiked, or rode horses. I trekked to medieval churches and monasteries, strolled the lonely river, and trudged up the mountain to view the wonder Pre-Pyreneees.  And little by little I started to find the new book.

IMG_1273
Royal Monastery of San Juan de la Pena

 

How did such a gem of a hotel come to be? According to their website, Casa El Pelaire, this was brother and sister Javier and Ana Diaz Calvo’s lifelong dream. The pair wanted to create a space where the artisan ensures that the dreams of his neighbors are deepened.  That caring spirit is evidenced in every square inch of this lovely hotel.

Casa El Pelaire, a one-of-a-kind hotel.

 

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. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

 

She Gets Me! Thrilled by Recent Review

 

Recently The Online Book Club posted an official review of of Dragon Sky which got me all choked up. This reviewer, kandscreeley, not only understood the message of Artania, but she also likened it to Harry Potter.

Feeling such gratitude I could hug everyone!

Her post is here. Official Review

 

 

 

 

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.

Fallen God: A Poem

He who was once as Zeus

Now is as Icarus

Wax-wings smoldering,  then blazing,

Then gone

Fallen to Earth

Sans net, sans arms

Sans me to break his fall.

He is mortal.

My Medusa-eyes see

Petrified penis

Manhood in stone

A cast mold

Of the God he once was.

 

Have you no lightning bolts to throw,

Dear Hypocrates

To turn this stone to flesh?

 

No Hypnos!

I sleep not

I dream not!

I sculpt.

I am Pygmalion

I kneel at the feet of goddesses

In silent entreaty

A mortal in a barren temple

A woman embracing an empty womb.

 

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.

 

 

Interview with Author Julia Sutton

British author Julia Sutton may chase children at a a primary school daily,  but the rest of the time she is chasing her lifelong dream of writing. Recently, I had the privilege of getting to know this author of  The School of Dreams, Visions of the Heart,  and Student Affairs.  And this is what she had to say.

Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? Who are you? Where are you from? Etc.

Hello Laurie 😊 I’m Julia from Wolverhampton which is a bustling city in the middle of England.  I’m 46 and as well as being a writer I work as a lunchtime supervisor in a primary school.  I only work two hours per day but I do love my job as I have always loved working with children – especially the wee ones.  I’ve written since I was really young and definitely believe that you are born a writer. It’s sort of like an overwhelming urge to express yourself through the written word and you need to possess empathy – that’s the one.  A good imagination also helps 😊  

How many books do you currently have published?

I currently have three books published which are all available via Amazon and other online stores.  They are the first three books in the School of Dreams series and I’m just in the process of writing the fourth and final book.  

What has been your favorite book to write so far and why?

I really loved writing both Visions of the Heart and Student Affairs.  In Visions of the Heart I focused quite a lot on the characters of Will and Hema and enjoyed writing about their cross-cultural romance and the conflict between the two sets of parents.  I also loved writing Student Affairs, especially the romance between Juliette and the gorgeous lecturer –  swooning heart-racing stuff 😊

Are you currently working on a book/short story/project?

Yes I’m working on the fourth book in the series and have decided to call it The Year of New Beginnings – because it’s the end of university and the beginning of their new lives.  I’ve also written a few children’s stories and have been busy searching for a publisher for them.

Will this be your next release?

Yes, as soon as I’ve finished and edited it, I will send it off to the publishers (hopefully they will love it as much as I do).  They are pretty good in getting a book out there quickly and it is the final book in the whole series which is really exciting and kind of sad at the same time.  

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love immersing myself in a fictitious world and creating diverse and interesting characters.  I also love writing dialogue and emotional scenes, especially the kissy mushy scenes and sex scenes?  Yep, love writing them too! I just love everything about writing – it makes me very happy 😊

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Yes I do sometimes get writer’s block where my mind goes completely blank and I can’t see the words, but I overcome this by using pen and paper – sounds odd but it helps restart the creative process.   

Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?

The character Sophie takes lots of twists – she has a mind of her own and is so funny and over-dramatic.  And Evelyn has gone through a complete transformation – in book 1 she was so shy and now she’s all confident and determined.  Will and Hema have progressed so much too as well – their uncomplicated love for each other is so sweet.

Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why?

My personal favorite is probably Juliette because she is lovely and she has this amazing romance – envy – LOL.  I don’t have a least favorite – I like all my characters, even the mean ones. Nobody is perfect; we all have flaws and I like to convey that within my characters.  It makes them more interesting and realistic.

So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?

I think my favorite scene has got to be when Will was stabbed and had a near death experience – it was really exciting to write!

What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?

I’ve learned that I’m actually super-organized and super-creative – I’ve always known it was there – it just took me a while to unlock it.  

My tips for newbie writers:

Don’t get disheartened by reviews – it’s just one person’s opinion.

Follow your heart and write about what interests you.

Don’t let anyone dissuade you from writing – do it for you.

If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why?

I would recommend The School of Dreams of course!  It’s the first in the series which has to be read chronologically, otherwise the reader will become all confused.

Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?

This teaser excerpt is taken from chapter 16 of my work in progress… “After all the worry and fuss, the dreaded talk with Josh and Jake had taken less than twenty minutes.  For five minutes Sophie had skirted around the main issue by chatting about how well her boys were progressing at school. She then spent approximately seven minutes explaining what she had been like when she was a little girl.  

“What’s up Mum?”  Josh had asked in his usual forthright manner.  

Her very slightly older twin had always been perceptive, even as a toddler he was able to pick up on a tense atmosphere.  Whereas Josh was so laid back he was almost horizontal and the opposite in that life’s tribulations seemed to just fly smoothly over his head unnoticed.  

“Nothing’s up,” Sophie squeaked, mind racing, “I’ve just had some news – family news.”

Josh sighed, “what’s Grandma Fletcher done now?”

“Nothing,” Sophie’s laugh bordered on hysteria, “for a change!”

“Is it Dad?”  Jake was suddenly sitting up straighter, “is he okay?”

“Yes love he’s fine,” Sophie rubbed his hand, “sorry.  It’s me, this is about my family,” she sucked in a breath, “actually it’s news about my dad.”

“She means the Grandad no one ever mentions,” Jake eyerolled at his twin.

“I thought he was dead,” Josh admitted.

“No!”  Sophie said aghast, “did Grandma ever tell you that?”

“Nope.  But no one ever mentions him.”

“You never even told us his name,” Jake accused, with raised eyebrows.  

Sophie’s sigh was heavy and sad, “that’s because I was very upset with him.  Grandpa Fletcher has a new name now. His name is Anthony Coben and I’d guess he’d be in his sixties.”

“Why don’t you know how old he is?”  Josh was staring at her with wide, innocent eyes.  Time for the truth.

“When I was a little girl, younger than you guys.  Grandpa was very ill, so ill that he ran away and I’ve never seen him since.  And that’s why I don’t know much about him.”

Josh and Jake looked at each other with excitement.

“Was he in trouble with the cops?”

“Was Grandpa a criminal?!”

“No.  He was very poorly here,” she tapped the side of her head, “and he was frightened and felt all alone.  So he went to live in a different country until he felt better.”

“Poor Granddad,” Josh’s lower lip trembled, “is he okay?”

Sophie nodded, tears brimming in her eyes, “Granddad slowly got better and he met a new lady and they had a baby and…and that baby’s now all grown up and he’s called Barry; he’s your uncle and he’s lovely.”

“Uncle Barry?”

“Yes Uncle Barry – my brother, your uncle.”

There was silence for a few moments while the boys digested this new information.

“Can we go see him?”

Sophie wiped the tears away, “even better,” she said, smiling brightly, “uncle Barry is here.  He’s traveled all the way from Hong Kong.”

Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?

I love reading romances and psychological thrillers.  I also love reading horror books by writers such as Stephen King and James Herbert but I don’t like gore.

What about television shows? Movies?

I don’t watch much T.V to be honest, but if I do I like Eastenders, drama series, and wildlife documentaries.  I love watching horror and ghost films but have to hide behind a cushion if they get too scary. I also love totally far fetched love films such as Twilight and The City of Angels and I love film adaptations of classic books.  Jane Eyre is my favorite.

Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?

Khaled Hosseini’s  A Thousand Splendid Suns’ is utterly brilliant.  I kept thinking about it afterwards and it made me cry.

Can readers find you at any live events, such as book signings or conventions?

Never done any live events or book signings but would like to one day – that would be awesome 😊

If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?

Empathy. Imagination. Intuition. Creativity. Perseverance. Focus. Fulfilment. Power. Love. Vocation.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I love reading, drawing, swimming, cooking, the sea, sleeping and that’s about it.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with readers?

I would be so pleased if you read my work and enjoyed it.  I’ve put my heart and soul into it and I’m so proud of me 😊

For more information about  Julia, see below.

Julia’s Amazon Page  Julia’s Biography

Thanks to Julia for sharing your story!

Art Never Dies

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

I read many quotes by this genius when I was doing research for Artania II: The Kidnapped Smile.  But this one really spoke to me.

I believe, like da Vinci, that our artistic expression is eternal.  It never ages or wrinkles or 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 blue of sky and the green of meadow. Our hands become clouds floating in space and our feet dandelions on the wind.

We are beauty and expression.

Living on.

Sharing the hearts of others.

 

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.

Laurie’s Amazon Page