In today’s stop on the author spotlight series, we’re lucky enough to share some time with Laurie Woodward, an author and peace consultant you need to know more about. Laurie blogs about creativity, artistic expression, poetry, peace and how to stop bullying. Readers with great imaginations and a love for adventure would enjoy her books, so be sure to stick around for this wonderful interview opportunity… you might just find that special combination of literature, art, empathy, and creativity.
As always, I want to know where my fellow authors and friends live. In a world where we know more people through the Internet than we do in person, it’s always necessary to get a sense of where the person spends most of their time. Laurie lives in the small town of Nipomo on the Central Coast of California on ½ an acre of land where she raised her two children, Nicholas and Jessica. When I asked her why Nipomo, she said, “I love this small town where I can hear the coyotes and crickets at night, look up at scattered constellations while an owl swoops overhead, and the people of the post office, pharmacy, and local Mexican eatery know my name.”
What has Laurie written?
The Artania Chronicles (3 Published so far by Creativia)
These books build self-esteem and honor the uniqueness inside every one of us. It tells children that when one is true to him/herself, magical things happen. When a mystical art-created land is in danger it’s up to an unlikely trio of kids to save it. Once they enter this magical place, Alex, Bartholomew and Gwen join gods, goddesses, and painted beings in a battle against an evil race bent on annihilating all art. But it won’t be easy as only the true art will keep Artania safe.
The Artania Chronicles are middle grade fantasy novels similar to The Narnia Chronicles and Harry Potter. I have written almost four and plan to write seven because there is a prophecy which says that there will be seven tasks to complete before Artania is safe again.
But hope will lie in the hands of twins
Born on the cusp of the second millennium.
On the eleventh year of their lives.
They will join together like single forged knives.
Their battle will be long with 7 evils to undo.
Scattered around will be 7 clues.
And many will perish before they are through.
But our world will be saved if their art is true.
Each book takes place in a mystical land based on an art-history period. For example, A1 takes place during the time of antiquities, A2 during the Renaissance, A3 is set during the Gothic Period, and A4 is during the Impressionist Period. I do extensive research for each novel making sure that all clothing, architecture, and art is true to period. Thus, each book is educational, but children learn while going along on an adventure.
THE PHARAOH’S CRY (BOOK I OF THE ARTANIA CHRONICLES) SUMMARY
Can a kid who’s forced to bathe six times a day save a magical world? It’s not his fault his father drowned in a mud puddle just before he was born, turning Mother into a cleaning fanatic. Now eleven-year-old Bartholomew Borax III can’t go to school, play outside, or, worst of all, make art. But he has to. So he sketches in secret.
Then two amazing things happen, he’s allowed to go to school and he meets skateboarding painter, Alexander Devinci. In Bartholomew’s book, Alex is wicked cool because he gets needing to create. But sharing glimpses of a freaky world every time they brush past each other makes for a tentative friendship. Meanwhile, Alex’s strained relationship with his mother takes an ominous turn when she has a heart attack, leading Bartholomew to reach out.
Later, during an art museum field trip, a rainbow inside a painting yanks the boys into another realm. Bartholomew’s living in an antiseptic mansion is nothing in comparison to how weird Artania is with living paintings, sculptures, and sketches. It shares some mystical connection with Earth, but is in grave danger. Twelve pharaohs have been captured and if they are not freed soon, an entire Artanian nation will be destroyed. But only Alex and Bartholomew’s powers can rescue them.
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 work with Alex but it takes all of his talents and more to battle an evil race of shadowy creatures. For only the power of true creation will finally defeat Sickhert’s army and bring art back to the world.
KIDNAPPED SMILE (BOOK II OF THE ARTANIA CHRONICLES) SUMMARY
Mona Lisa kidnapped?
Her father, Leonardo, in tears? What will the Deliverers do?
It has been a year since Alex and Bartholomew first ventured into the mystical Artania. Once again they are called upon to keep this art-created world safe.
But peril waits at every turn. Traitorous Pirates. Fearful gods and goddesses. Monsters of the deep. A world’s safety lies in the hands three twelve-year-olds. Alex and Bartholomew, with their spunky sidekick Gwen, return to Artania to wrench the kidnapped Mona Lisa from the hands of ruthless pirates.
DRAGON SKY (BOOK III OF THE ARTANIA CHRONICLES) SUMMARY
As shadowy dream-invading creatures unleash a new power, dragons disappear from a mystical, art-created world. Fearful, The Thinker calls upon an unlikely trio of thirteen-year-olds to find out why. Soon, Alex, the brooding painter, Bartholomew, the home-schooled sculptor, and Gwen, the skater girl, enter his art-created world on a quest to return the elusive golden dragons to the sky. With battling dragons, murderous outlaws, and enchanted scrolls these teens will need to find strengths they never knew they had in a relentless battle to keep an entire land from turning to dust.
The Dolphin Legacy (Co-writer) This book was used as the basis for a film recently aired on Discovery’s television show, Animal Planet. As a young dive instructor, Dean Bernal in the quiet bays of the Turks and Caicos Islands he meets a wild bottlenose dolphin named JoJo. This sparks the beginning of a deep friendship that spans decades. Dean begins a campaign to protect JoJo from machines and from the greed driven people who wish to capture him. And as JoJo touches more and more people, Dean learns about our human ability to heal ourselves through nature and how compassion shown to animals brings us openness, sensitivity, and peace.
Forest Secrets (Self-published) In this book children learn about the necessity of care for nature and the forest and apply it to other environments. When an eleven-year-old girl befriends a tree creature, she uncovers a plot to illegally log in a protected forest. She then sets off on an adventure to save all tree people and an endangered species from destruction.
Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? First, I want to grow in my craft improving my work. Also, I plan to write the final three Artania novels, complete at least one realistic YA novel, write more environmental fantasies like Forest Secrets, and learn more about screenwriting.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published? Write and read as much as you can. Don’t expect the first draft to be perfect. Rewrite. Read your changes. Rewrite again. And again. Until your story is the best it can be. Don’t rush for quantity and forget about revising for quality.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published? Like all writers, I’ve struggled with doubts. Am I good enough? Will people like my work? What if I do my best and it’s terrible? And as year followed year with the pile of rejection letters growing my confidence definitely waxed and waned. It wasn’t until Creativia offered me a publishing contract in 2017 that some of those doubts faded.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing? I love adventure and travel. Some of my favorite places to visit have been Italy, Great Britain, and France where history feeds her dreams and stories. I also enjoy scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and boating both near my coastal California home and in Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and in the Caribbean. One of my greatest loves is dance, something I minored in during college. I have taken courses in everything from Jazz to Ballet and Salsa to Swing. You can find often find Laurie at live music venues joining her friends with silly moves on the dance floor. I believe in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and goes to the gym several times a week.
As a fifth-grade teacher, I endeavor to empower children in a myriad of ways. First, I am an award-winning peace consultant who helps other educators teach children how to stop bullying, avoid arguments, and maintain healthy friendships. For twenty-five years I have worked in Title One schools with large concentrations of low-income students, second language learners, immigrants from diverse cultures, and gang families.
Dean Bernal even filmed some of the lessons for his DVD. He shot scenes at Taylor Elementary of students making Peace Cards, engaging in role-plays, and signing contracts to become Dolphin Ambassadors for Peace. In 2011 I became a team coach and coauthored more peace curriculum with other teachers which I offer free on my blog. Here, strategies to promote compassion in children were introduced. Then, positive conflict resolution was promoted with a series of art, writing, role-playing and other activities.
Most recently I have been working to make anti-bullying videos with my students one of which was a winner in the national Oxy Take A Stand Against Bullying contest. I also coach our school’s Battle of the Books team, am the faculty advisor for Student Council, and my team’s language arts representative.
Some authors like to make an argument or address an issue when they write. Is there an issue addressing with your book? I believe there is a magical part inside all of us, our creative side, that when nurtured, births amazing things. Films. Paintings. Stories. I’ve seen both children and adults light up when creating. But many people do not honor who they truly are. They try to fit into some preconceived notion of what society says is “normal.” I would love my Artania novels help others see that wonder inside.
What gave you the idea for your books The Artania Chronicles? When our government started putting so much emphasis on test scores in schools. It felt like overnight that creativity was being replaced by rote learning. As teachers were told to do less art, music, and other creative endeavors, it felt like we were squelching a beautiful part of children, their creative selves.
To me, that creativity is magical. Thus, in Artania, every time a child sketches, paints, or sculpts, it births a beautiful part of children, their creative selves. But when people turn away from their true selves it gives rise to these monsters I call Shadow Swine whose purpose is stop all creation.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge? I love revising and adding more texture to a book. As I read and reread my work I am one with the story. My least favorite part is that first draft when I’m not sure where the story is going.
What do you like about writing in your genre? Pretending to be a kid on a skateboard battling monsters!
With so many books being written today, what makes your books stand out from the crowd? I have looked, asked librarians and book store clerks, and as far I can tell Artania is the only series with an art-created land and creation as superpower. Also, the books inspire children to follow their dreams and honor their own unique gifts.
What type of books do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors? I love science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land is my favorite because it represents the utopia dream of peace I wish we were working towards in the real world. I also love to read Dean Koontz, Neil Gaiman, Asimov, Lois Lowry, and Frank Herbert.
Follow Laurie On
Before we say goodbye to Laurie for today… one last question I asked to see if we share the same response.
What are you afraid to write about, Laurie?
Sad times from my childhood… aren’t we all? I know how she feels… I look forward to reading The Artania Chronicles this year… anyone want to join me? Also… stay tuned for later this month where I bring a few trailers for Laurie’s books to the the blog — now you can check it out in even more detail! Let’s give a great big hug and thank you to Laurie for spending some time with us today! THANK YOU!
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are three books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip (March 2019). I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.