“I want children to see their wonder,” says Laurie Woodward. “The magical part, that when nurtured, births amazing things. Films. Paintings. Stories. Song.”
A children’s fantasy author, Laurie Woodward does just that through her books, blog, or work as an anti-bullying advocate.
As a child, she loved climbing trees, pounding her chest while bellowing like Tarzan, and reading about worlds both real and make-believe. Often kept after school for daydreaming, Laurie constantly imagined other worlds. Worlds she began to write about when she got a diary for her eleventh birthday. The little book with a miniature lock soon became a treasured friend, one she’d turn to again and again as she navigated her way to adulthood.
In college she joined several environmental and human rights groups to work for conservation and peace. After she transferred to San Diego State University to study social work, she continued her activism and was blessed to be a resident in the communal home, Intersection House, run by Campus Christian Ministries. Here, she worked to help the homeless, unemployed, was a “big sister,” hosted weekly vegetarian dinners for the community, and shared a vision for peace with a group of like-minded people.
Meanwhile, she worked at a variety of jobs such as Catalina Island camp counselor, waitress, lifeguard, and swim instructor. She married in her senior year and her son, Nicholas, was born. After graduating, she and her artist husband, moved to the small town of Nipomo she has lived in ever since. This place where coyotes howl and crickets sing is Laurie’s home base for research journeys to Italy, Peru, Australia, and Central America.
All the while journaling about each.
1n the 1990’s she went back to school to become a teacher. Although it was exhausting with her ever-swelling belly, she managed to finish up a month before her daughter, Jessica, was born.
For the past twenty-five years she has worked as a bilingual elementary school teacher in Santa Maria, specializing in anti-bullying and peace curriculum. At the same time, she raised her family and worked on honing her writing skills. Since working full-time while being a mother leaves little time for writing, she started a practice of rising early to work on her poetry, stories, and from the early 2000’s, novels.
Living with an artist made her question why our society doesn’t honor creativity. “Because,” as she says, “when we are creating, we are most truly ourselves.” This belief is what eventually lead her to envision a world completely created by art. Artania.
Currently, she has four published novels, a co-written memoir with dolphin naturalist, Dean Bernal, as well as poems in the critically acclaimed A Hudson View Poetry Digest, and short stories in California Writer’s Club anthologies.
The Artania Chronicles With three published novels and a series of seven planned, this fantasy story has all the elements needed for a Hollywood feature film, digital gaming, and an animated television series. Likened as a cross between Harry Potter and Narnia, these books feature compelling characters who continually evolve and grow as well as mythical creatures that help the heroes on their road to adventure. Every book contains a lasting message of hope that if one is true to him/herself bullies can be defeated in both real and fantasy worlds. Because all art comes to life in Artania, The Artania Chronicles inspire children to nurture that magical place of creation inside of everyone.
Book 1: Artania: The Pharaoh’s Cry When eleven-year-old, Bartholomew Borax III meets skateboarding painter, Alexander Devinci and a rainbow inside a painting yanks the boys into another realm, he discovers his true destiny is to keep an art-created world safe.
Five Stars. “What a pleasant and appreciated surprise to see the importance of art taking main stage in a young reader's book today while the rest of the world is involved in technology idolization. Kudos to the author for a fun and entertaining read! A must read for everyone - especially our young kids today!”
Book 2: The Kidnapped Smile When Mona Lisa is kidnapped it’s up to a trio of twelve-year-olds to enter the mystical Artania and wrench her from the hands of ruthless pirates. But peril waits at every turn. Alex, Bartholomew and Gwen join gods, goddesses, and painted beings in a race against time. For only the true art will keep Artania safe.
Five Stars. “A thrilling story peppered with the stuff of legends.”
Book 3: Dragon Sky When dragons appear over Santa Barbara but disappear from a mystical land, The Thinker calls upon Alex, the brooding painter, Bartholomew, the home-schooled sculptor, and Gwen, the skater girl, to enter his art-created world on a quest to return the elusive golden dragons to the sky.
Dean and JoJo. The Dolphin Legacy (Co-writer) The true story of one man’s lifelong friendship with a wild dolphin. This book was used as the basis for a film aired on Discovery’s television show, Animal Planet, and has been featured in the IMAX film, Dolphins, as well as In the Wild with Robin Williams.
When the young dive instructor, Dean Bernal swims in the quiet bays of the Turks and Caicos Islands and meets a wild bottlenose dolphin, it 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 A middle grade fantasy where children learn about caring for nature and the forest. When an eleven-year-old girl befriends a lost 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.
All of Laurie’s books can be purchased through Amazon and The Artania Chronicles are also available through Creativia’s website
2010 A Hudson View Poetry Digest Poetry
2010 Alternatives to Bullying DVD Peace Curriculum
2013 Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy Cowriter of Biographical Novel
2015 Forest Secrets Middle Grade Fantasy Novel
2017 The Pharaoh’s Cry Middle Grade Fantasy Novel
2017 Shifting Sands: An Anthology Short story. Poetry
2017 The Kidnapped Smile Middle Grade Fantasy Novel
2018 Dragon Sky Middle Grade Fantasy Novel
2018 A Drift of Golden Sand: An Anthology Non-fiction Articles
INTERVIEWS AND MEDIA
Jan. 2015 Thomas C. Wilmer’s PBS Radio Program: Journeys of Discovery
Nov. 2015 Joseph Williams III Podcast My K12 Career
Feb. 2016 Pebble in the Still Waters Blog with Jaedeep Khanduja
Jan. 2018 Monarch Dunes Media Podcast: Writers Among Us
Aug. 2018 KVEC News Radio: Dave Congalton Hometown Radio: Dragon Sky
Nov. 2018 KVEC News Radio: Dave Congalton Hometown Radio: Anti-Bully
AWARDS AND HONORS
2011 Care and Share Grant recipient for an anti-bullying campaign.
2012 Strategy Team Coach Grant recipient for leadership as a Peace Consultant.
2013 Curriculum Project Grant for student mediation program.
2014 Altrusa Grant recipient for the creation of student-generated anti-bullying videos.
2015 Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.
2016 Teacher of the Year nominee.
2016 Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest.
2017 Grant recipient for anti-bullying video production.
2018 Teacher of the Year nominee.