Monday, February 10, 2014

Interview: L.R.W. Lee

I love to interview authors and find out what happens on the other side of their story, what inspires them, and what it took to write their book. Today on the blog I am happy to introduce L.R.W. Lee, author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series: Andy Smithson. I met L.R.W. Lee through an amazing group of authors, TheEmblazoners. L.R.W. Lee is an awesome person! She never hesitates to help share or help other authors. I am happy to have her here today. This was a fun interview and I know you will love the answers she gives. Now on with the interview.

What first inspired you to write the Andy Smithson series?

L.R.W. Lee: When I was 8 I read C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and I fell in love with that genre and style of writing. I knew I wanted to write a children’s book in that style one day. Lewis had an allegorical message he wove throughout the story line and I wanted to include a deeper level to my writing that could help my readers live better lives. 

After working with a mentor in business for seven years, I knew I had embodied something valuable and worth passing on to readers. It is these uncommon life principles that I am passionate about sharing and that inspire me to write. They include overcoming frustration, fear, impatience, jealousy, knowing why it makes pragmatic sense to tell the truth and a whole lot more. So, like Lewis, I include a deeper layer to my stories.
I am always curious to see authors’ creative process. How did you start the book; with an outline, a scene in your mind, or like me with a character’s name?

L.R.W. Lee: Book 1 in the series I started with several scenes in mind. My brain sketched the fantastical world of Oomaldee and I went from there. Book 2, I started differently, with an outline. Having the world painted, I have invented what needs to happen in each book of the series and I now do a detailed chapter outline to ensure the book will get us to the point it needs to in the series.

What did it take to get this book to where it is now? Do you use beta readers, proof readers, or editors?

L.R.W. Lee: I rely heavily on my editor. She makes me look a lot better than I am J. I also have folks who read the first book that will now read my new works and give me constructive feedback about the storyline – what they don’t understand, etc.

I really love the covers for your books. They are colorful, vibrant, and they have action to them—everything I think a middle-grade cover should have. Who is your cover designer and were you involved in the process of making them?

L.R.W. Lee: Thank you so much! When I first published book 1, I used Createspace to design my cover, but as the first book was circulating, I kept hearing issues that people were confused as to who the author was because of how the fonts were done. As well, there was no designation that it was the first book in a series. So, before launching book 2, I hired a new cover designer, Dale Pease with Walking Stick Communications. I liked the basic design the first folks had come up with, but Dale improved upon it and, Mikey, as you know, when I put it up for comments in a FB group we are both in, you suggested adding a banner to really make it look professional, like my competition, and fix the earlier design issues. When I pitched this request back to Dale, he came up with the sword banner. The instant I saw it I knew that was it! That was the design that would take my books to a new level of professionalism. So much thanks to both you and Dale. Your combined creativity has raised the bar and opened new possibilities for me with this series.

I am a HUGE fan of audiobooks. I saw that you have released your first book, Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon Fury, as a free podiobook on iTunes: Can you tell us how many episodes are planned and how often they will be coming out? Who is the narrator and what drew you to create a podiobook?

L.R.W. Lee: I was listening to a webinar by a creative agency. The speaker was speaking about appealing to smaller potential reader segments once you’ve gotten tactics in place to cover the bulk of your possible readership. As part of this, he addressed doing a serialized podcast of a book. He stated that the podcast audience is primarily the upper 10% of income earners who don’t have budget constraints. He also spoke that it is very common to hook someone through a podcast and then have them go out and buy the book and not wait to see how the whole book resolves.

Armed with these stats, I recorded and edited the first chapter of the first book in the series. There will be 20 episodes that will launch weekly, each Friday. Depending on how this first book is received, I’ll decide whether to do the next book in the series. Once I have recorded all the chapters, I’ll combine them and launch them as an audiobook on Amazon.

If you could pick a favorite character from your book(s) who would it be and why? Is there a favorite line they say you’d like to share?

L.R.W. Lee: That’s a hard question to answer. It’s like asking a parent to pick your favorite child. I have to say I love all my characters, but I think Andy can be very funny at times. My favorite line is “Great… So neither of us knows anything about dragons… We’re so going to die!”

What do you hope readers take away after reading the Andy Smithson books?

L.R.W. Lee: As I mentioned above, I hope my readers are entertained, but more importantly, go away realizing that they can live more peaceful and meaningful lives if they use some of what they learned – those uncommon life principles.

Okay, it’s the question everyone is dying to hear. If you could be any flavor of ice cream what would that flavor be and what’s the name you’d give yourself? Personally I’d be a very sweet vanilla bean with jelly beans, gummy bears, and sugar cubes. I’d be called “Sugar, Sugar, Buzz, Buzz, Buzz”.

L.R.W. Lee: Why am I not surprised by that, Mikey? *laughs*

Me, I’d be a combination of chocolate chunks, caramel, mini marshmallows, chocolate syrup, nu-get and vanilla & chocolate ice cream

And I’d call myself either Crazy Mixed Up World of Sweet OR It’s All Good :)

You are an indie author. That is not an easy thing, especially for middle-grade writers. Can you share why you chose the indie route and what advice you’d give for authors wanting to take the jump?!giveaway/chq4

L.R.W. Lee: I chose the indie route rather than traditional publishing because I sent about a dozen query letters to agents and got a dozen rejections. Some would say I didn’t stick with it long enough. I would say I’m a quick learner. What I noticed with most of the rejections is that they came back way too fast for anyone to have read the intro. It seemed they weren’t getting past the initial qualifying stats that relate to the size of the platform I had built. Because I was just starting out, I had no platform of followers to speak of nor reviews or anything else that traditional publishers look to, to spend scarce advertising dollars when that time comes. Coming from a business background, I get it. Publishers must look at books as investments. With any investment, they want to minimize their risk and maximize their return. As a newbie author, I represented a huge risk. Given the number of projects they had available, they moved on to others with lower risk. It’s business.

Quickly learning that lesson, I was not going to wait and have anyone determine my future except me and with indie publishing so easy and inexpensive these days, I moved forward. After publishing my first novel, I have nearly 100 reviews on Amazon and a Twitter following topping 4,500 and I’ve successfully gotten over 11,000 copies of book 1 in the hands of readers. It’s a start. I am anxiously waiting to see what happens as I launch book 2, for it will both validate the start I’ve made as well as reveal gaps I have yet to bridge as I seek to establish myself as a serious author.

Will I ever pursue a traditional publisher? My narrative is that I will publish all 7 books in this series and then assess the size of my following at that point. I am clear traditional publishers have distribution on their side and I would love to avail myself of that in gaining more visibility for my work.

For indie authors we are everything; the publisher, author, editor, cover designer, publicist, etc. With so many time consuming roles how do you get the next book written? How do you balance your writing and your marketing? 

L.R.W. Lee: I am fortunate that I write full time. I don’t know how folks writing on the side remain sane. That said, my typical day starts with exercising. As I exercise, I think through the section of the book that I plan to write that day. I brainstorm ideas and ‘what if’ scenarios. I then work on marketing for a couple hours including social media and other opportunities to make others aware of my work. Around two o’clock I then turn my attention to writing what has been ruminating all day as I’ve been doing other things. I write for 3-4 hours. That’s usually my max before my brain sends up the white flag of surrender.  

You have seven Andy Smithson adventures planned, can you tell us about the newest book and what readers should expect?

L.R.W. Lee: The story just keeps getting better and deeper J. Book 3, Andy Smithson: Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor sees evil King Abaddon step up his attacks in his quest to regain eternal life and rule that world, becoming a significant obstacle for Andy to overcome in his quest to retrieve the third ingredient needed to break the curse that plagues the land. We also learn more about Andy’s mom and how her past will impact Andy’s future and we will see the spirit of Imogenia begin to  doubt how she has been moving against her brother, the living king, as she aligned with the evil Abaddon.

Is there anything else you’d like to share today?

L.R.W. Lee: Yes. Thank you for your support! It is you that I write for and it is gratifying when I hear feedback from you as I have over the year since publishing the first book in the series.

As part of my book launch tour, you have the opportunity to win 9 fantasy adventure ebooks from highly acclaimed authors. To enter go to my website at!giveaway/chq4.

Where can people find your books? 

Book 1: Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon Fury
Amazon Paper:
FREE eBook (all versions): 
Book 2: Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent's Cunning
Amazon Paper:
Amazon Kindle:
All other eBook versions:
Where can people find you?

Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions. I just downloaded the first episode of Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon Fury and I am excited to listen to it.  I am a big fan of fantasy-adventures and the premise of this book sounds so cool. I wish you nothing but the best on this book and the many more to come.

About L.R.W. Lee:
From an early age L. R. W. knew she wanted to write a children’s book. Her imagination for such a book was cultivated early on as her family didn’t have a lot of money. She and her older brother were encouraged to use their imaginations to entertain themselves. And use them they did – climbing trees and tree forts, using a quilt for a matchbox car city, making puppets and putting on shows, and much more and her creativity and imagination grew.

She went to college and got a degree in Accounting. However, most folks frown on “creative accounting”, so she continued to put her imagination/writing on hold.  Her business and creative interests eventually led her to found and grow a successful company which, with her partner, she sold in January 2012, leaving her time to imagine and write for the first time.

L. R. W. lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband, her daughter who is a Longhorn at UT Austin and her son who is in high school.


  1. Mikey, thanks so much for hosting this stop on my book launch tour! I had fun with your questions, especially which flavor of ice cream. We reveal so much about ourselves from our sweet tooth don't we? :)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to let me share your fascinating book. Best of luck with your launch!!

    2. Thanks so much! And the same to you :)


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