Monday, February 3, 2014

L.W.R. Lee, Author of the Andy Smithson MG Fantasy Series - Book 2: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning

Author Bio:
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.

Title: Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book 2
Author: L. R. W. Lee
ISBN: 978-1494730161
Page count: 235 pages
Genre: MG Fantasy Adventure
eBook: $3.99
Paper: $12.99

Tell us about your book:
Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning is the continuation of L. R. W. Lee’s well-received debut novel Blast of the Dragon’s Fury and the next offering in this seven-book Andy Smithson allegorical, fantasy, adventure series for middle graders.

In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Lee continues to weave a tale of mystery and intrigue as the main character, Andy Smithson, who is now 11-years-old, returns to Oomaldee to retrieve the second ingredient needed to break a 500-year-old curse enacted to punish the current ruler for murdering his older sister when she was 15. Not one to forgive easily, Imogenia’s spirit is bent on thwarting Andy to preserve the curse and naively aligns herself with the evil, scheming Abbadon. 

Things go from bad to worse when a creature Abaddon conjures from the darkest magic steals the Stone of Athanasia, the source of the ruler’s immortality, causing the king and his wizard, Mermin, to fall gravely ill. Andy is forced to choose between retrieving the stone to save those he loves or obediently going after the second ingredient. What will he chose? Will he be able to save the King and Mermin?

You won’t want to miss the non-stop action, drama and thrills on this adventure that is Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book 2.

How long did it take to write the book?
Approximately 7 months including inventing a detailed outline

What inspired you to write the book?
I’ll address that more from an overview of the series rather than book 2 alone. Andy Smithson is a seven-book allegorical, coming-of-age, fantasy adventure. When I was 8, I read C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and I knew I wanted to write a children’s fantasy adventure, but not just any fantasy adventure. I wanted to write one that was also an allegory with a deeper meaning. The specifics were not clear, but the passion was there.

I remember having a sense that I did not have a narrative of deeper meaning to share as I grew up, but I always looked for one. It was when I brought on a partner to help me grow a multi-million dollar company I had founded that I observed that my partner/mentor was teaching me philosophies for business, but also narratives that were significantly changing how I lived my life, making it more peaceful and meaningful.

After selling the business in 2012, I knew I wanted to share the uncommon life principles my mentor imparted to me with readers in the hope that after spending several hours with me, their lives might be better, not just having been entertained, but impacted longer-term. A few of these uncommon principles include overcoming frustration, impatience, fear, and jealousy. As well, they include understanding why it makes practical sense to tell the truth, and understanding that success in life comes from responsibility, diligence, and dignity to name a few. As you can tell, this is my passion to accomplish through my books!

As for the specifics of the Andy Smithson series, I’ve always loved books set in medieval times with castles and sword fighting, so the world of Oomaldee evolved easily in my mind. The specifics arose as I thought through what scenarios might help me create a riveting tale while also accomplishing my objective of imparting uncommon life principles as part of the story line without hitting kids over the head with lessons that killed the story line.

Talk about the writing process. Do you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I start by inventing what a specific book needs to accomplish in the grand scheme of the seven-book series. From that, I put together a rough outline of the book. I think through the various characters that exist and think about how each needs to grow. This then has me invent the events I will use to produce said growth. From there, I flesh out more details with the scenes. For example, if a chapter needs a character to use a specific tool, I look back in the outline and invent where I will introduce said tool earlier in the book. Once I think I’ve got a solid outline, I go back and force myself to justify each chapter and specify how it moves the action along while accomplishing the goal of character growth. If I find I can’t justify a given chapter I nix it - no sense in writing a chapter that doesn’t accomplish anything. By the time I’m done with this process, I usually have the full book in my head and can move and dance with it. Only then do I begin crafting sentences.

Some people prefer just sitting down and writing. I can’t do that. I need to work through this process so I know where I’m going. It also significantly reduces rewriting and editing, which I do not enjoy. I also find that as I have the whole novel in my head, the characters start doing things I didn’t expect and the plot evolves from there. It always amazes me how rich the characters make the book when you let them loose in this structure.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
1) What does it mean to take a stand for something?
2) What must one be willing to endure when standing on principle?
3) How does one choose between what you hold dear and obedience, if they conflict?
4) How to overcome frustration

Excerpt from book:

Not for the first time since his return home from Oomaldee, Andy stood before the ugly, three-foot-tall concrete garden gnome. Its full, white-painted beard and long, crooked nose were complemented by a bright red pointy hat, patched black pants, and a blue jacket that looked like it could fit two gnomes. It somehow reminded Andy of Mermin, the king of Oomaldee’s kindly old wizard. His mom insisted it looked “So cute!” every time Dad hinted at moving it to a less conspicuous spot in the backyard.
Quickly, Andy scanned the patio, looked between nearby shade trees, and glanced around the long-neglected wooden playhouse, making sure no one watched. He pulled a gold key from the pouch hanging around his neck and begged, "Please wake up. Please?"
He stared intently into the gnome’s bulging eyes, hoping to see the slightest movement. Not a blink. Not a dart. Not a twitch. Nothing. Not that way down deep he had expected it to move, or that he had wanted to awaken a garden gnome and have it think he was its friend. That would be weird! All the same...
Andy let out a long, slow sigh and hung his head.
No stone statues that come to life when the gold key is near, no fire-breathing dragons, no flying pegasi, no vulture-men or Abaddon to battle. Well, that part I don't miss, he thought. But what I'd give to see the King, Mermin, Alden, Marta, and Hans again. And to taste Marta's awesome chocolate chip cookies! He could almost smell the fresh-baked aroma that wafted down the stone-lined hallway outside the castle kitchens every time Marta made them.
Andy laughed. I must be sick. I even miss the smell of cow farts. He smiled, then reached down and rubbed his stomach. It felt like a tiny King Abaddon fought within him, blasting fire and poison at his insides. In fact, his stomach hadn't been feeling well for quite some time. 
I wonder if I'll ever get to go back.
He remembered the night he had been abruptly sent home after telling the king about the old trunk he found in the attic. The note inside the trunk expressly told him not to mention it to anyone.
I’ll never make that mistake again! If only whoever sent me home would forgive me and let me go back. If only…
 Madison, older than Andy by two years, stuck her head out the back door and yelled loudly enough for the neighbors to hear, “Mom, Andy’s trying to make that gnome come to life again! I just saw him.”
Andy quickly stuffed the gold key back in its hiding place and turned to glare at her. “You have no idea what I was doing!”
“You had that same look as when I saw you trying to make the angel on the top of the Christmas tree and the knight above the fireplace come to life. You’re pathetic, Andy.”
She pulled her head back inside.
Through the screen door he overheard his mom say, ”Maddy, dear, you know Dr. Frandangle said we need to encourage and support Andy. He’s going through a difficult time.”
“Dr. Frandangle’s a quack!” Madison replied, slamming the door behind her.
Andy agreed. Dr. Frandangle, his “counselor,” was a quack. A quack who had been introduced into his life a couple months after he’d returned from Oomaldee. Apparently, waving his arms at the ceiling and yelling that he needed to go back to break the curse had upset his parents more than a little. And insisting that he told the truth when they questioned him about his change of clothes and the pouch that hung from his neck only made the situation worse. That, combined with him no longer wanting to play his video games (who wants to fight a pretend dragon when you’ve battled one in real life?) and no longer arguing with his mom when she asked him to mow the lawn, take out the trash, or go to bed, put his parents on edge. Go figure.
He remembered his dad calling a family conference the night before his first appointment and doing his uncomfortable best to explain that he and Mom understood Andy’s needs were greater than what they were equipped to handle. Dr. Frandangle was going to help them help Andy.
Gotta love Dad. Trying to “fix” me, Andy remembered thinking. And when his dad made it clear that no one outside their family was to know Andy was seeing a shrink, he remembered laughing to himself. Can never be less than perfect in this family!
Between Dr. Frandangle asking about any dreams he might be having or invisible friends, Andy began to wonder about this doctor’s qualifications. He hated having to talk about his feelings with a stranger. In the end, the doctor had come back with a diagnosis of severe low self-esteem, suggesting that treating Andy “more gently” would help him build some self-confidence. The diagnosis had worked because his parents started paying more attention to him.
For the first time in he couldn’t remember how many years, Dad had taken him and Madison trick-or-treating. Both—yes, both—his parents had actually come to hear him sing in the choir as part of the school Christmas pageant and had attended his spring play, The Princess and the Pea, even though he had the part of a servant and only spoke seven lines. But the best part by far was that all this attention made his sister, Miss Perfect, jealous. She resented the fact that Andy, in all his glorious imperfection, somehow got more of their parents’ attention. It drove her crazy. He loved it!
Unfortunately, while his parents paid more attention to him, he could tell Dad still did not accept him for who he was and didn’t approve of his grades, even though he’d (unsuccessfully) tried to bring them up.

Where can we go to buy your book?

Book 2
Amazon Paper:
Amazon Kindle:
All other eBook versions:
Book 1
Amazon Paper:
FREE eBook (all versions):

Any other links or info you'd like to share?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me as your spotlighted author! I had fun!!