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Robert Marston Fanney
Luthiel’s Song books 1 and 2 will be available within the coming week on the Kindle and iphone DRM platforms. Matt is working hard to make this happen! So much thanks to him for his efforts!

The Kindle is amazon.com’s revolutionary electronic reader which in its first year and a half has sold over 750,000 of its 1 and 2 platforms. A third reader is in the works and this one is rumored to have a color screen available.

The readers themselves cost from around $250 for the older Kindle 1 models to between $359 and $459 for the latest generation of reading devices. Books offered through the platform usually cost $9.99 or less — averaging between 30-50 percent off the cost of a paperback version.

Kindle also provides an option for downloading books to the iphone in DRM format. Though not a dedicated ereader, the iphone provides very high quality digital images and can double as an electronic reading device.

Given the freedom of this electronic medium and the zero print and shipping cost of electronic books, we plan to offer Luthiel’s Song ebooks at very competitive prices. These prices will be announced at the time the books become available on the Kindle platform.

If anyone is Kindle savvy and has suggestions, comments, or feedback, they would be much appreciated!

We’ll be posting more soon! Wishing you many happy adventures until then!

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Fantasy icon David Eddings, known and beloved by millions of readers for his Belgariad and Mallorean series, has passed away at the age of 77. Eddings’ classic works have influenced thousands of writers — including the one penning this blog. Eddings, like many others, was inspired by the success of The Lord of the Rings. But his own stories were original and transcendent — leaving a lasting mark and legacy. He is also one of the few responsible for popularizing contemporary fantasy — writing stories outside of the Middle English favored by Tolkien.

Born in 1931, Eddings was known for sticking to the old ways of producing manuscripts and continued to use a type-writer even for his most recent works. Most of his stories were also crafted with the help of his wife — Leigh Eddings. Working for many years as a grocery store manager, he finally managed to publish High Hunt and Pawn of Prophecy in the mid-80s. Pawn of Prophecy was met with stunning success and spawned nine follow-on stories. Eddings’ other work includes The Elenium andTamuli trilogies as well as The Dreamers series.

Eddings was always most pleased when his writing was picked up by first-time readers stating in an interview to Reed Magazine that once they were no longer challenged by his books they were free to then move onto “somebody important like Homer or Milton.”

For my part, I remember fondly the day I, just barely a teen, discovered Eddings sitting on the shelves of a local mom and pop bookstore. The many warm summer afternoons spent exploring his rich and fantastic worlds were all worth far more than the $3.99 I paid for his books. I was one of those who went on to Milton and Homer. But I never forgot Eddings who helped to instill such a love for great stories.

Farewell Mr. Eddings, you will be sorely, sorely missed.

(originally published on www.luthielssong.com)

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The birds were the first to see her and hundreds — from the tiniest flitswa to the greatest eagle — flew to join her. There were thousands more, and she could barely see the sky through the thick of them. It didn’t take long for the other animals to notice her arrival and, of these, Othalas was the first.

Upon seeing her, he let out a great howl and the wolves about him — a hundred other werewolves, all great and terrible, but none so great as he — picked up the call. Then the bears growled and the great cats roared — ligers and tipards nearly as big as the werewolves. All the other creatures paused, some of them resting on their haunches as they watched her descend from the trees.

Othalas padded up to greet her with a bow.

“All of wilddom has come to aid you, Lady,” he said with a formality she was unused to. But her Stone was afire now and the lights about her head gleamed bright as stars. In her left hand Weiryendel sang with lights and rainbows. Her disguise cast aside, she looked in every part a great Faelord, if not something greater.

At his bow, all the other creatures bowed as well. There was a hush and Luthiel’s breath caught when she saw love plain in the animals’ eyes.

Oh what have I done to earn it? I who would hunt them and eat them? With animals bowing before her, she recalled Mithorden and his principles and she wondered if he had the right of it. For she saw in each of these creatures great heart and spirit even to the tiniest among them.

They all love life and will fight for it as I have.

She did not need to speak. It was as though the animals heard her thoughts and gave silent affirmation.

“We are ready to help you!” Othalas growled. “All you need do is give the word.”

“Then the word is forward!” she cried. “I would save as many elves as possible. Will you follow me!!??”

The responding roar made the wind in the trees seem a whisper by comparison. Even the Glimflirs seemed to glow brighter.

“The wild has answered,” Othalas growled.

Luthiel sprang to his back and the Senasarab gathered with the host. Othalas gave them only one questioning glance. But knowing they were with Luthiel was enough. Now was not the time for questions. That would come later. The wolf was built for action and this was the time for it. Woe to the spider who stood before him or threatened his mistress.

With a final howl, he was off through the woods, the great horde of woodland creatures surging in behind him.

Upon Othalas’ back, she rushed through the wood. Light spilled from her Stone, making all seem to sway and waver. Even the animals looked like a great pack of spirits flowing through the woods. Trees flashed by as the animals ran or flew beside and above her. Werewolves were intermixed with native wolves and Luthiel even saw one unicorn. The air surged with birds of every kind. But borne aloft on the hot summer air, Glimfirs rose up above them, making the sky shimmer with a million false stars. A great wind was howling, fanning the trees, running ahead of Oerin’s dawn.

Othalas found a low spot, making a riverbed his road. They ran along, masked by hill, tree, and rushing wind. But the cloud of Glimflirs must have made a disturbing spectacle as it grew and loomed over the spiders. Two of the rear-guard twittered uneasily as the cloud drew near. The plan hadn’t gone quite right and though the elves were losing, this night’s events made them want to slip off into the shadows. Too many had felt the bite of faerie sword, arrow, and Wyrd. Many more lay burned to ash. Now the wood was filled with strange sounds. It made them long for the mountains — the shadowed valleys no sunlight could touch. They’d caught enough to last for a good while and the greedy, lazy, spiders were ready for a feasting well away from the struggle. Were it not for her they’d be gone in a moment. But the Spider Queen was not to be argued with. So the spiders held tight to the tree limbs and quivered in anticipation of what dawn might bring.

Less than a mile away, a desperate struggle was taking place. The elves had fought their way to the hills. The spiders threatened to overwhelm them. Again and again they were thrown back. The battle raged on the ground and in the trees. The air was filled with birds and pixies on the wing.

Saurlolth sensed the changes. The Vyrl were coming. Beasts were gathering. Luthiel’s magic was at work. Were it not for that girl, the battle would be won. The elves — slaves and food.

(excerpted from Luthiel's Song: The War of Mists)
(Originally published on www.luthielssong.com)

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Recently, a Luthiel’s Song reader asked me to answer a few questions for her gifted program school project. For my part, I was delighted to pitch in. As I was working on the answers, I began to think that they might also be helpful to other writers or just useful to those interested in the craft. In my opinion, there are probably as many ways to become an author as there are authors. Regardless, I’ll be sharing some of my experiences in the following paragraphs. I hope they help you!

1. Why are you an author?

Simple love of the thing has replaced talent for me. In other words, I don’t believe I was born with all the necessary attributes to make me a great writer. Instead, I have replaced all such things with a dogged determination. Further, I feel I have been called to write a particular story. My experience has left me with a great love and admiration for the female heroes, great and small, in my life and it is my goal to do them as much honor as possible with these tales. I do not answer this question lightly as I spent ten years working on the first novel in my series and underwent much hardship to complete and publish it. In all, I’ve spent fourteen years seriously working in the craft and never intend to stop.

2. What is a typical day in your career like?

In short, there are no typical days. One day I may be visiting a school in Georgia. Another, I may be attending a book-signing at a Barnes and Noble in Virginia Beach. Yet another, I may be holed up at my computer feverishly writing the next chapter in the Luthiel’s Song series. There is very little that is typical about being a writer. If you crave stability, go elsewhere.

3. What are some benefits of being a writer?

Well, for one, you don’t have a boss lording over you — unless you count readers who can be equally difficult to please. A second and related benefit is that writing affords a certain amount of freedom not enjoyed in other professions. But with this freedom also comes a huge responsibility. You can’t just play video games all day and hope to be a successful writer. Because the craft is so free, you need to be a disciplined self-starter — someone willing to motivate and set goals for oneself. Another benefit is that you do receive a measure of recognition for your work. Even having a few readers love your stories can be very satisfying, especially when the tales are of personal value. And the final, most important, benefit of all is inspiring others to think, to dream, to imagine and, yes, to read.

4. What are some disadvantages of being an author?

Lack of health care. Lack of a steady paycheck. Having to deal with literary agents — OK, that was a little joke. I guess if you boil it all down, the prime disadvantage for being a writer is extreme risk and uncertainty. Ray Bradbury said that writing was akin to jumping off a cliff and hoping you can build wings before you hit the ground. Or a less known author, Dani Literas, summed it up nicely by saying ‘each book is a miracle.’ In short, if you don’t like taking risks, don’t be a writer.

5. What kind of education do you need to be successful?

The reading kind. That is to say, you must be very well educated but don’t necessarily need a degree. And the best education you can find for writing is in reading as many books as possible. Many writers have never received a formal higher education. Christopher Paolini is one example. He got an excellent start while home-schooled, finished High School at age 15, and decided he wanted to write fantasy stories instead of going off to college. This is not to say that he wasn’t educated. Quite to the contrary, he was highly educated due to his mass consumption of books of all kinds. And, sometimes, academic education itself can get in the way. Often what they teach in master’s degree programs is terrible — that you should be afraid to write because everything must be perfect. Or, even worse — that you must be incomprehensible to sound intelligent. A genius is someone who takes a complex thing and makes it look simple. An academic does the reverse. If you want to be a writer, learn to do the first.

6. How much education is needed to be a successful writer?

As I mentioned before, formal education is not necessary, but reading education is essential. The more of the latter the better. I would also like to add that many fine writers also are college professors (Tolkien, Frank Herbert, Patrick Rothfuss). But it is my experience that academic writing does not lend itself to novel writing.

7. Is writing ever a dangerous career?

Not dangerous in the same way that being a soldier or a police officer is dangerous. For my part, I have the benefit of having been both so I think I’m qualified to speak on what is and isn’t dangerous. The danger that comes from writing is more a danger to your stability. As with any artistic career there is quite a lot of uncertainty and you have to be willing to take that on. Perhaps coincidentally, I’m working on an autobiographical comedic book called “I am Dangerous.” It’s more about my propensity to take risks than anything else. And I do think that writers can’t be too risk averse. It is a pretty risky career.

8. How long have you been an author?

Well this is an odd question and one that strikes to the root of the craft. In my opinion, there are three stages of writer — apprentice, journeyman, and master. But this has to do with level of mastery in the writing craft. In fact, there are many master writers who have never published a book! So if the criteria for authorship is publication, then I have been an author since 2003 when I co-wrote a very boring book called “The Citizen’s Safety Guide” which I don’t recommend you read. My first novel self-published in 2005 and we have now sold over 15,000 copies independently. My second novel just published this year and I hope the third won’t take too long. Since some think self-published authors aren’t real authors at all, then I further complicate the definition. But as my book has sold more copies than many professionally published books, I think I qualify, if strangely.

But, going back to the beginning, if you define authorship as the act of producing work that is read by others, then I have been an author since the 5th grade when I began writing silly stories for my friends.

9. What is your favorite part of writing?

When the words disappear and you are suddenly transported into the world you’re creating. When you experience, as an invisible eye, this odd and amazing place you’ve created. And when you fall in love with the characters so much that when they are threatened your skin pricks and you fear for their safety.

Sometimes, when you write, you can transcend your life and circumstance. Each time you do it, there’s a chance that, like Peter Pan, you might even take a few people with you. This mind-opening experience, to me, is the beauty and glory of writing.

10. How long does it take for you to write and publish a story? How long for writers in general?

The perfect book is the one never finished. That said, I gave up trying after ten years. The second only took three and one half. I hope the third takes two or less. Since I self-publish and must do much of the work producing the book, it can take a little more time. But even publishers spend six months to a year or more producing a book — even after it is written. As for other writers, some put out a book every few months, others can take years to produce a published work. The average is probably a year or two.

11. What is the average salary range for writers in general?

Everyone thinks writers are rich. This is a bit annoying. If you’re a writer, you’re lucky to make a living on your work. Ninety percent do not. That said there are a decent number of writers who do rather well — making as much money each year as a lawyer, for example. A few are very wealthy. And these are the writers everyone thinks about when the word ‘writer’ is mentioned. If I had to pick an average, it’s probably somewhere around $5,000 to $10,000 dollars per year. But this average comes from a very wide range of nearly nothing to tens or even hundreds of millions.

12. Is your career ever challenging? If yes, how so?

Absolutely! I face challenges every day. From the writing itself, to the publication process, to fighting for visibility, to dealing with reader’s opinions, there isn’t a single aspect of writing that doesn’t include its obstacles.

First, the craft of writing is very, very challenging. As mentioned above, it can take many, many years to master. And all this work with little hope or guarantee of success. All this work writing while you could have been going out to movies with friends, or spending time with family. All the lonely hours in front of your computer without a dime being paid to you. And then the submissions and rejections, the process of jumping through a hundred hoops with each publisher, the let-down with each letter sent containing the words that amount to ‘no.’

Even after you’ve beat the slim odds and produced a published work, you still have to cast it out to the world. This takes a huge effort! What few people realize is a big part of the writing job is trying to get people to read your work. Even if you’ve written the best book in the world, if no-one knows about it then it will never be glanced at, much less read. So unless you are one of the fortunate folk who have a $200,000+ marketing budget, then you must do much of the work yourself.

And even if you manage to gain visibility, you will inevitably face a very stormy sea of opinions. Some will love your work, some will hate it, others will damn you with faint praise — and all of this after you’ve written a fantastic story. Look at the readers who howl about how they couldn’t get into Tolkien or accuse Christopher Paolini of plagiarism. Look at those who called Stephen King a hack or who denigrated J. K. Rowling. And, oddly, you would hope to receive such recognition that those who dislike you end up screaming with frustration and envy! It’s a strange dichotomy. But it is what it is.

All of this may seem insurmountable. But people do break through. And what most of them had was a very deep love of the work itself. If you don’t, you probably won’t make it.

13. What is your least favorite part of writing?

Despite all of what I said above, there is no least favorite part for me. I am captivated by writing and all its challenges. There are parts I enjoy more than others. And then there are parts I sweat through. But I do enjoy it all.

14. Do you get to travel a lot because of your career?

I travel quite a bit — visiting schools, libraries, and book stores in many states.

15. What was one of your funniest experiences in writing?

Well, I’ve had many quite funny experiences. Perhaps the best was the day I was writing poetry in Algebra II class. I was writing a poem about a girl I had a crush on… Well, needless to say, my Algebra teacher caught me and she said — “Since what you’re writing is so important, why don’t you share it with the rest of us?” And the girl I was writing the poem about? She did happen to be in my Algebra class! She sat a few seats up from me. So fully expecting to be publicly embarrassed in front of this girl and all my friends, I shuffled my way to the front of class and I read my poem aloud. Then a pretty strange thing happened — everyone gave me a round of applause. Except the Algebra teacher, who gave me detention. But the girl met me after class and asked me to see a movie with her. So poetry does work, sometimes.

(If you want to read the poem I wrote, it’s posted here: http://www.luthielssong.com/blog/2009/04/25/poem-written-to-the-girl-in-algebra-class-as-requested-by-the-students-of-lanier-middle-school/ . I kinda laugh at it now. It’s pretty cheesy and would make a great Hallmark card.)

16. How long have you wanted to be an author?

I’ve entertained the idea of being a writer ever since I read “The Hobbit.” It all seemed so impressive and out of reach at the age of nine. I couldn’t imagine what it would take. But I never really gave up on the idea.

17. How difficult was it for you to publish your first book?

Getting it right took ten years. Then, I was rejected by over a hundred publishers and agents. Finally, I was inspired by Mark Twain, and decided to 'publish the darn thing myself.' Quite honestly, I’m happy I did!

18. What is your favorite age group to write for?

Middle schoolers. They’re taking the first steps of self-determination and yet it’s not all so deadly serious. In High School, it seems everyone must already know where they’re going in life and have their path all planned out. But in middle school, there’s still a lot of possibility. I think this open frontier of the mind lends itself to a lot of creativity. I’m not surprised that so many middle schoolers enjoy fantasy tales so much.

19. What is it like to be an author?

At the same time it is thrilling, terrifying, and wonderful. It is the most amazing thing for people to contribute their thoughts and imaginations to your stories. In my opinion, once a reader picks up a book, it becomes theirs — a part of their own imagination. A book cannot live without a reader and it is still a wonder to me that my books live on in the imaginations of thousands.

20. What was one of your favorite experiences in writing?

It may sound a little silly, but after ten years, when I first laid hands on my finished book, no mother beholding her newborn child for the first time could have been prouder or more filled with joy. I think I’ll always remember that moment with fondness. It took quite a lot of struggle to get there and there was much more to come after. But the moment itself was pristine and I’m pretty certain it’s one most authors share.

So here ends the questions sent me by a very gifted student! If you have any more questions you’d like me to answer, please post them at my official blog site here: http://www.luthielssong.com/blog/2009/04/30/who-wants-to-be-an-author-qa/ and I will do my best to answer them! Warmest regards to you all!

( originally published on www.luthielssong.com )

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Dear friends, we have finally settled on a title for the third installment of the Luthiel’s Song series — The Nightmares of Winter!

In Nightmares, Luthiel’s adventure continues along a very dark and dangerous path. The title, I feel, is apt for a story that takes a plunge into darkness.

(SPOILER ALERT!!! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE WAR OF MISTS, DON’T READ BELOW THE FOLD!!!)

Luthiel is captured by her arch-enemy, Zalos. Her friends are defeated, captured, or scattered. And a terrible shadow has devoured the stars of night. As it deepens, the very nature of Oesha’s magic becomes a weapon against all people — for fears grow and take on life in the gloom. Also, for the first time in the series, we witness the return of the Dark Moon, Gorothoth, along with all its horrors.

It is not, nor should it be, easy to continue a story from such a difficult place. Yet, so far, I have made substantial progress — reaching page 150 and going through the first set of serious edits. Given the current pace of writing and my hopes to have Marek put together cover art by fall, I am working to have Nightmares released by Halloween, 2010. I’ve got my work cut out for me. So I’d better get back to it!

( Originally published on www.luthielssong.com )

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When glimflirs golden lift and fly… Like rivers run against the sky… Upon the howl of rising air… The Blood Witch comes — Beware!! Beware!! (Excerpted from Luthiel’s Song, The War of Mists)

The War of Mists

As of this January, the second installment in the Luthiel’s Song series — “The War of Mists” has published. We are now throwing the doors wide to any interested in this continuation of Luthiel’s tale. We’ve already had some great feedback from readers and, with more than 800 books going out in the first two months, I’ve been flooded with opinions. Needless to say, I’m relieved to hear that many of you think the second book is even better than the first. It’s great news as the expectation set by Dreams was quite something to live up to. And, as anticipated, there’s already a huge amount of pressure to get Luthiel’s Song book III: “The Nightmares of Winter” published as soon as possible.

For those of you already anxious for Nightmares, I’m currently about two hundred pages into the first draft. While this progress may seem substantial, my perfectionism tends to make the editing last about three to four times as long as the actual writing. This personality quirk creates a dilemma — either take the chance of publishing a lower quality book or spend the time and risk upsetting readers. It’s a Catch-22 and my solution has always been to trade time for quality. That said, I am very serious about making Nightmares available as soon as humanly possible. Even sooner, I promise to post excerpts! On that, you have my assurance and word.

But enough about Nightmares. Because, for now, I am here to issue this last warning –

Beware!! The War of Mists is here!!!

Luthiel’s Song Book II: The War of Mists is available at:

Amazon.com ( http://www.amazon.com/Luthiels-Song-Robert-Marston-Fanney/dp/0976422611/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b/187-8162596-5730937 )

Barnes and Noble online ( http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Luthiels-Song/Robert-Fanney/e/9780976422617/?itm=2 )

and on shelves or by special order at any major bookstore…

(originally published at luthielssong.com)

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Dearest God
Or whatever good spirit
Of worlds and blessed nothing
Of blackness and stars
Lives yet
In this strange place

I pray for strength
To fight the demons of my thought
And to hope for a good end
To hope well enough to hear
Her voice
My muse

I pray for courage
To continue
For a scribbler’s path is lonely
Through a desert place
Where food and drink are sparse
And a bard must risk livelihood
To follow his love

I pray for help
For I am poor
For I am weary
And I cannot make the journey alone

I pray for comfort
That my quest is worthwhile
That others may gain from my labor
That I will be remembered
And not go quietly into the night

I pray too for vision
That I might see the proper paths
Of tales
Of heroes
For the way is riddled with false roads
And traps for the unwary

Last of all I pray for voice
To sing well this song
To send off my love
Like a spark to the world
May it catch
May it catch fire…

Dearest God of Poets
Of muses
Of scribes
And singers too
This and more I pray
For I am only one man
And the world is a bitter thing
For a dreaming heart to bear alone.

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Hey everyone! Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you guys know I'm off on the book tour in Northern VA for the next few days. I'll be visiting schools -- reading, singing, and presenting. I'll do my best to pop in from time to time to check mail and chat.

Best to everyone and I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Rob

PS. Some newspaper was crazy enough to write a cover story about me and the book. Nuts! If you'd like to read it look here: http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=124551&ran=60250.
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"Fantasy writer Lloyd Alexander, born 1924, died yesterday [May 17] at the age of 83. He was best known for the "Chronicles of Prydain" beginning with The Book of Three (1964) and including Newbery Medal winner The High King (1968). Other works included American Book Award winner Westmark (1981), first of a trilogy, and National Book Award winner The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian (1970). He was awarded a Life Achievement World Fantasy Award in 2003."

* SFWA obituary
* Washington Post obituary

I don't know about you guys, but, to me, this is a huge blow. Alexander was the first series I picked up after reading Tolkien. He will be sorely missed.

Rob
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I am convinced that our poor Earth has suffered far greater calamities than even the oracles of science and religion have envisioned. Those disasters mentioned have been clouded by the dronings of unwavering belief and the plodding of numb logic. Sadly, it seems the way of meager human minds to cope with a terrible reality in comfortable disbelief.

In truth, our poor world was destroyed many times -- her globe engulfed by fires from the hearts of galaxies or vomited from our own sun. Her continents overwashed by waves so vast they touched the clouds. Her precious creatures destroyed in episode after episode of cosmic violence.

Decimated and terribly diminished, the survivors made love and brought life anew. Is it not an awesome thing to know that these epic heroes are our very ancestors? That we arose from a thousand calamities -- each great enough to be a world killer?

It is for this reason and for the love act that brings each new life that I write fantasy. For fact is too small to contain the whole truth of our spirit. The very summation of all life on earth is made real in us. The lessons of our ancestors live on in our very blood and bones.

So here's to the memory of what has passed and to the inevitable challenge. Yes, these worlds will be destroyed again. Yet in each of you I see the strength and spirit to overcome any disaster and the hope to bring life even to the dimmest specks of night.

(copyright 2007, all rights reserved, Robert Marston Fanney)
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