Monday, July 29, 2013


A delicate hand rests on a table. Fingers tap lightly as a young woman stares at an urn, gracing a fireplace mantle.

Of father. I've tried. The rune eludes me. What can I do? 

A tear rolls down her face and splashes onto her hand next to a birthmark. It somehow mocks her in her dispare. It was the mirror image of the rune Kenaz. Memories flood her mind as the kind words of her father explained its existence. "You must be protected by the gods."

"Sure. My life has been one thrill after another. Hasn't it?"

She wipes the next tear away and steps over to the fireplace. A small script of paper scribbled with the Rune alphabet rests next to her father's urn. She sweeps it up into her hands and studies the parchment for any clue. "Nothing."

The burning log crackles, and the light diminishes to a dim flicker. Dropping to her knees, she pokes the glowing embers.

A spark ignites.

An unexpected breeze catches it in flight.

It brightens, reflecting gold an vivid red within the depths of the young woman's crystal blue eyes.

Her heart beats faster.

Between beats, the spark grows and transforms into a beautiful woman no larger than the young woman's hand. The fire spirit began to sing in a foreign language that the young woman instinctively knew.

Glowing brighter, she glides through the front door and down the path toward an ancient Ash tree. With a swift moment, the young woman follows with shovel in hand ...

Swirling clouds shade the moon as they approach the Ash tree. Tingles rushes up her spine as a chilly autumn breeze whisks the fire spirit directly toward the center of the tree.

Sparks fly.

The fire spirit brands herself into the Ash tree.

An acrid smell of burning wood assaults the young woman's nostrils, and her eyes tear from the billowing smoke.

As the brightness waivers, a lopsided F glows in the darkness.

The young woman gasps. The rune Ansuz ....

Her wait is finally over ...

What will she find?

Will the family secrets be buried under this ancient Ash?

Or ...

Will it be clues to who she really is?



Siv Maria Ottem

Don't we all love a juicy secret? I know I do. And this one's AMAZING. My cyber sister, Siv, really knows how to spin a Norse high fantasy tale. I had the supreme pleasure of reading this story and I am honored that Siv asked me to illustrate the covers for her. Many of you may not know that I have an art background and have illustrated many stories over the years. But it has been quite some time since I have had one as lovely as this one published.

I certainly look forward to creating Siv's next cover, if she hires me back. Lol. It was such fun working with her on this project because initially it was Siv's daughter who was to create the cover. But by a lucky twist of fate, I was asked. Siv is a very special friend. Since our meeting in the A-Z challenge in 2012, we have adopted each other as cyber siblings.... 

I hope you all share in Siv's happiness and debut novel. Please drop by her blog and wish her well!

I also hope you enjoyed the intro and reveal! On Wednesday, I have another reveal planned. Something I've been waiting to share with all of you. I hope you'll drop by and share in my new journey....

Have a wonderful Monday everyone!


  1. The story has me hooked, for sure. But, wow!!!! Michael, I love the cover!!!!! Bravo!!!!! Happy sigh...I do love trees :)

  2. You've done such a good job on the cover Michael. I love this book (I've been lucky enough to read it!)

  3. It was an honor to work with you Michael!

    I love your intro and your illustrations for my book cover--- you know I expect some of the same for my next book, Beneath the Roots, part two in my series on Gods and Fairy tales.

  4. And the world finally gets to see it!! Wonderful job Michael, and great lead-in. As always!

  5. Great post Micheal and a pleasure to read.


  6. Great job, Michael and Siv!

    Sounds very intriguing and what a cool cover!


  7. Wow! Great intro and great cover! Kudos. :)

  8. Your cover is wonderful, Michael! The book sounds very intriguing, too. Congrats to Siv!

  9. Congratulations Siv and Michael!

    Lovely cover, lovely story!

  10. Oh, fabulous sounding story and gorgeous cover! Good luck to both of you with this!!!

  11. What a wonderful way to start the early morning hours!

    Thanks Becky. SO happy you like the intro and cover...

    Susan, HOW AWESOME! ME TOO! We are a select few, BUT only for the moment!

    Hey, Sis ...

    YOU ARE A SUCCESS! SO THRILLED for you AND for your next book! Ooooo... what to do for the NEXT COVER! LOOKING forward to it!

    Thanks, ALex,

    Really appreciate it! AND THANKS for getting the word around.

    Glad you enjoyed it Yvonne!

    Blushing .... Thanks, Charmaine!

    Thanks Heather... We appreciate it!

    Ah, thanks Melissa. I know how much you enjoy my intros. Glad to see home much you liked this one.

    Thanks Dana,

    Siv's a terrific story teller.... You'll enjoy the book immensely!

    Thanks Yolanda...

    Hope your doing well with your books too!

    Thanks Hart. I really appreciate this coming from you!

  12. Wonderful cover, Michael. Congrats to both of you.

  13. the cover is gorgeous, Michael. You are very very talented. Didn't know about your art background. Handy info, eh?

  14. Such a gorgeous cover, Michael! It's very striking--love the color set against the black and white. It captures the essence of this story.

    Bravo to Michael and Siv!

  15. Fabulous tree, Michael :) Can't wait to see more!

  16. Gorgeous cover! Great job. The story sounds good too.:)

  17. Awesome cover, Michael! Siv's story sounds great and your cover is perfect for it.

    Great job!

  18. Yikes, what a great hook. Beautiful artwork too. I'm off to learn more!

  19. Thank you, L. Diane.

    Very handy, Karen. My are has always been an important part of my life. That is why writing was a given...

    Glad you love it, Michael. Thanks.

    Thanks, Liz. I love black and white and adding a splash of color really makes it pop!

    Thanks, Marcy!

    The story is amazing, Holly. You'd really enjoy it! Thanks.

    Thanks, Carol. Siv's tale is a wonderful Norse mythological high fantasy... It was a very enjoyable read!

    Thanks, Crystal. It was such fun introducing and illustrating Siv's book!

  20. It's a very eye-catching work of art. certainly does the job of intriguing me and making me want to know more.

    Love it!!

    Great work, Michael :-)

  21. Lyrically beautiful, and the cover is gorgeous. Everything about your post makes me want to read the book.

  22. Great cover, Michael. And love the excerpt (which is not surprising).

  23. What an evocative, riveting intro, Michael! Susan is right: everything about your post makes me want to read Siv's book! Best of sales to Siv!!

  24. That cover is wonderful and the intro is superb. I agree with Susan, everything makes me read that book. Excellent job, Michael. I'll check on you on Wednesday to see what else do you have for us.

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  26. Loved the intro and the cover Michael. Hooked big time by both. Good luck to Siv.

  27. Gorgeous! Unique! OUTSTANDING work Michael! Truly love it. :)

    Siv, the story sounds fantastic! Well done, all!


  28. Beautiful cover Michael! You did an excellent job. Best of luck to Siv!

  29. I love it! Especially with the back cover too. Nice job!

  30. Utterly ravishing cover, Michael, and THE SECRETS OF THE ASH TREE sounds fantastic. What a brilliant collaboration.

    Congratulations to both you and Siv!

    VR Barkowski

  31. Awesome cover, Michael. You're so multi- talented. And congrats to Siv! This sounds like a great story.

  32. I am stunned. This is just a breathtaking cover, sweetie. I LOVE it!! You both are so unbelievably talented. Just wow...

  33. Hi Michael and Siv - congratulations on your book ... while Michael you've created a very enticing cover ... I love this and all it represents ..

    I imagine I have a thrill in store when I get to read Siv's book .. The Secrets of the Ash Tree ..

    Interesting and just love the art work .. cheers Hilary

  34. Wonderful cover! You did a great job on the tree, I love it.

  35. Hi, Angela,

    Always makes me smile seeing you at my blog.. Thanks!

    AH, SUSAN, you ALWAYS lift my spirits with your sweet comments... Thank you so much! I know you'll REALLY enjoy Siv's book!

    Thanks Stina! So glad you like it!

    Blushing, EJ... Thank you! Such a tribute!

    HI, Roland...

    THANKS so much for your comment and help spreading the word around. I've learned a lot from you and have grown as a writer because of your influence...

    HI, FD... So nice to see the dragon out of his liar! Glad you liked the post! And yes, you must get Siv's book... you'll really enjoy it, even though there are no dragons in THIS story... perhaps in future ones. SIv is working on the next in the series as we speak.

    Thanks Rachna! I know you'll enjoy the story!!!!

    Thanks Elizabeth... So glad you like it!

    Ilima, Thanks! I LOVE the back cover... Nothing is more beautiful than the full moon misted over by a few clouds.

    Hey, Vi.... Thanks... I so enjoyed illustrating this cover for Siv. I can't wait to do the next one!

    Hi, Natalie ... Thanks! Nice to see you!

    Ah, thanks, Melissa.... You are so sweet! So when are we going to work on your next cover? LOL. Soon, I hope!

    Thank you so much, Hilary! LOVE the new pic of you, sporting that very cool HAT!!!!!

  36. Sorry FD... There is a Dragon.... Siv just reminded me and I remember him now... Nasty thing... LOL.

    Thanks Sara,

    Glad you liked it!

  37. This is so cool! Excellent art, Michael, and this sounds like a great addition to the Siv Collection! :)

  38. Ohhhh... speechless...

    This is my favorite intro you've ever done... so haunting and beautiful and lovely. And the artwork CONVEYS... it captures exactly the mood you're going for. It really is SO beautiful--such talent! I love the black and white (my fav!) with the burst of color--it's gripping!

    HUGE congrats to you and Siv, Michael! You are a wonderful team!!!!!!

    LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. Another great intro and a great cover. You continue to amaze me.

  40. Woohoo! The illustration is gorgeous, Michael. You should be very proud. :)

    Congratulations, Siv!

  41. What an amazing cover. The art is very vibrant and original.

  42. Congratulations to both Siv and Michael on a fascinating book and a beautiful cover design! Happy Debut to both of you!

  43. What a nice intro to the book and a lovely cover! Hope everything goes well with this book...

    Mary Montague Sikes

  44. The cover can definitely catch attention. The premise is also very good.

  45. And look what's been happening while i was sleeping! So gorgeous, Michael! Siv's story sounds wonderful...and your intro so lush. Makes me want to read it all and that's the point. But the wowzers! Such fine artwork, such detail, daring a reader to open the cover to get to the goodies inside. Love the back cover too.
    Well worth the wait!
    Go from strength to strength Michael. I hope you get tons of business!


  46. Beautiful and intriguing artwork, Michael.

  47. Thanks David... Glad you like it!

    Ah, thanks, Morg... You are too kind!

    Blushing... Thank you, Susan.

    Thanks Carrie, I am. Thanks to Siv's inspiring prose.

    Thanks ECS... Very few covers these days have "real" illustration. Since computers hit the art scene in the mid-eightes we see less and less covers with paintings or drawings.

    Thanks Dianne... Glad you liked it.

    Thanks Monte. Me too!

    TAMMY... THANKS! So glad you dropped by!

    Thanks Shena... Siv's prose it REALLY engaging!

    Thanks Denise, Wednesday is tell tale....

    Thanks glad you like it!

  48. Awesome cover. How many talents do you have? (Don't tell me, it'll only make me jealous).


  49. Congratulations to both Siv and Michael - absolutely fabulous cover, beautiful intro. and what sounds like a spell-binding tale!

  50. I love that cover. Usually a cover alone will not lure me in, but this one does. Great job!

  51. A wonderful illustration for the cover!!!

  52. Michael!!!!! The cover is awesome! Well done!

  53. Love the story plot. Secrets make good reading, and keep the reader attention as each level is unfolded. Sounds like an exciting book Siv.

    Awesome story reveal Michael; and I loved the cover. Really fits the overall story line; and the use of grey instead of a vivid color scheme is effective. I've seen a lot of covers that are overdone with colors, or silhouettes of people (as if the reader doesn't know there is a MC).

    I know nothing about art, but I know what kind of covers appeal to me, and this one does. Seeing this on a book shelf I'd pick it up to read the blurb, and would purchase the book knowing the cover and story plot match.

    Well done both of you.


  54. I'm late- but I came. It's awesome Micheal.

  55. The extract was really intriguing Siv! I love runes and Norse mythology.

    Michael, what a great book cover. I loved the "f" rune in the fire of the tree. So great to see more of your work!


  56. Well done, Michael, and you sooo make me a wee little bit green with all these multi-level talents :)

    Congrats, of course, to Siv, and wishing you MUCH SUCCESS :)

  57. Michael you are super talented!
    Great cover illustration... and great intro as per usual!
    So what other artistic talents are you keeping from us...?

    Congratulations Siv!, the story sounds fascinating!
    Writer In Transit

  58. I knew I'd love this cover but it's even better than I expected. Amazing work! And the book sounds fantastic. Congrats to Siv and to you as well. :)

  59. The cover looks great and the story sounds intriguing!

  60. Bravo to Siv-her book sounds amazing!
    I love the cover-Congrats to both of you!!

    Michael you are so talented~ Now covers-wow~

    Off to visit Siv :D

  61. The story sounds fantastic, and you've certainly done it justice with the cover, Michael. Congrats to both of you!

  62. Thanks, Mood,

    No need for jealousy... LOL. You are one incredible writer!

    Ah, thanks Nicki.... SO glad you like the cover and intro! Siv's book was such an inspiration!

    Thanks JJ... that means a LOT coming from you!

    Thanks, Lynda! Glad you like it!

    Hey, Sharon... Happy to see you! Glad you like the cover!

    Hey, Donna. You WILL so enjoy the story! Siv really knows her way around a Norse, mythological fantasy!

    Thanks, Summer!

    Hi, Jai... What I love about the RUNE is that it was a fire elemental who fused herself into the tree! Great imagery on Siv's part!

    Thanks Mark... We ALL have special talents. Just don't be afraid to EXPLORE them!

    LOL, Hi, Michele... On Wednesday you'll find out a few more.

    Thanks, Julie... Happy I went beyond your expectations! Siv's story will too!

    Thanks Carolyn... The story IS INTRIGUING!!!! It kept me turning the page!

    Yes, Covers too, Ella.. LOL. I like to keep busy.

    TALLI! Nice to see you! It's been ages! The story is amazing. And thanks!

  63. Well done for your work on the cover!

  64. "Cyber-siblings"--what a great label and concept. :) And I love the cover you did! Such an expressive and organic tree. Very nice, great job. :)

  65. Love the cover! Definitely catches the eye...

  66. Ooooh, it is absolutely lovely, Michael! Siv must be so pleased. Congrats to you both <3

  67. Really nice, Michael. The tree is very evocative and she was lucky to have you as a "back-up".

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