Brandon Mull and Chase

(Just reposting this news report from LDS Living so I'll always have it. All credit goes to them...)
Pictures are from me, which I'm thinking now that I had a terrible camera.

Brandon Mull and Chase Autrey
Brandon Mull and Chase Autrey

When author Brandon Mull set out to create the fictional world of Fablehaven, he never imagined that his fantasy would become a New York Times bestselling children’s book series. And he certainly would have never guessed the fabled world would make a wish come true for a dying little boy in reality.
Fourteen-year-old Chase Autrey of Fort Worth, Texas has battled cystic fibrosis since he was a toddler. With countless treatments and enough reality to last ten lifetimes, one of Chase’s favorite things to do is escape into Mull’s mythical world of Fablehaven, a secret preserve for magical creatures.

The Autrey family, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, found themselves again at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, in December, when doctors told the family Chase likely had three days to live, said his mother, Clover Autrey.

"His body is breaking down” she said. “It just has deteriorated to the point they're not sure he's got that much time left."

As doctors and nurses did all they could to keep young Chase from succumbing to the buildup in his lungs, his family braced for the worst. At one point, they didn’t expect him to make it through the night.
Chase had read all four volumes of the Fablehaven series and had been anticipating the March 23 release of the final book, Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison. Chase first became a fan of the Fablehaven series after listening to the first book on audio CD at his grandmother’s house. He was too sick to go out and play with his cousins, so the boy who “doesn’t like books” took a chance on the series, his mother said.

After that, he was hooked. His dying wish was to know how the Fablehaven story ends.

Thanks to A Wish With Wings, a Texas-based foundation that helps grant terminally ill children their final wishes, a special phone call came to Chase’s hospital room on Thursday, Dec. 10. [2009]

With his family gathered around, Chase took a call from LDS author Brandon Mull. In this small hospital room, with tearful nurses and tender-hearted family and friends watching, Chase became the only person in the world to hear the details of the final volume of his favorite story. “Now if I’m going to tell you this stuff from [book] five, you’re going to have to promise to keep this stuff a secret,” Mull told Chase. “We’ve got a pact,” his family responded in unison. Mull then revealed the entire plot to an eager Chase.

Read the rest of this story at

Watching the Bachelor

The Bachelor logo
used by permission through

Feburary's NTRWA President's Letter

Okay, I admit it. I’m a The Bachelor addict.  Yes, I watched Trista and Ryan repeat their vows. I sat through Catherine and Sean’s “Grown Sexy” ceremony. Where my grandparents enjoyed the Lawrence Welk show together, The Bachelorette is Pat and my’s Lawrence Welk. We don’t miss it or watch it separately. Yes, that’s television at work, keeping families together.
The Lawrence Welk shoeLet’s face it, it’s a romance novel come to reality TV. It provides a hero and heroine hoping for that happily ever after that we all root for. Well, exept for  Ben Flajnik. Had to stop rooting for him because he was too easily manipulated to the point of annoying. (Note to self: don’t write annoying heroes.)
But it also has a fairy godmother type matchmaker (Chris Harrison thank you), and that one evil antagonist we all want to hate, as well as several hilarious secondary characters that steal every scene they step in to. And those secondardy characters usually end up in the book’s sequel, er, I mean as the next bachelor or bachelorette.
So my point?
Uh, no point really. Except the strong inciting evidence that the general masses are still looking for romances and happily ever afters as the top sources of entertainment, be it television or in books.
So happy watching, happy writing and reading. And happy Valentine’s day.
With loads of heart-shaped chocolate. Yes, lots of chocolate.  

                       Heart shaped chocolate

Valentine's Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway

Kindle Fire Valentines
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)


Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7" (or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash).

All New Kindle Fire HDX 7" Giveaway
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)

Or $229 Gift Card (International)

Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)

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Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7".

Ends 3/16/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Making of a Book Cover: Highland Son

I've been at it again, making book covers and lots of them. 

Four to be exact for my newest series A New Dawn, a continuation of the Highland Sorcery series.
I don't make covers for other people because that's not really where I want to focus my time and energy, but I gotta say, I love making my own. Searching for just the right cover model is fun. I always go for the expression, more so than looks...

Original picture for AlexanderAnyway, here's the picture I used for Alexander. I just love the way the photographer Konradbak captured him in motion...and the intensity on his face is perfect.

Shirt to overlap Highland Son coverThe only thing I don't like about this is that he's shirtless. It doesn't fit with the brand of my books, which are more action and behind-the-door snogging, less skin. And since I don't want readers expecting something they aren't going to get, I try hard to keep everyone clothed. So the next step before I bought the picture for use was to see if I could find a shirt to cover the poor guy up with.

I found this picture with the model's body turned in close to the same position.

So now I have the two pictures. I overlaid the shirt picture on top of Alexander's picture, sized it to fit, tilted it a bit to fit more, and then used the eraser tool to erase everything on the top picture except for the shirt. I also had to get a little creative with the cloning tool to fill in more of the shirt color where I erased the shirt guy's arm which took out some of the shirt.  (Weird sentence. As a writer I should do better, but as a lazy person this moment, I'm going to leave it.) The bottom of the shirt is a bit fuzzy but the words will camouflage that a bit. Not too mention it draws the eye up to the face since it's more in focus. That's what I tell myself anyway.
Before and after saturation on photograph of Alexander

So now I have a shirt on Alexander.  But he's kind of gray. So I saved the picture into one layer and then used the saturation tool to pull up more color. He's just about perfect now, except I want a different background.

Kay, I cheated a little here by using a background I already had. I loved the greenish building scape cover for Highland Shapeshifter. So I pulled up that original cover (I already own that picture for use) and cropped a background out of it from the left bottom corner below her arm. So now that little piece will be Alexander's background.
Cover for Highland Shapeshifter

Once that photograph was cropped and sized for the background layer, I overlaid the saturated picture of Alexander over it and went to work with the eraser tool, enlarging it to work to make sure I erased around every strand of hair very carefully. It's painstaking work, but worth the time and effort.  

So here he is. He, of course, is missing an arm because that's where the original picture's edge cut off. So that is obviously going to be where I crop it for the ebook copy. I saved this version to be able to use some of that for the back cover when I work on the paperback jacket. 
So after cropping and adding the title and author name (moi), which takes only a few minutes because I already have a series template saved so that all the books in the same series are uniformed. 

Now, to move onto the cover for the paperback. The trick there is knowing how large the spine needs to be depending on how many pages (or how fat) the book will end up. Once I knew that, I got to work. I had to add a little more to the back cover because what I had cropped out of Highland Shapeshifter didn't go all the way to the edge. So what I did was take the photograph (two pictures up) before I added the words and flipped it horizontally into a mirror item. Then I slid that along the edge of this picture. If the bigger was larger, you'd see a mirror version of Alexander on the left side. In fact I had to use the cloning tool again to paint part of his jacket out. If you look closely you can see the line where the two pictures meet. So, don't look that closely. Well, okay, go ahead. 
Paperback cover jacket for Highland Son

And remember how I said I made 4 covers? Well, that's because I wanted to put all the series covers on the back cover jacket. Cool, eh? I learned that trick from my friend Suzan Butler, cover artist  and author extraordinaire. She knows all the neat things to do. 

But then I thought, "Hey, since I used the same background on two covers, they should match real well." Since I was playing in photoshop anyway, I decided why not update my blog. It's been a while anyway. So I meshed the two covers together and came up with the new heading above. I'll stick it here too for when I decide to update it again.

Clover Autrey blog header

And then, since I'm having a new series release party on facebook next week, (You're all invited by the way, just go over and "like" my Clover Autrey Books facebook page so you'll be sure to get the posts.) I thought I might as well go ahead and make a cool banner to advertise it. I had to flip him horizontally again since the facebook profile picture takes up the bottom left corner. And, well, he's still missing that arm...
New series Release Celebration for Highland Sorcery A New Dawn
Anypooh, that's it for now. 
Highland Son, Alexander's book, is for sale on the kindle and also for sale on the nook.
It's at all the other retailers through Smashwords.
The paperback is in review and will be ready for purchase at Amazon and Barnes &Noble toward the end of next week. 

And in case you are wondering, I'll be posting the transformation of the other three cover photos within a few days.