TBT – A Secret Hope

(originally published 9.28.2015)

A-Secret-Hope---FinalMany thanks to Renee Yancy for allowing me to do an updated cover for her novel, A Secret Hope. Renee and I spent a lot of time going through many revisions of her cover until we finally landed on one she loved. That is always my goal as a cover designer – to create something that represents your book the way you want it to be represented. Renee’s book is a christian novel and she wanted that aspect to take center stage.

The main character, Ciara of Tir Maic is living a lie. She’s an imposter. For most of her young life she’s hidden a secret that means death if it’s discovered. Although she is studying to become a druidess, she doubts the power of the gods she is to serve and dares to hope there is more to the universe than the spirits of fire and water she has been taught to worship from her childhood.

A Secret Hope ebook is available on Amazon.

The Fury of Dragons – Cover Release


I had the pleasure of working with western Kentucky author, Renee Yancy once again. The Fury of Dragons is the second book in her Sword and Spirit Series. The story is based in celtic era Britain. I’m looking forward to reading the tale that accompanies this fiery dragon (pun intended).

Be sure to check out my Throw-Back Thursday blog post later this week which features the first book in the series, A Secret Hope.

Keeper of the Flame Artboard Walk-Through

keeper-of-the-flame-final-smallLast week I revealed the cover for Mary Kay Tuberty’s book, Keeper of the Flame. It’s a lovely little book and you can read more about it in my previous post by clicking here.

Today, I want to walk you through some of the stock photos I used to create this cover. I typically use stock photos to create my covers. They are readily available, copyright free so I don’t have to worry about infringing on anyone, and I can any season, location or style that I need. However, finding that perfect picture may require a little “tweaking”.

It’s always a blessing when I search through the stock photo sites and land upon the perfect picture…the perfect location, season, and overall look that I’m going for. I’ve only had that happen with a couple of covers. For the rest of them, I’ve pulled several photos together to create the perfect scene to convey the message the story tells. That was the case with Keeper of the Flame. Here’s a peek at the photos on my art board for this project.

techtues-keeper-of-the-flame-artboardFor each cover in this series, I started with the tan background that looks like a collage of cracked plaster and brush strokes. This was largely based on Mary Kay’s wishes to have a old sepia looking background for her book series. It really turned out to be a great foundation for this series of books. On Keeper of Coin and Keeper of Trust, I was able to blend in some sepia photos of the house and family in Ireland. It gave a wonderful hint to the storyline without being overpowering.

However for Keeper of the Flame, I decided that I wanted to elude to our main character Kate’s seamstress abilities. After searching through the stock archives for photos relating to seamstress or sewing, I found this wonderful photo with an old sewing mannequin and a lovely tan damask wallpaper. Our story is set in post civil war St. Louis and I thought this carried the charm of that period extremely well. I was able to lighten the foundation background a bit and blend it seamlessly into the damask wallpaper for a cohesive look.

For this series, I have used the same sweet street scene to anchor the bottom of the page. The sky has been removed and the buildings are processed through a blending setting that ages them and allows a bit of the background to show giving them texture and cracks.

Lastly, there is our main character, Kate. She was quite elusive. As I go through stock art sites, I bookmark any period clothing that looks interesting. Because there are fewer photos of period clothing, it’s a bit harder to find a character that has not been overused. Our Kate started as a combination of a few pictures, but then I ran across this renaissance lady. While that hat was totally wrong, she had all the qualities I was looking for in Kate. She had dark hair, a strong determined look, and most importantly, a natural look not marred by overdone makeup – another issue that sometimes crops up in stock photography, especially among period costumed models. I tried everything to avoid using this photo but ultimately, she kept nagging at me to be used. So, I extracted her from the background and started work on that hat. I decided my best option would be to try and trim it down to a hat that might have been more period appropriate and avoid having to find a whole new head of hair for her. Also, I removed the large dangly earrings that would not have been appropriate for a seamstress working in a shop. Lastly I positioned her behind the title art so as to hide the corset over the shirt, which also would not have been true to the period. Our Kate was complete!

I was so thankful that I went back to this Kate and transformed her into the perfect seamstress for our cover.

If you have a book, longing for a cover, drop me a line and let’s work together to create it!

And then there were 3

Thursday, I reposted the cover release of Keeper of Coin, a great little historical romance written by Mary Kay Tuberty. Mary Kay is a wonderful lady whom I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a meal with during the ACFW Conference held here in Nashville. We dined at Monell’s and laughed through a delightful evening of southern country food and good company.

Now, you are asking, I’m sure, “Why are you rehashing the throw-back Thursday post?” Well, it’s because the third book in the Carty Sister Series released today on Amazon. Keeper of the Flame follows the story of the third sister to come to St. Louis while escaping famine and poverty in Ireland. Each book shares the trials and tribulations of this family as they forge ahead under the most difficult circumstances to find love and happiness in a new country.

And as in typical Diane style, I was a little late creating the cover and getting it just perfect. I’ll update you later on the process of getting the perfect girl for our cover, but in the mean time, let’s just have a peak at the cover.


As I said earlier, the book released on Amazon today, so go grab it here!

Here’s some info from the back cover:

In 1869, post-Civil War St. Louis overflowed with immigrants seeking new homes or preparing to head out West. Kate Carty had arrived from Blackwater, Ireland nearly four years before, and the dressmaking business she established had been flourishing right along with the growth of the city. When the need for additional space became urgent, Kate turned to her landlord and dear friend Walter Dempsey who readily agreed to help her expand her shop.

The pleasant circumstances she enjoyed while living at Dempsey’s and working in her seamstress shop were overshadowed by the turmoil roiling within Kate. She worried over the welfare of her young brother and sister still in Ireland and felt deep anger toward her parents for not sending the children to America. Her sisters, Julia and Anne, became concerned that the anxiety and bitterness she harbored would endanger her health. Their apprehension proved valid. Even the arrival of their young brother Michael could not still Kate’s distress, and she fell seriously ill.

Her recovery was met with additional troubles. An epidemic that swept through the overcrowded city touched her family in St. Louis, while still another crisis threatened her family in Ireland. Kate sought to come to the aid of her loved ones, and once again, Walter offered his help. Could she rise above her own resentment to help her family? Could she look beyond her family’s troubles and allow the grand friendship developing between Walter and her to grow into something more?

The other two books in the series are available as well.

Keeper-of-the-Coin        FC-Keeper of Trust

TBT – Keeper of Coin

Keeper-of-the-Coin(originally posted 9.01.2015)

Keeper of Coin is a lovely story set in St. Louis in the 1860s. Anne Carty, our main character has left her family in Ireland to come to America in search of a better life. She is faithfully sending funds back to her family to help them financially and hopefully to allow her siblings to come live with her and escape the dire poverty that has enveloped Ireland. Her new life centers around her bakery job and the friends she makes. She finds both friendship and love that helps smooth the rough times during the Civil War.

Author Mary Kay Tuberty wanted a cover that depicted both Anne’s home in Ireland and her new life in America.

Keeper of Coin is available on Amazon from Mantle Rock Publishing in both print book and eBook. Click here to purchase.


FC-Keeper of Trust

Keeper of Trust, the second book in the Carty Sisters Series, is now available on Amazon!

TBT – Frasier Island

Fraiser-Island(originally posted 8.28.2015)

I was honored to do this e-book cover for Susan Page Davis. Susan is a member of KenTen Writers, a group of authors from Western Kentucky and Tennessee. I met her a month or so ago when I gave a presentation to the group. Susan is a talented author with many published books to her credit.

Frasier Island guards a military secret. Ensign Rachel Whitney is posted at this remote missile installation on a North Pacific island, where she is to work in isolation with two men. She could love her new assignment, if Lt. George Hudson weren’t so antagonistic and obstinate. She sets out to prove she is perfect for the top secret job, in spite of the tension between them.

Frasier Island is available on Amazon.

Book Review: In Between

Today I’m going to review In Between by Jenny B. Jones. T51cq5bf5txl-_sy346_his is not a cover I created, even though it is absolutely scrumptious. It is a book I read this week and really enjoyed. I would categorize it as Young Adult Christian Fiction. It’s not really a romance or a mystery, but there is a smidgen of each in this book.

Our main character is Katie Parker, a soon to be foster kid whose mom is in prison and whose dad is AWOL. She’s learned to use sarcasm to get her through the tough spots. She’s conflicted about who she is and what her purpose is (aren’t we all??). After landing in the Scott home in In Between, Texas, she discovers that foster dad James is the pastor of the community church. Foster mom Millie works for the church as well and this environment introduces Katie to God for the first time in her life. Prayers before meals and church attendance are new encounters and Katie learns to navigate through those waters.

After a run in with the law, Katie is forced to dump her trouble making friends and makes a pledge to be a better person. Tutor Frances helps Katie with Algebra and life as she makes new friends at In Between High, home of the chihuahuas. Part of her punishment includes spending time with Millie’s mother, aka Mad Maxine and helping restore the vandalized art deco theater, Valiant.

Her adventure leads her through a faith building process, some matchmaking between Maxine and Sam, and discoveries about Amy, the absent Scott daughter. The action is quick and the story plays out as you would expect.

I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads, mostly because I couldn’t think of anything I didn’t like about this story. It was cute and fast paced, everything I think a YA novel should be. The author used a lot of teen-age phrasing but I liked the quirky nature it built for Katie’s personality. It is obviously setting the stage for the other stories in the series, and there are 3 more books in this series on Amazon. I received the book free through a BookBub campaign. You can find this book here on Amazon.

TBT – Deadly Doll

Cover---Deadly-Doll(originally posted 8.26.2015)

Deadly Doll by Brooke Cox is a wonderful mystery very similar to the Nancy Drew mysteries I grew up reading. Teenage Brooksie searches for answers to the deaths that are linked to a doll sent from Alaska by her grandfather years ago.

For the cover, Brooke wanted bright colors and she wanted to incorporate the original doll that she had photographed. Since the doll’s color palette was a little, unusual, shall we say, I blended a black and white copy into the yellow background giving it a somewhat sinister look. A serious looking Brooksie completed the cover along with type and a huge blood splatter.

Deadly Doll is available on Amazon from Mantle Rock Publishing in both print book and eBook.

Fall Colors

color-palette-2595Can you smell the fall in the air? Do you get warm fuzzy feelings when you see that golden leaf fall to the ground? I do! Fall is MY season. I love everything about it. From the fog-drenched mornings to the crackle of fallen leaves under my feet, I just like to soak up all the little things about autumn that make it so different from the other seasons. I love the fall color palette of gold, rust and burgundy with a little brown mixed in. I went shopping yesterday with my sweet girl and I was in love with all the burgundy clothing – sweaters, shirts, pants, skirts – all awash in the vibrant colors of the season.

Now, just need to move the fire-pit home (that’s another story) and gather round with a bag a marshmallows and a roasting stick. Maybe a cup of hot cocoa and a few good friends. Sounds like the start of a wonderful season to me. Hope you have a wonderful autumn day today. Tell me what you like best about this season. I’d love to hear from you!

Original Watercolor Snow Scenes

Last week I held my last watercolor class for my students. Our church hosts drawing and watercolor classes. My dear friend Bill Walls, a fine watercolorist himself, asked me to help by guiding our students who have finished the basic class and are moving on to what we call the “advanced” class. It’s not really advanced, it’s just more so than the basic class. Anyway, rambling on as I like to do, my class ended by beginning their final painting and I urged them to have a “show-worthy” painting by the beginning of the new year. While they were sketching and laying down their first washes, I painted 2 mini snow scenes. They are roughly 4×6 paintings that I drew quickly and painted loosely.

I bought simple cream mats and mounted each painting on a green cardstock sheet. The horizontal painting has a trimmed edge while the vertical painting has a torn edge. Both are available in my Etsy shop for $20 each.

If you are interested in learning to draw or paint, and are in the North Nashville/Madison/Goodlettsville/Whites Creek area, we would love to have you come join our classes. We have a new Beginners class starting in November as well as a new “Advanced” class. Each class will meet on Saturdays from 9-11 at Northside Church of Christ and are free. The beginning class has all supplies provided for you. The advanced class has a supply list of items you will need. It will be discussed at the first meeting. Come join us!