Guest Post: Deb Pines – A PLAGUE AMONG US

Good day, book people. We’re one day closer to the end of this month. Are you anything like me and turn into a super-judgmental reader when browsing books in the library or bookstore? Yes, I read the synopsis on the back of the book and occasionally even read the blurbs, but it’s the book cover that either pulls me in or turns me completely off. Talk about judging a book by its cover?! I know that some publishing companies may offer an author a choice of covers to choose from before publication, but most authors say that they have very little input into the actual cover design unless independently publishing. I’m excited to welcome today’s guest, Deb Pines, author of A Plague Among Us. Ms. Pines will be discussing book covers with us and I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to share. Thank you, Ms. Pines, for joining us today. I can’t wait to see what you’ll be sharing.


The cover for my latest book, A Plague Among Us, Book #8 in my self-published murder mystery series, is my favorite yet.

It reflects not just gained knowledge since I launched Book #1 in 2013. It reflects a mindset change, too.

Until now, I’ve mainly applied new wisdom to my writing and editing.

My book covers?

Out of my lane, I told myself. Beyond my area of expertise. Most cover-design decisions I left to my cover designer (my nephew’s ex-boyfriend).

For this book, (and, to a lesser extent, Book #7) I’ve changed my stance. I’ve taken a bigger role in my cover design. And gotten greedier.

Before, I mainly wanted two things.

I wanted 1) an attractive cover that 2) signaled that my books are set in the Chautauqua Institution, a churchy, quirky, historic, Victorian cottage-filled, lakeside summer arts community in far western New York State. The first six book covers were attractive (I think), featuring a different Chautauqua landmark on each.

Now, I want at least six things.

I want my covers to be 1) attractive and 2) signal Chautauqua. But I also want them to be 3) super easy to read the way they are seen by most shoppers, the size of a postage stamp online. So that means a simple, unbusy design and giant lettering.

I also want my covers to be kind of a shorthand, signaling at a glance, not just Chautauqua. Ideally, I want them to 4) signal my genre, which is a traditional Agatha Christie-like whodunit mystery. I want them to signal 5) that this is a Deb Pines murder mystery, the next in my series. And I also want, if possible, for the covers to offer a 6) hint of a plot.

A lot, right?

To telegraph my genre, I looked at book covers of the top-selling mysteries online.

Cozier mystery covers, I found, often feature brightly colored whimsical drawings of the books’ charming settings—tea shops, country inns, bookstores, often with a cat or two. Hard-boiled mystery covers often feature a single dominant ominous image, maybe a weapon, with a lot of reds, blacks and spattered blood.

Covers for my subgroup, traditional mysteries, I found, often start with a realistic image, from a photo or drawing. They, too, include a hint of menace, but no blood. Some are night scenes or feature a lone figure, maybe in the middle of nowhere or in a gritty city locale.

So, applying what I’ve learned, I’ve switched from using stylized drawings on my covers to photos. I’ve asked my designer to use much larger type and add menace.

The cover for A Plague Among Us features a classic Chautauqua cottage, with a porch, wicker furniture and decorative front door. (signaling Chautauqua) It’s spooky because the cottage is tree-shrouded and barely lit by an orange lamp in a front window (signaling my genre). The color scheme—gray-blue with yellow and silver letters—and type style—a distressed and fuzzy font—are ominous, too.

In terms of plot, I think the cover gives a hint that something awful, like a suspicious death, may have happened in this claustrophobic, secret-filled home that reporter and relentless snoop Mimi Goldman needs to root out.

I hope you agree.

A Plague Among Us

A Chautauqua Murder Mystery

by Deb Pines

September 1-30, 2021 Tour


A Plague Among Us by Deb Pines

When Al Martin, the editor of a satiric newspaper in Chautauqua, N.Y., reportedly dies of COVID-19, the local consensus is: good riddance.

A sister suspects foul play. She wonders why Al was cremated in a hurry.

The police stay out of it.

So it takes reporter and relentless snoop Mimi Goldman to try to find which of Al’s haters— including an estranged wife, three bitter siblings, a secretive caregiver, old enemies and the many targets of Al’s poison-pen sarcasm—might be a ruthless killer.

The novel, No. 8 in a series called “an Agatha Christie for the text-message age,” once again offers page-turning suspense. Wit. And the unforgettable setting of Chautauqua, a quirky, churchy, lakeside, Victorian cottage-filled summer arts community that launched an adult-education movement Teddy Roosevelt called “the most American thing in America.”

Kirkus Reviews calls A Plague Among Us “an intriguing and engaging crime tale” and “enjoyable novel” with “captivating characters.”

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: KDP
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 979-8525017368
Series: Mimi Goldman Chautauqua Mysteries, Book 8 | Each book can be read as a Stand-Alone Mystery
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Deb Pines

Deb Pines, an award-winning headline writer for the New York Post, is the author of seven Mimi Goldman novels and one novelette all set in the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York where they are top sellers.
A former reporter, Deb is also a lover of puns, show tunes and indoor cycling. She lives in New York City with her husband Dave.

Catch Up With Deb Pines:
BookBub – @debpines
Instagram – @pinesdebbie
Twitter – @pinesdeb
Facebook – @deborah.pines.9

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Deb Pines. There will be two (2) winners who will each receive one (1) Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs September 1 through October 3, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Author: thebookdivasreads

I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.

One thought on “Guest Post: Deb Pines – A PLAGUE AMONG US”

  1. Great guest post.
    Yes, the cover is very important. I have to admit – I DO judge a book by its cover… at least at first. It is the first thing that attracts me (or doesn’t). I love the beautiful house in the background and the large lettering! Good choice.
    And… great book!

    Liked by 1 person

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