Karen Phillips

Deirdre Gifford Wait

I have been blessed with a miracle: two talented cover designers for my mysteries. One fell into my lap, and the other I hired based on her previous work. Both have such talent.




According to Bowker’s annual report, over one million books were self-published in 2017, and 687 million print sales were reported by Publishers Weekly over the same period. This translates into huge competition for the dollars of avid readers. So what makes one of those readers pick up a particular book from the shelf or download it to an e-book reader?

The cover

I have always felt the unsung heroes of the book publishing business are the book cover designers. A reader notices the cover first, looks at the blurb about the story on the back cover, and sometimes reads a few pages. However, the cover often separates the joyful books that are taken from the shelf and given a loving home, from the sad books–full of longing–that sit on the shelf until they are sent back to the warehouse.

Covers introduce us to what we can expect in the pages from the beginning to the end of the book, and they give us a hint about what kind of story we will be reading. They influence sales because they are the first element that attracts our eyes. To cause a cover to stand out from those thousands of others takes the talent, imagination, and hard work of cover designers .


These are the covers for my three Endurance mysteries.


Deirdre Wait designed my covers with Five Star Publishing. Her business site is High Pines Creative. I love the cover for Three May Keep a Secret, my very first mystery, because the startling orange and gold can be seen from across the room. The font in a lighter orange is perfect, and I love the shape of the letters. I think the first time I saw this cover, I might have cried with happiness. It was so amazing, and it was my first mystery. Ever. This story is about arson and murder, so the image introduces the subject of the book. Scary, with lots of fire.

In between my first and second Endurance mystery, I wrote a novella about my detective, TJ Sweeney. The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney is an e-book I self-published. Concerning a cold case that went back to the 1940s, it introduced a side of the detective’s past and personal life that related to her investigation.

I hired a cover artist named Karen Phillips based on her earlier work. You can see many of her imaginative designs at her website, phillipscovers.com. She did a smashing job of showing the items found with the victim in the cold case. It has just the right amount of scariness since the subject was a hate crime. Karen created the font so it would match my earlier mystery. She is so easy to work with, and her rates are quite reasonable. I love this cover. It has the locket that is a key piece of evidence and the victim’s skull …a beautiful object of joy next to an object that looks fearsome. You can also tell it is late autumn in the Midwest.


Back to Five Star publishing and my second Endurance mystery. Deirdre Wait did the cover for Marry in Haste. Note the deep blue color and how the font stands out. This is a much darker story than the first book; t is a story of two marriages—a hundred years apart—that share a terrible secret. The house on the cover represents the 19th century mansion that is the setting of the story. I was so pleased with both these Five Star covers, and I felt they conveyed the mood and subject of each mystery. Deidre’s work is amazing.

Five Star decided to drop its entire mystery line about the time they published Marry in Haste. I had already written Death Takes No Bribes, the third book in the series. Deciding to self-publish it, I hired Karen Phillips again. Could she do it twice? Of course! She matched the font and moved to a dark green cover with gold and off-white lettering. I could imagine this to be Grace Kimball’s house in Endurance. It’s winter now, and Grace’s home is a refuge from the terrible things happening at Endurance High School. I think a full moon at the top hints at a bit of madness. This cover matched my other two Endurance mysteries well, and when I do book signings, that’s a nice plus.

And so we come to the cover reveal …



A Death at Tippitt Pond will come out June 15th, but the publisher is a new one for me: Encircle Publications. Imagine my surprise when my cover designer turned out to be none other than Deirdre Wait! How lucky could I be? Tippitt Pond was the scene of a murder back in 1971. Forty-five years later, Beth Russell arrives in town to discover a dark secret, one that ties her to this inexplicable death. Practically before she can unpack her bags, people are anxious to help her leave town.

You see, that death at Tippitt Pond changed everything.

The image catches the reader’s eye and hints at an unnatural death. Notice the font? Perfect.

Two cover artists—and five book covers that fit together beautifully. I’m really pleased with all five. Thanks to Deirdre Wait and Karen Phillips for such amazing work.

Hope you’ll come along for the ride this summer when A Death at Tippitt Pond comes out June 15.