The Wordplay Mysteries

By Julie B Cosgrove

Julie B. Cosgrove

I have always loved word puzzles and word games. Scrabble is more often set up on my dining room table than placemats and napkins.  I play Words with Friends and Wordle daily. Even as a preteen, I would grab the newspaper section from my Dad so I could be the first to solve the Jumble, then try and find as many words as I could made out of the letters in the posted word of the day.

Back then I was a suspense and mystery buff, too. Still am. I binge out on British mysteries like Death in Paradise, Shakespeare & Hathaway, Father Brown, Vera … just to name a few (they do them so very well), and watch reruns of Diagnosis Murder, Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Psych, Quincy, etc. Since middle school―let’s not discuss how long ago that was―I’ve love reading cozy mysteries, my genre of choice.

So, is it any surprise my wise, older sister asked why I didn’t combine the two and write a cozy mystery series about Wordplay? Gauntlet thrown, how could I say no? Blessings abound, my publisher agreed. Thanks, sis.

I designed Scrub Oak, Texas, complete with the shops and shopkeepers, the police, the churches, and the town folk. It is a great place to visit, so I hope you will. I can honestly say this has been the most fun I have experienced in my writing career journey yet! 

Here are brief synopses of the first three Word Play Mysteries…

Word Has It  –  Not prone to gossip, Wanda  keeps herself to herself. But when she hears from her nephew Todd, now a local policeman, that a ring of thieves may be hiding out in the area, she begins to wonder if the old Ferguson place is still abandoned. When words like jewels, woodshed, landing, and evil appear on their weekly word game days after a deadly shooting on the property, she determines it is a sign she and her friends should investigate.

Word Gets Around – Each of the three ladies receive a nonsensical note slipped between the wiper blades of their cars. When the ladies combine the words on a word game board, it spells trouble for one of Betty’s former students, who is now a freelance reporter for the Oakmont County Gazette. Could it be she reported way too much?

In Other Words – Many English words contain the same letters but in different order, like stressed and desserts. After the local store owner is found dead in the alley, the ladies will need their word playing skills to unravel the dual meanings of the graffiti that appears around town before two more people’s games end.

On August 26th, number four releases.

Hang On Every Word – Wanda lands a gig as the word puzzle designer for the local newspaper. Then the answers to her clues end up as crimes. Some merchants wonder if she is feeding the crooks so she can get credit for solving more mysteries.  Will her nephew Todd be pressured into arresting his own aunt?

And this is the exciting part – everyone who preorders the book on Amazon by July 1st will get a FREE chapter every Friday emailed to them until it releases. They get a sneak peek before anyone else!  Plus, they are put in a drawing to receive a $10 Amazon gift certificate, too.

Details can be found on my website, juliebcosgrove.com .

Here is a sample of what you’ll read…

“No fingerprints were left behind, so he or she wore gloves. He or she knew the tills would be full. These robberies appear to be planned out, as most are. Not spontaneous as if the word puzzles you designed in the newspaper helped them decide who to hit.”

“How long does it take to grab gloves?” She waggled a finger at her nephew. “Pardon me for saying so, but these three all seem like hit and runs, no pun intended. My guess is the burglar lives elsewhere.”

“I hope you’re right. Vicki is an old friend. And Mason seems like a great guy.” He leaned in and brushed her cheek with his lips. “And I’m rather fond of my aunt as well. I don’t want to see any of you handcuffed.” Todd rose, put on his police Stetson, and left her kitchen.

Wanda stared as he closed the door behind him. Did he seriously think she might be involved? Surely not.

Images zipped across her imagination― red flashing lights, squawking highway patrol radios, and herself in handcuffs slammed face down against the hood of her car.

Oh, get a grip.


About Julie B Cosgrove

Freelance writer, award-winning traditionally published author and speaker Julie B Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications.

Julie has won “One of the 50 Writers You should be Reading” in 2015 & 2016 by the nationally syndicated radio The Author Show and is a Grace Award finalist, INSPY semifinalist, and winner of the Best Religious Fiction 2016 winner and Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by the Texas Association of Authors.

But her passion is story-telling and she loves to read mysteries and suspense as well as write them. She currently has three mystery series: The Bunco Biddies Mysteries, The Relatively Seeking Mysteries, and the Wordplay Mysteries.


Hi, Betty Thomason Owens here. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books of Wordplay Mysteries–Word Has It and Word Gets Around. In Other Words is on my TBR list and I have already preordered Hang On Every Word.

I’m a fan of Julie B Cosgrove. 🙂

I had not previously read many cozy mysteries, but her first book hooked me. The characters are delightful, warm, and charming. Small town candor and innocence abounds. If you’re a mystery reader, I encourage you to give Julie’s books a read. Just good, clean fun!

Into His Marvelous Light

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9 ESV
Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Light. It is the most powerful force in the universe.

Looking back, the last couple of years brought a lot of heartache and loss, not just for me, but for many. Turmoil, struggles, sickness, and death, became our everyday. And it’s not over yet. We stand in the predawn darkness, knowing that the sun will rise again. Waiting. And then it happens.

Light bursts upon the scene and changes everything. Sometimes the light of day brings clarity. Renewed vision. Hope.

A few months ago, I stood on a balcony overlooking the Atlantic. It was early morning. The sun had not yet risen. In that predawn blackness, I could hear the waves crashing against the shore. And then the sun’s golden rays tinted the horizon.

Dawn can be sudden and even startling at times. Its beauty is undeniable. The watcher stands in awe.

Back home, watching from my kitchen window . . . well, the scene is not quite so dramatic. If I turn on my ambient noise and set it to ocean, I can pretend. Still, there is no denying the power of light. Even breaking over the rooftops in my subdivision, it can be breathtakingly beautiful.

There is a beauty in every season of life that must be experienced to be appreciated fully.

Coffee helps. 🙂

We are called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. Each day is a gift to use wisely. To work at the task given. To be a blessing. It’s one more chance to say, “I love you.” Maybe one more chance to say, “I forgive you.” Or, “please forgive me.”


Do you have a favorite sunrise memory?

Do Not Disturb the Writer

I suppose the holiday week combined with the end of the school year sent everyone into a frenzy. My phone has been busy, busy!

I finally sit down at my laptop, close my eyes, and enter my story world. My phone light flashes and the thing buzzes and jumps around on the desk (silent mode for the hearing impaired).

I love to hear from family and friends. Honestly, I don’t hear from them often. That’s my fault. I’m not a great communicator. I plan to call or text. I have conversations in my mind, planning what I will say. And then I never actually call or even send a message. It’s genetic. Mom is the same way.

So, I have to set my phone on DND. Do Not Disturb. It doesn’t ring, flash, or vibrate.

This worked great until the noise started outside. What was that?

Kids at play! The neighbors had one of those huge blowup slides with water streaming down. Children lined up, waiting for their turn. The kids screamed and laughed. Their dogs barked. It was great fun.

Out came the noise-cancelling headphones.

I don’t usually play music while I write. It’s distracting. I end up singing. But, I can turn the television on with the sound low. I usually find a movie I’ve seen several times. The background chatter helps me into “the zone.”

We do what we must to get the job done.

I am working hard to complete the second book in the Home Found Suspense series. I’m really enjoying the story, taking the characters farther but closer. Lisa, my main character, has to go into protective custody for a while. She’s farther from her closest friends. Meanwhile, Jake disappears. Will she ever see him again?

Thanks, all of you who have read (or are reading) Still Water. Your encouragement and urging keeps me writing. Finish that book! I need the next installment!

Good news! I took part in a cozy mystery anthology called The Visitor. There will be 7 stories, releasing individually in early 2023. Mine is #6, and is slated to release in July, 2023. I can’t give you any details other than those, but stay tuned–we’ll be dropping clues along the way.

I have only read a few cozies. What I like about them is their typically nonviolent nature (any violence happens offstage). Their humor and likable characters. Small town, girl-next-door sleuths. Romance or not. Think Jessica Fletcher.

Watch this space! Mid-June, I’m featuring a fellow Pursued Books (Write Integrity Press) author, Julie Cosgrove. I love her cozy mysteries, especially the Wordplay Mysteries. I think you’ll like her as well.

Until next time. May God bless your journey.

Honor Your Father and Mother

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. -- Ephesians 6:1-3 ESV

We are poised between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Two days of remembrance for some. Days to celebrate for others. I appreciate the celebration, the gatherings. Seeing my sons in person and enjoying conversation with them. They came bearing gifts and I appreciate those, too.

But the gifts are not as important as the giver.

In this busy world, sometimes we put off family time and visits with those who are not a part of our immediate household.

I overheard plans between my sons and their dad, looking forward to Father’s Day, and I thought it was funny that they dream of time away from their wives and family. “Guy time.” Just the guys, enjoying a few hours at some sort of play.

Yes, I thought it was funny. I’m happy that they want to spend time together. Guy time. The safe zone where they can talk about anything without fear of repercussions. They need that. Bonding and cementing their relationship with one another.

Maybe I missed an opportunity. Instead of hosting the family in my home on Mother’s Day, I could have had “girl time.” Left those guys to shift for themselves. I’m not being facetious, I really am laughing at this. And in the meantime, making a note on my calendar for next year. Girl time. Yes!

Girl Time! Moms know how to have fun! [Left to right – My mom, her mom, her sister, circa 1944]

All fun aside, enjoy your time with family, whenever possible. Honor your parents or those who are surrogate parents for you. Not just so you’ll inherit the promise of a long life. One day, you’ll be wearing the apron and wishing for time with your family. You’ll reap the benefits of the time you sowed into their lives. When you show honor to those who raised you, your children are watching. ❤

Book Release – Still Water

It’s Release Day for Still Water! The book is out and available. You can have it in moments on Kindle for only 99 cents (sale ends at midnight).

I am so grateful to all who have helped with the writing and publication of this book. When I first began writing Still Water–my very first suspense story–I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t.

Worth it? Yes! Here’s the main lesson I learned: I am still learning.

On this release day, I’d like to pause and thank a few special people who have helped me so much over the past year and a half as I labored over this story.

My critiquers, who have become wonderful friends, Gail Johnson and Kristy Horine. They point out all my missed punctuation, wrongly-used words, and unanswered questions. I love you both – thank you so much for all those hours of reading and rereading my story!

Marji Laine Clubine, editor-in-chief at Write Integrity Press, went above and beyond this time. I literally could not have finished this book without Marji and her daughter, Brittany Deane. Thank you so much.

I have many wonderful friends who have been there for me along this journey. To name them would take far too long, though I know they love seeing their names in print. Many of them are also multi-published authors, so they know how important it is to encourage others.

Ok, naming a few: My local ACFW peeps, Karen Richardson and Crystal Caudill, and the multi-talented, multi-award-winning, Rhonda Dragomir! My online friends, Jennifer Hallmark, Linda Yezak, and the beautifully encouraging Lynn Mosher. I could literally go on and on at this point.

My family here, there, and everywhere. Beautiful cousins and local friends. Again, too many to list. I’d leave someone out and then I’d never hear the end of it. LOL. Where would I be without their constant prayers and encouragement?

Okay, naming a couple–my best friends and co-conspirators in life–

Cherry Brooks and Debbie Holston pray for me and help me remember to breathe.

Robin Pittman, Jill Kemp, June, Deana, Barb, Evon–oh my! It’s a trap! I want to mention everyone, but it would be like those award shows. You know, when you groan over the long acceptance speeches that make the show extend beyond midnight…

There is one more that I must mention. Nike Chillemi, the Crime Fictionista, and member of our small crit group. She kept me laughing and hoping and writing when I was ready to hang it all up and walk away. She left us for Heaven last year. I miss her almost everyday, because that’s how often we talked via the ACFW crit loop. I am blessed to have known her.

Even though writing can be a solitary journey, most of us don’t do it alone.

Alone. That’s where my main character in Still Water, Lisa Oliver, begins her journey. Orphaned and alone. In the beginning, she finds more questions than answers. What she discovers will follow her throughout this series…

A Father of the fatherless defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families…

Psalm 68:5-6 NKJV
Still Water, Home Found Suspense, Book 1

And don’t forget! If you’d like to buy an autographed copy of the book, click the button below for more info.