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!

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.

A Giant Murder

Would you like a shot of… death with that, sir?

Josephine Jacobs was just doing her job, serving at an exclusive party, so why is she now being accused of shooting TG Taggert?

At a party full of suspects in the murder of Taggert, Josie served the food giant everything but an eternally “parting shot.” Who really killed TG Taggert? His wife? His son, Jack? What about Harper Davis? Rumor has it, she was having an affair with him—motive for her or Taggert’s wife! The list of those who seemed to hate him keeps growing, including a chemist and a chef!

With her long-time friend, Office Porter O’Brien, Josie sets out to clear her name and find out who really killed “the giant”.

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. A Giant Murder offers a retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with enough clues and suspects to keep you looking over your shoulder. We’d recommend Kevlar… but it hasn’t been invented yet! — A Giant Murder, Ever After Mysteries, Book 2


There’s nothing like a cozy mystery to spice up those long, summer days. This one is especially fun, with elements of a favorite fairy tale skillfully woven into the storyline. Set in the 1920s, there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end. I had to admire the heroine, Josephine “Josie” Jacobs. She is a hard-working girl. Accomplished, yet humble. She works as a waitress and helps her mother run a boarding house for ladies.

When someone ends up dead, Josie’s on the hot seat, since she was the last person to talk to him. At least that’s how it looks. And that’s not good when you’re dating a beloved neighborhood policeman.

I did not want to put this one down, which is always a good thing when it comes to mysteries.


Marji Laine

What advice do I wish someone had given me? I actually got some great advice when I was starting out. I was told, “Learn the craft of writing.” It was explained to me this way: It’s easy to see something and think, “Oh, I can do that.” But being an author is like being a musician or an accountant. You can’t expect to be an expert if you’ve never studied, gained long-term experience and exposure, and allowed your work to be intensely evaluated. It would be like saying, “I like to ski. I think I’ll enter the Winter Olympics next February.” 

What am I’m proudest of? I can’t really answer that question, but I can tell you what I’m most pleased about.

  • My family comes to mind first. My kids are focused on the Lord and have good heads on their shoulders. Life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops, but we have really bonded anew this last couple of years. I’m so pleased about that! 
  • I’m pleased that one of my books is an award-winner, and that my readers think enough of me to have voted for it. 
  • I’m also pleased to be in a position to help other writers realize their dreams of publishing. God has been teaching me a lot, and now gives me opportunities to pass it along. I’m pleased to be able to do so.

What excites me? I get excited by a NASCAR race and someone picking up the Walmart order for me. It doesn’t take much! LOL! But my hubby gave me a piece of advice when we first started chatting about me switching careers. He reminded me that my expectation might not be what God was actually doing with this new endeavor. For that reason, he encouraged me to write for the joy of writing. And I do. In fact, working for days on a book is like taking a vacation! It is truly, still, one of my favorite things to do, and the prospect of empty days, offline and filled with storying, makes me so excited!

Marji Laine is a graduated home-schooling mom of four with two college students staying in the nest for a little longer. She and her hubby of 34 years also share their North Texas home with a rescue pup named Rosie. When Marji isn’t editing or publishing the books for her authors at Write Integrity Press, she indulges in penning her own mystery, suspense, and romance novels. She loves acting in musical comedy, has directed many stage productions, leads a high school Bible study and sings in her church choir. She prefers mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, NASCAR to football, Magnolia pie, white roses, green, and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. 

For more about Marji and her books, visit her blog, MarjiLaine.com

Last Days – A Book Review

Nike N. Chillemi – Mystery & a Merry Heart

According to Nike’s website, her novels contain “Grace and Grit” and she likes her bad guys “really bad” and her “good guys fighting for justice against steep odds”.

I have known Nike Chillemi for some years now. We are both members of an ACFW critique loop, so I have been involved with the writing of several of her detective novels. We have both weathered a few storms in our personal lives along the way–a positive, bonding experience for sure.

This may lead some to believe my review of her latest book might be biased. But I would like to be honest about her latest work, because in my humble opinion, it’s her best yet.

Last Days – A Katerina “Kat” Andruko/Dimitri Garmonin Novel

A spry elderly woman has died mysteriously in a Florida coastal town, and the head of a clandestine organization in Washington D.C is interested in the case. All evidence, or lack thereof, points to accidental death, but Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko has nagging doubts. She also has doubts about a mysterious phone call profiler Dimitri Garmonin, PhD, her intended, took and hid from her.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kat’s former fiancé and fellow law enforcement officer gleefully taunts her, predicting the demise of her relationship with Dimitri. Her future mother-in-law thinks she’s less than demure and not suitable marriage material for her son.

Meanwhile, all leads on the elderly woman’s death go nowhere. Old enemies at the local TV station are calling the police incompetent. They air an unfavorable segment about Dimitri. Just as Kat and Dimitri reluctantly begin to believe the death was accidental, the woman’s neighbor goes missing.


Like most good detective stories, Last Days begins with a crime that needs solving. Detective Andruko is on the case. In the beginning, all the roads lead to dead ends. Chillemi keeps the action high and the story moving forward. She also keeps a constant battle going as Kat Andruko deals with doubt and anxiety surrounding her upcoming marriage to Dimitri Garmonin.

Though the two seem perfect for each other, the future mother-in-law is not at all pleased with her son’s choice. So, our main detective, Kat Andruko, is off-kilter and questioning herself in every way. Add in a liberal dose of whodunnit, and you have a winning recipe for a riveting story.

Chillemi keeps her readers guessing till the end. Even me. I thought I’d predicted the outcome early on, but I was wrong. I love that! This was a quick, fun read. One of the things I enjoyed most was Chillemi’s inclusion of characters from her Ingles/Hughes series. The familiar “faces” made me feel at home in the story.

Keep ‘em coming, Nike!

Nike N. Chillemi has a passion for crime fiction. She writes detective stories and mysteries with a national security twist. Some have called her novels “classic whodunits,” while others think they’re “cozy thrillers,” loaded with taut suspense with a healthy dose of wry humor. She’s known for compelling main characters, zany and quirky secondary and tertiary characters, and dangerous villains. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and is the founding board member of the Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight (formerly Grace Awards).

Find more information here: NikeChillemi.com and Nike’s Amazon Author Page

Betty to Betty

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I have a special treat for you this morning, so pour another cup, and settle in.

Elizabeth “Betty” Noyes is one of my favorite authors. I’ll never forget the first time I picked up one of her books, also published by Write Integrity Press. I was so amazed by the world she created, the characters, and well-researched background. With the release of Imperfect Promises, the series is complete.

So, let’s get down to business!

Thank you, Betty Noyes, for taking the time to visit with me. There are two very important elements in your Imperfect series: family and setting. As an introduction to the stories, please tell us a little about each of these elements.

Family – I am a Christian writing for a Christian press, but I don’t want to just ‘preach to the choir.’ As we age and die off, the choir must be replenished. I want to reach outside the Christian community for those readers searching for a good, clean, entertaining book that isn’t glutted with the profanity, explicit violence, and gratuitous sex so prevalent in today’s literature. My goal is to deliver a satisfying, entertaining story that readers can get lost in while ingesting some of the seeds I’ve sown. I want them to see Christians, not as adversaries, but as real people like themselves, people who struggle with the same problems, moral dilemmas, and failings. In my books, I want them to know what a strong, family unit can do through love, support, and devotion. I believe our country and way of life is in peril unless we reestablish and fortify the family unit.

Setting – The key to engaging a reader is to provide a connection for them—to a character(s), to an event or circumstance, and/or to a setting. The trick is to describe these people/events/places just enough to give something familiar to the reader, someone they can picture, an event they recall, or a place they’ve been to or seen. For example, I think just about everybody can remember a time spent in doctor’s office or hospital emergency waiting room. Enough description—uncomfortable chairs all lined up, squalid carpeting, antiseptic smells, sick people slumped over, a sobbing child, television turned to a boring program, dogeared outdated magazines—can drop you right back to that moment.

The opening scene of your final book is gritty, and kind of ugly, but a page-turner, because I want to find out why Jonas Cameron is in this place, doing what he’s doing. How would you describe your main character? Give readers a sense of who he is (without revealing too much).

It’s interesting to me that you see the opening chapter as gritty and kind of ugly because all of my male readers loved the realism. That’s been one of my biggest struggles while writing from dual point of views. As a woman, it’s hard to put myself into the mind of a man. That’s why I have several male beta readers I call upon all the time. This opening scene does not show Nigeria as the beautiful country it actually is, rather it reveals the mindset of the main character, a soldier. It reflects the resentment he feels for being there, the extended time his mission has taken, the harsh landscape and difficult weather conditions he’s subjected himself to, how he grapples with doing the deed, and the fact that he might not yet get to leave. All of these factors flavor his attitude, his state of mind, his thoughts.

As I mentioned earlier, all my characters are flawed, hence the name Imperfect in the titles. We all mean well, but seldom live up to our intentions. Jonas is the middle child, older than his twin sisters, but the youngest of the three brothers. While he followed in his brothers’ footsteps and joined the military right out of college, Jonas’s path took him down some pretty dark roads. Now separated from that life, he’s still bound by oath to keep those secrets, and struggles with the right or wrongness of his past decisions.

I loved the realism. I was immediately drawn in to the story. And you’re right about male readers.

In the last couple of books before this one, I picked up the idea that Jonas is a little hopeless where love is concerned. It will take a special woman to deal with his past. So, who is Shea Townsend? Can you give us a glimpse into her character?

Jonas comes with the typical bachelor attitude. He’s watched his two older brothers and wants to sow his wild oats just as they did. But as his brothers and sisters all fall into committed relationships, he begins to recognize the emptiness of his life. He sees the joy his siblings have found, and wonders if it might be available to him, too.

Shea Townsend is a complicated character. She lost her mother’s influence at an early age, and was raised by a mentally unstable father who saw her more as another hand to help out than as a child to raise. Having grown up on a cattle farm, she became very knowledgeable about the biological workings of the world and yet remained intriguingly naïve with little real-world exposure. When her one foray into a relationship ended in betrayal, she chose to protect herself by shutting down any man who showed interest in her.

Shea actually appeared in book one of the series, and had several more interactions with Jonas as the series progressed. Their connection was a slow build, a necessary requirement given her wariness and his commitment phobia. They actually became friends first, before the attraction between them was allowed to sizzle. Shea’s character arc takes from self-inflicted independence and zero trust to accepting that others could love her without having a hidden agenda. She learns to accept Jonas as he is, while recognizing there are some parts of him she’ll never know.

About the author: Who is Elizabeth Noyes?

I’m a southern girl. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, but lost much of my southern accent when I married an Army man and spent the next twenty-five years following him around the world. Now that we’ve settled in a small town on the outskirts of Atlanta, I like to say that I still speak the language.

My husband and I still like to travel, but we also enjoy spending time with our three grandchildren who live nearby. We go to soccer games and gymnastic meets, and babysit the g-kids and g-dogs whenever asked. I’m involved in several Bible studies and am active in our church, but I also enjoy playing bridge and baking. Oh yes, I’m an avid reader and usually consume 3-4 books a week.

Of course, there’s my writing. I’m not the typical author who sets a word count quota and works a little bit every single day. When an idea comes to mind, I will spend hours upon hours for days upon days lost in the story until I get it all down.

I like your writing style! You visited the setting of your Imperfect stories last year, and I believe it was a special time for you. Tell us a little about that adventure.

As I mentioned, my husband and I enjoy traveling. Alaska was one place I’d not been, but he’d made many visits there while still in the service. I finally talked him into going (I told him I was going with or without him!), and he agreed it would be fun. The cruise to Alaska turned into a train trip across Canada following the cruise, and then it morphed into a road trip across the northwestern United States the week before the cruise. We spent a year planning all the details.

On this road trip we took Route 93 down through Montana and Idaho to the (fictional) town of Hastings Bluff where the Camerons live. We stopped in the neighboring (real) town of Challis for lunch, toured the area, visited the library (yes, I sent them my books), and pointed out the places where different events in the books took place. What can I say? It’s was magical. Like coming home!

 

As this series ends, are you sad to say goodbye?

I’ve read many series that seem to go on and on … until I got tired of them and just stopped reading. I didn’t want my readers to reach that point. Could the story continue? Absolutely, I mean life goes on, right? Do my readers clamor for more? Yes, they do. Some have asked for a continuation, others want the parents’ story, and still others have asked for a spinoff. While I won’t rule out any possibilities, I’ve set my mind on another project for now.

Saying goodbye to Cate and Cody Cameron, Garrett and TJ, Wade and Lucy, Jonas and Shea, Mallory and James, and Cassie and Derek is … I’ll be honest, it’s hard. It hurts. They’ve become very real to me. They’re family, but I know I’m leaving them in the fond hearts of my readers, so I’m okay with The End.

What’s next for you?

I mentioned a new project above, but I actually have three I’m considering. One is a two-part story, another is a three-book trilogy, and the third is similar to The Imperfect Series, but with totally different characters. All three projects are screaming to be heard, but I need to get through the flurry of book release activities before I can settle in for a long day of writing. That’s when I’ll determine which of these new characters want most to be heard!

Follow Elizabeth Noyes on Facebook, Twitter, and at Amazon.