No…not dumpster diving. Climb on out of the garbage, and let’s get started. It’s time for fun and mystery with Julie Cosgrove on the Diamond Mine.
Prism Book Group brings us a brand new series called the Bunco Biddies and Julie’s chattin’ it up on the Mine. Join us as we talk about this new book as well as her writing. Oh…and check out the fabulous giveaway at the end of it all!
RB: Hi Julie, welcome to the Diamond Mine. I’m so excited about your new release! I know it’s a cozy mystery and a series…can you tell us how you came up with the idea?
JC: My sister knows how much of a mystery buff I am and challenged me to write one. I mulled over it for some time and came up with a plot about a group of retirees in a Plus 55 Community. Being in the early stages of that age group myself, I wanted to honor them. They’re not “out to pasture” but life-wise, fun-loving and creative folk. Sixty is the new “forty.” People are living longer and those in their last decades still have a lot to contribute. I write about their common trepidations about aging and diminishing, but also to show they are still vital members of society.
I queried an editor at a conference and she confirmed I had the basic formula for a cozy mystery—an untrained sleuth solves the murder through observation and common sense. I knew I wanted to make it light-hearted…yes, murder can be just that, in a quirky sort of way. It is not the act of murder that draws the reader in because that has already occurred. It is the interaction of the loveable characters as they slowly unravel the reason why it happened. That’s why they are fun to write, and read.
RB: Oh, I love mysteries. I like to try to figure them out as I go. Do you have a favorite part?
JC: Janie, one of the Bunco Biddies, is a widow of an Austin Police Detective. Now her daughter is married to the Chief Detective Blake Johnson of Alamoville, which is a booming bedroom town nearby. Janie sees him overworked and unable to spend quality time with his family. His marriage is suffering for it, so she rallies the Bunco players in her retirement community to help her solve the crime for him, without his permission of course. My favorite scene is between her and Blake when he begins to realize she truly has a knack for crime solving.
RB: I love it! “Without his permission…” I bet they have him chasing his tail! These characters sound absolutely amazing! Can you tell us about your characters?
JC: I love all the main Bunco Biddies—Janie, Ethel and Betsy Ann. Janie is smart, a natural born leader and determined to do things her way, thank you very much. Ethel is the quieter book worm but has some great insights. Betsy Ann is a bit ditzy but “has a heart as big as Dallas”, as they say in my neck of the woods. Together, they each bring their talents to the table.
RB: With these awesome Biddies, how on earth did you pick a setting?
JC: Texas has a good many retirement communities which cover acres and acres of land. They are like small towns. They have graduated living from independent to full nursing care. Many have amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, hike trails and even their own libraries, beauty parlors and recreation centers. Sunset Acres is fictional, but it is based on one of these communities where I did a book signing a few years back.
RB: Well then…that’s that! You’re so smart! One more question about formulating the book before we move on…how did you come up with your awesome title?
JC: I wanted to make it “punny”, to show the light-humored aspect of the book. So I chose a play on words. Dumpster because that is where the body is discovered and Dicing because he was chopped up, but also because Bunco is a dice game.
RB: I’ve never played Bunco. You’ll have to fill me in on the rules, but that’s for another time. Can you share something special story about writing this particular book? Did you learn anything in particular?
JC: My previous publisher, Prism Book Group, has never produced a mystery series before, even though some of their authors write them. I assumed they wouldn’t be interested. I wrote out the synopses and the first three chapters of the first book, Dumpster Dicing, and then spent months querying other publishers. I got “nibbles” but nothing solid. I almost chucked the idea for the three books in the trash. I began to think I was shooting beyond the moon. Why did I think I could write a cozy mystery? I slunk into a pouty pity party. Then I prayed on it and got the message—query your editor at Prism. What can she say? No?
Okay, God, but…to my surprise, my editor loved the synopses of each and within two days I had a three book contract. Then with trepidation, I sent the manuscript to four renowned mystery writers and they all gave me glowing endorsements, including Mary Daheim, my personal favorite cozy mystery writer. Wow.
It just goes to show you have to be bold enough to pray and then act on the message you receive. Don’t let negative thinking shackle you.
RB: You’re so right, Julie. We are our own worst enemies. I don’t know how often I’ve written something and tossed it in the trashcan. I wonder if I’d only kept going, or passed it by my critique group, it may have been something amazing. That piece of “garbage” could have turned into a book. Instead, I gave up. I did the one thing I tell new writers NOT to do. Speaking of new writers, do you have any advice for those trying to find their legs in this field?
JC: Three things:
1. Write it. If God is calling you to do so, then you should obey.
2. Master the craft. Join a supportive critique group with published authors and listen to their advice, even though they may hurt your feelings in the process. If there isn’t one in your community, go online. Attend what conferences you can afford and read books on the art of crafting a good story. DiAn Mills’ The Dance of Character and Plot is good, as is Richard Maas’ Writing the Breakout Novel. Talent has to be developed.
3. The third thing is to realize that writing the novel is just the beginning. I liken it to the honeymoon and conception. Prepare for at least nine months of development before it is “born” or it may be immature and not thrive in the marketplace. Land a traditional publisher or hire a great editor who will work with you.
RB: What’s your biggest challenge as an author?
JC: Social media marketing—the necessary evil. It can suck your time away from writing. The world is inundated with novels nowadays due to the ease of indy-pubbing. Amazon produces more books in one day than it did in a year two decades ago with almost solely traditional publishing methods. However, fewer people are reading as a hobby. So it is harder and harder to get your works noticed. That is why I am thankful for fellow authors like you, Renee, who help get the word out.
MAGNIFICENT MYSTERY GIVEAWAY
Two eBooks of Dumpster Dicing are up for grabs! Comment below for a chance to win!
Two winners will be chosen from the blog comments by random draw one week from blogpost date.
(Special note: selected winners are eligible for a free eBook of Baby Bunco, the next release in the series if he (she) posts a review on Amazon.com and on Goodreads by September 2016.)
Minimum of 5 comments required to validate contest.
About the Book:
As Janie and Betsy Ann go for their morning jog, the city sanitation vehicle follows its normal five-mile Tuesday morning route through their retirement community of Sunset Acres. The two Bunco-playing biddies spot a leg dangling out of the dumpster when the truck lifts the trash container high in the air. Someone diced up one of their newest residents—a grouchy loner named Edwin Newman. Did he unpack too much of his dicey past when he moved in last weekend?
About the Author:
Freelance writer, author and speaker Julie B Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications.
Besides freelance writing and helping newbie writers on their path to publishing, Julie has personally published three Bible studies,two inspirational works, a devotional and a novel - Focused (2012), as well as the following through Prism Book Group: Hush in the Storm (2014) and Legitimate Lies (2015- Best 2016 Religious Fiction Award), Freed to Forgive (2015 - Grace Award Finalist) with Greener Grasses, Navy Blues, Hill Country Homecoming and a three book cozy mysteries series, The Bunco Biddies coming in 2016-2017.
She is a member of North Texas Christian Writers, Texas Association of Authors, Advanced Writers and Speakers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Toastmasters International, Daughters of the Holy Cross and several web-based author groups Julie has one grown son and lives in Fort Worth, TX with two cats.
Books published -
P.R.A.Y.I.N.G.- Bringing Power and Purpose to Your Prayers (2009)
Song Notes - Devotionals from Verses in the Psalms (2010)
What Can She Tell Us? (2011)
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness (2011)
Focused-A Novel (2012)
Between the Window and the Door (2012)
Squeeze More God-time Into Your Day (2013)
Hush in the Storm (August 2014)
Legitimate Lies (Jan 2015)
Freed to Forgive (October 2015)
Experiencing the Present of God's Presence (2015)
Navy Blues (May 2016)
Greener Grasses (Feb 2016)
Dumpster Dicing (June 2016)
Hill Country Homecoming (Nov 2016)
Baby Bunco (Jan 2017)