Welcome back, Julie. This book is very different from your other books I've read. Why do you write the kinds of books you do?
I have always been a mystery buff. I have been reading them since Nancy Drew days, still veg out on Murder She Wrote reruns, and love the British mysteries on PBS. So, my sister challenged me, as she has a tendency to do, to start writing them. Little did I know I’d end up with a three book contract based solely on synopses.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
That is very hard to say. I guess most would say their wedding day or when their child was born. And those probably top the list. But I think the happiest day of my life was when I realized He used me for a purpose, and my writing actually touched someone enough to bring them to faith.
How has being published changed your life?
It has kept me busy! People think writing is all there is to making a novel. Wrong. Making the novel is like making a baby. Then come up to nine months of development. Endless editing, critiquing, tweaking, cover design pow-wows and marketing.
What are you reading right now?
I read about a novel a week, many from other authors in my own publishing house so I can support them and review their works, or be a second eye in editing and proofing. I wish I read more for pure pleasure, but it is a pleasure to read what my fellow authors write. Some are really great!
What is your current work in progress?
I have three, actually. Baby Bunco, the second cozy in the Bunco Biddies Mysteries is in line edits, and Threes and Sixes, cozy number three, is in the beginning stages of the first draft. I also have a Christmas novella in editing right now called Hill Country Homecoming which will be part of an anthology of A Cowboy Christmas.
What would be your dream vacation?
To return to
rent a cottage in a small village, and write for three to six months (and take
day trips around to other places of course.) I was blessed to go on a church
sponsored trip and live with a family for several weeks a few years ago. It
whetted my appetite. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Anglophile, since it is my
denomination and my heritage.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I am a Texan, so most of my scenes are set in
Texas. The Bunco Biddies
live in a retirement community similar to ones I encountered when we lived in Central Texas. They are rambling small cities, really,
with everything from independent condos and homes to full-time nursing care.
They have golf courses, rec centers, libraries, and even small shops.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
My grown son. We never get to see each other enough and any day you can hug your child is a stellar one.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
That is pretty much it. I am a very amateur bird watcher and I love word puzzles. I think I have 27 games of Words With Friends going right now.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Can I be honest? It is the endless hours of marketing on social media and the feeling I am only shouting into the wind. That is why I so appreciate successful sites such as yours and your willingness to support other Christian writers.
It’s my pleasure and a great blessing to me. What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Find a wonderful critique group with published authors in it, either online or in person. Then toughen up your skin and take their comments to heart. You will also learn so much more reading and critiquing their genres as well. Everyone grows in the craft together. You may outgrow a particular group, but never the concept of them. Always sit at the feet of someone who is more successful than yourself.
Very good advice. I tell authors they always should have someone they’re learning from and someone they’re mentoring. Tell us about the featured book.
Dumpster Dicing is the first of the Bunco Biddies mysteries. Janie, the widow of an
police detective, and her friends in Sunset Acres play Bunco every Thursday
evening. Their lives are fairly dull, until one day as she and her friend,
Betsy Ann, a retired home and garden reporter for the local newspaper, discover
a body in the community dumpster during their daily power walk. It seems the
newest resident, Mr. Newman, must have had a dicey past, or how else did he end
up in pieces only a few days after he moved in? Now, what would you do if you
were Janie and Betsy Ann? Investigate how and why, of course!
Here is the first chapter:
Betsy Ann Hunt huffed up the hill, breathing in time to the slap of her sneakers on the early morning dew-dampened pavement. The lavender, velour-covered backside of her neighbor and Bunco playing buddy, Janie Manson, wobbled ahead of her, her elbows swinging in sync with her steps, no doubt to some early Beatles song on her I-pod. Janie claimed to be one of the privileged few who squealed on the first row of the band’s concert at Sam Houston Coliseum during their first British Invasion tour in April of 1965. But Janie bragged about a lot of things, such as her physical stamina—which appeared to be ebbing at the moment as a result of the sultry
Betsy Ann urged her sore calves to accelerate on the incline. With every ounce of gumption mustered in her quivering ligaments, she edged alongside Janie. Exhaling a slight wheeze, she tapped her friend on the shoulder. “Can we slow down?”
“Huh?” Janie pulled out the left ear bud. She waited at the top of the lane near the entrance to the club house parking lot in their fifty-five-plus community of Sunset Acres. The rumble of the sanitation truck on its Tuesday morning rounds to empty the dumpsters drowned out Betsy Ann’s breathless response. “What did you say?” Janie jogged in place as she leaned closer.
“Have...to...stop.” Betsy Ann raised a hand with fingers spread and then pressed it to her thigh as she bent over. Her ample breasts bounced with each chest heave under her fuchsia zip-up jogging jacket.
“Okay, all you had to do was say so.” Janie clicked off her music. “It’s only been three weeks since you slipped on your tailbone, Betsy Ann. I realize you gained six pounds lying around, but are you sure you should be power walking so soon? Dr. Pearson gave me strict orders about exercising when I chipped my hip bone two years ago.”
Always knows everything. With gritted teeth to keep her from speaking her mind, Betsy Ann straightened upright in slow motion as she counted to ten. But the sincere concern on Janie’s apple-cheeked face dissolved her angst. She edged up to her friend’s ear and spoke louder to compensate for the trash vehicle’s droning engine. “I’m fine, really. Just need a breather for a moment or two.” A whiff of three-day-old, fermented garbage combined with diesel fumes left her a tad lightheaded. She waved a hand over her nose. “Whew, away from that monster.”
The two widows eased to a bench under one of the many sprawling live oak trees dotting the community. Their eyes followed the commercial dumpster as it rose in the air. The sanitation lorry’s built-in forklift maneuvered the box up and over the cab. “Amazing how they lift and dump, isn’t it? The dumpster must weigh several tons.”
Janie nodded. “Hydraulics, no doubt. My brother became a mechanical engineer, you know. Explained them to me one Thanksgiving, oh, back in 1972...”
Betsy Ann’s eyes glazed over. Janie exhibited the epitome of a walking encyclopedia. Her mind, even though encased in seventy-two-year-old wrinkles, still resembled a sharpened pencil lead. Her attention left her jogging mate’s diatribe on modern mechanics and turned to the labored whir of the metal arms grasping the garbage container. Black plastic sacks, white ones, and various cartons tumbled into the truck’s receptacle like upturned chocolate-covered mints into a wide open mouth. Then, something long and blue-jean colored caught Betsy Ann’s eye. She jolted to her feet. “Oh, my word. A leg! With an orthopedic shoe attached.”
“Dear, I thought you quit taking oxycodone for pain.” Janie pushed a sweat-dampened silver curl off her brow.
“I’m serious. Look.” Janie’s gaze followed her friend’s finger.
“Oh, my heavens. It is!” She jumped up as she waved her hands over her head. “Stop. Stop.” Her words didn’t reach the city worker’s ears over the automatic grinds and thunks.
Betsy Ann dashed in front and proceeded to slam her hands onto the driver’s door. A middle-aged man knitted his thick black eyebrows. He jerked the lift to stop and rolled down the window. “What?”
The community’s trash receptacle dangled at a precarious angle. The senior citizens sputtered in unison. “Stop. There’s a body.”
The man shook his head in confusion. Betsy Ann motioned to the back.
“A body. Get it? Dead person.”
The man shut down the engine. “¿Muerto?”
“Yes. Uh, sí.” She bobbed her cropped, reddish-blonde hair.
The worker crawled down from his seat and walked to the back of the sanitation truck, which rumbled and spewed more putrid fumes. The dumpster tilted down at a forty-five-degree angle. Suspended in time clung numerous trash bags, pizza boxes, a broken lawn chair and...an arm?
“Blessed Mary, Mother of God.” The man crossed himself and dug a cell phone from his back pocket. He punched in a number and began sputtering Spanish rapid fire like a machine gun from a 1940’s film noir movie. The two spinsters edged around to peer up into the dumpster’s contents, their cupped palms shading their eyes from the morning sun’s rays. Janie scrunched her mouth to one side. “If I am not mistaken, it’s Edwin Newman in there.”
“Who?” Betsy Ann swiveled her torso towards her sprinting partner.
“You know. The old grouch who moved down the street into the Williams’ old condo last Friday.”
“Oh, yes. The Williams transferred to the assisted living units, didn’t they? He developed advancing Alzheimer’s and she’s recovering from double hip replacements. Or a knee and a hip? Oh, dear, I get fuddled sometimes about all that medical stuff. So many of us are losing body parts and getting titanium joints...”
“Betsy Ann!” Janie hissed. “Body. Dumpster. Remember?”
“Yes. My, aren’t we testy?” She brushed her jacket with the palm of her hand. “Why do you think those belong to... What did you say his name was?”
“Newman. Edwin Newman. He chewed out Mildred Fletcher because her Yorkie barked at him. Threw a coffee mug at the poor animal. Whack! Right on the nose. It left a raw, sore spot.”
Janie gave her a quick nod. “Mildred must apply a special salve on him three times a day. Says it cost her $22.95.”
“On Mr. Newman?”
Janie scoffed into her velour v-neck. “No, the Yorkie.”
Betsy Ann’s lips formed an “O.”
Janie pointed to the dumpster. “Mr. Newman’s in there all right.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Janie bent to Betsy Ann’s ear. “I see his head.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is www.juiebcosgrove.com. You can preview all my books there, fiction and non-fiction as well as view trailers.
I also have an inspirational blog, http://wheredidyoufindgodtoday.com and write devotionals for several web-based publications including Thoughts About God, the Life.com, Heartwings Blog, and Faith-Filled Family Magazine.
I am on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/juliebcosgrove.tx and also on Twitter, but not as often: Twitter@JulieBCosgrove. I am delving more and more into Pinterest.
All of my books are available on Goodreads and Amazon, and most are on Barnes and Noble.
Thank you, Julie, for sharing this new book with us. I'm eager to read it.
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