Mirrored ImageMirrored Image
Alice K. Arenz
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There's a reason that eccentric newspaper columnist Cassandra Chase feels compelled to investigate the murder of Lynette Sandler. They look eerily alike---enough to be twins! Teaming up with by-the-book detective Jeff McMichaels, she reads Lynette's diary and discovers uncanny similarities between their lives. Will her fate be the same as well? 368 pages, softcover from Sheaf House.
     

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Alice K. ArenzIn addition to classic romantic suspense, 2010 ACFW Carol Award winner Alice K. Arenz also writes cozy mysteries as A.K. Arenz.  The Case of the Bouncing Grandma was a finalist in the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Contest, and The Case of the Mystified M.D. was awarded the 2010 ACFW Carol Award for Mystery.

Favorite Verse: John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 


 

 Our Interview with Alice K. Arenz


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been writing in one way or another since I was a child. My earliest publications were in the small, family-owned weekly newspaper where my parents would often include some of my articles, essays, and poems. After years of studying the craft of writing with Writer’s Digest Magazine, writing books, a college course, and the trial and error of submissions, I signed with a well-known New York literary agency. Although it failed to produced the hoped for results, and led to nearly seven years of not writing, God wasn’t through with me yet. He led me to Brandilyn Collins’ book Eyes of Elisha, and she pointed me to ACFW.  The friendships and connections formed in this group ultimately led me to Sheaf House and publication.
 
I also write cozy mysteries under A.K. Arenz. The Case of the Bouncing Grandma was a finalist in the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest. The second in the Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series, The Case of the Mystified M.D., won the 2010 ACFW Carol Award for mystery.
 
I live in Missouri with my husband and two persnickety Himalayan cats.

How did you get started as a CBA writer?

It was after I joined ACFW, um . . . goodness, I’m not sure, but I think it was seven or eight years ago.  I’d been reading CBA books for some time, and something clicked with me.  You see, all those years ago before and during the time with that agent I mentioned, I would hear things about my writing being very good, but that it was too “nice.”  I didn’t get it.  Well, not until the agent suggested I “juice things up a bit.”  That was something I just couldn’t do, didn’t feel right.

For years I thought I was doing something wrong, but it turned out that I just wasn’t in the right market.  I was writing Christian fiction even before I knew it existed.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Ah, this is an easy one; John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  That’s the way I learned it when I was very, very small. 

How did you come up with the concept for the Mirrored Image?

As with all my books, I have to admit that I didn’t come up with the concept.  It might sound trite or silly, but I don’t look for a story . . . it comes to me in bits and pieces from the Author of all things.  I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer—literally. If God doesn’t give it to me, I can’t write.  I know.  I’ve tried doing it on my own, and I just can’t do it.

What is the symbolism for the title Mirrored Image?

I feel like I’m in high school English and trying to analyze a story we’ve just read.  Sorry, no offense.  I’ll be serious now.

 

I think it’s about the different faces we present to the world – we’re all a combination of reflections of who we’d like to be, who others think we are, and who we actually are.  Sometimes, it just becomes too confusing. Just as it does for the characters in Mirrored Image.

Do you have a favorite character in Mirrored Image? Why?

I’d have to say my favorite character is Cassie.  She sees her own faults, and thinks she knows her limitations.  She’s also witty and resilient.

How much research did Mirrored Image take?
 
I kept rechecking my facts about the Vietnam War to make sure everything worked out.  Since I originally wrote the book in 1986 and it’s set in that year, most of the other things were what I knew.

What is the most interesting fact that you learned while researching and writing the Mirrored Image?

That the last serviceman killed in Vietnam was a marine in April of 1975.  At least that was the one consistent thing I found.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I absolutely loved Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books.  I devoured as many of those as I could.  I also enjoyed the Trixie Beldon mysteries.  I usually read anything I could get my hands on.
 
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
Marketing.  I’m an introverted introvert, and I get nervous and tongue-tied around people I don’t know.  I’m getting better – it takes A LOT of prayer, but I’m getting the hang of book signings, speaking to groups about writing, asking book stores to host signings, and trying to get the media interested in me.
 
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Closing my eyes at the keyboard and waiting for God to show me what story He wants me to write next.  It’s a great adventure!

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

Aside from American Christian Fiction Writers, I belong to a small group of writers called Grace Marketing, and another small group called the Naners.

What do you do to keep your writing fresh and improve on it each time you write a book?

I read a lot and try very hard to learn from what I’m reading.
 
Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

I’m re-working two versions of the same manuscript right now.  It’s called An American Gothic, and is scheduled for release next October.  It’s a mystery/suspense with a romantic element in it.  The “gothic” is the story budding novelist Lyssie Daniels is writing.  A paragraph or two of her manuscript Craven begins each chapter, foreshadowing the events to come.

What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer? 

 

The pat answer is to keep on trying, keep studying the craft, learn from your mistakes.  While all those things are true, it’s so very difficult to be on the other side, watching from the outside and wondering if you’re ever going to be in that elite group of PUBLISHED AUTHORS.  I know, because it wasn’t that long ago that I was among them.

It was the mid 1970s when I became determined to do this, break over that border and become one of THEM.  I subscribed to Writer’s Digest, saved every year to buy Writer’s Market or Fiction Writer’s Market.  I studied the books, wrote to editors and agents who would look at over-the-transom queries and manuscripts, and got plenty of form rejection letters.  At one point, I had enough rejections to paper the 1008 square foot house we lived in.

I tried to write a Harlequin romance – even though I didn’t enjoy reading them.  I couldn’t do it.  I ended up writing in comedy, which they didn’t think was appropriate for their line.  So I moved on . . . back to what I liked to read. What they used to call romantic suspense – books by authors like Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt.

And along the way I took a class at the local college called Creative Writing in Fiction. Taking the class was basically a deal I made with my husband, who was tired of looking at half-filled notebooks with unfinished stories.  If I got at least a B out of the class, he wouldn’t bug me anymore about writing and submitting.  Anything lower, and I agreed to quit.  I didn’t know when I made the deal that I would get into the class of the toughest teacher at the college.  Even the counselor who signed me up apologized about it.  But you know what, I not only learned a few things about myself and writing in that class, but I proved to everyone I had what it took:  I got an A.

The road hasn’t been easy. There have been a lot of rough patches, like the disappoint during the five years with the agent, few submissions, and finally going our separate ways.  I worried that all those years I spent pounding out stories on my electronic typewriter at the kitchen table was taking me away from my girls.  They were tiny when I started out, grew up as I continued to insist that “one day. . .”  Now they are married with families of their own, and one of the greatest gifts they’ve given me – aside from my grandchildren – is assuring me I never neglected them even when I was following this crazy dream to be a writer.

So, what do I say to an aspiring writer? 

Pray. Ask God if this is where He wants you to be, if this is what He wants you to do.  Then listen for the answer.  Really listen.  And if you can, sit in front of your computer, your fingers on the keyboard, and give Him your mind, your body, and see what happens.  That’s how I got the first three chapters of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma.  By the time I’d finished praying and opened my eyes, there it was!

 

I’m not saying this will happen to you, but it might.  And if it does, then never, ever give up.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Mirrored Image?

That secrets can sometimes destroy lives.

What is your greatest achievement?

My daughters Kelly and Randi

What do you do to get away from it all?

Read or watch a favorite movie.  Or spend all day with my wonderful family.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just that I hope people enjoy my books, that they’ll see that writing from a Christian world view doesn’t skimp on excellence – it enhances the entire reading experience.

 

 

 Don't Miss!

The Case of the Mystified M.D., Bouncing Grandmas Series #2
The Case of the Mystified M.D., Bouncing Grandmas Series #2
A.K. Arenz
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Bouncing Grandma Mysteries, Volumes 1 & 2
Bouncing Grandma Mysteries, Volumes 1 & 2
Alice K. Arenz
CBD Price: $5.99


 
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