An Author’s Saga and a WILD Giveaway!

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A hearty welcome to Alice K. Arenz. There’s so much I want to learn about you and your work, Alice, so we’ll start out with your favorite things about the Advent season. 

Thanks, Gail, what a wonderful question! I’ve always loved this season—the sights, sounds, the gentleness that prevails—except in shopping frenzies, that is. I even have a cling on my car window that says “Merry Christmas!” which I keep up all year long. 😉

Because of some brain/hearing/balance issues, I can’t enjoy the flashing lights on trees and houses, and sound issues make it difficult to listen to music. I miss that all year long, but especially this time of year. Still, the excitement in my grandchildren’s’ eyes when Christmas is mentioned, the joy I feel setting up Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus . . .

Christmas means time to spend with my children and grandchildren. Our celebration may not last long, but the time together is priceless—a true blessing from God.
Alice, tell us more about your writing history. What  are the two most significant occurrences? 

I’ve always had a very active imagination. Stories and books, TV, movies, and people’s interactions made my mind soar with possibilities, spinning off into lands and scenes so real I could almost touch them.

When I was twelve, my handwritten Adventures of Christopher and Christina was passed around during study halls mingling 7th & 8th graders with high school students. That meant a lot of different ages read my wild imaginings of twins who delved into mysteries and got into danger on a daily basis. I don’t remember much of that chronicle, just that the TV series The Man From Uncle, and other mysteries and suspense shows or books contributed to the overall story.

In the 70s, my “then” husband issued a challenge: get a B in a college creative writing course or agree to give up the dream. I got an A from the toughest teacher in the department, which led to a five-year contract with a New York literary agency. No hoped-for results, but  it taught me discipline and determination, necessities in the writing world. Life intervened, as it tends to do, and until my “new” husband introduced me to Christian fiction, I ignored characters demanding release onto paper.

I prayed for for the writing dream to fade and die. Then Brandilyn Collins’ Eyes of Elisha impressed me so much that I emailed Brandilyn. Boy, was I surprised when she wrote back! She suggested I join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) which started a whole new era of learning and writing.

In spite of more health issues—especially hypersensitivity in my fingers and hands that made typing a challenge–between 2008 and 2010, I got three books published.  The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (cozy mystery and Mirrored Image (classic romantic mystery/suspense),  finaled in the Carol Awards, with The Case of the Missing M.D. winning the Carol Awards in 2010.
Now, after a five-year absence from writing because of even more challenging health issues, a new publisher, Forget Me Not Romances, has published my new classic romantic suspense, An American Gothic. My other books have been re-issued with wonderful new covers and changes. And two more hopefully will be out before the middle of next year! Talk about God’s blessing with this second chance at my dream.

If you could do any kind of writing in the whole world, what would you write? A sci-fi trilogy that would knock fans’ socks off? 
Wow! I guess  I would just want to write whatever God gives me and have it published. I’d love if it would knock the socks off fans—I’d love to know there WERE fans out there waiting for my next book!

A.K. Arenz

Please tell us about the work(s) you’d like to promote. 
Presenting a chance for FOUR different winners to receive a special  Christmas gift of ONE Kindle book from the following, feels wonderful.
An American Gothic(August 2015)—mystery/romantic suspense

She came to Foxxemoor to write a mystery, not become part of one.

Devastated by the death of a child in her care, Lyssie’s heart strings are tugged when she finds another child in danger. Amid past secrets, lies, and betrayals of an old college friend’s family, she must choose a twin brother to trust. The wrong decision could cost her life, and also the life of the child she’s come to love.

The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (Re-Issued September 2015), The Bouncing Grandma Mysteries, Book 1—cozy mystery
Has Glory hit her head one too many times, or was there really a foot dangling out of that carpet?
Reduced to watching new neighbors move in as a form of amusement, Glory Harper is stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg, bored, and itching for some excitement. She just doesn’t expect it to come in the form of a foot dangling out the back of a carpet as it’s carried into her new neighbor’s house. The problem is getting someone to believe her.

The moment police recognize Glory as the woman whose misadventures have given her a sketchy reputation, her believability quotient lowers considerably. Just when she thinks someone’s taking her seriously, Glory realizes Detective Rick Spencer, a Harrison Ford look alike, appears more interested in her than in her story.

But, while she’s looking in what seems the obvious direction to solve this mystery, the real criminals are hot on her trail.

The Case of the Mystified M.D. (Re-Issued September 2015), The Bouncing Grandma Mysteries, Book 2 – cozy mystery

First a foot, now a hand—what body part is next?
When her puppy finds a severed hand on a walking trail, Glory Harper is positive the signet ring belongs to a missing college professor who caused a lot of trouble around town. Her insatiable desire to solve his  murder mystery finds her in over her head with secrets, blackmail, and arson.
With her sister Jane overwhelmed by fiancé troubles and an arson fire in her home, Glory latches onto an unlikely partner, and soon feels as though she’s stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone—where nothing is as it appears, and danger lurks around every corner . . .
Including from her boyfriend, Detective Rick Spencer.
Mirrored Image (Re-Issued September 2015) Mystery/Romantic Suspense
Their faces were the same, will their fates be as well?

Eccentric newspaper columnist Cassandra Chase and by-the-book Detective Jeff McMichaels clash over the murder investigation of Lynette Sandler—a woman who looks eerily like Cassandra.
The case becomes more than a test of McMichaels’ mental acumen as he finds himself drawn to a woman he determined to dislike. While the department hunts a murderer, the uncanny similarities between herself and Lynette cause Cassie to launch her own investigation. What she uncovers gives her the sneaking suspicion that she was the murderer’s original mark. She just needs to stay alive long enough to prove it.

Thanks so much for this interview, Gail. Merry Christmas!

And thanks to you, Alice. It’s good to get to know you, and may the best FOUR commenters win one of your books!

WAIT FOR ME, Jo Huddleston

Our guest, Jo Huddleston, is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series and her latest book, Wait for Me are sweet Southern romances. She is a member of ACFW, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Jo lives in the U.S. Southeast with her husband, near their two grown children and four grandchildren. Visit Jo at

WAIT FOR ME finalFollowing is an Jo’s interview with a character from her novel. Wait for Me 

I’m in Coaltown, West Virginia meeting with  Claude Capshaw.

Hello. Are you the owner of Capshaw coal mine #7?

Hey, there. Yes, I’ve owned this mine for about a year.

Mr. Capshaw, do you own other coal mines as well?

Please call me Claude. And, yes,  I’ve bought coal mines in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. This mine here in Coaltown is my latest purchase.

Do you always live in the community where your coal mine is located?

That’s right. I need to be close to the miners when I buy a new coal mine. They need see me around and come to know me as the fair, honest man that I am. My wife, Lillian, doesn’t much like it when we move to a new coal community. In fact, she doesn’t like living anywhere near a coal mine and is a little standoffish, she doesn’t mix well with the miners and their families.

Claude, do you have children? How do they like living here?

We have a beautiful daughter, Julia. I think Julia likes it okay here. Her mother gives her a hard time about spending time with the miners’ kids and forbids her to socialize, especially the boys.

Why do you think that is?

Well, my wife isn’t much like my little girl and me. Julia and I can mix with the people here. But I know it’s hard on Julia when her mother wants her to stay apart from the other kids. Julia’s a normal high school senior, she wants to have friends, and she’s torn between what she wants and what her mother demands. I try to encourage Julia all I can.

How do you do that?

There’s a boy in her class she likes—Roberto. He works after school every day in my company store. He’s a good kid. I don’t criticize Julia or tell her mother when I see them talking. Like I said, Julia needs to have her friends. She’ll be leaving in September to enroll at West Virginia University. I’m in agreement with her mother about that—it’s important that Julia get a good education.

But I think my wife’s only purpose in sending her to the university is so she will be in better social circles up there. Her mother thinks Julia needs to meet more suitable and acceptable young men than those here in the mining community. I just hope her strict rules and plans for Julia don’t backfire and cause Julia to become disobedient. My little girl is a sweet child, but she has spunk. I just hope her mother doesn’t push her too hard or too far.

JO PK full  Jo is offering a free eBook for Kindle copy of her book to one commenter on this  post.

Here is the purchase link for Wait For Me:









Purchase eBook for Kindle and print copies of Wait for Me at:

Here’s the back cover from Wait For Me.

Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape their socioeconomic backgrounds? In a  1950’s West Virginia coal mining community, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?

This is a tragically beautiful story of a simple, yet deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie marry an ambitious young man from a prominent family. Julie counters her mother’s stringent social rules with deception in order to keep Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?

World War II Interview

Yesterday I was privileged to meet an eighty-nine year-old Swiss American. Ruth clearly remembers World War II, when she was a teenager. Eyes bright with recollection, she smiles while relating Switzerland’s “don’t mess with me” attitude. Though completely surrounded by Axis powers, Switzerland bucked the oppressors.

Being a member of the Girl Scouts back then, with girls tramping through the woods, learning primitive cooking, first-aid, and getting actively involved in the war effort, led Ruth to some prime adventures. In the process, she developed her community’s self-sufficient attitude.

Here’s a photo I took yesterday of some self-sufficient Arizona mountain flowers, but back to Switzerland. 100_0778

Having the Alps as sentinels helped, but the Nazis drew up invasion plans. However, they  never occupied Ruth’s country. Resisting them was quite a feat, especially considering all the countries they did occupy.

The Swiss immediately shored up their defenses at the beginning of the war, and all Swiss men served as soldiers from twenty to forty years of age. Ruth’s father kept his rifle handy, like the Minute Men during the Revolutionary War.

Brings to mind something American speed skater Apolo Ohno quipped:

Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Get stronger, faster and more powerful. Fill yourself with knowledge and empathy and an indomitable spirit, because no one else can do that for you. In the end, it’s your life, your choice and your world. Give 110%, always.”

 Boy, did the Swiss ever follow this mantra—their Press openly criticized the Third Reich, often infuriating its leadership. Berlin denounced Switzerland as medieval and called its citizens renegade Germans.

Attempts by the Nazi party to effect an Anschluss, or connection between Germany and Switzerland failed due to a strong sense of national identity. The country’s belief in democracy and civil liberties stood it in good stead.

Case in point: Ruth remembers a German bookstore that sold only Mein Kampf and boasted a huge poster of Adolph Hitler at the entrance. She and her girlfriend decided to investigate (spurred by curiosity and possibly their Girl Scout exploits). The owner pushed them out and slammed the door to his regret. The Swiss home guard instantly absconded him to the authorities and closed down his so-called bookstore.

We’ll never come to the end of all the stories, and writing about these strong survivors strengthens me. Ah . . . to have lived in that time, though I would be far less bold.

But seeing the light in her eyes as she tells the tale makes me feel I was there, a silent onlooker cheering her on.


Any writers out there, has meeting with actual participants in your historical plot events instructed you? And readers, how does an author make you feel as though you yourself witnessed what just happened—on the Swiss border or elsewhere?