Monday, December 08, 2014

HELSINKI SUNRISE - Marion Ueckermann - One Free Ebook

Dear Readers, when I first heard about this book, I contacted Marion and asked her if I could schedule it on my blog. I’m a second generation American on my father’s side. His mother’s and father’s families emigrated from Norway and Sweden and settled in Minnesota. I especially wanted this book, because it’s set in Finland, another Scandinavian country. As soon as I received my copy of the ebook, I read it, and loved it. The characters jumped straight into my heart and stayed there. I enjoyed the setting and the situations of the story. I’ll be looking for more books from Marion.

Bio: Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novella, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa, in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.
Permission to use images obtained.

Welcome Marion. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.         
Not a lot, but I do think there’s always a tiny trace of my DNA in each of my heroines J

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?  
Probably the quirkiest thing I’ve ever done is eaten a mopane worm whilst up in Zimbabwe. I did get a certificate for the crazy deed. It was quite a feat for me because I grew up in a small town that was overrun by these large black and blue hairy horned worms. These worms are actually large caterpillars of the Gonimbrasia belina species, commonly called the emperor moth, and are known as mopane worms because they are found chomping the leaves of mopane trees in the South African lowveld after they hatch in summer. They’re sought after by the local Africans for food and are apparently highly nutritious. They’ve become a delicacy in many up-market restaurants in South Africa and are even found in African restaurants in Paris. I wish I could say they taste good—they don’t … not for me anyway. It was kind of like eating a piece of bark.

We will be in Finland over Christmas, and my son has a bucket list of things I need to do. One of the things on his list is for me to jump into the avanto (or hole in the ice). This is done by first roasting in a sauna of around 80 degrees celcius, then hightailing your tush from there across the snow in temperatures of around minus 37 degrees celcius before finally lowering yourself down a ladder through a hole in the ice into the freezing Finnish waters. The entire sequence is done repetitively. I have to admit that it would be a really quirky thing to add to my quirkiest thing list. However, I’m not sure if I’ll be brave enough.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?       
My desire to write probably started around twenty years ago, but it was only when we moved to Ireland in 2000 that I began to feed this desire by writing poetry. Two years later, after we returned to South Africa, I penned my first (unpublished) novel, and so began my real passion … writing stories.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.          
99% of the books I read are Christian fiction, ranging from contemporary romance, to suspense, to historical and whatever comes in between. I’m not a person who’s set on one genre, although I do have some favorite authors whose writing I always seek out.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?          
I’m sane? (refer back to question 2).

How do you choose your characters’ names?        
With ease J I never stress over characters’ names. Normally a name pops into my head, and I run with it. There are times when I’ll research a name’s meaning and origin on baby name websites, and I’ve had occasions where I’ve searched these sites for a name if one hasn’t just come to me or if the name’s meaning plays an important role. When I do go looking for a name, I’ll do so under the nationality category until I find one that suits the character.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?           
Raising two awesome sons.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?        
A Koala bear. I’ve always loved them. As a little girl I can remember owning a few Koala teddies in different sizes.

Why would I want to be one? They hang about in trees all day getting high on eucalyptus leaves. What could be better than life being as slow as it is for a Koala bear?

What is your favorite food?
All food J Seriously, I do love a good curry, especially lamb, but chicken will do just fine, too. Oh, and chocolate. Chocolate is food, right?

It is for me. I’m a real chocoholic. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?    
Being an author in South Africa and writing Christian fiction, it is really difficult to be published. There are less than a handful of Christian South African publishers and they aren’t really interested in unpublished authors. But it’s equally as hard to get an American publisher or agent interested in a South African author. It’s also almost impossible to attend writers’ conferences where one would have the opportunity to present your manuscript to publishers and agents, as it’s just too far and too expensive with our poor rate of exchange.

When I heard that Pelican Book Group wanted stories for their Passport to Romance series, stories written in foreign locations with foreign characters (ie. not American), I jumped at the opportunity. Helsinki Sunrise was the first story I wrote for them. I have since signed a contract with them for a second book in the series titled Oslo Overtures, and currently have another two stories written for which I’m hoping to submit the full manuscripts.

Passport to Romance has been a wonderful opportunity to be published with an awesome American publisher. It’s great to be a part of the Pelican family. I’ve plenty of ideas for more stories and quite a few first drafts waiting to be edited for submission to Pelican Book Group.

I want to schedule your next book on my blog. Be sure to contact me as soon as you have a pub date. Tell us about the featured book.     
My featured book, Helsinki Sunrise, is one of the novella in the Passport to Romance series published by White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint.

One of my critiquers likened it to How to Lose a Guy in 14 Days (although I think in the movie it was 10 days). In Helsinki Sunrise, readers will find romance, comedy, and tension as two completely opposite characters collide and try to wear each other down. Readers also get to experience the beautiful country of Finland and some of its unique culture.

I love what a recent reviewer had to say about this story: I have never read a love story where the main character is fasting and praying of all things, and yet Marion Ueckermann skillfully turns what could be dry and boring into a modern day Taming of the Shrew with a Christian twist.

I guess the easiest way to tell readers about Helsinki Sunrise is to let them read the blurb. That way, they’ll know just enough to be interested without me giving away the story J:

He needed the island to himself. So did she.

Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter's plan. But sometimes plans go awry.

On an impromptu trip to her family's secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.

Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.

Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.

Will he be able to resist her temptations?

Can she withstand his prayers?

Please give us the first page of the book for my blog readers.     
“I need to get away for a while.” Eveliina held her breath. If Joel said no, she’d go anyway. She’d resign. She’d break up with him. Whatever it took to bring a little peace and quiet to her harried life.

“But you just got back from Vaasa.” Joel crossed his arms and leaned back in his leather chair.

“Exactly why I need to get away.”

His eyes swept over her, and Eveliina hoped she didn’t look as frazzled as she felt.

“You work too hard, Eveliina, and I’m sorry. It’s just the nature of our business. Creating fantasy for the world is not for the fainthearted.” He rose from behind his smoked-glass desk, placed his hands on the edge of the table and leaned forward. “That’s why people like us aren’t married. We’re wed to our computers, and it’s hard to divorce ourselves from the beasts.” Joel straightened up. “But maybe soon we’ll change that. I know you’ll be as dedicated and talented a wife as you are—”

“I doubt I could love doing anything other than visual effects.” One sure thing got Eveliina uncomfortable—talk of marriage. And these days, Joel didn’t miss an opportunity. Eveliina stared him in the eye. “You’re right. I am married to my job. And I don’t believe in divorce.”

She pointed to the framed 3D characters that lined the walls of Joel’s ultra-modern high-rise Helsinki office like family portraits. “You see those funny little creatures?—they’re the only ones I’m happy to create.”

Joel scratched his chin. “So, how was Ostrobothnia and the tall ships exhibition?”

“Bombarded by noisy children and people dressed as Vikings…?”

He pulled a face. “That bad?”

“You try seven days surrounded by,” she shuddered, “little people. If that wasn’t bad enough, those Viking look-alikes are a crude bunch with a weakness for blondes.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?           
Readers can find me at any of the following places, and I look forward to connecting with them.
On my website there are also links to blogs where I’m a regular blogger.

Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group,, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.

Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.

Thank you, Marion, for sharing your debut novel with us.

Readers. leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Marionu said...

Lena, it's great to be here on your blog today. Thank you for hosting me. I look forward to interacting with your readers. And I will certainly be back soon with Oslo Overtures.

Autumn Macarthur said...

Great interview, Marion! Hearing you mention eating those worms reminded me of the time I ate witchetty grubs in Outback Australia :)

Kristen said...

It was good to get a behind the scenes glimpse at Helsinki Sunrise. Such a fun book. Thanks Marion.

Anonymous said...

I always love a good comedy! Count me in!
J.C. -Indiana-

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Marian,
Lovely interview! I was here last week so the questions are VERY familiar!
Best of luck with your release!

Marionu said...

LOL, Autumn...I'm not sure which sounds worse :

Thanks for stopping by.

Marionu said...

Kristen, good to see you here. I certainly had a great deal of fun writing Helsinki Sunrise, and I know my son and daughter-in-law had a lot of giggles making the book trailer for me. I'm looking forward to seeing your own Passport to Romance soon, too.

Marionu said...

JC, there is nothing like a good laugh. Wishing you luck on the drawing.

Marionu said...

Susan, I popped over to read your interview. Seems we have a lot in common ... raising two awesome children, making it to almost 30 years of marriage (our 30th is June 2015) and chocolate :)

mongupp said...

This sounds like a unique story that i would like to read.

Janet W. Ferguson said...

This sounds adorable with her baking to get rid of him! I love that you ate worms! The closest I've gotten is my favorite sour gummy worms.

Mary Preston said...

A great interview thank you. Your quirky notions are indeed that & not for me.

Mary P


Marionu said...

Mongupp, I like to think that Helsinki Sunrise is a unique story :) Hope you get to read it.Thanks for stopping by.

Marionu said...

Janet, I had fun writing Eveliina's baking temptations. I must say that I struggle almost as much getting around the sourness of gummy worms as I did getting around the fact that I was eating an actual worm. Give me sweet any day. Thanks for taking time to read my interview.

Marionu said...

Mary, at least I can say "been there, done that" LOL, but I definitely won't try it again. Thanks for stopping by.

Johnnie Alexander said...

Marion's story is "can't put down" fun. I'm not sure I could do the sauna/ice jump either, but these types of details made me want to pack my bags for Finland.

I have the book so no need to enter me in the drawing.

Congrats again to Marion on a fabulous debut novel.

Marionu said...

Thanks, Johnnie. I have to confess that I've packed my swimming costume for our winter Finnish trip next week, although I'm not sure I'll be brave enough to face the Avanto. I am looking forward to our trip to Lapland though as I'm currently conjuring up a Christmas story set there (so, I'll be doing some research for sure ... hope my characters don't decide that the Avanto is a must in the research - I have a sneaky suspicion though that they're already plotting against me).

kam110476 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kam110476 said...

Hi Marion! Helsinki Sunrise sounds like a hoot! I used to date a guy from Helsinki and he had me dreaming of making a trip there one day, and still does. Btw, how generous of your son to make a bucket list for you and not just for himself, yeah? And your adventure in the Avento? I would gladly do that with you and/or for you! Safe travels next week and entirely way too much fun!!
Kristen in OK
kam110476 at gmail dot com

Marionu said...

Hi Kristen, thanks for sharing. I hope you get to experience both Finland and Helsinki Sunrise soon. And now I'm just praying for snow, because at the moment at my daughter-in-law's parent's house, there's no snow, and the lake's are still water (ie. no Avanto...hole in the ice). Hence, we are heading for Lapland first when we arrive on 18th Dec, mostly because the Northern Lights are apparently strongest then, but also to give it time to snow in Lehtimaki :) Have a wonderful Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Love trying new authors!Shelia from MS

Marionu said...

Shelia, hope you get to read Helsinki Sunrise. It's equally exciting for authors to find new readers :)

Beth Gillihan said...

Would love to read this book. I am always looking for new authors.

Beth Gillihan, Montana

sm said...

Helsinki Sunrise is an unusual title and sounds like a great read. I also think chocolate is a food group-love it. Sm. CA. wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Marionu said...

Beth, thanks for reading the blogpost. I hope you get to read Helsinki Sunrise some time.

Marionu said...

SM, thanks for stopping by. All the best for the drawing.