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Hi, reader friends! Thanks to our featured author, today’s spotlight post is simply jam-packed with bookish goodies including an excerpt and a giveaway for two!
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author, Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places.
Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest’s no longer so empty.
Favorite holiday tradition
Marion: Every year it’s a tradition in our house to have a big dinner on Christmas Eve with my family (whoever’s around).
I’ll set a really fancy table on our patio outside (we live in South Africa, so it’s really hot in December) with all the trimmings, and then serve a dinner usually consisting of roast turkey, gammon with cranberry sauce, rice and gravy, roast potatoes, carrots, peas, fried cucumber with cream and chives.
Afterward, there’ll be some kind of pudding (or two). The last two years we’ve made snow globe snowmen and ice cream creating them with two Ferrero Rocher Raffaello White Chocolate Coconut and Almond chocolates and the snow globe is an upside down round glass. Looks really great. Another favorite tradition we started three years ago is to make a gingerbread house a few days before Christmas.
Beth: Christmas will be here in about 3 blinks! What a lovely season to look forward to!
Favorite secondary characters
Marion: It was hard to choose one, and the question said characters (plural), so I picked three that really stood out—a five-year-old girl, a woman in her sixties, and finally, a crazy thirty-something wingsuit pilot.
Chloe Hartley is the five-year-old daughter of my hero, Simon Hartley, a conservationist in Zambia (and elephant whisperer) in Orphaned Hearts. Chloe is just the cutest thing ever and I love writing her into this story. Her actual name is Nataizya Chloe Hartley. Her mother wanted a Zambian name and chose Nataizya which means ‘I am thankful.’ She also wanted her second name to be Grace, but after she died in childbirth, Simon found no grace in her death, and named Chloe after her mother. Simon calls her Chloe; Paipi, Simon’s trusted worker and head elephant keeper calls her Nataizya.
JoAnn Stanson is the neighbor and new found friend of my heroine in A Time to Laugh, with a deliciously naughty streak. I loved this paragraph in the opening chapter that sums JoAnn up in a few words:
She ventured a sideways peek at JoAnn, still straddling that bike like a bucking bronco, determined to tame it. For sixty-two, the woman was in great shape, and had the energy of an ADHD child after a candy and cola-laden birthday party.
I’m so excited to be giving JoAnn her own story as the third book of my three-book series, Seasons of Change in my Under the Sun collection. A Time to Push Daisies (far better title than A Time to Die LOL), will be released in June 2018, and I cannot wait to write this story.
Wingsuiter Luke Maskil is the best friend and wingman (in the air and on the ground) of my Kiwi hero, Kyle Sheppard, in Oslo Overtures. His carefree character and zest for life and fun just bounces off the pages of this story set in Norway. His dare-devilish ways get Kyle into a heap of trouble. Oslo Overtures would definitely be poorer without him. Several readers have wished he had his own story—guess, I’ll really have to write it sometime.
He leaned further out of the window. “Oh, and just in case you don’t talk to strangers,” he continued, “I’m Luke. And this is my very good, very talented, and very single friend, Kyle.” He ruffled Kyle’s hair, messing it up a little more. “We’re from New Zealand, and no, surprisingly, we’re not sheep farmers.” Luke pushed Kyle’s head forward. “Say hello.”
Beth: It is hard to stop at just one favorite character.
Favorite inside or outside activity
Marion: I love building puzzles (1000-2000 pieces) when I can tear myself away from writing commitments.
Beth: Fun! That’s something I haven’t done in a long time. We assembled some 3D puzzles several years ago.
Favorite book cover
Marion: So hard to choose, because I love all my book covers. I do particularly adore this couple on A Time to Laugh—they remind me of my mom and dad and how in love they were right until they were old and gray. They also remind me immensely of the couple who I named my characters after, my friends Elizabeth and Brian.
Beth: Those are some joyful folks! I can see why it is your favorite! 🙂
Favorite food or recipe
Marion: Blueberry Pie. My heroine in Helsinki Sunrise bakes it in the story—a fun Adam and Eve-like story. You’ll also find the recipe in the box set, Picnics & Promises (only $0.99c for 6 great novels and novellas), at the end of my book, A Courtship for Clover.
Beth: Who can say “no” to pie?!
Tell us about your latest release
Marion: A Courtship for Clover has just released in the box set, Picnics & Promises. This is the fifth book in my seven-book series, Seven Suitors for Seven Sisters. It’s also available in print. I so enjoyed writing this story, with twist and turns even I didn’t see coming. This is definitely another favorite cover for me (as well as readers).
Top London chef Clover Blume has one chance to become better acquainted with Jonathan Spalding away from the mayhem of her busy restaurant where he frequently dines—usually with a gorgeous woman at his side. When the groomsman who is supposed to escort her at her sister’s New Year’s Eve wedding is delayed because of business, Clover begins to wonder whether she really wants to waste time with a player whose main focus in life is making money rather than keeping promises.
Jonathan lives the good life. There’s one thing, however, the London Investment Banker’s money hasn’t managed to buy: a woman to love—one worthy of his mother’s approval. Is it possible though, that the auburn-haired beauty who is to partner with him at his best friend’s wedding—a wedding he stands to miss thanks to a glitch in a deal worth millions—is finding a way into his heart?
But what will it cost Jonathan to realize it profits him nothing to gain the world, yet lose his soul?
And the girl.
A Courtship for Clover Q&A
Describe Clover Blume in five words
Marion: Creative (with food), Motivated, Fun, Faith-filled, Moral
Beth: She sounds like a lovely character!
Will readers be able to follow Clover’s story in future books?
Marion: A Courtship for Clover is Book 5 in my Seven Suitors for Seven Sisters series. Clover plays a role in Book 2, A Romance for Rose. Time will tell if she makes an appearance in the remaining two books.
Beth: Stay tuned, reader friends! 😉
What inspired you to choose London and Levens Hall for A Courtship for Clover?
Marion: The settings were already dictated by Book 1, A Match for Magnolia, where Clover was mentioned as a top London chef, and Maggie fell in love with the heir to Levens Hall.
Levens Hall was inspired because I needed a manor house in the Lake District for my Book 1 hero’s family. And what better place to be a top chef, or an investment banker (my hero from A Courtship for Clover) than London?
It proved to be a choice location in so many ways, and I loved researching places like The Shard, The Old Bailey (especially, and the UK judicial system), and Hyde Park.
Beth: I just love learning new things and visiting new places through fiction!
What kind of research did you do on Levens Hall and London?
Marion: I did a lot of internet research on both these places, visiting the websites of Levens Hall, and The Shard, The Old Bailey, and Hyde Park in London, as well as “walking” the places with Google Earth. I also made a point to visit Levens Hall on a recent trip to the UK and it was so interesting to actually go inside my characters’ storyworld.
I received a lot of invaluable help writing the court scenes from my friend and crit partner, Clare Revell, who lives just outside London and has sat on juries before.
About two decades ago, my husband and I visited London and we walked through Hyde Park. It was an amazing place to visit. To recreate the scenes I wrote at Hyde Park, I drew on that experience as well as studied a detailed map and images of Hyde Park, researching what trees grew where in the park, and seeing what activities were available, like the boats for hire. I used all this information to weave in the sensory details.
Beth: It’s those little details that make a story come to life for me!
Marion: As I’ve just spoken about the Hyde Park scene, I decided to share an excerpt from there.
As they exited the building, Clover pointed. “Look, seems Tamela had another surprise lined up for us. Marvin.” She waved at his chauffeur standing beside the sleek silver car. “That’s going to be sooo much easier than lugging that basket on the tubes.”
Soon they stood outside the entrance to Hyde Park, watching Marvin drive away.
“This is a great idea.” Jonathan took her hand in his, and they strolled down Serpentine Road in the shade of lime trees stretching their leafy branches high into a cloudless azure sky. He exhaled a soft sigh. The vibrant greens of summer would soon make way for autumn’s coppers and golds—something akin to his life, the lushness thereof about to wither away.
He buried the thought, determined not to let it spoil his afternoon with Clover.
Nearby, pigeons pecked at the crumbs a woman had strewn on the grass. Lunch-time Londoners had claimed their spots at every bench they passed. Holiday-makers and locals dotted the park, all enjoying the sunshine. And on the Serpentine Lake, couples and families in blue and white boats rowed lazily over the rippled surface.
Caressing Clover’s hand with his thumb, he turned to gaze at her. “So where are we spreading your picnic blanket?”
“Well, my favorite spot is near Peter Pan’s statue, but…”
Peter Pan, the boy who could fly and never grew up. He’d felt like that once, too. But since this nightmare began, he’d surely aged. An old man long before his time. At least in spirit.
A poke in his side drew him back to the present. And Clover’s voice.
“…aren’t even listening to me.” She laughed.
“I’m sorry, darling. You were saying?”
“Depends on what you last heard.”
He had no idea how much of her conversation he’d missed. Perhaps the puppy-dog look would soften the blow, just in case it had been a lot. “Peter Pan?”
“I said my favorite spot was there, but we’re not going to picnic so far into the park. Then I told you to wait and see. Oh, I might’ve also mentioned how excited I am to be spending this amazing day with you, and that you just needed to relax and enjoy the beauty of today because God has made it just for us.”
God… When would He show up?
When you do.
Ouch. A difficult idea, especially considering his life at the moment. Yet, the more he’d tried to be angry at God in recent days, the more his conscience pricked that perhaps his innocence not being proven was his fault, not the Creator’s. After all, he hadn’t really trusted Him to help. Merely shot a few desperate and selfish prayers to the heavens.
What are you working on now?
Marion: I am currently working on Book 1 in a nine-book multi-author series called A Tuscan Legacy. The stories are linked by characters with a thread of intrigue. The book I’m writing is titled That’s Amore (That’s Love).
Each book in the series is about one of the cousins of an Italian family. Stories are set in Italy, USA, England, and Australia. The seven authors involved in this venture have been brainstorming this series for almost a year. We’re excited to all finally start writing our stories.
We plan to release the series between April and June 2018. Can’t cover reveal yet, but I can give you a sneak-peek…
Beth: How exciting! I bet it was so fun to collaborate with other authors on that project! Thank you for sharing some of your favorites and bookish news with us today, Marion!
Marion Ueckermann has a Picnics and Promises (Six Delicious Summer Romances) ebook collection for TWO Faithfully Bookish readers!
Say hi to Marion then let’s have some fun!
Describe your perfect picnic in 5 words!
Here’s my perfect picnic in 5 words: peaceful, breezy, yummy, cozy, bookish
(what?! don’t y’all want to enjoy a good read after a nice picnic lunch?!)