Saturday, June 27, 2015
Author Interview – Marion Ueckermann
I have the privilege of welcoming Christian author Marion Ueckermann to discuss her writing career and latest book, Orphaned Hearts.
Thanks for joining us, Marion. Would you share a brief overview of your book including your inspiration for it?
Thank you for hosting me today, Laura. It’s good to be here at Stitches Thru Time. Let me deal with the latter part of your question first.
Whilst on holiday in Finland this January, I was beavering away at a Christmas story set in Lapland when I received an email from fellow author, Autumn Macarthur, inviting me to be part of a boxed set with several other international authors. SPLASH! (untitled back then) was planned for release on June 23rd. The criteria for the story?—a novella between 20-35k with a theme of summer and water. Autumn went on to say that they’d like an international theme, especially a story set in Africa. I knew there was no other place for my story’s location than along the banks of the mighty Zambezi River in the country of my birth, Zambia.
Orphaned Hearts transports the reader into the wilds of Zambia to both a children's orphanage and an elephant orphanage. It’s a story of new beginnings and restored relationships with God. I think the blurb is probably the best overview I can give, so here it is:
When his wife dies in childbirth, Zambian conservationist Simon Hartley pours his life into raising his daughter and his orphan elephants. He has no time, or desire, to fall in love again. Or so he thinks.
Wanting to escape English society and postpone an arranged marriage, Lady Abigail Chadwick heads to Africa for a year to teach the children of the Good Shepherd Orphanage. Upon her arrival she is left stranded at Livingstone airport…until a reluctant Simon comes to her rescue.
Now only fears born of his loss, and secrets of the life she’s tried to leave behind, can stonewall their romance, budding in the heart of Africa.
You have been published through a traditional publisher and also as an indie author. Do you prefer one over the other? What path do you envision your career taking in the future?
My first novella, Helsinki Sunrise, was published by White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint in August 2014 as part of their Passport to Romance series. My second novella in the same series, Oslo Overtures, releases in August this year. I currently have a third novella under consideration for the same series. An August 2016 release? I hope so.
Orphaned Hearts released on June 23rd as part of the SPLASH! boxed set—9 Refreshing Romances Filled with Faith. I plan to release Orphaned Hearts independently on July 10.
I’m still learning the indie ropes but in my indie and traditionally published experiences, I have enjoyed the sense of family in both worlds—as part of the SPLASH! authors, and as a Pelican author. Of course, both traditional and indie bring strengths and weaknesses to the publishing journey. The one thing that is great about indie publishing is not having the long wait to hear whether your manuscript will be accepted, and then another long wait for the publishing process to take its course.
Going forward, I definitely envisage being a hybrid author, having a foot in both worlds. For traditional publishing, my current plan is to write and submit at least one novella per year for Pelican’s Passport to Romance series (two if time permits). I’m already a substantial way through a fourth, although it was put on hold at the end of last year, and I have plans boiling for another. Then for indie... After being advised to turn Orphaned Hearts into a series, my Heart of Africa romance series was born. I plan to write and publish two novellas a year in this series.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just completed a 6,000 word short story for a contest. Now that needs to be edited and submitted by the end of June. Then I’m heading back to my Christmas novella that I’ve been writing on and off since January. I’m excited about this story set in Lapland and already have a publishing home for it. With a deadline of mid-September looming to have this ready for print, I have to turn all my attention to that now (between having three books to market now.) Poles Apart will be part of a Christmas boxed set that many of the SPLASH! authors are involved in.
What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
Definitely Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It’s just one of the most uplifting and encouraging verses I know. To have that assurance that the God of Creation has great plans for me takes my breath away. I can trust Him with my life.
Many struggling writers wonder how long it takes to get a book published. Obviously, the process is probably more streamlined as you publish more books. How long did it take from the time you started writing your first book until it was published?
I was once told by a multi-published author that it takes about ten years to get published and that most writers give up after five years (I think I found myself considering that several times). Randy Ingermanson, the Snowflake Man, says you need to write about a million words before you’re ready to be published (I think I came really close to that figure). At 100,000 words a novel, one novel a year...that’s ten years’ worth of writing. I believe there’s merit in Randy’s estimate. My first novel I penned almost found a publisher here in South Africa. Looking back, I’m so glad it didn’t. I was far from ready and had so much to learn.
After hearing and reading several top published authors writing journeys, I was amazed to note how long they took to be published—ten years on average.
So my journey... From the time I first started writing, it took me close on thirteen years to reach that publication dream (excluding the devotions and Chicken Soup story I’d had published a few years back). From the time I started writing my first novel, close on seven years. That particular story remains filed away on my computer. And from the time I started taking my writing whole a lot more seriously, around two years. Helsinki Sunrise, my first published novella, was really like birthing a baby...twice. It took nine months from the day I started writing to when I received a publishing contract, and another nine months before the eBook was released.
What encouragement do you have for other Christian writers struggling to get published, especially when rejection letters keep coming?
Remember the Bible story of the talents... If God has called you to write, then write—don’t bury that talent. And when publishing seems to elude you, keep writing, but more importantly, keep pursuing perfection in your writing—get yourself a handful of good critique partners (I couldn’t do without mine). Most important, do not be in a hurry and don’t settle for something that could hurt your writing career (and your bank balance). Allow God to bring your publication dream to fulfillment in His perfect time, because He knows exactly when you will be ready.
Thanks for this interview, Laura. It’s been super fun to share my journey with your readers.
Thanks for sharing with us, Marion. I learned something new about you today, as well. I’ve read some of your books and look forward to reading more in the future. You’re an amazing writer.
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, 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 novella, Oslo Overtures, and her first Indie novella, Orphaned Hearts (Book 1 in her Heart of Africa Romance series), both release mid-2015. Marion loves writing romances set in novel places. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.
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**Current Stitches Thru Time Giveaway: Don't forget to leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for Hemorrhaging of Souls by Nicola Furlong. Contest runs through June 30.**