E.E. Burke's BEST OF THE WEST with Zina Abbott

     Gold miners are pouring into Lundy, California for the Resurrection Day celebration. Val Caldwell drives a herd of cattle up from Big Meadows to Lundy—and he can’t wait to see Beth Dodd, the woman he hopes to marry.
     Beth unexpectedly finds she must convince the new miners that, though she is a widow, she expects to be treated with respect—and she holds her own amongst the roughest of the bunch with the help of her derringer and her pa’s hunting knife.
     A woman of many talents, Beth receives a frantic request from the madam at the Blue Feather to help with the birth of a prostitute’s baby—an experience that calls up emotions from her own past, and reveals her own heart’s desire—something she’s tried to forget.
     Val, anxious to convince Beth to marry him, is willing to help her any way he can. But, just how much will the independent woman be able to give of herself after the pain of her first marriage? Can Beth ever trust him enough to give him the love of A RESURRECTED HEART?

     Behind her, Beth heard chairs scrape across the floor as the room grew quiet. Her back remained to the main room. Beth did not dare glance behind her to see what was happening. She refused to reveal the terror that coursed through her as she heard a few more gun hammers click. She had no idea if the men behind those guns were for her or against her.
     The brotherhood of miners. I’m surrounded.
     Only the sound of Fritz Gluntz readying his shotgun the two Germans kept behind their bar provided Beth with a feeling of reassurance. Out of the corner of her left eye, she saw a man slip through the door next to the bar that led outside.
     Beth heard the front door of the saloon open seconds before the cool evening air wafted past her. She blinked and suppressed a shudder, willing herself to stay focused on the men who threatened her. She wanted nothing more than to close her eyes and wish the whole situation to disappear. She listened as several heavy boots tromped in, then stopped just inside. The door slammed shut. The swoosh of pistols sliding out of leather holsters and the click of cocked pistol hammers echoed through silent room. The sense of doom threatened to drown Beth.
     “Got your back covered, sweetheart.”
     Beth heaved a sigh of relief. She knew that voice.
     About time, Val Caldwell.

ZINA ABBOTT (Robyn Echols)

 Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. The first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart, are now available.
The author is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.

E.E.:  How often to you get lost in a story?
Robyn:  I read constantly—anywhere from two to five books per week. I much prefer reading to watching television.

E.E.: What was the first story you remember writing?
Robyn: I remember being in the seventh grade and sitting in my downstairs bedroom composing my stories. I lived in a house on a slope that looked like a one story from the front yard, but a two story from the backyard. Even though I had a window to the outside world, my mother called it my dungeon. In my story, which I think was about a mermaid, I wrote about a heroine with bright red hair and emerald green eyes. I wish I had saved that story.

E.E.: Is writing or story-telling easier for you?
Robyn: Writing is easier. I love telling my stories through my writing. Then again, many times as I write, my characters start telling me their stories. How rude of them that they develop minds of their own and don’t stick to the outline or the chapter summary I devised at the beginning of the writing project!

E.E.: What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?
Robyn: After I do my happy dance and eat a big piece of dark chocolate, you mean?

Once I write “The End,” I start through with my initial line edits to see if I misspelled/misused any words (“there” instead of “their,” etc.), left any words out (“to the store” instead of “to store,” etc.), and look for punctuation errors (periods, commas and quote marks where they should be, etc.) After that, if my schedule allows, I set it aside for at least a week. Then I make a new document file in which I reformat the manuscript, change the font and size and print the thing out for red pen editing on paper.

E.E.: What has surprised you the most about being published? 
Robyn: I knew in today’s publishing world an author needs a self-promotion platform to spread the word about the finished novel. I read one recent blog post in which the author estimated book writers today spend 30% of their author work time on writing and 70% on book promotion. I think there is a lot of truth to that statement. I didn’t realize just how much time must be spent working on promotion—as in, who has time to write anything new?

E.E.: What do you do to promote your books and how to you feel about it?
Robyn: Many writers resent the time and energy required to work their author platform and promote their books. I personally spend a lot of time writing blog posts, updating my websites, reading and answering emails and networking on Facebook, Pinterest and now Twitter, and, to a lesser degree, Goodreads and Google+.

The positive side of this activity is I have met and worked with many great writers and readers through social media—people I now consider my friends.

One of the most successful networking opportunities I use is group blogs. I am grateful to my publishers, Prairie Rose Publications and their imprint, Fire Star Press, who allow me a monthly post on those two blogs. Sweet Americana Sweethearts, a group blog I started and participate in also is a resource. I believe by sharing either historical information and images or tips on how to improve our skills as writers in particular and business/organization workers in general, it has paid huge returns in potential readers developing an interest in my books. Yes, it all takes time, but the success is measured in more than book sales.

E.E.: What about your novella? How did you come up with the idea for A Resurrected Heart?
Robyn: A Resurrected Heart is book two of five in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series. I set the book in the gold mining regions of the side of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains opposite the region of Forty-niner gold rush fame, a place I love to visit. While at Mono Lake several years ago, I bought an interesting book about Lundy, a defunct gold mining town in the same county as Bodie and Bridgeport. The detailed information taken largely from newspaper reports and census records of the times—a genealogist’s dream book—sparked my interest. 

I chose the year 1884 because of two important and noteworthy events that took place in Lundy that year. One of them was “Resurrection Day” on April 5, 1884. It had nothing to do with Easter. It had everything to do with welcoming the miners back to Lundy for the mining season, hoping for new gold booms in the surrounding mountains and celebrating the boost to the local economy.

The other big 1884 event in Lundy is featured in book three. Books three through five are scheduled to be published in 2016.

Visit the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.

Zina Abbott Author Links:

Website  |  Blog    |  Pinterest  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Book Series Links:

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  1. Welcome to GLIAS, Robyn! Or should I call you Zina? I'm thrilled to be able to share your series and I love that you set it in a real place with historical details woven in. Just my kind of book!

    1. Thank you for the opportunity to be on this post. I so loved writing this book. I also apprecate the Question and Answer section. It really helped me focus on what it takes to be a writer in today's world and to realize I really enjoy -- all of it!

  2. As always a wonderful interview, I do have to agree with the blogging as being a helpful tool along with networking. I enjoy a read more when an author puts some real history into the story. I had to smile at how rude your characters are. Writing is something I couldn't do if someone made me.There is nothing like a good writer who can take you away as they pull you into a story.

    I will be checking out your books they sound like an outstanding read.

    1. I hope you enjoy my books, Cyn. I thoroughly enjoyed developing the characters in this series. As for the history in my novels, I think I fall in love with a place with its history first, then let it stew in my brain until I come up with the right story and right characters. I was in trouble with Beth right from the start when it came to a character having a mind of her own.

  3. I thought the question should be the other way around! I read more than I (like to) travel so I'm happy reading about wonderful places in wonderful stories

    1. You're right, Linda, in that reading about far off times and places can take you there even when you can't travel there yourself. That is why I try to be as historically accurate as possible. One reason, in addition to a great storyline and characters, I love to read about in historical novels is the time and place in the setting. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  4. I have not visited many places... I think I enjoy reading about places I have not been to... so many locales to see within books!

    1. I agree, Colleen. I learn about many places I will never personally visit by reading about them, both fiction and non-fiction books. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to visit several times the region in which A RESURRECTED HEART is set. Thank you for your comment.