My name is Robyn Echols. Zina Abbott is the pen I use for my historical novels. I’m a member of Women Writing the West and Western Writers of America. I currently live with my husband in California’s central valley near the “Gateway to Yosemite.”
I love to read, quilt, work with digital images on my photo editing program, and work on my own family history.
I am a blogger. In addition to my own blog, I blog for several group blogs including the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, which I started and administer.
Prequel to the Atwell Kin series:
Charlie, it would be easier to stop the flow of the great Missouri and Kansas Rivers than to prevent the Americans from coming to Kansas.
It is 1856, and the United States opened Kansas Territory to American settlement two years before. Land belonging to the once-powerful Kansa tribe, known to the whites as the Kaw, was sold by treaty to the Americans a generation earlier.
His Kansa mother died from smallpox while Charlie was young. He lives with his American father who owns a trading post in Bonner Springs near the junction of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. A child of two nations, Charlie learns through harsh experience he is not always accepted, including by the father of the pretty redhead who has caught his eye. The arrival of thousands of white settlers makes matters worse.
Frustrated, Charlie visits his Kansa uncle to learn the tribal ways, travel the Kaw Trail to their buffalo hunting grounds, and become a warrior with a warrior’s name. Once he knows both worlds, he will decide which will best serve him in the future.
Meadowlark’s traditional father wishes her to marry Broken Wing, a highly-respected full-blood Kansa warrior close to his own age. Meadowlark rejects being the junior wife under a dying oldest wife and a wolverine of a second wife. Once she learns her childhood friend who left the tribe years earlier has returned to the Kansa, she seeks him out. Even if he does consider her for a wife, can she persuade her father to allow him enough time to prove himself as a warrior? Will her father accept him for her husband in spite of his mixed ancestry?
Will Charlie decide on a future with the white Americans, or will he fight the coming of the Americans by clinging to the past with the Kansa? Will he try to straddle both worlds? What will Charlie choose?
Q&A With the Author:
1. Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction besides writing?
I have been making lap quilts. I came across my collection of pink cancer ribbon fabric last summer and thought, I need to make a few quilts ahead for friends who end up seriously sick and need a friendship token or something they can wrap around them or look at when they are too sick to do much else. The next thing I knew, I had one friend after another develop serious health issues (a consequence of being older). I’m behind, but enjoying designing the quilts for each recipient. I have yet to use the pink cancer ribbon fabric, but will make at least one quilt using it when I get caught up.
2. When did you first realize you were an author?
When I was in junior high school, I used to stay in my downstairs bedroom to write short stories instead of watching television with my family. Now, being a PAID author – that took a little longer.
3. Have you done anything writing-related, but besides actually writing your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?
When I worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a rural letter carrier, I also worked many years as a release-time union steward representing many offices in many counties. My ability to research, interview, organize facts, and then write up grievance files and research reports is what helped me succeed. It was more technical/legal writing rather than fiction, but I enjoyed it.
4. What is the thing you struggle with the most while writing? And how do you defeat it?
I struggle most with everyday life interfering. I struggle with balancing helping others with ending up being the go-fer slave of others to help them accomplish THEIR projects while mine languish.
5. What is the “message” of your writing?
My historical romances often draw from my genealogical research regarding laws that particularly affected women—their rights, or more to the point, their lack of rights when it came to property, voting, inheritance, etc. Even in the book I’m featuring today, my hero becomes aware of his lack of inheritance rights because of the circumstances of his birth.
6. Are your characters/stories/scenes, etc. based on anything in real life?
See number five, above. I get annoyed with so-called historical authors who do not do the research and write about contemporary laws, rights and attitudes in historical settings. I try to have my characters either display some of the attitudes of the day, run up against said attitudes in other characters in the story, or realize what they are up against legally. Also, most of my books include actual historical events and even real historical characters.
7. What are your future projects?
I will be publishing Virginia’s Vocation, which is my next book in the Lockets & Lace multi-author series. It is also my next book in the Atwell Kin after Charlie’s Choice which I’m featuring today. I will be publishing Diantha which is my second book in The Widows of Wildcat Ridge multi-author series. In addition, I have two longer books I wrote two and three years ago. They both need a little fine-tuning research, some revision and copy-editing. I will be working on them, and hope to publish at least one of them before the end of the year.