Great Summer Reads; Virginia's Vocation by Zina Abbot

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.

Will Virginia’s chosen vocation fill the empty spaces in her heart?

It is 1858. With both parents dead, Virginia Atwell lives with her older brother, Jefferson, and his family in Booneville, Missouri. Under the pseudonym, V. A. Wellington, she secretly has been submitting articles to a well-respected investigative journal about controversial topics. To her dismay, she learns her family plans to buy new farmland in the wilds of central Kansas Territory, making it almost impossible for her to continue her clandestine article submissions. More importantly, Virginia is terrified of the prospect of living so close to hostile Indian tribes and dying by their hands because they resent white Americans moving onto their traditional buffalo hunting grounds.

Virginia persuades her brothers to give her a share of their parents’ inheritance so she may attend one of the few colleges in Ohio that accepts female students. There, she finds Avery Wilson, one of her professors and fellow boarder at Bettina Calloway’s boarding house, resentful of female students, conceited and annoying, especially after his criticism and resentment directed towards the author, V. A. Wellington, whose articles are published while his submissions are rejected.

Virginia’s publisher insists V. A. Wellington meet with him in person in St. Louis to discuss a new assignment. When her landlady insists she cannot travel alone, Avery, curious about Virginia’s secretive meeting and unable to resist his growing attraction to the irritating but brilliant student, offers to escort her.

Once the editor discovers his star contributor is a woman, he refuses to send her to write about conditions on the Kaw reservation and the proposed treaty the government intends to impose on the natives. Hoping to favorably impress the editor, Avery offers to pose as Virginia’s fiancé in order to accompany and protect her on her assignment. Her heart goes out to the Kaw, but what can fill the empty spaces of her heart?

Virginia’s Vocation is also part of the author’s Atwell Kin series

Q&A With the Author:

1.  What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I enjoy reading (that is a given), quilting, and touring, especially in the mountains.

2. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I track my word counts completed each writing day, and I try to reach a goal of 2,000 to 3,000 words per day when I can fit in a whole day devoted to writing. When I really need to buckle down and finish a novel, I move my laptop to the loveseat in my bedroom and work in there.

3. Do you have any suggestions to help budding authors become better writers? If so, what are they?
First, you need to find a writing set-up that works for you. You do not need an entire room for an office, unless you have the extra room and that is your thing. I sit on a couch or loveseat and prop a laptop on my knees to write. I keep my physical research books and notes organized by writing project in baskets I buy at JoAnn’s. When I am not using them, they are on a bookcase or credenza. When I am using them, they are on the couch next to me. I use T.V. trays for extra “desk” surface. Will that work for everyone? No. Find what works for you.
Second, give yourself permission to devote time to writing. Your writing is just as valuable, if not as profitable, as salaried work. It is okay with God to develop the talents He gave you, even if it means you sometimes need to occasionally say “no” to others (especially outside the family) who make demands on your time.

4. Where do you get information and ideas for your books?
Sometimes my story ideas are prompted by the theme of a book series for which I am writing. Sometimes my research exposes me to new information that gets my mind working. Sometimes I’ll visit a historical locality or read something and think, “Hey, I could turn that into an interesting story.” I get the nugget of an idea, chart/calendar things out, and then the characters in my story tell me how the plot is going to progress no matter what I originally had in mind.
5. What do you think makes a good story?

Besides a good plot, characters and setting, I want the story to include some decent ACTION. Every story needs real and believable CONFLICT. He loved me yesterday—oh no, today he doesn’t, so what can I say or do so tomorrow he loves me again? No, no. To me, that is not action or meaningful conflict. Even a romance reader like me who knows the story will have a “happily ever after” ending, wants to have the hero and heroine get into some kind of trouble—often at the hands of others—that leaves me asking, “How are they going to get out of that mess?”

6. Tell us about your favorite summer vacation? Or what do you like to do in the summer?

For several summers, hubby and I have toured the Western states with an RV. A couple of years we took some adult children and grandchildren. The grandkids quickly learned if they vacation with grandma, they visit historical sites, museums, and book stores. I also like to work in some book events or author conventions. 

To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 


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