Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Linda Covella "Yakimali's Gift"

It’s 1775 in Mexico, New Spain, and 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, half Spanish and half Pima Indian, can’t seem to live up to her mother’s expectations or fit into the limited female roles of her culture. A tragic accident sets her on a course for the adventure she longed for but at a greater cost than she could ever have imagined. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza’s historic colonization expedition to California. On the arduous four month journey, Fernanda will find not only romance, but she’ll discover truths that will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.
Linda Covella’s varied job experience and education (associate degrees in art, business and mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.
Her first official publication was a restaurant review column in a local newspaper. But when she published articles for various children’s magazines, she realized she’d found her niche, writing for children and teens. She hopes to bring to kids and young adults the feelings books gave her when she was young, the worlds they opened, the things they taught, the feelings they ex-pressed.
No matter what new paths Linda may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment.
Now available on
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August – October 1775
Chapter One
Fernanda pressed her heels into the horse’s sides. “Faster, pretty one, faster. We want to feel the wind in our hair, no?”
The horse flicked its ears then galloped across the plain toward the river, kicking up stones from the hard ground. Fernanda leaned closer to the horse’s neck, her long braid slipping over her shoulder. The animal’s smell of grassy manure and sweat filled her with the thrill of riding. It had been too long.
Her body rocked forward and back with the rhythm of the pounding hooves. Water streaked from her eyes as she raced across the desert, dodging barrel cactuses and mesquite bushes. Her rebozo loosened and slipped to her shoulders; then the shawl untied completely and was gone. Fernanda glanced over her shoulder and saw it flutter to the ground. A laugh burst from her chest, and watching a hawk glide, dive, and then fly high into the sky, she thought, I feel as free as that bird!
The power of the horse flowed through her, charging her with the desire for adventure, her heart soaring beyond Tubac to worlds far away, worlds full of golden riches, handsome men, and green hills that rolled on forever. Worlds where she would ride, explore, and each day discover something new.
Before realizing how far she’d gone, she saw her family’s adobe hut. She tightened the reins, stopped the horse, and squinted toward the house. Her soaring heart dropped like the hawk diving to the ground. There, in front of the hut with her hands on her hips, stood her mother. Fernanda braced herself against the scowl she was sure to see on Mama’s face when she returned. The scolding words she was sure to hear.
Fernanda turned the horse around and headed back to her brother Luis, back to the presidio and the market. Keeping the animal at a respectable trot, she clenched the reins. Why did Mama insist galloping was improper? And why did Papa follow her lead when he knew Fernanda had a special way with horses?
She retrieved the rebozo and shook the dust and weeds from the rough cotton weave. Then, stopping the horse in front of Luis, she jumped to the ground and threw the reins to him. Ignoring the sound of disgust he forced from his mouth, she marched over to her mule and flung the shawl across the two baskets of vegetables slung over its back.
“I told you to be quick,” Luis said. “Nicolas is back from Horcasitas, and I promised I would safely deliver these horses to him.” He held the leads of two other horses.
Fernanda eyed in the distance the high adobe walls and closed gates of the presidio, Tubac’s military garrison. She was grateful for a chance to ride, and doubly grateful she’d been able to avoid Nicolas. After pressure from him — and Mama — she’d finally promised to set a date for their marriage once he returned from the capital.
“I’m only back this soon because Mama saw me,” Fernanda said. “I expect I’ll hear her usual lament—“ She held her head between her hands and said in a high wailing voice, “Why oh why must my daughter run around like a wild Apache?”
Luis laughed and nudged his sister. “Perhaps Mama is right. After all, a girl can never ride as well as a man.”
“And you are a man? At twelve years old?” But the truth was, even though Fernanda was three years older than Luis, someday he would have all the privileges of manhood, while she’d always simply be — a woman. She straightened her bodice and dusted off the sleeves of her blouse and her skirt. “You’d best deliver your horses, and I must sell my vegetables, or Mama will have another reason to be angry with her wild, troublesome daughter.”

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