I don't want to copy the entire articles, of course, but I''ve included links to the full article. I'll only copy here the parts releating to Rightfully Mine. But I recommend studying Linda's how-tos. Her explanations are vivid and easily understood. She has the gift of teaching.
Excerpted from Playing For Keeps II,Keep the Characters in the Setting:
Sometimes, though, the setting is unfamiliar to your reader and it is necessary to describe it with more detail. When that’s the case, remember a couple of side “keeps”: Keep it short, and keep the character out of it until you’re ready for action. In her Rightfully Mine, Aggie Villanueva provides the perfect example of this:
It was inconceivable that after forty years of chastisement in the Zin desert and the recent military successes in the Transjordan hills, the wandering nation of Israel could succumb to the temptations offered by the Moabite and Midianite women, but the tomb-like encampment attested to the sin. As a result, hundreds and thousands of sprawling black tents suffocated their inhabitants with the lingering, putrid taste of the death within them.
The vast camp of Israel lay crippled by plague. They huddled piteously beneath arcing acacia branches along the oasis-like steam of Abel Shittim, the only shelter available in the scorching summer sands of the Moab plains. Israel was halted only a few miles east of the Jordan they yearned to cross.
In the southwest corner of camp, among the tribe of Manasseh, Rizpah, the second-born of Zelophehad, grabbed a leather pail from a peg on the center pole of her family’s tent.
This is the novel’s opening scene. Ordinarily, beginning a book with description is a sure-fire way to have the agent roll his eyes and tap the “delete” button. But Aggie’s is different. In two short paragraphs, she sets the tone, provides the history, and paints a picture. Then she brings in her main character and puts the story into action. Notice how she introduces her character: Rizpah is getting a leather pail from a tent pole. Aggie is still describing her setting, but she is doing it through Rizpah's actions.
Excerpted from Playing For Keeps III,
For another example, let’s go back to Aggie Villanueva’s Rightfully Mine:
The distant stare vanished from Hanniel’s eyes with a bow of his head toward Mahlah. “You are too kind. I am ever your servant and my tongue is your slave,” he forced gaiety as he handed her his bowl of shelled almonds, “for I live for another of your paste-buns.”
Mahlah’s laugh was strained. “Ah, but Rizpah taught me how to make them.”
“And what are you hiding from me, little cousin? I thought you could not cook.”
Rizpah’s response was to quicken her pace. Mahlah lifted her pestle at Rizpah’s retreating back as if to speak, then clamping her mouth shut pulverized another mortar full of almonds. “You must be very lonely, with your sisters and their families all away at Gilead,” she said to Hanniel at length.
There is much more going on in this scene than just making almond paste buns, but the detailed activity of pulverizing almonds with pestle and mortar keeps the reader immersed in the scene, even more than just the unusual Israeli names.
When a reader feels she is “right in the action,” it isn’t because of long descriptive passages, but because of the detailed props salting the scene.