Featured Writer on Wellness: Abbie Williams

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on May 24, 2017 • views: 1443

Abbie PalominoThey say that memory and emotion are deeply connected to our olfactory senses.

Wandering through the grocery store not too long ago I caught a sudden scent of perfume and was instantly whisked backward in time, to the summer I worked in Park County, Wyoming and shared a single bathroom with nine other girls in our bunkhouse.

Was the lingering essence in the otherwise empty aisle Essence of Green Tea, or maybe Rice Flower? Of course the name doesn’t matter, but I marveled that the faintest hint of fragrance so quickly transported all of my senses to another place and time.

Surely it hasn’t been twenty years since I lived in the foothills of the Rockies…right? Right?

Writing Transports Me Through Time

The same phenomenon occurs when I write, this vivid and welcome transplanting of my senses to centuries and landscapes far removed from my writing desk, which is a repurposed antique Singer sewing machine.

For me, writing is as necessary as breathing; ever since I was a little girl I’ve had stories in my head. In those days I would curl up on an old sling-back chair under the lilac hedge in our backyard and fill notebooks with adventures, the action typically set during the nineteenth century, which remains my favorite era to explore in fiction.

Nowadays, many decades later, I use a laptop stationed on my desk (not nearly as romantic as writing longhand beneath the purple sweetness of a lilac hedge—talk about a scent sweeping me backward in time!) and spend six to eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, typing.

I prefer writing without an outline, instead diving straight into a story and running with it, then revisiting the manuscript later to edit and revise. For me, this process just feels more natural.

Violet, with one of our hens, Hazel.

Violet, with one of our hens, Hazel.

Incorporate Colors in Your Workspace to Evoke Emotions

I keep my writing area lovely and cozy—desk positioned near the window where I can look out at my garden and maple trees, its surface cluttered by small trinkets dear to my heart, including an embroidered placemat which serves as a coaster for my coffee mug and allows my laptop to swivel as needed on the satiny wood.

My corkboard is covered by poems I love, pictures of my three daughters, bits of dried flowers, cards I’ve received, and print-outs of encouraging emails from fellow authors or readers; keeping fresh flowers and potted herbs nearby is a must, my favorite including daisies, sage, thyme, lemon basil, and bee balm.

My favorite colors are rich, creamy yellow, sky blue, red so scarlet you can taste it, and warm, earthy browns; I incorporate these colors in my workspace for the joy they provoke in me.

Cutting Gluten and Sugar from My Diet Helped Me Feel Better

During a typical workday I drink too much coffee—a conservative estimate would be eight to ten cups—and tend to skip lunch, especially if I am deep in the heart of a story.

After two decades of suffering from monthly, sometimes twice-monthly migraines, I took the advice of a nutritionist friend and cut all gluten and refined sugar from my diet. The initial difficulty of this change would require its own special post, but I stuck to it (migraine pain, after all, is an insistent, driven motivator) and have felt increasingly better, ever since.

I Fear for the Day I May Experience Wrist and Hand Pain

I never blamed the headaches on sitting stationary at a desk, but definitely appreciate the time I’ve recaptured that was once lost to sick days. I do my best to keep evenings and weekends free (even when fictitious characters are demanding acknowledgement and my fingertips tingle to get back to the keyboard).

My daughters are enthusiastic bike riders and swimmers, and therefore keep me busy. If I’m not biking with them I hike the trail near our house, preferably at twilight.

Abbie Horse BW

My neck and upper back tend to ache at the end of a long writing day; I relieve this by using a small heating pad at night.

I fear for the day when I may experience wrist or hand pain—so far I’ve avoided these; knocking on wood!

"Heart of a Dove" winning the gold medal at the 2015 IPPY awards.

“Heart of a Dove” winning the gold medal at the 2015 IPPY awards.

Writers Should Never Engage with Reviewers

For me, the writing process is all emotional; I am very good at tuning out my surroundings and falling headlong into the setting of my latest manuscript.

I have been known to cry over events in my historical series, especially when the action takes a turn I was not expecting; stories, of course, often tell themselves.

Over the years, and with wonderful advice from fellow authors, I have learned to take the positive with the negative. For instance, as a young writer I pored over every last review; these days, I don’t spend much time reading reviews. It doesn’t serve me as a writer, for one thing, and secondly, people are entitled to their opinions.

Writers should never engage with reviewers; this would be unprofessional in the extreme. Not to say it doesn’t sting to receive a negative review—it does! But it doesn’t define you as a writer. No one but you can do that.

Why Do You Stare at the Computer So Much, Mom?

A major challenge for me is sticking to a set schedule. I finally promised myself I would refuse when a story yanked me from bed at midnight to continue writing it; I find a very productive time of day, however, to be early morning.

There is a sacred hour or two to be found between four a.m. and dawn—when the kitchen is secretive and dark before you click the small light above the stove into existence and get the coffee going. A hushed expectancy holds the sleeping household in its grasp and in this window of time I write, my fingers flying over the keyboard, smelling perking coffee, watching as sunlight begins to tint the day.

I don’t write in the evenings anymore, because it was stealing time from my family. My middle daughter once asked, “Why do you stare at the computer so much, Mom?” and guilt proceeded to swamp me.

Writing is my job and I work from home, so finding and maintaining a balance between writing and real life is crucially important.

My husband and I during a summer trip to Park County, Wyoming.

My husband and I during a summer trip to Park County, Wyoming.

Advice for a Young Writer: Keep With It!

Aspiring writers probably already write, because writing is ingrained in us; I feel a kinship with anyone who has a story to tell. My advice is—keep with it! Don’t let rejections hold you back.

Writers must write and there are stories everywhere just begging to be told. Be patient, persistent, and respectful of others’ time. When querying agents or publishers do your research first; for example, is this agency or press currently seeking your manuscript’s particular genre?

Read, read, read—and engage with other readers and writers on sites such as Goodreads. There is truly no better time to be in the writing business, and authors and readers have the potential to communicate as never before.

Keep a journal and write every day, even just a few dozen words. Jot down ideas as they come. Keep a notebook in your car or handbag. Observe. Try writing a poem or essay. Experiment.

Bottom line—enjoy. Writing is a poignant, meaningful, creative outlet, and one that I could not live without.

* * *

Abbie Williams’ love of nature, changing seasons, nineteenth-century history, and steamy romance is exactly why she is addicted to writing passionate fiction centered on women. When not curled over her keyboard, you can find her taking care of  her busy family of five, tending her garden, and hanging out lakeside in her native Minnesota.

For more information on Abbie and her work, please see her website, or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.


Soul of a CrowSoul of a Crow: It is 1868 and the country is still reeling from the brutal effects of the Civil War. Lorie Blake, a war-orphan who escaped the miserable prison of her life as a prostitute in a Missouri whorehouse, now takes wing, embarking on a breathtaking overland journey northwest. With Lorie is her newfound family – brothers Boyd and Malcolm Carter, experienced horseman Sawyer Davis, and his beloved paint mare, Whistler. For the first time in years, there seems reason to hope. Thrown together by the circumstances of fate, and now deeply bound by love, each of them are determined to begin new lives as homesteaders in Minnesota.

But the past refuses to die quietly. Former Confederate soldiers Sawyer and Boyd are haunted by the scavenger-like specters of a War that refuses to stay buried, a conflict never truly put to rest. New friends emerge and old enemies arise, as ancient hatreds boil over in the hearts of the men who survived. In the face of incredible odds, Lorie must rely upon all of the emotional strength in her soul as she battles for the life of her true love, and towards the enduring promise of a new beginning in the north.

Available at Amazon.

Heart of a DoveHeart of a Dove: The Civil War has ended, leaving the country with a gaping wound. Lorie Blake, a southern orphan sold into prostitution at fifteen, has carefully guarded her aching soul from the disgrace forced upon her every evening. Two years have passed, leaving her with little hope of anything more. Meanwhile, three men – longtime friends – and a young boy with a heart of gold are traveling northward, planning to rebuild their lives in the north and leave behind the horrors of their time as soldiers in the Confederate Army.

Fate, however, has plans of its own, causing their lives to collide in a river town whorehouse. Forced to flee, Lorie escapes and joins them on the journey north. But danger stalks them all in the form of a vindictive whorehouse madam and an ex-Union soldier, insane and bent on exacting revenge. At last, Lorie must come to terms with her past and devastating secrets that she cannot yet bear to reveal.
Heart of a Dove is the first book in a gripping, sweeping romantic saga of pain, unbearable choices, loss and true love set against the backdrop of a scarred, post-Civil War America.

Available at Amazon.

A Notion of LoveA Notion of Love: Twelve years ago, Jillian Henriksen Davis cut off all her hair and placed it in her young husband’s hands as he was buried. After his tragic accident, she clung to the only remaining stability she had – her young son Clint, her family of women, and her job at their lakeside diner, the Shore Leave Café.

Now it is summer again, and change is in the hot and humid air. Jillian’s sister, Joelle, and her teenaged nieces, Camille, Tish, and Ruthann, have come home to Landon, bringing a welcome distraction.

And then there is Justin Miller, longtime family friend, brooding and sexy, but damaged after a terrible accident five years earlier. Will Jilly and Justin risk their broken hearts – and the Davis family curse – to take a chance on lasting love?

Available at Amazon.

Second Chances Second Chances: The past summer has been a wild ride for Joelle Gordon, in more ways than one. After discovering her husband cheating, she fled Chicago for her small-town childhood home in Landon, Minnesota. There, her family’s lakeside diner, the Shore Leave Café, remains unchanged.

Yet nothing else in Landon is the same, including her family of women, her three teenaged daughters, Camille, Tish, and Ruthann, and the intense, passionate love she has found with Blythe Tilson.

Now Blythe is in trouble and Jackson is back in Landon, rethinking the divorce. Joelle must face one of the most difficult and important decisions of her life – or will the Davis family curse ruin any chances of finding love?

Available at Amazon.

Shore Leave CafeSummer at the Shore Leave Cafe: Joelle Gordon is leaving Chicago and her cheating husband to head for her hometown of Landon, Minnesota. There, she returns to the Shore Leave Café, the lakeside diner the Davis women have run for decades. Joelle’s family, including her three teenaged daughters, Camille, Tish, and Ruthann, is made up of strong women who have long believed in a curse upon them – a curse that robs them of the men they love.

This summer has plenty in store for Joelle.  Finding herself confronted with the reality of single motherhood, the last thing she expects is gorgeous, passionate Blythe Tilson, a summer employee at Shore Leave, with an uncertain past. Can Joelle resist the temptation of a younger man, and does she dare to consider loving someone again, or will the Davis family curse prove all too true?

A story about heartbreak, blame, family, destiny, and the difficulties of returning home, Summer at the Shore Leave Café is the first book in the Shore Leave series.

Available at Amazon.

 

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  1. Michelle says:

    What a great interview/article. Loved the pictures too.