21 August 2019

Why I Love to Write and Read Historical Fiction



Someone recently asked me during a dinner party why I decided to write historical fiction. I had, after all, up until just a couple of years ago, written nothing but non-fiction. What is it about historical fiction? What makes it so charming? And what ensures its continuing popularity? I will gladly admit that I’ve always been a bit of a history buff and enjoy researching different eras and cultures.  But my love of this genre goes well beyond that.

Why does anyone even bother reading books? What pleasure do people derive from a well-spun tale? I think most would argue that a good story takes us away from our daily hum-drum. We trust the author to provide us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a completely different world as soon as we turn the pages of a book to the first chapter.

Who among us has not imagined ourselves or our alter ego, living in another period? Perhaps we think we were born in the wrong century and believe we would have felt more at home way back when. Or maybe it's a yearning for a simpler time, or a desire to live in another country. Perhaps we're looking for an opportunity to meet our cherished heroes. Or we wish to right one of history’s horrific wrongs. After all, there have been many! If that’s you, then you are probably already a fan of historical fiction and many of its sub-genres. There are so many to choose from: Romance, horror, mysteries, tragedies, westerns, etc. set in history ready to captivate their readers and bewitch them with a sense of another time and space.

Stories from our past expose us to unfamiliar cultures, and sometimes even the strange aspects of our own. It shows us who we were as a people, but also provides a map to our future. An astute reader might even pick up on the commonality of all faiths and nations when our basic needs were exposed, rawer.

Historical fiction affords a writer the rare opportunity to right wrongs. We can create a story starring historical figures in a new light. We can restore them to life although theirs was stolen, or exact justice although they received tragic condemnation. We can even award posthumous accolades to the heroes who left us all too soon. After all, it is fiction, and nowhere does it say we can't ask: What if...? 

For a storyteller, this genre requires more research than most other forms of writing. This is my favourite stage of the writing process! I get to transport myself to that time and place in history and "experience" (albeit second-hand) the same things as the people of that time. Using modern-day phrases, or mentioning inventions that have not yet been discovered, could negate all of my efforts. However, despite the extra challenges, or possibly because of them, I feel it is also the most rewarding type of writing. It allows me to introduce the relatively unknown people and periods in history while indulging my inner history buff and storyteller in the process.


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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14 August 2019

Dog Bakery: Lip-Smacking Birthday Pupcake Recipe


Sheesh...I can't believe that I nearly forgot to post about Ava and Zoey's birthday, and the yummy pupcakes I baked for this special occasion. So, this week, instead of writing about my passion for writing, and everything associated with it, I shall share my recipe for birthday pupcakes instead.

As it has been our tradition for many years with our current furry children as well as our last two, Lana and Darren, I baked some yummy pupcakes to help us celebrate. While the baked goods were made for our furry companions and their friends, they can also be consumed by humans, although they might not be to their liking due to the lack of sugars. This recipe is a variation of the original which can be found in my book, LIVING WITH CANINE EPILEPSY.

Birthday Pupcakes

Ingredients for Pupcakes:

- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 heaping cup shredded carrots

For Frosting:

- 5 Tablespoons sour cream
- assorted fresh fruit

 Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners, spray each with nonstick cooking spray and set to the side.
3. Shred carrots and set aside.
4. With your mixer, combine peanut butter, vegetable oil, vanilla, honey, and eggs. Mix on medium speed until blended and smooth.
5. Slowly add flour and baking soda, mix on low until combined.
6. Fold in shredded carrots manually. Your mixture will be sticky.
7. Spoon mixture evenly into 6 lined muffin tins.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the “pupcake” comes out clean.
9. Remove pupcakes from oven and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.
10. Once pupcakes have cooled, frost them with sour cream and garnish with fresh fruit (I used strawberries and blueberries). This recipe yields six pupcakes. 
11. Puppies enjoy pupcakes!  =)

Our two epi-warriors, Lana and Darren always thoroughly enjoyed their baked goodies. Since neither one of our dogs showed any signs of food allergies or had any other major health concerns at the time, we didn’t think twice about the use of wheat flour in any recipes. In future versions of any homemade treats, we replaced the wheat flour with gluten-free options, such as coconut flour or rice flour.


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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07 August 2019

Month in Review - July 2019



Can you believe it's August already? Where did the time go? Before you know it, autumn will be here. But before I get sidetracked by more summertime fun, it's time to recap last month. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for July 2019, chosen by you, the readers:



A few weeks ago, my friend, freelance writer Angela Tague raised some interesting questions regarding my writing process for historical fiction, which in turn prompted me to write this article. Thank you, Angela for the inspiration!

When I first conceived the notion to write THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS series, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to cover the entire lifetime of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi), set in 19th century Vienna. While I was quite familiar with her life story and the setting already, I knew there was still so much more I needed to research about this timeframe. The question was: Where should I begin?...



T.E. Mark penned an excellent compilation of sci-fi fantasy tales with intriguing twists and turns that easily fascinates readers from the first page to the last. The author tells a series of engaging stories from revolutionary AIs to manufactured dream worlds in an incredible realistic way...



When I am out and about at events or appointments, people usually ask about my occupation as part of our small talk. When I mention that I am a writer, and I am working on my fifth historical fiction piece after writing and publishing several non-fiction books, I often get the question “So, what’s life like as a published author?” As if my life is supposed to differ dramatically from others in a very particular way...



I realize that this is not necessarily a post that exclusively pertains to writing, but it's a question many IT guys get to answer on a frequent basis. As writers we accumulate many files over the course of writing just one book,  such as manuscripts, research, photos, etc. and without them we wouldn't be able to write/publish our books, articles, short stories, etc. nearly as fast...



A few weeks ago I received a private FB message from an aspiring writer named Jennifer who asked: “I just graduated from high school and will start college this autumn, and I've been contemplating making writing a career. I just love to write, but I also know that a writing career can be rough, so I'm not sure if I would make it in the publishing world. Can you give me some advice? I don't know what to do.”...



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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31 July 2019

Protecting Your Data! How Often Should I Back Up My Computer Files?


I realize that this is not necessarily a post that exclusively pertains to writing, but it's a question many IT guys get to answer on a frequent basis. As writers we accumulate many files over the course of writing just one book,  such as manuscripts, research, photos, etc. and without them we wouldn't be able to write/publish our books, articles, short stories, etc. nearly as fast.

I first contemplated this subject matter seriously while I was still in the process of writing my first book, ONE RV, THREE PEOPLE AND 6000 MILES. All too often have I heard the words from fellow writers, family members and friends "OMG - all my stuff is gone!", but no one had backed up their information. I frequently worry about losing one of my manuscripts due to some sort of computer malfunction. Consequently, I began to back up my work at least once a day, utilizing several different methods, including external hard drives and USB sticks.

Consider where your business (and yes, writing/publishing is a business!) would be if all your data was lost due to a natural disaster or some other catastrophic event. Your list of contacts is gone. Billing records have disappeared. Financial records, family photos, manuscripts are all gone. Due to the importance of data protection, it is surprising to note that data loss remains a major problem.

However, natural disasters aren't the only threats that you should be aware of. System or hardware failure account for a significant number of data losses, plus software corruption, viruses, etc., and then, of course, there's also human error.

The only way to protect yourself against the loss of valuable data is by regularly backing up your files. It is recommended to back up critical data a minimum of once a week, preferably once a day. Many personal possessions can be replaced, but old family photos, for example, are irreplaceable in most cases. Knowing that there is a copy of your photos, financial records, tax files, personal documents, and yes, even book manuscripts, can be very comforting in the case of a crash, a natural disaster, or a spilled cup of coffee.

What do you do to ensure your work is safe? Which medium do you prefer? External hard drive, USB stick, discs (CD, DVD, Blu-ray)? Cloud server? Printed hard copies?



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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24 July 2019

#WritersLife: Is It All You Thought it Would Be?


When I am out and about at events or appointments, people usually ask about my occupation as part of our small talk. When I mention that I am a writer, and I am working on my fifth historical fiction piece after writing and publishing several non-fiction books, I often get the question “So, what’s life like as a published author?” As if my life is supposed to differ dramatically from others in a very particular way. 

Occasionally my replies will include something profound such as “It keeps me busy” or “It is a lot of hard work.” The trouble is, there is no easy standard answer to this question. At least not one that would be short enough for small talk. I’ve been writing for several years now, and I’ve learned a ton about the business. Of course, there’s always more to learn! Moreover, while I believe I have grown as a writer, there will always be room for improvement.

On a professional level: There are plenty of days when it seems nearly impossible to juggle my job and my writing career.  Writing a book takes many hours and dedication. Often it takes me away from my loved ones even longer than my daytime occupation. Most of the time I get paid much less than you might think; I write because I love to tell a story. The few dollars I make in royalties per book barely pays for my next cup of coffee that fuels the next chapter. Writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme nor is it the road to instant fame…it is a labour of love. It can take months and sometimes even years to write one book.

The thing I did not think much about when I began to write books - it takes even longer to design the cover artwork, edit the contents and then have my work published. After that, I have to give up even more of my precious spare time to market and promote my books. I’ve also come to understand that it takes a lot of time to build a readership. Now you might wonder why anyone would put themselves through this rigmarole!? The answer is simple: There is something heartwarming when a reader drops you a line to tell you how much they enjoyed your writing. It is immensely uplifting to know that you made someone smile with your book. When you love spinning stories, the process of writing is incredibly satisfying.

On a personal note: Writing has turned into something more for me than just a hobby. Even though it is not my primary business, it is indeed evolving into such. There are days when I cannot spend tremendous amounts of time with family and friends or shower my furry children with a lot of attention. Of course, there's always time for a quick belly rub! Or keep my home as clean and organized as I would like it to be, much to my dismay. It makes my brain itch when my house is not spit-spot! However, at the end of the day, it makes me happy to see all those words that I poured onto a piece of paper or more precisely onto a computer screen.

So, what is my life as a writer like? I might not be famous, nor has it made me rich (at least, not yet!), but it makes me happy. Moreover, while no crowds are standing in line, waiting for my autograph, I feel blessed to have this crazy, fulfilling writer's life!

To my fellow writers: Is your writing life what you expected? To my readers: Are you surprised by any of this or did you think it would be more glamorous?


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebook, and Goodreads.
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