13 June 2018

Writing a Novel: Is a Physical Description Enough When Developing Your Characters?


When I begin to write a new story, one of the first things I attempt to do is imagine what my characters might look like. I find it sometimes difficult to bring my books' characters to life if I don't know what they look like. Granted, since I mostly write historical fiction, it's relatively easy to find pictures of my main characters online, but the rest is usually up to my imagination. 

But stories almost always have more than just a few main characters, and I find there are numerous ways to develop the appearance of the supporting characters beyond their eye and hair colour. Often times I like to make notes of details such as the character's height, weight, body type, or other unique physical traits for reference.

Although part of the description, include eye and hair colour it is so easy to rely on such physical characteristics that we might be tempted to neglect everything else.  But how can writers go beyond the obvious? 

Here are some methods that have worked for me so far:

1. Main characters will, more than likely, need a description of their hair and eyes and so much more to help our readers visualize our main characters right from the start, instead of leaving them confused for halfway through the book and then spring an image on them that might not match what they've already visualized. 

2. Supporting characters descriptions can probably do without hair and eye colour unless one or both play a role in the plot. Otherwise, why even bother mentioning them? Writers can use much more creative ways to describe them...with traits that add to the story in some peculiar and memorable way, such as mood, or tension. 

3. Give your characters unique tags, something that will help the reader identify a character throughout the book. It can be something simple such as a physical abnormality such as a beet red face or a wart on the tip of the nose. Give the character a tick such as a catchphrase which only one character uses throughout the story. Your character could also be plagued by extreme shyness, or have a bad habit such as nail-biting. While these tags can be incredibly useful, it's important not to over-use them. It can become tiring when you mention these tags every time a character makes an appearance. And that leads me to my last point...

4. Ultimately, the physical description is only the tip of the iceberg in bringing a character to life, and their actions will always be more memorable than the words they speak. It is also important to show how our characters react to certain situations, what their goals, and dreams are, etc. All of these things combined, help build an impression in the reader’s mind about who the characters really are.

What unique ways have you developed to describe the characters in your fiction writing? Feel free to share your writing experience with us in the comment section!


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added two historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty and The Country Girl Empress. When she isn't busy typing away 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 LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.

06 June 2018

Month in Review - May 2018



Hello June! I still cannot believe that the month of May has come and gone already. Summertime is here, and the outdoor fun has just begun. But, before I get sidetracked by my newest gardening projects, it's time to recap last month. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for May 2018, chosen by you, the readers:



Thank you for reading my blog! Please feel free to come by often to catch up on my latest endeavours and Happy Reading!




Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added two historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty and The Country Girl Empress. When she isn't busy typing away 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 LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.

30 May 2018

Canine Summertime Fun - Summertime Safety


With this past Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer right around the corner, I decided to write another article about a subject matter near and dear to my heart. As most of my readers know, I am a devoted pet owner, and I just adore my furry children.

Summertime means lots of fun in the sun for us and our four-legged family members….well, that is when the weather plays along. While long days are spent frolicking outdoors creates many priceless memories, it can also pose hidden dangers to your fur babies. However, when you follow common sense, you can ensure everyone, including your pet(s), enjoy summer safely.

Please, do not leave your animal companion in the car!

I have read the heart-breaking story too many times. Someone’s beloved pet was found dead in a vehicle, even though the pet parent was only gone for a short period. Even with the windows cracked, the inside of a car can heat up in a matter of minutes. Leaving the A/C running also does not guarantee your furry companion’s safety. If you are planning on running errands to places that do not allow pets on their premises, consider keeping them at home. You would not leave a human baby in the car with the windows cracked open! Then why would you do that to a furry baby? 

Hydration is key! 

Pets that spend time outdoors in the heat require plenty of water. To avoid dehydration, always bring fresh water with you and offer it to your pet at least every half hour. There are many styles of portable dog bowls available that are convenient to carry in a small handbag; some dogs even learn how to drink from a bottle and water packs.  

Pets can get sunburned, too!

Dogs and cats are susceptible to the same damage from ultraviolet rays just like we are. This is especially so for white or light-colored pets and areas of the body with thin hair, such as the nose, ears, and bellies. It might look a bit silly, but a light T-Shirt can help protect them, along with some pet-safe sunscreen. 

It's time to chill out!

The amount of time a dog can exercise in the warm weather depends on several factors: How long and often has the animal been exposed to hot temperatures, the animal's current health and fitness level, and hydration status.

In general, once it gets above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, dog owners should be cautious when exercising their dog outdoors. For most of them, moderate activity for thirty minutes is safe. When the temperature exceeds 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it is probably best for pet and pet parent to skip the outdoor workout until it cools down.

If your dog displays rapid or labored breathing, starts to resist walking or acts depressed, your dog may be overheating. In these cases, stop, rest, and re-hydrate. This does not mean you need to cease exercising because your dog is panting, just be mindful of your dog's behavior. Watch him/her carefully to determine if the panting is excessive or abnormal. When in doubt, take a break!

Water safety

Many pet owners enjoy taking their animal companions to the beach for a dip or a boat ride. Such activities are great ways to bond with your furry children. I love to include my pets in outdoor fun whenever possible, but not every animal is a strong swimmer. When you plan to take your pet in the water or on a boat, please consider the use of a pet flotation vest.  The ones with a sturdy, convenient handle will allow you to safely retrieve your companion should he/she get tuckered out from swimming or fall overboard. Fun in the sun can get hot, so remember to provide plenty of shade and lots of drinking water during your outings.

After an enjoyable day in the water, you might want to give your dog's coat a quick rinse with plenty of clean, fresh water and some pet shampoo. Don't forget to clean and dry the ears (especially the floppy ones) with an ear cleaning solution! Ear infections are often caused by allowing moisture to remain in the ears after swimming or bathing.

Summertime is a great time of the year for people and their pets. The activities you share with your furry companions this season will last a lifetime. Be smart, and stay safe!


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added two historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty and The Country Girl Empress. When she isn't busy typing away 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 LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.

23 May 2018

8 Practical Ways to Support Your Favourite Author



Writing a book takes many hours and dedication. Often it takes an author away from their loved ones. Most writers get paid much less than you might think; most of them write because they love to tell a story. The one or two dollars they make in royalties per book barely buys that next cup of coffee that fuels the next chapter. 

It's not a get-rich-quick scheme...it's a labour of love, and a complete stranger can pull them into the depths of despair or lift them up with just one review. It can take months and sometimes even years to write a book. It takes even longer to design the cover artwork, edit the contents and then publish it. After that most authors have to give up even more of their precious spare time to market and promote their book(s). Please give something back in return!

Of course, the best support is actually to read the author's writings. And if you truly enjoyed the book, you’ll do the author a huge favour by taking your support one step further. Without a doubt, a reader’s word-of-mouth promotion still has an enormous influence. 

But your support doesn’t necessarily require tremendous effort on your part such as writing a blog post. Some of the most effective ways to show your support only require a few minutes of your precious time.

I've put together a few short but sweet ways that readers have done for my writings, and which I would urge all avid readers to do in support of their favourite author(s):




1. Write a review and post it on your blog, Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes&Noble.com or some other sites. Even if it's just two sentences. Author's thrive on feedback! You don't even have to invent a new review for each website, just copy and paste your original review....there's nothing wrong with that. On a side note: If you’re a writer, do not hesitate to use your author name when writing reviews. This can give your name extra exposure.  

2. Tweet your praise about the book! You might only have 140 characters available, but if you really love a book, it doesn't take many words to convey your enthusiasm.  

3. Post a comment about the book on Facebook or copy the one you just wrote on Twitter. Twitter streams seem to move on quickly, but on Facebook, news has the ability to stick around a tad bit longer. 

4. Click the “Like” button...on your favourite author's Amazon page, Facebook fan page, their website or blog. Every little bit helps!

5. Tell your local library or bookstore about the book and ask them to carry it. First, it would probably be prudent to check if they have the book already; many libraries and bookstores allow you to look it up online. If it's not in stock, you can personally request the book.

6. After you finished reading your newest favourite book, pass it along to a friend or a family member, and ask them to pass it along when they’re done as well.

7. Or better yet, purchase the book as a birthday gift for friends and family...for anniversaries, Mother’s Day, or any special occasion. Books make great gifts! 

8. Remember to pass on your love of the book.  Tell your friends and family members how much you liked the book and why. Word-of-mouth is still the best way to support an author! The more people hear about a certain book, the greater the chances that they'll pick up a copy of it.

I'd like to take this opportunity to send out a heartfelt Thank You to all those readers who have supported me in one way or another over the years! It means the world to me, and I appreciate every single effort you've made on my behalf!

What are some other ways readers can help support their favourite author(s)? Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section!


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added two historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty and The Country Girl Empress. When she isn't busy typing away 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 LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.

16 May 2018

Protect Your Files! How Often Should You Backup Your Computer?



I realize that this is not necessarily a post about writing, but a question many IT guys get to answer on a frequent basis. However, as writers we accumulate many files over the course of writing just one book, 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 military lifestyle book "My Afghanistan Campaign Diary: Views of a Military Spouse". All too often have I heard the words from family and friends "OMG - all my stuff is gone!", but no one had backed up their information. I often 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 backup 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, Blue-ray)? Cloud server? Printed hard copies?



Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added two historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty and The Country Girl Empress. When she isn't busy typing away 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 LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.