22 March 2017

Raising Epilepsy Awareness on Purple Day




Sunday the 26th of March is Purple Day - it is a celebration aimed to raise epilepsy awareness worldwide, a condition that globally affects over 65 million people. However, did you know that dogs can be afflicted with this ailment as well? Up to six percent of the canine population suffers from a form of epilepsy. In fact, epilepsy is the most diagnosed canine neurological disease. This is only a rough estimate since many cases of canine epilepsy remain undiscovered by the respective canine parents as dogs often experience their fits when they are inactive, late at night or during the early morning hours. So, throw on a purple shirt and let's raise epilepsy awareness for all sufferers, human and canine alike!

What is Canine Epilepsy?

Epilepsy manifests in terrifying ways, causing a dog to experience sudden, uncontrolled convulsions. First recognized in ancient times, Hippocrates referred to epilepsy as the “sacred” disease. However, nothing about it seems sacred! Watching a beloved companion suffer a seizure can be an extremely traumatic event. Learning to live with an animal with complex health issues is never easy. In general, we distinguish between two types of epilepsy - genetic and idiopathic. 

Genetic epilepsy is passed down from one generation to the next, and certain dog breeds are more prone to this form of epilepsy than others. 

Idiopathic Epilepsy is caused by unknown factors, and it is often difficult to predict what will trigger the next seizure or when.

Living with a dog that has epilepsy can be a daunting prospect, but with some help from a veterinarian and much planning, epileptic dogs can live a relatively normal, happy and meaningful life.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Has a Seizure?

If your dog has a seizure or a cluster of seizures, let your vet know about it. It's highly recommended to keep a journal and write down anything remotely connected to the event. You may include any other information relevant to your dog's seizure(s). A diary like this can be extremely helpful in diagnosing and treating your dog's epilepsy. Another useful tool for your veterinarian could be a video of a seizure as it happens. Here are just a few important pieces of information to include:

- At what time did the seizure occur? 
- Duration of the seizure(s)?  
- What was your dog doing before the seizure occurred? 
- Did your dog eat or do anything different that day? 
- What medications were given if any?

If you witness your dog's seizure, there are some things you can do to ensure your furry companion's safety. 

- Make sure they don't fall off a bed or down the stairs. 
- Remain calm during the seizure. Your canine companion can sense when you are nervous or upset. 
- Talk to your dog calmly during the epileptic episode.
- Don't attempt to restrain your dog during a seizure. 
- It is not unusual for your dog to urinate, defecate or salivate excessively during a seizure.  
- Do not place your hand on or near your dog's mouth during a seizure. Dogs have no control over their bodies during an epileptic episode and will sometimes clench their jaws which could lead to an accidental dog bite. 

After a seizure, your canine companion might feel disoriented, thirsty or even hungry. They may restlessly pace back and forth. Some dogs take as long as 24 hours or more to completely recover from a seizure; some dogs recover quicker than others. Remember, each dog is unique, and no case of canine epilepsy is exactly the same. 

What I would like everyone to remember on Epilepsy Awareness Day is this...it is not the end of the world if your dog has epilepsy. Yes, it is challenging to live with canine epilepsy, and there's no cure for this condition. However, it can be managed. There may be bumps in the road along your journey together, but you can get through it. Just take a deep breath and deal with it one day at a time.

For more information about Purple Day, Purple Day events or epilepsy, please visit www.purpleday.org. 





Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. 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+.

15 March 2017

Writers...What's New With You?





I'm keeping this week's post short and sweet, as it is a crazy busy month for me. But I am curious to hear from my fellow writers out there, what you've been up to lately. Are you actively engaged in writing a new book, novel, short story, etc.? Sorting out your marketing plan? Researching material for a new story? Tell us all about it in the comment section! 

As for me, I’m in the midst of editing my first political romance novel, set in 19th century Austria, while researching my next historical fiction mystery. 






Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. 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+.

08 March 2017

Elements of a Book Cover





As I get closer and closer to publishing my newest historical fiction novel The Country Girl Empress, the question of what kind of book cover it should have came up. With a little care a book cover can produce big results. Look at lots of book covers for inspiration. A stunning book cover is the dream of every author, traditional or indie. Whether you create the cover yourself or hire someone, there are certain basic elements you should keep in mind:


The Book Title

Make your book title big and bold, as many people browse for their next book to read on their mobile devices. The best book covers have a large, easy-to-read title. This makes it much easier for readers to identify the book. Reduce your cover design on-screen to the size of a thumbnail and see if you can still read it. If not, you might want to simplify it.


The Cover Image

The book cover should focus on one idea or image. Sometimes illustrations work better than photographs, as they often indicate that a book is of a non-fiction nature. Simple and striking works best. There is no need to put an image of every character, setting and theme on the front cover. Your book will do that for you. Your aim should be to entice your reader into picking up the book. Don’t give away the ending on your cover! White backgrounds will most likely make your book disappear, as it will more often than not be displayed against a white backdrop.

The Author

The author’s name is considered, by many, the third most important element on a cover after the title and the central image. Don't be afraid to display it in a prominent manner!

If your biography is part of the cover, it should be brief. It is important to emphasize the areas of yourself that resonate with the book and with the times. If you have other published works, consider mentioning them, as this adds to your credibility. Keep in mind that you only have this little biography write-up and your picture to introduce yourself to the reader. Which brings me to my next point...

Don't forget about the author portrait! While an author photo is not always used, it is a chance to add your personality to the book. Readers have a natural curiosity to see what the writer looks like. Get a professional portrait, if possible. Are you writing a book about animals? Then have a photographer take a picture of you with your pet. Are you writing a gardening book? Then perhaps a photo of yourself surrounded by oodles of flowers would be a good idea. No matter the circumstances, the author should always look approachable and respectable.


Colour

We are all familiar with the effects of colour on emotions. So, don’t forget about it when you are thinking about a cover design. I try to avoid white backgrounds, which disappear on retailer’s white screens. I prefer to use a colour, texture, or background illustration instead. If you don’t feel comfortable picking colours, look at some colour palettes for inspiration. 


Typography

Use a font that is easy to read. It makes no sense to use a font that’s unreadable when it’s reduced. Watch out for script typefaces, you know, the kind that look like elegant lace at full size; they tend to disappear when small.

Certain font choices are often associated with certain genres. For example: Popular fiction aimed at female readers uses a lot of handwriting fonts. Historical fiction books should fit the time period. Romance novels often uses cursive or decorative scripts, and thrillers are often in all caps Sans Serif. 

Book Blurb

Look at many samples. Browse online in your genre and select the ones you find most intriguing. Analyze the structure and which words have the most impact.

Keep your book blurb short; 100 to 200 words are usually sufficient. Use short sentences; readers are usually just skimming through text, so the easier it is to read your blurb, the more enticing it will be.

Tell the readers about the main character(s). Readers often look to identify with a central protagonist.

This might seem like a no-brainer but avoid story spoilers or summarize the entire story line, even though it might be very tempting.  You wouldn't want to give the whole story away beforehand. What motivation would there be left for anyone to read your book if they already know how the story ends?!

Genere

The book cover should show which genre the book belongs to. A good book cover "speaks" to its readers through the typography, title, and imagery.


I hope you found this short list at least somewhat useful. Since it isn't all inclusive, feel free to add to it in the comment section!





Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. 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+.



04 March 2017

Happy Grammar Day!





According to the smart folks at daysoftheyear.com, it is National Grammar Day. It is observed in the United States on March 4th of each year since its designation in 2008.

Let's celebrate by dotting our I's and crossing our T's....or is it the other way around!? Just kidding! I try to watch out for those apostrophes, and make sure that I correctly use punctuation and structure my sentences properly. Sometimes with great success, other times not as much. That's why I like to work closely with an editor and often times use online grammar checkers, such as grammarly.com and editminion.com.

How do you keep grammatical errors at bay?  =)




Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. 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+.

01 March 2017

Top 5 Blog Posts for February 2017





Hello March! Can you believe it, February has already come and gone! Amazing how quickly it passed, and springtime is just around the corner again. Oh, how I look forward to the green grass and spending a lot more time outdoors. But, before I get sidetracked, it's time to recap last month. And now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for February 2017, 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 Writing!




Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. 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+.


22 February 2017

Self-Editing Tips for Writers





As most of my readers already know, I'm in the midst of editing my next historical fiction piece The Country Girl Empress. With that in mind, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some tips and tricks that help me along the way to polish my writing.

Take a Break

After finishing your initial draft put it aside for a day, a week, a month or however long you need to return to it with fresh eyes.

Structure the Task

Tackle the largest tasks first, such as plot structure. Once you are satisfied with it, move on to the smaller details, like grammar, style, and punctuation.

Use Online Tools

Don't be afraid to utilize online tools, such as grammarly.com or hemingwayapp.com to discover which sentences might be difficult to read, improve your vocabulary and check for contextual spelling. While these online tools do not replace a flesh and blood editor, they can certainly help along the way. 

Read Aloud

It might sound strange, but read your work aloud; you can even record your own voice. Hearing the rhythm of the words can help you edit the flow. Sometimes it's easier to hear the mistakes than to see them. 

Check the Tense

Errors in tense can sneak up on anyone when in the midst of writing. Double-check to make sure you didn't inadvertently switch back and forth. 

Change it up

After reading the same text over and over again, you begin to see what you want to see. Try reading from back to front to uncover previously undiscovered errors. 

Be Ruthless

Do not be afraid to cut passages from your manuscript that just don't work! So it doesn't feel like a complete loss, paste the cut passages to a blank document for future reference. 

Change the Look

Modify the font, colour and/or font size to give you a new perspective. The altered appearance could help you see the text in a different light.


Since my list of self-editing tips is not all inclusive, I would love to hear what works for you. Please feel free to add to this list in the comment section!




Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. 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+.


13 February 2017

Today is International Epilepsy Day





Changing things up this week for a cause near and dear to my heart. While I normally post to my blog on Wednesdays, I decided to publish this article on International Epilepsy Day. It is a joint initiative sponsored by the International Bureau for Epilepsy and the International League Against Epilepsy. It is a global event which takes place on the second Monday of February each year and highlights epilepsy and those affected by it...not just the patient, but their families, too. 

Not only humans can be affected by this neurological disorder; dogs can suffer from it as well. As many of my readers know, my furry friends, Lana and Darren were diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of four and two, yet they both lived life to the fullest! While I managed to keep them relatively healthy for little over four years, Lana and Darren did battle with plenty of side effects from their meds, but won many of them just as any Epi-warrior would. Supplements, along with lots of love and conventional epilepsy treatments, helped my furry friends every step of the way. They loved to travel, run around and play, or just relax in front of the fireplace. I loved them with all my heart, and they loved life!

Although this is not my first epilepsy awareness blog post that I've written without my beloved Epi-warriors Lana and Darren by my side, it's still not easy. It's downright hard, even though I have new furry loves in my life. Thankfully they are seizure-free...knock on wood! I love to look at old photos and videos of my former furry companions before they left to cross the Rainbow Bridge. They were happy and mostly healthy, with a great zest for life. It makes me smile (and sometimes cry) to look at those memories of Lana and Darren, but I hope their message will continue to offer hope to other Epi-warriors and their families. 

Please know that you are not alone with this monster called Epilepsy, and that such a diagnosis is not the end! There is support out there, with many other Epi-warrior parents, veterinarians and other resources available to share their insights, experiences and information. I have shared many resources and websites in the back of my book, Living with Canine Epilepsy, for that very reason. And if you can't find what you are looking for then ask around...I'm sure there is someone out there who can help. 

So, my message for today is this: Keep calm and get the facts...Dogs with Canine Epilepsy can lead Happy and Meaningful Lives! 






Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. 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+.