08 April 2020

My Musings on Writing Historical Fiction



When I began to write, I focused on non-fiction, military lifestyle, and canine health to be more precise. Four years into publishing, I added my debut novel IN THE SHADOW OF HER MAJESTY,  a Tudor whodunit, to my expanding collection of scribbles. Set in 16th century England, it seeks to solve the circumstances of Lady Amy Dudley's untimely death. What is it about historical fiction that makes it so charming? And what ensures its continuing popularity? I had, after all, up until just recently, written nothing but non-fiction.  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.

These days I write primarily biographical historical women’s fiction, with my current focus on 19th century Austria. I know, it's quite a time shift, but, so far, it's been an enjoyable one. When I first started on the path of writing historical fiction, I wanted to explore history, religion, people, and combine it with a touch of mystery. But these days, I am much more focused. And yes, I was partly influenced by market trends, but ultimately it was the subject matter I found most intriguing. It’s one thing to write historical fiction and speculate about the suspicious circumstances of Lady Amy Dudley's sudden demise within the confines of one book. However, it’s quite another to write about one of the most beautiful and fascinating women of her time, and turn it into a series that can hold readers' attention.

My debut novel is set in Tudor England. I was quite enamored with the drama and formality of it, and intrigued by this historic "unsolved murder case". I also liked the fact that although the political situation seemed so far removed from our own, it was still relevant. Some things just haven't changed all that much. My most recent work is set in 19th century Vienna, spanning the years 1837 to 1898. Yes, the series will come to an end just before World War I. Did I just give away the ending? Not really, since the destiny of such a prominent historical figure, such as Empress Elisabeth of Austria (affectionately referred to as "Sisi"), can be easily researched.

You may wonder how I went from writing about events during the reign of the last Tudor monarch to focusing on one of the most powerful empires on the European continent. Well, in my mind, it made perfect sense, since one is a stand-alone novel, the other a series of books about a woman whose life I've always found intriguing. And while Empress Elisabeth was, for the most part, not politically involved, she was one of the best equestriennes of her time, quite an athlete, and an active philanthropist. Her political ambitions were discouraged by her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie, early on in Sisi's marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I. I suppose I've always been a bit of royalist. After all, royals are the original superstars whose lives have fascinated people from all walks of life for centuries. Needless to say, researching Sisi's life has been and still is exciting.

People often ask me the value and purpose of historical fiction, and if I've changed my mind about it over time. To me, historical fiction is not only entertainment but also an art form. Does it really need to have another purpose or value 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.

Historical fiction can also educate readers. As writers of this genre, we can, if we’re fortunate enough, even make contributions to the historical record because novelists often ask different questions than historians tend to do. We are not bound by the limits of pure historical facts. We can even go so far as to ask: What if...? 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 on their behalf, although they received tragic condemnation. We can even award posthumous accolades to the heroes who left us all too soon.

Why am I so passionate about historical fiction!? I feel strongly about preserving the biographical portion of historical novels as an art form. It makes me unhappy every time a historical fiction writer has to justify him/herself. Like so many of us, I’ve often been asked with all this research, why wouldn't I just write a history book or biography instead of a piece of fiction? Because I believe that some tales can only be told in a responsible fashion in the form of a novel. Not to mention that history books are typically dry reading material, which just isn't my style.

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 writer in the process.


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. 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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01 April 2020

Month in Review - March 2020



A quarter of this year has already come and gone, and Easter is right around the corner. Can you believe it!? But before time runs away again, let's recap last month. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for March 2020, chosen by you, the readers:

1. Break Out the Champagne: It's Time for a Book Launch Celebration



Today I celebrate another significant milestone! Today, the fourth book in my Country Girl Empress series, EXCERPTS FROM THE IMPERIAL DIARY hits virtual bookshelves! I still can't quite believe it myself...this is so exciting. The book is centered around real historical figures such as Empress Elisabeth of Austria, her husband Emperor Franz Joseph I, and their children. Come join them as their story continues! Naturally, I fictionalized the story and filled it with page-turning adventures, some danger, and a hint of romance... 

2. Book Review of Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl by Marian Longenecker Beaman



Ms. Marian Beaman's memoir shares the heartwarming story of a spunky plain girl that longs to be fancy. She paints images with her words of the happiness and disappointments associated with growing up as a Mennonite in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Although I was aware of the Mennonites and some of the restrictions they place on their church members...

3. Purple Day 2020 - Raising Epilepsy Awareness



Tomorrow, 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...

4. #WritersLife: How to Develop an Effective Writing Habit



As long as I can remember I’ve always admired writers who can crank out thousands of words per day. When writing was merely my hobby, I often struggled to carve out time to write in between my day job, family, and life in general. But since writing has developed into something more I've learned that developing a daily writing habit helps to 1) make more money with your writing, 2) consistently produce quality content, and ultimately 3) achieve your writing goals...

5. #WritersLife: How to Write a Book in 14 Steps - Part Two


Welcome back to part two of #WritersLife: How to Write a Book in 14 Steps! One of the first questions I get from people when they find out I'm a writer is: How do you write a book? This article is meant to take the mystery out of the process a bit one part at a time...


Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. 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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25 March 2020

Purple Day 2020 - Raising Epilepsy Awareness


Tomorrow, 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.

How to Help Your Pup Through a Seizure

Whether your canine companion has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder or just experienced his/her first epileptic episode, it can be challenging to keep your wits about you during such a heartbreaking event. 

I took care of my two epi-warriors, Lana and Darren, for over four years, and today I'd like to share my basic practices for protecting your furry friend from coming to harm and minimizing the effects of a seizure with you.

Protecting your dog from injury during a seizure is essential. Many dogs will give off physical as well as behavioral indicators before convulsions begin (pre-ictal phase). If you notice signs of agitation or distress such as heavy panting, whining, or incessant pacing, lead your dog to a safe location, if possible, before the seizure begins.

Spaces away from staircases, furniture, and cables are best. If at all possible, clear the area of items that could potentially injure your pup or may be knocked over such as breakables, decorations, candles, hard or sharp-edged furniture. If your dog is laying on the sofa or bed, lower your friend to the floor to prevent a fall, if it is safe to do so. Make hardwood and tile floors more comfortable with towels and blankets.


Please, do not attempt to move your dog if the seizure has already begun! Instead, improvise by padding the area and blocking off potential hazards with towels, cushions, and blankets as your dog may be thrashing about, banging its head on a hard surface.

During a seizure, your canine’s brain is flooded with abnormal electrical impulses. Any additional stimuli in the form of bright light, loud noises or excessive touching can actually prolong its duration. While it is our instinctual need comfort our furry friends during a time of distress, please rest assured, that your pup is not in pain and is more than likely unaware of what's happening. 

Many times, dogs will bite the inside of their mouths during an epileptic episode, but it is physically nearly impossible to swallow or choke on their own tongue. So please, keep your hands out of your dog's mouth! Your furry friend has no control over their body during a seizure, and you would only end up getting inadvertently bitten. 


You can make the surrounding area more peaceful by:

- Removing other pets and people
- Turning down/off the TV or radio
- Dimming the lights/closing the curtains
- Not touching the dog
- Remain calm

While every second of a fit can seem like an eternity, in reality, they usually only last a few minutes. Most vets recommend timing the duration of the seizure(s) to determine if it is an emergency. It might also be useful to film the seizure, as it may provide helpful information to your veterinarian.

Although most seizures are not life-threatening, they do indicate an underlying medical problem. If your pup experiences a seizure for the first time or has possibly been exposed to a toxic substance, seek veterinary attention immediately. For animals with a diagnosed seizure disorder, the rule of thumb is: It's an emergency when an epileptic episode last longer than five minutes or the dog has more than three seizures within 24 hours.

For epi-warriors with recurring seizures, it can be helpful to keep a detailed log of any seizure activity you may observe to help your veterinarian diagnose the problem, identify potential seizure triggers, and determine future treatment options. It's a good idea to include information such as the length of each seizure, observed seizure activity like convulsions, “air-biting”, staring off into space, etc., whether or not bladder/bowel control was lost, and observed behavior before, after, and in-between seizures.






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

To learn more about living with canine epilepsy, click here.




Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her MajestyThe Country Girl EmpressA Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. 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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20 March 2020

Break Out the Champagne: It's Time for a Book Launch Celebration


Today I celebrate another significant milestone!

Today, the fourth book in my Country Girl Empress series, EXCERPTS FROM THE IMPERIAL DIARY hits virtual bookshelves! I still can't quite believe it myself...this is so exciting. The book is centered around real historical figures such as Empress Elisabeth of Austria, her husband Emperor Franz Joseph I, and their children. Come join them as their story continues! Naturally, I fictionalized the story and filled it with page-turning adventures, some danger, and a hint of romance. 

If you enjoyed the first three parts of this series, THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESSA LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROWN, and THE PERPETUAL TRAVELERthen I have no doubt that you will love this installment. But, no matter if this sort of book is your cup of tea or not, there might be someone in your life who does enjoy historical fiction, and I love to encourage my readers to give books as gifts, as they make great presents for any occasion.  

To all my readers who have been following my writing journey, thank you for all your support, encouragement, and enthusiasm! You make the hard work worthwhile, and I could not have done it without you. If I have not "met" you yet, make sure you head over to one of my social media outlets on FacebookLinkedIn, or Goodreads, and introduce yourself. Thank you for celebrating this book launch with me! 

About the book:

Empress Sisi is still youthful, gorgeous, and desired by many. She is loved and honored by her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary, but all too soon they are hit by tragedies they are powerless to prevent.

Although the King pays for his pet projects with his own funds, it does not spare Bavaria from financial ruin. Feeling harassed and irritated by his ministers, King Ludwig considers dismissing the entire cabinet and replacing them with fresh faces. However, the cabinet members agree to act first. Seeking a cause to depose their King by constitutional means, the rebelling Bavarian ministers decide on the rationale that he is mentally unfit and therefore unable to rule.

They ask Ludwig's uncle, Prince Luitpold, to step into the royal vacancy once the monarch is removed. Luitpold agrees, on the condition that the conspirators produce solid proof that the King is indeed insane. Then King Ludwig II loses his life under mysterious circumstances. Was it suicide or is someone strategically eliminating members of the House of Wittelsbach?

Meanwhile, at court, many people, including the imperial couple and Crown Princess St├ęphanie, know that Rudi has plenty of extra-marital affairs. His newest conquest is 17-year-old Baroness Mary Vetsera, daughter of Baron Albin Vetsera and his wife, Helene Baltazzi. Rudolph’s marriage to Steffi is not a particularly happy one and results in the birth of their only daughter, Archduchess Elisabeth, affectionally referred to as “Erzsi”.

The sudden, and violent death of Sisi’s only son, Crown Prince Rudolph at his hunting lodge Mayerling, shakes the Monarchy to its core. And the fact that the dead body of his teenaged mistress is found right next to his completes the scandal. How will the imperial couple cope with this devastating loss? Does this tragedy mark the end of the Danube monarchy, since Rudolph only had a daughter? And will their love and faith in each other allow Sisi and Franz Joseph to master these difficult trials?


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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11 March 2020

Book Review of Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl by Marian Longenecker Beaman

Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl
by Marian Longenecker Beaman 


Ms. Marian Beaman's memoir shares the heartwarming story of a spunky plain girl that longs to be fancy. She paints images with her words of the happiness and disappointments associated with growing up as a Mennonite in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Although I was aware of the Mennonites and some of the restrictions they place on their church members, the author's revelations were unexpected. Her vividly detailed portraits of people and places brought them to life. It was almost as if I was an invisible observer to the story as it unfolded. The included photographs, sketches, and recipes provide an added depth, which allows readers to see the life Ms. Beaman described.

Her family's devotion to their Mennonite faith was evident in all they did. Reading about the author's baptism when she was just ten years old surprised and shocked me. Everything changed from one day to the next for the young girl. The church's unyielding rules about attire, daily activities, and education dominated her life. The little girl who once wore frilly dresses her mother had sewn, suddenly had to put those clothes away.

Ms. Beaman also wrote about her father's old-fashioned punishments and abuses, like locking her up in a dank, dark cellar. It is not unheard of for an abusive parent to declare the use of scripture as a basis for said punishments/abuse. I could feel the author's anguish and heartbreak, and her deep-seated desire to know why these things were happening to her. It took guts to stand up to the church leaders and her father as a young woman. It took even more courage to open up and tell her side of the story. While writing about punishments and abuse, she also reflects on the caring nature of her home life. While she obviously respects and even admires her mother, she also wonders why her mother refused to intervene on her behalf.

The heartaches described in this book are palpable throughout. The girl that did so in school received little to no recognition or validation from her parents. Yet she was able to welcome the compassion she received from her paternal grandmother and her Aunt Ruthie. They provided her with balance and security - even if it was just for a short while. One might even say that she had two homes, and it was her second home that afforded the little girl with an escape from the day-to-day challenges.

Thankfully, the heavy moments of this book were sprinkled with some lighter ones like when Great Grandpa Sam’s glass eyeball pops out of its socket and rolls across the slick linoleum floor where it picked up speed. In the end, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl is a coming-of-age tale of a girl who ultimately finds her voice and individuality.  I highly recommend this memoir. Ms. Beaman is truly a master storyteller, and her unique narrative is filled with a sad family history but also traditions, laughter, and love.



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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