19 April 2017

How Often Should You Back Up 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 and/or 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 accounts 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 and 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 drives, USB stick, discs (CD, DVD, Blue-ray)? Cloud server? Printed hard copies?






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+.

16 April 2017

Easter Greetings!





Wishing you and your family a Happy Easter!


                                                Piper



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+.

12 April 2017

Adding Depth to Your Novel





I recently met an aspiring writer, named Peggy, at a local pet supplies store (I spend a lot of time there....what can I say, I love to shop for my furry children!) who asked me several questions regarding my writing but this one stood out:

“All the books I've attempted to write so far have always resulted in little more than short stories with a page count of under a hundred pages instead of full-length books. Because of this, I've been reluctant to approach an agent or even attempt to self-publish. Do you have any tips or tricks you don't mind sharing how to develop my storylines and/or characters further to make my books longer?”

This week I decided to take the gist of her questions, and turn it into a blog post. Thank you for the inspiration, Peggy! 

My debut novel has over 400 pages, and a word count of over nearly 115000 words and even my current project already exceeds the 350-page mark. As I started to think about what I have done so far to reach that amount, I came up with these three points:

Respect the Setting

One way novels can lack depth is by overlooking the setting and instead focusing too much on the characters and plot. It can be hard to get the setting "just right.” Sometimes we make a mistake by not including enough details, especially when we attempt to develop a fast-paced plot. Then, at times, we err by randomly tacking on setting details like some sort of after-thought.

Instead, we should strive to give the setting the respect that it’s due and to do so, we should focus on descriptions and sensory details that relate to the plot and the mood you wish to create. When we accomplish that, the setting becomes another character in your story that we can slowly and carefully nurture.

When we view the story environment as more than just a description but as an essential component, then we should be able to add the right details at the appropriate times, in order to keep our readers engaged without overloading them.

Add More than One Conflict to the Basic Plot 

Many story writers develop their plot around some kind of conflict, often involving an antagonist. While there's nothing wrong with that approach, there are many other ways to add more conflict to your storyline. Consider man vs. society, man vs. nature, man vs. time, man vs. machine....the list is nearly endless.

I try to remember to weave more than one of these types of conflict throughout my story. The more types of conflict we add to the plot, the more complicated our stories become. Just keep in mind that there's also such a thing as too much of a good thing! 

Give Your Characters Internal Struggles to Conquer

Another way to add layers to a story is by delving into our character's hard, emotional issues, go below their skin as it were, and straight to their hearts. But please keep in mind that this is more than just our characters expressing their reactions to the plot, which is, of course, important as well. 

While they need to show and express appropriate feelings in regards to the antagonist, an emotional struggle is a bigger internal conflict that we can weave throughout the entire story. This is usually a character flaw or struggle such as a personal insecurity, fear of the unknown, pride, etc. that is somehow related to main our character’s backstory. 

The more we intertwine this emotional plot with the world that we have created, the richer our story will become, giving our readers greater opportunities to connect with our characters.

There are many ways to add substance to your story including adding subplots, supporting characters and their viewpoints, creating more scenes, etc. As writers, when we’re looking to increase our story's length, we obviously don’t want to add more words just to reach some arbitrary word count goal. Instead, we should strive to make every word count.

How do you add depth to your writing? Please feel free to share your insight 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+.

05 April 2017

Top 5 Blog Posts for March 2017





Hello April! I still cannot believe that the month of March has come and gone already. Spring has finally sprung, and Easter is right around the corner. 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 March 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+.

29 March 2017

Balancing Fact and Fiction When Writing Historical Fiction





Recently, I have received several requests from my readers to share what I've learned along the way and my view on the subject of researching historical facts, how much of it is necessary, and how close to stick to reality. Since this list is not all-inclusive, please feel free to add your experiences in the comment section! 

It certainly helps to be a bit of a history buff. You use your imagination to build a world that is unfamiliar to modern readers based on historical facts. Since you are going to live in that world the entire time you’re working on your book, it is of advantage if you enjoy the subject matter, and are familiar with the basics of the time in history. 

It is also useful to read historical fiction because it is hard to find out what's popular and what's not unless you actually read some of the books. It would be like opening a Mexican restaurant without knowing how to cook at all, or finding out if there are any other Mexican restaurants nearby, and whether or not they offer the same style of food as you do.

Research is indeed necessary. I do not consider myself as part of the historical accuracy police and I’m not about to launch into a sermon on the historical inaccuracies found in books and TV shows. Like so many others, I love to watch The Crown, I saw every episode of Victoria, no matter how historically inaccurate and loved it. I also have been known to enjoy the occasional episode of Reign, and Wolf Hall, despite its far-fetched dramas. What readers and viewers, such as me, love is to be bewitched by the charms of a bygone era; to do that they need to be able to trust the author not to break the spell prematurely.  That means you need to take some time to figure out what peoples’ lives were like during the era you are writing about and don’t just call every deviation creative license. 

But it is also important to know when to stop your research. It is so easy to get caught up in the minutiae and fall down the rabbit hole. You are, after all, not a historian. You can spend years crafting the perfect historical tale, but I can’t imagine that all this effort and time will be rewarded. At some point, it’s probably better to publish an imperfect book than nothing at all. 

Don’t let the historical facts torment you! If they do not align with your storyline, feel free to change some of them. Yes, I know, I said that thorough research of your subject matter is essential, even if it’s only to confirm the facts and then change them later. It's hard to modify the facts if you don’t know what they are! Just realize that changing history might be frowned upon by certain readers unless of course you set out to write about an alternative timeline from the start. There's nothing wrong asking "What if...?"





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 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+.