29 March 2023

#WritersLife: Tips, Trick, and Techniques to Overcome Writer's Block

I get this question frequently: What do you do when writer's block strikes and you don't know what to write?


Many writers define writer's block as their imaginary friends refusing to talk to them. Thankfully, mine haven't stopped talking to me for too long - knock on wood! Writer’s block can happen to any of us at any time, but usually, it strikes just as you sit down in front of the computer to type your epic masterpiece. It doesn’t matter if you are working on a short story, an essay or 400-page novel, the words you wish to put down simply won’t come together. That’s when it might be time to take a strategic look at how to overcome your writer’s block.

Here are some helpful tips, tricks and techniques to help you get those creative juices flowing again that have worked for me in the past:

Establish a Routine

Set a time and stick to it every day, no matter what that time of the day it happens to be. Whether you sit at your desk or wherever you like to write, set yourself up to write at the same time of day, whether it be first thing in the morning, in the middle of the day or late at night. Most people who love routines will easily get into a groove.

Set a Deadline

Create a realistic deadline in order to trick your brain into a sense of urgency. Set a goal of so many words in an hour, set an alarm clock or the kitchen timer, and start writing. Many people work well under pressure, and this will help you figure out if you’re that kind of person.

Get Physical

Engage in an activity that has nothing to do with reading or writing. Go for a walk around the neighbourhood, clean the kitchen, do some gardening, play with your pet or some other mundane task. Instead of staring at a computer screen or the page of a book, give your body something to focus on and get your blood pumping. Afterwards, sit back down and try to write.

Unwind for a While

Instead of getting distracted by social media or watching TV, unplug from your computer for a bit. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start writing the old-fashioned way. Oddly enough, putting words to paper actually increases brain power by making more neuronal connections within your brain, which can foster a more efficient thinking process.

Try Changing Your Surroundings

Subject your senses something new inspirations. Set up your writing utensils on the terrace, go to your favorite cafe or the bookstore around the corner. See if new ideas hit you along the way as you contemplate what to write.

Talk to People 

Many times a simple conversation with a good friend, a co-worker, or your spouse, can help gain some perspective. Discuss any topic, do not restrict yourself to the subject matter you’re writing about. Another person’s perspective often leads to a breakthrough that clears your writer’s block. 


Read something for half an hour before you begin to write. It doesn’t matter what you read, but other writer's concepts may get you an idea or two. Ensure you enjoy the topic you read, whether you dive into the latest newspaper, the newest historical fiction novel or Shakespeare’s sonnets. Inspiration can jump out at you from everywhere.

Work Backwards

Begin writing your piece from in the middle or at the end instead of the beginning and work your way forward. Go back to your table of contents to see what jumps out at you. Start with the most fascinating aspect first, and go from there. Everything else will eventually follow.

What about you? How do you overcome writer's block? Feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comment section!

Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. 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 LinkedInFacebookMedium, and Goodreads.
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22 March 2023

Purple Day 2023 - Raising Canine Epilepsy Awareness


Sunday, the 26th of March is Purple Day. It's a celebration aimed to raise epilepsy awareness worldwide, a condition that globally affects over 65 million people. But did you know that dogs can be afflicted with this ailment as well? Up to six percent of the canine population suffers from some 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 Purple 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,
events, or epilepsy, please visit
 https: www.purpleday.org

Proud part of the 8th annual Purple Day for
Epilepsy Blog Hop & Media Share
Link back: https://fivesibes.blogspot.com/


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

Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. 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 LinkedInFacebookMedium, and Goodreads.
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15 March 2023

First Drafts Don't Have to be Perfect...

  ...They just have to be written  -Anonymous

I try hard to follow that motto. I cannot even begin to tell you how good it felt to be able to write the words 'The End' on the last page of my upcoming novel THE IMPERIAL REBEL - A Country Girl Empress Novel (Book eight of The Country Girl Empress series). The first thing I did was to perform my happy dance in the kitchen. Not counting research time, the manuscript took me a bit over a month to write. After I typed out the last few words, I sighed a deep breath of relief, and then I couldn't help but think:

I can't believe I finished!

While I was in the midst of writing, I couldn't help but feel a sort of mid-book panic, and I asked myself: Where is this story going? How will I finish it? Is the plot strong enough to keep the readers' attention? 

I suppose second-guessing yourself while writing is not an unusual occurrence, and I feel that way every time I put words on paper (or in most cases on a computer screen). So, it is with great relieve and satisfaction when I somehow manage to finish my manuscript without too much trouble.

Time to take a break!

After finishing the initial draft, I find it helpful to gain some distance by setting the manuscript aside for a while. When I finally begin my first round of editing, I can do so more objectively. 

It's such a relief! 

It's exhilarating to write an initial draft, to dream about the characters, their lives and the way the story might unfold. This phase of the creative process can be quite taxing, and can take up a lot of my time. But, after the emotional and physical drain begins to subside, it is replaced by a great sense of accomplishment. 

Thank goodness there's an editing process!

While we would like to believe that there's no way our writings need editing, we all know that they all need it, whether we like it or not. As a matter of fact, my upcoming book will undergo many rounds of self-editing, before any editor gets to put their hands on it. No matter how many books I write, I would never skip the editing process, and although it can be grueling at times, I am thankful for the feedback, which can only make my books better. 

Don't get too attached!

I just created this fantastic piece, but I know I really shouldn't get too attached. They are just words jumbled together in sentences and paragraphs, which I hope make sense to readers. But as much as I might love what I wrote, I need to go back through the entire book and eliminate what doesn't work. To make this process seem less of a loss, I cut and paste my deleted items into a blank document for future reference. Waste not, want not! 

Hopefully people will read it!

I love to write stories I enjoy. Otherwise, why bother?

Of course, different people read my books with different expectations, but I've learned long ago that I can't please everyone. And so, I shall continue to write what I love, with the hope that my writings will bring joy to some of my readers, and provide others with the information they seek. I can't help but wonder, which parts of my book will or won't please readers.  

So, what about you? How do you feel after you've finished writing an initial draft? I'd love to hear from you!

Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. 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 LinkedInFacebookMedium, and Goodreads.
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08 March 2023

#WritersLife: 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 my writing journey, 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. But 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. One of my most recent works, The Country Girl Empress series, 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 award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. 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 LinkedInFacebookMedium, and Goodreads.
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01 March 2023

Month in Review - February 2023


Hello March! Wow...hard to believe that February has already come and gone! St. Patrick's Day and Daylight Saving Time are just around the corner. But before any of that happens, let's recap last month. So now, without further ado, here's the list of the most popular blog posts for February 2023, chosen by you, the readers:

Thank you for joining me, celebrating the release of my newest historical fiction novel! WITH THE HEART OF A LIONESS - A Duchess of Aquitaine Novel has finally arrived and has hit the virtual bookshelves! I still can't quite believe it myself...this is so exciting...

OUCH! I just got up from my desk after a long writing session, and all of my joints feel tense and are cracking from the sudden movement. I guess I just sat too long in one attitude. Do you know that feeling?

Valentine's Day Cookies. Quick, easy, and packed with flavour. My dogs love these drool-worthy treats - and soon, your furry friends will crave them, too!

This initiative is jointly 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 with the aim to improve epilepsy awareness and highlights the urgent need for further research of this debilitating condition....

Arctic outdoor temperatures seem to have made a giant U-Turn, and are creeping up on us again. Do you bundle your pup up for below freezing temperatures, sleet, and snow? If you do, then good move...

Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. 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 LinkedInFacebookMedium, and Goodreads.
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