19 January 2022

Pain-Relief Ideas for Writers and Readers

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?


I don't have to tell my fellow writers or readers how sitting for long periods can make our muscles and joints sore and tight. But we just can't help it! We forget to move from our spot because we become so engrossed in what we're reading or writing. Costly solutions like treadmills and other indoor exercise equipment are popular to help combat our aches and pains. Still, I'd like to offer some alternative, more economical, pain-relief ideas. 

One of the easiest tools to keep a body moving is the Pomodoro Technique. It's a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s to improve productivity. It uses a timer to break work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each period is known as a Pomodoro (= Italian for "tomato") after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer Mr. Cirillo used as a university student. Since then, individuals have also used it as a reminder to step away from their desks frequently for a few minutes.

But that begs the question: What should you do during those breaks, besides the obvious, like going to the bathroom or grabbing a water bottle and a snack from the refrigerator? 

Let's start with what not to do. Don't remain in your chair to watch videos, play video games, or check social media! After all, the idea is to get away from that desk and move around. Maybe even go outside and get some fresh air.

My massage therapist recently recommended some simple stretching exercises to me when she noticed my persistent problems in my upper back. Since I started doing those several times a day, my shoulders hurt less. She also recommended I walk daily for half an hour, which I do anyway since I have three dogs that need their exercise.

So, what about longer breaks? I didn't include them in this post because we all know there's more to life than just writing and reading.  I like to go for a morning walk for about 30 minutes (in my humble opinion, fresh air is the best thing in the world to clear the head), a 20-minute kettlebell workout in the afternoons, supplemented by a 20-minute yoga session when I feel really stressed. 

I know some really love their standing desks and platforms, but, personally, I can't work like that. I have to sit down. Not to mention that standing really isn't a substitute for actual movement. I need to walk and work out every day and take short periodic breaks. To each their own, I always say. Figure out what works best for you, and adjust your routine as necessary!

And remember to stay hydrated! I know I tend to forget about drinking water when I'm in the midst of writing/reading, and I know I'm not the only one to do so. However, it is vital to keep the fluids coming. And I don't mean my beloved cup of good coffee, or tea, fruit juice, or soda pops. Those don't really count. So, I try hard to remember to get up from my desk periodically and grab a bottle of water. Sometimes I even set a reminder on my mobile phone just as an added prompt.

Before I bring this article to a close,  there's one more thing I wanted to touch upon, and that is snacking. I know that thousands of articles have been written about proper diet and nutrition, so I'll refrain from diving too deeply into that aspect of wellness. But snacking can quickly become a mindless obsession to stave off the monotony of our chosen profession or pastime. Unfortunately, constant caloric intake harms our health, especially if we consume giant amounts of empty calories and can also add some unwanted pounds.

Feeling good in our skin definitely requires a deliberate look at all aspects of our lifestyle. So, take a closer look at your daily habits if you feel off. You may find things you can modify to help feel better and make your time sitting in your chair more enjoyable and productive.

These are just some strategies that help me move around with ease, but my list is definitely not all-inclusive. Everyone is different, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. So what has helped you alleviate some of those aches and pains associated with prolonged sitting? I'd love to hear what works for 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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12 January 2022

A Writer's New Year's Resolutions

 

Well, here we are...it's the beginning of 2022, and like many people I made some New Year's resolutions. Although I'm not one to set lofty goals when a new year dawns, I promised myself to make more of an effort in the upcoming year to implement some new writing strategies. Here are a couple of my ideas:

- Write More Frequently
Most of the time I find myself writing whenever I can find some spare moments, but with several writing projects in progress, I need to rearrange my timetable and give writing a higher priority. After all, to become a world-class musician, one must practice for hours each day. It's no different for an author. Not everything I write needs to be publishable. It just needs to be.
  
- Read More Often
Not just for research, but also for pleasure. There are so many new books and old classics out there - time to see what they are all about. Not to mention that this should help me hone my writing skills. Studying the masters that came before me can't hurt!

- Take Regular Breaks
I realize that on the surface it sounds counterproductive, but it’s been proven that short breaks increase creativity...not to mention that it helps me prevent stress-related headaches. At least every hour or so, I get up and move around, even if it's just to let my dogs outside to play. And because I have the tendency to forget or skip my breaks, I shall write them into my schedule. 

Emphasize Self-Care
Over the last year I've noticed that it's easier for me to concentrate on a task after I've taken a walk with my dogs or just sat out on the terrace to enjoy the sunshine for a while. It's always easier to return to a project with fresh eyes. Not to mention that I feel better all around when I exercise more and eat small, healthy snacks in-between meals. I realize this might sound like common sense, but I do tend to get absorbed into my writing projects, and forget the rest of the world around me. So, I am determined set more reminders on my mobile phone and take better care of myself in general. 



- Get Organized
There is nothing worse than being unable to find a file, tool, or phone number at that very moment when you need it the most. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to this problem: Keep your workplace tidy! As I am fairly organized by nature, you would think that my desk is spit-spot all the time. Unfortunately, life can sometimes get in the way. So, I am resolved to take an extra minute every day to put things back where they belong.

The same goes for my computer. Keeping my computer files organized, labeling photos and files properly, and updating my schedule, helps me in the long run. Not to mention backing up my all of my files on a frequent basis ensures I don't lose my data. I have found that just a few minutes at the end of the day does the trick for me - now I just need to remember to do so!



Well, keep your fingers crossed that I can actually follow through on my goals!
Are you a New Year's resolutions kind of person? If so, what are yours?

May the new year bring joy, peace, and happiness to you and your family!

Sincerely,

Piper


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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05 January 2022

A Look Back - Top Ten Posts for 2021

 


Last week, I bid farewell to yet another successful year as an author, and welcomed 2022 with much fanfare and lots of bubbly. Can you believe another year has come and gone? Where did the time go? 

To start off the new year, I dug into my stats, to see which of last years' posts were most popular and recap all that I've accomplished on this crazy writing journey of mine. 

And so, without further ado, here are my most popular blog posts for 2021, chosen by you, the readers:

A Look Back - Top Ten Posts for 2021



So, this thing happened last week. I woke up Thursday morning to find that my historical fiction novel, THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS, book one of the series, won the Firebird Book Award in the historical fiction category. Woohoo! First thing I did is get out a bottle of bubbly and danced around the kitchen like a little maniac. I know - sounds totally silly right? But I just couldn't help it! I just couldn't believe my good fortune! I felt elated and honoured to join the ranks of distinguished award winners...



So, this thing happened last week. I woke up Friday morning to find that my debut historical fiction novel, IN THE SHADOW OF HER MAJESTY - A Tudor Novel, won the Firebird Book Award in the mystery category. Woohoo! First thing I did is get out a bottle of bubbly and danced around the kitchen like a little maniac. I know - sounds totally silly right? But I just couldn't help it! I just couldn't believe my good fortune! I felt elated and honoured that my Tudor Whodunit has joined the ranks of distinguished award winners...



Thank you for joining me, celebrating the release of book five of #TheCountryGirlEmpressSeries! AT THE CASTLE OF DREAMS - A Country Girl Empress Novel has finally arrived and has hit the virtual bookshelves! I still can't quite believe it myself...this is so exciting. Set in 19th century Vienna, 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, as their story continues! Naturally, I fictionalized the story and filled it with page-turning adventures, some danger, and a hint of romance...



Thank you for joining me for the second time this year, to help celebrate the release of another book of #TheCountryGirlEmpressSeries! LOVE, POWER, AND THE EMPEROR WALTZ - A Country Girl Empress Novel, book six of the series, has finally arrived and has hit the virtual bookshelves! I still can't quite believe it myself...this is so exciting. Set in 19th century Vienna, 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, as their story unfolds further! Naturally, I fictionalized the story and filled it with page-turning adventures, some danger, and a hint of romance...



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...

6. Dog 🐕 Bakery👩‍🍳: Lip-Smacking Pumpkin-Banana Doughnuts 🍩


Show your pup(s) some love with a batch of doughnuts! Quick and easy to make and packed with flavor. My dogs love these delicious treats - and soon, your furry friends will crave them, too..



...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...



Editing has a lot of people moaning in frustration. Writing is a creative process, and every writer I've ever known can't wait for that moment when the words just pour out. But the editing process is sort of the opposite. It's precise, with a stringent set of rules that must be obeyed...



Whether you’re writing a book, a magazine article, or your next blog post, practice makes perfect. You don't become a good writer over night, nor should you stop honing your skill.  There's always room for improvement. Every time you sit down at your desk to work on your newest writing project, things get a little easier. Diligent writers also hone their craft by obtaining skills, tricks, and techniques to make their writing more compelling...



The publishing world has changed dramatically over time, but especially since online self-publishing became popular. Viewed by many as inferior, publishing your own work can be intimidating. However, all those myths floating around about it don’t help the situation. To uncover the truth about self-publishing, we should explore some of the most prevalent myths...


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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29 December 2021

Pet Safety: Ringing in the New Year Safely

As fireworks ring in the new year, the noisy celebrations to mark 2022 can spark panic in pets.

 
As the year comes to a close, there will undoubtedly be celebrations with the hopes for a better new year. While your pets may have enjoyed having you home more frequently due to social distancing restrictions, most people are eager for the future. So here are some helpful considerations for keeping your four-legged family members safe and happy as you indulge in New Year's Eve celebrations.

-Be Wary of Fireworks

It's well known that the 4th of July is one of the most common times for pets to get lost. People often gather in large groups and send off fireworks, which can be terrifying for some dogs. New Year's Eve is another one of those times that people love to celebrate with noisemakers which can lead to a dog or cat fleeing in a panic.

-Keep Your Pet in a Quiet Room

If you're planning on celebrating New Year's Eve with a large crowd and fireworks display, be sure to accommodate your pet(s) by providing a quiet space for them, away from all the noise. Ensure the room is escape-proof and has adequate bedding, toys, and water. Some animals may even benefit from background noise such as a radio or TV to help lessen the intensity of voices and noisemakers.

-Medications might help

Overly anxious pets might benefit from prescription medication to lessen their anxiety. Meds aimed at relieving noise phobias are routinely dispensed around Independence Day. Still, it's also common to celebrate the New Year with fireworks as well. Talk with your veterinarian if you believe a calming medication might benefit your furry family member.

-ID Tags & Microchips

Of course, it is possible that despite your safety precautions, your pet may still manage to escape and get lost. In this case, it is vital to have up-to-date identification on your pet. Collars with tags and a valid contact number are crucial. In addition, consider microchipping as an excellent addition to a tag.

Please ensure your microchip information is current by entering the number in the American Animal Hospital Association's microchip finder. Some microchip companies might charge extra to update your information, but doing so is crucial to improving your chances of being reunited with your pet.

-Keep Your Pet Away From Food & Alcohol

But what do you do about the pets who are just regular party animals? For these extroverted furry friends who want to be the party's focal point, make sure they don't get into the party foods that might be dangerous for them.
Do not let your pet eat the following foods:

Grapes and raisins – can cause kidney failure
Chocolate – can lead to seizures and death
Macadamia Nuts – can cause muscle tremors
Onions and garlic - can be toxic to dogs.
Fatty foods - can lead to pancreatitis when consumed in large amounts.

And what would a New Year's Eve party be without copious amounts of bubbly and a toast at midnight? Just be sure to keep all alcoholic beverages away from your furry friends.

This list is, of course, not all-inclusive. Please consult your veterinarian for more in-depth information!

Celebrating the end of one year and the new beginning can be a memorable and exciting time. Planning your New Year's Eve party with pet safety in mind can help you celebrate safely with your furry family members and is sure to be a great start to the new year.


Wishing you and all of your family members a safe and Happy New Year!

                                                           
                                                                                                     Piper


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 December 2021

Holiday Baking 👩‍🍳: Gingerbread Cookies 🍪

The holiday season is in full swing, and what could be more delicious than to sweeten everyone's wait time with traditional homemade cookies? Nothing completes the holidays like the aroma of cinnamon, oranges, and nuts and the enjoyment we get from biting into those crispy cookies.

Since the release of my recipe book 'TIS THE SEASON FOR CHRISTMAS COOKIES, I've been asked many times to share my favorite cookie recipe. Well, I'll gladly admit that the choice was not an easy one, but I've always been very fond my grandmother's gingerbread cookies. They are easy to make, so delicious, and a classic that never goes out of style!


Gingerbread Cookies
Recipe yields about 80 cookies

Ingredients

125 g honey 
200 g sugar 
1 pkg vanilla sugar 
150 g butter 
4 tbsp milk 
3 drops almond extract 
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
400 g flour 
100 g food starch 
2 tbsp cacao 
2 tsp baking powder 
butter 
icing of choice




Instructions

Step 1: Combine sugar, honey, vanilla sugar, butter and milk in a pot and heat on medium heat and constant stirring until all ingredients have combined.
Step 2: Pour mixture into bowl and let cool.
Step 3: Grease baking sheet and preheat oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 4: Add almond extract and cinnamon to cooled mass.
Step 5: Mix flour, food starch, cacao, and baking powder.
Step 6: Add 2/3 of it to cooled mixture, and incorporate with dough hook; knead in the rest by hand.
Step 7: Roll out dough thinly, and cut out cookies. 
Step 8: Place them on parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake them for 15 minutes on middle rack.
Step 9: Leave gingerbread on cooling rack until completely cooled.
Step 10: Decorate cookies with icing of choice.






Pro Tips:
You can make the cookie dough ahead of time, and freeze it for up to three months. Baked, but undecorated cookies keep in the freezer for up to four weeks. Baked and decorated gingerbread cookies will keep fresh up to four weeks in an airtight container. Place wax paper between each layer of cookies to keep them from sticking to each other.

Allow yourself to be inspired by this decadent Christmas cookie recipe. For more traditional recipes and modern reinterpretations, please click HERE. Hope you enjoy these easy to re-create cookie and cake recipes. Wishing you and all of your family members a safe and Happy Holiday Season!


If you try this recipe, snap a pic, and don't forget to tag me @authorapiperburgi
I would love to see your creations!  


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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