21 February 2024

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 historical fiction novel RISE OF THE LAST WARRIOR QUEEN. 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 two months 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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14 February 2024

Wholesome Canine Nutrition: Drool-Worthy Valentine's Day Cookies

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

Since today is Valentine's Day, I thought this the perfect time to share this yummy dog treat recipe with you. Show your furry companions that you love them, with homemade Valentine's Day Cookies. They are made with all the things dogs love, such as peanut butter (please read the label beforehand and make sure it doesn't contain any artificial sweeteners, especially Xylitol), pumpkin puree (soothes the stomach) and coconut flour (an excellent grain alternative for dogs with allergies). Another drool-worthy dog treat that's easy to make!

For Cookies:

1 1/4 cups coconut flour 
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1 Tbsp pure pumpkin puree
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs 

For Frosting:

1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tbsp beet juice
Sprinkles (optional)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 
- In a large bowl mix flour, peanut butter, carrots, pumpkin puree, honey and eggs. If dough seems a little dry add a bit of cold water; if the dough seems a little too soft, add a bit more flour.
- Roll out cookie dough, cut out cookies with cookie cutter, and and place cookies 1/2 inch apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake cookies for approximately 18 minutes.
- Let cookies cool completely.
- When cookies are cooled, mix yogurt with beet juice and beat the mixture until it has thickened. 
- Let frosting sit for 10 minutes to thicken further.
- Frost cookies and add sprinkles.
- Chill cookies in refrigerator for at least two hours. 

Since these cookies are made without any preservatives, I recommend keeping them refrigerated. Hope your furry friends enjoy those cookies as much as mine do!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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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07 February 2024

International Epilepsy Day 2024

  Dogs with Epilepsy can lead Happy and Meaningful Lives! 

I'm changing things up this week for a cause near and dear to my heart: Next week is not only Valentine's Day but also International Epilepsy Day on the 12th of February! 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. Epilepsy not only affects just the patients but their families, too. And incidentally, today my Epi-warrior Lana would have celebrated her 19th birthday. How appropriate!

But 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 idiopathic epilepsy at the age of four and two respectively, 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 nutrition, lots of love, and conventional epilepsy treatments, helped my furry friends every step of the way. They enjoyed traveling, running around and playing, or just relaxing 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 friends 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 crossed 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 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.

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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31 January 2024

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 two 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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24 January 2024

When You Feel Like Giving Up On Writing

When you feel like giving up on writing - Don't! No one can write your stories the way you do! 

There have been plenty of occasions I have felt like giving up and quit writing. In fact, only the last couple of weeks were excruciatingly busy. Things became especially bad after I announced my two upcoming books, part nine of THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS series and another historical fiction novel. I couldn’t help but wonder if the insanity was worth it!? Like many others, our family has a LOT going on, particularly during this time of the year. 

At one point while I was running myself ragged with editing while feeling ill, I couldn't stop myself from burying my face in my hands and groaning "Am I trying to do too much? Is it really worth it?" I sobbed and complained for a few minutes. Then I shook off the doom and gloom, and promptly went back to work. Once in a while, it feels good to have a pity-party, even if it’s only for a moment or two. But this latest experience forced me to take stock of what I'm doing and why.

When I feel like giving up, it often helps to remind myself of the following:

The truth is...

This won’t be the last time my emotions rise and take control, nor will it be the last time I feel like giving up for any number of reasons. In this instance, it was because I was overwhelmed with juggling writing, life, and obligations. But I have also felt like giving up once or twice because I was discouraged that the process is taking so long and is much harder than I thought it would be. It also doesn’t help when I get too much negative feedback or not enough positive. There are plenty of reasons why I might feel like giving up, but whatever the situation, it's all too easy to allow those feelings of discouragement to take over. 

When I hit those low points, I have to remind myself of the reason why I write. I am a story-teller, and I love to write! It is part of me, and nearly as important as the air in my lungs. 

Don’t make life-altering decisions when you're feeling discouraged!

When I was a child, my grandmother always told me that I shouldn’t make big decisions or resolve a problem right before I go to bed. Why? Because usually by that point in the day I am way too tired and emotional to see things clearly. It is best to get a good night's sleep, in order to gain some perspective. Of course falling asleep when you feel this way is a whole other matter! 

The same concept applies to my writing. When I am faced with burnout or overwhelmed, I really shouldn't make the decision to throw in the towel, no matter how tempted I might feel. Instead, I wait until I've had a chance to take a break, and gain a new perspective. Sometimes this process passes by in no time flat; sometimes it takes a little longer.

Take the time to re-evaluate goals.

There are plenty of occasions when I require more than just a good night's sleep. When the pressure of everyday life and responsibilities wear me down it is usually time to re-evaluate my goals and perhaps make some adjustments to the way I do things.

I don’t believe I will ever give up writing altogether. But there are times when I will seriously question whether I really am ready for the demands of being a published author. I'll even consider taking a hiatus from writing in order to take the pressure of publication off myself and just write for the joy of it. Taking an extended break from writing can be very revitalizing…which brings me to my last point:


One thing that keeps me going during discouraging times is nourishing my imagination. I like to feed it in countless ways, but mostly by reading. I'm not sure how or why, but reading the stories of others, keeps my love for story-telling alive and thriving. I try books by new authors, read a broad spectrum of genres, and through it all, allow myself to revel in those stories. This sort of rejuvenation helps me to go back to my own writing with fresh energy and passion.

Do you ever feel like giving up writing? How do you keep yourself going?

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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