22 January 2020

Book Publishing: How to Review Your Proof Copy in Three Steps


When publishing a book, the moment of truth is simply inevitable. After all, it is the moment that you have anxiously awaited and probably even dreamed about. The printed proof copy of your book has finally arrived on your doorstep! That just happened to me…my newest historical fiction novel EXCERPTS FROM THE IMPERIAL DIARY - Book 4 of the Country Girl Empress series showed up on my door step yesterday. I'm just giddy with excitement.

Up until then, this book had only existed in computer files, hard-copy printouts I’ve used for editing purposes, and as an online digital proof on my computer screen. But now I can see my book with my own eyes, and hold a physical copy of it in my hands. Moments like these definitely have the power to move people, and rightly so. When you are almost ready to publish, and you are anything like me or so many other writers, you now feel both excited and maybe even a little frightened at the same time. But don’t hit that “Publish” button just yet!

But why would you even want to bother reviewing a physical copy of your book, when digital review copies are readily available? Putting a book together is a complicated process. It involves writing a manuscript, adding photos, lots of editing, page design, cover creation, and many other things just to get to this point. The purpose of the proof copy is to ensure that you’ve done everything correctly. Errors that were invisible on your computer screen or even in printouts suddenly seem to jump out at you. All sorts of errors can creep into our files…misalignments, extra spaces where there were none before, typographical errors, etc. And this is when a hard copy of your book can make a huge difference.

How to Check Your Book:

This is the last stage in the publishing process before your book goes public, so spend some time on this step and to do it right. Books can last a very long time, and so do the errors contained within them. Take this your opportunity to make your book as error-free as possible. I like to apply the following three step process:

1. Read Your Book


- Read the entire book, and while doing so I like to check for inconsistencies and typographical errors.

- Is the text complete? Did a paragraph get left out somewhere?

- Or did part of a sentence get cut off at the bottom of a page?

- Are the fonts consistent throughout the book?

- Do you have paragraphs where the word spacing is much looser or much tighter than others?

- If possible, have someone else who also read through it. Two sets of eyes usually see more than just one set. It is quite surprising how many errors can be uncovered this way.

2. Take a Close Look at the Book


I try to ignore the text and instead concentrate on everything else. I have a hard time with this step because I am automatically drawn to the writing. Here are the things I like to look for:

- Those pesky orphans/widows; the single lines at the bottom of a page or parts of lines at the top of a page. If I can get rid of them, I will do so.

- Running headers should be consistent and should show the proper information, such as the book title or chapter titles. Those sorts of mistakes can easily sneak up on you, so it pays to check for them thoroughly.

- Does each chapter start in the same spot on the page and contain the same elements in the same order?

- Blank pages should have nothing at all on them, not even a header.

- Page references can be another problem. If you referred to something “on page 213″ or “in Chapter 4″ is said reference still there or has it shifted somehow? Or perhaps it has disappeared altogether.

- Paragraph indents ought to be consistent throughout the book, no matter what style you used.

3. Double-Check the Cover


 The front and the back of your book cover play a significant role when marketing your writing. People do judge a book by its cover, so make it the best you can. Here are elements I like to check on:

- Does the overall design meet your expectations?

- Are the book title and the name of the author clearly visible?

- Make sure that the ISBN on your copyright page matches the one on the back cover.

- Proofread the text on the back cover!

Don’t be too surprised if you need to upload revised versions of your book interior and/or cover several times! That’s actually part of the normal process. Of course even after proofing your book mistakes can still sneak by (it can happen to the best of us), but there will definitely be a lot less of them. It pays to check your proof, and correct your files before uploading the revised version. When it’s time to publish your book, you can be confident that you have done everything to bring the best product you can on the market.

Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t find too many errors in my proof copy!  =)

Do you review a printed copy of your book, before it is published? What do you like to double-check? Add your tips and tricks in the comments section below!


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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15 January 2020

Most Popular Christmas Cookie Recipes of 2019


Did your favorite make the cut?

I realize that I'm a bit behind the power curve with this article since it's already the middle of January. However, I say "better late than never". So here they are last year's five most popular Christmas Cookie Recipes from my recipe book 'TIS THE SEASON FOR CHRISTMAS COOKIES. 

Based on my sales stats as well as reader feedback, I was able to put together this short list of recipes, from gingerbread cookies to Christmas Stollen. Enjoy!

1. Christmas Stollen


This cake-like fruit bread was first mentioned in an official document as 'Dresdner Stollen' in the year 1474. This fruit bread can be found in most German bakeries during the holiday season, and is often referred to as "Weihnachtsstollen" (Weihnachten = Christmas) or "Christstollen". A loaf of Christmas Stollen will keep in the freezer for up to two months. 

2. Gingerbread 


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 stay 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.   

3. Cinnamon Stars


Cinnamon Stars may be THE quintessential traditional German Christmas cookies. Everyone loves these little treats. But many don't like to make them, because the sticky dough can be a bit tricky while cutting the stars. But if you take the time to make them, it is more than worth all the work. They are divine.

4. Husarenkrapfen


Husarenkrapfen (sometimes referred to as Angel's Eyes) are shortcrust cookies, traditionally filled with red currant jam. If you don't like or can't find currant jam, you can use strawberry or raspberry jam instead. The word "Krapfen" comes from the old German word "Krafo" and literally means "Fritter". I like to sprinkle a light dusting of powdered sugar on my Husarenkrapfen to give them the appearance of being covered by snow.

5. Florentiner


Florentiner (or Florentine Cookies) are lace cookies made from chopped almonds or hazelnuts and dried fruit. They are then sandwiched with chocolate, and you get the most delicious cookies. Be forewarned that you and your kitchen will likely get a bit messy. It's inevitable! I highly recommend wearing either a chef's jacket or an apron. But in the end, these cookies are well worth the effort! 


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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08 January 2020

9 Essential Winter Care Tips for Your Dog(s)



With the new year, arctic outdoor temperatures seem to creeping up on us. Do you bundle your pup up for below freezing temperatures, sleet, and snow? If you do, then good move! You’re already taking steps to ensure your furry companion stays comfortable and healthy during the cold winter months. However, there are plenty other problems that cold weather brings. Here's a short list of ways you can do even more to make your dog(s) comfortable during cold weather. Since this list is not all-inclusive, please feel free to add your tips in the comment section below! 


Dry air can affect your dog’s skin just like it does yours. You know that dry, itchy feeling you get? Dogs can feel that way, too. Keeping your home humidified helps avoid itchy, flaky skin.

Towel dry your friend's fur after rolling around in the snow will protect your pet’s skin. Don't forget to pay attention to snow clumps stuck between toes!

Gently wash your puppy’s feet and belly regularly to remove harmful deicing chemicals and any last bits of snow and ice. 

While you’re cleaning your friend's feet more often, you might feel the urge to give your furry friend a full bath. Try to resist that urge, and bathing them less. Stripping the oils from your dog's coat will leave their skin less protected. If you must wash your dog, ask your vet or groomer for recommendations on moisturizing products.

Fur is nature’s way of protecting your furry friend from the elements. Allow it to do its job. If your pet has a long coat, go ahead and give it a little trim to prevent it from dragging on the ground, picking up excess snow, but wait with the haircut until the weather is warmer.

A lot of short-haired dogs were not made for cold, snowy weather and definitely benefit from a jacket or sweater that helps protect them from the cold.

Puppy pads can quickly dry out, become irritated and crack during the cold winter months. If your dog doesn't mind wearing boots, then go for it! If not, rubbing their pads with dog paw wax before going for walks can save them from irritation.

Dogs can benefit from a few extra calories and water during the cold weather season, as they burn energy to stay warm. 



Check your dog's bedding and favourite resting places to ensure they’re warm and away from drafts. An extra blanket or two will help keep them comfortable.
But above all, when you do go outside with your furry friend, have a boatload of fun together! 



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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01 January 2020

A Look Back - Top 10 Posts for 2019


Last night, I bid farewell to yet another successful year as an author, and welcomed 2020 with much fanfare and lots of bubbly. Can you believe another year, and indeed, another decade, 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 2019, chosen by you, the readers:

A Look Back - Top Ten Posts for 2019

1. Self-Editing Basics: 9 Simple Ways to Edit Your Manuscript




As most of my readers already know, I'm in the midst of editing my next historical fiction piece THE PERPETUAL TRAVELER. With that in mind, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some tips and tricks that help me along the way to polish my manuscript....

2. How Readers' Suggestions Can Influence Authors




Like most writers, I get my fair share of emails and social media messages from readers. Most of these messages are encouraging. I love to hear how my stories touch readers' lives. These words are such a blessing, and I am confident my fellow authors would agree. Once in a while...


3. Writing Historical Fiction: Chronological Errors and How to Avoid Them




Let's start with this question: What is a chronological error? Well, a chronological error or anachronism is defined as an error in time placement. For example, a sword is an anachronism in modern warfare, referencing the EU in a story set in Victorian times, or mentioning breeds of domesticated animals...


4. 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 PERPETUAL TRAVELER - A Country Girl Empress Novel. The first thing I did was to perform my happy dance...



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..



Changing things up this week for a cause near and dear to my heart: Next Monday is International Epilepsy Day. 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...



Over the last few weeks, I've received several inquiries asking me to write at least one article about some lesser-known facts regarding the main character of my Country Girl Empress series, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of Hungary. Since I share the trait of being an animal lover with the late Empress, I thought it was only fitting to start with this little known fact...



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 really necessary, and how close to stick to reality...



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...



When I first conceived the notion to write THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESS series, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to cover the entire lifetime of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi), set in 19th century Vienna. While I was quite familiar with her life story and the setting already, I knew there was still so much more I needed to research...

Thank you for reading my blog! Please feel free to come by often to catch up on my latest endeavours and Happy Reading!



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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24 December 2019

A Writer's New Year's Resolutions


The end of 2019, and indeed this decade, is fast approaching, and many people will be making New Year’s resolutions. Although I'm not one to set lofty goals for myself 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 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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