What do the Barbie doll, Richie Valens, and I have in common?

photo of Donna Brown/alias Cygnet Brown, Author
photo of Donna Brown/alias Cygnet Brown, Author

Barbie was first sold by Mattel in 1959, and the song Oh Donna, written by Ritchie Valens, became popular after Valens died that year in a plane crash in February when he and other musicians J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly crashed outside of Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all on board. Oh, Donna, which was first released in 1958 hit Number 2 on the Hot Billboard Hits in September 1959. I was born Donna Swanson in July of the same year.

I grew up in Corry, Pennsylvania (USA). Both my grandfathers had been immigrants. Both of my grandmothers…


Garden 2020/photo by author

I moved into my current home at the beginning of the pandemic. My husband and I had purchased our property at the end of 2019. We expected to build a tiny house and move into it during the summer of 2020. I would plan a large garden that I would work on during the weekends until we could move to the property later in the summer of 2020. I hoped to have a garden that was large enough to eat fresh vegetables during the summer, to can, and to save seed from for the following year. …


Bush Beans with their first true leaves

Beans are legumes which means that they fix nitrogen in the soil and if eaten as dried beans, mixed with a grain makes a complete protein. Many types of bush beans exist and there’s something for almost everyone. Beans can be eaten (or canned) young as green beans and yellow wax beans or can be allowed to go to seed and eaten as a high protein food.

Bush green beans, unlike pole beans don’t need special supports and can be grown in almost any climate. They are easy for new gardeners to grow successfully. They are relatively small plants that…


The stories you can share while sitting at the table. photo by Kevin Curtis, Unsplash

Grandpa’s Ride

Back in the nineteen-teens, before Dad was born, Grandpa was driving his cows from the pasture to the barn for milking. Because his pasture was across the road from the barn, he had to cross the dirt road at the front of his property several times. He unlatched the door on the barn side of the road first and opened the gate. Then he went to the other side of the road where the cows were that gate. He then herded the cows across the road. When the cows were back across the road and in the cows…


I am thankful for the enthusiasm when I come home. It is always a good feeling, no matter what the motivation

several chickens looking at the camera
several chickens looking at the camera
The Crew wondering what I have for them today. Photo by Author

When I was a little girl, I remember how excited we got when Daddy came home.

When I was growing up, Dad worked as a milk tester. His job was to check the amount of milk and butterfat that each cow gave so that the farmer could better manage his herd.

Because most of the farmers he worked with (he was self-employed) had night and morning milkings so that meant that he would come home in the middle of the day.

During the summer when we weren’t in school, we couldn’t wait until he arrived home and we could rush…


Part 2 of Making My Mess into a Masterpiece

A stage with a red curtain before a play.
A stage with a red curtain before a play.
Your novel starts with an empty stage. Photo by Barry Weatherall on Unsplash

In my last article Making My Mess into a Masterpiece, on the Friends of National Novel Writing Month publication, I wrote about determining your plots, subplots, and character development. During this article, we will be taking a deep dive into the major scenes of your novel.

First, you’ll need to determine what these major scenes are.

According to Author C. S Lakin in the book Layer Your Novel: The Innovative Method for Plotting Your Scenes (The Writer’s Toolbox Series) (I am not an affiliate of this book), there are ten basic key scenes in a novel. …


Take control of the habits that control you

A girl with blonde hair with smoke coming out of her mouth
A girl with blonde hair with smoke coming out of her mouth
Eliminate Bad Habits Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

As hard as it is to create good new habits, it is equally hard to break bad habits. Such was the case for me when I was smoking. I had started smoking because I had a weight problem. I had a hand-to-mouth habit. Putting something in my mouth helped me with anxiety. I discovered smoking cigarettes helped me control my weight, but it created other, more serious problems.

Reasons To Quit

The habit was expensive even back then. When I first started smoking, I could get a pack for just $0.43. I remember when they went up to a buck a pack. I…


This Happened to Me

When I became detective for a day

corkboard, evidence board with red yarn showing associations between evidence
corkboard, evidence board with red yarn showing associations between evidence
Finding the Evidence was not that big of a problem when you’re dealing with a fool. Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Several years ago, my debit card was stolen from my purse. I have learned over the years that usually, when a debit card comes up missing, the guilty party is never caught. In the case of this missing debit card, I helped capture the culprit and bring him to justice.

The last time I saw my debit card was on a Friday morning. I was caretaking my autistic client with my boss when we stopped at the Dairy Queen and picked up some ice cream. I remember paying for my Blizzard with…


I tried, I really did.

Mother looking lovingly at her newborn child
Mother looking lovingly at her newborn child
Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

When my elder son was born, I attended Lamaze where one of the things they recommended was breastfeeding. The benefits of breastfeeding, also called nursing your child, are well documented. Breast milk is the infant’s perfect nutrition. The milk offers some protection from common childhood infections and better survival during a baby’s first year. The early bonding contact between mother and child offers additional physical and emotional benefits. In addition, breastfeeding may reduce asthma, obesity, and type two diabetes. The infant’s cognitive development may also be improved through breastfeeding. With all these benefits, I decided I would breastfeed my child.


Were the results beyond my control?

A pair of running shoes that someone is holding.
A pair of running shoes that someone is holding.
I had to quit the challenge early due to equipment malfunction. Photo by Kristian Egelund on Unsplash

We’ve all heard of the marathon runner who passed out yards before the finish line. That was my laptop in my thirty-day challenge. My thirty-day challenge started on June 1. Here’s a link to my challenge. My challenge was from June 1 to June 30, so why am I just now writing about it?

I was doing so well. I had 26 out of 27 articles accepted by 26 publications when it happened. Well, the problems started before I finished writing the last two articles that I had published. I was typing along and saw that whenever I hit the…

Donna Brown

Author of The Locket Saga, a fictional American Historical Family, gardener, homesteader, chicken farmer, teacher.

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