Thursday, December 14, 2017

My Super Power

After 30+ days of writing at least 2,000 words a day, I now have a real-life first draft that I can rip apart and completely change. 

It seems a little unreasonable that I'm so happy about that, but that's the writing life. 

I had a lot of wonderful people help watch my kids so I could have writing time, but a big chunk of my writing was done late at night, after the kids were in bed, fueled by caffeine and the natural high that writing gives me. 

I thought that, after a month, I would be exhausted, ready to throw my computer into a wall and never look at my draft again. But, you know, the first night after I finished, as I got the kids to bed, I found myself looking forward to those quiet, thrilling hours of writing. And then I remembered, with disappointment, "Oh, I'm done."

Writing every day has become a habit, and when I told Mr. Brown Eyes that I wanted to keep up with it, he said, "I think you should. I've noticed you've been happier since you started."

It reminded me of the Grisha from Leigh Bardugo's amazing Shadow and Bone trilogy (if you haven't read it, I seriously recommend it. So good). They're born with these unnatural abilities--super powers, if you will--but if they don't use them, they become sickly and weak, a shell of their true selves. 

I've discovered that writing is my super power. When I'm not writing on a regular basis, I don't feel completely me. And when I write, I feel strong. Maybe not lift-a-train-over-my-head strong, but capable, happy, and overjoyed with the chance I have to make writing my life. 

What's your super power?

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

National Novel Writing Month and a Giveaway!

So against my better judgment I decided to join the ranks of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and hopefully get a kick-start on Book Two of my Unicorn Hunter series.

The funny thing is, six months ago Book Two was done. Complete. Just waiting to be published. (Ha ha).

Three months ago, Book Two was halfway done and just needed a new beginning.

Now Book Two is trash and I need to completely rewrite it.

My computer and I are going to be getting very cozy during November.

To celebrate the beauty of writing a novel in a month (and the insane amount of Netflix my kids will be watching to keep them out of my hair), I'm giving away a copy of The Unicorn Hunter! It's part of an awesome giveaway on one of my favorite book sites, New LDS Fiction. Go here for all the details and to enter!

I will see you in a month!

Kissy kissy,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


While ransacking my closet looking for I-don't-remember-what, I unearthed stacks of folders stuffed to their capacity with printed pages, and notebooks filled from beginning to end with my scurried handwriting.

Yes, this is my collection of writing from over the years. Or part of it, at least.

Who knew I was so prolific?

My husband laughed when I showed him and asked what they were all about. I'd definitely say the bulk of them are about horses or unicorns in some form. But there are also a couple Titanic retellings (with happy twists so Leonardo Dicaprio doesn't die at the end), some attempts at historical fiction, and many stories paying homage to my youthful obsession with Greek mythology.

I suppose, judging from this stack, I've never really struggled with having something to write about.

But for any writer who does, take heart. There are stories inside of you, just waiting to be discovered.

One awesome way I've gotten my creative juices flowing is using writing prompts. There are some great ones online, some even offering a prompt a day to get you inspired. I have seriously filled notebooks with writing prompts, and it's amazing how just a sentence or two can be the start of something awesome.

If you don't like prompts, try free-writing. Time yourself and put your pen to paper (or your fingers to the keyboard). Write for the full time, no stopping allowed. You'll be amazed at what comes out of your mind. And well, maybe a little concerned, too, but that's a topic for another day.

I will be posting more writing prompts here in the future, so stay tuned! I've got some fun ones.

And next week I'll give you some suggestions on finishing what you start. For some of us, that's the real hard part.

Happy Writing!
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, August 21, 2017

Excerpt from Book Two

I am pushing my way through the first draft of Book Two of The Unicorn Hunter. Somedays it's like gliding on a canoe through a mirrored lake, other days it's like scrambling up a steep mountain trail full of loose gravel.

Today feels like more of the latter.

But I wanted to share with you an excerpt from Book Two, (1) because I love you and (2) just to prove that it exists. There will be more to come! Thanks for reading!

When the king finished his speech and everyone toasted Jessalyn’s safe return, the feast began. While her goblet was being filled Jessalyn turned to her father. “You didn’t mention Erik.”
“Erik. The fortune-seeker you had accompany Sir Connor to find me.”
The queen, listening quietly across the table, added, “The one who was stabbed by a unicorn and lived to tell about it.”
Of course her mother would bring up unicorns. “Yes, him. You didn’t mention him in your speech.”
King Gillam shook his head. “I didn’t think it was necessary, seeing as he’s received his pardon and moved on. Sir Connor deserves the accolades. There’s no reason why he needs to share his glory with a thief. No one knows Erik was involved. It’s better we keep it that way.”
“Why? Because he’s a thief? He saved my life, Father. Multiple times.”
“Then I’m glad my trust in him was justified.” The king forced a small smile and patted Jessalyn’s hand. “Sharadel would have wanted Erik’s blood for what he did. It’s better that he didn’t stay.”
Her head agreed but her heart felt strangely tight. “Do you know where he went?”
The king shook his head as he took a bite of steamed fish. “Does it matter?”
Jessalyn cut her gaze to her plate, afraid her mother would be able to read the feelings hidden there. “No.”

After the feast a group of minstrels played the piping tunes Jessalyn always loved to dance to, and a steady stream of courtiers wound their way to her side, anxious for every detail of her adventure. Since the moment the carriage left Gontir, Jessalyn had daydreamed about this, the words she would say and the expressions she would use to convey her exciting and terrifying ordeal. Yet now that the courtiers were beside her, attempting to pry her open like one of those clamshells the fishermen catch by the dock, she found herself wanting to stay shut. The details were hers—the good and the bad—and, much like the string of pearls her father had given her when she was six, she didn’t want to share them with anyone.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, August 10, 2017


I know I just restarted Writing Prompt Wednesday, but I am going to take a short break. I made a goal to get my first draft of The Unicorn Hunter sequel finished by the end of August, so that means all my spare time--every precious second--needs to be devoted to writing.

But I won't forget about you! I will come back and post snippets of what I'm working on. If I get my butt in gear and actually write instead of just staring at my computer screen.

Happy August!
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Writing Prompt Wednesday: First Day of School

My oldest child starts his first day of second grade tomorrow. Yes, school starts insanely early in Arizona. And I am not ready. Well, his school supplies are purchased and his lunch is made. But I'm not ready to trade in our long, lazy summer days for carpools and homework.

In honor of school starting, today's writing prompt is: Write down your memories of your very first day of school.

As a little kindergartner on my first day of school, the school bus flew. I remember looking out the window at the farm fields flashing by and thinking I had never been in such a fast-moving vehicle. I guess buses are pretty fast when you're five years old and your mother always drives the speed limit.

Despite having attended Meet the Teacher night the day before, I must have listened only half-heartedly to my mother's careful instructions on how to find my classroom, As soon as the bus pulled up to the school and spit us out, I was baffled. I looked around at the low brick buildings and the steady stream of students and had no idea which way to go.

So, like the follower I am, I fell into step behind a group of older kids (second or third graders, but they were huge to my five year-old self), but quickly realized that the classrooms they were so confidently strolling toward were not mine.

I retreated to the front of the school and stood there. A lost little kindergartner waiting for rescue. Maybe I thought someone would take pity on me. Maybe I thought I would just wait for the next bus and try school again tomorrow. Whatever I was thinking, it worked because a few minutes later my teacher (an unhappy woman with frizzy brown hair) happened by, saw my pathetic self, and led me to my classroom.

It was the first of many awkward days in my school career.

Happy (I guess) Back to School,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Writing Prompt Wednesday: First Thoughts

Because I am about to escape the Phoenix heat for a beautiful three days of camping, and this picture was also taken during a camping trip, today's prompt is:

Write the first thoughts that come to your mind when you look at this picture.

Stairs are treacherous. As a young mother, I am very familiar with hovering over my toddlers anytime they are around stairs, just waiting for that moment when I need to snatch their arm as they teeter on the edge. Sometimes I have missed the snatch, as the tiny white scar on my daughter's forehead can evidence.

But these rickety wooden stairs actually remind me of a funny story from my childhood. Growing up, the stairs in our house had a broken step at the bottom; it was at an angle while all the others had a defined edge. One night, for some unknown reason, my dad took it upon himself to repair the broken step. He removed the carpet and the wood so instead of a step a hole gaped into the storage closet underneath the stairs.

I knew my dad was fixing the step. His tools were all over the stairs. And yet, somehow, as I trotted down the stairs after putting my pajamas on, I stepped right into that hole. As I cried for help, my sisters busted up laughing at the sight of my legs dangling down into the storage closet.

Dad (or Mom, I can't remember) helped me out, and the story should end there, right?


After going upstairs again to grab a book, I trotted downstairs and stepped into the hole again.

You'd think I would have learned, right?


My sisters once again howled with laughter at my plight.

I think this story reveals so much about the multitude of issues that plague me to this day. Namely that I am a klutz and it takes me lots and lots of times to get things right.

And also that my sisters are really mean.

Happy Writing Prompt-ing!

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Return of Writing Prompt Wednesday

Long ago, when I first started this blog, I used to post a writing prompt every Wednesday. That lasted for a few months, then life took over and Writing Prompt Wednesday fell by the wayside.

Now, however, I am published, I've quit my day job (not because of writing, but that's a story for another day), and I no longer need an excuse to unabashedly make writing my life (or, well, most of it. I still have three small mouths to feed. And a dog that just wants to play. And a husband who needs love and kisses). So I am bringing back Writing Prompt Wednesday!

Every Wednesday I will post a writing prompt, some made-up, most taken from people cleverer than me. The dreamer in me envisions other people commenting with their responses to the prompt, and even eventually turning it into an occasional writing contest with awesome prizes from yours truly for the winners!

But that may be a day far far into the distant future.

Until then, enjoy Writing Prompt Wednesday. I hope it inspires your writing!

Today's Prompt: Begin a story with the line, "They were eating dinner when a  butterfly floated in and landed on the meatloaf."
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises

They were eating dinner when a  butterfly floated in and landed on the meatloaf. Everyone reacted differently. Billy, not old enough to talk, cooed and laughed and clapped his hands. Grandpa, old enough to talk though everyone wished he wasn't, started to say, "Now that reminds me of that time in the war..." Father attempted to shush him and Mother reached across the table to shoo the butterfly away, knocking over Suzy's water which spilled in her lap, surprising her so much with its coldness that she hit Billy, who started to cry, which reminded Grandpa of another war story Father had heard a million times. Mother helped Suzy wipe up the mess and scolded her for hitting her brother. The butterfly, meanwhile, floated out the window, leaving chaos in its wake.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

My First Book Signing

Years ago at some random bookstore, I remember seeing an author sitting behind a table stacked with his books, awkwardly waiting for someone to come buy one and have him sign it.

I remember thinking, "I never want to do that."

I did, in fact, want to be an author. I have wanted that my whole life. But the awkward pushing of my own book, equivalent to hawking my flesh and blood to any stranger on the street? I could do without that part.

And yet, two weeks ago, I had my turn being that awkward author behind the table.

I forgot names, misspelled words, and repeated myself. And watched in agony as people picked up my book, glanced at it, and put it back down.

The two things that saved me?


True sisterly love and devotion.

And all the amazing people who showed up to support me:

(These pictures don't represent all of you. Some of my pictures aren't loading right. And, let's face it, we don't need to see any more of that shiny forehead.)

When the signing was over, I felt awkward and vulnerable, worn down and insecure. But I also felt loved.

So I will probably do it again.

Here's to being published!
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Skunk

While basking in the beautiful Arizona sunshine, watching my girls blow bubbles and fight over bikes, my neighbor waved me over and told me that earlier he saw a skunk mosey across my lawn.

"Do you know where it went?" I asked.

He shrugged and pointed. "Over there. Maybe it went into your garage?"

Mr. Brown Eyes had left the garage door open. I could just picture a skunk lurking in the corners of that organized chaos, tail raised in anticipation of whoever was unfortunate enough to step inside first.

As a precaution, I told Blue-Eyed Girl to be sure and stay away from the garage because there could be a skunk inside.

She listened raptly, blue eyes wide. "What do skunks do?"

"They spray you with stink if you scare them. That's how they protect themselves."

"Are they mean?"

"No. They're scared of people. But they will spray you if you scare them and you will stink for a long time."

Blue-Eyed Girl shuddered. "I don't want to play outside anymore. Let's go inside."

We went in the house and I forgot about the mystery skunk until Blue-Eyed Girl slipped into the kitchen and asked, "Can skunks open doors?"

I laughed. "No, they don't have hands."

She visibly relaxed. "Oh good."

The skunk didn't come up again until Mr. Brown Eyes went out to mow the lawn and I warned him to be careful in the garage. And then Blue-Eyed Girl was glued to the living room window, watching Mr. Brown Eyes circle the house on the lawn mower, worrying aloud that she hoped the skunk wouldn't get Daddy. I only half-listened to her, sure she understood that the skunk wasn't going to chase down a moving lawn mower.

But as night fell and we snuggled on the couch, reading books before bedtime, Blue-Eyed Girl wouldn't stop talking about the skunk.

Finally I looked at her and asked, "Are you scared of the skunk, sweetheart?"

She nodded and my heart hurt that I had brushed her off all day, allowing her imagination to conjure up a terrifying creature with dripping fangs and a horrible stench. "They're not scary. They're like kitties, with fluffy tails and a long white stripe."

She still wasn't convinced so I asked, "Do you want to look at some pictures of skunks?"

I pulled out my phone and typed in "skunks as pets" and, thank goodness, the first picture that came up was a basket full of adorable baby skunks with tiny noses and big black eyes.

Blue-Eyed Girl grabbed my phone and exclaimed, "Daddy, look! Baby skunks!"

And just like that, her fears vanished.

No skunk so far,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Hard Swallow

Sometimes in life you just have to swallow your pride.

For me, it's a hard swallow. That much pride doesn't go down easily.

It's a struggle I've had my whole life.

When I worked at Ensign Ranch, I made everything a competition between me and Na, the only other girl working there. We were friends. But I didn't want her to be a better rider or know more about horses than me. I pushed away her advice and her help many times when I would have been better off if I had just listened.

One day the ranch manager asked me to help him shoe Levi, one of the ranch horses. Levi was skittish and especially hated being shod, so he needed a firm, gentle hand holding his halter and giving him assurances throughout the whole process. Na was very good at keeping Levi calm by stroking his neck and singing in his ear. I thought I could be just as good using my own methods.

I was wrong.

With one frightened toss of his head Levi tore the halter out of my hands and bolted. For the next twenty minutes we chased him around the barnyard, praying he didn't try to crash through the fence onto the nearby highway. When we finally caught him, I swallowed hard and handed the lead rope to Na.

I was reminded of that experience this week as I worked on the sub-edits for my novel. I guess getting published had over-inflated my ego, because when I opened up that Word document and saw all the revisions I had to make, my pride took a swift, heavy blow.

Being humbled is so painful.

But, as distasteful as it is, swallowing my pride is much better than being ruled by it.

I'm learning that one lesson at a time.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Looking In

Leaving work late on a fall afternoon, this is what I saw:

It reminded me of the story of a girl who, every evening, looked out her window at the house on the other side of the valley. It was a beautiful house with golden windows and she yearned to live there. Her own home was drab and ordinary.

One day she was able to walk across the valley to look at the beautiful house. To her dismay, when she got there, she discovered the house was run-down and abandoned. The windows were not golden after all, but cracked and dirty.

When she turned to walk home, she gasped with astonishment. The sunset reflected in the windows of her own home, golden and beautiful. It was just the place she'd always dreamed of living.

This girl could be me. It seems I've always lived my life this way, being envious of what other people have, feeling like what I have is never enough. Envying other people's golden windows while being oblivious to my own.

When I catch myself feeling this way, I try to imagine myself an outsider looking into my life, a stranger peering through the windows (in a non-creepy way). Would I wish to be a part of the life I saw?

The answer is always yes.

Because while that outsider looking in might see my dirty house, our unpatched ceiling, my mismatched furniture, my children throwing fits about how "mean" I am, they would also see the things I too often overlook, perhaps because they're so everyday: a long, slow kiss, plates of food spread across our dinner table, laughter, bedtime stories.

Sometimes to see our blessings we have to step outside and look in.

Perspective changes everything,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, February 3, 2017

Happy 2017!

I just realized I have not published a single post on my blog this year. I am such a slacker.

I promise I will have more in the weeks to come as I traverse this unfamiliar territory of getting a book published. Until then, feel free to click link to the right ------>> and visit my author page. I like it. Do you like it?

Happy February! It's the month of Love and My Birthday! (Capitalization errors intended.)

The Brown-Eyed Girl