Shana Galen
Shana Galen

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Fun, Shana Galen

I posted a funny video on my Facebook page Wednesday. It’s one of Weird Al’s parodies. Obviously, Weird Al is as much of a geek about words and grammar as I am.

Here it is.

I’m no grammar Nazi. I make plenty of mistakes, mostly typos, so I won’t go near a glass house. But there are a few things that make me grind my teeth.

Making a word possessive when it is not possessive

I see this a lot on sites that do personalization. They’ll offer a plaque or wooden sign that says

The Keller’s

Established 1998

Sweet and cute and completely wrong! There’s no need for that apostrophe.

Less and Fewer

Why can’t stores get this right? If you can count it one-by-one, use fewer. So it should be “10 items or fewer.” If you can’t count it individually, use less. “I drank less vodka than he did.”

Period inside the quotes

This is just me. I hate when writers put periods outside quotation marks or before parentheses when quoting or citing sources. I taught MLA style, and I love MLA style.

What are your word crimes?

 

 


Beauty and the Cowboy - 1-SummerFair_BeautyAndTheCowboy_Round2Medium-672x1024

Friday is release day for my first Montana Born book, BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY! It’s the first book in Tule Publishing Group’s Big Marietta Fair series.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about some of my summer memories that inspired the feel of the book. Today, I want to talk about the music that helped keep me in the zone as I wrote this story.

Every book I write has a soundtrack, but the one for BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY is extra fun.  Every song on the list lends itself to the feel of this friends-to-lovers story. 

Here’s the playlist:

Goodbye in Her Eyes – Zac Brown Band

Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert

I Hope it Rains – Jana Kramer

Springsteen – Eric Church

Sure Would be Cool if You Did – Blake Shelton

Night Train – Jason Aldean

My Eyes – Blake Shelton

I’m On Fire – Bruce Springsteen

I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes

Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band

 

Goodbye in Her Eyes fits so well, because as the story opens, Charlotte Morgan, or Charlie, as those closest to her call her, is about to get engaged to the man she’s dated for six years. The only problem is, she has a sinking feeling that this isn’t the happily ever after she’s always dreamed of. The two have dated long distance for a lot of the time they’ve been together and now that they’re about to take the first step toward making the relationship permanent, the ring pinches. Charlie just can’t bring herself to pretend it’s okay. How can she when all she wants to do is get that darned marquise off her finger?

Without giving away too much of the story, the next two songs on the playlist Mama’s Broken Heart and I Hope it Rains give a good hint to what happens next. Thank goodness her lifelong friend, Jesse Guthrie, is there to help her pick up the pieces. 

Jesse has had a thing for Charlie for as far back as he can remember, but one of the two of them has always been otherwise engaged…until now. That would account for the next six songs on the list. Give them a listen. They’ll give you a hint as to what happens next. 

And then there’s Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band. That song is just pure fun and gets stuck in my head. So, I had to include it. Plus, I imagined it playing somewhere in the background as the friends who are edging closer to something more enjoy the Big Marietta Fair.

 

The fabulous folks at Tule Publishing put together a collection of videos for each of the songs. Here’s a link: BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY video playlist  

After you click on the first one, the rest play automatically.

 One song I wish I would’ve added to the list is Rick Springfield’s Jesse’s Girl. Let’s consider it a bonus track. 

What’s your favorite song on the playlist? Or if you’d rather, tell me your favorite song that’s not on the list. One person who posts will win a Kindle copy of BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY. I’ll post the winner’s name on Sunday.


Big Marietta Fair bookmark top half

In July, I’ll celebrate the release of my first Montana Born novella, BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY. It’s part of Tule Publishing Group’s Big Marietta Fair series. I’m so excited to be part of this project. Aren’t the covers wonderful? I’m in love with each and every one of them. Working with the five other talented authors (including our very own, Katherine Garbera) was such fun and it brought back all sorts of memories of times I spent at summer fairs.

 When I was a kid, instead of going away to camp, my little brother and I used to spend summers with my grandparents. We lived in Florida and my grandparents were in the Midwest. So, this annual trip was a very big deal.

My grandmother was so much fun and she took great pride in spoiling us rotten. One of the biggest treats was when we went to the fair. I loved the sights and sounds, the cotton candy and the snow cones.  Back then I had no fear of roller coasters…Well, that is until I met The Wild Mouse.

Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? It was, believe me. To this day, hearing the words Wild Mouse strikes fear in my heart. Good thing we don’t hear those words used together very often.

At this particular fair, I was the only one of our clan who was brave enough to challenge The Wild Mouse. I was simply disgusted with everyone for being such chickens. I was going to show them how it was done. I marched my eight-year-old self up there and rode alone. Okay, maybe I was nine or twelve…I don’t remember…but I digress.

 My grand display of bravery was cut short right after the first ninety degree turn. In fact, I was nearly paralyzed with fear. I just knew I was going to die. The track seemed rickety. If it didn’t collapse, I swore the car I was riding in was going to go flying off the track.

It didn’t. Every time I talk about it, someone makes fun of me…Ooooh, that terrifying Wild Mouse that ruined you for all roller coasters.

Since no one believed me, I finally got smart and Googled it. And guess what? The Wild Mouse has its own Wikipedia page! Yes it does, thank you very much. And that’s not all. Wikipedia confirms that even though it’s a small, slow-ish ride, it is, indeed a scary coaster. The way the track was designed it did give the illusion that your car would miss the turn and sail right off the track and die. Then, when it turned, you wished it would’ve sailed off the end because then you feared you were going to fall out of the darn thing…and die.

It may have nearly scared me to death, and, yes, it ruined me for other roller coasters, but after all these years, it’s still a good memory. When I think back to the summers of my youth, our adventures at the fair are some of my best-loved times.

BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY, which will be available July 11, doesn’t feature a scary roller coaster, but it is a friends-to-lovers story set amidst the Big Marietta Fair. I’ll tell you more about Jesse and Charlotte’s love story as we get closer to the release date. The other Fair authors and I will be giving away some very fun prizes as each of the books launches. More on that, too, in the days to come.

Today, I want to treat one person who posts to a $10 Amazon.com gift card. Tell me your favorite fair memory. Did you go to the fair as a kid? Do you still go? Did you fall in love at the fair? Did you ever get stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel with someone special or have a terrifying experience on a ride? Oh! Did you ever brave The Wild Mouse?! I can’t wait to hear your fair stories.    

 Big Marietta Fair bookmark bottom hals

 

 

 


Not to brag or anything, but our house has an entire room devoted to exercise equipment. In there, where once you could find a baby boy’s crib, you can now work out to your heart’s content, using a recumbent bike or an elliptical trainer while you watch a super HD TV on the wall.

treadmill

Pick your choice of great videos offering to help you stretch or shred, strengthen your core or washboard your abs.

We’ve even got those multi-colored band thingies, hand weights in various poundages, yoga mats and blocks, jump ropes and balls. Finish off with a soothing tilt on the inversion table.

Know how often I use that room?

That’s right. Never.

I hate exercise. HATE it. Inside, on a machine, every mile feels like an endless death march. My daughter used to have hamsters, who frantically rode their Wheel to Nowhere all night, every night. When I’m on a treadmill I know exactly how they felt.

hamster on wheel istock

My rejection of the home gym drives His Highness crazy. The great guy single-handedly set up that room, buying the awesome TV as a Valentine’s Day present, the shred video as a Mother’s Day present, the recumbent bike as a “so sorry you broke your foot” present… And, after all, he has to look at my backside more often than I do. A writer’s life can really turn that thing into a cushy lump the approximate size and shape of your desk chair’s seat.

But I can’t help it. I hate indoor exercise. Luckily, I love to walk—and I’m averaging about four-five miles these days. Even when it’s hot. Even when it rains. Outside, everything is different. Walking in the park, by the lake, or just around the neighborhood, doesn’t feel like exercise at all.

sybelia park dock to lake

It feels like a visit with the best psychiatrist in town. I meet neighbors, and, even better, their dogs. I’m soothed by water and wildlife. I see stately herons in the daytime and mysterious owls at night.

bird at lake

my new owl friend

Squirrels whirl around tree trunks, cardinals trapeze between houses, and each season brings a new set of flowers from my green-thumb neighbors. Right now, the crepe myrtles are filled with blooms that look like soft-serve strawberry ice cream cones.

crepe myrtle commons

I listen to books on tape, great writing that surely will improve my own pages, right? I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things,” and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” (Note: Don’t listen to “Dracula” at night…even Greg Wise’s gorgeous voice won’t keep that darling retriever on the next street over from looking like an ominous wolf.)

Some nights, I put on my iTunes playlists and let music propel me along. I consider every fast song a challenge to be met. Right now, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is my favorite. To the neighbors who see me during those eight minutes, I apologize. I get a little carried away, and it’s probably not pretty.

In short, I’m having so much fun out there I forget it’s something I should do. And even when my Fitbit (a nifty wristband tracking my steps …which I learned about from one of our own JQs!) buzzes, alerting me I’ve reached my goal for the day, I don’t head for home. One more block. One more mile. One more chapter with Greg Wise whispering in my ear.

"A Cock And Bull Story" UK Premiere - Arrivals

How about you? Can you bring yourself to use the exercise equipment in your house? Do you go to a real gym? How do you keep it from being boring?

Inside or out, what do you listen to? Any recommendations for inspiring walking songs, or must-hear audio books? I’d love to hear what works for you!

I’ve been inexcusably slow announcing my winners from my Here Comes The Dress blog–my apologies all around! The winners, chosen at random, are ROCHELLE and ADA. Ladies, if you’ll contact me privately at KOBrien@aol.com and give me your Kindle loading addresses, I’ll send you THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE asap!

KathleenOBrien.Brides.Final_-698x1024


Shana Galen
Shana Galen

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The winner of THE CHANGELING SOLDIER is Dian S. Dian, I’ll send you an email. Congrats!


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