Saylor's Goodreads Bookshelf

Saylor's books

Animal Farm
Where the Sidewalk Ends
The Great Gatsby
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Slaughterhouse-Five
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Little Women
Frankenstein
A Tale of Two Cities
The Count of Monte Cristo
Les Misérables
Moby-Dick or, The Whale
The Joy Luck Club
Middlesex
The Memory Keeper's Daughter


Saylor's favorite books »
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Judy Blume, is THE VALIDATOR.

In a world where young readers plundered about with nothing to read but Peanuts cartoons or Little House on the Prairie books. There was one woman who picked up a pen and wrote about truth. Wielding that pen in the most fictitious ways, she cut down the shrouds of secrecy shining the light of validation on millions of young readers. Until the censors came. (Duh duh dunnnnnnn)
“You must not write truth!” They said.
“F*ck you!” She said.
No, okay. She would never say that because she’s Judy Blume and she’s way too crafty to use such base verbiage. But who among us didn’t metaphorically crap ourselves when we read “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret” or “Blubber”? Whoa, knowledge. Didn’t you feel just a little bit dangerous and worldly reading them?
I am of the second generation of Judy Blume. Her books were just a few years too old for me when they first came out, but just like every other hand me down, I grew into them. And I can honestly say I have never read anything since that made me feel as validated as Judy Blume. See kids, there was a time when we young readers didn’t really have much to read that had the least bit to do with our reality.
And time marches on, SO the other day I’m in the car taking some books back to the library and NPR is on (Talk of the Nation) and Judy Blume was being interviewed. I sat in the car listening, again feeling that ‘just a little bit dangerous’ feeling. It was like muscle memory or how a scent will send you back to a specific time in your life. It’s a really good interview, especially for writers. Because she does what she does, validates. Writing can be a lonely trade and I was so glad to have heard this interview. You can also check out her website Judy Blume.com. Where she makes with more of the validation and other helpful knowledge.
As a side note, I listened to the whole interview even though the “call in” section always makes me cringe. It makes me cringe because anything anyone has to say to someone like Judy Blume seems to always have more to do with themselves than Judy Blume. I guess I would ask her if she ever thought of taking on a story about gay youth or just say, “Thank you.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writer's assistants.

I have two cats with me while I work, four little eyes watching my every move. Sometimes, they take turns. One will go take a nap while the other stands guard. What exactly they are waiting for or watching completely escapes my understanding.

Cat 1: She’s been sitting there for four hours. Tapping her fingers in the same places.
Cat 2: I know, the rhythm is intoxicating then she stops. I think the stopping is very jolting.
Cat 1: Have you noticed her exhibiting any unnatural behaviors?
Cat 2: Other than this? ‘Cause this can’t be natural.
Cat 1: I think she needs an intervention. I’m going in.
Cat 2: Be careful.

The printer starts printing. Both cats jump.

Cat 1: Oh! Here we go! Get back I got this one!
Cat 2: No it’s my turn! I’m taking the top!
Cat 1: Make it stop! Stick your paw in it!

“Boys! Stop or you’re both getting put out.”

Cat 2: I can’t reach it from here! It’s going too fast!
Cat 1: It’s spitting paper at us!

“Bou, get down! That’s it you’re both out.”

The door shuts.

Cat 1: I liked it so much better before she had an office.
Cat 2: I know. Those were the good old days.
Cat 1: Now what?
Cat 2: Just sit by the door I guess, what are you doing?
Cat 1: Sometimes, if I reach under the door far enough, it pops open.
Cat 2: Oh, let me help.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Discipline and Self-Publishing


Have you seen my pen?  I left it right here on this notebook.  I really need it to get started on this editing.  No, I didn’t take it into the bathroom.  It’s the silver pen with the blue ink.  I need that blue ink pen to do the editing with – because it has the blue ink.  No I don’t want the black one it writes like a magic marker and I can’t see what I wrote.  No I can’t use the black ink, the blue is for editing!  It was right here.  Let’s see, I got up and went to use the bathroom.  I went into the kitchen and made some coffee, back through the dining room and looked through the mail, thought of a funny joke and called mom.  Gave the cats a snack and opened the back door so they could go out.  Swept the leaves off the patio and decided to take out the recycling.  I really should learn to do my editing on the computer but the car looked filthy so I washed the car.  As I vacuumed the interior I realized it needed some gas so I went up the station and filled it up – oh that’s where it is I bet, I’ll call and see if I left it there.
            “Hi, I came in a little while ago and filled up the car.  I wonder if I left my silver pen with blue ink there.  Hello?”
            Maybe it’s in the car, no because I cleaned it out.  Oh that's right, the phone had rung and I talked to the Bike Repairman, what was his name?  I always want to call him Jeff.  He looks like a Jeff, nice man.  Really likes bicycles.  Jeff the bike-guy.  I think that’s how they came up with last names at some point in evolution.  He’d be Jeff Bikeman.  Depending on what part of the world his people come from, in Germany he’d be Fahrrad reparatur so he’d be Fahrradreparatur unless they were from Bavaria, cause that’s a whole other language if you ask me.  Very disciplined culture throughout the country the German’s have.  I admire that.  Is it culturally insensitive to say that I wonder?  I don’t think so, I mean you can’t exactly say that all German people have self discipline because it’s not true.  But, in general, I think it’s safe to say one admires a cultural trait.  I also like Spanish dance, like the salsa, tango and that’s not culturally insensitive. 
What was I doing?  Oh yes, I want to write a blog about discipline when you self-publish.  Time is essential and keeping to a schedule now I should really learn to outline these ideas on my keyboard but, now, where is my blog pen.  I need that other outline pen too… the one that writes really smooth…

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My imaginary conversation with the Clever Mr. Konrath


 Me:  Thanks for stopping by, ignore my cats.  I hope you’re not allergic.  I have some drugs to help if you are.
J A:  It’s okay.
Me:  Do you have pets?  I mean, besides 3 children.
J A:  I have dogs.
Me:  Can I call you Konnie?
J A:  No why would - ?
Me:  Because in my second book that’s coming out soon, Disaster Relief Club, I named one of the characters Jules but everyone calls him Julie.  I think that’s cool, kinda like how you named your main character Jacqueline but everyone calls her Jack.
J A:  Have you read my books?
Me:  Yes, I’ve read Whisky Sour and Bloody Mary.  Do you have a drinking problem?
J A:  It’s not a problem.
Me:  That’s what all the drunks say, do you have any confessions you’d like to make?
J A:  I’m worried that I might not get out of here alive.
Me:  I’m worried too -
J A:  Oh -
Me:  Words.  Like the word you coined, E-stribution, in “Be the Monkey”.  I’m afraid it’s like Kountry Cookin’ or Komfort Coach.  You see?  I just don’t want there to be any avenue to a self-publishing ghetto.
J A:  Please be careful with that word.
Me:  What, ghetto?  I will not.  The word itself is not the province of any group there have been Pink-collar, Jewish, African-American, Spanish, Gypsy, all that.
J A:  On your head be it then.
Me:  Oh Konnie, what am I going to do with you.  We’re just two self-publishing geniuses sittin’ around bullshittin’ about the biz.  Ya’ know, I have a confession to make. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to keep up with my reading so I multi-task.
J A:  What do you mean?
Me:  Well, I can’t always do it, but when I can, I download the audio book and listen to it while I cook, or workout, or drive.  I know, it’s crazy but what do you do otherwise?
J A:  You work out?
Me:  Well sure, I find the routine and discipline is important.
J A:  The word Rubenesque does come to mind.
Me:  Hey, writers are like cooks, don’t trust the skinny ones.
J A:  I’ve never heard that.
Me:  I just made it up.  I’ve put on some weight since I started writing full time and it’s hard to keep up ya’ know?  I mean unless my ass is glued to my chair nothing gets done.  And I need those lemon wafers Konnie.  They’re my writing power jewels.  For every scene I write I get three power jewels, it’s like a video game.  Will you be my wizard?
J A:  No.  I can’t do that.  You see, I belong to the people.  They need me to lead the revolution.  All I can do is what I do so I need to keep doing and putting it out there and hope that it helps others on the same path.
Me:  I get that.  I’ll try to do that too.
J A:  No. No, Fledgling, you just take care of yourself.
Me:  But I want to help.
J A:  You will be. Just. Um, keep a lid on the crazy.  I have to go I have another imaginary meeting to get to.
Me:  Bon chance, Wizard.

How to be a self-publishing Genius


There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs on fiction writing, how to write a query letter, how to promote your writing, blah blah blah.  Seriously, blah. Blah. Blah.  I find it all very annoying. 
In an earlier blog I made the analogy that we, self-publishing geniuses, are like a bunch of athletes running blindfolded in an octathalon.  It is a new world for authors.  And like so many early explorers we make mistakes, often very costly mistakes.  E-publishing opened another portal to this new world and that has absolutely leveled the playing field for authors.  Authors who had previously rejected time and time and time again by publishers are now finding themselves darlings of the self-publishing world and able to actually make a living doing what they love, writing.  The idea you must have an agent and a publisher or even that there are now gatekeepers in publishing is no more.
However, with the good comes the bad.  You, self-publishing genius, are now not just an author, you are a small business owner.  And you have products on your shelves you must move.  I find all that very annoying too, so back to my point which is, where do you start with the business and marketing side? 
There is an early explorer to all that annoyance whom I believe we can all learn from.  His name is J A Konrath.  He writes fiction but that’s not the point.  He wrote “The Newbies Guide to Publishing” and this other thing called “Be The Monkey”.  Both pieces I would recommend new self-publishers (S-P’s) to read.  I am not in the business of promoting another person’s promotional work because there are a lot of promotional tools out there to help a fledgling S-P’s like Dear Author, Goodreads, etc. But in his effort to be self-less to help others and document the business side of S-P’ing he has cornered the market in self-promoting. He put himself out there warts and all.  (And if you don’t get that joke it’s because you haven’t read “Be the Monkey”.  Read it now though.)  Clever, clever monkey this Mr. Konrath and I give his efforts two opposable thumbs up.  In all that sludge out there on how to fill in the blank” I think he is your first stop in this octathalon.
But all this gushing over Clever Mr. Konrath is not going to stop me in making fun.  I can’t help it, it’s like a sickness with me.  Of course on my initial read of “Be the Monkey” I missed the bigger premise of the piece, of course.  And my first thought while I read it was, ‘Wow, what a couple of assholes’.  All that bragging and shit – ‘just two fella’s sittin’ around bullshittin’ about the biz’. That is so not how my conversation with J A Konrath would go.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Self-publishing Genius!


     Being a self-publishing genius is NOT like running a marathon.  It’s like running a super octathlon, while wearing a sleep mask.  Once you take the plunge into total responsibility for your work you are not just a writer, you are a marketer, and designer, and editor, and copy-editor, and advertising guru, and time management coach, and whatever the hell else you can pile on top of that ‘–er’ heep.  There are three different parts of your brain at work.  The left, right, and center.  You heard me, the center part.  That’s the part where a little greek chorus lives, it keeps you going against all odds, and tells you everything is going to be okay, especially if you have one more lemon wafer.  I imagine my center part is very large.
     But, I have met people who can do all these things at once.  And they are all freaks.  just kidding.  no, maybe not.  I don’t know maybe they are freaky in some way, like they have a third nipple or something.  Or maybe they are just very good at compartmentalizing, but that’s not the point.  The point is you can’t just write.  You can’t just market.  You can’t “get by” without editing.  No. No, you can’t because you don’t know the proper uses of comma’s without a “comma guidebook”.  
     It’s still a new world in self-publishing.  I don’t believe there is a single person who self-publishes and starts out thinking ‘I’m going to write a book that everyone is going to read, and everyone is going to love it, and I’m going to make millions of dollars, and then they will make a movie out of it’, because we are smarter than that.  well, there are probably a few but let’s face it their elevator doesn’t go to the top floor.  But that’s not the point. The point is in order to finish the octathalon you have to take off the sleep mask and look at the unbelievably daunting task ahead of you.  Now, instead of freaking out as you imagine all the other “blind” people bumping into each other, chart your course.  Step one.  Imagine.

Next time on Billibatt blog:  My imagined conversation with JA Konrath, a true self-publishing genius.  Full disclosure:  I’ve never met Mr. Konrath, but I think he may be a freaky compartmentalizer.  And I mean that in the best possible way, like I don’t think he has a third nipple or anything. who knows maybe he does.  it's hard to completely trust people with that much facial hair, except Santa Clause of course....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writer's Remorse


Writers Remorse

I’m defining a new writing stage in my writing process.  You know the general writing process and its stages: you come up with an idea, do the necessary research, you sketch it out, you outline, and maybe do some character sketches.  Then what I do is sequester myself away from the outside world and write a first draft. 
Once I finish that first draft I am elated.  Hello world! I’ve released myself from my think hole (or whatever you nickname your office).  I’ll do some shopping, clean up the house a bit, see some friends, do some reading, get some exercise…and that’s when it hits me.  Writers Remorse.  Every word on every page is utter shit!  It makes no sense.  The motivations are all wrong.  The premise is not even comical. Doom, despair, agony on me. (okay, I stole that last part from Hee Haw. sorry)  But you get my point. 
Like buyers remorse, anxiety after making a purchase (mostly big purchases), my writers remorse causes anxiety driven behaviors too.  And be careful in defining the behavior, it looks a lot like normal weekend behavior - like eating an entire family size bag of candy, or watching television for eight hours straight, or both at the same time.  Power drinking or what some more negative people call “binge” drinking.  And even more extreme behaviors like cleaning out the junk drawer or organizing the closets.  I’ll admit once I even organized all my scarves according to color and length in a fit of writer’s remorse – that was bad but I pulled through.  All the scarves are now haphazardly tossed in the wicker basket.
But how does one know if they are in the throws of writer’s remorse?  If you are looking at your DVD collection and decide it needs to be alphabetized; “cleaning” your desk of used coffee cups, old drafts, and useful scraps of paper or what I call “purging the evidence”; if you decide to re-watch your entire Mary Tyler Moore collection.  These are all typical signs you may be grappling with the remorse.
What is the healthy way to deal with writer’s remorse? I have come up with a plan and as it works for me, it’ll surely work for everyone else.  Watch some movies – no, nothing thought provoking I’m talking the career stunting crap like Ishtar, Showgirls.  Read some poorly written books such as Valley of the Dolls or a Twilight “wanna-be”.  Talk to others about what pieces of crap they are.  Then wash your hands a lot.  Not like after every time you use the bathroom, I mean 7 times each time you are at a sink with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap.  With each scrubbing say to yourself “I am a good person.  Nothing bad will happen to me.”  Why 7 times and not 6 or 8?  I’m glad you asked. Because the number 7 is the number of years a body takes to replenish its cells.  Also because you can eat 7 chocolate chip cookies before you start getting that sick feeling in your tummy.
            Once I come out of the writer’s remorse and shake off those crippling anxiety thoughts, the world does look brighter.  I am able to face another draft, make necessary character changes, re-work some dialogue…do an entire re-write.