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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Friday, December 28, 2012

Steve, the Christmas Stranger


I guess it was about a week and a half before Christmas our older cat, Boudreaux, started acting strange around our back shed.  He would go in for a while, come out, look around, and start sniffing around the back yard. Then the younger little one Margeaux Martine (Mimi) began the same routine. When they came inside they'd sit at the back window for hours staring out into the back yard. They were looking for something. I started to worry we had a possum or worse a raccoon coming around.


Finally one day I saw this guy on the back fence. Once I finally got a good look at him I noticed he was still a kitten. Probably about 5 months, till in tact, but not spraying yet. I thought perhaps a neighbor had lost him, so I put up signs around the neighborhood. The next day the signs were gone, I put up new ones, and those disappeared in the night. I have to assume his people didn't want to be found. And you see this is why I generally don't mix with the human breeds.

Since I never saw him around the backyard after nightfall I still held out hope he only came around during the day. But just in case, I put a warm bed out in the shed and periodically put some food out there for him. Then the rains came, torrential, sideways, cold, and interminable rain. I checked the local bulletin boards, the local online postings. But found nothing. Now it's two days before Christmas and I'm not about to dump him at a shelter. Not that there's anything at all wrong with shelters but we don't "rescue" our pets from paradises. And I don't like the feeling I get that I'm passing along a burden , like there is something wrong with him.

Needless to say he ended up here in the laundry room, away from the cold rain and our two spoiled creatures. Let the caterwauling begin! Boudreaux stood sentinel staring at the closed door while Mimi threw her head up and paced back and forth singing 'the lonesome ballad of the orphan kittens'. During the day "Steve" (he looks like a Steve), was happy to sit on the back porch and watch the rainfall down until it was night and he'd march himself, with his head bowed in respect to the residents, into the laundry room.

I don't understand why someone would dump him on the side of the road. We've had him around our cats now and frankly I wish some of his good manners would rub off on them.  He's playful, alert, tidy, and loving.  Now here's the crux of the situation, we can't keep him. We talked about it, and for good reasons it would simply be unfair to take him on at this point. But I can foster him for a while as I search for a good home.  Because, Steve the Christmas Stranger who has been living in our shed, deserves a warm place that can appreciate him.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Growth spurt

I had a growth spurt. The month of October was taken up with writing the first draft of Red, White, and Scotch.  Then in November I remastered The O Line's podcasts.  Beginning now, the  O Line Mysteries podcast is available on Audible under the title The O Line Mystery Shorts. http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00AQOC800&qid=1356048036&sr=1-1
 I also e-published all the scripts for the shows on Amazon Kindle.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A58XJU0/ref=r_soa_w_d

I have no excuse for the first 15 days of December, other than I was tired of sitting in front of the computer with headphones on and feeling thick and sloggy from too much coffee and not enough exercise. So I got a trainer. Her name is Brittaney and she's in perfect shape and has perfect posture (no writers slump for her) and even shaved her hair off to donate it to cancer patients. And once I overcame my initial reaction of reaching over and pinching her perfect neck off I realized she's a perfectly lovely person who I should shut up and do what she tells me to do. She's a dynamo and I'm lucky to have met her.

Unfortunately, I had to take down the podcast from the O Line website. I know there are some who wrinkle their nose as this but hey, they were available for free for like 4 years. That was a very long and slow boat to miss. Call it cross marketing, call it what you will, I just hope to reach a broader audience with audible. Time will tell.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Daily Weird


So, I'm standing in line at the checkout counter at my local pet food store and a blind man walks in. 
Click, click. Click, click. Click. "Ouch."
"You wanna hear a joke?"  He asked me.
I do a quick assessment.  This fella's about 75 years old, he's blind, and either one of two things are going to happen here.  He's either going to tell me a funny joke about a blind man walks into a pet food store, or he's going to say something wholly inappropriate to me.  So I think, what the hell, I haven't witnessed anything weird in at least 24 hours so I play along.
"Hit me with it Pops."
So Blind Pops does a little squat thrust and says, "Okay!"  The checkout lady looks completely startled and pulls out her checkout gun and scrambles over to stand in between us and begins beeping my items.  "What do you call a man with no arms and no legs sitting in a pile of leaves?"
"Help?"
"Rustle...How does a butcher introduce his wife?"
"Carefully."
"Meat Patty."
So I hit him with "Where do you put a barking dog?" And quickly add, "In a barking lot!"
"95.63!"  The cashier lady says. I zip my bankcard in the card zapper and punch in my code. (Side note: I've been out of town and we were out of everything wet-food, dry-food, fish food, cat treats, and other cat bribing items) Another clerk shows up and asks him what he wants.  "I want the big bag with the dog on the front. It's blue, I think."
And I hit him with another, "What do you get when you cross a Fed-Ex driver and an UPS driver?...Fed Up!"
"Why are there no Wal-marts in Afghanistan?"  Now he's excited, he doesn't even wait, "Too many Targets!"
"Why did the bacon laugh?"  I retort.  "Because the egg cracked a yolk!"
"You want another?"  He pants out. 
At this point my cashier lady is making a get away with my cart of items.  "Come on!" She tosses over her shoulder at me. 
"Can't Pops, gotta go. But thanks."
"Thank you!"  He says in the direction I had previously been standing.

So there you have it. I can now cross off "get in joke battle with blind person at a checkout counter" off my bucket list.  Whew.  And thank you bubble gum wrappers of America. Now I just have to find an Argentinean nun who has a distinct memory of fortune cookie sayings.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do you wipe?


Full disclosures first:  A. I have jet lag and B: I own a stock that sells a brand of sanitizing hand wipe.  That said, I can fully disclose that I'm the crazy woman sitting next to you on the plane that is using sanitized hand wipes on her seat, seat pocket, and seat back tray. And if you'd let me I'd use them on you(rs) too.  Yes. I. Would.  I have good reasons for this.  I've known flight attendant’s who have told me about the disgusting things they see on planes that involve snot and vomit and poop.  Did you know that  segments of a flight are also called legs?  So a plane flying from Atlanta to D.C. then goes on to say Detroit and back to Atlanta.  And these planes that do these segments or legs do not get cleaned in between legs.  Let me repeat that, they don't clean between their legs!  And so yes, I have a problem with things that don't clean in between their legs.

Once I arrive in a hotel I drop my bags and pull out my sanitizing wipes. I don't care if it's a $500 a night or $70 a night hotel, they all get the same treatment.  A fresh sanitizing wipe for:  Phone, tables, faucet, counters, etc..  Two for the toilette area.  No offense to any hotel maintenance staff that so diligently do their jobs but humans' are a disgusting breed of mammal that are basically waste factories and I need to defend myself against mammal fluid waste.

So for a long time I kept my wiping to myself.  It's not that I was ashamed of wiping it's just that so much had been made of people about people who suffer with OCD. I think maybe it was after Jack Nicklson made a movie about a man with OCD or it just became the psycho-babble for the moment. I just never talked about it and suffered through the gawking and snickering from my aisle mates on planes.  Then I met someone who asked for a wipey for her seatback tray.  "That's such a good idea." She said.  And I felt like a Mormon.  I mean I felt happy to have helped another person be clean.  But now I'm thinking everyone knows to wipe themselves, cause this last trip I took I saw several people wiping. 

Wouldn't it be awesome if the airlines had little plastic things that went over the seat back tray's?  It could be like little rolls of that doctor exam office paper or like the paper towel rolls that zip off in lavatories. There ya' go, a million dollar idea.  It could be called jet rag.  You are welcome.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Cat Sitter


To Our New Cat-sitter:

Thank you so much for caring for our precious, precious, furry angel babies that we love so dearly and they are truly so sweet natured.  You will notice in each room we've set up kitty jungle gyms and their little t.v.'s have been set to Animal Planet.

Sometimes when we leave town our two precious and precocious kitty angels become high strung.  First and foremost, don't panic.  Don't panic when you come in and the curtains are shredded; our big t.v. has been turned over; the lamps are shattered on the floor; the fish are missing from the bowl; the cat litter has been spread out like floor fertilizer and the bed has been used instead; all of the paper on rolls have been rolled out; the house plants have been dug up; and/or the refrigerator door is hanging on it's hinges and the contents have been sampled. This is all normal.

Don't panic if you can't actually see our little angels. They are close by, watching your every move.

It would be best if you varied your entry time so they can't prepare any traps upon your arrival.

Also if you see a trail of blood splatter's that lead to a closed door and hear whimpering behind the closed door, don't fall for it. We've lost so many cat sitters that way.

Actually if you could enter through the front door and just hum a tune from The Sound of Music while you lay out their food and place fresh water out for them (their food and bottled water is in the cabinet with the lock on it - the key is on your keychain) then continue walking through to the back door, it might be the easiest route for you to escape through. (Please don't forget to relock the cabinet!)

Best of luck to you and remember, don't panic.  We hope the $2000.00 will be enough for the weekend. Please let us know if you'll need additional medical care.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Know thy Mys-tory.


Mystery Writers:  Know thy history. #1

SPOILER ALERT: I'm gonna give away the whole plot of The Scarlet Pimpernel below.  So if you've not read the book or seen the play, it is well worth it to do so.

All the characters like Clark Kent, the Lone Ranger, Zorro, Batman, Spiderman, and Iron man to name a few, have their roots in The Scarlet Pimpernel (S.P.).  So, first S.P - very early 1900's and second, super hero's - after the Great Depression.  The S.P. was like Robin Hood (and he's from maybe even as early as the 13th century) but with way more serious consequences.  As a teenager it had to be explained to me - cuz u kno I wuz 1 of thoz teenagers.  (Luckily I had a clever teacher who used metaphors, comparisons, and humor to get through to us. Thanks Mr. D.)

Back in the turn of the century in post-Victorian England, ("back row, listen up!") The S.P. was kind of what Ironman is to us today.  The setting is England, 1792 just at the start of the French Revolution.  Sir Percy Blakeney pretends to be an incompetent aristocratic dolt while he "cleverly" goes around in a mask rescuing his French aristocratic counterparts from the guillotine and brings them back safely to England.  Sir Percy is the leader of 19 others in his "League of the Scarlet Pimpernel".  His wife, the beautiful French actress Marguerite outs him to his enemy in France and the hilarity ensues.  (Just as a side note here. This is a VERY over simplified plot summary.)

This is a much studied and written about play and novel. There are entire doctoral theses' written about The Scarlet Pimpernel for the curious and like-minded.  Some will argue this book is the most historically accurate fiction created in this era.  Others disagree and say the actual S.P. was an amalgamation of people who helped the French aristocrats escape the Revolution.  And that Orczy bent the historical facts to fit her fiction. However, what they don't argued is the events she wrote about were accurate and many of the characters are thinly veiled caricatures of actual people.

Now on to my point. I stumbled across a line by Charlene Harris in one of her Sookie Stackhouse books.  Her character Sookie said something to the effect that she didn't go to college so she gets all her 'learnin'" from fiction books. (Forgive my feeble memory Ms. Charlene; you have so many great lines.)  And I think that's very true for a lot of us who aren't the smartest people in the world.  We learn so much about cultures, history, science and life in general in our fiction reading.  We learn everything but math. (Damn it.)  Cuz you never hear of a GREAT story about how prime numbers are the devil's work and they all moved to Borneo to take over a tribe of calculator's.  And as authors we have some obligation to at least get historical facts correct in our writing fiction. 

I decided to start doing a few of these Mystery Writer's, Know thy Histories blog posts because I was reading a New York Times Bestselling Author's book last night and this author completely and totally erred in recounting a historical fact. The little nugget of misinformation had nothing to do with the plot, it was supposed to be one of those interesting asides. And no I wasn't reading some Lincoln Vampire shlock. But how could the editor's miss this?  I mean it would be interesting to learn that Anne Boleyn had six fingers but the truth is she had an extra fingernail growing out of one of her fingers, which frankly I find even more interesting and fascinatingly gross.  I don't want to rant about this, but I was very shocked.  We can't all be Orczy's or Tuchman's, grant you, but if you're going to touch on some cool piece of little known fact, get the factoid right!  Even if it is about Super Hero's or The Reign of Terror or Anne Boleyn's fingers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A novella excerpt.


This is an excerpt from a novella, "Save Yourself," I had written and worked on many years ago.  Holly, a twenty something, can't seem to get out of her own way in her path to try and find herself.  She had entered AA only to find out she wasn't a dipsomaniac, joined a demonic self-help group, and lost her job as a volunteer for Alzheimer patients.  Here, she has gone back home for a family weekend.



      After lunch, Father took the kids back to the house.  Mother, Erin, and I loaded into the minivan for more shopping.  A familiar "hunt and gather" warrior feeling surged through me as I slid the van door shut and took my place on the bench seat in back.  I looked to our animistic tribe leader as she called to Erin's minivan, "Fashion Shop at St. Mathews."  With those words I felt my mental state alter, my senses heightened as our leader smeared bright red war stripes on her lips.  I followed suit with my chap stick.  The transformation was infecting us all.
       "Your father's an asshole."  She pronounced as she surveyed her stripes.  It was her war cry and shopping was an act of denouncing him.
       I only nodded my agreement and looked to my sister who was hunched over the steering wheel focused on the traffic ahead.  I secured my seatbelt as we halted and surged foreword but then lay down on the bench seat to avoid the inevitable nausea and possible whiplash.  I could not bring myself to fuel Mother's flame.  I was more aware of this overwhelming need for this hunt that lay ahead of us.  Like I had not eaten for days I focused ahead and plotted my attack on these newly wanted items to be possessed, all of the unwitting items, just sitting there; a blue shirt, a scarf, panties, and belts. I must hunt down these 'brand named items at clearance prices', and matching socks; kill them and drag them to the register for proof of the hunt.  I felt like sitting up in the seat and howling.  I think I may have been drooling.
      We entered the store without uttering a grunt and separately prowled to our favorite killing fields.  Mother to her 'women's' section, Erin to 'career', and me - stuck between the 'junior' fashions and 'casual wear'.  Later we met up at the accessories and smiled to one another as the blood from our kills dripped off our chins.
      "Looook.  I found this for you sisssster."  I reveal to Erin a jacket.   She snatched it from my paw and I recoiled.
      "Yesss. Yesssss. That is good sisssster.  Look Mother, it matches this purssse."  She whipped out a purse from the purse bush in an attempt to challenge the leaders sense of style.
      "Mmm, hmmm."  Unconcerned with this challenge from her eldest, Mother dove into the purse bush and effortlessly pulled out another.  "But this pursssse matches better.  See the piping?"  And with a dull twinkle from her eyes the challenge ended.
       I watched this exchange with fascination.  Sister's challenge had no flair, it had not been thought out, and there had been no flanking.  It had been a simple and straightforward challenge.  Amateur, she should know better, I thought.
       The shopping sovereign still reigns but her endurance is faltering and her bloodshot eyes told us she was growing weary.  In the unspoken kindred language, my sister and I acknowledged Mothers fatigue.
        Sister hunted down a perch for the sovereign outside the dressing rooms.  But I had a different plan of attack.  That is a benefit of being the youngest, the eldest always make the initial mistakes and you learn from them.  A head on challenge will never work.
        I was still trying on my newly hunted pelts as Mother and Erin waited outside the dressing rooms.  Sister surveyed an outfit I had gathered around me and grimaced, pulling at the waistline.
        "You're barely a size 9 in this," she tugged harder on the waistline, "but a 6 in this?"  She waved a dress at me.  "Take them off, their sizes are messed up."
        Mother snarled at the pants, "I don't like them. They look like you dropped a load in back."
        "Hurry," my sister said outside the dressing room.  "Hand me those two shirts and the pants."
        "But that will mess up my number."  I looked at my dressing room number hanger that was clearly marked "8".
        "So."
        "So. I don't want them to think I stol-" I pleaded.
        "Hand them over, it doesn't matter."
        "Erin, it does matter-"
        "Give me the shirts."  She was reaching below the door swiping at the clothing nests I had constructed. She grew agitated and desperate.  "Mother's wearing out and we still have to go to the shoe store." 
        I threw open the door, disheveled but dressed.  "Fine, here."  I handed her the requested clothes and tossed the number hanger to the attendant. I kept the unwanted and uncounted items in hand, so as not to be counted by the attendant but then placed them down on Mother's vacated chair.  My killer instinct was now in full radiance and Mother was looking like the weaker prey.
        Clerks scattered off the showroom floor of shoe store when the warning chime rang upon our entry.  I slunk through the aisles slowly, picking out six separate pairs.  I tried on each of them in equal measured disapproving fits and gesticulating pleasure that narrowed the choice to three.
        I bounced around in each of the three until I thought the sovereign would drop from her perch.
        "Get the brown ones."   She kept repeating as if asking for oxygen.
        After a while Erin narrowed her almond shaped eyes and threw daggers at me.  She knew what I was doing and did not approve, it was not a fair challenge. It was not a full frontal style challenge as they had repeated through the years.  It was disrespectful to use my youth and endurance. 
        I smiled at Erin, "I could go on for dayssssss in these shoes."  I plopped down next to Mother.  "But you're right, these brown ones I think."  I had no intention of challenging Mother.  I just wanted to make sure she knew how well she'd trained me.  I may not hunt and gather in the same killing fields as she and Erin.  I may not employ the same tracking technique nor challenge in the same style.  But I can still pursue and harvest right next to the reigning sovereign.  "They're more expensive, but I think they're better quality and I like the Adidas as well."  I said to her.  I knew she'd be proud of that.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dog days of Summer


This is a typical day in the month of August:

Today I will finally get to this book outline, I tell myself.  Fi-nal-ly.  I'm many month's already past my due date for getting this out.  Grant you, we had 21 fun filled days of houseguests this summer, which, I might add is a record number of "guest" days we've ever had. The outline needs to be the top of my list today. Let me just run to the market first thing this morning and pick up the blue berries for the blueberry cobbler I promised to make for this evening's gathering of friends and colleagues. Why do I agree to do these things?  Thankfully the fresh fruit and vegetable market is just down the street and I can walk there. I like walking to the market as it kills three birds with one stone. I get some exercise, the marketing gets bought, and I can catch up on podcast, audio books, or news from my iPod. 

Home again, home again, diddaly do.  I better soak these berries and get the recipe out.   Did I eat breakfast?  Let me just have some granola, and berries then.  That'll be my 10 am phone call from my honey, hang on.  Hi honey...I saw that, did you have a party while I slept last night?  Don't worry about it, I've got to clean the kitchen anyway I'll take care of it when I bake the cobbler.  No that's tonight. It is Wednesday night....I know it flies.  But last night was Taco Tuesday...We ate taco's.  Yes, I'm positive....Really?  The engine didn't turn over at all.  Did you try kick-starting it?  Did you check the gas?  Okay, I'll take a look at it.  It might just be the spark plug.  They get crudded up pretty easy on scooters.  I'll have to find the warranty and see if that's covered...We have to be there by 5:30 so I'm going to have to pick you up from work then.  Okay, 4:45.  I have to go, I have to get started on this cobbler and work on the scooter and get started on this outline.  No, it's fine, I'll take care of it.  Seriously. It's okay. No honey, it's not that.  You're very mechanically inclined, I just don't know what's wrong with it and once I figure that out then I'll teach you to change the oil and the spark plugs and all that...Yes, but I think you want it fixed sooner than later, right?  I don't trust mechanics.  Plus, I'd have to take it in and wait, so it's just easier to do here. I have to go. I smell something burning. Gotta go. (click)

I know, it's wrong to do that. I shouldn't make up imaginary panic smells.  So, okay, let me pull out all these ingredients and make sure I have everything before I get started...Baking Soda and Baking Powder in the same recipe, huh, don't see that much. Okay takes about 2 hours to complete. I know, I know, I should just go pick something up at the grocery, but this is Northern California.  That'd be like living in the Deep South and never eating Bar-B Que.  It's just not done.  Now, it's 10:40. I have to be done with everything and be getting ready by 4.  That's 5 and a half hours. Two hours for the cobbler. That gives me 3 and half for the scooter and the outline. I better take care of this scooter first, time has a way of getting away from me when I write...

1:45.  I am now covered in oil, gas, and sweat.  There's a good chance if I kick-start this scooter I could blow up the whole house.  To hell with it.  VAROOM! There we have it.  Good, good. "I can rebuild the carburetor. mana na na Fry it up in a pan. mana na na. And I don't have to be a man. Cause I'm a wooooman. Mana na na."  But I can not get this electric starter to turn over to save...Hang on.  Hello? Hi honey, no I've been rebuilding this "ef"ing carburetor, changing the G.damned oil, Efing spark plug, and...you haven't?  Why?  Why didn't you say something before?  Yes, it would make a difference.  BECAUSE naturally I'd think you would have done that...Didn't your manual say to plug it in over night, like every so often? No, I'm not mad.  It's okay....It's fine. I'll check it now.  You can kick start it now at least.  So, I'll check that last, but I have to stop now anyway so I can make the cobbler and then get ready to leave.  Honey, I have got to go...I'm not mad.  Honey, honey, listen, shhhh.  Listen now, ssssh. Can you hear me still?  Okay listen, if you don't stop apologizing and you don't say goodbye and hang up this phone now, I'm going to stick blue berries up your nose while you sleep.  I'm going to stick them up there carefully, with chopsticks, so far up your nose that they'll have to be surgically removed. Okay?  Yes, I love you too, I'll pick you up at 4:45.

Happy now?  At least I didn't make up an imaginary panic smell.  CheesusBurgerBuns it's 2:00.  The manual clearly states to plug in the battery to a drip at the very least, every month. Who doesn't do that?  You don't have to be mechanically inclined...okay. It's fine I'll just plug it in and I have to get this cobbler started or...I can't make a cobbler like this I'm covered in shmaltzy goo. Okay, new plan. I'll shower and then make the cobbler.

4:45.  "Careful. The cobbler's in the back seat."
"I'll just put it in my lap."
"Good. Thank you."
"Did you get any work done today?"
"Really? And when would I have done that? Those few minutes I had between plugging in the battery charger and baking the cobbler. Or when I was drying my hair?"
"I'm so sorry, it's my fault."
"Look, this day time thing isn't working for me. This summer has been a disaster, I think I should go back to working nights."
"That's a good idea.  I think the cats like would that too.  That's really when they're most active."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken


This was the first Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri mystery I've read, even though there are two proceeding.  So now, I have to go back and read the other two, while I wait for the (hopefully) fourth book of the series.  If you liked Alexander McCall Smith (I'm thinking of The #1 Ladies Detective Agency), you will like this book as well. 

Tarquin Hall effortlessly ushers you into the world of modern day Dehli and places you at the table with a rich cast of characters.  There are three separate things going on here.  A theft, a murder, and cricket match rigging.  And within each of these Hall reveals both the wonderful and horrible parts of life in this city.  As well as giving some history of Dehli and its people, which lends real atmosphere to the place and time.

I could have done without the long, long food and meal descriptions. I'm not a "foodie" but many people are and I'm sure they'd enjoy those portions. (pun intended.)  However, that is my personal taste (ha ha!) and has nothing to do with how very well this book is written.  And I look forward to reading more from Tarquin Hall.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller

I had a fun blog prepared but I'd like to interrupt that blogcast to tell you something you've already heard by now.  Phyllis Diller died today at 95 years old. She was a trailblazing comedian, an artist, mother, grandmother, friend, and heart attack survivor.  Her life was about love and laughter.

I'm not going to go into the "I met Phyllis when" spiel because who cares.  I was lucky, I got to meet her and work with her for a day.  And what I witnessed that day can't be taught - you just have to kind of absorb it.  She was a good person to me and my friends, she was a giver, and when I met her (when she was 90-years-old) she was still beautiful. But let's face it, that was because of all that plastic surgery.

As I work on a tribute blog for her.  Please read the following link and learn about her life.  She was truly a wonderful person and I hope she and her comedy is long remembered.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Your anger bores me.

Anger-mmercials

So a friend of mine posted a link on her Facebook page.  The link was from an angry article in a 'Women's' magazine in response to a new Facebook app that will block out your friends photo's that they post of their babies and or children.  My friends comment to this angry article was, "Yup, that about sums it up."

The article itself is witty and uses cool words strung together like "life porn and
social networks as comparison life shopping."  Those are fun words when you string them together.  And the article is a wonderful tirade in response to something that really doesn't matter.  Not in the big picture, not in our daily lives, not ever.  (And for the record I have no less than 7 (7!)  friend's with new babies.  Do I get sick of seeing baby pictures?  Yep.  Do they get sick of me making fun of their babies pictures with pithy pokes and tag lines? Yep.  Because we're friends, we have history together, it's how we roll. I would defend their right to post these mind-numbing drool fests and they would defend my right to call them mind-numbing drool fests.) But there was something underlying in this article that disturbed me, but I couldn't put my finger on it, just yet.

So, fast forward a bit to later in the day and I've got a 'Non-Profit Radio' podcast playing in the background while I'm cleaning up the house and the entire show was this same type of tirade response to yet another product that has come out.  And that's when it hit me.  I had stopped watching regular television when pretty people resorted to eating bugs to be on the teevee and untalented half-wits were being insulted on every channel.  I stopped watching/listening to political commentary when I couldn't bare to witness the Jerry Springer-esque presentation.  I've been reduced to Niall Ferguson and Jim Lehrer.

And now I have my own strung together word, "Anger-mmercials".  That's when you can make a product with some seemingly redeemable purpose and market it with white-hot anger in social networking, radio, teevee, or blogs.  Because if you can get people to see the bad in something they will surely scream in to a void about it and voila, you have a ready-made marketing program. Hazzah!  People are talking about your product.

I'll be glad when the anger phase/craze has cried itself to sleep.  Because the only thing more boring than yet another picture of someone else's kid with "fun" sunglasses on, is reading/listening/watching an irate article/program about someone else's anger about a product.  So here's a new caption:  Your anger bores me.

NOTE:  Cool words strung together:  Your anger bores me.  That's how we roll. Mind-numbing drool fests, Untalented half-wits, and Anger-mmercials.
 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fly my pretties, fly!


When I first heard about Olympic Gold Medalist Gabrielle Douglas being nicknamed The Flying Squirrel I thought it was a perfect nickname/term of endearment.  She does have those little poofy cheeks when she smiles.  And her smile is one of those smiles that make's the world feel lighter.  And then I thought, 'that'd be cool to give all the gold medal champs a super hero nickname.  Jack Black could be in charge of it, he's so gung ho about things like that, a la Kung Fu Panda.  Hell, it could even be a Wheatie's like national contest or something.'  Seriously, if anyone deserves little plastic toys made with their impressions on them, their faces on cereal boxes, and be labeled with national terms of endearment, it's the Olympians - not the made up super-hero's.

But the next thing I know there is a bend to the whole notion of referring to her by that moniker.  Apparently, there are some who thought the "flying squirrel" nickname was derogatory and or racist.   Truth be told, that's up to her royal awesomeness, Ms. Gabrielle Douglas.  That conversation would go like this:

Me:  Hi. I think you're an amazing gymnast.
GD:  Thank you.
Me:  As a matter of fact you also have a beautiful smile that lights up the whole gymnasium.
GD:  Thank you.
Me:  Watching you at the Olympics’ while I sat on the couch and stuffed my face with pork rinds and cookies made me very happy.
GD:  I'm glad it brightened your day.
Me:  I heard someone nicknamed you the flying squirrel.  Can I use that term for you?  Can I too call you the flying squirrel?  'Cause I've got this idea to give all the gold medalist superhero nicknames.  Wouldn't that be cool?
GD:  (Smiles)  I have to go. I'm on a schedule, but thank you for your support.
Me:  Ah! You're blinding me with that bright smile.
GD:  Ma'am, you're getting pork rind grease on my sleeve.

Of course I just made all that up, I don't eat pork rinds.

But it's not the first time I've made some kind of racial faux pas.  I grew up in a small southern town so white the only "others" we had were Catholics.  I didn't know black from white. It didn't even register in my young mind that there were "colors" of skin.  I can't actually recall ever hearing the word "Nigger."  (Yeah, I said that and I'm gonna do it again.) 

One of my favorite shows was The Jefferson's.  (I think I was too young to know it was a spin off of Archie Bunker.)  I loved it when George would do that funny walk where he'd make his arms really stiff and take long strutting strides. I would then imitate that walk around the house and call my older sister "Weezie!"  SO then there was that episode with Willie and Lester.  (Willie Tyler was a famous ventriloquist and his dummy was called Lester and they were Black/African American.)  It was possibly the funniest thing I had ever seen on television.  All my young self saw was this guy who made his doll talk to people and everyone laughed.  Well, then the Sears catalog came,  THE CHRISTMAS EDITION! (I told you it was a small town.)  And there in the toy section was Lester.  Man, I wanted that dummy so bad.  I could do that thing where I don't make my mouth move when I talk and people will laugh.  I was so excited.

Fast forward to Christmas.  This was spent out of town with relatives;  Aunt's, Uncles, Cousin's, Grandparents the whole 'fam-damily' would be there.  Amazingly, I had gotten Lester and my mom even gave me some 'ventriloquist lessons' - how to use the letter N instead of M, and D instead of B so my lips don't move.  It was a great Christmas morning.   I loved that Santa shopped at Sears.  (I was a naive 7 year old.)

We get to my Aunt's house to exchange gifts and do the dinner thing and of course I bring Lester cause now we'll have a bigger audience.  As we all sit down for the gift exchange,  (To this day, I can still see the room and where everyone sat.) I pull out Lester.  And my Aunt howls out, "Oh! You got her a nigger baby! Look at that nigger- baby!"  I can still see two of my cousins laughing in this garish fish-eye lens of memory.  I didn't understand what they meant.  "Are you gonna make that nigger-baby talk?!" 

I can still see the steely poker face of my mother who locked eyes on me and managed to widen her mouth into a thin-lipped grin for me.  But her toes always gave her away and they were curled under, not a good sign.  I didn't understand the words, but I understood I was being laughed 'at', not 'with'.  I understood something cruel was happening.  Why does she keep saying 'nigger-baby?'  I remember the look of horror on my older sisters face.  I remember feeling absolute terror.  I knew this game, if you cry they will mock you.  I looked down at Lester.  He had brought this on me.  He was the nigger-baby and he was bad.  At some point someone made the teasing stop and my mother tried to encourage me to show them all how Lester works.  But I couldn't, I couldn't even lift my head up.  (We would never spend Christmas with that Aunt again.)  Later, I would play with Lester.  Quietly, I'd shut my bedroom door and pull him out of the bottom of my toy chest and practice not moving my lips. 

BUT NOT THIS TIME YOU TURDS!  If Gabrielle wants to be called The Flying Squirrel then she is the HIGHEST FLYING-EST SMILING-EST SQUIRREL THERE IS!  I don't care what color she is, what color the squirrel is, what color her little leotard is.  Her performance was GOLD!  So everyone on both sides of this craptaculous racial debate shut it.  Let her have her moment.  Let everyone revel in it, let us give her a term of pride and endearment.  The Olympians are as close to a "super-hero" physical performance most of us will ever see in real life.  And that goes for all of the Fierce Five too.  Flying Squirrel! Butterfly! Wasp! Dragon! Betty! Fly my pretties, fly!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The O Line Mysteries Blog: You are not alone.

The O Line Mysteries Blog: You are not alone.: And you are not going slowly but inevitably stark raving mad.  Then again, maybe you are.  But the good news is you won't be alone in that ...

You are not alone.

And you are not going slowly but inevitably stark raving mad.  Then again, maybe you are.  But the good news is you won't be alone in that padded room, barefoot and giggling.  There's nothing like a little validation to set the world right, is there? I found this blog article and, as a self-publishing author, the world seemed right again.

It's about the "shadow career" we all take up when we self-publish.  The "shadow career" is the maze of self-promotion, marketing, and whatever social media construct we wade through daily to make a sale. In other words, your career is writing and the shadow career is promoting your work.  "Platforming" are the Facebook pages, blogs, or whatever online box you must stand on and shout into the echo-less chasm.

This is the link http://janefriedman.com/2012/07/31/extra-ether-shadowy-platforms/ and Jane Friedman does a great job in breaking all of this screaming into the echo-less chasm down.

I'm not a great self-promoter. I hate it. I become quite curmudgeonly when I have to do it. Even though I try to do a little bit each day.  I imagine there are many writers who feel the same way. We gnash down and bare our teeth to form something that can be easily mistaken as a smile.  BUT, and here's the kicker, as self-publishing authors, we took this on.  I chose this.  You chose this.  It's ("platforming") cleaning the dishes after making satisfying yummy cookies.  Don't get me wrong, I totally and completely agree with Ms. Friedman. I'm grateful to her for bringing it all together and for not making me feel alone in my bemoaning.  And the takeaway I got from the article was be careful that platforming doesn't eat you alive.

As a side note, I had previously called platforming by a different name.  I will not mention it here because it's a compound dirty, dirty word.  But I saw the online world a bit differently - the actual 'platforms' (blogs, Facebook, social media, etc.) as billboards, the online communities as a marketing niches, and Tweeting as a place where I could imitate my insane Uncle who thinks he's a beer vendor at a baseball game...every day.  "Books 'eeere! Get your books!"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Sidekick


Poirot had Hastings, Laverne had Shirley, Shaggy had Scooby, Sherlock had Watson, Lucy had Ethel, and I've been thinking about the sidekicks, straight "(wo)men", and enduring friendships in both fiction and reality.  What is the bond that glues them?  Would I put up with Sherlock or Poirot as Watson and Hastings did?  Why did Ethel always back Lucy in one way or another?  Why do these matchups appeal to us?  I've had friendships that have waxed and waned for well over three quarters of my life now. And I try to bring what I've learned about those friendships to the page in a fictional friendship between Lorna and Annie.  Annie, like Watson and Hastings, puts up with a lot of annoying eccentricities from Lorna.   But I also see Annie's point of view in this, I have my fair share of outrageous and eccentric friends.  They really do bring a zest to life. 

Every time Person X calls I think, 'Oh boy, here we go.'  And I generally end up with my purse clutched to my chest sitting across a table from a notorious person in a dank basement thinking either, 'No one is going to believe this,' or 'How am I going to explain this?'  Every time Person Y calls  (left to our own devices, neither of us are into drinking and carousing) we end up somewhere we can remember getting to (like the desert?) and someone is missing a shoe.   And every time Person Z is in town I'm so worried that I'm going to be on the wrong side of a DEA investigation I find myself taking a lot of headache remedies and checking the bottom of my car for strange black boxes.  These are the people who bring out parts of my personality that lay dormant most of the time. (Thankfully.)  Or possibly I do the same thing to them.  Let's just blame it on our chemistry together.

The older I get the more I cling to these old friendships mainly because we have "history" and there is a lot of water under those bridges.  And I find it easier to recognize new friends, not all of which where we end up goading each other into a troubling situation. (Again, thankfully.)  But for Annie and Lorna, two people in a fictional world who became fast but enduring friends?  Book 3 The Rot is Deep left one of them (possibly) dead. Which leaves me with a big fat plot question to begin book 4 Red, White, and Scotch?  And that leads back to my original thoughts on the binding of sidekicks and enduring friendships and a lot of 'what if' questions.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Publishers vs. The WORLD


Billibatt is coming to a library near you! 

Seriously, I'm coming to a library NEAR you.  So I've been sort of keeping up with this entire hullabaloo about digital rights and eBook contracts. Sort of in the same way I see an object out of the corner of my eye and if my brain deems that object not to be a threat I just go about my business.  The same with the library slash publisher’s e-book distribution battle.  Now there's a thing. 

If you don't know about it here's a quick and generalized run down.  Publisher's want to limit the amount of times an e-book can be e-checked out so they've pulled all their e-books from library e-shelves.  Publishers are saying it's a financial problem and that libraries are taking food from their babies, the author's babies, and the entire literary industries baby’s mouths.  Libraries are like "Wahhh! We are the industry!"

I find this battle fascinating.  I think it basically amounts to the publishers winning a battle but losing the overall war.  (So much so that I've got some working theories as the plot unfolds. I'll tell you about them in a minute.)  There are about 122,000 libraries in these United States of those 17,000 are what we know as pubic lending libraries' (the ones you take your kids to including the book mobiles).  Keep those numbers in mind. 
So the publisher’s fight is predicated on the assumption that they are losing customers because of public lending libraries....sooooo, they are choosing not to sell their eBooks to - at the very least -10,000 libraries.  THINKING to themselves, (and not another person outside their little bubble) 'Aha! now we've got you.  We aren't going to sell our books to you! We will forgo thousands of "sure bet" sales and attempt to sell our books in a down and depressed market during a HUGE  worldwide recession! So take that! You bad sharing people.' 
And who's going to suffer for that?  Publishers?  Who have hundreds of authors in their stables in which they make about half the cover price of a book and the author gets about 10% up to 15% or about $1.50 for a 25.00 book?  (P.S. These numbers are not exact but a general figure of which I extracted from the Author's Guild.)

Let me just side step here, what is a public lending library?  Yes, it's a precious resource for blah blah institution blah. But what are they to publishers?  And authors?  As an author I see it as a marketing tool - the greatest and most untapped marketing tool available in the self-publishing world.  We, as self-published authors could spend 100 dollars on an advertising blip for a computer screen that no one is going to even look at OR you could buy a bunch of your own books and market them to libraries. Where people are going to actually look at them, and put at least some thought into and make a decision on.  If you're lucky, you get into the library, if not, you move on.  You are just one person doing the drudgework and you are going to get rejected, get over it and move forward to the next one.  Libraries are where authors get discovered, one curious mind at a time.  They are like - a gateway drug to the unwashed masses of readers, and who are readers?  Buyers. And talkers.  Books are conversation starters. 
Okay, there are always two sides to everything.  What is the publisher's side of the equation?  The embattled -hanging by a thread- industry has got to make money as they are, in fact, an industry where thousands of marketers have jobs.  So let's not begrudge them at least a fighting stance in something they feel they are being short changed on.  They feel that if they don't put a maximum loan out on e-books (which is not even a negotiated number yet. 25? 50? 100?) then the industry will suffer.  This is not something that the actual book selling industry deals with because of the first sale doctrine. (Go look it up.)

So there you go. Publishers: Waaah! I'm bleeding money. And Libraries:  Get over it, you make more money on the books that the actual authors (the source of the industry).  At this point my money is on the libraries.  There is a library in almost every county in this country.  They have face-to-face human contact (called humint in the intelligence agencies, thank you public library) people are involved with their libraries. What do publishers have?  Publishers weekly.  Where people inside the industry go to kibitz about...the industry. See my point?

Oh wait, right, my working theories.  Okay so you know how in episode 3 where the publishing industry is all "we're getting short changed so we want to put a lending limit on the e-books, even though there is not one on paper books because of that pesky first sale doctrine."  Well I think in further episodes we're going to find out that Krystle Carrington was too late to realize what Alexis was really up to when she baited Blake Carrington into a fight about eBooks when what Alexis really wanted was to get rid of the first sale doctrine all together because, BECAUSE, are you ready for this?  Because Alexis realized that the only people that were buying her books was actually Blake!  If she can make him buy the books more often than she can make her industry whole again!  But then Blake, who really is the most powerful one, since he has constant contact with the people doesn't budge and he's all, "F.U. Alexis I'll just train my trophy wife, Krystle here, how to write good books and make them available to the people. Stop making your bloated industry my problem! And that British dialect you use sounds pretentious, you've lived in America for 60 years!"

Okay I threw in that last line.  And that is why I'm coming to a library near you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Problem solved

I needed to combine an earlier edition of Nobody, really, Likes You (published by another) with the current one published by Billibatt.  After about an hour of searching the amazon author central website the website instructed me to call amazon.  Here's how that went:

Mary (amazon employee, I'm assuming this of course.)  My name is Mary how can I help you today.
Me. I need to combine two editions of the same work, Nobody, really, likes you.
Mary. And you are Lorna or Saylor? Or are you both?
Me.  I'm both.  Lorna is a character from my mystery series and I wrote Nobody under her name.
Mary. I see.  And you want to combine these to the same page?
Me. Yes Ma'am. The red cover is no longer available.
Mary.  I see.  I can help you with that today.  Do you want to keep the reviews?
Me. Yes Ma'am.
Mary. What is your full name?
Me. My full name is Marla Saylor Billings
Mary.  I see.  That's a pretty name.
Me. Thank you.
Mary. And where are you from?
Me. Uh,(BRRRT! what an odd question) my family is from Tennessee.
Mary.  I see. That explains it.  I'll combine those now for you.
Me. Thank you.
Mary. You have a good day.
Me. You too.
Click.

With all this technology and all these websites it's nice to know that help is still just a phone call away.  As someone who is the first in line to bemoan the lack of civility in society and online I can relate that this was a most pleasant exchange.  Working with the G.P. (general public) is never easy so thanks Mary, (or whatever her real name was) who works at an amazon call board (or wherever you are).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nina's on board

Remember Nina?  She played Annie (and voiced several other characters) on the O Line Podcast.  So I gets a call from her, "Why aren't I reading the O Line for the audiobooks?"
"Because," I begins to explain before she so rudely interrupts me.
"And another thing I need help with my computer, so you need to get over here and fix it, NOW!"
That's the thing about audio recording it never actually transports the true nature of a character. You'd think that the voice that played Annie would be perpetually kind and generous of nature.  You might even say she was "pathologically nice".  But I go over to her home and she ties me to a chair in front of her jacked up computer and says "WRITE something NICE for me to say!" 
Then she withholds coffee from me. "Please Nina, I can't write without a sip of the dark elixir, it fuels my fingers to type."
So she makes a pot of coffee and says, "Can you smell that? I bet it smells good to you, wouldn't you like to have a cup? WRITE!"
Finally after three hours I'm able to escape from her torture chamber/kitchen table.  But as I escape she comes out after me with her hounds of hell. Luckily those hell hounds still had their leashes attached.  The leashes get caught up around her legs and she does a face plant in her outside flower bed.

None of this is true of course. Except the part about Nina doing a face plant in the flower bed because of the dog leashes.  But what is true and exciting is Nina has agreed to read the O Line Series for audiobooks. And I, personally, could not be more pleased if Meryl Streep called me and said, "Oh Saylor, I would be honored if you'd let me read The O Line Mysteries for Audiobooks."
Because then I'd say, "Oh Meryl, you'd be wonderful but there really is only one voice for the O Line, and it's not you. Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go stick my head in the oven."

So, fire up the digital audio interface!  We are mic ready! as soon as Nina's face heals...

Get well soon Annie.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th!
Let me preface this story with a note. We have a new kitten who has such a strange little personality.  Nothing frightens her. Not the older and 4 times her size male cat. Not loud noises, not fire, not water, nothing, she's just kinda fearless that way. So onward,

Remember those little fireworks that were sometimes called snakes?  A little puck that you'd light with a match and it would grow out of the puck like a squirmy black snakes?  So I see a fireworks stand (which are run by non-profits here and this one was run by the local historical society ladies) and I think  'hm, I wonder what Margaux Martine (the kitten) would think of those little growing snakes? I think I'll stop in a get a couple. I remembered them as being like a quarter for a box of like 6 or something and it'll be nice to help out the historical society.

So I pull up next to this large 10 ft by 30 ft cage which holds about 6-8 women and a shit-load of gun powder.  Now you can't really see anything inside very well because of the fencing but immediately someone from within asks me:  "What can I get you?"
"Do you have those little snake things you light, y'know?"
She holds up a package of 8 canisters, probably holding about 50 of the snake pucks.  I don't really need that many, I think.
"Can I buy just like one of those?"
"Well, hold on now.  There's another one here." And she holds up a pack of like 6.
"You can give them to your friends."  One says from within.
"That's fine," I say.  "How much?"  Since they don't have the prices displayed.
"2.49."
I hand in a 5 dollar bill a little ways down the assembly line.
"What's your first name?"  I hear the woman who helped me call out.
That's kinda weird, I think. But it is post 9/11 and who knows what kind of mini-disaster I could create using the snake pucks. So I say, "Marla".
Then another snarky voice from within pipes up, "Way to spend big, Mar."
I know.
But that's not why I was taken aback.  That shit spewing mouth is sitting in a cage with enough gun-powder to blow her and everyone around her to kingdom come taking half the parking lot with her.  Having that much hate and frustration in your heart is dangerous.  The reason I didn't reach into my purse and throw a lit match at her was because I am sane.
I looked over to see another woman stuck in that danger cage who locked eyes with me and said, "Thank you, it's fine. It's fabulous."

And now of course I feel guilty, I should have rescued the nice fabulous lady from the cage and then thrown the match in.