Art imitates life:
Dayton couple combine skills and talents with their love of animals to publish first book
Anyone who has ever met Johnye & Steven Saylor, knows they both have tremendous passion for all animals and their welfare. Johnye has been writing stories about their pets for years and Steven is an accomplished artist, so it was only a matter of time before they would marry their skills and talents to create their first children’s book, Christmas and Carol.
Married for 27 years, the couple decided about a year ago to self-publish one of Johnye’s stories and Steven would storyboard and sketch a variety of images to choose from for illustrations. With 25 “thumbnail” possibilities for illustrations, the couple narrowed these down to eight vivid full-color paintings.
“I wrote this story about 12 years ago,” Johnye said. “We had a hen who laid an egg and was sitting on it up in the barn area and I said to her ‘this is really silly trying to have a child this time of year’, but I let her sit on it and then she did have a baby right before Christmas.”
“Carol the hen was taken care of and watched over by Rusty the rooster. All of my stories are like that, the animals getting along together and needing one other,” Johnye said.
“For example, Sam was Johnye’s horse and he lived to be 35 years old. In Christmas and Carol, Sam is the horse who asks Carol the hen what she is doing with the egg,” Steven said.
The Saylors reside in Dayton on The Triple S Ranch and in the past have operated their own animal rescue. The book is dedicated to rescue animals and those needing rescue as well as the people and groups who rescue animals. All of the animals in the book are or have been a part of the Saylor’s life.
In the back of the book, the title of each painting is listed and limited editions of the exquisitely detailed glazed water color paintings are available for purchase. Also, the cast of characters are listed in the back of the book. Some of the characters from Christmas and Carol will be in future books and new characters will be introduced as well.
“We had a couple who came here to The Triple S Ranch with four kids and they bought books and then they went out and saw Milton the burro and Misty the dog and the kids wanted to see how many of the animals they could find,” Steven said.
Prior to having high-quality, soft-bound editions of Christmas and Carol printed, the book was tested with focus groups.
“It was read to school children from 2nd grade to high school and everyone enjoyed it,” Steven said. “It’s an interesting story for all ages, especially if you like animals.”
“After researching about being our own publisher and having an on-line company print it, we got Christmas and Carol back here on the 23rd of December,” Johnye said.
To order a copy of Christmas and Carol you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and in the subject line put the title Christmas and Carol. The price is $14.95 plus tax, shipping, and handling.
“We’ve got quite a few other stories, in fact we were talking about them today, and we’re going to start on the next one pretty quickly,” Johnye said. Steven added, “We plan on doing one story a year as part of a series called: Tales from the Triple S Ranch.”