When Pigs Fly: Meet Author Bob Sanchez

I got acquainted with Bob Sanchez through an on-line Blog Book Tour group and I’ve watched and listened as he went through the process of publishing his books through Amazon’s CreateSpace program. I just finished reading When Pigs Fly, a zany, “Three Stooges” or “Keystone Kops” type of adventure that takes you on a cross country chase from Massachusetts to Arizona.

His second book is Getting Lucky, a missing persons case, in which Pigs’ retired cop Mack Durgin is resurrected in the character of Clay Webster, Private Investigator. In Little Mountain, Sambath Long,  a Cambodian refugee, is now an American homicide cop. Sam’s investigation of a brutal murder unearths painful memories that threaten to tear his own life apart.

Welcome, Bob, and congratulations on your three books. What made you decide to become your own publisher with CreateSpace?

Thanks for honoring me with an interview, Heidi. I’d started writing novels around 1990 and found three agents over the years. None sold any of my books, though, so I eventually decided to get my books published and let readers decide if they were good enough.

Can you share briefly your publishing experience with CreateSpace?

Initially I published with iUniverse, which turned out to be a mixed bag. They charged too much for publication and controlled pricing. They put out a good product, though.

CreateSpace doesn’t charge for publication, and they let the author set the price.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to try this route?

Don’t cut corners. Be sure your novel is the absolute best you can make it. Get several competent critiques, and hire an editor. You’ll also need a professional-looking cover. Don’t settle for someone’s template.

Do you have a background in writing or is this something you’ve undertaken as a second career? Have you been published elsewhere?

Yes and yes. Technical writing was my second career, and novel-writing was a hobby that allowed me to express myself creatively. A few of my short stories have been published over the years, I’ve sold non-fiction to several magazines, and I write book reviews as well.

Why do you write, what is it that makes you do it?

It’s what I’m best at. Lord knows I can’t play a piano, fly a plane, or write a computer program. And although I make a few dollars writing, the ego boost from readers’ comments keeps me going even more. Once a woman wrote me saying her mom had recently died, and she consoled her father by reading When Pigs Fly to him. That email was worth—oh, about a million dollars to me.

I’ll bet that was!

Your three books seem to have a common thread in that they’re all about solving crimes. How do they differ?

Another common thread is that they all have a tie-in to Lowell, Massachusetts, a city near where I used to live. They differ in their level of seriousness as well as in their genre. When Pigs Fly is a comic road trip, Getting Lucky is a noir P.I. novel, and Little Mountain is a police procedural with a strong ethnic angle.

Where did the idea for When Pigs Fly come from? (You do caution that this is not a children’s book)

It began with the serious premise of FedEx showing up at a man’s door and delivering an urn with his brother’s ashes. That didn’t get far, and I set it aside. A couple of years later, I remembered it when I wanted to write a comic novel. The story’s javelina didn’t even appear until the second draft, though. But then what to call it? When Pigs Fly fit best, but it sounded like a children’s book. Referring to a scene in the book, a friend suggested the title Asses to Ashes. I will be forever grateful to iUniverse for saying they hated that.

What do you do to market your books and what has worked the best?

I used to do book signings, but never sold many copies. So I reissued all of my titles as ebooks and promote them on Twitter. In general that works well, though there seems to be a July-August slump. I tell people my novels are good summer reads, but maybe no one wants to bring a Kindle to the beach.

Do you have a life’s philosophy and does it translate to your writing?

The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. I try to make my main characters follow that principle.

If you could have dinner with six people, alive or dead, who would they be?

My goodness, why would I want to have dinner with a dead person? Oh, I get what you mean. Let’s set aside family, who would be my first choice. I would like to break bread with Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jesus Christ, Marie Curie, Groucho Marx, and Mika Brzezinski, all at once. Can you imagine the stimulating conversation? Groucho would of course be there to deflate egos and lighten things up now and then, while Mika would be asking lots of good questions.

Now THAT would be a fun and interesting dinner party! Thank you for joining me today, Bob.

Bob Sanchez’s books are all available on his Amazon author page and his free short story collection is available on Smashwords. You can read his Blog, The Funny News Leader, and follow Bob on Twitter: @desertwriter and Facebook .

Bob Sanchez was born in New Orleans, grew up and worked in Massachusetts, and lives with his wife and two cats in New Mexico. Bob has published three novels: When Pigs Fly, Getting Lucky, and Little Mountain. He actively participates in several writers’ groups, edits nonfiction reviews for The Internet Review of Books, and maintains or contributes to several blogs.

Author Spotlight: Meet Judith Marshall

Judith Marshall and I have exchanged blog posts and I’m happy to welcome her today. Here are some insights she shares with us about her writing journey.

Where are you from?  I’m a third generation native Californian, born in St. Helena and raised in the Bay area, about 30 miles east of San Francisco

Tell us your latest news.  I’m thrilled to say that my award-winning novel, Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever, has been optioned for the big screen and is being adapted into a screenplay at present.  Here’s a brief synopsis:

The story takes place in Northern California, in the spring of 2000, when the dot-com boom was at its peak. Elizabeth Reilly-Hayden is a successful executive in her late fifties and a divorced mother of two. Emotionally armored and living alone, she wants only to maintain the status quo: her long-term significant other, her job, and her trusted friends—five feisty women whose high school friendship has carried them through multiple marriages, dramatic divorces, and maddening menopause. Yet in a matter of days, the three anchors that have kept her moored are ripped away. The group of lifelong pals gathers at Lake Tahoe to attend to the funeral arrangements of their beloved friend and tries to unravel the mystery of her death. Through their shared tragedy, Elizabeth learns how disappointment and grief can bloom into healing and hope.

When and why did you begin writing?  I didn’t start writing until I left my career as a human resources executive in Corporate America in 1997.  I never planned on being a writer, but when I read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood I realized that I, too, had a story to tell about a group of women who had been friends since their school days.

Do you have a specific writing style?  I write film-ready stories with lots of dialogue

How did you come up with the title?  The title was an actual toast made by one of my girlfriends after a rather dramatic divorce.  Many agents and editors though it was too long, but I have an emotional attachment to it and wouldn’t budge.  Since publication, many readers have told me how much they identify with the title.  Plus, when someone asks me what the book is about, I simply have to tell them the title.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  One of the messages is that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.  We women often try to be strong and     weather all our storms ourselves.

What book are you reading now?  How We Love Now by Suzanne Levine.  It’s a non-fiction book about the chances that happen in your second adulthood.  Very interesting.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.  I received tremendous support from my critique group, Women Who Write.  We were together for five years and my novel went through two complete revisions with their help.  The book couldn’t have been published without them.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?  I enjoy Richard Russo.  I love his self-deprecating humor and his real-life flawed characters.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?  What I’ve learned is that writing the book is only part of the process.  Authors must be willing to market their books as well.  Whether you are traditionally published or you do-it-yourself, to be successful you must be willing to spend as much time promoting your book as you did writing it.

For more information about Judith, go to www.judithmarshall.net

Thank you, Judith. This book should be on all our summer reading lists!

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