Monday, March 18, 2013

Soaring on the Wings of Pigs

I've got a long history of loving flying pigs - and yes they are real, just like Jackelopes.

This is from an old episode of the Simpsons when Homer wanted to throw a BBQ so grand that his neighbor Ned Flanders would be jealous.  Of course only a whole swine would do for such an occasion, but that poor little pig had quite the ordeal.  It got dirty, it got wet and eventually it took flight.

"It's just a little airborne, it's still good!"  Homer cried out, ever the optimist.

The Kids in the Hall had a great bit, well I like it anyway, about a flying pig too.  Clyde always looks at me like I'm crazy, but that bit makes me laugh like an idiot.

What can I say?  I have a soft spot for Canadians :)

I even have a small statue of a flying pig in my back yard, I bought it for myself after the death of my once-in-a-lifetime-true love dog Harry.  Somehow that little happy pig reminds me of my boy, I can't really say why.

Oh hasn't this been a long and roundabout set up for something that's not even about pigs?  Relax and enjoy the journey I say, there's nothing wrong with a stop or two on the way to the main event.

Today's post is actually about a person, a really swell guy by the name of Bob Sanchez.  Bob recently did me a tremendous kindness and this is my small way of saying thanks.

That's a nice face.

So we all know that I pulled the book off Amazon because it needs reediting, I asked my writer's group for some guidance and Bob generously offered to look over the first chapter.  He's an author himself, a published author and has dabbled in the dark editing arts, so I jumped on that offer like it was the last hot dog at the picnic.

I sent him the chapter right away, very anxious to hear a professional opinion, and was a little surprised when his first response was to send back just the first page with corrections.  I looked over the page, it was riddled with notes and it was a revelation.  You know how it is when sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees?  There are way too many trees in the manuscript and Bob made that obvious to me with one page.

But I did puzzle over the why-ness of the first page only and then I realized that Bob Sanchez has done this before, generously offered his time and given his honest feedback.  I'm fairly sure he only committed to that first page to see if I would flip out over the corrections, to see if I would get defensive and argue about all my precious words.

Oh Bob, I used to be a chef, I went to a fancy culinary school that taught in the classical style.  I have been critiqued by Nazis, not kind, cuddly Nazis, mean ones that throw potatoes at your head if you're not holding the knife correctly.  I have had my hair blown back more times than I can count and every one of those tongue lashings made me better.

Those Nazis, er chefs, only wanted me to be a better cook and knowledgeable criticism is a gift beyond value.  Please do not think that Bob was a Nazi in any way, no spuds were launched; instead he gave me a no-nonsense evaluation of how I write. I'm a little sloppy, I see that now.

Bob gave me the outside perspective, he looked at the book with the eyes of a stranger and gave me some new things to ponder.  Even the title of the book, The Last Prospector, could be misleading for someone who is looking for a Western to read, not a Fantasy or vice versa.

I'm not changing the title, but am thinking about how to subtitle the book to make it clear that it's a Fantasy.  Which is something I never would have considered without reasonable criticism.

There are three morals to this story:

1.  Bob Sanchez is an amazingly cool guy, so please check out his crime novels.  When Pigs Fly, is quite naturally my favorite title, but there are two other well reviewed titles, Little Mountain and Getting Lucky.  Stop by his blog or even slap a happy thumbs up on his Facebook page and become a fan.

2.  Criticism is not a personal shot, don't take it personally.  None of us can grow without others of us pointing out the flaws in the plans and criticism is a tool not a weapon.

3.  Pigs DO fly.

So thank you Bob Sanchez, thank you a million times over.  That one edited chapter was one of the best gifts I have ever received.  Thank you for your kindness and generosity, thank you for your time and knowledge.

Thanks for not throwing a potato at me!


  1. Just goes to prove what a great guy Bob is. And you, as well. You could have been angry or hurt that he marked it up so well, but you weren't.

    1. He is a great guy, as are all the folks at BBT Cafe. You all show me everyday how professionals work.

  2. Ahem. Cough, cough. Coolness is not a trait that jumps to most people's minds when we cross paths, but thank you for the kind words and for this charming post.

    We self-published authors need to stick together. There's a whole publishing industry that doesn't even think we should exist, and there are a lot of DIY authors who seem determined to prove their point. So when I see an author like Cairn who is open to constructive suggestions, it's gratifying.

    Hey Helen, I came across Judge Helen Ginger a few years ago in the context of something to do with the El Paso Writers' League. I wound up in possession of an 8x10 glossy of her, Lord knows why. I didn't keep it. Hopefully that's not uncool.

  3. A lovely story about the kindness of strangers - and a great post on gratitude and graciousness!