And in case you missed it last week, I joined Twitter! Follow me @NatalieIAguirre and I'll follow you back.
Before we get to my fantastic interview, I want to announce the winner of the September is for Sequels giveaway. We had 196 entries. Woo Hoo!
The winner is Mimi Smith who chose SCARLETT.
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.
Today I’m thrilled to have Alex Cavanaugh here to help celebrate the release of CASSASTORM, the final book in his sci-fi series, which releases tomorrow. Alex is very well known in the blogging community as a great supportive friend. He regularly has 150 or more people commenting on all of his blog posts. He’s the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and a co-host of the A-Z Challenge. If you aren’t already following his blog, I highly recommend that you start following it HERE. And you’ll meet lots of enthusiastic bloggers through his group of friends. I know I have.
I don’t spotlight adult books, but really wanted to spotlight Alex’s book and have him share tips on how to make our blogs successful. I’ll be honest. I was nervous picking up CASSASTORM to read because I haven’t read an adult book in almost ten years and was worried I don’t like them anymore. And I wasn’t sure I would understand enough of the story since I haven’t read the first two books. I’m happy to say that I was totally engrossed in the story within the first few pages. Alex did a great job bringing the reader up to speed on what’s been happening. And I loved that the story was told from the points of view of Byron, the main character, his wife Athee, and his ten year-old son Bassan. Being a children’s writer and reader, I especially loved the parts written from Bassan’s POV. This was a fast-paced story with high stakes and danger. It was fascinating learning about the planet Byron and his family live on and then seeing more of the universe Alex created. This was a book I couldn’t put down. Even if you haven’t read the rest of the series, I think you’d enjoy reading this.
Here’s a blurb abut CASSASTORM:
From the Amazon Best Selling Series!
A storm gathers across the galaxy…
Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.
After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.
Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…
- Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries
"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together."
- Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes
“Cavanaugh creates such an unforgettable world, and these characters will stay with you long after their story is over.”
- Cassie Mae, author of Friday Night Alibi and How to Date a Nerd
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and work in web design and graphics, I’m experienced in technical editing, and I worked with an adult literacy program for several years. I’m also a musician and play guitar in a band. Online I’m the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
I wrote some when I was younger, but I didn’t pick it up again until almost thirty years later when I found an old manuscript in a drawer. After a complete rewrite, many query letters to publishers, it became my first published novel, CassaStar.
2. That's awesome that you used to write and picked it up again. And I'd love to work with a literacy program some day. For those of us who haven’t read this series, tell us about it.
The series follows Byron, a very talented pilot who prefers his privacy. The first book follows him
3. I know when you wrote CASSASTAR, you didn’t plan to write a trilogy. What were some of the challenges in continuing the story and how did you overcome them?
I think jumping ahead in time helped. It gave each book a fresh start. CassaFire was loosely based on a
4. That was an incredibly unique way to do it. And really keeps the story fresh.
So I want to focus our interview on blogging advice. I know from following your blog that you started your blog when you signed your book publishing contract and your publisher told you that you needed to start a blog. Share how you started your blog and what helped it to grow too where it is today. What are some of your key recommendations for having a thriving blog with lots of visitors?
The first few months, I had no idea what I was doing. I started following and commenting, focusing on science fiction sites, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. It wasn’t until the very first A to Z Challenge that I began to gain momentum – I went from thirty to over eighty followers in one month. After that I found my groove by blogging about what I enjoy and featuring others.
I think the four things that matter most are involvement, support, leadership, and consistency. Blogging is a community, and you have to be willing to give back. You can’t focus on yourself or be negative, either. You want to be that person others flock to because of your genuine nature.
5. So true you have to be consistent and be supportive. How many blogs do you follow and how much time do you spend reading blogs every day. Tell the truth because I see you on many blogs I follow before I get there.
I’m just quick on the draw! I have around 2000 followers and I visit an average of a hundred blogs a day. (Far more on Mondays and double that on IWSG post days.) I spend anywhere from three to six hours a day online. While that might blow some people away, I do have the advantage of visiting blogs during the day from work. (Does my job rock or what?) But I do devote time in the evenings and on weekends. Basically, I’ve just made a lot of friends.
6. Wow! That's a lot of time reading blogs. You're so lucky you can do that from work. That would help SO much to follow more bloggers if I could at work. But I spend a lot of time on it too, which is why I think I have a good following. For those of us who can’t spend as much time following blogs as you do because of other obligations, what advice do you have for increasing on blog followings and being good blogger friends?
Focus on a core group of blogger friends. Visit those people as often as possible and the rest when you have extra time. It’s more important to have a small group of friends devoted to you than a mass of people who could care less. And the best way to increase your following is to follow and comment on other blogs, get involved in the community through blogfests and events, and give back at every opportunity.
7. Great advice. And as a follow up, in another interview, Alex recommended for those of us who can't devote as much time to blogging to follow a core group of about 30 bloggers regularly to be a good friend and develop a following. And he's mentioned a key to having a good following: follow your followers back, especially the ones that visit you all the time. I so agree with this. I'm trying to do this as much as I can, even if I just follow some of the less frequent followers on the days they stop by.
Here’s a problem I struggle with how to handle sometimes and I’m guessing other people do to. I start following someone, often who has few followers, and they don’t follow back. Also I’ve noticed over the three years I’ve been blogging that some followers stop following and/or disappear from blogging. Do you have these issues ever and how do you handle them? Do you stop following people? When?
8. I hate to unfollow people, but I think your rule of thumb is a good one I plan to start following. Since the fall 2012, I’ve noticed a lot of aspiring author fatigue with blogging and discussions on whether or not people should continue blogging. In fact, I’ve saved at least 10 links to posts on this topic, including one you did last year. We saw a drop here in comments (though I’m not complaining because we do get lots of comments on popular interviews) and page views last fall. The good thing was that I made a lot of new blogger friends, many from your circle of friends, as a result and have really been focusing on following my regular followers.
But have you noticed this trend at all and where do you think blogging fits in an author’s social network platform?
There seem to be less people following new blogs, but there are always new bloggers to replace those who quit. I think it’s still viable for authors. My blog is also my website, so it doubles as an author site and a social network. Some authors do really well on Twitter, and some on Facebook. I think it’s all about finding what works best for the individual - what works best for each of us to spread the news and reach our audience.
9. I've found that to be true too--that there are new bloggers to become friends with when others disappear. Though it still makes me sad when people I like just disappear. Do you have any other advice that we haven’t already discussed?
Just get involved in this community at every opportunity. Blogging is about making friends. Find your groove and your theme and have fun. If it’s not fun, you’ll burn out and quit.
10. I know you’re debating whether to continue writing or focus on your other creative outlet, music. Have you made any decisions on that?
I’ve focused on my music more this year, but I haven’t made a final decision. I have an outline for another space opera, so who knows? But I’m not leaving the blogging world anytime soon, that’s for sure!
Thanks so much for sharing all your advice, Alex. Good luck with your book release. Here's purchasing info for CASSASTORM and Alex's links below:
Available September 17, 2013
$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
Barnes and Noble
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
So Alex's publisher Dancing Lemur Press has generously provided an ARC of CASSAFIRE (I won this through Goodreads First Reads) and CASSASTORM for a giveaway. There will be two winners. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by September 28th. Please let me know where you are in the series and I'll try to match the winners with the books, though there is no guarantee. I’ll announce the winner on September 30th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome though I'll only pick one international winner at most due to postage costs.
I'd love if you'd also share your questions, your experiences blogging, and any advice to share with the rest of us.
Here's what's coming up:
Tomorrow I've got a fantastic Tuesday tip on school visits by author Sandy Carlson and a giveaway of her historical fiction story, THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED.
On Wednesday I’m interviewing another follower, debut author Christina Lee, and giving away an e-book of her new fantastic adult novel, ALL OF YOU, a contemporary romantic story with great characters.
On Friday I’m doing the Stuck In A Good Book Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great choices for you to pick from.
Next Monday I’m interviewing debut author Peggy Eddleman and giving away an ARC of SKY JUMPERS, her fantastic upper grade middle grade post- apocalyptic story. I haven’t seen any post-apocalyptic middle grade stories and I really enjoyed reading about Hope, a girl who thinks she has no talents because she’s not good at inventing like everyone else in her small town.
Next Wednesday I’m interviewing Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson and giving away a copy of STARBOUNDERS, a MG sci-fi adventure story that sounds like it’ll really appeal to boys as well as girls.
The following Monday I’m interviewing a sixth grader in a writing club for my ASK THE EXPERT series and giving away a copy of THE DREAM THIEVES and ORLEANS.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you tomorrow!