CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

UNDER LOCK AND KEY through May 20th
THE BLACK WITCH through May 20th
THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE through June 3rd

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

ALEX CAVANAUGH INTERVIEW AND DRAGON OF THE STARS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you are getting some of the beautiful spring weather. I'm loving it. And I can't believe it, but Anna Li is 18 today! Hard to believe my daughter is an adult.

I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of BLUE BIRDS is Jennifer Rumberger!

And the winner of the Fools for Books Giveaway Hop is Katie Watkins who picked the $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Congrats to the winners!

Today I’m super thrilled to have Alex Cavanaugh here to share about his new book DRAGON OF THE STARS that released on April 7th. If you don’t follow Alex’s blog, you really should. He’s part of a great community of bloggers where you can make good blogger friends. And he’s the founder of the Insecure Writers Group, a group that blogs the first Wednesday of the month and is a great group to connect with, and co-host of the A-Z Challenge, which is a month of blogging this month.


I haven’t read an adult book since I read Alex’s CASSASTORM over a year ago. So I was a bit nervous. But I really loved this story. Aden is such a great character. We see what he wants and his struggles and have to read on to see what happens. Alex really keeps the plot moving and is really mean to Aden in terms of the choices he must make. It made me like Aden even more. I really like Alex’s writing style too. He makes all his words matter.


Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:


The ship of legends…


The future is set for Lt. Commander Aden Pendar, son of a Hyrathian Duke. Poised to secure his own command and marriage to the queen’s daughter, he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

But when the Alliance denies Hyrath’s claim on the planet of Kavil and declares war on their world, Aden finds his plans in disarray. Entrenched in battle and told he won’t make captain, Aden’s world begins to collapse. How will he salvage his career and future during Hyrath’s darkest hour?


One chance remains–the Dragon. Lost many years prior, the legendary ship’s unique weapon is Hyrath’s only hope. Can Aden find the Dragon, save his people, and prove he’s capable of commanding his own ship?


Hi Alex! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. I know you were thinking of not writing anymore. But then you wrote this fantastic book, DRAGON OF THE STARS. Where did you get the idea for your story and why did you feel like you had to write it?


CassaStorm was supposed to be the last, wasn’t it?


This story came to me over ten years ago when I heard a song by Ayreon called Dragon on the Sea. The song has to do with Queen Elizabeth I sending Sir Francis Drake to face the attack by the Spanish Armada. I envisioned a spaceship with no equal defending against invaders. Using most of the lines of the song, I crafted an entire story around this Dragon ship.

2. Awesome that you got the idea from a song since you're a musician too.You’re really good at keeping your plot moving. There’s no sag anywhere. And I know you outline. Share your outlining process. And do you have any advice for those of us who don’t like the idea of outlining?


I don’t used index cards or a board or Scrivener. The ending always comes first, so I just work my way backwards, trying to figure out the path the character took to get to that point. I’ll spend months playing it in my head, like a movie. Then I start jotting down the basic plot on paper. When I start adding so much it’s as if I’m writing the story, that’s when I begin working on the manuscript.


Basically, I outline to death. And hate writing the first draft. The payoff is I enjoy the edits and they don’t take long.


3. I don't like the first draft either, but I don't outline like you do. I loved the world building. And there was a lot of it because Aden doesn’t stay in one place. How did you create this whole universe that is Aden’s world?


I did more research and world-building for this book than for any other. I spent a lot of time planning the
details of Aden’s home world, Hyrath–environment, social structure, politics, resources, etc. (Want to know about sea kelp? I can tell you!) I knew each planet required details as well. World-building is not my strong suit, so good to know I pulled it off. I do better with characters than setting.


4. You’re a musician and that pulls at you too. Do you have plans to write anything else


I do have ideas. Perhaps I’ll try some short stories. I do have an idea for an adventure for Bassan, Byron’s son, from CassaStorm. But I am really focused on my music and don’t want to let my band down.

5. I'd love to learn more about Bassan! So I want to move on to talking about blogging. Since I interviewed you in September, 2013, people have been cutting back on blogging a bit, often to once or twice a week. But those days seem to still be good days where lots of people visit each other’s blogs.

You’ve cut back too. So have I. I blog every Monday, but try to limit the Wednesday’s to twice a month. I really like this change because we’re all so busy in our non-blog lives. We still stay in touch, but it doesn’t take as much time. What are your thoughts on it?


I’m happy with once a week on Monday, with one Wednesday for Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. I still spend a lot of time during the week checking on fellow bloggers, as some post different days. And I still enjoy the connections. A lot have vanished, but new bloggers continue to appear.



6. When we last talked, you had 2000 followers. You were reading about 100 blogs a day and were spending three to six hours a day reading blogs. Are you still doing that? Why do you think it’s important to be friends with so many bloggers?

Certain days of the week, I spend a lot less time now. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are quieter, so I take advantage of it. But otherwise I try to connect as often as possible.


I just know friendship is important. I have so many friends here and I want to be there for them. And that’s part of why we’re here–to make life better for others.


7. I've cut back on reading blogs on those days too. I'm finding I need a break from it and am glad those are quieter days. What struggles do you see bloggers facing and what’s your advice to them?


Right now I’d say it’s bloggers who post and don’t know why no one visits and bloggers who have lost heart. To get visitors, you must be a visitor. Once you make friends and build a following, then comments will come. But the ones who’ve lost heart are the saddest. They post sporadically or toss posts up without visiting anyone. If someone gets to that point, take a break and reassess. Find the spark again. Try something new.


8. So agree that visiting and commenting so we know you've stopped by is critical. There are periodic discussions on this topic: Is blogging dead? I don’t see it that way at all. Do you think blogging is still thriving or do you see it dying out? Where do you think it will be in five years?


Blogging isn’t dead, it’s just changing. People don’t have as much time anymore, so they have scaled back. That just means when we do post, it needs to be quality content. Or very short doses. I think the days of frequent, medium-sized posts are gon


Then again, I am posting daily this month for the A to Z Challenge… But the posts will be short and easy to digest!


9.  Glad you just see it as changing too. I know you’re on Twitter too. Do you feel like you interact with people there? And how do you advise the rest of us to get involved on Twitter?


I have almost four thousand followers and I still have no idea what I’m doing on Twitter!


I’d advise people to make lists. Group followers into categories. It’s easier to keep up that way. And be willing to share blog posts and re-Tweet what others send out. Again, it’s all about connecting and sharing. And you don’t know where those connections will lead. Tweeting a review of a live RiffTrax show led to them following me on Twitter which led to me interviewing two of the members. (A dream come true for me!)


Thanks for sharing all your advice, Alex. Good luck with your book release!

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. 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. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm.

You can find Alex at:


Purchase:

Alex's publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, generously offered an ARC of DRAGON OF THE STARS for a giveaway. 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 through April 25th. I’ll announce the winner on April 27th. 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. This is for US and Canada.

Here's  what's coming up:

Next Monday, I have a guest post by Megan Morrison and a giveaway of GROUNDED: THE ADVENTURES OF RAPUNZEL, her YA fairytale retelling. 

The Monday after that I have an interview with Sabaa Tahir and a giveaway of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, her YA fantasy that is one of the books getting lots of buzz. 

Wednesday that week I have an interview with agent Brent Taylor and a query critique contest.  

Saturday that week I'm participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great newly released YA choices or a $10 Amazon Gift Card for you to choose from.

Hope to see you on Monday!

84 comments:

  1. I forget my history and the outcome of Sir Francis Drake meeting the Armada...need to refresh it! What a cool method of inspiration.

    I also like that you outline backwards. I've done that in the past when I've gotten stuck, but I don't think I've ever done it deliberately backwards from the beginning of the outlining process. Good tip!

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  2. Thanks, Natalie!

    Elizabeth, I think I've done every story that way.

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  3. I'd love to read more about Bassan too!
    I'm slowly learning to plot (sort of... :)), but writing that first draft is my absolute favourite part of the process!
    Can't wait to read this one!

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    1. Jemi, I'll see what I can do about another Bassan story.

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  4. Great interview. Alex rocks. I'm looking forward to a little time with hubby so we can ready his new book together.

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  5. Great interview! I liked reading about Alex's creative process, and I'm happy to hear he might be at least writing some short stories. Dragon is the best tale from him yet. Congratulations to the winners!

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  6. Wonderful thoughts about blogging and the writing process. I only post twice a week and that works fine with my schedule. Quality over quantity!
    Always refreshing to hear the trials and tribulations of authors. Makes me feel I'm a little less crazy.

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  7. Congrats on your new book, Alex! It's great to see where your interests continue to lead you. I must admit it's reassuring to see that even Alex and Natalie have scaled back on blogging - it's difficult to find a manageable schedule. And Happy Birthday to Anna Li!

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    1. Of course this month is crazy with the A to Z Challenge, but normally it's just once a week!

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  8. Wow, inspiration from a song--it sounds like a fun way to write. While I'm not always as interested in adult fiction, I do think DRAGON OF THE STARS might be intriguing. And it's cool that Alex kept writing even when he didn't think he would. Thanks for sharing! And Happy Birthday to your daughter--eighteen is a fun birthday. :)

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    1. Liz, I tried to quit, but my fans wouldn't let me...

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  9. This sounds like a great book. I'm going to work more with an outline for my next novel. I tend to let my plot and subplots get too complicated and I want to control that this time.

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  10. This sounds like a great book. I'm going to work more with an outline for my next novel. I tend to let my plot and subplots get too complicated and I want to control that this time.

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  11. Best wishes to Alex! I have my copy downloaded. I'll start it this week.

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  12. I found your thoughts on blogging and social media interesting. I find that to keep a blog going over a long period of time, you really have to enjoy it. But I also enjoy reading other people's thoughts and find most of the books I read through blogs!

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  13. It's great to see Alex here! It was a wonderful interview, thanks to both of you. Fun to learn more about Captain Alex!

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  14. World building takes a lot organizing to make it work. It seems Alex has done his work! Congrats again.

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  15. World building takes a lot organizing to make it work. It seems Alex has done his work! Congrats again.

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  16. World building within the sci-fi context sounds like a daunting prospect.
    Wow, I really admire the fantasy/sci-fi writers...
    I've written an urban fantasy story for a compilation, but I'm not sure if I did the world-building any justice (and there wasn't even much of it...)
    Congrats once again, Alex!

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    1. Michelle, world building just takes a little planning.

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  17. Glad to hear you have another idea stirring around in your busy thoughts. Blogging can suck hours out of the day though April is a bad time to assess.

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    1. Susan, it's scary how much time it takes in April.

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  18. I cut back to one day week, too. I used to blog almost daily. I don't have a clue how I did it.

    Congrats on the book, Alex.

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  19. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on blogging and the inspiration for DRAGON OF THE STARS, congrats on its upcoming release. Happy Birthday to Anna Li, eighteen is such a fun age and hope have fun celebrating together. Have a great week Natalie.

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  20. Great interview, Alex. Best of luck with the new release.

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  21. Wonderful interview, Alex! I've read the book (I don't need a copy, although an autographed one would be sweet!) and enjoyed it immensely. :)
    Best of wishes with your music and all that you do.

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  22. Happy birthday to Anna Li! And congratulations to Alex. (Don't bother putting me in the draw as I'm drowning in unread books right now!)

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  23. Hi Natalie and Alex - I'll be back to read this properly .. but yes if anyone wants to learn how to blog they should follow Alex' advice ..

    Get out and meet others, have good content and be friendly .. and I will read Alex' book .. cheers to you both - Hilary

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  24. Happy Birthday, Anna Li. Welcome to the next part of the adventure. Alex's Dragon book sounds wonderful/ Good luck.

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  25. Great interview! I found it esp fascinating that you work your way backwards. For some reason, I thought that only works for mysteries! Congrats again on the release!

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    1. I guess that would work well for mysteries. Just the way I work through a story.

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  26. Great interview. Kudos to you both. Always nice to learn more about the Captain:)

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  27. I love the premise of the book! It's the perfect blend of high stakes and a quest to achieve an awesome goal - a legendary spaceship. So cool!! I also envision my endings and work backward, hate drafting, and generally only need to polish prose in edits. Wishing Alex a HUGE amount of success! He deserves it! :)

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    1. Lexa, that's cool we work on manuscripts in a similar fashion!

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  28. I loved getting to know a little more about your process, Alex! The way you came up with the idea for this book was so intriguing. A legendary spaceship based on the Spanish Armada! I was inspired by how you know your limits with writing and want to give time to your music as well.
    Happy Birthday to Anna! That's a huge milestone. You must be so proud, Natalie!

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    1. Jenni, better to know my limits than burn out.

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  29. Congratulations, Alex! And, is that a picture of him? The every elusive Alex is starting to take shape? Gosh, I sound like a fanboy now. :)

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  30. great interview! I'm the same--I don't use index cards or fancy storyboards, I just outline and look forward to revisions lol

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  31. Nice interview, and now, I'm going to hunt down that song. Glad you didn't stop after the Cassa Storm series :)

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  32. Dang it all, I've been having such problems lately not only reading your blog--it freezes up on me, but commenting too. Tonight was fairly easy.

    Happy Birthday to your daughter. Mine just turned 20 it seems strange--weren't they just little ones last week?

    ALEX--good interview. I agree with you both, blogging has changed. I know my avaliable time has changed a lot over the past couple of years and I'm getting to a point I need to cut out a day on the blog. I definitely will keep Mondays but not too sure yet on eliminating Wednesday or Friday just yet--I haven't had time to really think about it all.

    I like that a song inspired your latest story. I'm not a big outliner but I let the story play around in my head long before I start writing and I always know the ending before I start.

    Good post today.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. Sia, if this month has taught me anything, I can't keep up the pace of posting more than once a week anymore.

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  33. Hi, Natalie.... Hi, Alex!

    SO happy to see Alex featured here today, Natalie.... It warms my heart to see that Alex hadn't given up writing and has an exciting new book out...

    ALL the best, Alex!

    I have cut back on blogging as well, but I don't think it's dead either. There is still a wonderful friendship between us bloggers and even though I may disappear for a while here and there, I always come back to drop in on friends and leave comments. It's important for us to stay connected because we really do help one another and are interested in what everyone is doing during their busy life......

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    1. Michael, I could never give it up. Too many friends here.

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  34. I love Alex J! Great interview! I loved reading how he got his idea for Dragon of the Stars through a song. Naturally, I'm completely intrigued by sea kelp now. ;) Happy Monday!

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    1. Kimberly, thank you! I could teach a class on sea kelp now...

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  35. Great advice and insight on blogging. Totally agree that to get a following you actually have to visit people not just expect them to come to you. This ain't the movie field of dreams! You can't just build it and they will come. Ha!

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  36. Great interview! That was a lot of good advice for blogging effectively.

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  37. I'm reading book 3 now and enjoying it. I've cut back a bit on blogging, but commenting is always necessary.

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    1. Medeia, thanks! Hope you're enjoying it.

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  38. Alex always brings it to the table, he should write on book on his life... I am truly glad he is out. I am thrilled to see his name in the title be it an email or a post where someone else recognizes his contributions to us all. Wow sounds like a love letter to Alex, where I am a stalker. lol.

    I am... ha! Thank you for a great interview with a great friend!
    Jeremy

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  39. Great interview! I don't outline at all...I really need to. I haven't tried Scrivener, but I've always been curious about it. It seems like it would be complicated.

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    1. Stephanie, that's why I haven't tried it.

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  40. Huge congrats to Alex! He's a master outliner. I bow to him!

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  41. I love the effect outlining has on my writing--it's starts my brain "prewriting" and definitely improves my drafts. Thanks for the interview and giveaway. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/588059979850088448

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    1. I sure couldn't do it without outlining.

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  42. Hello,

    First time here, and enjoyed the interview. Imagine turning a song about Elizabeth I/Drake into a sci-fi story! Amazing.
    Great takeaway on outlining and doing the ending first. Wonder if it would work for poetry?

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  43. I loved that you shared your process, Alex~ Your book sounds amazing-I am getting it for my birthday! I love that you write the ending first-I have heard others talking about this~

    Nicely done, Natalie and Alex~

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  44. This sounds like a good book. Your writing process is certainly interesting. I don't think I could manage that. Your advice on blogging was also interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!

    rbarckhaus(at)gmail(dot)com

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  45. What a fantastic interview- it's great to see questions composed by fans, shows a more in-depth knowledge of the story we're all learning about!

    Alex is such a gift to the blogging community- I don't know how he does it, I don't think anyone does, but we're al better off with him around.

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  46. Loved this interview with Alex. He is amazing and such an inspiration to the blogging community. I always feel that he puts others before himself, sharing and giving so much to his blog buddies!

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  47. Yes, blogging is changing. But maybe it has more to do with the network changing - most are now publishing and have a different view on what they want their blog to do. Congrats to Alex.

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  48. Wow, Anna Li's 18 already. She's lucky to have such a talented, nurturing mother.

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  49. How awesome that your daughter is 18! I remember that birthday well.

    I love that Alex was inspired to write his latest book because of a song. Wishing him the best of luck! :)
    ~Jess

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  50. Blogging is definitely changing. But so is the world :)
    As always, another wonderful interview. Alex never fails to impress me by how much he is able to achieve.

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  51. Thanks for another wonderful interview. I can't imagine how he does all that he does. Please let someone else win. I am swimming in books just now.

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  52. Blogging is changing and what people respond to is changing. I guess that's why making friends is so important.

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  53. This was a great interview! Always glad to hear from my buddy, Alex :-)

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  54. First of all, Natalie....WOW, 18?!?! I can't even comprehend what that must be like! My son is about to turn 7 and I'm struggling with that, wondering where all the time went and why was it so fast... I don't know how I'll respond to 18!! I hope she had a great birthday :-)

    Second, on to Alex's interview and book... I follow Alex on Twitter, and it has always intrigued me that he's a writer and a musician. But then, so many of the authors I adore seem to be insanely talented in other creative endeavors too - lots of artists among them - and I guess if you have the creative mind it can express itself in many ways. I wish I was more like that... I've always been more analytical (if that's the right word) and struggle to do anything "creative." But that's why I love reading so much, because you amazing authors have done the hard work for me and I just get to revel in what you've created!

    I look forward to reading DRAGON IN THE STARS, and I love how the idea came about. I love my sci-fi and this one sounds great!

    Thanks, as always, for the great interview!

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  55. Congrats, Alex! Blogging has changed, but I think it's far from dead. And I really wish I created lists on Twitter when I started.

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  56. The first person I've ever heard say, "I enjoy the edits." Wow!

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