Monday, December 12, 2016

A Visit with Alex J. Cavanaugh

Need writing inspiration? Look no further. Prolific author and blogger Alex J. Cavanuagh is here, sharing valuable insight and news about his latest book, CassaDawn, the prequel to the Cassa series. It's a privilege to host the "Ninja Captain", as his followers call him, because he always has wise and encouraging words for writers.

Welcome back, Alex! It's always good to have you visit. Do you think blogging is important for writers/authors? If so,why?

Thanks, Karen! I think blogging is still important. It’s a platform that provides both friends and readers a way to connect. They don’t have to be a blogger or part of any social site to read what we write. Plus a good blog post can generate thousands of new visitors, exposing us to even more potential readers. The best part is still the connection of writers and authors within the blogging community.

Blogging is a good way to connect with readers and writers. It has so many benefits. :) Now that you have several books to your credit, what would you have appreciated knowing before you completed your first one?

A few grammar rules come to mind…I’d say knowing how much this journey was going to change my life. But then again, the only way to appreciate that is to go through it.

True words. Do you believe that fiction techniques can apply to non fiction writing? How so?

Fiction means enticing readers and drawing them in. That translates well to non-fiction, because then you can spice up a potentially bland subject. Those elements of intrigue, suspense, and humor help non-fiction as well.

Drawing readers in is a good thing! If you could offer one piece of writing advice, what would it be?

Stay true to yourself. Don’t bend the way you write or your values just to sell.

Wise words to live by, that's for sure. What's next for you - any more books in the works?

My short story, CassaDawn, just came out on December 6. And there’s still one more of my books coming out on audio this month – Dragon of the Stars. Otherwise, I have another story outline I’m kicking around. Focusing on the Insecure Writers' Support Group and my music takes a lot of time though. I never planned past my first book, so anything else I produce is just bonus at this point!

Congrats on CassaDawn and the audiobook as well! Thanks for visiting with us again. Wishing you much success!

Thanks, Karen! 

Find Alex

About Alex

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, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


By Alex J. Cavanaugh
eBook ISBN 9781939844354 2.99
Science Fiction-Space Opera/Adventure/Military
Release date: December 6, 2016

The prequel to the Amazon best-selling Cassa series!

A pilot in training...

Fighting the odds, Byron is determined to complete Cosbolt training. Poised at the top of his class, only one situation holds him back–his inability to work with anyone in the cockpit. Byron’s excellent piloting skills won’t be enough without a good navigator…

CassaDawn Links:


What are you working on as 2016 comes to a close? Do you have any questions for Alex? Have any special plans this week?

I’m taking a break, and will return on January 9, 2017. May you enjoy abundant blessings this holiday season and in the new year. Enjoy your time with family and friends! :)

Sending love and blessings,


Monday, December 5, 2016

Meet the Blogger with Jennifer Brown Banks

Most of you are acquainted with Jennifer Brown Banks and her award winning blog, Pen and Prosper. But you might not know why this talented veteran freelance writer started blogging, or that her latest book, The Success Checklist, is now available. So I thought it'd be fun to invite Jennifer for this month's Meet the Blogger.

Welcome, Jennifer! So glad you stopped by. When did you start blogging?

Thanks, Karen. I made several unsuccessful attempts at blogging but was able to seriously get a handle on things in June, 2009.

With several blog awards to your credit, I'd say you've gotten a good handle on it. :) What is your blog about?

Pen & Prosper is about helping writers of all levels and genres to know more and grow more through practical tips, tools, and tested strategies for success. It's not just a blog, it's a support system. :-)

It is a wonderful source of info and support, and I appreciate your efforts. What benefits have you gained through blogging?

Discipline. Friendships.  A broader platform. Awards and recognition. Pay. Joy.

Blogging is a great experience, isn't it? Congratulations on your new book series, The Success Checklist! What prompted you to put this series together?

Thanks for asking. Though we all start blogs for different reasons (to build a platform, to connect with kindred spirits, to rant, to showcase our work, to create awareness of a cause, etc.), many of us don't realize that success requires a strategic approach. My books help writers to "learn more and earn more." The series shares insider's tips to winning awards, earning money, maintaining momentum,  etc.

The end game is to help writers and bloggers to "work smarter, not harder." And to avoid common pitfalls and detours that often cause people to quit before they reap the rewards. 

Sounds like a good plan and a helpful series. What might people be surprised to learn about you?

Hmm...that in person I tend to be shy, serious, and reserved.

Our online persona can seem a bit different than our real life one, that's for sure. What advice would you share with a newbie blogger?

Learn from the best. Work hard. Have a game plan. Don't just blog because everybody else is doing it. You won't last. :-)

Great advice. Where can readers find out more about your books?

Visit my blog, Pen and Prosper, for book details and purchase info. 

Thanks again for visiting, Jennifer. Wishing you much success!

Thank you!

More About Jennifer

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, columnist and author. She helps authors and entrepreneurs to grow their platforms and their bottom lines. Her work has been featured on top tier sites for more than a decade, including: Pro Blogger, Men with Pens, Tiny Buddha, Lifehack, Write to Done, WOW (Women on Writing), and The Well Fed Writer E-zine. Learn more at Jennifer's blog.

Do you have any questions for Jennifer? What are you up to this week?

Happy writing,

Monday, November 28, 2016

Turning Soapbox Rants into Writing Ideas

Ever have a moment where you want to jump on the soapbox and start ranting? 

From rude behavior to society's injustices, we've probably all been tempted. While I believe that these episodes are opportunities to build character and patience, I think they also offer a host of writing possibilities.

For example, while attending a funeral years ago, I witnessed an interesting faux pas by someone paying their respects. To be fair, it wasn't horrible; funerals are awkward and people are often at a loss as to how to behave. I was probably only attuned to this hiccup in decorum because the service was for my sister.

I wasn't upset, but rather, inspired. My thoughts turned to writing an article, perhaps entitled Five Things Not to Do at a Funeral. Once the brainstorming began for that idea, I had others, and was pleased that an event that could have sparked a soapbox speech provided a creative opportunity instead.

Another example resulted in my recent post, The Publishing Journey, Reflections and Lessons. The adventure with my first publisher yielded good things. It was also a bumpy road, with opportunities for soapbox rants. Months later, I penned the post, reflecting on lessons learned. My goal - to share insight and tips, helping writer friends make wise, informed choices.

Soapbox topics can be tricky. They generate a host of emotions. Tact, of course, is necessary. What purpose does a blistering speech serve if it turns readers off? An emotional and thought provoking commentary, done right, can speak to readers in a unique way.  Not everyone will agree with the stance, but well written prose should garner respect and offer takeaway value.

There are two key tips I heed before publishing any work generated by an emotional topic or event:

Give it time - Writing when emotions run high isn't a bad thing. But it's usually not a good idea to commit to a final draft in a highly emotional state. Whether a blog post or article, text, email, or social media rant, it's better to check those emotions and see how it looks after letting it rest a while.

Get another opinion - A perspective outside the realm of one's heart and head can offer valuable counsel and feedback. Even if this person shares your opinion, they can be the voice of reason, sharing insight, helping your written words convey a balanced message.

With care, caution, and class, pet peeves and emotional topics, whether big or small, can provide great opportunities for us writers.

What writing ideas do your soapbox rants generate? How was your Thanksgiving? What are you working on this week?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Free Images -  Peter Galbraith

Monday, November 21, 2016

Counting Blessings

"For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

With Thanksgiving week upon us, we can't help but reflect on the abundant blessings we enjoy. 

I'm grateful for my Heavenly Father, family, and wonderful friends like you. 

Thank you for your friendship and kind support. :)

What are you thankful for? 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blessings to you,


Monday, November 14, 2016

6 Ways to Manage the Demands of Blogging

As you know, blogging is a wonderful way to meet people, sharpen writing skills, make connections, and market services and books. There's no getting around it, though, blogs require attention and care. Writing content, posting, general site upkeep, responding to comments, visiting others' blogs, etc., it can get overwhelming at times. How can we keep stress to a minimum? Here are 6 tips that have helped and inspired me.

1) Keep posts short.

Long posts are great, but short ones can offer good info and interaction too. It doesn't hurt to take the pressure off sometimes, sharing brief thoughts, a quote, or simply asking your readers one question. A high word count doesn't guarantee quality content or reader engagement.

2) Schedule posts in advance.

This is probably the best thing since the invention of the blog. Whether you're going away, looking ahead to a super busy month, or have an idea for a July post strike you in February, scheduling ahead can be a lifesaver.

3) Offer regular features.

Author Susan J. Reinhardt's Friday blog posts share interesting links and info. Ask the Expert, a staple at veteran freelance writer Jennifer Brown Banks' site, offers great interviews. Regular features here include Meet the Blogger and Miscellaneous Monday. These types of posts provide good content and can be scheduled in advance.

4) Post less often.

There are no blogging laws dictating post frequency. Sure, you want to be consistent so that readers know when to expect good content, but that doesn't mean you must post every day. When I began blogging, I posted twice a week. I'm down to once a week now with an occasional extra post as necessary. This better suits my schedule, as I suspect you prefer a sane Karen over an overworked, scattered one. 

5) Find a good time management balance.

This is an ongoing challenge, with family, work, social media, and other demands. But we need to find and maintain our right balance. It's tricky, but it can and must be done to be healthy and productive. Allow yourself space and grace, too, when things don't go as planned. In ten years, it won't matter if you miss a post or forget to tweet. 

6) Take a break.

A little time to regroup, refresh, and catch up on other things is therapeutic. Plus it gives you time to stock up on chocolate or other necessities. I hate to say it, but the blogging world will manage in our absence. And that's okay. They'll miss us, of course, but they'll soldier on until we get back.

Basic tips? Yes. But ones worth revisiting when feeling uninspired or overwhelmed. At least for me, anyway. :)

How do you manage blogging's demands?

Happy writing, 


 Photo credit: F. Turco