Thursday, January 27, 2011

Alex Cavanaugh: Finding Your Voice Online

Today I'm welcoming Alex J. Cavanaugh as a guest poster.  If you haven't heard of him, here's a little bit about Alex:

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He’s 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. Currently he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

And here's a blurb and a short review about Alex's latest novel, CassaStar:
To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron, a talented young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude. Slated to train as a Cosbolt pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life. Much to his chagrin, Bassa, the toughest instructor in the fleet, takes notice of the young pilot. As war brews on the edge of space, Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive. Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

And here is Alex's lesson on finding your voice.
As writers, we’re told to find our voice. Our stories must have a unique voice that sets us apart from other authors. But what about online? As we blog and post on social sites, shouldn’t that voice be unique as well?
It can be a struggle at first. Online, we are just printed words. How can we convey with mere words all that cannot be seen in the physical or felt in the heart and mind?

Science fiction/adventure/space opera,
Dancing Lemur Press LLC

ISBN Print 9780981621067
 eBook 9780982713938

I think our voice develops when we start to focus on our passions. It’s similar to singing. If we’re forced to sing something dull (and forgive me, but church hymns come to mind) we’ll sound monotone and bored. However, give us a song we love, one that stirs our emotions, and we’ll sing loud and with feeling. If we’re excited and passionate, it also comes through in our writing. Who we are as a person starts to shine when we write about topics that move us.

We need to avoid the pitfalls, though. It must be our passions, or we sound monotone and lacking a soul. (Remember - just like singing a hymn!) We don’t want to sound like a used car salesman or a know-it-all, either. However, the greatest trap is to conform. We can take direction from others and let them guide us, but the voice must become our own. Otherwise, we’re just another person online.

Whether we have a book deal or not, we must remember, we’re establishing our voice right now. With every word, we are shaping how others view us. Scary thought, huh? Naturally, we want to put our best foot forward. No one wants to sound like a jerk!

We can’t pretend to be something we’re not, though. No one is perfect, so why worry about it? We just need to be personable and let people know we are real. That’s what draws others to us.

So, how do we find our voice online? By being ourselves and writing about our passions. If you think about it, that’s not difficult at all!

Thank you, Alex, for this very informative post. Please visit his blog where you'll learn even more about running a successful blog and using your distinct voice.
To purchase Alex's book, check out these fine retailers.
Amazon,    Barnes and Noble,    Kindle,    Amazon UK


  1. I love posts about finding your voice. I think that is something writers of all experience struggle with. Thanks for the great post. I'm heading over to Alex's blog now.

  2. Alex is a great supportive guy. He is so right, it is important to be true to yourself, even on your blog.

  3. Alex is everywehre! I'm so glad to be a part of his online world since he has real e-passion.

    I agree that writing what you are passionate will help you find your voice, but once you get those writing chops going I think you become skilled enough to write passionately about things in which you might have little interest.

    To use the "hymn" analogy, I've heard song stylists take a dusty old song and make it shine by polishing it up and displaying it in a new modern light. For example, I don't remember ever hearing "Amazing Grace" song in church or anywhere else. Then, in the seventies, Judy Collins released her rendition and how many times have we heard that song done since.

    Sometimes a writer's job can be injecting passion into something that will make it appealing to the reading audience. Writers are much like actors.

    Wow, Alex, you're making me think too early.

    I'm excited to be joined by Alex in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge this year. We will be joined by Talli Roland and Jen Daiker.

    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

  4. Finding my bloggy voice is far harder than finding my writing voice. Maybe because there are so many voices in my head...

  5. Thanks, LA!

    Glynis, that's all I know to do.

    Lee, glad I could kick-start your mind this morning.

    Tara, give each voice its own day of the week to speak!

  6. I keep finding my voice and losing it. Great tips, Alex.

  7. It's so great to have Alex here and I'm glad so many came by to comment on his 'voice' lesson.

  8. Great interview, Alex! Voice is such an unquantifiable did an awesome job.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  9. Excellent post on voice!

    Thanks for hosting, Susan!

  10. Being yourself and reflecting this through your characters is vital in order to develop believable characters. They have flaws. They make mistakes. Even James Bond gets his ass kicked from time to time.

  11. Great tips! I find with Blogging, not every post is going to be a jewel, bul like any other writing, it's the "plugging along" and being consistant that brings out the voice. Blogging also inhances your other writing Voice, since that' all Blogging is; your voice, without characters or plot!

  12. "We just need to be personable and let people know we are real" love that line. So true.

  13. That's right, Will!

    Thanks, Lynda.

    And thanks again Susan!

  14. Wow, lots of great comments on Alex's post. Thanks, Alex, and thank you to all of you for stopping by.

  15. Cool; I'll visit you there. I'm having problems with finding my voice for the first novel - which I'm querying and submitting to ABNA. Eek.


  16. Interesting post, Alex. I agree, our blog voice differs widely from our writing voice (unless we're posting excerpts), but it's important to remain positive. Some authors have made hasty online comments, and the later apology doesn't erase them.

    Susan, I just finished The Keepers of Sulbreth. Loved it! Left a review on Amazon (as my alter ego, CA Masterson)

  17. Good luck with your submission, Donna.
    Thanks so much for the great review, Cate. Glad you liked it.

  18. Thanks Alex. It's not easy to establish that voice in the beginning. After a long time of blogging, though, you relax. You've established what your "topic" is and start visiting other blogs, develop online friends and you begin to write to those people and it becomes more intimate.

  19. Amen, Alex. What you said. LOL =D

  20. He did get it just right, didn't he, RaShelle?

  21. Thanks Susan n' Alex,
    It is scary; my word for this year is authentic. It all goes back to that sage wise, "You can only be the best You"~ I think I have the passion, now need the grammar, lol!

    Alex, I love the song analogy; passion is key!

  22. Fantastic advice Alex! Thanks for bringing us this helpful post, Susan!