Spotlight On: Alex J. Cavanaugh and the IWSG

Alex J Cavanaugh 1This month’s offering for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is also a part of my Spotlight On: series, where I showcase writers of various blogs I follow and state the reasons for doing so.

In the first installment, I listed some of the things that appealed to me about Julie Luek’s site. Alex came by, faithful and true, and made a comment saying, “If that’s what you look for in a blog, I should be really thankful you follow me!”

Truth be told, I’m the one who’s thankful that he follows me.

Sure…his site differs greatly from Julie’s, but that’s exactly why I go there. My tastes and needs are quite diverse, and Alex’s site is full of diversity. If I were to only choose sites that looked the same and sounded the same and offered the same information, I’d quickly get bored. I wouldn’t experience this online world to it’s fullest and grow as a writer.

So out of the thousands of writer’s blogs, why Alex J. Cavanaugh’s? What made me go in the first place, and—more importantly—kept me going back? Those are the questions I hope to answer concerning all the blogs in this series.

While visiting Julie’s, I noticed a badge…you know the one…a gray lighthouse with red words in all-caps, bordered neatly by an ebony frame:

Yeah...THIS one.
Yeah…THIS one.

Never being one who considered himself overly insecure, I didn’t click on it.

A few weeks of visiting blogs, commenting, and introducing myself went by and I had gained a small following—nothing major, mind you—and the idea of joining a writer’s group entered my mind. I wanted to meet others going through this process.

I glanced at the badge again, but still didn’t click. I may have my fears, I may have my doubts, but I certainly didn’t want them sprawled on the linoleum for all to see.

It wasn’t until I saw more and more of these badges on sites that I had grown to respect that I finally gave it a tap. It took me to Alex’s.


Whoa. I went on visual overload. There was so much to take in…so much to digest all at once…I was a country rube in the big city for the first time.

It was a busy site because Alex, I later came to find, was a busy man. Heck, I had never even seen a link list before, and this one had hundreds of names. Mine became 300-something.

November saw my first meeting with the IWSG. At the time, I was participating in NaNoWriMo, new to blogging, and full of piss and vinegar. It showed (by the next month’s post, I was a sniveling mess). I received a wonderful welcome, met many great writers, and was in hog-heaven.

But I still didn’t know Alex. To be honest, other than the IWSG, I didn’t think we had much in common. He writes space-opera and, although I’ve liked many movies in the genre, I’m not what one would call a die-hard fan. For Pete’s sake, I watched Spaceballs before any of the original Star Wars movies, and can’t even name the recent ones. Phantom Menace? That sounds like one. And there seems to be a whole new slew of Darths that I knew absolutely nothing about.

Don’t get me wrong…I like the Star Wars saga; I’m just not all “keep-Chewbaca-in-the-original-box-under-a-glass-dome” about it.

Regardless, I wanted to get to know this Alex fellow that everyone was crazy about.

In December, a special blogroast for Alex was planned, so I made it my mission to learn more about him. I read post after post, excerpts of his books, witnessed his cheery presence everywhere and genuinely liked what I saw. By the time I wrote up my roast, Festivus Alexicus, I had unwittingly become a ninja minion.

I began to focus on our similarities, and the differences went out the window.

His site, which I first interpreted as a futuristic TGIFridays with loads of Flair, became a place to find out anything about everything—a talk show for writers, if you will. Alex is our Conan O’Brian, and I love his show:

  • Founder of the IWSG.
  • Has a great attitude.
  • Hosts fun blogfests.
  • Posts interesting highlights.
  • Trivia, trivia, trivia (and I love trivia)!
  • A killer blogroll that I “borrow” from.
  • Author spotlights.
  • Book and movie reviews.
  • A true desire to support the writing community.
  • A man doing everything he can to be the writer we all want to be, and with two Amazon best-sellers and a third on the way, is definitely succeeding.
  • Honesty, integrity, and genuine likability.
  • Humor.
  • AND…he plays guitar.

It’s a privilege to know Alex, follow him, and be a member of the IWSG. Yeah…over these past few months, I found that maybe I’m a little more insecure than originally thought.

If you haven’t met him yet, take some time to do so. You won’t regret it.


ML Swift


60 thoughts on “Spotlight On: Alex J. Cavanaugh and the IWSG

  1. And his clones. No mention of Alex is complete without mentioning the clones. 🙂 The Ninja Captain is certainly special to this writing community – like the hub of a wheel that keeps growing spokes.

    Did you know I never realized that was a lighthouse on the IWSG badge?

    Laura Eno – A Shift in Dimensions

    1. Until I went to describe it for this post, I never realized it either, Laura! I just thought it was a grey background!

      How could I forget the clones? They’re like the oompa loompas…everywhere!

  2. He has definitely contributed a lot to the community in the way of support and unifying a very large group. Cheers and kudos to Alex– a great site to highlight.

    1. Yes, Julie…sooo agreed! In this enormous blogosphere, there are literally thousands of sites, and I think they all know Alex. I’m so glad to have joined the group.

  3. You’re absolutely right about all Alex’s wonderful traits and good works. If there’s a Superman in the blogosphere, it’s him! 🙂

  4. I’m glad you joined us ML. It’s not about the genre, it’s about the people. Aren’t we all fortunate to have each other? I think so, and the more people I bump into, the better. Although I have failed at making clones like Alex, I have learned from him. Like be generous and gracious. 🙂

    1. Yes, I learned that quickly, Mary. At first, I was limiting myself to sites of similar genres, but I met so many people outside of my genre that were wonderful and offered so much information. Romance? I’ve never read it, but a LOT of my favorite sites are written by romance authors. Sci-fi? Another.

      It’s about this whole big world of writing that unifies us…once I looked at the big picture, I got over limiting myself to MG/YA blogs.

  5. Alex is awesome and he was one of the first to show me just how kind and giving a community we have.

    I remember him telling me (on multiple occasions, it seemed) that I had my word verification on. A lot of others would have probably just skipped trying to comment…especially someone as busy in the blogosphere as he is…, but he kept coming back, commenting, and gently reminding to turn the dern thing off…lol.

    Great pick, Mike, and no one is more deserving of praise.

    1. Funny about word verification, Mark…Blogger’s is set “on” automatically when you create your blog. Had no one told me, I’d have never known. And I hate the verification. Just another couple of steps to add on. It’s a pain in the butt just to change over to my open ID WordPress name when I’m commenting on blogger sites now. But I have to, otherwise people will go to the old blog.

      Verification is like the “moderation” in WP…the first time for a new poster is fine…gotta check them out. But I like the option that, once approved, moderation ends. Unless you choose the option that it’s always moderated. That’s a pain, too. A friend of mine who has chosen that option should really turn it off.

      Are you reading this JJ? 🙂

      Thanks for coming by, Mark, and I agree. Alex is deserving of much praise. He’s good karma.

      1. It’s funny you mention having to switch over to open ID or your old blog shows up…I’ve found different problems on different sites anyway. For instance, a few WP sites (like this one) argue with my WP login (perhaps because it’s privately hosted) so I have to sign in with Facebook. On blogger, I still use my old ID but I use an href as a signature with my new website. The copy/paste aspect is easier than switching to Open ID for me.

        Laura Eno – A Shift in Dimensions

  6. Alex is so, so deserving of the spotlight. I don’t know how he manages to stay on top of everything that goes on in the writers’ blogosphere, but he does. Plus he shares! I, for one, am eternally grateful. Brilliant profile, Mike!

    VR Barkowski

    1. Thanks for coming over VR! I loved the post of quotes today. I’m a quote nut…they’re like a bunch of proverbs, teaching lessons on writing and life. I keep a steady diet of them.

  7. Wow…
    I am just floored.
    Sorry, this just NOW came up in my reader. (Can’t wait to dump Google Reader.)
    ML, I am so glad you clicked on that badge last year and joined the IWSG. And the Ninja Army.
    Bottom line, I’m still just a geek who likes movies and my guitar.
    Thank you!!

    1. Alex…glad it finally popped up. Something has been askew with this post (or Blogger) today…it wasn’t updating on the blogrolls, either. Don’t know why. Plus, I honestly don’t see how you are still functioning after the A-Z…that’s a lot of movin’ and shakin’! Thanks for always coming by.

      I’m glad that I joined IWSG also. It’s a fantastic group, and face it, as secure as I feel most of the time, fears and doubts have a way of creeping in. It’s good to have that support group when they do.

      You are an incredible man! I wish I had one of those Lego Ninjas to send you! Thanks for all that you do.

      Oh…and please, call me Mike.

      1. This was a lovely homage, Mike. I hope it’s okay that I call you that, too. I don’t like the word ‘Insecure’ any more than you do, so I’ve always called IWSG, Al’s Writers’ Support Group because I love Al. He is an amazing blogger and friend.

        Thank you so much for popping by Subliminal this morning. I did actually post to IWSG on April 29 — and without the badge (eep.) Look forward to reading more of your posts.

      2. Suze,

        So good to see you. Yes, I like “Al” a lot and am glad I joined.

        After I made the comment on your site, I went further back to see if you had done a post for IWSG…I saw it and should have commented to that effect. It was the cheerleading one, wasn’t it? I realized that some people post the day or so before.

        When I went on the first Wednesday, I saw that post, but did a quick skim for the badge or the words, IWSG. Seeing neither, I figured you were new to the group and forgot about it, so I left.

        After reading it, I see that you’re back with the group after a bit of a sabbatical (good for you!). Every month, I try to choose from the bottom to welcome some of the new folks before plundering through the rest of the list. I usually go by the name…it needs to hook me.

        Subliminal Coffee hooked me. I love coffee. I love the sublime. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff. Oh…and I love 80’s movies.

  8. It’s funny. When I started blogging there was the Alex bloghop. I felt like a stranger in strangeland because I had absolutely no idea who this man was and why everyone was so hot about him. I chose to hop without participating just to satisfy my curiosity. It so happens that I found his blog via Jeff Hargett and I also thought that Alex had very little in common with me. I really like to get to know people and not go with what people say, so I took my time to find out by myself if I liked him or not. Yes, the man just wins your heart, even dragon’s hearts.

    1. I remember you saying something in your first post for IWSG (or one of your posts), about “finally giving in” and joining the group. I chuckled, because that’s how I was. I wasn’t going to jump into a group all willy-nilly just because of hype without checking it out first.

      But the proof was in the pudding. Checking it out further only affirmed my decision to join. I don’t know how he does it, but he does it so well. What is IT? Everything!

  9. Alex certainly rules the bloglands! He spends and amazing amount of time blogging and supporting blogs. I really don’t know how he does it!

    And I must say your blog is really coming along too! It looks so snazzy, no wonder people like visiting 🙂

    1. Thanks, Charmaine (about the snazzy blog). I like the word snazzy…definitely underused. Dapper, too. I relish innocent words from the past like that.

      Alex’s abilities are unmatched, and he covers the area like the morning dew….welcome and refreshing.

      I’ll be over soon…I decided a long time ago not to kill myself on Wednesdays, frantic to get to all the peeps. I take it leisurely now, visit about five a day for a week. Much more relaxing and stress-free.

    1. I knew that. I do it all the time and have to go back and remove the “d.” The word “and” just automatically writes itself once I start with the “a” and “n.” It’s like damn autocorrect. 🙂

  10. I think you just wrote his author page for his next novel.

    That’s a lighthouse in the ISWG image? Shit. I never noticed. I really am oblivious.

    1. Crap! Sometimes my comments disappear when I move the touchpad. Had a goodie written, too.

      I’m taking requests for forewords and dust cover flaps…I’m sure to be booked solid soon.

      I never noticed it was a lighthouse until I described it for this post…never studied it, really, and always thought it was a rocket or missile silo or some other covertly disguised phallic symbol.

      And thanks for coming by! I know you’ve been swamped. Does everyone know that Gus has a book out? Amazon or Smashwords. Check it out!

  11. Discovering Alex – and being insecure from the start – kept my blog going. I met so many wonderful bloggers through it, and through all the other bloghops he hosts and co-hosts. It’s always lovely when he visits my blog and comments, because I know he has so many others to visit as well. Well deserved spotlight!

    1. Annalisa—good to see you. Yours was one of the blogs I visited when I first started blogging. I had no order to my visits (and still don’t), and was mainly clicking on people’s pictures to go to their site.

      You hit the nail on the head…by way of the hops and blogfests and informative highlights, I’ve met a great many wonderful writers, and know so many other resources to check for answers.

  12. I love Alex for three simple reasons. 1. He is as humble as he is awesome. 2. He works hard not just for his career, but for every person who has the blessing of contact with him. 3. He is genuine.

  13. Wonderful spotlight! Alex is one of the best in this blog-world, all of what you said, and even a bit more to those of us who are crazy Star Wars/Scifi/space opera people. (although I don’t have Chewbacca under glass or anything like that) 🙂

  14. Nice tribute and spreading the importance of the IWSG blog hop. Writing should be communal, even if it is solitary. We learn and grow the most with each other’s support. Thanks for the post and for visiting me today. You and Alex are both inspirations to us writers/bloggers.

    1. Nancy,

      It’s always a pleasure to go over to your site…wish I could make it more often. Writing needs to be a bit communal for the support and inspiration, so you’re right about that! Thanks for stopping by.

  15. I love Alex. Period. He’s everything I imagined and so much more. I love, love and love him. Literally, can I say I go crazy over him? Yes, I do. That man – Alex Cavanaugh is a blessing to me and yes, so glad I met him over a year ago!

  16. In reading this, Mike, it’s funny I had a similar experience with the IWSG badge. Like you, I’ve never thought of myself as overly insecure so I never clicked on that badge either, for the exact same reasons you described. Though, after repeatedly seeing it on other blogs I follow, one day I did click it just to see what all the hype was about.

    I don’t know Alex, and I’m not a member of IWSG, but he’s built an impressive following that’s very commendable. And he seems like a great guy. This is a nice tribute you’ve given him, and from what I’ve seen around the blogosphere he’s quite deserving of it.

    Nice job, Mike, and Kudos to Alex.

    1. Yeah, Demetria…I wasn’t sure how I’d feel belonging to a group, but you know what? It’s worked out just great.

      Although I feel content for the most part, it’s come to be a group of people I can turn to when I have questions, need support, or just to goof off with.

      The IWSG has actually changed my mind concerning writing groups, especially since I didn’t enjoy the real life group I had met about the same time I joined.

      It’s something to consider looking into, D. 🙂

  17. Alex IS awesome. Even as popular as he is, he remains a regular guy. Treating every blogger as an individual while making us all feel special. Wonderful post!

  18. How do you do it, Mike. Attract the following, connect, network, be cool, tell great jokes, and write? Way too much for my simple mind.

  19. I’ve only joined the ISWG this month and like you had known about the group before. Wonderful way to interact and support each other. I enjoy Alex’s energy.

    1. J.L., I’ve seen you around the rooms and have even gone to your blog. I thought you were IWSG a long time ago. It’s a nice group of folks. With around 300 continuous members, you’re sure to click with a few!

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