Summer’s End

As a resident of the northeast, the end of summer always comes too quickly. This year is no different. The nights were noticably shorter a few weeks ago (it’s really cruel that they start getting shorter at the beginning of summer) and the new school year is right around the corner (my son doesn’t start until September 4th).

I used to wonder why so many people fled to the south to retire. Sure, it’s warmer, but I always thought I’d miss snow and the cooler weather. Being a redhead, I’m also not a big beach goer or sun bather. More like sun avoider. *Raises weary fist to the sky and curses large shiny yellow glob* SPF 50 and swim shirts are my summer buddies… and I hate sunblock. Unfortunately, skin cancer runs in the family. So, yeah…it’s a love/hate kinda thing. Glad you save me from skin cancer… wish you didn’t make me feel like a hot mess before leaving the house.

Now, though, as the big 4-0 nears, my tune is slowly changing. Yeah, I might miss real fall weather and the changing leaves (it’s my favorite time of year), but I could do without the snow and ice. And we’re not even far enough north to get the really bad weather. I mean, I’m not sure how people even live in Canada year round. I kid, but seriously! I guess your blood just gets used to it. And, home is where your heart is…even if it’s frozen solid.

Here in temperate NJ, we get teased with just enough sun and warmth to last us through the other 6 to 7 months of cold. The water at the shore (yes, we all call it that…if you don’t, you’re not from Jersey) is just reaching a point where you don’t get hypothermia after five minutes. The beaches are packed, even when the weather isn’t that great, because it’s not going to get any better. This is it. Summer’s end is approaching with as much rapidity as it always does, one day at a time. The Labor Day weekend will mark the unofficial end, but it may as well mark the real end. Schools will all be back in, traffic will be back to its ridiculous awefulness, and the boardwalks will close for the season. The hopes and dreams that only summer can bring that didn’t come to fruition this year will have to wait until next when hope will spring eternal once more. 😉

Where do you get your writing ideas?



I always think it’s fascinating to find out where the thread of someone else’s story originated. I guess it’s because I remember (for the most part) how each of the stories I’m working on came to be. There was that “Ah-hah” moment where I was like, this is a story I need to write.

It can be frustrating, as a young/new writer, to not have a “novel” idea. It seems like everyone and their brother has a book idea except you. Trust me, we’ve all been there. For every novel idea I have cooking right now, there were probably a dozen false starts back in the day. And, it wasn’t until I actually finished that first novel that I realized I could do it; that I could actually write a novel. Of course, then came the fear that I had only one semi-decent idea in me and that was going to be it. Again, it’s an understandable fear and one that only becomes humorous when you’re on the other side with some ideas under your belt.

Now, of course, my greatest fear is that I will never have enough time to tell all of the story ideas I have. If you look on my site, you’ll see, in the right-hand margin, my list of WIPs (works-in-progress). It’ll take upwards of 3 years for me to finish all of that… if I’m lucky. And, I’m sure something else will plant itself into my mind between now and then, and add to the list.

That beind said, I’ve gotten my ideas from sleeping dreams (Danny Dirks), daydreams (Multiples of Six), artwork (Ash), and my own personal fears (Clock Smyth). I don’t quite remember where I got the idea for Liquid Blue. I think it might have simply stemmed from the opening scene, but as a huge Star Wars fan I’ve always wanted write a sort of space opera with aliens and stuff. 😉

And, mind you, like a shiny pearl, these ideas started with a single grain. Danny Dirks started with the main character’s name; Multiples of Six started with me thinking how creepy it would be to be alone in a house and have someone suddenly calling out your name; Ash was born from trying to figure out who this little girl with the dead eyes was; Clock Smyth started with the idea of someone being struck by lightning and being left with an undesirable ability. Every good idea starts with something small and gets built up over time. Sometimes it comes quickly. I had the plot to Danny Dirks outlined in a day and written in 6 months; Multiples took me 5 years to finish.

So, if you’re an aspiring writer, fear not. The ideas will come. Keep your eyes and ears peeled, but don’t agonize over not having that novel plot. Start small. Vignettes can often lead to a larger plot, if the situation allows for it. Keep your mind open to all possibilities. Never say, “Oh, that’s a great idea, but I could never write that” or, “Good idea, but I don’t write scifi.” Try it! You never know what will work.

How about you? Where have you gotten your ideas from?

Some Thoughts on Goodreads Giveaways

Mulraney_PENDRAGON_BOOK1_PrintEdition (1) vs bookcover_divisibleBySix_6x9withBleed_25percent

At the moment, I’ve got two giveaways going on over at Goodreads. One for my suspense/thriller, Divisible by Six. the other for my recently released YA fantasy, Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon. I’ve run giveaways in the past, but never two at the same time. The results are interesting so far.

Now, it might not be fair to compare these two giveaways as they are vastly different books, but the information might be useful for someone planning to do one in the near future. If you read the information that Goodreads provides, they suggeest focusing your target audience, running the giveaway for as long as possible, and giving away as many books as you can. So, when I set up the giveaway for Divisible, I followed these rules. That giveaway runs from July 24th to October 7th; almost 2.5 months. I’m giving away 10 signed copies. Almost five weeks into the giveaway, as of this writing, ~70 people have added the book to their “to-read” list and 178 have entered to win a copy.

Recently, I read a very interesting article over at Catherine, Caffeinated that tossed all of the ideas of what was right and what was wrong on its head. Essentially, she says to do the exact opposite of what Goodreads tells you. Make the giveaway short, give away a few copies, and make it available to readers across the globe. I was intrigued by the ideas and the timing couldn’t have been better. I wanted to give away some copies of Danny Dirks to get the name out there.

So, the giveaway for Danny Dirks began on August 24th and runs until September 7; two weeks. I made the book available to all members of Goodreads, no matter the country. I’m giving away 5 signed copies. Five days in, as of this writing, 169 people have added the book and 356 people have requested a copy.

What does this prove? Well, it could be nothing, really. To compare a YA fantasy to adult suspense/thriller isn’t even like apples to oranges. More like rutabagas and kumquats… 😀 Anyway, I think the point is that, by shortening your window and widening your audience, you might have a better chance at getting exposure. The two most popular times for a book to be added during a Goodreads giveaway are when it’s on the “Recently Listed” list and the “Ending Soon” list. So, the closer you can get those two dates together, the better off you might be. Not sure if there’s a magic number, but 14 days seems to be working out quite well.

If the point of the giveaway is to get your book’s name in front of the most people, this method might be the way to go. Now the true test might be the reviews gained per book given away, but that’s for another day. Hope this little bit of data is helpful.

Have you run a giveaway recently? Any advice to share? Leave comment and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Hey you! Thanks!


Yes, you. Weary interweb browser. Thanks for stopping by today, or last week, or the week before. I hope you’ve read a thing or two that has informed you or at least made you think. That’s why I’me here. I like talking books and writing and self publishing.

It’s been twelve weeks, or approximately 3 months, since I moved over to WordPress from my old blogger haunts. I’ve now crested 100 followers and it’s really been refreshing and reminded me of why I actually like blogging. WordPress seems to have it figured out. I was certainly never able to feel the sense of community until I came here.

So, thanks. I look forward to sharing insights and thoughtful ruminations about writing and this whole publishing journey thing. 😉

My Creative Writing Mentor

I attended The Richard Stockton College of NJ for my Literature degree. My literature department was an awesome group of individuals who are still spreading their awesomeness to this day. I was also lucky enough to study creative writing under Stephen Dunn, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. I took a total of 3 classes with him before he retired from teaching full time the year after I graduated. I will always remember those classes. They crafted the building blocks of my writing career.

Stephen was a tough teacher in the sense that he was not one to give praise lightly. If your writing was awful, he wasn’t afraid to tell you so. Sometimes gently. Sometimes not so gently. A friend of mine (who is now a wonderful stand-up comic in Chicago) submitted a short story, to which Stephen said, “Keep the first line and throw out the rest.” Ouch. I had my fair share of callouts for clumsy writing, as we all do during those formative years (wait, aren’t they all formative?). But, it was all worth it to get work back and see a “Nice” or “Really like this” written in the margins. I strove for comments like that and doing so pushed me to be a better writer.

I found my writing strength while studying with Stephen. If there was one thing that always caught his attention, it was my dialogue. There was something natural and honest about it. You could hear the characters speaking that way. I still cling to that strength in my writing today. If I’m having difficulty, I turn to dialogue. Sometimes the natural progression of the story may stall, but having the characters talk it out will move it along. It can lead to a first draft with many conversation-heavy chapters, but it’s often easier to go back and edit.

I also had to take a semester of poetry writing for my creative writing track. While I don’t quite remember his overall assessment of my ability in that form, I seem to remember sharing a laugh at how prolific I was. I approached poetry with the “why write 1 good poem, when you can write 20 mediocre ones” mentality. In one semester, I probably produced close to 60 pieces of poetry when the class requirement was 15-20. It was fun, but we both knew that poetry wasn’t quite my thing.

Writing fiction wasn’t much different. For the final paper, I was always working on part of a novel. When others were submitting 10-15 page short stories, I was submitting the first 40 pages of a novel. I rarely read my end-of-year work aloud in class (due to size) and when it was time to review my work, I was the guy who always got the death stare from my classmates. “Like I didn’t have enough reading to do this weekend!” I guess it was a glimpse into the future. I was destined for the long form. The first 40 pages of the first draft of my novel, Multiples of Six, were written for his class. I threw out about 30 of those pages after I realized they were all backstory. Live and learn!

Lastly, I don’t know if he does public speaking anymore, but listening to Stephen read was often the highlight of the class. He could turn any line of words into something magical. If you ever have the chance to attend a poetry reading of his, I highly recommend it. Definitely a magician with words both written and spoken and I’m glad to have been able to share some time learning the craft from him.

Do/Did you have a writing mentor? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by.

Tally Up Twitter Tuesday – 8/26

For the love of alliteration! This will be a continuing series for writers and self publishers. It’s a roundup of what I think are some of the best links I’ve shared over on Twitter.

This week’s list:

Stuff I want to know (from Amazon) via @hughhowey 

The 10 Dark, Gritty Rules of Dystopian Science Fiction 

Tough Love For Authors — Stop Whining And Do The Work! via @badredheadmedia 

10 Stunning writing studios 

TED Talks – Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire action: via @YouTube 


I’m giving away more books!

To celebrate the launch of my upcoming YA fantasy novel, I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Danny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon over at Goodreads. This is a short-term giveaway that wraps up on September 7th, so head on over and sign up. Danny Dirks releases in ebook form on September 1st!

Mulraney_PENDRAGON_BOOK1_PrintEdition (1)

Need book swag on the cheap? Wait for a coupon.


Always wanted a banner with your book cover on it for those shows you do at the local library or independent bookstore? Maybe you wanted postcards, or a brochure, or something fun like a handle bag or custom pen? That stuff can be expensive, but if you use the Groupon going on right now for Vistaprint, you can get $70 worth of stuff for just $27.

I’ve used this method in the past for getting book swag. Banners, magnets, bags, pens, etc. My only disappointment is that they don’t do bookmarks. However, I’ve heard of folks making postcards and cutting them in half. As an independent author, it’s important to budget your marketing spend accordingly, and you can get quite a decent amount of stuff for $70. This one looks like it’s only for a limited time, and it can be regional, but it’s something I definitely recommend you keep an eye out for. I know Groupon is a good source for these coupons, but Living Social can also have them and if you’re looking to make a big swag purchase (t-shirts!), it can put a major dent in your bill.

Know of any good deals on book swag? Or have you done this yourself? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading! 😀