Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Authorsday: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

  1. How did you pick the genre you write in? Blame it on my brother-in-law, Scott Miller, Sr., Esquire. I lived with him and my sister one summer and didn’t have the regular access to the library that I did when I was at home. All they had in the house was law books, nursing books, and science fiction and fantasy. Before that I used to jump around all over the place in the types of books I read. After that, almost exclusively fantasy and sci fi. Given that, no surprise that is what I ended up writing. Of course, my high school English teacher, Gene Miller (no relation) had a little to do with it also. He was big on mythology (or maybe the curriculum was that year) and I loved playing with theories of how the myths developed, which helped train my mind to devise fantastic themes in my writing.

  1. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants? Oh, I’m definitely a pantser. No patience for an outline, and when I have written—or tried to write—one, it is almost always obsolete in short order. I rather have the story and the characters direct where the book is going, there is more life in it that way.

  1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it? Yesterday’s Dreams, and not only did I try and publish it, I succeeded…twice! Now granted, the first publisher wasn’t a very good one, but it did get me started on this journey, so I can’t complain too much. But only because I was lucky. I should have done more research rather than taking the first deal to come along. Still…live is all about learning, and I’ve certainly done that! Yesterday’s Dreams is currently with Mundania Press.

  1. How many rejections have you received? You know…I don’t count rejections. Seems counterproductive to me. It certainly wouldn’t encourage me to go on to know how many people didn’t like what I write. To me the only importance a rejection has is that it lets me know it’s time to send the story somewhere else.

  1. If you have a day job, what is it? I’m a masochist… I work in publishing. You know what that means? I get to work twice as hard for half the pay nearly sixteen hours a day. Had a teacher try and warn me away from working in publishing. I told him I wasn’t doing it for the money, I was doing it because I loved books. I still do…but man, what I wouldn’t give for more than a little bit of money now and then!

  1. Describe your book. That’s a trick question, right? Sorry…I have three novels, one writers’ guide, and I’ve lost count of the anthologies. I’ll tell you about the most recent, shall I? That would be The Literary Handyman: Tips on Writing from Someone Who’s Been There. It’s a departure from my fiction in that it is usable by those who write genre and those that do not, though I do use genre references and some of the essays (chapters) are specifically about genre topics. Overall, though, it is a series of essays written in a conversational, and some say, witty tone. Basically what I have learned over sixteen years working in publishing, ten of which have been as a published author. What I am most proud of with this book is that it isn’t a how-to, but rather advice that the writer can apply to their own style. Also, it is on both the craft and the business of writing, which most guides don’t generally cover. Included as a bonus are a series of about ten writing exercises I have used in various workshops over the years that help the writer to apply the advice to their writing.

  1. What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Mostly I enjoyed that it was so easy to write! When I am writing about…well…writing, it comes very easy to me. It really is a conversation and so I can relax and joke and still share what I have come to understand about this often frustrating business. If I can make things just a little bit easier for someone just getting started, I’m happy.

  1. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing? Characterization and imagery, definitely. My stories and novels tend to be character-driven and my writing style lyrical. I believe very much in engaging all of the senses at one point or another so most of my stuff has a bit more detail than you might expect, but not at the expense of pacing. Dialogue would have to be my other strength…not sure why, but it has always come naturally to me, which is ironic given that I kept to myself a lot growing up.

  1. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go? With the exception of Ireland, I haven’t really been anywhere so it would be difficult to find a place I wouldn’t want to go to. However, I particularly would enjoy going to Australia because it is so very different than my own environment and the culture is rich and interesting. Now there is a mythology I would love to explore close up! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I have several friends that live there that I’ve never met face-to-face…that would be nice as well!

  1. Who is your favorite character in your book? Well, no characters in The Literary Handyman (unless you count me) but I have two favorites from my novels. In both Yesterday’s Dreams and Tomorrow’s Memories it is the character Beag Scath, a pixie with a very mischievous personality and endearing mannerisms. One of the reasons he is my favorite is that he appeared on the page with little help from me, his personality is his own and I merely uncover it. The other favorite character I have is Smear from The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale and he is notable to me because he is so much fun to write. He is a road gremlin and as with many faerie legends, he resembles his environment, blending in until you would scarcely know he was there…until he wanted you to. Now, he isn’t a nice character, but he is very distinct and as individual in his own way as Beag Scath is…which ironic because there can be millions of tiny Smears, or one big one, all the same entity.

Author Bio

Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over sixteen years. Her works include Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, and the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman. She edited the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, and Dragon’s Lure, and has contributed to numerous other anthologies.

She is a member of The Garden State Horror Writers, the NJ Authors Network, and Broad Universe. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more, visit or 

Book Blurb

Success in publishing is equal parts skill, determination, knowledge, and pure, dumb luck. If you have the drive, and you have the skill, but you're missing that little bit of insight into the industry, this book might just be the edge you're looking for.

(For the're on your own.)

Crack the cover to learn more about effective dialogue, the difference between the major publishers and small press, self-promoting, naming characters, avoiding procrastination... and so many other demons that haunt the aspiring author.

Also includes a series of writing exercises to help you to apply the information gained in the book.

No comments: