Today's guest is award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail. She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.
Today is part II of her five part interview tour with the blog Ring.
Part I can be found on Sandra Ulbrich Almazan's Blog
Part III is with Terri
Part IV is with Teresa
and Part V is with Em
So Danielle, have a seat right over here and lets begin...
- What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.
Most people would cringe to hear about my “process”. Pretty much anything goes. I write when and where I am motivated, with whatever is at hand. Mostly this is when I am in the middle of a project, but not exclusively. Depends on how tightly the idea grips me. I’ve written on the subway, the bus, while walking…during meals, when everyone else in the house is asleep. I’ve written on napkins, scrap paper, notebooks…my palm pilot, the laptop, and now, my android tablet. Whatever works and gets the idea down before it’s gone. About the only thing I haven’t resorted to is my skin.
Now I have to point out this isn’t standard. This is mostly frantic-mode when I’m in the middle of a novel or rushing for a project deadline. Other than that I write when and if the mood takes me or an idea sneaks up and smacks me over the head. I’m pretty relaxed about it most of the time. I’m not one of those writers that feel you MUST write every day or you have to turn in your Union card. Let’s face it, life makes that pretty hard, and forcing the matter just adds to the stress, which for most people doesn’t help with the whole writing thing. If I’m working on a project I try and do a little something each day, or at least a few times a week, unless there is a deadline and then I focus more intently.
I like to write in a room by myself, with maybe a cat or three nearby, but not on the keyboard…or my chest. Celtic music in the background is nice, or whatever is appropriate and not too distracting, and snacks help, particularly when they appear at my elbow out of nowhere. And tea…lots of tea!
When I’m writing a novel and getting scary-close to the deadline I go into obsessive mode where every waking hour that is not committed to something vital is spent in front of the computer. Sleep, at these times, is not vital. In fact, when I can get away with it I don’t sleep at all…or at least until I hit a wall and my eyes won’t stay open, then I lay down on the nearest flat and soft surface and close my eyes for fifteen minutes…half an hour, whatever my body insists on, then I get up and go at it again. This getting harder to do, but it almost always happens in the last week of a novel. Heck…my loving hubby, Mike McPhail (fellow author, editor, and game designer) actually vacated our room early this year so I could finish up my latest novel, Today’s Promise, that way I could stay up as long as I could manage and then fall over for a while on the bed, then wake up whenever my muse started kicking me again. That novel was completed in three months…a personal record that I have absolutely no desire to break in the future.
I am really pleased with this novel. Even with the marathon writing and the sleep deprivation it is one of the very best things I’ve ever written. It wraps up the Eternal Cycle Series, the trilogy that started my writing career. The series is urban fantasy based on Irish mythology. The other two books are Yesterday’s Dream and Tomorrow’s Memories. It is quite the personal achievement to bring this to a strong conclusion. Now I can move on to the six other novels pestering me to be finished!
- How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?
Not very well, really. Things like sleep and cleaning, regular meals…none of that seems very important when I’m in the middle of a project, and if it weren’t for my day job I likely wouldn’t leave the house for days at a time. I do make sure to stop from time to time and just blow off a day or get out and walk around, but there have been times when I’ve sat for over thirty hours at my computer, only seeing my husband when he pops in to leave me sustenance.
- When do you write?
There are two answers, likely not what you were expecting. 1) when I’m moved to, when there is an idea that just keeps poking at me or that out and out grabs me by the lip and runs with me. 2) when there is a project and a deadline, one that is generally either only several days away…or two past. As for time of day, there is no set time, whenever I have the quiet space and inspiration.
- How much time per day do you spend on your writing?
Sometimes…none at all. Others, several days nonstop. Most of the time, though I’m lucky to have about twenty minutes on the way to work, an hour at lunch time, and an hour or two at night, if needed. Of course, I do lots of other book-related stuff that has nothing to do with the actual writing, so that’s why I’m not so obsessive about it. Not only do I have to promote my own works that are already published, but I am also promotions director and a freelance designer/typesetter for Dark Quest Books (www.darkquestbooks.com). That takes a lot of time right there! I also have a running column in Allegory Magazine (www.allegoryezine.com), The Writer’s Toolbox, and similar articles to write for my own writing blog, The Literary Handyman (http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com).
- How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?
Other than get really, REALLY depressed? Well…when the funk shakes off I remind myself that not everyone has the same tastes, and it isn’t always ability or the story that is the issue. In the end I consider what, if any particulars have been provided as to the reason for the rejection or bad review. If it was simply not their tastes I do the best to put it out of my thoughts. If it was because of flaws they perceived in the story or the execution I look at that closer and see how valid I feel their points are and try to learn and improve based on their comments.
Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.
Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, the upcoming Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and New Blood.
She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.
Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit