By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

It seems these days that division runs rampant in every avenue of life and fandom is no different. We identify ourselves and as an outgrowth of that there is always someone we identify as not-ourselves. Sometimes this is a conscious thing, sometimes it is not. Whether or not that is an issue for us depends on how comfortable we are with our identity. And how much we care how comfortable others are with our identity.

I am a woman. I am a wife. I am generously proportioned. I am an author. I am owned by cats. I was raised by lesbians. I am left-handed. I am older. I am Christian. I am many things. Some have been an issue for people. Some have been an issue for me. I have learned these are simply facts and individually, they do not define me.

I have been an author for a very long time. For longer than I have not been an author, if you get what I mean. I have always been confident in myself and what I do. Because of this I have never identified my work with my self-worth. Do I want people to like what I do? Heck yeah! Do I think I am less of anything if they don’t? Not really. I have learned that doubts only have the power we give them.

There have been times when I have been judged and found wanting. Judged as less than what I am. People make assumptions and they treat you as if those assumptions are fact. We do not change those assumptions by force. I once had a boss who assumed I was self-published. Because of this I was not allowed to talk about my book because it was a ‘conflict of interest.’

In truth, I was not allowed to talk about my book because he considered it an embarrassment. I don’t know where that boss is now—other than no longer with that publisher due, ironically, to a scandal—but I am still here, now with many books to my name (some now, also ironically, self-published due to the demise of the original publishers) but also as a publisher in my own right.Author Danielle Ackley-McPhail

In fandom, as a young author and editor, I felt I was not taken seriously. There were people who sneered at my work and there were convention track organizers who would not accept me as a participant. Booksellers would not carry my titles and even canceled events that had already been scheduled. Why? It’s hard to say. In some of those cases I will never know, in others I have no doubt why, but in a few I later learned it had nothing to do with me or my work.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. There are so many possibilities others could judge me by, if they are so inclined. And there’s the key…if they are *inclined*. That is something I have no control over. I can combat it, though, without a word. By doing what I do and doing it well. By appreciating those who support me and by ignoring those who would put me down.

For every person who cast doubts on my value or abilities, there are many more who love me and what I do. Any idea which I chose to listen to?

One of the highest compliments I ever received as an editor was from the late David Hartwell, an editor at Tor Books. We were on a panel together discussing anthologies and the topic of building credibility came up. Unexpectedly, David said, “Danielle is a perfect example,” and he went on to discuss some of the anthology projects I had managed. While he was talking about credibility and how I built that up by producing quality work over and over again, what his comment spoke to me was the value of persistence.

While he was the first to publicly commend me for my efforts, I am constantly reminded of what I have accomplished. When those who doubted my abilities sit beside me on panels and listen to what I say. When authors I idolized growing up tell me they like to work with me. When icons from the industry ask me how to get into one of my books. I am reminded.

My value is what I have built and what I can do, not what detractors think of me.

Eternal Wanderings Cover

I am comfortable in my identity. I do what I love for me, not for them.

Am I wildly successful? No. Am I a bestseller? No. Am I still here? Hell, yes!

I’ve written or co-written six novels, a writer’s guide, a cookbook, and five short story collections. I’ve lost track of how many anthologies and magazines have published my fiction, articles, or poetry. I’ve edited over eighteen anthologies, and at current count I have published over 39 titles. I do it because I love it. You do you, whatever that is, because you love it and because you love you.

Don’t listen to those who would drag you down. Persist. Listen to your heart, not other people’s judgment.

Consider this…when they are looking at you with a critical eye, could it be so they can turn it away from themselves?

Be proud. Be glorious. Be understanding. Be you.

Want to learn more about my newest release? Eternal Wanderings is the first in a new series of novellas based on my Eternal Cycle novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, and Today’s Promise, all of which are urban fantasy based on Irish mythology.

Eternal Wanderings follows Kara O’Keefe through a journey of self-discovery as she joins a Romani caravan to help a friend battle his inner demons and ends up battling literal demons of her own.


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Award-winning author and editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books (

Her published works include six novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and Eternal Wanderings, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three extremely spoiled cats.

Her newest book, Eternal Wanderings, release at the beginning of April. An elven mage joins a Romani caravan to help a friend fight his inner demons, only to be confronted with ancient demons of a more literal sort.

To learn more about her work, visit or www.especbooks.