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Danielle Ackley-McPhail - Chronicler of the Bad-Ass Faeries

Award-winning author and editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries Anthologies and other genre fiction.




So hard to believe that we are only weeks away from a new year.


I've accomplished a lot in this one, but I never do seem to get caught up.


What I've done in 2013 (so far):


1) Wrote and launched my fifth novel: The Redcaps' Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, companion volume to The Halfling's Court and Three Chords of Chaos




These are novels based on stories from the award-winning Bad-Ass Faeries series.


2) Helped put together and launch three anthologies: Best Laid Plans and Dogs of War, both in the Defending the Future series, and Clockwork Chaos, a steampunk collection.




3) And I've typeset over 30 books this year for Dark Quest Books, my primary pubisher.

4) I've sold stories to:

        ~R. Allen Leider for the anthology Hellfire Lounge 4: Mirror, Mirror (my story Skippy)

        ~Janine K. Spendlove for the antology Athena's Daughters (my story Looking Back)

        ~Edward McFadden III for the anthology Lucky 13 (my story The Devil's Own Luck)


And everything I haven't yet finished :

1) my steampunk novel, Ali Baba and the Shah's Treasure, written with Day Al-Mohamad

2) my pirate collection, Consigned to the Sea, a collection of new and reprinted fiction

3) my fantasy collection, On Darkness and Light, also a collection of new and reprinted fiction

4) final selections for the next Bad-Ass Faeries anthology, It's Elemental (95% complete)

5) story reviews for the upcoming anthology Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales

6) my audio book Flash in the Can, readings of my flash fiction, one of the stretch-goal rewards for the Athena's Daughters kickstarter at the $14,500 level...a goal we are rapidly approaching after only three days!.


Okay...not everything, but more than enough! And three of those six have to be completed no later than the beginning of January! EEEEK!


It has been quite the creative journey this year and I thank everyone who has made it possible, either by enabling me or by making the projects viable by wanting more.


Here is another excerpt from Looking Back as a thank you.




            Stepping from the entryway, Lady Clara grabbed her full-length, stained leather duster—cousin to the one Langstrom wore—from its customary hook by the door. As she slipped it on over her dress and secured it, making sure the coat fully covered the finer fabric, she moved across the room to the massive worktable that now dominated the space. Not once did she glance away from Fritz Langstrom or the contraption before which he stood, and yet she managed to navigate her way past massive coils of copper wire and bundles of brass, copper, and glass tubes, sacks full of coal and iron gears, and barrels of dark, rank oil which lubricated the inner workings of the device.

            The inventor gave a start at her voice, all but for his hands, which remain absolutely steady as they made adjustments to the plethora of connectors. “You’re here!”

            She presumed he beamed at her, as was his usual habit, but it was difficult to tell as the goggles that had been perched atop his head were now drawn down, a small, magnifying lens swung into place over his right eye. Clara pursed her lips disapprovingly. Langstrom was like an ill-disciplined hound, yapping and clambering and familiar, without restraint. She was not at all comfortable with that aspect of their interaction. Carefully he set the delicate watchmaker’s tools with which he currently worked upon the table and hurried to her side, pushing the goggles up until they again perched atop his head.

            A subtle change in his demeanor unsettled her further. Her back went rigid and her chin lifted. “Well?” she said as she arched a delicate brow toward the device he had been working on.

            “Yes…of course,” he said, his eyes widening ever so slightly. “I have not yet tested it, per your instructions, but it is ready, and now that you are present…. Please, if you will join me over here, by the Futuraositor.” A muscle in her cheek twitched faintly as he uttered that infernal name with which he had christened her machine. She spoke not a word, her eyes alone revealed her displeasure. Instead she watched as he ran a lightly oiled rag over the invention, wiping away any dirt or dust that might interfere with the process. It took more than a few minutes as his so-called Futuraositor took up three quarters of the rather large worktable. Clara waited impatiently, tapping the toe of her pearl-buttoned boot against the worn boards of the floor. She watched as he adjusted dials, opening some valves, while closing others, and precisely positioned various levers. When all was set, he used an ironmonger’s gauntlet to slide a brazier filled with lit coals into the belly of the beast, beneath where she knew a rather costly copper boiler had recently been installed. Within moments she heard the hiss of steam and tasted hot iron with each breath. Water began to boil in an array of hollow, glass tubes mapping the surface of the…Futuraositor…like veins. Those delicate tubes continued across a few inches of empty air to connect with a narrow brass box framing two sheets of the most perfect glass she had ever seen. Her breath caught in a gasp as the space between those sheets slowly filled with a swirling fog that behaved rather different than the steam she’d expected.

            This was new. “What…?” she managed.

            Langstrom anticipated her query: “Aether,” he said, his response distracted as he reached over and adjusted the settings on an object that looked like an ornate astrolabe centrally placed atop the mechanism.

            “This,” he said in hushed, reverent tones, “is what has brought us to this moment. This is the guarantor of our success….”

            Clara found it maddening the way he went on. “And this is…?”




A Project of Athenian Proportions

I am a part of an amazing project exemplifying the varied strengths of women in fiction.


There is so much support for this volume that in just over 24 hours we are less than $1000 away from being fully funded. Curious? You should be.

Check out the kickstarter for Athena's Daughters, an anthology being produced by Silence in the Library Press. This is their fourth successful literary Kickstarter and there are some powerful names behind the project. Let's see how high we can take this because we are already out of the ballpark!



 Some of those involved with the project, among others, are: Mary Robinette Kowal, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Rabe, Sherwood Smith, Jean Marie Ward, and--if we hit the right stretch goal, Dark Quest Authors Jennifer Brozek and Alma Alexander.


My story is a rather fun Steampunk tale about a woman determined and dedicated to finding her missing cousin, Rockford, so that he can assume the management of his inheritance, her father's estate. I like to think you will be amazed at the perdicament she and American inventor Fritz Langstrom get into ;)


I posted an excerpt of this on Monday, which you can find here:




And here are some excerpts from other stories in the collection:






More to come later!

Thanks for hanging out with me a while, and if you don't mind, please spread the word!



EXCERPT - LOOKING BACK by Danielle Ackley-McPhail - Athena's Daughters

           “Lady Clara! Lady Clara!” a voice called out.

           The Right Honorable Claramina Evangelista Pemberton, Countess Chadsworth—the very image of propriety in her dainty hat, rose velvet walking gown, white gloves, and pearl-buttoned boots—stopped very still, took a deep, imperious breath that was warning in itself, and slowly pivoted on one heel. Her already alabaster skin paled further until it bore the aspect of shaved ice as her brown eyes darkened to the hard luster of anthracite. The gentry swarmed the park this afternoon, impeccable in their finery, quite eager to see and be seen. All around her she heard their murmurs and gasps, and not a few sly titters from those glad to witness her touched by even this slight scandal. The rumormongers were in bliss. Though she careful schooled her expression to display nothing of the sort, within she was mortified.

            Seemingly unaware, Fritz Langstrom, wearing a leather duster marred by oil and dirt and scorch marks, hurried toward her, a battered set of goggles perched atop his head. The man was coarse…American…brilliant. And, it would seem, completely ignorant of the conventions of polite society. Stepping quite above his station, he reached out, ready to clasp her arm in a most unseemly manner. Beside her, Lionel, Lord Barrington, a distant cousin and her escort of the afternoon, drew a sharp breath and stepped forward, deflecting the commoner’s touch.

            Langstrom barely blinked as he went on. “Lady Clara, wait ’til you see…I dare say…we have success!” His words came out in something of a pant, hurried, urgent, but certain enough to cool her anger. In the barest of touches, Clara laid her gloved fingertips on Lionel’s sleeve but kept her attention full upon the inventor’s words. “You instructed me to inform you immediately….”

            “Cousin,” Clara said to her companion, cutting off the interloper before he could say too much. “Might I impose upon you to summon the carriage?”

            The gentleman stared at her with shock and affront clearly visible in his gaze, if not his expression, but he did not argue and went to do as she bade. Clara allowed him a slight, encouraging smile before he looked away. That smile quite disappeared as she turned to the inventor upon whom she bestowed her patronage. “You,” she said in quiet, clipped tones that carried no further than from her lips to Langstrom’s ears, “will return yourself to your laboratory by whatever means took you from it, and you will never again accost me so, am I understood?”

            “But you will come?”

            “I shall, and may God or the Devil help you if your achievement does not out-strip your offense, for no mere man will be able to. Now go!” The man hurried away as she instructed, clearly content to know that she would follow, and obviously overeager to return to whatever breakthrough had inspired such unacceptable behavior. Drawing her proud demeanor firmly about her, Clara remained straight and proper where she stood and waited for her escort to return. Deep within, however, excitement akin to that which Langstrom openly displayed coursed through her noble veins. Outwardly, a spark of satisfaction glittering in her eyes betrayed the only sign she felt anything at all.


Next week Silence in the Library press and the contributors of Athena's Daughters will be launching a Kickstarter for this new anthology project. This GoodReads group is going to feature daily discussions with the contributors. I hope you might join us. Please like and share.
Next week we will be launching a Kickstarter for this new anthology project from Silence in the Library Press. This GoodReads group is going to feature daily discussions with the contributors. I hope you might join us. Please like and share. https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/120244-ask-athena-s-daughters-strong-female-characters-for-today-s-readers


New Releases:


The Awakened Cover 




You just turned nineteen. Do you feel... different? Is strange magic happening all around you? Are you suddenly mindspeaking with a sentient animal? In The Awakened, this could be you. Sixteen exciting stories pull you into the diverse and unusual world of Grimaton, where the twin moons above might mean a lifetime of change. Join our celebrated authors as they explore the world of The Awakened and spotlight the heroes, the villains, and the magic; where a random few may find themselves bonded to an animal companion for life, or might find they are the possessor of weird and powerful magic they could never have imagined. How these exceptional few are treated and how they learn to use those unasked-for powers... Well, that is the adventure we have started here. Experience the highs and lows of becoming an Awakened, decide if you would use your power for good or for evil, and grow with characters who will make you proud... or make you angry. Featuring the works of: Erik Scott de Bie, Clinton Boomer, Steve Creech, Torah Cottrill, Darrin Drader, Hal Greenberg, Ed Greenwood, Doug Herring, Jaleigh Johnson, Rosemary Jones, Ty Johnston, Kevin Kulp, Colin McComb, Darren W. Pearce, Richard Redman, and Rai Smith



Clockwork Chaos Cover 



History, invention, the power of deduction…Clockwork Chaos is more than goggles and gears. It is about order and structure and timing striving for mechanical perfection. But in an era where mass production does not yet exist, the unique machinery brought forth into the world is at times bound to fall short of the goal. This chaos turns the science into mayhem and when the gears spring forth this mechanical viscera is indicative of a world turned inside out. Join us in our journey through the shine of society to the dark steamy underbelly of grit and crime.


Twelve stories of steam-driven genius plumb the depths of human intrigue even as they raise our vision to the skies. Patrick Thomas’s Spellpunk tale Deadly Imitation turns the Ripper into a tourist attraction. Gail Gray’s The Foxglove Broadsides uses the power of the press to bring down the political machine. And Jeff Young’s Ambergris in Ice gets to the grist of the matter on the issue of smuggling.


Necessity may be the mother of invention, but read on to discover how mods make the man.


Featuring the work of Jeff Young, Richard Marsden, Matt Dinniman, Bernie Mojzes, R. Rozakis, Patrick Thomas, Angel Leigh McCoy, Gail Gray, Patricia Puckett, James Chambers, N.R. Brown, C.J.?Henderson, and James Daniel Ross.


New Reviews:


The Devil of Harbor City Cover 

‘The Devil of Harbor City’ is a gritty noir novel with wonderfully flawed characters set in a realistic and dark world. –The Bibliophilic Book Blog



Faerie Games Cover 


‘Faerie Games’ is an engaging and funny story with great characters. […] I hope the author is planning a sequel or maybe a follow-up novella, because I’d love to see what happens with the whole cast of characters in the future. –The Bibliophilic Book Blog




For those going to Darkover in Timonium, MD this upcoming weekend (www.darkovercon.org) please do look me up. Here is my convention schedule. At most other times you can find me in the dealer's "room".



6:00 – 7:00PM: What Makes a "Good" Villain? - Writers - including the likes of Shakespeare and Milton - have realized that including a well-written (often charismatic) villain can be truly important to a story. How can writers avoid including a stereotypical "mustache-twirling" two-dimensional baddie in their works? Langsam(M), Crawford, Scott, Ackley-McPhail, Friedman.

8:00 – 9:00PM: Reading – Timonium Room

9:00 - 10:00PM: Don & Thomas's Wedding - Held in Atrium



3:00 – 4:00PM: Stick a Gear on it and call it Steampunk -A discussion by writers of the concept of cross-genre mixes of Steampunk with, well, everything. Romance, Lovecraftian horror, science fiction, mystery, westerns. Hammond(M), Edghill, Ackley-McPhail, Sonnier, Knight.


5:00 PM – Broad Universe Reading (Held inside Programming 2: Chesapeake 3-5): Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Margaret Carter, Meriah Crawford, Elektra Hammond, Kelly A. Harmon, Erika Satifka, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Leona Wisoker, Sarah Pinsker (M)


6:00 PM to 8PM - The Art of Sensual Writing - incorporating the five senses into your fiction



12:00 – 1:00PM: Short Stories vs. Novels: Does Size Matter? -How does "word count" affect the writer's craft? Writers discuss different strategies and goals when writing short vs. long fiction. Pinsker(M), Ackley-McPhail, Crist, Harmon, Sonnier


This is our last con for the year so we would love to see all of you while we have a chance before the holidays!



Also, our newest release will be featured there, a memorial book for Jaelle, the chair of Darkover, who passed earlier this year. Jaelle: Her Book contains a story by both myself and Mike McPhail, my husband. I'll be selling them for the con so please do come check it out. All proceeds will go toward the upkeep of the convention.



NEW REVIEW - SO IT BEGINS (DTF Series) edited by Mike McPhail

Cover Image So It Begins edited by Mike McPhail
Wow, how cool is this?
One of the anthologies I am in has received a foreign language review:
Fortunately, Google translates!
So It Begins es una lectura obligada para cualquier persona que ame MilSF. (Google Translation: So It Begins is a must read for anyone who loves MilSF.) !
Congrats go to editor Mike McPhail, Charles Gannon, Jonathan Maberry, David Sherman, John C. Wright, James Daniel Ross, and CJ Henderson for their shout-outs in the review.
And well done to everyone in the book!


Can't believe Philcon is only one week away. If you happen to be going you can find me in the Dealer's Room or at the below scheduled events. I'm hoping to do a costumer's grab bag as well (You get to paw through all my lovely fabric and give me money to take it home.) but I don't have details on that yet.


Sat 3:00 PM in Plaza IV (Four) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Tom Doyle (mod), Lawrence M. Schoen, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, D.H. Aire, Gail Z. Martin]

If you don't plan, you may come up with a really neat idea in book 5 which is unfortunately inconsistent with the first four books. How can you keep it interesting
and not get tied to your outline

Sat 8:00 PM in Con Suite


Clockwork Chaos Cover Image

Clockwork Chaos Launch Party - Get it in Gear!

Authors NR Brown, Jeff Young, R. Rozakis, Bernie Mojzes, and editors Neal Levin and Danielle Ackley-McPhail invite you to come celebrate the release of this Steampunk Anthology.


Sat 10:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Peter Prellwitz (mod), Danielle Ackley-McPhail, David Sklar, Sharon Lee]

There are characters or character types so popular that certain writers can not stop writing about them even if they want to. Can you name your favorite examples

Sun 11:00 AM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
[Panelists: April Grey (mod), Sarah Pinsker, Roberta Rogow, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, KT Pinto, Gail Z. Martin]

Members of Broad Universe (a 501(c)3 dedicated to promoting, and celebrating woman writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres) take turns reading five-minute excerpts from their work

Sun 2:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)

[Panelists: Marvin Kaye (mod), Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Alex Shvartsman, Ian Randal Strock, Neal Levin, April Grey]

Magazine and book editors discuss the current fiction markets


For those braving Capclave (www.capclave.org) this year...if you want to know where to find Mike McPhail or myself in the crush of George R.R. Martin fans, our schedules are below. We'll also be holding a launch party for Dogs of War edited by Mike McPhail and for The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter after the mass Autograph session on Saturday. Hope to see you there!




Friday 4:00 pm: The Darker Side of Fae (Ends at: 4:55 pm)
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Alethea Kontis, Michelle D. Sonnier (M), Jim Stratton, Jean Marie Ward
Not everyone can be Tinkerbell, sometimes the world is a little less clean and pure. Is the darker fae a return to time when the fae were strange and alarming?

Friday 8:00 pm: Producing Your Own Anthology: From Concept to Editing to Print (Ends at: 8:55 pm)
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Philippa Ballantine, Eric Choi, Gardner Dozois, Ron Garner (M), Jim Stratton
This panel talks a bit about the business of putting together an anthology of original fiction or even collected essays. Where do you go from the idea? What options are available? Print? eBook? Audio? How do you work with others, especially when it comes to the editorial process? Hear from the panelists tips and tricks on getting along with others and the tools needed to put together a terrific anthology, and the pros and cons on working with friends.

Saturday 12:00 pm: Reading: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Ends at: 12:25 pm)
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Saturday 7:30 pm: Mass Signing (Ends at: 8:25 pm)
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Catherine Asaro, Eric Bakutis, Philippa Ballantine, Matt Betts, Matt Bishop, Neil Clarke, Tom Doyle, Andrew Fox, Charles E. Gannon, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Laura Anne Gilman, John G. Hemry, Alma Katsu, Annette Klause, John Edward Lawson, Dina Leacock, Edward M. Lerner, Marianne Mancusi, George R.R. Martin, James Maxey, Heidi Ruby Miller, Jason Jack Miller, James Morrow, Diana Peterfreund, Patrick Scaffido, Lawrence M. Schoen, Jon Skovron, Alan Smale, Michelle D. Sonnier, Bud Sparhawk, Janine Spendlove, Michael Swanwick, Michael A. Ventrella, Jean Marie Ward, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Steven H. Wilson, Leona Wisoker, K. Ceres Wright
The Saturday evening mass autographing session.

Saturday 9:30 pm: The Dark Quest Books Launch Party (Ends at: 11:55 pm)
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike McPhail
Join the authors and editors of Dark Quest Books for food, fun, and prizes to celebrate the release of Dogs of War edited by Mike McPhail, book six in the Defending the Future Anthology series, and The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter, the premier release from Dark Quest's new young adult line, Palomino Press. L. Jagi Lamplighter, Bud Sparhawk, Janine Spendlove, Mike McPhail, Judi Fleming, Jeff Young, Eric Hardenbrook, Christopher Hiles, Christine Norris, Neal Levin



Friday 4:00 pm: Editors' Pet Peeves (Ends at: 4:55 pm)
Panelists: Mike McPhail, Norm Sherman (M), Alex Shvartsman, Hildy Silverman
The next great story has been sent to the editor. But the author did this…

Friday 6:00 pm: Space Marines and Goblin Troopers (Ends at: 6:55 pm)
Panelists: Ron Garner (M), Mike McPhail, Alan Smale, Bud Sparhawk, K. Ceres Wright
How should military be structured in Science Fiction and Fantasy? Should forces be combined or segmented? What are some good examples of both in modern writing? Are there approaches to the military that genre fiction neglects?

Saturday 9:00 am: Short Fiction Sources (Ends at: 9:55 am)
Panelists: Neil Clarke, Mike McPhail (M), Alex Shvartsman, Sean Wallace
Aside from the not so big anymore three magazines, where do you go for short fiction? What online sources have the best stories?

Saturday 9:30 pm: The Dark Quest Books Launch Party (Ends at: 11:55 pm)
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike McPhail
Join the authors and editors of Dark Quest Books for food, fun, and prizes to celebrate the release of Dogs of War edited by Mike McPhail, book six in the Defending the Future Anthology series, and The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter, the premier release from Dark Quest's new young adult line, Palomino Press. L. Jagi Lamplighter, Bud Sparhawk, Janine Spendlove, Mike McPhail, Judi Fleming, Jeff Young, Eric Hardenbrook, Christopher Hiles, Christine Norris, Neal Levin

Sunday 3:00 pm: Cover Girls (and Guys) (Ends at: 3:55 pm)
Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Mike McPhail (M), Sherin Nicole, Steve Stiles
What makes for a good cover? How much realism is needed, or should realism be avoided? Michael Whelan, John Picacio, and Darryl Sweet have different styles, but are well liked.

Sidhe na Daire - The Official Homepage of Danielle Ackley-McPhail

The Official Homepage of the Bad-Ass Faeries Series

"Because dreams are the difference between living, and existing."

Yesterday's Dreams, by Danielle Ackley-McPhail