Welcome to week twenty-four of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from fellow writers.
This week I am thrilled to bring you insights from fellow Chicago Writers Association member Danielle E. Shipley. Danielle is a prolific author, with a focus on YA fantasy novels/novellas that put a new spin on old fairytales and folklore. She is the author of the Wilderhark novellas and the novel Inspired. Her latest release: Book 2 of the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy -- a contemporary fantasy take on the legend of Robin Hood -- is now out!
Danielle’s books are self-published and available on her website and on Amazon, and several of her short stories have appeared in small press anthologies. She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest but first, as she puts it, “there are stories to make.”
Let’s see what Danielle has to say…
Question #1 - Where do you write and why do you write there?
Hunched over on my bed, because it’s where I’m least likely to be disturbed by a parent or my toddler nephew or (horrors!) unexpected visitors. I work best when I can feel semi-secure in my solitude.
Question #2 - What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
The beauty of fantasy is: Anything goes! A handful of medieval heroes, low-key living in a modern-day Renaissance Faire? Valid. Witches with anarchist tendencies, bespelling royalty into animals, statuary, and the occasional singing harp? Par for the course. I like being able to leave realism at the door and just go wherever a story wants to take me, no matter how impossible.
Question #3 - What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
Ugh, so many. I’m a diehard nitpick. But what gets me the worst is (cue visual example!) “Dialogue that looks like this.” She said. That full stop at quote’s end where a comma should be hurts my feelings; ditto the wrongful capitalization of ‘she.’ I don’t understand why this kind of mistake is so rampant, but I would pay money to see it die forever.
Question #4 - At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
Once I’ve got a finished first draft, I’ll read it aloud to my BFF, fellow author Tirzah Duncan – partly just because I’m itching to share what I’ve been working on, but also because if there’s stuff that needs clarifying, expanding, or some other kind of rework, I prefer to learn of that sooner rather than later. Yeah, the critique will probably make me cranky (sorry, Tirzah!), but I can’t fix what I’m unaware is broken.
Question #5 - What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
Just now while scrolling on Twitter, I saw somebody say, “Don’t worry about making good art, make art that’s good for you.” And y’know what? That is great advice for the newbies. Getting good at writing will come with practice, practice, practice. So get your practice in with whatever it gives you joy to write. Feed your soul, lest you faint from hunger on the long, bumpy road toward your goals.
Thank you Danielle for these incredible answers. I will never forget the advice, “Feed your soul, lest you faint from hunger on the long, bumpy road toward your goals.” What an amazing way to put it and so true. I need that on a t-shirt or a poster, something where I can look at it every day and remember how true that is!
For more from Danielle, please check out her website, buy her books, and follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.
If you would like to be featured as a writer in the #WritersQuick5 series, please just reach out and let me know. I’d love to promote your work as well!
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