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Danielle Miceli

🌊 August 31st, 2020 🌊


What’s New?

Honestly, I am so over this summer.

I know 2020 has wreaked havoc on us all, but this summer in particular has tossed my mental health all over the place. I feel like I’m watching my heart and mind from a distance, unsure whether they’re up or down at any given moment, or how to reassert control over my own emotions. It’s been maddening, but I’m lucky to have a few solid friends and an incredible husband who help anchor me, sometimes simply by checking in and reminding me they exist in my life. If nothing else, I feel like I’m slowly learning to lean more on the people who offer to help me. Giving comfort may come more naturally than seeking it, but if you never let anyone reciprocate, it’s not sustainable.

All this to say...please try to ask for help when you need it. Accept help when it’s offered. More often than not, it will make both you and the other person feel good, and it may bring you closer to each other, too. If nothing else, consider this an open invitation to send me an email or DM the next time you’re struggling and need someone to talk to. 💜
  1. When Feeling Good Feels Bad: Have you ever struggled to accept praise, to the point where it starts to DE-motivate you, instead of encourage you? While reviewing my beta readers’ overall thoughts on my novel, I felt a whole lot of things at once. Embarrassment, when I overlooked something obvious; frustration, when issues arose that I couldn’t think of an easy fix for; and pure, unadulterated elation, when Aevelynne’s story sang in someone else’s heart.

    But sometimes, the praise made me feel worse than the criticism. Like I didn’t deserve it. Like the end result of this book can’t possibly live up to the high expectations readers have for it. Like I won’t fix enough issues in the next draft, or, I’ll “fix” too much and lose something vital my early readers loved. It’s not imposter syndrome, but rather, it’s like discovering I may actually have all the tools and talents to succeed, and yet feeling destined to squander them--to fail.

    This might sound crazy to you, and it is! Why would I treat evidence that I can do a thing as proof that I can’t? It’s fear in the face of great expectations. 

    There’s a lot of pressure inherent in high praise, so next time you're grappling with that weight, stop and remind yourself the praise came from somewhere. Something you did caused people to compliment your work, your characters, your ideas. You’ve already succeeded in engaging readers, and you’re not even finished yet! It’s unlikely you’ll suddenly start mucking things up.

    I’m saying this to both of us: you can do this. Listen to your critics, they will help you grow. But please, listen just as carefully to the praise. That’s what fuels the growth. 💕

Writing Update

So much to do, decent chunks of time to do it, but little to no motivation.

  1. Beta Emails Compiled!: As of literally today, I've finished reading through, organizing, and replying to all but one of my final beta emails (and that last incredible person will have their response tomorrow morning 🙈)! If you beta read for me this spring, your inbox should contain a long-overdue, personalized reply to that final questionnaire, where I discuss your feedback and thank you for being a part of the most incredible team of early readers I could’ve dreamed up. Thank you, thank you, thank you again for your overwhelming patience and support. 🥰

    I chipped away at those beta emails little by little each day last month, until I’d compiled a 61-page document of overall feedback (ONLY taken from those final emails, mind you). 😶 Now, I need to trim that down. Cut out all the praise and affirmations of what I shouldn't change, decide which suggestions I will and won't act on, until I have a manageable list of critiques I wish to address. Then, all that’s left to do is comb through the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of individual chapter questionnaires and compile those, and sort everything into one big editing outline for draft 5. Not daunting at all!

    Allow me to echo my advice from a previous newsletter as a friendly reminder: Please consider LIMITING your beta readers to around 10-12 (give or take, because you should always anticipate a drop-out or two) people per round. If you have more applicants, but don’t want to turn anyone away, it’s much better to hold multiple beta rounds instead of taking them all at once. Not just because corralling that many people and organizing their feedback is a nightmare (see my numbers above)...but acting on it? Deciding what to keep and what to pass over in a sea of SO MANY voices with unique, often conflicting, opinions? At a certain volume, it becomes detrimental to your editing process, because you obviously can’t please everyone and yet you’re going to try to (or end up ignoring valuable feedback altogether due to sheer overwhelm). So do your future self a favor and either say no to people above a certain threshold, or host multiple, smaller rounds.

    Or don’t, I mean, it’s your process! 😅🤷 I’m just sharing what I wish I’d known before I embarked on my own beta voyage, and I for one will be holding firm to the 10-ish rule during future beta rounds. But remember, there’s no “right” way to do any of this. You may feel comfortable with wildly different numbers than I did. 💖 

    All that being may have been a little ambitious, given my current headspace, to assume this newsletter would contain my beta feedback organization tips and tricks. Given my trajectory, I think it’s far more realistic to anticipate such a newsletter next month, so we’ll talk more about this soon!

August Reads

After spending the majority of this month in a giant reading slump, I think guilt over my painfully slow progress on my novel compelled me to power through a couple of books (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) in the final week, just to feel like I’d made a dent in something related to my writing career.
  1. Daughter of the Deep by Lina C. Amarego: I know I’ve already spoken in detail about my love for my brilliant critique partner’s debut novel, but now that I’ve finished it all over again, IN PRINT, I want to sob in a puddle on the floor, surrounded by my gratuitous DotD merch. 😭💖

    Daughter of the Deep is a novel that came crashing through my heart from the very first line. Keira’s voice is a strong heading that guides us through a raging sea of emotions from start to finish. We know her every crack and fault, boldly laid bare. I think it’s an extraordinarily brave decision for an author to write a main character who digs in her heels and fights even when she knows she’s wrong. It’s something that may come across as unlikable if it wasn’t so overwhelmingly, almost uncomfortably, human. A unique rendition of enemies to lovers, featuring pirates who are true sailors rather than stereotypes, soft magic, big families, and the dark underbelly of human emotion, Lina’s book will charm lovers of YA and NA fantasy alike. You can read my full review here, if you’d like.
  2. A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause: This book was fast-paced, fun, and truly hard to put down! I did find the main plot predictable, with the exception of a few clever twists that took the story in darker directions than I expected (which I loved), and the romance a bit too rushed to invest in, despite some really cute romantic scenes. At times, the world building felt more like an afterthought--necessary to create a very specific setting/circumstances, rather than integral to the story--and thus required some suspension of disbelief. But I have to say, those qualms rarely detracted from my enjoyment while reading, which is why I ended up rating this book higher than I might have on a technical level. I flew through it in a fraction of the time it usually takes me to read! If you’re interested in more details, check out my Goodreads review. I highly recommend A Dress for the Wicked for fans of The Selection series, or anyone looking for a fresh take on YA “competition” books. 

    It was also extremely interesting to read an indie debut back to back with a traditional debut, in a case where I actually know both authors (and they’re fabulous humans)! Both physical books were so comparable in quality, editing, formatting, etc., that it made me really, really excited to see how far the indie market has come. They look natural sitting together on my bookshelf. 🥰

  3. Until Fate by Katie Carroll: I also finished my FIRST EVER critique partner’s draft earlier this summer, and want to take a moment to praise her insane creativity. Katie crafted realms that span 6 books and a decade of hard work, not including the spin-offs she’s planned (one of which I read a portion of, and it’s my most favorite piece of her work yet--the writing and the characters are spellbinding). I’ve never seen fae quite like hers. She manages to incorporate so much of what everyone loves about them into one massive vision: seasonal courts, seelie and unseelie, elemental magic, sirens, blended with the mysteries of Atlantis, angels, demons, and gods...whatever aspect of fae kind is your favorite, Katie thought of it, and made it better. Her world is uniquely her own, and while book one reveals only the tip of the iceberg, you'll be craving the promise of what's to come in the sequels.

    Of course, I can’t fail to mention how well Katie builds romantic tension, how she crafts relationships breaking apart with as much skill as she paints them coming together, and how she manages to write sinfully steamy scenes that make me blush without feeling awkward (and if you read romance novels, you know how difficult that can be to achieve)! Katie, you are a force, and I cannot wait to read the next draft of Until start writing it, girl!! 😘
I’m still taking a small breather from beta reading while I scramble to regain a foothold on my own WIP (and, let’s be real, my chaotic life), and I’ve been a far less consistent CP than I typically strive to be over this summer. But I’m hoping a change of month, and with it, a shift into my favorite season, will bring new energy and resolve. Not just for my own work, but for all the projects I’m beyond privileged to play small roles in.

I’ve never been so hungry for the autumn. For the turn of a new season. For change.


I will never stop thanking you for the love and support you’ve given me. My inbox, DMs, P.O. box, etc. are always open to each of you!


Caleb tax:
Caleb playing in a ball pit.
Caleb napping in a cot.
Caleb sitting on his daddy's shoulders.


Upcoming fantasy author, new mom, D&D addict, Gemini, Slytherclaw, lover of brunch and afternoon tea, wants to be your friend. 💕

Copyright © 2020 Danielle Miceli, All rights reserved.

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