Dana Piccoli Talks Being a Debut Author

Dana Piccoli Talks Being a Debut Author on this episode of Seize the Day with Natalie Miller-Snell.

In todays show, I am joined by the very lovely, Dana Piccoli. An entertainment writer, pop culture critic, Managing Editor for the Blog at Bella Books and podcaster.

Dana, talks to me about how it all started with her love of Fandom, to her YouTube videos, moderating panels at Clexacon, and becoming a debut author.

Seize the Day was inspired by my favourite latin expression, Carpe Diem. I’ve had some great mentors throughout my life who have offered me invaluable guidance. I’m hoping to do the same through these podcasts.  We have so many wonders at our fingertips; sometimes we just need a little help, or someone to point us in the right direction. 

I hope you enjoy the show!

Dana Online

Website:  Dana Piccoli

Twitter: danapiccoli

Natalie Online

Website:  Seize the Day

Twitter: @natmillersnell

Email:  nataliemillersnell@gmail.com

Instagram: seizetheday_today

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Listen to the podcast here


please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

[Music] You are listening to seize the day with Natalie menace now during these podcasts we’ll be exploring all of the different opportunities that we get to seize the day on a daily basis and what tools and what changes we can make in order to grab those goals are you ready to make change hello hello hello podcast lovers how are you all it’s Thursday I’m Natalie and you are listening to seize the day now I’ve got another treat for you today joining me on the show is a very incredible lady she’s an entertainment writer pop culture critic author adventurer and podcaster and I believe it’s been said she can moderate the hell out of a panel please put your hands together for the very lovely Dana pic alive hello how are you great how are you not too bad thank you so much for joining me I know it’s early for you over there oh it’s fine and for everyone listening actually where are you where are you recorded from is this home yes this is this is my office it at home I’m in Greenville South Carolina oh wow okay and that’s East Coast yes so five hours behind me yes I was I love it actually talking to different people and you know what we all do different things are all slightly skewed by the time it’s quite incredible how you can still interact with anyone right it’s so brilliant so thank you so much for coming on the show we got in contact what a few months ago now I think Sheena linked us up yes we’ve got some exciting stuff to talk about not least that you have a new book coming out my first book which is super exciting so we get on to that Caesar day is all about celebrating incredible women and it’s about today is International days and speaking of women my dog is barking she’s very excited that it’s International Women’s Day really get her involved don’t worry so it’d be lovely for anyone listening who’s not familiar with who you are and I like your t-shirt by the way I wore this especially for you hold on one sec I’m just gonna grab her Oh bleh hello darlin how are you hello willow you come to join us so let’s let’s for anyone who’s listening is not familiar with you let’s talk about you and how you came to do what you do now I mean obviously I mentioned that you you’re a pop culture critic and author or come onto that too and how you started out and in the internet entertainment business how did you yeah wherever you want to start how did you get to what you’re doing now oh really it all started just being a part of fandom and I’d see you around like 2012 was a big turning point for me I was really into a show called Pretty Little Liars and I was you know kind of like a struggling musician at the time and I just decided you know might be fun to just write songs about fandom and so I wrote a song about Pretty Little Liars called The Ballad of Rosewood and I put it on YouTube and within a day it was already I mean it was bare it was not viral by any means but for somebody who had never done anything before it was a big deal and it was like you know it was kind of like a funny sweet song and it people really started liking it right away and I was very surprised and it got picked up at the time by the Pretty Little Liars site and by AfterEllen so overnight suddenly like my world had expanded in a way I was not expecting and I started doing it more and I heard from one of the AfterEllen editors and she was like have you ever considered you know vlogging or anything like that and soon thereafter I started my first gig with them I was I did it I did a series called Dana does it with glee basically I vlogged about every episode so it was like he was like one of the early reaction episode you know like the reaction videos but it was kind of like a recap at the same time and then at the end of every episode or somewhere in the middle I would write a song about that episode so like one of the songs was called Jodie Foster’s clambake because it was like a throw off line that Quinn makes it some says at some point so it was just like it was just fun and then you know a couple months after that David they said hey you know like why don’t you start writing writing and that’s when I started my first column which is called notes on a fandom and I wrote all about just the world of fandom which is where I had come from and the rest kind of is history after that Wow that’s absolutely fantastic and I think to see I mean the whole point of see today is well we’re celebrating all of the opportunities or exploring the opportunities that we get and how you can grab them and by doing something which possibly at the time seemed quite simple and straightforward or something that you enjoy doing with the music how that propelled you into something else that’s fantastic the whole after Ellen stofan absolutely wonderful right and obviously you know a lot has changed but you know I’ve I’ve been now the managing editor of the blog at Bella books for two years and you know such a such a gift to be able to have a lot of freedom in that respect and you know my bosses at Bella are wonderful and it’s been you know after everything happened with after Ellen they kind of swooped in and picked me up right away and I was so grateful for that and I I’ve been very lucky to work with them for these past couple years great publishing house there’s some great you know authors in there as well and presumably this is where you work right tell everybody what what’s it all about how does it feel when did you write for the first time these are a lot of questions um actually the first time I even got in touch with with Bella was I had written a short story for a collection submission it was about the Old West like women like lesbians in the Old West or something and I wrote this story which is still something I would love to be able to you know put out there into the world as a full-length novel but I wrote the story and I sent it to them and I didn’t hear back so I thought you know hey it’s just so you know it’s my first time as I got rejected no big deal so I wrote to them and I was like hey just checking like you know have you decided not to use my story and they said oh actually we decided not to do that collection so I was kind of bummed and I was talking about it on Twitter I was like I wrote this short story and I really loved it but you know oh well and so Bella was like well why don’t you send it to us and so I did and they responded really well to it and but they were very honest with me and they said hey you know we really love this but we think it’s it would be better I mean excuse me we’d be better if you started with a contemporary novel and at the time that was hard to hear but as I’ve gotten to know the industry better you know this you know what four or five years or something yeah it’s certainly a little bit harder to jump into the world of publishing with a historical fiction and so we kind of switched my focus to the contemporary piece that I had been kind of dabbling with and so that’s how say for the moment came about is that I started really kind of an earnest working on that for the past couple years and hardcore last year when they were like alright we need if you need a published publishing date on this so that’s what I really buckle down that’s absolutely amazing and it’s fascinating to hear what you say about the the contemporary side versus historical it’s really interesting what cells were well in the whole less fit community and you know what romance is a big seller too and how some of the other books even though they’re absolutely incredible if it’s not quite hitting the right sweet spot I suppose it it’s interesting to try to get them move in which is fascinating which I think you know I think when you are a well-known author and people trust you and love what you do being able to to to write something that’s a maybe a genre that’s not quite as as as big is something you can do but I’m a I’m a debut author and it’s it you know I take I took their advice and I think it’s certainly was the right call to come into something with a more contemporary piece and I you know hopefully maybe my third book will be this historical romance wonderful well I’m looking forward to seeing you coming out and when’s the release date is that next week did you say so savor the moment comes out on Thursday March 14th is about a musician named NAT chambers and her name yeah well her name is Natalia Natalia chambers but she goes by NAT and she is a you know I didn’t want her to be like some superstar but I wanted her to be you know successful like she she’s a professional musician right and she really got her kind of boost in Fame when she wrote a song that was ended that ended up being used as the theme song for like a medical drama so like think like a Grey’s Anatomy or something like that and she is kind of still nursing a broken heart from a betrayal from from her last girlfriend and she meets a wonderful exciting fun woman named Maddie who is a pastry chef in New York and the to embark on a a relationship and there’s twists and turns and sexy times and I’m particularly proud of my cast of characters and I really wanted to reflect my community and the queer community and I wanted there to be you know queer and trans and non-binary characters and I wanted a diverse cast of characters as well so you know it’s it’s very reflective of like the you know my New York community and I may not be there anymore but I’m very excited for people to get to see Nats world and get to kind of look at things through her eyes and she’s she’s she’s very talented but she’s a little awkward and I think that that’s a quality I really love and people is a little awkwardness and so I wanted her not to be like the coolest cat on the block I wanted her to be a little bit of a dork who maybe maybe isn’t as smooth as as she would she would like to be so I I really hope you all like that Madi and Paul and Jackie and and Ryder and so I’m excited for you to meet them Oh sounds absolutely wonderful I should definitely be getting it and recommend everyone else does as well sounds very very very awesome thank you it’s gonna be a full time thing for you and where does maybe people like it or not yeah maybe small detail you know I already have I already have two jobs so I don’t know a full-time writer you know fiction writer is gonna be in my in my future right at the moment but yeah honestly like I really I need to see how people react to it if if people love it and they want more then that certainly is going to you know change change the outcome but you do yeah I mean I think I think you know every hour every writer is in a vulnerable spot at this point in time you don’t know and being a debut author certainly is is very nerve-wracking and I’m very lucky that I have an incredibly supportive you know social media following and so many wonderful friends on on Twitter and who’ve been incredibly terrific and have pushed and suggested my book and like people are starting a book club to read this book together and they’re doing it like virtually so people around the world can be a part of it and so that’s just really amazing so already before the book has come out I’ve gotten so much support from people and I’m eternally grateful for that but yeah so well I guess we’ll find out next week but people like it or not Sheena was absolutely fantastic and honestly I take my hat off to any author as well because you really put your you’re exposing yourself aren’t you it’s a vulnerable position to put yourself into actually release a piece of work that you’ve blood sweat and tears no doubt has gone into and it’s very personal in that sense so no oh good luck I’m really excited I’m really excited for you and and reverting back to your comment on your followers you do have quite a strong follower base which is wonderful is that from the clacks icon or is that I mean obviously you’re fantastic to follow and read I love you thank you it just kind of happened over the years um you know when I first started out I think I had like 400 when when when Ballad of rosewood came out I think I had like 400 followers and that changed pretty dramatically overnight I think I went you know maybe I think I gained like a thousand followers or something that that week or whatever but I mean it’s been over time and you know over my career and working on you know this site and that side and and then you know certainly certainly in the last two years or so I’ve I’ve been able to meet a lot of wonderful people through clocks ik on so that’s that’s changed things too but yeah I mean just kind of like it just happens over the years and I’m lucky enough that I was verified I think three years ago to two or three years ago so that that’s always helpful when you’re doing things cuz you’ve gotta kind of get your stuff gets kind of pushed up a little bit and so more people have exposure to you so oh that’s absolutely amazing so now talking of Calexico and that’s coming up soon isn’t it yeah it’s a month away now Wow prepared are you how’s it all looking is it crazy because you do the official podcast yeah I do dip I do the podcast unconventional and so we’re gonna have one or two more episodes before the before the actual con yeah so this is starting to get crunch time for me I’ve got but I think I’ve got six panels on the board so far so you know I’ll start I’ll start crafting those questions and things like that I’m very meticulous about collects ikonn I carry a binder with all my questions in it I don’t rely on you know a phone or anything I have like paper I have it’s kind of I’ve kind of got I kind of been known for my binder yeah I think that’s brilliant honestly I’m right behind you is I write stuff down when I’m talking to people and I have a list as well I think it’s great it’s a good way to prompt as well I don’t know I think the italics can always die currently I think it really helps me be disconnected from that because it’s really easy to I personally feel it’s really easy to get distracted when you’re looking at an electronic device when you’re trying to interview somebody so I you know I I have it there for reference I’m able to sneak a peek at it but it also seeing everything laid out helps me kind of shift things around if I noticed time is is is you know going quickly or too slow you know I kind of made able to do that on the fly but yeah so that’s that’s coming up it’s such a fun experience and it’s just grown and grown and grown and I’m you know I am also known for the outfits that I wear at Calexico a very particular about I have my suiting and and that so I’ve got I have all that so I have a bunch of stuff at the tailor’s right now getting all’s all ready to go yeah I did see your last suit from last year it’s gorgeous really gorgeous yeah this year I don’t have I don’t have a velvet suit but I have a couple other things that are pretty fun nice and how long does the event law school it’s Friday through Sunday but there’s also events like on Thursday and you know this and that so it’s kind of like I go Wednesday through Tuesday okay so good a long amount of time actually are you exhausted by the end of it do you need your own space I’m yeah I run on adrenaline pretty much from the moment I wake up uh to uh to the moment I I’m very I’m very lucky I have a wonderful group of friends that is very is very much there for me during during class ‘icon and so I can kind of you know relax and I do spend try to spend some alone time in my hotel room just just to be just to be fair to everyone because when people meet me I think when you’re when you’re in the public eye and as a nurse in a way people have certain expectations and I don’t want to disappoint people and and it’s it’s very important to me to meet them too and so I want to be on my best and I you know I sometimes need a little time to decompress but I’m also kind of one of those people that if I stop for too long it really kind of really kind of like puts a dent in like my my my flow so now I understand what you’re saying there cuz you warm you you’re right your point about the adrenaline you’re riding on a certain amount of energy throughout aren’t you so if you extract yourself from that some time it can have a counterproductive yes influence on what you’re trying to do where you need to be in the zone in the in the craziness I suppose of the whole event yeah and so I tend to spend the Monday after doing something just like intimate with like intimate friends like you know a small group of people and just kind of just unwinding and just kind of stepping out and you know I get to like put my hair in a ponytail and put a baseball cap on or something and so I’m not like full makeup and you know full hair and everything I just couldn’t of take a breather oh one absolutely wonderful I love it do you get up and go attitude is really fantastic and inspiring as well so okay what’s the ultimate dream I have no idea yeah I mean my dream my dream has changed so many times over the years I I thought I was gonna be a Broadway actor I have it down yeah I have a degree in musical theater performance like I thought that that was gonna be what I was going to do and I quickly learned that it was not and then I said okay well I’m gonna be a singer-songwriter and then I realized that that was really tough and I think I’ve made a total of like $40 a singer writer anyone it’s funny because people people who’ve known me for a long time will say like well you know we love that you write and stuff but when are you gonna sing again and like when it starts painting me writing pays me I got to pay the booze I just I always thought that being in the arts was gonna be a thing I did and you know what in I am in a just in a different way and the book was never something I I mean it was like something so far out that I it was it was just like a fantasy not even dream and the fact that it’s it’s becoming a reality is just wild to me so I I think that I have no idea what comes next I really don’t is another is it another book is it you know starting some sort of workshop where I where I can work with new writers and help develop queer media like I really don’t I don’t know I have so many things that I’d love to do I just kind of take it as it comes and what you say in that in that sense and in that guise you could you keep yourself open really and again part and parcel of the whole seize the day ethos I suppose and thought philosophy is you have an idea or you have these I for example at beginning of the year I did a vision board and interestingly I had Calexico non it so I had the thought I wanted to go to the event I mean that would have been an absolute I would have been wonderful but circumstances and getting on a plane unfortunately permits me from doing that however I’m getting to chat to you which is incredible so there’s a slight deviation in what’s happened but there’s still a link so item touching on what you’ve done you still doing things and you’re walking through doors might not be what you originally thought but you’re still making stuff happening I never thought that I would be on stage in front of people who I share the same vision with and getting to talk to people that matter to me and matter to them you know I like if you would have asked me like two years ago if this was gonna be my life that I would get to like run out on stage to a bunch of like cheering folks and you know have a conversation with them I would have been like what but that has become my reality and it’s such a really I mean I every time I write before I go on stage I just I can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to do this and you know being a moderator is is a it’s it’s it’s a very interesting position because you’re not the focus but a good moderator is can can make the difference between an okay panel and a really good panel and it’s it’s a skill that I’m still learning and I appreciate people working with me on it and being supportive of it so that’s it’s certainly every time I kind of pinch myself before I get the opportunity to you know go out there like this year I get to sit down on stage alone with amber Benson some Wow was incredibly important to Miu as when I was a younger queer person and so that’s you know like that’s certainly a dream that I’d never realized I had and how does do you know what you’ve hit the nail right on the head there and that is amazing to think two years in the future that you could be doing something like this is it’s it can blow your mind can’t it and yeah without just keep stepping through and walking through doors opportunities don’t then happen because you have to seize them you’ve got to make it happen and that’s absolutely amazing how do you deal with it then are you a person who struggles I mean you strike you’re very you’re very lovely very confident very open is it difficult to get up on the stage to do this no it’s that’s not difficult you it’s difficult for me is going to a party like going to a party with a bunch of people that I don’t really know that’s when I think the more reserved side of me kind of takes control but on stage like that’s that’s what I’ve been training to do since I was 12 years old that’s that’s easy that’s the easy stuff it’s it’s yeah it’s uh it’s being in in situations where I’m not particularly comfortable that’s terrifying to me I know what you mean but you still do it they said that oh yeah I love it you have to yeah you know it’s part of being a grown-up my wife always thinks it’s so funny because she she knows that I I have a certain reserve side of me but she’s like it’s so weird because like when you’re at these things that’s not who you are and like but I’m comfortable like I’m with my community I’m with my people and I’m getting to be my authentic self when I’m when I met these events and when I’m you know maybe chatting with people that are in a different industry or something like that it takes me a little while to get comfortable and understand and figure it out I think I mean I think that’s human nature uh you’re right and also as well I tend to find when you can plan for things or as you pointed out something you’re familiar with are confident with or know a lot about brings more confidence when you’re out stepping out of that comfort zone that’s when it gets a bit but you’ve got an incredible personality so I’m sure a chance through every time every time you’re listening to the news being talk show the lesbian talk show calm your hub of podcast information all right okay I’ve got some random questions for you who is your most favorite person to have either moderated on a panel or interviewed oh man that’s really hard to say because there’s so many people I would say that I’ve had last year I was I was able to moderate a panel with just chyler Leigh from Supergirl and you really never know what to expect when it’s just just you and another person but it was she was so open and so just kind and vulnerable and we were able to talk like there was no one watching but knowing that there was everyone watching it was such a it was such a cool experience and I know how much it touched the audience and I was touched and it was just fun and funny and tender and you know a you know everyone cried and laughed and it was it was just it was just the epitome of what the spirit of fandom is to me and that was just a really cool experience but it’s also a always an incredible pleasure to be onstage with Natasha negev analyst and Elyse Baumann of Carmilla because I’ve I’ve known them I feel it feels like I’ve known them since they were you know kids they weren’t kids at the time but you know we’ve known each other since the start of Carmilla and our careers have grown together and we’ve also become friends over the years and so getting to work with them and having them just put those they’re just the best sports ever you know I have put them through so many things stage and they just roll with the punches and they have such a great time and so it’s it’s it’s always always a pleasure and an honor to be on stage with them oh that’s amazing and actually listening to what you said about the emotion as well sometimes that comes on stage do you find and certainly what I’ve witnessed haven’t been to a few events there’s a level of kindness and just general positive energy that’s in the room in those kind of events anyway but I think you fly on really don’t ya just to say for whelming I was I was lucky enough last year well what a traditional eclectic on London there’s a London one yeah you didn’t know that no I must seek that out it was kind of like a pop up it was smaller I’m not sure what their plans are for the future I know there’s not one coming up this next year but they they were cool enough to say like hey we’d love you to come along with us to London so I went to London and normally I have Elise and Natasha reads scenes of lesbian or queer characters from other shows and like the audience just got such a big kick out of it and then I was like what listen you know I’ve done this now twice I kind of figure something else out so I wrote them a Christmas movie that like kind of kind of mimicked like the lifetime hallmark movies that we have here in the States and it was called boughs of holly and it was like basically like a parody of of these movies and it just was incredible they did such an amazing job and the audience went just bananas for it and I even have like I was I was in an interview the other day and I was like I have fan art on my wall of boughs of holly that an artist in Brazil drew like I get I people still talk to me about boughs of holly wow like what a fun experience it was and and it really was it was it was so incredible and I wouldn’t be able to do stuff like that if the audience wasn’t so open and game and if the actors weren’t so opening game that’s absolutely amazing and the amount that you put into it as well to make it happen that’s awesome absolutely fantastic I can’t wait to see what happens next month a month yeah well that’s okay Facebook or Twitter Oh Twitter are you on Facebook at all I am on Facebook yes um I kind of just me on Facebook to like chat with like college and high school friends that’s really it I have an author page because you know I know that some people prefer Facebook and so I wanted to have something that everyone who prefers a particular platform could find me on yeah but yeah twitter is Twitter is really where I live okay and what advice would you give your 10 year old self don’t get that perm and also the people that live to tear you down they will be a distant distant memory one day mm-hmm like that yeah it’s quite amazing isn’t it I think when we go through life and then you get to the certain point that you’re in now much like yourself and you look back and you think crikey I’d never of thought first off that this is be where you would be but also when you look back folk might not necessarily have followed the same journey or might not be anywhere near they kind of projectory that you’re at which is awesome really yes and I like that I like that and what’s the last photo that you took on your phone what’s the last photo on your photo stream oh the last photo on my photo stream is actually a video of pink flying at her concert last night we just spoke about this before we came on the podcast are very jealous you got to see pink last night Wow I’ve always loved I’ve always liked pink I have a newfound respect for her after watching her perform she’s incredible is it she I’m a phenomenal as a performer what she does not only with the singing but the acrobat the acrobatics yeah the whole performance is phenomenal yes it was incredible and she can sing as well at the same time she’s upside down like flying through the air so like Peter Pan just singing her ass off I’ve got a lot of love for that woman I must say and what’s your most used emoji on your phone unicorn oh nice that’s it I like that I do like the unicorn as well or always reminds me of you read Megan O’Brien’s books I think so if you read the night off I don’t know no okay you would yeah but there’s a safe word called unicorn I’m gonna have to think about that all the time now okay to close this out and particularly I suppose as you were becoming an author and for anybody else who wants to branch out and do something that they’ve never considered doing before seize the day theme you know start a new company write a book go into the unknown what advice would you offer them in terms of actually going to seize the day I think people are so afraid of rejection that they don’t take opportunities that present themselves and I would say screw rejection it’s going to happen it’s no fun I’m not gonna say it’s fun but it’s not the end of the world and once you realize that just because someone doesn’t like something you do doesn’t mean everyone won’t like what you do and I would say learn from people’s constructive criticism take don’t don’t feel like don’t build up so many walls around your art that you can’t let anyone in and I’ve learned so many things especially like my my editor was Anne Roberts I mean how lucky do you get to be Heather we and Roberts and she had so many interesting things to say and so many things I hadn’t thought of but if I had closed myself off to them I would have been so protective of this book that I wouldn’t have seen it from her perspective and I think the book is so much better because she opened me up to some of these ideas so I’d say just like let yourself be open you can’t seize anything if you are you know so buttoned up you can’t see outside yourself do you know that’s a really valid and wonderful point and what I love about doing this show in any time I speak to somebody new everyone brings them something slightly different to the table in terms of what they suggest some reckon endure a bit for device and that’s really really important what you just said they’re actually to keep open particularly when people feed back to you because you learn that way don’t you taking stuff on board and I certainly don’t know everything and I I love the fact that I learn every single day and I want to improve every single day I want to be the best possible person I can be and that’s a really great point really fat I love that I love it a lot thank you so much now where can everybody find you Twitter mostly then I met Dana piccoli it’s Dana da na and then it’s piccoli with 2 C’s wanna L i’m also on instagram at the same thing so dana piccoli and then i’m on facebook at dana piccoli author ok I don’t think I follow you on Instagram actually I must I must correct that I’ve gotten I’ve gotten better at Instagram in the last year I I had I wasn’t so comfortable posting pictures of myself the pink hair has helped me so many ways I can tell you it’s honestly the best business decision I’ve ever made so I think I’m much better about allowing myself to be embracing who I am and allowing myself to be photographed and so I’ve gotten much better at opening myself up to Instagram but you know what I take my hats off to you then that’s really impressive because I know some folks don’t enjoy having their images taken so yeah well don’t you think you’re getting it fought in the hair is awesome when you end up on I’ll thank you when you end up on YouTube in like hundreds of thousands of people are watching your videos yeah you’ve been amazing thank you so much really really lovely to meet you oh it’s been a pleasure and an honor thank you thanks everybody for listening take care look after yourself keep well you have been listening to seize the day now all contact information can be found in the show notes together with any links to websites or may have referred to in the show if you’ve enjoyed this podcast then come talk to us of a lesbian talk-show chat group on Facebook email us on podcast at the lesbian talk-show comm or follow us on Twitter at lesbian talk show you can also join our community of patrons and gates collusive content go to patreon.com/scishow and talk show the link is in the show notes thank you thank you thank you [Music]