Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Getting over it

8/365 - Cold nights
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I am working on getting over my need to be perfect (not that I am ever am). I've spent most of my life being humiluated by any error and/or flaw. Oddly, it's being an editor that is forcing me to accept my own imperfect nature. Not, as most would expect, because I fix other people's errors for a living, but because I send out errors even with my best efforts. All editors, even the best, make mistakes. Our mistakes are very public. In fact, one of my fellow editors once told me that the only time an editor gets noticed, is when they've made a mistake. If the writing is perfect at press time, the writer gets all the kudos for great writing.

Losing my agent took more of a toll than I was expecting. I think I was holding onto that success as a way justifiying a hobby that sucks up 10-20 hours a week. Today, I've decided that it was all for the best. I wasn't actually happy with said situation. I knew it wasn't the best thing for me or my book. And some where in my neurotic head, I knew I needed to not be there. This book is the story I've always wanted to tell. I have another book that I am almost done with that I love, but I am more seperated from. I think it makes a better "first book" too. Continuum (the story I love) deserves another editing pass and a shot being told in its fullness, which is about three books. Publishing climate as it is right now, I would be very sad to see Continuum only get one-third told.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's a cold world

Snowy field
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
Three years, one agent, many promises, the book was dropped.

My project that was picked up three years ago, was dropped today by the agency that initially picked it up, worked on it with me, and got it all packaged up. I worked with my agent there for months, and due to his sudden departure from the agency, it was never ever presented to one editor. Instead, I was promised that someone in the agency would take it on. It never happened. On top of all that, the note today that informed me that they weren't going forward with the project, was a form rejection. I guess I wasn't a part of the agency. :(

I am a good, solid mix of frustrated, annoyed, sad, and apathetic.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I went to an awesome art opening tonight at the WAFA art collective's space. They have a studio in the same building I have my photography studio. It was fun, but I have to say that they have the best name ever: WAFA stands for We Are Fucking Awesome. Now, that's the spirit. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Originally uploaded by Nic Launceford
Man, after today's news, I wonder if a first-time author can even get published. I read one agent's blog today (the one who has my full ms), and she is buried in queries and facing down a thinning editorial market. *sigh*

Anyone have some good news?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The contender

the contender
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
Last week didn't get a lot better, but what can you do?

I finished a new story this week, and sent it off to a couple of friends. So far, it is a hit. :-)

I read an *awesome* story by Kelly Link called, "Some zombie contingency plans." Go read it!

Work was better. Dogs are less bitey. It was sunny for part of the week. Not too bad, really.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Goodnight Stupid Day

Originally uploaded by Nic Launceford
After a very long day at work, I got to have a wonderful "my writer is melting down at me" meeting. :(

I get it. It is hard to take criticism. I sympathize as a writer and as an editor. But, man, try to not to yell at your poor editor (that's me). I've worked as a writer. I've worked as an editor. They are both *very* hard jobs. The best thing I can say to any writer, including me, is that your editor is there to help you and improve your writing.

Again, :( and boo.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Valentine Du Jour
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
The photo is of a performer I know in Seattle. She goes under the stage name of Valentine du Jour. I love this shot, because she looks so strong and playful.

This past weekend was my birthday. :-) Of course, I thought a lot about where I am heading with my writing (among other things). I often get this feeling like I need to be published already, or maybe I should be published. I have spent the week really questioning this issue. As writers, I think we place all of our validation on being published. It is something we can show our friends and family. It is a way of proving that we are not wasting our time on dream that cannot be fulfilled.

So, just to start my 33rd year off right, I say this, "I write to write."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Almost made it

Seattle Sodo
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I am almost done with my second novel. I have to say, it's good that I never remember how hard it is to write a book when I start a new one.

I am about 350 pages into my new book. The outline is fully scoped. The plot makes sense. Can I bring it home before the end of the year? Well, that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are you getting weirder?

Drunk Chihuahua?
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I just finished a new story, and I am really happy with it (for now).

What I have to know is: Do all writers get stranger the more they write? I started off writing such *fun* and *light* adventure SF. Now, well, I have a reanimated pimp in my new piece.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
This picture is one I took of my friend, Kerrie. Although I didn't think about it at the time, the expression sums up my feelings on my writing right now. Perpetually waiting.

I have one short story at Baen's, one short story at Strange Horizons, and a full ms at an agent.

I am bad at waiting ...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Man-made tornadoes

This is a really cool article. I love when science is as fantasic as science fiction.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I got 99 problems, and the word “bitch” is one

I hate the word bitch. Not just because it is crude, rude, or derogatory, but because I see this word, in particular, as a word of oppression. The word bitch, as I see in common use now, is most often applied to women that are, shall we say, strong willed. Strong-willed, independent, outspoken, uppity, uncompromising = bitch.

How did the word evolve? Glad you asked.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:


O.E. bicce, probably from O.N. bikkjuna "female of the dog" (also fox, wolf, and occasionally other beasts), of unknown origin. Grimm derives the O.N. word from Lapp pittja, but OED notes that "the converse is equally possible." As a term of contempt applied to women, it dates from c.1400; of a man, c.1500, playfully, in the sense of "dog." In modern (1990s, originally black English) slang, its use with ref. to a man is sexually contemptuous, from the "woman" insult.

"BITCH. A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of whore." ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1811]

The adj. bitchy "bad-tempered" (usually of females) is first attested 1925. The verb meaning "to complain" is at least from 1930, perhaps from the sense in bitchy, perhaps influenced by the verb meaning "to bungle, spoil," which is recorded from 1823. But bitched in this sense seems to echo M.E. bicched "cursed, bad," a general term of opprobrium (e.g. Chaucer's bicched bones "(unlucky) dice"), which despite the hesitation of OED, seems certainly to be a derivative of bitch. And cf. the mid-19th century U.S. blackface minstrel song verse about women's rights movement:

When woman's rights is stirred a bit

De first reform she bitches on

Is how she can wid least delay

Just draw a pair ob britches on.

Insult son of a bitch is O.N. bikkju-sonr. Slang bitchen "good" is first attested 1950s. Bitch-goddess coined 1906 by William James; the original one was success.”

One, please note the wonderful ode on the women’s rights movement. Two, the word is, in origin, comparing a woman to an animal (an untrained one at that), a curse, complaints, spoil, and of course something worse than a whore (nothing is worse than a whore that doesn’t listen).

Knowing all of this, why is the word “bitch” so acceptable is modern vocabulary (for example, bitch is not a FCC banned word.)? We are not as tolerant of other epithets that classify a gender, race, ethic group, religious group, etc. as animals. Why can we say bitch as many times as we want by FCC regulations, but not shit and not fuck. Why? Are we really saying that it is ok to demean women, particularly the strong-willed women, but we can’t talk about excrement?

I admit that I am unnerved by the lack of attention to the insidious nature of sexism in this country and throughout the world. To me, the word bitch symbolizes it all.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Editor Geekery 2

Historic vs. Historical

I ran across this tidbit at a party (yes, we editors do go to parties). A book editor friend of mine was excited to tell me about her latest discovery.

From Merriam-Webster:

"Historical: adj. 1 a : of, relating to, or having the character of history historical data> b : based on history historical novels> c : used in the past and reproduced in historical presentations.

Historic: adj. a : famous or important in history historic battlefields> b : having great and lasting importance historic occasion>."

That is all to say, that anything in the past is historical, but only important or famous historical events are historic.

For example:

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was an historic event.

The Historical Society of Seattle preserves information about the history of Seattle (historic or not) in its archives.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Editor Geekery

As most of you know, I work as a technical editor at a big company here in the great Northwest. So I spend most of my days arguing minute points of grammar and the like. Now, I've decided to share my favorite finding with you all. I'll call the posts, "Editor Geekery," and I hope you all enjoy (but don't edit) them! ;-)

Below vs. Under

Under and Below can be used interchangeably, for the most part.

Now that, that is said. Under is more specific than below, indicating a vertical relationship between objects. While below references anything that is at a lower place, but does not require that it be lined up.

There are, of course, many little rules that allow for the two to be reversed, but as a whole this is the way it is for most of their usages.

Under is the antonym of over. Below is the antonym of above.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Submission Status Feb/March

Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
2/19 Sniff (fiction)--Abyss & Apex

2/22 Nomad (poetry)--Strange Horizons

2/22 La Busqueda (poetry)--Strange Horizons

3/31 A Tale of Two Heads: The Wenton Family Retrospective(fiction)--Writers of the Future


All are still pending

Monday, March 31, 2008

Urban Sky

Urban Sky
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
Another story off to Writers of the Future. Hope it goes well. :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Belt Test

Belt Test
Originally uploaded by Nic Launceford
My friend, Nic, who took this photo, calls this my "Bruce Lee" face. LOL. For those of you who are interested, I passed my test! It was really fun and hard. Woohoo!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Kung Fu Kickin'

That's me doing part of my breaking test for my black belt in TKD. Tonight, though, is my first belt test in Kajukenbo. I have to admit to being a bit nervous. I am testing for my orange belt, so wish me luck.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Published works

I thought I would post this article here, in case you all wanted to see what I do for a day job. Ok, I don't work for newspapers anymore, but I really believe in making the transition to a low-impact lifestyle, so I wrote this piece for "The Healing Path."


Politics and feminism

Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I don't normally allow politics to invade my blog, but I really feel like this article is an article that everyone should read (no matter who they are voting for in this election--or not voting at all).

I am a feminist who makes no apologies to anyone for my beliefs, and it makes me sad to think that there are women out there that are still too afraid to tell men--and other women--that they feel like sexism is still and a national and international problem. I can still vividly remember what made me into the feminist activist I am today. I still thank those powerful women and men in my life that exposed me to these philosophies and set me on the course of growing up proud to be a woman.

I hope one day my sisters (currently not even teenagers), will see a woman running for president and NOT hear people yelling for the candidate "iron my shirt", and not see people imply that a known wife batterer should have married the candidate (presumably to kill her or put her in place), or watch the media criticize her for her husband's indiscretions. Hillary may not be your candidate, but she is a brave woman who is going through what most of us go through in a day, week, month, and lifetime; she's just going through it on prime time.

I was 13 years old when I started on this journey. By the time I was 15, I experienced my first true act of misogyny. That's sad. I hope that the next generation of women never experience what I have, and certainly not so young.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sweet and Sassy

Sweet and Sassy
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
This photo is a proud moment for me. I got the coloring, lighting, and focus all in a row. Sweet!

On writing:

I sent Sniff off to Abyss & Apex. We'll see how it fairs there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Open Studio

The ring and me
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
Our open studio party went well this weekend. Lots of people showed up to the event, and we got tons of photos (I, personally, got over 200). I am slowly posting them to my flickr site. The posted here is one the boy took, which shows off my favorite light in my studio, the ring light. It was called "The make everyone beautiful light" by a couple people at the party. I can't be more happy that we built it.

On Writing:

I am feeling a new wave of confidence since getting the HM for Writers of the Future. I have submitted Sniff to a magazine that I think it has a great chance at today. In the meantime, I am working on my new WIP.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Writers of the Future contest!

I just got the call! I got an honorable mention for the lst quarter of the contest for Sniff! I am super happy! Woohoo!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Washington State Primary

This is a political post that applies to residents of Washington State.

From the Washington State Democrats site:

"You may have received an absentee ballot for the February 19th Primary. The Primary will not count toward picking the Democratic candidate."

If you want your vote to count, you will need to attend your district caucus on Feb. 9th. I’m sure many of you knew this, but I didn’t and I just mailed in my absentee ballot believing that that was enough.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Out of Poverty

This is shameless plug for my step uncle's book, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail.

My step uncle, Paul Polak, has got to be one of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is passionate, intelligent, and 100 percent dedicated to his cause. In the time the I have known him, he has be listed in Scientific American as one of eight visionaries who can positively impact the future of our planet over the next 50 years, ended poverty for 17 million dollar-a-day farmers, and started a new organization called "Design for the Other 90 Percent", which is partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Go check out his book and his work. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Biased Sample and the Spotlight Fallacy

It’s been a while since I’ve highlighted a logic fallacy, but after the most recent non-fiction book I read, I felt compelled to start again.

The Spotlight Fallacy

I am highlighting this fallacy, as it really is being exemplified in the media right now (or always really, but I have a timely example right now).

This fallacy is a simple one. It is when a person assumes that all people of a type or group share the exact same characteristic(s)as those being spotlighted in the media or receiving the most attention.


“All black men are violent; I see it on the news all the time.”

“Kids these days are so much more violent; I see all these stories about school violence."

Pretty poor logic to depend on rumors and the media to determine what a class of people are like--which can’t be done anyway, as people are chaotic systems and it is best to judge them on a individual level. In fact, racial profiling started and failed by this logic fallacy.

My most recent example, as it is really starting to agitate me, is with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I honestly overheard a conversation a Seattle tea shop between two men that went like this:

Person A: “Hillary’s voting demographic is clearly women."

Person B: “Is that enough to win?”

Person A: “Well, it’s not all women, just women that hate their husbands or are divorced.”

Person B: “There can’t be that many feminists.”

The assumption is in this conversation is that all feminists hate men and are divorced, angry women. Why does this come up? Well, look at who the media tends to highlight as feminist and/or who people talk about when talking about feminism. For example, on a number of occasions when I have said that I identify with feminist thought, I get a lot of questions (almost none about the actual philosophy or reason). Here is a selection of my favorites:

1. Are you gay?

2. Are you and your husband having problems?

3. But you aren’t ugly, why would you want to hang out with those women?

Why do people jump to these conclusion? Spotlight fallacy. It is the same reason people assume that all Muslims are terrorists that blow people up (as per the news reels), and the same reason people see all Americans as loud, violent, and obnoxious.

Back to the tea shop. When these men imagined who would vote for Ms. Clinton, they immediately presumed that it would be her ilk, feminists. Is she a feminist? Well, that axiom was not established through any formal logic; it was assumed because these men saw her as angry and hating husband (circles, circles).

Think what you will about these topics, but please use good logic. Otherwise, it makes my brain smoke.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Day

Another Filter
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
On Photography:

I took this photo yesterday at the Seattle Arboretum. It was a great day, and the Winter Garden was in full bloom. I fixed the color in Photoshop, as it was a little blown out.

On Writing:

I sent off the first four chapters of my second novel to my critique group yesterday. I am super excited to hear back from them. :D

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Non-fiction writing

January 24
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I am currently reading a book about Seattle ghost stories, which I was so excited about. I have to say, though, that I am truly disappointed in the writing. It is clunky, poorly arranged, and, well, juvenile sounding. I was really looking forward to reading this book and using it as research for my next project, but it is just too weak on information. Half the book cites sources of information as a friend of a friend (FoF). In short, nothing is verifiable in the book. Not that I expect ghost stories to be verified, but I do expect crimes to substantiate and verified. You know?

The odd thing is that so much of the non-fiction I read is no where up to the same quality of the fiction I read. Are there just looser standards for the non-fiction market?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Writing ...

January 23
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I ran across this excellent post about writing short stories. I really think it offers solid, real world advice for fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction writers. My favorite bit, as it can never be said too much:

"3. Get your best ammunition on the first page. Put whatever makes this science fiction or fantasy up front. Also, don't start with an extended scene that only functions as an info dump. If you think you need a prologue, try breaking the information up instead and salting it throughout the story. Prologues can slow down a reader's immersion in the story."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tired but happy

January 17
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
On Writing:

I am about 800 words into a new short story. It is very Hemingway, but it's nice to switch up the voice.

On Photography:

I learned how to hand color photos with Photoshop! I am super excited about that (note the photo)!

On Reading:

I am reading the worst non-fiction book ever! I cannot believe the logic flaws with this thing. Go ahead an expect a logic rant in the next day or two (you'll like that Written).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


January 14
Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I got this nice note from the Writers of the Future contest:

"Dear Contestant,

Your story arrived and has been entered in the 1st quarter 2008 competition. We will have results in the next 8 to 10 weeks. Winners will be notified personally and the results posted on our blog, which you can access through our web site which is Good luck!!
Best, Joni Labaqui - Director"

Honestly, that was a nice note to get. I didn't even submit via the Web, they pulled my address off of my submission form.

It was strange to me that I was so please about getting this, but I think it really points to the nature of the publishing business. As in, I feel respected as a writer, which is nice. Maybe I am just in a winter blues cycle, but I don't feel like most agents or editors are very kind (sorry). I have run into some really great agents and editors, but for the most part the industry personality is terse and cold.

After that bit of less than positive attitude, I give you some great editors that I think are supportive and kind in their responses (this is in no way a comprehensive list, so please add to it for me):

  • JJA (whose timely responses and rejectomancy fun are always appreciated)
  • Sean Melican (who wrote me a really nice critique)
  • Eric Marin (timely, nice, and professional)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
I sometimes think that being a successful writer is one percent talent, 10 percent ambition, and 89 percent being able to handle rejection.

One of my favorite short stories was rejected last night (form rejection) for the fifth time. I really believe in the story, but I do have to question how much my belief is pride and how much is actually warranted. I have a very hard time having an objective perspective on my work. I have a "love it" or "hate it" problem. Edits are tedious on good days and crushing on bad days. That's the problem with being involved with the arts, there are no good metrics by which is measure yourself and have an objective result. I can't step up to a scale and weigh a story ,or run it and have the results come back with a "bug free" status. So when do you give up on a story? How far do you push "perseverance"?

Friday, January 4, 2008

11 years

Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
Today is my anniversary. I got married 11 years ago. It's hard to remember that day, but it is still the best decision I ever made.

My strongest memories from that day:

  • It was 70 degrees outside (the wedding was in Colorado)
  • I just finished finals (only one semester to go)
  • I wore white Doc Martens
  • My husband looked so charming (and still does)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On point

Originally uploaded by Nicole.Kelly
On Photography:

Boy, I need to make it into the studio. If I shoot one more photo of a dog in my office, I am going to pop.

On Writing:

I am writing an article for a magazine called, "Healing Path" right now. That is taking up most of my writing time. It is a 1400 word story, so I am in knee deep.

On Writers:

The PNWA and I are so close to having a spot for our meeting, which is tentatively set for February 15th. If it all works out, we will be meeting at Elliot Bay Bookstore and the topic will be Speculative Fiction and where is it is headed.