The Sharpened Quill

Caitlin Kelly

Caitlin Kelly
Tarrytown, NY, USA
December 31
non-fiction author/speaker/consultant
Bio Author "Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail" (Portfolio, April 2011), deemed "an excellent memoir" by Entertainment Weekly. Out in paperback July 31, 2012. I also edit other writers' work -- everything from thrillers to business books. Email me for hourly rates; references available.

Caitlin Kelly's Links

SEPTEMBER 18, 2010 10:30AM

Living on $7.25/Hour

It's not much of a life.

There are two groups that have grown to enormous proportions in the U.S. right now -- the U6ers (people who have been out of work for six months or who are working part-time while seeking fulltime work) and the 99ers, those who have now exhausted… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 9:26PM

What's Happening In Vegas...

I seem to come to Las Vegas for one reason -- to promote my as-yet-unpublished books. The first time was 2004 when I attended the Shot Show, the largest accumulation of guns and ammo you will likely ever encounter, an annual trade show.

I'm here right now speaking at a major… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 13, 2010 11:18PM

Why My Sexy New Fridge Makes Me Nervous

I'm not generally scared of major household appliances. But we bought a fancy new fridge recently and, as it sits in all its stainless steel, bottom freezer, silent glory, it's forced me to think quite hard about what it means.

We kept the old fridge -- a battered thing from 1989… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 13, 2010 10:02AM

Mentoring 360

Much is made of mentors --- finding one, keeping one, making sure you have the right one.

Many younger and/or less experienced writers look to me for help. I just got an email from another of the many Caitlin Kellys out there, this one a college sophomore who hopes to become… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 10:46AM

Caution! Secondary Trauma Is Real

Today many of us will heave a sigh of relief, not having to think or speak about or listen to any reminders of the unimaginable horrors -- now forever real, indelible, audible -- of the attacks of 9/11.

 Anyone who covered that story as a journalist, as I and… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 10, 2010 9:44PM

Our 9/11: Two Journalists, Two Cities

I was in Maryland, attending a journalism fellowship, excited to be a in room filled with smart, talented peers. Within minutes of the attacks, three of them left immediately, heading to New York to cover the biggest story imaginable. A Canadian newspaper I was stringing for

Read full post »
SEPTEMBER 8, 2010 8:58AM

How Many Muslims Do You Know?

 "Muslim" has become proxy for "terrorist." Insanity.

 As anyone who has studied history has seen, these waves of mass hatred come and go. They also inflict tremendous damage, both to the victims of vicious prejudice and to the larger culture that nurtures and magnifies it, as poisoned by t… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 7, 2010 3:36PM

But I Deserve It!

It's that time of year again -- applying to the two writing grants I keep hoping to win, one worth $10,000, the other either $17,000 or $35,000. They are given to writers of non-fiction and journalism and, with the recession driving 24,000 print writers out of work in the past few… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 5, 2010 2:59PM

Women Too Busy To Die?

If you read The New York Times obituary page -- which I do daily as it's my hometown paper -- you'll soon notice (maybe) an odd detail.

Women never die!

Just in in time for Labor Day, the national holiday which is meant to celebrate the work of all of us, … Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 1:53PM

Rough Day? Grab Your Bear!

Had a rough day? Reach for Teddy! A survey of 6,000 Britons finds that many still do.

From The Telegraph:

The survey also found that 25 per cent of men said they even took their teddy away with them on business because it reminded them

Read full post »
SEPTEMBER 2, 2010 10:27AM

Biting Your Tongue Bloody

It's an interesting irony in a culture of relentless, exhausting "communication" -- all talk, all the time! -- how little we say that we really mean. Or truly feel.

We self-censor ferociously:

It's rude. It will hurt their feelings. It might damage the friendship. He might not want toRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 1, 2010 7:58AM

Don't Girlify My Tools!

Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley has brought out a new line of tools -- a hammer covered with a floral design, a sexy-looking screwdriver and a pair of pliers covered in pink and white.

Excuse me?

I'm deeply fond of my tools and my huge toolboxes: pliers, screwdrivers,… Read full post »

AUGUST 31, 2010 10:07AM

Ma'am? Damn!

If there's a word that shrivels the heart, it's this.

Writes Natalie Angier, one of my favorite thinkers, in The New York Times:

If ma’am is meant as a verbal genuflection to power, the message is lost on many real-life powerful women, like Senator Barbara Boxer, who told

Read full post »
AUGUST 30, 2010 7:54AM

Memoir: Me + Moi? Rrrrrrrrr!

We all now think we're fascinating. Right? Why else are words pouring forth as I type these like some combo Niagara-Victoria Falls-Iguacu Falls -- the most insanely, relentless, onrushing torrent of memememememememememememememememememe.


When and where is it enough? How often does a writer sto… Read full post »

AUGUST 28, 2010 9:11AM

Nine Ways To Lose My Business

So I go to my local liquor store to buy a bottle of eau-de-vie to make clafouti, my favorite dessert.

The windows, suddenly, are bare of all the promotional posters that have been there for months, maybe years. Oh, no.

Inside there are two young men, one of whom I ask… Read full post »

AUGUST 27, 2010 8:56AM

Bullied, Literally, To Death

Here's a story to chill your blood -- a boss whose bullying drove an employee to suicide:

The suicide of the managing editor at an Ellies-winning literary magazine late last month has sparked an investigation into alleged bullying by its editor -- and is putting the publication’s

Read full post »
AUGUST 26, 2010 9:28AM

What Do You Mean "This Needs Work"?

I had dinner this week with a photographer friend whose work appears in all the major magazines and, often, in The New York Times. We hadn't seen one another in six years and he had brought his portolio with him.

After dinner, we looked through it.  I loved one of his… Read full post »

AUGUST 25, 2010 8:57AM

The Book Proposal: "Pick Me!"

Every time I walk into a bookstore, I think it's all impossible. There couldn't possibly be room in the world for one more book.

But there is. 


Or maybe yours. 

How do books end up in bookstores? Through a long chain of dominoes. It starts with the author.

Then,… Read full post »

So --- you want to publish a book.

If you really want to enter the labyrinth of commercial publishing, you'll need an agent. Book editors, who decide to buy the books we eventually read -- or ignore -- only look at material offered to them by agents. An agent they know,… Read full post »

AUGUST 21, 2010 3:26PM

Rich And Famous? Writers, Pick One

If there remains a deeply cherished fantasy, it is that writing a book will make you rich.

It certainly has for a select few; Forbes reports that, last year, James Patterson made $70 million, Stephenie Meyer $40 million and Stephen King $34 million.  They were followed, on the top 10 earners'… Read full post »

AUGUST 20, 2010 8:47PM

That Elusive Smile

I had a business meeting today with four people I had never met before. Three were male, one female. I was "on" for about an hour, explaining what I hoped to talk about during a speech I'll be giving soon to their clients.

I was nervous. I'd driven almost four hours… Read full post »

You have to love a company that makes it abundantly clear to workers -- you're overpaid! At $19 an hour, those employed at an upstate New York plant making Mott's apple juice have been told they earn too much.

This, in comparison to other area production workers near Rochester, many… Read full post »

AUGUST 16, 2010 9:47AM

Sex Can Kill

Only 24 U.S. states make it a crime to knowingly transmit the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Some say it's not an effective deterrent.

Now a German female pop singer has been charged with having sex with men and not telling them of her HIV-positive status. One is now HIV-positive.… Read full post »

AUGUST 15, 2010 8:39AM

We're Still Wearing Whalebone, Ladies

It's been about 100 years since women laced themselves into clothing that required corsets and stays, a row of laces up the back, or front, that so tightly bound our breasts and chests and lungs that women often fainted.

The stays were often made of whalebone, light and flexible, but… Read full post »

AUGUST 13, 2010 8:42AM

I'm On Crutches. Don't Ask!

If one more stranger asks me why I'm using crutches, I'll pull one off and throw it.

Total strangers -- funny thing, mostly women (and what's up with that?) -- now ask, several times a day:

What's wrong with you?

What happened?

Did you have surgery?

Are you in pain?

Aren'tRead full post »