Activism and Advocacy / Managing Spoons in 2020 / Spoonie Challenges

Managing Spoons in 2020, featuring Nicole Zelniker

Editor’s note: As promised, this Fall season brings us a new series called Managing Spoons in 2020. It’s been a heck of a year for many of us, so I decided to ask fellow Spoonies how they’ve been handling it. This interview is the last in this series. You can read all of the interviews by selecting Managing Spoons in 2020 from the main menu!

ID: Deep purple background. Text reads: Managing Spoons in 2020 Week Six: Nicole Zelniker. (The zeros are the tops of spoons.
This week we are featuring author, activist, and podcast producer Nicole Zelniker! Nicole will be joining us on the blog side as a contributing author. She was also recently interviewed by Dianna Gunn on the Spoonie Authors Podcast!

Thanks so much for joining us on the Spoonie Authors Network. Would you please briefly introduce yourself to our audience?

For sure! I’m Nicole Zelniker, and I use she/her pronouns. My books are Mixed, a nonfiction about race and mixed-race families, and Last Dance, a short fiction collection. I’m also a vegan, activist, and dog whisperer.

I met you through the Nothing Without Us anthology project and was delighted with your short story, Dress Rehearsal. What have you been working on since then?

I’m currently working on editing my novel-in-progress, Letters I’ll Never Send, with Atmosphere Press. It’s about a woman who is discharged after spending eight months in the psych hospital for attempted suicide. Most of the novel, which takes place in the months after, is about her trying to get her life back on track.

What have been some of the ways 2020 has impacted you as a person and an artist of the written word?

I’d like to think that between the pandemic, the election, the Black Lives Matter rallies, and all the other events of 2020, I’ve hopefully become a more empathetic person, which can only help with writing. My belief is that you can’t write good characters without empathy for them.

You have participated on virtual writers cons this year. What has that experience been like for you, what did you enjoy, and what improvements would you suggest?

They’ve been absolutely terrifying and wonderful at the same time. I’m a really shy person, so I have to sort of force myself to do it, but I’ve really enjoyed the community and talking about mental health with folks who also want to destigmatize it. The biggest improvement I would suggest is to think more about who gets to talk about mental health, since there’s a distinct lack of racial diversity on the panels. How can we reach out to marginalized groups within the spoonie community?

Do you have specific recommendations of BIPOC authors who we should be following and inviting to our podcasts and conferences?

Sure! I’d recommend memoir/essay writers Esmé Weijun Wang and Stephanie Covington Armstrong, fiction writers Helen Hoang and Day Al-Mohamed, and journalists Keah Brown and Sarah Kim.

Quickly back to managing spoons: Has it been more challenging this year than in the BeforeTime? What are some of your favourite ways to distract yourself?

It’s definitely been a challenge, especially with the election coming up, too. Political anxiety is really real and does mess with your spoon count! I’m currently making canvassing calls as a way to participate in this year’s political absurdity, but that both helps distract and distresses at the same time. Honestly, cat playtime is my favorite way to distract myself. Her name is Molly and she’s extra cute.

Yay for cats! So, how can people find out more about you, your work, and where to connect with you?

My website is You can check out my work there and shoot me an email to connect. I’m also on social media. (See bio, below.)

Thanks again, Nicole! And welcome to the Spoonie Authors Network. We look forward to publishing your posts.

ID: Headshot of Nicole Zelniker

Nicole Zelniker (she/her) is a writer, activist, and podcast producer at The Nasiona. Nicole is also the author of Mixed, a nonfiction book about race and mixed-race families, and Last Dance, a collection of short stories. You can check out the rest of her work at and follow her on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Medium.

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