woman triumphant in field of sunflowers

Surviving that First Reading – Updated Once Again

Karin Kallmaker Business of Books, Resources 2 Comments

Oof the biggest challenges I faced, after writing my first book, was reading from it to a live audience. I had never done anything like that before. My very first reading at a bookstore in Vacaville, sadly now closed, is still a vivid memory. I had flop sweats from minute one. I plowed onward. And at the exact right time in the scene the audience laughed.

Once I got that laugh I was hooked on the feedback loop in public readings. I enjoy readings immensely. But it took practice and learning from a lot of mistakes to get there. All in all, it’s no surprise to me that one of the most common requests for advice from new authors is how to survive that first reading. In 2020 it got even more complex because we had to manage cameras, lights, and microphones, as well as working with tech or someone running the tech. It was that, or have no opportunities at all to appear for readers.

I’ve attempted here to create a useful checklist of advance work that will take a lot of anxiety out of the process. Plus tips for managing the event itself gleaned over many years in a changing landscape of opportunities for live readings.

Hidden bonus: Reading my work aloud has also proven an invaluable editing and feedback tool. I hear clunky phrases, wrong words, repetitive structure, and awkward sentences when my eye thinks they’re fine. Once, before publication thank goodness, I even discovered a paragraph was one long sentence, all 143 words of it. I had also used actually, really, and just multiple times each. My ear heard them; my eye didn’t see them. Read More

artist's palette with abstract vivid colors and paint

Giving Up the Privilege of Disbelief to Find Creativity Again

Karin Kallmaker Craft of Writing, LIFE + STYLE, Resources 0 Comments

Some people thrive on chaos. Not me.

My specialty is world-building happy places where two women become the heroes of their own lives. But the world under my feet is unstable, and too many of the people in it are making it worse – on purpose.

On top of that, as author Lara Hayes wrote recently at the Bella Media Channel, when trying to lift up voices of resistance and protest, it’s hard to get into the head space of creating our stories, let alone promoting them. Read More

water droplet slow motion onto purple tinted water

Dear Writers – Never Doubt You Are a Pebble

Karin Kallmaker Craft of Writing, Resources, Sisters of the Pen 2 Comments

Every once in a while I get to rub shoulders with some big names. Like all healthy writers, I of course have impostor syndrome, and I always question how I got into such company.

On the other hand, I’m a down-to-earth person with an observing ego and I accept that levels of success vary wildly in all layers of the writing community. From my perspective, I’m not exaggerating when I say these are some Big Names.

That’s what makes one snippet of conversation during this particular rubbing of shoulders all the more remarkable. Read More

bread dish give us this day our daily bread

Home Baked Bread a First Time Baker Can Make

Karin Kallmaker Chocolate and Inspirations, Favorite Things 2 Comments

Recipe blogs only happen when I love a recipe and make it lots and think it’s worth the effort and expense. (Like this one for Green Beans, Potatoes, and Ham in the Instant Pot.) When the pandemic hit a lot of people found themselves with time to bake bread. But if you’ve never made bread the very idea is intimidating.

And I say that as someone who was taught how to bake bread by a master of the art – my grandmother, Marie. She made her family’s bread for decades. She taught me her method, which starts with the water leftover from boiling potatoes. I’ve attempted to make it several times from my girlhood notes, and it’s just not…the same. Fifty years later I’m still spoiled. Plus it takes more time and attention than I want to give.

It also uses a variety of skills to pull the whole thing off. So when I saw “no-knead” bread shared I thought, well, hmmm, that would be easier. I checked out the recipe. No way, I thought. It can’t be that simple and still produce actual bread.

King Arthur Flour’s No-Knead Peasant Bread Recipe

But it is and it does! This recipe, courtesy of the fine people at King Arthur Flour, is easy. Short ingredient list, and not very many tools. This is the recipe to get anyone started baking bread.Read More

woman reading book with dog looking over her shoulder

Reading Romance to Escape – From What? To What?

Karin Kallmaker LIFE + STYLE 0 Comments

Remember when Hallmark aired a commercial with a lesbian kiss, and some of their viewers lost their minds, and temporarily Hallmark caved and said they wouldn’t do that again? Seems like a decade ago, but it was only November of last year.

The lesbian smooch was too controversial and they wanted their viewers to count on Hallmark to help them escape.

Escape From What?

These viewers pleaded for escape. Romantic, happy-ending stories is escape. They begged for it, and were screaming-loud-livid that anyone would take it away from them.

You see it, right? These enraged viewers wanted to escape from us. The mere sight of us in an ad ruined everything. We don’t belong in their visions of happy, cheerful, funny, gooey, lovey-dovey places.

We’re “heavy issues, hard stuff, distracting controversy,” and it really sucks that at first Hallmark totally agreed with them. Like a lot of people I called them out for it. In doing so I saw that Hallmark rom-coms didn’t only provide escape from gay people, it also allowed viewers to escape from black, brown, and indigenous people. Their programming for the 2019 Holiday Season was almost exclusively white. Read More

kids running and leaping on hillside

We’re Not Children Anymore, Right?

Karin Kallmaker LIFE + STYLE 4 Comments

My mother brought little gifts and small books for toddlers at birthday parties, because little kids sometimes don’t get that the day is about someone else. Older kids, including hers, should know better.

Imagine being a completely grown up person who insists every party be about them and, if they aren’t, then birthday parties are unfair. Read More

four people spell love with their hands

It’s Unexpectable! Audio and Virtual Events and Stuff and Things

Karin Kallmaker Because I Said So, Events and Appearances, Sisters of the Pen, Unforgettable 0 Comments

You have probably heard that there’s a pandemic going on. All of us are learning new ways to stay in touch and share our lives and work. I can certainly say that I’ve done more audio and video events in the last month than in perhaps the last five years. And there’s more on the way. Thank goodness for YouTubers with tips on everything from camera management to make-up! I may have watched more than a few.

(FYI, you can click here to see all posts in the “Events and Appearances” category. Interviews and podcasts are here. Readings are here.)

Bella Books Author Corner: High School Reunions

Bella Books is hosting a YouTube Authors’ Corner with lots of delicious video readings from a diverse collection of lesbian fiction. (You should subscribe to the channel so you’ll know when new ones are put up!) My contribution is now online – a reading from late in Unforgettable when Rett Jamison and Angel Martinetta might finally get past the past they never had. Read More

sleeping baby in pink fuzzy

The New Normal Includes Sleep Loss – Resources that Might Help

Karin Kallmaker LIFE + STYLE, Resources 0 Comments

Are you having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep right now? The issue is being commonly mentioned by friends. I’ve had trouble sleeping for most of my life, but for many of my friends, this is a first. They can’t fall asleep. Or they can’t stay asleep. Or they find their 8 hours is now at best two 3-hour sets.

I went looking for helpful, reliable advice to share, but what I found didn’t address what we’re all going through with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Usual Solutions for Sleep Loss

It’s easy to find reputable articles online that deal with occasional and intermittent sleep issues, travel time zone changes, or the off-kilter adjustment period after daylight savings. Here’s a quick set of resources with the “usual” sorts of advice. I’ve left the URLs exposed so you can see where the link will take you. All links will open in a new browser tab. Read More