Many Splendoured Things (But Not the Head Cold)

Karin Kallmaker Events and Appearances, Readers and Libraries 6 Comments


There’s a reason to read to the end. Just sayin’.

Eff You, Head Colds

Head Colds are lying sacks of you-know-what. You get the ‘flu and you know you’re down for a long count. The ‘flu gives others visible physical evidence that you are Not Well. Head Colds, however, build slowly and all the while they whisper in your ear that it’s not so bad. You’re okay. You can go about life – it’s just a sniffle or two.

Head Colds exploit the fact that nobody wants to hear about your mucus. Freebie tip: I suggest that you not use “mucus” or even “mucous” in love scenes, fictional or real.

As you fall under the Head Cold’s spell you ignore the dizziness, lack of oxygen and long spells of mental incapacity. Finally, you might take some meds because maybe, after all, you really are sick. To the rest of the world you sound a little bit off and nasal, that is, until they realize that you are drifting in a world of mucus-induced hearing loss. That you are taking mental naps throughout conversations. When you suddenly ask, “When did we get to Chicago?” they realize, Read More

anthology cover conference call from bella books

Your Conference Call is Waiting!

Karin Kallmaker Anthologies, Book News 1 Comment

anthology cover conference call from bella books
Coming to a conference near you – that is, if you’re going to be at GCLS2017 in Chicago starting July 5th. Edited by Ann Roberts, Conference Call is a goodie bag of romantic stories set in, before, around, during, on and after conferences. Women liking the company of women – nothing better than that.

You’ll still be able to get with the program even if you’re not attending Golden Crown this year. Conference Call will be available after the conference via Bella Books.

The bling on this goodie bag? Proceeds benefit the Golden Crown Literary Society General Fund.

Here’s the opening from “LARP,” my this-could-be-the-start-of-something-good contribution. There is a rumor that the opening visual of Frank N. Furter strutting across a hotel lobby may or may not have been inspired by a recent GCLS conference attendee. Allegedly. Or #FakeNews.

“LARP” – a Sneak Peek

by Karin Kallmaker

She was dressed like something out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, stiletto heels clicking as she strutted across the Omni West hotel lobby. Heads snapped around to follow the woman’s progress, and Quinn Simmons’ was no exception.

Quinn eyed the close-fitting open-laced black vest that displayed both cleavage and the underside of small, firm breasts. A string of chunky white pearls ringed the long neck. Then her gaze slid down to the garters snapped to thigh-high fishnet stockings.
It was seriously righteous costuming. Clearly Frank N. Furter was on her way to the con’s opening cocktail party and costume parade.

Scrambling to her feet, Quinn tapped out of her phone’s map program and followed the sashaying Frank into the hotel maze. Even prepared for her usual conference-anxiety-fog, Quinn found the hotel map bewildering. She’d learned the old hotel pretty well, but this new one was huge and intimidating. Construction in one wing rerouted traffic from the central escalators into a maze where every turn seemed to lead in the least expected direction.

She’d already found herself inexplicably in the attached shopping mall twice. Apparently, all roads led to Starbucks. The hotel’s helpful directories of events for the day had listed four “Opening Events,” all beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Quinn took Frank N. Furter’s appearance as a sign. Surreptitiously in step with the imposing figure, she paid attention to keeping up with the long strides and ignored how many turns, twists and escalators it was taking to reach the event venue.

She did notice the turning heads—everyone was watching Frank, and why wouldn’t they? Frank had great legs. The vest was filled out to muscular perfection. Following behind Frank was no hardship on the eyes either. Women in costume brought down the house at just about any con. Frank made a refreshing change from the array of Klingons, Sailor Moons and World of Warcraft larpers.

Like every year at AllCon, Quinn had a resolution. She was going to walk up to someone in a costume ensemble and say, “I want to Live Action Role Play. Do you have an opening?” Her favorite fandom was Overwatch, followed closely by Legends of Zelda, but she was fine with Once Upon a Time and the oldies but goodies like Star Trek and Lara Croft, even Babylon Five.

She was flexible. She just needed the courage to ask if she could play too.
This was her third year at AllCon and she’d not said a peep to anyone. Ever. How did you start a conversation when everyone else was greeted with excited squeals, warrior roars or effusive hugs? Lingering hopefully for a conversational opening had worked about as well as it did the rest of her life. Which was not at all. Like Rita Mae Brown said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results was insane.

She wanted to get involved, and AllCon was a great place to meet people who weren’t exclusive about gaming versus TV versus movies versus comics. People were into the stories, and as far as Quinn was concerned, a good story was a good story wherever it was played out.

Her backpack grew heavier with every long hallway and escalator. The costume she’d brought was basic Captain Janeway. Janeway was popular in fandoms outside Star Trek, and if there were some women in the group, all the better. She wasn’t holding out any hope that any of the women would also be lesbians. That was too much to ask for.

Plus Janeway went with her red hair and skin so white she was blue in certain light. Her mother had once said that Quinn reminded her of feathery light vanilla pudding with a golden cherry on top.

Her mother had meant to be helpful.

In her Janeway captain’s costume and knee-high leather boots, she didn’t feel insubstantial and pale. Even though she was only twenty miles from home, in this strange hotel she felt light years away from Quinn Simmons, Pale Girl.

Studying herself as Janeway in the mirror at home, she had thought she could carry it off in a group. However, looking at the sheer excellence of the Frank N. Furter she was following, she was starting to have doubts.

A hubbub was audible from around the next corridor and Quinn felt a wave of mixed fear and relief. Frank turned out of sight and a bedlam of applause and cheers broke out.

Quinn ran for the women’s restroom.

Don’t lose your nerve, girl. The restroom was thankfully empty when she entered and she used the biggest stall to get out of her street clothes and into the black and red jumpsuit. She was a good tailor and it fit her well. She carefully pinned on all four of the pips indicating her captain’s rank, and dragged her stuff to the sink and mirror in the furthest corner and set to work. Twenty bobby pins later she had the signature Bun of Steel updo in place.

Conference Call is available for pre-order at Bella Books.

I have limited signed copies available.

For your visual pleasure, here’s a quick look at what the Golden Crown Literary Society Conference is all about:

GCLS Logo 2017 watercolor skyline

So I Had This Idea 2017 – From Idea to Published Work

Karin Kallmaker Events and Appearances, Sisters of the Pen 0 Comments

GCLS Logo 2017 watercolor skylineAsk a hundred writers “how’d you finish that book?” and you’ll get 97 different answers and 3 people who’ll wander off muttering.

Well, there won’t be any muttering in this year’s installment of the “So I Had This Idea” panel at the 2017 Golden Crown Convention in Chicago this summer.  But there will be six different answers.

This annual panel was the brain child of author Pol Robinson who realized this essential truth: every new author got to the finish line in her own way, and wouldn’t it be interesting to hear how? Lucky me, every year I’ve been honored to be the moderator. And it is one of my favorite parts of my favorite conference of the Read More

Tatyo Cheese and Onion Crisps

A Yank’s Opinion of Ireland’s Crisps

Karin Kallmaker Chocolate and Inspirations 8 Comments

It had to be done. I donned the mantle of science and tasted the most common crisps on the Emerald Isle. A great personal sacrifice, I know. This is my evaluation, which nobody asked for. Plus, I’m quite sure that no one in Ireland cares a rusty nail about what a Yank thinks on the subject.

But I have a pile of receipts from SuperValu and Tesco and have to write them off somehow! Onward!

You Want Onion with Your Cheese? Cheese with Your Onion?

No matter where we went, onion/cheese flavor was always in the prime position to be purchased, and there were twice as many as all other available flavors put together. It appeared to be the favored flavor combo across all counties we visited, which was any county that touched a shoreline.

As a reference point for my experience of the brilliance that is Ireland’s crisps, in the USA we have three basic flavors. They are available more or less in the same quantities in a typical market: sour cream and chive, barbecue, and good ol’ plain and salty.

Plain was almost impossible to find in Ireland, and if there was a second flavor available, it was usually salt with vinegar or a variation on onion and cheese. Sometimes there were a few bags of prawn cocktail Read More

Glamour photo of red lipstick and red sunglasses of young woman

First Look the Second: My Lady Lipstick (Diana)

Karin Kallmaker Book News, My Lady Lipstick 1 Comment

Glamour photo of red lipstick and red sunglasses of young woman
You’ve had the chance to meet the puzzling Paris Ellison, and learn how she meets the dazzling, mysterious Diana. Who is the woman behind the red hair, impossibly green eyes and red, red lips? If only Paris knew what you’re about to learn! This is the rough draft, unedited second chapter of my next lesbian romance: My Lady Lipstick.


My Lady Lipstick – Preview

by Karin Kallmaker

Chapter Two

Diana Beckinsale put two blocks between herself and the helpful but unsettling Paris before she paused in her brisk pace to savor the moment. The wind snatched at her cap but the bobby pins held. She imagined her package whisked away instead, carried over the green expanse of the impossibly large American continent until it floated to a gentle rest on the desk of Read More

Belleek hounds in progress

Now It’s More than a Teapot – Travel Synchronicity

Karin Kallmaker Book News, My Lady Lipstick 8 Comments

It all started when I was fleshing out the character profiles for my next novel, you know, like you do. Paris, the main character of My Lady Lipstick, shares a house with her landladies. I had already decided the landladies, living in Revere Massachusetts (a Boston suburb), would logically have strong ties to Ireland.

More than two months ago I worked out their age and their history as Irish immigrants. They like to invite Paris up for tea whenever they have news to share. Tea means teacups and teapots and, well, TEA.

tea bags with loose tea

A Word about Tea. Tea’s the Word.

I wondered – what do the Irish call “Irish breakfast tea”? Wouldn’t it just be “breakfast tea”? I turned to the Googlez and discovered in short order that there is no such thing as Irish Breakfast Tea if you’re Irish. There is TEA.

And on my trip to Ireland a few weeks ago, I further discerned that it’s either Barry’s or Lyons Read More

statue fearless girl

Art Doing What Art Does – Fearless Girl Makes Us Reflect, Evolve

Karin Kallmaker LIFE + STYLE 6 Comments

statues fearless girl with charging bull

There is a heated debate over Fearless Girl, the new statue in Wall Street who currently stands defiantly in the way of Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull. Because the discussion is about art, intent, history and how that evolves, I offer two opposing blogs from this debate. I find that both have valid points, and both offer perspective.

Seriously the Guy Has a Point – Greg Fallis

The first is Seriously the Guy Has a Point. Written by photographer (therefore artist) Greg Fallis, who asks: Doesn’t the artist’s intent and how the sculpture Charging Bull came to be placed matter? How does the reality that Charging Bull is Read More

New York at Night by Kevin Hosseini

Same Thing Just Different People – When “Fix It” Means “Kill It”

Karin Kallmaker LIFE + STYLE 2 Comments

New York at Night by Kevin Hosseini

April is Autism Awareness Month

Cue the fundraising appeals and Facebook frames about raising awareness and “giving blue” and so on. Much like pink ribbon frenzy in October, lots of charities want you to help raise awareness about Autism. The big player in Autism “awareness” is Autism $peaks. Sounds great, putting a voice to help autistic people be better understood. Except that’s not what Autism $peaks is about.

Couple of things here, let’s break them down.

If You Want to be Aware of Autism, Be Aware of ALL of Autism

First, I am all for awareness of autism. It’s hugely misunderstood. So before you jump into supporting “awareness” make sure you’re aware.Read More

Glamour photo of red haired young woman in red lipstick and red sunglasses

First Look: My Lady Lipstick (Paris)

Karin Kallmaker Book News, My Lady Lipstick 16 Comments

A work in progress has reached a milestone when I feel confident enough to share the first chapter. With the forewarning that this is as yet unedited, and completely subject to change, behold! The first chapter of my next lesbian romance: My Lady Lipstick.

P.S. Recognize anyone?
P.P.S. Interested in Chapter Two?


My Lady Lipstick – Preview

by Karin Kallmaker

Chapter One

Paris Ellison was so angry she made a seven-layer English Trifle and two large pans of double cocoa brownies.

She even dribbled water over the letter from Portman House, Proud Member of the Portman Media Group but the ink refused to smear and the words continued to taunt her.

She’d said no once, and now the nerve—the nerve! To offer her first-class tickets, reservations at the Omni Park Central, and the assurance of Hamilton seats—how rude!

She whipped ganache into submission and drizzled it on the first pan of still warm brownies. She’d slice them later before taking them to Lisa’s tomorrow. The second pan of brownies went into the oven, and she paused to read the infuriating letter again. Anita Topaz did not make personal appearances. Paris had been perfectly clear about that from the get go. But all the new people at Portman House since the merger meant nobody wanted to remember that little detail.

A scratch and yowl at the door made her look at the clock. Hobbit was right on time and sidled in to gift Paris’s jeans with orange tabby tomcat fur.

“You’re not fooling anyone, you know. I know I’m just Second Breakfast to you.” Aware that the cat had a single-minded agenda, Read More

Munch painting The Scream

Surviving that First Reading

Karin Kallmaker Business of Books, Events and Appearances, Readers and Libraries 2 Comments

Edvard Munch The Scream
I have had twenty-mumble years to get used to reading passages of my books aloud. 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. I enjoy readings immensely, and one of the most common requests for advice from new authors is how to make that Read More

cover, Castle Wrath by Karin Kallmaker

Castle Wrath – Not Your Mother’s Jane Austen – Now Available

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Castle Wrath, Novellas 0 Comments

Burning curiosity. Wild imagination. Put them together and the breathless discoveries of an ingenue who reads far too many lurid novels come to life. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is all that and more. The dizzy chapters of young Catherine’s exploration of the Abbey are glorious fun to read. Cabinets that lure her with their tantalizing closed doors. The secrets! The treasures! Things that go bump in the night!

illustration from 1833 edition of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

She had not been used to feel alarm from wind, but now every blast seemed fraught with awful intelligence… What could it contain? To whom could it relate? By what means could it have been so long concealed? And how singularly strange that it should fall to her lot to discover it! – Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

As most readers know, Northanger Abbey isn’t the first time Jane Austen inspired me to pen a very lesbian version of her work. A year prior I wrote Just Like That (2005), setting Pride and Prejudice in California’s vineyards. It’s not as if I’m alone in thinking Austen is great for lesbian adaptations. Autostraddle’s brilliantly excellent mash up of pulp novels and Jane Austen is one of the things that makes life worth living.

classic pulp novel art with Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen as book

Castle Wrath was written for an erotica anthology (Stake through the Heart, Bella Books 2006). After deciding that a story about an ingenue who sees horror around every corner was where I wanted to go, well, I had to get a bit naughty with it.

Castle Wrath is about half the length of a novel at 31,000 words. Plus there’s smutty good fun when breathless Brittany Brannigan discovers (gasp!) a hotbed of lesbian porn production (shocking!) and other things that go bump (and bump!) in the night. And then there’s the decidedly attractive and very annoying caretaker’s daughter always being right about, well, everything.

Buy Linkapalooza

cover, Castle Wrath by Karin Kallmaker

Available for the first time in digital editions at:

Enjoy, and please leave an honest review for other readers. If you have any issues with formatting please let us know via contentsprite(-at-)

Pride Flag in the wind

Reblog: Laurie R. King “Moving Forward”

Karin Kallmaker LIFE + STYLE, Sisters of the Pen 3 Comments

Pride Flag in the wind

Words have been hard to find, let alone the focus to express them coherently. Part of me resists the idea that a man so devoid of common decency or simple shame could set any kind of agenda for me. I am grateful to Laurie R. King for expressing beautifully how I am feeling today about moving forward. Please go read.

From Laurie’s blog:

I don’t intend to post my outrage—that way lies madness—but I will talk about the ground I stand on.  – Laurie R. King

READ THE ORIGINAL in its full glory, especially the last paragraph.

A publishing error limited the distribution of this post. First published 1/20/2017, resubmitting 1/21/2017.