woman triumphant in field of sunflowers

Surviving that First Reading – Updated Once Again

Karin Kallmaker Business of Books, Resources 2 Comments

Oneof 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