The skyline of Venice from approaching from Murano Island to the Grand Canal

A Rainstorm in Rome and Self-Portrait of Brain Exploding

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Coin of Love Series, Covered Heart, Knight of Nights, Velvet in Venice, Wind in Her Hair 0 Comments

I Lose My Heart to Venice

A few years ago, before pandemic restrictions, my wife and I traveled to Italy. Our first stop was Venice where we were picked up by boat at the airport and whisked to our hotel on Murano Island, with the familiar skyline of Venice in the distance.

We were there for all of a few hours before I knew I’d write about Venice through the eyes of a smitten tourist. So many places can’t ever live up to their hype, but for me Venice surpassed its hype.

I filed away experiences, art, food, smells, noises, music, and the heat in the way that my writer brain does. Photographs, some notes. Gelato, for research of course. So much gelato.

I had a setting and all I needed was a story. I trusted one would come to me, like we writers do.

Onward to Rome

We left Venice for Rome a few days later. Venice had been crowded but that was no preparation for the crowds in Rome. On a Vatican tour at one point I was sure I could have lifted my feet from the ground and not fallen.

It was April and so it rained. The towering canopies of the pines of Rome don’t give any shelter from the rain. There was also lightning, which ruled out umbrellas, and it was too hot to wear a rain slicker. So when it rained we did what the locals did – we ran for cover.


The rain clouds were massing. The pines of Rome are beautiful but useless when it rains. Photo by me. Or Maria. Not Sure. One of us took it.

One afternoon we saw the rain on the way and chose a nearby museum to take shelter. And in that museum was a coin collection. Cases and cases of coins commemorating emperors, their children, wars, festivals, gods, and weddings. My interest in the coins was heightened by the fact that the room had very thick windows for security which made it ten degrees cooler than any of the others.

Glancing down one of the long cases I saw something unusual. Out of the many coins with two figureheads facing each other I saw one with two women, and the eye contact alone was suh-suh-sizzling!

I Was Wrong But Oh So Right

I thought, “Huh. Who would make a coin with two women? Who were these women? When did they get together? Who carried it? Why was it given to them?” Never mind that about a minute later I realized that it wasn’t two women. At that point I didn’t care because I had answered all my questions.

The coin was made by Artemis herself near the Icarian sea. She cast it for her Beloved. The Beloved carried it until she lost it. And the poor coin has wandered ever since, trying to get back to the Beloved. It ends up in the pockets of women who deserve its … unique … guidance.

I do want it noted that, at the time and in the moment, I didn’t ask myself how much gelato that coin would have bought. I wonder that now, of course.

A Series is Born

I don’t write series, at least not very much. My ideas usually have discrete edges, with interiors designed to fit exactly two people and that exact time and place, and no more. My Venice story would have three characters: two women, one coin. My instincts said it would probably be a longish novella.

At some point – perhaps over morning coffee when my brain woke up – I realized that my forlorn coin was the perfect frame for more than one novella. I immediately thought of my very long list of short story and novella ideas that have always been shunted aside for novels that end up taking all of my energy. But I love writing shorter fiction. I’ve been carrying around a female knight in my head for decades. Wondering where an older woman who gets to drive a car on her own for the first time might end up.

Or a young woman sent off to audition for the part of She Who Marries the King, but finds her affections turn elsewhere – call that one Love in Waiting – and OMG what about that Tennyson poem Enoch Arden that I’ve always wanted to turn into Too Many Wives and basically my brain exploded.

Since I’m a writer it wasn’t as messy as that sounds. Essentially, if asked what I was doing at that moment, I would have answered, “Just thinking” as the mushroom cloud in my head continued to expand.

Final Result of the B/Rainstorm

The Coin of Love Series will be an eclectic collection of romances, ranging across genres, themes, moods and eras, with one thing (aside from sweet sapphic love) tying them together: an old coin that seems to show up just as a woman needs one little push toward the love of her life. Velvet in Venice is the first story in the series. I hesitate to number them as they can be read in any order, but the bookselling world wants books in a series numbered. So mote it be.

Though I have many more ideas, four of them cemented well enough for me to give them names and start the process. Velvet in Venice was released widely yesterday – available here and at Bella and everywhere else. You can get a signed paperback from me – it’s a great gift this time of year, and the story ends with very happy holidays.

Future Coin of Love Romances and a Self-Portrait

Here’s a sneak peek at the three that will follow, plus a self-portrait of the Coin of Love brainstorm which also demonstrates why I write and don’t draw for a living:


Copyrighted Material
Star Wars character Rey holds her yellow light saber

The Short Life and Excellent Death of Darth Lumpius

Karin Kallmaker LIFE + STYLE 46 Comments

Back in August I knew I would be writing this post and that this would be the title.

Darth Lumpius had visions of immortality. Its evilness was about the size of two Cheerios. A routine mammogram screening discovered the nasty little bugger. Three weeks later Darth Lumpius was no more, aspirations of takeover all for nothing, thanks to a crack team of Resistance fighters: one surgeon, one radiologist, one radiation oncologist, one therapeutic oncologist, and a platoon of technicians and nurses. They each had their own light saber and the Force was with them.

All Star Wars references aside, I found out I had breast cancer in August. By the beginning of September, I no longer had breast cancer due to quick outpatient surgery. Radiation treatments followed to discourage any hangers on of trying to attempt their own takeover. I am now cancer free with no greater risk of another case than the general population.

All in all, start to finish, the best possible breast cancer story a person can have. Read More

Cover Cowboys and Kisses written by Karin Kallmaker, narrated by Ann Shanks Etter

Now in Audio – Cowboys and Kisses read by Ann Shanks Etter

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Cowboys and Kisses 56 Comments

Drawing and comment period is now closed. Winners announced in this comment.

It’s always just a little bit weird to hear someone else read my work aloud. Having lived with the voices of the characters in my head, sometimes for years, it’s like hearing familiar music but in a very different key.

So it’s a real relief when a narrator matches my sense of timing, hits the right notes on the humor, and adapts to the story tone to match my words. Ann Shanks Etter has done all that for the brand new release of the audiobook of Cowboys and Kisses. It’s now exclusively at Audible. Early in the new year it will make its way to the other retailers and into library catalogs.

Reminder – if you want a book in audio or ebook format through your local library, try asking! Services like Libby and Hoopla may have the title but your library might not know that LGBTQ patrons want access.

Cowboys and Kisses is a frontier romance where two women, separated by the bordello and the church, find a way to each other.

Run time: 4 hours and 30 minutes
  • A one-way stage ticket to the frontier leaves a young woman penniless and alone in Long Grass, Wyoming. With no other hope than to survive another day, she takes up the only profession open to her. Years later she encounters the cowboy she can love, and her first taste of pleasure - and happiness.

    Cowboys, however, are born to wander, and their kisses are as brief as the lives of young women without family or means. Accepting that her days will be numbered too few, Darlin' escapes into her scribblings where her dreams of freedom can soar over the limitless prairie.

    When she recognizes her own truth and a chance for love in the longing gaze of a townswoman, will she finally find kisses she can trust?

    Two determined women in a hostile world save themselves — and each other — in a lyric, sensual love story as only Karin Kallmaker can tell.

Listen to a Sample


Visit the book at Audible



It was supper and I should have gone down to partake. I was hungry but didn’t feel it.
Jinny had escaped, I reminded myself. I watched Greta’s chest struggle to rise for every breath and didn’t want to acknowledge the truth: for every Jinny there were a hundred Gretas in this house. In other towns, there were more Gretas, Millas, and Darlin’s.
Cherry’s authoritative rap on the door brought me out of grim, dark thoughts.
“Leave her. You can’t help.” Once again, Cherry stayed outside in the hall.
“I think she’s dying. She shouldn’t be alone.”
“You can’t change it. She’ll survive or she won’t.”
Cherry was much older than I was, true, but I felt as if I’d learned something she had not. “Either way, how these hours pass matter.”
“You sound like the preacher’s been at you.” Cherry frowned and I could see her adding up the money Greta had cost, wasn’t making tonight and what it appeared I would not make tonight either. “His way is of no use to you.”
“No preacher could understand what I mean. Or what she’s going through.”
Her expression softened only slightly. “That is a true thing you’ve said. But it don’t change the fact that you need to get downstairs.”
. . .

Close up of the face and hands of black business woman as she laughs and claps. Behind her another person also claps.

Surviving that First Panel – Moderators and Panelists

Karin Kallmaker Business of Books, Events and Appearances, Resources 0 Comments

Panels are a terrific way in the sapphic fiction world to boost your professional street cred and talk about your work. You’re in the midst of a group of other pros – some of whom might be real rock stars in the room – and you get to learn from them about both their work and how to manage the panel experience.

Panels can be live as part of a larger conference, or a one-off hosted by a bookstore or library. They can be online during a weekend writing course, or an hour of a fun topic organized by authors or publishers as a way to engage readers. Each event will be different, and each will have its own audience.

I’ve attempted here to create a useful list of advance work you can do to take some of the anxiety out of the experience, set up realistic expectations, and manage the event itself. Some of these tips won’t work for you. Every event is different. So please consider this a wide-ranging set of tools you can customize to each event as needed.

Ready? Let’s go! Read More

Albuquerque Take Flight Golden Crown Annual Conference logo with hot air balloon aloft in dark morning sky GCLS 2022

GCLS 2022 – Birthing Books and More

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

Once the Googlerithmz realize we’re writers, we’re bombarded with online ads touting the only way to get an idea out of your head and onto the page. Hooey. Absolute hooey.

meme, the only wrong way to write a book is not to write the book - all other ways are the right way - karin kallmaker

You can quote me. Marketing, quality, style, tone, plot – none of it matters if the page is blank.

How Books Get Born

It’s fantastic that pandemic protocols have eased and the Golden Crown Literary Society is resuming their live annual conference event. (Virtual series events remain too!) It’s been my good fortune to moderate So I Had This Idea – From Idea to Published Work panel over the years. Writers tell the stories of their stories. If you’re attending, mark your Friday morning at 9 a.m. to join us.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced author or just starting out. Read More

Blue sky and green trees behind Rainbow Progress, Dublin City, California State, and United States Flags snapping in the wind

The Best Kind of Surprises and Pride in ALL of Our Books

Karin Kallmaker Cowboys and Kisses 0 Comments

I am continually, delightfully surprised by the reader love for Cowboys and Kisses. As always, I’m never quite sure what aspect of any story will form the magic connection with readers. I usually think I know, and I am often wrong. With this particular story, it might be that the two women might have actually existed in some frontier town, and lived happy lives together.

One reader said it was a “love story that sticks to your bones.” Another said Read More

young white woman with brown hair in pigtail buns clutches her cheeks in terror saying "What have I done?"

Rookie Amateur Mistake = Opportunity, Right?

Karin Kallmaker Business of Books, Cowboys and Kisses 2 Comments

I messed up. Making a rookie amateur mistake is generally not a good thing when you’ve been around as long as I have, but it ended up being a good thing. At least I think so.

It has to do with books and how they’re printed. Specifically, all the magic behind making color that’s true and stays true whether a book is printed in the USA, India, or (eventually, right?) on Mars.

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK = CMYK

There’s a lesson I learned a very long time ago about the difference between computer screens and printing presses. What you can see on the former can’t be reproduced on the latter. It’s all about how color is processed by each device. Here’s an approximation of the difference between RGB and CMYK with the basic colors of red, green, and blue. Read More

dark haired light skinned woman in blue shirt and yellow beret against plain light blue backgrounds looks likes she hatching a plan

Rule #2 for the Win – A Femme’s Tale of a 1980s Workplace

Karin Kallmaker Cowboys and Kisses, LIFE + STYLE 8 Comments

Breaking the rules without looking like you’re breaking the rules. It’s something I tried to excel at as a child. Like Ways-to-Get-Ice-Cream-Even-Though-It-Will-Spoil-My-Dinner.

In my early years of loving as a lesbian and living as a femme woman in a world where nearly all rules were made by men to benefit men, I discovered ways to look like I went along with the rules even as I used the rules to resist the rules. I call that Subverting the Patriarchy. It could be good fun, and often eased the relentless pinpricks of sexism and male privilege. Read More