Griffith Observatory at Night view of Los Angeles below public domain Wikimedia

Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Fun in Simply the Best

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Simply the Best 6 Comments


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If I like a movie or show – it makes me laugh or cry or think, or has fabulous music – I watch it again. And again. To the point that my wife doesn’t really get it. However, she appreciates it when I can supply a pithy line at that right moment or a character name during trivia (Leonard Pinth Garnell, y’all, I’m just saying).

Ask me who won the gold medal in fencing at the 2012 London games and I take reasonable umbrage at the very idea I would be carrying that kind of information around in my precious gray cells. I would then pass the question over to Maria. And she will ask, “Which event in fencing, there are this many, here are their names and equipment and assessment of stabbiness, Men’s, Women’s, or Team,” and you may as well say you’re sorry for asking such an imprecise and obviously problematic question.

Hello, My Name is Karin and I’m a Sponge

Instead of facts and figures, I carry around quotes that I paraphrase as appropriate to any given daily situation. Trying to find someone in a crowd? “What’s your vector, Victor?” Ask me how to put an object to use? “I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl…” (Airplane!)

I’m a sponge.I’ve been sponging for decades. Full confession: my best stuff is compiled out of movies I’ve watched 54 more times than just about anybody.

Toast falls on the floor butter side down? “Now we see the violence inherent in the system.” Do something unexpectedly successfully? “Captain, there be whales here!” Or …

I bypassed the compressor! Star Wars

I can’t help myself. All in all, I think it’s not a bad habit for a writer to have, this sponging up thing.    Read More

5 pink and white marble easter eggs on white background

The Hoo-Ha about Hoo-Hoos

Karin Kallmaker Simply the Best 47 Comments

So I was looking up the history and use of “hoo hoo,” you know, like you do when you’re a writer and you want to be sure that what you think a phrase means is the generally accepted definition.

What’s the Hoo-Ha about Hoo-Hoos?

I confirmed that “hoo-hoo” is a euphemism for lady bits. I was grateful to do so without having to confront the often exceedingly graphic definitions at The Urban Dictionary. As with Mahjong, I found variation in the spelling – to hyphenate or not to hyphenate?

So I asked on various folks on Facebook. There was no consensus about whether the hyphen was required. One person – dead serious I’m sure – thought the hyphen made it more elegant. The Interwebz didn’t have a definitive opinion, and I wasn’t about to click on any site that wanted to show me images. If I’m looking to look, I can always refer to Femalia.

I decided on the hyphen because, sure, it’s more elegant.

Hoo-Hoo Research

Why was I looking up uses of “hoo-hoo”? Simply the Best is set inside a wildly successful women’s lifestyle and wellness company. My deep dive into the women’s wellness industry turned up a product called a yoni egg, which is a rock sold to correct imperfect hoo-hoos. I hadn’t known that any hoo-hoo could be less than perfect! Read More

twitter panel showing hashtag congressman douchebag as a #1 trending topic

Simply the Best – Say Hello to Alice and Pepper

Karin Kallmaker Book News, Simply the Best 3 Comments

When I picked the name for Simply the Best several years ago, I was of course inspired by Tina Turner’s classic 1991 smash hit. Little did I know that while I was writing the book the song would come to life again in acoustic versions, including Patrick’s serenade of David on Schitt’s Creek (incidentally one of my favorite romantic storylines on TV in a very long time).

Just this past week Tina’s original turned up in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which wasn’t so much romantic as juxtaposed calm amongst much mayhem and contretemps. Anyhoo, it seems as if everywhere I turn I’m hearing “Simply the Best.” Partly perhaps because The Hound + The Fox version is in a long Spotify playlist I made for the book.

The novel opens with the unfortunate reality that #CongressmanDouchebag is trending, and it’s all Alice Cabot’s fault. If you haven’t seen the trailer, have a look.


Pop open the box below by clicking on the + and read the introductions for two women who were part of my life for a very long time. You’ll find out how #CongressmanDouchebag came to be.

Simply the Best – Snippets from Chapters One and Two

by Karin Kallmaker


Simply the Best, the longest novel of my career (so far), will be available in August. You can pre-order a signed copy right here.

Copyrighted material, uncorrected proof, 2021
woman triumphant in field of sunflowers

Surviving that First Reading – Updated Once Again

Karin Kallmaker Business of Books, Events and Appearances, Resources 2 Comments

One of 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 4 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

Doyou 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’s only been seven months.

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