Sunday, August 29, 2010

With Buzz and Bertie at the Veep's

What dog doesn't love having gutted soft toys balanced on his head?
If Buzz didn't like ripping their guts out so much, he'd have more to chew on...
Robert relaxes by the pool: sort of.
As close as I get to "sunbathing"
Despite this look, he made me some very fine meals including marinated steaks on the Vice President's grill (one of two--oooh, luxury) -- yum! At night we could hear the music from the Duchess County Fair (oh boy, Foreigner!). Alas, my idleness is over: classes (and departmental meetings) start tomorrow. The autumn arrives with a shock every year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Publications: The Last Ant and High Plains Lazarus

Good news of late: two rather difficult to place items both found homes.  "The Last Ant" is a short humor piece than amused me to no end, but apparently bemused a number of editors who turned it down flat.  I am an acquired taste, as always. It will be appearing in a future issue of the lit mag Wild Violet; you may remember Alyce Wilson's publication as the home also of the pieces "Corrections to the Rules of Fimble Fowl (for 3 players or 4)" and "Me and Margery Kempe" -- clearly Alyce is someone who has acquired a taste for my oddness.

"High Plains Lazarus" is a zombie western set in the 19th century plains. This tale once had a home: it was going to be in an anthology. I was pleased that I had found a publication interested in taking it with surprising speed, because it's quite long story (10k).  Then came the waiting -- and more waiting -- and promises of publication and entreaties for patience -- and finally silence.  The publisher disappeared. Pity. Although zombies have become big business, I found it very difficult to locate a publication that would take a story that long. The majority capped acceptable word count at 5k (many at 4k). It's the kind of thing you should consider while working on a story, but this particular tale had a mind of its own and just kept growing. It keeps whispering in my ear that it would really like to be a novel, please.

Like so many parents, I say, "we'll see."

The story will be appearing in a zombie anthology from Pill Hill Press. Ironically, I began writing the story on a whim just before Trinoc*coN one year, when I decided that I was bored with everything I had ever written and needed something new to read at the con.  I only got it half done, but that was just the right length for my reading. My audience threatened to beat me senseless for leaving them hanging, heh heh. They also gave me some good factual corrections (thanks, Mildred -- I know so little about guns) and feedback.  Mostly they enjoyed the gruesome humor as well as the voice of the narrator, Finn.  Fun stuff.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that my flash fiction piece, "Rothko Red," will be appearing in the anthology Exposure which will be out this fall from Cinnamon Press in Wales. I got the page proofs today and was amused to find that my story had written me: "K. A. Laity by Rothko Red" -- hee!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BitchBuzz: Sugarbabes

Tip o' the pen to my pal Saranna in  this week's column:

Holly Hill and "Sugarbabes" as Surrogate Wives

Sometimes it's all I can do not to turn into Little Bunny Foo Foo and hop through this world bopping people on the head. No, not about the mosque—though that issue has exposed the ignorance of people too stupid to live (one would think) and the machinations of the corporations who manipulate their easily frenzied minds—no, this time I'm going to stick with sex.

A simple issue, eh?

Alert and sexy author Saranna DeWylde pointed me to a little news story on a Australian psychologist Holly Hill's book, Sugarbabe. The subtitle, The Controversial, Real Story of a Woman in Search of a Sugardaddy, just makes you want to sigh with discouragement.  This "naughty feminist" tells the folks at Lemondrop that 'Couples who want to stay together should try out "negotiated infidelity," with a "sugarbabe" who acts as what we can best describe as a surrogate wife meets Hooters waitress. And who, by the way, is paid for ministering to your man.' Hill writes about her own time as a "sugarbabe" so she knows whereof she speaks.

Well, sort of...

Read more:

Just kind of makes you shake your head, doesn't it?

My week has been busy with meetings on campus, getting the online class designed, and trying to work out the programming schedule for Albacon. The latter is a real puzzle turning vague general topics people have mentioned into snappy titled sessions -- that don't overlap too much, yet fit a wide variety of interests and offer something new and give all the participants something to do but not too much to do and make everyone happy. Okay, the last is never going to happen.

Good news to mention tomorrow, but I have to look over the contract first.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Interview with a Broad

I am interviewed by Jane Hunter over the Broad Universe blog on LiveJournal. Here's a little snippet:

What one book would you save from a burning fire, and why?

The original Beowulf manuscript. The book changed my life and opened up my head and vastly improved my writing . I cried when I got to see it for the first time in the British Library. Studying medieval literature taught me so much, especially the absurdity of obsessing about “originality”: every story has been told before, every story. But no one can tell my version of a story except me.

Read the rest over at the Broad blog as well as many other terrific writers' interviews or listen to the Broad podcast.

Somehow the week before classes is far more hectic and crazy than the week they actually begin. I shouldn't complain: I'm only teaching one course this semester. I have course releases so I can do some writing this semester (as close as I can get to a sabbatical because I jumped the line for tenure--that's me, always in a rush). At the moment, however, I'm overwhelmed by administrative tasks and other duties. More's the pity. You know how much I love rules and regulations.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Experiment: Not Waving

The internet offers all kinds of ways to distribute writing. I've already put up free copies of this novel I wrote way back when I lived in Los Angeles. This is the one that an agent called "too relentlessly dark". Feh! Just because its title comes from a Stevie Smith poem about someone drowning -- ah well, some people don't respond well to mordant humor. The cover photo I took in New Orleans, when Wendy and I were wandering around. Hee -- still love that picture.

We'll see. I've put it up for sale as an ebook on Scribd. Just curious. I did try to make it more attractive than the freebie version at Feedbooks; I actually did some copyediting, added a cover and wrote an afterword about looking back at that time that seems so long ago. I gave it the modest price of $2.99, out of which Scribd takes a 20% commission + 25¢ for processing.  I may put up a few other things, eventually. It doesn't cost anything to try except the time spent preparing documents and yesterday seemed like a day to edit rather than write.

Not Waving

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mystery at Pi-Con

I made a quick jaunt to Pi-Con yesterday to join in a Broad Universe Rapid-fire Reading. The reading went well, but there weren't too many sales at the book party after despite the chili (thanks, Aradia!) and the trifle (Kaynak, did you make that?). Nonetheless it was fun to see folks again and the reading went well. Morven took pictures, so when she gets them up, I'll post a link.

In the parking near the dumpster was this semi-circle of chairs. There were some papers on the seats, but I didn't go up and look at them. I suppose I preferred to imagine the reasons they were arranged thus.

What's your guess?

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The Pagan and The Pen has reviewed Pelzmantel. I'm pleased they liked it enough to give it four tarot cards, too. I recommended my editor send a copy there because I know their sensibilities are in sync with mine and they gave such a nice review of Unikirja, too. From their review:

K. A. Laity is a wonderful storyteller. She does a great job of immersing the reader into the world that she has built. I truly enjoyed losing myself in the lives of these characters making me feel like a young child again listening to the fantastical bedtime Fairy tales of witches and castles and dreaming of being a Princess myself...

Read the rest on their site -- and consider leaving a comment. Reviewers like to know their work is being read, too.

I'm off to Pi-Con today; I'm doing a rapid-fire reading with the Broads of Broad Universe. We're doing a book signing party afterward, too. If you're anywhere near Enfield, CT stop in and say hi!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Publications: Encyclopedia of the Vampire

Where are my minions? Surely they would have reminded me that I had forgotten about the two essays I have written for the Encyclopedia of the Vampire, which apparently comes out this November (which I hope means I will finally get paid for writing them :-)

Doubtless this is going to be one of those expensive library tomes (though not as expensive as some of the encyclopedias for which I've written), which means you might suggest your library get it, so you can check it out and read my essays on The Gilda Stories and the "Vampire Lifestyle" -- and of course all the other fabulous essays. The collection was edited by S. T. Joshi, so if you've enjoyed his other such collections, doubtless you will enjoy this one as well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Relax and How to Get It

Squeak shows us how it's done: just kick back and let your troubles find their own way home. We've had a hard weekend of watching movies, eating, drinking and talking. Today we're off to the Biltmore; should be interesting.

Now, everybody canteloupe dance!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BitchBuzz: The Whiteboard Meme

My latest column on this week's internet wildfire:

Why the "White Board Girl" Meme Was So Popular

By K.A. Laity
The link that launched a million laughs has, perhaps predictably, been exposed as a hoax. The Gawker gleefully "exposed" the pranksters and a lot of #HOPA tweets were predictably misogynist in their tone as they slapped down a woman who was presumably too ready to declare herself attractive (how dare she!).

This focus on the pranking and suckering misses the point: why it spread like wildfire across the world. It spread so fast that traditional social media trend watchers were way behind the dozens of women (repeated globally) who all sent it to each other...

Read the rest:

I'm off to North Carolina tomorrow morning for some r-n-r with Susan and Mildred -- and Ron and Birdie and all the kitties. Well, not quite all the kitties: Susan lost Chelsea this week. She was nearly nineteen. Her health had just became too frail. I think many of you know the pain of losing these little friends who are such a big part of our lives. I will miss her. My heart goes out to Susan.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Publication: Wild Desire

My essay on Johanna Sinisalo's Troll: A Love Story is up on the new magazine for the Mythic Imagination Institute. "Wild Desire" was originally a conference paper given at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts a few years back.

Here's a snippet:

Wild Desire: Gendering the Other in Sinisalo's Troll: A Love Story
by K. A. Laity

Trolls have long had a firm grip on the Finnish imagination. While written records do not reach far enough back to find its roots, no doubt the traditions of folk religion play a role. As Matti Salo has argued, it "recognized no sharp distinction between the natural and supernatural" and the world was seen to be peopled with a variety of gods, spirits and creatures. Things may not have changed as much in the twenty-first century as you might be tempted to believe. As Johanna Sinisalo writes in her introduction to the Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy, "To this day, Finns live in a very sparsely populated country, surrounded by lakes and large expanses of forest. Every Finn appears to have very close, personal ties to nature. In Finland culture and nature do not struggle against one another, they are not mutually exclusive, they merge and influence one another" (9). That unique creature, the troll, seems to spring from this melding of nature and culture, realism and fantasy. Perhaps the greatest flowering of troll love erupted in the mid-twentieth century, embracing Tove Jansson's Moomin family and their often melancholy young son Moomintroll. While the robust attendance at Moominworld in Naantali would seem to suggest that everyone loves trolls, the realities of that affection have remained entirely fantastical until recently...

Read the rest and explore the wonders of the Mythic Institute.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thank You, Boojums!

It doesn't take much to make me smile. Just a thoughtful little thing like this:

Yep, it's a lovely congratulatory post card of a Polly Thayer painting from my pals and affixed to the back? A ticket stub from a performance of Good Evening with my idol, Peter Cook and (my almost idol) Dudley Moore. As you can see from the note, it was found in a library book (I love how so many of my friends work in libraries) about Russian icons (?!).

Little stub, big smile. Thank you, Boojums.

ADDENDUM per T'joey Zone:
Do mention Loree B found it...Cheryl said to post it...

i stuck it

Monday, August 09, 2010

Unikirja Book Trailer

Here's my new video, featuring the beautiful music of Ulla Suokko, whom I'll be celebrating this week over at The Women's League of Ale Drinkers, part of the month long festival of creative women. I'm trying to focus the rhetoric of these trailers on opening up the sometimes obscure titles of my books to give a sense of the flavor of the stories. You can tell me whether I'm succeeding.

I've kind of had the feeling lately of needing a dump truck to unload my head, so it's been good to work on a few things that use a different part of my brain. Some days just need to be without words.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Cover Me

With stunning speed, here's the cover already for my as-yet-unedited novel The Mangrove Legacy, forthcoming from Tease Publishing in November or December:

Thanks to the fabulous Stella Price, who is not only the art director for Tease, but was also the person who encouraged me to try submitting something to them. I love the background photo of the Gothic folly and the woman on the sofa kind of picks up on the theme of dreams. I loved writing all the surreal dream sequences. It's hard to capture all the aspects of this odd little tome, so I'm glad the cover included the tag line as well in order to convey the humour [or humor, Todd]. Now to update the web page, although that might have to wait as I have a large pile of neglected work in my office on campus that I really must get to...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

BitchBuzz: Hate Cute

My latest column:

Mainstream Media Realize RomComs Hate Women

Suddenly everyone in the media seems to have noticed what women have been talking about for years: how rom-coms seem to really hate on women.

 The high profile story is Maureen Dowd's back-and-froth with social historian Sam Wasson about "Why romantic comedies now reek." It's a fairly entertaining exchange with highlights like Wasson saying, "Every time I see Jennifer Aniston’s or Jennifer Garner’s face I wince. Basically, every time I see someone named Jennifer." But they also get a few good points across, such as Dowd's suggestion that more female-run studios ought to have resulted in more female-positive films. Wasson laughs:
“Even the studios that are run by women aren’t run by women. They’re run by corporations, which are run by franchises. Unfortunately for us, Jennifer Aniston is a franchise. So is Katherine Heigl and Gerard Whatever-His-Name-Is, and even when their movies bomb, their franchise potential isn’t compromised because overseas markets, DVD sales and cable earn all the studio’s money back...The worst part of it is, from Hollywood’s point of view, it ain’t broke."

Read more:

There's a reason people still love and adore films like His Girl Friday, Philadelphia Story, The Lady Eve and Holiday: they're fun and funny. I guess writing romcoms that don't insult women is going to have to go on my list of things to do. What's your fave?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Contracted: The Mangrove Legacy

Good news! I sent off the contract this morning: Tease Publishing will be releasing The Mangrove Legacy in November or December of this year. Initially, it will be an ebook, but if sales are brisk enough, it may see print in 2011. Now I can reveal that the "author" of the book will be Kit Marlowe. Thanks again to the fabulous Stephanie Johnson for designing Kit's portrait, based on a photo of me and a very cool hat I found trawling the internet. Very Georgette Heyer, eh?

One of the immediate things this means is that I will have to refrain from posting the final chapters of the serial online. For those dedicated readers who have been with me the whole long haul, I will be happy to send you those chapters: just email me.  Your support all this time has meant so much to me. It's hard to believe I started this as a kind of lark almost four years ago! I was so afraid that I would not find time for fiction writing while I was frantically trying to publish as much academic work as possible to get out of Texas; a foolish fear (as so many are).  Writing about 500 words a week was painless; the story was light and fun. I just wanted to be amusing, playing with the Gothic narratives I enjoy and throwing in as many obscure references as I could get away with. I adore the characters. And four years later -- without considerable effort -- it's a 100,000 word novel.


That's why I emphasize those wonderful words of Octavia Butler in "Furor scribendi" where she says the key concept is "persist": she was so right. I am capable of marathon sessions where I churn out thousands of words in a day, but that's not necessary. Baby steps will get you there, too.

So why the nom de plume? In the last year I've been doing a lot of research into the romance genre, thanks to a bunch of friends who work in that area. While it is the most reviled of genres, there's a lot good in it -- like the money! Yes, there are conventions -- there are conventions in academic writing, too and very strong conventions in the literary genres (disaffected suburbanite agonizes over relationships, doubts self, then has minor epiphany which may or may not change anything) -- but there's also a wide range possibilities. Just take a quick glance at all the different categories Harlequin has; the 'paranormal romance' field is little different from 'urban fantasy' these days. The lines are getting blurred. The only constant for romance is that happily ever after (HEA) or, increasingly, the happy for now (HFN) ending. We're so cynical these days. We'll accept all kinds of fantasy elements -- werewolves, vampires, steampunk Victorians -- but not a happy resolution! Oh no, never that. Well, except for the millions and millions of romance readers (and no, they're not all women).

So my nom de plume signals "this book is a romance": to a genre reader, it means "everything will turn out okay in the end." For my regular readers it still means it's the quirky stuff I write and if everything turns out all right in the end, it will nonetheless be a fun trip getting there. I'm still working on adapting my style to the genre; so far, I'm still erring too far on the side of quirky to get my foot in the very lucrative Harlequin/Mills & Boon door, but I will endeavour. Why? Because I would like the freedom of living off my writing and I am exploring many avenues to achieve that end.

And why this particular pseudonym? The original Kit Marlowe was of course the playwright who would have outshone Shakespeare had he lived (being far more daring and audacious). Less well known is Bette Davis' character from the movie Old Acquaintance -- a big fave of mine, based on the play by John Van Druten (of Bell, Book and Candle fame). Of course, Kit Marlowe is the "arty" writer while Miriam Hopkins' Millie Drake is the popular romance writer. What can I say? I'm perverse that way. One of the gratifying things is that the friendship between Kit and Millie outlasts rivalry and men. In fact, you can easily read the film as a coded lesbian narrative, with a lot of elements coming across as far campier to a modern audience than they would have done to most contemporary viewers, I suspect. Just look at the masculine way they dress Davis at the start in contrast to Hopkins' flounces and frills. The film was remade as Rich and Famous in 1981. It was George Cukor's last film and starred Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen. I also have a fondness for that film, though it's not as good. I do love the way Bergen, upon having her work called "trash" by her increasingly estranged husband, snarls to correct him that it's "successful trash!" Here's to success, however trashy.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

More Jane Quiet!

Drop by the Jane Quiet site to see the new developments -- gotta get back to work on that script! Elena's catching up to me.

New Journal!

I'm really pleased to announce that the Women's League of Ale Drinkers has decided to start a journal to share with the world the fabulous women who support the League.  You can see the details over at the League's site, but here's a precis:

And that is the mandate of the new journal for the Women's League of Ale Drinkers, for which Vicky will serve as editor. We seek only work that meets these criteria, the output of creative women who may feel that their vision and passion has been overlooked elsewhere, that their daring has brought only disapproving stares, that their humour has met with stony silence. We delight in work that crosses traditional genres.

We do not ask for your credentials, awards or publications. We ask for your heartfelt work -- writing in RTF files, art in JPGs, music and video via links. We ask that you tell us why the piece embodies your reason to live, to breathe -- what the work means to you, even why you think it may not have received an audience before...

 Read the rest over at the League, where you can also enjoy a celebration of the fabulous Stephanie Johnson, featuring her fabulous designs for Smoking Ants Records.

I have some good news to pass along but I will wait until I have signed the contract. Of course, I was already celebrating because I got the Fulbright application done (whew!). Of course it will be months before I know anything, but it's in and I gave it my best shot. That's all you can do, eh?