Holidaze & News

qoeYou may guess from the infrequency of posts that I am extremely busy. But I have found time to enjoy myself, too. Pleased that the lovely QoE was able to visit and hang around Hipsterville AKA Hudson for the day. We had a lovely time plotting, planning and laughing. Flint and Steel, baby!

Then there was the whole Thanksgiving thing which allowed me to eat a lot of good stuff (of course, Bertie was doing almost all the cooking) and drink champagne and watch movies and do some work and get almost caught up on some things.

I did mention relaxing, right?

Brenda wouldn’t let me put this picture on Facebook, alas. I think it turned out very well. Buzz was visiting, too, which made Connor happy. It was an unexpectedly mild weekend weather-wise

brenda

News-wise: Things in the Dark is almost here! The latest of the Fox Pockets has my story ‘The Ransom of Red Witch’ for my pals Terry and Byron. Clever folk will know where I swiped that idea.

My story (or was it Graham Wynd‘s?) ‘Grotesque’ has been translated by Marta Crickmar’s student Filip Cieślak for the Polski Noir site (you know I owe that to Mr B of course). Check it out and see the other luminaries featured there.

News Round Up

High Plains Lazarus by KA Laity - 500Yeeha!

I’m allowed to use that because I have a Western coming out this week. Admittedly it’s a weird Western, but you wouldn’t expect any less of me, now would you? Some of you may be familiar with this story: now expanded into a stand alone novella. It still pokes at me to become the beginning of a novel instead — all in good time!

Dead folk are just about the last thing you want to see while wandering through the deserts of the great wild West. Things get a whole lot worse if they’re not the lying down kind of dead but the running around trying to take a bite out of you sort. Whatever’s got the corpses jumping is bound to spell a bad day for anyone unlucky enough to ride into town.

Out tomorrow from Tirgearr!

I read a bit from it when I was on the radio when I visited Dellani’s Tea Time with Eden Baylee and Meredith Skye. Lots of silliness ensued as well and it was great fun even though I did have a bit of a sore throat.

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Do you like heavy metal bands that use Norse mythology for material? No? Well, then you’ll enjoy my write up of failed Viking metal band Ketlingr over at Pulp Metal Magazine. Hey, at the very least you must admire the dedication to the conceit that included making album cover art!

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Check out my Inspirations play list of “Songs that Led to Stories” — no, don’t worry, it’s not all The Fall. It is kind of amazing to realise just how many song titles and lyrics I have swiped for story ideas. Even if I get them wrong a lot of the time. Misheard lyrics, always a rich vein to mine. I’m thinking of doing more video stuff — trailers or readings, maybe. What would you want to see?

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Working on the next Hard-Boiled Witch required some research — by which I mean sitting in the Howff, soaking up the atmosphere and working out some practicalities. A hazy day: warm and misting: it gave my pictures an ethereal quality. I’m sort of using Dundee as the model for the city in the series, although it’s a rather different town in many respects — in part because I’m using old maps so things that are no longer part of the landscape show up. When the 2nd story comes out, there’ll be a special on the first. Keep an eye out for that!

And Saturday! LEICESTER COMIC CON – be there!

2014-06-13 14.02.02

From Alba to Albany

By the time this posts, I should be on my way via planes, trains and automobiles (not to mention the bus to the airport in Edinburgh). It’s hard to believe my fantastic year has drawn to a close. Needless to say, I have no wish to leave Scotland and already have my ticket back. My sweetie awaits.

The Fulbright has been a great gift. I have written so much and I have so much more to write. I will be burying myself in the work this fall and hope to have some splendid things to show for it.

I have new friends and new ideas and a whole new outlook. So much has changed and so much more will change.

Classes begin on Monday. It will be quite a shift to be back in teacher mode. Somehow it will happen, but I’m not sure how at this point. I’m sure the mere process of traveling will provide transition as it always does. The “no-time” of airports instantly takes you out of normalcy, so it will doubtless have that effect again.

I’m not looking forward to the jangling roar of constant commerce. I’ve been surrounded by small towns and beautiful countryside much of the time and very few harsh American voices. I’m dreading the political season and the seemingly non-stop vitriol from pig-ignorant zealots that has made people here shake their heads with disbelief (even as their politicians begin to take on the same madness).

It will be a test of my abilities that I have cultivated in the last few years to remain resilient and hopeful, to hold onto that indestructible happiness within me. It cannot be reliant on being in a particular place or with particular people: just me, wherever I am. And I think I will be able to do that. I miss my friends after all, even if I do not miss the country of my birth. Many of my friends have had great difficulties and griefs in the last year while I have been crowing in my happiness. I can do my part to help heal their sorrow. My Kipper has had a difficult year, too. I will be glad to see him once again.

All will be well.

Re-Imagining the Olympics

Image of Thomas Heatherwick’s Olympic Cauldron ©James Richmond

The 2012 Olympics are over. If you weren’t in the UK you might not have been aware of just how transformative these two weeks were. That I’m even talking about it is evidence enough. Like many of my geek and writer friends I’ve often found myself in the position of fighting against the popular attention to the millionaire sports industry.

But this was different. It took me back to something I lost long ago: a love of sport. I grew up with four baseball diamonds and a football field behind my house and a huge field beside it where we practiced driving golf balls. We had an archery target in our back yard. And every Saturday my family plonked ourselves down in front of the television to watch Wide World of Sports, where I first learned about things like hurling.

I played sports: it may surprise some of you to know that I have a letter in softball. We played baseball non-stop, mostly with abandoned equipment from the teams who played behind our house: lost baseballs, cracked bats, discarded bases. We all had our own mitts and I was always pleased when my older brother would choose me ahead of some boys, because I knew he was ruthless when it came to teams and chose the best player.

Where did it change? High school, where the social divisions were sharply drawn. I dropped off the tennis team to devote more time to studies. Then there’s the whole thyroid thing which eventually led to trading mine for a five inch scar on my neck. And sealing the deal was working the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Eleven hour shifts in the gift shop, non-stop work and no fun. I never wanted to hear the word again.

I did get to hold a gold medal. The woman who won the sharp shooting gold, a Canadian on her own in Los Angeles, wore it into the shop so we all gathered around her to ooh and ahh. It was heavy and beautifully designed. But I pretty much ignored sports after that. Easy to do with all the bloated hype around professional sports in the US; worse, the scandalous proto-professional world of college sports. Nothing makes grad students more bitter than a library falling apart and wrapped in plastic while a new bronze Husky dog statue gets installed in front of the sports arena.

I’ve slowly gotten sucked into real football over the years (Go Gunners!). Unlike American football, there’s usually plenty of action and it’s not all about the money (Man United cough). But what got me into the 2012 Olympics initially wasn’t the sports per se; it was Danny Boyle’s orchestration of the opening ceremonies. An intense demonstration of the power of narrative, it offered Britons a new vision. Unlike the canned catch phrases of politicians, this reimagining acknowledged the past and honoured the present. Watching it with the live commentary on Twitter I saw its effects take place as the cynicism surrendered to the magic. Boyle’s theatrical ritual used humour but also touched people through powerful images from childhood and ancient representations of the past (the tor, the maypole). And Evelyn Glennie!

At the centre was the cauldron — I was amused to find it had been codenamed “Betty” and just love it.

“We’re normally designing buildings,” Heatherwick said. “It is like the biggest gadget that anyone can make in a shed but this shed is the most sophisticated shed in Harrogate. It was like the Bond gadget workshop.

“When we were thinking about the cauldron, we were aware they had been getting bigger, higher, fatter as each Olympics had happened. We felt we shouldn’t try to be bigger.

“The idea is that, at the end of the Games, this cauldron will dismantle itself and come back to the ground. Each of those elements will be taken back by each of the nations and put in their national Olympics cabinets. Everyone has got a piece.”

The power of that image — and its lighting by the torch literally passed from the old generation to the new — lighted a new vision that so many people embraced and lifted the games from mere sporting event to a truly international celebration. The joy and the tears over the next two weeks resonated and not just with Britons. The radiant face of  Jess Ennis, the tearful one of Hoy, the embrace of Heather and Helen, the American women exploding as they won the 4×100 relay (not literally). All eyes were on Bolt as he raced to his expected victories, but how much more people loved him when he did the Mobot.

Go Mo!

Many writers have been inspired by sport; they released a newly discovered Nabokov piece on boxingJoyce Carol Oates has written on the sport as well. I’m not going to suddenly become all Sporty Spice on you. But I have enjoyed the spirit that suffused Britain the last couple weeks. As a few people said on Twitter, the crass closing ceremonies — full of glitz, supermodels, joyless musical reunions (when Freddie Mercury on video proves the most spirited performer, you know you’re in trouble) and the extinguishing of that remarkable cauldron — may have been the polite way to get house guests to leave, but I hope the joyful moments continue to echo in the subconscious for some time to come.

Read poet laureate Carol Duffy’s encomium for the games.

Profiled at Eden Baylee’s Blog & News

I am profiled over at Eden Baylee’s blog today. Drop by and say hello to find out what lurks inside my mind lately. I suppose it’s the usual sort of thing, but Eden has some interesting questions that I have not had in an interview before, so maybe you will learn a few new things about me.

I sent back the page proofs of Owl Stretching last night. I’m just the worst at finding those last minute errors. I get caught up in the story and forget to check for errors, argh. Let’s hope that the careful eyes of Sharon and Storm have caught the most egregious errors. Any that remain are my fault alone. I was pleased to find that I still enjoyed the story. It has been so long since I actually finished writing it that I found I had forgotten a lot. Of course there are jokes that only a few people will get, but the I think the undercurrent of constant surveillance and the jaded audience are even more apparent now than they were when I was writing it. Yet so much of my life has changed since then; the acknowledgements capture those changes. And yes, there is a Ruby cover forthcoming; fingers crossed it’s just as gorgeous as her work for Pelzmantel.

I’m working away on White Rabbit. Not sure I can say much about it at this point but it remains fun and interesting, and while I’m sure that I know where it’s going, there are a lot of surprises along the way, so that’s a good thing. Writing the occasional short thing in between, but mostly in this for the long haul for as much of the time I have left in Scotland.

Alas, it grows short. And no, not sure what I’ll do once I get to the States. Sorting it out soon.

I have a few reviews lately over at A Knife and A Quill. Drop by and check them out.

Tales of the Nun & Dragon, out soon — and now with music!

We said good-bye to Steve Browne yesterday; his memorial was held at their place in Berne. Maryann told me that Mary had more people offering remembrances, songs and stories than they could accommodate in the service, so a friend was filming all those who wanted to speak or perform. I went to the Howff and thought of Steve and those who loved him and how we would all miss him. Good-byes are always difficult.

FREE for International Short Story Day

Yes, the longest day of the year is devoted to the shortest of stories. Happy summer solstice — how are you spending the longest day of the year? I’m sharing some of my short stories that are available on the net for your reading pleasure, which ought to keep you busy a while:

“Homework.” Flash fiction. Necon E-Books. June 2012. Honourable mention, May Flash Contest.
“Twitter Wedding.” Poem. Asinine Poetry (Summer 2012).
“Just Waiting.” Short story. Near to the Knuckle, 5 June 2012.
“On seeking a place for a picnic.” Poem. Short Humour, 22 May 2012.
“Biscuits.” Flash fiction. Short Humour, May 2012. Also available at Postcard Shorts, May 2012.
“Bill is Dead.” Flash fiction. Pulp Metal Magazine, Spring 2012.
“Words.” Flash fiction/podcast. Dogcast 5: March 2012.
“Yuletide Feast.” Short story. Short-Story.Me: 21 Jan 2012.
“Mandrake Anthrax.” Short story. A Twist of Noir, 14 Dec 2011.
“A Charming Situation.” Short story. Written for the Sherlocking fan site: Scribd (Nov 2010).
“Touched by an Angel.” Short story. Kalkion (Jun 2010).
 “Wixey.” Flash fiction. Wild Violet 8.1 (2009).
“Fluorescence.” Short story. The Harrow (Jul 1008).
“Palakainen.” Short story. New World Finn 7.2 (Apr-Jun 2007): 4-6. Reprinted: Mythic Passages (Feb 2009).
“Sinikka Journeys North.” The Beltane Papers 25 (2001): 14-19. Reprinted: Mythic Passages (Feb/Mar 2004). Collected in Unikirja.

 ~and the one that started everything off

“Revelation.” The Official Clive Barker Page, http://www.clivebarker.com. Winner, MGM/United Artists/Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions Short Story Contest, November 1995.

NEWS!

☼ The big news is the cover art for UNQUIET DREAMS, my forthcoming story collection from Tirgearr Publishing. I love the spooky gal in the hennin and the magpie OF COURSE! Judging by the reaction when I posted it on Facebook, folks dig it. I am quite bowled over by Mike (FREAKIN’!) Mignola saying, “Wow – great cover!” I tell you, Kem is floating on air with that praise. And the always generous Steve Bissette has given me a sweet pull quote (thanks!):



“Kate Laity’s Unquiet Dreams  is the long, deep plunge in the coldest quarry in the woods; the lingering look under the rotting wood at all the writhing life there; the stare into the abyss until one realizes something is staring back.”

☼ The lovely Maura trundled me out on a little jaunt to Kinvarra, Yeats’ Tower and Coole Park, which was simply glorious. You can see the pictures beginning here. It was a magical day! Fitting as I took “unquiet dreams” from Yeats, I owed him a visit.

☼ A new poem up at the Short Humour Site: “Kingsley Amis in the Afterlife” — be sure to check out Chloë’s poems, too!

☼ My post “How to Write More” over at A Knife and A Quill seems to have hit a nerve, and I have an hilarious interview with Mr B where we do our best Morecambe and Wiseing. I have another writing gig to announce soon, the direct effect of ROOK CHANT. I don’t want to jinx it, but everything’s coming up Milhouse lately: I hope it lasts.

☼ I’m planning to migrate the blog over to the website, where you may notice I’ve been tinkering with the layout and the look. It would be advantageous to have everything in one place, though it’s a bit of a wrench to shift from here where I’ve been for EIGHT years. I experimented by migrating the serial over to Kit’s page and all seems well, though of course there are about ten times as many posts here. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.

News & The Ongoing Madness

I don’t know what I fundamentally do not understand about the process but the yardsale, as many already heard on Facebook and Twitter, was pretty much a bust. I sold a few things but I ended up abandoning the cause and leaving folks to loot as much as they wanted for free. Not all of it, oddly. Some great stuff went begging. I took what was left to donate in the morning. I guess people just don’t want my stuff 😦

I am dividing everything I own into three categories: things I must take to Galway, things I want to hold onto but won’t take to Galway (and must be loaned or stored) — and everything else, which must go. And must go now. I have given stuff away and donated stuff and still there is way too much.

>_<

Somehow it will all get done in the shockingly short amount of time left — despite starting to teach a three-week long course today, yeah. How will this happen? I don’t know, it’s a mystery.

I got a nice email from the US Embassy in Dublin on Thursday. Apparently Sept 8th is International Literacy Day and they want to feature my project in Digital Humanities, “Writers in Motion,” in a news clip on their website. So there’ll be a picture of me and an abbreviated description of my project for the first day of my Fulbright orientation in Dublin. By the by, I’ll be leaving from JFK on Sept 4 and flying to Shannon, then probably taking a bus to my new home in Eyre Square.

The new issue of Pagan Friends features an excerpt from Pelzmantel. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, and think you might enjoy a story of medieval magic, here’s a fine opportunity.

Oh, and um — print editions of The Mangrove Legacy! Did I mention that already? 🙂