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  • NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    by Gary Budgen, Julian Darius, Richard Greico Jr, Nikko Lee, K. A. Opperman, Alice Renard, Rose Banks, Paul St. John Mackintosh, Michael Seese

    Contains Instabiable by Nikko Lee

  • Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    by Carol Hightshoe, Cynthia Ward, Terry M. West, Christie Meierz, Dana Bell, Mary E. Lowd, Patrick J. Hurley, Francis W. Alexander, Liam Hogan

    Brainatarian by Nikko Lee

  • Coming Back
    Coming Back
    by James Arthur Anderson, Brian Barnett, Dave Fragments, Shawna Galvin, Vince Darcangelo, Ken Goldman, Michael Lindquist

    Contains A Mother Knows by Nikko Lee (paperback available at Lulu.com)

  • Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    by Jonathan W. Thurston

    Contains Great Mother Wolf by Michelle Knowlton

  • People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    by Frank Larnerd, Tony Peak, Geoff Gander, Shenoa Caroll-Bradd, Robert Hart, Nikko Lee, Kyle Yadlosky, Edward Martin III

    Contains Bouillon de Bebe by Nikko Lee

  • Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    by Nicole Gestalt, Crysta Coburn, J.T Seate, Nikko Lee, V.C., Zak Jane Keir, Blair, Regina Kammer, Jim Lee

    Contains Boson's Mate by Nikko Lee

  • The Big Book of Bizarro
    The Big Book of Bizarro
    by Rich Bottles Jr.

    Contains Honey-Do by Nikko Lee

  • Between Love and Lust
    Between Love and Lust
    by Nikko Lee

    E-book

    Print-on-demand paperback

  • Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    by J. Troy Seate, Patricia McCarthy, Nikke Lee, Andrea Saavedra, James Hartley, Edward McKeown, Mike Graves, J.E. Gurley, Zakk Erikson, David Bernstein C.C. Blake

    Contains Pure Delight by Nikko Lee

Sunday
Jun212015

Writing gay fiction

Having complained about white bread fictional characters, I realized that my own characters often lack diversity. After reading some gay fiction, I became obsessed with the idea of what it would be like for a gay man to be a part of a martial arts dojo.

In my eighteen years of training, I never met an openly gay karate-ka. Or maybe it's just one of those things that never comes up when you've got someone in a joint lock. Given the proportion of gay men in the general population, there had to be at least one in the many dojos I trained. I wondered what it would be like to be a gay man in an activity that can be fairly testosterone-filled. I know well the challenges of being a woman in a dojo where there are very few woman who obtain the rank of black belt and continue to train.

I started out writing a gay erotica romance in which an openly gay man joins a dojo to resume his training after moving to town. There's the expected friction with some of the closed-minded students. There is an unexpected attraction that grows between him and a closeted bisexual senior student. Their sexual encounters blossoms into something deeper and more meaningful as each has to face their deepest fears about who they are.

Unfortunately, Spar never got beyond the draft stage at nearly 50,000 words as I switched between first person POV and third. I felt the story focused too much on being gay as the central conflict. The flash fiction Tap-Out was inspired by Spar. Even though I never finished the story, I fell in love with the main character and knew his story needed to be told in one form or another.

This Josh was the beginning of my main character in Wolf Creek, which is being published by Torquere in the fall. I'm in the middle of the second round of edits and love the characters, especially Josh, no less than when I wrote the first outline. I wanted to write a story with a gay main character whose sexual orientation wasn't the central conflict of the story. It's just one aspect of his character. So I added werewolves, Amazons and a whole lot of other complications.

You might wonder what a straight woman is doing writing gay male characters. I struggled with that very thought while writing Spar. Then I realized I wasn't writing about a gay main character, I was writing about Josh. He became a whole person with likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses of his own.

I can't wait to share Josh and his unpredictable Amazon friend, Andrea, with a wider audience. Having an editor is really helping nail down some inconsistencies and confusing points as well as catch all the little mistakes that I missed even after many revisions and beta readers.

And who knows, if people like Josh and his world as much as I do, maybe I will get the chance to get him into more trouble.

Writing gay fiction isn't as much about sexual orientation as it is good story telling. I'm watching Transparent right now and really want to write about a transgendered character. Not as a sidekick. Not as a mystical magical transsexual. Not focusing on their gender identity struggle. But as a character with a story of their own to be told.

Wednesday
Jun172015

What's in a headline?

Being a first time mother with a 7 month old means I spend way too much time on breastfeeding and mommy Facebook groups. Motherhood has brought me to an interesting intersection between scientist and mommy. Every time someone in a group posts a question, long standing belief or the latest baby health-related headline, I hit pubmed to look for some science fact.

Science newspaper headlines are notoriously misleading. Take the reporting on Amitay et al.'s 2015 publication in JAMA Pediatrics 'Breastfeeding and Childhood Leukemia Incidence A Meta-analysis and Systematic Review'.

The LA Times reported on the JAMA Pediatrics article under the headline "Breast-feeding may prevent 19% of childhood leukemia cases, study says".

Compare that to the Times headline "Breastfeeding Linked to a Lower Risk of Cancer in Kids".

What's the difference?

The first headline gives the impression that the Jama Pediatrics study demonstrated that breastfeeding prevents leukemia. Great, now do hyper-sensitive mom's are going to worry that if they don't breast feed their child will develop cancer or worse blame their child's cancer on their inability to breast feed.

The second headline reports the correlation that breastfed children have lower risk of developing cancer. It's a little less eye catching but a lot closer to the results of the study

What did the study actually say?

Results  The meta-analysis of all 18 studies indicated that compared with no or shorter breastfeeding, any breastfeeding for 6 months or longer was associated with a 19% lower risk for childhood leukemia (odds ratio, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.73-0.89). A separate meta-analysis of 15 studies indicated that ever breastfed compared with never breastfed was associated with an 11% lower risk for childhood leukemia (odds ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.84-0.94), although the definition of never breastfed differed between studies. All meta-analyses of subgroups of the 18 studies showed similar associations. Based on current meta-analyses results, 14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for 6 months or more.

Conclusions and Relevance  Breastfeeding is a highly accessible, low-cost public health measure. This meta-analysis that included studies not featured in previous meta-analyses on the subject indicates that promoting breastfeeding for 6 months or more may help lower childhood leukemia incidence, in addition to its other health benefits for children and mothers. - Amitay et al. 2015 JAMA Pediatrics

 

Both articles go into more detail to clarify the headline and quote from the original article. But how many frazzled moms are going to read beyond the headline? Let hope most.


Health Cancer

Sunday
Jun072015

Reading gay fiction

A while back I complained about white bread fiction. All too often characters are cut from seemingly the same white Christian middle-American cloth. This holds true even in paranormal fiction. While there is an increasing amount of diversity creeping into the genre mix, LGBT characters seem relegated to colorful sidekick characters.

J.R. Ward convinced me that gay romance can be even more poignant than straight romance. In her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Blay and Qhuinn are two young male vampires who mature into their powers while dealing with an attraction between them that starts off one sided. Their bond strengthens and is tested over the course of several books.

I was over the moon when these two characters finally got some serious page time in Lover at Last as the central romantic couple. This was the first time that I'd see the gay side character given center stage and even some intimate scenes in a best selling paranormal series.

There is a growing fandom among straight woman (myself included) for gay romance. Like all good romance, the push pull tension is wrapped by another layer of forbidden attraction. I dabbled in the genre a little and read some pretty bad stories. But J.R. Ward has convinced me that gay romances can be well-written, hot and heart-wrenching.

Wednesday
Jun032015

'It happened to me' evidence

The California measles outbreak struck as my 3 month old daughter was starting daycare, which in accordance with the school systems does not require standard vaccinations. While I understand that there are some individuals that cannot be vaccinated due to allergies, suppressed immune systems and other medical reasons, I am decidedly pro-vaccination.

One woman posted at the Bangor Daily News Facebook page that she will never give her son or any of her children another vaccination after the son developed symptoms of autism following a fever post-immunization.

I wanted to respond to this woman whose choice could very well be putting my infant too young to be vaccinated against measles at risk. But what could I tell her that she doesn't already know? Currently, the Maine legislature is trying to pass a bill that would require consultation with a doctor prior to making a philosophical decision not to vaccinate.

The right to chose is firmly engrained in people. But in order to make informed decisions, people need to be informed.

Why are so many people - 5% of children in Maine are not fully vaccinated - deciding that vaccines are either not effective or even harmful?

I wanted to tell this woman that there is no proven link between autism and vaccination, that the fever her child had was a normal response to the immune system being triggered, that the verbal regression she observed was common among children who develop autism, that vaccinations is the best means of preventing the spread of these highly contagious and dangerous diseases.

But what good do these facts do for a mother who saw with her own eyes the change in her son and linked it to the vaccination.

What makes her observation different from the observation done by a scientist? Nothing. The difference is in that she used one observation on one child (in the context of other such single child observations) to reach her conclusion.

Just because two things happened around the same time doesn't mean one led to the other. A scientist observing children developing autism around the age of vaccination would then do an experiment, or in this case a study, to prove the hypothesis, or idea, that vaccination causes autism. How many vaccinated children develop autism? Does autism occurs in children who are not vaccinated? These are the questions a scientist would want answered before making a conclusion.

Based on these kinds of studies, there is no current evidence that vaccinations causes autism. However, in science no idea is set in stone. More observations are made. More experiments are conducted with better parameters. Ideas are fluid.

This woman believes - like many others - that her son's autism was caused by a series of vaccination. Beliefs are a lot harder to change than ideas.

Saturday
May302015

Writing Worry #30: Leveling up

I just turned in my first round of edits for Wolf Creek. It's amazing to think of how far that story has come since I wrote the outline four years ago and the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2012. There are still two more rounds of edits slated before publication. I'm still finding the occasional typo, but I think the concepts, characters and plot are there.

I'm still spinning my wheels on Safe Word. Mostly because I can see the gap between what the first draft is and the nebulous concept of a submittable manuscript. Re-writes are all about taking the basic concept and building on it. Fleshing out the details. Ramping up the plot. Solidifying characters.

After my writing group meeting on Thursday, I got to thinking about the gulf between writing levels. Good just doesn't cut it in publishing. A story has got to be gripping. Characters need to be engaging. The action has to be thrilling. 

The revision process for me involves a lot of leveling up my writing by taking exposition and making it a part of the story.

Concept: Jack is afraid of snakes. It's his one weakness.

Level 1 writing: Jack hates snakes.

Okay, the concept is there, but no one is going to be wowed by that sentence. Some readers might not even remember it.

Level 2 writing: "I hate snakes," Jack said and continued about his merry way.

Again the information is there. Adding the concept in the dialog is a little more interesting, but again not memorable.

Level 3 writing: Jack caught sight of coiling body as it disappeared beneath a crate and jumped back.

"Snakes, why did it have to be snakes."

The reader can see Jacks reaction and just how he feels about snakes. It's not perfect, but better.

Level X writing is achieved when the information is integrated into the story and engages the reader. It involves not only how the information is conveyed but when. Good writing drops clues and hangs lanterns that guide a reader toward the information without hitting them over the head with it.

I'm still working on leveling up and have a ways to go.