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  • Spar
    Spar
    by Nikko Lee

    A closeted black belt comes to terms with his bisexuality when he takes an openly gay student as his new sparring partner.

  • Wolf Creek: Gay Werewolf Romance
    Wolf Creek: Gay Werewolf Romance
    by Nikko Lee, Digital Fiction

    Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairytale.

  • Bon Appetit: Stories & Recipes for Human Consumption
    Bon Appetit: Stories & Recipes for Human Consumption
    by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, Rev. Thomas Thorn, Nikko Lee, Dax Bordas, Sebastian Bendix, Rick Powell, Misty Tyers, J. N. Cameron
    Contains Bouillon de Bebe 
  • 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
Jun262011

Genetic influence on sexual preference behaviors in mice

One of the coolest parts of my job is that I get to read about scientific research in all areas of mouse genetics from development to behavior. While mice and men behave very differently, behavioral research in mice can point towards genes that may influence human behaviors.

This week I curated a recent Nature article that demonstrated the requirement of genes involved in the serotonin pathway for male sexual preference for female mice.

In "Molecular regulation of sexual preference revealed by genetic studies of 5-HT in the brains of male mice." (Nature 2011 Apr 7;472(7341):95-9), Lui et al. examined the sexual preference behaviors of mice lacking tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2tm1Zfc) or lacking LIM homeobox transcription factor 1 beta in the nervous system (Lmx1btm1Zfc Tg(Fev-cre)1Esd). In both models, male mice failed to exhibit a preference for mounting female mice. They also failed to exhibit a preference for female genital odor despite having normal odorant behavior towards other smells. 

Mouse studies like this one highlight the influence genes can have on behavior.

Monday
Jun202011

Schoodic Point (ANP)

It turned out to be a busy weekend for hiking. Sunday the lab's hiking group tackled Schoodic Point. It's about 45 minutes from MDI on one of the many peninsula that stick out into Frenchman's Bay. What Schoodic Point lacks in trails, it makes up for in spectacular views.

Our first hike started at the Blueberry Hill parking lot at the far end of the one-way park road. We hiked to the top of Schoodic Head and back down via the Anvil. Back at Blueberry hill, we had lunch by the waterside until the incoming tide reminded us there was more hiking to be done. The afternoon hike started at the bottom of the road that leads to the top of Schoodic Head. At the top for the second time that day, we headed down the East trail and back again over the top for the third time before walking back down the road to the cars.

Although most of the trail consists of easy walking and moderate inclines, a few rocky ledges add some challenge. The East side trail is by far the steepest but consequently the shortest. Wild-life spottings included two porcupines out for a midday stroll. The first escaped my camera, but I managed a slightly blurry photo of the second.

In all, we spent nearly a full day exploring Schoodic points from the top of Schoodic Head to the wonderfully rocky shores.

Saturday
Jun182011

Jordan Cliffs Trail (ANP)

It has been far too long since my last entry. No new science talks to report on. No word yet on the two submissions I have in to publishers or editors. No brilliant insights into the world of writing and publishing. I've been keeping up with my favorite writing/publishing podcasts (Writing Excuses, AISFP, I Should Be Writing, and Get Published) and added a few more to the cue (Flagship and The Appendix).

On the writing front, I'm nearing the last chapter of my M/M romantic erotica novella. It's the first story that I've written in a long while that has not a single paranormal element in it. Without the world coming to the end or some evil villain to vanquish, my characters have had to focus on their inner turmoil and the conflict between their feelings for each other and how being an out couple would affect their lives.

It is taking me forever to finish reading Jasper Kent's Twleve. This is probably a symptom of my normally desk-bound body wanting to be outside during this brief period between mud season and winter.

That update aside, I thought I'd share my morning hike with whomever might glance at this entry. Every weekend I try to pick a different trail in Acadia National Park (ANP) to hike. My goal is to get in good enough shape this summer to hike Katahdin in Baxter State park. Growing up on a farm in rural Quebec, I was spoiled with hundreds of acres to explore that stretched from lakeside to mountain side, from rolling fields to mixed wood forests. Now I have ANP as my playground.

Last year, I declined to go on a search because I was unsure about my hiking abilities. I was told the trail would be equivalent to the Jordan Cliffs Trail, which I hadn't hiked at the time. In search and rescue (SAR), it's important to know your limits and I wasn't sure I could be of use after a day on such terrain.

Flash forward to this week. It rained for most of the week. When the sun finally broke through the clouds on Thursday, I was itching to get outside. By Friday, I was having a hard time sitting down at my desk to concentrate on work. I decided I needed a challenge. I remembered the missed opportunity last year and decided it was time to tackle the Jordan Cliffs trail.

By nature, I am a cautious hiker. I've done the Beehive and Precipice, but I am always a little tentative when it comes to difficult trails that I haven't explored before. I knew this was going to be a challenge and I knew the misty morning would produce some slippery conditions. But after a week indoors at a desk, I was looking forward to getting out.

My starting point was the Bubble Rock parking lot. Like I said earlier, I'm working my way up to Katahdin so I added some mileage by parking pretty far from the trail head. My planned route was along the east side of Jordan pond, up the Spring trail to the Jordan Cliffs, back along the west side of Jordan pond, and finally up the east side of Jordan pond back to the car. Total mileage was 7.1 miles with a 920 feet elevation gain accomplished in 3.5 hours.

Maybe it was a good thing the fog stayed thick throughout my hike. The warning signs at either end of the Jordan Cliffs Trail are well warranted. There was plenty of exposed rock ledges, cliff scrambles, and iron rungs to scale. I have no idea how far down the drop was, but the tops of the trees were lost in the fog.

I made my way along the trail taking my time and being careful of my footing. There were a few spots that were pretty dicey. About half way through the trail, there is a log bridge far above the ground that I wouldn't have wanted to fall from. There were many times I was either on hands and knees or scooting down rock faces on my butt. One part gave me enough trouble that I had to stop and figure out how to proceed. Just before the highest point of the trail there is a rocky crevasse to scale. The drop below extended into the fog. I don't even want to guess at the distance. With short legs, large steps are harder to navigate. And this was no place I cared to make a mistake. After three aborted attempts and finding a loose rock that wouldn't support my weight, I finally found a way to clamber over the rocks and up to the rung ladders.

My favorite part of hiking/climbing is also the scariest for me. I love the tactile feel of having to use my entire body to push/pull/clamber/spring/jump/scale. It's the narrow margin for errors that kicks in my anxiety. One misstep or bad judgement or bad luck could easily land anyone in need of SAR assistance.

It turned out to be a great hike. Only about an hour of it was really strenuous. The rest of the hike was rather leisurely. This is one of those trails you want to do the right way (start at the south end). I'm glad to have met my self-imposed challenge. Unfortunately, I did not get to see the spectacular views I know where buried beneath the fog. Now I can lounge around my place, do my chores, and get some writing done... and baking something sweet.

Sunday
May292011

Longevity Medicine

My regular Genetics and Genetic Research blog site is under construction. So I will post here for those interested. Let me know if you like seeing the science side of my interests here, and I'll keep it up.

There are a few people who aren't interested in living longer, from pirates hunting for the fountain of youth to aging baby-boomers. However, the key to longevity isn't just adding years to your lifespan but adding healthy years. Recently, S. Mitchell Harman from the Kronos Longevity Research Institute spoke at the Jackson Laboratories about the state of the art in longevity research and opportunities for translation into medical practices.

We are all blessed (and cursed) by the genes we inherit. They bestow on us our potentials, limitations, and predispositions that can limit the number of healthy years we have to live. Our current medical practice is based on prevention and treatment to minimize the impact of disease with the hope of forestalling a premature death. People are living longer, but not necessarily in a healthier state. Current medical research is now turning to extending lifespan by addressing the negative effects that lead to aging and agingin related diseases.

Over the years, our cells accumulate damage from oxygen free radicals, DNA mutations, microcellular degradation, shortened telomeres, and unprocessed cellular leftovers. These global cellular stresses are thought to lead to aging. But not everyone ages as gracefully as their neighbors.

Aging is influenced by the interaction of intrinsic factors (e.g. genes and metabolism) and extrinsic factors (e.g. diet, exercise, radiation, and stress). A lot of research dollars have gone into understanding how intrinsic and extrinsic factors account for premature and normal aging.

S. Mitchell Harman highlighted the areas of focus for aging research and the prospects they offer for a medical intervention. The prominent research topics in aging and their potential for translation, include:

-Caloric restriction: Promising in rats, mice, and primates but unproven in humans. Likely operates via the mTOR pathway offering a means for chemical intervention without fasting.

-Telomerase extension: Problematic results in mice, which express active telomerase. However, reactivating telomerase in fibroblasts restores replication. Temporally controlled reactivation of telomerase in a telomerase knock-out mouse restores degeneration in testes, spleen, and intestinal crypts. In humans, active telomerase came improve immune cell health.

-Suppression of oxidative stress: Oxygen free radicals from natural processes (e.g. glycolysis) or toxin exposures (e.g. smoking) lead to increased DNA damage, decreased lipid metabolism, and increased protein damage. Resveratrol (found in red wine) and tart cherry juice have been shown to improve the oxidative stress response.

-Treatment of metabolic syndrome: Increased abdominal weight is associated with increased serum triglyceride, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and insulin resistance in humans. Hormonal involvement in metabolic syndrome occurs a target for treatment in combination with diet and exercise.

Any intervention, no matter how promising, may also have unintended negative consequences. For example, the testosterone replacement to improve metabolic syndrome symptoms can increased the probability of cardiovascular events and increase the severity of prostate cancer.

Aging is a multifactorial process that offers numerous avenues for intervention. With a careful evaluation of risk benefits for anti-aging treatments, researchers hope to add years of healthy livings to the average lifespan.

Friday
May202011

Write what you love

Write what you love is often accompanied by the advice not to write to the market. It's always seemed like a catch-22 to me, unless you are one of those lucky and skilled authors whose work applies to both. The market dictates what gets published, whether it be by determining what is hot or what is over-saturated. Yet writing something just for the sake of selling it often produces a work lacking in passion.

Sometimes I see submission calls that spark my creative interest. However, my skills aren't honed to the point where I can crank out something worth submitting before the deadline passes. Writing novels to sales trends is an even bigger losing battle. By the time a subject is recognized to be popular, publishers are in search of the next trendy thing or something truly remarkable.

Writing has to be a labor of love. The hours spent plotting, writing, re-writing, editing, and polishing more often than not go unnoticed. I almost feel guilty when I consume a novel in a matter of days when I know that the author must have months or years writing it.

It goes without saying that I write for the love of stories. No one is flooding my inbox for my work. I write the stories I'd love to read. In the mean time, I keep my eyes open for submission calls. Last month I wrote a zombie erotica that got some positive feedback. I was also reminded how over-done the zombie theme is. By the time I catch on to a trend, it's already over. I didn't hold out much hope of finding a market for that story. Then a bizarre submission call popped into my inbox. I crossed my fingers and sent my story off in hopes that it would fit the call.

Whether it gets picked up or not, it was reassuring to see that something I'd written purely for the practice of writing could find a home. And I do need the practice.

Have you ever picked up a published novel and wonder how it got published? Have you ever thought you could do better?

I think these are common thoughts that run through a would-be writer. There are those one hit wonders of the literary world that for one reason or another get published against all odds and make it big. The reality is that it truly is difficult to transform ideas into words. The right person has to read your manuscript and believe in it as much as you do. Someone has to think your work will find a market.

Successful authors don't start out with the knowledge of how their novel will turn out, if it will appeal to readers, if it will sell, if it will vanish from the shelves in a matter of weeks. Authors write. Success is an after thought based on so many factors that it is impossible to predict much less guarantee it.

So I am resolved to write. Even if my words never leave my laptop, I will at least enjoy building my stories and exploring the characters that just will not leave me alone.

Currently, I am dabbling in the arena of male/male relationships. Romance and erotica are my guilty pleasures. I've never written M/M, but I loved what JR Ward has done with her Qhuinn/Blay story line. I can't wait for their book to be release. Sure the market for M/M romance is smaller than the heterosexual relationship market, but the Qhuay fans are fanatical (and mostly woman as far as I can tell).