Science-based flash about the parasite that changes people’s behavior

While I have a lot of publications, I mostly only mention the ones here that fit squarely inside one of the most common genres. It’s always tempting to include my other stories, but that would defeat the purpose of providing something for people with a more Genre mind-set, as I fully understand Lit, Interstitial, and Experimental fiction can be kind of a turn-off.

However, I’m going to write about three of my newest stories to come out at Literary Orphans, because though they aren’t about the future, and aren’t hard SF, they are, like so much of my writing, based on science. If you don’t like Slipstream or Science Fiction Fantasy, don’t read these, but if you enjoy playful imagining based on reality, enjoy!

Cat People

is based on a real phenomenon. I like to write about shared consciousness, and this is a good example of that. Here are a few of the links available about it:

“toxoplasmosis-infected drivers are 2.6 times more likely to be involved in car crashes……

Infected men were “more likely to disregard rules,” and were more “suspicious, jealous, and dogmatic.” The traits of the women were the
exact opposite. They were more “warm-hearted,” “outgoing,” and
“moralistic.”
http://www.vice.com/read/how-a-cat-parasite-affects-your-behavior-mental-health-sex-drive

“Toxoplasma gondii is arguably the most interesting parasite on the planet. In the guts of cats, this single-celled protozoan lives and breeds, producing egg-like cells which pass with the cats bowel movements. These find their way into other animals that come in contact with cat crap. Once in this new host, the parasite changes and migrates,eventually settling as cysts in various tissues including the host’s brain, where the real fun begins.

Toxoplasma can only continue its life cycle and end up a happy adult in a cat’s gut if it can find its way into a cat’s gut, and the fastest way to a cat’s gut, of course, is to be eaten by a cat. Incredibly, the parasite has evolved to help ensure that this occurs. For example, Toxoplasma infection alters rat behavior with surgical precision, making them lose their fear of (and even become sexually aroused by!) the smell of cats by hijacking neurochemical pathways in the rat’s brain.”
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2012/07/04/toxoplasmas-dark-side-the-link-between-parasite-and-suicide/

“The parasite is thought to have different, and often opposite effects in men versus women, but both genders appear to develop a form of neuroticism called “guilt proneness.”‘

http://www.livescience.com/933-study-cat-parasite-affects-human-culture.html

“between 30 and 50% of the global human population is infected.

For example, rats infected with the parasite lose their fear of cats, and are even attracted by their scent, making them easy prey. Scientists have suggested this is how the parasite assures its own survival and propagation: the cats eat the infected rats, shed more parasite through their feces, and that in turn helps to infect more rats.

Other studies have found schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and other mental diseases are more common in people with toxoplasmosis, and there is also evidence to suggest infection by the parasite is linked to more extroverted, aggressive and risk-taking behavior.”

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/253802.php

It’s associated with schizophrenia, ocd, bioplar, suicide, impulsiveness, parkinsons, neurosis, insecurity and the cyst’s location in the brain matter.

http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/1/113.full

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Guest Blog Topics

Emotherguitar9As my recursive novella is coming out from ELJ Publications, I’m interested in offering a copy to a reader of your blog if it’s popular with an audience for the style of this book, and in doing a post about relevant topics for anyone interested in running it, whatever your readership. This applies to any site you write your blog on. Here is a list of subjects I could discuss, not just in the context of this narrative but expanded for general interest.

Slipstream

Neo-Noir

Physics concepts

Dysmorphia (Alice in Wonderland Syndrome)

Experimental Literary Fiction

New Wave Fabulism

The history of scrying

Recursiveness in literary narrative

Kundalini

Stockholm Syndrome

Just contact if you’re interested, flameflower at runbox dot com

Equinox Mirror

Equinox Mirror is my forthcoming book from ELJ Publications, due out Dec. 5th. 2014. Readers of only Genre fiction probably would not like it, as it’s ambitious Literary fiction exploring new territory. But it’s entirely based on a valid existing scientific theory, so people who like SF because of imagining what the world might be like may well find this novella stimulating.

It’s dark, weird, occult, paranormal, macabre and eccentric, not usual straight edged hard SF, but I wrote it to consider the reality of the well-known theory. I just don’t want to say what that is, because that would be a spoiler.

It has 23 illustrations to help visualize what’s going on in this convoluted tale of scrying, recursive imagination. Each set of illustrations is different for each character, from the heavy black splattered void-fighting male Lucky Lavaggio to the delicate pencil strokes of the uncertain mother, to the childlike imaginings of the demented female Lucky.

“Lucky Lavaggio, who can’t discern how she looks, and thus how to take appropriate action, takes her magic scrying mirror on a trip through the time zones to where it is already Autumn — a ritual prescribed in the Dysmorphic Grimoire to see one’s self clearly and know the future. Mystified by her flashing awareness of a male Lucky Lavaggio who fights the Void, and overwhelmed by her sense of everything happening at once as one continuum, due to her prematurely raised Kundalini, she counts on the reassuring continual presence of a woman she keeps in the oubliette at all times through subterfuge. The eccentric characters at her boarding house, who resemble those who populated her childhood dollhouse, patiently suffer through her weirdness — but for how long?

This illustrated Neo-Noir Slipstream novella explores physics, the occult, passionate longing, and precarious mortality.”

Anyone interested in a review copy, please contact.

The End of Awful Words

Eventually, everyone realized no one really likes to read fiction by obscure writers. But everyone had become an obscure writer. So, they divided up daily by a new automated lottery into readers and writers. The readers were paid for their time. The idea of buying books became so outdated no one could remember that model.

Some people screwed with the system, and used their behind-the-scenes clout to avoid being readers, and were able to be only writers. Social classes were formed, with the permanent readers near the bottom, though at least they were gainfully employed. The writers had to steal from them to survive, but it was better than reading that awful stuff.

The readers revolted, and killed off most of the writers. They had no more source of income, but they didn’t care. No more words. Silence. Peace. Death. Finally.

Deep discount for former students and editing clients on my Interstitial Fiction Genres: New Wave Fabulism, Magical Realism, Slipstream, Surrealism, and Weird class though Thanksgiving

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To say thanks to all my students I’ve ever had, anyone who has studied with me or been an editing client can take the class, Interstitial Fiction Genres: New Wave Fabulism, Magical Realism, Slipstream, Surrealism, and Weird for a discount, if you sign up or make a pledge to sign up, through Thanksgiving midnight.

Just send me a message reminding me what work we did, and I’ll send you the coupon code so the class is only 30 dollars.

The structure of presentation makes it easy to compare, contrast and find overlaps. Over 200 pages of Standard Manuscript Format contain text and lists, with a substantial number of links to take you further into exploration. In addition, you watch 6 hours of me speaking to you about the genres, including personal insights, reading paragraphs to you from key anthologies, drawing diagrams, so you can interact with Interstitial Fiction confidently. 50 question quiz at the end.

Becoming a Genre Babe

When I was growing up, I read Literary Fiction. I had a William Faulkner shrine in my room. I listened to, sang, and performed classical music. I wasn’t very impressed by pop culture. I liked avant-garde, innovations in plot structure that involved looking at the story from more than one perspective, metaphysical concepts and explorations outside the norm. I was thrilled in High School by the film with Merce Cunningham’s dance troupe dancing deliberately out of synch to John Cage’s industrial noise around Marcel Duchamp’s Big Glass sculpture.

As I continued, I read about Phenomenology and Postmodernism, applying them to Nouveau Roman authors like Robbe-Grillet. I loved reading every book containing Literary Criticism of another French New Novelist, Claude Simon’s method of cutting up the flow and reassembling it. The spaces between stories that freed them from the glue of linearity and being approached in only one way was inspiring to me. I got excited by metafiction like Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth, complexity like Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Jorge Luis Borges’ Labyrinths, breaks in continuity like Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler.

I wanted to add my voice in a lasting way to the advancing dialogue of Literature, explore new ways to blow up plot conventions, character defaults. I wrote about forbidden topics and rebelled against traditions of characters always being young and beautiful, white and employed. I wrote a lot of realism, but it never supported the dominant paradigm that leads to wars under false pretenses, superficial commercialism, and sneaky social engineering. The very structure common to fiction relies on the over-stimulation of the adrenal glands, creating addiction, weakness, irritability, burn-out, desensitization, and the need for other stimulants. I proposed a style called Lucid Fiction, which many authors told me they enthusiastically embraced, which varies from the safety of the default.

I created the website, Everything Experimental Writing, which often over the years receives over 1000 hits a day. It always receives several thousands, even though I don’t update it often any more. I published a lot of brave authors in Exclusive Magazine. I was not in circumstances when I did the first issue that allowed me to get much sleep, so the quality of presentation is embarrassing. But the work is good, and each author was required to write about his or her reasons, methods, and goals for venturing outside the norm. I performed at the &Now Festival of New Writing in San Diego, and read with some of the top experimental fiction figures in Chicago at the Ballroom of the Chicago Art Institute. I teach experimental fiction writing with UCLA X Writing Program, Writers College, and my own academy. I’ve had my non-traditional fiction, and poetry published very widely in journals, anthologies, and books. Another one is coming out from ELJ in December, an illustrated Slipstream novella.

Formula wasn’t my thing. I had no idea why anyone would like that. But I did enjoy quite a bit of genre, and off-genre work all along, such as Weird Fiction, and novels by John Crowley and Robert Holdstock. I liked my mysteries with a touch of Paul Auster, my politics sprinkled with Philip K. Dick. I was well aware that the major SF authors like Heinlein and others putting out the alien hoax were promoting CounterIntelligence’s agenda. I had no desire to write commercial fiction.

But then, many years ago, as I prepared to go back into teaching writing at the university level, I started ruthlessly studying all the tropes, techniques and trends of all the different genres. And I eventually started writing in them more often, partly to have the experience for teaching about the process, and to show I could be a good role model for it. The more Speculative, Thriller, Mystery, and other genres I read, finding some that push against society’s rules, the more I liked them, and came to actually sort of lose my taste for Literary, and Avant-garde. I’d wanted to semi-lose my taste temporarily so I could understand the world-view of Genre folks, to write and teach it well. I didn’t realize how effective that mind-flip would be.

I still was a Literary lady, though, and I enjoy Interstitial genres, like Slipstream, Magical Realism, New Wave Fabulism, Neo-Noir, and Weird, fascinating ways to explore past the growing trend for Literary to be strict realism. I think realism in Literary fiction is great, especially as long as people are willing to really look at some of the most important issues in the world straight-on — but I don’t really find people doing that to speak of at all.

I realized the real-world topics I was most interested in tended to be outside the scope of most Literary world folks’ research. I’ve had a couple hundred stories in journals and anthologies, but the ones I am most passionate about, the more politically engaged ones, have become the only hard ones to place. As the prose quality seems similar, that pattern suggests to me that perhaps it’s the controversial subject matter that has makes it less quickly picked up. I think I’ve been sending it to the wrong genre.

I see much less engaged Literary fiction than I did in the past, and fewer magazines that publish it. I’d hoped people into innovative structures and new perspectives in fiction would also be driven to take the time to look behind mass media and alternative media propaganda. But work that is outside the two-party system and questions what the state-sanctioned “authorities” say is no longer represented in Literary fiction. I knew controversial material would be hard for the Big Five to publish, as they are supported by the Corporatocracy that promotes the illusions through the Mockingbird media. (Mockingbird Program is the official CIA control of media.)

I came to realize that the scope of Literary fiction is more personal than political, about topics on a smaller scale, and it’s also driven by the authors’ social media. Authors on social media have to keep information that doesn’t fit in with propaganda off places like Facebook if they they want to be accepted by other Literary authors, editors, publishers, students, fellowship granters, and readers. And without Facebook sharing and camaraderie, publications are rarely read. Authors tend to read stories others share partly out of shared interests and affection, but also for networking, raising status, hopes of being read themselves. They can’t take a chance on any risky ideas, no matter how fact-based and well-documented the source material. I love and respect the Innovative Literary fiction crowd, and I still read their work. And I still have some of my Literary writing coming out in journals and anthologies, as well as a novella forthcoming from ELJ. Most of that is Interstitial, neither straightforward realism, nor full-on avant-garde.

Some of my Interstitial fiction, while it has a Literary tone to some degree, is also labeled Speculative, whether it’s Horror on the Weird side, Paranormal Fantasy that deals with auras, telepathy, and egregores (like tulpas,) or SF that is often cross-genre. Those pieces are what I bring to this blog. In the past, I found getting my poetry published too easy after nearly a hundred of them in print, so I started from scratch with Literary fiction. I found that too easy, and now I’ve started over with Genre, and have been enjoying some success, including monetarily, in a field in which most people dislike Literary; my background in that style only works against me when submitting.

I now eagerly seek out Genre almost exclusively in novels, enthusiastically checking the free two-foot library a few blocks away for it all the time. I’ve stopped writing strictly Literary other than when reading submission calls I can’t help but comply with. I heartily enjoy writing many genres, not just politically oriented work, or making a social point, but for the love of it, for entertaining readers, participating in the world of Genre fiction that I’ve come to admire so very much, more and more over the years. I have written Genre fiction enough recently that I have plenty new material for two large collections of new Genre fiction, if I happen to chose to submit them. One is Neo-Noir and the other is Speculative.

I really like helping Literary folks see the value of Genre, and vice versa, and softening the leeriness between the two camps. I like helping people find the interstices and understand the definitions and histories of obscure terms like Magical Realism, which I consider to be highly engaged politically according to its true nature. I find SF, Horror/Weird, Paranormal Fantasy, Mystery, I’m bridging a lot of styles of writing, and I hope, collecting readership across a wide spectrum. I suspect when my more controversial Genre material comes out, I may possibly lose some of the Literary fans and associates, and that breaks my heart. I love and support them in spite of differences in perspective. They are my clan.

I now particularly value gaining new tribe members among Genre folks who are interested in Conspiracy Thrillers and political SF and the cross pollination of those styles. It’s a tricky place to be in, changing who I am, coming out as someone who has been an activist, sometimes putting my life, career, and degrees on the line for dangerous physical actions. I realize the facts I deal in have been sequestered from a lot of people by the clever psychological manipulation techniques as taught by Edward Bernays and others. Many people just don’t know the facts are there, hiding under pretense. And they’ve been taught not to look. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and see my way as the only way. I just am sad that many don’t look at the facts to see if they agree or not, because of the effectiveness of social programming, and the common human trait of believing the first thing they hear from an “authority,” particularly if their emotions are triggered by masterful methods.

While I know the majority of genre readers and writers are also unaware of the machinations behind the political scenes, such as the covert reasons for wars and the ways to make people support the wars and hate the newly chosen enemies which have been set up by the CIA, I see tremendously more brave political engagement and statements about the world at large in Genre fiction than Literary. So, so much more. My own novel and some of my novellas and novelettes involve patsies, false flags, covert testings, an unsavory medical establishment, CounterIntelligence hoaxes, governmental black magic, mind control, corporate corruption, surveillance, etc.

I’ve written my lengthy narratives, including my novel Unside, on the edge of Genre and Literary, crossing territories left and right, which is an uncomfortable place to be when preparing to categorize and market. Very little of that mixture happens in fiction. I have a tendency to sabotage myself that way, by including the beauty of fresh language and believing people are ready to abandon genre limitations and predictability. The characters include homosexual males, but it’s not a “gay novel.” Characters are middle aged, comfy, or eccentric, and love happens between an older woman and younger man. The book changes apparent genres as layers of illusion are stripped off and we see the virtual reality underneath, and the conspiracy underneath that. Its table of contents takes Innovative Literary risks, as it’s conceptually spiral, to fit the subject matter. It’s based on science and questions current pseudo-science, but is not hard-edged. It follows more than one protagonist. It has the themes of Cyberpunk without the stylized youth-culture fashion. It’s Paranormal SF without having vampires, or zombies. It was to be put out by a publisher for three years but then the publisher took a turn in a different direction, and in the meantime, self-publishing has become more lucrative than traditional for most authors. Hmm…

But obviously, most people really do want those formulas. And so, moving forward, I’m training myself to like predictability, understand the appeal, and write that way. In the process, I have to become in some ways more formulaic in my thinking, my tastes, my ways of relating to other people and presenting myself. I’m trying to get and accept why people like movies with explosions and chases, obsessive knife-fights, inevitably young fabulous-looking characters, black-and-white thinking, last minute saves, adrenal-pumping fear, simplification, unrealistic plots, sensationalism, and avoidance of accurate truths that could cause repercussions if the work becomes well-known. I am not a fan of adrenalin addictive movies and books, as that’s unhealthy. But I’m embracing it anyway. I watch a lot of action movies lately on YouTube rather than avant-garde foreign films by directors like Sergei Paradjanov, who was sent to Siberia twice for making surreal movies, because only realism fit the Communist party line.

I get thrilled every time I find more books by authors who take a chance on political insights that don’t glorify the CIA, act like the police are always the good guys, or act like the FBI would never set someone up for nefarious purposes. I commend these brave authors. It’s a Neo-Noir sensibility that sees the corruption in the government all the way to the top. They often have to couch it safely in the future, with SF. I like that awareness of the Dystopianism our transhumanism is taking us to. They write in the formula enough that large numbers of people get to hear their words, even while breaking the rules of who can be the bad guy. I’m very grateful to them. The book I’m currently most looking forward to reading is Sibel Edmond’s novel, The Lone Gladio, which combines the formula with its own reversal, for the sake of truth.

I enjoy reading and writing playful, whimsical, unpredictable Genre, gleefully scary stuff, and dealing with paranormal topics that I find relevant. I’ve totally become a Genre Babe! Besides the fun stuff, I also am compelled to write controversially serious work. Now, I’m working toward material like that which I’d like to hope a lot of people would buy. I not only want to get lots of readers thinking of new possibilities of how our world might work, and to entertain the people who see through the veils of illusion, but to support myself financially even more with fiction. I become whom I must become, even if that means getting a little formulaic around the edges.