Journal, Misc, Publishing/Editing, Writing

Dr. Eponymous & The Placebo Emporium

LM_InstaPro_Product Photo2It all started with a birthday gift for my little sister back some fifteen-odd years ago. My sister was really into the idea of becoming a vet, so for her birthday, my parents saved up a bunch of old medicine containers and filled them with tic-tacs, Pez, Skittles, and Chiclets to use as “medicine” for when we played vet. It was a great–and rather inexpensive–gift that we enjoyed the heck out of for months, carefully doling out tic-tacs to our stuffed animals (and, of course, eating them ourselves) and writing prescriptions, delighting in “curing” their faux aliments.

The funny thing is that the placebo-effect is actually quite strong. A couple of years ago, my husband (currently finishing up med-school himself) found an article regarding “the placebo-effect” that showed not only that placebos do–in fact–make a measurable, positive impact on people. More surprising than that, however, was the finding that even when you know what you’ve been given is just a placebo, it still creates a placebo-effect. You can take a tic-tac, for example, and say “If I take this, I’ll feel better,” and lo and behold! You just might. Might, of course, is the key word. It’s not actually changing anything in and of itself, but the brain is a powerful (and apparently suggestible) organ.

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A number of years ago I decided to play with the placebo-effect myself, and used a little antique glass bottle wrapped in a Post-It Note for “Productivity Pills.” I put white Tic-Tacs in it, and whenever I was feeling sluggish, or didn’t want to write, or didn’t want to focus at my day-job, I’d pop a “pill” and get back to work. Did the Tic-Tac actually do anything? No, of course not! Well, it may have made my breath a little minty fresh, but otherwise, no. However, popping one from that silly little bottle reminded me that I was supposed to be focusing on getting stuff done, and I got a LOT of writing and work stuff done during those years. Beyond that, it was just seriously fun and made me smile.

Which got me thinking–what if I could make little snake-oil bottles for all the various “writerly ailments” I suffered from? Things like writer’s block, or self-doubt, or rejection blues? When I really got to thinking about it, there were tons of “ailments,” so I decided to start making those snake-oil “cures” for them under two brands: Lucky Muse and Dr. Eponymous.

DrE_RutRemedy_PourLucky Muse is the snarky, snake-oil, cheater’s brand–the “cures” that promise instant success, brilliant prose, loads of money, and all without really having to work at it, because who wouldn’t love a book deal to fall into their laps? Dr. Eponymous is a bit more serious (though still quite snarky, because–hey, it’s me.) writerly ailments for those committed to improving their craft and surviving the day-to-day pains and aches of being a writer.

I’ve also created a few that are for a general audience, which I had a ton of fun giving as gifts this Christmas.

With a little prodding, I’ve finally opened an Etsy shop (called, what else? The Placebo Emporium!) where I sell some of these silly things, and I must say, I’m having a wonderful time! I’ve got quite a list of new “cures” to get designed and put up there, mostly for my own growing apothecary than anything else! Curious? Check out The Placebo Emporium here! Any particular writerly “cures” you’d like to see? Let me know!


Author Interview, Publishing/Editing, Three Questions, Writing, Zombies: More Recent Dead

THREE QUESTIONS: Jacques L. Condor (Maka Tai Meh)

ZombiesMoreRecentDead_coverJacques L. Condor (also known as Maka Tai Meh) has written one of the spookiest tales in this collection, and one of the hardest to put down. “Those Beneath the Bog” is a story of culture and spirituality running up against deadly secrets of the past. Prunie and her husband Martin are hunting for moose along with her aunts, an uncle, and several other members of her aunts’ home town. The hunt is difficult, and leads them at last to the shores of Rabbit Lake, where there are rumored to be not only moose aplenty, but also dark, evil spirits lurking in the sink hole at the center of the lake’s northern bog. But when Aunt Rosie prophecies the death of two of their hunting party, will the others listen? And if they don’t, will two be the only ones who die?

This story is super chilling. On my tight time-schedule with the Little Guy, I saw the page count on this one and thought there was no way I’d be able to gather enough minutes to read the whole thing, but I’m telling you: two pages in, and you won’t be able to stop even if you wanted to. Mr. Condor’s descriptions of Rabbit Lake and the truly terrifying creatures lurking there will have you shivering even in the summer heat. Spooky and delightful, this is one not to miss!

Prepare yourself for the coming apocalypse and save yourself a copy of Zombies: More Recent Dead before it’s released in September! You can pre-order a copy from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, IndieBound, or Amazon.

1. The Writing Question: Do you have an element of writing (plotting, characters, world-building, dialogue, etc.) that comes more easily to you than others? Any you find particularly difficult?

For me, it’s the the dialogue. I have been a people watcher for 70 plus years. I love to listen to the way people talk, their accents, their use of colloquial words and phrases, and my mind stores them all away. Also, I was a professional actor for fifty-odd years before I came to writing, and for an actor, dialogue is the first clue to your character.

The most difficult thing for me is plotting. It is almost always drudgery for me.

2. The Zombie Question: What is your favorite work of zombie fiction (literary, film, comic, etc.)?

At age 86, I am probably the grandfather of all the other authors in this collection. I came into the world of zombies in the 1940’s during the Second World War, when America sent troops to the Caribbean and Central America, and they brought back stories of zombies. My two favorites are antique films: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, and Gail Sondergard in “The Cat and the Canary” and the utterly terrifying performance of Boris Karloff in “I Walked With a Zombie”. Incidentally, there was never any talk of “brains” and eating human flesh in the early zombie world of film and literature.

3. The Random Question: Where is one place you think everyone should have the chance to visit in their lifetime?

That’s easy. Alaska and the Yukon and the northern portions of British Columbia. IT is such a different world, and the many cultures of the aboriginals are a source of inspiration to any visitor.
Jacques L. Condor (Maka Tai Meh, his given First Nations tribal name) is a French-Canadian Native American of the Abenaki-Mesquaki tribes. He has lived in major cities, small towns, and bush villages in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for fifty-plus years. He taught at schools, colleges, museums, and on reserves about the culture, history, and arts of his tribes for twenty years as part of the federal government’s Indian education programs. Now 85, Condor writes short stories and novellas based on the legends and tales of both Natives and the “oldtime” sourdoughs and pioneers. He has published five books on Alaska. Recently, his work appeared in five anthologies: Icefloes, Northwest Passages, A Cascadian Odyssey, Queer Dimensions, Queer Gothic Tales, and Dead North.

Author Interview, Journal, Publishing/Editing, Three Questions, Writing, Zombies: More Recent Dead


ZombiesMoreRecentDead_coverIf you’re tired of all the modern-day twists on zombies and want something eerie from a deeper past, look no further than “What Still Abides” by Marie Brennan. Set in pre-Christian England among druids and runes, Brennan weaves a chilling tale of death gone wrong. When a corpse refuses to stay down in his grave, the strongest magics and warriors come to the ruling eorl’s aid. But can anything be stronger than Death itself?

This story is chock full of mood and atmosphere; I dare anyone to turn the page on this one without feeling the chill of the  moorish winds.

Prepare yourself for the coming apocalypse and save yourself a copy of Zombies: More Recent Dead before it’s released in September! You can pre-order a copy from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, IndieBound, or Amazon.

1. The Writing Question: What is your typical writing routine? Do you write every day, some days, only when inspired?

I’m a night owl, and always have been. It’s like my brain turns on at ten p.m. Since I’m lucky enough to write full-time (thanks to the support of a gainfully employed husband), this means I work at night, usually going to bed somewhere between one and three a.m. When I’m working on a novel, I write nearly every day, with a minimum wordcount I have to hit before I let myself stop for the night. In between novel drafts, though, it’s much more hit-or-miss.

2. The Zombie Question: What enticed you to writing this zombie story?

“What Still Abides” is inspired by the English folksong “John Barleycorn,” which is one giant metaphor about the making of beer. The last line is “and we shall drink his blood!” — i.e. the beer — but that made me look back at all the lyrics about the awful, violent things they did to try and kill John Barleycorn, and ask myself what would happen if I took them literally . . . .

3. The Random Question: What other projects do you have forthcoming that you’d like to share with us?

I’m currently writing Chains and Memory, the sequel to an urban fantasy called Lies and Prophecy that I published in 2012. That will be out in early 2015, around the same time as Voyage of the Basilisk, the third of the Memoirs of Lady Trent.

Marie Brennan is the author of nine novels, including the series Memoirs of Lady Trent: A Natural History of Dragons, The Tropic of Serpents, and the upcoming Voyage of the Basilisk, as well as more than forty short stories. A Natural History of Dragons is a finalist for the 2014 World Fantasy Award. More information can be found at