hard work

Three Recent Beautiful Reviews of BROKEN
5 star review | book reviews | Broken | gratitude | happiness | hard work | writing

Three Recent Beautiful Reviews of BROKEN

Here are two three recent beautiful reviews of BROKEN, my historical novel set in occupied Paris.

This morning the lively Underground Book Reviews site posted Katie Rose Guest Pryal‘s review of BROKEN. The review snippet on the front page of the site said, “This book is beautifully written. The history is magnificent….”

What really thrilled me was Ms. Guest Pryal’s comment within the review: “Throughout it all, the author manages some truly gorgeous turns of phrase. In explaining why she can speak any language with perfect precision and accent, Alia refers in this fashion to her former ethereal status: “I am exempt from Babel.”

As a storyteller, I prioritize Story. Story must come first in a novel (or screenplay). As a writer, however, I am warmed in the deepest cockles of my soul when I hear my prose praised. These good words are especially appreciated because Katie Rose Guest Pryal is herself an author; she even writes books about writing. ! She is an educated consumer. So her statement about “truly gorgeous turns of phrase” simply ravishes me.

See the full review here.

Review of Broken by Traci L. Slatton

OneBookTwo Review Blog also recently posted a lovely review of BROKEN, starting off by saying “This is a fantastic book of love and light.”

Fickle Fiona went on to say,

Traci Slatton does a fantastic job of recreating Paris 1939 – 1942 with the fear and torture of occupied France…

To be honest there was nothing about this book that I didn’t like. It flows beautifully and it is one of those books that stays with you even after you are done reading it. For this reason I give this book five stars! I will reread this book more than once and recommend it to all my friends and, readers; I highly recommend it to you too.

To hear that my book will be recommended and re-read is a special joy and pride for an author.

Read OneBookTwo’s full review here.

These two reviews exemplify the kind of review that delights, thrills, humbles, and inspires me!

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I had to edit this post after publishing it because another wonderful review of BROKEN came in today from HighlightingtheMind Blog. Sarah Oliverson wrote,

This book did exactly what it was supposed to and it left me breathless. I say this because this was one historical fiction that sucked me in throughout the book. As she spun this historical fiction in Paris, starting in 1939, she made it possible to walk side by side with the main character Alia A. K. Mercier. These are the type of books that grab my attention, she nailed it.

When reading I find it rare that a writer holds my attention through the book. When I have a book that my nose is glued to and my eyes don’t stop moving until the pages run out, I keep that author in my favorites stash. Because of how well this book was written and the historical significance this book holds, I give this book a 5 out of 5.

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How cool is that???!!! Maybe I should go buy a Powerball ticket?

Pick up a copy of BROKEN on Amazon.

Sabin Howard presenting to the WW1 Memorial Committee
art | hard work | Memorial | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture

Sabin Howard presenting to the WW1 Memorial Committee

A Youtube video of Sabin Howard presenting to the WW1 Memorial Committee.

I’m so proud of my husband and his partner, architect Joe Weishaar, for their proposal to the WW1 Memorial Committee. Sabin and Joe put together a beautiful proposal for a memorial to the Great War in Pershing Park in Washington DC. Joe Weishaar did the wonderful design and Sabin created the sculpture, the beautiful reliefs and sculpture in the round. Their proposal is called WEIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE.

Some enterprising member of the audience streamed about 8 minutes of Sabin’s speech on Periscope. I was able to get the video from Periscope and upload it into Youtube.

Sabin said, in part, “”Ambition in balance, coupled with humbleness is an open heart. This is where energy flows. This is where we create as human beings.”

Sabin Howard WW1 Memorial

Traci Slatton interviewed by Desiree Watson on Wellness Lounge
authors | autobiography | book promotion | friends | gratitude | happiness | hard work | independent publishing | interview | podcasts | radio | spiritual teachings | VoiceAmerica | wholeness | writing

Traci Slatton interviewed by Desiree Watson on Wellness Lounge

Desiree Watson interviewed me on her VoiceAmerica radio show Wellness Lounge, A Step Further.

Life in its multifarious impishness is both funny and fun. Recently I started a BlogTalkRadio show, Independent Artists & Thinkers. I’ve been booking guests and thinking about people I’d enjoy having on the show.

A friend of many years came to mind, a woman of vision and great energy: Desiree Watson. Back in the day when I was a healer, Desiree was interested in holistic health and wellness, and we had done some things together. So I googled around and found her Wellness Interactive site. Desiree has been a busy lady, I thought, and promptly emailed her.

A few hours later, my cell phone rang. It was Desiree herself. What a delight to hear her warm voice!

I had meant to invite her to be a guest on my show, but she beat me to it and invited me to be a guest on her VoiceAmerica Radio Show: Wellness Lounge, A Step Further. Her show is focused on empowering listeners, body mind and soul.

Here’s what the show has to say about itself:

THE WELLNESS LOUNGE-A STEP FURTHER empowers you with the benefits of a wellness lifestyle. Desiree Watson, a pioneer in the wellness lifestyle movement, guides you toward incorporating wellness into your life through commentary and interviews with exemplary personalities from such diverse fields as professional sports, corporate management, government, and health care. Our topics embrace the interconnections of mind, body and spirit, while offering in-depth analyses of the wellness lifestyle movement and its impact on the health care system, politics and international aid. Related topics will spark awareness of the positive impact of the wellness lifestyle movement and how a wellness lifestyle commitment can successfully empower the individual and influence educational and political processes on a local, national and international scale. The Wellness Lounge – A Step Further airs Mondays at 6 AM Pacific on VoiceAmerica Empowerment and Saturdays at 7 AM Pacific on VoiceAmerica Variety.

This morning we aired. It was a delight to be a guest; Desiree has a talent for supporting and encouraging her guests to open up and be eloquent. What fun!

Here’s the show link: http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/85279/empowerment-of-self

You can listen here, too.

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Wellness Lounge

How to Be An Adult; Assholes: A theory; and Laws of Power
anarchy | criminal behavior | errors | freedom | gratitude | hard work | healing | hope | kindness | life model | maturity | real friends | redemption | transference | wholeness

How to Be An Adult; Assholes: A theory; and Laws of Power

Three books: David Richo’s, Aaron James’, and Robert Greene’s.

I’ve been played by a few people over the last year and a half. One was someone with whom I’d had a peripheral acquaintance in grad school, who turned out to be a deranged psycho; one was a writer who wanted free editing and solicitous hand-holding so he could shop his novel to big publishers; and one was someone in the helping professions, who indulged himself at my expense. The last one should have known better.

After the fiasco with the writer–I spent Parvati Press funds on editing his manuscript–I woke up.

I realized that I have to be more careful. I have to be more discerning. Even if I intend to be a trustworthy person of integrity, I must accept that not everyone holds that same intention. There are people out there who just want to get what they can, and they don’t care how they do it or who they take advantage of in the process; people who indulge their own neediness and look for gratification without considering the impact on other people; and people who are just plain bat-crap crazy. Those latter folk can never be trusted.

Then there are people like me who do their best and still sometimes screw up, because everyone screws up, that’s human life. I need to know which group individuals belong to.

Given the vengefulness and malice my mother and former husband subjected me to over the years, I should have learned this lesson long, long, long ago. But that’s part of the problem with having the kind of early life I did, with unkind, untrustworthy parents. I have a giant blind spot when it comes to ferreting out the assholes.

So I did what I usually do, when confronted with a subject I want to learn: I turned to books. Hence the titles above.

Richo is a Jungian psychotherapist and prolific author. I own several of his books, including How to be an adult and The Five Things We Can Not Change. His work would have found its way into my hands sooner or later. He writes for people on the growth path, people who care about their evolution as human beings and who understand that psychological work necessarily carries a spiritual dimension. His work is about becoming a mature individual of integrity. It is about the practice of mindful loving-kindness as a way both to heal the past with its wounds and to identify your own transference. It is about the self-responsibility that leads to transformation and, ultimately, to waking up.

I’m glad I started with Richo. His work affirms my desire for, and intention toward, integrity, wholeness, and mindful loving-kindness. There’s a balance between Richo’s mindful higher self and the self-absorbed lower self of which James and Greene write; I now accept that I have to understand the lower self so that I can spot it when it acts out. Especially when it acts out in my direction.

James’ book Assholes: A Theory holds a neutrality I find fascinating. He describes a species of narcissist, examining their behavior, cultural origins, and impact with the same dispassion with which he’d treat a marsupial. It’s good, useful information–despite the title. I mean, I get why he uses that specific title, Assholes, despite how provocative that word is.

For anyone who has to deal with these entitled people, this book is worth reading.

Greene’s book The 48 Laws of Power is an outright appeal to the greedy, amoral, solely self-interested lower self, to the id, and basically to everything slimy within us that wants to control and manipulate other people. He’s saying boldly, “Here’s how to do it skillfully.”

I’m reading this book so I can suss it out when these tactics are being used on me. To be sure, I’m reading the book with as much disgust as interest. Greene foists some specious reasoning as to why it’s okay and even laudable to use his techniques, but it’s easy to see through the lame rhetoric of his justification.

In some ways, Greene has done me a service, by putting it down in black-and-white. His book will help me guard myself with more wisdom. Plenty of people use his tactics. Hopefully I can steer clear of them in the future. If I have to deal with those sorts, I will know their story. Forewarned is forearmed.

The contrast between Greene’s work and Richo’s work is shocking. Greene writes about power and greed and achieving the selfish ends of those; his work aggrandizes the ego. It goes toward materialism and consumerism–in healerspeak, the lower three chakras.

Richo’s work stands in startling contrast. It’s about the heart and spirit, integrating the shadow, opening the heart, and the personal responsibility and accountability inherent in spiritual and psychological integration.

The lower self vs. the higher self.

For example, Greene says, “Never put too much trust in friends” and Richo writes that everyone fails at times, so work on becoming a trustworthy person yourself. Greene writes, “Crush your enemy totally” and Richo writes “our psychological work…challenges us not to retaliate against those who have hurt us…The challenge is to meet our losses with lovingkindness.” 

The question is, what kind of person do I want to be?

And even with a clear intention to be the absolute best Traci I can be, how do I achieve that intention?

Richo has an answer, I think. He suggests a few questions, when we’re facing troublesome situations with other people: 1, What in this is my own shadow? 2, What is my ego’s investment? and 3, How does this remind me of the past, that is, what is my transference?

So a shrink who holds sexual energy toward me is reflecting my own unacknowledged seductiveness. My ego wants to be special, to the shrink and to everyone. The transference is twofold: I try to please him by reciprocating his energy in order to elicit the “good daddy” I always longed for, and his refusal to validate me about the sexual energy he held toward me reflects my parents’ constant refusal to validate me ever about anything.

This experience disappointed me in myself. I should have known better. For one, every shrink I know socially is a complete nutter. For two, several of my friends grew alarmed at some of the shrink’s statements to me. One friend, a counseling MD with a degree in psychology, sat me down and explained how some of his comments contained hooks that were designed to lure me in. Another friend who is a PhD and a trained lay analyst looked at his texts and said, “Traci, this is seductive. Stop going to therapy.”

So why, with that kind of validation from my friends, did I still want this shrink to validate my experience, when he was clearly never going to own his own psychosexual countertransference?–Well, that’s the thing. Transference is a bitch. And it has us in its talons until we shake ourselves free.

This is just one example. It’s imperative that I see the tactics being used on me.

Richo insists that we must never give up hope in other people. He claims that everyone can have a change of heart and redeem themselves. And I like this aspect of his work, too, because even in bad experiences with other people, I’ve gained something positive and worthwhile. My mother gave me life. My ex-husband taught me about the person I don’t want to be and how essential respect is to me. The shrink helped enormously in several areas of my life. The arrogant writer showed me that I like helping other people on their journey to becoming authors.

The psycho, well, that’s harder to find the good. I wrote a Huffington Post article about it and received many warm accolades from people for sharing information on how to deal with harassment.

Gratitude is part of it, too.

How to be an adult

From the HuffPo: Three Plot Structures Every Storyteller Can Use
art | authors | hard work | how to write a book | Huffington Post | novels | writing

From the HuffPo: Three Plot Structures Every Storyteller Can Use

Here is my latest Huffington Post article: Three Plot Structures Every Storyteller Can Use

I have a theory that novelists are fugitives from simple existence. We metabolize, mediate, and render life rather than simply experiencing it. We live through an incident and wonder, with tears glossing our eyes or bliss pinking our cheeks or ennui prompting a yawn, “How can I use this in a story?” A novelist’s mindfulness consists of pouncing on a moment as a resource for a character, or as a turn in the road on the journey of story, or as an illustration for a thesis.

Henry James wrote, “The novelist is a particular window, absolutely — and of worth in so far as he is one; and it’s because you open so well and are hung so close over the street that I could hang out of it all day long.” (James, Henry, and James E. Miller. Theory of Fiction: Henry James. Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 1972. Print. Pp. 65-66.) Opening for others to peer through and take delight in an unfolding scene is a practice and a process; it takes time and commitment. It’s not enough to over-analyze your own interiors.

What I’m really talking about, with James’ metaphor, is the skill required to craft a novel that engages and delights readers. I think it requires persistence to the point of obsession. Fortunately, along the way there are tools that help us learn.

One of those tools is plot structure. Plenty of authors take a dim view of plot and subordinate it to story (See Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft). I appreciate their point. For myself, I’ve defined ‘story’ as ‘how your protagonist does not get what he or she wants’ and that reigns supreme in my consciousness while I write. However, plot structures are handy aides in the pursuit of thwarting, frustrating, and torturing your protagonist, like training wheels for learning to ride a bike. You won’t keep them on forever, but they’ll give you some support as you go.

Here are three useful plot structures for every storyteller to have in her toolbox. Remember, these structures are really scaffolds. It’s the minutiae of adventure and dialogue and characterization that matter — otherwise reading the Cliff Notes would be just as much fun as the actual novel—which must never be the case.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.

plot structure

huffington-post

Sabin Howard Interview: Dialogues on the Drawing Book 2
art | book promotion | hard work | interview | marriage | podcast | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture

Sabin Howard Interview: Dialogues on the Drawing Book 2

Sabin Howard Interview: Dialogues on the Drawing Book 2 is the second in a series of podcast/Youtube presentations.

My husband master sculptor Sabin Howard is working on a drawing book. This book will be entitled “Drawing: The Foundation of Art.” It’s really about the importance and value of drawing in the creation of art, and how drawing is a skill based on seeing.

This is an interesting interview, because it begins and ends with the personal, human viewpoint of the artist. In our first interview, Sabin discussed two elements in the making of art: the conceptual and the perceptual. In this dialogue, he explains the kind of art he is talking about: timeless art. He also talks about how he arrived at this kind of art, and mentions an awakening he experienced at the Medici Tombs in Florence when he was 14. He saw Michelangelo’s sculptures set into the architecture of the tomb and it elevated him.

Sabin relates the story of how he decided to become an artist. It happened one day, after he’d dropped out of college and was working in a woodworking shop in Philly. He spent a few days sweeping wood shavings and sanding wood and he realized that he wasn’t using his brain. He went to tell his boss that it wasn’t working out for him and he quit. He walked out of the shop and phoned his father–collect. When his dad picked up, Sabin said, “I’m going to go to art school.”

His dad asked, “How long is this going to last?” Then his dad hung up.

I don’t blame his dad, Sabin can be pretty frustrating. The irony is, of course, that art has lasted a lifetime–and since Sabin sculpts in clay and casts in bronze, his sculptures will last for millennia.

So take a listen or a look at the interview. And check out my podcast channel on iTunes, because the Dialogue will go live on it.

Listen here:
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Or watch on youtube:

Sabin Howard Dialogues