review

The Doctor As Entrepreneur
5 star review | aging | business | hard work | life model | medical innovation | review | self-reliance

The Doctor As Entrepreneur

The Doctor As Entrepreneur

Medical technology is changing every day, advancing at an unprecedented rate. Inventions like contact lens that measure blood sugar, and other wearable technologies, are in the works. Within a decade, it’s likely that people will be able to assemble health information easily, without the need for finger pricks or trips to the doctor’s office.

Some weeks ago, author and medical technologist Robin Farmanfarmaian was a guest on my BlogTalkRadio show, Independent Artists & Thinkers. Farmanfarmaian, who works with silicon valley biotech and medical technology start-ups, talked about her book The Patient As CEO: How Technology Empowers the Healthcare Consumer. She commented on the speed of the medical technology revolution and how difficult it is for doctors to keep track of new developments. The patient, she advises, must see himself or herself as the head of a team of healthcare professionals who work together to help the patient achieve optimal health.

This revolution is occurring at the same time that managed health care is making it harder for physicians to make a good living at a profession for which they have studied and specialized for a decade or longer, while also undertaking huge student loans. Indeed, I worry about my stepdaughter in medical school. Will she be forced to see twenty-two patients per hour just to pay back her student loans? Will her options be limited by checklist medicine and by debt?

In the face of the medical technology revolution and ever more rigid and punitive insurance regulations, doctors do have their own ingenuity to fall back on. I was reminded of this recently when my friend dermatologist Debra Jaliman told me about new products that she herself developed, Sea Radiance skin care products.

Dr. Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has been a resource for me for more than twenty years. She’s always on the cutting edge of dermatological products and techniques. I reviewed her book Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist because I found it useful, informative, and well-written.

Cosmetic dermatology may not be in the same category as, say, paint-on ink that gauges blood pressure, but for women like me who care about looking their best, it matters. Life deals us all so many bad cards that when I can do something positive for myself, I seize the opportunity.

So I was intrigued when Dr. Jaliman announced her new cleanser that moisturizes as it cleanses and her new eye cream, both made from sea flora, organic flower essences, and advanced dermatological formulas. I wanted to know what the products could do for me. Thinking about my stepdaughter’s future in medicine, and about Farmanfarmaian’s appearance on my BlogTalkRadio show, I also wanted to know what had prompted Jaliman to develop them and how she had done so.

“I’ve been working with big companies for so many years, and I always had in mind that I’d create my own products,” Jaliman told me. She’s consulted with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, SKII, Lierac, and others, helping them develop products. “I don’t sign the standard non-compete clause, when I work with them.”

“But why these products, now?” I persisted.

“I listen to my patients. They want immediate results around their eyes,” Jaliman said. “And over the years in my practice, I hear the same complaints, especially from people with sensitive skin or adult acne. The usual cleansers dry them out or provoke redness; after many people wash their face, their skin feels tight and dry. My goal in developing gentle cleanser was to create a product that took off all the dirt and impurities but left the skin feeling hydrated.”

She also commented that patients would stand in her office and read labels, and some dismissed certain products because of their ingredients. So Jaliman sought out the purest ingredients–and a lab that would work with her to create the finest, most effective products.

“Not all labs wanted to do this because it’s incredibly difficult,” she admitted. “It was no easy goal. I made many different formulas.” She noted that her products have very low numbers on the Environmental Working Group‘s list. Her eye cream and cleanser are formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, gluten, and synthetic dyes and fragrances.

She explained that while the big corporations have the advantage of big budgets for research and development and marketing and promotion, she has an advantage in immediacy of feedback. “I have thousands of patients that I could give the product to. They tested it for me and gave me honest feedback. We then changed the product many times over the course of the year and a half of development.”

Jaliman was a stickler for maintaining her products’ efficacy. Air inactivates antioxidants, so she sought out a high tech tube that wouldn’t allow air in for dispensing the eye cream. Before launching Sea Radiance, she had a beautiful and informational website built. The consummate marketer, she included the new products in a gift bag for stars at the Academy Awards.

She handed me samples so I could try them for myself. I felt so good about the purity of the products that I shared the cleanser with my 11 year old daughter. She left for school saying, “My face feels so good, mommy!” It’s a sentiment I’m happy to echo: my skin feels softer since using Sea Radiance cleanser, and my crow’s feet are smoother with the eye cream.

I’m also happy to see such positive, utilitarian results from Dr. Jaliman’s entrepreneurial efforts. The medical technology revolution doesn’t just benefit consumers–it also, with some responsiveness and inventiveness on their part, potentially benefits doctors.

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Scrivener: A Fabulous Writing Program
5 star review | computers | gratitude | happiness | how to write a book | novels | research | review | writing

Scrivener: A Fabulous Writing Program

A glowing review of writing software Scrivener, sold by Literature & Latte.

What took me so long? Lo, the years I have wasted, toiling in Microsoft Word…

I’ve been drinking the Microsoft Word Kool Aid. A gazillion years ago, when my pet Brontosaurus would give me a ride across Central Park to the East Side, I used a program called Word Perfect. I preferred it to Word. Word Perfect just worked better, more nimbly. But no, Word was the standard in publishing, so I switched to Word. Reluctantly, yes. But still, citing the demands of my profession, I made the transition. Womanfully, I learned the program and grew adept at it.

Some years later, I made the opposite switch, from absurdly complicated to unbelievably easy: I left behind my Windows PC and bought an iMac. I’ve never looked back. The Mac computer was blissfully, stupefyingly easy to use. It just worked right out of the box. With this experience in my wheelhouse, why didn’t I realize sooner that writing a 60,000+ word novel could be so much easier than the way Word makes the task?

A month ago, I was scrolling through Cult of Mac Deals and spied Scrivener on sale for a little under $20.

The low price piqued my interest, and since I was 15,000 words into a new novel–which is about where the sheer ponderous drudgery of Microsoft Word kicks in–and man oh man was I tired of pushing that rock up the hill–I risked the $20. I bought Scrivener.

That may have been the best $20 I ever spent. There are so many wonderful aspects to writing with Scrivener that I can’t name them all. I’ll just say, if you write long documents, novels, non-fiction texts, or a PhD dissertation, BUY SCRIVENER!! You’ll thank me.

Once I opened Scrivener, I was immediately taken by the binder, which groups all kinds of files together for easy reference. It means I can work horizontally and vertically, which lubricates and enhances my writing life. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in Chapter 22 and had to remember a detail from Chapter 11, or was it Chapter 13? I’d have to search and scroll to figure it out.

In Scrivener, the binder holds the Manuscript, which is broken into Folders, which are my chapters, and inside the folders are Text files, which are scenes within the chapter. The folders and text files can be moved around with drag and drop. Files inside folders can also be moved around.

Best of all, there are different ways of viewing your folders and files. You can work within an individual file, just typing into the page. I like to write in Scrivenings mode, which shows all the files within a folder (or all the files in the manuscript) vertically. Here’s a screenshot from the extensive tutorial that comes with the program:

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The Binder is visible on the left hand side of the screenshot. Notice it has three primary folders: Draft, Research, and Characters. The “Draft” is the manuscript with all its parts and steps, and only the files in it are compiled and then output into PDF’s or Word Documents or just about whatever form you want it in.

In my projects, I rename Draft to the name of the Novel. Instead of Parts, I have Chapters. And within each chapter I have a scene which I don’t number, I name with a tag for what’s happening in the scene: “Sarah argues with Scott”, “Babysitting”, “To the doctor’s office,” etc.

Naming my scenes this way makes it fast and easy to look up details when I need them, because I’m working both horizontally and vertically.

Notice in the screenshot above that Step 16 and Step 17, which are separate text files, are both visible and separated by a gray line. That’s because I took the screenshot in Scrivenings mode. Scrivenings combines individual documents into a single text for viewing and editing. You can work with the text files in a single folder, or you can group together a bunch of text files from several folders to work with–perhaps because those are all the scenes from one character’s p.o.v. or because those are the scenes in which a particular character shows up.

Here’s another screenshot in Corkboard mode:

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In this screenshot of Corkboard mode, all the text files in the folder named Part 1: Basics are shown as index cards on a corkboard.

It just boggles my mind to be able to switch back and forth between Scrivenings and Corkboard! Can you imagine how delightful it makes plotting a novel????

There are a million wonderful features to this program, but I’ll just mention one more: the Research folder is facile and will accept just about any old thing you drag into it. So far, I’ve dragged in Mail messages, PDF’s, and Word documents. There’s a way to drag in Web pages but I haven’t used that yet because it hasn’t been necessary. But how sweet it is to have all my references grouped together in the Research folder for easy access…

One Caveat: this is a feature rich program and there is a learning curve. I spent the first few days watching Youtube video tutorials. Literature & Latte has some good ones. My favorite is called “Scrivener Bootcamp” by Jason Hough. I recommend that tutorial because it got me up to speed pretty quickly. I recommend investing the time in learning the program because you will reap vast rewards for doing so.

I’ve been able to write better, more easily and more cleanly, since acquiring and learning Scrivener. I also know, to the word, how many words I’ve written at a session, because there is a Target feature that allows me to set my target number of words for the day, and for the entire novel, and track the progress. Now I know for sure when I’ve written 383 words or 1672!

Scrivener is a terrific tool for writers. I give it 5 Traci Stars*****!

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FOREWORD REVIEWS book review of BROKEN
5 star review | art | authors | book promotion | book reviews | gratitude | independent publishing | literature | review

FOREWORD REVIEWS book review of BROKEN

I am so excited about this forthcoming book review by FOREWORD REVIEWS.

FOREWORD REVIEWS is the Library Journal of Independent Publishing. It’s an excellent periodical that’s available in both print and digital format; it was founded by three women writers and magazine professionals who got together to found a trade review journal for the burgeoning independent publishing industry. They have a great story about it here.

FOREWORD REVIEWS chose to review BROKEN in the forthcoming Sci Fi/Fantasy issue, which will ship at the end of February to B&N newsstands. The review is absolutely beautiful and I’ve been given permission to quote from it. They’ve also chosen to feature Robert Ferri’s gorgeous LIBERACI DAL MALE, the painting from which the cover of BROKEN is taken. I’ve seen the spread and it’s gorgeous.

Here is the review:

Broken

Traci L. Slatton

Parvati Press

Softcover $16.99 (225pp)

978-0-9860611-5-8

Slatton has created a beautiful, heart wrenching tale of humanity during the Second World War. When her beloved Ariel is lost, the angel Alia chooses to fall, taking on a human body in Paris on the eve of war. She befriends the city’s artists, from Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí to Edith Piaf and Sacha Guitry, and experiences all of Paris’s human pleasures: drinking, partying, and having sex with wild abandon. Two men, in particular, catch her affection: bullfighter Pedro and openly Jewish musician Josef. As the war takes over, Alia also finds herself drawn protectively to Josef’s widowed sister, Suzanne, and her young daughter, Cécile. But as the Nazi’s march in, Alia begins to fear she cannot save them all.

Slatton writes poignantly, with lyrical prose: “I have been shattered, the shattering is still with me. I am only shards now. There is no core.” This is a gorgeous philosophical treaty on right and wrong, the “why” behind impossible decisions, and what remains when everything is gone. Slatton guides the reader gently through to the end, all the more heartbreaking for its inevitability, imparting powerful, resonant themes as she goes. Among them, “neutrality is an excuse to give free rein to a bully.”

I love this review! MANY THANKS to Foreword Reviews!

book reviews

Traci Slatton’s Best of 2014
5 star review | authors | gratitude | happiness | hope | kindness | review | special | travel

Traci Slatton’s Best of 2014

This is a personal, idiosyncratic list. These items are what I loved and enjoyed.

BEST MOVIE: In Your Eyes, produced by Joss Whedon

Traci Slatton

BEST SONG: This is a tie between “Crumblin‘”  by Noah Moffitt and Jessica Friedman, and “The Riot’s Gone” by Santigold, both from the Soundtrack of In Your Eyes.

BEST BOOK: This is hard. I read a lot of great books this year. Mostly I read non-fiction for research purposes. The research continues, and I just read something I really love: “THE CATHARS AND REINCARNATION” by Dr. Arthur Guirdham. Great book.

Traci Slatton

FAVORITE MOMENT: Sitting with my husband at the kitchen table of our little apartment in Venice, listening to the rain patter on the canal outside.

Traci Slatton

FAVORITE PICTURE: My husband and me in Venice. I’m usually the photographer, even though I wobble the camera and stick my thumb in the way. But Sabin accosted a passerby to take this shot of both of us.

Traci Slatton

FAVORITE MEAL: November 26 at Da Umberto. The meal was delicious and so was listening to my husband speak Italian with the waiter and the maitre d’. Sabin is always happiest speaking Italian. And the tiramisu rocked!

FAVORITE BOOK REVIEW: BROKEN received many thoughtful reviews. I am deeply grateful for the good words from so many reviewers, including Leslie Wright, Sandy at The Reading Cafe, Jen at No Market Collective, Ashley at Game Vortex, Drey from Drey’s Library, Grady Harp, Layna at Lunar Haven Reviews, and Dii at Tome Tender. It’s hard to choose one review from among so many good ones. Of them all, nestled deep in my heart is Rebecca Skane’s commentThis is thought-provoking literature that explores female sexual equality and the nefarious act of unwanted dominance in every form“.

BEST TV SERIES: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. OF COURSE!!! Doesn’t everyone want to be Phryne Fisher when they grow up?

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BEST YOGA MOMENT: One day I actually accomplished eka padakoundinyasana. Yep, I got up on my arms in that exquisitely challenging balance. That was before I tore my hamstring and had to ease up on the intensity of my practice. Nope, no pix of that moment, and I don’t even remember what day it was. I just remember managing the pose–on both sides–and feeling delighted.

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS PRESSIE: There were a few, Santa was good to me this year. I got some really luscious Hanro of Switzerland nightgowns, and the hand of that fabric is delicious. I also got some beautiful hand-painted Deruta of Italy espresso cups and larger mugs for my morning coffee. Wow!

FAVORITE NEW BOOK IDEA: I’m working on 3 novels right now, which gives me keen pleasure, indeed!

BEST CHOCOLATE: Hu Crunchy Mint, because chocolate makes life better. It’s good for the soul.

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BEST PETS: Molly and Gabriel, my 55 lb. lap dogs.

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Citizenfour: The Most Important Movie You Will Ever See
anarchy | criminal behavior | dystopian | evil | freedom | horror | movies | politics | psychosis | review | special | terrorism | vulnerability

Citizenfour: The Most Important Movie You Will Ever See

I recently finished a WWII novel, and I’m still researching the era for another, very different novel set during the same time period. Since one of my closest friends is a Bavarian woman whom I know to be a person of integrity, heart, courage, compassion, and grace, I was curious: how did the NSDAP come to control Germany so completely that its citizens would commit atrocities? So that atrocities would be legalized?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that the NSDAP under Adolf Hitler legalized the illegal. They made laws to force their citizens to participate in the killing of Jews, Poles, the Romany, Socialists, Communists, and anyone who disagreed with the Nazi party. They made laws to enforce the killing and sterilization of children and adults with physical “imperfections” such as mental retardation.

So the Nazi party in Germany created a legal system based on hatred and killing. To enforce this legal system, they instituted a series of Party overseers, one in every community, to make sure that people remained “Loyal” to the party. This was the state police, the Gestapo. The Gestapo surveilled every German citizen, collecting vast files of information about German individuals. There was no “privacy” because the German State was everything.

Every dictatorship surveilles its population as a method of controlling its subjects. This is pointed out in CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras’ film about Ed Snowden.

Admittedly, from the beginning, I have considered Snowden a hero. There is no justification for the massive, George-Orwell-1984-Big-Brother spying on citizens in which the United States intelligence services participate. It is an outright breach and invasion of privacy, ethics, and all things good and true.

Our government, the United States government under Barack Obama, is participating in–perhaps perfecting–the exact same tactics employed by Hitler and the Nazi party: Watch every citizen. Scrutinize every private individual. Know what every single person in the State is thinking, saying, and doing. It’s all about information linking, you see.

I know this because I have been researching the Gestapo.

I happened to be at a showing of Citizenfour at Lincoln Plaza after which Poitras appeared for a Q & A. No, she doesn’t know if she’s been followed, but she expects that the US Government would use skilled personnel to follow her. She has been told that all her electronic communication “lights up like a Christmas tree” in the offices where electronic communication is collected and followed.

Poitras was composed, articulate, and expressive. She said that Snowden was exactly as portrayed in the movie: articulate and collected, trying to teach her, Glenn, and Ewan what was most important in the information he gave them.

Some people consider Snowden a traitor. Consider the White Rose in Germany, which consisted of students at the University of Munich and their professor. They had an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign to inform the German public of what was actually being done to Jews and to call the Nazi government to question.

Here is what Wikipedia says of them:

White Rose survivor Jürgen Wittenstein described what it was like to live in Hitler’s Germany: “The government – or rather, the party – controlled everything: the news media, arms, police, the armed forces, the judiciary system, communications, travel, all levels of education from kindergarten to universities, all cultural and religious institutions. Political indoctrination started at a very early age, and continued by means of the Hitler Youth with the ultimate goal of complete mind control. Children were exhorted in school to denounce even their own parents for derogatory remarks about Hitler or Nazi ideology.”

The White Rose was considered traitorous, too. So they were executed.

And “Ultimate goal of mind control” can only be the reason for the NSA’s total surveillance of the American population, including hundreds of millions of completely loyal American citizens.

How long before the US government insists on the same kind of control? All in the name of “protecting” American citizens from terrorists?

Just as the Gestapo was protecting German citizens from Judeo-Bolshevik enemies.

The most important concept in the movie was one that Snowden articulated: that the NSA’s actions change the balance of power so that it’s not elected-officials and electorate, it’s now rulers and those who are ruled.

See the movie. Think about the United States government, which is acting like a bully and a dictatorship.

Citizenfour

 

 

Great Review of Broken at Game Vortex
art | blogs | book reviews | Broken | hard work | review

Great Review of Broken at Game Vortex

Psibabe, aka Ashley Perkins, at Game Vortex posted a thoughtful and beautiful review of my forthcoming novel BROKEN.

She wrote, in part:

Broken by Traci L. Slatton is both a story of supreme selfishness and selflessness. It centers around Alia, a beautiful fallen angel who has chosen to live life as a human in Paris right before the Nazi occupation during WWII. She willingly chose to fall when Ariel, another angel dear to her, fell from Heaven and she now spends her days enjoying the once forbidden fruits of sexual activity with humans, despite Michael the Archangel, who sometimes comes to persuade her to return to Heaven. Sex with humans is forbidden because angels are completely irresistible, and to do so takes away a part of the human’s free will, along with a portion of their “light,” leaving them with a need and desire that they can never again fulfill. It’s cruel, but Alia doesn’t care about any of that. She is merely trying to forget her angelic days and the pain she suffered when Ariel fell.

What, or rather who, she does care about is the young girl who lives next door, Cecile, who often comes to visit Alia. Cecile’s mother, Suzanne, is a Jew although they are both French citizens, and Alia, who is often beset by visions of the future, fears for Suzanne and Cecile as the Nazis approach and Jews are more and more persecuted.

Broken has some incredibly graphic sex scenes and these may take some readers aback, but they are meant to shock, as well as explain Alia’s selfishness, desperation and hopelessness after becoming a human. It took me a few chapters before the book really had its hooks into me, but Broken is incredible and, much like Immortal, had me in tears as I finished it.

I knew from our email exchange before she posted the review that she enjoyed the book even as it troubled her. I’m grateful that Psibabe expressed herself so eloquently, and that she took the time to think about what she had read. Readers like Psibabe keep me writing. They encourage me to take risks.

This is what it’s all about.

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