Sunday, May 15, 2016

e-Prescriptions: A lousy idea whose time has come.


New York State recently passed a law requiring ePrescriptions. In a display of commendable restraint, I will refrain from commenting on the number of our law makers currently under investigation and/or headed for jail. Instead, I will tell you what happened to me when I went mano a mano with the new system.

On Friday morning my doctor's office e'd a prescription for eyedrops in advance of minor eye surgery.

The assistant handling the paperwork wanted to know which drugstore I wanted to use. I wanted to use the least expensive one since I know from experience that in my neighborhood there can be a price difference of as much as 50% between pharmacies for the same drug. When I asked how much these drugs cost, she told me that she didn't know. She insisted I provide a pharmacy number so I had to take a guess.

Did I make a lucky guess? Or not?

I don't know because it is now Sunday and the pharmacy has neither called to alert me to pick up nor delivered the prescription. Was the prescription received? Was there an error in the doctor's office? A mix up at the pharmacy? Was there a computer glitch?

Calling seems to offer an opportunity for confusion since my name is a common one and I wasn't told the name of the eyedrops (or whether several different kinds of eyedrops were prescribed). Instead, I will call the doctor's office on Monday morning, find out what drugs were prescribed and, armed with a bit of information, contact the pharmacy.

What would happen if this Rx were urgent? Which, fortunately, it's not. Still, I have to wonder what would happen to a patient facing an urgent situation.

The proponents of e-prescribing contend that it prevents errors. Really? I have never once had an error in a prescription handed to me by a doctor and taken by me to a drugstore. No friend or family member has ever mentioned a prescription error and I have never read a newspaper, magazine or internet story about the scourge of prescription errors.

E-prescriptions are slower than written or printed prescriptions. I can't remember ever not receiving an Rx the same day I handed it to a pharmacist.

E-prescriptions infantilize the patient who is deprived of information and control. Kept in the dark by this opaque system, we are not clued in to the name of the drug, the number of different drugs if relevant, and, since we don't see the Rx, we have no way of knowing if the prescription delivered to us is, in fact, ours or has been correctly filled.

We have no way to compare prices and do not know how much the drug(s) will cost until we get the bill. Then and only then—surprise! surprise!—will we be allowed to participate in our own health care.

I have learned my lesson. The next time I need a prescription, I will insist the doctor write down the name(s) of the drug. I would advise other patients to take the same precaution.

How patients will be able find out the price of a drug before designating a pharmacy is a significant unaddressed issue. When did anyone anywhere in the world ever buy something without knowing the price in advance?

Welcome to medicine, twenty-first-century-style.

If all patients are forced into this system, why aren't all pharmacies forced to charge identical prices? Where were patient advocates and consumer advocates when New York State passed this inefficient and potentially health-threatening law? Where is the company like Amazon that will disrupt this entire system by offering transparent prices and quick, reliable delivery?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Who Loves You, Baby?
You're Sure?


There are people who do what they say they’re going to do and people who don’t. The first are gems and you will forgive their cranky moments, lousy taste in clothes/music/tv/movies and inability to tell Warhol from Watteau because they are reliable and you know you can count on them.

Headache? They’re there with the aspirin.
Bad breakup? They’re the shoulder you cry on.
Fired, laid off, downsized? They’re there with comfort and contacts who will help you find the job you need.


Then there are The You-Know-Who's They love you, love your book, wouldn’t miss your opening/party/reading for anything, promise to write a glowing review, will call their best friends Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian who are just dying to help promote your book/movie/groovy new line of kitchen utensils.

But.

Don’t hold your breath because they are not gonna do whatever it is they promised on the Bible/the Qu'ran/their favorite pair of Nikes to do. They’re the love-you-and-leave-you-in-the-lurch buddies, the bff’s we all know and even like—but know we can’t depend on.


When was the last time you were let down by someone you thought you knew? Or have you learned to separate the Do-ers from the You-Know-Who's?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Dept of Never Too Late

Hundred-and-six-year-old woman dances with the Pres.
Hundred-year-old teaches math.
Ninety-one year old beats Rock ’n' Roll marathon record in California. 

So what does that have to do with our eighty year old Uncle Robert?


Uncle Robert was a college professor who taught a subject so esoteric no one in the family could figure out what the hell it was even about. Underneath his dignified professorial exterior, Robert had always dreamed of being a writer, a dream he never abandoned despite decades of rejection. No publisher existed who had failed to reject Robert’s efforts—at least once and usually more than once.

Until, at eighty, Robert sold a novel set in the American South. Old trees dripping with Spanish moss, languid days and even more languid nights, steamy weather and steamy sex. Voilà, after decades of trying (and failing), Robert had a publisher. He was thrilled in his professorial way. Even more thrilled when his book took off and sold—and the publisher signed him up for more.

“I have to have a couple of glasses of wine before I can write the sex scenes,” he confided, letting me in on the secret techniques of a successful author.

Everyone was happy but the question was, what would Aunt Fanny, Robert’s hundred-year-old mother think?

Worried about the delicate sensibilities of an elderly woman, everyone tip-toed around the subject until, finally, Aunt Fanny herself spoke up and cleared away the confusion: “Thank God he’s finally making some money."

Conclusion #1: Think different. Forget stereotypes.
Conclusion #2: Never, ever give up.

Have you ever been surprised by someone you thought you knew well? Were you indulging in stereotypes? Have you ever given up on something—or someone? Do you regret it? Or not? Do share!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dumb Career Moves


DUMB CAREER MOVES

My editor, M, was bright and talented but also somewhat off-putting. At least to me. To show you how clueless I can be, M and I were having lunch at Four Seasons (where else?) after my first hard cover novel, Decades, was so successful—a NYT bestseller in hard cover, major paperback sale and worldwide foreign and translation sales.

"Your next book should be about my affair," M told me—he was married to wife #1 at the time—whereupon he proceeded to fill me in on the lurid details.

Did I take notes? Nope.
Did I write my next book about M's affair? Nope.

For one thing, Decades was about a married man having a hot affair (which might be one of the reasons M “loved it” in the first place) so I was sort of burned out on the subject.

For another, M rode his horse every morning before coming into the office and wore his riding boots—and horsy smell—to work. He dyed his hair several shades of blonde and conducted meetings lying flat on the floor of his office—"bad back." His efforts to turn himself into a fascinating character, I suspect, but hardly my idea of a hunky sex object who would energize a novelist in search of an inspiring new subject for her next book.

Had I written the book M wanted, he would almost certainly have promoted the hell out of it and I would most likely have had two major bestsellers, one right after another, and a different trajectory to my career. But I didn’t. Boy, was I dumb.

Or am I being too hard on myself?

What I realize in retrospect is #1, I allowed my subjective response to M to overly influence me. #2, even though I was now officially “successful,” I didn’t yet have enough experience to be confident in my creativity. After all, there are said to be only six or seven plots. M’s story would have been different from the story I’d just written: different people, different settings, different outcomes.

Am I the only one to have missed a good opportunity? Or the only one to look back and see an earlier turning point through a different lens? Please share. I’m interested in your experience.

Kindle
Read FREE at KU


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blake Weston is a strong, savvy, no BS New Yorker. 

Her husband, Ralph Marino, is a très James Bond ex-cop and head of security for a large international corporation. When Blake and Ralph, facing sixty, are forced by Ralph’s über-neurotic billionaire boss to work together to solve a murder—and save Ralph’s job—their partnership doesn’t always go so well. When one minor skirmish turns into a battle…well, let Blake tell you what happens next:

I left the apartment—with a slammed door for emphasis—and made my way to Julia’s. She’d been spending most of her time in her new fling’s downtown loft so I knew her apartment was empty. I let myself in with the key she had given me years before.
I flipped on the TV. Flipped it off. Wandered into the kitchen, opened the fridge, inventoried the lo-cal, no cholesterol, zero trans-fat, gluten-free offerings and realized I wasn’t hungry. Considered breaking into Julia’s Ketel One but concluded that in my agitated state booze was the last thing I needed.
I went to the bedroom, thought about getting into bed but I was too angry with Ralph to sleep. If I were feeling generous (which I wasn’t) I suppose I could blame his NYPD training but being kept out of the loop and being treated on a “need to know” basis was getting old—and getting old was something I already knew too much about.
I was old enough for night sweats and morning stiffness. For Metamucil and Centrum Silver. For colonoscopies and cholesterol counts. For junk mail offering estate planning advice and good deals on burial plots.
I was old enough to remember the Pan Am Building, Bendel’s when it was at 10 West 57th Street, cash registers, getting up and crossing the room to change the channel, Princess phones, floppy disks, carbon paper and typewriters.
I could even remember when “latte” was Italian for milk—not American for coffee.
I had survived blizzards and blackouts, subway series and subway strikes, Ronald Perelman and Ronald Reagan. I had reached the stage when I forgot names and phone numbers, book and movie titles, where I’d left my glasses, why I’d entered a room and what I was going to say next.
But I wasn’t that old.
I had kept up enough to know I was living in an age of e*trade and eharmony, podcasts and tweets, fuel cells, stem cells, sleeper cells and fat cells. I still had my marbles, my eyesight and my determination. I could conduct a conversation without drooling and get into the bathtub without a LifeAlert.
I also knew enough to ask for input when I needed it so I called Julia.
“Working with Ralph is not going well,” I told her.


So, my Boomer buddies, do you remember what Blake remembers? What do you remember that she's left out? And what do you forget? Do tell! :-)


If you relate to this, you'll relate to The Chanel Caper.
New dimensions in the cozy mystery!

Read FREE at KU!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Flirty After Fifty. Sexy After Sixty.

We remember the Fonz and Archie Bunker.
We remember when LBJ meant the President (Lyndon B Johnson) and not a basketball player (LeBron James).
We remember the California Raisins, Louis the Lizard and the Budweiser Frogs.
We remember Polaroids and Suzy Chapstick. 
We remember pin curls and garter belts, answering machines and floppy disks.
We remember Dick & Pat, Jack & Jackie, Ronnie & Nancy, Jimmy & Roslyn, Bonnie & Clyde, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Ken & Barbie.
We remember when you had to get up & cross the room to change the channel.
We remember gas station attendants.
We remember when Amazon was a river in South America, not a store on the internet.
We remember streakers, est and transcendental meditation.
We remember consciousness raising, encounter groups and the Manson Family.
We remember Bullitt, The Godfather, and The French Connection.
We remember Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and Marvin Gaye.
We remember Sergeant Pepper, Tricky Dick and Flower Power.
We remember the Bouffant, the Beehive, the Shag, the D.A, The Wet Look, The Dry Look and Greasy Kid Stuff.
We remember Joy, "the most expensive perfume in the world" and "Modess...because"
We remember the Atkins Diet, the Scarsdale diet and the Beverly Hills diet.
We remember Pan Am and TWA.
We remember disco and Donna Summer, hula hoops and Rubik's cubes.

Me, too.
I remember lots but I can't remember what I had for dinner last night, where I put my glasses, why I went into the kitchen and what I meant to do there.

So, my Boomer buddies, do you remember what I remember? What do you remember that I've left out? And what do you forget? Do tell! :-)

If you relate to this, you'll relate to The Chanel Caper.


James Bond meets Nora Ephron. Or is it the other way around? A savvy female sleuth solves the crime and answers two of the most important questions of our time: 1) Is sixty the new forty? 2) Is there sex after marriage? “A totally fabulous, LMAO adventure with some of the best one-liners I've ever read!!!”





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

11 Tips For The Care And Feeding Of Your Muse:
A Guide For Writers And Everyone Who Wants To Be More Creative

The muse (also referred to as intuition, instinct, the subconscious, a superpower, the Spidey sense) is generally a friendly and cooperative breed. By nature, the muse tends to be bright eyed, curious and energetic. However, ignored or poorly-treated the muse can be become depressed and mopey and will not function effectively.
The rules for its care and feeding are simple. Obeying them will keep your muse—and you—creative, productive and in top operating condition.

1) Do offer your muse a lavish buffet of experiences.
Muses have adventuresome palates and perk up at the opportunity to try something new and/or different. Be sure to share all the interesting, offbeat, repellent, lurid, provocative and enlightening content that rushes past in a torrent every day.
Your muse will love you for your everyday reading habits. Reading in your genre and out, fiction and non-fiction, newspapers and magazines — will keep your muse happy and healthy. Nourished on a solid stream of input, your muse will be able to connect unrelated ideas into dazzling new plots and twists.

2) Don’t put your muse on a diet.  
Paleo? No way. Low carb? Uh-uh.  Muses get cranky when they’re hungry and behave badly. All they can think about is food and their next meal. They are too preoccupied with thoughts of pasta, chocolate and a good, thick steak to pay attention to you and your book. Deprived of regular feeding, your muse will have no energy for the heavy lifting needed for creative work.
Besides, diets don’t work. Not for people. Not for muses.

3) Don’t bore your muse.
Muses hate getting stuck in a rut. For optimum health, your muse needs to be challenged and stimulated. Gallery hopping and channel surfing, brushing up your high school Spanish and learning to lindy, roller skate and enjoy hot dogs and a beer in bleacher seats at the ballgame—each offers your muse new and different experience.
  • A summer vacation at the shore might inspire the next Jaws.
  • A visit to a natural history museum might result in Jurassic Park.
  • An hour or two with the food channel might trigger a new cozy set in a bakery or restaurant. Or what about a new horror novel starring a demented, knife-wielding chef, TV cooking-show host or obnoxious restaurant-owner?
  • Even the supermarket can inspire your muse—think of The Stepford Wives. Visit Whole Foods for the organic, more upscale version.
  • Binge viewing The Sopranos or House of Cards could lead you to create the next Godfather or All The President’s Men.

4) Do learn to interpret communiqués from your muse.
Muses, although generally reliable, communicate in unpredictable ways. Sometimes they shout. Sometimes they whisper.
  • The story you can’t get out of your mind, the one that wakes you up at night and intrudes when you’re otherwise occupied? That’s a shout. Your muse is giving you no option except to pay attention.
  • The chapter you’re bogged down on and hate writing? Your muse might be telling you you’re on the wrong track and need to figure out where you’ve made your mistake.
  • The balky character that lays there like a herring and won’t come to life? Your muse is telling you you need to shape up and do a better job.
  • The idea that flashes through your mind so fast it almost disappears the moment it becomes conscious? That’s a whisper.
 Whispers are gold and must be gathered and protected, ergo, the notebook.

5) Do keep a notebook—or several.
Whether digital or paper, the notebook is indispensable.  Any writer who doesn’t have a note book—paper or electronic—should have his or her computer impounded.
Evernote, Microsoft OneNote and WorkFlowy all work as excellent electronic note keepers.
Paper notebooks should be everywhere you are.  There are notebooks on my night table, in the kitchen, on the dining room table, in the living room, next to my desk (obviously!) and in my purse. There is even a notebook in the bathroom for those nights I wake up with a "brilliant" idea I absolutely have to write down. In the dark. So as not to disturb my DH who already knows all too much about what it's like to live with a writer.
Notebook Stories will give you lots of other choices to consider and for pens to write with, check out the Pen Addict.

6) Do obey the golden rule and treat your muse as you would want to be treated.
Muses tend to be patient and understanding but they don’t like to be hurried, harried or harassed. They respond better to the kiss than the whip and will go MIA if you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control and stressed out.
If your muse has gone AWOL, look for him/her at your nearest yoga class. In fact, it might be a good idea to pull up a mat and join your muse in a tree pose and downward dog.
A well-chosen yoga tape or some time out for meditation and/or deep breathing calm you and help get you and your muse back in primo working condition.

7) Don’t ignore your muse’s bio-rhythms.
Your muse will not react well when tired, sleepy or barely-awake. Some muses work better in the morning, others perform at their best later in the day or at night. Synch your work habits with those of your muse and you will find your work goes smoother and inspiration comes more easily.
Don’t expect your night owl muse to be perky and creative early in the AM.
Don’t ask your crack-of-dawn muse to come to your rescue at midnight.

8) Do give your free-range muse room to roam.
  • Stilettos or clogs? Polos or Tees? Grunge or business casual? Black tie or white shoe? Fashion magazines, style blogs and catalogs are filled with photos and descriptions of clothing. Check them out and your muse will find new ways for you to describe your character’s clothing and wardrobe in ways that brings them alive and makes them real to the reader.
  • Good hair day or bad plastic surgery? Muffin top or too rich and too thin? Beauty and grooming sites are filled with photos and comment, some of it snarky, some of it sincere, about exactly one subject: how people look. With their help, you and your muse can turn your descriptions from insipid to inspired.
  • The business pages are a source for occupations and careers: your characters have to make a living, don’t they? The tabs are an endless wellspring of sex and scandal and niche magazines or blogs—bass fishing, ice climbing, stamp collecting, arctic biology—will open new dictionaries for the alert writer and his or her muse.
  • Success and failure, triumph and tragedy. Go to the sports pages. Seriously. Almost every story is basically about how an athlete, talented or otherwise, overcomes—or doesn’t—golden-boy good looks, a reputation for dogging it, a lousy attitude in the clubhouse, jail time, drugs, booze, injury, scandal, depression, poor parenting, mean and/or incompetent coaching.
  • Besides, it’s not just the drama and the schmaltz, it’s also about the language: sports are all about action and sports writers are great with verbs.

9) Do treat your muse to input from experts like choreographer, Twyla Tharp.
Her guidebook, The Creative Habit, is practical, down to earth and inspiring. Using a wide-ranging set of examples ranging from Homer to Proust, from Ulysses S Grand to Ludwig Wittgenstein and Pope LeoX, from Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine to Ansel Adams, Raymond Chandler, Mozart and Yogi Berra, she offers a detailed road map  to defining your creative identity based on her own experience.
Ms. Tharp explains the importance of routine, ritual and setting goals, how to know the difference between a good idea and a bad idea, how to recognize ruts when you’re in one and she offers explicit guidelines about how to get out of them.

10) Don’t ignore your gut feelings and learn how to train your muse.
Susan Kaye Quinn is a scientist—a rocket scientist, to be exact—and author of the bestselling Mindjack series. Susan refers to her muse as a superpower and in this must-read article she tells how to tap your subconscious, how to train your muse and why you should pay attention to your gut feelings.
You will find more from Susan about increasing your productivity and amping up your creativity in her post at David Gaughran’s blog.

11) Do learn to trust your muse—even when you don’t know exactly why.

Your intuition aka your muse is that sense of knowing without knowing and Steve Jobs called it “ more powerful than intellect.” From dealing with negative thoughts, to paying attention to your dreams, and making time for solitude Carolyn Gregoire lists 10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently.


"First class entertainment!" —NYTimes
Originally published in hard cover by Random House!
New on KU!
Read for free!