Publishing and still more waiting.

The printer finally shipped a book to me. A book, not my book, so I’m back to waiting. Strange business, publishing.
While I’ve been waiting, I’m polishing another novel, and have it almost ready to go. It is set in Toronto, with side trips to Rome, Venice, Florence and Dubrovnik. A lot of fun to write. It’s working title is HIDDEN.
I’ve started planning another, which occupies my thoughts much of the day. This one will require more research, especially into the world of art restoration.

Sakineh Ashtiani still sits in that Iranian jail, awaiting her stoning sentence to be carried out. Latest news is at this link:


I’ve started on a project suggest by James Scott Bell in his book Plot and Structure in the Write Great Fiction series from Writers Digest Books. Essentially it’s a method for internalizing plot structure. it involves reading and then analyzing the structure of six novels of a type you would like to write. It will take time away from the actual writing of the sequel to The Facepainter Murders. It’s close to completion, but will need a rewrite for the second (or 10th) draft. I tend to revise as I go along, but I think, after reading Bell’s book, that I should consider just writing, and revising with a second draft of the whole thing. That is for the next book, however.

If you’re a writer or want to be one and haven’t looked at this series of books on writing, I’d recommend it.

Our lovely fall resurgence of summer seems to be over. The temperature is falling and so is the rain. A good time to begin my reading.

Another plan is to catalogue the books in this house and they are everywhere. Fortunately, I have a program on my Mac, called Delicious Library 2, that uses the InSight camera to read the bar codes on the books and record them in a library format.

I was glad to see that the Saudi King had the good sense to rein in the driving police or whoever they are that wanted to flog that woman in Saudi who dared to ?!drive a car. How subversive. And how sad that so many countries can’t or won’t understand that they and their people will never advance while keeping more than half their population unengaged.

Sakineh is still in prison. Please sign the petition.

Saudi Women’s Rights

A woman in Saudi Arabia, who had started or joined an online movement to allow women to drive, has been detained, along with her brother, after she put a video of herself driving on the internet. In 1990 a group of religious scholars issued a fatwah(edict) against women driving. Why? Who knows? Just another example of the inequality women endure in that country. The abhorrent guardianship  system that restricts women’s movements unless accompanied by a male “guardian” is another of the human right abuses that continue there.

I think the men of Saudi Arabia should be embarrassed and ashamed that they treat the women of their country like children, and allow religious police to arrest them, abuse them, beat them, force them into false confessions and sentence them to such inhumane punishments as lashing for such crimes as wearing “indecent” ie western clothing.


Sakineh remains in prison.

The link above details the Amnesty campaign to free her and two other political prisoners. Havel, of the Czech republic, himself a former political prisoner believes his own release came much sooner because of voices raised from outside.

Please sign the petition.

“Harper’s” government

Lawrence Martin reminds us of the multiple offenses against democracy that have taken place since the Conservatives came to power. The tag line–there’s more to come– expanded over the last two days into a scandal about misusing government funds in the last election. This government and these ministers take responsibility right up to the point of being found out and then they scarper and blame a junior minister or a civil servant.

Oda, Kenney, Harper himself, all of them have the same haughty attitude of “if we doit, it must be good”. No responsibility, no resignations.

Even the Globe and Mail, who never saw a Tory government it couldn’t support, rails this morning about the lack of transparency( you and I would call it lying) about the cost of their “tough on crime” agenda. Even the “lock ’em up and throw away the keys” boys in the US have woken up to the fact that it costs megabucks to incarcerate people for minor crimes as has happened under the three strike law. One in every hundred Americans is in jail.

But the cost is one thing. Incarceration is a failure at reducing the number of reoffenders, at rehabilitation, at treating the mental illnesses that bring so many into conflict with the law. Why spend huge amounts on something that doesn’t work and won’t make our society any safer? Why? It’s called buying your vote with your money. Oh, and we don’t know what the bill will be because they won’t tell us.

Have you seen the Harper attack ads. Remember them from last time? They’re recycling stuff that they ran years ago, referencing events from the beginning of Michael Ignatieff’s return to this country. Apparently they haven’t yet got over the fact that he is a man with international experience, compared to their man, little-travelled until he came to power. Lawrence Martin reminds us that the ones they released this time have been withdrawn because they were of “such questionable quality.” How low can they sink?

Abuse of power. “L’Etat, c’est moi. That’s the Harper gang.

Writing: I’ve been working on the sequel to The Facepainter Murders,, and recently joined the novel section of my online writing group. A no-hold-barred bunch they are, and very helpful.

My short story, Homicide in Haliburton has been published by Pine Tree Mysteries at this link.

Writing is a craft, with a learning curve that I certainly didn’t understand when I started out twelve years ago. I’ve been reading Scene and Structure, by Jack Bickman, part of the Elements of Fiction Writing, published by Writers Digest Books, to learn some of the formal mechanics of constructing a novel.

Sakineh: She languishes in prison. Her sentence to stoning has been reversed, but she may still be hanged. Her lawyer is in exile, having been tortured in prison and she has given a “confession”. Please sign the petition.


Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani may not face death by stoning, says prosecutor | World news | The Guardian.

The attempts by the Iranian government to “spin” this story become ever more convoluted. This piece in the Guardian brings the news up do date. First of course, she has not been executed, and the prosecutor of her home province has recently suggested that the original sentence of death by stoning may be changed. Change to what, he didn’t say. In recent weeks, she has been taken out of prison, to her home, in order to”confess” on television. The government has arrested two German reporters for trying to interview her son. Now she is said to be suing these two men, a suit that wouldn’t likely be settled until after her execution.

I don’t know if the people of Iran believe these outrageous statements and postures. Certainly I see no reason to believe that anything that is officially allowed is likely to be the truth. The Iranian people have had their revolution subverted, their rights subtracted, and now live in a land of subterfuge. I hope one day they can reclaim their rightful place as heirs to a glorious civilization.

Off to Spain

I have been watching a lecture series on DVD, produced by The Teaching Company, taught by Professor Brooks Landon of the University of Iowa,  entitled Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft. This is my first exposure to a university level course in writing, although I have taken other on-line practical writing courses and attended workshops, and read books on the subject, all practical, none with the in-depth discussion of the sentence as an art form, not considering just its function, but the way in which phrases and clauses, vowels and consonants play against and with each other. I’m enjoying this series, although some of the concepts are so new to me, that I will watch it a second time, take notes, do the exercises and explore at greater length some of the concepts, as well, I might add, as learning the new vocabulary, not included in the language I learned in medical school. It seems a practical course in many ways and it is great fun.

Sakineh: She’s still in that prison. I see that the Iranians have accepted five hundred thousand dollars as the price of an American woman accused of spying and released this week. Some people in Oman arranged it, so we are told. I wonder what it would cost to buy the freedom of Sakineh and the others.

Spain: I’ve spent the last few months trying to learn some Spanish, using the course supplied by RosettaStone, enough to be polite, and not assume that everyone that I meet speaks English. I did the same with Italian several years ago, finding that it took at least two years to gain enough language to communicate a little. It becomes more difficult as I get older, or so it seems. We’re leaving shortly, so this will be my last posting for a while, unless I have access to a computer somewhere along the way.

Madness in Iran

Iranian woman could be executed this week, son says – The Globe and Mail.

It’s so horrifying, it’s hard to keep writing about it. I can’t imagine living it. Sakineh remains in that hell-hole of a prison, at the mercy of authorities who have no sense nor compassion. Ramadan ends so her son, who hasn’t seen her for weeks, believes she will be executed sometime after Thursday.

An idiotic British newspaper publishes a picture purporting to be Sakineh without a headscarf. It isn’t; it’s another woman, but the sadists in that prison lash her 99 times, again. How much can one woman endure? The Iranians do all this in the name of religion. I don’t believe it. I think the people in charge have the same sadistic, murderous minds and souls that Nazi concentration camp guards had, and in a better world, they would be the ones in the prisons.

The British newspaper bears considerable responsibility. What did the editors think would happen to Sakineh when they published that picture? Or do they share the same sadistic mind-set, oblivious to the suffering of their victims?

Please sign the petition

Three assaults on women

Iran death row woman Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to be hanged not stoned | Mail Online. The Daily Mail reports this morning that Sakineh was subject to a mock execution on Sunday. The attitude that allows for death by stoning apparently has stirred Sakineh’s captors to further sadism. They remind me of the perpetrators of serial murders, torturing their victims to get the most enjoyment before they kill them. I wonder if her jailers achieve sexual satisfaction from their actions as the serial killers do.

The Iranian media has labelled Carla Bruni, the wife of the President of the French Republic, a prostitute. This was apparently in retaliation for a letter she wrote in support of Sakineh. No free speech for any woman anywhere is their creed.

The Globe and Mail reports that poison gas has been confirmed as the causative agent in the episodes of sudden illness amongst schoolgirls in a largely Pashtun area of Afghanistan. The boys in the same schools, who go on different days, were not effected, nor were any all-boys schools. A fine bunch these Taliban, poisoning children. I wonder if the leaders giving these orders are Afghani fathers.


Finally finished reviewing the proofs for The Facepainter Murders. It should come online today, if all goes to plan. Look for it as an ebook at

My current project involves converting a first person novel into a third person, in time to submit to Penguin UK which is opening for submissions, targeting non-agented writers, creating an opportunity for me, if I can finish before we go to Spain.

I notice Michael Ignatieff is calling for folks to return to “the big red tent”. I wonder if he’s been reading John Ralston Saul’s A Fair Country, in which Saul talks about Canada being an aboriginal country, and the aboriginal philosophy of “the big tent”.

Free media, free speech.

Geoffrey York in the Globe and Mail, writing about South Africa:

The government of President Jacob Zuma is being accused of harassing the media, failing to improve the lives of the poor, and favouring its own cronies in dubious business deals.

Lawrence Martin also in the Globe and Mail:

Last year, as revealed by The Canadian Press, Prime Minister Stephen Harper lunched in New York with Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, who owns it. Kory Teneycke, Mr. Harper’s former spokesman, was also present at the unannounced event.

Mr. Teneycke later became the point man for Quebecor’s Pierre Karl Péladeau in his effort to create a right-wing television network modelled along the lines of Fox News. The new network is a high priority for Mr. Harper, for whom controlling the message has always been – witness his government vetting program – of paramount importance.

In this regard, he scored a fantastic coup when Mr. Teneycke became head, courtesy of Mr. Péladeau, of Sun Media’s political coverage. It’s not every day that a prime minister sees his one-time spokesperson taking control of a giant media chain’s coverage of his government.

Now, I don’t think Mr. Harper is an idiot on the level of Mr. Zuma, who until lately denied the problem AIDS presents in his country. But I do think Harper’s overweaning desire to control almost everything, is becoming hard for him to disguise. Remember at the beginning, when he decided to protect himself from the hurly-burly of the scrum by hiding in a basement room of the Parliament, with selected members of the media present and taking only pre-vetted and few questions. Now he will have a whole network to lob easy questions at him and allow him to distort the facts with impunity.

The rot started with his success in proroguing Parliament, continued with the whole census debacle and recently found a respected Mountie out the door because of his support, along with all the rest of this country’s police, of the long gun registry.

It’s his agenda, his take on what the women of the world need, his belief that we don’t need facts on which to base decisions. How does he tolerate a man like Stockwell Day in his cabinet, with his prattling about “unreported crime” as an excuse for more and bigger jails? I begin to be concerned about what new crimes will soon be announced and how long free expression can survive.


Last week and this I have been proof-reading the galley for my new book. This exercise leaves me with a renewed respect for all those who read and correct the millions—it must be millions— of words written every day.


The long spring and hot, humid summer are ending with what seems to be an early autumn. The swallows are making practice flights; the black squirrel is driving the dog crazy with his aerial foraging in oak tree; the brown-eyed susans are making a spectacular show with their mounds of intense gold and black. What does it all mean? A heavy, snow-laden lengthy winter? Our autumn will end with a stay in the south of Spain.


I’ve been reading Frances Mayles  A Year in the World. She and her husband took our trip, first to Madrid, then to Seville and on to Ronda. I hope some of the restaurants and tapas bars she writes about are still open. Spain is having a tough time economically this year.


Her fate was supposed to be decided on August, but so far—nothing. the British Government has called in the Iranian ambassador to express its deep concern. I hope it expressed the full horror of civilized nations at the barbaric crime Iran is perpetrating on its citizens, and particularly this woman and the fourteen co-condemned, waiting out the tattered remains of their lives in that foul prison.

Please sign the petition at


The Guardian reports this morning that the deaths by stoning of the (mainly) women in Iran’s prisons are being quietly change to death by hanging. The article, goes on to remind us of the appalling state of justice in that Republic. The cases include that of a fifteen year old child bride, accused of her elderly husband of adultery, condemned not only to die by stoning but also to live for three years under that sentence because she was not yet eighteen. What a mockery.

Meanwhile Sakineh herself is tortured into reading a “confession” on television. Her lawyer is now in Norway, having been arrested in Turkey and offered safe haven in that country of EU officials intervened in Turkey. He of course can and is speaking to the press.

Please keep up the pressure on Iran. Sign the petition at

Ottawa Notebook – The Globe and Mail.

The census, still in the news. Earlier this week Tony Clement complained that he felt all alone in the census fight, with so many groups against him. Apparently he thinks he is the only one with revealed truth on this issue.

Then, the government, throwing a bone to Quebec, moves questions on language to the short form, because they couldn’t be assured of accurate data in a voluntary long form! Now do these people actually ever listen to themselves?


I spent an entire morning this week talking to Sean, at Microsoft for Word for Mac about a  strange problem with my manuscript. All the quotation marks were reversed. Sean couldn’t solve the problem for me and finally, I did a manual review and changed them all. As to the service from that department, it was great. Two phone calls back, the first to give me an update on the progress, and two days later to tell me that despite their best efforts there didn’t seem to be a solution.

Now comes the slogging part of writing — reviewing the galley proofs.