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:


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.

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.

Sunday Roundup

BBC News – Brazil offers asylum to Iran woman sentenced to stoning.

The BBC is reporting that Brazil has offered asylum to Sakineh, but there has been no response at this time from Iran. And that’s it. On July 21st, the governemnet of Iran announced that a decision on her sentencing would be made in 40 days. In the meantime, her lawyer is missing; his wife and brother-in-law are held without charge; her sons are muzzled. All we can do is keep talking and posting, and writing about her and all the others who languish in those ghastly prisons.

Nothing new on the census front, except for the nearly universal condemnation of the government’s decision. Even the Canadian Catholic Bishops are upset.  One article calls it disconnecting the past from the future, which is what this action does. We simply won’t know how to compare what is with what was, and no way of knowing if we’re improving, or failing. In 10 years, when the census rolls around again, with perhaps, fate willing, another government in power, it may be made mandatory again. So the gap, instead of 10 years will be 20, and in those 20 years what mistakes will have been made as decisions are taken on erroneous or at the very least non-comparable data, or worse on a politician’s “philosophy”.

Our trip to Spain is coming closer. This weekend, I was able to book our train tickets from Madrid to Seville, on the AVE, Spain’s version of the TVG in France. Spain is working to connect the major cities by this very rapid transit. Madrid to Seville is a 550 km drive and takes about 6 hours by car. The train takes 2 1/2hrs and includes lunch!  I booked through RailEurope which is painless. The tickets should arrive this week. I think I’ll have to wait until we’re in Seville to get the bus tickets for Ronda.

The Census

It has been an unusual week. The conflict over the census, which cost a good man his job and lost the services of that same career civil servant to the government, has spread to interprovincial affairs, with most of the provinces weighing in on the side of keeping the long form the way it is, minus the threatened jail time. Today Jack Layton wants to sit down with the PM and work out a compromise. John Ibbitson in the Globe talks about Tony Clement “defending a false fact”. All along I thought there were no false facts, just facts and non-facts.

The Conservative government has been unable to say “we made a mistake” for all these long years they have been in government. Since they imported Guy Giorno, a former Mike Harris staffer, the attitude of the government seems to me to have become more hard-nosed, and certainly more small-c conservative. I suppose he’s on Harper’s wavelength or Harper on his. Things didn’t go well with Harris originally and I sure don’t like the retread.

The news from Iran is bleak. No word on Sakineh and now her lawyer has disappeared, his wife and brother-in-law held without legal representation. Add your voice, sign the petition.

Sakineh – International Response

CNN reports this morning on world wide protests against the sentence to death by stoning handed down to Sakineh, and 9-15 others in prison in Iran. One can only hope that continual pressure from the international community will end this abhorrent practice and bring some semblance of justice to the Iranian judicial system.

The Iranian people abhor this practice so much that the stonings are no longer held in public, but carried out in secrecy. Military men cast the stones, led by an official from the Judiciary or a Mullah. Cowards and barbarians all.

Sign the petition at


Iran stoning case woman ordered to name campaigners | World news | The Guardian.

Sakineh is apparently still alive and being questioned, one fears tortured, so that her jailers may know the names of those who are coordinating the campaign to save her. As well, according to the article in the Guardian, her sons are being warned to keep silent. The message to the jailers has to be that there are hundreds of thousands of us, all independent. Heather Reisman initiated the campaign here, but now it has a life of its own. No coordination, just people who believe that the barbarism has to stop. Please sign the petition.