Anti-“Jewel” arsonists sentenced to prison

Dear Reader,

Something new happens almost every day regarding my debut novel, “The Jewel of Medina,” and its forthcoming sequel, “The Sword of Medina.”

Today, news outlets around the world are carrying the story that the three men convicted of setting fire to the home office of Gibson Square Books, the London publisher who had planned to publish “The Jewel of Medina,” were sentenced to 4.5 years in prison. The judge reportedly told the men, “If you choose to live in this country, you must live by its rules.”

Yesterday, I found a YouTube video, posted by Beaufort Books, of me signing ARC’s of “The Sword of Medina.” As you can see, I absolutely love meeting readers. We have something big in common: A love for books!

Also today, I have an interview request from a reporter for Wirtualna Polska for an email interview. And I have an invitation from the Montana Festival of the Book to participate in the festival again this year, Oct. 22-24.

Whew! It’s hard to get any work done on the next book these days. But I’m not complaining, just exclaiming.

I’m trying hard to keep up with everything, including online networking, answering emails, researching Book 3, parenting, remodeling a house, moving into it, parenting a daughter, and keeping up with my Metabolic Makeover class at the Y, which is working, by the way. I’m losing weight every day and I can now do 12 pushups from the floor, whereas 4 weeks ago I could do zero. I still dread going to each class, though. My goal of enjoying exercise by the end of the 12 weeks seems as far away as ever.

As I work on the interview today — and in light of that London judge’s admonition — I must ponder the question of immigrants’ rights and culture clash. I think of my Danish friend Pia, who said she was in a debate with Muslim after the Danish cartoon protests. She loves to tell the story of how she said to the man, “You are a devout Muslim man charged with caring for your wife and children. You move them to a country where pork is on every menu, and in all the stores, and where porn is legal. Why would you subject yourself, and them, to these conditions?”

It seems to me that people have rights everywhere they go – but, in a democracy, they must exercise those rights democratically. It’s like those bumper stickers reading “Don’t Californicate Montana”: Montanans are protective of their culture and don’t want people moving in from other places and changing the rules for development, etc. But the fact is, if immigrants accumulate in great enough numbers in a democratic society, their voices must be heard. However, to effect change, the correct forum is the ballot box, the city council, the state legislature — not petrol bombs, or guns, or death threats.

Change is necessary to progress. Yet I also know that people in Denmark and elsewhere worry about the loss of long-established culture. These worries cause many to blame all Muslims for the heinous actions of a violent few. It’s a tricky situation. The answer, I think, is to take religion out of the legal picture entirely — maintain that separation of church and state. It seems, for the most part, to work well here in the U.S.

What do you think?

Keep reading,