Super Moon

Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, Hank cradled his left arm tight to his chest as he stood in front of the glass window admittance counter of Brantford General, behind which a stressed out attendant was finishing up paperwork from the previous patient. The man before him had been rushed directly into a treatment room, heart attack he presumed. She appeared to be ignoring him. After several minutes he wrapped with more force than he intended on the window. Annoyed, the woman showed him her opened palm.  A feral sneer twisted his face as he rolled up his sleeve to show her the swollen reddened infection that covered his entire forearm, several puncture marks oozing puss and blood. He hoped that she couldn’t hear the involuntary growl that gurgled from his throat. With the last of his reserved strength he took a slow calming breath. Finally she placed the paper work into a folder and opened the slider.

“Sorry for the wait,” she said. “Let’s face it; the hospital always gets a little crazy when the moon is full.” She chortled in an attempt to ease his agitation but he wasn’t laughing.  He knew all too well about the power of the full moon and tonight the Super Moon was rising, the first in seventy years. His pulsating arm stung and itched. The stench from the herbed salve that Tonda, the medicine woman on the reserve, had prepared wafted through the enclosure and the woman wrinkled her nose pulling back to distance herself from the odor.

“Your health card please,” she said. He handed her his Indian status card by mistake. She shook her head – no-  and Hank fumbled through his wallet, his hand shaking; his teeth chattering and his jaw forced forward in an unnatural position before laying down his OHIP card.

He remembered Tonda’s words, ‘keep your temper under control. If you can fight the poison through the first full moon after the wolf’s bite, you’ll be immune to transformation.” He fought hard against the rage that was building. His skin felt as though millions of needles were piercing his flesh; his ears peaked hearing the cacophony of suffering noises from the crowded and chaotic waiting room, all the while, the echo of Tonda’s chant droned in his head, an incessant offering to the ancestors in hope of appeasing the evil lycan spirits that threatened to alter Hank forever at midnight.


Marianne Scott

November 23, 2016


Ontario Cancer Patients Hear Minister E. Hoskins Message = “Bah humbug” to Oral Cancer Drugs

This post is further to Dr. Sandeep Sehdev’s letter to the Globe and Mail.

We can all be Christmas Angels. Write Minister Eric Hoskins your own letter. He needs to get this message. Here is my letter, posted December 14, 2017. Also visit your own MPP and request that she/he also remind Hoskins that cancer patients have been asking for equal funding of oral cancer drugs for over three years.

Ms. Marianne Scott

44 Gunn Ave.

Cambridge, ON N3C 3V9


Honourable Minister Eric Hoskins

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
10th Floor, Hepburn Block
80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2C4


Dear Minister Hoskins:

You have the power to make important changes. On behalf of Cambridge and all Ontario cancer patients on oral anti-cancer drugs, we are reminding you again of the urgent need to equalize funding for oral cancer drugs. They are life sustaining for many cancer patients. The current Cancer Care program is out of date as it only funds in hospital cancer treatment. Research has made far reaching advances in cancer treatment and all Canadians (including Ontarians) should have equal access to the best treatment and care available. Unfortunately, Ontario does not serve its cancer citizens well in this important aspect of Healthcare, patients who need it the most.

A Provincial election is looming and this important issue of equal funding for oral cancer drugs should be an election issue. I can only speak for myself but my vote will go to the political party that will make this change happen – and soon. Also, I’m reasonably sure that many other cancer patients and their families and friends feel the same way.

I have the support of several cancer organizations: Cancertainty, Kidney Cancer Canada, and Canadian Cancer Society.

Please grant us our Christmas wish by having the political will to make this important change happen. It will make a huge positive impact on the lives of Ontario Cancer Patients.

I am appealing to you because your motto is ‘patients first’. If the Ontario Liberals believe this is true, then providing equal funding for oral cancer drugs taken at home would demonstrate that you and Ontario Liberals act on what they say. Please make this happen in 2018. Blessings to you for doing something wonderful for Ontario cancer patients.

A very Merry Christmas to you and the Ontario Liberal Party.

Marianne Scott




Kidney Cancer volunteer, fundraiser, and advocate

Copy of letter mailed to Minister Hoskins on 12/14, 2017

Bah humbug! In Aisle Twelve

I’m in the vestibule of the super market, in a foul mood, and my shopping cart is jammed tight into the one in front. “Bah humbug,” I think, as I struggle to wrestle the blasted contraption free. I’m ready to give up but give it one last Herculean tug.  It releases with a such a metallic clatter and nearly sets me on my ass. I want to use an expletive but there are children around so I mutter the softer seasonal invective but apparently audible enough that people give me disapproving looks, not that they’re in any better a mood than me.

I’m horrified when the glass sliders to the store open; because every other resident in the entire town has also run out flour, or some other damn ingredient, for their Christmas cookies. Another cart bumps mine and it takes all my will power not to instantly turn in a serial killer. I grit my teeth; yes, at this point I’m dangerous. My knuckles turn white as I stranglehold the handle of my shopping cart and maneuver my cart bumper derby style to aisle 12, where the flippin’ flour had better be.

I stop in front of the Robin Hood shelf where a little giggle behind me catches my attention. I turn and see an adorable toddler in iridescent boots, a puffy white snow suit, with a sucky on a string pinned to his collar, a playful grin on his cherub face.

“Hi there,” I say. “Where did you come from”? I feel my irritation subsiding.

“Bah, bum hug,” he says. My chuckle sends him into a lively chorus of childish laughter. The sound is infectious and now I’m laughing too.

“Where’s your Mommy,” I ask; but he toddles off down the aisle fading into the sea of shoppers. I pick up a five kilo bag of Robin Hood and place it in my cart then claim my spot in the long queue for checkout number ten which has now stretched down to where I’m standing.  But hark! Do you hear what I hear? Delighted laughter from aisle 13! My little friend has found another Scrooge; or is he a Christmas Angel?

At home I put the flour sack on the counter and sneak up behind my husband who is crouched over and has his head in the refrigerator. I wrap my arms around him in a very low positioned embrace. He turns to me.

“And, just what do you think you’re doing,” he says returning my squeeze.

“Just giving you a bum hug,” I say, kissing his cheek before returning to my task of baking Christmas cookies.

Jann Arden – A ‘Good Daughter’

I’m a writer but I’m also a big reader. I read because it’s like breathing – something that is completely involuntary but necessary for life. I picked this up because – just because. I was so moved that I felt compelled to write a review. So here it goes.

Reading Feeding My Mother by Jann Arden is like having your best friend sit across the table from you, having a cup of tea, pouring her heart out about having a family member with Alzheimer’s. Her book reads like a personal diary, accidentally left out in the open, unlocked, and we peak inside and read her most personal thoughts and feelings. I felt like it was almost too personal and that I should look over my shoulder in order not to be caught in an act of transgression. But the design is deliberate and Jann Arden crafts her story so well that it pulls us into her world as she shares the jumble of emotions that rip at her heart and her soul.

I was captivated; I finished the book in a single day. I hung onto her words. I cried as she retold of the passing of her father, burying her cat, berating herself for being angry with her Mom’s forgetfulness – thinking she was bad person. I laughed at the antics that transpired. The TV remote in the dog food was particularly funny.  Though there is nothing funny about Alzheimer’s. I identified because my Dad had it too; though none of his doctors ever uttered the diagnosis. I felt her guilt/disappointment because like her, my Dad also accused us (me and my siblings) of stealing his money. It’s like a knife to the heart that he would think such a thing.

I’ve always liked Jann Arden’s music. I like her celebrity. But now, I like her as a person too. She is a decent human being. Her song ‘Good Mother’ is a wonderful tribute to her Mom and particularly poignant; though even in the midst of this heartbreaking time for her, she probably doesn’t realize what a ‘Good Daughter’ she is.

Marianne Scott author of Finding Ruby.



Unauthorized Rule # 7 – Use Clichés, Jargon, Acronyms and Expletives with Discretion

A writer is someone who sees ordinary people, places, and events in a complex way. My world is filled with ‘what ifs.’ I’m a writer and my motto is: there are so many stories to tell. I want to share those multifarious adventures created by my over active mind. I want an audience to delight in the art of the story. I’ve learned that it’s not only the plot or characters but importantly how you voice a tale that keeps readers invested and turning pages– and the sound, emphasis and personality is what makes our narrative voice distinct and ensures it is unique, fresh and interesting.  The language we use is fundamental to how we bring the voice forth- inserting overused language blends our work into the combined voices of a choir and keeps it ordinary.

Here are some of the key ways we reduce our uniqueness and potentially lose the spark that keeps us singular:

Cliché: a cliché is an overused expression or idea. I think of clichés as common language, everyday vernacular, tired phrases that can be used as filler when creativity lapses or the writer loses energy. It’s not that using clichés is incorrect; I sometime use a cliché in a line of dialogue to reveal a particular quality of a character. Yet while that particular tic can belong to a character, used in the narrative voice, it can undermine the quality and freshness of the writing by being boring. Readers are receptive to the new; regurgitating the old can cause them to fall asleep.

Jargon: I feel somewhat the same about jargon though if you’re writing a detective novel or medical story the use of language particular to the profession is certainly appropriate. But too much jargon can become irritating. Remember, it’s about the story. Don’t distract because you want to show your familiarity with an occupation’s verbal code. If your words don’t move the plot forward – then you’re using jargon as a crutch. Jargon-heavy dialogue can stagnate rather than push the plot forward.

Acronyms: these are another such irritant though sometimes necessary. In Finding Ruby, the background plot revolves around a character named James P. Hollinger who is head of the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD). This same character is closely tied with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, the FBI. Referring to the full name of these organizations is a mouth full, so in that case the acronyms are handy. They’re used throughout the book because these organizations are present to the point of being characters. So am I breaking my own rule? Perhaps! But, as I mentioned in my blog, “Unauthorized Rules,” rules are meant to be broken.

Then we have the expletive, language for those with limited vocabulary. I like to use specific naughty words for shock value at a point of high tension, such as when a character is overwhelmed or cornered. And, used sparingly and in unexpected ways, I find them particularly pleasing. However, when expletives are the norm for a character’s dialogue and it’s a trait that defines them, then that character needs further development. I’m neither prudish nor puritan, but I believe there are more inventive ways characters can show their vulgarity.

I love words and consider sentences a beautiful thing. Clichés, jargon, acronyms and expletives while acceptable if overused can weaken your story. I prefer to use them with great discretion.



Unauthorized Rule # 6 – Don’t Let Anyone Tell You What to Say, Think, or Write

Subtitle: My Negativity Will No Longer Be Tolerated

There are really only two things that press my buttons: one is being called too sensitive, the other is being called negative. As far as being sensitive, I actually consider the quality an asset to me as a writer because feeling and understanding emotion, whether for me personally or for others, gives me valuable insight into developing the characters for my stories.

Being accused of negativity, however, raises my hackles and arouses my inner Canadian. We are a nice people, and I am no exception. This happened to me recently and I found it very upsetting.

What happened was this: I belong to a fairly new local writers’ group who has a private group on Facebook. In a conversation thread, I called the owner of local book store “stubborn.” I later learned that one of the founders of the group, I’ll call her Martha, removed the post stating that if my opinion were ever to get back to the bookstore owner, it would be “destructive” to the good reputation of the other members of the group.

When I found out I’d caused such a stir, I felt terrible and tried to ask for forgiveness. Unfortunately my apologies went on deaf ears- I was out- putting me in defense mode and making me feel very sensitive. I was caught in a loop.

Martha’s notice didn’t do me any favours. My husband has stage four cancer and I’m having trouble coping with the stress, thinking emotionally instead of logically. In my panic, I had seriously considered that she might be correct and I had done something terribly wrong. Martha’s notice truly intensified my suffering, and I shed some tears. I like Martha, and to be so called out made me feel absolutely awful.

After the dust settled, as I like to learn from my mistakes, I looked at my comment again. While Martha had erased it from the writers’ group, it still existed in my feed. I read it over and over, analysing the so-called “destructibility” of my offense. True, calling someone stubborn isn’t flattering, but the man in question in fact prized this aspect of himself, something he himself once told me. He didn’t give a flip (use the expletive) if people didn’t like his attitude.

I surmised that if he’d seen my comment, it would neither destroy his reputation, lose him business, nor make him take our consigned books off his shelf—selling books is how he makes his living! Local authors also do book signings at his store, which gives him notoriety.

My comment not withstanding, I also advocate for him, frequently posting endorsements about his store and encouraging people to buy their books there, a courtesy on my part that I do because I believe in what we are all doing and that supporting local business is always best. The proprietor of the shop isn’t even on Facebook and can not see what is written about him to be either affronted or thankful.

I’m truly saddened when someone takes issue with my opinion. It is never my intent to offend. My preference is to discuss it, work it out. In a pinch, I’ll take the high road and apologize leaving the matter to be forgotten.

Later on, I reconsidered the situation. I’d offered an opinion, which was my right. Was that actually something worthy of such a severe action? In the thread, we were discussing a suggestion I had made which Flora (not her real name and Martha’s collaborator) objected to. Martha and Flora had responded to my suggestion negatively under the auspices of keeping things “positive,” whereas my suggestion, which was designed to take action, which in and of itself is positive, was viewed as negative because I used an adjective both people decided was not positive. Confused? Me too.

I had been censored, but it seems to me that we rely on writers precisely because they offer up suggestions and voice opinions with a mind toward moving forward and inciting change. And if that is so, then doing such a thing in the company of other writers, particularly those who gather with the express desire to engage in the act and process of writing together, ought to be allowed.

That’s when I realized there was more to this story than the utterance of an adjective that was perceived to be negative.

It was about power. The women were asserting that their mode of communication was the overarching style with which the group needed to comply in order to remain in the group. In a writing group, to be told what to say and that my opinion was not permitted made me question the leadership of the group.

Fortunately having understood what truly was at stake with this whole affair, I gained enough clarity to leave them to their business. Being censored and removed for having an opinion meant this was not a literary organization that valued the true tenants of what literature is for: exploring ideas and possibilities in the human condition and being at least receptive to all stripes of both communication and the engines that generate that communication.

I personally value and welcome debate and argument, free expression being the king pin. I believe that is what creativity and good writing are all about. It is only when everyone’s voice is heard and valued that progress and growth are accomplished.

In way I am grateful to Martha and Flora who through their censorship have given me the opportunity to be a better writer. I write every day and do so knowing it’s my choice what to say, think, and express. In such a freedom, there is growth for everyone.


Unauthorized Rule #5 – Always Put Your Characters in Terrible Danger

Whenever I do a book signing event, after explaining to curious readers that my novel Finding Ruby involves a kidnapping, forced identity change, several shootings, explosions, and a fire or two, I get confused looks. They ask, “How do you think up these things”? and eye me sideways; after all, a person who dreams up such diabolical stuff for her characters must be a creepy sort. Maybe they don’t think I look like a person who has this kind of mind – or perhaps they do.

I laugh and tell them, “I have a vivid imagination.” What can I say- it’s true: I’m a fiction writer of spy thrillers. The genre demands intrigue and suspense and many eventful mishaps. In order to accomplish that, I put my characters through hell.

In my previous blog post, “Don’t Fall in Love with your Characters,” I talk about how hard I find it to put my darlings in harm’s way. Of course I’m protective of them, especially my “good guy” characters. But I’ve learned that allowing my personal emotions to influence the shape of my story only throws up creative barriers. My editor says, “kill them.” You want drama? Then don’t let the reader get comfortable. It’s hard to do, but I’ve found that to be good advice. Being conflicted, I side track myself with a bunch of rather crazy rules I’ve invented in order to maintain a business attitude about writing. Mine are fictional characters and rules are just rules. Creating a protagonist is easy. He/she has a problem that needs to be overcome. The antagonist, well, he/she needs to be defeated.

But what to do with all those “supporting” characters? I consider them fair game. There are so many books with strong opinions as to what the right and wrong things to do with characters are. OK, some of the rules make sense, but for me some of those rules only restrict my creativity. That’s not a good thing because writing is all about inventiveness and originality. Why should I limit myself just because there is a rule that says I shouldn’t do this or that?

Instead, I try to write intelligently, using proper grammar, a follow-able structure, and a clean format. Writers can get discouraged if they feel they are not measuring up to the rules. So I take my own approach. I put my characters, all of them, in dangerous circumstances. Not that my way is radical; I just tell my story the way it comes out, straight from my imagination, dictated by that mysterious inner voice every writer has.

When the conversation with my reader goes on, I explain how in the novel, my female protagonist, Ruby, finds herself in unwanted action whereby a psychopathic killer relentlessly pursues her and her new family, the Drakers. “Oh, that sounds too scary. It would keep me awake at night,” they say.  This gives me pause. While I consider Finding Ruby a complicated adventure in which my characters frequently encounter worst scenario hazards, I didn’t write it intending for it to be “scary.” I wonder if those same people ever tune into the evening news. Now that’s scary! Maybe that’s their point. They want to get away from the fearful events that plague society. With that in mind, I can see where they might love a book description that goes something like this:

Mary has the perfect life in her peaceful suburban Toronto neighbourhood. She has a successful career, and is going to marry the man of her dreams and live happily ever after. The end.

Such a story would never exist, but I understand the impetus to want this. Or maybe these readers are just superstitious and think that reading about awful events would conjure up disaster in their own lives.

However, if your reading tastes run along the lines of stories that don’t put you to sleep the minute you open your book, you might choose stories whose plots make your hair stand on end. I’m not sure how many people go into a bookstore looking for a book about Mary and her perfect life, but I personally wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t want to give that to my readers.

Therefore my rule stands: always put your characters in terrible danger. Finding Ruby is a story meant to entertain. Happily ever after might be a good ending for a fairy tale, but it’d be a pretty lousy ending for a mystery.