A Miracle

Recently, our family experienced a miracle. We were given the gift of a baby girl named Mia, a first grandchild for us. It is truly a wonderful feeling to hold that baby in your arms for the first time (and a second, and a third…).

This momentous occasion made me think about my parents when they became grandparents many years ago upon the birth of my niece. That niece, Kim, is to be married in a couple of weeks, and I wrote this short story as a dedication to her and to all loving grandparents.

The Message

It was love at first sight, as would be expected for first-time grandparents, or any grandparents, for that matter. The couple, in their early fifties at the time, were thrilled about the idea of having a grandchild, and the event was much anticipated and eventually celebrated.
The grandfather, a quiet, hard-working man, couldn’t get enough of the baby girl. She was the apple of his eye, and, as she grew, they developed a special bond.
Proximity and time were advantages for them. Both homes acted as bookends for a family farm. The grandfather would conveniently amble over for a visit at least once a day, eagerly watching the newborn develop into a small, walking, talking person. Being retired didn’t hurt either. His time was his own.
The grandmother was amused when her husband would casually state he was going out for some fresh air. Through the side window she would see him walk towards the neighboring house. Air, fresh or otherwise, was unimportant. A short time later, he would make the return trip with a toddler holding tightly to his hand, her free arm waving as she babbled, full of stories and questions.
More often than not, they would stop along the way and find ‘gifts’ to deliver to the grandmother, who would, in turn, gush over the simple but heartfelt present. It depended on the season, of course. Winter gifts were scarce, but the other seasons created an abundance of flowers, berries, and colorful fallen leaves.
Beside the grandparent’s house, a large lilac tree resided, and its spring blooms were magnificent. A favorite for the child and her grandfather, the clippings would hold a place of much importance in the center of the kitchen table, their scent filling the small house.
A little over three years after that baby’s birth, the grandfather suddenly passed away, leaving the little girl confused by his absence and this strange rite of passage.
Many years passed, more babies came along, good times and bad rolled by, and the grandmother ultimately joined her husband, leaving her precious grandchildren behind. The baby girl grew up with her own share of trials and triumphs, but always with that strong base from which she had evolved.
One day, she met a man who made her truly happy, the man she chose as her life mate, and, when the time came, she delightedly accepted his marriage proposal. On the big day, the girl’s heart was full, she was surrounded by people who cared for her, and she was with the man she loved.
It was a beautiful late-summer setting. The leaves were on the cusp of changing colors. In a few weeks they would be glorious. As the ceremony began, under a richly-decorated outdoor gazebo, the left hand of the future husband encompassed the girl’s right.
Suddenly distracted, the girl frowned and turned her head cautiously to the left and the right, catching the attention of both her sister and her soon-to-be husband.
Had she imagined it? It’s late August. Where had it come from?
Yet, there it was, drifting around her, wrapping her in its scent, like a hug. She released a shaky breath. The girl knew she had been sent a message, telling her she was loved, and she would never be alone.
The sweet smell of Lilacs surrounded her.

Posted in Family, Short story | Tagged , | 2 Comments

This is Writing

I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity of an interview with This is Writing, a website dedicated to helping authors get their message out to readers and other writers.

It was a fun experience and one I hope to repeat.

Follow the link to read the interview. http://bit.ly/2Cold-Betrayal-AJ-McCarthyUJovH0


Posted in Interview, Publishing, writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New Experiences – LCC

A week ago, the Left Coast Crime convention in Vancouver wound up for this year. After spending a few more days in the area, we travelled home, went back to work for a few days, and fought off the jet lag.
As expected, I truly enjoyed my experience at the convention. There were a larger number of participants than I had anticipated, from all different regions of North America, and even a few from across the pond. The panel subjects were varied, pertinent, and interesting.

lcc registration
I had two great takeaways from the 4 days I spent at LCC.
First of all, my fears and nervousness over participating in a panel were unnecessary. I was one of four panelists, along with a moderator, who discussed the subject of crafting twists and reveals in a novel. The subject matter was the easy part. As a suspense writer and reader, I understood what people were curious about, and with our moderator as our guide, the discussions carried on easily.
The part that worried me the most was that I was surrounded by award-winning, successful authors. As I should have known, they were all welcoming and very down-to-earth people. Thomas Perry was the most prolific writer of the panel with 26 novels to his credit, with many bestsellers. Harry Hunsicker boasts 7 novels so far. Rob Hart, our moderator, has co-written with James Patterson, and his to-be-released novel, The Warehouse, has been optioned for film by Ron Howard.
Last, but not least, was Ashley Dyer, a British writer, who writes under 3 pseudonyms (her real name is Margaret Murphy), and has published close to a dozen novels. I met her on Friday, and we shared a coffee together. She is a very gracious and warm person, who put me at ease while sharing some of her experiences. I was fortunate enough to get a copy of her latest novel, Splinter in the Blood (see review in the Book Review tab), and I consider it a great honor to have interacted with her on a few occasions over the weekend.

lcc panel
To summarize, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I enjoyed serving on the panel, and it’s definitely something I would do again if the opportunity ever presents itself.
My second takeaway was that, as at Killer Nashville, the people you meet are worth their weight in gold. Whether it’s the person beside you at breakfast, sitting next to you at a panel session, or someone you meet in the elevator, so many of them have a story to tell or a snippet to share.
I left the convention inspired and motivated. I also left with a few more plans brewing in my head. We’ll have to see if any of them come to fruition.

Posted in Author, Western Canada, Writer’s conference | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An Interview with Hannah Goodman

I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Hannah R. Goodman, fellow Black Rose Writing author, in her series 9 Questions Author Interviews.

Check it out by following the link to her page.  Thank you, Hannah!


Posted in Author, Interview, Publishing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Nashville and Back

Did you know Nashville was founded on Christmas Eve in 1779? Or that the AT&T Tower in downtown Nashville is nicknamed “The Batman Building”? Check out the photo further below and you’ll see why.

Steve and I recently visited Nashville when I attended the Killer Nashville Writer’s Conference, a conference dedicated to crime writing, including mysteries, thrillers and suspense.

The conference itself was held in Franklin, a city about 20 kilometres from Nashville. And, what a pretty city it is! A walk down the Main Street will take you past historic sites, and quaint boutiques selling everything from spices, to antiques, to second-hand books. Restaurants for every taste can be found. Another fun fact: it’s a sister city to Carleton Place in Ontario.

As for Killer Nashville, the best way to describe it would be ‘Wow!’. There wasn’t anything about it that I didn’t enjoy. It was my first writer’s conference (I know what you’re thinking – what took you so long?), and it won’t be my last. All the workshops, panels, and events were perfect (along with the moonshine). I came home with piles of notes and some great memories. Via social media, I’ve been connecting with a lot of the people I met. I’ve also joined writing associations, and my head is buzzing with ideas. What more could I ask for?

I spent most of my time at the conference, but any available free time was spent exploring Nashville and Franklin. Of course, we took in the famous Music Row, a street lined with bars and honky-tonks that are hopping almost around the clock with bands and people ready to enjoy themselves.

We visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, and we even managed to take in the Academy of Country Music Honors ceremony, held in the famous Ryman Auditorium, which was the original venue of the Grand Ole Opry. We watched performances by Joe Diffie, Deanna Carter, Jon Paris, Chris Stapleton, and many others. It was definitely one of the highlights.

Now, I’m back to reality, getting ready for the release of Cold Betrayal in January, and working on plenty of other projects. More on that in another blog.

If you want to keep up to date on other happenings, or want to participate in future giveaways, be sure to sign up for my newsletter on my Contact page.

Posted in Author, Travel, Writer’s conference | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Rebecca Howie

91101237-AA86-4EF4-9E31-459FC0F5CAC9I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Rebecca Howie, and I’d love to share it with you. Rebecca is a young writer in Scotland, and she has a great website where you’ll find lots of information about her own writing and that of others. Click this link to read the full interview.



Posted in Interview, writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

California Dreaming

Almost a week has passed since our return from The Golden State, and I’m still feeling the effects. No, I’m not talking about the jet lag or the head cold I picked up somewhere over North America on the way back. I’m referring, first of all, to the wonderful memories of the scenery, the sunshine, the activities, and the many fantastic sights and sounds of California from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It was a trip to be remembered as these pictures can attest.


If I put on my writer hat, the highlight of the trip was my participation at the two book festivals in the state over the course of the two weekends. I had never been involved in anything of the sort, so just being there was exciting for me. Being given the opportunity to display my book along with many others from the Black Rose Writing family and having the chance to meet other authors and people involved in the publishing industry put me over the top.
My first stop was at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I had a signing spot of an hour and a half at the BRW booth, where I had the opportunity to meet other BRW authors, Michael Hughes, Cheryl Malakoff, Trent St-Germain, Alysia Helming, Brad Chisholm and Claire Kim.

The following weekend, I was at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, and I had the pleasure of spending the day with Brad, Claire, and their son Cole. And, we had Matthew Brockmeyer popping in to visit with us a few times during the day.

Apart from the beautiful weather and the experience of being surrounded by book lovers on each of those days, I had the pleasure of meeting so many varied and interesting individuals, whether they were Black Rose authors or people who stopped by to chat as they browsed the booths. From every one of those people I learned something new. It may have been about writing, publishing, promoting, or coping with life as a writer, but I appreciate every moment I spent at those festivals, and I hope they will be the first of many more to come.  Cheers!


Posted in Book Signing, California, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An Interview with Lisa Burton

Don’t touch that dial! You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio. The only show that brings you interviews with the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is the owner of a small pub in Montreal. “Welcome to the show Charlene Butler.” “Hi, Lisa. Thank […]

via Sins of the Fathers, on #LisaBurtonRadio — Entertaining Stories

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapters – March 17, 2018

I’m slowly coming back to earth after a fantastic weekend in Montreal. I had my first-ever book signing at a real bookstore, and what a store it is! I spent the afternoon at the Chapters store in Pointe-Claire, and I have to say I’m impressed.

Of course, I love bookstores (all authors do), and this store is one of the best. On top of that, the staff was efficient, accomodating, and welcoming. A special thank you to Alana Zemel for setting up this event for me. It was a pleasure working with you.


The signing of Sins of the Fathers was a great success! Besides my husband, there were six other people (family and friends) who came from Quebec City to offer their support (and to join in on the St-Patrick’s Day fun). I had visitors from all corners of Montreal, including, among others, my brother-in-law, cousins, and cousins-in-law. I met people who were friends of family, or friends of friends, and I was honoured to meet them. I also had some special surprises in the form of a group of good friends who travelled from Ottawa to spend the day with us. Others were with us in spirit and it was felt and greatly appreciated.


I am truly blessed to have such a network of friends and family, and it’s an important part of my life. There are many things that wouldn’t be possible without these people.

So thank you to all, and I will end this blog with an Irish Blessing dedicated to you:

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

P.S. Go to my Events page for more photos and news.

Posted in Book Signing, Interview | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Review, review, where art thou?

“Writers live or die by their reviews” is an expression that’s often tossed around. It may be an exaggeration, but there are certainly a few kernels of truth in the saying. Today, with the abundance of books available online, both published and self-published, (I believe there is somewhere in the vicinity of 12 million books for sale on Amazon) it’s very difficult for an author to stand out in the crowd. Thus, the need for reviews.
We all do it. I do it. When I shop online for a product, I check out the ones with the most reviews. I read them. I evaluate them. After all, we’re not standing in a store, touching the product, seeing first-hand if it’s something that we need or want. We rely on the experiences of others. And, the same applies to books.
With the help of my publisher, Black Rose Writing, we’ve been trying various promotional activities. One was two days of free e-books on Amazon. The idea was to get the book into the hands of readers and hope they leave a review. Another was to make it available on NetGalley, a site with members who read and review books that interest them.
Recently, I received an e-mail with a copy of a beautiful 5-star review from a NetGalley reviewer. I was so proud and happy. I couldn’t wait for the review to show up on Amazon and/or Goodreads. But, no one has control over where, when, or if the reviewer decides to publish their opinion, and obviously this wonderful reviewer hasn’t had time to take care of it yet. So, I decided to take the bull by the horns, pat myself on the back, and publish it on my blog. If you’ve read Sins of the Fathers and enjoyed it, feel free to mention it on Amazon. In the meantime, Happy Reading!


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Full Text:
I was given a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was not familiar with McCarthy’s work prior to my reading of Sins of the Fathers, though after reading I can say I will be looking for more work from her. The writing style made this a page-turner for the majority of the book. I don’t always pick up mysteries, but in this case, I am glad that I did.

Charlie Butler is on the receiving end of some strange mail. The letters that she are receiving are more creepy than anything, but that doesn’t matter because the police don’t take her seriously anyway. This leads her to seeking out a private investigator. Simm and Charlie don’t get along well at all in the beginning. It isn’t until things get worse for Charlie that the two begin to work together for the greater good.

The investigation will take them all over the world and will be more dangerous than they ever could have anticipated. What Charlie learns is something that she never could have imagined. I enjoyed the edgy writing style and the variety of twists and turns that ensued. As a mystery, it ticks all of the most important boxes. I loved the characters and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.

If you have the time, I definitely recommend picking up Sins of the Fathers. It’s a great read.

Posted in Author, Review, writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment