Friday, October 18, 2019

Preliminary Painting - by Margaret Lindsay Holton

Preliminary - by MLHolton (2017) 
It's always fascinating to see which piece of art a client prefers

In 2017, I did the adjacent work, on some scrap paper, exploring a new brush technique on a fixed colour palette ...

I very much liked the 'cross-hatch' effect on this particular colour field and did a short series of landscapes to amplify my evolving discoveries.

A visiting client saw the effort, including this preliminary piece.

I was super delighted that he instantly bought it, then and there, unmounted and unframed. Bit of a surprise to me, but that's really how it goes sometimes. People just like what they like! - It really is that simple. - mlholton

The Hunt .... exploring and enjoying the bold palette  ... by MLHolton
... final effort in that series ... 'Sunset Thru the Trees' by MLHolton
Preliminary Painting - by MLHolton - SOLD
(NB: there's some colour distortion in this client supplied photo repro)

Monday, October 7, 2019


2019 Poster for @THERAWF 
In new historical fiction, TRILLIUM, by Canadian artist and author, Margaret Lindsay Holton, character Johnny Di Angelo, a rough-and-tumble farm boy from the Beamsville area, mingles with the landed gentry at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. 

The mix of low-brow country and high-brow city folk is unprecedented at this near century-old event. Black tie attendees are as bewitched as the barnyard crowd during the world-renown horse carriage and dog shows. The international jumper class is one of the highlights of the fair. Johnny is there, dressed in his new black tie, on the arm of a stunning socialite ... With his canny intuition, Johnny knows that the after-show 'mix & mingle' in the exclusive Tanbark Club is all about business and new connections. His aim is to grow the TRILLIUM brand and he soon gets to work ...

Read more! TRILLIUM - #ebook or #paperback -


The Royal offers soooo much! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Another 4-Star Book Review & An Author Interview!

Pinot Noir - Veraison - Beamsville, Ontario, Canada
The summer winds down and sun-loving grapes mature through #veraison ... 

I was delighted by a recent 4**** STAR review of TRILLIUM by Canadian novelist Marian Thorpe that appeared on Goodreads and the American Amazon book site - all the more because Marian is currently roaming around the backwaters of Asia Minor in search of snow leopards. She managed to post the review before she disappeared into the hinterland without WIFI access. We pray for her safe return!

I am always intrigued by what an author 'takes away' from reading TRILLIUM - especially when aware of the critic's background.  - "Marian Thorpe is a writer currently living and working in Guelph, [Ontario, Canada.] Originally from Southern Ontario in Essex County, Marian was born to British-immigrant parents and grew up thinking of the United Kingdom as a second home. Her father instilled an early love of British history and Roman-British history informed much of the fictional work of Marian's series."  So, Marian is second-gen Canadian. This fact does seem to shape her interest and interpretation of TRILLIUM.  

Excerpts from her critique follow:  
‘A sweeping, multi-generational, multi-family saga, TRILLIUM tells the story of the European settlement and development of the Canadian lands bordering #LakeOntario, the Niagara peninsula in particular. ...
For readers interested in the details of this area, from the names of personalities behind towns such as #Beamsville, or the vagaries of technological advances that left #Ancaster and #Dundas as sleepy towns compared to #Hamilton’s industrial bustle ..., Trillium is a wealth of detail and research framing the fortunes of three fictional families. ... Characters are to some extent place-holders establishing the foci and purpose of the three families. .... the same could be said of other sweeping tales, such as London and Sarum by Edward Rutherford. ..  As TRILLIUM approaches the modern day ... the three families entwine ... and focus shifts to personalities. The tone of the narrative changes ...The themes become more adult ... with the author reflecting .. on the increasing freedom and changing behavior of the post WWII years.
It is obvious that the author knows the #geography and #history of the #Niagara peninsula well. ... Her deeply appreciative eye shines through. Recommend for anyone wishing to better understand the long European settlement history of this area ... 4****STAR - Marian Thorpe
John Howard's Vineyard of Distinction
As a counter-balance to her somewhat distanced review, I am adding a slightly different tangent to this post of a recently released 'author interview' conducted by Vincent Lowry.  
In it, I explain how the idea of TRILLIUM came to be and what, generally, I hoped to accomplish through this new literary work. 
Yes, I did intend to focus on local history and farming life. But more importantly, I wanted to get at some inalienable facts about Family. 
I hoped to demonstrate, through fiction, how blood, genes, and general familial temperament are passed on through basic biology. I wanted to convincingly show how certain familial - and biological - characteristics manifest through generations ... 
When people say, "oh, you are just like your distant Aunt Marge and/or Uncle Bob", there's very good scientific reason for those pronouncements. It is basic science. We are a composite of what came before us. We all carry the genetic DNA of our ancestors. Farmers who breed livestock and graft vineyards understand these fundamentals very well.  The author interview can be found here : -

TRILLIUM by M.L.Holton 
(available as an ebook or trade paperback) 
via Amazon's Canadian & American sites. 

Helicopter buzzes over bucolic vineyard, Beamsville, Ontario  - Photo by MLHolton 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Writers must Write what they want to Read ...

Thrilled by this up-coming review of my third novel, TRILLIUM, from author & book blogger, Lina Hansen of #Germany. 

Excerpt follows:

Original and unique ... an epic saga of three families spanning generations … that grows as organically as the peach trees in Tom’s orchard. … I certainly enjoyed being transported back into a world where the horseshoe falls were not besieged by tourism but were still a thundering miracle in a wondrous wilderness. I enjoyed reading about the struggles of the first Europeans and their interactions with the original dwellers of this land. … Holton … gives us a narrative that is as unrushed and serene as a slow-flowing river. ... Steeped in … a keen love for nature and lovingly viewed with the eye of an artist … paints settings with words and shows us a place long lost in time. … I trusted the author to bring it all to a satisfactory conclusion … she did not disappoint … could well have been the Canadian version of “Outlander” … magic in the words.- Goodreads: 4 starLina Hansen, August 15th, 2019 

Link to her site coming soon! (She also very kindly sent a personal note: 
- " .... readers should find this novel, it deserves to be read."

Thank You Lina! 
UPDATE: Lina's blog LINK

Enjoy a #IndieAugust late #SummerRead set in #Niagara #winecountry 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Another RAVE Book Review of TRILLIUM

Wow. It is always gratifying - but also very humbling - when a book reviewer assesses the merits of one's work.  Rachel More, writing for Hamilton's Arts & Letters Magazine had some thought-filled things to say recently about TRILLIUM ...

' Margaret Lindsay Holton’s TRILLIUM 

Trillium by Margaret Lindsay Holton is a book that is steeped in both geography and history. A very specific, very localized geography and history. Trillium chronicles the history of the Niagara Peninsula and European settlement and development here.

From the first sentence - “Clinging tightly to the huge boulder half way down the falls Tom watched the water cascade past him into the churning gorge below” - it is clear that landscape and natural power loom large (oftentimes literally) over the lives of Holton’s characters. And well it should.

The founding myth of settler Canada is that of a country literally hewn from forest and granite and transformed into a paradise – one of the ‘breadbaskets of the world’ and a fertile and productive region for wine. That this is a myth cannot be overstated. The last 10 years have seen a radical shift in how we talk about the colonial period and the white men and women who came here from Europe and transmogrified the land to suit themselves at the expense of the non-white men and women who were already here. In a post-Truth and Reconciliation society perhaps Holton’s most surprising literary choice is the lack of racial tension which characterizes the opening section of Trillium.

Young Tom Hartford, a British soldier in what would come to be known (to Anglo-Canadians at least) as the French & Indian War, is a model 18th-century man. His best friend is the Iroquois trader Maakadegaagwan, known as Maaka, and the most problematic thought that Tom has is that he would prefer to marry a white woman “He would prefer to take a wife from his own kind, preferably with a woman who could read and write and teach their children.” Later, when Maaka’s customs make Tom’s new (Scottish) wife uncomfortable, Tom assures her that “Maaka was the best there ever could be”. He continues to defend his friendship with Maaka in the face of increasing community pressure to segregate from the indigenous people. Eventually though, Maaka stops coming around and Tom cheerfully accepts this as he cheerfully accepts almost everything else that happens.

But just as Canadian history doesn’t end with the English victory at the Plains of Abraham, Trillium doesn’t end with Tom Hartford peacefully living out his days on his Twenty Mile Creek peach farm.

Holton’s mandate is wide-ranging and no sooner has the story of Tom Hartford, the first, drawn to a close than she introduces us to another young man, aspiring to a better life, awestruck by the majesty of his new country.

Francesco Di Angelo arrives in Hamilton from Sicily by merchant steamer in 1835. His first view of the city highlights a rapidly-changing Canada, juxtaposing “the bustling shoreline” with the “escarpment-protected port at the end of this long freshwater open lake”.

The meaning is clear: this is a natural setting for the ingenuity and industry of human beings and the land will reward those who adapt to and exploit it most judiciously. Francesco is one of those who will profit by the land, at least in this era, because his love of growing things makes him a natural fit as a picker on the Hartford farm (now owned by Tom’s grandson, Tom Hartford III). “To him this wasn’t work, it was play. It was soil. It was home. His hands became chaffed from dirt and his fingernails became permanently blackened with grit. He dug in deeper. He didn’t mind. He could feel the sun on his back and hear the birds in the orchards. He could literally see the fruit of his own labour. In September, he ate two perfect peaches from the first tree he had picked.” Despite his lack of English, Franco is embraced by the thoroughly Anglo Hartfords in the first of many intersections between characters throughout the centuries.

Holton’s book does indeed span centuries. Words like ‘panoramic’ or ‘multi-generational’ or even ‘saga’ would apply. It is to her credit that she has looked at the history and demographics of wine country and seen fertile ground (pun intended) for the kind of sprawling family-history story made famous by authors like Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez; though Holton’s novel doesn’t feature the kind of precious magical realism that also typifies those writers. Instead, her magic is more prosaic, but no less effective.

The opening section of Trillium, “Seeds”, introduces both Tom, the first, and Franco Di Angelo as well as a third young man with big dreams. Paddy O’Sullivan’s ambitions lead him down a far different path than either of the others, with him becoming a ‘swell’ and most likely a petty criminal as well as a shrewd and corrupt businessman (he will eventually become involved with Hartford Fruit Farm through a shady land deal that sees Tom’s descendants leasing land that Paddy has acquired).

Tom, Franco, and Paddy are the seeds that Holton grows her story from and, like grapevines, that story grows strong and wild. The Hartford, Di Angelo, and O’Sullivan family’s fates are inextricably intertwined all the way up to the end of the 20th century and the novel does not lack for dramatic events.

In fact, all of the plot described so far covers less than a quarter of Trillium. The magic is that Holton never confuses the reader (even with multiple characters named, say, Tom Hartford) and she never loses the sense of the terrain being a character as much as any of the humans.

As I wrote in the beginning of this review, this is a novel in which history and geography are the twin engines driving the story forward. Trillium could not be set anywhere but the Niagara peninsula. This specificity is a strength, as is Holton’s gift for capturing each historical period in detail without losing sense of the larger whole.

As Trillium so aptly demonstrates even familiar territory can contain multitudes worth examining. Her Southern Ontario tale is full of intriguing characters with stories to tell and they are lucky to be the products of a well-seasoned teller of tales. TRILLIUM is well worth the attention of anyone who lives in the Niagara peninsula - and anyone who doesn’t but still likes quality historical fiction.'

--- Book Review by Rachel More, for H&L Magazine. Published July 20th, 2019.

Wonderful, no? 

However, More's review is not without some criticism from me ... I believe she failed to 'round out' the manner in which I did include the current plight of the indigenous people in Canada. She failed to mention how I tied up the beginning of the novel to the end with the re-introduction of a 'snapshot' of the general perspective, circa 2001, from both the native and non-native points of view. I did this in a subtle way, (as an internet-exploring activity played out in a house full of university students), to remind the readers that 'settler' history - Canadian history - is, in fact, built on top of the pre-existing human history within North America ... In other words, contrary to her critique, I was very aware from the onset that, (even though this work is NOT a novel about the native tribes of Canada), I could not ignore the 'framework' of history that has shaped our young nation and its people.

I also think her opening assumption that all interactions between colonialists and the native peoples would have been necessarily fractious is off-the-mark. Historically, that is simply not the case. (The continental fur trade would never have happened if it had been.) More to the point, and worthy of greater thought and deliberation, is the whole IDEA of 'land ownership' that lies, like the good soil beneath our feet, beneath this tale ...

Land ownership remains the greatest bone of contention between the government of Canada and the First Nations tribal groups. Dominion of the land - including all rights and access above-and-below ground - will continue to be one of on-going strife between the two competing governing cultures if some sort of genuine and acceptable agreement cannot be achieved. There is no question that the historical wounds are deep and the generational scars omnipresent. But, obviously, no progress can or will be made as long as this on-going issue remains framed as one between 'winners and losers', or 'the dominant and the subordinate'.

If PEACE is desired, a new linguistic paradigm is very much needed.

For my point of view, and for what it is worth, nothing is ever really just 'black or white' in love or war - and that includes humanity's multifaceted evolution and diverse multicultural history. If we are to survive at all as a species on this planet, we have ALL got to rethink a LOT about our engagement with the natural world as well as our interactions with all species on this amazing twirling globe.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Two New Reviews of Timely Novel by MLHolton, TRILLIUM

--- Opps! A short apology, dear friends! 

I've just had my ancient laptop refurbished, (new keyboard), and upgraded with new software (Windows 10), and am now boldly stumbling forward. (... ach!  the filing system is sooo different, passwords have 'disappeared' and one drive of info will not 'link' ... arg!) - Still, I did what to get out this brief shout-out to two very kind book reviewers who recently penned their thoughts about my latest novel effort, TRILLIUM.

First up, California-based writer, Veronica Cline Barton. Veronica is a prolific writer in her own right with a very intriguing and active writing blog. Under her #amreading and #amreviewing hashtags, she very kindly wrote the following: -
- TRILLIUM by Author M. L. Holton - ***** 5 STAR REVIEW
'This week I traveled 250 years through time with an historical fiction, multi-generational masterpiece! - Three men, three families, and 250 years of life stories and secrets flow through this masterful tale by author M.L. Holton. 
War between the British and French comes to an end, at the dawn of a new Canada. Land is royally granted, setting up the beginning of unimaginable fortunes and business opportunities for the few, agricultural livelihoods supporting generations for others, and power schemes fueled by jealousy and envy for some that will do anything to get their way.
The TRILLIUM story line is magnificent in the way it has been structured, moving the reader seamlessly through the happenings in each family generation and disclosing the decisions that will impact descendants in the future. Author Holton cleverly ties in historical events to the fictional families and agricultural details of the region that yield surprising new ventures, giving you several ‘ah-hah’ moments that this reader enjoyed.
As the family destinies play out, the lives of the rich and famous, as well as those of more modest means unfold over the decades, giving you an insight to their love lives, fated relationships, family tragedies, scheming personalities, joys and dreams as the generations within the families grow and adapt to this wondrous land. The sadness of lives lost, cruel deeds, revenge driven intentions, illness and lost hope will keep you turning page after page to see how the characters will react—and who will survive and thrive, or not.
The surroundings detailed in TRILLIUM pull you in to witness the beauty and splendor of the land, grand homes, and the drama as it unfolds. I couldn’t put this book down–I was enchanted and mesmerized by the story lines of the families, the characters, and settings from beginning to end. The scope and depth of this story is fantastically told, taking you through generations of family love, hope and drama—slowly revealing the secrets that will bind these families together forever. --- A fantastic read, highly recommended!'
Cool, eh? Veronica also, unprompted, added her 5 STAR review to Amazon, Goodreads and BookPub. - That was very decent of her! - Thank you V! 
Then, a few days later, marvelous Mel, who writes for 'Book Reviews From Canada' blog had the following to say - 
'TRILLIUM follows the stories of several families from different backgrounds as their lives intersect across generations in the Niagara region. This is a very well-done book. ... Holton has crafted a beautifully written and incredibly detailed novel. I loved how character-driven the novel was ... and ... Holton vividly describes the scenery so that you can clearly imagine it  ... Holton has managed to intersect the story lines of so many varied characters and plot points.  ...  I would recommend this book to anyone interested in character focused historical fiction spanning generations.'
---  Cool too, no? 
It is fascinating how people do perceive and interpret this new work through their own perceptual prisms. - Each sees, resonates and amplifies something slightly different. I am so glad that readers are enjoying this timely historical fiction.

Please do feel free to add your thoughts about your read of TRILLIUM too to either Goodreads and/or Amazon (via Amazon CA in Canada, or via AMAZON. COM for American and global options.

(Kindly note, if you're thinking of picking up either an e-book or paperback please note that the currency exchange rates fluctuate from country to country.)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

TRILLIUM by MLHolton tells tale set in Niagara region

A great shout-out by Luke Edwards, in Niagara This Week, covering points Grimsby to Fort Erie ... 
Yes, my latest novel started over a decade ago ... I just couldn't find the 'key' to get into it. 
The moment came when I was thinking about the various media innovations that have changed our lives .. 
Consider how news in Canada was initially sent by courier, then available via printed broadsheets, 
then newspapers, then radio, then black & white television, then colour television - 
and now, today, the internet. All this happened within a span of 250 years. A spit in the bucket.  
That's how I got into my new story ... HOW NEWS TRAVELS ... 
Dive into the on-line version of this profile  HERE. 

Third page in Fort Erie Edition

Three-quarter page  in Grimsby edition

Monday, May 27, 2019

Local Author Fair - Margaret Lindsay Holton

TRILLIUM by Margaret Lindsay Holton
Latest shipment of my new novel, TRILLIUM, has just arrived for the Local Author Fair to be held at the Central Branch of the Burlington Public Library on ---
> SATURDAY, June 22 <
> from 10am to 2pm <
Come On Out & MEET a diverse group of local authors who write in a variety of different voices - Mystery, Romance, Crime, Horror, Comedy, Historical Fiction ? -- You bet!

Plenty is planned for the 4 hour LOCAL AUTHOR FAIR: - short readings, autographed books, selfies with authors - FOR KEEN READERS YOUNG & OLD ALIKE!
Street View of Burlington Public Library - Central Branch, 2331 New Street, Downtown Burlington

Saturday, June 22nd, 10-2pm
Git yer #CANLIT on!
TRILLIUM by Margaret Lindsay Holton
Be sure to swing by & pick up your First Edition copy of TRILLIUM
 - the new historical fiction by award-winning Canadian artist and author -
 Margaret Lindsay Holton

 "Highly recommend! Could not put this book down ... First rate story!

Canadian Artist and Author, MLHolton at Burlington Public Library, Local Author Fair, June 2019. Copyright Notice: MLHolton

And, AS ALWAYS, the obligatory 'commemorative shot' - 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Humber School for Writers Grad, Margaret Lindsay Holton


   Delighted to be profiled in Humber Alumni News! 

For the FULL INTERVIEW  -  that includes a timely digression on the designing and making of 'The Four Canadian Fireside Chairs' as seen below - read more here  -
The article also mentions a few of the book projects I've done over the years ...  Note, links wont work on the screengrab below. - If looking for my most recent title, TRILLIUM, go to Amazon: /  - Older commercial titles can be found via my Amazon author page. Other MLH art & poetry book projects can be found HERE.
Finally, minor point, it is not clear in the article that I was a 'Graduate' student at the Humber School for Writers. I had already finished my Bachelor of Arts years before at the University of Toronto. I was most fortunate to receive the President's Scholarship to understudy in the 'Graduate Creative Writing Program' with 2x Giller prize winner, M.G.Vassanji.

Noteworthy nugget for die-hard Canadian literary historians - I still have all his notes!