Joylene Nowell Butler

Independent Publishers Award

Broken But Not Dead has been awarded the silver medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards:  Canada West-Best Regional Fiction category.

2011 Interviews

Vanderhoof Omineca Express: Local Writer Launches second novel.

Review of Broken but not Dead

Riveting and beautifully written. You won't be able to set it down., Aug 1 2011
a review by Judith S. Avila
I finished reading Joylene Nowell Butler's thriller, Broken but not Dead, an hour ago. But I can't free my mind of the verdant Canadian countryside nor of the terror kindled by Brendell Meshango's predicament. Ms. Meshango, a newly-retired English professor at Canada's University of Northern British Columbia, is an unforgettable heroine, stronger than she thinks she is and fiercely devoted to her daughter. When both their lives are threatened by a psycopath, she turns into a virtual she-bear.

The action in Ms. Butler's thriller kept me up late last night. I woke early this morning and - first thing - reached for her novel. I was sorry to finish the book, leaving Brendell behind. But I have not really left her behind. She lingers in my head, and her bravery gives me inspiration and hope: hope that we'll be seeing much more of both Joylene Nowell Butler and Brendell Meshango.
* * * *
Just finished reading Joylene Nowell Butler's new book "Broken but not Dead". Joylene, this is a masterpiece! A psychological thriller filled with suspense, action and drama, about a terrorized metis woman whose emotions vacillate from strength to hopelessness and back again, told in a sympathetically believable way. And it takes place right here in PG. Don't miss this one!!
                   -- John Bell, 93.1  CFIS-FM: Prince George, BC

 Broken But Not Dead – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘I lifted my head and squinted. My eyes finally adjusted to the semi-darkness. Was that the woodstove next to me? I squinted harder. It was less than five feet away. How-? On my right, the chesterfield and chair, so close I could have reached out to touch them. A chunk of moonlight outlined the veranda doors less than six feet from the foot of my bed. I sucked in air. Not possible. I slumped back. I was in my bead in the middle of the living room, lying where my coffee table should be. “Confused?” a voice whispered.’

Brendell Meshango had just resigned her position with The University of Northern British Columbia where she taught English. For the first time in her 50 years of life she was finally free to do whatever she pleased. And today it pleased her to go to her cabin, build a fire, sit on the veranda and listen to the loons. Apparently someone else had other plans for Brendell which proved true when she woke up in the middle of her living room instead of her bedroom.

Brendell was one of twelve kids born to abusive, alcoholic parents. Her Indian mother loved to beat her children because she hated them, all of them. Her father beat them because he didn’t want them to end up like him. The kids were beaten for no apparent reasons but mother Agnostine enjoyed telling Brendell her beatings were due to her being a “stupid frog-squaw”, in other words – a half-breed. Brendell was determined not to allow them to break their spirits. Her defiance allowed her to prove to her mother, as well as herself, that she was a good person was to teach the one language her mother hated – English. Her determination paid off when it took her straight to the top by becoming the head of the English department.

So, who has captured Brendell, who is holding her captive, who is torturing her and threatening her daughter Zoe if she tells anyone? Even after she’s released and allowed to go home, her intruder shows up there with more threats. When Zoe’s best friend ends up being beaten, the police suspect her husband but when the details came out as to how she was beaten, Brendell recognizes his method and style. Her only choice for protecting Zoe is to get her out of town to safety and find this person before he strikes again.

Broken But Not Dead is written without the “fluff” that’s found in many books. Joylene Nowell Butler gets straight to the story, taking you from one happening to the next and keeps you turning the page. The characters of Brendell and her determination, Zoe and her stubbornness, the mental instability of the “intruder” is written with such possibility that the book is very believable. Now that I’ve read Broken But Not Dead, I can’t wait to read Dead Witness also written by Joylene Butler.
                                                                      -- Martha Cheves

Online interviews with Joylene Nowell Butler

 Rie McGaha: interview with J. Butler,  July 15, 2011

 The Citizen article on Broken but not Dead, July 14, 2011

 Carol Garvin interviews J. Butler, June 24, 2011


Page Readers talks with Joylene Nowell Butler, March 29, 2010

Novel Works, Marta Stephen, interview with J. Butler

Bertram's Blog, guest post by Joylene Butler

Dragon My Feet, Pat Bertram, Dead Witness interview. 

A Writer's Love, Kim Kouski, Joylene Butler on Self-publishing. (reporter Monisha Martins) Dead Witness

 Prince George Free Press article: Dead Witness

 Chris Hoare: An Enlightening Interview with the Author of Dead Witness

 April Pohren's interview with Joylene:  Interview with Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness

 Review by J. Kaye Oldner:   Dead Witness

 Reviews on Good Reads:  Dead Witness

 Reviews on  Dead Witness

 Reviews on  Dead Witness

Reviews on Dead Witness 

Review by Martha Cheves: Dead Witness

Review of Dead Witness

Dead Witness – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘A long, narrow building, beyond the small shed, blocked her view.  Valerie inched past a rusty engine leaning against the hut and peeked around the corner.  Two men in black tee shirts and black pants stood at the stern of the sleek cabin cruiser docked at the wharf.  Three more men stood on the pier:  One young, one old, one dangerously attractive.  Facing her, she could see he was perfect, in fact.  Except, why was he wearing a long, tan raincoat?  Maybe she wasn’t the only unprepared foreigner.  No way would she interrupt their business.  Two of them walked way.  Mr. Perfect, the handsome Latino in the tan raincoat, smiled after them.  His sensuous, slightly accented voice broke the silence.  “Gentlemen, please. It has been my experience that even in times of indecision, a solution exists.”  His arms spread wide as if to embrace them.  The two men stopped and turned back.  Still smiling, the Latino reached inside his raincoat and pulled out a gun.  Valerie gawked at him.  She heard a pop.  The older man fell backward onto the wharf.  Pop.  The younger man’s head exploded.  The man in the tan raincoat leaned down and fired a third bullet in the older man’s head.  The body twitched, then lay still.’

Valerie McCormick is the mother of 3 beautiful daughters and wife to Ed.  Ed owns a timber business in their home town of Prince George, Canada.  In the process of trying to secure the business he runs across a possible client who has his eyes set on a boat docked in Seattle, Washington, so when Valerie wins a trip to Seattle, what better time to take pictures of the boat with hopes of scoring brownie points with the client.  But when Valerie witnesses the murder of 2 men she decides she must do her duty and report it to the police.  To her relief, the police ended up arresting Miguel DeOlmos on a traffic violation and now had him in jail.  To her disappointment, after the American FBI talked her into testifying against DeOlmos, he ends up escaping during his trial.  And to make matters worse Miguel DeOlmos is the leader of one of the largest drug cartels in the both North and South America.  DeOlmos will stop at nothing to keep from being tried in the US due to its death penalty  and it’s not beyond him to kill the only witness the FBI have against him. 

Author Joylene Nowell Butler took me on a ride from Canada, Seattle, Nevada, California and then to Baja as FBI agent Mike Canaday chases DeOlmos while still doing everything in his power to keep Valerie alive.  Valerie comes up with her own ideas of how to capture DeOlmos and ends up in the clutches of his psycho brother Vincente.  Dead Witness is a superbly written murder mystery that has everything from greed to murder to deceit and of course love.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading Dead Witness.

Review of Dead Witness

March 1, 2010

by Harold N. Walter, The Southern Gazette

Daddy's Boy sent me a this book from Prince George for Christmas. Remember Christmas?

Author, Joylene Nowell Butler, lived in Prince George for nearly 20 years. Now she lives near Vanderhoof, still in the same neck of the woods.

 Because of the solitary tree and the field of snow pictured on the cover, my first reaction to ‘Dead Witness’ was, Oh no! Not a story with a lot of snow in it!

 I have no love for snow, not even in books and movies. But, since it was a gift from Daddy’s Boy, I placed it at the bottom of my pile of Christmas books.

 Now I’ve read it and I’m sporting a bruised butt, the result of booting myself for not reading it sooner. Dead Witness is a dandy yarn, a Canadian thriller.

 Valerie McCormick, wife and mother of three teenage girls, is an occasional freelance journalist living in Prince George. She has won a trip to Seattle. She’s tickled to death, figuratively speaking, for this opportunity to get away from home and have an adventure on her own.

Considering the trouble she gets into, the tickle factor soon evaporates and the death factor becomes frighteningly literal.

Before she has been in Seattle for a day, Valerie witnesses a murder at a local marina.

 The slain men’s bodies haven’t thumped on the dock before Valerie’s life is changed forever. Feeling morally bound to do ‘the right thing’, Valerie informs the authorities of the crime.

All this happens in the first dozen or so pages. A few pages later, Valerie is back in Prince George attempting to re-establish her daily routine, being a mother and trying to help her husband Ed save their foundering logging business.

 At the same time, she’s anxiously waiting to be called back to the States to appear as the lone eye witness in the trial of Miguel DeOlmos – the baddest baddie.

 Then, one day in a supermarket parking lot, Valerie’s van is blown Kablooie! and she is snatched up by the FBI, for her own protection, they say.

Like that ever works.

Did you ever read a book or watch a movie in which some law enforcement agency manages to protect the person they’ve stashed in one of those safe houses?


Admit it though; it would be a boring story if the hidden witness lounged around watching big-screen TV and eating nachos. Not that nachos feature in Dead Witness.

Suffice to say, Valerie is unsafe in the safe house, although guarded by a team of FBI agents. And you know one of those agents has to see Valerie as a ‘hottie’.

In this case, he’s a broody Viet Nam vet who’s been with the Department for 20 years – Mike Canaday.

An aside: While reading Dead Witness I couldn’t help wondering if Bulter – a Canadian writing about a Canadian setting – was having some kind of chuckle by naming the toughest American in the story Canaday.

Bet she was, eh b’ys?

Bye the way, I’m ReMarking on this novel on Daddy’s Boy’s birthday. I imagine him driving on Highway 97, the road whose traffic roar Valerie can hear from her house as she waits in the dark for bad ol’ Miguel to pounce.

 I imagine the murky sweep of the Nechako River that Daddy’s Boy and Valerie have to cross when returning to their homes in the foothills.

 Can you handle another aside? The first time Missus and I visited Prince George we were surprised – I was anyway – the Nechako and Fraser rivers are surprisingly muddy. They’re the colour of … of … well, mud.

 You’d hate me if I told you how Valerie’s story ends, so I won’t.

 Needless to say, on the way to the showdown there’s plenty of shooting and killing. There’s some hugging and kissing, to euphemistically call raunchy hanky-panky by a gentler name.

And when Valerie is attacked by the second baddest baddie, she does some impressive serious butt bashing.

 I don’t know if Dead Witness is available in Newfoundland bookstores. You may borrow my copy if you promise to bring it back.

I wouldn’t want to lose a gift from Daddy’s Boy.

 Thank you for reading.


Review of Dead Witness

by Ric Wasley, author of The Scrimshaw.

Dead Witness, the exciting break-out novel from a talented new author - Joylene Butler, is a non-stop roller-coaster of suspense and intrigue.
Joylene does a masterful job of creating an "Every-Woman" protagonist, Valerie McCormick, that at first you will feel compassion for when she is forced to abandon her beloved family to save their lives. But as the story progresses, you will find yourself rooting for Valerie as she learns that she is much stronger that she ever imagined
The story is tight and well crafted. The villains are pure poison but the author doesn't fall in to the trap of so many others who make their evil characters two dimensional stereotypes.
Author Butler's villains are evil to be sure but the author gives us a back story which helps we the reader, to comprehend their actions without necessarily sympathizing with them
The action is fast paced and intense, as is the transformation of Valerie; from a bored, and beleaguered wife and mother - to a woman who finds that when the worst happens and her family lives are in danger, she has the inner strength to transform herself from an insecure and vulnerable housewife, to a brave and strong woman.
I highly recommend Dead Witness as a "Must" for your reading list !
Ric Wasley - Author
       •The Scrimshaw – 2008

Review of Dead Witness

8 Jul 2008
Joylene Nowell Butler's mystery, "Dead Witness," is a heart pounding, visceral story about a mother's love for her three daughters and the impossible decision that faces her: should she endanger her own and her family's lives by testifying to a murder she witnessed?

The primary character, Valerie McCormick, will win your heart. Vulnerable and full of self doubt, she is fiercely strong when her family is threatened. And the antagonists, the deadly DeOlmos brothers, are creepy, charming, and gorgeous - enough to make any sane reader get up and lock the doors.

Ms. Butler, a Canadian native, sets her tale in Seattle; Prince George, Canada; and Los Cabos, Mexico. The story races from one place to another, leaving you gasping with its twists and turns. The delightfully complex plot rivals any police story I've read, and the compelling characters far surpass those usually found in genre fiction.

If you like a dynamic read with remarkable characters, get out and buy Dead Witness.


Fast-paced entertainment with characters you won't forget!
23 Jul 2008
Dead Witness is definitely a Friday night read. If you start this book on a school night, prepare to spend the next day sleep-deprived. Joylene Nowell Butler’s crisp plot races forward and never relents. The book delivers an exciting story at a hot pace; but that is not what makes it a five-star read. What distinguishes Dead Witness is the outstanding quality of the dialogue and the depth and complexity of its characters.

Nowell Butler’s heroine, Valerie McCormick, is a Canadian housewife and mother from Prince George, British Columbia. When the machinations of the FBI fail to protect her or her family from Colombian drug lord Miguel DeOlmos, Valerie makes the decision to seek DeOlmos on her own terms. Those terms are what make this heroine so appealing and so interesting, as one quiet, determined BC housewife takes her fate in her own hands and sets the FBI, and its star agent, Michael Canady on their ears.


Dead Witness by Joylene Nowell Butler
24 Jul 2008
When I pick up a suspense/crime novel, I have certain expectations. I want to get pulled in to the story right away, I want to like the main character a lot and thus care about her fate, and I want to be entertained; that is, I want to feel surprised, scared, angry, amused, shocked and thrilled. Being a normal human being, I want the good guys to win and the bad guys to go down-- they have to either get put away or die, and it's even better if they are thoroughly humiliated and disgraced first. And, being a woman, I enjoy a good love story.
This author fulfilled all my requirements. This story moves very quickly at all the right times, yet also vividly portrays the boredom and frustration of life as a protected witness. Valerie is a very likeable heroine: an orphan who married for security not love, and a mother of three who cares passionately about her kids and especially wants them to have a better life than she did. In terms of the entertainment, it was first rate and made the book difficult to put down. Without giving too much away, the conclusion of the book is very satisfying. And finally, the love story is possibly the best part, because it is not straightforward and at times you wonder if the two characters, who are obviously attracted to each other, are ever going to actually connect!
I strongly recommend this first novel to anyone who wants to read an exciting suspenseful book with a lot of heart. Joylene Butler never talks down to her readers; she is right there with us, leading us through Valerie's adventures in a way that leaves no doubt of her passion for a rivetting, well-told tale.
Review by N. MacFarlane
Dead Witness, a taut thriller 
This was a fast paced, gripping book. I was rooting for Valerie and Canaday the whole way. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves endearing, believable characters and a break neck ride from the forests of British Columbia to the hot sultry beaches on Baja where danger lurks in the most gracious, evil package. I look forward to more books by Joylene.


Dead Witness By Joylene Nowell Butler 
I have never read a book that had me feeling so much like the main character. I could feel her dispair when she went to turn the ignition key. Joylene has a wonderful knack for putting you into the characters shoes. It was so well written, keeping you on the edge of your seat. Anyone wanting a great read from beginning to end should be sure to read this novel.

I would like to know if Joylene has other novels published and if so what are the names of them. If she doesn't, when will she have her next novel published?


Valerie McCormick had won a Mother¢s Day contest for two fun filed days in Seattle . If she had known that winning would have her running for her life then she probably won¢t have gone. Valerie went down to the docks to take some pictures when she witnesses the murder of two men. Valerie discovers that the two men were undercover FBI agents who were working a case to bring down of Latin¢s most famous drug lord¢s Miguel DeOlmos. Now DeOlmos is after Valerie and her family but the FBI is going to try their hardest to protect Valerie. DeOlmos tracks Valerie down and almost succeeds in killing her. Now Valerie knows that she will have to take matters into her own hands. It¢s a battle of wits in addition to who has time in their favor.

I found it amazing just to what extremes a mother will go to protect her family. Valerie¢s character is a very strong woman with a fierce personality. The story line was a very exciting one with all the action and adventure. It seemed like though that Valerie was better equipped to take on Miguel DeOlmos then the FBI were. This is why I think I found Dead Witness so good was because I wanted to see what Valerie would do next. I was pleasantly surprised to find I couldn¢t put Dead Witness down. Dead Witness can by classified as a great read. This is all due to the author Joylene Nowell Butler. Keep up the good job.


Dead Witness is dead on
27 Jul 2008)
I reluctantly reached the end of Dead Witness this afternoon and had to say goodbye to Valerie and Canaday, the two main characters. They are wonderful, as are the plot and the pace and the characterization and the twists. The dialogue is as real as it gets. But yet another reason Dead Witness shines so brightly is the DeOlmos brothers, the bad guys. They're evil but oh so human. Individually, they're scary and believable and sometimes even charming, but there's something about the way they interact and complement each other that makes them all the more realistic and complex and terrifying. Still, it's Valerie who gets my highest praise. What a fascinating mix of vulnerability and strength, naivety and savvy, purity and seductress.

The writing style is crisp and dynamic and consistent, perfect for a thriller. This novel gets all the stars I'm allowed to give it. I loved reading Dead Witness and hated to see it end.


Dead Witness is a very good read 28 Jul 2008
I am not an English major, writer or journalist so please forgive any grammatical errors.... I am an ordinary person who lives in genteel poverty and likes to read. I purchase my books on sale or at rummage/garage sales. So right off the top, I really appreciated being able to download a copy of Dead Witness for only $2.

Now about the story. I liked it. I really liked it. The plot kept moving at a good pace. The initial chapters felt script like but by chapter nine the characters started to become real to me and I was definitely hooked. I would have preferred the main characters to have had their personality traits more exaggerated, bigger than life, more emotional, not so reserved ... so they could jump off the page and into my heart sooner... After all, it's imperfections and contradictions that, for me, make people lovable.

Being from Prince George, it would have been great to have had more action take place in PG, the north and Canada. Alaska would have been my choice for the first safe house. More descriptions of the city and surrounding area would have made me feel I'm traveling in the vehicle or shopping in the store with Valerie & Ed. Not being a writer, I wondered why the names of establishments had to be changed. For example we have five major banks in Canada. Why couldn't the bank scene have been in a real Canadian branch because then I could have visualized RBC with its blue decor or the Bank of Nova Scotia with its red color scheme. Why couldn't UNBC keep its real name?

My bias would have been to have the law enforcement agencies themselves look more competent with bureaucratic bungling and miscommunication something that happens in large organizations rather than appear so ineffective. I also sometimes questioned how easily information could be traced in this story and sure hope it is not true... I want the mounties to always get their man!

And dare I say, I would have liked the sexual thoughts to have been steamier, the attraction deeper, more animalistic and less tame, the sex hotter and more descriptive... this is not real life after all. Given the situation, all the emotions and hormones galloping at warp speed, I think it would have been perfectly natural for a character to have acted totally out of character and lost their societal inhibitions to the moment.... tomorrow may not be a reality for them after all. But this is just one reader's opinions.

All of the above points are minor things. I enjoyed reading the book and was entertained. I want to know when Ms. Butler's next book is coming out. I hope it contains more of Valerie, Canaday, Roth, and Vamozzi. Now that these characters have entered my life, I really hope I get to continue a relationship with them in future books. My secret wish is Canaday moves to Canada, becomes a Canadian citizen...... maybe teams up with Roth to build a very successful investigative firm. Vamozzi's connections are used but ... after a bit .... he is asked to head a branch office in the States and perhaps meets a client that he falls in love with too. Did I mention that I like to read fictional novels? Dead Witness was a very enjoyable read and I want more. I am now a fan.



Intriguing plot, vivid characters …. an utterly gripping read. 31 Jul 2008
Watch out for Joylene Nowell Butler. Her first novel, Dead Witness, is a gripping tale of a woman whose life changes forever when she witnesses the leader of a Latin drug cartel murder two FBI agents. The FBI desperately wants Valerie to testify; the drug lord is just as determined to make sure she never does.

It's a rollercoaster ride of chilling plot twists and turns. Butler takes us into the mind and heart of a woman who lost her parents as a child and now loses her children, when the FBI force her into hiding. As she struggles to elude the drug lord and return to her children, she discovers an inner strength that allows her to not only face the demons in her past, but also find romance in a most unlikely place. Butler's writing is fluid and compelling: she evokes each scene with an attention to detail that makes you feel you're actually there.

Plot, pace, characterization and prose: Butler delivers on all counts. Pick up Dead Witness and you won't want to put it down.