Tag Archives: Norma Budden

BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “IF ONLY” @NORMABUDDEN

Title:  “If Only”if-only-norma-budden-review-colleen-cheseboro

Author:  Norma Budden

ASIN:  B00S4GV7OU

Website:  normasbooks.com

Published:  February 14th 2015 by Smashwords Edition

Pages:  204 pages

Genre:  Romance, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance,

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review, which follows.

Demi and David first meet in high school, where they fell in love at a young age.  In no time, Demi is pregnant and decides to hide the truth from David about their child, because she does not want to influence his decision to go to college to become a private investigator.  Instead, Demi takes it upon herself to have the child and give her up for adoption.  This decision comes at a price to Demi’s psyche.  Years later, she begins to have visions of her daughter, and feels an unexplainable need to find her child now, at any cost.

Compromising matters further, Demi is married to another man and has two children with him.  Searching for her daughter has brought no leads from the current investigators, so Demi turns to the only man she knows will help her find their daughter – David, her lost love from long ago, who is now a successful private investigator.

Demi finally tells David about their daughter.  David is also married to someone else with two children of his own.  Breaking the news to their spouses creates a story of intrigue and suspense with more twists and turns along the way.

Sharing in the story, is the child herself, Renee who feels she cannot connect with her parents, and never has.  Always the outsider, Renee wonders as an only child, if she was adopted.  Before long, Rene starts having dreams and experiences an uncontrollable urge to meet a strange man – her father, David.  As events unravel, Demi and David tumble through a maze of second chances, reconciliations, and realize many losses along the way.  Eventually they find the love of a real family.

Norma Budden

Image credit: Norma Budden

I felt great empathy for Demi and David, as they longed for the child they never knew.  It was important that each character felt the pull of Renee, the missing link to their family unit, and the author was able to convey that message to the reader.  I was drawn to the paranormal aspect of the dreams that Demi, David and Renee shared.  I felt like there was an unforeseen force willing them all to find each other to complete their family.

“If Only,” tugs at your heart, and I found myself rooting for them all to find each other and become the family they were meant to be.  Even though some of the events were predictable, and much time was spent inside the heads of the characters; I found myself caught up in the over powering human desire of ‘belonging’ that the author conveyed in her telling of the story.

This was an uplifting story of change and growth between two adults who felt the need to atone for decisions made as young adults.  Our past always follows us, and Norma Budden leads her readers on a journey of love and acceptance one will not soon forget.

RATINGSIf Only Norma Budden Book Cover
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 3/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Readability: 3/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.0

Buy it at: Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback: $9.99 US
Kindle: $2.99 US

Goodreads

 

Colleen_Silver_Threading

 

 

 

 

@ColleenChesebro

www.SilverThreading.com

 

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If Only Interview with Author @NormaBudden

RW – You have three children and two grandchildren in the house. How do you find a place for privacy to write, or perhaps a better question is how do you find the quiet time?

NORMA – My family and I live in a two bedroom house which will, likely, make you wonder how weNorma Budden manage to comfortably have six people sleeping in the house. The answer is that we gave up the living room a few years ago and turned it into an open-area bedroom, which used to be mine. I loved it! Except for the washroom and laundry facilities, everything I needed was in the same room; it felt like I had my own studio apartment.

As the family grew, with the same daily grind at the day job, I needed a space to call my own. I achieved it, for a while, because I moved into the smallest bedroom. When my grandson was born, I gave up a little of that space and allowed him to share my room with me since it was a much quieter environment. We formed an agreement: in the evenings, after unwinding a little when coming home from work, I could write to my heart’s content as long as I found a way to shield his eyes from the light surrounding my desk.

Having a fan set on a low speed helped because it shut out the noise from the kitchen and other areas of the house. If the noise got louder, the speed of the fan went up a notch. Though my grandson no longer shares a room with me, the same fan is still in operation.

I have gotten into having easy listening music playing in the background, sometimes, which helps drown out the sounds in the main part of the house, and helps me relax. One other enhancement has been installing a deadbolt on my bedroom door because sometimes I have to meet a deadline and, no matter how much I enjoy little visits from my kids and grandkids, it removes my focus, depending upon what I’m working on at the time. Does the deadbolt get locked very often? No, but it gives me peace of mind knowing it’s there.

RW – Describe your writer’s place.

NORMA – I write in my bedroom. Instead of hanging clothes in my open-area closet, I set a desk in there instead. To my immediate left is a window through which I see a few houses and can look onto the tundra. During summer, when the kids are playing outside, I can easily write and look through my window to make sure they’re in sight and okay.

In front of me is my 23” all-in-one Dell Inspiron computer which sits about 24 inches away from me as I write. There are photos of the kids and an inspirational quote sitting on my desk to the left of my computer. On the right is my little pen and stationery area which comes in handy more than one might think for a writer who primarily uses the computer.

On the wall behind my computer, to the left, are a couple of wall decorations. To the right is a piece of art made at school by my son the first year he was in school titled, Walk With Me, Anaana – Anaana being the Inuktitut word for Mom.

To the right of my desk is a filing cabinet – which comes in handy, but is rarely used.

RW – How does where you live influence what you write?

NORMA – Despite interest people have shown over the years, one thing I don’t do is write books about living in Arctic Canada. Whether I will, who knows, but my heart is stuck on writing fiction. That being said, I may be able to use the Arctic tundra as settings for fiction novels but, in all honesty, I like to escape the frigid temperatures outside as I can, and writing helps carry me to another place.

Since I began publishing e-books in 2011, I’ve noticed that I pay more attention to detail when traveling. My family and I enjoy extended road trips and, because I can’t find such settings and enjoy such experiences at home, I soak everything in so that my characters can enjoy the same towns, road trips and experiences.

RW – Tell our readers about If Only.

NORMA – I’ve written numerous storylines throughout my writing career but I can’t say any previous title I’ve published resonates within my soul the same way as If Only does. I’m so used to beginning a story with only one scene in my mind, but the scene calls to me. The more I try to ignore it, the louder it calls my name – to the point I just set everything else aside and begin to write.

If Only Norma Budden Book CoverWhen I began writing If Only, I thought of a mother searching for a baby girl she had put up for adoption several years earlier. At the time, I didn’t know that the biological mother was married. I just knew her heart was aching and she needed to find her child, no matter what. At the same time, I wondered how I could introduce a paranormal element into my story – something I’d be comfortable writing, something my fans would be willing to read. At the heart of the matter, I knew I wanted the story to appeal to peoples’ emotions because, of all the subjects people can study and understand, I understand emotions.

Without giving the story away, If Only takes readers on a journey into relationships and the ensuing emotions the characters feel because of the circumstances they find themselves in.

Demi loved David – the father of the daughter she put up for adoption 16-years-ago – but they moved on with their lives. When feeling desperate to find her firstborn child, Demi calls David and tells him the truth of the situation, that he had sired a daughter as a teen, that two detectives were unable to find her.

I don’t think either of them expected the events which followed, how tragedy would strike, how their lives would change forever. David certainly had no expectation that a young lady calling him, “Dad,” would begin appearing to him in the dead of night. Demi didn’t expect David to come to her with stories she couldn’t make herself believe.

In the midst of it all, we have a budding teen romance and four small children struggling with their emotions. All in all, it’s a story that stirs my soul because so many emotional elements of it are felt by people every day.

RW – What themes can the reader expect?

NORMA – Forgiveness brings healing; it is definitely one of the themes that readers should take away after reading, If Only. Of course, true love conquers all would be another. I’m sure there are others but I’d like to leave something for readers to discover on their own because I’ve already learned people interpret the story differently.

RW – Although the characters are works of fiction in If Only you must have pulled influences from various people in your life. Would you be willing to share some of them? I know where the name David Alexander came from and very likely his relationship with children but, as far as personality traits, where did those come from for some of your characters?

NORMA – I hadn’t thought about this until you asked but, in retrospect, I can see the character of Phillip, David’s father, as being a close resemblance to a pastor friend, John Dueck, of Saskatchewan, Canada. I met him when he was stationed in Arviat with his wife several years ago. In many ways the two of them were like parents to me; they would do anything for me and I could confide in them about anything. In the story, David could tell his father anything and his father would never cast judgment. Instead, he would offer sage advice – for David to be cautious in his steps, for example. This is the kind of advice John would have given me in such a situation. He might have his own thoughts and ideals, but he would never force me to bow to his wishes.

As for Demi, in some areas, she is similar to me. We share the same allergic reaction to tobacco smoke. Also, if I wanted to find someone, I would do everything in my power to make sure I found them, exhausting every possible tool at my disposal, if required. Also, Demi throws herself into her work and often feels inadequate as a parent because she has to work so many hours in a given week. I’m the same. I work between 45-50 hours outside of the home. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted. I’d really like to kick my feet up and relax for a while, but I have this quirk about not wanting to eat after eight o’clock so must force myself to keep going so that, when I can sit down, I don’t need to get up again right away.

As for Riley, I imagined a boy similar to my son. He likes to dance and would be a little scared if he was put into a situation that made him uncomfortable. Wanting to hide would be something I could imagine him doing if he encountered the situation Riley did when with his father in PEI.

As for JD Phelps, his character is based upon an author friend, Michael Phelps, who has worn many hats; his retirement as Chief Investigator from a well-known Miami law firm was the last hat he wore before trying his hand at writing. I just had to have him help David find his daughter.

As for the other characters, they wrote themselves, but it doesn’t mean they are any less important. Caitlin and Jocelyn, for example, are two girls I wish I could meet so I might wrap my arms around them, even if they have David and Demi to comfort them. Those two girls tugged at my heartstrings unlike any other “child” character I’ve created.

RW – If Only seems to be a very personal story. I know you are a talented writer but there are elements here that are portrayed almost too perfectly for the imagination. How did the story develop?

NORMA – The story is pure imagination which started with an idea and grew. I wish I could say I had personal experience which enabled me to write the story as I did but, at the time I wrote If Only, I didn’t. It was months after the story was written that the bottom dropped out of my world from losing so many people I cared about. I guess you can say I threw myself into my characters’ lives so that I became each one of them and went with how I thought I might feel.

RW – There are young children in the book and they deal with some very big emotions. How did you go about writing those parts? I mean they are spot on.

NORMA – When I wrote If Only, I was living and breathing the story no matter what I was doing, where I was or whom I was with. It became my life, consuming every ounce of energy I possessed. I didn’t feel comfortable until I was in front of my computer, having settled in to write for the evening.

The issues the young children had to deal with surprised me because I didn’t see them coming. However, I’m a firm believer that, as something is written, so shall it be. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t review and polish a piece of writing; what I mean is that, for me, if a storyline begins to write itself, I have to go along for the ride and see how everything unfolds. As of yet, I’ve never written myself into a corner.

I threw myself into the character of Caitlin looking at her younger sister’s pain. It was as if Caitlin stepped inside of me and told me how she was feeling. As for Jocelyn, I imagined how I might feel if something I did hurt someone else. I know, without a doubt, I’d be blaming myself, no matter what anyone said. It would take time for me to heal completely.

As for Sophie and Riley, I tried imagining how I would feel if my hero let me down; it wasn’t a difficult thing to do, though I hated that they had grown scared of a person they had loved so much. It brought to mind an experience from my childhood, seeing a man I loved in a drunken state. When he called out to me, I was terrified. I remember hiding, not because I was afraid of the man, but because of the way my name sounded that particular time when he said it. Writing If Only, I went with the way I felt at that time in my life and used my feelings as a starting point for writing the scenes.

The emotions were painful to deal with as I wrote the various scenes but, in some peoples’ lives, those emotions and feelings of being afraid are faced on a daily basis – whether it’s because they lost a loved one or have grown afraid of a person who has been assigned to love and protect them.

RW – Again about the children in the book, I personally look at what you did as taking a lot of strength to do. Even as a work of fiction I know it’s difficult to write certain pieces. How did you handle those parts with the children? How did you not curl up and want to hide under a blanket in the bed?

NORMA – Let me tackle the easiest issue first: the fear that developed for Sophie and Riley soon after they went to PEI for vacation. I’ve been to PEI and I stayed at one of the cottages in Hampton mentioned in the story. I had to deal with my garbage the same way my characters did, having everything sorted depending upon what it was made from or whether it was organic waste. I had the same level of excitement as Sophie did, even if I was confused, at first.

The events that followed – their father taking up smoking and beginning to drink – unsettled Sophie and Riley. It was difficult to write those scenes because these two kids didn’t grow up in such an environment. Their mother was allergic to tobacco smoke so that was the first thing to instill fear into their young minds. When their father began drinking, shouting that they didn’t need their mother anymore, I wanted to knock him on his backside then kick him in the ribs a couple of times – which was shocking for me. I rarely want to bring pain to one of my characters but, in that moment, Robert Glenn was lucky I decided to let him live.

When Riley crawled from underneath the bed, my heart broke for this child who had lost a level of innocence he should never have lost, especially at such a young age. Up to the point when they left for their trip to PEI, he had already been trying, in his own way, to get his father’s attention in the way he craved. Yes, it was difficult to write such a scene. In my mind, Riley deserved the kind of father David was to his girls, a father whose world revolved around his children.

With Jocelyn and Caitlin, however, I could easily have curled up in bed and kissed the story goodbye because I didn’t want to deal with the emotions anymore. What good would that have done, though? In my mind, they would’ve been left in limbo. I would have left two little girls hurting when healing might have come their way, so I did the only thing I could do: I continued to write the story while sobbing like a baby sitting at my computer, reaching for tissues as I needed them. With the emotional scars I feared they’d have to deal with for the remainder of their lives, I had to try to come up with some type of happy ending for them. I owed them that much; after all, it was my writing which brought them so much pain so the least I could do was try to repair the damage.

RW – How important is the seat belt rule in your family?

NORMA – I live in Arctic Canada where seat belts are rarely, if ever, used – at least in the areas where I live. There is no law that states we have to use them, but I can’t speak for the remainder of the territory. We don’t have a vehicle to drive, anyway – except an ATV during summer – so it’s a moot point.

Because I am typically the only adult traveling with the kids, in the distant past, sometimes I’ve encountered situations in which it seemed safest to take one of the little ones in the front with me than leave them crying in the back.

For example, my girls and I were traveling in one of the states several years ago when they were young, before my son was born. My girls were not used to trees since we live above the treeline in Arctic Canada. This particular night, it was dark – though not late – and we were surrounded by trees with little traffic on the lonely road we were driving. The hotel room was booked but we still had about an hour or so to drive before we got there. My youngest daughter, a baby at the time, woke to the darkness outside and started crying. I don’t know how long she cried but I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I pulled over quickly, unstrapped my seat belt and turned around in my seat. I took her out of the car seat and put her on my lap closest to the door, strapped the seat belt the best I could over both of us and continued driving. In all honesty, had it not been such a dark, deserted road, or if I had another adult in the vehicle with me, I likely would have stayed pulled over until she drifted back to sleep but, given the circumstances, it felt safest to make the decision I made.

In general, though, from the time I board a plane with my family, the seat belt is fastened. Like David, I will not move a car unless every seat belt is fastened, even if we are driving outside of the country and enter a state where the seat belt law is not in effect.

Imagine my surprise (in 2011) when stopping at a drive-through in Ohio and seeing a baby sitting on a man’s lap in the back seat. I was astonished! A lady at a restaurant later told me that seat belts were not required in Ohio and, as long as a baby is sitting in the back seat, it’s okay.

Well, the truth of the matter is that I don’t feel comfortable driving unless I’m wearing my seat belt. To me, sitting in a moving vehicle without using my seat belt would be similar to a cop going on duty and failing to take his weapon. It just doesn’t make sense.

A side note: driving in the dark is at a minimum over recent years yet, strangely, my children now miss it. Since they are older, I may begin resuming my old habits because I miss driving at night, too.

RW – Your writing, and I am including your previous books, have a great deal about families in them, even if they are families of friends. How much does your own family influence your writing?

NORMA – Off the top of my head, I can’t see a correlation between my family and the subjects I write. However, family is important and, with a larger number of parents working and having less time to spend with their kids, I like to write stories which brings the family unit to the forefront of readers’ minds, even in their down time.

RW – Tell us about a food court at a mall and how important that is to your writing career?

NORMA – I knew the minute I read this question that you did some extensive homework in preparing your interview. I’ve been searching the recesses of my mind to remember where you might have come across something I wrote that led up to this question, but I’m drawing a blank.

To answer your question, though, I started writing poetry when I was a teenager. I was going through a rough situation and needed an outlet for my thoughts. I worked at a Laura Secord location in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at the time. During lunch breaks, I would quickly grab a bite to eat in the food court and then put pen to paper and write.

I wrote poems and songs about my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I imagined a situation and how I might feel if I was in that situation and wrote about it. Other times, I looked at people – studied them – and wrote poems or songs about what I thought they might be feeling.

At any rate, it was a starting point. Over the years, I went on to write several novels and short stories – some of which I’ve published – and I’m proud to say I have an ever-growing fan base.

RW – About your writing process. If Only was a ‘let my imagination run its course’ book written during November of 2013, perhaps NaNoWriMo. It’s been over a year later. Is that your normal process? Is that your normal length of time from beginning to being published?

NORMA – From the time I finish writing a book to the time it is published depends entirely upon what is going on in my life. I try not to box myself in too much, in terms of announcing deadlines, since I have no way of knowing what will arise on any given day.

Sometimes I intend to work on publishing a title but another story idea comes to mind and I need to start writing immediately. I follow my gut a lot in everything I do so, sometimes, writing projects get put on hold for a while.

To give you an idea of time lines, I published the first book of my Freedom in Love Series, An Affair to Remember, in September of 2011. The second book of the series, When Love Abides, was published three months later. I was on a roll with thoughts for the third book, Soul Confessions, to be written and published soon afterwards. However, life happened. My grandson came along and I started writing shorter stories because I didn’t have as much writing time.

I went on to publish two short stories and two novellas by September, 2012. By that time, life had settled into a routine and I started working on Soul Confessions. It came to an abrupt halt when I felt prompted in my spirit to write, Coming Unglued: A Mother’s Journey into Hell. The story would not let me go so I had no choice but to follow through; it was published in November of 2012.

Just when I thought, again, I’d be able to focus on writing more of my series, my granddaughter came along. I knew I was in trouble where my writing was concerned. What made matters worse was that I had readers wanting to read the third book of the series and had to put them on hold.

That being said, after writing If Only in November of 2013, I knew I would let the story sit for a while. I had to finish writing Soul Confessions and, because there was going to be such a lengthy time between the publication of the second book and the third, I didn’t feel it was right to publish Soul Confessions until the fourth book (Divided Loyalties) was written.

Months passed. Little writing would be done until June, 2014, when I resumed writing and finished Soul Confessions then, without taking a break, started writing Divided Loyalties.

Sunday, July 20, 2014, would see me at David Alexander Vetra’s apartment where I was house-sitting until he got back in town. I decided to cook dinner so he wouldn’t need to fool around with preparing a meal. It was just a quick weekend trip so, while waiting for the next several hours to pass, I took the opportunity to finish writing Divided Loyalties.

At one point in the early afternoon, I was writing a scene and suddenly stopped, then started sobbing like a baby. I noted the time; it’s another quirk of mine. I wanted to stop writing but I felt in my spirit that I had to finish the story, so I got my out-of-the-blue emotions under control and finished it. I was on such a natural high after writing two books in a matter of six weeks that I thought nothing could bring me down.

Just a short while – I’m talking about a couple of hours – after penning the last words of Divided Loyalties, I received news that David was killed in an accident. He was a dear friend of my family and we continue to miss his presence in our lives. I later learned that the time of his death had occurred around the same time I had started sobbing for no apparent reason.

Let me tell you, an emotional high followed by such a devastating low, in such a short span of time, left me feeling absolutely numb. I couldn’t imagine working on publishing a book. I could barely bring myself to think. Thank God I still had a few days of vacation remaining so I could get my head together before returning to work.

Even weeks after, I still couldn’t write. It felt like something had died within me; I feared I’d never feel normal again. Then came Michael Phelps of Miami, Florida – friend of the late David Jannsen and a dear friend of mine – asking if I might consider editing and formatting his two volume book titled, David Janssen: Our Conversations. In retrospect, I believe God took that opportunity to provide a healing balm to my wounded soul.

After I finished with his book, I figured I’d better get Soul Confessions published. Finally, in October, 2014 – three years after the second book of the series was published – the third title was available to my readers. In November, 2014, I took part in another NaNoWriMo challenge and wrote the fifth book of my series, The Promise, which left me free to work on publishing Divided Loyalties.

However, I felt urged within my spirit to publish If Only first, felt the time was right, and here I am promoting this title as much as possible. By the beginning of March, 2015, I will be working on finalizing Divided Loyalties.

RW – I know you are just releasing this book but what are you working on now for your readers to enjoy next?

NORMA – After Divided Loyalties and The Promise are published in 2015, I intend to write another stand-alone book titled, A Lost Mind. In this story, I’ll be writing about a man who had an accident, whose memory was wiped clean, a man who wakes every morning since the accident with no memory of the day before. I intend to build upon his life before the accident and how his life, and the lives of those he loves, has forever changed after the accident. It will be an uplifting story and, amazingly, I already know what the last words will be – but I can’t ruin the surprise so I will keep them to myself. They are written upon my heart and I shall not forget.

RW – Is there a genre that you would like to explore and if so why?

NORMA – Unlike many writers who would like to become known for writing a certain genre, I don’t want to box myself in. I guess I’m much like an actor who doesn’t want to become known for only being able to act in certain types of roles. That being said, there are subjects I won’t write but every subject I write about will have emotional depth.

RW – One of your interests is writing poetry. Would you write a poem to share with our readers that you believe fits If Only?

An Anchor

Happiness lingers all around,

Smiles and laughter everywhere,

Until, one day, the phone did ring,

Bringing news one couldn’t bear.

An anchor comes from a past life,

Calms the stormy, raging sea,

Spreading her arms of love around,

Falls in love, but it can’t be.

 

Yearning to know what is the truth,

A voice whispers in the night,

One man can hear and he believes.

His mission is to set things right.

 

Copyright 2015 Norma Budden

 

 

RW – You are very prolific in your writing. I also know you do some editing. Where do you find time for it all?

NORMA – I rarely watch television which gives me a lot of time to get extra things done, even though I spend a large portion of each week day outside of the home. Also, writing is as relaxing for me as reading so, sometimes, I choose to write – instead of read – before going to bed. Typically, if I take on an editing project, I don’t write and do very little reading, so it becomes a balancing act. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in two to three hours each night.

RW – You edited Michael Phelps’ books David Janssen-Our Conversations. I’ve read the unedited versions. How does one go about acquiring your services?

NORMA – I haven’t advertised my editorial services, as such. Editing Mike’s book came along because he read some of my e-books and asked me who prepared them for publication. When I told him I passed my book to an editor but did all of the formatting myself, he was impressed and sent his files to me.

Of course, I can’t attach my name to something unless I feel it’s as perfect as it can be so I took on the editing as well as the formatting, setting up the files for publication and so on. I’ve had other assignments, even turned some down, but it is largely dependent on my schedule.

RW – You’re self-published but reading If Only I would think if you wanted to be you would be signed by someone by now. What is the appeal of self-publishing to you? What is your biggest advice to those looking at self-publishing?

NORMA – The biggest appeal of self-publishing is that I get to keep my story how I want it told. I can retain my rights to it and set my own deadlines. I’m a professional in wanting my books released properly the first time they are out the door and, thankfully, there are many tasks involved with self-publishing that I can do myself. Also, in self-publishing, if I was to read one of my books and find a mistake, there would only be myself to blame and I could fix the mistake rather quickly; if I sent my book to a mainstream publisher and saw typos or less than ideal formatting, I’d be upset.

It takes a lot of time preparing a book for publication. I read it over several times to be sure it’s perfect, even after receiving it back from my editor. If I find mistakes, I polish the book and read it again. Yes, it’s a time consuming process and I haven’t even touched on marketing my books. However, I couldn’t imagine sending my book to anyone and having them tell me a scene has to go, especially if I feel that scene is critical to the story.

On the subject of marketing, though, I enjoy interacting with my readers and people who blog about my books. I enjoy forming friendships which would be missing, to a large degree, if I was to go mainstream – and, with mainstream publishing, unless my books were best sellers, they wouldn’t have a long shelf life.

As for advice to those wanting to self-publish, the most important advice I can give you is to be a professional and give yourself time. Don’t publish a work that isn’t edited or formatted properly. Whether your book is in an e-book or printed format, make your book look the same inside as a book you would see in a bookstore. This means your book needs to have front matter. It needs to have a copyright page and it needs to have a title page. Dedication and acknowledgment pages are optional but the other two aren’t.

If you are not inclined to learn how to master the steps of self-publishing and don’t want to take on the marketing aspects of publishing a book, pay a professional to do those things for you. It will be worth it.

RW – How do you define success?

NORMA – I could write a book on how I would define success, and I’m willing to bet it would turn out to be an emotional story.

I’m alive. I’m healthy and my children are healthy. I have a job, clothes on my back, food on my table each day and a roof over my head which isn’t threatened. To me, these are the basics of being successful because, without any of these, one would define true success as attaining all of these.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention money, any more than what one needs to comfortably meet their basic needs each day. A wise man once told me that money is a tool, that it should never be a god. I’ve taken those words to heart and, in the process, I’ve learned that by giving to others, I become richer in spirit. This is success to me.

However, if I could reach a point in my life in which I could devote most of my day to writing and promoting my stories, it would be the ultimate form of success, especially if I can write from an office with a wall of windows overlooking a large body of water.

RW – I have one question I always ask my authors: what is your favorite word and why?

NORMA – I never thought about this, but the first word which comes to mind is forgiveness. It is the only word I know which completely sets a person free. For example, you can love one person and hate another but, unless you release the hatred, the love you feel will never be as full as it can be because hatred will hold you prisoner. It will keep you from living the life you were meant to live.

RW – What is one book, that you were not involved in any way with, that you would recommend for people to read?

NORMA – It’s interesting that I was thinking about this last night before going to sleep. I read a book by Dean Mayes a couple of years ago called, The Hambledown Dream. The story has forever stayed with me, likely because it was so different.

The author had a passing thought which led him to wonder what might happen if a dying man’s soul inhabited the body of another who had led an undesirable life but would walk away from the emergency room, his body unscathed. The Hambledown Dream has overtones of reincarnation, which I’ve never read before nor since, but this story gripped me. The writing was some of the best I’ve ever read and to say the story carried me away would be an understatement.

There are many great books out there and I’ll never get to them all but some of the books I’ve enjoyed most over the past three years can be found at Budden Book Reviews.

www.buddenbookreviews.com

 

RW – Where can everyone find you online?

NORMA – I have multiple websites but the two I frequent most are Norma’s Books (www.normasbooks.com) and Budden Book Reviews (www.buddenbookreviews.com).

I can also be found at several places but the most popular social networks I frequent are:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authornormabudden

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NormaBudden

 

Sometimes I’m asked, “Ronovan, how short should my answers be?” when I ask interview questions.If Only Norma Budden Book Cover My answer is always, “As long as they need to be.” Today I could have cut down and edited some of what Norma Budden said, but you know what? Don’t you know who she is now and what drives her? Can you feel how much writing is such an integral part of her life? It’s more than a passion. I have grown to know Norma during the interview process, reading If Only for review and giving her feedback. When she says she is a perfectionist, let me tell you, she means it. She cares about the scenes being just right. I reviewed If Only. I called it the most personal review I’ve ever done. I came close to not reviewing books after doing this one. Not because the book was bad. You’ll need to read the review to see the answer. Buy If Only today. Don’t waste time in thinking, “Oh, I’ll do it later.” No, do it now by clicking here now.

 

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#Book #Review by @RonovanWries of If Only by @NormaBudden

If Only Norma Budden Book CoverIf Only explores the results a revelation of a secret has on the lives of so many people that I don’t even know if the author, Norma Budden, realizes what she’s done. When 16-year-old Demi discovered she was pregnant, she made a choice. Sixteen years later, Demi Glenn, wife and mother of two, contacts the child’s father, private investigator David Alexander, as he is preparing to go on a family outing with his wife and twin daughters. Her reason for contacting David: she has this unexplainable feeling that his baby girl he never knew of, that she gave up for adoption, needs to be found.

What happens in the span of a few hours is real and surreal at the same time. You don’t want to believe what happens but you know it can happen. Through it all you want Renee, the 16-year-old girl who never felt a part of her family’s world, to be found and meet the family she never knew and the siblings she always wanted.

Being a father, I identify with David. I am a David. As I read the book I wanted to stop reading. At times, I needed to stop reading, but I agreed to read and I continued. Was the writing and story that bad? No, they were that good. They nailed the feelings and thoughts perfectly.

I am a David. As an amnesiac, there are memories I don’t normally have access to, feelings buried deep for whatever reason. Protection? As I read If Only, feelings came rushing to me, feelings I hope I forget, but feelings I need to recall, at times. That’s how powerful this story is for me.

Renee is just like her parents, like her father, like David. There is a connection between these two that plays out in the story; it is pivotal to it all. If not for that connection and how it is handled the story wouldn’t be what it is.

Lying in a hospital over a year ago, I wanted to die or, perhaps, I was in a world that I was so confused about I didn’t want to be there. I was visited by a face, a girl’s face and a girl’s voice. I came home, and even though memories are not there, my own investigation made discoveries. Here I am being as productive as I can be.

If Only by Norma Budden brings all of that back to me and more. Isn’t that what a book should do? Shouldn’t a book make you look at the world in a new way, a way to better understand, a way to step back and look at yourself?

Of all the books I’ve read this past year, even books I’ve written, If Only is possibly closer to elements of my own life than anything I could ever write.

I met Norma through an author and mutual friend, a former investigator. Just as an investigator friend of David’s helped him, this friend helped two people come together so one story could bring a man to mourn and rejoice, yet pray all is forgotten at the same time. I wonder how many times I’ve done that. How many times I’ve relived moments to thankfully forget them and then be reminded again and again.

I thank Norma Budden for honoring me with reading her book in advance of its release. As of the reading of this book, of all I’ve read so far this past year, this is now my top pick.

Amazon: KindleRonovan Writes Book Review of if Only

Author Site: NormasBooks.com

Genre: Drama, Paranormal, Adult, Young Adult

Character Believability–5
Flow and Pace –5
Reader Engagement– 5
Reader Enrichment–5
Reader Enjoyment–5
Review Rating Results–5

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Three #Gifts I would buy with #Christmas Money.

If I had money to spend as an author what would I do?

First I would make sure I was looking at the right bank account.

Then one thing I would spend money on is a . . .

Book Cover Artist

Sure, I think I could actually make my own book cover. I’m pretty creative, have a good eye. But a really chris_graham_shadow_people_2_cover_art.jpggreat book cover takes time. That time is time I could be using writing or promoting my books or someone else’s books. I can give a book cover artist my basic idea and they will perform their magic and tweak until everything is just right. Of course I have the book cover artist for you.  Even if I had a lot of money, I wouldn’t spend it carelessly. CHRIS GRAHAM has great rates on book covers and I KNOW he works with an author to get the cover just right.  Not a stock cover but a one of a kind cover. How do I know this? He’s done covers for our very own Jo Robinson. Check his rates here.Can’t afford a Book Cover artist, even at Chris’ prices, check out Jo’s article on how to create your own book covers here.

 

Proofreader

Next, I’m a History guy. I used to teach and now I write. History, not English. That means I need help in wendy_janes_author.jpgproofing and editing. There is nothing worse than writing a great book and having it rejected because your grammar, punctuation and all of that just plain out stinks. Yeah, stinks. Give in and accept it. We all need help and I don’t care who you are. Fresh eyes are always better than your own. You will read a paragraph 100 times and read what it is supposed to say. I will read it once and find two words missing that when just annoy a publisher or agent because they expect you to put forth your best and most professional work. So who do I have for you? WENDY JANES, author and everything else I’ve mentioned. She has good rates from others I have heard but not so low you worry. Remember, you get what you pay for and I TRUST Wendy. Click here to get her rates. And she has testimonials here including those from highly reviewed books.

 

The first two people I know. I’ve interviewed them and they are great people. I trust them. Now here comes someone I haven’t met but hope to soon.

Editor

Yes, you need an editor. that person that will tell you like it is. They might make you cry as they point norma-buddenout that your favorite line in the book just doesn’t work and serves no purpose. Yeah, I’ve been there. I interviewed an author recently, read the unedited version of that person’s book and then part of the edited version. We all need editors. Just saying. A great one is the one that edited the book I read. Her name is NORMA BUDDEN. She’s also an author. I think it always helps for an Editor to be an Author as well. They get us. They understand how difficult it is for us. And they want it to be a success just as bad as we do. You can find Norma by clicking here.

 

 

Well those are the three things I would spend money on at the moment. Sure there are other things out there as well, but for now these are three things I would want to begin my career on the right foot.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

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David Janssen-Conversations Q&A @MichaelPhelps3 (The Author) Part 2

michael phelps david janssen review image

In Part One of Our Conversation with author Michael Phelps, we learned about why this man was the only man that could write about his friend the TV Icon, the original Fugitive, David Janssen. Today we learn more from Mike about that friendship and about Mike Walsh, the other Mike in Mike’s life. Let’s get into Part Two of . . .

Our Conversation

With

Michael Phelps

Author of David Janssen-Our Conversations Books 1 and 2

 David Janssen Our Conversations Book 1 coverMichael Phelps AuthorDavid Janssen Our Conversations Book 2 Cover

 

 

 

 

 

RW: Mike, you spent four years working on David Janssen-My Fugitive with Ellie David Janssen My Fugitive Book CoverJanssen, her biography of David, what happened next?

MIKE: Based on the success of the book, I took early retirement from the law firm and chose to embark on the challenging career of being an Author. I promised I would NEVER co-author a book again, especially with an ex-wife of a friend, who happened to be a celebrity.

RW: You then created the Mike Walsh Detective Novels. How was that writing experience compared to the memoir experience with Ellie Janssen and those four years?

MIKE: BOY . . . what a difference! I chose to write about something I know well; police procedurals, detective novels and court cases based on actual crimes.

RW: How did Mike Walsh come to be?

MIKE: My debut novel, THE EXECUTION OF JUSTICE, in which I created the “Mike Wthe execution of justice michael phelpsalsh Detective Novels” series is based on the murder of a close friend and one-time mentor of mine; Detective Sergeant Jack R. Ohrberg of the Indianapolis Police Department.

After I left Indianapolis, Jack went on from uniform patrol officer to become a Burglary Detective, then Auto-Theft and finally to the elite Robbery & Homicide Unit. He was murdered on 11 December 1980 at 5:05 AM as he kicked in the door of a duplex where a vicious gang of armed robbery and murder suspects were hiding. I inserted myself as his rookie partner, Mike Walsh, and related cases ‘we’ worked on leading up to his murder. It took me almost thirteen years to write. I went to Indianapolis and researched his murder through talks with officers we knew, police and court files and local newspaper archives.

RW: Then there was the next one, also based on a true story?

MIKE: THE JOCKEY’S JUSTICE is based on a case I worked as Chief Investigator for a promithe jockey's justice michael phelpsnent Miami law firm. A highly respected horse racing jockey was brutally murdered on the last day of the racing season at a Kentucky race course. Eight years later, his widow and son-in-law, living in the Miami area, were arrested and charged with the crime. They hired our law firm. My assistant and I were dispatched to Kentucky to investigate the very cold case. I take my readers on a harrowing, rollercoaster ride into the sleazy underbelly of the fast and colorful ‘Sport of Kings’. 

RW: Two fiction books after a memoir. I know you said you wanted to write fiction but how did you become a writer of fiction?

MIKE: I have always been a fan of detective novels. The murder of my friend, Jack Ohrberg is what inspired me to write HIS story. I decided to create the series and write novels based on the two, high profile murder cases I worked on for the law firm. 

RW: You ran into a situation that I am certain many authors do when basing a book on a true story, would you tell us about that?

MIKE: In THE EXECUTION OF JUSTICE, I thought I had changed all the names, but after its release, Sergeant Bob Givans, who had been the SWAT Commander that tragic morning called me.

One of Jack’s daughters had sent him the book and he noted I had not changed HIS name. He promised not to sue me, said my depiction of the chaotic scene was “right on point”. One of Jack’s daughters sent me a nice e-mail, thanking me for the way I portrayed her father.

RW: Your writing style is very polished and easy to read. You were in the military, then the police, then an investigator. I am wondering where the writing background came from.

MIKE: I don’t usually blush, but you sure sparked a good one. I have written police reports, and while working with the law firm, I was charged with writing investigation reports and even legal motions, which my boss (the Attorney) would then review. I became very proficient with the legal motions, he seldom made a change. In working with Ellie, the book was edited and over one hundred pages were cut. Some reviews said it was “poorly written”. That did not give me any spurt of self-confidence. In my debut novel, The Execution of Justice, I had a lot of repetitions of how the protagonist dressed each day, what he and his wife had for breakfast and dinner, his two German Shepherds, but what I was attempting to do was show readers the PERSONAL side of a dedicated police officer’s life, that the men and women who serve and protect their communities are just ordinary people. I don’t think I’ll be writing any more memoirs. My next “Mike Walsh Detective Novel” is based on a double homicide case I worked
on for the law firm. It occurred in Miami Beach in 1993. The State was seeking the death penalty. Two trials, they did not get the death penalty.

RW: When can we expect this next Mike Walsh novel to come out?

MIKE: As soon as the marketing obligations of Dave’s books ease up some, I will start writing “INSANE JUSTICE“. I literally lived and breathed that case for over two years, so it will be very easy and fast to write. I hope to have it ready for release by the summer of 2015.

michael phelps david janssen review imageRW: Let’s switch gears a little. You write, but there is another step to the book process – the editing. I know you have a great editor behind you. Tell us a little about Norma Budden and how the two of you became associated.

MIKE: NORMA BUDDEN is an extraordinary Author in her own right. I first learned of her work by purchasing, reading and posting a Review of “COMING UNGLUED: A Mother’s Journey Into Hell“. This book dealt with domestic violence. I ended up buying a second Paperback copy for a lady friend I knew was the victim of domestic violence. She read it, then read parts to her abuser, who then read the book himself. The abuse stopped, almost instantly.  He stopped drinking and they are like high school sweethearts again. I related the story in e-mails to Norma. I then read her other books; romance novels with some suspense interwoven.  We became friends. I mentioned Dave’s books and that I was looking for a new Editor. She said she was an Editor as well. We struck a deal, and I could not be happier. Not only is she an Editor, she also completely re-designed my personal website and converted my manuscript for uploading to Amazon Kindle. We have become close friends over the past three years. She resides in Canada, but will be visiting me in Miami in April, 2015. You can see all of her books on Amazon. Her “FREEDOM IN LOVE” series has three books so far, and I highly recommend them.

david-janssen-our-conversations-11.jpgRW: How much editing went into David Janssen-Our Conversations?

MIKE: VERY LITTLE. The only restriction I placed on Norma Budden, as my Editor was that NOT a single word of any conversation could be deleted, altered or changed in any way.

RW: That’s understandable. The conversations are what you know. So I get that. Speaking of those memories, was it difficult to go through those after all these years?

MIKE: Yes and no. Yes, in recalling conversations where Dave was going through mental hell during the protracted divorce proceedings with Ellie, and later the volatile relationship with his second wife. And then NO, during our conversations where he was excited at a new film role, a new Made-for-Television Movie, a new series. I can still hear his voice and see him just as if he were still alive. He was an extraordinary guy and he lived his life to the fullest, unfortunately for everyone who knew him personally, and his millions of devoted fans, his personal habits of
smoking and drinking may have contributed to cutting his life way too short.

RW: I think this is a good place for you to explain to our readers about your fascination with German Shepherds and why I probably am bringing that up.

MIKE: As a boy growing up, we had a Cocker Spaniel. When I enlisted in the Air Force and went through Military Police training, I became fascinated at how big, strong, super-smart and obedient our German Shepherds are. I have had one ever since, sometimes two at a time, male and female. Shortly after I relocated to New York City, I travelled to New Jersey and bought a German Shepherd puppy from a breeder. I named him Baron der Hunter. Dave came to New York and we had dinner at a restaurant close to my apartment. I assume you mention this because I invited Dave to my apartment to meet “The Bear” as I sometimes called Baron. He loved Baron and Baron loved him. Dave gave him a bite of his (prime rib) treat, and actually got down on the floor, with his very expensive suit on and played with Baron for close to an hour. It was hilarious to watch. Dave loved dogs, but Ellie was allergic to dogs and cats and aside from that with his schedule, he just couldn’t have one.

RW: What’s your writing environment like, your writing space?  I was speaking to a young lady recently and she was on her couch writing on her laptop with her office only steps away. I somehow don’t see you hunched over on the couch with a cushion as a desk.

MIKE: I have a home office, approximately 12 X 12.  I have a two large cherry wood book (Barrister) cases with glass doors, full of books I’ve read.  I have my desk with hutch where I have police memorabilia and Eagles figurines and more books, with my HP TouchSmart All-In-One desktop computer.  On the other side of the room I have another desk with another desktop computer, a cherry red lateral file drawer with an HP Officejet 8600 Pro printer-fax-scanner-copier. I have a small TV which is usually turned to Fox News channel, but I am usually too concentrated on work I don’t pay attention. I am up with my first cup of coffee at four o’clock each morning, check and respond to e-mails and then WRITE. I take the dogs to the park for their morning run at daybreak, an hour later I am back home, shower, shave, more coffee, orange juice and back on the computer. I usually finish work by about eight o’clock, sometimes later at night and in bed by midnight.

michael phelps david janssen review image

RW: You get almost less sleep than I do it seems. You appear to be a healthy man.  What do you do to stay healthy?

MIKE: I actually am in great health, for a man turning 72 next September. I was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer just over a year ago and have been receiving treatment at the Veterans Medical Center of Miami. I have had three aortic aneurysms requiring surgery, and just learned I have a new one in my right femoral artery, where I had a femoral-to-femoral bypass surgery in November of 2010. So, I have an upcoming surgery . . . but I wanted to do this Interview first. Aside from that, I stopped smoking a couple of years ago and seldom imbibe in my favorite J & B Scotch. I think I am in good shape, and feel like I’m still in my forties.

RW: When are we going to see a memoir of a TV Icon’s “Shoulder to cry on” come out?

MIKE: You make me laugh, Ron. I never looked at our friendship as me being the one to have a shoulder for Dave to “cry on”. I always looked at our friendship as just two guys who became friends and could talk to each other about anything. I never boasted to anyone that; “Hey see ‘The Fugitive’ . . . that’s David Janssen . . . he’s a good friend of mine.”

When he began the “HARRY O” series, my then girlfriend and I would watch it at my apartment, sometimes we would host a few of our friends, but even they were not impressed that I had a TV-Movie Star as a friend. We would all critique the episodes and have a lot of fun doing it. Of course I would tell Dave all about it later.

RW: You mentioned when you heard about David Janssen’s passing and the thoughts that ran through your mind.  Has it crossed your mind or have you given any thought to writing a Mike Walsh Detective Novels story based on anything like the loss of a beloved acting icon, tastefully as I think you would obviously handle it?  More as a way to relieve your mind of all those thoughts as oppose to simply a creative process.

carol connors and michael phelps
Mike and Carol Connors of “To Know Him is To Love Him” #1 Hit written by Phil Spector.

MIKE: To be honest, no.  However, you have given me a great idea.  When I first heard the news, I was totally shocked, in total disbelief.  I had spoken with Dave just five days before he died. He called me to let me know he had just passed a very thorough physical examination for a large insurance policy required by the studio producing “Father Damien”, and they were to start filming two days later on Malibu Beach. He and Dani were again separated, and the location for the start of the film was only a few short miles from his home on Malibu Beach. He sounded extremely happy, anxious to start the film and I can say he was completely sober in our last conversation. HOW could he die of a massive heart attack just five days later? When Ellie and I went to Los Angeles to interview people close to them, we spoke with David’s mother, his housekeeper/cook Beatrice, Actor Stuart Whitman (his next door neighbor) a Paramedic Lieutenant, one of the first on the scene. A lot of SUSPICION of HOW he died was raised. A lot of unproven rumors centered around his second wife. Over the years I have come to accept he died of a massive heart attack. Rumors were widely circulated that “high levels of drugs (morphine and cocaine) and alcohol” were found in David’s body at autopsy. Ellie and I went to the L. A. Medical Examiner’s Office and viewed the Microfilm of his autopsy. NO DRUGS of any kind, and just a trace of alcohol.

I KNEW David was adamantly against illicit drugs and would NEVER engage in such, even for recreation. He had said to me many times, he had seen people in the “business” ruin their careers, even lose their lives accidently by overdosing on drugs. Dave always made sure he was in control of his faculties, even when he was close to being drunk. There were rumors he had three-way sex with a Playboy Bunny and a married woman the night before his death. All such rumors are preposterous. He had just finished a fourteen+ hours day filming. He came home, showered and made himself one drink. Beatrice was going to prepare his dinner, when Dani appeared, unexpected and uninvited and dismissed Beatrice for the day, telling her that SHE was making a “special” dinner for the two of them. Was Dani there in an attempt to reconcile? I’ll never know, but is it possible? I would have to say yes. A storyline for a Mike Walsh Detective novel? I’ll give that some thought. (LOL)

RW: One final thing, I have always asked authors to describe their book in one word.  Instead I want to ask you to describe David Janssen in one word. Why the man and not the book, because I think that will also describe David Janssen-Our Conversations. And you can explain why if you like.
michael phelps david janssen review image
MIKE: EXTRAORDINARY!  Why do I choose that word, you may ask?  Because David Janssen was an extraordinary, multi-talented man; an extraordinary actor, a Poet, a Song writer, a Comedian, an animal lover, a man who helped complete strangers (especially single mothers in distress and he did so anonymously). He was truly a kind, sensitive, compassionate man who, aside from his celebrity status, was a really ‘down-to-earth’, ordinary guy.

 

Extraordinary describes my new friend Mike. I call him friend because that’s how he makes one feel after speaking with him just once or twice. I know why David Janssen called Michael Phelps at 1:15 that early morning back in 1965. If you don’t know by now, then read parts one and two of this interview again, my fellow book fiends. I always say to follow an author everywhere you can, and buy all their books. That’s a given. I think you want to after reading these two days of interviews. Something you don’t know about Mike? He’s an Indie Author’s friend. He roams the blogs and comments. He reads books and leaves reviews. He supports the Indie Authors. I didn’t ask him about that. I already knew. You see, he may have been an Investigator, but I was a Historian who still loves to do research.

Michael Phelps Books

Click any image to go and purchase one of Mike’s books. I’m in the middle of Conversations now and I hate that I had to break away to even post this interview, sorry Mike, but the book is just that good. And if you want an editor, go get Norma now. I tell you, Mike’s writing combined with Norma’s editing and you’ve got an excellent book. These are two books I will be reading again and again. I’m just like that. I can’t wait to get my eyes on Mike’s fiction work as well. Those are actually next on my to read list.

You can connect with Mike on Twitter

Acquire his books either on his Author site here or at Amazon here.

 

Much Respect to Mike, a new Friend,

Ronovan

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