Author Donald Dempsey Launches His Page Turning Memoir, Betty’s Child

Monday, July 08, 2013
& giveaway contest!

In the tradition of Frank McCourt and Angela's Ashes, Don Dempsey uses Betty's Child to tell the story of life with a cruel and neglectful mother, his mother's abusive boyfriends, a dangerous local thug who wants twelve-year-old Donny to burglarize homes and deal drugs, and hypocritical church leaders who want to save young Donny's soul but ignore threats to his physical well-being. In a world where it’s "fight or flight" at every turn, Donny uses his street smarts and sense of humor to guide him. He usually makes the right choice, but whenever he makes a wrong move, he pays the price. Some of his experiences will make you recoil in horror, but you'll want to keep reading because Dempsey manages to maintain a sense of humor while sharing the gritty details of his story. In the end, Donny does everything he can to take care of himself and his younger brothers, but with each new development, the present becomes more fraught with peril—and the future more uncertain.

"Heartrending and humorous. In scene after vivid scene, Dempsey presents his inspiring true story with accomplished style. Dempsey's discipline as a writer lends the real-life tale the feel of a fictional page-turner." ~ Kirkus

Paperback: 438 pages

Publisher: Dream of Things (March 26, 2013)

ISBN: 0988439018

ISBN-13: 978-0988439016

Twitter hashtag: #BCDempsey

Betty's Child is available at Amazon.

Book Giveaway Contest:

To win a copy of Betty's Child, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, July 12th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget.

About the Author:

Don Dempsey experienced childhood abuse and neglect first hand, but went on to have a fulfilling family life as an adult and to own his own business. "If you're lucky, you make it to adulthood in one piece," says Don. "But there's no guarantee the rest of your life is going to be any better. Abused kids are often plagued by fear and insecurity. They battle depression and have trouble with relationships. In the worst cases, abused children perpetuate the cycle." But Don is living proof that you can overcome a childhood of abuse and neglect. "You start by letting go of as much of the guilt (yes, abused kids feel guilty) and as many of the bad memories as possible. At the same time, you hold on to the things that helped you survive. For me, it was the belief that you can make life better by working at it and earning it. It helps to have a sense of humor, too."

Find out more about the author by visiting him online:

Betty's Child website:

Donald Dempsey Facebook:

-----Interview by Crystal Otto

WOW: Donald, when you originally started writing your memoir what was your goal for the project? Were you initially intending to write a book for publication or did you think of it more as a personal exercise for coping?

Donald: I actually started writing after an argument with a good friend of mine. He wouldn’t accept my position when I stated that many kids miss out on bright futures because of their circumstances. So I decided to finally try and put into words a lot of pent-up emotions. What I ended up with was nothing like what I envisioned writing at the inception of the project.

WOW: That’s really interesting and I don’t think I’ve ever heard an argument get credit for a memoir. If you don’t mind my asking, are you still friends with the person who inspired you and how does he/she feel about being part of your inspiration and the publication of Betty’s Child?

Donald: Yes, we are still friends. His parents took me in while I was trying to finish high school. I was sleeping in the gym and showering at school, living out of a bag at the time! I actually joined the Marine Corps with him in August of 1980. Later I went to work for him, and eventually bought the business I now own from him. He takes a lot of credit for the book. (A bit too much if you ask me.)

WOW: Speaking of relationships and children, how do your children and family feel about your honest outpouring with the publication of Betty’s Child?

Donald: My younger children haven’t read it yet. My oldest and my wife say they gleaned a lot of understanding concerning things I said and did when I was younger. My brothers are good with it. And my mother hasn’t spoken to me since it was first published.

WOW: I don’t think your mother’s reaction is completely unique, but I’m sorry. Has her reaction affected your desire to promote Betty's Child and move forward as an author?

Donald: My mother and I never really had a relationship. She's conned me out of money over the years, until my wife eventually threw a serious foot-stomping fit and put an end to it. (I slipped some money to her a couple more times even after that.) Over the years she has really caused my family a lot of stress. I won't go into it. She's never shown an interest in our children, and has only called when she feels it's been long enough in between cons to attempt another sob story.

When the book came out I heard she was enraged, and denied it. But her jail time and criminal record can't be denied, and there are too many witnesses to her actions across the years. In fact, there are a great many deeds and actions I left out of the book. If my youngest brother cared to write his own memoir... It would be worse than mine. I cannot nor will ever forgive her for letting my brothers suffer repeatedly because of her negligence and desire to consort with the dredge of society. I took my brothers to live with their aunt and uncle in Indiana when she began planning her wedding to a man named Philip Claude Taylor, who had done time in prison for raping his own daughter. She wound up somewhere out west, living with Claude and a brother of his. The years she spent with them are a sordid tale all their own.

So no, I don't regret moving forward with the book. I do still harbor some guilt where my mother is concerned. I can't rationally explain why. I would rather not hurt anyone if I can help it. But if talking about my experiences can help someone else deal with their own I'm all for it.

WOW: What made you decide to seek publication for your story?

Donald: People in my life I trust urged me to do so. And I felt it was a story worth telling.

WOW: I absolutely agree it is a story worth telling and thank you to those people in your life who urged you to share your trials and heartache. Has there been any change in family dynamics after having written Betty’s Child? How has your community reacted?

Donald: Not really. I came to terms with most of if not all of the issues depicted in the book long ago. Our community hasn’t really taken notice of the book, other than a few of my kids’ teachers.

WOW: The topic of child abuse and/or neglect is often one people take notice of but are afraid to face head on. I hope the community really gets behind this issue. Was it difficult to face emotions and truths about your family while writing Betty’s Child or did you find it healing?

Donald: Some of it was difficult. I proofread chapter 21 only once. That is the chapter where my brother is assaulted. I’ve never read those pages after that. I’ll admit that releasing all of it was cathartic, but it left me numb and sad as well. It surprised me that there was still some place within me that regretted not having a parent growing up. I believe that is a void many kids who are neglected have trouble dealing with. Every kid should have at least one person they know truly cares about them.

WOW: I hope that feeling of numbness didn’t last too long; I’ve heard more than one memoir author say that the process of getting those experiences down on paper was very cathartic as you put it. Speaking of memoir writers and the memoir genre, I would say there’s been a boom in popularity. Why do you feel so many readers are drawn to memoir? Do you enjoy reading memoir and if so, do you have any favorite authors or books?

Donald: I think a lot of people enjoy memoir because not only is it actual experiences, but they can often relate, or find solace in the fact that others have dealt with and hopefully overcome similar circumstances. I personally try to come away with the realization that so many people have overcome unimaginable hardships and survived. There are so many unrecognized heroes all around us. And Frank McCourt is probably my favorite writer of memoir.

WOW: I’m assuming you’re referring to Angela’s Ashes—it’s hard to believe that McCourt has been gone for nearly four years (July 19th 2009 if I recall).

If you could give our readers a bit of advice you learned while marketing your book what would you tell them? What made you choose Dream of Things as your publisher?

Donald: Actually Dream of Things found me. And I’m so pleased they did. I had given up on the book after a bad experience with self-publishing.

WOW: It’s fitting that Dream of Things helped make your dream come true; I’m also pleased they found you!

I loved your reference to your wife in the acknowledgements. Can you tell us more about her role in writing Betty’s Child?

Donald: She poured over every word and chapter as I went along, constantly urging me to continue. Sometimes laughing. Sometimes crying. But always insistent I finish.

WOW: As my dad would say, I think you found a keeper!

What are you writing now? Will there be additional stories and memoirs?

Donald: I would like to finish my second memoir. But my father passed away somewhere in North Dakota and his death certificate was forwarded to me. I haven’t written a word since I received that in the mail and I can’t really explain why. The man always said that he wasn’t my father and for all I know he may have been correct.

WOW: I personally (and I’m sure other readers will agree) hope that you can put this temporary writer’s block behind you and move forward. I would love to read your second memoir.

What words of encouragement would you give someone trying to put together their memoir or story?

Donald: Don’t be afraid to let it rip. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Just let it out and read it later. You can always edit and tidy up the emotional content at some point, but most of what readers seem to like about my book wrote itself.

WOW: Speaking of tidying things up, I’ve found it helps to have a fresh pair of eyes look at your content. What or who was most helpful as you put your memoir into print?

Donald: I self-published with a company called iUniverse. All they did was lie to me and try to scam more and more money out of me. Working with Dream of Things has been exactly the opposite experience.

WOW: That’s good advice for anyone looking to partner with a self-publisher. What's the most useful piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Donald: That’s a tricky question. I was told long ago to “write what you know.” And I felt that was good advice. But writing something you’re not exactly in the know about can lead to new and useful knowledge. I guess I would say not to give up. Try to regulate some time to write and stick to it. I know I’m easily derailed by my hectic schedule and other distractions.

WOW: I’m so glad you fit WOW! into your hectic schedule. You’ve been such a pleasure to work with. What else would you like to share with readers and/or writers?

Donald: I’m very humbled by so many of the kind reviews. I don’t really consider myself an author. I feel more like I told a story, and some “real” authors edited it for me, if that makes any sense. I am so blown away by some of the comparisons and high praise that has been granted. I wish I could personally thank everyone who devotes any time to my book.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, July 8 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Tuesday, July 9 @ Books I Think You Should Read
What Liz has to say in her review of Donald Dempsey's touching tale, Betty's Child, #BCDempsey. This is your chance to read her review and sign up to WIN your very own copy!

Wednesday, July 10 @ The New Book Review
Don't miss this review and give-away for Donald Dempsey's book Betty's Child (#BCDempsey)!

Friday, July 12 @ CMash Reads
Donald Dempsey's book Betty's Child (#BCDempsey) makes a stop at CMash Reads with a guest post and give-away. You won't want to miss this post about overcoming a difficult childhood.

Monday, July 15 @ The World of My Imagination
Stop by today - don't miss out on your chance to read Donald's moving guest post titled: "Self-publishing vs Publishing with an Indie Press" and participate in the give-away for Betty's Child (#BCDempsey) by Donald Dempsey.

Wednesday, July 17 @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Join fellow memoir writer Kathleen as she review Betty's Child and offers a great give-away for Betty's Child!

Friday, July 19 @ All Things Audry
Win a copy of Betty's Child by Donald Dempsey (#BCDempsey) and hear what Donald has to say on the topic of: Advice for people thinking about writing about a difficult childhood.

Monday, July 22 @ Found Between the Covers
Win a copy of Betty's Child by Donald Dempsey and read what Sherrey Meyer has to say in her honest review of this touching memoir.

Wednesday, July 24 @ Choices
Madeline Sharples takes a closer look at Betty’s Child by Donald Dempsey, and offers you a great giveaway as well as Q&A with the author himself!!!

Friday, July 26 @ Margo L. Dill
Today is your chance to win Betty's Child (#BCDempsey) and Join author Donald Dempsey as he discusses: Advice for kids who are being abused/neglected, advice for adults who were abused/neglected as kids, and advice for adults who suspect a child may be abused/neglected.

Monday, July 29 @ Gutsy Living
Hear from Donald Dempsey, author of Betty's Child as he shares his gutsy story with Sonia and readers/authors of Gutsy Living.

Wednesday, July 31@ Mrs. Mommy Booknerd's
Find out what Donald Dempsey shares with Emily as she interviews this author about his touching memoir Betty’s Child (#BCDempsey).

Friday, August 2 @ Words, Crazy Words
Today is a great opportunity to sit down with Donald Dempsey as he explains his experience with "Self-Publishing vs. Indie Press" and sign up to win your own copy of Don's inspirational and moving memoir Betty's Child.

Monday, August 5 @ Steph the Bookworm
Hurry for your chance to win a copy of Betty's Child by Donald Dempsey (#BCDempsey) and hear what Stephanie has to say in her review!

Tuesday, August 6 @ Eleanor Vincent
Donald Dempsey gives us insight into resilience and writing. Don’t miss this great guest post and opportunity to win a copy of Donald’s memoir Betty’s Child.

Thursday, August 8 @ White Elephants
Today is your day to win Betty's Child and hear Chynna's thoughts on this moving memoir by Donald Dempsey.

To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved!
If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at

Book Giveaway Contest: Enter to win a copy of Betty's Child Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, July 12th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Sioux Roslawski said...


I was adopted, but I have a half-sister who lived with my biological mom until my sister was 7. She had an awful childhood, and is now in prison for the rest of her life.

I can imagine it WAS somewhat healing, to get it down on paper, but it's like a serious scab. If you pick at it, it's painful.

Thanks for sharing your story. Kids continue to get abused and neglected...They need to hear a survivor's story once they're grown up and are trying to find their way in this world.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Donald ~ Thank you for sharing your story! Memoir is easily becoming my favorite genre, and I'm always interested in stories of survival told with a sense of humor. Your Amazon reviews are impressive. I'm picking up a copy! :)

This looks like a fantastic tour. Great job, Crystal!

Margo Dill said...

I can not believe the courage it took you to write this story. You are definitely a writer!!! :) It is also so great that you have a supportive network around you to get your story heard. I am honored to be hosting you on my blog in a few weeks. I am sure that your book will be helping many people all over the country!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I'm sorry to hear about your sister. I've often said a kid turns left when he or she should've turned right and they suffer for it the rest of their life. And you're right about that scab. Maybe that's why it took me so long to finally write about it. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Angela. I hope it doesn't let you down.

Renee Roberson said...


I know it must have taken a tremendous amount of courage to tell your story. I look forward to reading it. I personally was never physically abused, but my mother and stepfather (who were very young parents) moved us around so much that I attended six different schools before seventh grade and I lost count of how many addresses we had. Needless to say, when I read "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls it really hit home. I wrote an essay about my experience that was so painful that I'm not sure I could ever publish it in a book, so thank you for sharing your life lesson with us all.

Crystal Otto said...

I have to pipe in and tell everyone what a pleasure it has been working with Don - his sense of humor is amazing and I'm so privileged to now count him as a friend. He certainly wears his heart on his sleeve.

Don - you're amazing!!!


Anonymous said...

Thank you Margo. I'm looking forward to what you have to say. And the honor is mine.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Renee. I'll bet that essay of yours is, if nothing else, some of the most honest words you've ever released. You should consider letting someone you trust give it a look? Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Now you've made me blush! If I could juggle just HALF of all the stuff you have going on in your life I'd consider myself amazing. (I think I need you to tell me how to properly sign in and post on these. I don't think I've quite figured it out...) :-/

Lisa said...

This seems like a very interesting story.

saturdaynightfever said...

I would like to read the work of Donald R. Dempsey.

Buddy Garrett said...

Donald thanks for a very inspiring story. I am sure it will encourage a lot of people to overcome obstacles in their life.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry you had to go through the heartache, but happy you were triumphant overall...

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