Debra’s Bio

213_first_photo_shoot_00013A_AbtMeJudge, author, litigator, wife, step-mom, mother of twins, and civic volunteer, are all words used to describe me. My life and writings are equally diverse. I recently signed a three book deal with Kensington Press for publication of the Sarah Blair mysteries. Sarah, like me, is a cook of convenience who might be scorched if she gets too close to a kitchen. Watch for One Taste Too Many, the January 2019 first book in the series, to be in stores on December 18 (already available for pre-order).

Maze in Blue, my debut novel, set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s, received a 2012 Independent Book Publisher (IPPY) Award and was reissued as a May 2014 selection by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries. Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery, my second book, was released by Five Star in April 2016. Harlequin also has purchased its mass market rights. Even though my novels are murder mysteries, it is a safe bet that when it comes to my writing – and my life, “It’s Not Always a Mystery.”

I grew up in Newark, New Jersey and Jackson, Michigan. After earning my BA in English and History from the University of Michigan, I moved to New York to pursue a job in publishing and become a Jeopardy contestant. Goals accomplished, I enrolled at Emory University School of Law to obtain a juris doctorate.

Initially I practiced corporate international tax law, but then focused on labor litigation. A high point of my trial work was receiving a U.S. Department of Labor Meritorious Achievement Award for Marshall v. Georgia Southwestern, a case of first impression addressing equal pay in higher education.

After twelve years of litigating, I was one of the youngest individuals appointed as a U.S. Administrative Law Judge. During the next few years although I talked about writing a novel, but I concentrated on writing legal opinions and articles.  In 2009, my friends and four children challenged me to seriously pursue my dream. My first attempt, a non-fiction essay entitled Maybe I Should Hug You, received an Alabama Writer’s Conclave Award.  A retooled version of that piece was printed online in April 2010 by MORE Magazine online as More Hugs Less Fear. As my writing took off, I realized I had to make a choice between my legal career and my passion. I resigned my lifetime appointment.

Although I enjoy non-fiction writing, my main focus has been on novels and short stories. “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” my first submission and acceptance by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017) was named an Anthony and Agatha Award Short Story Finalist Nominee.My short stories also have appeared in periodicals and anthologies including Mardi Gras Murder, The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem, Mysterical-E, Mystery Weekly, Over My Dead Body, Kings River Life Magazine (KRL), and The Birmingham Arts Journal.

I am an active civic volunteer in Birmingham, Alabama and also am President of Sisters in Crime’s largest chapter, the Guppies, serve on its national  board, and am President of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.