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. 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. 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 to try to get on Jeopardy. Goals accomplished, I enrolled at Emory University School of Law to obtain a juris doctorate.

Initially I practiced corporate international tax law, but then decided to focus 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, 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 career took off, I realized I wanted to devote my full energies to my passion, so I resigned my lifetime appointment.

Although I enjoy non-fiction writing and wrote a regular “We Love Libraries” Sisters in Crime inSinC column, my main focus has been on novels and short stories. Many of my short pieces have won awards or been published in print and online periodicals. Three, Thanksgiving in Moderation, Meme’s Place and Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! have been included in short story anthologies.

In addition to writing, I am an active civic volunteer. Presently, I serve on the boards of Sisters in Crime, YWCA, Alys Stephens Center for the Performing Arts, and The Guppy Chapter. Past commissions and boards include The Alabama Writers Conclave, The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s CMBD Community Leadership Council, UAB’s Pediatric Transplant Committee, Temple Emanu-El Endowment Foundation, Governor’s Commission on Quality Teaching, United Way of Central Alabama, Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama, The Women’s Network, Zonta Club of Birmingham, Forum, The Women’s Section of the Birmingham Bar Association and the American Heart Association’s Birmingham “Go Red” Passion Committee. I also am a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

My husband and I live in Birmingham, Alabama. Although his blood runs crimson and his dreams are filled with images of Nick Saban and Bear Bryant, even he admits that the Wolverines are always a team to watch.