Deborah J. Lightfoot                Author and Editor

(aka Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore)

Selected Works

"A teenage girl runs away from her life of servitude only to be captured by a sorcerer who will help her discover her true past. … Carin and Verek’s well-crafted relationship balances in a tense power struggle … intriguing premise and original characters … Fine fantasy." —KIRKUS
NEW: E-Books and Paperbacks
History & Biography
FOUR STAR FUNERALS packs the emotional wallop of Titanic, darkened with a dash of Tales From the Crypt. This 10-author anthology about death and its aftershocks will sear your soul, make you laugh … and ultimately help you heal, if you’re haunted by a death that has upended your emotions in ways you never expected.
"A fascinating look at one man's life during an important era of American history."
"A most compelling and highly recommended slice of Texan-American regional history."
Midwest Book Review
"This history of the firm of Freese and Nichols and its substantial impact in Texas constitutes a survey of 100 years of civil and environmental engineering."
—Book News, Inc.
Magazine Articles
A biography of Yakima Canutt (1895–1986), a master of movie stuntwork from Stagecoach to Ivanhoe.
Reviews I've Written
Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy—a review recounting the parallels with my own move to Mexico.
Stephen Hawking's Black Holes and Baby Universes—space and time aren't what they seem.

Quick Links

Find Authors

Author Bio

Castles in the cornfield provided the setting for Deborah J. Lightfoot’s earliest flights of fancy. On her father’s farm in Texas, she grew up reading tales of adventure and reenacting them behind ramparts of sun-drenched grain. She left the farm to earn a degree in journalism and write award-winning books of history and biography. High on her Bucket List was the desire to try her hand at the genre she most admired. The result is WATERSPELL, a multi-layered fantasy trilogy about a girl and the wizard who suspects her of being so dangerous to his world, he believes he'll have to kill her ... which troubles him, since he's fallen in love with her. Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock; Waterspell Book 2: The Wysard; and Waterspell Book 3: The Wisewoman.

Awards and Recognitions

Indie Book of the Day Award for 29 June 2013

Editors' Award, Creative Nonfiction, 2009 Canis Latran Anthology, Weatherford College

Prize Winner, Panhandle Professional Writers Frontiers in Writing contest for Memoir: "Filling Spaces" (2006) and "Heima's House" (2005)

Ribbons, 2008 and 2006 State Fair of Texas, Creative Arts: Photography

Prize Winner, Pikes Peak Writers 2005 Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest in the Science Fiction/​Fantasy Category

Prize Winner, Panhandle Professional Writers 2005 Frontiers in Writing contest for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Novel

Award Winner, 2004 Lu Spurlock Black Gold Writing Contest in the Science Fiction/​Fantasy Category

"Best of Show," 2002 Laura Bower Van Nuys Writing Contest

First Place, Articles/​Essays, 2002 Laura Bower Van Nuys Writing Contest

Finalist, Science Fiction/​Fantasy Novel, 2002 Southwest Writers Contest

Quarter-Finalist, Novels/​Novellas, 2002 New Century Writer Awards

Planet Doom SF/​F Index Cool Site Award for my labor-of-love Web site, Waterspell

History and Heritage Award, 1997, Texas Section, American Society of Civil Engineers

Citations (two) for outstanding contribution toward the preservation of the history of Texas, 1993 San Antonio Conservation Society

Finalist, 1989 C. L. Sonnichsen Book Award competition

Nonfiction Book Awards, 1988 and 1989 Texas-Wide Writers' Competition

Certificates of Merit, 1984 and 1986 Livestock Publications Council

Named Gift honoree, 1984–1985 American Association of University Women Educational Foundation and a Foundation Grant Recipient

1978 Senior Merit Award in Agricultural Journalism, Texas A&M University

1976 Thomas S. Gathright Academic Excellence Award

25-year Member The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Professional Memberships

The Authors Guild

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Awesome Indies Authors


Texas Folklore Society

Two-time Spur Awards judge, Western Writers of America

Speaking Engagements

Here's a partial list of the places where I've stood up (or sat down) and talked:

Barnes & Noble Booksellers

Black Gold Writing Conference

Borders Books

Cattle Raisers Museum /​ Girl Scout Day

Center for Texas Studies

Children's Book Festival and Young Adult Conference,
Department of Library Science,
Sam Houston State University

Dallas Community Television

Exploding Market Possibilities!
Sixth Annual Trinity Writers' Workshop/​
Tarrant County College Writing Conference

Farmers Branch Manske Library

Fort Worth City Video

Fort Worth Corral of The Westerners

Fort Worth Council of Reading

Freelance Writers Network

Friends of the Fort Worth Public Library
Book & Author Luncheon

Great American Read Aloud

The Mosaic of Texas Culture national conference,
Hardin-Simmons University

Newcastle School

Old Trail Drivers Association of Texas

Paragon Community Television

Renner Frankford Texas Book Festival,
Dallas Public Library

San Benito CISD Seventh Annual Literary Conference

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators,
North Central/​Northeast Texas Chapter

Tarrant County College

Texas Folklore Society

"Texas Shelf," TCU Radio, Texas Christian University

University of North Texas

Waldenbooks/​Ozark Literacy Council

Various other readers', writers', school, and library groups

Older Biographical Information
For Those Who Are Keeping Tabs

Deborah J. Lightfoot (known to some readers as Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore and to others as D.J. Lightfoot) was born on the South Plains of Texas, the daughter of a farmer and the granddaughter of a cowboy. Her grandmother is on the honor roll of Texas quilters. An agricultural journalism graduate, summa cum laude, of Texas A&M University, she is the author of three books and many articles about the American Southwest. Her first book, The LH7 Ranch (University of North Texas Press), was a finalist for the C.L. Sonnichsen Book Award and won a San Antonio Conservation Society publication award, as did her second book, Trail Fever (Wm. Morrow, New York), published under the name D.J. Lightfoot for readers 9 and up. With the late Simon W. Freese, P.E., she coauthored A Century In the Works (TAMU Press), which received the History and Heritage Award from the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. An Anglophile, she has focused on British medieval history and folklore for her new fantasy trilogy, Waterspell, published under her Lightfoot byline. In manuscript and since publication, Waterspell has won awards in several contests.

Additional Background for the Curious:
Deborah grew up writing, reading everybody from Tolkien to Kjelgaard to Orwell, studying nature on the farm and playing clarinet in the school band. Her band letter-sweater, a favorite keepsake, displays a National Honor Society pin with her solo-and-ensemble contest ribbons, and academic medals in English and History alongside one for Algebra: proof that writers can do math.

At Texas A&M she switched majors from Wildlife Science to Agricultural Journalism upon realizing that a bachelor of science in journalism would support any kind of words-work she might ever want to do.

There have been many kinds. She's a former newspaper copyeditor and reporter, more recently a magazine editor and feature writer, frequently a teacher and a speaker, and currently a science writer, educational writer, book manuscript editor, author of three award-winning volumes of history and biography ... and with the Waterspell trilogy, a novelist and fantasist. Thus she may claim not to have held a real job for twenty years.

Besides writing, editing, reading, photography, and launching her own publishing venture, her pleasures include traveling abroad and hiking the Yorkshire moors, Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim National Park, and Jalisco's La Primavera Bosque. She stretches a pinchpenny decorating budget between two houses: a two-story in Texas that she and her husband, Gene Sizemore, built from scratch, and a red-tile-roof masonry casa that they acquired on impulse while vacationing in Mexico.

Cookin' and Bookin'

Check out my flavor-of-Poland South-of-the-Border contribution in Cookin' 'n Bookin' Texas Style, a collection of biographies, favorite recipes, and memories of Texas authors and illustrators, edited by Tara Henderson Forrest, published by the Texas State Reading Association.
ISBN 0-9715293-9-6
Order at TSRA Cookbook

I'm also profiled in these books:

Contemporary Authors, Volume 138

Who's Who in America

Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own, edited by Sylvia Ann Grider & Lou Halsell Rodenberger

"Thank you again for taking the time to come speak to us. One of the mothers came up to me at lunch and told me how much her daughter had talked about enjoying the class today. The student said it was 'one of the most awesome classes ever!'

"You have inspired the futures of my students."

—A Texas Teacher

My Two Names

Little did I guess the trouble I was getting into when I used my married name of Sizemore for my early writing, then switched to my maiden name, Lightfoot, for my current work. It's confused readers, booksellers, and librarians.

A modest proposal: One way to fix the identity problem many married women experience in the U.S. is to adopt the convention followed by wedded women in Mexico. There, the woman retains her maiden name as her primary surname and simply appends her husband's name, using the preposition de.

My doctor in Mexico, for example, is Dra. Maria Teresa Morales de Ramos, and she is addressed as Doctora Morales. Her husband is Dr. Joaquin Ramos. Perfectly sensible.

If I could become known as Deborah J. Lightfoot de Sizemore and be always alphabetized under Lightfoot, the confusion would end.

Women of America, what do you think? Can we overturn centuries of convention and adopt the better solution offered by our sisters to the South?