Deborah J. Lightfoot                Author and Editor

(aka Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore)

Selected Works

Fantasy
"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."
Booklist
"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.

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Comments

READERS:
This Is YOUR Space


I'm delighted to hear from people who have read my books or articles, online or offline. Please post comments here or via e-mail: djls@​djlightfoot.com. Thanks.


Talking About   TRAIL FEVER:


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Hi! I was wandering around your website today, and noticed your comment about the name Lightfoot, used in "Lord of the Rings". I also remember the name Lightfoot being used in a book called "Cold Sassy Tree". I read it in high school. It was the name of the female character... if I recall correctly.


"You will find no cute, philosophical animals in Deborah Lightfoot's books for children. You will find some hard-riding cowboys who actually lived and wrangled longhorns in Texas ... Lightfoot (www.djlightfoot.com) would rather tell the stories of folks like George Saunders, a Texas cattleman whose story she wrote and published in Trail Fever ... [which] is on the recommended reading list of the Texas Education Agency for kids in fourth-grade Social Studies classes. One school district down Houston way bought 25 copies maybe as much for the teachers as for the students."

Alex Burton, Generations (Jan.–Feb. 2008)



Thank you, Alex, for writing about TRAIL FEVER for the Generations newspaper. I appreciate the chance to reach a new audience. —Deborah

"Thanks for the TRAIL FEVER lesson plan! I'll be using it soon with my students. We love your book."
--A Texas teacher

So glad you're finding the lesson plan (and my book) useful. For any teachers who missed it, the free TRAIL FEVER lesson plan is at Lesson Plan. Also available now is a Teacher's Guide (2006).

"TRAIL FEVER is a wonderful book for all ages and we appreciate you and Waldenbooks giving us a copy for our endeavors." Ozark Literacy Council, Fayetteville, Arkansas

I'm delighted that you can use my book to help "give the gift of reading."


Talking About   ACCELERATED READER (AR Books):


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As a former school librarian I was happy to have the AR program incorporated into our school because it put the child on the level of reading he/she needed. We have many bi lingual and they needed extra help too. Many of our students were progressing into high school unable to read at third grade levels. The trouble with AR is that it is misused by the teachers. It is not monitored properly, children are cheating (elementary children were talking about paying others to take their tests). It became a tool for the testing that has taken over our country. The joy of reading is gone? The joy of learning in an elementary school is gone and what AR was meant to do, gone. I really don't understand why it is even used once a child can read a chapter book. It deals with details, not understanding the content, the meaning of the book.

"I am so FED UP with the AR program. It is MY responsibility as the parent to make sure my child takes a test before or after school, in which we wait in a 10-20 minute line. The school day is too busy for AR test to get done. Not only that, but many times I feel I am having my child 'hurry up and read' so they can get on to the next book - and don't even get me started on when my child reads a book that is not AR approved. What happened to reading being FUN???? Signed, a concerned parent that wants my child to enjoy reading - not 'read for points'."

Dear Concerned Parent,

I appreciate your comments. You are the first parent I've heard from on this subject. Several librarians and teachers have told me how much damage they see AR doing to students' love of learning. But until now I had not realized what a burden AR is for parents, too. Can you talk to your child's teacher or librarian and voice your opposition to AR? Or is there a parent-teacher organization that might take up the cause of removing AR from your school? The more I hear, the more I am convinced that AR is WORSE than a waste of money. It's a destructive force in a child's life and detrimental to their reading. As you say, reading should be FUN—not a chore. Deborah


"After reading your article, 'Want Readers? Get Your Books AR Listed' (September–October 2006 SCBWI Bulletin), I thought you should know that your next step is to contact school librarians. Although AR may offer 75,000 selections, our local public school has access to only a few hundred. They acquire a few new tests each year and are eager for suggestions, but each test costs the school money, so not every AR book will be on our local elementary's AR list, regardless of whether or not the library owns a copy."

You bring up an excellent point: "each test costs the school money." Besides raising a barrier between authors and readers, AR is a drain on a school's finances. It's a nice money-maker for the company that sells quizzes to the schools, I'm sure; but how does AR serve the best interests of those schools, or their students? I don't understand why any school would WANT (or pay for) such a program.

Here's what one teacher shared with me, and I applaud her approach:
"I tell my students to pick the book they want to read, whether it's AR or not—that the library is full of all kinds of good books. My fourth graders are not so concerned with points by this stage as with the fact that we are asking them to read on or above grade level (chapter books and longer) and out of their comfort zone. They are learning to read novels and discovering that they really enjoy them. That's not to say that some of the books they pick aren't point-driven—just that they don't focus only on that. I had one little 4th grade guy last year who didn't care at all about AR—he read whatever he wanted."

Bravo! If young readers, along with their teachers, librarians, and parents, will come to see that AR is primarily a money-maker for a commercial venture, and little else, then maybe the schools will stop spending money on AR quizzes. As a taxpayer as well as a writer, I see AR as an unnecessary, even undesirable, expense to the schools. Even so, I felt I had to get TRAIL FEVER on the AR list; else, schools and libraries wouldn't want it. Sad! (Don't think I'm blind to the hypocrisy. It's glaring.)

Thank you for writing, and for giving me a chance to blow off steam! Deborah


Talking About   YAKIMA CANUTT:


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"Occasionally I do searches on Yakima Canutt, my great-uncle, and see what new articles may be written about him. Yours is very good. Glad you mentioned the part about Stagecoach where that one stunt was used in Indiana Jones. I remember watching Harrison Ford being interviewed on the Indiana set and saying that Yak invented not only many present-day stunts but in particular the one where he is dragged underneath a truck.

"As young boys, my brother and I met him but we were too young to recall. We did see him again in North Hollywood in 1979 and it was fascinating asking him questions about his career. I even held his Oscar. I have some pictures of him holding it, with our family included in the picture.

"If you saw this year's stuntmen awards, Yakima's stunts were winning notice even though he has passed on many years ago."

L. K.

Yak was your great-uncle, and you actually met and visited with him! That is so cool. This is the best part about having a Web site: I get many interesting letters from folks I would never have met otherwise. Thanks very much for sharing your memories. Deborah



"My father once gave me a photo of his father in front of a bunkhouse with his best friend Yakima Canutt! I still have it. Yakima and my grandfather worked the rodeos a bit, and then Yakima decided to go to Hollywood. He wanted my grandfather to go with him but he became sick, and died shortly after that. Isn't information interesting?"

Rod Adams, Virginia

Interesting? Fascinating! Thanks for your note and for the great vintage photo (in the column at right). --Deborah



"Very interesting internet story about Mr. Yakima Canutt. Nicely done, I enjoyed it very much!

"As a young lad between the age of 6-9, I meet Mr. Canutt at a family get-together. Here I was a young, double-pistol-packin' cowpoke (sans a horse) with such imagination, standing next to this tall and I do mean tall gentleman, all duded up in western clothes from head to foot. I had never seen such a sight in person, only on our B&W TV. Man, was I speechless and taken in! I'm not sure of the amount of time he spent with me or any of us kids, but he spent several hours I'm sure. Showed me how to lasso and ride bareback. None of the other kids were packing their six-shooters, like I was, so Mr. Canutt kinda favored me I guess.

"This would have been sometime in the mid-'50s and in a small, small town in southern Washington. We were at some shirttail relative's home. My mother and father and I, and lots of other kids and adults were there. It was the fall season, pumpkins all over the place, weathered cornstalks standing and laying about, hay piles to play in and on. What a life us kids had, and we didn't even know it.

"Now, according to my grandmother (who was there that day also) she is/was related to Mr. Canutt, so this meant my dad and I were too. It wasn't until years later that I started to understand things a little more, and came to appreciate just what that meant to me.

"Thank you again for allowing me to share and relive my younger day memories."

G. R., Arizona

Thank YOU, G. R., for your wonderfully detailed and descriptive letter. I enjoyed your reminiscences and am delighted to "meet" a relative of Yak's.

Your description of your boyhood self as a "double-pistol-packin' cowpoke" made me smile. I have a photo of me at about the same age, dressed in my cowgirl outfit, my silver six-shooter ready for action. Back then, we all wanted to grow up to be cowboys.

Thanks again for your great letter. Deborah



Talking About   THE LH7 RANCH:


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Dear Mrs. Deborah J. Lightfoot,
First of all, I'd like to thank you for writing a book on the history of not only the LH7 ranch, but of E. H. Marks. You don't know me, but my name is Von Marks Harrington. E.H. is my great-great grandfather, something I'm proud to say. I wrote this out not to make any self-important speech about how my family is great, but to thank you for seeing the greatness in my family. You help not only preserve that honor and knowledge, but to have a preservation of my family's genealogy. Thank you once again.
Your Thankful Friend,
Von Marks Harrington

"I run a commercial real estate firm based in Dallas with offices around the U.S. We recently acquired the final tract of the famous LH7 Ranch in Houston. The original house, barns, church, etc. will remain a Texas historical site and be protected always. I just wanted to thank you for your book as it has helped us to realize how special this property is. We will be working hard to implement the history of LH7 into a future office development on the property. Again, I just wanted to compliment you on your book."

Kevin G. White
President & CEO
W The Real Estate Company
5495 Beltline Road Suite 175
Dallas, Texas 75254
www.wtrec.com

Thanks, Kevin. Yes, that chunk of West Harris County is quite steeped in history. Back in the 1980s when I first began researching the Marks family and the LH7, the ranch property was still sort of out in the country. Barker was an identifiable town. Whereas now, of course, you can't tell where Houston ends and Katy begins. Barker is squeezed in the middle between 'em.

Thank you for keeping alive the history of the place. As Houston gets farther from its ranching/agricultural roots, my history of the LH7 just seems to become more valued by the locals. I hear from teachers whose students use my book for their local-history studies. It's great to think I have helped to preserve something worthwhile, and that you, as the new owner of the property, will continue to value it.

All best—Deborah




Talking About   What's on Your Mind:


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Hello,
I came upon this site trying to locate a Lightfoot. It seems he died too recently to be in the geneology Forums. I was hoping for a piece of Luck. His name is William Franklin "Bill" Lightfoot. Born 04/08/1924 Died 2/14/1979 in Dallas Texas.

Or e-mail me at djls@djlightfoot.com

Remembering John Bobbish

John Bobbish, illustrator of my children's book Trail Fever, passed away on July 17, 2008. Through his art, his spirit lives on. Please contact Margie Bobbish via www.bobbishart.com.

The Family Lightfoot



"My name is Brian Hawkins. I am a descendant of Elizabeth Lightfoot Lillard. Her husband was Benjamin Lillard. Her father was William Lightfoot. I managed to trace it all the way back to Richard Lightfoot our common ancestor. I guess that makes us distant cousins. Would you have some info on William Lightfoot and tell me my direct relation to Francis Lightfoot Lee? Elizabeth Lightfoot was born in Va. and I found some info that says she died in Richmond and some that says Culpepper Va. Can you help me with that? Thank you ..."

Cousin Brian, I have no information about the Lillards and very little about the Lee family connection, but you may find help at RootsWeb. You can search the LIGHTFOOT archives. I did a quick search for "Lillard" and turned up many posts. I do know that Phillip Lightfoot (1689-1748), father of Wm. Lightfoot (1722-1771?) and grandfather of Wm. Lightfoot (1750-1809), was a good friend of Thomas Lee.

Also, if you don't have Mary Edd Morton's book, "Calling All Lightfoots," you should buy or borrow a copy. Maj. William Lightfoot (1720?-1805, married Elizabeth Barrow) is covered extensively in that book. Are they your people? (This Wm. is descended from John, not Phillip, Lightfoot.)

Good luck with your search.



"My name is Dorothy Lightfoot. My daughter is doing a report on her family and this led me to your page. I have a ton of info on the family once they came over but not much when they were still across the pond. Would love to speak with you and share some info. My son is the first born American for well over 100 years in the line that my husband's family comes from. My father-in-law Peter Lightfoot did research and traced the family back to 1062ad, but those papers were lost after his passing 9 years ago."

Dorothy, an excellent source of info on the Lightfoot family in the Old Country is Mary Edd Morton's book,  Calling All Lightfoots. The "ancient history" contained therein is fascinating. Also, there's a treasure trove online at RootsWeb. Thanks for writing to me.


"Stick with Lightfoot. I looked real hard to find a name that agreed with Lightfoot like Thunderbolt and I finally found it. Shoemaker and Lightfoot. She's a great lady and a wonderful friend especially now since we're married. She has kept her maiden name since she is also a professional. We love to ride horses and we'll look forward to reading your books."

Congratulations, you two! Sounds like you've made a great match. You know where else I came across the Lightfoot name recently? In the third book of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. And it gets better: Tolkien's "Lightfoot" was a beloved horse! Thanks for your note. Happy Trails & good reading. --Deborah


"My name is Gerald Lightfoot, the last of 9 children born to Harry Earl Lightfoot in St. Louis, Missouri. Please reply and maybe we can fill each other in on the family tree. Jerry"

Jerry, by private e-mail I've sent what I know about my Missouri connections. My great-great- grandmother, Elizabeth Dyer Lightfoot (wife of Henry Harrison Lightfoot), died in Missouri in 1904. She had 13 children -- possibly you have an ancestor among them. Ours is a very large family tree!


Alex Adams, Yakima Canutt, and an unnamed third cowboy. Can anyone sort out who's who? Is that Yakima on the right? Photo courtesy Rod Adams of Virginia.