The 2015 Chicago Book Expo


I have heard great things about this event from other writers and am looking forward to attending for the first time. If you go, stop by my table and say hi.  I’d love to see you.


October Events

I can’t believe October is almost here, but I’m loving this fall weather. If I can just pretend winter snows and cold aren’t right behind autumn, I can be a happy camper. I’m also happy about a couple of events I’m doing in October, three actually, though two of them are on the same day but in different places. Check these out.

Saturday, October 3
Oswego Literary Festival, 9:00 – 1:00
32 West Jefferson, Oswego, IL

The Village of Oswego Cultural Arts Commission along with the Oswego Public Library District will be hosting the 4th annual Oswego Literary Festival.  They will offer sessions, displays, and vendors, including me there selling some books.  I’ll be bringing the new Deb Donahue novel with me, too, so if you’re in the neighborhood and want one, come on by.  They are also raffling off all three books in my Street Stories series (Painted Black, Bend Me, Shape Me, and Box of Rain) and lots of other cool prizes. The library’s Oswego Campus features a beautiful, new addition. This will be the first major event in the new annex.

WOA2Word of Art 2/Fall Art Scene, 5:00 – 9:00
Celebration Gallery at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church
902 Third Ave, Rockford, IL

This is an extended showing of the Word of Art selections being shown in their gallery, and will include 5 minute readings during the first 30 minutes of each hour by In Print members.  My reading will be at the beginning of the 6:00 hour and I haven’t decided yet if I will read my award winning story Spare Change, or if I should read a scene from one of my novels, like Box of Rain.  What do you think?

Saturday, October 24

PPLPrinceton Public Library Author Fair, 10:00 – 2:00
698 E Peru St., Princeton IL

I am especially excited about this event, since this is the library where I work and I am involved with the planning, in addition to being one of the authors who will participate. We have over 30 authors lined up to bring their books for a chance to sell and sign them for readers. We hope to make this an annual event, and may add a few extras to the day like speakers and giveaways.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated if we do.

That’s two, two, two awards in one!

WOA2Last year, I was thrilled that my story An Autumn Afternoon was runner up at Word of Art, an artist/author collaboration sponsored by In Print Professional Writers.So you can imagine how off the wall I felt on September 4 when one of my stories, Spare Change, won their 2015 author award, selected by Dan Klefsted from the NPR station WNIJ. AndAND (as my friend Rex Hohlbein from the Homeless in Seattle group would put it) the story and art combination alsoALSO (sorry, Rex, for the plagiarism) won the Reader’s Choice award.

wpid-cam00990.jpgThat last bit of good news I completely owe to artist Denise DeKing Stredde.  Not only did she create this awesome mixed media painting based on my words, but when she shared WHY she did it and HOW she did it, I was blown away.  You will be too, when you read this:

I chose to illustrate this piece because, not only is Deb Borys’ writing style wonderfully descriptive, but, the message contained in “Spare Change” is extremely important.  As I thought about how I would depict it, I made a sketch for every line.  But, in an ironic twist, I realized that narrowing my view would actually give me the broadest delivery.  Two words told the whole story.  “I am.”

I am

Homelessness has become a headline.  Too often, we read the headline, but fail to see the people.  We fail to recognize ourselves in their faces.  We fail.  I am.  These two words are the most powerful in this piece; and that’s why I put them in my painting at least 65 times.  Look closely – you may have missed them.  I am, in various sizes, bold and standard, forward and backward, upside-down and right-side up. These words are hidden in shadows and blended into the urban sky.  Although I didn’t count as I was placing them in the painting, I attempted a rough I am count upon completion, and there were at least 65.

Now – The Image.  My first instinct was to depict a man.  But, as I started sketching, this woman fought to be recognized.  That’s when I realized that I’d still had my blinders on.  The painful reality is that homelessness can affect anyone, even women, children, and the elderly.  So, I needed to reach deeper, until I was able to relate to this spirit.  And, that’s when everything fell into place.  By the time I was finished, I understood her.  She could be me.

She could be me.

The Composition.  She’s huddled into herself, in a dark corner; surrounded by light and sky – hope – yet unable to reach it and enjoy it.  Although a standard portrait will have its subject centered on the canvas, I purposely skewed the format by shoving her into that corner, forcing her into a lower status, and creating an uneasy feeling for the viewer.

The Medium.  I used a paint thickening medium and a pallet knife, as opposed to a paintbrush, for the majority of this piece.  It created divots and sharp edges, fragmenting her surroundings and making her skin look rough from exposure.  I was careful not to lose her features – you can tell she was “pretty once” when she WAS someone.  The painting is primarily acrylic, but with some surprise mixed media, to make her more real to me.  For survival, she’s been cloaked in a blanket made of my scraps – lint from my dryer – filled with dog hair and debris.  She’s literally wrapped in my cast-offs.  Mixed in with her painted strands, I’ve included 20-30 real hairs – harvested from my hairbrush.  In addition to my own hair, she may have those of my husband and my daughter; to remind me that she could be any one of us.

In my son’s words, “The real hair in there is a bit perturbing – unsettling – but I guess that’s the point.”

See her. She’s real.

Yes.  It is.  Feel uncomfortable when you look at her, because that’s honest.  But then, get over yourself.  See her.  She’s real.  And she needs you to acknowledge that.

What can I add to that?  Denise gets it.  I hope you get it.  I wish everyone could “get it.” because then the world would be a better place.

This year, I actually submitted the maximum number of stories (three) to their followup Word of Art 2. It was gratifying that two of my submissions were selected by writers (the maximum allowed per entrant). Both pieces were dear to my heart. Dixie is a poem I wrote after my geriatric miniature poodle passed away, and Spare Change was written about in invisibility of homelessness.

Artist Terry Werntz certainly got the toothless look down in this portrayal of my little Dixie, and to be honest, when she was wet her fluffy white hair was so fine she did look just

The 2015 Printers Row Festival

printersrowAck! This event is sneaking up on me way too quickly.  Still, I’m excited to be going back to Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Festival. On Sunday, June 7 from 2-6 p.m. I will once again be under the Chicago Writers Association tent from 2 – 6 p.m. selling copies of my Street Stories novels and meeting other book lovers and authors.

If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by and say hello.  This is going to be a great event with lots of events happening all weekend long.  One of these years I am going to go up for the whole weekend so I can enjoy some of the special speakers instead of just standing behind a table full of my books.

Word of Art 2 – I’m in!

woa2ipblogLast year’s Word of Art project was so successful that In Print Professional Writers have done it again.  Word of Art 2 started a few weeks ago with a call to writers to submit essays, poems or stories that are 200 words or less. Artists then select the ones they want to interpret visually on a 16×20 canvas in whatever medium they choose. Stories and art are then put on exhibit and published in a book.

Writers submitted up to three pieces and could have as many as two of them selected.  Since my entry last year, An Autumn Afternoon, was one of the finalists at the end of project judging, I actually submitted three pieces this time hoping to double my luck. I just found out TWO of them have been selected. I can’t wait to see what the artists do with them.

Here are the beginnings of the two that were chosen.  Click continue if you want to read the whole thing:


The artist who selected Dixie is Janet Werntz

Her toothless grin
Her pink, pink skin
Her wild, dust-magnet hair
She’d snuggle close beneath your chin
To let you know she cared.

Spare Change

Denise DeKing Stredde selected Spare Change

I watch as you walk by.  I hear what you’re not saying.

You want clean, swept sidewalks and easy access to the path of your intention.  Impediments in your way are merely obstacles to be removed or ignored.

Upcoming Author Events

I’m excited to get spring off to a great start with three Author events scheduled already where I will have an opportunity to meet readers and other authors — and maybe sell a few books, as well.

Box of Rain should be in print by the end of March, so I will have copies of that, too, at these events.

1. March 28, I will be attending the Yorkville Library Author Fair in Yorkville, IL from 9-2

    There will be 21 authors present, with 4 of them doing children’s readings. Amy Logan, Kathy Elstad, Evelyn Sanders Walker, and Elizabeth Wheeler will be reading for approx. 10-15 min each in the children’s programing room starting at 11:00.

There will also be 3 breakout sessions going on during the day.

  • 11:00 – “Taking Recreational Writing to the Next Level” with Jennifer Gulbrandsen
  • 12:00 – “What Makes a Good Mystery – Plot, Place, or People” with Patricia Skalka
  • 1:00 – “Publishing vs. Self-Publishing?  That is the question” with Elizabeth Wheeler and Amy Logan

Fellow local author Tom Schwerbrock will also be attending The Evergreen Library event

2. April 18 I will be in Evergreen Park IL at the Evergreen Park Public Library from 9-3.

    They will also have special sessions:

3. Then on Sunday afternoon, June 7, I will again be present at the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Fest at the Chicago Writer’s Association tent.  More info on that when we get closer to the day.

Box of Rain E-Book Launch Celebration Dec. 16

Read all about it at my Box of Rain website.


In Print Book Fair October 25

BookFair-posterThis Saturday, October 25, I will be one of 25 authors present at the In Print Book Fair in Rockford. There will be family events, speakers, food and poetry readings, too.

An Awesome Autumn Afternoon


Artwork by Kathy Baker

Yesterday’s In Print Word of Art reception was a great kick off for an awesome autumn.  And I’m  not just saying that because my piece, An Autumn Afternoon, was one of five finalists selected by writer/publisher John Gile from the thirty stories on display. The event went off without a hitch, the room filled to the brim with artists, writers, family and friends.

All of the artwork and accompanying stories or poems were displayed artistically on the walls of the Celebration Room of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and authors and artists were able to read and/or talk about their entries to a packed room. Refreshments were served and there was an opportunity to buy books and have them signed by the participants. The event was sponsored by In Print in cooperation with the Center for Arts and Spirituality and Art@Emmanuel.


An Autumn Afternoon

The orchard smells of apples. I stretch out to grab a red globe that dangles within reach. The stem snaps; leaves float down around me. More apples tempt me just out of range, begging to be picked. Each so smooth and perfect, I wish I were two feet taller.

I shine the fruit to a deep maroon on the thigh of my jeans. Not a flaw in it. My teeth crunch through the red-skinned, white flesh. The juice, sweet and tart, puckers my cheeks. The framework of branches above me stretches like a stairway waiting for an adventurous child. But there is no child to climb today.

Or is there? I step into the crotch of the tree and hoist myself up. Left foot, right foot, then—I stop. What is it about adulthood that makes us so cautious?

I sit on a likely looking limb and take another bite. The aroma of the ripening fruit mingles with a whiff of burning leaves. Through the tracing of branches, I glimpse my neighbor in a red and black checked shirt. He leans on his rake, flames rising from a pile of brown and gold and red, looking my way.

Kathy Baker produced the artwork that illustrates the story which was displayed both on the wall and in the book next to the story. She has a BFA in photography and used Photoshop to meld her images together in her interpretation of the piece.  She shared during last night’s presentation that she was drawn to the story by the sights, smells, touch and tastes so vividly portrayed, and also because she was a tomboy like me who used to love climbing trees.

John Giles had similar comments to make about why he chose the piece as one of the finalists.  Here’s what he had to say:



wpid-cam00725.jpg Judging for the writing was based on the following criteria:

  • “I looked for writing that won my attention, that made me stop and feel and be grateful to the writer for the experience
  • I looked for writing that communicates broadly, that has the power to draw an array of readers into a moment of common-union.
  • I looked for writing that honors Tolstoy’s counsel that the only totally honest thing a writer has to share with a reader is a part of himself/herself.
  • I looked for writing that opened my eyes and mind and heart to look at things in a way I hadn’t looked at them before.
  • I looked for writing that expanded my vision to see what I may not have seen or at least may not have noticed at a conscious level.
  • I looked for writing that avoided the pitfalls of calling attention to itself, a sign of trying too hard, and of being esoteric.

The winner of the writing competition was a beautiful and moving poem by Karna Tecla titled “The Immigrant.” To read it and see the accompanying artwork, and all the wonderful work on display, I encourage you to visit the ELC gallery in Rockford at 920 3rd Ave.  The showing will be viewable on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm Sept. 8 through Sept. 26.  Enter through the north entrance off 2nd Ave. Books can also be purchased by emailing


I will write more about the artwork and other prizes in my next blog post.  In the meantime, the affirmation I received has given me the confidence to jump back in full steam ahead with edits for Box of Rain.

New Author Event: Word of Art September 5

I am excited to be one of the writers chosen to participate in the InPrint Word of Art Event on Friday, September 5 from 4-8 pm in Rockford IL.

For those of you unfamiliar, Word of Art is a collaboration of Authors and Artists sponsored by In Print Professional Writers’ Organization in Cooperation with the Center for the Arts and Spirituality and Art@Emmanuel. Authors submitted short stories, poems or essays, 200 words or less. Then artists selected a written work to do an inspired canvas. Any medium was allowed– and we have a variety! but artists had to use the 16×20 canvas provided.

We are creating a full color, hard cover book that will include 30 of the author/artist partnerships.

More at Mary Lamphere’s blog


AutumnAfternoonMy piece which was selected is titled An Autumn Afternoon, and this is a tiny peek at the artwork inspired by my words.

I will be reading the selection at the event and there will be an opportunity to buy copies of the hard cover books and have them signed by the attending authors and writers.

I hope to see some of you there and look forward to getting a look at the complete canvas created by artist Kathy Baker.






Buy a book and donate to The Night Ministry

This Saturday, You can buy a great book about street kids and have $10 of your purchase price donated to The Night Ministry to help actual kids on the street.

I already told everyone about my attending the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Lit Fest this Saturday June 7 from 2-6 p.m. During that time, for each print copy of Bend Me, Shape Me or Painted Black that’s sold, I will donate $10 to The Night Ministry.

A great deal, right? However, because so many of my friends don’t live in Chicago, I decided to extend that offer beyond the limited venue of the festival.  On Saturday, June 7 if you order/buy a print version of either book ANYWHERE (online or in a bookstore) between 12 a.m. and midnight, I will send TNM a check for $10.

To get the donation to where it will do some good, all you need to do is email me a copy of your receipt showing the date, time and purchase price.  I will email you back with confirmation of your donation and The Night Ministry will have more funds in their coffers to help homeless men, women, and children.

Message me on Facebook.  If you don’t hear from me within a week after sending it, message again or contact me on here or on Facebook.

Help me tweet the heck out of this one, will you? CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO SHARE.

Tweet: Want to read a novel about street kids and actually HELP streets kids? Check this out:

If you do come to the Printers Row Festival, I will be in Tent F on the map below, waiting to share your money with the organization who inspired me to write these books.


Interview at Mysteristas Blog


Just in time to help spread the word about my attendance at the Dekalb Library Author Fair tomorrow, Mysterias Blog posted an interview of me today.  Here’s one of the answers I gave, but I hope you will click through to read the whole interview.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.

The volunteers and staff at The Night Ministry in Chicago were influential in helping me see the importance of reaching out and how much of an impact compassion and acceptance can make in someone else’s life. If I have to name three people in particular, I think it would be three homeless young men I met while I volunteered with TNM. Eric was my first lesson in how to give unconditional love. He was messed up, involved in male prostitution to feed his drug habit, yet so kind and vulnerable that I couldn’t fault him for that. I could see there was more to him than the struggles he was going through. Then there was Chris, who was bi-polar but so smart. He was always the first to be there for his friends and anyone he felt was being treated unfairly. He and I studied for his GED and he finally got back on his feet and I’m sure is out there still standing up for those less fortunate. Then there was Anthony. He had some sort of learning disability and had had an abusive childhood, but he was always the happiest young man you could ever hope for. His positive outlook on life never wavered for long, and his smile always cheered me up when I was feeling down.

via Mysteristas | Interview: Debra Borys.

It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks

I’m excited to be starting out the summer with a bang.  First off, on Memorial Day weekend, I gave a party to celebrate my Mom’s 80th birthday and the engagement of my son to a wonderful woman.  Then, before I could even catch my breath, I started preparing for my first author event of the season, The Writer’s Yarn Author Fair at the Dekalb library.  I will be there all day Saturday May 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

printersrowThat will be a great venue to practice my social skills so I am ready to attend the 30th annual Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago.  The festival with be going on all day Saturday June 7 and Sunday, June 8, but if you want to catch me there, shoot for 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.  The Chicago Writer’s Association will have its own tent (Tent F).  Over 46 authors will be attending that weekend from the CWA alone, so you will have lots of opportunities to buy books and meet authors.

For this event, I will be donating $10 per every hard copy sold of my Street Stories novels to The Night Ministry as a show of appreciation for the work they are doing and the way they inspired me to highlight homeless characters and their lives in the series.

So what’s going on for your summer?  Got  time to come and share some of mine?  I’d love to see you, both old friends and new.  Whatever the months have in store for you, I hope you enjoy them as much as I am going to enjoy mine.

Writers Yarn Author Fair Saturday

The Dekalb library has been posting news about the Author Fair I will be attending this Saturday. Visit their page to find out more information about the many authors you can meet there.  Here’s a few below.



Writers Yarn Author Fair May 31 – Dekalb Haish Memorial Library


20140321 - Writers Yarn

Authors Wanted for Event in DeKalb

I just filled out an application for an Author Fair in Dekalb. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the first author fair I attend is in small town Illinois rather than the bustling, literary-strewn Seattle area? The opportunities I’m finding here make me glad I moved back.

In Print Writers

20140321 - Writers Yarn The DeKalb Public Library is looking for local authors for their third annual Writer’s Yarn .  Any local author interested in participating at the fair to promote their books, meet fans, interact with fellow authors or publishing houses is welcome. Authors should fill out the application and return it by April 30, 2014 to be considered.

The Writer’s Yarn will be held on  Saturday, May 31, from 11 am – 3 pm at the Haish Memorial Library in DeKalb.  For more information, contact Edith Craig.

Author Application

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