“Snowfall” on The Write City Magazine

City-snowA short story that I wrote while writing Bend Me, Shape Me was published today at Write City Magazine.  It is a story about Snow and Leonard that didn’t actually happen in the book, but was part of the process I used to develop their characters and get to know them better.

Here’s the first part of it, click through to read the whole story.

A tattered stuffed panda bear lies in one corner of the room. Plaster from the wall has littered its black coat, and one eye is replaced by a crudely stitched x. A child lived in this hovel once, hard to imagine as I take in the rotted walls, bare couch springs, littered newspapers, beer cans and cigarette butts. Winter’s chill enters the unheated room through one dirty, broken window. Even the graffiti once slashed across the paint has crumbled beneath the weight of damp and neglect.

To think Snow has been living in this. Snowflake, tiny daughter of my great niece, grown to a young woman with unwashed hair and wild eyes. Her face had been round and alert when Winter Rose first brought her to the reservation, brown and healthy, a true Yakama miyánash, no trace of her Mexican father in her at all.

From the shadow of powerful Mount Rainier to the alleys and abandoned houses of Chicago’s west side. A long fall for a daughter of the people.

“What are you doing here?”

Snow’s words sound startled, defensive, but when I turn to face her she stands proud and brave as any warrior. Her straight black hair has been dyed red at the ends, like flames that lick at the dark night. Metal pierces her ears and nose, and dirt creases the rim of her neck. Were she holding a bow and arrow I would fear for my life. Instead, I settle to the floor in a gesture of peace, legs crossed, arms resting on my knees.

“I am your uncle. I have come to take you home.”

via The Write City Magazine | Chicago Writers Association.


“A chilling and tension-drenched thriller”

A review by a Chicagoan who knows what the streets are really like–now this is a great review.

Bend Me, Shape Me

Starza Thompson over at Windy City Reviews gave Bend Me, Shape Me a long and marvelous review today. Below are some of my favorite excerpts, but I really hope you will click through to read everything she had to say.

Bend Me Shape Me takes a deep and fascinating look into the world of teen homelessness in Chicago. Through the eyes of Snow Ramirez, Jo Sullivan, and Leonard Goldenhawk, author Debra Borys shepherds the audience on a terrifying journey of homelessness, mental illness, family problems, and murder.

"Nicely done" “Page-turning tension”

This novel was chock full of nail-biting scenes and page-turning tension, making it very hard to put down. Throughout the book, Borys does an excellent job of painting a realistic picture of homeless youth and the struggle they have with mental illness, family, trust, and more. From the very first page of this novel, the audience is pulled into Snow’s story…

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Ebook Prices Reduced

My publisher realigned their pricing structure and decided to reduce the cost for all their ebooks that have been released for at least six months.  This includes the e-versions of both Painted Black and Bend Me, Shape Me! The books will now sell at $2.99, a price which is already reflected on the Amazon.com site and will soon show up on Kobo, iBooks, and B&N.

This is a PERMANENT price change, not just a limited sale. Enjoy!

Ebooks NOW selling for $2.99 STARTING TODAY!

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Download from the following e-stores:

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Praise for Painted Black

Jo Sullivan’s search for a missing street kid unearths a bizarre collection of freeze-dried corpses.

“Full of suspense and intrigue.”

“The characters were true to life and leapt out of the page at me, at times their pain was tangible.”

“There isn’t a part of this book you don’t feel, it reaches into your core.”

“Dark, gritty and suspenseful this is a seat of your pants ride that you won’t soon forget.”


 Praise for Bend Me, Shape Me

Meet Snow Ramirez.  She’s convinced psychiatrist Mordechai Levinson is responsible for one kid’s suicide, and may be targeting her brother Alley as his next victim.

“A fantastic follow up to the first ‘Street Stories’ book.”

“Another heart wrenching look into the life of kids on the street.”

“Borys is quite the master at not only creating believable environments, but thrilling tales.”

“Bend Me, Shape Me is definitely going to deliver a jolt.”

“Snow is strong, brave, troubled and incredibly fierce.”

Library Reading and Book Signing

Just a reminder to Illinois Valley and Bureau County locals about this event tomorrow night. I hope to see some familiar faces there!

Bend Me, Shape Me

Princeton library

On November 12 at 6:30 p.m. I will be reading from Bend Me, Shape Me at the Princeton Public library, 698 E Peru St, Princeton IL 61356.  I will also talk a bit about how setting influences crime fiction and answer any questions you might have.  Afterward, there will be an opportunity to buy books and have them signed.

I hope you will join me.  I look forward to seeing everyone.

If you are interested in the reading i did last year from Painted Black, the whole event was recorded and is available on my Painted Black website.

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“An experience you can see, hear, and smell”

A big thumbs up for the book and my writing, but a thumbs down for the cover again. Next time, we hire a professional cover artist–I promise.

Bend Me, Shape Me


I knew from an email Jill at IndieHeart sent me two weeks ago that this review of Bend Me, Shape Me would be a good one.  Jill has experience working with troubled teens and so her accolades are high praise indeed.  Please click through to read more, including a brief overview of the main characters that you should find interesting.

I found most of the characters in Bend Me, Shape Me to be well drawn. Alley is the perfect picture of a boy with fetal alcohol syndrome. Snow, who has been diagnosed as bipolar (like many traumatized teen girls with legitimate anger) is a strong and compelling character. You will find yourself pulling for her from the beginning.

The author also brings a high degree of craft to the elements that make the story an experience you can see, hear, and smell; she has a talent for both descriptive language…

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“Nicely done”

While some might think 3.5 stars isn’t that good of a rating, it seems like high praise indeed from someone who admits she doesn’t really enjoy crime fiction. Thanks, Tanja!

Bend Me, Shape Me

Tanja from Bosnia didn’t think Bend Me, Shape Me‘s plot twist related to the government was necessary, but does say that it was logical and the book was nicely done.  She also prefaced her review on Jacitamati by admitting crime fiction isn’t really her preferred genre.  3.5 stars from someone who doesn’t usually enjoy suspense novels?  I’ll take it!

Being a reader makes you discover different things about yourself. For example, I’m huge fan of tv-crime shows and I watched who knows how many CSI and Criminal Minds episodes but when it comes to suspense or crime books I tend to avoid them. They simply don’t do it for me, but maybe I will discover some book that will change my mind. This one was a nice and interesting read but it didn’t bring that epiphany, nor did I expect it to. It wouldn’t be fair to set my…

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“I was drawn in”

This is the only 3-star review I’ve ever received, but I find it wasn’t as painful as I thought it might me. You might say I also am “satisfied and disappointed at the same time.”

Bend Me, Shape Me


I find it interesting that on the same day I receive a review complimenting how strong the characters are portrayed, I also find another which says the opposite.  The Pankhearst Reviewposted a review on August 14 that I found only because I was bored and did a Google search for “Borys” and “Bend Me, Shape Me.”  Despite the fact that the reviewer felt disappointed with the character depth and thought the ending seemed rushed, he did have a few good things to say and ended his commentary with: “”It’s weird reading a novel and being satisfied and disappointed at the same time.”

This is the only 3-star review I’ve ever received, but I find it wasn’t as painful as I thought it might me.  You might say I also am “satisfied and disappointed at the same time.”

If you’re looking for a quick, easy read with an…

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“Well presented and completely engaging”

I love strong characters and am so glad Jo and Snow show such signs of strength.

Bend Me, Shape Me


I am, Indeed gave Bend Me, Shape Mea 4-star review and had some great things to say, particularly about Snow and Jo as characters.

Snow’s “determination to protect her brother and survive against horrific odds is a testament to her strength.”

“Jo is pretty amazing and the careful nurturing of the budding relationship that she is building with Snow is well-defined and presented with a solidity that feels both possible and realistic.

I hope you will click through to read the whole review, but here is another little taste of the a 4-starry goodness:

There must be something in the air or some odd convergence of planets: I’ve had a group of books that I have read lately that, at least tangentially, deal with characters that are “less than” in society’s eyes. Bend Me, Shape Me is no different. Debra Borys deals with the issue of underground teenaged runaways…

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Interview by Mathis Interiors Radio

I posted a link to this podcast interview over at the Bend Me, Shape Me site, but forgot to link to it here in case any of my readers don’t follow both blogs.

Joanne Mathis was one of the first people to interview me when Painted Black was released and I was grateful for a chance to chat with her again.  I hope you enjoy.

Debra R Borys/ Bend Me Shape Me 08/12 by Mathis Interiors Radio | Books Podcasts.

Interview at The Reading Frenzy

I’m really pleased with how this interview turned out at The Reading Frenzy and I would love to hear if anything I say in it makes you think about the plight of homeless teens.

Bend Me, Shape Me


Debbie Haupt at The Reading Frenzy asked me some great questions about Bend Me, Shape Me and about street kids.  I hope you click through to read the whole thing, but here is a tiny taste of what I had to say.

Debra, you’ve volunteered working with what you term “throwaway youth.” What is one thing any of us can do to help even one teen off the streets?

The one thing everyone can and should do is very simple. Notice them. Smile as you pass, maybe even say hi. If they ask you for money and you don’t want to give them any, just smile politely and say, “Sorry, I can’t today.” Nine times out of ten, if you treat them with respect, they will return the favor. Being treated as invisible and contemptuous only erodes a person’s self-esteem which leads to antisocial anger and/or depression.

Once you…

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Interview with Shelagh Watkins

Bend Me, Shape Me

shelaghWatkinsShelagh Watkins was one of the first people to interview me after the publication of Painted Black, so I am honored she found room for another round of questions and answers now that Bend Me, Shape Me is out.  I hope you will click through to read the whole article. I talk about writing, my inspirations and what I’ve been up to lately.  Here’s a teaser talking about where I got the idea for the plot.

“For Bend Me, Shape Me an article about a family suing their son’s psychiatrist planted the germ of an idea. Their autistic son had been exhibiting violent and dangerous behavior after beginning treatment and because the family insisted on further investigation, the police discovered the doctor was actually a paranoid schizophrenic who planned to brainwash his patients into becoming his own private security force. I simply asked myself “What if?” What if the…

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“Realistically portrayed while still being suspenseful”

Bend Me, Shape Me

The review for Bend Me, Shape Me is not yet posted at IndieHeart Reviews, but I did receive an email today from their reviewer that got my work week off to a great start.  With inspiration like this, how can I not dig deep into the third Street Stories suspense novel?

I finished “Bend Me, Shape Me” on Friday, and I hope to have a review written by next week. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed the book. I spent 10 years as a Family therapist specializing primarily with violent teens (and juvenile sexual offenders) in both Phoenix and my current rural Ohio location, and I was so pleased to see your characters so realistically portrayed while still being a suspenseful novel with an interesting storyline.

As you might guess from that, my review will be on the good side!

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“This book…prompted…further research about homelessness”

MJLast week I posted a link to a review of Bend Me, Shape Me by M.J. Joachim.  While she had many good things to say about the book, she concluded at the end not to add the book to her Recommended Reading list.  While I was disappointed, I was happy with the many things she did like about the book.

Snow and Jo were not done with the reviewer, however. Recently MJ wrote this note on a review she did for a John Grisham book:

Note:  I added an update to my recent Bend Me, Shape Me review. This book touched my heart and prompted me [to] read and conduct further research about homelessness. Consequently, I published another book review for Danielle Steel’s book, A Gift of Hope, today on my Effectively Human website, and have added Bend Me, Shape me to my Recommended Reading List.

[Emphasis above added by me]

She then included a slight nod to Bend Me, Shape Me in her Danielle Steele review.  I am thrilled that my name and my novel has been mentioned (however incidentally) in association with big time names like Grisham and Steele.  More importantly, since grabbing hold of readers’ minds and making them think even after the book is finished is one of the ultimate goals of my Street Stories series, I am gratified at this turn of events.

Here is M.J.’s description of what made her change her mind.

BOOK REVIEWER’S NOTE: I wanted more. My book reviewer’s lens clashed strongly with my desire to be Effectively Human. What I found was an unyielding desire to learn and understand the plight of homelessness in our midst. From the moment I finished reading and reviewing “Bend Me, Shape Me,” thoughts of homeless people and the struggles they face have been ever present in my heart, mind and soul. For this reason I’m changing my mind and adding “Bend Me, Shape Me” to my Recommended Reading List. My opinions shared in this review have not changed from a reader’s point of view. However, I would be remiss if I overlooked what the images of homelessness and life on the streets shared in this book, have done to my heart.

As a side note, I’m currently working on and researching some new articles relating to homelessness for my Effectively Human website. I expect to publish a few more in the not too distant future.

via M. J. Joachim’s Writing Tips: Book Review: Bend Me, Shape Me by Debra R. Borys.

[Emphasis added by me again]

Print Version Released!

Watch for news soon about a couple of author events I’m lining up!

Bend Me, Shape Me

In this age of rampant electronic publishing and e-readers, it probably shouldn’t matter if your book ever sees actual “print.”  But for old fashioned writers like me, there is nothing as validating as holding that processed tree pulp in your hot little hands.  I will have the thrill of doing that soon, because a carton of trade paperbacks is on its way to my front door now.

If you also enjoy reading a book you don’t have to turn on first, I hope you will order your copy from your local book store or at least go to Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com to get this second novel in the Street Stories suspense series.

Keep your eye on this blog for upcoming news about book signings and author events because I’ve got a couple in the works I hope to announce soon.

Buy your copy today!

Order at your local bookstore…

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“An important testimony”

Not as glowing as the previous reviews, but enough goodness to keep me happy.

Bend Me, Shape Me

MJM.J. Joachim did a thoughtful review of Bend Me, Shape Me last week that I almost missed.  While she did not add the book to her Recommended Reading list, she had many good things to say, including the excerpt below.  Click through to read the entire commentary.

Let me know if you agree with some of her conclusions.  I love learning if there is something I can do better for next time.

This is a story that begins with an intensely strong opening chapter, one that startles readers, awakens their senses and captures their attention. Happy endings, albeit nice, seem to soften the blow and dismiss the horror of what life must be like for homeless teenagers on our streets, especially in rough cities like Chicago.

Bend Me, Shape Me is an important testimony for the plight of homeless people, prostitutes, addicts etc. My heart opened wide as I…

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“Suspenseful, enlightening and well done”

The reviews are starting to add up, and they’re all sounding pretty positive!

Bend Me, Shape Me

Kimberly Costa gave Bend Me, Shape Me 4-stars and some high praise.  Here are the highlights of her review, but I encourage you to click through to read the whole review and followup comments.

I am delighted I agreed to read and review this novel. Borys offers fascinating characters, a look at inner city homeless children and combines it with a suspenseful mystery that kept me flipping the pages. This is the second book in the Street Stories series but each work is a standalone. Three word review: suspenseful, enlightening and well done.

Snow is a powerful character who has been apart of too much darkness for a girl of eighteen. She is street wise and has spent her youth protecting her brother Alley and drowning her sorrow in pills. Snow and Alley are half Native American and left the Washington Yakama Reservation with her mother and father. Their life…

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“Borys is quite the master”

Reviews like this one make me do the Snoopy dance.

Bend Me, Shape Me


4star reviewDarian Wilk continues to love my Street Stories suspense series.  Here’s her review of Bend Me, Shape Me.  She is also offering a contest to give away a print and e-copy of the book.  Follow the link to enter.

This is the second book in the Street Stories series by Debra Borys, the first, Painted Black, I also had the privilege of reviewing.

The focus again is on the lives of young homeless kids living on the streets. Kids, especially those trapped in this type of life, should be able to trust those in positions to help them – like psychiatrists. But something feels all too wrong. Snow’s roommate commits suicide. Again Jo Sullivan is the one who steps up to help those without a voice. True to Borys style you get a very surreal feeling of what life on the streets is really like. It’s…

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Win a Free Copy

Bend Me, Shape Me


Night Owl Reviews is offering a contest starting today, July 16 through July 26 to win a free copy of Bend Me, Shape Me.  I believe you have to sign in to participate, but if you like reading, it’s a site you will find useful.  They review several genres–AND IT’S FREE!

Here’s a summary of how you can win.  Click here to read the complete entry rules.

Comment = 1 Entry | Tweet = 1 Extra Entry* | Like = 1 Extra Entry* | Pinterest Pin It = 1 Extra Entry*

* Mention in the comments for extra entry

Bend Me Cover -FinalIn addition, they included a guest post I wrote about following your passion.  Here’s a bit of it below.

Thanks to Night Owl for allowing me to share my passion with you. Wouldn’t life be great if all our goals were set by something we are passionate about?…

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“Gritty, Riveting”

With the paperback version of Bend Me, Shape Me releasing later this month, there should be more reviews to read soon.

Bend Me, Shape Me

4star reviewA.C. Haury at Bibliophile Book Reviews had great things to say about Bend Me, Shape Me, and gave it 4-stars!  Not bad!  And just in time for the release of the paperback version expected out July 22.

“Bend Me, Shape Me” by Debra R. Borys is a gritty, riveting, and intriguing eBook that delves right into the dark and often twisted underbelly of inner city life. This is a well written book that definitely delivers a punch. I didn’t give it five stars, because as someone who lives in the inner city it is hard to shock me, but for readers who are not as familiar with the innerworkings of less than desirable folks and groups that seem to congregate in urban settings, “Bend Me, Shape Me” is definitely going to deliver a jolt. I’m looking forward to Debra R. Borys future works – She’s definitely an author to…

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Switching Gears- Guest Post at Indies Unlimited

I recently wrote a guest post at Indies Unlimited about my fears that changing genres from dark suspense under Debra R. Borys to cozy mystery as Deb Donahue might put readers off.  It’s generating some interesting comments.  I hope you will click through to read the whole post and see what people have to say.

I pour my love of the city into my Street Stories suspense novels. When I was writing and editing the recently released second novel in the series, Bend Me, Shape Me, I was in high gear, flat out and fully immersed in that world I was creating. I sent it off to my publisher with high hopes. Then I hit the hill.

I wasn’t blocked. I could still write, still chugging along even if there were a few fits and starts along the way. My internal engine, the complicated, many-valved, pieced-together heart of me that makes me unique, was signaling it was time to switch gears. My country girl needed her share of traction as well.

No problem, I thought. I’m a writer. I write. Ideas, both good ones and really stupid ones, abound in my head. I have had a cozy mystery idea in mind for years, based on the farmstead I once lived on in rural Illinois. My small mother-in-law house resided across the driveway from a huge farmhouse that had been the home of a family who raised twelve close-knit children who were friends of mine. Think The Waltons on the open prairie.

via Switching Gears | Indies Unlimited.