Hi there, fellow writers! I’m a novelist, with 38 books published so far under a variety of names: Deborah Chester, C. Aubrey Hall, Sean Dalton, J.D. Blakeney. My latest book is a YA fantasy called CRYSTAL BONES. It’s the first volume of THE FAELIN CHRONICLES about 13-year-old twins who are brutally orphaned and must sort out the truth of their parents’ mysterious pasts in order to rescue a younger sister.

I also teach professional writing at the University of Oklahoma, including courses on writing novels and short stories. This blog is a way to share my knowledge of the writing craft with those of you who can’t come to OU.

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if there are any topics on the writing craft that you’d like for me to address.


30 responses to “About

  1. Hi my name is Lora Wiedenheft.
    I am a reviewer and a fight illiteracy advocate .I wanted to know if can I get on your mailing list to send books for review. We need updated books so desperately. I review books and then donate to he Middletown High School library. I am interested in your series Crystal Bones for our school library. Arcs are ok. Any YA books you can send for review would be awesome. We really could use your book in our library. I will review before I donate. I live in a low income community and we are struggling to get books in our high school. I wanted to know if you can donate a set of your books (hardcover if you have them) (that way they last for years), even paperback is greatly appeciated.It means so much to them to get these books. We are low income city and most parents cant afford new books right now. We used to have a steel mill her and they packed up and left. Causing a lot of job loss. The school levy then failed. I’m not to proud to ask,
    Can you please help us out.
    Please place me on your list of Arc or regular YA reviews in the future.
    We both thank you
    I place my reviews on Goodreads amazon and my sites.
    My blog stats are:
    All time Pageviews:18851
    Pageviews last month: 3394
    Pageviews yesterday 147
    Pageviews today :171
    Thank you so much!
    Lora Wiedenheft
    1512 East Street
    Middletown Ohio 45044 USA

  2. As an alumnus of the original curriculum (Professor Campbell and Foster-Harris were both in the English department when I first enrolled in their classes) I’m attempting to write an account of the program for a local blog (http://dougdawg.blogspot.com/2011/06/memoirs-thoughts-of-oklahoman-reporter.html) to which I’ve already contributed several pieces. I know that in those days, Prof. Campbell kept close track of his students’ successes; is that still a part of the program?

    I’d like to describe the whole thing, from its 1937 beginnings right through the present day, and listing some of the top writers who’ve gone through the courses. Tony Hillerman was just a year or so before my time; Bill Scott graduated the year that I began. Neal Barrett was a classmate of mine. Unfortunately, despite Foster’s best efforts and those of Dwight Swain who filled in a semester for him, I was never able to keep a character alive, so stuck with non-fiction using the four-word formula Prof. Campbell taught me!

    Please get in touch with me off-line if possible. I’ve already contacted Carolyn Hart and will be picking her brain for the project, but would like to include the current program in the write-up!

    • Hi, thanks for stopping by. I’d be delighted to chat with you about the program. Although I entered the PW program long after Campbell was no longer teaching, I keep a portrait of him hanging in my home office as inspiration.


  3. Brandon Ramirez

    I am an engineering college student, my name is Brandon Ramirez.

    Just found your blog and wanted to say that in high school, your books were the first to make me cry(quiet hard to do) and love reading. In fact I would say that because of your books I now enjoy reading. Thank you so much for supporting aspiring writers and inspiring my creativity.

    Warm Regards,

  4. jonathan


    I’m very glad I was able to find your new site. I just wanted to say that I loved your books when I was younger and have just recently started to reread the Nether series. I was curious are you still writing? Will we see new stories to come with Dain and company?

    Best wishes.

    • Great to hear from you, Jonathan! I’m pretty busy at the moment with my new YA fantasy series, THE FAELIN CHRONICLES, written as C. Aubrey Hall, but when I get a bit of spare time I hope to write some new material about Dain.


  5. when i come and see what you’ve posted i notice that they are always so good.http://www.hostub.com

  6. Tom


    I am a big fan of your books and I recently found out that you taught one of my other favorite authors, Jim Butcher. It made me curious. Do you use any particular books on writing in your courses or do you just teach from experience? Your blog has a lot of great information but I am always on the lookout for good books on story structure in fiction writing.


    • Hi, Tom!
      I use Jack Bickham’s WRITING NOVELS THAT SELL and SCENE STRUCTURE. He also wrote a useful book on short story writing that’s out of print but worth hunting down.

      Another good text is Dwight V. Swain’s TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER. I learned from that one, but I think Bickham is easier to follow on your own. (Bickham learned from Swain.)


  7. Jonathan

    Hi Debra,

    Is there a video recording of your writing course that can be viewed online? Jonathan

  8. Deb

    I’m assuming that you’re an active reader. Or, if you haven’t been reading fiction regularly for a while, you need to resume. Try to read fiction every day. It helps you with timing, story sense, dramatic pacing, etc.

    Take your favorite novel and select a chapter in it that you like the best. Look at how the characters are delineated. How do they speak? What makes each character stand out from the others? Look at how they’re interacting with each other. Are they in conflict? What did you like best about the chapter? What made you respond emotionally to it?

    Write down the answers, then see if you can’t apply them to what you’re creating.

    Good luck!

  9. I’m a huge fan of your writing, I stumbled across you by accident in a used book store, and I was thrilled. I just reread your Nether series and it breaks my heart that the story is unfinished. any word on when we might get that concluded? I just gave your books to my sister in law to read, and I know she’s going to be just as disappointed. It’s truly an amazing series, and I’m dying to know the rest. That was a very uncomfortable cliffhanger! at this point I’d take a pdf, or an ebook, anything just to get it finished! I’d definitely put money into it. I will continue to follow you, your books are fantastic.

    • Jessica,
      Thank you so much. It warms my heart to hear from those who love the Nether series. I was so unhappy to have to leave everyone hanging. Now that it’s possible to write ebooks, I plan to do more with Dain, Alexeika, Talmor, and Pheresa. It’s just a matter of finding the time with my other book schedules! Meanwhile, you might seek out the YA fantasy trilogy I’ve written as C. Aubrey Hall.

      I will be writing a short piece about Dain and his sister Thia as children, probably this summer. I’ll announce it via this blog when and if I get it finished.


  10. G.

    I found your site your site/blog while looking around on the writings of Campbell/Vestal and others. Once I discovered you, too, appreciated Campbell, as well as the others and the work that followed, I immediately trotted over to the bookstore (Amazon .. lol) and with the miracle of point and click, ordered everyone of your books.

    I tend to use the examples of those with an appreciation of Campbell (I own all his books, the two by Foster, one by Helen and two from Dwight), as models — which you know Campbell urged us all to find.

    Bookmarking your site. 🙂

    • Wow! Thank you so much. It’s terrific to find another kindred spirit. Campbell, Foster, Helen, and Dwight were outstanding models. They’ve contributed above and beyond to the field.


      • G.

        No need to thank me! I appreciate supporting outstanding models in the field, really. I can’t wait to get them. I am sure I will be using your work as models as well. 🙂

        I should add a small addendum — I also have all of Jack’s manuals as well.

        Thanks for passing your wisdom to the newest generation of writers in the program. I was sorry to hear that the short course had been discontinued, so I use the books of those from the program, past and present, as my contact with that talent. (I sound like I am gushing..lol.) Continued success to you!

  11. Coral

    Hi! I’m a big Jim Butcher fan and I found out recently that you taught him how to write. I’m wondering: Is there a formula you use to create characters?

    • Hi!
      Welcome to my blog. I won’t say that I taught Jim how to write. He arrived in my classroom with a lot of talent already in place. All I did was coach him a little and show him a few techniques to get him where he was trying to go.

      I do have quite a bit of advice on character design. You might explore some of my older posts, and I’ll be addressing the subject again.


  12. Adam vanLangenberg

    Hi Deb,

    I just purchased The Fantasy Fiction Formula and am loving it! I run a creative writing club for high school students and was wondering if you would allow me to use portions of your book to make worksheets for them.


  13. Tom Crepeau

    is there a way to subscribe to your blog so I know when you update it? -tc

    • I thought there was a button on the blog to click if you wanted to follow it. But when I just checked, I didn’t see it. So thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’ll check into it. WordPress likes to change things from time to time, so the omission could be due to something like that.

      • Tom Crepeau

        Let me know when you have it brought back into operation. I’d hate to miss a blog post of yours. -tc

      • Tom,
        When you open one of my blog posts, look at the bottom right corner of your screen. There should be a small button that says “Follow.” However, if you start scrolling, it will disappear.

        But once you find it, and click on it, you should be subscribed to my blog.


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