Debi Martin, B.J., M.A.

Creative Nonfiction Writer/Professor

I'm a print journalist who learned to stop worrying
and love the World Wide Web

I’m a former Austin American-Statesman “Sixth Street Beat” columnist, dance and feature staff writer and veteran of many wonderful, now-defunct publications, including  McCall’s magazine (in business for over 100 years until its demise at the turn of the last century) and Civilization (for the Library of Congress) and‘s and (although its channel is prospering).

I think. 

My freelanced stories have been published in all major Texas newspapers and I became a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors in 1999.

I taught American history, journalism and academic writing at St. Edward’s University and have taught writing skills and mass communications courses at Austin Community College.  

To update my writing pedagogy for the 21st century digital era, I completed a second graduate degree in December 2013, a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Composition from Texas State University. Course concentrations included using digital/new media literacies to foster critical thinking and inspired writing; writing center administration theory and practice, and digital humanities. Areas of interest: American civic and media literacy, creative nonfiction including memoir, and quality distance learning programs.

For detailed information about my teaching philosophy, please see my Academic ePortfolio

Qualifications & Interests

  • Teaching nontraditional adult learners
  • Integrating “soft skills” with technology in quality online courses to increase student engagement and retention
  • Background as a crisis counselor and youth advocate has helped me establish rapport, connection and boundaries with students who have difficulty with keeping up with course work
  • Experience as a professional writer translates to teaching hard-won lessons about making deadlines and facing fear

Current Teaching Practice

Adjunct Faculty, English, Austin Community College, a nationally recognized two-year college serving Central Texas. Teach hybrid and “live” at ACC’s Highland Campus, a repurposed shopping mall now a state-of-the-art facility for innovative teaching and learning.

  • Except for the required textbook, created all course content — assignments, assessments and rubrics — for more than 25 hybrid sections of English 2311 “Technical and Business Writing,” which I began teaching summer 2015
  • Completed courses in using Blackboard content management system, Distance Learning and application of Quality Matters criteria in online course design
  • Teach English 2311 as a workplace writing for the 21st century course grounded in rhetoric and a writing in the disciplines course
  • Teach English 2311 as a “flipped classroom,” emphasis is on project-based assignments and collaborative work among students, few lectures by me and more talking by them
  • Provide digital literacy foundations for empowering student thinking/writing in the real world

Adjunct Faculty, English and Liberal Education, Park University. Have taught all formats — face to face, online only, and blended — since 2014 for Park University, a non-profit private liberal college that specializes in offering courses for nontraditional adult students including veterans.

  • Course designer for online version of “Terrorism and the Media,” an interdisciplinary liberal arts capstone course 
  • Peer Review of  Teachers Fellow,  English and Liberal Education faculty, academic year 2018-2019
  • Peer mentor to new English and Liberal Education faculty academic year 2017-2018
  • Completed course in Canvas content management system at Park University — Summer 2015
  • Completed course in best practices teaching online at Park University — October 2014
  • Taught more than 20 courses including — “First Year Writing Seminar I: Critical Reading, Writing, and Thinking Across Contexts,” “First Year Writing Seminar II: Academic Research and Writing,” “Professional Writing in the Disciplines: Business Communication,” “Scientific and Technical Writing,” “Business Communications,” “Advanced Expository Research and Writing” and “Integrative and Interdisciplinary Learning Capstone: Terrorism and the Media


DEC 2013

Texas State University

Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Composition

Course concentrations included using digital/new media literacies to foster critical thinking and inspired writing; writing center administration theory and practice, and digital humanities. Areas of interest: American civic and media literacy, creative nonfiction including memoir, and quality distance learning programs.

MAY 1999

University of Texas at Austin

Master of Arts in American Studies

Master’s Report: a social history/memoir on Houston’s Montrose area counterculture and the community’s creation of a halfway house for runaway youth in the 1970s

MAY 1984

University of Texas at Austin

Bachelor of Journalism

Jesse H. Jones, Texas Women’s Press Association, and LULAC scholarship recipient

Past Teaching Experience

2010 — 2014

Austin Community College

Round Rock, Texas

Tutor IV — Learning Lab

Tutored nontraditional students from diverse backgrounds using College Learning and Reading Association certified methodologies designed to increase student retention and development of higher order learning strategies.

2009 — 2010

Austin Community College

Austin, Texas

Adjunct Professor — Journalism

Taught “Introduction to Mass Communications” to give students a foundation for understanding mass media and the messages it transmits, particularly in a time of convergence. Covered dynamics that affect the messages the media transmit, historical development of all major media, and emphasized critical “reading” of content disseminated by media.

2000 — 2006

St. Edward's University

Austin, Texas

Adjunct Professor — Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts and Magazine Journalism

Served as a McNair Scholar Mentor, supervised Honors Thesis and Independent Study in English/Journalism, and taught:

  • “The American Experience,” (based on the PBS series of the same name), a core requirement for students on America’s multicultural history with a significant writing component
  • “Magazine Journalism” for New College, St. Edward’s program for non-traditional, older-than-average students
  • Proposed and taught Sociology/History/Journalism course on the 60s Counterculture and the emergence of underground newspapers
  • Initiated and taught “Cultural Foundations” course on The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
  • Sections of “American Dilemmas,” an interdisciplinary course on writing about social issues and moral/ethical dilemmas, and other required interdepartmental freshmen survey courses “English Comp I” and “Intro to the Liberal Arts”

1992 — 2000

Austin Community College

Austin, Texas

Adjunct Professor — Writing Skills II

Taught several sections of “Writing Skills II” designed for students who were inadequately prepared to enroll in English Composition I. Covered  the writing process, grammar, spelling, punctuation, editing and proofreading, critical thinking, journaling, and academic research documentation styles. Multiple Semester Term Appointment,  adjunct faculty for more than four years. 

Professional Writing and Publications

1992 —Present

Independent Writer/Blogger/Content Provider/Social Media Ghostwriter

More than 25 years as a professional feature writer and journalist for print and online publications. Current focus: creative nonfiction and memoir writing.

  • Wrote feature articles for McCall’s, The Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, Civilization (formerly the magazine for the Library of Congress), American Way (in-flight for American Airlines), Austin Chronicle (an alternative weekly), The American News Service, a wire service founded by Frances Moore Lappe’ and distributed nationally by Knight-Ridder that specialized in news stories on solutions to social problems, and The Advocate
  • For McCall’s from 1994 to 2001 covered: survivors of the Oklahoma City Bombing and Jonesboro, Arkansas school shooting, heroin addiction, child custody disputes, grieving the murder of a child, and the impact of inadequate treatment for the mentally ill on communities
  • Transitioned into 21st-century media as a website “content provider” and paid blogger for variety of outlets including, and consultant/ghost-blogger for variety of clients; maintained own blog for more than 7 years: for “Austinites who love their pets like family.”

AUG 1990—NOV 1990

Austin Texas Magazine

Associate Editor

Sharpened editorial focus and helped create departments for planned city magazine never published due to lack of funding and local economic downturn. Work as an editor with freelance writers lead to love of teaching.

FEB 1990— AUG 1990

Texas Medicine Magazine

Associate Editor

Wrote cover stories and edited law and medical economics departments, supervised work of freelance writers, at AMA-affiliate the Texas Medical Association.

JUN 1987—AUG 1990

Austin American-Statesman

Lifestyle Feature Writer

Conceived, researched and wrote magazine-style feature stories, long and short, on a wide range of human-interest topics for the cover of the Sunday “Lifestyle” section. Specialized in profiles, social trends, psychological health issues, self-help and  personal essays.

OCT 1982—JUN 1987

Austin American-Statesman

Arts & Entertainment Feature Writer/Columnist

Covered dance, pop music, and experimental art as a news beat. Wrote features, reviews, advances of upcoming show, celebrity profiles. Covered Madonna’s first tour! Interviewed elusive Joni Mitchell.

1980 — 1982

Various Newspapers

Feature Writer

Wrote articles for Breakthrough, the Austin Chronicle, The Daily Texan, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Related Work Experience

1981 — 1982

University of Texas at Austin

Telephone  Counseling and Referral Service

Crisis Hotline Counselor

Counseled students dealing with variety of serious concerns, including thoughts of suicide but more commonly feelings of isolation and confusion about love and definition of the self. Mainly, I listened. Made appropriate referrals to college and community resources for long-term assistance and support.

1980 — 1981

Family Connection, Inc./Houston Metropolitan Ministries

Youth Advocate

Worked full-time in crisis intervention at halfway-house for runaways from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. Caseload typically five youngsters, all under age 17. Helped them explore options using “reality therapy” approach. Worked with family counselor to help youth return home, or with child welfare authorities to place youth in independent living and/or enroll in GED classes. Mentored youth on how to hold a job, work toward a goal, and rise above their life situation. Regular shift work included cooking dinner for 15 teenagers, answering the hotline phone, facilitating group therapy, breaking up fights between residents, doling out generous helpings of “tough love,” and enforcing “the rules” with tact and compassion.

1978 — 1980

University of Texas at Austin

College of Liberal Arts

Peer Advisor

 Helped Liberal Arts majors and “undetermined” majors make sure they were making timely progress towards their degrees by taking required courses, advised on adds/drops and withdrawal procedures, and basically helped them navigate big state university bureaucracy.

Summer 1980

University of Texas at Austin

College of Liberal Arts

Orientation Advisor

Helped pre-freshmen learn the ins and outs of registration, navigate big university bureaucracy, and become “oriented” to college life.

1977 — 1978

Sandollar, Inc.

Houston, Texas

Youth Advocate

Worked crisis intervention at halfway-house for runaways from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.  Worked with family counselor to help youth return home, or with child welfare authorities to place youth in independent living and/or enroll in GED classes. Mentored youth on how to hold a job, work toward a goal, and rise above their life situation.

1977 — 1978


Houston, Texas

Dance Teacher

Taught dance at performing arts summer camp for economically disadvantaged African-American youth.

ASJA Member

American Society of Journalists and Authors is an exclusive, New York-based advocacy organization that offers its members networking opportunities and professional development. Entry requirements include a peer review, editor references, and verification of a professional publishing track record.

  • Member since 1999. Served on several committees, including mentoring, Editor-Writer Liaison, Publications (newsletter and online), and 2002 conference committee. 
  • Moderator at 2002 annual conference in New York City at Grand Central Hyatt. 
  • Panelist, “What Do Women Magazine Editors Want?” at 2001 conference, also at Grand Central Hyatt.

Talks, Workshops, Service

  • Panelist/Judge, June Roth Award for Medical Writing. American Society of Journalists and Authors, April 2017. 
  • Panelist/Judge, Personal Essay, American Society of Journalists and Authors, April 2016.
  • Awarded National Council of Teachers of English Professional Equity Project Grant (PEP), created to support the concerns of part-time and adjunct faculty, such as improving working conditions and promoting the scholarship of teaching, and to attend annual Conference on College Composition and Communication, April 2016.
  • Judge, Writers’ League of Texas, Manuscript Contest, Narrative Nonfiction, 2010
  • Nonfiction reader/panelist, Nebraska Arts Council writing fellowship, 2009
  • Panelist, “Freelance Writing: Tales from the Front,” Writers’ League of Texas, 2008
  • Speaker, “Voter Education and Merchandising the Hip-Hop Way,” at Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology at UT Austin, 2005
  • Speaker, Barnes & Noble, Westlake. Writers’ League of Texas. “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Feature Writing and Freelancing,” 2002
  • Master of Ceremonies at Writers-Reading Book Tent, Texas Book Festival, 2001
  • Panelist, “Women Writing Creative Nonfiction,” “The Art of the Interview and the Elusive Truth” and “How to Stick to the Truth: The Ethics of Creative Nonfiction.” Exploring the Creative In Nonfiction, Texas Writers’ League Conference, Austin, Texas, 2001
  • Speaker. “Race, Class and Gender Issues in the Newsroom,” Professor George Sylvie’s University of Texas Senior Journalism class on “Minorities and the Media.” 2000, 2001
  • Austin Writers’ League. Taught two sections of writing workshop: “Breaking Into Magazines Is Hard To Do,” 1999
  • Panelist, “Media Ethics” at The Pulitzer Series Seminar, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, Austin Pro Chapter, The University of Texas School of Journalism, 1998
  • Austin chapter of Society for Professional Journalists: Mentored feature writers from small town newspapers during workshops and coordinated fund-raiser for Freedom of Information Act during 3-day National Writers’ Workshop for professionals presented by several major Texas newspapers at Austin Hyatt Hotel
  • Various talks on the writing process and breaking into freelance journalism to a variety of groups including elementary students, high school journalism classes, Daily Texan staffers, Society of Professional Journalists (Student Chapter), UT Journalism Student Division classes


Joni Mitchell

My 1983 phone interview with Joni Mitchell

I was a newbie music writer at the Austin American-Statesman, and Joni was on tour.

Part 1     Part 2

Contact Me