Around this time, she became friends with Marion Zimmer Bradley. When Bradley was asked to edit the first Sword and Sorceress, Ross submitted a short story for the anthology, "Imperatrix" (1984). "Imperatrix" became her first published short story, under her married name of Deborah Wheeler. Deborah Wheeler continued to write for years, producing a number of short stories and two novels, Jaydium and Northlight, through DAW books.
Before Bradley's death in 1999, Ross was invited to work on a project with her set in Darkover.