Donna Augustine

USA Today Bestselling Author

Category: On Writing

I’m in a Writing Funk!

It happens, more often than I’d like to admit. All sorts of things can set them off, a harsh comment I read or careless comment from someone not intending to be hurtful. It’s not like you were even in a bad mood. Then BOOM, you’re in a funk and you can’t write, even if you can. By that I mean you could be writing the best lines of your life but they all read like crap to you because your self esteem has fallen out of the bottom.

The worst thing about a funk is you never really know how long it’s going to last. I’ve got some emergency back up plans for funks but none of them is full proof. One of them is to write my way out of the funk, which is what I’m trying to do here. I may or my not publish this post but I probably will. Everybody gets in a funk so I guess it’s nice to share.

I know it will pass. They always do and usually fairly quickly.

Interview With Editor Sharon Stogner


With the coming release of my book, Redemption, I thought this would be the perfect time for a visit with one of my editors, Sharon Stogner. This is the second time I’ve worked with Sharon and won’t be the last.


Could you give the readers a general explanation of the specific type of editing you do?

Sharon: There are four general types of editing: content, line, copy, and proof reading. The first three can blend into each other. Proof reading should be the final step  and only happen when no other changes/rewrites are going to be done. Every time you change something, you run the risk of introducing more mistakes. Don’t proof until you are ready to turn that sucker in.

I can do all four types, but for the best possible result, you need to make each step separate, which is what happens in the big five publishing houses. To save money, writers will combine some of the steps and you can get away with that to an extent, but only doing one round of edits isn’t going to give you a quality piece of work. At the minimum, you need two rounds of editing, plus a final proofing. I would also suggest using someone different to do a beta read. I explain the differences between the types of editing on my website.

New writers need to understand editing is subjective. One writer will think Joe Editor is brilliant, but another writer will think Joe Editor is an idiot. You have to find an editor you trust, and unfortunately, this is a trial and error process.

Why did you decide to get into this line of work?

Sharon: A few years ago, I started beta reading for some of my favorite authors and I loved it! It is like solving a puzzle. I make sure all the pieces are in the right order and fit together seamlessly. I have a natural talent for the line editing process. If there is a plot hole or inconsistency, I will find it. The authors I helped encouraged me to become a freelance editor. They found my contribution valuable enough that they were willing to pay for the service.

You also run a successful blog, which entails covering a lot of book events and conventions. How do you keep up with everything? Do you think you would be able to juggle both if it wasn’t a passion of yours?

Sharon: I was running I Smell Sheep with my partner Katie Dalton and doing beta work at the same time so switching over to freelance editing wasn’t that hard. There is a lot more pressure now. When you edit for free, no one can complain.When they pay for it, they have the right to judge my work. I absolutely love doing both so I have to split my time between the two. It is a practice in controlled chaos.

There are a lot of good books out there, but what do you think it takes to make a great book? Where do you think a lot of books fall short?

Sharon: Ack! That is a tough question, since what constitutes a good book is subjective. But there are books that have mass appeal and success. Editing (all four types) is what gives a book a chance to succeed. A poorly edited book will be put down after one chapter by most readers/reviewers, and a publisher won’t even read past the first page. After editing, I think voice is what makes a great book. If you can make a reader experience your story, not just read it, then it will be successful. If a reader has to trip over long descriptions, awkward sentences and a choppy plot, they will be too busy trying to understand and won’t be able to immerse themselves in the story you have created.

Are you working on anything exciting right now?

Sharon: Always. I love connecting readers to authors who will rock their world, through I Smell Sheep. I get a rush from finding a new author and being able to help them become successful. I just finished editing some stories for some of my favorite authors (like Donna Augustine!) and I can’t wait for the readers to get a hold of the stories. They are amazing!

What are your future plans for your editing business and blog?

Sharon: Just continue to earn the respect and trust of everyone who works with me and improving what I do on both fronts.

Where you can find Sharon Stogner:

Website: and also

Facebook: ISmellSheep






Breakthrough Authors Blog Hop

Breakthrough Authors blog hop


Writing From the Heart


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway


When I began my writing journey, I had very romantic notions. Wow, was I a blithering idiot. The thing I was least prepared for is how emotionally draining it could be.


I guess if you write about nothing but happy things, it might be more pleasant. Unfortunately for me, that’s not my style. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a happy ending. Those are my favorite. But, what is a happy ending without some heartache to make you appreciate it better? That’s where the real fun is and makes me think of Ernest Hemingway’s brilliant words, quoted above.


In my opinion, the only way to write realistically about something is to dig up your own memories. Have I gone through anything as horrific as my characters? Thankfully no, but like most people, I’ve had my share of heartbreak and tragedy. These are the painful memories I use to relate to how my characters are feeling. I’d never realized how useful they would be one day. I’m still not happy I had them, but at least now they are useful, instead of just clogging up my psyche.


So my advice to anyone that’s thinking of writing is, be prepared to go digging for skeletons. It’s the past wounds that you endured that will make your stories sing, or cry depending on the book.


thekeepersnewtext2Two days ago, Jo Davids was a waitress by night and a college kid by day, with the unnerving problem of objects floating around her.


One Day ago, Jo’s sexy boss, Cormac, noticed her for all the wrong reasons when she witnessed a man transform into a monster in the basement of his casino.


Today, Cormac ordered her shot.


If he’s real lucky, she won’t die. Because if she does, all hope is lost.


The first five chapters are available here.

  Grand Prize

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Good Characters, Bad Characters…and My Characters?

When I started writing, I didn’t set out to write ethically ambiguous lead characters. Growing up, I loved a great book about  good versus evil. So what happened? I didn’t exactly know myself.

When I started writing The Keepers, the more I wrote, the worse it got. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never meant to make them saints, but as I uncovered their pasts, they just got worse and worse and the bad deeds kept piling up. Even as I continue writing now, I’m a little taken aback myself at the things these people are willing to do.

And then I realized that as I’ve gotten older, I view everything a bit more cynically, and it’s bleeding into my creative side. Gone are the rose colored glasses of my youth and all the pedestals have been long since destroyed. This new world view is not as bad as it might seem though at first glance. I’ve found that I enjoy people’s flaws. I’ve learned to forgive much more easily than I ever did. And although the flaws might be more exaggerated in my novels, the characters are a hell of a lot fun to write.

To Plot or Not?

When I started writing, I began with a plot. Then I realized fairly quickly that my characters didn’t like to be confined. This might sound odd, since they are made up in my head, but you would be amazed how they take on their own personalities. I would tell them to turn left, and they would turn right. If you’ve ever driven with someone that refuses to listen to the navigator, it’s kind of similar to that. I eventually adjusted. As they would make a different turn than planned, I would just redraw the map.

As I started my second novel, I thought that I just needed to be more detailed in my plot. That would keep those pesky characters in line. Didn’t work. I would tell them straight and they would pull a u-turn.

Strangely, the destination never changed. They still end up where they are supposed to be. I’m still rerouting with every wrong turn, so that I don’t end up completely off the map, but I’ve learned to loosen up a little and let them have their say. After all, it is their story.

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