Writing Heroes: Donna Gephart

For a long time now, Angela and I have wanted a way to acknowledge the people who have helped us develop into stronger writers and who add to the writing community as a whole. As a new feature here at The Bookshelf Muse, Angela and I will take turns giving well-deserved recognition to some of the people who really make an impact…people who truly are Writing Heroes.

Like Donna Gephart!

As one of the most humble, unassuming, shine-the-spotlight-on-others people I’ve met, you may not know Donna. But she’s definitely a hero in my book.

Donna leads my face-to-face SCBWI group. She is a master critiquer with advice that’s right on, and she can always (genuinely) find the good in everyone’s writing. She knows how to keep a group on track with gentle guidance, but there’s nothing gentle about her celebratory spirit. Just let anything good happen to you and she’s encouraging you to share the good news so she can present you with balloons or snacks or bottles of bubbly that you may or may not be able to open due to the absence of bottle openers.

She’s also an enviable writer. Her MG books have won awards and landed on state reading lists in Texas, New York, and Illinois. Her characters are funny and the plot lines are so crisp, they make you want to be a better writer yourself.

But most admirably, Donna is all about the kids. Besides the many school visits and Skype conferences she coordinates with students around the country, she also advocates literacy in a ton of other ways, like supporting World Read Aloud Day and Read It Forward. If there’s a worthwhile charity within grabbing distance, she’ll jump on board to pay it forward.

I admit that most of the writing heroes highlighted here are ones that the writing community might be a little more familiar with, but this time it’s a little different. It’s hard to believe that someone so talented can also be so generous and kind, but it’s true. Donna is awesomeness personified but she’s also my friend and I’m so incredibly excited for every success that comes her way.

So thank you Donna, for being one of my WRITING HEROES. You inspire me, woman!

To pay it forward, I will give a 1000-word critique to Donna. She can then choose to keep it for herself or offer it as a giveaway on her blog! As a resident writing hero, she will also have a permanent link in our header.

If you know Donna or she’s helped you or your writing in some way, please tell us in the comments. If you don’t know her yet, do drop by her blog or website to say hello and to help us celebrate this amazing WRITING HERO! 


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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8 years ago

I don’t know her, but she does, indeed, sound like a writing hero. Thanks for the shout out!

Leslie Rose
8 years ago

As a teacher, Donna’s dedication to school warms my heart. Thank you, Donna.

Stina Lindenblatt
8 years ago

I recognize the name but I’ve never visited her blog. *rushes off to check out blog*

Susanne Drazic
8 years ago

Great post! Donna sounds like a wonderful writing hero. I checked out her blog and website.

Shannon Hitchcock ~ Children's Writer

I first became aware of Donna after reading one of her blog posts through Facebook. She wrote a beautiful blog entry about a past health challenge and how grateful she was to still be alive and here to appreciate her family. After that I knew she was a special person and thus introduced myself at the SCBWI Miami conference. I found her as lovely in person as I had imagined she would be.

Laura Fournier
Laura Fournier
8 years ago

Anyone who knows Donna is a lucky person. She’s creative, clever and has a wonderful sense of humor. Not only is she a talented writer, she’s also a wonderful friend who cares deeply about others and always makes an effort to help them. That makes her a SUPER writing hero!!!

Sylvia Andrews
Sylvia Andrews
8 years ago

Becca, I can’t agree more. Since Donna first came into our West Palm Beach SCBWI critique group more than twelve years ago, she has been a treasure—a shining, benevolent spirit who always gives much more than she receives. She is one of those rare people whose heart embraces all she meets and who genuinely cares about the disadvantaged and the needy in the community where she lives.
Donna is a joy-bringer who lightens the mood of any room she enters, a cheerleader to other writers, a comfort-giver when rejections come, a great listener, a superb writer and critiquer, and a cherished friend.

Lynda R Young
8 years ago

Donna sounds like a true writing hero! You can’t beat “awesomeness personified” 🙂

Linda Marlow
Linda Marlow
8 years ago

Yes! Donna is amazing! She’s a fine storyteller and great writer. Who wouldn’t fall for the quirky characters she creates?

I’ve learned a lot from Donna. More than her writing advice (and in the twelve years we’ve known each other she’s given me plenty!), she has taught me what it means to be a friend. She genuinely cares and is concerned for others. I’m in awe of how much she gives to kids and writers. She is an inspiration to many! Donna is a hero, for sure!

Jen Swanson
8 years ago

I whole-heartedly agree. Donna is awesome! I met her when I attended her workshop at the SCBWI Miami conference a few years ago. She inspired me then and continues to inspire me. I am thrilled to call her a colleague and friend. What a fantastic person and a very gifted writer!

Natalie Aguirre
8 years ago

Donna’s a great choice. I met her at a SCBWI conference a few years ago. She was so nice.

Gail Shepherd
Gail Shepherd
8 years ago

Donna is definitely one of my heroes too. She’s a role model because the quality of her own writing is off the charts wonderful: funny and wry and compassionate and wildly imaginative. Although I’m in her SCBWI critique group too I rarely have much to say when she brings her own work to read except (silently) “I sure hope I’ll be that good someday.” An amazing woman — I learn something from her every time I talk to her. Needless to say, awesome choice Becca.

Angela Brown
8 years ago

I love these “heroes” shout out. I love most things positive and celebratory. And that’s exactly what this is.

Sound the horns for Donna Gephart.

Wild About Words
8 years ago

Becca and Angela, I can’t thank you enough for this unexpected and humbling honor. I woke this morning with a cold, a migraine and jury duty. Your blog post and kind words were the best medicine I could have asked for. I am truly grateful. And Becca, you are a terrific asset to our group and have been since the first day you walked through the doors. Thank you!

Donna K. Weaver
8 years ago

Lovely tribute.

*heads over to Donna’s blog*

She has a great name, btw. 😉

Traci Kenworth
8 years ago

We’ll be visiting her blog. Thanks!!

Sheila Good
8 years ago

What a wonderful tribute to a friend and colleague you’ve shared. I will be checking out Donna’s site.

Angela Ackerman
8 years ago

Donna is such a great and knowledgeable person–excellent choice! I learn so much from her insight into the writing process and from her experience as an author. Thanks so much Donna for being so generous with your time and insight–you really make the writing world a better place!


8 years ago

What a great choice for a writing hero!! I absolutely agree. Donna’s books are fantastic. They’re funny, touching, and filled with characters that get under your skin (in a good way!).

Her generous support of the writing community is unparalleled. She always goes out of her way to guide, encourage, and celebrate others, so it’s nice to see her celebrated on your blog.

Here’s to Donna! Definitely one of my writing heroes.

Kim Van Sickler
8 years ago

What a nice shout out. I visited Donna’s blog. Thanks for the introduction!