Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Equal Rights for Blind Americans? Author Says We’re not There Yet 2015 by Donna W. Hill


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the final post from Donna W. Hill who has let me loose in her archives and I am sharing Donna’s post from 2015 on the Equal Rights for Blind Americans, and I would be interested to find out how much progress has been made in the last four years.

Equal Rights for Blind Americans? Author Says We’re not There Yet 2015 by Donna W. Hill

As a member of various blindness, advocacy and guide dog organizations, it’s not uncommon to come across a request from a college student to take a survey on blindness, and I’m always happy to participate. Rarely, however, (in fact, never) have I run across one with the depth of thought displayed by Drexel student Nora Goldberg.

One of Nora’s questions is: “Do you feel as though you have the same rights, privileges and freedoms as people who are sighted? Please explain.” This one really pushed my buttons. No one ever asked me that. The answer is no, and the explanation took me all afternoon. So, at the risk of revealing too much about my inner psyche, I thought I’d share my response.

An Author’s Background Vis-à-vis Equal Rights

At 65, I have tried to be a useful member of society, giving of my time and talent, but despite having some accomplishments (such as 3 recordings of original music, many articles on blindness issues, a self-published novel and scores of recommendations for my school programs and writing, I do not feel valued by my community. Even people who seem to enjoy my company do not reach out to me as friends.

Blooming Amarilis with a print copy of The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill, a fantasy adventure featuring some awesome flowers: photo by Rich Hill.

When I tried to get a publisher/agent for my novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, I was told that the industry considers my representation of a blind girl as “unrealistic” and further explanations revealed that they are looking for fictional blind characters only in submissive, dependent roles. More unsettling than all of this is the fact that other blind women I know, who have more accomplishments and seem more integrated than I feel, talk about the same things.

When I ask audiences, they have no problems naming successful blind men. When asked to name a successful blind woman, however, the most frequent answer by far is Helen Keller. Ms. Keller died over 50 years ago. In what other minority can you find such a lack of female presence? And, what does that say about the public’s view of blindness?

ADA: Equality Under the Law?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal law purporting to ensure our rights , has been around for a quarter century. Despite advances in technology and the achievements of some blind individuals, blind people are still the minority with the greatest gap between natural abilities (intelligence, talent and willingness to work) on one hand and the common measures of success and inclusion (employment, income, social integration) on the other.

The ADA and other disability laws are “complaint-driven” laws forcing the victims of discrimination to file, investigate and prepare cases. No policeman interviews you, writes up a report and recommends it for prosecution. A fender-bender on the highway may make you lose a few days of work, but a cop’s there in minutes administering breathalyzer tests and checking licenses. Having schools who won’t provide accessible classroom materials, being cold-shouldered by a potential boss who can’t get over the fact that you got to the interview “all by yourself” or having cabs, restaurants and motels refuse you service because you have a guide dog can damage your life for years to come.

ADA Mediation Process: Something Less Than Justice

ADA complaints often end up years later with the business who engaged in the discrimination making a “mediated” settlement in which they don’t even admit to any wrongdoing. Employees at restaurants and motels who refused a guide dog handler access to the business are usually long since gone before an ADA complaint even begins the DOJ filing process.

Abigail & her guide dog Curly Connor at Bargundoom Castle in YA novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill: photo by Rich Hill.

In 2012, after 42 years of using a guide dog and struggling with access issues, I finally filed a complaint against a motel for throwing us out of a room we had already occupied, because they thought the law gave them the authority to confine us to the “pets only” rooms. The fact that many people don’t understand that this is discrimination and don’t even ask why it’s not acceptable, points to the failure of the “do-it-yourself mandate” the ADA has given us. The mediated settlement doesn’t give me the right to even tell you what motel it was.

Access to Our Digital World Denied to Blind Americans

The other side of this is digital accessibility. The technology for it has been around for years, is a matter of 1s and 0s and works when designers choose to use it. Digital accessibility is to blind people what wheelchair ramps, elevators and accessible bathrooms are to people with physical disabilities. The difference is that there is a review process for brick and mortar structures which ensures that a certain amount of physical access be built in right on the drawing board.

For digital access to websites, software, controls on household and office equipment, there is no such process. “Education” and the good will of the public were supposed to bring digital access to blind people, but the problem is getting worse, not better.

The November, 2011 issue of the First Monday Journal (University of Illinois, Chicago) features an academic study explaining the issues and recommending solutions.

“Retrofitting accessibility: The legal inequality of after-the-fact online access for persons with disabilities in the United States” by Brian Wentz, Paul T. Jaeger, and Jonathan Lazar http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3666/3077

It concludes that fully 80% of the internet is inaccessible, and it warns that disability laws are creating a “separate but unequal” online environment and a “permanent underclass.”

Snapshot of Accessibility Issues Faced by Blind Author

I am forever writing to websites about access issues that make it impossible for me to independently pursue my career and personal goals. Of the 3 most highly rated security programs (Kaspersky, Bitdefender & Norton), only Norton has any measure of accessibility. The digital webcam which my husband bought so I could do video conferences and interviews has a series of onscreen buttons to turn it on and off, etc. None is accessible. Social media sites like Linked In, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, all of which I use to promote my book, have access issues that make them either more difficult to use or which prevent people like myself who use screen readers from taking advantage of some of their functions

My fellow indie authors at Smashwords, which distributes eBook versions of my novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, received a free year’s subscription to the online library Scribd, which carries our books. They can read one another’s work, network and advance their writing careers for free for one year. I can’t participate, because when Scribd set up their platform, they didn’t bother using the methods which would have made it accessible. Our US Congressman has an inaccessible online contact form. I could go on and on.

There is a “separate but equal” aspect to the laws applying to people who are blind. This is a “remedy” which as we know was declared unconstitutional in racial discrimination by the Supreme Court decades ago, but it is apparently just fine for people with disabilities.

Are Equal Rights Possible When People are Considered “Fundamentally Different?

Why is all of this true? I suspect the answer lies hidden in an old survey. In the early ’90s, the Louis Harris organization conducted a survey for the National Organization on Disability (NOD) to determine how Americans viewed people with disabilities. I found it in a NOD pamphlet called That All May Worship and referenced it in Unopened Gifts: Tales Out of School my nonfiction booklet for communities of faith seeking to be more welcoming to people with disabilities. The survey summary states, “The public views disabled people as fundamentally different than the rest of the population, feeling admiration and pity most often. Embarrassment, apathy and fear are also common.”

“Fundamentally different.” I don’t think that’s changed much. Too many people – and they can be teachers, potential employers, medical professionals, neighbors and family members – expect that blindness must be an insurmountable barrier to success, independence and happiness. They see us as broken people to be admired for merely existing and as needing them to assume the role of care-giver or decision-maker. They do not see us as needing them to simply expect us to be equal contributors. Unless and until this changes, equality will remain just out of reach for blind Americans.

© Donna W. Hill 2015

I am sure that Donna would love your feedback four years on from the post and I am sure that she will update us too.

About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college.

A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, “Satori Green” appears in Richard Singer’s Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012).

From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups.

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.

As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

One of the over 50 reviews for the book

This is a book about a blind girl without being a book about a blind girl….which is exactly the point. The main character, Abby, doesn’t trumpet her disability around the world as if it were her defining characteristic. She doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reader is never tempted to pity her, even for a moment. She is a driven, bright, gregarious yet measured girl who just happens to be blind.

Through her experiences we are exposed to a world that depends on the other senses, we find new ways to connect to the world around us. Mrs. Hill paints Abby’s thrill ride with her companion dog (Curly Connor) and best friend (Baggy Brichaz) in such a manner that the reader leaves the book better equipped to understand visual impairments without hitting them over the head with it. It took me a while to realize this because at first I was just writing this review on the merits of good vs. bad Young Adult fiction (and it is good, trust me). The feather in the cap of this book is that it stands as a great story that actually teaches you something, leaves you pondering your own disabilities vs. those of others.

I am a middle school reading teacher and I review and teach a lot of YA fiction. What separates the wheat from the chaff for me is well-developed characters that show humanness and overcome in spite of failures. You get the feeling that each of the characters in this book could very well survive on their own but the adventure is exponentially heightened because of the relationships they garner with each other. Mrs. Hill does a brilliant job of showing weaknesses, strengths and diversity as just a starting point to the basics of character interaction. By the end of this book, I felt like Abby, Baggy and Curly were my next-door neighbors and I still find myself looking out my window, waiting for the Cloud Scooper to swing by….

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Read more reviews and follow Donna on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

Connect to Donna.

Website:  https://donnawhill.com/about-the-author/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-W.-Hill/e/B00CNTTUK2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

My thanks to Donna for permitting me access to her archives to share and I hope you will head over to explore more yourself. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #Potluck -Advice for aspiring #writers: Get Your Editor On 2015 by Donna W. Hill


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the third post from Donna W. Hill who has let me loose in her archives. And another post on the writing process, especially for those about to begin the publishing process and those of us who might have got into bad habits! Originally posted in 2015

Advice for aspiring writers: Get Your Editor On 2015 by Donna W. Hill

Recently, a member of the Goodreads community asked for my advice to aspiring writers. My answer could have gone in so many directions — getting published, building your personal brand, incorporating time into your life to write — the list is endless. The following is based on my original answer.

One Writer’s Self Image

Verona Beach Light, one of 3 working lighthouses on NY's Oneida Lake: photo by Rich Hill

I’m a bare-bones, cut-to-the-chase sort of person in general, so my first thought is to suggest that you step back from the trappings of whatever your image of the writer is. Parading around in public with your notepad at the ready, skulking in the shadows of community with a drink and brooding may work for some writers, but make sure it’s working for you before you commit your entire identity to it.

After all, it’s what comes out on the paper that matters, and that depends on what goes on in your head and your ability to do the thinking, research and editing necessary to come up with a polished product. Before writing my novel, I wrote everything from music and publicity material to news articles, memoir and in-depth profiles. Most of it was nonfiction, and that has influenced my perspective on writing.

Fiction or Nonfiction: the Writing Process is Identical

In some fundamental sense, all writing is the same. Get the story, write it down and start editing. Reporters have to find the truth in the real world. Novelists find the truth in their imagination. Whatever the story is, go over and over it in your mind, searching for discrepancies, asking the difficult questions and viewing it from many perspectives.

Novelists, like journalists, are often well-served to do real-world research to add to the authenticity of their books. In The Heart of Applebutter Hill, our heroes are the only witnesses to a tractor accident. Despite having grown up as the daughter of a volunteer first responder, I read up on first aid before penning that scene. Similarly, exploring the occasional cave didn’t provide me with enough first-hand knowledge to authentically portray Abigail and Baggy’s planned excursion into the cave at Missing Creek.

Writing That First Draft

Butterfly on Bergamott in Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains: photo by Rich Hill

Your first draft should be a joyous regurgitation of the story within — free-flowing ideas, unfettered by concerns about anything. You won’t have included everything; allow yourself the freedom of assuming that other important ideas will come to you as you proceed — refinement of the details, ferreting out mistakes and inconsistencies as well as changing perspectives on how to tie things together. Once you’ve gone as far as you can, remind yourself that the reason they call it the “first” draft is that there are normally many more to follow.

Now, take a deep breath and get to work. Start the rewriting process by looking at how you have parsed out the details. Facts are a double-edged sword. If you tell the reader too much detail up front, you have limited how you can use that detail to create and sustain suspense.

Furthermore, some descriptions, which may seem insignificant to you at first, could place limitations on where the story is going. If you say that there’s no back door, for instance, there won’t be one if you need it. The only thing standing in the way of your changing things at this point is your attachment to the magic of your own words. Save those “not quite right” gems in another file for another day.

Find the Editor Within

Lock 24 on the Erie Canal in Baldwinsville, NY, mid September: photo by Rich Hill

A writer who is not his or her primary editor is a writer who entrusts the most important aspects of the work to someone else. Without significant editing, all writing is a collection of ideas, a shadow of its true potential. So, learn to love being an editor.

Consider word count, even if you don’t feel that you need to. Focusing on word count enables you to make your writing crisp, avoid repeating yourself and engenders in you an appreciation for your readers, who are there to be entertained or informed, not to get migraines from disjointed and cumbersome prose. Respect the conventions of spelling, word usage and grammar. Look at each sentence to see if it would be stronger if the information were presented in a different order or using different words.

The best editing is done with a scalpel not a hatchet. It takes much longer to figure out how to weave in a subplot than it does to hit the delete key. Sections that strike you as off-the-beaten track may simply be great ideas that you wrote out all in one place instead of weaving into the story.

Pre-publication Readers: Bracing Yourself for the Echoes Across the Canyon

Dove eggs in nest inside shelter near pond in Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains: photo by Rich Hill

Eventually, you will need others to read your work. Prior to publication, the worst reaction you can hear is, “Yeah, I liked it. It was great.” Don’t confuse encouragement with honesty. Find people who are willing to tell you the hard truth about the ways in which it falls short and listen to their intent.

If they’re not writers, they may not explain their reaction in terms that truly define the problem. “You lost me” at this or that point might mean that your writing was unclear or that you didn’t think through the scenario carefully enough or that you were too wordy. Take their comments to heart and see if you can determine what it is about your work that could have caused that reaction. Like the customers they are, readers are always right.

© Donna W. Hill 2015

About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college.

A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, “Satori Green” appears in Richard Singer’s Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012).

From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups.

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.

As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

One of the over 50 reviews for the book

This is a book about a blind girl without being a book about a blind girl….which is exactly the point. The main character, Abby, doesn’t trumpet her disability around the world as if it were her defining characteristic. She doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reader is never tempted to pity her, even for a moment. She is a driven, bright, gregarious yet measured girl who just happens to be blind.

Through her experiences we are exposed to a world that depends on the other senses, we find new ways to connect to the world around us. Mrs. Hill paints Abby’s thrill ride with her companion dog (Curly Connor) and best friend (Baggy Brichaz) in such a manner that the reader leaves the book better equipped to understand visual impairments without hitting them over the head with it. It took me a while to realize this because at first I was just writing this review on the merits of good vs. bad Young Adult fiction (and it is good, trust me). The feather in the cap of this book is that it stands as a great story that actually teaches you something, leaves you pondering your own disabilities vs. those of others.

I am a middle school reading teacher and I review and teach a lot of YA fiction. What separates the wheat from the chaff for me is well-developed characters that show humanness and overcome in spite of failures. You get the feeling that each of the characters in this book could very well survive on their own but the adventure is exponentially heightened because of the relationships they garner with each other. Mrs. Hill does a brilliant job of showing weaknesses, strengths and diversity as just a starting point to the basics of character interaction. By the end of this book, I felt like Abby, Baggy and Curly were my next-door neighbors and I still find myself looking out my window, waiting for the Cloud Scooper to swing by….

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Read more reviews and follow Donna on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

Connect to Donna.

Website:  https://donnawhill.com/about-the-author/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-W.-Hill/e/B00CNTTUK2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

My thanks to Donna for permitting me access to her archives to share and I hope you will head over to explore more yourself. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #PotLuck – Writing: the What & Why of It 2015 by Donna W. Hill


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the second post from Donna W. Hill who has let me loose in her archives. I would say it is a fair bet that you are a writer if you are reading this post. In 2015 Donna explored this form of expression and communication that we have chosen to make such a key part of our lives.

Writing: the What & Why of It 2015 by Donna W. Hill

The written word permeates all aspects of our lives. Even if we exclude books, newspapers and magazines, our world is filled with documents of identification and ownership, insurance policies, medical records, instructions and warnings. The written word is etched into our sunglasses, emblazoned across our food and stamped on our underwear. It’s so ubiquitous, in fact, that we rarely spare a thought for what a marvel it is.

What is Writing?

Donna W. Hill in Hazleton, PA from Behind Group of Kids: photo by Rich Hill.

Donna speaks about writing to a group of teens at Community Services for Sight in Hazleton, PA.

The ability to collect and organize thoughts, observations and opinions and to encode them in a format that others can access long after we’re gone is the crowning achievement of the human race. It wasn’t always this way. People have been trying to communicate all along. Before the development of language, we used the “point, grunt and shove” method. It had its place, but it couldn’t keep up with the complexities swirling through our primitive brains.

Eventually, humans developed the spoken word. By using vocalizations, we could convey concepts that were far more subtle than what we could communicate through grunts and gestures. Yesterday, tomorrow, forever, nowhere, nothing, created nuances in our communications that further expanded our thoughts and imaginations.

The written word took things to a whole new level. By assigning little squiggles and lines to represent different sounds, we were able to make a lasting record of our thoughts. Everything we have achieved in science, technology, medicine, literature, music and so on owes its existence to the ability to write things down.

Sometimes when I say this, someone reminds me that we don’t need to write things down, because we can make videos of ourselves speaking, and those videos will live on after us.

First, we can be more precise in writing. Flubs, incomplete thoughts and errors are far easier to edit in written form. But let’s set that argument aside. Consider something we know from history. Simply put, we would have never developed the ability to record audio and video if not for the written word.

So many people living in different places and at different times contributed parts of the puzzle – math, science and technology. It was the ability of those who came after them – made possible by the nature of the written word – to read their thoughts and put things together, that enabled the discoveries and inventions that enrich our lives today.

Why do people write?

Mark Twain Stained Glass Window at Elmira College: photo by Rich Hill.

Some writers like American humorist Mark Twain get their own stained glass windows.

When we think of writers, we think of novelists, journalists, poets, playwrights and songwriters. These professionals, however, are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Writing is something people do for many reasons. Some write to entertain, to educate, to inform, to sell and even to deceive. As beings who have developed language as a way to communicate and the written word as a way to record that communication, we have an innate connection to the art and craft of writing. It is nothing less than our birthright as human beings.

Why Should You Write?

Why? First of all, because everyone has a unique, irreplaceable vantage point to observe the world. Each of us has something to contribute to the discussions around us, both minor and monumental. No one – not today or in the future – will ever be able to capture your point of view … no one but you.

Secondly, it’s your best tool for self-advancement. The ability to clearly express your opinions and observations is the pinnacle of literacy. Communicating with others enables us to resolve conflicts, make new discoveries, solve problems and elevate ourselves in the minds of those who are in a position to help us grow and achieve.

The people who provide the texts of our news and entertainment may be the most well-known of the writers among us, but they are by no means the only ones. Writing is an essential skill in many professions and a skill that can elevate you above your peers when you develop a level of comfort and proficiency in using it.

Even if you have no thought of ever being published, of ever writing the great American novel or being the next J.K. Rowling, Stephen King or J.R.R. Tolkien, the skills you develop when you write will give you a leg up in life. Knowing how to express the thoughts you have in ways that will be accurate and inspiring can help you elevate the thinking of others on any topic you choose. When you do that, people notice.

Getting Started with Writing Your World

Allow writing to become a regular part of your life. Remember that, like everything else, it’s a skill that needs to be developed through practice. You’re going to hit a few sour notes. You might walk into a wall. You might put too much salt in the soup. The important thing is to start somewhere and work on it.

One of the best things you can do to get started is to keep a journal. Write something every day. Write what happened and what didn’t happen. Pick something and describe it as though you were talking to someone who was going to experience it only through your words.

Capture a bit of the dialog of your life by precisely quoting something someone said, complete with the misspeaks, slurred words and hesitations you hear in the world around you. Did you hear anything that puzzled or alarmed you? Did something strike you as funny? Write it down. It’s your journal; you don’t have to share it, edit it or even re-read it, but keep it and enjoy the process. You’ll be glad you did.

© Donna W. Hill 2015

About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college.

A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, “Satori Green” appears in Richard Singer’s Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012).

From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups.

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.

As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

One of the over 50 reviews for the book

This is a book about a blind girl without being a book about a blind girl….which is exactly the point. The main character, Abby, doesn’t trumpet her disability around the world as if it were her defining characteristic. She doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reader is never tempted to pity her, even for a moment. She is a driven, bright, gregarious yet measured girl who just happens to be blind.

Through her experiences we are exposed to a world that depends on the other senses, we find new ways to connect to the world around us. Mrs. Hill paints Abby’s thrill ride with her companion dog (Curly Connor) and best friend (Baggy Brichaz) in such a manner that the reader leaves the book better equipped to understand visual impairments without hitting them over the head with it. It took me a while to realize this because at first I was just writing this review on the merits of good vs. bad Young Adult fiction (and it is good, trust me). The feather in the cap of this book is that it stands as a great story that actually teaches you something, leaves you pondering your own disabilities vs. those of others.

I am a middle school reading teacher and I review and teach a lot of YA fiction. What separates the wheat from the chaff for me is well-developed characters that show humanness and overcome in spite of failures. You get the feeling that each of the characters in this book could very well survive on their own but the adventure is exponentially heightened because of the relationships they garner with each other. Mrs. Hill does a brilliant job of showing weaknesses, strengths and diversity as just a starting point to the basics of character interaction. By the end of this book, I felt like Abby, Baggy and Curly were my next-door neighbors and I still find myself looking out my window, waiting for the Cloud Scooper to swing by….

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Read more reviews and follow Donna on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

Connect to Donna.

Website:  https://donnawhill.com/about-the-author/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-W.-Hill/e/B00CNTTUK2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

My thanks to Donna for permitting me access to her archives to share and I hope you will head over to explore more yourself. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – #BookReview 2014 The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs by The New Yorker by Donna W. Hill


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

A welcome return to the archive series to Donna W. Hill who has let me loose in her archives..In this post I go back 2014 to a book review by Donna for a wonderful sounding book perfect for all dog lovers. Donna gave the book Five Stars.

BookReview The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs by The New Yorker by Donna Hill

Ever since humans started throwing scraps to the adventurous wolves beyond the firelight, dogs have been inspiring us and drawing forth from us the full spectrum of our emotional capacity. From enjoyment, love and gratitude to exasperation, fear and cruelty, our reactions to our furry companions have been a mirror of our greatest virtues and our deepest shortcomings. If you’re thinking of reading The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs in the hopes of finding one warm and fuzzy, tug-at-the-old-heartstrings story after another, you may be disappointed, though probably not for long. This is The New Yorker, after all, and this collection, compiled and contributed to by The New Yorker Magazine’s Malcolm Gladwell, lives up to the reputation for breadth and sophistication we’ve come to expect.

It is a book to be savored, something to be read in its smallest components and pondered. It is divided into four sections — Good Dogs, Bad Dogs, Top Dogs and Under Dogs. Each section is introduced by a piece from writer, cartoonist and New Yorker editor James Thurber (1894 – 1961), who was obsessed with dogs both in his writing and his drawings.

Fiction, poetry, journalism and creative nonfiction blend to form a panorama of all aspects of life with “man’s best friend.” Better yet, the writers are a cross-section of the best of the 20th century — E.B. White, Ogden Nash, Arthur Miller, Wislawa Szymborska, Ann Sexton, John Updike and T.C. Boyle to name a few.

You’ll learn about working dogs, and how the training of police dogs and guide dogs diverged. You’ll encounter the lingo of dog fanciers. I grew up with a beagle, and my artistic side would have been enriched by the knowledge that she wasn’t wagging her tail; she was “feathering her stern.” She wasn’t barking; she was “giving voice” or “opening.”

Then, there’s the perplexity that has surrounded the study of the canine’s olfactory talents. Dogs, you will learn, can find cell phones in buckets of water.

“A good dog is a natural super-soldier: strong yet acrobatic, fierce yet obedient. It can leap higher than most men, and run twice as fast. Its eyes are equipped for night vision, its ears for supersonic hearing, its mouth for subduing the most fractious prey. But its true glory is its nose. In the 1970s, researchers found that dogs could detect even a few particles per million of a substance; in the nineties, more subtle instruments lowered the threshold to particles per billion; the most recent tests have brought it down to particles per trillion.

“It’s a little disheartening, really,”  Paul Waggoner, a behavioral scientist at the Canine Detection Research Institute, at Auburn University, in Alabama, told me. “I spent a good six years of my life chasing this idea, only to find that it was all about the limitations of my equipment.” (“Beware of the Dogs” Burkhard Bilger 34)”

One of my favorite articles tackles the question of how dogs came to be domesticated in the first place. Did humans capture and breed wolf cubs, as some believe? Or, was it the proto-dog’s idea to hang out with humans? The question springs from a father’s story of coming to terms with his daughter’s irrepressible desire for a Havanese puppy.

“It wasn’t cub-snatching on the part of humans, but breaking and entering on the part of wolves that gave us dogs. “Hey, you be ferocious and eat them when you can catch them,” the proto-dogs said, in evolutionary effect, to their wolf siblings. “We’ll just do what they like and have them feed us. Dignity? It’s a small price to pay for free food. Check with you in ten thousand years and we’ll see who’s had more kids.” (Estimated planetary dog population: one billion. Estimated planetary wild wolf population: three hundred thousand.) (“Dog Story” by Adam Gopnik 11)”

And, then there are the cartoons. A dog walking on a leash says to a dog holding his own leash, “So, how long have you been self-employed?” A dog looking at a menu in a restaurant says to the waiter, “Is the homework fresh?”

In “A Note on Thurber’s Dogs”, Adam Gopnik relates a Buddhist-like train of one question morphing into another.

Those of us who care about dogs–and The New Yorker— ask a similar straightforward-seeming question that also provokes several trick turns. For us, the question “Why did James Thurber always draw dogs?” really means something like “Why do dogs matter for writers?” or even “What draws writers to any of their strange obsessive subjects?” (Which is another way of asking, “What is the way?”) (381).

Black Lab service dog, Hunter, looking out from his bed under the table: photo by Rich Hill

©Donna Hill 2014

About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college.

A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, “Satori Green” appears in Richard Singer’s Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012).

From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups.

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.

As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

One of the over 50 reviews for the book

This is a book about a blind girl without being a book about a blind girl….which is exactly the point. The main character, Abby, doesn’t trumpet her disability around the world as if it were her defining characteristic. She doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reader is never tempted to pity her, even for a moment. She is a driven, bright, gregarious yet measured girl who just happens to be blind.

Through her experiences we are exposed to a world that depends on the other senses, we find new ways to connect to the world around us. Mrs. Hill paints Abby’s thrill ride with her companion dog (Curly Connor) and best friend (Baggy Brichaz) in such a manner that the reader leaves the book better equipped to understand visual impairments without hitting them over the head with it. It took me a while to realize this because at first I was just writing this review on the merits of good vs. bad Young Adult fiction (and it is good, trust me). The feather in the cap of this book is that it stands as a great story that actually teaches you something, leaves you pondering your own disabilities vs. those of others.

I am a middle school reading teacher and I review and teach a lot of YA fiction. What separates the wheat from the chaff for me is well-developed characters that show humanness and overcome in spite of failures. You get the feeling that each of the characters in this book could very well survive on their own but the adventure is exponentially heightened because of the relationships they garner with each other. Mrs. Hill does a brilliant job of showing weaknesses, strengths and diversity as just a starting point to the basics of character interaction. By the end of this book, I felt like Abby, Baggy and Curly were my next-door neighbors and I still find myself looking out my window, waiting for the Cloud Scooper to swing by….

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Read more reviews and follow Donna on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

Connect to Donna.

Website:  https://donnawhill.com/about-the-author/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-W.-Hill/e/B00CNTTUK2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

My thanks to Donna for permitting me access to her archives to share and I hope you will head over to explore more yourself. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Symbolism of the Locks on the Erie Canal & an Author’s Dog Fighting IBD


Welcome to the third post from the archives of Donna W. Hill and this week Donna shares the workings of a canal and the period of transition between water levels as an analogy for the times in our life when we are in limbo between events. In this case the treatment for her guide dog’s chronic disease.

 Symbolism of the Locks on the Erie Canal & an Author’s Dog Fighting IBD

Verona Beach Light, one of 3 working lighthouses on NY's Oneida Lake: photo by Rich Hill

Do you take comfort in certain man-made structures? Two of my top three – lighthouses and covered bridges – have virtually universal appeal. Lighthouses are beacons of hope, turning unforeseen disasters into visible rock formations, skirted with a flick of the helmsman’s wrist. Covered bridges, with their rustic beauty, promise shelter from the storms and safe passage over the rapids for the weary traveler. But, locks? What’s up with that?

covered bridge at luthers mill west of towanda, PA in fall: photo by rich hill

Canals: an Overview

Lock 24 on the Erie Canal in Baldwinsville, NY, mid September: photo by Rich Hill

Ever since first grade when Mrs. Myers told us about the Erie Canal, I have been fascinated. So, what’s so special about man-made waterways? After all, Nature does waterways with a flair for beauty and detail that eludes mere mortals. But, if you look more closely, the reasons behind these structures and how they work might just capture your imagination, as they have mine.

Streams and rivers are wonderful ways to transport people and their belongings … that is, if you don’t mind carrying your boat and supplies every time you encounter rapids, waterfalls, marshes and dry land. In the case of the Panama Canal, oceans work, but who wants to travel all the way around South America? If you want to take advantage of shipping via water, which is still the cheapest option, Nature’s best just doesn’t quite cut it. Canals provide an efficient remedy.

The Erie Canal opened in 1825, and has undergone many expansions and enlargements since. The concept, however, has remained the same. Instead of trying to navigate moving water that twists and turns and gradually and often not so gradually descends or ascends, canals are straight and level.

Moving to higher or lower elevations is accomplished by raising or lowering the level of a section of the canal until it reaches the level of the next leg of the journey. This is not quite as simple as filling and draining a bathtub. From the Hudson River to Rome, New York represented a change in elevation of 420 ft. The canal then descended 363 ft. and rose again to 565.5 ft. at Lake Erie. This was accomplished with a series of engineering masterpieces called locks.

Locks: What they are & How They Work

A lock is a two-part gate across the water, a temporary dam that can be removed and put in place as the situation requires. Leonardo da Vinci’s invention of the miter lock is still widely used today. Closed, its two halves with their 45 degree angles form a ‘V with the point facing into the current. From a little shack, the lock operator controls the locks and the valves that allow water to flow in and out. Rack and pinyon gears, nowadays powered by electric motors, open and close the locks.

The thing about using locks is that you stop traveling via your own power when you enter them. In fact, when “locking through,” your boat gets tied up with bow and stern close to the side walls. In short, you give up control and abide by the rules of the locks. Revving your engines and blowing your horn won’t help you get there any quicker. Your progress depends on someone else and something else.

Symbolism of Locks in This Writer’s Life

There have been many times when I have felt like I have entered a lock; on a gurney headed for surgery, after sending out college applications or job resumes, witnessing a loved one dealing with medical issues or the final transition from flesh to whatever lies beyond, there’s a point when the best I can do is no longer the major factor influencing the ultimate outcome.

That’s when I say that I’m in the locks.

The actions of other people matter very much to all of our lives, and we are all more interdependent than we often care to acknowledge. So, to some extent we’re always in the locks. But, some situations make this crystal clear.

Guide Dogs: the Transition

Donna & her guide dog Hunter walk along path in Redwoods. There's a glowing mist: Photo by Rich Hill.

The transition from one guide dog to another, which I have already experienced three times, is definitely a lock experience. The illness of the dearest of friends, the unrelenting need for the independence that friend provides and the life interlude that is the training process with a new helper combine to create major life alterations. I’ve been blessed to have had an overwhelming amount of grace in the past, which enabled me to care for my canine friends in their final days without losing track of how special the experience is.

Our sweet Hunter is 11.5 years old, and his age alone is enough to remind me that our time together is growing short. Added to that, he has been ill this fall, and has lost a scary amount of weight and muscle mass. So far, we’ve spent over $5,000 on veterinary specialists, tests including ultrasound, endoscopy and biopsies and a host of medications and specialty foods.

Canine IBD

Hunter has been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), not to be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBD is an autoimmune disorder, the causes of which are not yet clearly understood. The type Hunter has, Canine Lymphocytic-Plasmacytic Gastroenteritis, occurs when lymph and plasma cells make their way into the lining of the stomach and small intestine. The resulting inflammation makes it difficult for nutrients to be absorbed – hence, the weight loss.

It isn’t fatal, if it is managed. So far, however, he has dropped from 67 to 55lbs. He still enjoys playing a bit with his ball, romping in the snow and going for rides in the car. Eating, however, is problematic. This is a Labrador retriever, so that’s about as abnormal as it gets. Appetite stimulants and hand-feeding are helping, but progress, if there is to be any, is proving to be painfully slow.

IBD is a chronic disease; i.e. it’s not curable. It’s possible that he will recover or at least reach a new normal that will allow him to regain some measure of strength and health. It is also possible that despite our efforts and those of the caring veterinary professionals who have been working with him, that we’ve missed something. Only time will tell.

The View Beyond the Bow

Unlike the locks we love on the Erie Canal, we don’t understand this life transition enough to be certain which way we are headed. We’re securely tied to the canal, waiting for word from the lock operator about how to proceed. Is the water rising or falling? Will the next phase of the journey be open waters or yet another lock? Whatever the final outcome, we will be diligent and listen for the lock operator’s promptings.

Resources: Canals & Locks

For all resources on the Erie Canal and if you have a dog that is suffering from IBD please follow the link to Donna’s original post: https://donnawhill.com/2014/12/22/symbolism-of-the-locks-on-the-erie-canal-an-authors-dog-fighting-ibd/

Resources: Canals & Locks:The Erie Canal: Making it Work http://www.eriecanal.org/UnionCollege/Making_It_Work-add.html#add

Resources: Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs : Inflammatory Bowel Disease Due to Lymphocytes and Plasma in Dogs – PetMD http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_dg_gastroenteritis_lymphocytic_plasmacytic

©Donna W. Hill

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.

As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

One of the over 50 reviews for the book

This is a book about a blind girl without being a book about a blind girl….which is exactly the point. The main character, Abby, doesn’t trumpet her disability around the world as if it were her defining characteristic. She doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reader is never tempted to pity her, even for a moment. She is a driven, bright, gregarious yet measured girl who just happens to be blind.

Through her experiences we are exposed to a world that depends on the other senses, we find new ways to connect to the world around us. Mrs. Hill paints Abby’s thrill ride with her companion dog (Curly Connor) and best friend (Baggy Brichaz) in such a manner that the reader leaves the book better equipped to understand visual impairments without hitting them over the head with it. It took me a while to realize this because at first I was just writing this review on the merits of good vs. bad Young Adult fiction (and it is good, trust me). The feather in the cap of this book is that it stands as a great story that actually teaches you something, leaves you pondering your own disabilities vs. those of others.

I am a middle school reading teacher and I review and teach a lot of YA fiction. What separates the wheat from the chaff for me is well-developed characters that show humanness and overcome in spite of failures. You get the feeling that each of the characters in this book could very well survive on their own but the adventure is exponentially heightened because of the relationships they garner with each other. Mrs. Hill does a brilliant job of showing weaknesses, strengths and diversity as just a starting point to the basics of character interaction. By the end of this book, I felt like Abby, Baggy and Curly were my next-door neighbors and I still find myself looking out my window, waiting for the Cloud Scooper to swing by….

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Read more reviews and follow Donna on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

About Donna Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college.

A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, “Satori Green” appears in Richard Singer’s Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012).

From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups.

Connect to Donna.

Website:  https://donnawhill.com/about-the-author/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-W.-Hill/e/B00CNTTUK2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Butterflies & Me: An Author’s Breast Cancer Survival Story by Donna W. Hill


This is the second post from the archives of Donna Hill and this week she shares her inspiring story of surviving breast cancer twice, overcoming the after effects of reconstructions surgery and the move to their mountain paradise where butterflies are abundant…

Blue butterfly on milkweed: photo by Rich Hill

Butterflies & Me: An Author’s Breast Cancer Survival Story by Donna W. Hill

We were in Lancaster County when it happened. Daytrips to the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country were common when we lived in Glenside. Rich, my soon-to-be husband, Curly Connor, my nine-year-old Lab-Golden cross and I would walk the rural roads for hours, breathing in the sweet air, delighting in the sounds of steam engines on the Strasburg Railroad and observing the unhurried lives and quiet dignity of the Amish. It always refreshed and renewed us, but this time was different. It was September of 1990, and I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Don’t move,” Rich whispered, as we gazed across the harvested fields, “A butterfly just landed on your arm.”

A butterfly? There was a butterfly bush in the far corner of my childhood back yard. On summer afternoons, I would pack my duffle bag. With my sack of treasures and the cacky cotton strap of my father’s Army canteen over my shoulder, I trudged to the shady patch of grass by the butterfly bush and spread out my blanket. When the blue blossoms were at their peak, butterflies would visit. Sometimes, while flitting from flower to flower, one would land on my arm. But that was the fifties. Butterflies had all but disappeared.

Almost instantly, my little messenger of hope took off. I stood transfixed and profoundly grateful. Within a few seconds, however, something even more astounding happened. The butterfly turned, flew back to us and landed on me a second time, as if to say, “I really do mean you.”

A Writer Between Two Worlds

Cancer wasn’t my first challenge. Born legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa, I lived in the netherworld between total blindness and normal vision. The theory at the time was that visually impaired children who could technically see print should read print. No consideration was given to the damage and ineffectiveness of this strategy.

Large print didn’t work for me, because of one of RP’s least understood characteristics, tunnel vision. The bigger the word, the less of it I could see. Long before my reading vision failed completely, I was piecing words together letter by letter. Changes in lighting, such as passing clouds, left me unable to see for several minutes.

At home, I held my books up to a bright light. I can still smell the hot ink and feel the sting in my eyes. Blistering headaches were common. Adults were puzzled by the inconsistency of my vision. Some accused me of faking it.

Something to Cling To

My solace was music. From age four, I believed I was destined to do something important and that, whatever it was, it involved music.

Like everything else, however, my musical journey had many pitfalls. With little comfort other than that provided by an old guitar and a flair for writing stories and songs, I bluffed and blundered my way through school and later college. At twenty-one, while training with Simba, my first guide dog, a classmate taught me the basics of Braille.

My childhood dream was to be a working singer-songwriter. I started as a street performer in Suburban Station, Philadelphia’s busy center-city commuter hub. I wrote songs for special occasions including the US Constitution bicentennial and the Challenger disaster. By the time of my diagnosis, I had self-produced two recordings, accumulated a host of accolades for various songs, garnered references for my school assembly programs and purchased a house.

A Family Tradition

We were in the midst of my third recording, a two-hours-here and two-hours-there, pay-as-you-go venture, designed to showcase my songwriting skills in Nashville. Then, I found a hard lump, like a pencil eraser, in my left breast. Both of my grandmothers had died of metastatic breast cancer. The mammogram showed a tiny area of calcification; just something to “keep an eye on.”

In young women, breast tissue is dense and, especially for those with fibrocystic breasts, negative mammograms are unreliable. For this reason, I had an ultrasound, and the interpretation of its results was one of the biggest snafus of my life. It was negative.

That’s good, right? No, that’s not good. What you’re hoping for with ultrasounds is to see a nice watery cyst right where you feel the lump. Most cysts go away within a month and that’s that. Cancer, however, is denser tissue and doesn’t show up on ultrasounds. I didn’t know that, and apparently, neither did my doctor. Fortunately, Rich persuaded me to see someone closer to home. On my first visit, I casually mentioned the lump. He hit the roof and scheduled a biopsy on the spot.

The thing about dealing with cancer is that nothing happens in a vacuum; life goes on and Fate doesn’t look at you and say, “Oh, you have cancer. You get a reprieve.” Rich had just been down-sized out of the only job he’d had as an adult. We had family problems including the death of my aunt, my brother’s struggle with a pituitary tumor and my future father-in-law’s battle with prostate cancer. Operation Desert Shield was gearing up in the Middle East, directly affecting family members and neighbors.

Then, there were the all-too-typical annoyances of modern life: the roofer who messed up what should have been an ordinary job and the printer who offered me a ten percent discount on stationery with the wrong phone number. No, I didn’t bite. What’s the point of stationery with the wrong phone number? Luckily, I had a copy of what we sent him

Choices and Consequences

I had the choice of a lumpectomy with radiation or a modified radical mastectomy. I chose the latter, in part to avoid radiation. It didn’t work. Malignant cells were found too close to the chest wall. I remember being in the hospital wearing a huge protective bandage, when I learned that radiation and chemo were back on the table.

I had been a health nut — distilled water, brown rice, no caffeine or sugar, no harsh chemicals around the house. I baked my own multigrain bread, made soup, spaghetti sauce and everything else for that matter from scratch and shopped at a natural foods co-op. I always said that, if I had to make a decision about having radiation or chemotherapy, I would opt out at once. Over the next two days, however, I made peace with the upcoming mega dose of x-rays. I also realized that I couldn’t rule out chemo either. I pictured my hair falling out and how my face and body would feel and I began making mental preparations for accepting the nasty side of cancer treatment.

Getting Through

Fortunately, my lymph nodes were clear, and the tumor was small enough that four out of five of the oncologists whom my doctor consulted recommended against chemo. Breast radiation wasn’t the big deal I feared it would be. It doesn’t make you sick, just tired and a bit sunburned in the last week or so.

My church provided volunteer drivers throughout my treatments. I enjoyed their company, and they comforted Curly Connor while I was “in the back.” My second guide dog was the embodiment of sweetness. His habit of crying, whenever I was out of his sight, in a voice that was rich in tonal range and expression won over many hearts.

The worst thing physically — and I’m not forgetting that first painful day or so after surgery — was that I developed tendonitis in my shoulder, possibly from the positioning for the radiation. Rich took better care of me than I could have imagined. We married that December. We started downsizing — we didn’t need two houses or two of a million other things. As my energy improved, I refocused on my pre-cancer goals and returned to the studio. Finally, we had the master for The Last Straw. We sent it, along with the cover art, to the magicians who transform such things into shrink-wrapped CD’s. Then, guess what I found a week later?

Another Curve Ball

The second diagnosis was easier at first. After all, I knew the ropes. It was the same rubbery nodule with a corresponding bit of calcification on the mammogram. They said a lumpectomy should do it, but I wanted more peace of mind.

My regret is that I didn’t insist that they take both breasts the first time. They claimed that the two cancers weren’t related but, on the other hand, said that women with cancer in one breast are more likely to get it in the other.

If I had had them both off in 1990, I might have dispensed with the implants and avoided a slew of “complications” which prompted my plastic surgeon to regularly say, “I’ve heard that this could happen, but I’ve never seen it before.”

Breast Implants: One Problem After Another

The first one leaked — don’t worry, it was saline. I developed an edema around the second implant and spent a memorable Christmas holiday making daily visits to the hospital to have it drained. Then, just when I had convinced myself that I had at least avoided the sagging breasts that my grandmother had, one of them slipped.

The other thing was that, as a blind person, my appreciation of the similarity between the real thing and the implants was not based on visual appearance but tactile and internal sensations. I never got over the itchy, creeped-out feeling of the implants.

A few years after procedures to lift up the sagging one, I noticed lumps near the chest wall. Probably scar tissue, but to find out for sure, they would have to do biopsies. This meant removing the implants. My poor plastic surgeon was mortified when I told him not to bother putting them back in.

I’ve never regretted it. I have a lovely set of fake boobs that fit into a pretty bra — cotton, of course. Most of the time, however, I wear shirts with two pockets or vests.

Silk Purses from Sows’ Ears

The worst part of the second diagnosis was that it derailed my Nashville-songwriter dreams. It was easy enough to look at it logically and admit that I no longer had the resources or energy and that without some miracle, it wasn’t going to happen. Cancer had not given me that new-found overwhelming appreciation for life that many people report. The fact was that I felt diminished and — dare I say it? — depressed.

Rich and I had a seventeen acre parcel of Heaven in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, where we hoped to retire. After having the troublesome implants removed — yes, it was just scar tissue — we decided to “get outa Dodge.” Mountain life would be less stressful, cleaner and cheaper. Rich’s field was so technical that he wasn’t about to find another job close to home anyway, and he had dreams too.

My challenge would be redefining what it meant to be an independent, blind woman. Around Philadelphia, Curly Connor, who — like Simba — knew over a hundred places by voice command, could take me to the post office, grocery store or the train station, where I had access to schools, libraries and churches in five counties. I had lived alone for over twenty years and was used to not “needing” much help. How would I handle the isolation? How would I deal with a new community who didn’t know me?

I’d been dreaming of living in the mountains since I first visited them as a kid and got a lungful of clean, pine-scented air. But, most successful blind people live in urban areas. Once you have that kind of freedom, how do you give it up? Well, you just do. Then you deal with whatever shakes out.

We built a modest home and moved in ’97. Our dear Curly Connor died before the move, at the ripe old age of fifteen. MoMo, my third guide, and Hunter, my current helper, only needed to know things like the mailbox, our neighbor’s house, the barn and the trails on our property.
Songwriter Descending: Novelist Ascending

In order to widen my horizons, I stopped writing songs. I would record the song fragments which popped into my brain; I could work on them later. I had been keeping notes on a novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, and focused my creativity on it. The heroine would be a 14-year-old songwriter, who is losing her sight but not her vision. She’d have a guide dog named Curly Connor.

My writing style was rather unconventional. I used two cassette recorders. I’d listen to a passage from one, and then record an edited version into the other. After I typed a chapter into our old word processor, Rich would get bleary-eyed staring into the one-inch screen, hunting for mistakes.

My self-imposed songwriting ban imploded after 9/11. I had booked a folk concert for later that month, and there was no way I was going without a handful of new songs.

In 2005, I learned to use a computer with a screen reader, opening a world of possibilities. I worked on The Heart of Applebutter Hill and started writing articles about blindness issues like the Braille literacy crisis, which weren’t getting much mainstream press.

Knitting for Breast Cancer Awareness

Pink breast-cancer-awareness afghan, designed and knit by Donna W. Hill, features twining vine surrounded by butterflies and candle flames: photo by Rich Hill

I re awakened my love of knitting — my mother had taught me in high school. I love making afghans and shawls in fancy patterns from Braille books from the National Library Service for the Blind. Most go to our local interfaith ministry.

Donna presents a hand-made pink afghan to Scranton-area TV news anchor Lyndall Stout in honor of her work promoting breast self-exam: photo by Rich Hill

In 2008, I presented a pink afghan to former Scranton-area TV news anchor Lyndall Stout in honor of her “Buddy Check” segments, promoting monthly breast self-exam. It features a central panel of entwined vines surrounded by butterflies and candle flames. At the top between two flowers, “Buddy Check” appears in Braille.

Rich and I are still health nuts, but coffee, tea and chocolate are regular parts of our lives. I have remained cancer-free for twenty-three years

The Heart of Applebutter Hill, the novel that healed my broken dreams, is finally out. It has received prepublication recommendations from professionals in education, rehabilitation and the arts as a valuable tool to introduce secondary and college students to the capabilities and issues facing blind Americans.

Butterflies Today

Milkweed and bergamot grow wild here, sometimes right by the house. Hundreds of butterflies of many varieties visit for weeks. A butterfly even ended up in The Heart of Applebutter Hill. The Aki No Choo — Japanese for “autumn butterfly” — is a blue butterfly encased in a crystal ball. A pink heart appears on one wing. It has its own job in the novel, but for the author, it is a reminder of that magical day in Lancaster County, when one particular butterfly brought us hope, foretelling my survival, landing on my arm not just once, but twice.

©Donna W. Hill

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.

As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

One of the over 50 reviews for the book

This is a book about a blind girl without being a book about a blind girl….which is exactly the point. The main character, Abby, doesn’t trumpet her disability around the world as if it were her defining characteristic. She doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reader is never tempted to pity her, even for a moment. She is a driven, bright, gregarious yet measured girl who just happens to be blind.

Through her experiences we are exposed to a world that depends on the other senses, we find new ways to connect to the world around us. Mrs. Hill paints Abby’s thrill ride with her companion dog (Curly Connor) and best friend (Baggy Brichaz) in such a manner that the reader leaves the book better equipped to understand visual impairments without hitting them over the head with it. It took me a while to realize this because at first I was just writing this review on the merits of good vs. bad Young Adult fiction (and it is good, trust me). The feather in the cap of this book is that it stands as a great story that actually teaches you something, leaves you pondering your own disabilities vs. those of others.

I am a middle school reading teacher and I review and teach a lot of YA fiction. What separates the wheat from the chaff for me is well-developed characters that show humanness and overcome in spite of failures. You get the feeling that each of the characters in this book could very well survive on their own but the adventure is exponentially heightened because of the relationships they garner with each other. Mrs. Hill does a brilliant job of showing weaknesses, strengths and diversity as just a starting point to the basics of character interaction. By the end of this book, I felt like Abby, Baggy and Curly were my next-door neighbors and I still find myself looking out my window, waiting for the Cloud Scooper to swing by….

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Read more reviews and follow Donna on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

About Donna Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college.

A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, “Satori Green” appears in Richard Singer’s Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012).

From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups.

Connect to Donna.

Website:  https://donnawhill.com/about-the-author/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-W.-Hill/e/B00CNTTUK2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Stray Cat & Working Dog: Abandonment, Rescue & Redemption in the Middle of Nowhere by Donna W. Hill


Delighted to welcome Donna Hill to the blog with a series of posts from her archives.

Stray Cat & Working Dog: Abandonment, Rescue & Redemption in the Middle of Nowhere by Donna Hill

double rainbow on the butte at Wyoming's Fossil Butte National Monument: photo by john collins, courtesy of the National Park Service

According to an evolutionary time-line exhibit at Wyoming’s Fossil Butte National Monument, dogs and cats shared a common ancestry until 42 million years ago. Factions from both groups ultimately took the plunge into domestication, so what drove them apart to begin with?

An Explanation

My musings on this subject are rooted in the reference to “42.” As a fan of the late British sci-fi writer and satirist Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001), I treasure any mention of the number. Actually, I’m obsessed with it. The first paragraph in this article, for instance, contains 42 words, but that was an accident. Wasn’t it?

In Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a BBC radio production turned into a ‘trilogy’ of ‘five’ novels, “42” turns out to be the answer to “life, the universe and everything.” I collect such references, and wrote an article in homage to Adams in 2009. He has yet to properly thank me for it … unless, of course, it was he who sent the cat.

Cats and Dogs: Irreconcilable Differences?

Goofus, a male, Strawberry-blonde tabby, hangs upside-down in the family room: photo by Rich Hill

Goofus, a male, Strawberry-blonde tabby, hangs upside-down in the family room: photo by Rich Hill

My interest in cats and dogs and their relationships with us and each other comes from a lifetime of living with dogs and a good little while of living with one particular cat named Goofus.

Some rifts in the ancestral dog-cat community seem painfully obvious — especially from the cat’s perspective. Grace, for instance, though not entirely lacking in the canine, reaches the level of an art-form in felines.

Some dog-cat predecessors preferred a unilateral gait, both right legs stepping forward together and vice versa. Others — “plodders and klutzes,” as our cat would call them — adopted a bilateral gait — right front and left rear. Humans do this with our arms, a point which pretty much seals the inferiority of it in the cat’s view.

Then, there’s the collarbone. Humans and canines apparently agreed on this one also.

“Yes, of course we want collarbones; see how big and strong they make our shoulders look?”

We might assume that the cat would have taken the plunge into vanity on this point, but for the cat, survival is the most attractive thing on the menu. Proto-cat valued the ability to squeeze through narrow spots — a feat which is compromised when the limitation is the width of your shoulders and not your head. Cats have “floating” collarbones, buried in their shoulder muscles.

Several other features ensure the feline’s survival. Sensitive and functional whiskers, adjustable and independent ears, and elliptical pupils make hunting at night a viable option. The dog yawns and wonders why anyone would want to go out at night, when everyone’s sleeping.

There is also the whole “sniffing the butt” ritual. Though it is one of the canine’s greatest pleasures, it remains unseemly to the feline. The cat is also offended by the whole obedience thing. Tolerating the propensity of the dog to throw all dignity to the wind for the sake of trifles is, as I am assured, one of the thankless burdens of being a cat.

“And those tales! You look like you’re being followed by an invisible oscillating fan. Is that why you chase them? Just trying to get them to slow down?”

Animal Abandonment & Rescue

Despite the cat’s self-proclaimed superiority, it was the dog who saved the cat, at least in our lives. According to the ASPCA, a pet is beaten or neglected every 60 seconds.

One such victim was a six-month-old strawberry-blonde, neutered male tabby, who was dropped off in the middle of nowhere in the summer of 2010. With shelters filled to capacity during the recession and embarrassment no small factor, many animals were abandoned along rural roads to survive or die by their own wits.

The middle of nowhere is where we live. The first thing we noticed was a beautiful cat watching Rich from afar as he worked in the barn, on the vehicles and preparing firewood for the upcoming winter. His coat was so thick and luxurious that we assumed he had a home. Then, as I walked our trails with Hunter, my black Lab guide dog, I heard a small animal following us.

“These rabbits are getting really brazen,” I thought, but it wasn’t a rabbit. It wasn’t a squirrel either.

One night, with a stone wall between us, he talked to me, and I was smitten. As winter approached, he started hanging around more often. We began suspecting that he was a stray. We didn’t really want a cat. I was allergic, and how fair would it be to Hunter to bring an interloper into our little family?

Donna & her guide dog Hunter walk along path in Redwoods. There's a glowing mist: Photo by Rich Hill

Donna & her guide dog Hunter walk along path in Redwoods. There’s a glowing mist: Photo by Rich Hill

We put food out for him, and somebody ate it. Toward the end of November as the temperatures dipped below freezing, he approached Hunter and me with the most mournful and urgent tale. Animals don’t generally want anything to do with me. They must see that I have one of their kind in harness and don’t want to risk a similar fate. But, this cat was desperate and, in all fairness to his dignity, he had been vetting us for months.

The Reality of Goofus

When we finally got our hands on him, we realized that he was all skin and bones, infested with worms and covered in ticks. We thought he had been declawed; even when Rich spread his toes, he could see nothing resembling a claw.

“We’ll just get him cleaned up and healthy. Then we’ll give him to the shelter.”

Yeah, right. Our local Humane Society is a “no kill” shelter, and they were full. By the time they had room, we loved him, and Hunter decided that kitty could stay.

Hunter, Donna's guide dog, rests in autumn leaves: photo by Rich Hill

Hunter, Donna’s guide dog, in autumn leaves: photo by Rich Hill

“He’s OK; he’s just a little trouble.”

We supplemented his food with homemade turkey breast. We got him a litter box, which he refused to use. Having spent so much of his short life outdoors, he wasn’t comfortable staying inside. For months, he continually flexed his claws, trying to get his strength back. As his health returned, he began shunning human food, running to leave the house whenever we showed the slightest inclination to eat.

Goofus became a skilled hunter, ridding our barn of mice. And my allergies? Not an issue; he smells like the great outdoors.

Cat and Dog: Brothers and Friends

Goofus maintains a curiosity about Hunter’s diet. He is allowed to stick his head in the bowl while his brother eats. More amazing than Hunter’s tolerance is that Goofus, who is fastidious to the extreme, is willing to risk being pelted with bits of flying food and that Hunter, who enjoys the stereotypical Labrador fondness for anything remotely edible, never touches kitty’s food.

Hunter likes to run up to whatever chair Goofus is in and smash his snoot into him, sneezing and slobbering. Goofus, who is still wary of most dogs and humans, accepts these overtures without hesitation or complaint. They head-butt and sprawl on the floor together, and they keep each other’s confidences.

Many times, when I can’t find kitty, I have asked Hunter to find him. Hunter, who dug my glove out of a foot of snow and who comes running at the sound of me dropping anything, will not show me where Goofus is.

Only once did he break from this policy. Goofus had been gone for three days. We were convinced we’d lost him. One evening after lots of tears, I took Hunter out for a break. In a last-ditch effort I said, “Can’t you find kitty for Mama?”

He led me into the high grass where I found a cowering, but otherwise unharmed Goofus, who allowed himself to be scooped up into my arms and returned to the house.

He’d probably been treed by a neighbor’s dog.

Nowadays, Goofus spends most of his time in our laps or at least keeping our chairs warm. My knitting is out in the open all over the house, and he never touches it. He still enjoys accompanying us on our last walk of the evening. In summer, he escorts us to the door and then peels off into the night.

Dogs and Cats in The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Goofus, the strawberry-blonde, male tabby sits with a copy of The Heart of Applebutter Hill. His paw is covering the author's/his mother's name: photo by Rich Hill

Goofus, the strawberry-blonde, male tabby sits with a copy of The Heart of Applebutter Hill. His paw is covering the author’s/his mother’s name: photo by Rich Hill

Curly Connor, half black Lab and half Golden Retriever, and Emmett, a rescued orange tabby kitten, each play a prominent role in my novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill. Curly Connor works as a guide dog for the fourteen-year-old heroine Abigail, a shy singer-songwriter.

About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Imagine you’re 14 and in a strange country with your camera, your best friend, her guitar and her dog. You uncover a secret and are instantly in danger. Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they explore Elfin Pond, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. The powerful Heartstone of Arden-Goth is hidden nearby, and corporate giants unleash a spy to seize it. Compelled to unmask the spy and find the Heartstone, they can’t trust anyone.

As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied and an armed stranger terrorizes Abigail and Baggy. The friends disagree about the spy’s identity, but are convinced it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher shows up one night with a terrified cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

One of the over 50 reviews for the book

This is a book about a blind girl without being a book about a blind girl….which is exactly the point. The main character, Abby, doesn’t trumpet her disability around the world as if it were her defining characteristic. She doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. The reader is never tempted to pity her, even for a moment. She is a driven, bright, gregarious yet measured girl who just happens to be blind.

Through her experiences we are exposed to a world that depends on the other senses, we find new ways to connect to the world around us. Mrs. Hill paints Abby’s thrill ride with her companion dog (Curly Connor) and best friend (Baggy Brichaz) in such a manner that the reader leaves the book better equipped to understand visual impairments without hitting them over the head with it. It took me a while to realize this because at first I was just writing this review on the merits of good vs. bad Young Adult fiction (and it is good, trust me). The feather in the cap of this book is that it stands as a great story that actually teaches you something, leaves you pondering your own disabilities vs. those of others.

I am a middle school reading teacher and I review and teach a lot of YA fiction. What separates the wheat from the chaff for me is well-developed characters that show humanness and overcome in spite of failures. You get the feeling that each of the characters in this book could very well survive on their own but the adventure is exponentially heightened because of the relationships they garner with each other. Mrs. Hill does a brilliant job of showing weaknesses, strengths and diversity as just a starting point to the basics of character interaction. By the end of this book, I felt like Abby, Baggy and Curly were my next-door neighbors and I still find myself looking out my window, waiting for the Cloud Scooper to swing by….

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-W-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Read more reviews and follow Donna on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

About Donna Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college.

A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, “Satori Green” appears in Richard Singer’s Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012).

From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups.

Connect to Donna.

Website:  https://donnawhill.com/about-the-author/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Donna-W.-Hill/e/B00CNTTUK2
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dewhill
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dwh99
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/donna.w.hill
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7126655.Donna_W_Hill

Thanks to Donna for sharing this lovely post about Goofus who was so lucky to find this warm loving home..

After Easter there will be a new theme for the Posts from Your Archives…so keep an eye out for the introductory post.