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Donna W. Hill

Goodreads Author

in Easton, PA, The United States
January 16




James Lee Burke, Janet Evanovich, Greg Iles, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, ...more

Member Since
June 2013


Donna W. Hill is an author, singer-songwriter, recording artist, speaker and avid knitter. She and her photographer husband Rich live among the frogs and birds in Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains with Mo, Donna's guide dog, a male, yellow Lab and Goofus, their rescued strawberry blonde male tabby.

Her educator-recommended novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill is a high school mystery with excursions into fantasy for middle school and older readers. It was reviewed in Future Reflections and Word Gathering magazines and by local papers and TV, including by students of Lackawanna Trail High School (WNEP, TV-16 Scranton, PA)

Born legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa, Donna was the first blind student to complete twelve years in the Easton (Penn

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Donna W. Hill Good question. This is one I still struggle with, especially since my novel was published. I think it's important to know what's at the root of the bl…moreGood question. This is one I still struggle with, especially since my novel was published. I think it's important to know what's at the root of the block.

Lately, I spend so much time writing promotional material for the book that I have a hard time transitioning between that kind of writing and the writing I'd rather do. I have been doing my own PR since I was pursuing my singer-songwriter career, so I'm too comfortable with doing it myself and too ego-invested in doing it to consider paying someone else, which would free up my time if not my wallet.

But, I have struggled with the issue of allowing myself to step away from the endless work of promoting one book to the joy of writing others. I've made some progress in the past few months, but I know that budgeting my time is a problem for me and must watch out for my natural inclination to push everything aside except the promotion stuff.

There are other reasons for writer's block, of course. The most common, IMO, is that the writer has not thoroughly thought through the story or the characters. Sometimes, we can't go forward, because we haven't figured out that we're trying to make something happen that isn't organic to who are characters are. Sometimes, it's that we haven't taken the pulse of all of the perspectives that are going on in our imaginary world. We want to focus on one thing, while another thing is more plausible. Who else in the story would be trying to impact the plot at this point? What possible interactions between the various players is most likely to create a twist we weren't initially thinking of.

My advice is to step away from the keyboard and take a walk. Allow your brain to find neutral, and take a breath.
Donna W. Hill My first inclination was to make it clear up front that in enumerating the wondrous world of the writer, I am in no way advocating it. If you aren't d…moreMy first inclination was to make it clear up front that in enumerating the wondrous world of the writer, I am in no way advocating it. If you aren't driven to write, you'll find little comfort in the joys of being a writer. If you are, you don't need a sales pitch. So, there, I've said it. What does it say about me that I felt the need to start with a disclaimer?

Writing, like all endeavors purposefully pursued, brims with both benefits and burdens. The burdens of being a writer -- such as the pain of finishing a beloved story, the agonies of writer's block and the sucker punch of criticism that comes out of left field -- will have to wait for another time.

Writing has brought me countless hours of joy, as I abandon myself to the creation of stories and articles, pushing the boundaries of my understanding of life and language in the search for words and structures that will enable something to pass between the abyss of one human being's reality and another's -- something we can call communication. Certainly one of the best things about the craft is the sense of satisfaction and power of creating something that means something. If someone else appreciates it, so much the better.

Fiction insists that we create a reality, but does not bind us to what purpose that reality will serve, how closely it mirrors the reality of the "real" world or in what ways it comforts, disturbs, challenges or affirms us, both as writers and readers. In my novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, my primary intent was to explore the possibility of engaging the reader in a fast-paced adventure that bridged reality and fantasy, while shedding light -- through osmosis -- about the realities of life between the two worlds of the sighted and the blind.

I made up the setting, creating a fictional land, characters and possibilities that blend science fiction and fantasy, using bits and pieces of the settings of my life. In many ways, the novel is a scrapbook for me, as it incorporates locations, buildings, animals, people and incidents from every stage of my life.

The upper school at the Plumkettle Learning Center -- the blocky, two-story, red-brick, relic of the 1920s -- is based on the old Easton Junior High School. The cafeteria, auditorium and library are in the same locations as they were back in the '60s, though in reality Butler Street was behind the building, not in front of it.

Applebutter Hill was the name of a road in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania where my mother's family is buried. When I first heard the name, it had an immediate and transformative impact upon me. The fictional Applebutter Hill incorporates bits of Easton, the Germantown section of Philadelphia and Glenside, where I lived prior to moving with Rich to the Endless Mountains.

Morganheim and Elfin Pond Road, the country setting of the book where Baggy, Captain Sodpeg and the Blusterbuff's live, is based on our current surroundings. The Castle of Bargundoom is a massive exaggeration of the Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, Pennsylvania, the ancestral home of Gifford Pinchot, (1865-1946), first Chief of the US Forest Service and twice Governor of Pennsylvania.

Dealing with loss is a common task that we all struggle with. Being a novelist gave me the opportunity to create places for people from my life who are no longer walking in this land of reflected light, people I miss deeply, and whose spirits seem to walk more closely with me because of the new roles they are playing in my fiction.

Several are women who fought the good fight against breast cancer. I don't use their real names -- or, at least not entirely. Both of my grandmothers -- using their maiden names -- are employed by the Plumkettle Learning Center as house mothers for Transition House, where all new refugee kids live until they find guardians.

My friend Dagmar shows up as Dagmar Kiffle, the adaptive education resource instructor who teaches Abigail how to use a computer with text-to-speech technology, Braille and a lot more. The real Dagmar was a low-vision therapist, so it's not so much of a leap to find her in this role.

On the other hand, there are people, especially from my childhood, who made my life miserable by either allowing or participating in bullying. There appeared to be no end to the enjoyment they received from tormenting a blind kid. They make perfect villains, and I enjoy trashing their reputations in print in ways that I never could have in real life. The beauty is that, if they ever read this, they will know it's them, but saying so will just expose their guilty consciences -- not that that would be such a bad thing.

Though most of the plot is entirely fictitious, I incorporated at least a half dozen little incidents that happened to me in real life. Abigail's experience at the World Boutique and the incident in the street when she was yelled at by a passing stranger all happened to me, though fortunately not in the same day.

But, the questioner asked for "the best thing about writing." If I have to whittle it down to one overriding benefit, I must say that it is simply the possession of an outlet, an activity that allows me to make sense of the misery, explore the joy and simply view everything from a place that is both safe and challenging, a place where I can grow and, in doing so, end up with something to share.
Average rating: 4.09 · 11 ratings · 4 reviews · 1 distinct work
The Heart of Applebutter Hill

4.09 avg rating — 11 ratings — published 2013 — 3 editions
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Author Admits to a Mistake: Voting is Still Open! Diversity Novel #5 in Book Cover Comp!

OK, here’s the scoop. Voting for my novel in the book cover comp did not end Monday afternoon after all. It ends Thurs. Oct. 31, at 2:30pm Eastern. My mistake, I assumed it was like previous rounds. So, if you … Continue reading →
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Published on October 28, 2019 21:05
The Moscow Club
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I get inspired to write when I travel. Travelling stimulates my creativity by forcing me out of my comfort zone. The new sights, sounds, smells, people and culture heighten my awareness. I can't wait to sit down and create a story out of my experienc See Darlene’s answer.
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“You can only trust your emotions as you can lie to yourself with your brain but not your heart.”
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When you hear that someone is “trying to adjust to blindness,” you may be tempted to think that they need to come to terms with the “fact” that they simply cannot do a laundry list of essential human activities. Can you set that aside for a time and ...more
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“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
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No pretensions: just poetry. Stop by, recommend books, offer up poems (excerpted), tempt us, taunt us, tell us what to read and where to go (to read ...more

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