Pin Cherries bloom by Navaho-red shelter with steep white roof & arched door by Rich HillWelcome to the home of The Heart of Applebutter Hill. Written by journalist, singer-songwriter, civil rights advocate and avid knitter Donna W. Hill, it is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences.

Proceeds from the sale of The Heart of Applebutter Hill will provide Braille books for blind students. Did you know that Americans with vision loss and other print handicaps have access to only 5% of books and magazines? Imagine trying to compete in school, college or the job market with only 5% of the resources your peers have.

The Heart of Applebutter Hill: the Story

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 the school cat, the truth is revealed. Soon, police are involved.

Purchase The Heart of Applebutter Hill & Help Blind Students

The Heart of Applebutter Hill book cover shows cave scene: stalactites reflected in an underground lake, while a hand holds the Heartstone of Arden-Goth, a blue, heart-shaped sapphire


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1483948226
CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4000964

eBook versions can be purchased at these and other outlets

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CNG6DDM
Nook Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-donna-w-hill/1115426305?ean=2940016415000&itm=1&usri=2940016415000
Apple iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-heart-of-applebutter-hill/id651693834?mt=11
Smashwords (7 eBook formats, including .epub, .mobi, .pdf and .rtf): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/313071?ref=DonnaWHill

Outside the US

Amazon Canada (print & Kindle): http://www.amazon.ca/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM
Amazon UK (print& Kindle) http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-Donna-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

accessible versions are available for Readers with print handicaps

Bookshare: http://www.bookshare.org/browse/book/639304

A Request from Donna

After you’ve read The Heart of Applebutter Hill, please rate it and leave a review on the site where you purchased the book. Thank you for your interest and support.

Recommendations & Reviews

Donna presents a copy of The Heart of Applebutter Hill to Dir. Kristin Smith Gary at the Wyoming County Public Library in tunkhannock, Pa. Feb. 21, 2014: photo by Rich Hill

The Heart of Applebutter Hill has received pre-publication recommendations from professionals in education, rehabilitation and the arts, as a valuable tool for secondary and college-level diversity and anti-bullying initiatives. Their comments are at: http://donnawhill.com/recommenders-of-the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-from-professionals-in-education-rehabilitation-the-arts/ 

Read the “Introduction to The Heart of Applebutter Hill for Educators” by Dr. Karen Squier, O.D. (Chicago Lighthouse) at:http://donnawhill.com/intro-to-the-heart-of-applebutter-hill-for-educators/

What Others are Saying About The Heart of Applebutter Hill

Donnna - with her guide dog, Hunter - donates The Heart of Applebutter Hill to Dir. Jesse Johnson of the Towanda Public Library: photo by Rich Hill
“In a way, the tale acts as an all-encompassing guide to childhood, as it details the struggles of bullying, consumerism and being cast from society.”
1/1/14, Michael Wintermute, Wyoming County Press Examiner
‘Meshoppen author pens mystery novel’ http://archives.wcexaminer.com/index.php/2014/01/01/meshoppen-author-pens-mystery-novel/ 

“It was a great adventure story with likable, well-rounded characters with lots of different abilities and struggles — many of which kids rarely get to read about! My favorite was Curly Connor, not many writers write dogs this well! …”
10/22/13 Max Ray, Comments on homepage http://DonnaWHill.com

“Hill believes The Heart of Applebutter Hill will help sighted readers understand the reality of blindness as well as give blind youngsters a character with whom they can identify. Reviewers agree.

‘Hill has done a superb job conveying the impact of going blind, as her heroine finds refuge in music and fantasy,’ playwright Uke Jackson wrote.’

‘I believe Hill has a gem here,’ wrote University of Scranton professor emeritus Patricia Gross. ‘I particularly savored the poetry and songs that underlay the action.” “I believe Hill has a gem here,” wrote University of Scranton professor emeritus Patricia Gross. “I particularly savored the poetry and songs that underlay the action.’”
12/19/13, MARY THERESE BIEBEL, Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader
‘The biggest project of my life’ http://timesleader.com/news/features/1050744/The-biggest-project-of-my-life

“It was one of those books you sit down with and you blink and suddenly discover you’ve read 100 pages…”
2/17/14 Niffer’s Review, Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18153835-the-heart-of-applebutter-hill#other_reviews

“I had the pleasure of getting an early read on Donna’s book; I
still think about the characters, and especially the cloud ship!…”
3/18/13 RobertLeslie Newman Comments on homepage http://DonnaWHill.com

“This book had a mixture of realism and fantasy.
Something for everybody, young and old alike.”
4/24/14, Eileen Corman, Amazon Reviews http://www.amazon.com/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM 

“This book is a great read for young and old alike. Anyone interested in a fiction novel that combines fantasy with reality, humor and adventure, this is
for you. The detail of the imagination of the writer is evident at every turn of the story…”
12/29/13, Lisa E. Robinson, Amazon Reviews http://www.amazon.com/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

“The amazing thing about the way Donna Hill has written this novel
is that it weaves the experience of a child who is blind into a novel that is engaging on its own. I think it is an excellent choice for parents who want
to provide a unique way to help their children avoid assumptions and stereotypes as they expand their view of diversity.”
3/29/14, B. Wentz, Amazon Reviews http://www.amazon.com/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

“What I really enjoyed was that the character (who is blind) was portrayed
in a positive, competent way. A great addition to any school or home library.”
January 12, 2014, NW Reader, Amazon Reviews http://www.amazon.com/The-Heart-Applebutter-Hill-ebook/dp/B00CNG6DDM

Meet the Author of The Heart of Applebutter Hill

After workshop on the novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill & Blindness Issues, U. of Scranton Education Students Gather Around Donna & Hunter for a Photo Op: photo by ashley allegraInvite Donna W. Hill to be a guest speaker for workshops, seminars and classes. Topics include writing, songwriting, anti-bullying and mainstreaming students with visual impairments. Write to her using the “Contact” link on this page.

Also coming — contests and special features.

Accessibility Issues for People Using Screen Readers

Screen reader users, there are significant issues with Word Press’s “Leave a Reply” form – which is labeled on this site “So, What Do You Think?”Here’s a “temporary” solution. Every page and post now has a link labeled “Accessible Comment Form for Screen Reader Users.” It will be sent to me, and I will post it on your behalf. The URL is: http://donnawhill.com/accessible-comment-form-for-screen-reader-users-3

38 Responses to Home

  1. Cindy Deery says:

    Hey, Donna, this is Hugh and Cindy. Let us know when the novel is for sale!
    We got to spend a few days with Craig before Sandy hit (he didnt have any damage)

  2. Lyn says:

    Hi Donna, I read your post on Write with Warnimont and felt compelled to check out your site. I have to say, I can’t wait to read your book when it’s published.

  3. Carlton Walker says:


    Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us all. This is a terrific story, and you are a valued advocate for blind children.

    Thank you again!

    Carlton Walker

  4. Karla Frisco says:

    Donna, I have read your articles and I have come to the conclusion you are one terrific author! I can’t wait to read your novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill. Come on spring!

  5. cindy wentx says:

    Hello Donna,

    I am looking forward to reading this novel. It would have been a welcome addition to the school library when I was growing up as a legally blind kid in a mainstream school.

    • Hi Cindy, Thanks. Part of the plan is to get copies in secondary & college libraries. I’m hoping it will benefit kids who are either losing their vision, disabled or just plain different to see themselves in literature.

  6. carrie says:


    I am looking forward to reading your book.

    Best wishes,

    Carrie Delecourt

  7. Marie B. says:

    Hi Donna! What a beautiful picture! Where was it taken? Your story sounds like a best seller, best of luck with it!

    • Hi Marie, the picture of the building with the pin cherries in bloom? It was here by our pond. My hubby built it as a pond shelter, where we can feed the fish and avoid the afternoon sun. The back of it is open with a nice ballastraid, and it’s on a little hill with the pond to the east. He also took the picture.

  8. Barry says:

    Wishing you all the best with the new book. I’m sure it will be a thundering success!

  9. Gorgeous photos, great new website. Congratulations on the book, Donna!

  10. I had the pleasure of getting an early read on Donna’s book; I
    still think about the characters, and especially the cloud ship! I believe
    it was the first story in which the main person was a Braille reader!

  11. Chris Kuell says:


    I’m so looking forward to reading your book. Based on all of your previous work, I’m sure it will be a page turner. And thanks so much for establishing this accessible page for us who use screen readers. Do you know why Word Press doesn’t simply make their sites fully accessible?

    • Chris, Thanks so much for your support and encouragement. As for Word Press’s stance on accessibility … I wrote up details about this and other accessibility issues on Word Press. The Support guy wrote back, “I reported the issues you described, and they may get addressed in a future revision of comments on WordPress.com.” I received a similar reply 2 years ago when I wrote about the inaccessible audio player, and I am still waiting on that one.

      • How did you approach Word Press? In my experience nobody will pay attention to changing their status quo unless you give them information that will lead to a large financial bonus for them or their product. Or an additional 2 billion users, maybe.

      • Alice, I provided them with a detailed explanation of some of the accessibility issues. Blind people can’t offer major benefits; we are a “low-incidence” disability. We are also second-class citizens; instead of legal rights, we must depend on the good will of companies. A 2011 study in the First Monday Journal (U of IL, Chicago) stated that 80% of the internet is inaccessible. This is not because the tools aren’t there; they’re not being used or not being used properly and consistently.

      • Hi Donna, it might be possible then to get these tools implemented if you can find someone in your corner, an advocate, to offer specific ways a company can benefit (possibly good will in the form of publicity if nothing else), or not have to spend extra money to provide the tools. If the tools are not being used properly that might indicate a retraining is needed ($) or extra workers ($). A for-profit company that would have to spend $ without being able to make it back in revenues would go out of business. See if you can get some students wanting internship credit for life experience or something similar to go in to the company and do the training and set up the system, or ask a tech company that specializes in those things to donate their services to the other company. I don’t really know, just saying whatever pops up into my head. Hope something helps.

      • Alice, What you are describing is the kind of initiative that you need a major organization behind. The NFB is such an organization, and they have gotten some sites to implement accessibility standards, but they have their hands full trying to get accessible classroom materials for blind and visually impaired students, which is the right priority. For instance, Amazon is trying to get the national PTA to adopt a program using Kindle & Kindle eBooks. Not only are they the worst company with regard to accessible book players, but their actions, if the PTA agrees, threaten to place schools across the country in violation of federal law — organizations receiving federal funding can’t institute new technologies unless they are accessible. In short, the NFB doesn’t have the time or resources to help blind writers.

  12. Lyn says:

    Hi Donna, thanks for dropping by and reading and liking, The Curse I really appreciate it :-)

  13. Karla Frisco says:

    Hi Donna. I am trying to decide on the Kindle version or the printed version of The Heart of Applebutter Hill. Must make up my mind soon, I am excited to read it!

  14. Karla Frisco says:

    Just bought the kindle book! Going to try and start it this weekend.

  15. Lisa Flannery says:

    Can’t wait to read the book thank you for the donations to federation of the blind.

    • Hi Lisa, thanks, I hope you enjoy it. My apologies for not getting your comment posted earlier. My hubby has been in & out of the hospital twice in the past 5 weeks with more to come.

  16. Max Ray says:

    I was lucky enough to receive an email out of the blue about this book. It was a great adventure story with likable, well-rounded characters with lots of different abilities and struggles — many of which kids rarely get to read about! My favorite was Curly Connor, not many writers write dogs this well!
    I’m excited to share this vision of what school can be also. What great classes. As a math teacher I wanted to learn more about the math in Survival 101. I am going to recommend this book to librarians and teachers I encounter.
    Please, please write a sequel! I know it’s okay to be left wondering but I really want to read more about the characters and their adventures and there’s a lot left to keep writing about!

    • Max, thanks so much for reading my novel, and I’m thrilled that you enjoyed it that much. I appreciate your sharing it with librarians and others, and yes, I hope to write a sequel or two. Right now, I’m just trying to get this one launched. BTW, Survival 101 is the subject I had the most material for that I couldn’t fit in this first book. I’m an advocate for teaching kids financial literacy and an understanding of how and why things do and don’t work in our physical world. Curly Connor was based on my second guide dog, and many of the incidents, including his relationship with the kitten, were based on our real-life experiences. Again, thanks for the encouragement and support!

  17. Anne Martin says:

    Is the book available in braille?

  18. It took me a while to complete the book The Heart of Apple Butter Hill. It is an excellent story with many twists and turns.

    Because I have never read such fantasy works such as Narnia, it came as a surprise, not that Rutherford came to be or of the Cloud Scooper or the Sunflowers and Mums but that Abby and Baggy were not so astounded as was I by these things.

    The book was brilliantly written and I can but imagine how it will trigger the imaginations of children of all ages. I hope you further the saga to learn if Rutherford becomes the mighty oak he is destined to be or that the heart brings about things miraculous in Applebutter Hill.

    Magnificently done.

  19. Kris W. says:

    Hi! I would love to give a braille copy of this book to my daughter. We do not have a refreshable braille device so can’t download it. Is there a hard copy available in braille yet?

    • Kris, thank you so much for your interest in giving my book to your daughter in a hard copy Braille format. As of this time, I don’t have the resources to have it Brailled. I approached several companies a few years ago prior to publication and was told I was looking at between $5-10,000 just for set-up. I’m trying to interest NLS in doing it so that it will at least be available to borrow, but so far I don’t have enough sales or reader demand for them to agree to do an independently published book which isn’t a bestseller. I am very sorry about this, because I am a Braille advocate, and I thought it would mean a lot to blind kids to hold in their hands a book that a fellow blind person had written.

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