The Changing Behavior Network: Teaching Diversity Through Fiction, Freebies & More 

Win an autographed copy of The Heart of Applebutter Hill; download a free MP3 of “The Rules of the Game;” take a quiz and listen to the best interview I’ve ever done. I never thought I’d say that about just one link, but that’s what’s happening at The Changing Behavior Network. Psychologist Dr. James Sutton helped me provide this multi-dimensional resource to teach kids and adults about the true capabilities of blind people and our issues.

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.

A head’s Up … If you’re interested in the free autographed print copy of my educator-recommended novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, sign up now; that particular offer ends in a couple of days. 

Dr. James Sutton: Teacher, Psychologist, Author & Radio Pro

Dr. James Sutton, The Changing Behavior Network: photo courtesy of James Sutton.

Raising happy, healthy and successful children in our troubled world isn’t easy. Fortunately, for parents, educators and counsellors, The Changing Behavior Network provides a wealth of information, inspiration and resources. It’s a “radio-style podcast & blog, supporting emotional and behavioral well-being in young people.”

It’s founder, Dr. James Sutton, has a background that has enabled him to excel at the task., He worked his way through college as an announcer for a San Antonio CBS radio affiliate, conducting studio interviews with actors, political folks and special guests coming to the city. An experienced classroom teacher, Dr. Sutton is a child and adolescent psychologist.

An author whose passion is young people, he speaks and writes extensively on the emotional and behavioral issues that affect today’s children and adolescents. His books include the award winning, If My Kid’s So Nice, Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?, and the best-seller, 101 Ways to Make Your Classroom Special. The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child (Friendly Oaks Publications), was released in January of 2012. For more information, visit:

The Changing Behavior Network features interviews with guest experts and authors. There are also articles and guest posts from experts and others on topics of special interest to parents, grandparents, foster parents, teachers, counselors and other child-service professionals. In addition, the site has Special Reports, book giveaways and “Freebies.”

The Heart of Applebutter Hill on The Changing Behavior Network

Donna W. Hill, author of the educator-recommended novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, & her guide dog Hunter walk along path in California Redwoods. There's a glowing mist: Photo by Rich Hill.

Several months ago, I wrote to Dr. Sutton about my efforts to change what being blind means to the general public. I’ve been at this for decades in one way or another – working as a singer-songwriter, presenting school assemblies, writing for online magazines and other publications and volunteering as a publicist for various organizations within the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). My latest project, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is taking the issue to kids through fiction.

The idea encompasses several points. First, there is a real problem in society because of the beliefs about blindness held by the general public. The low expectations, fear and resentment are damaging lives and they are often self-destructive. With diabetic-related blindness among working age adults projected to triple by 2050, changing these beliefs to be more in line with reality is essential to society’s overall health. Blindness does not have to result in an unproductive, dependent and unhappy existence

Childhood is the best place to learn inclusion and diversity, the best place to instill values of expecting the best from one another. Since most people who are blind were born sighted, negative values and prejudices learned in childhood and adolescence play a huge role.

For those who remain sighted, these prejudices inhibit their ability to recognize the value of their visually impaired neighbors, co-workers, clients, customers and even relatives or friends. For those destined to lose their own vision, these negative beliefs will prove to be the greatest obstacles to thriving without sight.

Abigail & Curly Connor stand in oval opening in stone wall at Bar Gundoom Castle in The Heart of Applebutter Hill: photo by Rich Hill.

So, how to get to the next generation? They need an encounter with a blind person to create a bond of familiarity and acceptance, an understanding that being nonvisual in no way diminishes a person’s basic humanity. Since most kids have no personal contact with blind folks, fiction, which has a long history of bridging the gaps that separate us, seems like the next best thing. Fiction is a safe place to confront social issues and develop new ideas.

Working with Dr. Sutton

Dr. Sutton agreed and invited me to be a guest on his radio show. Working with him over the past month to prepare for the show has been a truly rewarding experience. No one puts more into their interviews than Jim Sutton. It was clear from the start that he had every intention of being on top of the issues. This wasn’t going to be one of those “So, tell me a little about yourself” shows.

He wanted a copy of the book to read and then to use as a giveaway. At some point, he asked me if I had anything for his “Freebies” section, a quiz or fact sheet for instance. I didn’t. I had to ask myself, why not? Just the question motivated me to drop everything and come up with a combination quiz and fact sheet, which is now available free on his site.

Free MP3: The Rules of the Game

Then, there was the music angle. Dr. Sutton, A Vietnam vet, is a guitarist in his own right. He has an interest in several blind musicians – “I Love You Because” singer-songwriter Leon Payne (1917-1969), flat-picker extraordinaire Doc Watson (1923-2012) and the Texas-based country/folk duo Bill and Bonnie Hearne. We had a special connection with Doc Watson. One of Jim’s favorite books is Blind But Now I See: The Biography of Music Legend Doc Watson (2012) by Kent Gustavson:

After hearing that I had interviewed Doc in the ’70s for the Radio Information Center for the Blind in Philadelphia, Kent interviewed me for his book. Kent and Jim are also members of the same speaker’s bureau.

Knowing of my background as a singer-songwriter, Jim asked if I had ever written a song about advocacy. The song which came to mind was “The Rules of the Game” from my third recording The Last Straw. It features the superb harmonica of Wayne Johnston, who has had a lifetime endorsement deal with Hohner Harmonicas for decades. Wayne now lives in St. Augustine, Florida, but I worked with him and the Johnston Brothers on all three of my recordings, when we all lived in the Philadelphia area.

The lyrics to the chorus of “The Rules of the Game” are:

“You’ll never find a fighter who hasn’t been hit,
Never find the answer, if you let yourself quit,
You’ll never find a free man who didn’t break out of some kind of chain,
You’re never gonna win till you jump on in and learn the rules of the game.”

You can download it for free, sign up for the book giveaway and listen to the show at:

Fair warning, when you hear what he did with my little song, you’ll want to check out Wayne Johnston’s latest release Lucky O and Runaway Train at:

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, inclusion 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. The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and e-versions at Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Smashwords, Create Space and other outlets. It is also available through Bookshare for readers with print disabilities.
This entry was posted in authors, Blindness, diabetes, Education, novel, songwriting, Uncategorized, Visually Impaired, Wrighting, young adult and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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