Tag Archives: newauthoronline

The Bright Side of Darkness – Guest Post by Jo Elizabeth Pinto

I’ve known I was destined to write even before I learned to read. I remember cuddling with my dad on the high-backed couch in our living room, feeling safe and loved, while he read aloud a library book about Osceola. The brave Seminole Indian chief fought the brutal attempts by the U.S. government to remove his people from Florida during the early 1800’s.

When my dad finished the book, I said sadly, “It’s all gone.”

“It’s not gone,” he told me, laying the book in my hands. “We can turn it around and start over at the beginning. Not tonight, though.”

From that moment on, when I discovered that words could be written down in books, captured and stored to be enjoyed over and over again, I knew I wanted to write stories of my own. Many times in school, when I was supposed to be solving math problems or studying spelling words, I’d be busy composing poetry or creating title pages and back cover descriptions for books I dreamed of one day publishing. My first poem was printed in “Jack and Jill”—a popular magazine for kids—when I was eleven years old—and after that, I caught an incurable case of author fever.

My novel, “The Bright Side of Darkness”, began as a short story assignment for a high school English class. I got an A on the assignment and fell in love with the scrappy, loyal, smart-mouthed teenagers who came to life in my imagination.

I never forgot those characters. In my twenties, in order to learn how to use a word processor, I dragged out that old short story and typed it into my first computer—a DOS machine with 5-inch floppy disks and no Internet. The writing needed a lot of work, but the characters still captivated me. I added to the story, changed and deleted weak parts and moved paragraphs and chapters around. I picked the project up and put it down many times over the next twenty-some years as life happened. I took advice and editing from countless people. I attended writing workshops and joined critique groups to hone my craft, and I never gave up on my dream. In June of 2015, I finally published my book.

In junior high, I interviewed a local author as part of an independent study project. Her advice has stuck with me for 35 years.

“When you write, think of yourself as a bird building a nest,” she said. “Your life gives you the materials for your stories. You take a twig from here, a tuft of grass from there, a bit of string from somewhere else. Keep living a life full of experiences so you never run out of building materials.”

I usually write fiction, so my characters and what happens to them is all made up. But some of the experiences and a whole lot of the underlying emotions come from what I know, what I’ve lived through, like that bird making a nest.

As a writer, I realize the importance of entertaining my readers while giving them something to think about. I want to empower my readers so they will know the deeds of one person can make a difference in the world. Drawing inspiration from my own experiences, I try to show everyday people that hope is always just an action away.

I wish writing full-time would pay my bills, but that’s not my reality yet. So till my novel hits the bestseller list, I freelance from home as a textbook proofreader. I’m also the mom of an eleven-year-old daughter–the greatest job ever!

Author Links:

“The Bright Side of Darkness” is my award-winning novel, Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.

The paperback version of my novel is available at Barnes & Noble here:

Please see my author page on Facebook here:

Please see my author blog, “Looking on the Bright Side,” on Goodreads here:

To read guest posts about parenting in the dark, please click here:

To read guest posts on a variety of topics, please click here:

Awaking at 3 am

Awaking at 3 am
I took up my quill pen,
But being unable to think
I drank some black ink,
And swallowed that quil pen.

Awaking at 3 am
I took up my quill pen,
But being unable to think
I took to strong drink,
And conversed with a chicken called Glen.

Meeting Inspiration Again – guest post by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Meeting My Inspiration Again

By Abbie Johnson Taylor

One sunny spring afternoon, I was resting in my recliner, listening to the drone of lawnmowers and whine of weed whackers as my landscapers did their weekly
chores in my yard. Suddenly, I heard a crash. It was a lawnmower colliding with a parked car in my neighbor’s driveway. I know this only because one of
the landscapers, not knowing me, came to my door, thinking it was my driveway and my car.

According to a policeman who showed up a couple of hours later, the car sustained a lot of damage. I gave him the landscaping company’s phone number, and
he gave me his card, saying he remembered asking me years ago if drivers were stopping to let me cross streets with my white cane. I couldn’t believe it.

In the fall of 2002, I was single and living in an apartment complex subsidized for seniors and people with disabilities. A registered music therapist,
I was working in a nursing home. On a day off, I was walking home after my water exercise class at the YMCA. I’d just jaywalked in front of my building
and  stopped to talk to a neighbor in a wheelchair when she told me there was a policeman behind me. I turned around and there he was, on a bicycle.

Where had he come from? Had he seen me jaywalk? Was I about to get a ticket, my first ever brush with the law?

To my surprise and relief, he asked me if I was having difficulty crossing streets because drivers weren’t stopping. I told him that as long as I used
four-way and other intersections where drivers were required by law to stop, I rarely had a problem. I also explained that I couldn’t see well enough to
get the license plates from offending vehicles. He said he would bring up the issue at roll call and rode away.

Now, I was again flustered, even though I’d done nothing wrong this time. All I could tell him was that our first meeting had inspired my first novel.
I should have given him my card, but I didn’t. He probably thought I was nuts and wished he’d given me that ticket for jaywalking years ago. In any case,
we parted amicably enough.

After I posted about this incident on Facebook, someone asked if the story would continue. That remains to be seen. I may never see that officer again,
but I’ll always have the memory of how our first meeting inspired We Shall Overcome. As for the damaged car next door, my landscaper told me his insurance
would pay for it, so all’s well that ends well.


Besides We Shall Overcome, Abbie Johnson Taylor has published two poetry collections and a memoir and is working on another novel. Her work has appeared
in Magnets and Ladders, The Weekly Avocet, and other publications. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, she cared for her late husband
Bill, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. This is the subject of her memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared
for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. To learn more about her and her books, please visit her website at

Guest Post: The Heart of Applebutter Hill, by Donna W. Hill


Picture showing Donna W. Hill and her dog

My thanks to Donna W. Hill for sharing the below chapter from her novel “The Heart of Applebutter Hill”. The below content is copyright of Donna W. Hill and may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


The Heart of Applebutter Hill by Donna W. Hill

Author’s Note:

Writers’ Roundtable is manditory for all refugees at the Plumkettle Learning Center. Abigail is a fourteen-year-old legally blind songwriter who uses a guide dog named Curly Connor (aka, the Fluffer-Noodle).

Chapter 34

Christopher’s Poem

Tuesday’s Writers’ Roundtable was the most traumatic class Abigail and Baggy had ever endured. To begin with, they were still arguing over what to do about the clearing at Missing Creek. They were also nervous about sharing their poems. Thornhammer was at the table when they arrived, so they waited in silence.

Abigail reviewed a Braille copy of her poem and got out a typed version for Professor Thornhammer. Baggy drew a long breath and let it out slowly. The Fluffer-Noodle rolled over on his side, stretching his head under Baggy’s chair.

Christopher, the last to arrive, stumbled as he approached his seat to Abigail’s left. He sighed frequently, and his leg shook under the table.

After some introductory comments, Thornhammer asked Laurel to start. She stood up and cleared her throat.

“It’s a haiku,” she said, and brushing stray hair from her face, she read from her notebook in a soft, vulnerable voice.


“Hands clasped in friendship,

Till sleet comes and leaves me here,

Holding empty sleeves.”


A brief silence followed. Abigail heard Christopher fiddling with a sheet of paper.

“That’s really sad,” said Gabriele.

“Isn’t that always the way, though,” Tommy added.

Christopher fidgeted in his seat, his paper bending more frequently. Thornhammer called on Lester, who straightened himself and spoke in a strong, clear voice.


“They lead you around by the nose,

By the nose, I tell you,

With promises and dire warnings

From the pulpit, from the podium, from the page,

from the squawk boxes;

In person and pumped into your privacy

through wires and wind,

They lead you around by the nose.


And, you, who were once free to think,

to question, to wonder,

Having once chosen not to do so,

You follow, heavy with their leadings,

As they shape you with pats and squeezes,

Shape you to perform

oblations of assent and mimicry,

To wash your hands of us, your children.”


“Wow,” said Tommy, “That really gets to it, doesn’t it.”

“Les doesn’t pull punches,” said Laurel smiling.

Abigail wondered if Lester’s poem was directed at Adiaphora. She was too afraid to ask.

As the class shared several other comments, Christopher slipped his paper under his books.

“Miss Jones?”

Abigail felt her face flush and her heartbeat quicken as she struggled to sit up straight. How had her mouth gotten so dry?

“This is also a haiku,” she said before proceeding.


“Desperation fades,

A close companion shrinking,

A new summer dawns.”


“Hope,” said Laurel, “That’s cool.”

There was a discussion about the haiku form and how different Laurel and Abigail’s poems were. Tommy bemoaned the fact that summer images are always presented as hopeful, while winter images are associated with loss and sadness.

“Why?” he asked rhetorically, “There is a lot of good about winter, and summer can be dreadful.”

“Yeah,” said Baggy, “especially if you’re in the city.”

After the conversation ended, Thornhammer said, “Mr. Posterly?”

Christopher was squirming and fidgeting more than ever. He sounded as though he had been running.

“I d-didn’t … do it,” he squeaked.

“Indeed?” said Thornhammer getting to his feet and pacing, as alarm spread through the class, “You did not finish the assignment I gave you a week ago?”

“No, sir.”

“You didn’t write a short poem?”

“No, sir.”

“We get it,” Tommy whispered, “He didn’t do his homework.”

Thornhammer placed his hands on the table and leaned forward, surveying the tiny boy with the look of a cat ready to pounce.

“You’re saying,” he continued with sarcastic incredulity, “that, even though you had a full week, even though you were allowed to use any poetic form you wished, even though you could write on any topic, that you did not do the assignment?”

“Yes, sir.”

Christopher’s breathing was becoming more and more labored. The rest of the class shot furtive glances at one another. All of them were uncomfortable.

“Then,” said Thornhammer, retrieving the paper Christopher had hidden under his books, “What, may I ask is this?”

Christopher gaped at the paper in his hand, but did not answer.

Thornhammer, straightening himself, turned to the rest of the class and said with astonishment, “Mr. Posterly has earned the distinction of being the only student who has ever lied to me by saying that he did not do his homework.” Then, turning again to the terrified boy, he said, “So, Mr. Posterly. It appears that you would rather tarnish your character than read this” — he gestured with Christopher’s poem.

“Stop it!” Gabriele blurted out.

“I’m wondering,” Thornhammer continued, “is this a matter of being afraid to read to your classmates? If so, I would remind you that doing so hardly constitutes a significant risk. Every day, people all over the world are asked to do more dangerous things than this. Some are asked to risk their lives in wars; others must endure toxic chemicals and harsh working conditions.”

“Leave him alone,” cried Gabriele, “What’s wrong with you!”

“Gabby,” whispered Tommy in distress, “Be Careful!”

Thornhammer ignored them and commanded Christopher to stand. He then handed him his poem. Christopher swayed back and forth, holding the paper as though he thought it might explode. His mouth was scrunched up in an effort to hold back the tears, but they were falling anyway. The blood drained from his face, and the paper fluttered from his hand as he fainted.

Thornhammer caught the unconscious boy, carried him to the couch and elevated his feet. Laurel stood up and gestured toward the globe on the desk.

“Should I call the nurse?”

“No … Smelling salts, top drawer in the back.”

She rushed to the desk and found a packet which Thornhammer broke under Christopher’s nose. When he regained consciousness, Thornhammer helped him sit up. He removed the inhaler from Christopher’s pocket, and Christopher took it.

“It’s not fair,” Gabriele pleaded.

“Oh, shall I give up on Christopher? Is that what you would do, Miss Stein?” Thornhammer imitated her whining, “Christopher shouldn’t have to do it. He can’t do it. He’s too scared.” Turning to him, he continued, “Isn’t that right, Mr. Posterly. You get too upset, don’t you? I should let you off the hook.”

Thornhammer helped Christopher to his feet and led him to his chair. He then removed the poem from the table, where Baggy had placed it face-down, and stared at it for a long time.

Abigail heard Thornhammer draw breath as though he were preparing to read aloud. She couldn’t help remembering the picture which he had found so disturbing. Mortified at the thought of hearing what Christopher had written, she stopped breathing, waiting for the blow to fall.

“Don’t you dare,” said Gabriele. There was no pleading in her voice this time, only a cold, powerful anger.

Thornhammer’s mouth closed and he met her eyes. Then, turning his back on them, he sighed as he paced around the room. At last, he placed Christopher’s poem on his desk. Picking up a book, he returned to the table. He placed the book in front of Christopher and sat down.

“Now,” he said in a somewhat softer tone, “find something to read to us and read it. I don’t care if it’s the title page, but you are going to read something to us. You will not remain silent in my class.”

Christopher’s hands trembled as he opened the book. Stammering and coughing, he read the title page.

“Thank you, Mr. Posterly,” Said Thornhammer. Then, turning to the class he added, “We will continue with your poems on Thursday. Your assignment, for next Tuesday, is to write a short essay on what your poem is about and why it means something to you. Mr. Posterly, you will write about why you lied.”

With fifteen minutes left in the class, Thornhammer rose from the table without a word and sat at the desk. They all watched silently as he took out a tablet and began to write.

Lester and Laurel whispered back and forth to each other. Then, Lester opened a book and they took turns reading to the class.

Shortly before the bell rang, the sound of Thornhammer rummaging through the metal desk drawers distracted Abigail. She heard him fold the paper he had been working on and seal it in an envelope.


Picture of Donna’s book in front of some red flowers.


The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and eBook through Amazon, Smashwords and other outlets. To get all of the links, go to


Accessible Formats & Special Libraries:



Learning Ally


Heart of Applebutter Hill – Migel Library

American Printing House for the Blind


To follow her blog:


Connect with Donna on

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Donna is also a songwriter. Hear clips from The Last Straw aon iTunes:





As ghosts we pass,
Brittle as glass.
Nothing lasts.

(“Ghosts” can be found in “Dalliance; A Collection of Poetry and Prose”, which is available in the Amazon Kindle store and can be found here, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00QQVJC7E/.