Local author receives national recognition for debut novel
Shirley DicKard’s debut novel, “Heart Wood – Four Women for the Earth, for the Future,” was recently selected as a 2021 Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award’s Montaigne Medal. This national honor is given to the most thought-provoking books that either illuminate, progress or redirect thought. Judges pulled “Heart Wood” out of the 2,500 books being considered for other award categories, and selected it as an exemplary book that inspires readers to think in new ways.
According to the website (www.hofferaward.com/home), “The Eric Hoffer Book Award was founded at the start of the 21st century to honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit. The commercial environment for today’s writers has all but crushed the circulation of ideas. It seems strange that in the Information Age, many books are blocked from wider circulation, and powerful writing is barred from publication or buried alive on the Internet. Furthermore, many of the top literary prizes will not consider independent books, choosing instead to become the marketing arms of large presses.
“Throughout the centuries, writers such as Emily Dickenson, James Joyce, Walt Whitman, and Virginia Woolf have taken the path of self-publishing, rather than have their ideas forced into a corporate or sociopolitical mold. Today, small and academic presses struggle in this same environment. The Hoffer will continue to be a platform for and the champion of the independent voice. Since its inception, the Hoffer has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses.”
Local readers will find the landmarks, events, personalities, and issues somewhat familiar as the novel is set mostly in the western slope of the Sierra Nevada where DicKard and her husband, Richard, have lived since the 1970s. In “Heart Wood,” DicKard interweaves the lives of three family women who live in the past, present, and future, yet reach across time to bring a feminine perspective to the environmental issues of their era, including an exploration of long-term impacts of gold mining practices, the controversy of dams in the 21st century, and the development of news way of living with minimal water and resources.
“Heart Wood” is published independently through Sierra Muses Press, a small collective of four local women writers. The honor of being a finalist for this award validates what many readers have expressed to DicKard – that this is a deeply resonant book for the times we’re in.
“Heart Wood – Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future,” can be purchased at local bookstores, on Amazon, or directly from the author (autographed) by emailing: email@example.com.
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