Shirley DicKard: Author of Heart Wood

I have always held the earth close to my heart.

Shirley DicKard Photo, author of Heart Wood

As a fourth generation Californian, I have always been passionate about living close to the land and protecting the earth. My first novel, Heart Wood – Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future, published March 2020, was written from my homestead that my husband and I built in the 1970s in the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, where we raised our two daughters in a community of back-to-the-landers.

I have always looked for the story in whatever work I did. With an RN degree from the University of California, San Francisco, I’ve drawn on my medical background in pediatrics, my experience working in a remote hospital on the Navajo Indian reservation, and locally, as school nurse and executive director of a rural non-profit that promoted asset-based community building as a means of improving children’s health, to enrich this intricately woven story of three generations of women protecting the earth.

My introduction to environmental activism happened Italian-style while modeling for leather designer, Senior Albion, in Florence, Italy in the 1970s. By combining fashion with protest, he caught the public’s attention by staging his fashion models in flashy media events to uncover Italy’s environmental degradation and corrupt politics.

Closer to home, when the county water agency proposed building a dam in 1999 that would submerge a third of our rural school’s families, I organized media coverage for the student’s protest presentation to the County Board of Supervisors. Dam plans were tabled and the story was re-told in Heart Wood.

Being an avid family historian, when I inherited my great-grandmother Emily Hoppin’s scrapbook from the Gold Rush days, I knew I had to tell her story.
That was the seed that grew into my novel, Heart Wood

Italian newspaper photo with Shirley DicKard, author of Heart Wood
Shirley modeling in Italy (2nd from left)
Yuba River Photograph; one of the inspirations for the novel Heart Wood, by Shirley DicKard
Yuba River,
Sierra Nevada, Northern California

An active participant in the writing community, I am a member of Sierra Writers, a founding member of the Sierra Muses Press, a former producer of the Nevada County Women’s Writing Salon, and I volunteer as senior editor of a community newspaper. Since 1996, I have been a guest lecturer, panel member, facilitator, and trainer at conferences, workshops, and training on Asset-Based Community Development within the western states.

When not writing, I can be found walking in the woods with my husband and dog, spending time with our two daughters’ families, volunteering in the community, and tending our large homestead garden and orchard, canning tomatoes, and saving seeds.

Heart Wood Author Shirley DicKard with Great Grandmother's Scrapbook
With my great-grandmother’s scrapbook


Interview with South Yuba River Citizen’s League: Keeping Current, December 14, 2021.

Interview on KVMR FM Radio’s “The Sages Amongst Us” – October 13, 2021

Book Review on, February 5, 2022, by Pamela Biery:

Professional Affiliations


  • Registered Nurse, Public Health Nurse, School Nurse
  • Commissioner for the Yuba County Children and Families Commission
  • Board Member of the Sierra Family Medical Clinic
  • Fellow of the Health Leadership Program, University of Southern California/Sierra Health Foundation
  • Faculty member and trainer at the California Asset-Based Community Development Institute
  • Contributing author to The Organization of HopeA Workbook for Rural Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD Institute, 2001)
  • Sierra Health Foundation publications, contributing writer
  • Freelance correspondent to The Union newspaper, Nevada County, California
  • Co-Producer of The Women’s Writing Salon, Nevada County
  • Board Member of Skyline Harvest Eco-Contemplative Center