I received a notice that Heart Wood was a finalist for the 2021 Eric Hoffer Award’s Montaigne Medal. The significance didn’t sink in at first. Although I had applied for several book awards, the Montaigne Medal was not one of them. As an independently published author, I didn’t have the resources of a publishing house to do the necessary marketing for me, and since it was a busy day, I filed the letter away to re-read later.
When I returned to the letter, I was blown away. The Eric Hoffer Award judges had pulled Heart Wood out of the 2,500 books being considered for other award categories and selected it for their Montaigne Medal as “one of the most thought-provoking books that either illuminate, progress, or redirect thought.”
To me, there’s no greater honor than being recognized for my underlying motive in writing Heart Wood. Thought provoking? Perhaps it was because I posed more questions than answers: What if we ignore the Earth’s cries for help all around us, and continue at the pace we’re going? What if we could lean back into the past or forward into the future and influence thinking and outcomes? What if women led the way with their unique style of working together to make decisions and solve problems? What can we do today that our descendants will thank us for? What if we let the Earth speak first? What can we learn from silence?
When the two winners of the Montaigne Medal were announced mid-May (books from the University of California and the John Hopkins University Presses), it didn’t detract from the honor of having Heart Wood recognized as a thought-provoking book of exceptional merit.
Here’s more about the Eric Hoffer Book awards, from their 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.”
Heart Wood 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 exploration of the long-term impacts of gold mining activity, early California land reclamation practices, the controversy of dams in the 21st century, and the development of new ways of living with minimal water and resources.
Heart Wood readers have this to say:
“I am thinking that the ultimate review of a book is one that says the reader has been rationing the daily reading of said book. Well into your book, I started rationing the number of chapters I could read at a time. I have now progressed to rationing the days that I could read it, because I really DO NOT want it to end. It is truly wonderful, and my friends that I have given copies feel exactly the same. Thank you SO MUCH for being so spot on about where we are and expressing it so well. Let’s just hope we are in a better position to turn things around.” -Marcia P.
Just finished Heartwood and it has now taken its ”proper” place in my den between Gary Snyder’s This Present Moment and Steve Sanfield’s The Right Place. Proper because the best of the Sierra should be able to rub dust jackets if not elbows. Loved it – thanks for the gift of this wonderful book. -Al D.
Heart Wood – Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future is published independently through Sierra Muses Press, a small collective of four local women writers. It can be purchased at local bookstores, on Amazon, or directly from the author (autographed) by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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