Shirley Skufca Hickman, a longtime member of the Porterville Art Association, will hold a book signing at the PAA Art Gallery, 151 N. Main, from 10 am to noon on Saturday, October 23.
The event is free and open to the public. There is free parking on Main Street and behind the gallery.
Hickman will have books to sell and also to sign. Refreshments will be served. Hickman will also answer writing questions.
Hickman said she made an effort to share how anyone can write their life story. “The biggest influences on my writing have been my family, my friends, my books, and my students,” Hickman said. Four of his books are about his family. The first “DON’T GE GIVE UP” is about my childhood in a mining town in Colorado during WWII. When the war ended, his family moved to Gunnison. When they finally got a house, her father asked, “IS EVERYBODY HAPPY NOW?” It became the title of his next book.
When her father passed away and the family nearly lost their home, she later wrote about this stressful time in “FAMILY IS FOREVER”. Her latest memoir, “ROCKY ROAD IS MORE THAN CANDY BAR,” recounts her first two years of teaching, falling in love with Joe Hickman and marrying him.
Another way her family influenced her writing was their love of poetry. Her father could recite poems like The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Face on the Ballroom Floor to the delight of family and friends, Hickman said.
Hickman wrote over 100 poems, mostly to make sense of something going on in his life. She did not publish poetry until she taught English at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a fellow teacher asked her to submit her poetry to the California Quarterly. She agreed and four of her poems have been published.
Currently, a former student has posted several of her poems on her blog, and two of them on Vietnam appear in a blog titled “The Agent Orange Project”.
His friends continue to be another big influence, Hickman said. In college, she struggled to adjust until she met Karen. Together, they spent hours in Hickman’s attic bedroom writing a novel about an orphan turned ballerina.
After Karen moved, she and Hickman wrote 10 to 20 page letters about everything that was going on in their lives. Today, they are still friends.
Without the help of other writers, she would not have published eight books, Hickman said. When she taught a creative writing class at Porterville College, students wanted to continue to critique each other’s work. So they formed the Porterville Writer’s Workshop which has existed, in many forms, for over 50 years.
Most of the members are published authors. Marilyn Meredith and Hickman have criticized each other’s books for decades and Meredith has been a constant source of encouragement and knowledge for Hickman who values her as a writer and friend.
Another friend, Anita Stackhouse-Hite, took time off to care for her sister and asked Hickman to resume her column at The Recorder, which she did for 18 weeks.
Another major influence on his writing continues to be his love of books. She often reads between 30 and 40 books a year.
After reading romance novels, she wrote two, including “THE TANGLED WEB OF LOVE”.
His students have also influenced his writing, most notably in “FALL IN LOVE WITH AN ORANGE OR A BOOK” which is read in English classes at Monache and Porterville High School.
She is currently working on another dissertation, “DIALOG IN SHADES OF BROWN”, on teaching at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo during the turbulent 1960s, when the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and the assassinations took it deep. affected.
Hickman believes that writing has helped her manage many aspects of her life. She explains, “Now that my parents, sisters and husband are gone, I write memoirs to keep them alive in my handwriting. It was especially heartwarming after my husband died.
“In ROCKY ROAD IS MORE THAN A CANDY BAR, Joe and I are together again, fall in love and get married. Through my writing, Joe continues to live on in my books and in my heart. “