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Elizabeth author wins awards with latest works

Debbie Richard of Elizabeth poses with her books, “Pivot,” “Hills of Home” and “Resiliency.” “Pivot” was published in January by Adelaide Books of New York. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

ELIZABETH — Two recent works by a local author have received awards.

“Pivot” by Debbie Richard of Elizabeth, an illustrated volume of poetry published in January by Adelaide Books of New York, received a Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review and was the 2019 New York Book Festival Honorable Mention for Poetry.

“Hills of Home,” a memoir of growing up in West Virginia, also received a Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review and was runner-up in the 2019 San Francisco Book Festival Awards for Best Biography/Autobiography.

Richard was born in Parkersburg, lived in Munday in Wirt County in her childhood then near Walton in Roane County where she went to high school. Richard graduated in 1987 with honors from West Virginia Career College at Charleston where she studied secretarial science.

Growing up was the inspiration for “Hills of Home” and her poetry, said Richard, who also is inspired by nature.

“I enjoy things in nature,” she said.

Much of her material in “Hills of Home” came from the stories told by her mother, Naomi Karen (Maze) Richard, who was raised near Big Bend in Calhoun County, Richard said.

“I have so many wonderful memories of growing up in a rural community,” she said.

Drawn to South Carolina because of her love for the ocean, Richard was a report analyst for a heath care organization for 12 years, resigning in March 2009 to become a full-time caregiver for her mother, who died in March 2011. Richard returned to West Virginia in 2015 after 25 years in South Carolina.

Her first published chapbook of a poetry was “Resiliency” in 2012. “Pivot” and “Hills of Home” each took about five years of writing and editing, she said.

“Hills of Home” was published in 2014 by eLectio Publishing. An audiobook was recorded at Sweetsong Productions in Parkersburg in October and can be downloaded from Audible.com or purchased in CD format from Richard.

Richard is listed as a poet and creative non-fiction writer in the “Directory of Poets & Writers.” The “Torrid Literature Journal,” “Adelaide Literary Magazine,” “Scarlet Leaf Review,” “WestWard Quarterly” and “Halcyon Days,” among others, have published her poems.

Among other awards, she was a finalist in the Adelaide Literary Award Contest in 2018 for “Between Two Worlds,” a poem and was published in the Adelaide Voices Literary Award Anthology in February 2018. “Rapunzel” was shortlisted for Best Poem in the Adelaide Literary Awards 2018 and was published in November in the Adelaide Literary Award Anthology.

The books are available online and at locations around West Virginia, including J&M Books in Parkersburg and at our-wv.com, a website for artists, writers and craftsmakers. Links are available at her website, debbierichard.com/.

A chapbook of poetry titled “Resiliency” was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press. “Hills of Home,” a memoir about growing up in Appalachia, in the hills of West Virginia, was released in 2014 by eLectio Publishing. An Audiobook of “Hills of Home” was released in October 2018 by Sweetsong Productions of Parkersburg and is available as a download on Audible.com or in CD format from the author.

“PIVOT” was illustrated by Ashley Teets, an illustrator whose work received 14 Mom’s Choice Awards, Indie Book Excellence Award, an International Book award, a USA News Best Book award and four Creative Child Magazine awards.

Asked about writing poetry to make a living, Richard quoted Robert Frost, who said “To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.”

“I think I understand this…some people may be fortunate to make a living at writing poetry, but first and foremost, it is a condition, a condition of the heart,” Richard said. “It’s something deep inside that longs to be expressed.”

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