Cover Story: Designing Dawn Again

 

This fall, we’ll publish Dawn Again: Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild, by Doniga Markegard. It’s a riveting memoir of exploration and survival. As a young girl, Doniga Markegard was thrown from her horse and knocked unconscious. She remembers an out-of-body experience that revealed to her the great mystery at the heart of life. In Dawn Again, she writes of the journey that experience sparked.

At a wilderness immersion school, medicine people and wildlife trackers train her in indigenous ways. Her search for an authentic life takes her hitchhiking across the West and to Alaska, where she falls deeply in love with tracking wolves and the rigors of surviving in the wilderness.

 Doniga seeks a vision and discovers her purpose, only to find herself on a cattle ranch, falling in love and starting a family, and learning a new way to apply the deep, unshakeable lessons of the wild.

We’re really excited about this book and we knew it needed a really special cover. So we turned, as we do, to our incredibly talented designer, Zsofi Koller. She did not disappoint. We took the opportunity to chat with Zsofi about the cover for Dawn Again, and what went into making it.

How do you approach the design of a cover for a new book?

Book cover design is about making an intangible tangible. On one hand, there are endless options. ENDLESS. On the other hand, if you listen to what the book is about—and I mean, listen with ALL your senses—some ideas become clear tracks to follow. And I follow those tracks, and see what happens.

When I’m doing first cover design, the book itself might not be written fully yet, or I might not have access to the full manuscript. So I’ll often get a debrief from the editor or author about the WHAT of the book. Not just the what—also, the spirit and heart of it. And I’ll daydream about it, and I’ll go to the bookstore and roam around thinking about it, and I’ll look at approximately a billion things online to get ideas.

And eventually I start to pile together ideas from my mental toolbox, and often times visual cues from my teammates, and it starts to take shape. And then I run my first concepts by our team, and we take it from there.

You chose not to use a photograph for this cover. Why not?

Well, we did try that idea. Pretty cute, right? (We were still ironing out the subtitle at that point, too, it seems!)

But it wasn’t the right idea for this book. This book isn’t best expressed by a photo. There’s a side of introspection, of spiritual exploration, that is best captured by a slightly more evocative imagery. So the thought of a wolf that embodied a sunrise felt too perfect to not use.

 What were some of the particular challenges in designing this cover?

In total honesty, this cover didn’t feel like it had challenges. It came together pretty seamlessly. There were a lot of different iterations of sunrises and wolves though!

How do you know when you’ve landed on the right design?

When it makes someone on the team cry. And I can just feel it, too. When I come back and look at the design 24 hours later and still love it, I know it’s working. When I want to show it to my husband, it’s working. When I want to sweep everything into the garbage bin and keep working, it’s not right yet. And there’s really no short cut to the process. Sometimes it takes less time, or more time, but it’s always a process.

 What do you most like about this final design?

I love the colour palette. A lot of our covers tend to be quite bold, which I love as well, but I enjoy the softness of the greens, pinks, oranges, and cream in this cover. It certainly feels true to a glorious dawn. I’m also very fond of the fonts we landed upon. A good font for a book is a little gift that keeps giving. I’m so looking forward to the interior design—the pieces have been laid in play so nicely by the cover, it makes the whole design process flow smoothly.


Mother of all gardens

My mother has always been a gardener. Together, she and my father turned our suburban corner lot into a glorious green place, where we grew most of the vegetables our family of six ate in the summer, where we composted our organic kitchen waste (long, long before composting was trendy, or even understood by our friends and neighbors), and where we kids spent summer evenings picking stones out of the soil, and summer mornings harvesting endless rows of beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes so my parents could pickle, can, and otherwise preserve them.

Years passed, and our yard went through many phases, growing and changing as our family did. The huge garden gave way to a swimming pool and my parents continued to grow a few tomatoes and other favorites in raised beds my dad made. After he died, those went fallow, and then gave way to grass.

But this year, my almost-seventy-year-old mother decided she’s ready to grow some tomatoes again. There’s a decently sunny patch just off the deck in the backyard, but it was terribly unkempt, filled with raspberry canes and spring onions that had gone rogue from other parts of the garden, and a rhizome-spreading visitor from next door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom wanted three planting boxes, and a stone pathway she could use to get among them to do her work. So, on a recent visit in advance of Mother’s Day, my spouse knocked together three nice planters, and Mom and I got busy with shovels, rakes, and brute strength. We pulled out an old planter, dug out bags and bags of that invader from next door, harvested some spring onions and some nearby rhubarb, dug out and moved rocks that were in our way, and got the area ready to become a new garden.

This made for two day’s worth of bending, pulling, pushing, grasping, squatting, single leg squatting, reaching, and twisting, lots of barefoot-on-dirt time, and tons of fresh air. Not to mention the time spent hanging out with each other, working side by side, or resting on the deck, drinking water and congratulating ourselves on our hard work.

Mom wanted a path she could feel comfortable stepping down onto, and walking over, while she goes about her planting and weeding. Something that would provide both stability for her less-sure moments, and enough texture that she can continue to challenge her balance and give her bare feet some lumps and bumps to navigate.

My mom has just started reading Dynamic Aging, and while she doesn’t see herself climbing trees like Joan, Joyce, Shelah, and Lora, she is absolutely interested in aging well, maintaining the mobility she does have, and even gaining more if she can. She’s even getting back to her composting roots, albeit on a smaller scale than our garden’s earliest days.

I’ve been working to #stackmylife more consistently, and this project really lent itself to that philosophy: I moved more, and moved more of me, racked up some barefoot time, spent time with my mother, took care of a little patch of the Earth, enabled my mom to move more, and move more of her, and to divert some organic waste to her own backyard to feed the soil that will eventually feed her (and me, if I’m lucky!). Also, that’s Mother’s Day gift-giving done and dusted. A pretty efficient use of two mornings, I must say.

If you’re still looking for a gift for your mom, or for one you know, we’ve sorted some of our recent books into helpful piles for you! Find what you’re looking for at your favorite online or bricks and mortar book retailer, and Happy Mother’s Day to all who mark it!

 


Move Your DNA: Dynamic Reading and Writing

This special guest edition of the Propriometrics Press blog is written by our publisher and best-selling author, Katy Bowman. And, it features a chance for you to win a copy of her best-selling book, Move Your DNA.

I identify as a mover, but I also write a lot about movement. I’m a mover who writes. I think the way I identify is key, as it influences how I get my writing done. Because I define myself as a mover, I’m rarely unmoving—even when I’m being productive in ways we think of as sedentary.

I’ve written eight books (EIGHT BOOKS!) in the last few years, so clearly I’m in a passionate relationship with my computer. Also, I love books. I love reading them, taking pictures of them, and discussing them. Books have been key to my life. They not only teach me facts, they teach me new ways of seeing the world. So, reading and writing. How do those go with movement when both seem so sedentary?

Move Your DNA (and also Don’t Just Sit There) are books that show how to infuse movement into the non-exercise parts of your day. The movements are smaller than large feats of exercise, but they’re movements nonetheless. Often, getting more movement (and moving more of you) comes down to positioning yourself differently.

When you hold up your own body instead of leaning it against the back of a chair, you use your core muscles more subtly than you do when holding a plank, sure, but you can do it while you work or read. Cycling through sitting cross-legged, sitting with your legs in a V, or kneeling while you chop your veggies for dinner is an easy way to stretch. Wearing minimalist shoes (or no shoes) gives all the muscles in your feet a chance to strengthen, even with no added “exercise” time. Standing up to email, working outside whenever possible so your body is responding to fluctuations in light, temperature, sound, wind velocity, and more—all these things add movements to your life you may never have considered before.

Propriometrics Press is a #practicewhatyoupublish company. Meaning, the books we publish infiltrate the lives of our staff and authors. Many of you have asked “what position do you read or work in?” so I thought I’d show you how all of us work with books on the move.

Our editor-in-chief, Penelope, nature lover, often works outside.

If she’s not outside, it’s likely blizzarding (anyone in Nova Scotia will tell you that should be a word). If stuck inside, she’ll create an obstacle course and walk it a couple times an hour because movement and creativity are related and really, it just makes us feel better overall.

Our book covers are all dynamic thanks to Zsofi and her dynamic workstation.

 

 

Note: Canine co-opting is a thing. You’ve been warned. #theydontcallitdowndogfornothing

Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well authors Galina Denzel and Roland Denzel are not only great at coaching many on how to fit more movement into their life, they’re also good at doing it themselves. Galina’s reading sessions look very similar to a workout:

 

 

And Roland can often be spotted walking and audiobooking (when I make up words, I tend to go for it).

Doniga Markegard, author of our forthcoming title Dawn Again: Tracking The Wisdom of the Wild balances writing time with nature time by writing in nature. This is the cool thing about being outside while working: you’re being moved by your environment, even while sitting there.

 

Now and then our Dynamic Aging authors, Lora, Shelah, Joan, and Joyce come down out of the trees to work. Whether it’s a standing work desk, exercise-reading hybrids, or simply going outside, what you see modeled here are ways to move more of you.

Sometimes, oftentimes, it takes less to move more. Less leg (on the table) means more leg (positions not available in a chair, and use getting up and down from her lowered desk) for Stephanie, our Director of Operations.

And finally, some of my favorite read-exercise hybrids involve my piriformis and legs up the wall.

 

Some of my less favorite (or perhaps it’s just less productive) movements include working with my children, literally, on my back.

You can also watch this video of me working over a 60-minute period (it’s sped up to two minutes because watching me work is sort of like watching paint dry) to see how much movement goes into my “office” time—a time many perceive as mandatory stillness.

So there you have it. Books can move you. Not only your mind, but your body too.

And, GUESS WHAT, friends, there’s an expanded version of Move Your DNA hitting your bookstore the first week of May.

To celebrate, we’re giving away three copies of the new book! To win, show us how you make your reading time dynamic. Maybe you read while squatting and lunging. Maybe you take your book to the park or forest. Maybe you log a little Legs On The Wall time while you read. Doesn’t matter how you do it, just show us. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow @propriometricspress on Instagram
  2. Post a photo of yourself in a dynamic reading position
  3. Mention @propriometricspress and @nutritiousmovement in your caption
  4. Use the hashtag #moveyourdnawhilereading

Enter by 11:59pm Pacific on Wednesday, April 26. We’ll select three winners in a random draw and announce those winners by Friday, April 28.

This contest is open to participants 18 years of age and older. It is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.


Beyond the Book: Tips for Summer Homeschooling

ocean beach

I know, right? Who wants to think about homeschooling when it’s hot as h-e-double-hockey-sticks? Turns out, you can help your kids cool off…and teach them a little something at the same time. Sneaky, huh? Our author Alison Bernhoft has been thinking about this. You can read Entropy Academy, her memoir of a homeschooling family, while the kids while away a hot afternoon with a little surreptitious science. Read more from Alison, below!

“Who goes out in the midday sun?
“Mad dogs and Englishmen”
This little couplet runs through my brain every year when the temperature in SoCal inches towards 100 and I recall the land of my birth. There, in the halcyon days before the climate went berserk and triple digits invading Buckingham Palace became almost commonplace, something quite extraordinary happened: pretty much any time the sun put in an appearance, no matter how brief, every piece of turf, no matter how minuscule, was instantly covered with sweating bodies roasting painful shades of reddish pink, slowly turning as if on an invisible communal spit. “Carpe solem” might be their motto: seize the sun.
Let us now leave my ex-countrymen, and turn instead to the suburban back yards of the US where the cry rings out, “I’m too hot, Mom, it’s too ho-o-t, Mom, MOM, I said, ITS TOO HOT!” (As if the current heatwave had been entirely mom’s idea . . .) Here are a few of my favorite things to do with hot, crotchety children:

  • Set the little ones loose to “paint” the driveway, the flowers, and each other with paint brushes and water.
  • Put two buckets of water on the grass (or any thirsty ground) with measuring cups, empty yogurt pots, plastic toys, and ping pong balls (hold them underwater and let go – whose will shoot highest into the air?)
  • Buy some cheap synthetic bath sponges, hold them underwater, then SPLOSH! Wettest game of catch EVER!
  • Give each child a 2-liter soda bottle full of water, and see who can empty theirs fastest. Is it quicker to twirl and shake the bottle or simply hold it still?
  • Teach them a little anatomy. Where does blood flow closest to the skin’s surface? Fill a bucket with cold water and give each child a wash cloth to dip in it. Have them slosh the wet cloths on various body parts – knees, shoulders, feet, the back of the neck, tummy . . . Eventually, help them notice that a wet cloth on the back of the neck is a dynamite cooler-offer. Why? Because blood flow to and from  the all-important head all passes through the neck, where veins lie close to the surface. Can they make an ice-filled sock cooler that will stay tied around their necks as the ice cubes melt in a delectable, icy trickle?
  • Think ahead: put containers of your own devising filled with water in the freezer overnight (just for fun, add a little oil to one and see what happens.) Melt them in the sun, in shade, in water. Which is fastest?
  • For a grand finale, have everyone dip their heads into the bucket, then SHAKE like a mad dog.
    But please, whatever you do, stay out of the midday sun!