Nature school rules

As kids and parents everywhere get ready to get back to school—whatever that might mean in households and communities across the continent and beyond—we’re getting ready to publish Dawn Again, by Doniga Markegard. As well as being a memoir of Doniga’s time as a wildlife tracker and regenerative rancher, it is also a love letter to a nature-based education.

 

Doniga was fifteen years old and rebelling hard when she finally found her way to the Wilderness Awareness School near her home in Washington State. Attending high school through WAS changed Doniga’s life for the better (you can read more about that here), and the experience continues to ripple and reverberate through her adult life, and into the lives of her children, all of whom are also students at their local nature school in San Mateo County, California. And Doniga has kept her hand in, too. She’s an instructor at Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, bringing what she learned in nature school to a new generation of students.

Because Doniga is passionate about nature education, she’s looking forward to celebrating the launch of Dawn Again with an interactive Facebook Live event on Wednesday, November 1. We’re inviting nature school administrators and parents to take part, as well as anyone who’s curious about a nature-based education and whether it’s right for their family. The event is called What Comes After Nature School?, and it’s free and open to all who are interested.

The details:

What: An interactive Facebook Live event called What Comes After Nature School?

Who: Doniga Markegard, regenerative rancher, nature school graduate, author of forthcoming memoir Dawn Again: Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild

When: Wednesday, November 1 at 4pm-5pm PST 

Where: Online, wherever you are! It’s all happening on our Facebook page

Why: To hear about Doniga’s nature school experience, the ways in which it prepared her for college and her adult life, and why she chooses it for her own children now, and to have your own questions about nature education answered

We look forward to seeing you there!


Shelf expression

Long, hot, summer days such as we are having here on the east coast of North America produce in me the desire to do several things: go to the beach, with a stack of books in tow, lounge in the backyard, with a stack of books in tow, go to a cottage and laze on the dock, with a stack of books in tow, relax by the pool, with a stack of books in tow…yes, there is a theme emerging, you clever reader, you!

 

 

This time of year, my eyes are generally bigger than the space available in my schedule for such prolonged bouts of reading, but I have managed to start a handful of good looking reads, finish one or two, and dip into several others to take what I can from them in the short bursts I have for such pursuits. This summer, I’ve been taking Baseball Life Advice, by Stacey May Fowles, with me everywhere I go (reading an essay on the beach while my brother listened to a Blue Jays game on his transistor radio and my niece and nephew frolicked nearby in the cold north Atlantic was one recent summer highlight), and then coming home to a pair of books by Elizabeth Strout on my bedside table. She is an amazing fiction writer and I am trying to figure out how she does what she does, so these are both re-reads for me. Speaking of re-reads, I’ve been hosting some special episodes of Katy Says, the excellent podcast by our author Katy Bowman. The episodes are focused on each of Katy’s books, so I’ve been re-reading her backlist this summer in preparation. Whole Body Barefoot is on the docket for the August 29 podcast, with Don’t Just Sit There coming up for discussion in September. You can subscribe to the podcast here. I could go on and on about my own stack of books, but of course, we’re a company of book lovers.

Roland Denzel, co-author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, has a list as aspirational as my own:

“Wired to Eat The last five years of so I’ve been interested in the less obvious whys when it comes to why we eat and overeat. I mean, I know why, of course, so I’m just checking Robb’s work. 😉

Sleep Smarter Allowing ourselves to sleep better is one of the hardest things for us to do, so I’m down for the latest info on getting in more (and better) sleep.

Movement Matters I’m a long-time believer in habit-stacking, even when each habit is tiny. Especially when each is tiny! Whether it’s health, the environment, or someone else’s welfare, things add up, and we can all do a little better. Movement Matters introduces us to small ways to make a big difference in all three areas—health, environment, humanity.

Word by Word A gift from Mom, who gives the best books! We (Mom and I) love words, trivia about words, the history of words, wordplay. As a writer, I can always improve, and this book is a fun way to do it.

Throne of Glass Guilty pleasure. I’ve had it for a while, but when my friend Lou’s daughter talked it up, I moved it to the top of the pile. Don’t tell anybody, but it’s basically research for my next novel. Shhh….

I don’t know how I’ll get through all these books by the end of summer, since I also have audiobooks for my walks, but I’m going to try!”

Roland’s partner and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well co-author, Galina Denzel, takes her stack on the go as well:

“Here is my summer list on the go as I travel in Europe 😉 In the background you can see that I took the pictures in our home office in Sofia, where the colorful books on the shelves in the background are the collection of the Art of Real Food recipes, which I authored alongside photographer and designer Diana Shingarova. The home office is where we both work and cook, shoot new recipes and keep a large collection of dishes, silverware and backgrounds for the food sets, hence books and cups are everywhere.

The Hungry Brain I am fascinated by how we make choices and what it is about human behavior that intersects dangerously with the way the food supply has changed. This book is helping me gain a deeper and more compassionate understanding for the many ways in which our ancient brains have to navigate supermarket aisles and restaurant menus.

Character Styles More text-booky, and a classic in the field of human personality research. I have spent the last few years learning how early childhood experiences shape our character and how marvellously humans adapt to difficult circumstances and survive. I am halfway through this amazing resource and can’t wait to read more on my vacation.

It’s Time to Eat Inge Sengelmann tells of her own experience with emotional eating, how autonomic nervous system dysregulation is at the core of our distorted relationship with food and offers incredibly helpful self-inquiry at the end of each chapter. This is my third time through this book as I am also preparing to teach a retreat on the subject of eating and emotions and I keep finding gems of self-discovery and self-activation and empowerment. I think understanding and normalizing how we relate to food and pleasure is the fuel of hope for anyone dealing with emotional eating. It took me many years to heal from emotional eating and there just aren’t enough honest and scientifically valid books on the subject. This is definitely one of them.

Katerina Evro – memoirs and recipes This white and red book you see is a beautiful collection of memories and recipes by one of the most inspiring, gorgeous and feminine Bulgarian actresses. The book is a mix of old black and white family photographs and head shots of the actress, close ups of mouth-watering recipes and many pictures from more recent adventures and trips. My partner in photography and cooking Diana Shingarova was the designer and photographer of the project, and I am so happy to finally see the book here in Bulgaria.

Letting Go I got this book as a gift from the lovely Lucy—a colleague and friend in the Netherlands where we just went to teach a certification week for Nutritious Movement. Lucy knows if anything concerns emotions and unraveling what they are here to tell us, I am all ears—so she got me the perfect gift. I love the work Hawkins has brought in the world and the entry points for working with emotions he offers deserve attention. I didn’t own this one, so it was both serendipitous and plain cool to get it as a gift.

Moroccan The cuisine of Morocco attracts me like a magnet. This time in Bulgaria we are creating and photographing 25 healthy and nourishing recipes from around the world. Reading a book on Moroccan food was my inspiration to make cous cous with young almonds and dried fruit—mouth watering and satisfying in every way. Can you have too many recipe books? 🙂

As you can see, these books are both study, work, and creative inspirations for my six weeks in Europe, and I am happy to carry them along with me. Luckily, audiobooks weigh next to nothing, so I am set for my long drives across the country, too.”

Our designer Zsofi Koller always posts the loveliest shelfies—no surprise when you consider the design-star eye she brings to all her book design work for us. She says: “My favourite reads always involve a combination of cookbooks, humour, fantasy, and self-help—with a little bit of designer know-how tossed in there too. Plus, I really love just having beautiful, inspiring books around—and the winner on this score is definitely Salt Fat Acid Heat, which is a gorgeously put together book.”

Lora Woods is a co-author of Dynamic Aging. Here’s her stack, and a bit about it:

“The Fugitive Gesture allows me to stare at, examine and marvel at the gestures of people like Nijinsky and Gene Kelly.  It’s thrilling to see their invention and clarity.  The photos go back to the 1800s and include Inuit to Martha Graham: photos taken before I was born yet inform me of their feelings and power.

 Joseph Campbell (Thou art That ) transforms religious metaphor and includes the Gospel of Thomas. And like Jung, reconciles the seeming dichotomy of feeling and thinking, sensation and intuition.

 Imagery in Healing unifies and mystifies at the same time; another enigma.

 Sanskrit Keys helps me understand ancient constructs through the meaning of Sanskrit words. Freud was very late to the psychological table compared to the rich meanings of many Sanskrit words.”

Michael Curran does all the indexing for our books, so it’s no surprise to see Dawn Again in his stack.

He notes: “I read at the pace of one book every two months, so I have to make them count. The Man Who Quit Money is going to be one of those books that, as Liz Gilbert blurbs on the cover, I’m going to be thinking about every day of my life. And I’m indexing Dawn Again, but this book is exactly what I needed now, as a person who wants to learn more about permaculture. But also one is a set up for the other: Suelo’s book is a non-angry expose on why a money society needs to be quit. If you’re not willing to quit a money society, Doniga’s book is a prescription for how to see all that is unsustainable and yet positively move forward versus moving toward despair. To me this is huge, as I haven’t seen this in other books before.”

 

Penelope Jackson is our editor-in-chief, so she is awash in books pretty much all the time. She says: “I’m always working on four or five books, and I’m always reading at least that many for pleasure. These are just a few of the books I’m spending time with this summer. Elizabeth Peirce’s Grow Organic is my gardening bible—a fantastically useful, encouraging, award-winning resource I had the pleasure of working on. Ocean by Sue Goyette is my constant companion, as are her other collections of poetry, and she lent me Son of a Trickster, which, up to page 47, at least, is gorgeous and funny and rich. We take Be a Beach Detective to the ocean with us to help my 6-year-old decipher the nature clues around us, and my 9-year-old and I both love Brandon Sanderson’s ridiculously funny fantasy series Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass changed my life; Gathering Moss would have if I’d read it first (and I got to do a moss workshop and walk with her recently; pinch me). Romeo and/or Juliet, a choose-your-own-adventure-style approach to the classic, is whip-smart and RIOTOUSLY FUNNY and creative and deep; I dip in and out of it and I still don’t think I’ve read every page. Alice Munro and Lawrence Hill are perennial favourites. Nature Anatomy is both beautiful and very useful to have around the house, and it taught me about stinkhorns, which is a very funny mushroom I accidentally grew in my garden, which was the highlight of my very excellent summer so far and which I wouldn’t have otherwise identified. Building With Earth feeds my daydreams. As do all books, I suppose.

Stephanie asked me for just a few lines about this stack, but honestly all I want to do is talk about books while I swim in the ocean. And lakes. Rivers, too. Let’s go for a book swim! Don’t actually bring any books; that’s a terrible idea.”

You can tell Penelope and I have similar approaches to summer living.

And finally, author and publisher Katy Bowman writes: “I read a lot during the summer, often outside (see some of the positions I frequent here).

These are what’s on my plate for the next eight weeks: A Woman’s Guide to the Wild (I’ve skimmed it and it seems like it’d be good for someone without ANY experience camping as a way to ease them into the great outdoors), Brian’s Winter (This is part two of Hatchet), Ill Nature (I used a snippet of this book in Movement Matters), Naked (I’ve read this book of essays so. many. times. Favorite essay: Island of the Damned), Dawn Again (sorry, this is an Advanced Reading Copy—it’s not available yet, but soon!), The Natural Navigator (I have the other book in this series and it’s a fun and easy one to skim and feel like you’re getting little tidbits of knowledge), On Trails. ”

Speaking of Dawn Again, by Doniga Markegard, its publication date draws ever closer! Check out this gorgeous cover:

We’ll be sending it off to press this week, and we’re making lots of plans for launching it into the world November 1. Meantime, it is available for pre-order through our website. As a thank-you for ordering this title in advance, we’ll give you access to an exclusive audio file called Tracking for Beginners, in which Doniga Markegard guides you through some of the first steps in tracking wildlife, guaranteed to help strengthen your relationship with nature, no matter whether you are in the middle of a big city, in small town, or in the wilderness. Order your copy of Dawn Again here—pre-sale closes September 22.

Meanwhile, if you need me, I’ll be on the beach, or the dock, or the poolside, or in the woods, with a stack of books in tow. Hope your own summer days are similarly stacked!


Golden days

I’ve written before about how we celebrate good news, here at Propriometrics Press. Well, the emoji strings were flying thick and fast Saturday night, as news broke that we had won not one but TWO gold medals at the Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards.

Three of our books were nominated for Health Book of the Year: Diastasis Recti and Movement Matters, both by Katy Bowman, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, by Galina Denzel and Roland Denzel. Movement Matters was also nominated in the Essays category. Much to our delight, Movement Matters won the gold medal for Essays, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well picked up gold for Health.

Here’s how that news was received in our virtual office on Saturday:

 

Once we’d cleaned up after the confetti cannon, frolicked for a while in nature, and consumed all the virtual champagne and tacos, I had a chance to ask our winning authors what it meant to them to win a Foreword Indie.

“Although I’ve written many books, I still think of myself as a sort of blogger-turned-author,” says Katy Bowman. “Most of what I write is on the internet—in short bursts on social media or in the occasional article. And even though I write about the importance of movement to our physiological, social, and ecological models, my books have always been relegated to FITNESS categories, making it challenging to spread the idea that movement is critical to our bodies, lives, and planet to anyone but exercisers. Movement Matters won Best Essays! In a contest open to essays on all topics, with judges who are into books, and who are not necessarily into movement or exercise or fitness or even health! I’m excited because it means Movement Matters is accessible—interesting, even—to those outside of fitness, which is the most critical step in bringing the idea that movement matters to the world.”

Roland Denzel echoes that sentiment. “We’re honored and thrilled to have been nominated,” he says, “but overjoyed to have won. It’s wonderful to be recognized for our hard work, and when it’s by people outside of the health and fitness industries, it’s even better. This is the audience we’ve always wanted to reach and help, so when they appreciate our work, we know we’ve succeeded.”

And finally, I asked our editor in chief, Penelope Jackson, what went through her mind when she heard the news two of our books had won gold—especially in light of how new this company is, and how small our list is. She resisted the urge to reply in emoji strings and celebratory gifs (for once), and instead told me: “What I thought of first was all of the hours Roland, Galina, and Katy put into writing their magnificent books; all the time I and our other editors spent working with the text; the time Zsofi spent designing and laying them out; all the time you, Steph, have spent managing distribution and sales and printing. So much of the work that goes into a book travelling from an author’s mind to a reader’s hands is invisible, and that’s why these awards are meaningful. They are a recognition of all that uncelebrated labour. We know how special and brilliant our authors are, and we know that every minute of our work has been more than worth it—I’m so glad other people see it too.”

Emoji tacos and champagne for all!


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.