Go For It: When Self-Publishing Becomes Small Press Publishing

Welcome author Fran McNicol to Sea Crow Press!

I wrote a few blog posts here last summer about what it is like to self publish with some how-to information. Since then, I have launched two books of my own at Sea Crow Press, which I created because all books need a home.

Now that I know how to make books, the press is growing and has just signed on its first author who isn’t me!

JOIN SEA CROW PRESS IN WELCOMING AUTHOR FRAN MCNICOL

Fran is an accomplished surgeon and horsewoman and she writes from Nelipot Cottage in the English countryside.

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What if we could keep our beloved horses in a way that is governed by their needs, rather than our convenience? What if we could offer horses a life that fulfils their need for friends, forage and freedom, as well as our goals and desires?

This seems a fair exchange in return for allowing us to share their grace and beauty. A healthy, happy and sound horse would be a partner in a dream come true.

This book is the story of my journey, from horse-mad child, through goal orientated doctor training horses for competition, to listening to my horses and learning from them about life and love.

Fran McNicol

An afternoon spent reading Fran McNicol is a journey through the English countryside with her band of horses and loyal dog. Along the way, she shares her best practice techniques to achieve barefoot healthy horses pastured in social groups with access to forage in fields rewilded to combine best horse nutrition with best environmental practice.

Barefoot Hooves and Open Hearts will be available on March 30 from Sea Crow Press and wherever good books are sold.

Until then, stay tuned for our cover reveal, and a series of blogs from Nelipot Cottage.

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ABOUT FRAN

Fran McNicol is an amateur equestrienne living in the UK. As a full-time surgeon, she obviously knows a huge amount about the human animal, but the most useful product of medical training, from the horses’ point of view, is that she learned how to research, evaluate evidence, and then apply theory to optimise the care of her horses.

Her writing is therefore a mix of opinion and her current state of learning from 25 years of doctoring, time working around the world as a polo groom, and many years of keeping her own horses. She loves training young horses and focuses on riding the sport horse both classically and holistically. She competes regularly for her local riding club, especially in One Day Eventing. 

Nelipot Cottage started life as an educational blog to share learning and best practise to promote the benefits of a barefoot and holistic herd lifestyle for whole horse health and to reflect on life lessons learned along the way. She believes that horses exist to bring out the very best in humans. Fran hopes that sharing these tales will bring new friends, kindred spirits, exchange of knowledge, and lots of positive energy into the lives of the Nelipot herd.

Lost your Holiday Magic? Need a New Story? 3 Ways Back to You

restore, rediscover, retell

Has 2020 taken your sense of magic? Are old stories no longer serving? Channel the season’s magic to change your stories for a better outcome.

Restore Your Magic 

  •  When you were small, was the world enchanted? Were you a part of its flow? That’s because everything the adult world declares inanimate is alive to the child. Remember holiday magic? The holiday spirit definitely falls under this category. Children understand the magic of living, and this is something you can reclaim, remember, and retell through story and myth. Try to remember the magical rapture of being alive.

The images of myth are reflections of spiritual and depth potentialities of every one of us. Through contemplating those we evoke powers in our own lives to operate through ourselves.

Joseph Campbell

Rediscover Your Myth

  • As adults, we become disconnected from our mythic stories because the structures of the adult world value material profit. We forget our inner journeys as we grow up and conform to those structures. When a society forgets its stories and mythologies, or they fail to work, people forget how to live and enter free fall. A lack of story and myth leads to an attraction to extremes in religion, politics, and civic life. This has been the experience of the pandemic year. However, there is magic and story and myth afoot throughout all of December. Let December’s magic lead you into your own personal myth. What are your stories?

See life like a poem, you are participating in a poem, and the root of the poetry is myth.

Joseph Campbell

Retell Your Stories

  • Do you tell yourself the same stories over and over and end up with the same results? Is it possible the entire world is doing the same thing as the news becomes more and more extreme? We cannot fix the planet right now, but we can look around ourselves and make as much right as possible. One powerful way of doing this involves considering our stories and changing them for a better outcome: Once, I thought I would never find a parking spot for my car. I drove around and around the parking lot, telling myself I would never find a spot. Then I remembered something I had read recently about imagining what you need to manifest it. So I changed my story. I crossed my fingers and visualized myself finding the perfect parking spot. I did another circle back around the parking lot, and not one, but four spots had opened up!

Restore, Rediscover, Retell

Find your way through this pandemic holiday by retelling the familiar old stories and listening to the magic and myth. Keep the parts the work for you. Then, retell your own stories in ways that also work for you. Your highest self is in your stories, so tell them carefully.

The strategies in this article are excerpts from the book Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Challenging Times.

To read more about restoring, rediscovering, and retelling, get your copy here.

Wild Turkeys, Cranberry Sauce, and Owl Magic

For Thanksgiving, assume abundance.

If you live in New England, have you noticed small dogs sound deceptively like wild turkeys? The dog next door sure had me fooled first thing this morning. I mistook his rumbling bark for turkey chortles, and thought of the old joke: They’re almost ready for Thanksgiving!

Then I remembered I am 3,000 miles away from Cape Cod, and there are no bands of wild turkeys wandering the Dutch landscape.


It was almost Thanksgiving, so it seemed like a good time to wander down to the weekly market in our village outside of Amsterdam for some crucial cooking supplies. You can never be sure what you’ll find in the outdoor market, but I went there assuming an abundance of everything I needed.

Especially cranberries.

I find that if I want to attract the thing I need, I first have to assume there is an abundance of that thing available:

“The best thing we can do is ditch the scarcity mentality. Scarcity is the fear of too little. If you apply this fear to yourself, you set yourself up to experience it because you are sending out the energy that calls scarcity back to you.”

me, in Owl Magic:  Your Guide Through Challenging Times


So I entered the market fray full of my own advice and the assumption I’d find lots of cranberries. 

I circled the greengrocer’s stall twice, and there was nary a cranberry to be seen. 

I took a deep breath.

I’d have to ask, so I consulted Google translate for the Dutch word for cranberry and tried it out on the guy selling vegetables. He couldn’t have been nicer, but he had no idea what I wanted.

Finally, I told him the English word is cranberries, and he understood immediately and said he was sure there had been some earlier, and after much to-ing and fro-ing, he tracked down his colleague-in-charge of cranberries, who revealed a stash half-hidden under a large tarp. 

Six bags labeled Ocean Spray had become wet and been deemed unsaleable.  

Just to be sure I understood, I confirmed they had been ruined by water. They had.

And that is how I ended up with several pounds of perfect cranberries for a rock bottom price just in time for Thanksgiving far away in the Netherlands.

Ditching the scarcity mentality works. 

The cranberries are native to my own home, but my conscience is not completely easy. I should probably return to the market to explain cranberries are made for water. The natural habitat of the cranberry is a bog, which is flooded with water to make them float for harvest. 

Especially since once the greengrocer heard I was American he told me how he loves America, and about the time he went to New York.


Flooded cranberry bog by Cape Cod photographer Carole Corcoran

I spent the weekend making cranberry bread and cranberry sauce. My sauce recipe comes from the Peter Hunt Cookbook, a Cape Cod classic found in second-hand bookstores and private bookshelves across the Cape.




You can produce an entire Thanksgiving dinner from this book if you have to.  Here is my classic, super easy Peter Hunt recipe for perfect cranberry sauce.

Just make sure you keep the cranberries dry.







Happy Thanksgiving.





Read more about Cape Cod



Read more about abundance


Enter the drawing for a chance to win a free copy of Owl Magic @ www.marypetiet.com or www.facebook.com/MaryPetiet

Deep Listening

I’ve had a lot of questions recently about how I write. I listen deeply, and then the floodgates open.

The landscape is different but always the same. The tide is high or low, lapping the shore or booming chased by the wind, but always the tide. The sand is a soft carpet, a million tiny pieces worn from parent rocks of distant times, sometimes wet, sometimes dry, but always under your feet.

I’ve heard the sand whistle.

A fish washes up, a keening gull drops a clam, it smashes on the low tide rocks, and a meal is served.

The crows are a Greek chorus, chortling from low trees.

Your feet splash and leave prints on the flats that are gone when you return.

These are the sounds of poetry.

Deep listening on the ocean

To write a poem, you must listen deeply and inhabit your subject.

Befriend a tree. Sit with it and listen. In time you’ll hear its story, and if you listen well, you might, for a time, become the tree.

It’s a form of shapeshifting.

The magic is in the listening and the becoming. Become your subject, and return to write about it.

I’ve had a lot of questions recently about how I write. I listen deeply, and then the floodgates open.

I’ve been driving through traffic and said to the child in the backseat, quick! find a piece of paper and a pen, write this down! Luckily the car always provides the needed materials.

I’ve jumped out of the bathtub with an entire new poem. Water seems to aid creation, and why not? We come from the sea, and we float in water for our first nine months.

I have fragments scribbled on napkins, envelopes, and pretty much anything to hand. It looks messy, but it isn’t.

This is what a first draft looks like

Walk the place you love most each day.

Listen. Watch. Inhabit.

I am not on the ocean right now, so I am listening deeply inland, along freshwater woods and fields. At first, it didn’t smell right, no salt, and I didn’t know the birds.

Freshwater deep listening

But I’m listening and slowly shifting, and new things are coming.

You can read Mary Petiet’s poems in Moon Tide and Owl Magic.

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All shall be well

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

It’s been a long week of political uncertainty with second lockdowns casting their shadow. We are perhaps finding that life does indeed happen while we make other plans.

We are not the first to experience this.

Over the past few days, I have been thinking a lot about an earlier pandemic and time of unrest, and the surprisingly relevant legacy of a fourteenth century anchorite who overcame dark times with faith in love and a kind of yoga she called Body Prayer.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”  ~Julian of Norwich

I think we could all use a little bit of Julian of Norwich at the moment because her experience can stand us well today.

The following is an excerpt from my new book Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Challenging Times:

We find ourselves living in uncertain times

In Europe, the end of the fourteenth century was also a harrowing time. One-third of the population died of bubonic plague as the Hundred Years War raged and the church split between rival popes.

 
Like today, the structures people assumed were permanent began to vanish. And like today, a certain kind of wisdom helped people survive the uncertainty.

Think of it as Owl Wisdom.

Owls have a quiet about them, allowing them to observe and notice. They embody an independence that lets them forge ahead with the vision to see the way. They occupy the moment and work with what they have. They soar above the fray.

Here is the owl wisdom you can apply to your situation, the same wisdom women mystics of earlier times tapped into as their worlds convulsed.

In the late fourteenth century, one mystic found peace in the storm by finding a connection to a loving God through something she called Body Prayer. Her name was Julian of Norwich, and what she called Body Prayer looks a lot like modern yoga. 

It is also full of owl wisdom

As an anchorite at the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England, Julian of Norwich would have been at home with the idea of social isolation. An anchorite chooses a solitary life to cultivate internal focus.

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Julian of Norwich, Stained Glass Window from St. Julian’s Church, Norwich, photo by Evelyn Simak


Quarantine? No problem

Her real name is lost to the ages, but it is almost certain she lost her husband and children to the plague and nearly died of it herself. While ill, she experienced a series of visions about the nature of love, which redefined her connection to God and faith in goodness through awful times.

 She described her experience in the first known book in English written by a woman. It was called Revelations of Divine Love.

She was surprisingly modern. As her contemporaries worshiped a harsh patriarchal god, Julian of Norwich called in a radically feminine deity that added motherhood and love to the equation. Her god was both father and mother, and, as the transcendentalists would centuries later, she saw God in everything as she declared salvation universal.

Here is an expression of our next law straight out of an earlier time of pandemic and social upheaval:

The Universal Law of Love: The force that binds everything together.
It is not romantic love. It is the energy behind the Law of Connection. It is unconditional and all accepting. It is the opposite of fear.

Think of it like gravity.

It is the glue that can hold us together, individually and collectively, through tumultuous times.

Every situation presents a choice of action. Imagine what happened when Julian of Norwich’s life was derailed by bubonic plague. In no time at all, she lost her family and all the trappings of active, worldly life in medieval Norwich. She could easily have reverted to fear, the opposite of love, and simply ceased to be.

What sustained her in her Time Between?

Love.

Our lives have also changed rapidly. Within one week, most of us found ourselves in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus. It was a scene repeated all over the planet. Maybe some of us have been sick or lost loved ones. Some of us are sheltering in place comfortably. Some of us are suffering, some of us are dying, and some of us are leaving quarantine and picking up the pieces in a changed world roiling with political instability. For all of us, the futures we planned are uncertain.

What can sustain us in our Time Between?

Love.

The Pose & The Meditation: Body Prayer

Stand firmly on your yoga mat. Body Prayer consists of a series of four standing poses. First, initiate your prana breath, breathe deeply, in and out. Then shift your focus.

• Await – the posture of receiving. Hold your hands open at waist level. You are welcoming the presence of God or your highest self. 

• Allow – this is the posture of opening. Reach up with your hands open to welcome the coming of God’s presence or the presence of your own highest self. 

• Accept – the posture of taking. Cup your hands at your heart and take in whatever comes.

• Attend – this is the posture of willingness to act on what has been given. Extend your hands with palms open.

Await, allow, accept, attend. Repeat the sequence while maintaining the breath.

Read more about Julian of Norwich in Owl Magic, your toolbox for challenging times.

  • Guided meditation
  • Yoga
  • Stories & Poems
  • Writing Prompts

Times of change are the times of greatest transformation.

Owl Magic

Persephone picks 

a handful of flowers

from a warm spring field 

and seeks their seeds within.

Persephone travels 

willingly or not,

with Hades deep below the earth,

owl-led each year

to the place where seeds are born.

And so Persephone finds the seeds of one potential:

 ice caps melting, tides flooding, 

refugees moving, oceans choked with plastic,

animals dying, a dying planet,

pandemic.

And travels owl-led

ever deeper into the underworld

seeking seeds for better potential,

and in the darkest underworld 

she finds a ripened pomegranate,

the Ur seed of new beginnings

from earth’s deep womb,

bursting with the smallest 

red seeds of potential 

ready to sprout.

~ Mary Petiet, excerpt from Owl Magic

This blog was inspired by my brand new book Owl Magic: Your Guide Through Challenging Times.

Available Now

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Praise for Owl Magic

A new title for a new moment. Combining the creative force of the feminine divine with the wisdom of the owl, this book guides you through the anxiety of the current moment. Owl Magic helps reclaim your intuitive power so you can build a better future from the position of your highest self.
~ SHERIANNA BOYLE, AUTHOR OF EMOTIONAL DETOX FOR ANXIETY

Owl Magic takes you gently by the hand and leads you to deeper self-awareness and self-actualization through stories, myths, meditations, and writing prompts, inviting us to peel back the layers of who we are and how we navigate an imperfect world so we can step into our true power.
~RACHEL JEPSON WOLF, AUTHOR OF THE UNPLUGGED FAMILY ACTIVITY BOOK & HERBAL ADVENTURES

About Owl Magic

Times of change are the times of greatest transformation. 

  • Meet today’s challenges with the life-affirming power of your own intuition. 
  • Open the Owl Magic toolbox of simple anxiety-busting strategies designed to reveal your hidden power. 
  • Journey at your own pace through guided meditations, stories, poems, yoga poses, and writing prompts. 
  • This unique interactive guide provides many routes to your highest self so you can seize the incredible potential of the present moment.

What seeds are you planting now?

The autumn dark descends earlier each twilight, but that doesn’t have to leave you cold.

Now is the time for deep interior work. The early dark signals the great turning within, the ancestral soul-seeking, the ancient memory tugging at the edge of the psyche as the afternoon fades and the moon peeks over the clouds.

Brew your tea. Cast your spells, sit within your quiet, and choose your focus, for what you focus on will surely grow.

Where I am in the Netherlands the dark comes early indeed. But the Dutch have a tradition of keeping things cozy, so the night is lit with flickering candles and met with warmth inside. It is time to reflect and take stock, and as we face increasingly challenging times ahead, it is time to care for ourselves and each other.

Persephone by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The descent is necessary so the return can happen.

In descending, find your ripest, most potent pomegranate seeds, and bring them back safely to plant them in fertile soil that they may flourish. Our job right now is to find the seeds, our mission to plant them well, and our goal to see them grow.

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About Mary Petiet

Mary Petiet writes with a passion for connecting and empowering women to live from their highest selves.

She is the author of Minerva’s Owls and Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems, and a contributor to the anthologies Jesus, Muhammad, and the GoddessShe Rises, vol.2, and Awaken the Feminine!: Dismantling Domination to Restore Balance on Mother Earth. Her work has appeared in Feminism and ReligionSage WomanThe Wayfarer, and she is a contributor to Mother House of the Goddess.

Join Mary on Facebook or online at www.marypetiet.com and be the first to hear about her new books. She loves to hear from readers at marypetiet@gmail.com and is available for work with book groups and online readings. If you love Owl Magic, please be sure to tell your friends and leave a review on Amazon and Good Reads.

Armchair Destination: Inside the Dutch Market

Join me at the Dutch market!

Piles of earthy fall mushrooms, the latest in cauliflower, warm stroop (syrup) waffles from the grill, and generous slices of cheese to taste. Flowers galore, animal supplies, the bicycle guy, fishmongers, and a stand dedicated to fresh French fries. These colorful scenes are typical of the outdoor Dutch weekly market.

Unfortunately, here in the Netherlands COVID numbers are on the rise again which means we, like many others around the world, are spending more time in the house.

What better time to armchair travel?

Join me at the Dutch market!

Beautiful fruit for sale.

The Dutch have a lovely tradition of weekly outdoor markets. There are three markets a week within easy biking distance of our house, and each one is a visual feast with a distinct flavor.

And good deals, because the Dutch love a good deal.

So imagine yourself biking across busy streets with your marketing bags in hand, propping your bike up along with all the other bikes-I swear the bikes start chatting as soon as we leave them, they look like they’re totally hanging out together.

Now, plunge into the market with me!

Disclaimer: The following photos were taken before COVID numbers increased.

Cheese is a crucial part of the Dutch diet.
Cheese counter in action. Delicious.
You can eat these bulbs….
but you’ll want to plant these for next spring!

Raw herring at the Naarden market. Not for the faint of heart.
The fish counter!
Double yolkers are a specialty here.
Buying stroop waffle, the warm, sweet syrup waffle cookies of the Netherlands.
Fall flowers.
Your chariot awaits-or what are they talking about, anyway?

I hope everyone is well wherever you are, and you enjoyed this little trip.

I wonder what you’re cooking?

That sounds like a good story for next week.

Stay safe and happy.

Mary Petiet is the author of Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems.

Find out more.

Cat Poems

No birds were hurt in the writing of this blog.

Fall winds are blowing in the Netherlands. It rained and hailed last night, and the dark is falling earlier.  The recent equinox of September 22 offered a rare moment of balance in an increasingly unbalanced world, and I for one grabbed it!

Fall is subtle here. It creeps in on foggy cat feet as the trees turn slowly russet and yellow. 

Dutch fall

At the moment, the huge old oak behind my house is welcoming hundreds of swallows as they migrate south to warmer climes. My cat watches them, but his hopes are thwarted by the warning bell he wears around his neck, the unfortunate consequence of hunting too well.

The cat’s name is Pip and he started life in a parking lot in Hyannis on Cape Cod, from which he was rescued as a very small kitten. Later, I brought him home from the SPCA because I needed a good mouser in my old farmhouse. Later still, Pip made the trip to the Netherlands with us and now he is a popular sight in the neighborhood. 

If he could speak, he’d probably tell you the bell on his collar is his biggest problem. 

Pip

Pip’s prowess as a hunter is legendary. I imagine he has quite a reputation in cat circles, so I wrote a short poem about him in Moon Tide called Four Feathers, after the gift he very proudly left me early one morning several falls ago.

Pip’s bell warns the birds effectively of his approach, so I can guarantee no birds were hurt in the writing of this blog.

Read more in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems

Time, Rocks, and Endurance

When you sit on my porch you’re really sitting with Rock.

A long time ago, a retreating glacier left a huge rock in my front yard.

Rock

For all I know, 

Rock goes deep into the earth

possibly emerging in China…

~Excerpts are from the poem Rock in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems

When you sit on my porch you’re really sitting with Rock. In summer, soft green lichen covers its top. In winter it stands above the snowline, and kids like to climb upon it playing king of the mountain. 

We live atop a scene of ancient devastation.

A long time ago, Cape Cod was born of retreating ice.

Before the trees, the road, and the house, the rock was here, and after all of today’s uncertainties, the rock will still be here.

Like the sky above and the ocean that surrounds the Cape, Rock sits in mute testament to endurance.

The sky and the ocean.

Does Rock remember?

Perhaps. 

Do we remember?

Absolutely.

Low tide reveals ancient glacial rocks on a Cape Cod beach.

To sit with rock is to remember the long game, the endless bend and stretch of time. Rock is of the eons and surely full of stories.

We are of this moment, and also full of stories, and we share with Rock this capacity to endure. 

Read Rock’s whole story in Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems.

Dog Tales

You can never be sure what you’ll find…

Every so often, Cape Codders think about declaring an independent state. It’s a fine idea. The place is unique enough to warrant statehood, but it hasn’t flown yet.

It’s really just a big beach.

As Labor Day weekend winds down, I’m wondering from an off-Cape vantage if instead of statehood, the Cape shouldn’t have its own calendar.

Cape Codders know fall does not start locally with the equinox on the astronomical first day of fall, which occurs this year on September 22. Instead, it begins on Labor Day weekend when summer people depart, and locals get the place back again.

It’s a magical moment of sudden quiet at the end of a long, hot, busy summer.

It’s also the moment dogs are allowed back on the beach, and there is nothing finer than beachcombing with a good dog. You can never be sure what you’ll find.

My black pointer lab mix Daisy loved the ocean, and I think her best find ever was a large quahog she dug out of the low tide flats. When she trotted back to me with this treasure, I opened it with a rock, and she savored every bite of the delicate meat inside. She loved seafood.

I have found all kinds of things on the beach over the years, and the best find is always a horseshoe crab because they are so rare now. The worst is litter. Some of it’s useful, such as the new life jacket I found wedged by the tide into a breakwater. Some of it’s tragic, like the dead seal that washed up occasioning a visit from the environmental police, and some of it’s just plain sad, like the garbage.

Most of the time Cape beaches are beautiful and pristine. You find the odd bit of plastic and pick it up, problem solved. But once, a few falls ago after Labor Day, we were out walking the beach on an incoming moon tide driven by a strong northeast wind, and I found more trash than we could carry. It was a stark reminder of two things: the oncoming winter and what is floating around out there that shouldn’t be.

So I wrote a poem about it.

Special Labor Day Reading of the poem Beach Debris, from Moon Tide: Cape Cod Poems.

Moon Tide tells Cape Cod stories and is available on Amazon.