This time last July we were grounded by COVID and I was crossing my fingers and publishing Moon Tide, the first title from Sea Crow Press. Could I pull a book together? Would anyone read it? I was having all the doubts, but I figured it out and suddenly, this month Sea Crow Press is celebrating its first birthday!
The journey from confirmed bookworm and writer to publisher as been pretty amazing. I’ve always loved reading books, but I was surprise at how exciting the process of creating them can be. It’s a tremendous moment when you hold the first proof copy in your hands and really see how all the details come together on paper. It’s an act of creation, and the next step, sharing it, is even more exiting. There is the feeling of having made the world a more beautiful place, and the certainty of having amplified voices which might otherwise have gone unheard.
This is why the small press is a crucial component to the arts and it’s what Sea Crow Press is all about.
A year in the life of a small press
Some scenes from the last year at Sea Crow Press.
Our small press is growing
Over the last 12 months the Sea Crow Press team has grown to include two editors and a cover designer, because attention to detail and great covers are two keys to success as a small press. The other keys are great writers and readers.
This is a great time to send a shout of thanks to all out to all you readers out there! We wouldn’t be here without you!
Wondering how to get published?
If you’re thinking about publishing in any form take a deep breath and do it.
We have published four books to date. Each one is special. We have signed on two new authors with whom we worked closely to make the best book possible and with whom we continue to work closely to make sure the book finds its readers.
So far, summer 2021 is looking good. In the next weeks we’ll be sharing plans for events on the Cape for readers there, and stay tuned for our surprise summer publication as well!
Who remembers the original name of Tonset Road Extension? It was Stone Crusher Road because the machine used to crush stones for road construction had been located there.
Beriah Doane of East Orleans had a spring where people would often go to get fresh water; it was commonly known as “Beriah’s spring.” That’s how Briar Spring Road got its name! This information was imparted to me by the late realtor Tod Rattle.
Uncle Harvey’s Way honors Harvey Sparrow, who served in the War of 1812. He and his wife, Betsey, are interred in the Orleans Cemetery.
A street scene in Orleans on Cape Cod. Photo by John Phelan
Captain Linnell Road was named for Captain Ebenezer Harding Linnell, who built and lived in the mansion formerly occupied by the Captain Linnell House restaurant near Skaket Beach. There is a monument to Captain Linnell in the cemetery, but his body was claimed by the sea on an ill-fated voyage.
Aunt Polly’s Way commemorates Mary White Talbot, fondly known as Aunt Polly. She was the sister of Sara White Johnstone, who operated the outdoor Greenwood Theatre with her husband, William Bard Johnstone. The Johnstones and Whites were instrumental in founding the Church of the Holy Spirit on Monument Road, not far from where they lived.
Winslow Drive recalls the Winslow family, who owned a large amount of property in South Orleans. They were the owners of United Shoe Machinery in Boston.
In the Weeset section of Tonset is Sage’s Way, which honors Albert Snow, a local historian who was nicknamed the Sage of Weeset.
Eldredge Park Way reflects the name of the adjacent ball field. When the Orleans town nurse had her office in the elementary school, the first listing under “Town of Orleans” in the phone book was “Nurse Eldredge Park Way.”
Mail addressed to the Town at “Nurse Eldredge Park Way” would occasionally arrive at Town Hall! I suppose the writers must have wondered who the heroic Nurse Eldredge had been!
Mary E. McDermott is a 13th-generation Cape Codder living in Orleans. She worked for 17 years in the Orleans Assessor’s Office and 23 years as a commercial insurance broker at Pike Insurance Agency. She has been a justice of the peace to solemnize marriages since 1976 and has previously published two books of poetry, Tapestry and Handle with Care. Her poems have appeared in several publications including the Christian Science Monitor.
Sea Crow Press author Mary E. McDermott reminisces about student life in her beloved home town Orleans. Her new book,Old Orleans: Memories of a Cape Cod Town, preserves stories of local life in simpler times.
The lives of Orleans baby boomers were influenced by a succession of teachers, all of whom had distinct personalities and who played various roles in shaping our education.
Our first-grade teacher, Mrs Eldredge, had high standards and an often-sharp tongue, but impeccable taste in literature. She introduced the class to Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Peter Rabbit and Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, an introduction for which I am still grateful.
Third grade’s Mrs Wilcox (later Mrs Wright), had a wonderful sense of fun and humor, as well as empathy. On one hot day, someone from another grade brought her a bottle of Pepsi, which she would not drink in our thirsty presence. A nature enthusiast who lived near the school, she once walked the entire class over to her house at lunchtime to watch the birds at her feeders. On winter afternoons, an upperclassman would come by with a report as to which ponds were safe to skate on. Ice House Pond off Brick Hill Road in East Orleans—better known as “the pond behind Charlie Moore’s” —was usually among them.
The town’s first Catholic priest, Father James Lynch, had long dreamed of opening a parochial school, and his dream came true. The school building, which held grades from kindergarten through eighth, is now home to the St Joan of Arc thrift shop. A group of the Sisters of Divine Providence from Pennsylvania came to teach. Some, like Sister Georgette and Sister Marianne, were gentle souls who truly loved children. Others, who shall remain nameless, ruled by the ruler across the knuckles and soul-searing insults. But they all taught us to study hard; every afternoon, our book bags were heavy with homework.
When I entered high school in 1960, the district had regionalized to include Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. Brewster students could choose to attend Nauset or Dennis-Yarmouth, and those from Truro could come to Nauset or go to Provincetown, which today is part of the Nauset region. A few of the Wellfleet boys were jokers, and their jokes were not always funny. A few years ago, I asked one of them why they had picked on people, and he replied, “Because it was our first time on someone else’s turf, and we were scared.” That was a revelation.
The faculty included some first-rate teachers with knowledge and wit. English teacher Miss Elisabeth Hooker founded the Archy Club, named for the cockroach in Archy and Mehitabel; members could come in early for help with spelling and punctuation. Dr Stewart Brooks, who taught Latin and ancient history, invented the holiday Egredior Day, which fell on March fourth, because egredior in Latin means march forth. Mrs Betty Murphy made the French language a lot of fun and also participated as a cheerleader at the annual student-faculty basketball game. Mrs Frances Mayfarth knew that her juniors would not be able to focus on English the day before Christmas vacation, so she had us put our desks in a circle and take turns relating how we learned that there was no Santa Claus.
We may have come from a small-town setting, but we were sent into the world with as fine a background as could be found anywhere!
Old Orleans: Memories of a Cape Cod Town, is available now wherever good books are sold, especially your local book store.
Almost across the street from my home was a private residence which had originally been the town almshouse; it is now the site of the police station. Back then, the fire and police departments shared quarters on Main Street. The fire whistle was tested daily at noon. When it blew for a fire, the number of short and long blasts indicated the area of town where the fire was located. Nearly every household had a card, sponsored by Ellis’ Market, which explained the different codes; when the whistle sounded, the card was eagerly consulted!
Freight trains still ran through town, and it was a treat to go to Depot Square (now part of Old Colony Way) and watch the train come in.
Summer held additional treats: each year, the American Legion sponsored a carnival for a week. The carnivals traveled from town to town and were the delight of all the kids and many adults as well.
A glimpse inside Old Orleans
Another seasonal treat was to go to Philbrick’s Snack Shack at Nauset Beach for fried clams or scallops and their incomparable onion rings. Dessert might be an ice cream cone from Pal’s or Howard Johnson’s (nobody called it HoJo’s then).
Orleans was home to some interesting individuals. I remember Mrs Carter, who had a sort of boutique on Main Street and always went barefoot. In my mind’s eye is a picture of her crossing the street, wearing a beautiful blue dress, with nothing between her soles and the pavement.
For some time, friends had been urging me to preserve some of my memories, especially those concerning my mother, a 12th-generation native, and thus was born Old Orleans: Memories of a Cape Cod Town. I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Old Orleans: Memories of a Cape Cod Town, is available now wherever good books are sold, especially your local book store.
Fran is an accomplished surgeon and horsewoman and she writes from Nelipot Cottage in the English countryside.
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.
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.
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.
I have been writing all my life, ever since I could hold a pen. I have used that pen to record my misadventures and process my feelings, and I have had a few articles published over the years. I won a couple of prizes that led to print, and I submitted helpful free contributions to activity magazines, but I didn’t consider Becoming A Writer as a career because I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t get properly published early on, and I couldn’t imagine making any money from writing.
But I have always been compelled to write.
On an expedition in Mongolia, I sat next to a well-known travel author on an internal flight. She gave me a complete tutorial about how to get published by the traditional route; how to write a synopsis, send it out to 10 agents selected from the trade yearbook. If they find your idea interesting or worthy they will pitch to their favourite publishers.
And then if you are chosen, you write the book and hand it over.
I started a blog a few years ago to share the life lessons I was learning from my journey with the horses, prioritising their holistic needs over my ego. I was writing it all down as part of the processing anyway, and I hoped I might be able to spare other horse owners some of my pain.
Blogging is an innovative and disruptive medium, and writing a blog is a weird and different experience. You start off writing for yourself, from the heart, simply because you are compelled to write and the act of publishing a blog allows you to imagine that you have at least one reader.
In the beginning, you have no idea if anyone reads your articles or cares.
Then something strange happens and people you have never met, from all over the world, start reaching out, to say thanks if something has helped them, they leave comments and they ask you questions and suddenly you have a family, a readership, of like-minded virtual friends. It becomes an interactive process, a conversation.
One of my blog posts went around the world, with 42,000 views, and I was contacted by a hoof boot company to write a short series for them. This was the first time that a significant audience found me, on my own merits, and it was the first time that I made any real money from writing.
But the real lesson came in the middle of Corona.
A UK broadsheet is always asking for contributions; there is an email address for shared experiences and commentary. My writing friends and I have been submitting both ideas and full pieces for years. I often wonder which junior intern checks that email address? Our various submissions have never been acknowledged, except to have our best ideas coincidentally written up by staff writers, a couple of weeks after submission.
One of our hospital doctors wrote a lovely piece about her experiences on the ward mid-pandemic. But she sent it to a family friend, who happened to be on the permanent staff, and it was published two days later. I’m not bitter. It was a good piece of writing and it deserved to be out there.
But it illustrated very clearly that publishing is a closed shop, that it all boils down to who you know.
The cream will only rise if there is someone from the inner circle ready to help it along. But if your good work doesn’t find its way to the right person, it will just get lost in the white noise.
The same thing can happen in the self-publishing market of course. There is a huge amount of work out there now, some good, some bad, and some frankly ugly. The difference with self-publishing, like with blogging, is that the whole world gets to vote; that anyone and everyone can find your work. It might be harder to find, but once found it is then easier to share, and pass on and engage with. Your work will get the chance it deserves. Your virtual family will get to see your work, and if it is good enough, they will make sure it goes around the rest of the world too.
Self-publishing is the ultimate test of merit.
Fran McNicol blogs about learning to keep the sports horse holistically- healthy at Nelipot Cottage in the English countryside. Her forthcoming title from Sea Crow Press explores her ongoing journey with horses and the wisdom they can teach us.
“I like the freedom of being able to write the stories that speak to me, and to make all the decisions about how they are presented and promoted.”
This is a guest post from Clarissa Gosling.
Why do I self-publish?
One of the main reasons I decided to self-publish was speed.
I had heard so many stories about great authors who took years to find an agent, and then for that agent to find a publishing deal for them. I had read numerous self-published books and could see that many quality authors were choosing to self-publish rather than wait for a publishing deal.
I was excited to try my hand at it and see what I was able to achieve. Of course, the increased royalty rates that you get as a self-published author just made the deal sweeter. I also knew that even if I signed with a traditional publisher, as a debut author I would still be expected to do the majority of the promotional work for my books myself, so a traditional deal wouldn’t get me out of doing that. And if I was doing all the promotion work then surely I deserved to get the vast share of the royalties in return?
I like the freedom of being able to write the stories that speak to me, and to make all the decisions about how they are presented and promoted.
Self-publishing does bring with it a lot of challenges and the need to be able to switch between the creative and business sides of your endeavours. I choose my cover designer and have the final say in the covers. I choose when the books are published. I choose how they are promoted and when I run any sales or promotions on them. As a self-publisher I can be nimbler to take advantage of changes in the market and turn my business in a new direction. I am not beholden to anyone. If I make bad decisions then I will need to take responsibility for that, but equally I will reap the benefits of success.
I love the fact that I am not tied into anything and I can write and publish at my own speed, without worrying about publisher deadlines or whether the book I am working on would be published or not.
I am building a team of other professionals and fellow authors who support and help me produce my books to a high quality. And I work hard to make sure that each one is better than the one before.
Publishing has a lot of moving parts, so I am not trying to do everything at once, but to build a base from which I can expand in the future. With each book I am reaching further and building more of an audience keen to purchase my future books.
I started with two non-fiction books about the experience of expat life (Moving abroad with children, and Raising bilingual children: when school speaks a different language) with the aim of helping other families in a similar situation. These were well received and I learnt a lot from doing them.
I next published a selection of short stories, which is free across most retailers. And I am currently working on longer form fiction, which I plan to continue to expand over the coming years. My next story will be published in the anthology Realms of Fae and Shadows, which is due to be published in a few weeks.
Self-publishing has given me the opportunity to build my writing skills and author career alongside my growing children. I have the flexibility to work at home round their commitments and to build my skills as I feel they are needed. This is a long-term decision for me, and I can see my career growing before me. I am just at the beginning and I am excited to see where this opportunity takes me.
Clarissa once missed the bus home from school because she was lost in a book. She no longer reads at the bus stop and now writes fiction she hopes is just as immersive. Though, she doesn’t advise missing buses! For more information about Clarissa and to sign up to her newsletter to hear about new releases and promotions visit clarissagosling.com
‘Self-publishing has given me the freedom to write what I want and share it with those who are looking for what I have to offer.’
This is a guest post by Lauri Ann Lumby,OM, OPM, MATS.
My Journey to Self-Publishing
The seeds of my journey to self-publishing came forth out of the fruits of my independent and self-sufficient nature. These seeds were not firmly planted, however, until after I had the experience of royalty-house publishing first.
My first book, Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy, was published in the traditional way. I wrote a book, completed a manuscript proposal and then sent the proposal out to a hundred publishers. After receiving one hundred rejection letters, I went back to the drawing board. After another round of research and a reworked proposal, I sent out another batch. I received one response from a publisher who acted as if he was doing me a favor publishing my book and then laid out a series of threats. I turned down that offer. Shortly after listening to my gut and saying no to publisher number zero, I received another YES in the mail. This proved to be the right yes for a first-go at being published. My publisher was kind, generous, thoughtful, and gently guided me through the process. He also had some terrific insights on improving my book. I am eternally grateful for this first experience of publishing. And in this I learned a few things:
The value of a good editor (I hired my own)
Cover design matters (I hired my own designer)
By my own efforts, I sold exponentially more books than my publisher.
Then I got to thinking about self-publishing and how that might be a better route for me moving forward. At about the same time, the editor of Writer’s Guide published an article recanting his previous rejection of the self-publishing market. He cited such successful self-published authors as Amanda Hocking and Barry Eisler as examples and then admitted, “I take back what I previously said about self-publishing.”
Based on my experience with royalty house publishing, fueled by this encouragement from Writer’s Guide and buoyed by my own independent nature, I attempted my first experiment with self-publishing. I wanted to start small, so I put my Christouch Training into manual form. I had a friend edit it and hired another friend to create the cover design. I researched on-demand publishers and chose CreateSpace for my first go at self-publishing. Then Viola! Christouch – a Christ-Centered Approach to Hands-on-Healing was born.
The rest is history. I have since self-published an additional five books including my first novel, Song of the Beloved – the Gospel According to Mary Magdalene. Self-publishing has given me the freedom to write what I want and share it with those who are looking for what I have to offer. I no longer have to give 90% of the proceeds of book sales to an outside source and with distribution channels like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, my books are available to anyone who has access to the internet. It’s a win-win for myself and for those looking for the unique gifts that only I have to offer.
Lauri Ann Lumby is the published author of seven books. She was raised in Minneapolis, MN and currently lives in Oshkosh, WI. You can learn more about Lauri at www.authenticfreedom.love.
The idea of becoming an independently published author was something that developed over time. I had just completed A Life Suspended, a project which was emotionally charged, and it left me feeling vulnerable and exhausted. The book, and stepping into the writing world, had presented an opportunity for me to shift my perspective. As part of this process, I was working on my inner independence, peeling away social and familiar conditioning to get to the heart of who I was and who I wanted to be. How did I want to live and experience the next part of my life? Meditation, women’s circles and therapy helped me explore and listen. I rekindled my relationship with nature and began to create a spiritual practice that spoke to me. I slowly let go of the opinions of others and allowed myself to fall into the ebb and flow of life. I continued to write and shape my craft. I felt touched by inspiration and was often brought to tears when I witnessed the innate beauty in ordinary things. I began to experience life as multi-faceted, and faith in myself, divinity, and grace was born anew.
The inner work made the outer work possible. My independence, confidence and resilience were cultivated through acts of self-love and forgiveness. These steps brought a profound awareness. A friend of mine described me as being “sovereign.” Being a lover of words, “sovereign” played around in my head for a while. I even wrote a poem about it and read it at an open mic reading. That experience, too, allowed me to extend myself in ways I hadn’t before. It was symbolic, writing a piece about independence and standing up and reading it in front of strangers. I stood in my vulnerability, sharing my words and speaking a newly discovered truth.
The word sovereign, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary states: one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere; having generative curative powers. I have also read other definitions as being self-governing.
I knew there were times in my life when I lost my voice and didn’t speak up. When I didn’t feel worthy and was stuck in a cycle of seeing my world through the eyes of scarcity. As I shed outdated beliefs and fall deeper into the process of becoming, I began to see what had always been true…sovereignty was my soul’s signature. I consciously shifted my perspective. I saw things in a different light. I wasn’t a “damsel in distress” waiting to be saved. Instead, I was the girl on the horse, sword in hand riding into battle. I was rewriting the stories I had been told as a child of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and countless others.
In the beginning stages of publication, I chose the traditional route of querying literary agents in hopes of getting representation to take A Life Suspended to the big publishing houses. I educated myself about the field and crafted letters to agents in the concrete jungles of New York City, Los Angeles and Boston. Between the lull of responses, I wrote on my blog and kept learning. After reluctantly attending a talk on self-publication, I knew it was the right path for me. It made perfect sense that I would become self-governing and continue to “generate my curative powers.” I realized I was repeating an old pattern. The energy of querying and waiting was, for me, the same as hoping to be chosen at the junior high school dance. Having some else hold my hand, think I’m pretty and make me believe I was good enough.
I’m not saying this is true for everyone’s experience with traditional publication—but for me, in that particular point in my inner and outer evolution, it was. It was time for me to take the reins and bring my memoir into being. I carried and birthed four babies for god’s sake! I could do this.
In choosing to be the publisher and executor of my project, I had the privilege and the responsibility to assemble a team of professionals to assist me. Birthing the book was not a solo journey, although there are some writers who do the work themselves, I wanted to work collaboratively with others. When it came time to choose an imprint name, I knew just the one. Sovereign Queen Press. Truth be told, I originally wanted Sovereign Press, but it was already taken. But queen feels fitting as I have been reclaiming my power not only as a human, but as a woman. And I believe, embodiment of the queen energy isn’t something that’s given. It is proclaimed by continuous acts of showing up, taking risks and loving oneself. It is unity and taking pleasure in cultivating relationships with self and others. It is listening to and trusting the inner wisdom which speaks softly. It’s holding vulnerability and power with both hands.
Claiming my worth wasn’t about ego. It was reclaiming what I had lost or given away. We’ve all had experiences where we lost ourselves. Where we made ourselves small. When we are impacted by trauma or the harshness life can deal. My blog is dedicated to these stories, how we collectively rise and see ourselves as we really are, not what we have always thought or have been told.
As you can see, Sovereign Queen is not only a name, but it is symbolic. These days my professional and personal life have merged. The journey toward publication has been about self-discovery and the obstacles presented have provided me with opportunities for growth. My hope is for you to see yourself as we connect through these essays. My wish is that we too rise and reign—we root down into our sovereignty and continue to evolve into our best selves. May we all see our worthiness and claim the soft, beautiful power within us.
Nicole’s new book, A Life Suspended, has just been listed as an Amazon Hot Release!
Nicole Hendrick Donovan is a former Montessori educator who worked with a variety of students with various needs. During her teaching career, she created a Montessori preschool classroom which integrated neurotypical and non-neurotypical learners. After her experience with her son, she became an ABA therapist and worked closely with children diagnosed with autism and their families. In 2017, Nicole, shifted her energy and focused on her writing career. Nicole lives on Cape Cod with her husband Mike, four sons and an assortment of rescued cats and dogs. Both Nicole and Mike have continued to work with Jack’s team in supporting his development in all areas. Nicole is a public speaker and facilitator whose passion is to bring awareness and self-healing through personal storytelling. For information about upcoming events or to read from her blog catalog, visit www.nhdwrites.com.