Monthly Archives: March 2011

Throw a Party for the Birds!

Throw a Party for the Birds of the Gulf
Want to help the birds and wildlife of the Gulf? Throw a house party or host another type of event to educate your neighbors and take action to help direct BP penalty money to restoration.

We’ll send you a kit with a gorgeous 24-minute video produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on the importance of the Mississippi, our own compelling video on how Audubon volunteers hit the ground to help the birds impacted by the spill, postcards you can send to your elected officials asking for the resources needed to restore habitat in the Gulf for wildlife and more!

Kits will ship in mid-April in time to use for the anniversary of the spill, (April 20th will mark the one year anniversary of the BP disaster), but you can use these materials any time to spread the word. If you are interested in reserving one of these kits, please email Audubon here. We ask that you cover the $5 for shipping, but the impact your efforts will have is priceless!

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Filed under BP Oil Spill

A Writer’s Life: Let’s Talk About the Highs

For the most part, a writer’s life is a solitary endeavour – family and friends ensure that we have love, conversations and connections – thank goodness for them, or we’d be a bit hermit like!

In every writer’s life, there are five amazing highs:

1. When an idea formalizes in your mind and the words begin to flow
2. When you’ve finished your manuscript
3. When a publishing house accepts it
4. When the galleys arrive in your inbox
5. When you hold the actual book in your hand

Yesterday, I realized number four: the galleys for my next book arrived, complete with cover. It’s a wonderful feeling, a bit scary, because this is your very last chance to make changes before you sign off on the manuscript.

As Chuck Palahniuk so succinctly put it: “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

I’m so excited about “The Darkness Between the Stars,” and want to share the cover with you:

The Cover of My Soon-to-be-Released Book, Darkness Between the Stars

If you are interested in learning more about this book, contact: McKellar & Martin Publishing Group, Ltd.

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Filed under Events and Readings, Writing Tips

Recent Events in Japan Remind Me of Chernobyl

Sort of sadly topical right now: Biking to Chernobyl Elena Filatova and her bike explore the “Dead Zone.”

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Filed under Travelling In the World

Writing Contest for Grades 4 to 12

Students, here is your chance to enter a writing contest sponsored by Keen Readers. Visit the website to find out how to enter!

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Anteater Tops the Night

As I write, an anteater saunters by, completely distracting my already distracted self. So, all I’ll say before crawling into bed (which is lovely walk through a jungle path away) is that we are thinking, learning and sharing ideas here in Costa Rica. Yoga at 7am and the day just keeps on going, which is why I am going to bed and it is only nine!
What an amazing country this is! I’ve got zip lining in my future – I can redeem myself from chickening out the first time at the Olympics.

Since I’ve been sitting here, three other people have joined me to get wired. We are outside in the outdoor lobby, huddled around the hotspot – someone said, “hey, we’re the new smokers….”
Maybe you had to be there.

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Spend Spring Break Restoring the Gulf!

The National Audubon Society, in partnership with the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Alabama, is offering an Alternative Spring Break opportunity for students and others interested in restoring the health of Gulf ecosystems through research and education. Qualified applicants will have previous experience or background that fits our project needs, i.e. some background in earth sciences, field research or science related experience. Preference will be given to students, but we are opening this up to non-students at this time as well. Please read on for more details and to find out how to apply for this unique hands-on restoration and education experience.

Projects will include:

Night Life on Weeks Bay presentation
Participants will assist with collecting sound recordings, movie clips and still pictures of nocturnal fauna associated with Weeks Bay and surrounding habitats for the purpose of creating an interpretive slide show. The slide show will be accessible via computer within the Visitor Center and online. The slideshow will be used to inform the public of the richness and diversity of habitat and fauna within the Weeks Bay Reserve.
*The Reserve has limited photographic equipment available. Participants are welcome to bring their own.

Remnant bog habitat map
Participants will learn to identify key characteristics of bog habitat (soil and flora) and use their knowledge to locate and map habitat sites suitable for pitcher plant bog restoration. Pitcher plant bogs are critically endangered habitats (>98 percent decline) that once occurred on approximately 1.2 million acres in the lower coastal plain and are now estimated to occur on less than 5,000 acres in natural or nearly natural condition. Another 24,000 acres of bog habitat probably remains in degraded or hydrologically altered condition. Even these liberal estimates indicate at least 97 percent of the former bog habitat has been destroyed or seriously altered.

Additional Activities:

* Walking tours and surveys of Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan, two important bird areas and primary concerns in Alabama due to their proximity to the Gulf waters and the severity of oil still being found
* Canoeing, kayaking, and hiking
* Boat outings
* Local Arts & Craft Festival and live music

Participants can expect to survey Weeks Bay Reserve habitats both by land and vessel. Early mornings and late evening work will be required. All activities are subject to change. Backgrounds in biology, botany, ecology, environmental studies, and ornithology are preferred. Students interested in a possible graduate study fellowship at the reserve are strongly encouraged to apply. Bunk style housing with kitchen will be provided from March 19-27. Food and travel expenses will NOT be covered. Spots are limited to six to eight participants.

If you meet the criteria and would like to participate please download an application at

Application deadline is March 14, 2011, but will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

In addition to the Weeks Bay opportunity, we are offering a “Mini Spring Break” on March 17 & 18 at sites in coastal Alabama and Mississippi. No special experience is necessary. Volunteers can sign up for both days or just one. Projects include invasive species removal, habitat restoration, and community awareness. Because we cannot provide lodging, this opportunity is best-suited for local participants, or people who can arrange for their own accommodations. Applications for Mini Spring Break are also available at

For more information or questions please feel free to contact Kelsey at

Please feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested!

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Great Writing For Children Competition: $1,500 Prize



The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to announce that submissions are being accepted until April 24, 2011, for the 2011 WRITING FOR CHILDREN COMPETITION. The winning entry will be the best Canadian children’s story of 1,500 words in the English language, written by an unpublished author.


$1,500 for the winning entry and the entries of the winner and finalists will be submitted to three Canadian children’s publishers.


Melanie Florence, Dave Glaze, and Roy Miki will serve as the jury.


This competition is open to all Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who have not had a book published by a commercial or university press in any genre and who do not currently have a contract with a book publisher. Original (English language) fiction or nonfiction, up to 1,500 words, not published in any format.


· Entries should be typed, double-spaced, and numbered on 8.5 x 11 paper, not stapled. Do not send entries that have only a few sentences per page.

· Illustrations are not accepted.

· Electronic submissions will not be accepted.

· Include a separate cover letter with title of story, full name, address, phone number, e-mail, word count, and number of pages of entry.

· Please type the name of entrant and the title of entry on each numbered page. This is not a blind competition.

· Make cheque or money order payable to The Writers’ Union of Canada. Multiple entries can be submitted together and fees can be added and paid with one cheque or money order, $15 per submission.

· Entries must be postmarked by APRIL 24, 2011 to be eligible.

· Mail entries to: WFC Competition, The Writers’ Union of Canada, 90 Richmond Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, ON M5C 1P1.

Results will be posted at in July 2011. Manuscripts will not be returned.

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