Birds and Butt-Kicking


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My inner ninja’s kicking butt these days. And, let me tell you, it’s much more exciting to roll with the punches than to constantly question one’s capabilities.

Here’s a little peek at a project my daughter and I have on the go:

Wren by Kelly DycavinuSONY DSC

This grumpster is my favourite. He’s hard to please, but who can fault him for wanting the job done well?

Feathered Friends by Kelly Dycavinu


These beautiful birds will be incorporated into a larger painting we’ve been working on since our season of slow.

First Test by Tamora PierceSpeaking of birds and butt-kicking, I’ve just finished re-reading First Test by Tamora Pierce. It’s the first book in the Protector of the Small series and, by far, one of my favourite YA novels. Ten-year-old Keladry is a young girl who wants to be a knight. She shows strength, determination, leadership, and honour as she fights for justice. She’s a hero worth having and First Test is a book worth reading (and re-reading).

How about you? How’s your inner ninja? What projects are you working on? Who’s your favourite butt-kicker?


© Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kelly Dycavinu and Popcorn with a Spoon with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Your Inner Ninja


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Do you ever find yourself wanting more?

More time?

More money?

More resources?

Do your wishes ever begin with if only?

If only I was a morning person and could write in the pre-dawn hours. If only I had a new laptop, one with a battery that charges properly so that I’m not always tethered to the wall. If only I wasn’t dragged down by depression. If only I had my own studio and space to create. If only I was more like so-and-so.

I wonder how often our grasping for more leads us to overlook what we already have? And is it possible that our wishful thinking misleads us, suggesting that who we are (in this moment) and what we have (right now) is not enough?

Find your inner ninja. Write, create, work with what you’ve got. The results might surprise you.

But, guaranteed, there will be results!

Inner Ninja

Paper, tape, dental sticks, marker and a balloon… the inspiration for me to find my inner ninja, courtesy of my son.

Writing Contests Galore & Calls for Submissions


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Good day, fellow writers. I thought I’d pass on these opportunities…

March 31- Royal City Literary Arts Society’s Write On! Contest

  • 3 categories: fiction (1500 words max), non-fiction (1500 words max), poetry (1 page single spaced max)
  • Fee: $10 per entry for members, $20 per entry for non-members
  • Prizes: cash of an undisclosed amount
  • Previously published work will be accepted as long as author retains copyright. Multiple entries are allowed
  • Open worldwide

March 31- The 13th World Children’s Haiku Contest

  • One unpublished haiku for the theme of “DREAM” in English or French and an illustration on a 8 1/2 x 11 size paper
  • Prizes: Winning entries will receive certificates signed by members of the JAL Foundation, with prizes including “Haiku by World Children”
  • Open to children up to age 15

April 1- Grain Magazine’s Short Grain Contest

  • Judges: Ken Babstock, Author of Methodist Hatchet (Poetry) and Kathleen Winter, Author of Annabel (Fiction)
  • Categories: poetry (to a max of 100 lines) and fiction (to a max of 2,500 words)
  • Fee: The basic fee for Canadian entrants is $36.75 ($35+GST) for a maximum of two entries in one category (Poetry or Fiction). The fee for US entrants is $47.25 ($45+GST) and the fee for international entrants is $57.75 ($55+GST), payable in US or Canadian funds
  • Prizes: 3 prizes will be awarded in each category (1st = $1,000, 2nd = $750, 3rd = $500)
  • Each entry must be original, unpublished, not submitted elsewhere for publication or broadcast, nor accepted elsewhere for publication or broadcast, nor entered simultaneously in any other contest or competition. Work that has appeared online is considered published and is not eligible

April 15- EVENT

  • Creative non-fiction (under 5000 words)
  • Fee: $34.95 (includes one-year subscription)
  • Prize: $1500
  • No previously published material, or material accepted for publication elsewhere, either in print or online. No simultaneous submissions

April 25- CANSCAIP’s Writing for Children Competition

  • Non-fiction and fiction from picture book to young adult (YA); up to 1,500 words, English language and not previously published in any format
  • Fee: $25
  • Prize: $1500
  • Open to Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, all writers who have not been published in any format (including self-published), in any genre and who do not have a contract with a book publisher at any point before the competition winner is announced

April 30- Bristol Short Story Prize

  • Short story (4000 max). Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based (Crime, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Children’s etc..)
  • Fee: £8
  • Prizes: 1st £1000 (about 1800 CAD) plus £150 Waterstone’s gift card; 2nd £700 (about 1200 CAD) plus £100 Waterstone’s gift card; 3rd £400 (about 700 CAD) plus £100 Waterstone’s gift card; 17 further prizes of £100 (about 180 CAD) will be presented to the writers whose stories appear on the shortlist. All 20 shortlisted writers will have their stories published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 7
  • Open to all published and unpublished, non-UK and UK based writers over 16 years of age

May 31- Burnaby Writers’ Society 2014 Contest

  • One page of writing on the theme of ‘Wood’  (poetry, fiction, non-fiction or unclassifiable)
  • Fee: $5 per entry or 3 for $10
  • Prizes : 1st = $200, 2nd = $100, 3rd = $50
  • Previously unpublished entries
  • Open to residents of British Columbia, Canada

June 30- Canadian Authors Vancouver 2014 Short Story Contest

  • Short stories (1,000 to 2,000 words), any genre, in English
  • Fee: $15 for national Canadian Authors Association members, $20 for non-members
  • Prizes: 1st = $300, 2nd = $200, 3rd = $100
  • Unpublished complete short stories
  • Open to all Canadian writers

August 31- Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition 2014

  • Categories: fiction (maximum 2,000 words each), poetry (up to 40 lines each)
  • Fee: £10 permits the submission of two works into any one category
  • Prizes: 1st in each category = £500
  • Entries can be sent that have been previously published elsewhere, but please include information on previous publications with your submissions
  • Open worldwide, entries must be in English

Calls for Submission

Authors Publish Magazine

A free resource that lists publishers currently open to submissions. Today’s list includes these markets: All Genres (3) Children’s Books (4) Christian (2) Cookbooks (2) Erotica (3) Fantasy (6) Fiction (8) Gift Books (2) Historical Fiction (1) Humor (1) Literary Fiction (4) Mystery (1) Non Fiction (7) Paranormal (2) Poetry (4) Romance (10) Science Fiction (6) Self Help (2) Western (1) Young Adult (8)

You may want to check it out!


We are a quickly growing literary and arts magazine dedicated to publishing BareBack writing, that is writers who aren’t afraid to take off their gloves when creating. We publish at least four short stories, ten poems, one featured artist, and a featured poet per bi-monthly issue. We are always looking for new talent and authors who fit in, or don’t fit in, with what we’re doing. If you have any other questions please contact Peter Jelen

Nat. Brut

Nat. Brut is currently accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews (books, film, and other media), satire/humor pieces, short screenplays and theater scripts, and creative nonfiction/literary journalism. Please submit though Submittable (see website).

We are also accepting visual art, comics, short films, and audio content. To submit in those mediums, please email

Two Serious Ladies

This small online magazine exists to promote writing and art by women. It was founded in February 2012 by Lauren Spohrer and publishes fiction, poetry, essay and visual art.


Room is Canada’s oldest literary journal by, for, and about women. Published quarterly by a group of volunteers based in Vancouver, Room showcases fiction, poetry, reviews, art work, interviews and profiles about the female experience.

Room Magazine invites polished, unpublished writing on any theme for our upcoming issue, 37.4, edited by Christina Cooke and Taryn Hubbard. Before submitting, please read their About section to see if your work fits within Room’s mandate, then refer to the Submission Guidelines on how to format your work.

Deadline: Wednesday, April 30 2014

Crack the Spine

An online and print journal. Accepts flash fiction, short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction and photography/art.


“The end of poetry as we know it.”

We are currently seeking submissions of outstanding and audacious poetry and art for our inaugural issue. We hope to see work brave and bold enough to say what hasn’t been said before, in ways never before imagined, and with image and language that others have shied away from. Caboose Journal seeks work that other journals have been afraid to publish, poems and artwork that step wide of the conventional path, that eschew what others deem “good taste.”

***Disclaimer: While I have presented this information as accurately as possible, please refer to the individual websites for complete contest rules and submission guidelines. With the exception of the Burnaby Writers’ Society, I am not associated with the administration or operation of these entities.

I Am Made of Clay


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A poem (in progress):

I am made of clay
Of clay and bone,
Breath and thread
Woven, whispered, wedged
First formed by the First
and Last

I am made of ash
Of sinew and soot
Dust and dirt
Sewn, sifted, swept
My name in a grain
Of sand

I am made of earth
Of rocks and moss
Sinter and cloth
Grown, gathered, gowned
In glorious

I am made of clay
Of ash and earth
To these I return
Yet always to remain
is that

I am made.


© 2014 Kelly Dycavinu, Popcorn with a Spoon. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © 2014 Kelly Dycavinu, Popcorn with a Spoon

Dirt: A Recipe for Paint


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The kids and I have been playing with dirt. It’s a very earthy season during Lent, and with the approach of Spring it makes sense to get mucky. If you have young kids, you’re likely familiar with the treasures always amassing on your doorstep.

"These can't come in the house," says Mom.

“These can’t come in the house,” says Mom.

But why not bring the dirt indoors for once?

Here’s a recipe for paint using only egg and dirt (yep, you read right).


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup (approx.) of sifted soil/dirt
  • Metal sieve ($1.25 at your local dollar store)
  • 2 small bowls (bucket, yogurt container, disposable cup, etc)

Additional Project Materials:

  • 1 white Bristol board or canvas board (any size, but you’ll need more paint for anything larger than 11 x 14 in. Again, check your dollar store)
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Chalk (various colours)


  1. Use the sieve to sift out large or unwanted pieces from the soil/dirt. Repeat two or three times as necessary
  2. Separate the egg yolk from the egg white as thoroughly as possible
  3. Mix the sifted soil into the egg yolk until desired consistency is achieved

And voila! You have a mocha/espresso coloured paint.

What’s next?

  1. Apply the paint to a canvas board or white Bristol board
  2. Let paint dry overnight
  3. Once the paint is dry, use sandpaper to smooth out the surface. Or you can just leave it if you want more texture (please note: sanding the paint will lighten the colour, but only slightly)
  4. Chalk is an excellent medium to use on the dirt-paint. Have fun!

You might like to know:

The egg yolk is the binding agent.

The dirt is the pigment (colour).

Feel free to explore with other pigments (coffee grounds? Kool-Aid?).

I’m told this paint will last for five centuries.

It’s not as messy as you may think (and this coming from a clean-freak).

Now, I know some of you can’t ‘picture’ the end results. We’ll post ours once we’re done. In the meantime, if you give this a try I’d love to hear about your experience with it. Feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions.

A Song for Melody


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My daughter and I have a friend. Her name is Melody and she’s ten years old. We made this card for her as a thank you for one of the many kind and generous things she has done for us.

We want Melody to know what we see in her. And I want you to know as well.

Melody is nice, kind, loving, fun, gentle, generous, smart and sincere. If you meet her, you’ll see it for yourself in an instant. You’ll also see beauty, compassion, thoughtfulness, resource and creativity. She is remarkable and she is wonderful.

What you won’t see or suspect are the inner voices telling Melody otherwise. Depression and Anxiety take these truths from her and they twist them until it hurts her to be herself.

Our thank you to Melody is also a prayer. May she recognize the words on our card and see them inside herself, as who she is. May she hear the lyrics her life sings.

Melody Butterfly Ink Sketch

Melody, you are a sweet song carried on the wings of a butterfly. Your family and friends are listening closely and carefully. If you cannot hear your own song, we’ll sing it back to you.

You are absolutely lovely.


© 2014 Kelly Dycavinu, Popcorn with a Spoon. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © 2014 Kelly Dycavinu, Popcorn with a Spoon

Sunglasses at Night: A Weird Writerly Woe


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It’s 8:30 pm and my three-year-old daughter comes to my office for a goodnight kiss. However, she stops in the doorway and starts laughing at me.

What? I wonder. What did I do?

“Mom! Why are you wearing your sunglasses?” she exclaims.

Oh. Yeah. I forgot about the sunglasses.

Even a three-year-old knows it’s ridiculous to wear sunglasses at night, but what’s a blurry-eyed editing-mode mom supposed to do? No amount of eye drops or tinkering with screen settings seems to help my agitated eyes. So… Corey Hart meet Maui Jim meet mom-on-a-mission.

It’s now 12:45 am.

I wear my sunglasses at night.


Contests! Here are a few coming up:

  1. February 28th. WOW! Women on Writing Winter 2014 Flash Fiction Contest. Details here.
  2. February 28th. The Manchester Writing for Children Prize 2014. Details here.
  3. March 1st. The Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition. Details here.
  4. March 3rd. 2014 Askew’s Foods’ Word on the Lake Writing Contest (Shuswap Association of Writers). Details here.
  5. April 30th. 2014 Bristol Short Story Prize. Details here.

Write away! Write now!

Wielding Words Wisely


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Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

–Philo of Alexandria

Communication. It can be complicated.

These days, I often feel foolish, mostly misunderstood, and even chastised in my attempts to address issues. I regret ever offering my insights. Irritated and edgy, I want to lash out. To use my words as a whip. To slap so-and-so with all the sarcastic sentences seething inside. A war rages within.

Alone in the Orange Room © by Kelly Dycavinu

Then I open a letter sent to me by a sweet stranger. In it I read: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Immediately I’m taken out of my own inner turmoil. I imagine the struggles, the conflicts, the complications of those around me. Those well-meaning and wonderful people. We all fight a great battle, but it’s not really against one another, is it?

Philo of Alexandria’s words are a gift I receive centuries after he speaks them. Rather than use my own words as a weapon, I wish to wield them as wisely, to give them as gifts.

Communication. It can be a kindness.

A complicated kindness.

Vulnerability: The Very Scary Thing


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He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.

– Ethiopian Proverb

Vulnerability. It’s a hairy, thirteen-legged, monstrous beast that bites through bone, eats eyeballs and twisted intestines, and is most happy playing hacky sack with the heart.

A bit too dramatic or disgusting for you?

Vulnerability. It’s a scary thing!

No matter how deep or desperate our desire is to be known, we’ve learned from life that very scary things are bad and to be avoided at all costs. Self-preservation and protection takes priority.

But what if we’re wrong? What if our sensitivities are skewed?

Recently I’ve been reflecting on relationships and some specific circumstances in which I’ve seen relationships thrive or die. And I’ve come away with some (mostly personal) insights.

Do you ever find it easier to advocate on the behalf of others, to negotiate for needs that are not your own? I do. In fact, I feel quite competent in this capacity. But then, when it comes to advocating on my own behalf, all my strengths and sensibilities seem to slip away. It’s a very scary thing to ask for something good for myself, for something I need or want. Why?

Well, for me, expressing a need or desire is a vulnerable thing. It gives power to the other person. The power to reject the request, to disappoint, to deny. The power to control. The power to manipulate. The power to abuse or misuse. Knowing what a person needs, wants, or desires is knowing how and where to hurt them, to cause pain.

I’ve held this view of vulnerability for decades. Only recently did I come to realize the incomplete picture it portrays. Here’s the rest of it…

Expressing a need or a desire gives power to another person. It gives them the power to provide, to grant the request, to satisfy, to comply. The power to serve. The power to guide, shape and nurture. The power to please. The power to equip. Knowing what a person needs, wants, or desires is knowing how and where to help and to heal.

Vulnerability. What if the Very Scary Thing is actually a Great Good Thing? It’s a notion I’m just beginning to embrace.

How about you?

Any other insight to offer? Or experience to share?

Comments are welcome.

© 2013 Kelly Dycavinu, Popcorn with a Spoon. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © 2013 Kelly Dycavinu, Popcorn with a Spoon

To Quote Myself (Write to Discover)


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I write to discover – Kelly Dycavinu

There’s nothing so silly, yet sweetly satisfying, as quoting oneself. Isn’t it nice to know you like what you have to say? Enough to say it again. And again? Today’s quote originates from here, but more recently I quoted myself as saying it here. (Alright, I admit it’s a little odd, but I won’t do it so often as to annoy. Or so I hope.)

Here’s a poem I wrote:

Watching, scanning,
Flying, spying,
The peregrine falcon

In skywater, diving

And here’s what I discovered…

  1. Peregrine falcons have a system of bony tubercles (nodules) in the nostrils, called baffles, that slow airflow through the nose during dives. This helps prevent the high pressure dives from damaging their lungs.
  2. Feak, verb– (Of a raptor) To clean the beak, usually by wiping it on a piece of wood or rock.
  3. Mantling, adj.– Used in reference to a raptor with its wings spread out low and in front, usually covering food to keep it from being seen.
  4. Mute, noun– A piece of raptor’s excrement.
  5. Pefa, noun– a peregrine falcon.

There’s more, but those are my favourites.

All this came about when I encouraged my son to write a poem to submit in a poetry contest. He chose to write about peregrine falcons. And here’s one of his poems (not the one submitted):

Birds of Prey by R. Dycavinu

Skies full with wondrous birds
Screeching screaming magical words

So… What did you write this week? And what did you discover? Do share!


© Kelly Dycavinu, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kelly Dycavinu with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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