Birding in Buenos Aires

It’s fair to say that most people who travel to Buenos Aires do not come to see birds. They come for the food, the tango, the Teatro Colon, and the amazing architecture. And if they are looking for birds they are probably stopping on their way to visiting somewhere else in the region.

Yet there are amazing birds to be seen within city limits.

And you might not find the best place to see them mentioned in most guidebooks. That’s because the place you’ll want to go didn’t exist until 1986. And if you do read about it you might also read that it’s a place for tourists to avoid for safety reasons.

But having spent a number of mornings and afternoons there, I can report that I never felt in danger — and I was lugging around a very large camera. The park was busy with joggers and kids on school trips. I even passed a large group of police cadets in training one morning.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be heads-up — but that goes for any part of the city.

So what is this place?

It’s the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, and it’s in the Puerto Madero area, a short walk from most hotels.

More than a hundred species of birds have been spotted in the area. In just a few days of walking around I spotted more than 25, including this turkey-sized bird known as a Chajá (or, in English, Southern Screamer):

Being from the Midwest and now living in the West, I miss seeing cardinals. So I was thrilled to come across this red-crested cardinal:

I was surprised to learn that this species is not actually related to the cardinals I grew up with; it’s part of the tanager family.

I also sighted a curious Great Kiskadee:

And if you want to see parrots, you’re almost guaranteed to see a species or two, like this monk parakeet:

And don’t forget to look down once in a while, or you might miss the many turtles and iguanas:

If you can make time to visit this reserve when in Buenos Aires, I highly recommend it (note that it’s closed on Mondays).

Most important, it is possible to go naturing and birding in Buenos Aires, so don’t miss this abundance of flora and fauna in the city, even if you’re on your way somewhere else.

Your Author Website: Build or Rent?

Your author website is your virtual home on the Internet.

Every author should have one, even if you also have homes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

That’s because you need a home that is truly your own. A home that Google can index and make easily findable. A home that you control separate from platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

You might be thinking: “But Facebook makes it so easy to make yourself at home! Why bother with a website?”

It’s not an easy question to answer because so much depends on the author. The path you take is going to be largely determined by the following:

  • Your technical ability (or desire to learn)
  • Your budget
  • Your desire to go beyond website templates to create a completely customized author website

With these criteria in mind, I find that there are two general paths one can take regarding their website: Building vs. Renting.

Building a custom home (website)

When you build your home, you will probably need to hire an architect (web designer) to create the home according to your needs. The designer can often also host your website and manage it on an ongoing basis, charging an ongoing fee. This is a perfectly reasonable way to proceed, particularly if you have no technical ability and no desire to bother with web pages and HTML code. But you also need a budget — some web designers will charge $3,000 to $5,000 to create a website. And you’ll also need to pay an hourly rate for text changes down the road. If you want to have your own blog, for example, you will need to think about whether or not you want to pay someone to do this for you instead of you learning how to use WordPress and doing it yourself (it’s not as difficult as it may seem).

What does a custom website look like? Check out this one.

I should stress that even custom websites are often built on standard templates or design frameworks. So a web designer is still often using an underlying template, even though you may not notice it.

Renting a semi-customized home (website)

Now let’s say you don’t want to spend a lot of money. I first urge you to see what’s available for you to use cheaply. You would rely on a web hosting company that provides a template for you to use. You might want to check out:

SquareSpace
SquareSpace offers templates. Here is one that I think can work as an author website. You can start a free trail with no credit card.

Wix
You can create a free account on Wix as well — I’m not a huge fan of the templates.

My advice, whichever way you go:

  • Use photos selectively. Keep the focus on text; photos can add to download times.
  • Make sure the design is “responsive” — so it will adapt to mobile phone screens easily.
  • You’ll probably want a blog included, so you can easily add “news/events.” You could even have your news/event links simply go to the blog. This is a big question: How active do you want to update the site?
  • Finally, if you hire a designer, make sure it’s “work for hire.” You want to own that website so you’re able to update it, change it, etc. Designers sometimes will charge quite a lot for minimal updates or changes.

ACP is headed to New Zealand and Australia

We’re excited to once again be headed Down Under to meet with authors and readers.

We have two events planned that all are welcome to attend:

 

Christchurch, New Zealand

Writing about Animals: Literature’s evolving relationship with the animal kingdom

November 10th, 3 to 5pm

At the University of Canterbury

New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies

Engineering Core Lecture Theatre, Building E12

 

Perth, Australia

Sunday Session

November 26, 4 to 5:30 pm

At the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre

 

If you have any questions or would like to meet us along the way, please contact us.

The General Manager has left the building

As many of you know, Theo is our General Manager. But most of you do not know the story of how he became our GM.

In 1999, we were living in Boston in a fourth-floor walkup studio. My coworker had adopted a cat from a shelter south of Boston. At just nine months of age, this little cat was terrorizing her first cat, a cat twice his size. Near tears one morning, she told me she had to return him to the shelter.

We had wanted a cat for years but our lease wouldn’t allow it. But we were worried about this feisty cat’s fate and didn’t want to see him returned to the shelter, where he might not have had another chance at finding a home.

We couldn’t get official approval from our landlord, but he lived below us (with his dog) and gave us unofficial approval. And so we took my co-worker’s cat home.

 

Theo was his name and we never considered changing it.

He was a holy terror. He was missing two toes from his back leg. Had been hit by a car was the official story. But it was clear he had been starved as well. So young and so sadly obsessed with food. Got us up at all hours of the night. We tried free-feeding, but he nearly doubled his weight in month. So from then on he was on a controlled diet. I remember thinking at one point we should have just had a child as eventually they let you sleep the night through.

And then it occurred to me that we did have a child.

Ira, our friend who is now with Theo, once said, as he watched Theo walk into a room, “That cat oozes testosterone.” And did he ever.

From Boston to San Diego, Seattle and then Ashland, he traveled with us, wanted to be with us always.

Eighteen years.

We had our challenges along the way. We could never adopt other cats or dogs because he had such a hot temper; he barely tolerated us at times. And then there were the emergency room visits. A urinary blockage one year. Diabetes a few years later. A torn ligament in his knee that had to be replaced. In the end, it was a tumor in his jaw that he couldn’t overcome.

We started Ashland Creek Press on a whim. Not knowing where it would lead us. We adopted Theo on a whim as well. Funny how those things you do on a whim end up changing your lives for the better. We regret not a single day. We only regret that we did not have more of them.

He made us more patient, more flexible. He gave us so many wonderful memories. His stubbornness inspires our writing, our publishing, keeps us going in the face of rejection.

He was an indoor cat all his life, but boy did he love to go on walks.

So we will leave the position of GM open for now. We think it will take 3 or 4 felines at least to fill his shoes, or paws. And, after a time of mourning, we will try to fill them.

We had eighteen wonderful years with Theo. Right about the time many parents are sending their children off to college, we had to send ours off as well.

Such is life.

And such an empty nest.

Theo
1999-2017

 

Ashland Creek Press book submissions are now open

I’m pleased to announce that we are open once again for general submissions.

Thanks for your patience. We expect submissions to be open until June 1, 2017.

You can submit here.

As always, there is no submission fee for regular book submissions, but please carefully review the types of books we’ve published so far, as this is a good indicator of what we’re looking for.

Writing for Animals Anthology
We are 90% complete with articles for this forthcoming anthology of essays for writers. But we’re still looking for one or two more excellent essays, and submissions will remain open until March 31, 2017.

Thanks for your continued support of Ashland Creek Press.