We’re thrilled to announce that today we have a Guest Blogger for you! Marissa Stapley is a National Magazine Award nominated writer who has contributed to many publications, including The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Sun, Today’s Parent, Fashion, and Elle.

This summer she has added author to her list of achievements. Mating for Life is her debut novel which explores human instinct and the relationships that sustain us. Called “an absolute feat of storytelling,” “a brilliant debut,” and a “sensitive, timely, compassionate exploration of family, friendship, and self-discovery,” Mating for Life is the can’t-miss novel of Summer 2014, one that will stay with you long after you read the final sentences.


And guess what? Marissa will donate an autographed copy of Mating for Life to each person who symbolically adopts a turtle from the Canadian Wildlife Federation. When you adopt a turtle, you’ll help make a significant difference for turtle conservation in Muskoka.  The START Muskoka Turtle Project, will be delivered in conjunction with Scales Nature Park and will target turtle species in the Muskoka region (painted, snapping, Blanding’s, map, musk, spotted), with a particular focus on Blanding’s turtles since this species is the most likely to be impacted by road mortality and human activities in the area.

Our project teams have been hard at work in the field tracking and tagging turtles and finding nesting sites.  Each turtle they come across is unique and this effort requires year round resources and time to be effective.

By symbolically adopting a turtle, you will ensure that each of these turtles will have enough resources for our project team to stay hard at work.  We will follow up with an “adoption turtle report” in the summer of 2015 and let you know how your turtle is doing.

And without further adieu, we give you Marissa.


It’s easy to forget that we’re all connected to nature, that although we can spend an entire day sitting at a desk, staring at a screen (and as a writer, I know all too well what that feels like!), there’s a natural world out there that we’re an important part of – and a world that depends on us for its survival.

When I started writing my novel, Mating for Life, I wanted to explore this connection to nature. I was writing a story about relationships, about the instincts that humans have to seek each other out, but also the ways we, sometimes just as instinctively, fail each other. I decided to begin each chapter with a short epigraph about the mating habits of a certain animal, in part because I wanted to show that animals have just as complicated and fraught mating habits as we do. Their social structures can be just as complex, and their struggles to keep a relationship alive beyond a single mating season are probably even more difficult.

The first animal that appears in my book is a snapping turtle. My family spends part of every summer at a cottage on Lake Joseph in Muskoka, and we often see turtles there. I didn’t realize until I started doing the research for my novel that many turtles in North America – and especially snapping turtles, because of the misconception of aggression, and subsequent targeting – are at risk.

At different points throughout the time I spent writing my novel, I felt a connection to each animal mentioned in the book, but the turtle was always my favourite. This might be because a close friend, who has shamanic training, told me once that that she felt strongly that the turtle was my spirit guide. The turtle asks us to slow down, nurture ourselves, be sensitive to the earth’s vibrations and the feelings of others, she explained. The turtle can also be a harbinger of creative, fertile times and can be called upon when you have an important creative project to complete.

To be honest, I thought this sounded a little too new-agey for me – but then, I started seeing turtles everywhere. I’d be sitting on the end of the dock, typing a passage or jotting a note in my notebook, and a turtle would swim by. I’d go out in the canoe and happen upon a turtle basking on a rock. I’d go for a swim, and brush past a turtle in the water.

Later, when I returned to the city, there were times during the writing of the novel when I thought I might give up. But then I’d think of the perseverance of turtles, and I’d keep going, slowly and steadily, until I got to the end. And because of this, I’m so pleased to be supporting the START Muskoka Turtle project. It means a great deal to me to help conserve and protect a species that is very close to my heart – and perhaps even partially responsible for helping me finish my book!