Demons and Better Angels: Writing Talk in Houston on April 2

Demons and Better Angels: Finding the Path to Our Truest Stories (and a Little Bit of Peace of Mind)

In this session, I will share my breakdowns and breakthroughs, and offer some of the best wisdom and tools I’ve discovered for getting past blocks and continuing to tell the stories that matter most to me. This will include the heartbreak of rejection and critique, dealing with mental health, and struggling with writing and researching stories outside my experience.

And I promise to do it all with lots of dark humour (and dark chocolate)!


Monday, April 2nd at 7 p.m.

FREE and open to the public.

Houston Chapter of the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
Tracey Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042

Want to Be a Writer? Come Learn More on March 24 in Fort Bend!

I’m very pleased to be part of this event at the Sienna Plantation Public Library in Missouri City, Texas. It’s FREE and open to the public. While it’s especially geared toward students in grades 9 through 12, there will also be lots of great information for adults who are considering new education or career possibilities.

Come with your burning questions and your curiosity! I have had a random, adventure-filled career so far and am excited to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with you!


Careers in Focus: The Arts
3/24/2018 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Are you considering a career in the arts? Join us as a panel of professionals shares their experiences working in different areas of the artistic field. This program will include brief presentations by professionals with arts-related careers, a Q&A session, and time for break out sessions.

No registration required.

Women in Aviation History Talk on March 22nd in Richmond, Texas

In recognition of Women’s History Month in March, George Memorial Library in Richmond will present a special program, “The History of Women in Aviation,” on Thursday, March 22, beginning at 7:00 pm, in the Meeting Room of the library.

In her presentation, local author and aviation historian Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail will showcase some of the famous (and not-so-famous) women from around the world who have made an impact in the aviation industry in times of peace and of war.

“From the earliest days of aviation, there have been women who have wanted to walk on wings, soar in balloons, tinker with engines, and – of course – fly,” says Metcalfe-Chenail, who shares her love for aviation history in her books For the Love of Flying, Polar Winds, and the forthcoming picture book, Alis the Aviator: The ABCs of Flight.

As the former Historian Laureate of Edmonton, Alberta, and the former president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Metcalfe-Chenail was able to combine her graduate degree in history with her passion for writing and aviation history.

This program is made possible by the generous support of the Friends of the George Memorial Library. Proceeds from the Friends of the Library book sales and annual membership dues help to underwrite the costs of special programming and various cultural events at the library.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call George Memorial Library at 281-342-4455 or the library system’s Communications Office at 281-633-4734. Richmond is in Fort Bend County outside of Houston, Texas.


Canada’s History Takes Centre Stage in Ottawa-Gatineau

I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to Ottawa-Gatineau where I got to emcee the 10th annual Canada’s History Forum and gala. They were held at the Canadian Museum of History on the Quebec side, and it was a stimulating and inspiring series of events. At the heart of it all, I felt, were discussions about collaboration, respect and relationships.

If you’d like to learn more about the programme, speakers, projects and see recordings, please visit:

Thankful that Canada’s History purchased 15 copies of In This Together, the collection of essays I edited last year, to give to speakers as gifts. Also incredibly grateful to have met Elder Claudette Commanda of the Kitigan Zibi Nation, who welcomed us to the Algonquin territory.


The theme was “Making History Relevant”, and the practical applications in government departments, classrooms, and in broader society. Perhaps nowhere is history more relevant than reconciliation and social justice, so it should come as no surprise that many of the topics focused on community projects involving First Nations and Metis partners/leaders – as well as the troubling situation in Poland about the history of the Holocaust, and the chilling effect legislation is having on free speech and scholarly investigations.

The following day at Rideau Hall, the newish Governor General, Julie Payette gave a rousing talk in English, French, and a bit of Anishnaabewomin about the importance of evidence-based history. I think we were all ready to follow her into orbit (and yes, there were at least three witty ‘space jokes’ during acceptance speeches).











I was particularly pleased to learn about the Indigenous Arts and Stories winners, as well as the awards that went to Dr. Sarah Carter (whose book on captivity narratives blew me away in undergrad) and Daniel Francis, a popularizer of history whose book Imaginary Indians was seminal for my understanding of stereotyping and how we construct identity. These are two of the titles who helped push me toward cultural and social history!

I can’t wait to be a speaker at the National Council for Public History’s conference in Las Vegas in April, and keep connecting with folks who are digging deep into our past – and investigating how we remember. Maybe I’ll see you there!

GG02-2017-0417-065 November 22, 2017 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, presented teachers and other outstanding Canadians with the 2017 Governor General’s History Awards for their efforts to further an interest in and understanding of Canadian history and heritage. The awards was presented at a ceremony at Rideau Hall, on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. Credit: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall, OSGG



Harvey the Cat at Sienna Library on Oct 29!

In honour of National Cat Day, the Sienna Branch Library in Missouri City, TX is hosting two hours of kitty purrfection on Sunday, October 29. From 2-4 p.m., come out to make DIY cat toys, cat treat recipes, see adorable cats up for adoption, watch funny cat videos, and get transformed by the talented Catherine Gauche Visagie of Sienna Plantation Face Painting.

I’ll be reading  Harvey the Cat at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. So bring your stuffed animal cats and kittens to snuggle while I tell you this amazing, ‘nearly true’ story!

If you live on the south side of Houston and are bummed you missed my event at Blue Willow Bookshop, I hope you can come join us!

For more details, directions, etc, please follow this link to the library’s site.


Community Blooms through Love Thy Neighbor Initiative

15259498_10153861126245194_3213217001454732711_oLigi Varghese and her 3 year-old daughter clutched bunches of roses in front of the Maryam Islamic Center outside Houston, Texas before Friday prayers on December 2. They, along with a dozen or so community members of various faiths and backgrounds passed out more than 400 flowers to worshippers as they arrived at the mosque.

The attendees alternatively smiled or looked surprised as individuals of the grassroots Love Thy Neighbor initiative handed out single stems along with messages of love and support. Several people held up handwritten signs with statements such as “Houston Loves You.”

15235646_10153861233845194_1190003634274050853_oVarghese, who identifies as an Indian-American Christian, felt spurred to act after she saw a rise in Islamophobia and hate crimes in the media. She reached out to her friend Naheeda Spencer who attends the Maryam Islamic Center in Sugar Land with her family, to see if it would be possible to come out in a show of solidarity with the Fort Bend Muslim community. Imam Taquer Shah welcomed the idea.

Every Friday, hundreds of Muslims in the community – with very diverse backgrounds – come for prayers, and Varghese wanted to give a flower to each person as a symbol of unity. She was supported in this effort by private donors as well as Trader Joe’s, who supplied the long stem roses.

After being invited inside the beautiful mosque for prayers, volunteers and faithful alike listened to Varghese read a statement she had prepared. “We are all so much more similar than we are different,” she said. “We have to start getting to know each other.” This initiative was meant to do that – create awareness in the non-Muslim community, build trust, and forge relationships.

15235784_10153861233990194_3439498266227919922_oThe Maryam Islamic Center, for its part, has been doing community outreach since it was built in 2009, and even before then when it operated out of a trailer further up Sartartia Road. It offers public events such as a carnival annually, coordinates interfaith activities with area churches, and often does fundraising or volunteering for area nonprofits such as the Houston Food Bank.

Deputy John McCoy, one of several Fort Bend County Constables who direct traffic each week as well as during special events has seen this first-hand. “The mosque offers so much and these folks are really part of the community,” he said.

15288677_10153861233835194_3764588772864256438_oEven so, several attendees shared stories of how their children and teenagers have been targeted in school for being Muslim. This is something that troubles Varghese, a mother of a new baby and a preschooler, in particular. “Children aren’t born with hatred. Someone taught them to hate, and never taught them what it was to love.”

This initiative, along with increased connections between mosques and schools, Boy Scout troops, and other organizations are helping to break down these barriers and foster understanding. Varghese hopes small gestures like a flower will show a commitment from other Americans to stand by Muslims in the face of bigotry.

As volunteers cleaned up rose petals outside and carried the food the Maryam Islamic Center gave them, a man in his thirties stopped to shake hands. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “This is what America is all about.”




One young reader’s thoughts on In This Together

I read In This Together, and wow. There were stories in there that I connected with emotionally, stories in there where I could relate to what the author was saying, and stories that made me question myself. All the stories made me think. Thank you for this book. I honestly believe that it needs to be read by all High School and University students.

Also, thank you for including the contact information for the contributors to the book. I’m in the process of contacting them just to thank them, and for a few, to ask questions. ~Salman Ahmed, college student in Edmonton, Alberta


The Charles Camsell Indian Hospital: From Haunting to Understanding

I was walking around my new neighbourhood here in Houston, Texas, and all the pumpkins, witches and ghosts decorating homes got me thinking about the Charles Camsell Hospital and how far we’ve come.

In 2014, when I first started researching the Camsell in earnest, most news stories and internet hits talked about its status as a haunted building. There were “Top 10 Edmonton Haunted Sites” lists and shivery stories about breaking in after dark. But, as I’ve been learning, urban legends keep knowledge shallow. They keep us from looking into the complex nature of places and experiences, and the roles we play in them.

To read the full post on my Ghosts of Camsell site, please go to


A Celebration and Transformation

p1040234When I decided to throw a party to launch my new book in the US, I wondered the best way to do it. While traditional book launches are lovely, this book has been all about creating community, having tricky discussions, and seeing each other through new eyes. I wanted my young son to be able to enjoy the party. I wanted my new friends here in the Houston area to gather, bring their families, and meet each other.

p1040255So I threw a ‘book birthday party’ that Namita Asthana at Off the Vine Bistro generously offered to host. About thirty of us got together to drink her delicious pumpkin-spice punch, eat her home-made French macarons, and chat while the kids drew on poster board with crayons and glitter paint what it looks like to work together and to listen. My new friend, Catherine, of Sienna Plantation Face Painting, brought her kit and her creativity to show us how we can all make small steps to transform ourselves.


The kids are already ahead of us on this. The ones who came were mostly in the four to six year old range, and have pretty good ideas about what’s fair and what’s not in the world. But they’re still elastic enough in their thinking to adopt new ways of doing things if the old ones aren’t working. They’re able to ask tough questions because they really want to know – they’re just so curious. They don’t realize adults might find the questions awkward or embarrassing (albeit necessary). They know they can expand their experiences by pretending to be a rainbow leopard or Spiderman, or anyone or anything else.

Wouldn’t it be great if we adults were that playful and open? Willing to walk in the shoes of someone else?

p1040269That’s the heart of this book. To see through someone else’s eyes, walk in their shoes, and imagine what life might be like if you were born in a different time, place and body.


p1040246Thanks to everyone who came from the Houston Writer’s Guild and the local chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. And thanks to my amazing husband and son who have supported me in this work and celebrated along side of me.

If you live in the Houston area and would like to buy a copy of the book, please contact Brazos Bookstore or your local Barnes & Noble. Hopefully they’ll have some in stock soon, or can easily order them in. And, of course, you can get them through your favourite online retailer. You can also request that your local library bring in a copy. All you’ll need is the basic book information found by clicking here.

p1040268And if you belong to a book club, church group, school or conversation circle and you’d like to buy copies for your members and have me come and speak, please get in touch through this website. I’ll help you figure out how we can make that happen!







Time To Celebrate – and Work – Together Stateside!

12322475_895983110470947_683162362249974662_oI am beyond thrilled with how much In This Together has connected with readers, teachers, reconciliation advocates, and politicians in Canada. Since it launched in April, it has become a regional as well as National Post bestseller and has gone to a second printing. And every week I hear from someone by email, on Twitter, on Facebook and beyond about how one – or more – of the stories really spoke to their experiences or blew their mind (in a good way).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is obviously a Canadian entity. The journey and relationships this book speaks to are largely Canadian, as are the voices. But at least one of the authors talks about her European heritage, her work in New Zealand, and minority Indigenous language issues. Another author lives and works in New York City. Yet another speaks about his cross-border travels to Indigenous gatherings and protests, showing how the Medicine Line (49th parallel) is really just a geo-political construct.

So I am ready to launch In This Together in the US, where I now live, and I hope it connects with people here too. Not just around our often shared histories of colonization, residential schools, good intentions, and broken treaty promises. But around our struggles today to deal with systemic racism and discrimination. Because that’s what is at the heart of this collection, these fifteen personal stories and ‘aha moments’. And here in the US, where we’re faced almost daily with an innocent black man being killed by police, or by police (of many different ethnicities) being targeted in retribution, we need these kinds of stories. We need to look deep into our histories, systems, and own hearts to see how we can move forward with empathy and understanding. How we really are all in this together.

If you’re in the Houston area, I hope you’ll come out to our book birthday party on Saturday, October 15 from 3-5pm at Off the Vine Bistro (2685 Dulles Avenue in Missouri City) to have some punch, snacks (including Indigenous-East Indian fusion bannock), and fun with other folks. We are also lucky to have artist Catherine Gauche Visagie doing exquisite face painting for all ages with the theme of “seeing with new eyes”. Please RSVP directly with me through this site or through my Facebook event page.

If you’re an author, academic or activist elsewhere and you’d like to set up a panel discussion, please get in touch through the contact page. If you’re a book club, church group, nonprofit or school, please ask me how you can get books in bulk at a discount – I would love to come and chat with your group either in person or via Skype!

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.