Mile High Fun with Alis the Aviator!

What a blast this weekend in Denver, Colorado! Thank you so much to the folks at Second Star to the Right bookstore, who invited me in to do story time on Saturday. I got to meet some adorable future aviators, eat these delicious cookies, and talk about books and writing with new friends.

And, of course, I got to spend lots of time with good writing pal, Laura Mitzner, who is creating smart and relatable YA with psychological twists. It was so neat to be working on our manuscripts-in-process in the Garden of the Gods and the Botanical Gardens.

I feel like great things are growing in Denver and can’t wait to get back soon for another visit!

Flying into Fun at the Lone Star Flight Museum

It was so lovely to share Alis the Aviator with little plane nuts and their families last week in Houston! My son, Andre, was my co-pilot during these story times, which was so neat since I wrote the book for him in 2014 back in Edmonton.

Celebrate Kalpna Patel’s Amazing Artwork!

If you live in the Toronto area, go to Type Books on Thursday, July 11th from 630-830pm to meet the incredible illustrator for Alis the Aviator.

The party is FREE and open to the public.

Get event details and RSVPby clicking here!

And if you can’t make the event, check out this cool behind-the-scenes video about Kalpna’s cut-paper art creations.

If you’re a subscriber to Quill & Quire magazine, you can also check out the feature they just did on her. It’s really great!

Interview on Book Echoes



Thanks to my friend and critique partner, Connie B. Dowell, for interviewing me on her podcast! It’s my first one focused on children’s writing but also strays into all the parts of the writing life I’m passionate about (in under 15 min) 

We were huddled around her iphone recording this at one of the Houston Library locations last month.

Connie is a history geek like me and writes YA historical mysteries. Her latest release is Dead Man’s Jazz!

The Houston Chronicle features Alis the Aviator!

It was great to chat with Joy Sewing last week for a bit about Alis the Aviator. And I was excited to learn about her book for young people, Ava and the Prince: The Adventure of Two Rescue Pups (I love animals so much – rescue dogs especially!).

Thanks again, Joy!

“With the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, children’s book authors are celebrating the milestone with an array of titles focused on everything from space exploration to aviation.

One of the these is “Alis the Aviator” by Missouri City resident and Canadian native Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail about the life of Dr. Alis Kennedy, the first Indigenous woman to obtain a commercial pilot’s licence in Canada. Metcalfe-Chenail will be doing a story time at the Lone Star Flight Museum, 11551 Aerospace Ave., at 9:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. (Tickets are $5 per person; free for 3 and under.)

“I grew up around aviation, so there was lots of exploration in my childhood,” Metcalfe-Chenail said. “In flight and in space, there’s this sense of following your dreams.”

Click here to read the whole article and see the other featured books, including:

  • Look Up With Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Life Among the Stars”
    by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Lorraine Nam (currently on my desk as a mentor book for a work in progress!)
  • “If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon”
    by Joyce Lapin and illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli
  • “Out There” by Tom Sullivan
  • “Destination Moon” by Seymour Simon
  • “Baby Astronaut” by Dr. Laura Gehl and Daniel Wiseman


The books behind Alis the Aviator

I joke that I didn’t have to do too much research for Alis the Aviator – at least not specifically for it. What I did instead was immerse myself in aviation history for seven years leading up to it.

I started that journey in 2007 when I first sat down with John Bogie, former president of Laurentian Air Services (and Air Schefferville). The days and weeks I spent with him at his Ottawa office talking while digging through photos and documents, became the foundation for my first book.

(You’ll notice the Otter in Alis the Aviator has a distinctive paint scheme…)
I knew “G” had to be for Goose, like CF-BXR in that book. But also because my grandfather, Andre “Andy” Chenail, flew a Goose back in the 1950s.
And “W” would be for Waco – not for the city in Texas, but for this bi-plane that I’d first learned about during my Laurentian research.
My second book, Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North, had me in the Western Arctic for months – which was my plan all along! I love it so much up there. So quite a few of the aircraft featured in Alis the Aviator appeared in that book (like this York).
One of my favourite things to research for Polar Winds was the airships, blimps and Zeppelin. And guess what starts with ‘Z’ in Alis the Aviator? You got it!
The story of Professor Leonard and his aerobatic feats above the skies of Dawson City, Yukon in the early 1900s filled the first chapter of Polar Winds. What a fascinating character!

And growing up near Gatineau, Quebec, I remember the sky filled with hot air balloons for the annual festival.

Reminiscing Over First Drafts

I was cleaning up my files and came across this – the first draft of what became Alis the Aviator! Looking at these pages brought up the memory of sitting on my little backyard patio in Edmonton in June 2014. My son, Andre, was about two years old at the time. I had finally gotten him down for his afternoon nap and I brought my favourite notepad out with these blank scrap pages (I like doing rough drafts or outlines this way. It feels way less precious. These pages were literally destined for the recycling bin anyway, so who cared if I made a mess!)

I had just finished my second aviation history book and I had so many random aviation facts in my brain. Like the poetry I wrote in my teens and twenties, I had been carrying around words and lines for days in my head. So when I sat down to write, it all came pouring out. Many of the aircraft and even the words are exactly the same now as they were in this draft!
I had fun playing around with rhyming words, trying to figure out how to fill the blank spots in the alphabet. All those years spent writing poetry and song lyrics really came into the process. It came down to rhythm, rhyme and a whole lot of fun!

Featured in VoyageHouston!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail.

Danielle, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I just love the written word, and I have devoured books since I was little, so it makes sense that I devote my life to writing stories – my own and other people’s. I started freelance writing and editing with my middle school newspaper back in Canada and wrote angsty poetry and songs when I was a teenager. In university, I studied History and thought I’d become a professor, but the stories called me back. I published my first adult nonfiction book, For the Love of Flying, in 2009 and since then I’ve published two more: Polar Winds and In This Together (a collection of essays I edited). I’m now working on everything from kid’s books to novels and memoir, and in 2019, my first picture book – Alis the Aviator: An ABC Aviation Adventure – comes out.

To read full interview, please click here.

Alis the Aviator Available for Pre Order!

Only one month to go until my first picture book flies out into the world!

Some of you have been wondering how to get ahold of copies (thanks so much for asking!). Here are a few ways to track ’em down online and in person.

You can pre-order now for delivery or pickup, or you can wait until July 2nd – Alis’s official book birthday!

  • Indiebound (US) – do a search to find your closest independent bookstore. Then contact them to see if they have it in stock or get them to order it in!
  • Barnes & Noble (US)
  • Amazon
  • Chapters-Indigo (Canada)
  • Target is also carrying it, at least online.
  • And don’t forget your local library can always bring in a copy. You just have to request it through their website or a staff member!

And of course you can also come see me in person at launch events around North America. I’d love to say ‘hi’ and sign your book!

Finalist in Writers’ League of Texas contest!

I am thrilled to announce that one of my works in progress – HURTS – was a finalist for this year’s manuscript contest in the general nonfiction and memoir category.

I’m still pinching myself! In fact, it’s been about a month since I heard the news and I think it’s just sunk in.

After all, this is a book about Canada’s largest Indian Hospital written by a Canadian transplant living in Houston. Knowing that the topic and writing could connect with the judges despite the big geographic distance is a huge boost for when I dig back into the revisions later this year.

Congrats to all the winners and finalists!

GENERAL FICTION

WINNER
The Sunday Painter by Antonia Angress

FINALISTS

Orientation by Daniel Carlson
Possum Fields, A Novel by Pamela Diamond
Coalition by Katrina Murphy
Take My Life by Rachel Ballenger 
A Bark of Baser Kind by Sophia Veltfort
Lost by Charlotte Wyatt


NONFICTION (GENERAL NONFICTION & MEMOIR)

WINNER (General Nonfiction)
Sleeping in a Sunset by Laurie Paternoster

WINNER (Memoir)
House, Mississippi by Ursula Pike

FINALISTS

Closure: How Solving My Sister’s Murder Broke Me Open by Theresa Bastian
Gifts from Damascus by Susan McDonald
Hurts: Searching for the True Story of Canada’s Largest Indian Hospital by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail
Every New Beginning by Tiffany Parcher

HISTORICAL FICTION 

WINNER

Far Away Bird by Douglas Burton

FINALISTS

The Invisible Prisoner by Erica Hairston
Feevah by Brenda Hummel
Revolutionary Spirits by Matthew LaWall-Shane
Valadon: A Girl From Montmartre by Terri Taylor

SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY

WINNER
When Marisol Goes Home by Susan San Miguel

FINALISTS

Star Crossed by Dwayne Goetzel
Mind’s Construction by Matthew LaWall-Shane
Pharmacide by Elizabeth Steiner
The Ballad Panacea by Marcus Tyler

MYSTERY

WINNER
Cue the Corpse by Karen Duxbury

FINALISTS
Grave Promise by Lisanne Davidson
An Instant Out of Time by Lori Roberts Herbst
Hollywood Down Low by Leigh Paulk

ROMANCE

WINNER
Love Fronts by Connie Estes Beale

FINALISTS
Cartel Cover by Risa Leigh 
Flirty Romancing by Mary Ann Loesch
What Remains Behind by Rodney Walther

THRILLER/ACTION ADVENTURE

WINNER
Not for Sale by James Peyton

FINALISTS

Malt U.S. Cola by Dwayne Goetzel
Pharmacide by Elizabeth Steiner
Helpers by Rick Treon
Shine Your Eye by Rodney Walther 

MIDDLE GRADE

WINNER
Sleep Leap by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan

FINALISTS

Lockjaw by Robin Cox
The Blue Hour by Erin Liles
A Night Without Light by Cathey Nickell
Enchanted Gulf by Noah Weisz

YOUNG ADULT

WINNER
Icarus Flight School by Krissi Dallas

FINALISTS

Off Edge by Carol Barreyre
The Ascenditure by R.S. Dabney
Revolutionary Spirits by Matthew LaWall-Shane
Sugarcoated by Melody Robinette


© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.