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


Off 6 coffee house series ready to kick off!

180sWhen I moved to the Houston area a few months ago, I was a little in shock. But recently a good friend told me a great saying: “Bloom where you’re planted.” So that’s what I’m doing.

In the different towns and suburbs I’ve lived in across North America, one thing has always helped me feel rooted in the local community: coffee houses and open mic series. It’s a great way to connect with other artistic folks of all stripes, and share our love of words and music and self-expression. So when I looked around my area and didn’t find anything like it, I decided to set one up.

Now, in partnership with the lovely Namita Asthana of Off the Vine Bistro, our monthly series Off 6 will start up on Tuesday, September 13 @ 7pm. I’m lining up some local professionals to come in as headliners, putting together door prizes for open mic participants, and Namita is hard at work figuring out some delicious specials that evening (did I mention there will be student and senior discounts?). So please bring your poetry, prose, songs, spoken word and join us – or just your clapping hands. Because every artist needs an audience!

For more info, please check out the Off 6 online home here. Or contact me through this website. Hope to see you soon!




Named to Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40

I am incredibly honoured to be included in Avenue Edmonton Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2012! This past Thursday, they hosted an event at MKT on Whyte Avenue to launch the issue. Standing in line waiting for my name to be called, I got chatting with the women on either side of me alphabetically. I was blown away: here I was, making small talk with a highly successful cancer research fundraiser and a neuro-surgeon. The rest of the “Class of 2012” includes community organizers, artists, chefs, entrepreneurs (including one of my good friends, Dana DiTomaso), and academics.

What a thrill! And what pressure to continue earning my right to be counted among them…


Here’s the link to a quick video they did of the event. And the picture was taken by amazing Edmonton-based photographer Aaron Pedersen.

Book on Spartan Air Services in the Works

Author Robert Stitt has written several articles about aircraft operated by Spartan Air Services and has recently had a book published on the history of the Boeing Fortress with RAF Coastal Command. Robert is now working on a book describing all of Spartan’s aircraft and operations in detail and is keen to make contact with former Spartan employees or their relatives willing to share memories, photographs, logbooks, newsletters and other items.

Please contact him at


Here are some other aviation projects underway. Their authors welcome your help!

Harold E. Wright would like information on the location of the records of the Magee Trophy Committee from the 1939-42 period. He would also be interested in knowing of any pilots or aircraft with a connection to Saint John, NB, from the 1917-1975 period. Contact him at

Elizabeth Chen is looking for some photographs. She writes: “In 1958/59 my Father Squadron Leader Douglas Leckie RAAF was flying in the Snowy Mountains Australia in the Beaver VH-SMB, this plane is now C-FTCW.” Do you have any records or photos of this aircraft? Contact her at if so!
 Matt Jolley (for Fred Aldworth) is looking for help tracking down an individual aircraft history or squadron records for aircraft DH-82-C, construction number 1339, that flew with No. 33 EFTS in Caron, Saskatchewan then was sold to civilian and registered in the USA as NX82CS. Please contact or if you can help.
Jake McLaughlin is spearheading “a project inviting anecdotes about Canada’s short-lived history of naval aviation from those who were directly involved or whose friends or family members might have been part of that world. If you know of anyone who fits in either category, would you be kind enough to direct them to the website on which anecdotes can be posted. We’ll collect, review and publish the results. Any proceeds from the outcome will be dedicated to funding a memorial to the story of Naval Air in Canada.”


Mill Woods Artists Collective: Building Community Through Art

In November 2011, a new arts initiative in Edmonton’s SouthEast was born: the Mill Woods Artists Collective.

Jannie Edwards

Canadian Authors Association writer-in-residence and poet, Jannie Edwards, and poet/hip hopper/NDP candidate Rod Loyola (also known as Rosouljah) began organizing monthly meetings to connect artists of all genres, get new projects off the ground, and contribute to the local community.

I’ve been involved with this as much as possible given my other work and life commitments, and am excited about the projects and events that are underway (or upcoming). Right now the main project is being headed up by historian Catherine Cole and video/theatre producer Don Bouzek. They are  collecting the stories of the people and the vision of this community—from the aboriginal presence on this land , to the unique urban plan of the early 1970s, to the waves of immigration that give Mill Woods its sense of vibrant diversity. The first phase of this work will be a six-panel exhibit to be launched at the Mill Woods Canada Day celebrations. The exhibit will then travel around the community to schools and community leagues.

Rod Loyola

Other upcoming events include:

  • Artists Cabaret to be held June 1st at the Southwood Community Hall
  • Public art creation
  • Monthly coffee houses

If you live or work in Mill Woods and are a creative person at any stage of your “artistic journey” (i.e. enthusiasts to professionals are welcome!), please email You can also ‘like’ our Facebook page!

Deep Research

I’ve been contacted recently by several people embarking on their own writing projects, many of them involving historical research. I love it – the detective work, the chase – but it can be tricky, even after having ethical considerations and methodologies pounded into me for my degrees in history. Being part terrier helps, but for the rest of it, here are few resources I recommend:

1. The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth. A great place to start if you’re new to research, or want a refresher.

2. The Joy of Writing by Pierre Berton. This memoir/how-to book by one of Canada’s most popular historical writers is sure to give you the inside story on tips and pitfalls, as well as inspiration to keep going.

3. The Voice of the Past by Paul Thompson. If you’re doing interviews or oral histories, this could be useful.

These are great for the beginner, novice, or professional and won’t bog you down with too much technical jargon or theory. If you’re looking for more info on delving into research issues (evaluating sources, working with First Nations communities, etc), though, feel free to contact me.

In the meantime, back to my piles of books on the histories of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, sovereignty, aviation, and the like! Gotta love it!

The deadline neareth

Many people seem to think writers produce in a fit of creativity and mostly spend their days awaiting inspiration while going on cool trips to far-off places, and possibly drinking absinthe. While I get zaps of inspiration from time to time, I find creating any piece of writing mostly takes a lot of hard work. My writing life is made up of about 1% thunderbolts and 99% slogging. Not very glamorous, I know.

My friend, Luke, recently lent me a book by Stephen Pressfield called “The War of Art” (and it is a war – photo captions are currently my nemeses, sent down to punish me for my hubris!). Like me, Pressfield is a creature of habit who has created a routine and a special ceremony of sorts. He recites something to the Muses while holding a talisman. I light my aromatherapy candle, drink my tea, and turn on some Enya. Then I plug into the work at hand for a few hours, break for lunch and a walk, and get back at it.

This has worked very well in the past, but I’ve been finding it is nigh on impossible to get a rhythm going for editing, caption-writing, and so on when it involves doing more than five things at once. I once read that when you multi-task you’re really only doing more things worse. When my attention is divided and I’m constantly trying to stay on top of the latest email, mistakes happen, eyes cross, brains fry.

I am feeling particularly frazzled these days (which you would know if you read my last blog entry. Good news update: blood pressure much better today. No meds for me!). According to my publisher, the book should be at the printers no later than April 13th in order to stay on schedule. Sometimes I feel on top of this deadline. Other times, it might as well be tomorrow.

In the David Letterman tradition of top-ten lists, I decided to make a list for “You know you’re nearing your deadline and working too hard when”:

10. You’re writing a book on Canada and talk about things as happening “here” all the time even though you live in the States.

9. Your friends are sick of being turned down because of work so they stop calling.

8. You start wondering if you worked yourself to death, would that increase your street cred and book sales. (I’ve decided this is only true for literary books and doesn’t really work with aviation history).

7. The Domino’s delivery person knows your name and your dog’s favourite toppings.

6. You’ve gotten past the point where doing dishes is a form of procrastination. Now they sit there until they reach critical proporations and you have to wash them to reach the microwave (which is second only to the toaster for food preparation).

5. Going to the grocery store, having a shower, or sorting the recycling have become the “really fun” parts of the day.

4. Lean Cuisine goes on sale at the grocery store you get really excited, then load up (hence the need for the microwave).

3. Your husband makes rice crispy squares and they count as home cooking.

2. The only time the cat gets any physical contact is when he launches himself on the back of your desk chair and rubs against your head.

And the #1 way you know you’re nearing your deadline and working too hard:

You have nothing but work and your mental health to write about on your blog! 🙂

If this writing thing doesn’t work out…

It’s always good to have a back-up plan.

So, if this whole writing thing doesn’t go as well as hoped, then I think I might become a professional baker, gift-maker, and fundraiser!

We just held the Rock Springs Humane Society’s first annual Holiday Market yesterday and though it was a lot of work, it was a blast. There were jazz standards playing (had to introduce these folks to Michael Buble and Diana Krall) and apple-cinnamon candles burning. We had vendors from Silpada, Tupperware, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and Cookie Lee selling their wares and taking orders (and giving us a percentage of their sales!). And we had a great bake sale for pets and people; donated items (some sent all the way from relatives in Canada); and crafts.

We made a nice chunk of change to help provide the necessities for sheltering animals while we find them homes. We also got people out to the shelter to shop, chat, and hang out. We may have even recruited a few more volunteers that I can put to work at future events!

Oh! And I also did my first adoption – Riker’s little girlfriend, Dixie!

It took a lot of preparation. Over the last week I made:

  • Oatmeal-Raisin, Triple-Chocolate, Gingerbread, and Peanut Butter cookies
  • Vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with home-made icing (and little dog-bone sprinkles!)
  • White chocolate brownies
  • Green, red, and white milk bones
  • Edible bird ornaments: rice cakes and pinecones smothered in peanut butter and rolled in bird seed as well as dried cranberries on floral wire, bent to look like a heart
  • Spiced Mocha Mix gift arrangements
  • Hand-knit scarves

There is already talk of doing an Easter market next spring and a yard sale next summer. Time to start looking for new recipes to try and crafts to make!

Here are a couple of photos of ‘my’ sections: baked goods, crafts, and donated items.

Poor Topaz, a Miniature Pinscher, is subjected to a pink frilly dress after she wouldn’t stop barking for attention. I think this is called aversion therapy 🙂

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.