This year I celebrate a decade of writing. It was not something my creative brain discovered until I came to Canada. Throughout my younger life art was my main creative outlet, whether it was painting, collage, pottery, sculpture, textiles, knitting, sewing, and many more. I would spend my lunch hours in the art room at school rather than in the playground, it was my happy place. From creating abstract art in a multiple of mediums to utilizing fabric remnants found at Liberty’s of London for summer tops, I indulged my creativity.
This changed as I began adult life and my creative outlets ceased as I entered the workforce and socialized with my peers and then had children. I dappled in rug design without success and although I was gifted an easel one Christmas and attended an art class for a short time, I just didn’t have the time or motivation. It was only when I came to Canada and there was an opportunity to find a creative outlet that I made the decision to find one. I stumbled across the writing group, The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/ ) by pure chance on a trip to the local library and decided to attend a meeting. From that point on I found my ‘place’ and began to learn a new skill, one which has given me not just a group of firm and supportive friends but also allowed me to discover my new country, as well as attend numerous events and a connection to many other writers from home and further afield.
Now I have eight published books and three work in progress manuscripts (and numerous ideas filed) and there is no slow down in sight for my writing passion. It has gripped me and I am so happy I ‘found’ my creative life again.
Not only have I written novels but also participated in National Novel Writing Month a total of ten times, attended numerous writing retreats and workshops, presented at workshops, started a freelance writing business (https://tailoredthemedtosuit.wordpress.com/ ) and became Secretary to my writers group. I am truly immersed in the writing life and am so glad I braved that first writing group meeting.
Walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, twice, once in the autumn, again a few years later in the spring, and I wanted to share the beauty.
2. How did you come up with the title?
A Photographer Walks the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, I wanted people to understand that this was a visual journey along the Camino route.
3. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
For those who have walked the Camino the book would serve as a reminder, for those planning their journey it would serve as an inspiration, and for many who cannot make the journey the book will be their virtual journey.
4. How much of the book is realistic?
The Camino I walked is the same one walked by hundreds of thousands every year, each of us have our own walk, we have our own journey, affected by our senses and sensibilities. Each walk during different seasons, different weather and even different times of days, each see and experiences, and stay in different places, travel with different people. But we all travel the same road, and the images and stories are realistic.
I have no other plans for another book at this time, we do want to walk another Camino to Santiago de Compostela, so another book is possible.
Please note this book is still in the process of being published. Links will be added at a later date.
7. What is your best marketing tip?
I’m new to marketing, so far, marketing has been about the photographs, as individual images, just recently I have started to work towards putting the images together as a series.
8. Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
For me social media has been tool to share and sell my photography, and sharing stories with family and friends, only recently have I started to make an effort to expand my social media reach, to make connections with others who.
9. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing has been a wonderful challenge, and it has been helpful in developing stories related to my travels.
10. What age did you start photography/writing?
I learned about photography, early in life, while in school, while I was traveling I started to write a blog, much before the days of Instagram, to share my photography and tell my travel stories, much later in life.
11. What genre are you currently reading?
I read fiction, at this time I have been reading World War ll fiction with women at the center of the story.
12. Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I read for both pleasure and for research. Prior to my first Camino I read a lot about the history and architecture of the pilgrimage, and several autobiographical stories. I enjoy reading fiction with strong female characters.
13. Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband is my biggest supporter, my sister-in-law has been helping with proof-reading, and several good friends have been very encouraging.
14. Where is your favorite creative space?
I work at my desk, processing images with the computer. I also have a laptop and can work from anywhere, I write wherever I can find a quiet space, but my favourite space is early in the morning, in bed, with a cup of coffee, before the day has begun.
15. If you could meet one favorite photographer, who would it be and why?
David Duchemin, a strong photographer, who uses his writing to explore and expand his photography, he is a motivational writer, and his work has inspired me to better work, and better storytelling with my photography.
16. If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
I love Calgary, this is my home, while I love to travel, and have a long list of places I want to spend a month or two, Calgary will always be my home.
17. How do you use writing?
Writing supplements my photography.
18. Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
I don’t often nibble while I write, but I do love my tea, Cream of Earl Grey or Chai are favourites.
19. What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
Completion followed by a long walk is my great reward.
I first learned the magic of photography while taking pictures for the high school yearbook, and developing images in the darkroom. Since then I have been commissioned for both personal and corporate projects include portraits, architecture, travel, and products.
Master Photographer International
In 2018 I applied for and was awarded a Master Photographer designation for my Travel images.
Alamy Stock Photography: Contributor since 2012
I was excited to have my image of “Getting Ready” exhibited in the world famous Calgary Exhibition Stampede Photo Gallery July 2017
Calgary Public Library – Camino slideshow and talk
Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrim – Camino Slideshow and talk
Camino 101, Leadership team, Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims.
Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Living, Art Auction
Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Photo Gallery Committees
Today I am highlighting some of the incredible authors published by Dream Write Publishing of Sherwood Park, who are launching new books at this event. It will be the 12th annual Words in the Park and with over 100 titles, this publishing company has continued to maintain their mission to assist authors in realizing their publishing dream. http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/
Mike Deregowski: Duffy the Duffle Bag.
Duffy is a large duffle bag. He has a hard time fitting into tight spots and often wishes he could be smaller so he could go more places. Join Duffy and his friends to learn more about acceptance. The trick is to learn to be happy with yourself no matter what size you are.
Leslie Hodgins: The Tale of the Siren Song
“Gather ’round, ye who dare! Gather ’round to hear the story of Captain Dara Finn, the Cursed Pirate! Legend has it that he terrorized these shores for as long as memory serves, living without feeling, serving no one, and going where he wanted!”As always, this story begins with once upon a time…Sirens were considered mythical creatures although more stories were being told about them – some about sailors meeting them, some about where they came from, others about what powers they have over you with just their voice. Dara listened intently to the stories, hoping there was a chance they’d hold a clue to breaking the curse. But no one seemed to know…
Mandy Eve-Barnett: Rython Legacy (the sequel to The Rython Kingdom)
Juliana held her granddaughter in her arms; it was a bittersweet moment. The child was a delight but also her replacement; she was the new sorceress who would protect the kingdom if called upon. At that precise moment, Maralynn opened her golden eyes – there was such intensity in them that her observers were taken aback at the obvious power the new little being held. A thin thread of cyan mist floated and twisted above the happy group… unobserved., a portent of things to come. Maralynn’s reign as Eldenma would be fraught with challenges, but could her exceptional power ultimately overcome.
J.E. McKnight: Unnatural Selection
In a world where the male population outnumbers the female eight to one, the survival of the human race depends on the advent of a breeding program, outlawing marriage and monogamous relationships. This is all anybody knows as there isn’t a generation that hadn’t had to participate in some breeding program or another. Martin 11 od Coddlebury and Eric 23 of Coddlebury grew up together in the same nursery and dreamed of the day they would be old enough to enter the breeding program. Everything changed, for Martin, the day he met Desiree 9 of Peppercoll. Now he is torn between his duty to the program – not to mention the law – and his feeling for a woman he knows he can never have…
Come and meet these authors and over 30 more at Words in the Park, 28th September. Venue: Agora, 401, Festival Lane, Sherwood Park, AB. Time 10.00 am – 4:00 pm
Free admission for books, games, interactive tables, kids Find IT game, prizes, treats, story telling, music, writing prompt workshop, artisan crafts and much more.
Alis the Aviator was initially inspired by my son. Andre was two years old and a very wiggly, spirited kid who loved airplanes – but couldn’t sit through long books. I’d just published my second popular aviation history for adults, and had so many fun facts swirling around in my head. I sat on the back porch of my house one day when he was napping and most of the first draft poured out onto the page in the bouncy, rhyming style I love from growing up with Dr. Seuss.
How did you come up with the title?
Alis is based on the real-life Dr. Alis Kennedy, likely the first Indigenous woman in Canada to get her private and commercial pilot’s licenses. I found out about Dr. Alis after I’d completed the ABCs of the book, and then was able to layer in her inspirational story in the bio. Dr. Alis has flown planes, but also is a veteran with a doctorate in psychology, who now dedicates her life to amazing volunteer causes around the world.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I hope that little kids – especially girls – read the book and feel like aviation is a dream they can pursue. The illustrator, Kalpna Patel, did such an amazing job getting the people in her cut-paper art to reflect the incredible diversity we have in Canada and the US. The number of girls and people of colour in aviation is tiny, unfortunately – and I recently learned that only about 1% of all picture books feature Indigenous characters. I hope kids of all backgrounds see themselves reflected in this book!
How much of the book is realistic?
This book is 100% fact-based. It’s a nonfiction picture book that incorporates my years of aviation history research, but presents it in a colourful and quirky way to hopefully capture the imaginations of tykes and their grownups.
Do you have plans for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I have a few manuscripts in the works. The one I see following on from Alis the Aviator is a picture book biography of the pioneering Gwich’in pilot, Freddie Carmichael. We’ve known each other for ten years and it was incredible spending a week with him in Inuvik this past March working on the book. I can’t wait to share his story with the world!
Do you favor one type of genre?
I write across genres and audiences, which can be tricky from a branding perspective! So far I’ve published nonfiction for adults and kids, but I’ve got two novels in the works (a WW2 book and an upmarket contemporary novel). I’ve also been researching and writing a book about the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital that is part memoir and part history.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I’m a plantser – half and half. It really depends on the project. With my picture books, it’s like writing poetry or songs. I do a ton of research and thinking and then the first draft pours out of me in one or two sittings (with multiple rewrites and tweaks). With my adult popular histories it was easier to plan out ahead of time because I had most of the research done and they were chronological. But even then there were surprises! My novels and creative nonfiction are somewhere in the middle because they are largely based on research and real-life events.
What is your best marketing tip?
It’s also my best writing and life tip! Make friends. Join communities. Be a good literary citizen. Remember that high tides raise all ships.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
A little of column A and a little of column B. Or a lot of each, actually. Social media has been a great way to connect with people around the world – especially as I move around so much. I learn so much through those channels as well. At the same time, it can have a toxic quality to it full of judgment, comparison and shaming. I find if I think about it too much it can have a silencing effect, because I worry too much about what other people will think of me. And, like the news, it can be devastating and overwhelming, so I have to be careful how much I take in.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It’s hard to pick just one! While it’s true that sometimes it can make me cry with how challenging it can be, with how exposed I feel, there are those times when I’m in the flow and it’s like all is well. I’m in alignment. My words come out and I feel that maybe I will be understood and seen.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
My parents saved the clippings from when I was a kid – so there’s (often embarrassing) proof that I was scribbling little stories and poems from a young age. I created a little zine in my neighbourhood with friends when I was in elementary school and then was co-editor of a school newspaper in middle school. I think I published my first letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen in Grade 8 – then I was totally hooked on bylines!
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
I have jumped all over the place – poetry, fiction, nonfiction, kidlit and freelance writing for magazines and newspapers. They all feed into each other in interesting ways, I’ve noticed, and taught me different lessons. Freelancing was excellent discipline for hitting deadlines and pitching ideas, and not taking edits personally.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I belong to several writing organizations: the Writers Union of Canada, Creative Nonfiction Collective, and the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators. I was a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta for five years and it was excellent – I still miss it! I’ve created two critique groups since moving to Houston. One is online-only and focuses mostly on creative nonfiction. Members span from Canada to California to Texas. The other one is in-person here in Houston. I realized it’s not natural for me to write in a cave all the time!
Do you see writing as a career?
Actually, I see it as more of a compulsion. A job you can quit. This is forever. My son (who is now 7 years old) asked me the other day, “Mama, will you ever stop writing?” And I told him, “As long as the stories and ideas keep coming, I’ll keep writing.”
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
If readers would like to connect with me, they can find me at my website (www.daniellemc.com), and on social media: @Danielle_Author on Twitter, @dmchenail on Instagram, and Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail on Facebook. I also have a blog dedicated to my Camsell Hospital research, www.ghostsofcamsell.ca.
Today’s question is: What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?
Does a cover image play a vital role in attracting a reader? Should it reflect the genre and characters in the story?
Have you changed a cover? If so why? Was the new cover more successful?
Please leave your replies in the comments. Thank you
Comments from last week question:
When your narrative is set in a real location do you research it or do you visit it?
What are the pros & cons of utilizing the internet to find out about a location versus actually staying there?
I once wrote a character who worked in a factory. I didn’t care what kind of factory, it just had to be a factory. My aunt worked in a meat packing plant, so I asked her if I could visit her at work. Not only did they let me visit, I got a tour and got to watch “the line” as they worked. It was fantastic. The story was “Poor David” and it’s in my collection, Things Withered! I’m telling you, visiting that plant was invaluable, and I’ll use the info again in some other piece, I’m certain. It’s always better to see and feel and hear a place.