monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

Feb
28

Donde esta la playa?

That's about all I can say in Spanish -- but it'll come in handy tomorrow -- which is when we land in Mexico. Our destination is La Penita de Jaltemba, a small town I've already written about for the Montreal Gazette. I've been toying with the idea of not doing ANY WORK over this holiday -- but to be honest, I'm not sure I'll be able to do that. There's nothing harder

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Guest — Sophie B. X.
It must be nice to go away for March break, I'll be swamped with doctor appointments, volunteering, school work, skating... but I'... Read More
Thursday, 28 February 2008 22:48
Guest — Tamar
hola! have a great time and a safe flight! enjoy your holiday and doing nothing a la freud... adios!
Thursday, 28 February 2008 23:01
Guest — Kim
Ojala que tenga unas buenas vacaciones! (I hope you have a nice vacation!) This is a great time to read this... I'm in the middle... Read More
Thursday, 28 February 2008 23:59
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Feb
27

Phone Conversation with my Friends in Wemindji

I just got off the telephone with Ingrid Taylor's class in Wemindji. (These are the students I visited last month in Quebec's James Bay region.) We had a "conference call" -- the students had sent me their stories and we discussed ways to make them even better. So in today's blog entry, I thought I'd share some of the pointers I gave to the students -- and then I'll

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Guest — Kim
I agree with the students' comments -- especially those which say that writing is difficult!! I also dislike the editing part, tho... Read More
Thursday, 28 February 2008 00:58
Guest — Tamar
i like the comment about how you like the challenge of writing.. i find that i like to do challenging things (to a degree) because... Read More
Thursday, 28 February 2008 23:00
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Feb
26

More Snow!

So it's another snowy day in Montreal. I got to the computer early this morning -- which means I still have to go for my run. The good thing about all this snow is it's inspiring me as I work on my story about Nunavik. My story is set in winter -- and believe me, there's a lot of snow up there this time of year.

You've probably heard some mum say how hard it was to leave her

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Guest — Kim
It's neat to see how you compare your book to sending a child off to kindergarten... except this "child" can't really act excited ... Read More
Wednesday, 27 February 2008 00:40
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Feb
25

Writers are Like Squirrels

The reason writers are like squirrels is that we don't let anything go to waste. Something strange or funny or sad happens and we JOT IT DOWN. Eventually, it'll find a place in some story or another. Tamar sent a comment to the blog asking whether I ever recycled any of my manuscripts that were initially rejected? The answer is YESSIREE!! My spring 2007 title, Finding Elmo, was based on one
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Guest — Kim
I like the idea of jotting things down... especially because, even when I make a mental note to remember something, I'll forget I ... Read More
Monday, 25 February 2008 20:41
Guest — Tamar
i tend to also forget things so i always find a piece of paper to jot something down, a new song i like etc and my school agenda i... Read More
Tuesday, 26 February 2008 03:09
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Feb
23

Link to Meg Rosoff Interview

Here's a link to my profile of Meg that appears in today's Gazette: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/books/story.html?id=728159a3-a2e9-4440-a956-7cdedd2bbabc

Talk to you on Monday!! 

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Feb
22

Late Start

My goodness, it's already 12:55 P.M. and I'm really just settling in at the computer with my green tea -- though I did do a little work on my George River story earlier today. But after that, I went for a run, caught up with my very dear neighbours Liz and Kees, who were out of town for two weeks, and returned some other friends' phone calls. Sometimes, a writer needs to replenish her
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Guest — Sophie B. X.
My parents went to Wakiki in Hawaii last year and told me skunks there were as common as squirrels in Montreal. I've never heard t... Read More
Friday, 22 February 2008 22:38
Guest — Kim
12:55 isn't that late... although I was beginning my third class of the day by then! If you're a morning person, though, it could... Read More
Saturday, 23 February 2008 01:31
Guest — Tamar
by 12:55 i was on the bus on the way home from school... just a question.. ever think of looking over your manuscripts that gor re... Read More
Saturday, 23 February 2008 18:07
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Feb
21

Teleconference with St. Willibrord Students

I'm just home from a teleconference that photographer Monique Dykstra and I did with Kelly Ryan's class at St. Willibrord School in Chateauguay. (Last time, we visited the class in person; today we went to a special educational technology centre in Laval and had a "virtual" meeting with the students.) First, "the other Monique" (that's what we call each other) gave

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Guest — Kim
I never thought of avoiding using the flash for photos... well, I have purposely taken it off in some cases, but, more often than ... Read More
Thursday, 21 February 2008 23:32
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Feb
20

Novelist Heather O'Neill Visits Marianopolis

Yesterday afternoon, novelist Heather O'Neill -- author of the prize winning Lullabies for Criminals -- visited Marianopolis, the college where I teach. Heather read from her novel and she also read a very clever short story that was a contemporary retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It's always interesting to hear a writer reading something you've read and enjoyed -- you get to hear

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Guest — Tamar
an avid Habs fan, I must say that last night's game is similar to the writing tip you often give: don't give up... the Habs were d... Read More
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 20:26
Guest — Kim
Cool tip from Tamar... although I don't watch hockey, mostly because I strongly dislike the fighting part. Anyways, I knew I'd mis... Read More
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 22:44
Guest — Tamar
kim! the fighting is the best part! when i met the habs i could see their cuts and my fave hockey player is like best friends with... Read More
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 23:46
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Feb
19

La Di Da

What's that I hear, La Di Da? I was just washing the bathroom floor (part of my pre-writing ritual... I told this to my Writing for Children class last week and I could tell they thought it was very WEIRD), and I heard myself singing "La Di Da."

"La Did Da? What is that strange song -- and badly sung, too?" you may ask. Well, it's the sound of a writer who'

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Guest — Alyssa
Hi Monique! Just popping by to say hello & good luck with the new book! It looks like your blog is going really well. ... Read More
Tuesday, 19 February 2008 23:10
Guest — Kim
Well, it's not like washing the bathroom floor is the first odd thing you've mentionned to your students... although it definitely... Read More
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 01:59
Guest — Sophie B. X.
Sometimes I sing, or listen to songs when I lose patience or inspiration for some kind of work. I feel dreadful if I do not finish... Read More
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 02:23
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Feb
18

Pizza Lesson

We had friends over for dinner this weekend -- and one of them (his name is Ray) gave us a pizza-making lesson. I've always wanted to make my own pizza dough, so I was pretty psyched. We started by mixing yeast and tepid water -- we had to wait a while for it to bubble up. (I got a little impatient at this stage.) Then we added more water, some sugar, and lots of flour. Next came kneading the

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Guest — Sophie B. X.
Hi miss! Today I thought about someting my biology teacher once said to us, maybe the world we're seeing isn't the same, alright, ... Read More
Tuesday, 19 February 2008 03:19
Guest — Kim
Wow, what a wonderful pep talk! I like all the capitals... they emphasize the important stuff I meant to comment yesterday, but s... Read More
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 01:46
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Feb
15

Still in my Pajamas!!

I know it's shocking, especially for someone my age, but I'm still in my pajamas -- actually, in my case, it's a nightgown. The thing is, it's already 2 P.M. But don't think I've been lounging around like some middle-aged lady of leisure -- no sirree! I've been marking and marking and I just just finished my profile of Meg Rosoff. And now, I'm feeling like maybe I should
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Guest — tamar
happy V-day to you too. p.s. what's wrong with staying in pajamas all day? those are the best days! When I go to my best friend's ... Read More
Saturday, 16 February 2008 04:30
Guest — Kim
Wow, 2 P.M.!! That's not fun to read when you got up at 5 A.M. ... although I did enjoy a wonderful day of skiing! Happy (late) Va... Read More
Saturday, 16 February 2008 23:29
Guest — Rosa
I hope you had a nice weekend! I didn't really celebrate Valentine's day this year, even though I have a boyfriend. He lives in Bo... Read More
Sunday, 17 February 2008 23:33
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Feb
14

Meet Meg Rosoff!

So I'm on a bit of a high here because I just came in from interviewing YA author Meg Rosoff, who's in Montreal as part of a multi-city North American book tour to promote her latest novel, What I Was. Ever set eyes on someone and know straightaway you're going to get along? That's how I felt about Meg.

My assignment for The Gazette is to write a little profile about Meg and

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Guest — Kim
I think that's the first time I've heard an author say that she feels discouraged about her work when she's midway through. It app... Read More
Friday, 15 February 2008 01:42
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Feb
13

Preparing for Tomorrow's Interview with Meg Rosoff

Tomorrow morning, I'm interviewing British YA writer Meg Rosoff for a Gazette story -- so I'm doing some background research today. First of all, I just finished reading Meg's latest book, What I Was. I really loved it -- it's very atmospheric, funny in spots, and really gets you thinking. Here is one of my favourite bits: "now that I'm older I've seen how little it

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Guest — Kim
That quotes really does make one think -- as long as it's as simple to change one's life for the better as it is for the worst, it... Read More
Thursday, 14 February 2008 01:07
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Feb
12

"Bird by Bird"

Today was a pedagogical day at Marianopolis College, meaning the students had a day off and we teachers had to be in for meetings. I went to three presentations -- one was given by my office mate, Mary Frauley. Mary was talking about designing course plans, which doesn't have much to do with what I blog about, but on the sample course plan she handed round there was a quote from American writer

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Guest — tamar
i think i just read your blog at the right time! just as i was about to give up on my workload that didn't seem to lessen after ta... Read More
Tuesday, 12 February 2008 23:09
Guest — Kim
That quote is inspiring -- doing things in small steps if often the only way to get things done, but those (like Lamott's brother,... Read More
Wednesday, 13 February 2008 15:40
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Feb
11

This 'n That

I'm calling today's blog entry "This 'n That" because that's the kind of day it is at my end of the computer. I have lots of this 'n that to do. I think it's because I was so focused on the rewrite that I put off a number of other tasks. The first thing I want to do is get cracking on the research for my next newspaper assignment: a story for The National Post

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Guest — Kim
Oops -- the main reason I'm reading your blog now, and not later tonight when I get home, is that I'm trying to avoid writing the... Read More
Monday, 11 February 2008 21:18
Guest — tamar
i can't wait to read both the books you are working on, as well as the 121 express... when doe sthat come out? I don't mind helpin... Read More
Monday, 11 February 2008 22:54
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Feb
08

Nearly Done!!

So it's 12:30 and I figure I'm an hour or two from finishing up the second draft of my historical novel. I've reviewed everything except the very ending, which I know still needs some work. Mostly, I feel good that I'm this far into the process... but you know, I think I'm going to be a little sad, too, when this draft of the book is done. Of all the books I've worked on,

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Guest — tamar
There are a lot of Holocaust survivors, who unfortunatly, do not share their stories. I know both my grandparents stories as well ... Read More
Friday, 08 February 2008 17:52
Guest — Kim
It must be special to tell your mother's story, with a few changes to make it your own, but overall it's wonderful to have these H... Read More
Saturday, 09 February 2008 00:02
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Feb
07

Revising Like Mad!!

Okay, I'm getting closer to the finish line... it looks to me like my revision of the historical novel will be done by the end of the day tomorrow. The part I'm doing now is actually kind of fun -- I'm rereading the entire manuscript and seeing how it sounds. Mostly, I'm liking it. The ending is going to need some tweaking, but I think that'll be tomorrow's work. 

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Guest — Kim
It's nice to hear your review of your manuscript is going well -- you'll definitely meet your Valentine's Day deadline!! And I'm l... Read More
Friday, 08 February 2008 01:48
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Feb
06

Picture Book Author Jane Barclay Visits Marianopolis

So, Jane Barclay came to school yesterday -- she was great! She spoke both about writing creative non-fiction and picture book texts. Jane is the author of three picture books, including the prize-winning How Cold Was It?

Here's some of what Jane had to tell us: "Learn to be your own editor." Jane discussed how difficult it is to find a publisher -- so that when you are ready

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Guest — Kim
I loved "How Cold Was It?"! It brought me back ot my childhood self, and I agree with what she said about repetition -- that it ma... Read More
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 20:35
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Feb
05

Children's Writers Coming Our Way!!

Hello, hello! It's Tuesday morning at five to nine and I'm feeling very lively. Today, picture book author Jane Barclay is coming to speak to my classes at Marianopolis College. That means I should have plenty to report to you on this blog tomorrow. Jane, author of the prize-winning How Cold Was It? is going to tell us how she gets her inspiration -- and how she goes about writing her books

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Guest — Kim
I really enjoyed Jane Barclay's talk today -- it was interesting to hear an author talk about how she gets her ideas, and also to ... Read More
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 01:04
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Feb
04

Back at My Desk!!

Ahh, it feels nice to be back at my desk. I've already taught a class and I have a little school work to do, but soon I'll be back at work on that rewrite. My deadline is next week, so soon you won't have to hear about it anymore!!

Last night, I was re-reading a little of one of my favourite YA novels, Kit Pearson's Awake and Dreaming. The story is about Theo, a troubled girl

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Guest — Kim
I really like that quote -- I think some teenagers are overwhelmed by what goes on around them and feel like the world is against ... Read More
Tuesday, 05 February 2008 00:16
Guest — Sophie B.X.
It's good to have you back, miss! I read Awake and Dreaming in sec. 2 or 3 and I enjoyed it. Back then, my friend and I had this s... Read More
Tuesday, 05 February 2008 12:30
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Feb
03

Gookums

Did I already tell you that the Cree word for grandmother is "Gookum"? Well, my story about gookums in Wemindji is in today's Gazette -- with Monique Dykstra's photos. We made page one! Here's the link, in case you want to check it out: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=b48ab6ca-f6d1-4bb3-97eb-543172be114a

Also, in case you're wondering

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Guest — tamar
first page? awesome. I am going downstairs to check the gazette now. My mom read your book review yesterday. We get excited when y... Read More
Sunday, 03 February 2008 15:49
Guest — Kim
I missed the book review!! I'll have to go look through the pile of newspapers later... I really enjoyed the article on the Wemind... Read More
Sunday, 03 February 2008 19:59
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Feb
01

Guess Where I am Now?

HOME!

We made it back last night -- which was a good thing since there is a big snowstorm heading our way and a flight today would likely have been cancelled. It was -30 in Wimindji yesterday; -45 with the wind chill factor. I still went for a run!! Afterwards, people stopped me in the street and asked me if I was that crazy lady with the red hat and pink scarf!!

I read all the comments

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Guest — Yolanda Namagoose
Monique, Monique Please Come Back again, we miss you are you gonna come back again?, so alot of us in the class are reading the... Read More
Friday, 01 February 2008 16:02
Guest — Kim
I cannot believe you went out for a run in such cold weather. I'll think twice about complaining about -25 degrees at the top of t... Read More
Saturday, 02 February 2008 00:29
Guest — tamar
Ms Polak.. it's time to invest in something called a treadmill for the winter... if you tried to go for a run here you would most ... Read More
Saturday, 02 February 2008 03:04
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Jan
30

Snowed In in Wemindji

So we're not on the plane -- the three of us (I'm with photographer Monique Dykstra nd filmmaker Louise Abbott) are snowed in!! I wouldn't mind so much if it didn't mean that I was missing another day of school tomorrow! If you're one of my stduents reading this, get ready to work like a dog next week!!

Unfortunately, I can't access my website email from here. I know

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Guest — Kim
Hard luck being stuck up there... though I suppose that, since you don't really have the choice, thinking positive is probably the... Read More
Thursday, 31 January 2008 01:25
Guest — Sophie B. X.
I would really enjoy the experience of being snowed-in up north, must be fun! Are you able to see Northern Lights? I'm making myse... Read More
Thursday, 31 January 2008 22:28
Guest — tamar
haha kim asked me if i read this and I hadn't when she asked me but I find it funny that you are snowed in!!! Sorry... anyways I h... Read More
Friday, 01 February 2008 02:35
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Jan
29

Wachiya from Wemindji!!

Wachiya is Cree for "Greetings!" -- so I'm greeting you from Wemindji, a Cree community in James Bay, where I am visiting until tomorrow. I'm about to head back into the classroom. Photographer Monique Dykstra is giving a little lesson on using a digital camera and I'm going to do a talk about writing -- how I get ideas for my stories and stuff like that. It's pretty amazing

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Guest — tamar
I am glad you are enjoying yourself and can't wait to hear your stories when you get back! Thursday better be a looooong blog entr... Read More
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 21:30
Guest — Kim
I agree with Tamar... I'd love to hear all the details on how life is up North! Sometimes, it's amazing to realize that Canada is ... Read More
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 00:38
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Jan
28

Catching the Plane to Wemindji

The plane leaves at 10 to 8 this morning and I've got to catch a cab in 12 minutes. Just wanted to say a quick hello before I leave!! Talk to you soon!!
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Guest — Kim
Have fun up North! (And please come back with more cool stories! )... Read More
Monday, 28 January 2008 21:12
Guest — tamar
have a safe flight and a great trip!
Tuesday, 29 January 2008 00:41
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Jan
25

Watch the Body Language!

So, we made it through the first week of school! As usual, I've been discussing body language with my students, telling them how important it is to look alert and alive (and happy helps, too) in the classroom. I've also told students in both my Journalism and Writing for Children classes to pay attention to other people's body language since these details can really help bring a story

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Guest — Kim
I think looking at body language eventually becomes a habit if you "force" yourself to pay attention for some time... I remember b... Read More
Friday, 25 January 2008 18:34
Guest — tamar
sitting in a couple of my classes, i caught myself giving off poor body language and then i remembered the Polak motto... I try ha... Read More
Friday, 25 January 2008 22:09
Guest — Kim
oops... I meant "teachers seem to like it", not seems. Sorry about that!! :'( I'll proof-read properly, next time! ... Read More
Friday, 25 January 2008 23:53
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Jan
23

Cool E-Mail!

This morning I got a very cool e-mail. It's from a Dutch woman named Moniek Polak -- so you see, our names are very similar, though she spells her first name differently than I do. Moniek is a photographer and she sent me the address of her website. If you want to check it out (I did, and she has some beautiful pics on it), it's:  Continue reading

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Guest — Kim
Wow... your names really are similar!! Is Moniek the Dutch version of Monique? I think you were right when you said that, when one... Read More
Wednesday, 23 January 2008 20:22
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Jan
22

Role Reversal

Last night, Karla Dobritoiu, one of my former students, interviewed me. It was a role reversal because usually, I'm the one who gets to ask the questions. Actually, it was kind of fun! I got to lie on the couch, while Karla (who did the interview by phone) did all the hard work! Karla, who is doing a double major in Communications and English Lit., at Concordia University, is taking a course

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Guest — Kim
I hope you enjoyed that interview more than the one you were put through in the I.C.E. class last August!! I like your definition ... Read More
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 17:01
Guest — tamar
being creative to me also has something to do with self expression. the way people dress can even be considered creative. so i agr... Read More
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 21:08
Guest — Rosa
I liked the definition of creativity. Although you can also create something from something else and do that in a creative way. I ... Read More
Friday, 25 January 2008 03:02
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Jan
21

Back to School! Yikes!

So classes started again today at Marianopolis College. Back to school -- and back to reality!! I only taught one class today, then I stayed around to do a little office work, and then I zipped home to get back to work on the rewrite. I'm going to have to make a major effort to protect my writing time -- especially while I finish up this rewrite that is due on Valentine's Day.

This

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Guest — Kim
New starts are wonderfully fun -- I take them as opportunities to start anew and set good study resolutions to make the semester a... Read More
Monday, 21 January 2008 22:28
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Jan
18

Writing in the Shower

I write when I'm jogging and sometimes, when I'm in the shower. I know this sounds odd. But it's true. Not that I'm actually writing between strides, or while I'm soaping up... but I've found that some of my best ideas come when I am NOT at the computer. That's why, today, I want to talk about the importance of having a writer's notebook -- or at least some scrap

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Guest — Kim
Smart idea to carry a notebook and pen around... except... I write something down, then take the notebook out of my purse when I w... Read More
Friday, 18 January 2008 19:18
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Jan
17

Today's Visit to St. Willibrord Elementary School

I'm all charged up after our visit this morning to St. Willibrord Elementary School in Chateauguay. I went with my friend, photographer Monique Dykstra. But we were part of a much bigger team -- Florence Allegrini, educational program coordinator for Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation was there, too; so was Louise Abbott, a writer/photographer who is making a documentary about Quebec Roots (

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Guest — Kim
Okay then, next week I'll be borrowing books although, with Robotics, I'm not sure how much time I'll have -- my new idea is that... Read More
Thursday, 17 January 2008 19:04
Guest — Kelly Ryan
Hi Monique, It was an absolute pleasure to have you and the team visit today. I loved your enthusiasm, which carried over to the c... Read More
Thursday, 17 January 2008 21:16
Guest — alie
Hi Monique, Oh my gosh. From today i noticed this project was gonna be hard work.Then i noticed that some times hard work can be ... Read More
Thursday, 17 January 2008 22:44
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Jan
16

Some Thoughts on the Rewriting Process

Well, I got some interesting comments from readers about rewriting. Kim said she prefers working on a first draft, and that sometimes, during rewrites, she feels like trashing whatever she's working on. Rosa wrote about how she enjoys the crafting involved in rewriting.  I'm somewhere between you two, though perhaps I lean a little more towards Kim's point of view  -- and

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Guest — Kim
That project of writing a book on the community sounds cool! I'm guessing we'll get to read about it in your next blog entry. Spea... Read More
Wednesday, 16 January 2008 17:36
Guest — tamar
I find editing a pain in the butt... I often like to take a day or two off from writing it (if i have the time)so that when i go b... Read More
Thursday, 17 January 2008 02:49
Guest — Sophie B. X.
I remember we wrote a book in sixth grade, about the different systems of the human body and, later, the book became part of the l... Read More
Thursday, 17 January 2008 16:26
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Jan
15

Time to Bake the Donuts!

"Time to Bake the Donuts!" -- that's the slogan for a donut shop commercial. I'm not a big donut lover,  but I do appreciate the sentiment of the slogan. In my case, "Time to Bake the Donuts" means today's the day I start the rewrite on Lotje's Story -- my historical novel based on my mum's wartime experience. I had a 2-1/2 hour phone meeting yesterday

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Guest — Kim
You're so lucky to get to read books in advance!! Okay, so you have to review them, but isn't that fun? I think it was Confuscius ... Read More
Tuesday, 15 January 2008 12:46
Guest — Rosa Lannes
Unlike Kim, I don't like writing essays that much. I find it difficult and always have a hard time putting my thoughts into clear ... Read More
Wednesday, 16 January 2008 15:12
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Jan
09

Major Rewrite Ahead!!

Yikes and double yikes!! You know how I told you I was going to have a phone meeting with Sarah Harvey, the teen editor at Orca Books? Well, it turns out Sarah wants some pretty major changes on my Holocaust manuscript. At first, I was a little ... well... taken aback. But by the end of the conversation, I'd come around quite a bit. All night I dreamed of the book, which means my mind is grappling

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Guest — Sophie B. X.
I always love the historical and cultural background a story gives it's readers. Most of the stories I've read have the historical... Read More
Wednesday, 09 January 2008 23:00
Guest — Rosa Lannes
Your holocaust story intrigues me, I'll definitely want to read it when it'll be published. I used to be upset when I received neg... Read More
Thursday, 10 January 2008 00:22
Guest — Kim
Wow, I think I'll print that pep talk and place it somewhere where I'll see it often!! I actually remember feeling really hurt w... Read More
Thursday, 10 January 2008 00:47
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Jan
08

Changing Gears

Only time for a super quick blog entry today. Lots going on here! For one thing, I've got five English teachers from Marianopolis coming for lunch. We're celebrating my office partner's birthday. It's a big number -- but I'm not allowed to say what that number is. In fact, when I head out for my run in a few minutes, I want to buy two of those candles with numbers on them --

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Guest — Tamar
Happy birthday Ms. Frauley!!! Enjoy your party I am looking forward to reading your holocaust story since my grandmother and late... Read More
Tuesday, 08 January 2008 18:22
Guest — Kim
Happy birthday Miss. Frauley!! I can't wait to read your article on waiting (I've waited long enough!!), except right now I'm in t... Read More
Tuesday, 08 January 2008 19:05
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Jan
07

Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning to You...

That's the beginning of a kids' song I always liked. In case you don't know it, it goes like this: " Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning to you,/ Good Morning, Good Morning, and how do you do?" Ever just wake up and feel like singing that song? I am definitely a morning person and today, well, it just feels like a good morning. We had a lovely weekend (combination of

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Guest — Kim
I'm glad you had a wonderful morning -- for me, waking up at 6:00 A.M. was definitely difficult after getting up late during the p... Read More
Monday, 07 January 2008 22:54
Guest — Sophie B. X.
I was sick last week when my dad bought me a box of chocolates, Lindor my favorite! I was beaming at my dad, he was so nice to rem... Read More
Tuesday, 08 January 2008 14:47
Guest — Tamar
I never understood how you could always be so bubbly in the morning.. and you claim you don't even drink coffee!!! I woke up at 3 ... Read More
Tuesday, 08 January 2008 18:19
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Jan
04

Shame on Me!

Well, it's not such a shame... but I say so because I'm getting such a late start today. It's 10:24 A.M., and I haven't gone for my run and I haven't tidied up the house... all of which is part of my  pre-writing routine. My goodness, I haven't even made a cup of green tea yet! Funny that I got some interesting comments about tea from readers yesterday. I guess I'

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Guest — Sophie B. X.
Breaking out of routine once in a while isn't a bad situation- we'll work harder because we messed up our routine, as a way of reg... Read More
Saturday, 05 January 2008 22:29
Guest — Kim
Well, talking about lost time, I just got back from my 32-1/2-hour trip to Toronto! As much as taking the train saved time, I must... Read More
Sunday, 06 January 2008 04:21
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Jan
03

Green Tea and Me

I don't think I've mentioned my green tea habit. I almost always have a cup of green tea on my desk when I'm writing. In the old days, I used to buy bags of green tea in a box, then I moved up to loose green tea (it was called Gunpowder) that I bought in Chinatown... and then... (I'm trying to build a little suspense here... good practice for the scene I'll be writing later)...
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Guest — Kim
Gunpowder tea was my drink by excellence during the summer while I was working on puzzles Where do you find yours? I might try it... Read More
Thursday, 03 January 2008 18:08
Guest — Sophie B. X.
My late grandfather , who lived in northwest of China, was a big tea fanatic; he left boxes and boxes of tea when he passed away, ... Read More
Thursday, 03 January 2008 22:47
Guest — Lawrence Lin
;D My dad is a BIG tea fanatic too. Always teaching me how to taste the taste in the tea leaves, always telling me something spirt... Read More
Friday, 04 January 2008 03:45
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Jan
02

Happy New Year to You!

It's Wednesday, Jan. 2 and this is my first blog entry for the new year. I took the last two days off to basically hang out with my husband. But that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about my book!! In fact, before we fell asleep last night, I got Mike to let me talk some of the plot details through with him. It's something I tend to do over the summer (when I am working full time

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Guest — Tamar
Happy new year Ms. Polak! Enjo your jog downtown... if you can find a sidewalk to jog on.... I went to see Juno with my friends a... Read More
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 14:41
Guest — Kim
Happy New Year, Miss. Polak!! There's plenty of fresh snow right outside my front and back doors that needs to be shovelled, so th... Read More
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 18:39
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Dec
28

Another Day, Another 500 Words

That's the quota I've been setting for myself over the holidays. It doesn't sound like much, but it seems to work for me. But just so it doesn't seem to you like I've got it too easy, I should explain that I start my writing day by reviewing and tweaking whatever I wrote the day before. 

This morning, I was writing in my diary about how much I am enjoying this time

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Guest — Kim
Happy New Year!! (Maybe you're missing something about enough obstacles to make one a stronger and better person, yet not so much ... Read More
Saturday, 29 December 2007 02:02
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Dec
27

Expecting Another House Guest

It's a good thing I live with an editor. That's because I just asked Mike whether house guest is one word or two. So that saved me from having to check the word/s in the dictionary.

The house guest we are expecting is my friend's cat Frances. Frances is a Siamese cat and she has stayed with us before -- despite the fact that I am allergic to cats and dogs. The funny thing about

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Guest — Tamar
HAHAHA! so true about Jews going to the movies. I saw the Kite Runner.. It was a great movie and you should go see it when you hav... Read More
Thursday, 27 December 2007 15:45
Guest — Kim
Wow, the more you write about it, the more I'm looking forward to reading the George River story - it sounds so interesting!! By t... Read More
Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:27
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Dec
24

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

... and all Monique wanted to do was WRITE -- but there were presents to wrap and a dinner to cook... and friends wanting to come by to visit. I did want to tell you a little about Hadley Dyer, formerly the children's editor at James Lorimer & Co. Hadley is now the very successful author of a YA book called Johnny Kellock Died Today (Harper Collins) and has left the editing world to write

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Guest — Kim
Happy Christmas/Holidays to you too, Miss. Polak!! Hopefully, you'll write another entry before the New Year, so I'll wish you a h... Read More
Monday, 24 December 2007 18:21
Guest — Tamar
Thanks for the good wishes! Hope you had great holidays!!
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 21:16
Guest — Sophie B. X.
I feel guilty about not reading your blog for the past week or so, but I caught up today so all should be forgiven. I haven't had ... Read More
Thursday, 27 December 2007 12:52
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Dec
21

Another Quick Hello!

Here's the link to my Gazette story about how the snow has affected Christmas shopping here in Montreal: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=bed00925-e759-417d-ba1b-4fb4661a78e5

Wish I had more time for a longer entry,  but I've got three friends coming for lunch today at one. Since I'm Queen of the Multi-Task, I'm about to go for a

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Guest — Kim
I never realized that business was affected to such an extent by of the weather!! I thought more people went shopping because ther... Read More
Friday, 21 December 2007 19:39
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Dec
20

Ever Wonder What a Streeter Is?

Okay, so you never wondered. A streeter (in case I've piqued your interest) is a term used in journalism to describe a story where you interview people on the street. Today, just when I was about to sit down to work on my manuscript, I got a call from the Gazette Business editor asking me what I was up to. It turned out he needed me to write a story for tomorrow's paper about how local

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Guest — Kim
Wow, that's a short time to write an article!! Good thing school's over, I guess it gives you more time to write PS now my mom k... Read More
Friday, 21 December 2007 13:20
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Dec
18

Quick Hello!

Today was one of those days when the writing went quickly and fairly painlessly. Also, I'm working on a section where my character, who is out on a winter camping expedition in Nunavik, wakes up to a terrible snowstorm. It helps that it is snowing again today in Montreal, though it's not stormy like it was on Sunday. So, all I've had to do is tilt my head a little to the right to get

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Guest — Kim
Wow - what a treat: 2 entries in as many days! I hope you were able to get to school in a reasonable amount of time - I left the c... Read More
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:52
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Dec
17

Monday Morning Greeting

Hello, out there! We got some snowstorm yesterday! The college where I work is closed for the day. No such luck for my husband, Mike, who's an editor at the Montreal Gazette. Unlike teachers, newsroom staff never get snow days! Speaking of The Gazette, my story about how people feel proprietary about parking spots they've gone to the trouble of digging out is in today's paper. Here
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Guest — Kim
Lucky you to have had the chance to take advantage of the snow day to write!! (I had a visit to the Canadian Spage Agency this mor... Read More
Tuesday, 18 December 2007 01:05
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Dec
14

How'd it Get to be Friday So Soon?!

It's not just Friday -- it's Friday at four minutes to five. This has been a very busy week. I'm glad I had nice long stretches at the computer. Some days, the writing comes more quickly than on other days. Those telephone interviews I did last week with Isabelle and this week with Mark really helped me gain momentum on my latest book project. Though I have kind-of-an-idea about where

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Guest — Kim
Hi Miss. Polak! I just wanted to update you on what I did today to celebrate the 17th anniversary of my arrival from China - which... Read More
Saturday, 15 December 2007 00:05
Guest — Tamar
Hi Ms. Polak, I find it very funny that someone dug up someone else's car. I spent 10 minutes pushing a car today... not fun! I ca... Read More
Monday, 17 December 2007 02:54
Guest — Tamar
p.s. go for the oatmeal raisin cookies!
Monday, 17 December 2007 02:54
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Dec
12

Quiet Writing Days... Ahhh!

So the last three days have been what I consider heavenly. Not much to do, except WRITE!! Though I manage to keep writing during the school semester, it does feel like I'm juggling a lot of balls when I'm teaching full-time... and now, I'm down to just one ball... or two. I've been moving forward on the George River project. Did I tell you that last week I had a very good phone

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Guest — Kim
Hi Miss. Polak! I'm definitely planning on taking some time to do what I like - now that Exams are over, it's a lot of fun to be a... Read More
Friday, 14 December 2007 01:52
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Dec
07

Visit to John Abbott College

I spent yesterday afternoon at John Abbott College, where I spoke to Deirdre King's Journalism class. Lately, when I've been doing school visits, I've been speaking mostly about being a YA writer -- so this was a change for me. But part of what I spoke about was the link between being a reporter and writing fiction. Reporters have to get things right; fiction writers can play with the
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Guest — Marilyn
Hello Monique. Im Marilyn and you visited my journalism class at John Abbott. You told me to write to you about good journalism sc... Read More
Sunday, 09 December 2007 02:32
Guest — Sophie B. X.
(Still remember me?) I actually read half of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius but had to stop to study for exams last yea... Read More
Monday, 10 December 2007 21:46
Guest — Phil Cutler
Good evening Monique, I found your visit with us at John Abbott very helpful and I am sure most of the other students did as well.... Read More
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 00:08
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Dec
05

School's Out! Here Comes Writing Time!!

Classes are over at Marianopolis College. I've been marking like a fiend. Ask my husband who got a little miffed when I brought term papers with me to the grocery store on the weekend!! It's always a bit of an adjustment to go from teaching to writing full-time, especially over the holidays when there are so many other demands on our time. This afternoon, I'm going to phone my friend

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Guest — Kim
Thank you Miss. Polak for telling my story Somehow stories always (or rather, often) sound more interesting when they're someone ... Read More
Thursday, 06 December 2007 01:05
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Nov
30

I Should be Marking Essays!!

My students submitted their final essays this week, which means there's a big pile of 'em on the living room floor -- and a smaller pile (those are the ones I've already graded) in my schoolbag. All this to say I don't expect to be doing any new writing until the middle of next week. When I'm not writing, I miss it -- it's kind of like not getting to be with your crush!!! <
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Guest — Alice
Universal to put Gellar in Wonderland By Borys Kit and John Gaudiosi Universal Pictures is making “Alice,” an adaptation of v... Read More
Sunday, 02 December 2007 00:59
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Nov
23

It's great getting feedback on this blog!!

Just time for a quick entry today, but I wanted to say thanks to those of you who've been posting comments on this blog. It's fun to know that even with the many things we all have to do, we're making time to read people's blogs. Darinka Popovic, teacher-librarian at Rockheights Middle School in Victoria, B.C., shared an interesting memory about clotheslines (she doesn't share
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Guest — Kim
Miss. Polak, you never mentionned this blog to your English class!! I only just found it now and read all of the entries in one sh... Read More
Sunday, 25 November 2007 02:13
Guest — Anita
Hi Monique, Hope you're staying warm. When I left Winnipeg for Book Week a little over a week ago it was still fall. When I retu... Read More
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 11:45
Guest — Rosa
This is really fun to read, even the writing tips which we've already done in class. So how much time do you spend writing every d... Read More
Thursday, 29 November 2007 04:18
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Nov
19

Today's Visit to Westmount High School

I did another school visit today -- at Westmount High School in Montreal. Again, I'm feeling very inspired by the young people I met. The school librarian Susan Chau (Miss Chau to the students) arranged the visit. (She is the same librarian who helped me when I was writing a story for The National Post newspaper about bibliotherapy.) My friend and fellow writer Lori Weber also visited Westmount
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Guest — Lawrence Lin Chia Yen
;DThank you very much for the talk that day for us, grade 11 students. It was very insightful and it helped me alot. You gave me i... Read More
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 01:14
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Nov
16

Stories, Stories Everywhere

Hello out there! I'm just back from a morning at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe-Claire, on Montreal's West Island. I certainly hope I inspired the students (I told them about how I got into writing, how I get my ideas... and I read a bit from my books), but one thing's for sure: THE STUDENTS INSPIRED ME. 
I spoke to three grade eight classes and though there wasn't much time
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Guest — Cody mac isaac
w00t!!!!!!!!!!!!!monique is an awsome person to meet she is very inspiring~!~!`1 ;D
Friday, 16 November 2007 20:43
Guest — Joy
thanks!! I would like to say thanks for coming in our class. You inspired me! You were right I was very interrested. I love bod... Read More
Tuesday, 20 November 2007 01:44
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Nov
15

Heading Out for a Run... and to think about my story

Hello, out there! Just a short entry, but it's about something I think is an important topic: how writers like me get our ideas. I find, and I've heard this from other writers, too, that my best ideas don't necessarily come while I'm sitting in front of the computer screen. 
I'm a bit of an exercise nut (I try to workout every day, either by going for a run or doing weights
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Guest — Anita
Tub time is good idea time for me, Monique. So when I think to myself, "Oh, go soak your head!" I'm actually being good to myself... Read More
Friday, 16 November 2007 13:07
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Nov
08

What My Writing Friends in Toronto are Up To...

When I was in Toronto last weekend, I didn't just attend the childen's writing conference I told you about -- I also made time for FUN. As I'm always telling my students, it's important to engage in what psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud called "pleasurable play." Time-out for having fun makes us happier, less stressed and more productive. 
On Friday, I had lunch with two of
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2315 Hits
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Nov
05

Home Sweet Home, but Feeling Very Inspired

I always tell my students to avoid the word "very" -- but sometimes, a person just can't help it. I'm just back from the Packaging Your Imagination conference in Toronto and I'm feeling VERY inspired. The conference is run by a great group called CANSCAIP (that stands for Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers). But let me get to the interesting
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Oct
31

Exciting Evening with Friends from Nunavik!

Well, as life sometimes does, it served up a great gift yesterday. I think I told you I'd heard from my friend Sapina Snowball in Nunavik that she was coming to Montreal for a career conference. Yesterday, when I got home from school, there was a phone message from her. She explained that she'd arrived late on Monday and had been at her conference all day yesterday... and that she was leaving
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Guest — Sapina Snowball
yeah, we had a good short night together.. and yeah, you got the town spelled just right! it was very nice seeing you again...!... Read More
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 23:22
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Oct
26

Preparing for a Talk about Writing -- and Researching

I got through that pile of correcting  I was moaning about earlier this week. Mercifully, many of the essays were excellent. I didn't tell you, but the assignment was to analyze a joke using the Freudian model we have been studying in class. The class, in case you're wondering what kind of class studies jokes, is called "The Stuff of Nonsense."
Today, to celebrate my freedom
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1544 Hits
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Oct
23

Want to Read about Bibliotherapy?

In a previous blog, I told you how I was writing a story for The National Post newspaper about bibliotherapy -- how reading books can help us cope with life's challenges. If you want to check out the story, here's the link:
http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/artslife/story.html?id=0757758e-b5bd-471b-ac45-717b63ce4888&k=84179
I'm still working my way through
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Oct
22

I Shouldn't be Writing a Blog Entry Right Now...

I shouldn't be writing a blog entry right now, but as you may have noticed, I am. What I should be doing is marking term papers. Only I miss writing too much!! As you may know, I teach full-time at Marianopolis College here in Montreal.  This week,  my students' major mid-term assignments are due... about 80 essays came in this morning, and I'll get more work on Wednesday. All this to
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Guest — Alyssa
Hi Monique! I hope your marking is going well. Just wanted to say I feel your pain... only I'm writing the exams, not reading them... Read More
Tuesday, 23 October 2007 21:10
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Oct
15

Thinking about Vancouver Island... and clotheslines

This time last year I was gearing up for my trip to Vancouver Island. I was there for the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Book Week and did I ever have fun!! I met so many interesting young people, heard so many great stories, and saw such gorgeous rugged terrain. I am also thinking about Victoria because I got an email this weekend from Darinka Popovic, the teacher librarian at Rockheights
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Guest — Darinka
Now you have brought back another image--clotheslines. Thank you for creating the picture. I never really thought of clothes lines... Read More
Monday, 19 November 2007 04:48
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Oct
11

Thursday hello

Ever have one of those mornings that slipslides away? That's what's happening to me today. Luckily, though, I still have nearly two hours till I have to leave for school -- and I'm planning to use them more efficiently than I used the last three hours (though I did go for a run and I picked up some groceries en route). 
My editor's second set of notes for the school bus story has landed
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Guest — Sapina Snowball
Hey Monique, I'm speechless.. haha.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 18:53
Guest — Kim
I remember that clothesline assignment - one cold morning, while I was walking down "Villa-Maria Avenue" (at least I think that's ... Read More
Sunday, 23 December 2007 00:55
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Oct
05

Reading is Good for Mental Health

Well, I just finished writing a story for The National Post newspaper about something called "bibliotherapy." Though there are no universities that train people to become bibliotherapists, a lot of librarians, English teachers and therapists know that books can help people deal with difficult problems. I'm going to tell you about a few of the people I interviewed for the story. This
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Oct
02

The Lasagna was Dry, but the Conversation was Great

So I promised I'd report back on my evening with children's writer Marsha Skrypuch, who was in Montreal for the launch of her latest book, Prisoners in the Promised Land: The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk (Scholastic). As I've already told you in the title of today's entry, my salmon lasagna didn't turn out that great. On the bright side, though, I learned a lot from
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Guest — Marsha Skrypuch
The lasagna was not dry, my dear. It was delicious. And the lemon dessert was to die for.
Sunday, 28 October 2007 17:28
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Sep
28

It worked!

Yippee! Now ALL my blog entries say "Posted by Monique Polak." Here are all the people I need to thank: Gord and Gio at Ecohosting here in Montreal, and my new friend Mark in Malaysia. I'm feeling downright computer-literate tonight!!
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Sep
28

Still testing

I should be making salmon lasagna, but I'm still working on getting rid of "Posted by Adminstrator." So here goes! This time, I think it's going to work. This blog should say on top: "Posted by Monique Polak." Let's go, Computer, do it right this time! 
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2036 Hits
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Sep
28

Friday hello

Only time for a quick blog entry this morning. I'm trying to get rid of that annoying "Posted by Administrator" tag that has appeared on the top of each of my blog entries so far. I've been busy figuring out how to do that (with a little help from technical support people) --  and you'll be able to tell from the top of this posting whether I found the solution. Let's just
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Sep
27

Hello from George River!!

The thing is, I'm not really in George River (which is about five hours away by plane from Montreal). I'm sitting at my desk in Montreal, but I've been writing about George River, so in a way, I've spent the morning there. 
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am writing a book set in George River, which is in Nunavik, in northern Quebec. I was there last February. So far, all
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2046 Hits
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Sep
21

Why Starting a New Book is a Little Like Falling in Love

Starting a new book is a little like falling in love. That's because you're very hopeful and everything seems possible. That's why it's very important to take advantage of the burst of energy that can come with starting a new book (and falling in love)!! 
To be honest, I was not planning to start a new book just yet. As you may know from my website, I teach full-time at Marianopolis
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2056 Hits
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Sep
20

Hello hello! Anyone out there?

It's Monique P, writing to say I've now got my very own blog! For one week last month, I was a guest blogger on the Orca Book website -- and I liked it. In this blog, I'm going to tell you a little about the writing life. Only today, I didn't get much writing done. Sigh!! Sometimes, ordinary life gets in the way of the writing life.... But at least I learned how to set up this blog
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Guest — katie
hey i was at ur nchs presentation today and i just wanted to check out ur site and say hi im loved ur book flipturn it was so good... Read More
Thursday, 24 April 2008 23:56
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