monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

May
04

Trying to Post a Pic!!

Oh my goodness!! I think I JUST FIGURED OUT HOW TO DO IT -- AND IT WASN'T EVEN SO HARD!! I've just posted a pic of Wednesday's launch of my latest book, 121 Express. The lady in the middle is me -- the young people are some of my students (past and present). You can tell from the pic, how pleased I was to see them at the launch. Way to go, Monique! (If I may say so myself!!)

(

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Guest — Kim
Oh well... at least you tried!
Monday, 05 May 2008 20:30
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May
02

Notes from Blue Metropolis

The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. Many thanks to those of you who turned up for the launch of 121 Express on Wednesday afternoon. It meant a lot to me that many of my friends and students turned up to celebrate. Now if only I could post those pictures!! (I SOLEMNLY PROMISE TO LEARN HOW -- but you'll have to wait until I get through the mountain of term papers that arrives next

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Guest — tamar
i can't wait to see the cover of the book or to read the book for that matter!!! 121 express was very good by the way, i finished ... Read More
Saturday, 03 May 2008 03:45
Guest — Kim
I can't wait to see the cover of What World is Left, either!! Only a few months of waiting left... and I've already finished 121 ... Read More
Saturday, 03 May 2008 16:12
Guest — Ruby
Hey Monique! This is Ruby. I was at your workshop on Thursday with the Massey-Vanier group, I was the one with good posture and i ... Read More
Saturday, 03 May 2008 20:31
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Apr
30

Blue Metropolis Literary Festival Kicks Off!

Today is the first day of the 10th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival! I'm doing a series of writing workshops today, tomorrow and Friday. Plus, I launch 121 Express later this afternoon; and tomorrow, we're launching Quebec Roots: The Place Where I Live (2008) -- that's the project I participated in along with photographer Monique Dykstra (that was when we worked

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Guest — Kim
Wow... a town of 32 people is quite small. Especially if the families are large, that doesn't give many families in town! A story ... Read More
Friday, 02 May 2008 01:21
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Apr
29

Gearing Up for Tomorrow's Book Launch

So the official launch of my latest book, 121 Express, is coming up tomorrow!  If you're in Montreal and looking for something to do, come join us. Here are the details:

The launch takes place at the 10th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, Wednesday, April 30 from 4 to 5:30 p.m., at the Delta Centre-Ville, 777 University Street. (The closest metro station is

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Guest — Kim
It was quite neat to meet the teacher who influenced the teacher in the book, along with the people who help you out... and see yo... Read More
Thursday, 01 May 2008 02:00
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Apr
28

Literary Breakfast in the Gaspe

I'm back at my own computer in Montreal, but my head's still in the Gaspe! Thought I'd tell you a little about this literary breakfast I went to on Sunday morning in New Richmond. I got to sit at a table with lots of quebecois writers and hear them interviewed for a local radio show. Of course, you know me, I had my trusty writer's notebook on hand -- and I used it to jot down some

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Guest — Kim
Interesting quotes... and all of them seem more or less poetic in nature. I particularly like "Real beaty is truth"; especially af... Read More
Tuesday, 29 April 2008 01:18
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Apr
25

More News from the Gaspe!!

Hello again! Today I'm writing to you from New Richmond High School. I just fished my last talk and I thought I'd write another blog entry to fill you in on my adventures. It snowed up here eysterday morning, but it's bright and sunny today, so the Gaspe looks even more beautiful!

Yesterday, I spoke at New Carlisle High School.There were also students there from Shigawake Port

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Guest — sierra
hi i realy liked your talk!!!!!an other thing is that i sing really good!!you should hear me.well should go do my work now so buh ... Read More
Friday, 25 April 2008 19:51
Guest — Kim
I can't believe it's snowing out there in Gaspé... I'm glad the white cold sutff is done falling from the sky for the next couple... Read More
Friday, 25 April 2008 23:20
Guest — tamar
I also play with my necklace the way Mike does.. i pull it up to my chin and then i play with the star of david hanging for the ch... Read More
Sunday, 27 April 2008 03:18
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Apr
23

Hello from the Gaspe

My, my, it`s been quite an exciting day. First news: I flew here on a FOUR-seater plane and the PILOT WAS A WOMAN. Her name is Karen Stone, she is 32 and has two small daughters. The co-pilot was a guy named Marian Musil. He told me, ``I am the captain`s slave and secretary!``

I did three talks today at Bonaventure Polyvalent, where I met many young Gaspesians. I thought I`d tell you a little

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Guest — Kim
(I'm sorry but I have to note this -- I love it when you type with a French keyboard because the key used as the apostrophe in Eng... Read More
Thursday, 24 April 2008 01:51
Guest — Marian
Good to hear you had a good time, thanks for flying with us! All the best, Marian PS: it's a 10 passengers plane ... Read More
Tuesday, 29 April 2008 00:40
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Apr
22

Hello -- and Good-bye

...Hello since it's Tuesday morning and I'm checking in with the blog; good-bye because I leave tomorrow morning super-early for the Gaspe! The taxi comes to pick me up at 4:45! YIKES!! My plan is to go to sleep really early tonight, since I'm speaking to three groups of students tomorrow. If I have the energy and I can get to a computer, I'll try to write at least one blog entry from
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Guest — Kim
Wow... 4:45 is quite early!! I suppose I had better not complain tomorrow morning when I get up at 6:15! I like that quote about ... Read More
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 00:31
Guest — tamar
have a safe trip! so envious that you get to travel. when i have to travel early in the morning at like 3 am and such, i just dont... Read More
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 04:28
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Apr
21

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Shares Some Advice

I'm supposed to be making supper (it's Melanie's last night in Montreal and it's warm enough for a barbecue!), so I don't have time to tell you all about the dinner party we had where Melanie (my editor on 121 Express) met Andrew Adams (who's actually a character in the book). In short, we had a great time and the party didn't end until nearly one in the morning, which

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Guest — Kim
My family had the first barbecue of the season this evening... to celebrate my sister's birthday (though we were interrupted by th... Read More
Tuesday, 22 April 2008 01:47
Guest — tamar
i like the what J. had to say about painting. I paint for fun but don't usually show anyone my paintings.. it is so true though th... Read More
Wednesday, 23 April 2008 04:25
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Apr
18

Meet My Editor Melanie Jeffs

So lucky me, I get to spend the weekend with Melanie Jeffs, who edited my latest book 121 Express. Melanie arrived from Victoria yesterday. This is her first visit to Montreal so she's eager to get a feeling for the city. Today, we went for lunch to Santropol, a restaurant on St. Urbain St., where on a wonderful warm day like today, you get to sit outside. And while we were there -- now I&#

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Guest — Kim
I never thought about the narrative pronouns being used in a story -- ie first person point of view versus third person. Now that ... Read More
Saturday, 19 April 2008 02:23
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Apr
17

Spring Fever -- Part Two

Did I tell you that my neighbours on both sides are already busy in their gardens? So, first thing this morning, I gave into temptation and did a little tidying up in the garden, too. My reward? I saw a cardinal and heard his trill! 

Melanie Jeffs, the Orca editor who edited my latest book, 121 Express,  will be here when I get home from school tonight. I met her when I toured Vancouver

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Guest — Kim
Ah... the joys of cleaning up the garden. I haven't had the chance to spend that much time outside (blame schoolwork!), but I now ... Read More
Thursday, 17 April 2008 22:29
Guest — Rosa
Do you garden a lot? I love gardening and love seeing the "wildlife". I saw a woodpecker right in front of my house the other day!... Read More
Monday, 21 April 2008 02:14
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Apr
16

This 'n That

Today's been a this 'n that sort of day. Lots of little things to do -- and not a long enough block of time to really work on the final go-through of What World Is Left. Also, I've been busy with the "business" of writing. Today, I had my photograph taken for a Ville St. Laurent weekly newspaper -- my not-so-imaginary school in 121 Express is located there - - and so, they

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Guest — Kim
I like the line about not writing 5 words without changing seven -- I have that problem with opening sentences, and, after reworki... Read More
Thursday, 17 April 2008 22:17
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Apr
15

Workshop on Dialogue

I'm just home from my final writing workshop at Hebrew Academy. Today, we talked about dialogue and how it can help bring a story to life. We also discussed how dialogue that doesn't work can distract readers from the story you want to tell. Because it was our final workshop, I gave the students a little more time than usual to work on their stories -- and then to share them with the rest

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Guest — Kim
I love dialogue when it's well done -- my pet peeve is when two characters have similar personalities and I can't tell which one i... Read More
Wednesday, 16 April 2008 00:28
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Apr
14

Spring Fever!!

It's a little hard to concentrate when it's warm and sunny and my clothesline is calling to me! "Monique! Monique! Hang out the sheets on me, please! Think how nice they'll smell when you crawl into bed tonight!"

I'm getting to my computer late today (blame the clothesline), but I need to get cracking on that final read through "What World Is Left." 

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Guest — Kim
Ah... the joy of clotheslines. The strange thing is that I actually notice them, now, ever since I had to write a paragraph on one... Read More
Wednesday, 16 April 2008 00:12
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Apr
11

Big Day at LaurenHill Academy Junior Campus!!!

I'm sitting at my computer, but I'm still flying from my big day at LaurenHill Academy's Junior campus in Ville St. Laurent. LaurenHill is a special school  for me -- since that's where I got my idea for my newest book, 121 Express. The idea came about in November 2006, on the day I met Andrew Adams, an English teacher at the school. Andrew and I were paired up for a Blue Metropolis

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Guest — Kim
Well, how about coincidences. I discovered yesterday that one of my friends at another CEGEP takes the 121 quite regularly -- thou... Read More
Saturday, 12 April 2008 14:21
Guest — Tamar
I feel like some of the students are going through what they want their characters to go through... I feel like writing about "the... Read More
Saturday, 12 April 2008 18:38
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Apr
10

Visit to College Brebeuf

Bonjour. I greeted you in French today because I'm just back from a visit to College Brebeuf, where I spoke to Lawrence Szigeti's English as Second Language students. Lawrence invited me in to discuss my short story "Row by Row," which is going to be published later this year in an  anthology

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Guest — Kim
Well, now I'm waiting to read "Row by Row" I like Alexandra's way of getting into that "zone" of creativity where nothing can dis... Read More
Friday, 11 April 2008 00:04
Guest — Tamar
is 121 express out already?
Friday, 11 April 2008 03:47
Guest — Erika Jeyamohan
This is really funny. I actually got Row by Row for an english midterm and decided to do some background research on the the write... Read More
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:15
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Apr
08

Today's Workshop on Setting

So I was at Hebrew Academy again this morning, this time to do a workshop on setting. We spent the first half hour on theory. I explained how setting is a way of taking your reader with you -- transporting your reader to another time and place. I also talked about the importance of selecting sensory details in order to create an overall mood or impression -- and we looked at several YA authors&#

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Guest — Kim
It's neat to see how the students can come up with really good ideas within 20 minutes... and I'm thinking I should start paying a... Read More
Tuesday, 08 April 2008 23:50
Guest — noah cohen
u wrote about shira and charlie twice so could you write about different students 2? (ex= Talia- snobby rich girl's mother, Adam- ... Read More
Thursday, 10 April 2008 22:05
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Apr
07

New Friends at the Terryberry Library in Hamilton

Hello, hello, blog readers! I'm back from GritLit -- a literary festival in Hamilton, Ont. The bed sheets are out on the clothesline and I'm having the tires on my car changed (Goodbye, Winter Tires! See you in November!). Can you tell we Montrealers are eager for spring?

So, let me tell you a little more about GritLit. On Friday, Don Aker (Don, if you're reading this, Mike who

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Guest — Rachel
There's an anatomy class at my school and the way the students study is by writing the names of the bones/muscles on the correspon... Read More
Monday, 07 April 2008 20:02
Guest — Kim
Just a quick comment because I'm drowning in school work -- I find it strange that YA writers end up reading to mostly adults... a... Read More
Tuesday, 08 April 2008 00:50
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Apr
04

Meet Don Aker!

Well you've got to meet Don Aker -- my speaking partner this weekend at GritLit, a literary festival in Hamilton, Ontario (or "The Hammer" as the locals call it). Don and I just did a reading and talk together at the local high school. The kids, who were in grades 9 to 12, were great. They were attentive listeners and they asked smart questions. I took notes on some of the things

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Guest — Kim
I love the quotes you choose to share with us... they're all so inspiring! It's true that real life has plenty to offer, you just ... Read More
Friday, 04 April 2008 21:27
Guest — Rachel
I love that quote "Surround yourself with people who believe in what you're doing", not only does it apply to writers but to every... Read More
Monday, 07 April 2008 19:59
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Apr
03

YA Author Lori Weber Visits Marianopolis

So we had another cool visitor at Marianopolis today. This time, it was Lori Weber, author of Klepto, Split, Strange Beauty and Tattoo Heaven. Lori did a general presentation that was open to all students, and later a special workshop on setting for my "Writing for Children" class. So I'll devote today's blog entry to sharing some of her wisdom. During her general presentation

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Guest — Kim
Wow, you're still way excited... seems like you haven't calmed down since Activity Period!! I really enjoyed Lori Weber's present... Read More
Friday, 04 April 2008 01:17
Guest — tamar
have a great trip!
Friday, 04 April 2008 17:55
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Apr
02

Gearing Up for GritLit 2008

What is GritLit, you ask? It's a literary festival in Hamilton, Ontario -- and I get to participate this weekend. Friday, I'll be reading at Westdale High School in Hamilton; on Saturday, I read at Terryberry Library. I'm partnered up with Nova Scotia YA author, Don Aker.

So, to gear up for my visit, I'm reading Don's latest book, The Space Between. It's about a 17

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Guest — tamar
i think i just added another book to the massive pile on my nightstand!! i need summer already so i can read by the pool!!
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 19:27
Guest — Kim
That book sounds nice... though I'm happy my weekend away in Toronto only involved sharing my room with a friend. Also, the drape... Read More
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 23:26
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Apr
01

Working With Budding Young Writers at Hebrew Academy

This morning, I worked with a group of grades five and six students at Hebrew Academy here in Montreal. (It's part of a project organized by the Quebec Writers' Federation. The students have been specially picked and they get to work with a poet, a journalist, and a children's writer. As you may have surmised, I'm the children's writer!)

Anyway, they were a very keen group

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Guest — Kim
I think there's something with characters who suffer misfortunes that makes them more appealing to readers... if the story's well ... Read More
Tuesday, 01 April 2008 23:34
Guest — tamar
hope you enjoyed the children! some of them went to my class and/or took a drama class I offered... let me know if you work with s... Read More
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 02:58
Guest — Rachel
My mom teaches english to kids in grades 1-6 and she always tells me about the amazing ideas they come up with for stories. Why ar... Read More
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 03:31
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Mar
28

Ever Notice How Things Sometimes Turn Up at Just the Right Time?

Just now, as I was tidying up (you may know that tidying up the house is part of my writing ritual!), I noticed an envelope peeping out of the basket where we keep mittens. When I checked to see what was inside, I found some notes I took last spring when I was in Holland doing research for What World Is Left. I took these notes at the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam. There

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Guest — tamar
your mother was in Theresienstadt? My late grandfather was liberated from Theresienstadt... Also, when is 121 express coming out? ... Read More
Friday, 28 March 2008 21:38
Guest — Kim
Nice quote... though I prefer to write for myself, because it's easier to write about things which mean a lot to me, and in those ... Read More
Sunday, 30 March 2008 16:26
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Mar
27

Journalist/Author Joel Yanofsky Visits my Journalism Class

Yesterday, Joel Yanofsky, author of the novel Jacob's Ladder, as well as a non-fiction book called Mordecai and Me (about among other things, Mordecai Richler), visited my Journalism class at Marianopolis. In addition to being an author, Joel is a busy journalist, who does book reviews and author profiles for publications like The Gazette, the National Post, and a publishing industry magazine

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Guest — KIM
Just a quick comment while I'm supposed to be scouting -- checking out the other 65 teams here at the Toronto Robotics Regional --... Read More
Friday, 28 March 2008 14:19
Guest — Kim
Okay, I meant to have that comment on the previous entry but, seeing as it's not working today either, it'll be fine Thanks Sophi... Read More
Sunday, 30 March 2008 16:13
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Mar
26

More Wisdom from a Student: "I'm not that good a writer -- yet"

Yesterday, in my "Writing for Children" class at Marianopolis College, another one of my students said something deep about writing. Today's quote comes from Kelly G., who is thinking of doing her next assignment (the first chapter of a YA novel) on an Indian girl living in Canada who is hooked on Bollywood movies. Great idea, Kelly! Well, yesterday, Kelly and I were reviewing her

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Mar
25

About This Play I Saw Last Night

Last night, I went to the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montreal to see the play, "No More Raisins, No More Almonds." Performed by local teens, the play is set in a Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust. One of the actors was my former student Tamar Eliashiv -- who was just great (and when I caught her eye, she didn't even smile! Very professional, Tamar!!) 

The play was based

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Guest — Sophie B. X.
Congrads Tamar on your performance! ;D When I take class notes, I usually write what's on the board in pen and the little "detai... Read More
Tuesday, 25 March 2008 15:54
Guest — Kim
I see you finally managed to get to see the play on Monday, after all! Congrats Tamar on your performance -- strange how, for the... Read More
Tuesday, 25 March 2008 19:58
Guest — tamar
*blush* thanks for the compliments... I knew you were coming though since I asked the box office if you were able to make the rese... Read More
Tuesday, 25 March 2008 20:18
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Mar
23

Thoughts on Happiness

I'm preparing for a talk I'm doing about a book called Happier by Harvard psychology professor Tal Ben-Shahar. In this inspiring book, Ben-Shahar points out that most of us tend to focus on the achievement of goals, rather than the process involved in achieving them. A former Israeli squash champion, Ben-Shahar says he felt "empty" after winning at squash. In this book, he writes

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Guest — Kim
I agree with Csikszentmihalyi's quote -- I love the feeling I get when I finally accomplish something difficult, or anything that ... Read More
Sunday, 23 March 2008 22:13
Guest — Sophie B. X.
I love professor Tal Ben-Shahar's point about happiness coming from the process, and not always the finished product. I always fee... Read More
Monday, 24 March 2008 13:04
Guest — Rachel
What a perfect time to read this! I have my skating solo test tomorrow and it seems like the culmination of all the work I've put ... Read More
Tuesday, 25 March 2008 20:35
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Mar
20

Here's What One of My Students Has to Say About the Writing Process

The students in my "Writing for Children" have been working on their first chapters of a junior novel. Thanks to them, I'm getting to read some pretty amazing stories. One of my students, Emily Distefano, is writing about a girl from Texas who comes to Canada to live with her magician uncle. The girl's parents have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. At the end of Tuesday
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Guest — Kim
Wonderful timing -- I spent so many hours over the past week correcting my French fairytale analysis! I agree with Emily saying t... Read More
Thursday, 20 March 2008 23:33
Guest — tamar
i think that knowing what you want but struggling to get there applies not only to writing but to everyday life.. kind of like me ... Read More
Friday, 21 March 2008 04:41
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Mar
18

Preparing for a Talk about "Capturing the Teenage Imagination"

For someone who enjoys TALKING as much as I do, preparing for a talk is not usually too difficult! In a little over an hour, I've got to be at the McCord Museum here in Montreal, where I'm doing a talk called "Capturing the Teenage Imagination: Writing for Young Adults." As you know, this is one of my favourite subjects. I've scribbled a bunch of points on a sheet of paper and
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Guest — tamar
it is gorgeous outside!!! my dad burst my bubble and told me about the upcoming yucky weather... also, i remember hearing you read... Read More
Tuesday, 18 March 2008 20:15
Guest — Kim
I have to say my favourite of all your books is Scarred... I especially like the ending and the book is always on my bedside table... Read More
Wednesday, 19 March 2008 01:21
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Mar
17

Correcting Frenzy!!

Did I mention that I recently reviewed a book for The Gazette called "Complaint-Free Universe"? According to the book, we're not supposed to complain (because according to the book, complaining about things only makes us unhappier). So all I can tell you is I've got a pile of correcting sitting on the dining room table and it needs doing. It also means I may not get much time

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Guest — Kim
Well then, first off, thanks for taking the time to write in your blog despite all the rest of the writing which you have left to ... Read More
Monday, 17 March 2008 20:38
Guest — tamar
hahaha! give up complaining? that's hard... i even got voted biggest complainer for my high school year book!! I am assuming you j... Read More
Tuesday, 18 March 2008 20:11
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Mar
14

Goodness Gracious, Almost Forgot to Write a Blog Entry...

That's because I've been so busy working on the "track changes" for What World is Left. (I'm starting to get used to the name of my fall book, which was re-christened this week by my editor in B.C.) Only time for a short entry today since I'm headed out for dinner with a friend. But I wanted to share something interesting that Manitoba writer Anita Daher wrote to me today

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Guest — Kim
Before I forget, I must say I enjoyed your article on procrastination -- especially the last quote, from the person who said she d... Read More
Saturday, 15 March 2008 03:03
Guest — tamar
hope you enjoyed your dinner i got an idea for a book today, but will probably never write it out haha... so true that misery make... Read More
Saturday, 15 March 2008 05:18
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Mar
12

My Character Gets a New Name -- and So Does My Book

So, after a great deal of deliberation (e-mail consultations with my editor Sarah Harvey in B.C., phone consultations with my parents, and several chats with my husband and daughter) the main character in my historical novel has had her name changed from Lotje (deemed too difficult for North American readers to pronounce) to Anneke. Hope you like it!! One of the funny things about deciding on her

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Guest — tamar
Hi Ms. Polak First off, I loved the National Post article and find it so true!! I am procrastinating right now..even though I have... Read More
Wednesday, 12 March 2008 18:44
Guest — Kim
Hello again Miss. Polak I like the name change for the character... at least I'm now relatively sure I'm not going to seriously m... Read More
Wednesday, 12 March 2008 19:05
Guest — Anita
Hi Monique! I'm still waiting to hear back from Sarah re my fall book...sweat, sweat, nibbling fingernails. Of course I know she'... Read More
Friday, 14 March 2008 11:07
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Mar
11

Early Morning Coffee with Toronto Writer-Editor and Toronto Teacher

A person like me probably shouldn't have coffee ever, but alas -- I had a cafe au lait downtown this morning with two friends from Toronto -- and now I'm even livelier than usual. My poor students!!! So I met up with Toronto children's writer and editor Gillian O'Reilly and Toronto elementary school teacher Nancy Rawlinson. Not surprisingly, we talked about kids books and I asked

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Guest — Kim
I am now convinced that a writer's mood affects their writing style -- your energy is apparent through your writing, and, while it... Read More
Wednesday, 12 March 2008 00:41
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Mar
10

Hola Senor

... or senorita! Now that I'm back in snowy Montreal, I have a tremendous urge to speak Spanish!! Those of you taking Spanish classes are SO lucky. If I had a little more free time, I'd ask one of the Spanish teachers at school to let me sit in on her (or his) class. 

So I'm back at work. I've already taught and tidied up my house (the tidying if you're new to my

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Guest — Kim
Hola!! I have Spanish class twice a week Although I started back in Grade 7 so now I'm quite confortable with the language -- I e... Read More
Monday, 10 March 2008 21:04
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Mar
08

Last full day of vacation...

So we're now in Puerto Vallarta, since that's where we fly home from tomorrow. Not to get into the gory details, but we took a bus here yesterday from La Penita... and I got... well... sick. Mike was my angel of mercy. I can't give you the details, but let's just say that if ever in one of my future books, a boy (you see I'd likely change the sex to protect my privacy) gets sick
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Guest — tamar
I can't help but laugh at your story... I was on a trip and a boy on my bus also threw up on the bus aisle on the way to the airpo... Read More
Saturday, 08 March 2008 20:52
Guest — Kim
The worst part about your misadventure (misfortune?) is that, well, you're right: it does make a good story. And threre won't be t... Read More
Saturday, 08 March 2008 21:35
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Mar
06

Reading on the Beach

So it's jueves, I think that's the right way to say and spell Thursday in Spanish. That means it's market day in La Penita de Jaltemba, so this little town which is usually pretty sleepy, wakes wide up. Mike and I are heading to the market soon, but first, I thought I'd say hola and tell you about the wonderful books I've been reading this week. I've finished Meg Rosoff'
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Guest — Kim
Reading on the beach sounds so inviting... especially after reading the newspaper headlines on how we received 5 centimetres of ic... Read More
Thursday, 06 March 2008 16:24
Guest — tamar
hope you have a safe flight home!! the snow will welcome you i had to read the eggers book for school in grade 11 but couldnt get ... Read More
Friday, 07 March 2008 18:28
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Mar
03

Quick hello

Hello out there... all is well, except for one small glitch: I can't seem to check my website email from here, so Kim, Sophie and Tamar, in case you're  sending me comments, I'll have to wait till I'm back in snowy Montreal to read them.

I was going through this little notebook I keep and I found a quote about writing that I'd meant to post on the blog, so here it

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Guest — tamar
haha you are so cute!! you know kim and sophie and i all too well!! enjoy your vacation while it lasts! i got a recoomendation for... Read More
Tuesday, 04 March 2008 05:49
Guest — Kim
Well, I suppose all three of us (Tamar, Sophie and me) are quite predictable! I suppose writing about the dentist is a "radish"-t... Read More
Tuesday, 04 March 2008 13:57
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Mar
01

Hola de Mejico!!

Quick entry since I´m working on a little old computer in an Internet place in Mexico -- and it´s hard to find the right buttons. We´re in La Penita. It´s warm and sunny and we´re going to spend the whole day READING on the beach. Ahhhh!! Did I tell you I was planning not to write... can´t find the question mark. Not sure I´ll be able to keep that promise.
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Guest — tamar
i wish i could read on the beach!!! i love "pool reads" and get through so many when vacationing in a warm location... next time i... Read More
Saturday, 01 March 2008 21:39
Guest — Kim
If Tamar gets to come, so do I! It sounds so nice to say that you're reading on a beach... much better than if you said you were ... Read More
Saturday, 01 March 2008 23:52
Guest — bill@ontheroadin.com
[url]http://www.jaltembasol.com/Archives/2008/March 2008/March 3/20080229_5387.jpg[/url]... Read More
Monday, 03 March 2008 16:52
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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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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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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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