monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

Jan
29

Laying An Egg

Since my mum got sick before Christmas, I am spending more time chatting with my dad. (Quick report: my mum is doing much better, but is still not well enough to return to her own house.) Well, this

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Jan
28

12:19 P.M. on January 28, 2010

I record the time and date, because I'm about to jump into a new project. I've spent the last little while on the floor in my office, reviewing notes. And now, I'm going to do it -- write

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Jan
26

The Air Is Thick With Stories

IMG_22.jpgLately, I've been telling students how to me, the air feels thick with stories. What I mean is there

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Jan
25

Home Invasion Gets Mentioned on CBC Sunday Edition

Yesterday morning, I came home from a run to find a message on our telephone -- it was my friend Deena, calling from the side of the road near Hamilton, Ontario, where she lives. She had been listening

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  2457 Hits
Jan
21

Names, Names, Names!

So it's almost the end of my first week back as a pumpkin (I should say teacher -- that's a reference to a previous blog entry where I said I felt a little like the pumpkin in Cinderella

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Jan
19

The Baby Starts Kindergarten

What baby? My daughter's 26, a long way past kindergarten!

No, the baby is the new manuscript. About six seconds ago, I submitted it to my wonderful editor Continue reading

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Jan
18

Pumpkin Turns Into Carriage

In the fairy tale Cinderella, a pumpkin is transformed into a carriage. I feel a little like that pumpkin today... or maybe more like the carriage! This was my first day back at Marianopolis

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Jan
17

I Shouldn't Be Writing this Blog Entry!

The reason I shouldn't be writing this blog entry is because I have a ton of things to do... but I've got lots to tell you, dear blog reader, so here I am, writing a blog entry when I shouldn

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Jan
13

On Thin Ice!!

Today photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and I were out "on thin ice." Usually, that means people are getting into trouble, but not us! We went out snowshoeing this morning on Lake Mistissini

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Jan
12

Hello from the Cree Nation of Mistissini

So today's entry comes to you from the Cree Nation of Mistissini. I am writing to you from a computer at Voyageur Memorial School, where I'm working with photographer Thomas Kneubuhler on a project

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Jan
10

Heading Back to James Bay

Tomorrow morning, really early, I'm catching a plane to James Bay -- this time, I'm headed for a town called Mistissini. I'll be meeting up with photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and we'

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Jan
07

The Most Special Dress in my Closet

IMG_99.jpgMy day started with an e-mail from a reader named Elise. Elise wrote to say that her favourite part of

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Jan
06

Ordinary Things... and a good day at the computer

Today, driving home from the hospital (my mum is beginning to recover, but it looks like she may be in the hospital for a while still), I heard a wonderful interview on CBC Radio with Scottish author

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  1733 Hits
Jan
04

Ups and Downs and Finding Ways to Handle Them

Well, there've been a lot of ups and downs around here the last few days. My mum who has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks, was getting a little better last week, and then she took a real

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  1862 Hits
Dec
29

Ever Notice How Life Takes the Shape of a Story?

Maybe it's because I spend so much time writing and reading stories, but to me, it often feels that life takes the shape of a story. What I mean is that life has beginning, middle and end; there

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  3052 Hits
Dec
28

Thinking About My Mum

IMG_222.jpgI've been away from the computer for a few days -- not just on account of the holidays, but also because my mum has not been well. She came down with a mysterious virus last week and she's

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  2029 Hits
Dec
21

Stories that Just Won't Go Away

I know I need to write a story when it just won't go away. It's kind of like a pesky fly in summer... only it's a good thing, and not pesky in an annoying way.

Last week, when I got

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  3449 Hits
Dec
17

Stories Worth Hiding

IMG_555.jpgHello, hello! Today I had fun with more teenagers -- I did two writing workshops at St. Thomas High

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  2201 Hits
Dec
16

Return Visit to Lake of Two Mountains High School

IMG_1537.jpgSo I'm back from "le Grand Nord," and feeling very inspired by the stories I heard,

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  2265 Hits
Dec
10

More From Me in Akulivik

IMG_1607.jpgIt's Day Three of our visit to Akulivik. Winds today are gusting at 45 kilometers an hour. so my morning run only lasted 10 minutes -- after which I went into the house where I'm staying and

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Dec
09

"Ai" from Akulivik

IMG_1596.jpgSome Inuit say "Hi" the way we do in Montreal, but most say something that sounds more like "Ai." This morning, my new friends here at Tukisiniarvik School in Akulivik were teaching

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  2626 Hits
Dec
08

New Friends in Puvirnituq

IMG_1594.jpgGood morning today from Puvirnituq, a village of 1,600 people on the Hudson Bay side of Nunavik. It took about 90 minutes to fly here yesterday from Kuujjuaq, which is on Ungava Bay.

I spent

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  2542 Hits
Dec
03

Hello from Kuujjuaq

IMG_1578.jpgToday I am writing to you from Jaanimmarik School in Kuujjuaq. I have lots to tell you, but I cannot find some punctuation marks on this computer -- so you will have to excuse me if I don t include

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  2919 Hits
Dec
01

Hello from Kangiqsualujjuaq

IMG_1571.jpgIf Kangiqsualujjuaq is too hard for you to pronounce, you can just call it George River. I'm

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  3189 Hits
Nov
29

Heading to the Far Far North!

My long underwear and thermal socks are packed! First thing tomorrow morning, I head to Nunavik. The Kativik School Board has invited me to visit four Inuit communities: Kangiqsualujjuaq, Kuujjuaq, Povungnituk

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Nov
26

New Friends In Harrington Harbour

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  3608 Hits
Nov
22

Time To Hit the Road

...or in my case, the sky.

Tomorrow afternoon, my photographer pal Monique Dykstra and I head for Harrington

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  2373 Hits
Nov
18

By Golly, I Won!

IMG_02.jpgI really wasn't expecting to win the Quebec Writers' Federation Prize for Children's and

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  2361 Hits
Nov
17

Meet David A. Poulsen

IMG_01.jpgIMG_00.jpgThis

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  2264 Hits
Nov
12

Special Day with Special Students

IMG_1.jpgIMG_11.jpgI think I've told you that this year again, I am working on a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation

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  2094 Hits
Nov
10

New Friends at The Priory School

I knew I was going to have a good afternoon at The Priory School yesterday when I opened my book bag, laid my books out on Mrs. Riggs's desk... and I was SWARMED by students wanting to see the

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  1756 Hits
Nov
09

Back At My Desk!

Our hiking boots are back in the closet -- and I'm back at my desk!

Oh, it was a good vacation! And oh, I am looking forward to getting back to my miracles manuscript! Except for writing

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  457 Hits
Nov
02

What's Better Than a Four-Day Hike in the Grand Canyon?

IMG_1533.jpgIMG_1635.jpgThere's only one thing better than a four day hike in the Grand Canyon: THE SHOWER AFTERWARDS!!!

The hike was amazing. We saw a California condor

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  1602 Hits
Oct
30

Helloo helloo from the South Rim!

We're at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and after our backpacks are loaded, we'll head down to the base of the canyon. We've got a laptop with us, but of course, we'll be out of

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  1831 Hits
Oct
28

Go Take a Hike!

Actually, "Go take a hike!" is a very rude thing to say!

Except in our case, that's exactly what we're about to do: go and take a big hike. My husband and I are heading back

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  1850 Hits
Oct
27

Meeting the 2009-2010 Quebec Roots Team

Since 2006, I've had the great privilege of participating in an exciting educational program called Quebec Roots, run by Montreal's Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation. The program allows writers

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Oct
23

Report on a Very Happy Launch

IMG.1555.jpgI'm always telling my students not to use the word "very," but today, well, you'

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  2154 Hits
Oct
22

Launch Day... and a great old radio interview

Today is launch day. In less than 90 minutes, I've got to be at Babar en ville, Montreal's number one kids' bookstore, to launch my two new books: The Middle of Everywhere and <

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  1693 Hits
Oct
20

Back to Kindergarten!

What, you may ask, was I doing today in a kindergarten class?

Having fun -- and working!

Lately, I've been concentrating mostly on my new manuscript. I've done some book reviews

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  2093 Hits
Oct
19

On Not Being Able to Read a Book Without a Pencil...

Can you read a book without a pencil between your fingers? Not me. When we're at the beach or on a hike, my husband always thinks it's strange that I can't read a book without a pencil.

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  2065 Hits
Oct
15

Inside and Outside

For me, writing is an inside thing. I don't mean that I write indoors (which I usually do), I mean that I write from my inside. I've heard some writers say that they write for an imaginary

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  2116 Hits
Oct
13

Coffee Date With Fellow Writers

I'm buzzing -- could be because I just had a latte with three kid-lit writers... but it's also because of the shared energy at our table.

Joyce Scharf, Continue reading

  2298 Hits
Oct
08

Stories that Stick

Today's blog entry is inspired by a comment I got from John Abbott College English teacher Lesley Checkland-Orr. Lesley wrote to say that on her drive home this week, she thought about something

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  2279 Hits
Oct
06

Happy Day at John Abbott College!

IMG_1111.jpgThe truth is -- I miss teaching. It's a great privilege to be on sabbatical  and to be writing

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  3443 Hits
Oct
05

So D'You Like the New Banner?

Graphic designer Cindy Murphy is responsible for the new banner at the top of this webpage. D'you like it? With two new books coming out this month (The Middle of Everywhere and Junkyard

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  2199 Hits
Oct
01

Talking To Myself (Do You Talk to Yourself, Too?)

Maybe it's because I'm on sabbatical and have no students this semester... maybe it's because I'm getting used to the idea that my daughter doesn't live here anymore...

but

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  2036 Hits
Sep
28

Back from the Burlington Book Fair

IMG1588.jpgToday's pic is of the window at Border's bookstore in Burlington, Vermont. And you see some

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  2377 Hits
Sep
24

Back to the Drawing Board!

So it's time to "get back to the drawing board" -- or in my case, the carpet! I do some of my best story planning on the pink and green and red and blue and yellow carpet in my little

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  2180 Hits
Sep
21

Mothers and Daughters Talk Books

IMG_1526.jpgTonight was a very special night for me because I did a little talk at Montreal's Jewish Public

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  2409 Hits
Sep
17

Meet Rachel Martinez!

I've mentioned before that one of the bonuses of being a writer is the people you get to meet through your books. Now in the case of Rachel Martinez

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  2605 Hits
Sep
15

Research Trip to Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre

IMG_1530_2.jpgMy husband and I spent the weekend in Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, a little town about 3-1/2 hours from

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  2450 Hits
Sep
10

On-line Interview -- and News on the Stray Cat

So I've been meaning to tell you a little about the on-line interview I did two nights ago with Derrick Grose, editor of School Libraries in Canada . I did the interview at my neighbours

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Sep
08

It's a Two Interview Kind of a Day!

Usually, I'm the one who does the interviewing -- but not today. Today, I'm being interviewed not once, but twice. The first interview just happened and it was for 570 News, a radio station

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  1935 Hits
Sep
06

Movies, Movies, Movies

It's the final weekend of the Montreal Film Festival and we've been seeing movies, movies, movies. We've gone to three in the last two days and I'm going to another three tomorrow.

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Sep
04

Three Amigas!

IMG_1523.jpgThat's me in today's pic, with my two amigas -- fellow writers Jane Barclay and Lori Weber

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  2270 Hits
Sep
02

That Man You See Out for a Walk...

That man you see out for a walk... just may happen to be a writer. At least,  that's what I learned this morning when I was jogging down Monkland Ave., near my house in Montreal.

I spotted

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  1735 Hits
Aug
31

Cat Characters

123.jpgSo this weekend our friend Carole Wilbourn, who works in Manhattan as a cat therapist, came for a visit. Carole is the ideal houseguest -- independent and easy to please; in fact, she is a little like

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  2486 Hits
Aug
27

A Little Autumn in the Air

So this is going to be my first autumn in 44 years that I haven't gone to school! I'm on sabbatical from my teaching job at Marianopolis College

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Aug
25

Back to Work!

Nothing like a week of bicycling uphill (well there was A LOT of uphill anyhow) to make this writer eager to get back to work.

I've got a boost of energy because my editor, Sarah Harvey at

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  1953 Hits
Aug
23

Busy Day in Georgeville

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  2142 Hits
Aug
20

Ever Meet a Real Live "Character"?

We writers are always on the look-out for real live "characters" -- people we can use in our stories. Well, this week on our bike trip around (well, okay, half-way around Lake Champlain ...
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  1834 Hits
Aug
18

Going Downhill!

Well, hello there! I'm writing to you from the town of Westport, New York. I can't find my reading glasses so I might make some typing errors. My husband and I are on a bike trip. We were attempting

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  1836 Hits
Aug
12

A Bonus of the Writing Life: New Friends in Far Places

Once a book is published, it has a life of its own. If you're lucky and your book is well distributed, it will be read by many people. I remember how excited I was when my daughter told me she

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  1863 Hits
Aug
10

Lynda Barry on Creativity

I spent the weekend with a very dear friend in Kingston, Ontario. On the drive home, I listened to a really good CBC interview with American novelist/graphic artist/playwright Lynda Barry. I have to

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Aug
06

Thursday Afternoon Smoothie!

I just had a delicious mango-pineapple smoothie at a cafe on Sherbrooke St., in NDG, the Montreal neighbourhood where I live. Better even than the smoothie (which was totally yum-yum) was the company

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  2413 Hits
Aug
05

You Need to Be a Little in Love with Your Narrator!

Well, at least I need to be a little in love wih my narrator. Most YA (young adult) novels are written in the first person (of all of mine, only one, On the Game, is told from the

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  1828 Hits
Aug
02

This is What My Office Floor Looks Like

IMG_1549.jpgPretty messy, no? I shot that photo for you this morning because I want you to see what the floor

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  1848 Hits
Jul
30

Thinking Time!!!

We all have our weaknesses and though I hate to admit it, mine might be THINKING!! I'm way better at DOING!! (If you know me, you'll know that I am a very active person.) So you can imagine

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  2226 Hits
Jul
27

I'm Not the Only Snoop Around

This weekend, I was reading in the Montreal Gazette about film director Ken Scott and how he came up with the idea for his latest movie, Les doigts croches (Sticky Fingers), which is about

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  1939 Hits
Jul
23

Delilah's Dreams

You may remember that after one of my school visits this spring, I mentioned a student named Delilah in one of my blog entries. Delilah was determined to improve her writing and she was going to try

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  2668 Hits
Jul
20

We Are Our Own Best Material

Today again, I can't take credit for the title of my blog entry. The line, "we are our own best material" is a paraphrase of something Irish-American writer and teacher Frank McCourt

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  1805 Hits
Jul
16

"Imagination Saved Me"

I got the title for today's blog entry from an interview I heard yesterday on CBC radio. Literary journalist Eleanor Wachtel was interviewing Jackie Kay, a Scottish poet. Jackie, who is bi-racial,
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  1935 Hits
Jul
14

Ahh, the Power of a Beautiful Paragraph

I don't know about you... but a beautiful paragraph can sure have power over me. Sometimes, I think life is all about language. When you think about it, words can start wars; they can also make

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  2202 Hits
Jul
12

First Review of Junkyard Dog

So I've got what's called an "advance reading copy" of Junkyard Dog -- one of my two new books coming out this fall. An advance reading copy means it is an uncorrected proof

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  1944 Hits
Jul
08

Hope You Didn't Think I'd Go a Whole Week Without A Blog Entry!

Well, hello, hello... I'm writing to you from Hammondsport, New York, a very cute little town in the Finger Lakes region of New York. We're here for a little holiday -- though I am not REALLY

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  1816 Hits
Jul
03

Special Gifts

I have found that when I am hard at work on a project (the way I am now), life has a way of serving up special gifts (though they are not the sort of gifts that come in wrapped packages!). For example

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  2190 Hits
Jun
29

Three Cheers for Grandmothers!

So I am working on Chapter Six of my new manuscript. I get some of my ideas when I am just waking up, or just falling asleep. This weekend, I was waking up and wondering what would happen in Chapter

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Jun
22

Snowy Day in June

A snowy day in June? Now how could that be? It's actually warm and sunny in Montreal today, but in my head it's snowing. That's because in my head I'm in the far north!

I spent

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Jun
18

Meet Kristin Butcher

One of my favourite parts of being a children's writer is getting to meet other children's writers. This week, I "met" Kristin Butcher. I put the word "met" in quotations

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  2113 Hits
Jun
16

The Boy in this Picture is Not Sleeping!

IMG_1522.jpgJust so you know... the boy in today's photo is NOT SLEEPING! He is THINKING OF AN IDEA FOR A

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  2148 Hits
Jun
15

New Friends at Parkdale School

Ever have one of those days that just zipped by? Well, that's what happened to me today at Parkdale School in Ville St. Laurent, Quebec.

Do you remember when I told you about my beloved

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Jun
11

Tea Time

IMG_1525.jpgThe title "Tea Time" means things are going well today in this writer's life. The sheets are hanging out on the clothesline (do you already know that I have an obsession with clotheslines

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  2225 Hits
Jun
09

Doing Difficult Things

One of the characters in the novel I am reading -- Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn -- is a TV writer. Writing is difficult for him: "He felt, while sitting in front of his computer

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  1892 Hits
Jun
07

Getting Personal!

Last semester, in my Writing for Children class at Marianopolis College, we talked a lot about the connection between our real lives and our stories. I'm one of those authors who draws on memories

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  3281 Hits
Jun
02

To Outline or Not To Outline, That is the Question

So I'm working on Chapter Two of my new manuscript and I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I don't know what's going to happen next. But one thing I do know: I am having fun

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  2222 Hits
May
31

This Town Is Full of Librarians!

It's a big weekend in Montreal -- not only is my sister getting married this afternoon (which means my daughter is in town from New York. YIPPEE!), but there's a CLA (Canadian Library Association

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  2422 Hits
May
28

Exciting Day in London, Ontario!

Hello hello dear blog readers! I'm just back from a whirlwind trip to London, Ontario where I visited two schools: John Dearness Public School and Mountsfield School. In all, I spoke to four groups

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  3074 Hits
May
25

New Look for the Website

Thanks to website designers Vince and Cindy Murphy, moniquepolak.com has a new look. If you've visited my website before, you'll probably have noticed the new book banner on top, and also the handy new link to this blog. So what do you think?

I spent this morning at my school, helping grade placement exams for incoming students, so I'm a little late getting to my computer today

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  2550 Hits
May
22

Visit to a Special School

IMG_1498.jpgI spent today working with students at LaurenHill Academy Junior Campus in Ville St. Laurent. LaurenHill Academy is a special place for me -- my friend Andrew Adams teaches there, it's also where I found the inspiration for my novel 121 Express, and my favourite sweatshirt says LaurenHill
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  2933 Hits
May
20

Meet Tim Wynne-Jones!

IMG_1497.jpgThat's what I got to do last night! Prize-winning Canadian YA author Tim Wynne-Jones was launching his latest novel, The Uninvited, here in Montreal at Babar Books.

I got to know Tim this winter because we both served on the Arthur Ellis YA Crime Writing jury -- though we never met in

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  2365 Hits
May
19

I Did It! I Started!

It's just a start, but I did it -- and it feels good. It feels won-der-ful! I've started my new book project. Not notes, not thoughts, but the real thing. I've written part of Chapter One. How exciting! How nerve-wracking! But mostly, how FUN! My story is starting to come to life in my head and now, on the page!

I did my usual getting-started stuff. I went for a run (and got
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  1769 Hits
May
15

Working on the Floor

When I was in college (I went to Marianopolis, the school I now teach at!), I remember working on an essay -- I was sitting on the carpet in my bedroom, all my notes spread out around me. Occasionally, I still  use that method, especially when I am in the planning stages for a story or a book.

So yesterday, I took out all the notes I've got so far for my new book idea, and I did
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  1993 Hits
May
13

Stop and Smell the Roses!

IMG_1496_2.jpgI thought you'd like this picture -- that's me with Megan, one of my students from last semester. That stop sign was Megan's end-of-term project for my "Stuff of Nonsense" class -- the sign is made of cloth roses. Don't you love it?

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  2056 Hits
May
12

I Love Lipograms!

You are probably asking yourself, "What is a lipogram, anyway?" A lipogram is a piece of writing, for example a paragraph or a poem, in which one letter cannot be used. Usually, it's the letter "e" since "e" is the most commonly used letter! (Look at all the interesting new things you are learning by reading today's blog entry!)

Anyway, it's a good
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  2336 Hits
May
11

My Mind is Writing!

Most of me is busy correcting -- I hope to get all my grading done by the middle of this week... but my mind, well, let's just say it has a MIND of its own! A very cool thing started happening this weekend... and it has to do with my mind. Even though, I won't officially start working on my new book project until all my schoolwork is done, my mind is thinking otherwise.

I keep coming
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  2336 Hits
May
09

Giving Voice to People Who Don't Have a Voice

Inspired by author/journalist Dave Eggers (he wrote, among other things, the memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), I asked my Journalism students to interview a person who has "no voice" -- meaning someone who is not likely to be asked to tell his or her story. I didn't want my students to interview the kind of people who usually get interviewed: important politicians
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  4058 Hits
May
06

Markin' Mama!

I like how that sounds -- Markin' Mama -- though perhaps it is a slightly rude way to describe a woman of my age!! However, Markin' Mama more or less captures what I am up to this week. It's the last week of classes at Marianopolis College, where I teach in Montreal, and all my students are handing in their work. I've already gotten through two sets of assignments and I have two

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  2050 Hits
May
03

MY Mrs. Browman

This evening I'm thinking about Sharon Browman, who was my fifth grade teacher at Westminster School more than 40 years ago. Tonight, I'm thinking of Mrs. Browman (though we are still in touch, and these days I call her "Sharon") because I am reviewing a book by Ken Robinson called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I just finished reading a chapter

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  2192 Hits
Apr
30

This 'n That

Well... you blog readers have been keeping me busy with your comments. THANKS SO MUCH. There's nothing a writer likes more than knowing she has READERS!!!

As some of you know, I've been busy revising two manuscripts this winter... both are due out in October 2009 with Orca Books Publishers. One's called Junkyard Dog; the other is The Middle of Everywhere. Today, I submitted my

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  648 Hits
Apr
28

Spring Fever!!

IMG_1494_2.jpgOnly time for a quick blog entry since I am working away on the final (I think!) edit of The Middle Of Everywhere (due out next fall with Orca Book Publishers). I'm doing what's called "track notes," meaning I'm working directly on the manuscript, and responding to my editor

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  702 Hits