Hello dear blog readers, I'm just home from another busy day at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival here in Montreal! This morning, I did a writing workshop with students from Quebec High School, Vezina School, and Royal West Academy. This afternoon, I spoke to students at the Eleanor London-Cote St. Luc Library.
The first picture posted here was taken this afternoon at the library. The students are looking at the necklace that appears on the cover of my book What World Is Left.
The second photo was taken at the Delta Hotel this morning, where most of the festival activities are taking place. I took it while the students were doing a writing exercise -- there's nothing we writers like more than being in a room where people are writing!
For the exercise, I asked students to imagine what it would be like if they were someone who was the complete opposite of themselves. Samantha, a 10th Grade student at Quebec High School, imagined being someone very shy and insecure (not at all like Samantha, who is outgoing and confident). Caelean, a 9th Grade student at Vezina School, imagined being one of his friends, a guy who is obsessed with all things Greek. "Ever since he saw the movie 300, he's been living by the Spartan code," Caelean told us. Rapahelle, who's in 10th grade at Quebec High School, said she got really interested by what I said about the importance of body language. "After you mentioned it in the first ten minutes, I started noticing it all session," she told me. And Paul, another 10th Grade student at Quebec High School, decided he would like to write a story from the point of view of a Canadian soldier stationed in Afghanistan. The story, Paul explained, would be very personal since Paul's brother Etienne is currently stationed there. I asked Paul how it felt to "find" his story and he said, "It's pretty much cool!"
At the library this afternoon, I did a talk called "Mining for Stories" in which I discussed how stories go from a simple idea to a book. We also discussed interviewing strategies and the importance of observation. Speaking of which, I observed that two students in the afternoon group, Zak and Ben, were both wearing two different sneakers -- it turns out they had done a sneaker exchange. I wondered if that could be a problem if a person happened to exchange sneakers with someone who has smelly feet -- but another student, Jordan, said he had a solution. "My mom uses Febreeze in my sneakers!"
I have many people to thank again today -- the teachers at this morning's workshop (Claire, Kathy, Anita and Bruce -- Bruce even let me borrow his camera batteries when mine konked out!); Kathy, the children's librarian at the Eleanor London-Cote St. Luc Library; her assistant Dolores; Norma Newman, librarian at Hebrew Academy; the various teachers who were there this afternoon (I'm afraid I didn't get all their names), and of course, the students I got to meet today!
I thought I'd end today's blog entry with a couple of quotes from Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua, who spoke last night at Blue Metropolis. He talked about the research involved in writing a book. "The most fun thing," he said, "is when you leave your desk and go to whatever expert you have to go to." Yehoshua also spoke about the importance of understanding the characters you are writing about: "To understand the other, you sometimes have to sleep in his bed." That should give you something to mull on for the next few days!
Oh, some exciting news! I just learned today that What World Is Left has been nominated for a Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award! FUN!!!!
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Hey Monique! im feeling a bit under the weather thats why i did not write to you. Hey i just read your blog its cool that you have a place to go every day but doesnt it get tiring sometimes? i saw the photo at the bottom i thought it was a eating table until i saw the books and people writing. And there is like 1 mistake i think its imgined. By the was while i was in school being bored (sometimes) i just thought of a new book i wanted to write but im not sure if im old enough to publish :P . Also Ms. Price gave us homework. We have to write about a baby mammoth. We also did a fun game while ms. price was gone. we played egg drop with a different teacher, egg drop was fun because we had to built a protected thing aroung the egg so it wouldent break. At the end all the eggs broke. Well i better stop writing and wasting your time keep writing from: Amber
You know, Amber, you would make an excellent assistant-writer... only I have a feeling you're going to be really big writer one day, so you won't want to be my silly old (in your case, young!) assistant. Thanks for finding that typo. Egg exercise sounds cool. You are definitely not too young to publish! Hope you're soon feeling ON TOP OF and not under the weather!!
hey monique,ive decided to write a book about Dimitri at some point in my life.i want to thank you because if it wasnt for you i never would have gotten the idea or inspiration for it
Hi Monique if i do become a successful writer i'll have you to thank for Thanks for visting many school to inspire many people in montreal. Many people have been inspired by your talks! Even me Yep i hope many people will become a good writers. well have a good night and weekend monique i'll be sure to check your new updates. From: Amber
Well it's me the shy girl who couldn't say a word to you...I wanted to say so much to you but i couldn't find the words i hope you understand.
I had so much fun Meeting you today. I wanted you to read one of my stories but I was afraid you wouldn't like it hahah. Umm if you like I can send you one of them but I find it's not that good but everyone else likes it. I'm afraid to talk to much hahah anywho I'm going to go now hope to hear from you soon :-*
Hi Caelean, The news that you are going to write that book made my day! Thanks for giving me credit, but the idea was "in" you all along. Perhaps I just helped you access it. Let me know how your project goes.
Dear Keisha, Thank you for your comment. I knew (from body language!!) that you were really enjoying the workshop yesterday. Shy people have a certain advantage over us noisy types -- you are the best observers of all. That's a great trait for a writer to have. Hope you'll stay in touch!
Hi Monique. Of corse I'll stay in touch I have no reason not too. I never knew that Shy people had that advantage heheh.
I met you at the blue metropolis on wednesday, april 22nd. I was the girl who said thank you to you..... i really enjoyed hearing you. By the way, my uncle said he was in high school with you. His name is Eli. Do you know who he is?
Anita the teacher from Vezina here. Many thanks Monique for your honest and energetic talk Friday morning, and for sharing (aloud) your "on-the-spot" as well as spookily "on-the-mark" interpretations of body-language/image in a way that was entertaining for us all. DJ is really funny, interesting, and likes to play with style, and you picked right up on it! All of us really enjoyed the encounter! It inspired an interesting chat afterwards. I would like to have asked you more questions about your experience with the writing and publishing process, scavenging all the while for some more resonating tidbits (I can be quite vulture-like myself), but time did not permit. I will be on the look out for your next appearances. As well, I didn't think to get our books signed by you. Next time, hopefully! They will become part of the school library. I may have Keisha keep "What World is Left" as she liked it so much, and she reads books more than once. Does that say anything? Congrats on the book nomination and best of luck with your many projects!!
Exciting to get comments on the blog! Keisha, I'm glad you're learning the advantages of being shy! Victoria, say hi to your Uncle Eli -- we've known each other for many years and we still run into each other every now and then! Anita, sounds like we have more talking to do about writing and publishing. I think we teachers have a certain edge in the YA market since we "live" with teens. Hope you keep a notebook full of ideas! I really enjoyed meeting you and your very keen students!
Hey Monique i wanted to say thanks for the book. I just started it and it seems really good.
Ive thought about what you said and im really trying to think about what i can do but its not easy you know... Its all I know.
Anyways i wont say more. I hope to hear from you. (L)
Hey Monique, right now we are all in English class surfing over your blog.We just wanted to say thank you for the great workshop you offered to us; it helped us a lot to improve. It seemed very organised and was a lot of fun :-*
Thank you from all of us.
P.s. Paul says: Paul-- P--A--U--L. Lol.
Hey Monique this is Tisto i just wanted to say that the work shop was funn that day after we left and i was on my way home i came up with like 4 -6 other characters just by looking at random people and guessing who they are Lol so yeah it really helped me with my writing . And when you were talking about body language i was studying the people around the room and there body language Lol . anny ways just like to say thank you :-*
Great to hear from my friends at QHS. Paul, you made me laugh (again) when you spelled your name at the end of your comment. Is P-A-U-L your trademark? Hope you guys are all well. Busy with my teaching life here, but hope to be writing full-time when school ends in a couple of weeks. Warm wishes to all of you from me! And stay in touch!
Hi Tisto! I think you were writing that comment while I was writing back to the other students at QHS! That's great that you are thinking of so many characters to write about. Did you get yourself a little notebook yet? You should fill it up with characters and next thing you know, you'll be ready to start your own book. Glad, too, that you are using some of the stuff I taught you guys about body language. Be good, write a lot, get loads of great ideas!!