monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

Apr
25

Days 3 & 4: Blue Met

It's Sunday morning, and my desk need some serious tidying. That's because it's covered with notes I took during the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, which comes to an end today. Yesterday

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Apr
23

Day 3: Blue Metropolis

I'm home, taking a little breather between Blue Met events. I did another student writing workshop this morning and this afternoon at five, I'm on a CBC panel called "The Human Face of

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  1933 Hits
Apr
22

Day 2: Blue Met

I really shouldn't be writing this blog entry! That's because in exactly 20 minutes from now, 20 dinner guests are due to arrive here! They're all friends involved in the Quebec Roots project

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Apr
21

Day One: Blue Met

IMG_12121212121.jpgIt's Day One of the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival here in Montreal  --

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Apr
19

New Friends at Macdonald High School

IMG_1010101.jpgHello hello, dear blog readers! I'm just in from a long, but happy day. I started at Marianopolis

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  2008 Hits
Apr
17

I Love Sheree Fitch

Today, I did something I haven't done for ages -- I took a class instead of giving one! I did a one-day workshop with Nova Scotia children's writer Sheree Fitch. Sheree called

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  2189 Hits
Apr
16

"The More You Can Learn the Better"

IMG_9999.jpgThat's what a student named Shaugn told me this morning. I was back at Vanier College, again because I was participating in the Kleinmann Family Foundation 17th Annual Cegep Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide.

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  1752 Hits
Apr
14

The Gift of Listening

Okay, so I'll admit it: I am not always the best listener (maybe because I do so much talking!!). But it's a skill I am working on.

Today, I was at Vanier College as part of the school

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  2230 Hits
Apr
08

Writing Lessons from a Photo Editor

IMG_77777.jpgI  know what you're thinking -- what could a photo editor have to teach us about writing?

Well, you'd better keep reading, because today, Marcos Townsend, photo editor at The

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Apr
07

YA Writer Lori Weber Pays a Return Visit to Marianopolis

My friend, local YA writer Lori Weber, came to work with my Writing for Children class this morning at Marianopolis College. Lori is the author of five novels for young adults, the most recent of which

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  2078 Hits
Apr
06

Time to Breathe!!

During the most hectic days of the semester, I sometimes feel like I don't have time to breathe. But this week isn't like that. Ahhhh... it feels good. I used the long weekend to do this &#

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Mar
31

Helping Students Gear Up for Trip to Nunavik

IMG_666666.jpgI spent part of this afternoon at Royal West Academy in Montreal West. It was a special visit

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  2078 Hits
Mar
30

Another Visit to Beaconsfield High

IMG_55555.jpgHello hello dear blog readers,

I've posted a pic from this morning's whirlwind visit to Beaconsfield

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  2147 Hits
Mar
29

Passing On My Opa's Advice

This morning, in my Writing for Children class, I passed on some advice I got long ago from my opa (the Dutch word for grandfather). I had just handed back some terrific assignments (I'd asked

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  1881 Hits
Mar
24

Handsome Editor Visits My Journalism Class

Now why, you may be wondering, would a happily married woman like myself notice that an editor who was visiting her Journalism class is handsome? Don't worry -- he's my husband!

My husband

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  1832 Hits
Mar
23

Hello Nebraska!

IMG_4444.jpgAdmittedly, today's photo is not very good. I took it at my friend Viva's house yesterday

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  2080 Hits
Mar
19

"All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy"

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" -- that's an old expression used in James Joyce's gorgeous short story "Araby." The line popped into my head when I

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  2313 Hits
Mar
17

Correcting Frenzy!

If you're wondering where I've been, the answer is on the living room couch, CORRECTING ESSAYS. My fingers are getting sore from all the writing -- that's a bad sign for my students since

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  520 Hits
Mar
11

Just So You Know...

Just So You Know it isn't only singing in the morning that makes me happy (though today is the perfect day for that old song, "Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day!" --

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  1769 Hits
Mar
10

I Have an Awful Voice

I have an awful voice, but I love to sing! When my daughter still lived at home, she'd beg me to stop... and my husband does the same.

This morning, the students in my Writing for Children

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  1788 Hits
Mar
08

Uh Oh, Beautiful Weather in Indiana!

IMG_333.jpgNow you may be wondering why beautiful weather in Indiana would cause me to go, "Uh oh!"

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  3920 Hits
Mar
07

March Break Coming to an End... and a Lovely Book

Hello out there, So if you're like me, your March break is nearly over. I have to be back in my classroom tomorrow morning at 8:15. All I can say is YIKES. Not because I don't want to see my

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  1517 Hits
Mar
02

Special Day with Another Gang of Talented Young Authors

Hello, hello, it's me again (well, who else would it be? It's my blog after all!),

So I'm just back from the final day of this year's Young Authors' Conference in Montreal

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  1854 Hits
Mar
01

Report from the Young Authors' Conference

IMG_22222.jpgI'm just home from a happy day at the Young Authors' Conference here in Montreal. It'

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  2138 Hits
Feb
28

Super-Conference!

IMG_1111111111.jpgSo I'm just back from Toronto, where I attended the Ontario Library Association's

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  2230 Hits
Feb
24

Writers Share their Writing Secrets

Even when I was growing up and getting published was just a dream, I always loved reading what writers had to say about writing. I remember hoping that if I paid careful enough attention, I'd figure

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  2229 Hits
Feb
22

Can You Spell

IMG_111111.jpg"Theriatrics" was the word that won Christopher Scarvelis the Canwest Canspell Regional Spelling Bee here in Montreal yesterday.

Scarvelis, 13, goes to Loyola High School -- and let

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  1893 Hits
Feb
18

A Story That Made My Arms Get Cold

The way I know if a story feels amazing to me is that my arms get cold  when I hear it (or tell  it). Just ask my students -- they've been there in class when this has happened to me.

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  1600 Hits
Feb
15

Trouble -- in a Story -- is a Fine Thing

If you've read my books or been in one of my classes, you'll know by now that I have an unnatural interest in trouble. Not in my own life, of course, but in my stories! (And for those of us

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  1749 Hits
Feb
13

Thinking About Reviews

You write a book and if you're lucky enough, like me, to find a publisher, you send it off into the world... and then, people read it and respond.

I know of one author -- short-listed for

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  1874 Hits
Feb
12

Meet Neale McDevitt

Yesterday, Montreal journalist and short story writer Neale McDevitt came to do a talk at Marianopolis College and also

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  2120 Hits
Feb
08

Work and Play... and an Upcoming Conference

This morning, in my "Writing for Children" class at Marianopolis College, I was trying to explain a tricky concept. The students are beginning work on the texts for their own picture books

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  1536 Hits
Feb
05

A Visit with our Friends at Tukisiniarvik School

Photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and I spent this morning with our friends at Tukisiniarvik School in Akulivik, Nunavik. Now how did we manage to

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  1843 Hits
Feb
03

Courage

I've been thinking a lot lately about courage. Maybe because the man in the room next to my mom's at the rehab centre has had an arm and a leg amputated on account of his cancer, yet he still

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  1911 Hits
Feb
02

Proud Teacher Checks In

One of the courses I'm teaching this semester at Marianopolis College is Print Journalism. This week, students had to write a letter to the editor.

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  1854 Hits
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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  2222 Hits
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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  1691 Hits
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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  1795 Hits
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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  2162 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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  1726 Hits
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

  1720 Hits
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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  1640 Hits
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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  2047 Hits
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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  2269 Hits
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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  1698 Hits
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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  1710 Hits
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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  1739 Hits
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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  1482 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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  1590 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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  2797 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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  1735 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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  3176 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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  1951 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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  1906 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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  1795 Hits
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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  2220 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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  2199 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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  2628 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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  2871 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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  1519 Hits
Nov
26

New Friends In Harrington Harbour

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  3246 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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  2103 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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  1921 Hits
Nov
17

Meet David A. Poulsen

IMG_01.jpgIMG_00.jpgThis

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  1996 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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  1842 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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  1524 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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  1365 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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  1597 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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  1576 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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  1767 Hits
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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  1907 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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  1463 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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  1862 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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  1829 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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  1872 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

  2025 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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  2035 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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  3144 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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  1945 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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  1781 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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  2062 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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  1958 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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  2143 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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  2311 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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  2176 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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  1756 Hits
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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  1667 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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  1983 Hits
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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  2016 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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  1485 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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  2241 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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  1729 Hits
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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  1703 Hits
Aug
23

Busy Day in Georgeville

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  1862 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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  1606 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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  1608 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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  1624 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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  1723 Hits
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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  2133 Hits