monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

Dec
09

Less to Do, More Time to Write!!

AHHH! That's the sound of a CEGEP teacher who has nearly finished her grading! Which means I have more time to concentrate on writing. Did  I already tell you I am revising my Nunavik manuscript (the tentative title is On the George River)? It's due next Monday!! YIKES!! (That's the sound of a nervous writer.) But, so far, I'm moving along okay in the re-write. I am a little

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Dec
05

Another Day, Another School Visit!

Today, we Moniques went to Laval Liberty High School. It's a huge school -- quite a contrast to Franklin Elementary which we visited yesterday. Today we worked with Abigail Lawrence's Grade Eight English class. They are also part of the Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation's Quebec Roots project. I talked about writing; Monique D discussed photography, focusing on how to shoot a good portrait
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Dec
04

Today's Trip to Franklin Centre

I spent today in Franklin Centre, which is about 70 kilometers southwest of Montreal. I went there with my dear friend and photographer extraordinaire Monique Dykstra . (Monique D, by the way, photographed the necklace that appears on the front and back cover of What World Is Left).

We worked with students at Franklin Elementary School. We were there as part of a project called Quebec

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Dec
03

My Mum and Dad Come Along to Today's Talk at Westmount Library

Hello, hello... I'm just back from a talk at Westmount Library here in Montreal. The audience was mostly Grade 6 and 7 students from Westmount High. The students were great, very keen and focused; I didn't even need to make comments about their body language!! The best part of today was my mum and dad came along, too. As you probably know, my mum inspired my latest book, What World Is Left. She
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Dec
02

Return Visit to Hebrew Academy

Last year, I did three creative writing sessions with a group of very keen students at Hebrew Academy. Today, I'm going back to do the first of three more sessions. Most of the students I'll be working with are ones I worked with last year -- which means I've had to come up with new material. One thing I know for sure about these students is they love to write, and they write easily

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Nov
30

Meet My Mum -- Who Inspired What World Is Left -- and Hear Me Read A Little from the Book

Check out this link to view a short video made by the Gazette's Phil Carpenter. In it, you'll get to meet my mum, Celien Spier, whose story inspired my new book, What World Is Left. You'll also get to hear me read a little from the book. Let me know what you think of the video! Continue reading

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Nov
28

Good Morning, Morning Pages!

So classes at Marianopolis are nearly over. Most of my correcting comes in today, and then the rest on Monday. Which means this writer isn't going to be doing much writing over the next few days. But I did start my day with writing -- like I do EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every morning, I write my "morning pages." I got the idea from a terrific book I read several years ago called The Artist
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Nov
26

Today's Visit to Beaconsfield High School

Am just back from a visit to Beaconsfield High School where I spoke to two groups of students about the writing life. I should really be at the grocery store buying ingredients for tonight's supper, but I wanted to sit right down at the computer and jot down some of the fun stuff that happened today during my school visit.

I had lunch in the school cafeteria and some of the grade seven

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Nov
23

Special Book Report

Lately, I've been getting a lot of e-mail from students -- mostly in the U.S. -- who are doing assignments about some of my books. These e-mails are especially satisfying to me, I think, because I am a teacher as well as a writer.

Yesterday, at a family celebration, a couple who are friends of my sister's, told me their daughter Brittany is working on a book report about What World

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Nov
20

Ashlee With Two E's

Every once in a while, I get e-mail from readers I've never met... yesterday I got a message from a girl named Ashlee (she spells it with two e's). Ashlee lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and she wrote to me about my book Scarred. She's reading it for a school project and I told her to get back to me if she had any questions about the book. So, today, Ashlee wrote again, asking how I choose
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Nov
19

American Library Association Weighs in on What World Is Left

Well, I have exciting news to report -- Booklist, an American Library Association publication, has given What World Is Left a starred review. And if you'll permit me to quote what the reviewer, Hazel Rochman, had to say... she called the book "heartbreaking" and described it as "an important contribution to the Holocaust curriculum." YIPPEE!! Then last night, I learned from

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Nov
14

Today's Visit to Lake of Two Mountains High School

Today I met students at Lake of Two Mountains High School. Language arts teacher Lee Rother arranged the visit, which began with a yummy lunch from the school cafeteria! It turns out Lee is a specialist in mass media, a subject in which I'm also interested.

But the best part of the day was working with the students. They didn't even need my usual pep talk about body language -- they

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Nov
12

Cleavage

Just testing ... I bet that subject heading piqued your interest, no? Cleavage is the name of a wonderful book of short stories I've been reading. The book's full name is Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls. The collection is edited by two YA writers: Deb Loughead and Jocelyn Shipley. Every story in the book has something to do with girls, their bodies, and their

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  643 Hits
Nov
10

Elie Wiesel Interview in Today's National Post

Good morning,  good morning... I'm off to the Y, but here's the link to my interview with Elie Wiesel that appears in today's National Post: http://www.nationalpost.com/todays_paper/story.html?id=944755

 

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Nov
06

Time for a Cup of Tea -- and To Tell You A Little About Elie Wiesel

This is the first time I've had time for a mid-day cup of tea all week. Soon, I have to shift gears and get ready for school, but I just wanted to tell you a little bit about my interview with Elie Wiesel on Tuesday night. In the end, I didn't get much one-on-one time with him, and because we were at a fundraising dinner, he had to shake hands with a lot of people who were as eager as me to
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Nov
05

Check Out What Book Elie Wiesel Is Carrying!

Okay, I confess -- I gave Elie Wiesel, the world's best known Holocaust survivor and author of over 40 books including Night -- a copy of What World Is Left. Wish I could tell you more about the things I learned from him last night, but alas, I am working on a story for The National Post about Wiesel and I'm on a tight deadline. But do check out the pic!</div>


				
				
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  1685 Hits
Nov
04

Big Interview Tonight!

Today is a very exciting day for me because I am going to be interviewing ELIE WIESEL, Holocaust survivor and the world famous author of the memoir, Night. Wiesel is in Montreal for a fundraising dinner and the interview basically landed in my lap. I have taught the book Night many times, but I never dreamed that I'd be able to speak with its author. I may be too busy tomorrow to write a blog
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Nov
03

CTV Interview about What World Is Left

In case you missed it, here's the interview that aired on CTV news on Thursday, October 23. Many many thanks to Debra Arbec, host of My Montreal, for her interest in What World Is Left, and for being such a kind, sensitive interviewer. Also thanks to my friendly computer wiz for helping me figure out how to post the interview. Let me know what you think of it. Here comes the link:

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Nov
03

Too Many Things to Tell You!!

So I got back last night from a conference called Packaging Your Imagination. It's run by an amazing organization called CANSCAIP and is held every year in  Toronto. I went to lectures by several well known Canadian children's writers, and I also got to meet up with children's writers who've become my friends over the years I've been involved with CANSCAIP. And I have a

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Oct
30

Still Flying High!!

Life seems to be going a little too quickly, even for me the speed-demon! Lots to do between writing, teaching and book promotion. And I'm off this evening to Toronto for a wonderful children's writing conference offered through CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers). If you're interested, google the organization; it's terrific and has

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Oct
29

Burst Water Main

A burst water main is a serious thing, but when it happens at your school and it means YOU GET AN UNEXPECTED DAY OFF, well, let's be honest, it's kind of nice! My office partner at school, the very dear Mary Frauley, phoned me early this morning just as I was pulling on my leotards -- and told me the news. So here I am with a very rare commodity -- A LITTLE FREE TIME. My, it feels nice!!

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Oct
27

CBC Interview with Me & My Mum

So my mum -- whose story inspired my new book, What World Is Left, and I were interviewed for the CBC radio show, All In a Weekend. The interview aired yesterday morning and I cried when I heard it. I'm trying my best to figure out how to post the mp3 of the interview on this blog entry, but I'm having a wee bit of trouble... may need to get the help of someone more technically savvy than

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Oct
25

What a Launch -- if I may say so myself!!

It was a wonderful wonderful launch. No matter how many more books I write, I don't think there will ever be such a special launch. Everyone who was there -- and there were nearly 300 people -- was special. My mum, whose story inspired What World Is Left, spoke and I spoke, too, and read from the book. One of the special things about my mum is that despite how she suffered as a teenager in Theresienstadt

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Oct
23

MORE EXCITED THAN ON MY WEDDING DAY(S)!!

I say dayS because I had TWO wedding days!!

Tonight is launch night!! Here's the article that appeared in today's Gazette. Later, this morning, my mum and I are doing an interview at CBC, and CTV's Debra Arbec will be interviewing us before the launch. I have to admit I'm feeling like a bit of a celebrity. Here's the link to The Gazette story: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette

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Oct
21

Marking, Marking... and Launching a Book!

Only time for a super quick blog entry today. I've got a mountain of correcting! My cousin from Santa Few, New Mexico arrives tomorrow -- she'll be here for the launch of What World Is Left -- so I want to get as much work done as possible before she gets here.

Because I'm in the midst of all this busy-ness, I have a few reflections to share about being crazy-busy (I bet a lot

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Oct
18

Outlines and George River

It's Saturday morning and I've been catching up on comments and questions posted here this week. Tamar asked what is happening with the George River manuscript (that's a book I was busy with all summer, set in George River in Nunavik, Quebec). Here's the latest update: the first draft, due December 1, 2008 is written -- but I have it out now with an Inuit friend, whom I hope will

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Oct
14

The Busy Life of an Author Promoting Her New Book!!

It's busy, all right. With everyone feeling budget squeezes, including publishing companies, it stands to reason that most authors need to do their bit to help promote their books. So I'm trying my best to get some buzz going about my new book, What World Is Left. Promoting the book feels kind of like fishing -- I'm putting a lot of lines into the ocean and hoping to catch something

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Oct
09

Check Out the Book Launch Invitation!

Of course, this is all depends on whether I'm technologically-savvy enough to figure out how to post it. Here I go! BY GOLLY I THINK I JUST DID IT!!whatworldisleft.jpg
  1788 Hits
Oct
08

My Turn to Answer Questions

If you know me, you probably know that I ask A LOT OF QUESTIONS. Some of my friends think this comes from being a journalist. Sometimes they even get a little annoyed with me and say, "What is this, Monique, an interview?" It is funny how the work we do tends to influence our personalities -- or perhaps it's the other way around and we pick the kind of work that suits who we are.

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Oct
07

Busy With Book Promotion!

So we're launching What World Is Left at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 23 at Marianopolis College here in Montreal. YIPPEE! Now I have to say I'm in another phase of the writing life: book promotion! I'm getting a lot of help from my friends at Orca Books and also from the communications officer at Marianopolis, Kathryn Haralambous. Kathryn just phoned to let me know that CBC Radio

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  1841 Hits
Oct
02

Notes from the Energizer Bunny

Okay, I admit it, some people tease me and call me the Energizer Bunny. And I don't even have long pointy ears! I'm thinking of the bunny business because I am extra-energetic today. I don't know about you, but I find that doing interesting things and meeting interesting people GIVES me energy.

Last night, my friend and fellow YA author Lori Weber and I began team-teaching a

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  1793 Hits
Sep
25

Meet Anne Renaud

Well, I guess it's your week for meeting children's writers, isn't it? Last night, I did a short presentation at Westmount Library, along with several other local writers who are launching new children's books this season. Today, I want you to meet Anne Renaud, who has published several non-fiction books for young readers. Her latest is called Pier 21, and it's part of Stories

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Sep
24

Meet Frieda Wishinsky

I promised to tell you a little about Frieda Wishinsky -- a Toronto children's author who had dinner with us on Sunday night. Frieda is the author of over 40 books for children. Her picture book, Please, Louise! illustrated by Montrealer Marie-Louise Gay, was recently nominated for the TD Children's Literature Award, one of the country's most prestigious literary prizes.

So,

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  1669 Hits
Sep
22

Circles of Bloggers

A few months ago, I got a comment on this blog from a young woman named MaryAnn. Well, MaryAnn was in touch again last week and it turns out she is a writer and blogger, too. A graduate of Concordia, Maryann Hayatian has published a book of poetry, a children's book, and a novella with the very cool name, Love Is Blind, But the Neighours Ain't. MaryAnn told me she started her own website

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Sep
18

Learning About Guard Dogs

This is going to be a sad entry, so if you're not in the mood for something sad, better to take a pass on today's entry.

Don't have much time, but I wanted to tell you a little about my interview with Alanna Devine, acting director of the Montreal SPCA. Alanna knows a lot about guard dogs and she told me some heartbreaking stories. I'd heard that some guard dogs have been &

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Sep
16

Heading to the SPCA This Morning...

You know that research I'm doing about junkyard dogs? Well, this morning I'm headed to the Montreal SPCA. I'm going to interview the acting director, Alanna Devine, who tells me she knows "too much" about guard dogs. Hope to take lots of notes for my new book project. The rest of the week is going to be super busy -- my students are writing exams for me and one class is handing
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Sep
15

Courageous Young Women I Know

I've been thinking a lot about courage lately. And instead of looking to older people as role models, I've been learning some big lessons from several young women in my life. So today's entry is dedicated to them. One's my daughter, who moved to New York in August to start a job in the fashion industry. As I keep telling her, I don't think I would have had the courage to do what
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Sep
11

Doing Things Differently

Recently I read that it is good to do something different every day. When I googled that line just now, I couldn't find exactly who had said it. But I did come up with a similar thought from Eleanor Roosevelt, who advised: "Do one thing every day that scares you."

Lately, I've been thinking about doing things differently. Not so easy for me since I am definitely a creature

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Sep
03

Why Do Dogs Bare Their Teeth?

Quick entry because I have to leave for school in six minutes. So I had my first interview about guard dogs yesterday. I met with a gentleman named Robert Des Ruisseaux, who is a longtime dog trainer. He has worked with guard dogs for almost 50 years. Here's an interesting thing I learned: dogs bare their teeth when they are frightened. Des Ruisseaux told me that dogs who are a little nervous

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  3041 Hits
Aug
28

Whoa, Girl!

Whoa, Girl is the sort of thing you'd say to a lady horse, right? Well that mare is me -- and it turns out I need to "hold my horses." I sent the first three chapters of the new novel I've been tinkering with to the publisher at Orca Books, and though he likes my narrator, he doesn't think schools -- one of the main markets for their books -- will be comfortable with a story
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Aug
27

What Does Hillary Clinton Have to Do With Writing?

Guess it's my week for writing about celebrities. Did you hear the speech Hillary Clinton made in support of Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention last night? Well, my favourite part was about the importance of perseverence. Clinton was talking about politics and the future of the United States, but she could just as well have been talking about being a writer. She quoted Harriett Tubmann,
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  1541 Hits
Aug
25

What Does Michael Phelps Have to Do With Writing?

I heard today on CBC radio that Olympic champion Michael Phelps had some trouble with his middle school English teacher, who told him he'd never amount to anything!!

What, you may ask, does this tasty tidbit have to do with the writing life -- the subject of this blog? Well, I've been reading a book where the main male character is too perfect. The best characters -- the ones who

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  1715 Hits
Aug
21

Back to My Old Writing Routine

Well there is something to be said for getting back to an old routine. It's only the third day of school, but I'm already feeling used to it. And there is a certain comfort, at least for me, in routine. Today, I only have classes in the afternoon and so, besides going for a run this morning, I've been writing. I'm still tinkering with my latest idea for a YA project. It involves Internet
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Aug
19

Back to School!!

Classes start today at Marianopolis College -- which means that at precisely 2:15 this afternoon I undergo a major transformation: I turn back into a teacher!! Though it's more than a little difficult to give up my summer writing schedule, part of me actually looks forward to having students again. I think it may be partly because my daughter flew the coop in July and I've been storing up
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  1798 Hits
Aug
15

Special Afternoon

Today was a special afternoon because I met up with Sapina, one of the students I worked with in Nunavik in the winter of 2007. As you may know if you've been keeping up with my blog, I've spent most of this summer working on a YA novel set in Nunavik. And Sapina has agreed to be my first reader. YESSS!

I met Sapina at the Lionel Groulx metro station. Oh, I forgot to tell you something
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Aug
13

Are You the Sort of Person Who Always Needs a Book?

I am the sort of person who always needs a book. In fact, I realize that I need at least TWO books: one to read (ahh, the pleasure of lying down on my sofa at the end of the afternoon with a delicious book to read); and one to WRITE. Some writers I know take breaks in between book projects, but that doesn't seem to be my way. You know there are women who always need a boyfriend? Well, I always
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Aug
12

A Funny Thing Happened Out on My Porch Today

I was taking in the laundry when I spotted a young person scraping the neighbour's balcony. "Hello," I said, "who are you?" (If you don't know me, I should explain that I am unusually friendly.) Imagine my surprise when the person looked up -- and he was one of my students from last semester. He was even more surprised than me. "Miss Polak," he sputtered. Gee

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  1569 Hits
Aug
11

Stoner & Spaz

Catchy title, no? Unfortunately I can't take credit for making it up. It's the title of a YA novel by Ron Koertge that I just finished this morning and MAN, WAS IT EVER GOOD!! Un-put-downable. It's the story of unlikely friends: Ben Bancroft, who has cerebral palsy, and drugged-out Colleen Minou. Great dialogue, great setting, great plot, great themes.

My friend Lori Weber

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  2180 Hits
Aug
08

Galley Copy Arrives

The galley copy of What World Is Left just landed on my doorstep. The galley is a typeset version of the book. This is my last chance to make any small changes before the book goes to print. Am still doing some work on my new manuscipt, but once that's done, I'll start reviewing the galley.

Yesterday a student whom I met when I was in Nunavik two winters ago phoned to say she'

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  1790 Hits
Aug
05

What the Joker Has to Say About Making Plans

Have you seen the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight? In it, Batman's nemesis, the Joker, despises people who believe in making plans. Well, he wouldn't like me! I've got exactly two weeks until I turn back into a teacher. This calls for a plan, and here's mine: this week, I'm going to reread and revise the manuscript I've been working on all summer, and next week, by hook or

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  1684 Hits
Jul
31

Pressed Pennies & Beijing Noodles

What, you may ask, do pressed pennies and Beijing noodles have to do with each other? If you've been reading my blog this week, you'll know that I am doing a story for Maclean's about people who collect pressed pennies. Well now, I've got another story to juggle. Because the Beijing Olympics begin next week, the Gazette wants to run a story about Beijing-style cooking in next Wednesday

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  3581 Hits
Jul
30

Energized

Some of my friends already call me the Energizer Bunny (I don't like when they say so), but I have to admit that today, I am feeling unusually energetic -- even for me. Maybe it's a result of the vacation, or that my Mom energy has to be channeled elsewhere since as of yesterday, my daughter has become a resident of Brooklyn, New York. Anyway, I've been a-writing. Finished a personal essay
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Jul
29

Endings

Today must be a day for endings. I just just wrote the last sentence of the book I've been working on all summer. (Though mind you, the re-writing, which some people say is the most important part of all, comes next!) The other ending is the end of my official duties as mum. My daughter left home today to start a job in New York City. I didn't think I'd cry, but I did (of course, she

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Jul
28

Back at My Desk

It's Monday afternoon and I'm reinstalled at my desk in Montreal. The holiday did me loads of good and I'm feeling very energetic and happy to be writing again. Of course I did keep my trusty journal and though I didn't exactly work, I did do some interviewing for a possible story. Best of all, I keep waking up with IDEAS IN MY HEAD!! This is very fun.  My main goal writing-wise
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  556 Hits
Jul
23

Literary Street Car Ride

It's our last night in San Francisco... wanted to tell you about the street car we rode today to Fisherman's Wharf. Many of the street cars in San Francisco were used in other cities. It just so happened that the one we rode today came from New Orleans where it was used on the Desire line. Playwright Tennessee Williams named his play after a street car like the one we took today. And because

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  1698 Hits
Jul
19

Hello from Sonoma!

So we're spending a couple of days in wine country. Before that we were in Berkeley. Yesterday, we went to two wineries; our plan is to visit three or four today before we had back to San Francisco for the last leg of our trip. Don't worry -- we're just sipping!!

Mike's gone to the lobby to print up tickets he bought on line for a baseball game tomorrow: San Francisco Giants

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  1673 Hits
Jul
15

Greetings from San Francisco

Well here we are in San Francisco, having a super fun time. This is my first visit to California and I feel very at home here. We've already met lots of interesting people with interesting STORIES, like a young man who's made his fortune designing a new kind of penny-stretching machine. Yesterday we went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit. Kahlo and

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  1668 Hits
Jul
11

San Francisco Here We Come!

So we're headed to San Francisco tomorrow morning. Means I won't be around to catch my "Summer Reading" segment on CTV this weekend. Melanie Porco, researcher for the show -- and Marianopolis College graduate!! -- e-mailed to let me know that the segment will air Saturday, July 12 between 9:30 and 10 a.m., and then again on Sunday, July 13 between 8:30 and 9 a.m. If you happen to
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  1650 Hits
Jul
10

Hello from Winnipeg!

So here I am in Winnipeg -- have taken care of the official business I came here for (I was on a top-secret mission!!) and now I have the afternoon off. It's a short trip because I arrived at 11 p.m. last night and I leave first thing tomorrow morning. The joke here in Manitoba is that their provincial bird is the mosquito -- but so far, my combination bug and suntan lotion seems to be doing the
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Jul
07

Writing Advice from American Author/Historian David McCullough

This weekend, we caught a bit of an old Charlie Rose show in which he interviewed American author/historian David McCullough. McCullough whose books include 1776, shared some practical writing advice. He explained that he does 60 per cent of his research before he starts writing a book. Then he researches as needed. I thought this was interesting because I've heard other writers say they sometimes
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Jul
04

Mothra!!

Mothra is the name of an old Japanese movie about a moth monster. I'm thinking about Mothra today because I just finished writing my story about moths for Maclean's Magazine. I got the idea because there are moths in my kitchen. Every time I think I've wiped them out, they're back -- like Mothra, who was the enemy of Godzilla.

It's July 4 and we're having a barbecue

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Jul
01

Happy Canada Day!

It's a gorgeous Canada Day here in Montreal -- and I have no special plans, except to work on my manuscript. Ahhh! I'm still  rereading and making adjustments. Today, I'm thinking what I've done so far is pretty darned good. I've been in this business long enough to know that I should savour this feeling -- there are lots of times when I'm dissatsified with what I&#

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  1847 Hits
Jun
25

Devoir reculer...

Hope the French title won't put you off from reading today's blog entry. I'm reviewing a fun book for The Gazette -- it's called Petite Anglaise, and it's the true story of Catherine Sanderson, a young British woman living in Paris, and how she starts a really successful blog called "Petite Anglaise." Apparently, she gets 100,000 visitors a month. Let's just say

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  2439 Hits
Jun
23

Going Back in Order to Move Forward

I'm a person who likes moving FORWARD, but today is a day for GOING BACKWARDS. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you have to go back in order to go forward? In my case, I'm returning to the beginning of the manuscript I'm working on -- I'm making adjustments and reading out loud and generally getting ready to MOVE FORWARD!  Though I know this is an important part of the

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  1700 Hits
Jun
20

Testing!

Just testing to see whether I can post a picture from home without the help of Gord, my web guru. Trying to post a photo of my neighbours' poppies. There's no fence between our two houses and I must say the poppies lean quite a bit towards OUR side of the garden!! I took the photo last week... and alas, the poppies have shed their beautiful orange-red flowers. Imagine what it would be like

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  1953 Hits
Jun
19

Learning to Post a Pic

WhatWorld.jpgHey, blog readers out there. Today I'm writing to you from web-school -- that means Gord Fisch, my web guru (he told me to write that) is teaching me how to post a pic on this blog. Okay, here goes. Gord and I are going to try and post a pic of the book cover of What World Is Left -- my fall book
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  2064 Hits
Jun
18

Cleavage

So today, I promised I'd tell you a little about an upcoming book called Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls. It's a collection of short stories about girls, their bodies, and their relationships with their mums -- and it's edited by two of my friends, Deb Loughead and Jocelyn Shipley. I caught up with Deb and Jocelyn when I was in Toronto on the weekend, and they told me a little

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  2231 Hits
Jun
17

Back From Book Expo -- With Lots of Stories!

Well hello again. I'm back from Book Expo in Toronto and fortunately for you, I've got loads of stories about other writers and I've asked them for writing tips I could share on this blog. I figure I have enough cool stuff to tell you to last all week and maybe into next week, too!

The first author I want to tell you about is Bilaal Rajan -- the amazing thing about him is that

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  1780 Hits
Jun
10

Meeting-ed Out

I spent most of the day in end-of-term meetings at school. Not that the meetings were uninteresting -- they weren't -- but they did leave me feeling kind of drained and not especially creative. So when I got home, I could have taken a nap or vegged on the couch, but no, not me... instead I started working on a book review I have to do for the Montreal Gazette. It's about this book called Novel
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  1924 Hits
Jun
09

Thinking of My Opa

Opa is the Dutch word for grandfather. Though my opa died in 1977, I think about him almost every day. More than anyone else I knew when I was growing up, my opa was my role model. He was a painter who worked out of his house in Plandome, New York. In my mind, Opa was the ultimate artist. He even wore a cap that was a little like an artist's beret. (He also drove a yellow Stingray Corvette,

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  1881 Hits
Jun
05

Ups and Downs of the Writing Life

I have a confession to make: one day this week, I was working on my new manuscript and thinking, "Gee, this isn't very good. It's not at all the way I wanted it to come out." I ended my writing day at around four that afternoon, feeling kind of crabby with myself. The next morning, I returned to my desk and plunged back into the story. And guess what? By the end of the day, I

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Jun
04

Author Marsha Skrypuch Pays Another Visit

So my friend, author Marsha Skrypuch was back in Montreal last weekend. She was here to launch her latest book, Daughter of War (Fitzhenry & Whiteside), which I am looking forward to reading. I find that sometimes, it takes another author to understand what goes on inside my head.

Over lunch in Old Montreal on Saturday, I told Marsha my writing plans for this summer -- to finish the

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May
30

Writing Snarky!!

That's writing snarky -- as opposed to feeling snarky. Actually, I'm in my usual mental state, which is generally friendly and mostly kind. But I'm WRITING SNARKY!! That's because when Sarah Harvey, my editor at Orca, and I had our phone "meeting" this week, she suggested that Noah, the protagonist in my latest book project could be a little snarkier. Now that's fun

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May
28

Stories Calling!!!

I just got off the phone with Sarah Harvey, my editor at Orca -- and besides discussing my latest book project, we compared notes about the writing life. I told Sarah how my favourite part is coming up with the next story idea. There's so much possibility at that stage and so much energy and excitement.

Sarah told me that though she has begun work on a new novel (I've already mentioned

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May
23

Writing and Running

I woke up one morning this week with a really sore knee. Uh oh, I thought, this could have a seriously negative impact on my life. First, if I ever had to stop running (and after a certain age, many runners do), it would curtail my cookie-eating habit. I am, if I may say so myself, a very good cookie maker and a frequent cookie consumer. Also, running helps me manage stress and it helps me WRITE

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May
21

Precious Time to Write

Good morning! So, except for some odds and ends at school, I'm pretty much into full-time writing mode. Ahhhh with five h's!! The only complication is I'm feeling like I kind of have to fight to preserve chunks of writing time. If not, the days'll go by and I won't get done what I so want to do. A phone call here, a chitchat there, and next thing I know -- the morning (or afternoon
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May
16

On the Cusp of a Long Weekend

I've had a little technical trouble this week -- I had trouble saving yesterday's blog entry, which is why it appears today. (It's the one that has the five h's in "Ahhhhh!") I don't have much to tell you this afternoon. Actually, I feel a little boring. But -- this is a bit difficult to explain -- it's because I'm writing away. I'm getting lost in my new

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May
16

Ahhhhh!

That Ahhhhh! (with five h's) is because I'm done correcting. Except for a few days of meetings at school, I'm pretty much done -- which means I can make the switch to full-time writing.

Ahhhhh! In the past, I've sometimes needed a little transition time between school and writing, but I'm trying to get right back into the writing so I can make the most of my long free
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May
12

Monday Hello!

I'm still marking away like a fiend, but I'll take a short break to write this blog entry. One of my students, Anastasia S., dropped by during office hours today and we discussed how much her writing has improved over the semester. "The thing I really learned," she told me, "is that I have to keep writing and re-writing. And sometimes I need to take a break and then go back

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May
08

Quick Hello!

Today is the last day of classes at Marianopolis College. Boy, did this semester ever fly by! I've got a mountain of correcting, but I hope to be through it by the end of next week. Then I'm going to turn back into a full-time writer. Ahhhhh! (That's the sound of happy anticipation.) Okay then, gotta run to make it to school on time. Likely won't write another blog entry till next
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May
06

Wisdom from Writer Nancy Huston

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that I went to hear an interview with Canadian author Nancy Huston during Blue Met and I thought today, I'd do a blog about some of the wise things she had to say. Her latest novel Fault Lines is narrated by several children. Asked how she was able to imagine these narrators, Huston said: "I had many childhoods." She went on to explain that most

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May
05

Photo Shoot for Cover of "What World Is Left"

So today, my friend and super-talented photographer Monique Dykstra came over to shoot some pictures for the cover of my fall book, What World Is Left. Many of you who've met me know I often wear a very special necklace -- a simple leather cord with a pendant attached. The pendant is a scene my grandfather painted and gave to my mother for her 15th birthday. It's no bigger than a postage

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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