monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

Apr
04

Meet Don Aker!

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

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Apr
03

YA Author Lori Weber Visits Marianopolis

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

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Apr
02

Gearing Up for GritLit 2008

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

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

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Apr
01

Working With Budding Young Writers at Hebrew Academy

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

Anyway, they were a very keen group

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Mar
28

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

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

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Mar
27

Journalist/Author Joel Yanofsky Visits my Journalism Class

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

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Mar
26

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

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

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Mar
25

About This Play I Saw Last Night

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

The play was based

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Mar
23

Thoughts on Happiness

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

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Mar
20

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

The students in my "Writing for Children" have been working on their first chapters of a junior novel. Thanks to them, I'm getting to read some pretty amazing stories. One of my students, Emily Distefano, is writing about a girl from Texas who comes to Canada to live with her magician uncle. The girl's parents have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. At the end of Tuesday
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Mar
18

Preparing for a Talk about "Capturing the Teenage Imagination"

For someone who enjoys TALKING as much as I do, preparing for a talk is not usually too difficult! In a little over an hour, I've got to be at the McCord Museum here in Montreal, where I'm doing a talk called "Capturing the Teenage Imagination: Writing for Young Adults." As you know, this is one of my favourite subjects. I've scribbled a bunch of points on a sheet of paper and
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Mar
17

Correcting Frenzy!!

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

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Mar
14

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

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

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Mar
12

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

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

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Mar
11

Early Morning Coffee with Toronto Writer-Editor and Toronto Teacher

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

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Mar
10

Hola Senor

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

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

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Mar
08

Last full day of vacation...

So we're now in Puerto Vallarta, since that's where we fly home from tomorrow. Not to get into the gory details, but we took a bus here yesterday from La Penita... and I got... well... sick. Mike was my angel of mercy. I can't give you the details, but let's just say that if ever in one of my future books, a boy (you see I'd likely change the sex to protect my privacy) gets sick
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Mar
06

Reading on the Beach

So it's jueves, I think that's the right way to say and spell Thursday in Spanish. That means it's market day in La Penita de Jaltemba, so this little town which is usually pretty sleepy, wakes wide up. Mike and I are heading to the market soon, but first, I thought I'd say hola and tell you about the wonderful books I've been reading this week. I've finished Meg Rosoff'
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Mar
03

Quick hello

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

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

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Mar
01

Hola de Mejico!!

Quick entry since I´m working on a little old computer in an Internet place in Mexico -- and it´s hard to find the right buttons. We´re in La Penita. It´s warm and sunny and we´re going to spend the whole day READING on the beach. Ahhhh!! Did I tell you I was planning not to write... can´t find the question mark. Not sure I´ll be able to keep that promise.
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Feb
28

Donde esta la playa?

That's about all I can say in Spanish -- but it'll come in handy tomorrow -- which is when we land in Mexico. Our destination is La Penita de Jaltemba, a small town I've already written about for the Montreal Gazette. I've been toying with the idea of not doing ANY WORK over this holiday -- but to be honest, I'm not sure I'll be able to do that. There's nothing harder

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Feb
27

Phone Conversation with my Friends in Wemindji

I just got off the telephone with Ingrid Taylor's class in Wemindji. (These are the students I visited last month in Quebec's James Bay region.) We had a "conference call" -- the students had sent me their stories and we discussed ways to make them even better. So in today's blog entry, I thought I'd share some of the pointers I gave to the students -- and then I'll

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Feb
26

More Snow!

So it's another snowy day in Montreal. I got to the computer early this morning -- which means I still have to go for my run. The good thing about all this snow is it's inspiring me as I work on my story about Nunavik. My story is set in winter -- and believe me, there's a lot of snow up there this time of year.

You've probably heard some mum say how hard it was to leave her

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Feb
25

Writers are Like Squirrels

The reason writers are like squirrels is that we don't let anything go to waste. Something strange or funny or sad happens and we JOT IT DOWN. Eventually, it'll find a place in some story or another. Tamar sent a comment to the blog asking whether I ever recycled any of my manuscripts that were initially rejected? The answer is YESSIREE!! My spring 2007 title, Finding Elmo, was based on one
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Feb
23

Link to Meg Rosoff Interview

Here's a link to my profile of Meg that appears in today's Gazette: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/books/story.html?id=728159a3-a2e9-4440-a956-7cdedd2bbabc

Talk to you on Monday!! 

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Feb
22

Late Start

My goodness, it's already 12:55 P.M. and I'm really just settling in at the computer with my green tea -- though I did do a little work on my George River story earlier today. But after that, I went for a run, caught up with my very dear neighbours Liz and Kees, who were out of town for two weeks, and returned some other friends' phone calls. Sometimes, a writer needs to replenish her
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Feb
21

Teleconference with St. Willibrord Students

I'm just home from a teleconference that photographer Monique Dykstra and I did with Kelly Ryan's class at St. Willibrord School in Chateauguay. (Last time, we visited the class in person; today we went to a special educational technology centre in Laval and had a "virtual" meeting with the students.) First, "the other Monique" (that's what we call each other) gave

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Feb
20

Novelist Heather O'Neill Visits Marianopolis

Yesterday afternoon, novelist Heather O'Neill -- author of the prize winning Lullabies for Criminals -- visited Marianopolis, the college where I teach. Heather read from her novel and she also read a very clever short story that was a contemporary retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It's always interesting to hear a writer reading something you've read and enjoyed -- you get to hear

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Feb
19

La Di Da

What's that I hear, La Di Da? I was just washing the bathroom floor (part of my pre-writing ritual... I told this to my Writing for Children class last week and I could tell they thought it was very WEIRD), and I heard myself singing "La Di Da."

"La Did Da? What is that strange song -- and badly sung, too?" you may ask. Well, it's the sound of a writer who'

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Feb
18

Pizza Lesson

We had friends over for dinner this weekend -- and one of them (his name is Ray) gave us a pizza-making lesson. I've always wanted to make my own pizza dough, so I was pretty psyched. We started by mixing yeast and tepid water -- we had to wait a while for it to bubble up. (I got a little impatient at this stage.) Then we added more water, some sugar, and lots of flour. Next came kneading the

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Feb
15

Still in my Pajamas!!

I know it's shocking, especially for someone my age, but I'm still in my pajamas -- actually, in my case, it's a nightgown. The thing is, it's already 2 P.M. But don't think I've been lounging around like some middle-aged lady of leisure -- no sirree! I've been marking and marking and I just just finished my profile of Meg Rosoff. And now, I'm feeling like maybe I should
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Feb
14

Meet Meg Rosoff!

So I'm on a bit of a high here because I just came in from interviewing YA author Meg Rosoff, who's in Montreal as part of a multi-city North American book tour to promote her latest novel, What I Was. Ever set eyes on someone and know straightaway you're going to get along? That's how I felt about Meg.

My assignment for The Gazette is to write a little profile about Meg and

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Feb
13

Preparing for Tomorrow's Interview with Meg Rosoff

Tomorrow morning, I'm interviewing British YA writer Meg Rosoff for a Gazette story -- so I'm doing some background research today. First of all, I just finished reading Meg's latest book, What I Was. I really loved it -- it's very atmospheric, funny in spots, and really gets you thinking. Here is one of my favourite bits: "now that I'm older I've seen how little it

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Feb
12

"Bird by Bird"

Today was a pedagogical day at Marianopolis College, meaning the students had a day off and we teachers had to be in for meetings. I went to three presentations -- one was given by my office mate, Mary Frauley. Mary was talking about designing course plans, which doesn't have much to do with what I blog about, but on the sample course plan she handed round there was a quote from American writer

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Feb
11

This 'n That

I'm calling today's blog entry "This 'n That" because that's the kind of day it is at my end of the computer. I have lots of this 'n that to do. I think it's because I was so focused on the rewrite that I put off a number of other tasks. The first thing I want to do is get cracking on the research for my next newspaper assignment: a story for The National Post

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Feb
08

Nearly Done!!

So it's 12:30 and I figure I'm an hour or two from finishing up the second draft of my historical novel. I've reviewed everything except the very ending, which I know still needs some work. Mostly, I feel good that I'm this far into the process... but you know, I think I'm going to be a little sad, too, when this draft of the book is done. Of all the books I've worked on,

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Feb
07

Revising Like Mad!!

Okay, I'm getting closer to the finish line... it looks to me like my revision of the historical novel will be done by the end of the day tomorrow. The part I'm doing now is actually kind of fun -- I'm rereading the entire manuscript and seeing how it sounds. Mostly, I'm liking it. The ending is going to need some tweaking, but I think that'll be tomorrow's work. 

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Feb
06

Picture Book Author Jane Barclay Visits Marianopolis

So, Jane Barclay came to school yesterday -- she was great! She spoke both about writing creative non-fiction and picture book texts. Jane is the author of three picture books, including the prize-winning How Cold Was It?

Here's some of what Jane had to tell us: "Learn to be your own editor." Jane discussed how difficult it is to find a publisher -- so that when you are ready

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Feb
05

Children's Writers Coming Our Way!!

Hello, hello! It's Tuesday morning at five to nine and I'm feeling very lively. Today, picture book author Jane Barclay is coming to speak to my classes at Marianopolis College. That means I should have plenty to report to you on this blog tomorrow. Jane, author of the prize-winning How Cold Was It? is going to tell us how she gets her inspiration -- and how she goes about writing her books

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Feb
04

Back at My Desk!!

Ahh, it feels nice to be back at my desk. I've already taught a class and I have a little school work to do, but soon I'll be back at work on that rewrite. My deadline is next week, so soon you won't have to hear about it anymore!!

Last night, I was re-reading a little of one of my favourite YA novels, Kit Pearson's Awake and Dreaming. The story is about Theo, a troubled girl

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Feb
03

Gookums

Did I already tell you that the Cree word for grandmother is "Gookum"? Well, my story about gookums in Wemindji is in today's Gazette -- with Monique Dykstra's photos. We made page one! Here's the link, in case you want to check it out: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=b48ab6ca-f6d1-4bb3-97eb-543172be114a

Also, in case you're wondering

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Feb
01

Guess Where I am Now?

HOME!

We made it back last night -- which was a good thing since there is a big snowstorm heading our way and a flight today would likely have been cancelled. It was -30 in Wimindji yesterday; -45 with the wind chill factor. I still went for a run!! Afterwards, people stopped me in the street and asked me if I was that crazy lady with the red hat and pink scarf!!

I read all the comments

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Jan
30

Snowed In in Wemindji

So we're not on the plane -- the three of us (I'm with photographer Monique Dykstra nd filmmaker Louise Abbott) are snowed in!! I wouldn't mind so much if it didn't mean that I was missing another day of school tomorrow! If you're one of my stduents reading this, get ready to work like a dog next week!!

Unfortunately, I can't access my website email from here. I know

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Jan
29

Wachiya from Wemindji!!

Wachiya is Cree for "Greetings!" -- so I'm greeting you from Wemindji, a Cree community in James Bay, where I am visiting until tomorrow. I'm about to head back into the classroom. Photographer Monique Dykstra is giving a little lesson on using a digital camera and I'm going to do a talk about writing -- how I get ideas for my stories and stuff like that. It's pretty amazing

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Jan
28

Catching the Plane to Wemindji

The plane leaves at 10 to 8 this morning and I've got to catch a cab in 12 minutes. Just wanted to say a quick hello before I leave!! Talk to you soon!!
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Jan
25

Watch the Body Language!

So, we made it through the first week of school! As usual, I've been discussing body language with my students, telling them how important it is to look alert and alive (and happy helps, too) in the classroom. I've also told students in both my Journalism and Writing for Children classes to pay attention to other people's body language since these details can really help bring a story

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Jan
23

Cool E-Mail!

This morning I got a very cool e-mail. It's from a Dutch woman named Moniek Polak -- so you see, our names are very similar, though she spells her first name differently than I do. Moniek is a photographer and she sent me the address of her website. If you want to check it out (I did, and she has some beautiful pics on it), it's:  Continue reading

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Jan
22

Role Reversal

Last night, Karla Dobritoiu, one of my former students, interviewed me. It was a role reversal because usually, I'm the one who gets to ask the questions. Actually, it was kind of fun! I got to lie on the couch, while Karla (who did the interview by phone) did all the hard work! Karla, who is doing a double major in Communications and English Lit., at Concordia University, is taking a course

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Jan
21

Back to School! Yikes!

So classes started again today at Marianopolis College. Back to school -- and back to reality!! I only taught one class today, then I stayed around to do a little office work, and then I zipped home to get back to work on the rewrite. I'm going to have to make a major effort to protect my writing time -- especially while I finish up this rewrite that is due on Valentine's Day.

This

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Jan
18

Writing in the Shower

I write when I'm jogging and sometimes, when I'm in the shower. I know this sounds odd. But it's true. Not that I'm actually writing between strides, or while I'm soaping up... but I've found that some of my best ideas come when I am NOT at the computer. That's why, today, I want to talk about the importance of having a writer's notebook -- or at least some scrap

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Jan
17

Today's Visit to St. Willibrord Elementary School

I'm all charged up after our visit this morning to St. Willibrord Elementary School in Chateauguay. I went with my friend, photographer Monique Dykstra. But we were part of a much bigger team -- Florence Allegrini, educational program coordinator for Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation was there, too; so was Louise Abbott, a writer/photographer who is making a documentary about Quebec Roots (

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Jan
16

Some Thoughts on the Rewriting Process

Well, I got some interesting comments from readers about rewriting. Kim said she prefers working on a first draft, and that sometimes, during rewrites, she feels like trashing whatever she's working on. Rosa wrote about how she enjoys the crafting involved in rewriting.  I'm somewhere between you two, though perhaps I lean a little more towards Kim's point of view  -- and

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Jan
15

Time to Bake the Donuts!

"Time to Bake the Donuts!" -- that's the slogan for a donut shop commercial. I'm not a big donut lover,  but I do appreciate the sentiment of the slogan. In my case, "Time to Bake the Donuts" means today's the day I start the rewrite on Lotje's Story -- my historical novel based on my mum's wartime experience. I had a 2-1/2 hour phone meeting yesterday

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Jan
09

Major Rewrite Ahead!!

Yikes and double yikes!! You know how I told you I was going to have a phone meeting with Sarah Harvey, the teen editor at Orca Books? Well, it turns out Sarah wants some pretty major changes on my Holocaust manuscript. At first, I was a little ... well... taken aback. But by the end of the conversation, I'd come around quite a bit. All night I dreamed of the book, which means my mind is grappling

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Jan
08

Changing Gears

Only time for a super quick blog entry today. Lots going on here! For one thing, I've got five English teachers from Marianopolis coming for lunch. We're celebrating my office partner's birthday. It's a big number -- but I'm not allowed to say what that number is. In fact, when I head out for my run in a few minutes, I want to buy two of those candles with numbers on them --

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Jan
07

Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning to You...

That's the beginning of a kids' song I always liked. In case you don't know it, it goes like this: " Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning to you,/ Good Morning, Good Morning, and how do you do?" Ever just wake up and feel like singing that song? I am definitely a morning person and today, well, it just feels like a good morning. We had a lovely weekend (combination of

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Jan
04

Shame on Me!

Well, it's not such a shame... but I say so because I'm getting such a late start today. It's 10:24 A.M., and I haven't gone for my run and I haven't tidied up the house... all of which is part of my  pre-writing routine. My goodness, I haven't even made a cup of green tea yet! Funny that I got some interesting comments about tea from readers yesterday. I guess I'

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Jan
03

Green Tea and Me

I don't think I've mentioned my green tea habit. I almost always have a cup of green tea on my desk when I'm writing. In the old days, I used to buy bags of green tea in a box, then I moved up to loose green tea (it was called Gunpowder) that I bought in Chinatown... and then... (I'm trying to build a little suspense here... good practice for the scene I'll be writing later)...
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Jan
02

Happy New Year to You!

It's Wednesday, Jan. 2 and this is my first blog entry for the new year. I took the last two days off to basically hang out with my husband. But that doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about my book!! In fact, before we fell asleep last night, I got Mike to let me talk some of the plot details through with him. It's something I tend to do over the summer (when I am working full time

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Dec
28

Another Day, Another 500 Words

That's the quota I've been setting for myself over the holidays. It doesn't sound like much, but it seems to work for me. But just so it doesn't seem to you like I've got it too easy, I should explain that I start my writing day by reviewing and tweaking whatever I wrote the day before. 

This morning, I was writing in my diary about how much I am enjoying this time

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Dec
27

Expecting Another House Guest

It's a good thing I live with an editor. That's because I just asked Mike whether house guest is one word or two. So that saved me from having to check the word/s in the dictionary.

The house guest we are expecting is my friend's cat Frances. Frances is a Siamese cat and she has stayed with us before -- despite the fact that I am allergic to cats and dogs. The funny thing about

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Dec
24

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

... and all Monique wanted to do was WRITE -- but there were presents to wrap and a dinner to cook... and friends wanting to come by to visit. I did want to tell you a little about Hadley Dyer, formerly the children's editor at James Lorimer & Co. Hadley is now the very successful author of a YA book called Johnny Kellock Died Today (Harper Collins) and has left the editing world to write

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Dec
21

Another Quick Hello!

Here's the link to my Gazette story about how the snow has affected Christmas shopping here in Montreal: http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=bed00925-e759-417d-ba1b-4fb4661a78e5

Wish I had more time for a longer entry,  but I've got three friends coming for lunch today at one. Since I'm Queen of the Multi-Task, I'm about to go for a

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Dec
20

Ever Wonder What a Streeter Is?

Okay, so you never wondered. A streeter (in case I've piqued your interest) is a term used in journalism to describe a story where you interview people on the street. Today, just when I was about to sit down to work on my manuscript, I got a call from the Gazette Business editor asking me what I was up to. It turned out he needed me to write a story for tomorrow's paper about how local

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Dec
18

Quick Hello!

Today was one of those days when the writing went quickly and fairly painlessly. Also, I'm working on a section where my character, who is out on a winter camping expedition in Nunavik, wakes up to a terrible snowstorm. It helps that it is snowing again today in Montreal, though it's not stormy like it was on Sunday. So, all I've had to do is tilt my head a little to the right to get

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Dec
17

Monday Morning Greeting

Hello, out there! We got some snowstorm yesterday! The college where I work is closed for the day. No such luck for my husband, Mike, who's an editor at the Montreal Gazette. Unlike teachers, newsroom staff never get snow days! Speaking of The Gazette, my story about how people feel proprietary about parking spots they've gone to the trouble of digging out is in today's paper. Here
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Dec
14

How'd it Get to be Friday So Soon?!

It's not just Friday -- it's Friday at four minutes to five. This has been a very busy week. I'm glad I had nice long stretches at the computer. Some days, the writing comes more quickly than on other days. Those telephone interviews I did last week with Isabelle and this week with Mark really helped me gain momentum on my latest book project. Though I have kind-of-an-idea about where

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Dec
12

Quiet Writing Days... Ahhh!

So the last three days have been what I consider heavenly. Not much to do, except WRITE!! Though I manage to keep writing during the school semester, it does feel like I'm juggling a lot of balls when I'm teaching full-time... and now, I'm down to just one ball... or two. I've been moving forward on the George River project. Did I tell you that last week I had a very good phone

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Dec
07

Visit to John Abbott College

I spent yesterday afternoon at John Abbott College, where I spoke to Deirdre King's Journalism class. Lately, when I've been doing school visits, I've been speaking mostly about being a YA writer -- so this was a change for me. But part of what I spoke about was the link between being a reporter and writing fiction. Reporters have to get things right; fiction writers can play with the
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Dec
05

School's Out! Here Comes Writing Time!!

Classes are over at Marianopolis College. I've been marking like a fiend. Ask my husband who got a little miffed when I brought term papers with me to the grocery store on the weekend!! It's always a bit of an adjustment to go from teaching to writing full-time, especially over the holidays when there are so many other demands on our time. This afternoon, I'm going to phone my friend

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Nov
30

I Should be Marking Essays!!

My students submitted their final essays this week, which means there's a big pile of 'em on the living room floor -- and a smaller pile (those are the ones I've already graded) in my schoolbag. All this to say I don't expect to be doing any new writing until the middle of next week. When I'm not writing, I miss it -- it's kind of like not getting to be with your crush!!! <
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Nov
23

It's great getting feedback on this blog!!

Just time for a quick entry today, but I wanted to say thanks to those of you who've been posting comments on this blog. It's fun to know that even with the many things we all have to do, we're making time to read people's blogs. Darinka Popovic, teacher-librarian at Rockheights Middle School in Victoria, B.C., shared an interesting memory about clotheslines (she doesn't share
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Nov
19

Today's Visit to Westmount High School

I did another school visit today -- at Westmount High School in Montreal. Again, I'm feeling very inspired by the young people I met. The school librarian Susan Chau (Miss Chau to the students) arranged the visit. (She is the same librarian who helped me when I was writing a story for The National Post newspaper about bibliotherapy.) My friend and fellow writer Lori Weber also visited Westmount
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Nov
16

Stories, Stories Everywhere

Hello out there! I'm just back from a morning at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe-Claire, on Montreal's West Island. I certainly hope I inspired the students (I told them about how I got into writing, how I get my ideas... and I read a bit from my books), but one thing's for sure: THE STUDENTS INSPIRED ME. 
I spoke to three grade eight classes and though there wasn't much time
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Nov
15

Heading Out for a Run... and to think about my story

Hello, out there! Just a short entry, but it's about something I think is an important topic: how writers like me get our ideas. I find, and I've heard this from other writers, too, that my best ideas don't necessarily come while I'm sitting in front of the computer screen. 
I'm a bit of an exercise nut (I try to workout every day, either by going for a run or doing weights
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Nov
08

What My Writing Friends in Toronto are Up To...

When I was in Toronto last weekend, I didn't just attend the childen's writing conference I told you about -- I also made time for FUN. As I'm always telling my students, it's important to engage in what psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud called "pleasurable play." Time-out for having fun makes us happier, less stressed and more productive. 
On Friday, I had lunch with two of
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Nov
05

Home Sweet Home, but Feeling Very Inspired

I always tell my students to avoid the word "very" -- but sometimes, a person just can't help it. I'm just back from the Packaging Your Imagination conference in Toronto and I'm feeling VERY inspired. The conference is run by a great group called CANSCAIP (that stands for Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers). But let me get to the interesting
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Oct
31

Exciting Evening with Friends from Nunavik!

Well, as life sometimes does, it served up a great gift yesterday. I think I told you I'd heard from my friend Sapina Snowball in Nunavik that she was coming to Montreal for a career conference. Yesterday, when I got home from school, there was a phone message from her. She explained that she'd arrived late on Monday and had been at her conference all day yesterday... and that she was leaving
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Oct
26

Preparing for a Talk about Writing -- and Researching

I got through that pile of correcting  I was moaning about earlier this week. Mercifully, many of the essays were excellent. I didn't tell you, but the assignment was to analyze a joke using the Freudian model we have been studying in class. The class, in case you're wondering what kind of class studies jokes, is called "The Stuff of Nonsense."
Today, to celebrate my freedom
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Oct
23

Want to Read about Bibliotherapy?

In a previous blog, I told you how I was writing a story for The National Post newspaper about bibliotherapy -- how reading books can help us cope with life's challenges. If you want to check out the story, here's the link:
http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/artslife/story.html?id=0757758e-b5bd-471b-ac45-717b63ce4888&k=84179
I'm still working my way through
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Oct
22

I Shouldn't be Writing a Blog Entry Right Now...

I shouldn't be writing a blog entry right now, but as you may have noticed, I am. What I should be doing is marking term papers. Only I miss writing too much!! As you may know, I teach full-time at Marianopolis College here in Montreal.  This week,  my students' major mid-term assignments are due... about 80 essays came in this morning, and I'll get more work on Wednesday. All this to
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Oct
15

Thinking about Vancouver Island... and clotheslines

This time last year I was gearing up for my trip to Vancouver Island. I was there for the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Book Week and did I ever have fun!! I met so many interesting young people, heard so many great stories, and saw such gorgeous rugged terrain. I am also thinking about Victoria because I got an email this weekend from Darinka Popovic, the teacher librarian at Rockheights
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Oct
11

Thursday hello

Ever have one of those mornings that slipslides away? That's what's happening to me today. Luckily, though, I still have nearly two hours till I have to leave for school -- and I'm planning to use them more efficiently than I used the last three hours (though I did go for a run and I picked up some groceries en route). 
My editor's second set of notes for the school bus story has landed
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Oct
05

Reading is Good for Mental Health

Well, I just finished writing a story for The National Post newspaper about something called "bibliotherapy." Though there are no universities that train people to become bibliotherapists, a lot of librarians, English teachers and therapists know that books can help people deal with difficult problems. I'm going to tell you about a few of the people I interviewed for the story. This
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Oct
02

The Lasagna was Dry, but the Conversation was Great

So I promised I'd report back on my evening with children's writer Marsha Skrypuch, who was in Montreal for the launch of her latest book, Prisoners in the Promised Land: The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk (Scholastic). As I've already told you in the title of today's entry, my salmon lasagna didn't turn out that great. On the bright side, though, I learned a lot from
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Sep
28

It worked!

Yippee! Now ALL my blog entries say "Posted by Monique Polak." Here are all the people I need to thank: Gord and Gio at Ecohosting here in Montreal, and my new friend Mark in Malaysia. I'm feeling downright computer-literate tonight!!
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Sep
28

Still testing

I should be making salmon lasagna, but I'm still working on getting rid of "Posted by Adminstrator." So here goes! This time, I think it's going to work. This blog should say on top: "Posted by Monique Polak." Let's go, Computer, do it right this time! 
  2184 Hits
Sep
28

Friday hello

Only time for a quick blog entry this morning. I'm trying to get rid of that annoying "Posted by Administrator" tag that has appeared on the top of each of my blog entries so far. I've been busy figuring out how to do that (with a little help from technical support people) --  and you'll be able to tell from the top of this posting whether I found the solution. Let's just
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Sep
27

Hello from George River!!

The thing is, I'm not really in George River (which is about five hours away by plane from Montreal). I'm sitting at my desk in Montreal, but I've been writing about George River, so in a way, I've spent the morning there. 
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am writing a book set in George River, which is in Nunavik, in northern Quebec. I was there last February. So far, all
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Sep
21

Why Starting a New Book is a Little Like Falling in Love

Starting a new book is a little like falling in love. That's because you're very hopeful and everything seems possible. That's why it's very important to take advantage of the burst of energy that can come with starting a new book (and falling in love)!! 
To be honest, I was not planning to start a new book just yet. As you may know from my website, I teach full-time at Marianopolis
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Sep
20

Hello hello! Anyone out there?

It's Monique P, writing to say I've now got my very own blog! For one week last month, I was a guest blogger on the Orca Book website -- and I liked it. In this blog, I'm going to tell you a little about the writing life. Only today, I didn't get much writing done. Sigh!! Sometimes, ordinary life gets in the way of the writing life.... But at least I learned how to set up this blog
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