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Raquel Rivera, the latest

Eight inspiring Mondays, spring 2021: I spent much of 2020 in a sulk about our loss of in-person activities. But in the end, working online with emerging writers via QWF’s writing workshop series was a deeply rewarding and inspiring experience—yay for community in all forms!

Grab your party hats and library cards! I Read Canadian Day was celebrated across Canada on Feb 17, 2021. This is me, the human icicle, doing my bit outside the open-for-business-but-locked-down-for-Covid, Libraire Paragraphe Bookstore in downtown Montreal.

Fond memories of working with the creative young writers of Joliette High School at the start of 2021. Many thanks to their teacher Lea Beddia and to Artists Inspire, for making it so!

Musing on literary arts, and why they’re important in October, 2020, for Artists Inspire, as we all sought new ways to work together during lockdown. Artists Inspire offers grants to English-language schools throughout Quebec—bringing practicing artists into extended residencies with students and teachers.

Catherine Austen launched her podcast, Cabin Tales, in September, 2020, as a creative writing resource for students and teachers no longer able to invite writers for class visits in person. While fangirling over this brilliant idea and it’s stylish production values, I was invited to interview for the episodes on Inspiration and my own most difficult writing challenge: Plotting and enjoyed further conversation about research, fairy tales, the toilet witch and more…

When Yipee’s Gold Mountain won the QWF Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature in November, 2019, I was honoured and thrilled! Event photographer Kevin Calixte didn’t catch my on-stage victory dance (or maybe he burned those pics). The jury—Gillian O’Reilly, Matthew Skelton and Sarah Tsiang said this about Yipee: “An exciting page turner, but more than that it is a deeply layered story that explores colonialism, violence, gender, race, sex, and friendship… A thoroughly researched, thought-provoking and moving historical novel.”

Telling a true story from my own life at Confabulation’s show “Acquired Tastes”, here in Montreal in April, 2019, was a fantastic experience. With workshopping advice from accomplished storyteller Nisha Coleman, I learned about pacing, presenting—and memorizing—for an unnervingly large yet welcoming audience. Here’s the live performance, based on adventures in research for my children’s book manuscript about circus school students. Thank you Kate Lavut of Paper Dog Press, for thinking of taking a video--and thanks to storyteller Michele Luchs for inviting me!

Spreading the Word was launched in April, 2017, and Tuk and the Whale was one of many Quebec English-language books featured. The program is designed to bring the pleasures of reading and writing to seniors throughout the province. Online resources include interviews with the authors—check ‘em out! This is the video featuring me and Tuk.

Prepping for the launch of my novel Show Mode in April, 2017, was special because friend and fellow-author Monique Polak joined me to co-launch her book, Bullies Rule. Thanks to All in a Weekend Montreal (CBC Radio) for inviting us to chat about our books.

Book launch performances:strategy and singing. Prepping for their performance is one of the acts of young musicians and singers of Montreal’s FACE school—my inspiration for Show Mode— who made our double book launch a truly festive event.

Not a fast writer: In January 2015, the editor of the monthly blog QWF Writes asked me to fill in for February’s cancellation. Lucky for all of us--especially readers--my post didn’t see daylight until March. I wrote about the joys and pains of my latest manuscript, a creative non-fiction about the lives of high school students at the National Circus School. Read “Nature’s Way of Getting Books Written” at QWF Writes.

Julie gives Natalia a hand, during warm-up before RESET, the latest show from acrobat troupe THROW2CATCH.

I was very pleased to be asked to contribute to the fall 2011 issue of Canadian Children’s Books News, in honour of Freedom to Read Week (freedomtoread.ca). If you’re not (yet) a Book Centre member with a subscription, or you missed the issue on the newsstands, here’s a peek: 3FreedomToRead_CCBN_Fall_2011.pdf

Here are some photos from my trip to Arizona in November, 2011, where I was doing research for my manuscript Yipee’s Gold Mountain. What an astonishing place--especially for someone who’s used to driving through Cananda’s vast swaths of region. On the first day I was in the desert, sweating through my only t-shirt and fretting that I’d packed too many sweaters for the trip. Two hours later I was driving through the windy, pine-forested Prescott National Park at 5,000 feet elevation. A couple of days later, I had to buy snow boots to wear in Flagstaff, at 7,000 feet. What an excellent State: if you get sick of winter, summer is just a couple of hours drive down the mountains.

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