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About auntyemily

Screenwriter (CBeebies), science communicator, storyteller, author, podcaster and poet. @auntyemily on twitter (:

Can’t Dance Cameron Second Edition

A big box arrived today, copies of the second edition of my first picture book, Can’t-Dance-Cameron:

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It felt good to hold it. I wanted to say a big thanks to everyone who’s been buying the book since the launch.

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Education, nature, storytelling, Writing

 

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Memories of Maritime Leith

I’m really excited to be starting a new oral history project with Trinity House Maritime Museum and Historic Scotland. This is Trinity House:

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In Leith, just down from the Kirkgate Centre it holds a treasure trove of nautical objects, photos and records. Explore the amazing collection online here.

We’re going to be making digital stories with Leith locals to help capture and share some of Leith’s maritime memories. I’m facilitating workshops with museum learning and engagement consultant at Trinity House, Lucy Bull. We’re working to recruit participants in partnership with the Living Memory Association.

Find Out More

If you want to find out more there’s a drop in session at the Living Memory Association venue at Ocean Terminal tomorrow – 2pm with tea and cake (come in the main entrance and turn right, on the ground floor on your right. If you get to Waterstones you’ve gone too far). And we’re running a series of six workshops after that. By the end of the workshops you will have created your very own digital story.

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The workshops begin on the 3rd December, download a PDF poster for more information: Memories of Maritime Leith – A4 or see details below:

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What is a Digital Story?

A digital story is a two to three minute audio soundtrack with still images over the top. It’s a personal story, in first person and using the voice of the story maker. I’ve been working with the Govan Reminiscience Group and the Britain from Above Project during 2013 and 2014 to help create and share memories as digital stories. Here are two of the brilliant stories the workshop participants made about Govan.

The Plot by Bill Pritchard:

The Promised Land by Colin Quigley

Please pass this on to anyone you think has great stories to share about maritime Leith.

If your interested in Leith History, you might enjoy this post about Leith in 1907 with Millie Gray

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Education, Events, Media, storytelling, Writing

 

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Ada Lovelace Day

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The Lady Scientist Stitch and Bit*h is back! This time it’s at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh for Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace is widely held to be the first computer programmer – you can read more about her here. Here’s how the Royal Observatory describe tomorrow’s performance on their website:

Lady scientists have made valid scientific discoveries, but they also come together to knit and sew. Here’s a collection of stories: human, hilarious, and horrible that show what it’s like being a woman scientist at different times in history.

It starts on 14th October at 6.30pm and it’s free but ticketed. To book a space please email vis@roe.ac.uk. This event is for adults only.

Who is who?

We all took a scientist, researched them and wrote a monologue in character. The scientists and writers are

And I’ve written a spoken word piece as Emma Darwin, wife of Charles Darwin. Ada is being played tomorrow by Rebecca Douglas and the mad scientist behind the operation, that is the lady with the time machine who’s been stopping off at various points throughout history to collect us all – was written by Ariadne Cass-Maran and is being played tomorrow by Kaite Welsh.

Previous Performances

This Illicit Ink event began at last year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival. It sold out. I wrote about it here. Then we were asked to perform at Heriot Watt University for Woman in Engineering Day last month. I’m excited to be back on stage with my fellow lady scientists on a day that celebrates the achievements of women throughout history.

Men are totally welcome to come to this event too! 

Image Credit: Douglas McBride

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Education, Events, poetry, Science, storytelling, Writing

 

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Meerkats and Capercaillies in Linlithgow

Independent book shops all over the UK are throwing ‘Books are in My Bag‘ big bookshop parties tomorrow.

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I’ll be part of the animal themed party at Far From the Madding Crowd Bookshop in Linlithgow.

At 11.30am and 12 noon there will be ‘cool creatures‘ sessions at the canal tea rooms – children will be able to meet and even hold real animals including a hedgehog, a skunk, a bearded lizard and two meerkat brothers who cuddle each other. Tickets are £3.

Seriously cute!

At 1pm I’ll be doing a free ‘Can’t-Dance-Cameron’ story workshop in the bookshop!

Can't Dance Cameron launch

There will be:

  • Football with giant foam pinecones (more about that here)
  • Videos of actual dancing capercaillies at RSPB Loch Garten
  • Beautiful Scottish wildlife images thanks to Laurie Campbell
  • A naughty water-squirting red squirrel
  • Science experiments
  • A chance to make a red squirrel fridge magnet

You can also expect sounds effects, stickers, smells and a few surprises. We’ll be learning capercaillie dance moves along the way and dancing to music composed especially for the event by Sam Gallagher. Here’s a wee sample of the track, click play below:

About the Story

Cameron the capercaillie can’t dance. His family, the MacFeathers are the best dancers in the Cairngorms but sadly, when Cameron wiggles everyone giggles. Cameron meets a new friend, a red squirrel called Hazel Nut who takes him on a journey through the forest, will he learn to dance?

Craft and Signing

Afterwards I’ll be signing books and we’ll be making Hazel Nut red squirrel fridge magnets:

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More Animal Stories

At 2pm local Author Ewan McVicar will be storytelling in the bookshop.

Cake and Animal Masks

And if that’s not enough there will be animal mask making and cake all day!

Red Squirrel Fridge Magnets

I made a few squirrel fridge magnet examples last night, I based them on Hazel Nut in the book and tried to make a simple template for children to decorate. The naughty squirrels pegged up a family photo on the fridge when I wasn’t looking:

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Find Far From the Madding Crowd on twitter and facebook

 
 

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Make Your Own Log Book Stand

My favourite cafe in Edinburgh, The Haven Cafe agreed to sell copies of my new book Can’t-Dance-Cameron (hurrah!). The problem was they didn’t have anything to put it in. So I decided to try to make a stand. Here’s how I did it.

Step 1: Find a suitable half log

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I happened to have a good half log in my flat. It was too big for my wood-burning stove and I’d been meaning to chop it up at some point. If you don’t have your own wood supply you can buy logs like this from garden centers, garages and shops like B & Q.

Step 2: Try to saw a wedge into it

I sawed for a long time and made very little progress. I think I used the wrong type of saw (the blue one above). You could try using a bow saw instead – read more about using one of those in my blog about wood foraging.

Step 3: Hammer and chisel a wedge into it

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This was much more effective. I really enjoyed chiselling out the V shape wedge, section by section. I tested the book in it and changed the angle where I needed to. The book needed to stand up.

Step 4: Add a back support and label

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The back support stops the book bending and doubles up as a place to attach a label. I have lots of bits of wood for kindling but you could always use a pencil or a piece of dowel if you don’t have scrap wood. I added a Can’t-Dance-Cameron sticker (read about the stickers here) to the lablel for the woodland theme.

Step 5: Add the book

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I felt pleased with it, all that hard work was worth it – Cameron looks so at home on a log.

Step 6: Take books and stand to the cafe

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The cafe loved the woodland display stand and found a perfect spot between the sunflowers and the gramophone.

Thanks to Natalie (pictured) at The Haven Cafe for selling Can’t-Dance-Cameron. Find the Haven on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2014 in Education, nature, Writing

 

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Dundee Literary Festival 2014

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Just a quick post to let you know I’m taking my first picture book ‘Can’t-Dance-Cameron: A Scottish Capercaillie Story’ to Dundee Literary Festival on 25th October, 10.00am. Get tickets here. The event is part of the family fun day:

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There will be:

  • Football with giant foam pinecones (more about that here)
  • Videos of actual dancing capercaillies at RSPB Loch Garten
  • Beautiful Scottish wildlife images thanks to Laurie Campbell
  • A naughty water-squirting red squirrel
  • Science experiments
  • A chance to make a red squirrel or capercaillie fridge magnet

You can also expect sounds effects, stickers, smells and a few surprises. We’ll be learning capercaillie dance moves along the way and dancing to music composed especially for the event by Sam Gallagher. Here’s a wee sample of the track, click play below:

About the Story

Cameron the capercaillie can’t dance. His family, the MacFeathers are the best dancers in the Cairngorms but sadly, when Cameron wiggles everyone giggles. Cameron meets a new friend, a red squirrel called Hazel Nut who takes him on a journey through the forest, will he learn to dance?

Pet Portraits

Literary Dundee have been sharing photos of pets with the programme on their facebook page. I got a little bit carried away and sent Peggy Hughes eight photos from the photoshoot I did with Oscar. Here he is at the end (I think he’s had enough!).

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Find Literary Dundee on Facebook and on Twitter. Find the wonderful Dundee Literary Festival programme online here.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Education, Events, nature, Science, storytelling

 

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Portobello Book Festival 2014

I’m part of this year’s Portobello Book Festival along with science writers Anna Claybourne and Pippa Goldschmidt. Here’s what the programme says about our event:

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The festival runs from the 3rd to the 5th of October in Portobello, Edinburgh. The programme launched earlier this month in the Dalriada Pub. I was excited to meet one of my fellow science writers Anna Claybourne at the launch:

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I grew up loving the type of children’s non-fiction science books that Anna writes so it was a real pleasure to meet her.

I was even more star struck (if that were possible) when I met the women behind a book I absolutely love, despite my inability to knit. I bring you the wonderfully woolly Knit Your Own Scotland:

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And here are Ruth and Jackie, they look a bit like they’ve been knitted too (or has the love for the book taken over my imagination?):

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I told them how much we loved their book in Leith Library and how we challenged the knitting group to knit Scotland for Book Week. The good news is, you can build a new Scotland (well knit it) at the knitting workshop on the Saturday afternoon.

This year’s programme really is amazing, we say that every year but it just keeps getting better. You can see all of the events here.

Writing Workshops

If you’re an aspiring writer, I’d recommend the ‘Opening Lines’ workshop on Saturday morning run by the lovely women from my writer’s group Mairi Wilson and Louise Kelly. Or if you’re into YA writing there’s a workshop with on ‘Writing for Teens’ with children and young people’s librarian Simon Radcliff, and award-winning YA authors Keith Gray and Cat Clarke.

I’m also looking forward to finding out ‘What’s happening in Publishing’ with Francis Bickmore (Publishing Director at Canongate Books), Allan Guthrie (author, agent, editor, publisher – what can’t this man do?) and Eleanor Collins (Senior Commissioning Editor at Floris Books) on Sunday afternoon.

Get Tickets

All the events are free but ticketed and tickets are available in person from Portobello Library. No you can’t book online or phone up – you need to go to the library and that’s a good thing! There will be a chance to donate after each event – please do – all the speakers and organisers contribute their time voluntarily – your donations will make next year’s festival possible.

It’s my third year being part of the programme and I’m delighted to be back in Portobello!

Find the programme online here. Follow Portobello Book Festival on Twitter @PortyBookFest.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Education, Events, Science, storytelling, Writing

 

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