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Crime Squirrel Investigators Book Launch

Thanks to everyone who came along to Waterstones to celebrate the launch of my new book Crime Squirrel Investigators: The Naughty Nut Thief, published by Little Door Books and illustrated by Giulia Cregut.

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Photographer extraordinaire Chris Scott came along too and he took some brilliant photos. Thank you Chris! Here’s the launch, in photo highlights…

It began with an introduction from publisher Alan Windram:

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Then I introduced myself and the Italian Illustrator, Giulia Cregut. I pointed to the banner because the two of us look quite similar to the two squirrels, see above! (yup, I’m the larger squirrel!)

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

And then we set the scene for the story, guessing objects from the forest. If you’d like to hold a giant Ameican pine cone that’s bigger then your head… come to an event soon!

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We listened to the sound of the forest and then four volunteers helped make the smell of the forest, here’s one of them in action, wafting the pine oil with a fan…

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Then it was time for the story of the Naughty Nut Thief. Crime Squirrel Investigators Rosie and Charlie investigate three prime suspects after Rosie’s secret nut store is ransacked!

Crime Squirrel Investigators launchThen it was time for a red squirrel true or false quiz, make a ‘T’ or an ‘F’ with your body:

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Then Rosie the naughty water squirter popped out to meet everyone, I definately look like a squirrel here:

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Then my lovely friend Elspeth Murray came up to help Alan with actions. And we taught everyone the Beyoncé squirrel song, here we all are dancing!

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And more actions!

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Then we learnt more about one of the prime suspects, the wood mouse with a camouflage demonstration:

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Next it was time for hip-hop with the great spotted woodpecker rap, yep I really did rap as a woodpecker. Thankfully everyone else joined in with beats and actions:

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I was a bit scared about rapping (it’s new for me) but thankfully we had a professional drummer, Ruairdh Graham from Niteworks to keep us all in time! He also made me practice beforehand – thanks Ru!

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Then it was time for a couple more picture quizzes, look at the shell and guess who ate the nut. All based on the real nut munching animal science the book is based on:

NUT-HUNTINGAnd the finale was a song about nuts! Again thanks to Elspeth and Alan for actions:

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Then it was Q and A time, I got to sit down at last. This looks like a serious question:

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch And so does this:

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Hurrrah! It was all over:

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There were thankyous and the book signing:

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And that was it! I want to say a big thanks to Elspeth Murray for chairing and action support (she got flowers) and to Lindsey Fraser my agent from Fraser Ross Associates (she got flowers but she’d gone to the ballet by then!) and to Ruairdh Graham for beats (he got beer) and to Giulia Cregut for illustrations and to Alan Windram and Susan Windram at Little Door Books for publishing the book.

Thanks to my pals Amy, Anna, Jenny and Mel for serving drinks!

Thanks to Waterstones West End Edinburgh for hosting and to all you people who came, there were over 100 guests and we sold out – it meant so much to have your support for the book (and such enthusiastic actions!).

Crime Squirrel Investigators launch

Thank you to Chris Scott for taking these photos. I dedicated Ollie and the Otter to Chris because he encourages so many with his brilliant pictures. If you enjoyed these photographs, you might like the Can’t-Dance-Cameron book launch photos or The Grouse and the Mouse book launch photos

If you would like a Crime Squirrel Investigators event at your school or book festival, you can apply for Live Literature funding from the Scottish Book Trust here and find my author profile here

 

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Art for Sale

The average wage for a published author in the UK is 10k a year. I live off events mostly, it’s hard to manage and even if I sell LOADS of books I just get pence per book. Some books I’ve written were for a flat fee, so however many sell around the world, I get nothing.

I love art and I work in an art studios in Edinburgh, Coburg House. Coburg House has a shop, it’s open every weekend 11 – 4pm. I had the idea – why don’t I try to sell some of my art?

I choose five pieces with help from the artists at Coburg. I comissioned Javier Ternero, the picture framer to mount and wrap the pieces. They looked so much better mounted. Then I posted a picture on instagram of a collage I’d created, just before it went into the shop. Instagram is an image based storytelling app. This is the photo I shared:

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I didn’t realised how vulnerable it would feel – sharing something visual you’ve created and giving it value by selling it. What if noone buys it? What if people don’t like it? Thankfully I had some supportive comments on instagram. And then something wonderful happened…

The same night I posted the picture of my collage, I got a message from the new manager at the shop at Strutt’s North Mill. That’s the mill in the background of the picture. She said she loved it and wanted to sell it in the Mill shop in Derbyshire. She asked if I had any other prints too. It was such an encouragement. So then, instead of selling the original in the Coburg House shop, I got the original made into prints with Edinburgh Arts. They mount and wrap them too. Here’s the wrapped print:

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I was amazed when I saw it – the prints looked like collages – they even looked like they were made from ripped newspaper. They were delivered to the mill by a friend who happened to be driving down that way and they are available in the shop there to buy, along with the original.

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My other pieces (originals) are still at Coburg House Shop in Edinburgh for one more weekend, this coming weekend. Just in case you wanted to buy them!

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After this weekend they will be heading down to the Mill shop to join the other pieces for sale there. Let’s hope somebody buys them!

Just to let you know, Coburg House in Ediburgh has an open studios weekend coming up, I totally reccomend going. It’s the weekend of 27th and 28th July. There are 80 artist on four floors. Fine art, jewellry, textiles are more. I sadly won’t be there. But you should go! Please also go to the shop this weekend and buy my work! 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in illustration

 

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Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Last week I went to Italy and met Giulia Cregut. She’s the Italian illustrator for my new book ‘Crime Squirrel Investigators the Naughty Nut Thief’. Here we are:

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Little Door Books found Giulia’s lovely illustrations at Bologna Book Fair here, a year ago:

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It’s called ‘The Wall’. It’s actually several walls where illustrators from all over the world put up posters and leave contact details. That way, people like Alan and Susan from Little Door Books and this random man can find them.

Alan and Susan were looking for an illustrator to match the Naughty Nut Thief text from me, they found Giulia’s work and a year later… we have a book!

Here we are showing off that book by Giulia’s poster that got her the job:

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I found the book fair quite overwhelming, it’s huge. It’s the biggest children’s book fair in the world. A book fair is different to a book festival although my Mum uses the titles interchangeably when she’s usally referring to book festivals.

For clarification, book festivals are places where the public come to see authors and illustrators do book related events. Book fairs are where industry professionals come to do business. Publishers, agents, rights people – it’s a very different ball game. They both include books but that’s it.

This is the Publishing Scotland Stand, Little Door Books and the other Scottish Publishers displayed a selection of their books and did meetings:

20190412_160953To give you an idea of scale, there are over 1000 stands like this one with publishers from all over the world. I felt like a very small person in a very big industry! I wondered around and took photos of the illustrations I found inspirational, here are just a few of many that stood out to me:

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Feeling somewhat overwhelmed, I drunk coffee and consumed bread based products. This is the face of a person who’s eaten croissants, pizza, Panini and Bolognese bread (yep – that’s a thing) for 3 days:

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There aren’t many authors at the fair but Publishing Ireland had a party so I got to meet Chris Haughton, he was really nice:

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Bologna is a UNESCO city of music and the oldest university town. It’s also famous for its meat. Hence the sausage chandelier in an eatery I visited with Little Door Books:

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And our very lovely food, with more bread:

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If you would like to read Crime Squirrel Investigators The Naughty Nut Thief, you can on 1st May when it gets published. Or come to the launch on 2nd May at Waterstones, Edinburgh. With woodpecker hiphop, science, songs and a water squirting squirrel. Get your tickets here.

CSI launch flyer 1

Thanks to Imago for the chance to visit Bologna (Gill) and a non bread based meal (Simon). Thanks to Little Door Books and Giulia for being yourselves. And to Lindsey Fraser for support from afar. 

Pre-order Crime Squirrel Investigators: The Naughty Nut Thief from all good book stores.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in Events, illustration, nature, Writing

 

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CSI: The Naughty Nut Thief Cover Reveal

I’m super excited to reveal the front cover of my soon to be published book!

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It’s beautifully illustrated by Italian illustrator Giulia Cregut and published by Little Door Books on the 1st May 2019.

Rosie’s secret hazelnut store has been ransacked and her best friend Charlie agrees to help her to find the naughty nut thief. The crime squirrel investigators only have left-over nutshells as a clue, so they watch the different ways the three main suspects eat hazelnuts to try to solve the crime. Help the two squirrels discover the naughty nut thief and learn about the different ways animals eat nuts along the way!

I hear I’ll get advance copies of the book any day now (so excited!) and I’m all set to record the audio book in a couple of weeks. You’ll be invited to the book launch in Edinburgh in May. It will include water squirting squirrels, science and songs!

If you can’t make that I’ll be at festivals and events throughout the year so you’ll hopefully see me and the squirrels soon!

Crime Squirrel Investigators: The Naughty Nut Thief can be pre-ordered now from all good book stores.

UPDATE: Get tickets to the book launch on 2nd May here.

 

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Bluebell and Blue Cat

I forgot my stylus on a visit to Strathclyde Country Park so I had a go at sketching using using my finger:

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I love bluebells! I was pleased with how it turned out.

And here’s a sketch from earlier this month when I did have a stylus, it’s my lovely cat! He didn’t stay still long but I’m trying to loosen up a bit and add some fun into illustrations. Once he’d moved it forced me to use my imagination and here’s what happened:

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Posted by on May 17, 2018 in Environment, illustration, nature

 

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Sketching on Skye

I’m going to draw more. I’ve set a goal of posting a new drawing on here every other week, this week it’s the black cuillin, sketched on my ipad from the middle of Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye:

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Loch Coruisk is described as the most magnificent of Scotland’s freshwater lochs by Walk Highlands. It’s also supposed to be home to a water horse – a kelpie! I was excited when we got the boat towards these misty black mountains, from Elgol:

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We passed some seals on the way:

20180407_171652And clambered over lots of slippery rocks:

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And I stopped here and sat to sketch:

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Here’s where I was, from the other side:

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It really is one of the most magical places I’ve been too. I wanted to capture the feel of the mountains – they seemed almost angry. With their snow capped peaks. And the mist too – that’s hard to draw! And all that orange tufty grass:

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And I only had twenty minutes and at one point I got attacked by a cloud of midgies so I’m pleased with how it turned out. But more then that, it helped me to take my surroundings in, to really experience the place I was. Here’s the sketch with a filter on it:

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And a goodbye from me on the boat trip home:

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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in illustration, nature

 

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Christmas Contract: Little Door Books

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I have some super exciting news! I’ve signed a contract with Little Door Books for a picture book and download album!

This is me with Alan Windram from Little Door Books at the Scotland children’s authors and illustrators Christmas meal – nice hats! You might spot author Lari Don photo bombing in the background.

The Download Album

To be honest, I’m more excited about the album than the book!!! I’ve been trying to work out why that is? Maybe it’s because I’ve written the book already and I’ve not started on the album yet. Or because I’ve written a few books before but an album is an entirely new and exciting challenge for me? Or because music is amazing? Or because an album is a collaborative process and I’m looking forward to working with someone else who has expertise in this area? Or because my whole life I’ve been writing comedy animal type songs anyway!? Or because I don’t look like a person who would make an album but it doesn’t matter because it’s for young kids and they don’t really care what you look like. It’s just very exciting anyway. I’m looking forward to singing harmonies. And recording in a studio.

The Music Industry

Alan formally worked in the music industry so every book Little Door Books brings out includes a download album of tracks for children and an audio book. Authors can play or perform the songs at book events. Children can download the songs later. Sometimes authors write lyrics and he writes music, other times he writes it all or sometimes they work together. We’re going to work together!

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There’s a woodpecker in the book so perhaps I’ll write a woodpecker rap!!! Something fun for the children to sing and dance to anyway.

Dancing at Events

Speaking of dancing – here’s me and Alan earlier in the year when I was chairing his One Button Benny author event at Edinburgh International Book Festival! He’s an author too. We did lots of robot dancing with the families there:

My Book with Little Door Books

The book I’m writing for Little Door Books is a secret just now but I can say it was first pitched to Alan in the author’s yurt at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2016, we had a really good chat back then about books and music. I start all my events with a bird themed dance track that I commissioned a songwriter, Sam Gallagher to produce. I also use it to teach children real life bird dance moves. So we had lots in common in terms of valuing music and dancing in events for children. I was impressed with the books they were producing as Indie Publishers too so we decided to work together.

Little Door Books have a full schedule so we penciled a book in back then for 2018. I pitched a few ideas and we had some meetings and narrowed it down to one. We first met at a book festival a year before that in 2015. So it’s a long process – making books!

Alan and Susan at Little Door Books have chosen a wonderful illustrator from Italy for the book – I’m so excited about the first few pictures I’ve been sent. I’m making the last edits to text over the next few weeks with feedback from Little Door Books and my Agent Lindsey Fraser. So next year will be finalising the text, illustrations from Italy and writing and recording the songs! Bring it on!

PS The book will come out in 2019. Did I mention, we’re making an album?

Please note the album is not an actual CD. It’s a download album of children’s songs and an audio book. 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Education, Events, illustration, storytelling, Writing

 

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