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The Grouse and the Mouse

I’m super excited to share the front cover of my new picture book ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ with you!

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‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ will be published on the 16th July. I added a countdown to the side of my blog!

I’m also super excited to let you know I’ll be taking ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ to the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the 1st September. Here’s my page in the schools programme:

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The Book Festival released their schools programme last week and schools can book tickets now.

I had a lovely time taking my first picture book ‘Can’t Dance Cameron’ to Edinburgh International Book Festival last year so it’s wonderful to have been invited back with my second picture book.

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Thanks to Alan and the team at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park for their help researching black grouse for ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’. I wrote about black grouse in a book for grownups called ‘Tales from our Wild Park‘ so that really helped me to find out more about this iconic Scottish bird as well as giving me a setting for the book.

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Thanks to everyone at Floris Books for their help with ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’, especially to my brilliant editor Eleanor Collins and to Kirsteen Harris-Jones for the illustrations!

Pre-order a copy of ‘The Grouse and the Mouse’ at Waterstones, Amazon or on my personal favourite ethical book store – The Hive

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Education, Events, nature, Writing

 

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Annual General Review: 2013

2013 has been a challenging year for many reasons. People around me weren’t well. A few days building work took five months. Near the end of the year I was in severe pain and on three types of prescription pain killers. At one point I actually thought I was going to die.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. Isaiah 43:2

Through all of that, people were amazing. They dropped round with meals, someone gave me a £50 shopping voucher. Friends and family looked after me. I felt grateful despite the pain and strangely, at the point when I was least able to work – work came in. Commission after commission for the year ahead. It was a little overwhelming.

I’ve had help to get writing equipment too, an electric desk and a good chair. My back is much better and I’m off pain killers. The building work is done and I have a safe place to call home. I appreciate life more than I ever. I value my health and the need for rest more than ever. I appreciate people more than ever. I’m also really pleased we’re in 2014.

Last year was a year of firsts too. My first appearance in the Edinburgh International Book Festival, my first screen credit (that’s my name at the end of television show with the title ‘writer’) and I ended the year by signing a contract for my first picture book.

I’ve summarised the highlights in a countdown from ten…

TEN days in New York City 

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In February I visited New York to attend the Kidscreen Summit. It’s a huge children’s TV market and conference. I’ve always wanted to go and it was exciting to be pitching an eco comedy drama I’d developed for Visible Ink Television. I wrote about it here.

I also attended the Little Airplane Academy. It’s a three-day intensive course in all aspects of how to create a great pre-school television series. It was brilliant!

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NINE New Workshops 

I wrote about some of these workshops on my blog so just click the links above to find out more.

I start phase two of creating digital stories with the Govan Reminiscence Group next week so I’ll blog about that project soon – I can’t wait to share some of the moving stories they created with you.

Here’s the Filmpoem created when I worked with children aged 5 – 10 during the Film Poem Festival in Dunbar. I ran a poetry workshop and walk while Artist Alastair Cook was capturing film and composer Luca Nasciuti recorded sounds. What I love about this is that the words are entirely the children’s own:

Filmpoem Workshop – Shaking Shells from Filmpoem on Vimeo.

EIGHT Finalists in a poetry competition

I felt honoured to be asked to judge the EuroStemCell creative non fiction writing competition. I judged the poetry category. There were eight excellent finalists, read more about the competition here and find the winning entry here.

SEVEN Live Performances

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The highlight was being part of the Illicit Ink graphic fiction event during the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I read a story I’d written about an otter who’s an artist, while Guardian cartoonist and author Stephen Collins drew the story live (Thanks to Chris Scott for the picture above). I wrote about it before and after the event.

There were a few other live performances in 2013, see my gigs section for all of them. 

SIX Children’s Television episodes broadcast

Earth Explorers

I saw my name for the first time at the end of CBeebies science show Nina and the Neurons. It was exciting and strange to see it. I realised it made me a professional screenwriter but I didn’t actually feel any different to how I was before.

I was the screenwriter for two episodes about engineering and later in the year I wrote four episodes about space. I also worked on storylines and development for the series. Read more here.

FIVE Leith Library Residency highlights

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Here’s the Leith Library top ten highlights blog I wrote when the Scottish Book Trust and Creative Scotland residency finished in the summer.

FOUR weeks on a writing retreat

Thanks to the Creative Scotland and Scottish Book Trust Residency at Leith Library, I got to go on my first ever writing retreat. Half of it was spent in Ullapool (thanks to my writer friend Mairi) and the other half was cat sitting at my sister’s in Lancashire. I wrote about it here.

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THREE pages on otters

I was commissioned to write a double page spread on otters but it expanded into three pages for a children’s magazine when I added a few ideas for otter fun – think dot-to-dotter…

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TWO Outdoor adventures:

The Capercaillies (rare scottish bird) dance very early in the morning so I had to get up at 4am. I live tweeted the adventure – I know, no one was awake to see it but I wanted to do it anyway. Here’s a picture of the amazing sunrise from the RSPB Loch Garten hide:

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And here’s the video I made about it:

Read more about the capercaillie adventure here.

On the subject of outdoor adventures, I also went canyoning (jumping off rocks into the river in a forest) and I watched a friend do the Great North Swim. Here’s a picture blog about going wood foraging for the first time.

ONE picture book contract signed

I can’t say much more about this just now but I can say it’s being published with Floris Books and will be out in July. It’s one of the books I wrote on my writing retreat so I need to say a massive thanks to the Scottish Book Trust and Creative Scotland. I was funded for nine months in the Library and three months to do my own thing. Without that funding I would never have been able to take a month off to write.

What Else?

I went to three weddings and no funerals. My best friend from primary school got married in Brighton. There are four of us who have been best friends for over twenty years. Two of us were bridesmaids, one was a bride and the other was the vicar! Our vicar best friend sat on the top table and was somewhat of a celebrity.

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Earlier in the year we all went to see the vicar (Hannah) run the London marathon. I wrote about that here.

Some Priorities for 2014

  • Health
  • Rest
  • People
  • Writing

I want to write three books and a new sitcom. I wrote three and a half books last year and a sitcom the year before so I’m hoping I can do it! I lost four months being ill in 2013 so if I’m healthy I figure that gives me some more writing time.

Exciting and New in 2014

I’ve got new glasses and I’m starting the year with a cat called Oscar.

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Just now I’m writing for CBeebies, two scripts down and one to go. I can’t say which show it’s for, sorry!

This week I launch a positive news blog called Common Good Edinburgh. I’ve been funded for a day a week for six months to work on this project and I’m really excited about writing about some of the amazing things that are happening in our city.

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Next Week I start phase two of running digital story workshops with the Govan Reminiscence Group for the Britain from Above Project.

Next week I’m also starting a project writing science shows with young people from a secure unit with the National Museums of Scotland and Cardiff based company Science Made Simple.

Last week we launched Forest Families in Gorebridge, I’m the storyteller for the project – more here.

The week before last I piloted a new nursery workshop I’ve written called Timmy the Turbine – I’ll blog about that soon.

Thanks

I want to say a massive thanks to everyone who’s been part of my 2013. Thanks to friends, family and colleagues for laughter, support and encouragement. I’m looking forward to 2014.

My Annual General Review 2012 is here. My Annual General Review of 2011 is here.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in Education, Events, Film, Media, poetry, storytelling, Writing

 

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Edinburgh Book Festival: Words and Pictures

I’m massively excited to announce I’m going to be storytelling in the Edinburgh International Book Festival with award-winning cartoonist Stephen Collins. It’s a team effort, he draws and I talk. We’re a dynamic duo.

At least that’s what I’m hoping we’ll be after we practice on Skype next week. He lives in Herefordshire so we won’t meet for real until the day of the performance. Yep I know, a little scary but also an exciting challenge (breathe Emily, breathe!). Speaking of which I’d love for you to join us on:

Saturday 24th August, 9pm, Unbound, The Spiegaltent, EIBF, Charlotte Square (FREE)

We’re one of several writer illustrator duos performing in ten minute slots at Illicit Ink’s Graphic Fiction Spectacular at Unbound. You might have seen Stephen’s work, he has a weekly comic in The Guardian Weekend and a monthly comic in Prospect magazine. His debut graphic novel is about a giant evil beard:

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A First Time for Everything

It’s my first time appearing in Edinburgh Book Festival and my first time performing live with a cartoonist. I’ve appeared (keep thinking it sounds like a magic trick) in the West Port Book Festival (2011) and Portobello Book Festival (2012) but never with an illustrator. This is my third book festival appearance OF ALL TIME. I’m a newbie.

The only thing I’ve done that’s similar in terms of live creation of words and pictures is smartboard storytelling is schools.I draw a story on the smartboard as I tell it to the children. I’ve noticed they are most forgiving of my drawing ability (or lack of it). I once sketched a forest and I heard a small child whisper “she’s amazing!”. I can’t wait to see a professional cartoonist in action. I’ll most likely be whispering “he’s amazing!” just like those kids.

What Story Will We tell?

I can’t decide if I should improvise a story by taking suggestions from the audience or do a pre prepared story. Obviously I’d still write a script for sections of an improvised story – I’m aware you need to practice to improvise well. I love working with an audience to create something together. The other option I’ve been thinking about is a to read part of a new story I’ve been working on over this summer about an otter who’s an artist. He’s a little different to his Mum and brothers (he creates shell pictures and poops in perfect pyramids!). It’s for 6 – 9 year olds but it’s pretty magical and is all about the purpose of art and other people’s perception of it so the themes would be relevant. I’ll see what Stephen thinks but any suggestions in the comments below would be useful.

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Everybody Yurts… Sometimes

One thing I’m really looking forward to is the delights of the authors yurt. Free drinks, food and magazines. I’m actually allowed in there by myself (last year I was a plus one). This year I may even take my own plus one….

Storyshop

If you like free book festival things (who doesn’t) a buddy from my writers group, Louise Kelly is appearing at Storyshop in the Spiegaltent at 4pm on the 24th. Do go and see her, it will be good!

Neil Gaiman

Another reason to visit the Book Festival on the 24th is to see Neil Gaiman talking about his latest story ‘Fortunately, the Milk‘. I’ve got tickets (hurrah!) and I’m hoping there’s a chance I’ll see him in the authors yurt earlier that day. Then maybe later (you never know) he might recognise me at his show and later still perhaps I’ll make a bad joke about the milk in the authors yurt (see what I did there) and at that point he’ll ask me what I’m up to in the festival and I’ll tell him all about that night’s Unbound and then, with him being a fan of graphic fiction…

NEIL HIMSELF will be in the audience. Perhaps in disguise wearing a giant evil beard!

I cannot guarantee Neil Gaiman will appear in the crowd at Unbound on the 24th August, this is entirely fantasy and speculation. But he might be there.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Events, Media, storytelling, Writing

 

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