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Leith Library Residency Highlights

I’ve loved working with Leith Library as Reader in Residence. The library part of the residency is finished and I’m taking some time out write a final report for the Scottish Book Trust. I was funded by Creative Scotland to work in the library 2.5 days a week for 9 months, here are the highlights:

Click on the titles to find out more..

1) Mystery Book Sculpture

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In my final week we received the most wonderful gift. It even had my name on it! It was a total surprise and huge encouragement to have the work at the library celebrated and recognised with a mystery book sculpture.

2) Teddy Bear Sleepover

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We were the first library in the world to live tweet teddies all night long. It was in the Evening News, publishers in London sent a giant Hugless Douglass to join us. My family made sleeping bags and teddy bears took over my life.

The best thing was the children loved it. In fact the parents loved it even more. I had emails from them saying they were late for nursery because children had to look through ALL of the photos from the night before. They said they weren’t sure who enjoyed it most, them or their children.

3) Clothes Swap Party

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50 ladies, clothes to swap and afternoon tea. What more could you want?

4) Pirate Treasure Hunt

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We borrowed a boat and a parrot. There were digital clues and copies of Treasure Island. That’s me with a giant golden macaw on my back. Arrrr!

5) Memories of Leith

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Three brilliant writers came to share their memories of Leith during book week Scotland. I also had the chance to interview each of them before the event to capture them talking about their local memories.

6) Teenage Podcast

I worked with four teenagers as they created a young adult fiction podcast. They interviewed authors Keith Gray and Roy Gill and held a celebration event to premiere the podcast to friends and family, it’s well worth a listen

7) Festive Furballs

Our Christmas pets competition. Who doesn’t love a cat in a jumper? Or a rare amphibian, Christmas pony or decorated but very deceased badger?

twiggles

8) Book Week Scotland

We visited the pub, the bingo, the gym, the Kirkgate, the church, the cats protection league and many other places to give out books and encourage people to read. We were named as best social media contributor to book week in the whole of Scotland (wow!). We were featured in STV. Here’s my favourite video from the week:

9) The Croods Competition

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We held an illustration workshop with local artist Rachel Everitt. We had some wonderful competition entries from the children.

10) Hamda Dancing in the Library

The van man had a hidden talent. And that’s what the residency was all about – sharing the stories from inside the library and celebrating the people who are part of it.

I really enjoyed being invited to speak about the highlights above at the Social Media for Social Good Conference in February and May and at the CILIPS library conference in June.

The People

I should add one last highlight that is part of every point above – the people. The brilliant people I worked with made the residency what it was. You made me feel so welcome and appreciated and I’m going to miss you all!

Thanks to everyone else involved for supporting the library via social media and in person.

What’s Next?

Just now I’m on a month’s writing retreat for the last part of my residency. Read about what I’m working on while on retreat here.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Events, Film, storytelling, Writing

 

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Young Adult Fiction and Podcasting

Just a quick blog to let you know I’ve been involved in a couple of podcasts about Young Adult Fiction.

Leith Library Teenage Podcast

Leith Library Teen Podcast launch

Leith Library Podcast Celebration Event photo by Chris Scott

I’ve been running workshops with teenagers at Leith Library and they’ve created a brilliant podcast which includes interviews with authors Keith Gray and Roy Gill. Read more about it on the Leith Library blog. Listen to the podcast on Soundcloud here.

Booktalk: Wonder

IMG_20130605_190236I was invited to be a guest on the Scottish Book Trust Booktalk podcast. I had to read a beautiful debut novel, ‘Wonder’ by R J Palacio. Myself, Rachel McCrum (performance poet and co-founder of Stewed Rhubarb Press) and Scottish Book Trust guest host Sasha de Buyl discuss ‘Wonder’ on the podcast. Read more about it and listen to the podcast on the Scottish Book Trust blog.

Subscribe to Scottish Book Trust’s Reading Podcasts in iTunes

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Education, Events, Media, Writing

 

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Reader in Residence

Just a quick post to say I’ve started a new job as a Scottish Book Trust Reader in Residence at Leith Library, I’m really excited about it.

I’ve written about what the new job involves and how it came about on the Edinburgh City Libraries blog here.

Part of my residency includes creating a new Leith Library Blog – the first few posts are here. I really hope you enjoy them.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Education, Writing

 

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Bernard MacLaverty gives you permission to write badly

The Scottish Book Trust and BBC Scotland are collecting stories about our favourite Scottish places. They’re looking for diary entries, stories, poems, letters, song lyrics or a short scene from a play.

This national campaign to get us writing includes free writing workshops with internationally renowned authors, what a rare and wonderful thing?! I booked onto the first free workshop at North Edinburgh Arts with Bernard MacLaverty.

I enjoyed the workshop. Bernard spent time getting to know us and reading examples from his novels. He also had some great advice…

Bernard’s Top Tips:

Start by saying “today I give myself permission to write badly”. If you try to write a masterpiece it’s hard to write anything at all. If you give yourself permission to write badly it’s easy to write and you never know, a masterpiece might come somewhere along the way.

Write to show and not tell. You could write ‘Mary was in love with the boy next door’, that’s telling. But to show would be to say ‘Mary waited by the curtains looking at the red door as it opened…’ and so on.

When I work with teenagers they all want to write something that astounds you, something to change the world but actually I just want them to tell me about their Granny or a place or something someone said.

Our Task

Bernard had planned to get us to write a postcard from a favourite place.  Beginners are encouraged to go to these workshops but since but we were all professional writers he set us a different task. We had to describe a room from childhood using the five senses and in the third person. A show and not tell exercise.

We had just ten minutes to write it and I gave myself permission to write badly. Here’s what I wrote:

She swept the smooth wooden floor of the caravan with her socks, sliding and sweeping. More fun than a broom, not conventional sweeping. This was dangerous. One slide too far and you’re on the floor. She perfected the motion, sweeping the dust of last night’s fire, of today’s food. Up and down and around and back. Up and down and around and back. Sweeping it into a small, fluffy pile. She took a dust pan and swept it up. There wasn’t a bin so she found a bag and tipped it all in.

We read our paragraphs to Bernard and the rest of the group for feedback. Here’s what people said about my paragraph:

  • It pinged a memory and is likely to do so with others (Bernard talked about how he used to polish the floor with his socks as a child)
  • I think someone is about to come to the caravan or something is about to happen, there’s suspense building, it’s exciting…
  • It seems to be a short story already, keep going and make it into one
  • It reminds me of a description from Hemingway about a fish (but it wasn’t really about a fish) is this really about sweeping?
  • What was she avioding? What was coming next? What was she really thinnking?
  • The repeated phrase worked because it showed the repetative nature of the task

I’d strayed a little from the brief, earlier in the workshop I’d been thinking about Skye as a favourite place. It’s unbelievably beautiful and was somewhere I stayed earlier this year. Here’s a picture I took on a bike ride with my mobile:

When asked to describe a room from childhood I didn’t really want to leave the beautiful island in my imagination and so I described where I stayed on Skye instead. The rest of the group didn’t know that when I read my paragraph.

The best thing about the workshop was it made me want to write. I had loads of ideas and was poised with my pen raring to go while the task was being discussed. I think that’s what these workshops are all about, meeting great people, being inspired and putting pen to paper.

Do you have a favourite place? Book onto a my favourite place writing workshop here. Read about other peoples favourite places here. The closing date to submit your writing is 31st August, submit it here.

The Scottish Book Trust loved this blog post so they reposted it on their blog here.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Events, Writing

 

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The CBBC Lab: It Begins

Yesterday I had an exciting email, it was the schedule for the CBBC Lab. Tomorrow I go to BBC Scotland in Glasgow for day one of a training course that could change my life. Here’s how it was advertised:

Are you interested in writing for television? Would you like to write for six to twelve year olds?

Scottish Book Trust is working with the BBC on a CBBC Lab which will help you to develop your writing for a young audience. As well as providing nuts and bolts industry advice, sessions will include brainstorming original ideas, writing proposals and making a pitch.

Read more about the course on the Scottish Book Trust Website.

Every Friday in March I attend a day of training and get set a related homework task e.g. writing a programme synopsis or a script. The following week we get constructive feedback on our homework and throughout the course we develop and pitch our ideas to the people who can make them into a reality, it really is exciting!

To apply for the CBBC Lab you had to demonstrate your commitment to a career in writing and a genuine interest in writing for a young audience. I had to submit:

  • a writers CV
  • a sample of writing
  • a statement as to why I wanted to be part of the lab

In 2010 I took part in a similar course, the CBeebies Lab and loved it. I wrote a bit about it in my application statement, here are the first four paragraphs:

I am committed to writing inspiring and entertaining content for young audiences.

I have been presenting and writing workshops, science theatre and educational resources for primary school children for the last seven years. I am a storyteller with a Masters in Communicating Science, currently working as a freelance writer and producer. The CBBC Lab is a wonderful opportunity to bring my skills together.

In 2010 I participated in the CBeebies Writers Lab. The course had a profound impact on my future, confirming my desire to work in children’s television and giving me the confidence to believe in myself.

My original programme idea XXXXXXX* was taken into development following the course. I then worked as a writer and presenter to film a pilot with BBC Scotland. It was challenging, exciting, hard work and extremely fulfilling. I still can’t quite believe it happened. I’m so excited there is another opportunity to train to write for a new audience with the BBC.

The rest of the statement included the projects I’m working on now, shows and workshops I’ve written for 6 – 12 years olds and references to my favourite TV programmes / books aimed at 6 – 12 year olds.

I was thrilled to bits to hear I’d got into the CBBC lab. Right now I can’t wait to start learning, to get writing and to meet all the other participants!

*Name removed because my programme is a live project, shhhhhh, it’s a bit secret!

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Events, Media, Writing

 

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Banana me beautiful: Launched

Pic Greg Macvean, 11/07/2011, Emily Dodd launches her e-book Banana Me Beautiful TSPL

Bloggers, bakers and poetry makers came bearing gifts of banana cake and compostable cups to the Leith Agency barge for the launch of my first book, Banana me beautiful. Thank you to the 80 guests who made last night such an enjoyable occasion. Here are some ace reviews from Helen Caldwell, Susanne Mueller (Innertubemap), Juliet Wilson (Crafty Green Poet), Ali George (12 Books 12 Months) and Ruth Dawkins (Dorky Mum). There are photos from event here and here.

These are my most memorable moments from the evening (now etched upon my memory with a smile):

  • Monkey cakes
  • Sara Sheridan asking the moon to come down for tea (in Owl’s voice)
  • Drew Murphy’s acoustic set
  • Horse noises from the audience
  • Juliet Wilson saying “de-light”
  • The questions in the Q and A
  • Young Dawkins the 3rd hopping like a starling
  • Chatting to Elspeth Murray on the signing coach
  • Alison MacKintosh squeezing the puffin
  • Meeting so many lovely people
  • Looking into the audience, and seeing so many smiles

Here’s a collective story of the event as told through social media, the guests tell it best. Click on the links below to view the photos [view the story on Storify]

  1. Tonight in literary Edinburgh – @auntyemily launches her book Banana Me Beautiful t.co/IdMIErW
    July 11, 2011 6:14:57 AM EDT
  2. Just finished a full run through (in my jammies) IT’S TONIGHT! Argghhh! (: t.co/Vnep1Xn #Bananamebeautiful
    July 11, 2011 7:23:06 AM EDT
  3. @auntyemily Well as long as you don’t wear your PJs tonight I’m sure you’ll be fine! All the best for the launch, have fun!
    July 11, 2011 7:28:16 AM EDT
  4. Looking forward to @auntyemily book launch tonight! #Bananamebeautiful
    July 11, 2011 7:11:39 AM EDT
  5. .@auntyemily launches her book Banana Me Beautiful on a barge on #waterofleith tonight! t.co/5govsQf
    July 11, 2011 2:36:33 AM EDT
  6. Tiny bananas the size of your fingers vrs big bananas! (Gifts at banana me beautiful, launch tomorrow) t.co/rEkx4TY
    July 10, 2011 8:39:48 AM EDT
  7. “@victoriaraimes: Banana me beautiful: The book and the boat: t.co/LaW23Xc” looking forwards to it – well done @auntyemily & thanks!
    July 11, 2011 10:04:09 AM EDT
  8. Looking forward to @auntyemily #book reading tonight- #Bananamebeautiful ! Also excited for banana treats! t.co/5NacYbu
    July 11, 2011 4:53:02 AM EDT
  9. @auntyemily Have a fabulous time tomorrow, Emily!!! Will b with u in spirit :-))
    July 10, 2011 9:07:00 AM EDT
  10. Pleased to have 2 of the hottest tickets in town tonight.. The launch of @auntyemily book Banana Me Beautiful…
    July 11, 2011 10:14:29 AM EDT
  11. Congratulations to my very talented friend @auntyemily and good luck for your book launch tonight. I’m looking forward to reading your book!
    July 11, 2011 10:36:43 AM EDT
  12. Lovely friends came to visit with a knitted banana! (Meet Maz & wee Poppy) t.co/kQWlmUx t.co/r90BdbF
    July 10, 2011 11:14:56 AM EDT
  13. Good luck to @AuntyEmily and her book launch tonight. Here’s our feature on her and the book bit.ly/qopMfx
    July 11, 2011 12:21:23 PM EDT
  14. On my way 2 @auntyemily book launch with @vegware cups in my bag. Sun is shining 4 Emily & her guests. Let the banana night begin 🙂
    July 11, 2011 12:58:15 PM EDT
  15. Looking forward to @auntyemily’s Book launch – on a boat!
    July 11, 2011 1:41:39 PM EDT
  16. Pottering to Leith for launch of @auntyemily’s Banana Me Beautiful, which is on a boat. And is banana-themed. (Launch, not boat. I think.)
    July 11, 2011 1:08:42 PM EDT
  17. Tricky physics problem; how to transport banana muffins by bike to boat for @auntyemily ‘s book launch. Hmmmm
    July 11, 2011 1:52:46 PM EDT
  18. A bright book launch on a Leith boat for @auntyemily, w readings from Young Dawkins, @sarasheridan & @craftygreenpoet t.co/847pxdP
    July 11, 2011 4:57:05 PM EDT
  19. Monkeycake tastiness!!! @auntyemily t.co/TIbmRBx
    July 11, 2011 2:32:23 PM EDT
  20. @auntyemily giving a plug to @thespurtle – “Alan is really funny” – & so say all of us!!! #bananamebeautiful t.co/EmUlpvq
    July 11, 2011 3:21:07 PM EDT
  21. life-affirming stuff from @auntyemily tonight *does horse impression* – good luck with the book and thank you for the lovely poems and CAKE!
    July 11, 2011 6:49:42 PM EDT
  22. @auntyemily entertaining me & @allytibbitt with her song/horse impression.. If you have a kindle buy Banana Me Beautiful t.co/Euz5CFc
    July 11, 2011 3:21:59 PM EDT
  23. Great @auntyemily #BananaMeBeautiful book launch tonight! Emily handing over to @craftygreenpoet: http://yfrog.com/kfi3yglj
    July 11, 2011 6:40:38 PM EDT
  24. @wolct reading a poem by @auntyemily at #bananamebeautiful on energy saving lightbulbs…?!? t.co/jQIpnDX
    July 11, 2011 3:28:26 PM EDT
  25. @auntyemily book launch is amazing. Most fun book launch ever. twitgoo.com/2iw6e8
    July 11, 2011 4:12:33 PM EDT
  26. Now we’re talking… @auntyemily giving a poem about the emergency cord in the disabled toilet… #bananamebeautiful t.co/gPmULjX
    July 11, 2011 3:24:46 PM EDT
  27. @auntyemily teaching us to be the oak tree we were meant to be… #bananamebeautiful t.co/p9MxNG6
    July 11, 2011 3:31:15 PM EDT
  28. Happy days @auntyemily rocked tonight at the launch of her new book #bananamebeautiful such a talented, funny, beautiful and cool lady
    July 11, 2011 6:06:22 PM EDT
  29. View from the Mary de Guise for @auntyemily’s book launch http://instagr.am/p/HdpLw/
    July 11, 2011 6:22:35 PM EDT
  30. @auntyemily Great to be at your #BananaMeBeautiful launch. I love your work and felt blessed to be on your banana boat 🙂
    July 11, 2011 6:49:21 PM EDT
  31. Home after a lovely night at @auntyemily’s booklaunch. Met lots of pals from beatblogging days. Everyone asking “what next?” Who knows!
    July 11, 2011 7:21:27 PM EDT
  32. Congrats to @auntyemily for a very fun launch last night (on a boat with cake!) and lovely to see so many twitter faces there too. Sx
    July 12, 2011 3:03:45 AM EDT
  33. Review of the launch of Banana Me Beautiful by @auntyemily (also mentions @sarasheridan) t.co/9hDsxd8
    July 12, 2011 4:08:34 AM EDT
  34. Very much enjoyed the wonderful Leith launch last night for @auntyemily’s #BananaMeBeautiful
    July 12, 2011 6:09:02 AM EDT
  35. @auntyemily Hardly spoke to you last night, but the talk was great, especially your horse impression. We should meet up for a coffee soon.
    July 12, 2011 5:12:34 AM EDT
  36. Great night seeing DorkyDad, @craftygreenpoet & @sarasheridan reading at the launch of @auntyemily’s book last night! On a boat, no less 🙂
    July 12, 2011 4:17:44 AM EDT
  37. Super lovely launch for @auntyemily’s Banana Me Beautiful on Leith’s sunny shore last night. Nice to see old pals & meet new ones.
    July 12, 2011 6:02:39 AM EDT
  38. @auntyemily lovely to be at your launch last night, it was a very entertaining evening! Thanks for inviting me to be a part of it!
    July 12, 2011 4:12:42 AM EDT
  39. congrats to @auntyemily on exciting launch of #bananamebeautiful last night! am now much better informed about #puffins.
    July 12, 2011 6:20:43 AM EDT
  40. In today’s @edinburghpaper picture highlights: @auntyemily’s book launch is on page 6 whilst a pantomime horse prances around page 2
    July 12, 2011 7:34:08 AM EDT
  41. What made @auntyemily’s book launch rock: a boat, bananas, puffins, strangers, friends, honesty, talent, unpretentiousness, horses, humour.
    July 12, 2011 8:28:45 AM EDT
  42. Thank you all do much for coming & for all the lovely messages & photos, so good to share the evening with you! X #bananamebeautiful
    July 11, 2011 7:31:06 PM EDT

I wanted to extend the thank you speech I gave at the launch so

THANK YOU TO…

The Leith Agency for providing a top venue (a boat!), wonderful readers (and top authors) Young Dawkins the 3rd, Sara Sheridan and Juliet Wilson, Alison MacKintosh for opening the evening with a spectacular speech,
Edd McCracken for hosting the Q and A so eloquently, Vegware for providing compostable cups and my Mum and Dad for providing wine to go in them. Drew Murphy for his brilliant acoustic music on the night, Hamish Hibbert for taking top photos (see Banana me beautiful facebook), Lindon at Mosko Hairdressing who cut my hair for the evening and provided half price vouchers for guests at the launch (if you got one, fill in my details at the bottom).

All the folks who’ve helped to promote the book in the build up to the launch. Here’s links to some of the coverage: Edinburgh SpotlightEdinburgh ReporterSTV localEdinburgh City of LiteratureScottish Book TrustGreenerleith and the Edinburgh Evening News. If I’ve missed any, send them to me, I’ll add them.

Lastly, to all the friends who baked banana cakes and to everyone else who came along or supported me from afar.

Read more about the launch on my blog here and why I wrote the book hereRead more about me hereBuy the book here.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2011 in Banana me beautiful, Events, Writing

 

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Banana me beautiful: Spotlight, space and John Muir

In three days I launch my first book. I wouldn’t belive it but there are two big boxes of ‘Banana me beautiful’ merchandise in the middle of my lounge, intent on tripping me up and continually reminding me, IT IS REAL. I’m going public with my life and I’m afraid. An encouraging quote on the Scottish Book Trust for writers Facebook wall helped me to feel better:

‎And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

Today I watched Atlantis launch into space live on NASA TV, it was wonderful. I thought about how small the world is, you can’t help but notice it four minuets after take off – the Earth is a ball in space. But also, watching something live from America makes the world seem small too. The internet beams signals up to space and back, I couldn’t help but think that someone on the other side of the world could be reading the Edinburgh Spotlight feature that came out today and bam, my book has traveled round the world via space too.

Today I had a message from Jeffry Koterba. He draws the most amazing cartoons. He’s a multitalented man and he wants to talk to me about Banana me beautiful. I’m astounded 1) that he’d want to talk to me and 2) the world really is that tiny place, connected through space.

Today I was astounded by floods in Edinburgh, sometimes things you don’t expect just happen.

Last weekend I was fortunate to attend a John Muir Art Eco Lab. John Muir didn’t see the Earth from space but without seeing it, he got it. He shines the most magnificent spotlight on our wee planet:

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with islands and continents, flying through space with all the other stars, all singing and shining together as one, the whole Universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere. The dew is never dried all at once. A shower is forever falling; Vapour forever rising. Eternal sunrise, Eternal sunset, Eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn as the round Earth rolls.

 
 

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