Saturday, May 21, 2016

Read and Draw with Korky Paul!

On Saturday June 4 at 2pm, illustrator Korky Paul returns to Mostly Books as part of our tenth birthday celebrations.

Energetic, interactive and enormous fun, Korky will be welcoming you to the wonderful world of Winnie the Witch in a special interactive workshop for children 'Read and Draw with Korky Paul!'.

In this fast-paced, fun-filled reading aloud workshop Korky demonstrates how to draw for children that is colourful, witty, energetic, and animated.

Korky - the World's Greatest Portrait Artist -
in the Mostly Books Courtyard Garden!
Korky manages to bring home the point that writing, reading, and drawing are things that are inherently meant to be fun. Korky's spontaneity, energy and unaffected manner of drawing shows young artists that every smudge, every line can be transformed into something weird and wonderful.

Magical things always happen when Korky puts his pens and paints to paper! We should know because Korky has weaved his magic in the Mostly Books garden on several occasions. It’s a brilliant and inspiring experience for children - don't miss it!

Known only to himself as ’The World’s Greatest Portrait Artist and Dinosaur Drawer’ Korky MAY just have time to draw ‘Perfect Dinosaur Portraits’ for you to take home. Winnie The Witch will be there, and every child will be issued a ‘Magic Number’ ticket, and have a chance of being drawn from a hat for a special drawing...

We have limited space for this event (in the courtyard garden, weather permitting) so please email to reserve your place.

This event will be suitable for children aged 5-11 (please let us know the age of your child when you book) and tickets are £6 (with £2 off any Korky Paul purchase on the day). Accompanying adults will need a ticket too as space is limited.

The event takes place on Saturday, June 4 at 2pm. Korky will then be signing in the shop at 3pm.

We look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown: an evening with Vaseem Khan

There’s nothing like a hot and vibrant setting for a fun crime-caper that makes perfect summer reading. And if it's set in the extraordinary and colourful city of Mumbai, even better.

So we're hoping that the heat will have well and truly risen ahead of Monday 23 May, when we welcome hot new crime fiction author Vaseem Khan to Mostly Books to talk about ‘The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown’.

Vassem’s debut ‘The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra’ was one of the biggest crime fiction debuts of last year and became a bestseller. It introduced us to retired police inspector Ashwin Chopra (and his slightly grumpy baby elephant, Ganesha).

When Inspector Chopra has to retire from the police, he sets up a restaurant. But soon his reputation as a policeman of integrity leads to demands for him to take on cases of his own and he founds his own private detective agency.

In the just-published second title, ‘The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown’ Inspector Chopra has to put aside some of his regular jobs (following missing or misbehaving husbands and the case of the elite school where he has been called in to discreetly sort out cheating), because the city is in crisis. The world’s most valuable diamond is stolen from under the noses of the police when the British Crown Jewels make a visit to India.

And when Inspector Chopra’s former colleague is accused of the crime, he knows enough of the country’s police system to know he will be leaving his friend to the brutalities of a life in jail if he cannot find how the brilliantly clever and well-executed theft was brought off.

Can he stay one step ahead of a clever jewel thief? And can he do it while still running his restaurant and not letting his mother-in-law take over and upset all the staff? And with his easy relationship with his former colleagues curtailed by the shock arrival of a senior female boss...

He will probably do it with some help and inspiration from his pet elephant, Ganesha, who was mysteriously left to him by an uncle.

Here is what Nicki had to say about the book:

As well as a likeable detective with a colourful home life and a passion for justice, this series bring the rich world of modern India to life with all its corruption, incredible poverty and wealth, side by side, all being swept along by massive social change. Good contemporary crime fiction gives a great platform to take a subtle look at society and the current issues that concern us.

Vaseem Khan is ideally placed to write a crime story set in modern-day India where youngsters increasingly look to the west for their views on culture and drive their ideas of careers and where wealth often means you can escape justice.

Vaseem was born in Britain to parents who had emigrated to Britain from Pakistan and who were not best pleased when he decided to seek a career in India. But he returned to London and works at the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London managing research projects into crime science.

The series bears comparison to the hugely successful and popular ‘No 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ – and anyone who warms to crimes in sunnier climes rather than the Nordic chillers, will find plenty to intrigue and enjoy.

Vaseem will be in conversation with Mark Thornton at Mostly Books on Monday, May 23 at 7pm. Tickets are £4, and refreshments will feature a definite Indian theme. Email to reserve your ticket for what we hope will be an entertaining evening with a bright new writing talent.

Friday, May 13, 2016

All children can and should read! Barrington Stoke, Anthony McGowan and an evening spent cracking reading

Last Thursday we spent a wonderful day in the company of Mairi Kidd, MD of publisher Barrington Stoke, and Anthony McGowan, award-winning author of many books including 'Brock' and 'Pike'.
Anthony spoke to students from Larkmead School and Thameside School in the afternoon - and in the evening we welcomed teachers and parents to the Larkmead LRC to discover how they can help their children to 'crack' reading.

It was an inspirational evening, one brought alive by Mairi's passion, enthusiasm and courage in the face of the mass of traditionally published children's books which often let down swathes of children by erecting unnecessary barriers to the way words get into a child's brain.

Mairi started off explaining how children read, and then used examples of both the good and the bad in children's books. 

Ultimately it was a plea for diversity in publishing, and to give all children the chance to discover books which allow them enter the world of storytelling off the page - something that has proven benefits in everything from improved maths skills, to reducing stress and improving wellbeing.

Anthony spoke about his route to becoming a writer, reading the opening extract of his novel 'Pike' and talking about the nature of inclusive stories, and the importance of stories to convey 'truth' not necessarily fact.

We made notes on the top issues that would open the door to more children reading for pleasure. This list wasn't exclusive:

1. Books themselves can be the problem. The publishing industry in general does not always think about being inclusive and how making even small changes to how books are presented would actually expanding the pool of readers.

2. Around 7-10% of people are dyslexic and will have physical, neurological reasons why they find reading books difficult.  Small changes, mostly to the way text is traditionally presented on the page would actually remove most of these barriers and make these people able to read books more easily, eg using a font where you can tell the difference between letters (eg a capital I and the letter l looks identical in some fonts).

3. The way children learn to read is often driven by getting them to recognise particular words, or phonics sounds, repeating the same sounds without there being any sense to the sentence, any story worth reading or any point or enjoyment to what is being read. Children can quickly not see the point of reading, particularly children who don’t have books at home or have role models of adults who see reading as enjoyable.

4. Having picture content is viewed as being for young children, yet the internet is full of adults sharing images. If adults find images such good ways of communicating, why do so few books use images?

5. Books are often written in a particular literary style which does not reflect the way people speak. It is more difficult for children to decode meaning. It can take a while to work out what a sentence means. When we speak, we tend to use subject, object and verb in a logical order, but this isn’t always reflected in books.

6. Reading for pleasure should be about magazines, comics, even audio books – anything that opens a door to taking pleasure in the written word or in stories.

7. There seems to be a perception that as teenagers get older, they want longer books. But the teenage years are often where there is most study pressure and competition from other areas of life and many stop reading altogether. Shorter books can help.

8. There is a prejudice against short books – very few ever make it onto prize lists. Yet research has shown that teenage boys would most like to read books of 100 pages or less. So this is the norm, yet almost no books this short are published.

9. We have a thriving publishing sector for young adult fiction, but figures show that 80% of YA of this is bought by adults. So why do we congratulate ourselves on publishing marvellous fiction for teenagers?

10. Everyone can feel daunted by the challenge of reading. One of the barriers to reading for pleasure is fear of failure. It’s a bit like if an adult wants to be recommended a good book to read and is presented with ‘War and Peace’. People’s perceptions of the value of a good book are very different. It is also easy to ‘dumb down’ to reluctant readers and think they will only read books about football or simple topics.

On the Barrington Stoke website, you can read 'Mairi's 10 Laws' which include a suggestion that we think is absolutely fantastic - a National Reading Day. A day to go to work and school as normal, but one where everyone puts their feet up and reads for the whole day. We know several teachers who would love to do this at their schools - so I reckon we should try to make it happen.

Mairi suggests calling it 'Terry Pratchett Day' and we wouldn't disagree with that either...

We have always been very proud of our association with Barrington Stoke, so if you have any concerns about your children reading - whatever their age and ability - please come in and ask our advice.

We always say 'one mountain, many paths' (which we may have cribbed from someone else!) as far as reading goes, and this isn't a one-shot deal to 'solve' your child's reading issues. It's definitely a journey, there may be a few false starts, but we know that there are books out there that can really open the door to reading - and Barrington Stoke titles (written as they are by many of our most well-known children's authors) is a great place to start.

Thanks to Linda Stone at the Larkmead LRC for doing such a fabulous job of hosting the event, and also to Sally Poyton who helped with the author event in the afternoon - and ran the bookstall for us in the evening.

Having an author to ourselves for most of the day was also a bit of a luxury, so we managed to ask Mr McGowan a few questions about his writing life, and any tips he might have had...

Five questions with . . . Anthony McGowan's writing life

1.    What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a teenage horror/Sci-fi mash-up called "The Wrath" (working title!) set in the future. It centres on a school in a desolate, barely-functioning town, and specifically in an exclusion unit within the school. When a train accident involving a battlefield chemical agent spills into the schools, it turns out the kids in the unit - by way of a medication they have been taking - are unaffected. I like to think it's horror in the way that Stephen King writes horror, aside from the idea and setting, what drives the story forward is following the individual characters that you invest in. I'm also hoping there will be a 'Battle Royale' feel to it (the Japanese novel some cite as an influence on The Hunger Games).

2.    What is the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?

I wasn't really given any writing tips as such starting out - I just started writing and made loads of mistakes along the way. But the one thing I did do is read a lot, so I guess I passively absorbed a lot of great writing. After that it's just trial and error as you find your own writing style.

3.    What’s the best thing and the worst thing about being a children’s writer?

When you are writing for teens, you are writing for readers who are at the most intense phase of their life - their friends represent the strongest friendships they will ever have, they have enemies that want to do them actual harm. But above all they are incredibly open to ideas, which means they will go with you on whatever direction you want with the story. They are open to challenging - and sometimes upsetting - subject matter in a way that isn't the case once you get into your 20s. I've talked to students who have walked out because of the subject matter in my books, but teens would never do that.

4.    Do you have a writer’s survival kit, eg a place, thing or snack essential before you can start work?

I have a study - the smallest, ugliest room in the house with a window you can't really see out of. And that's where I write, because it's the room with the least distractions. But sometimes I want a place which is a bit more 'active' and I head to the British Library. It's only a half hour bike ride away, but it feels like I'm definitely heading out to work like a proper job (rather than sitting at my desk in my pyjamas!)

5.    What was your biggest breakthrough?

That's a really interesting question (*think hard*). I did a PhD, and that required me to write 100,000 words, and actually *finish* something, so I knew I was capable of writing a physical book. I then found myself working in a pretty dull job, and one day I had an idea for a story, and I started writing it down, and the words just flowed out. So I knew I could *write* (getting the words out and down) but I think - creatively - the breakthrough was when I realised that what I was writing was funny, and then I showed it to someone, and they thought it was funny. If you can use humour, you know you can engage the reader. That book went on to be 'Hellbent' my first novel.

(Much more about Anthony McGowan on his website here)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time with Noël Janis-Norton

In the past she's come to Abingdon and given fantastic advice on parenting and homework. But we are excited to welcome back Noël Janis-Norton, who is coming to John Mason School to talk about children and ‘Screen Time’.

The most frequent question Noël is asked is how to limit and manage screen time. Parents know their children become aggressive and stressed after prolonged time on an electronic device - whether phone, XBox or TV - and they know that it limits their child's willingness to do other activities - yet they struggle to find ways to deal with it.

Noël is a real inspiration and has just so much wisdom and experience in dealing with children of all ages. She will be at John Mason School on Thursday, May 12 at 6pm to discuss her proven techniques to help parents in this complex area.

In 'Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time' she uses the latest scientific research to show just how addictive the digital world can be for the developing brain. She'll also use calmer, easier, happier techniques to help parents wean their children and teenagers away from their electronic devices, to limit and guide their screen time in a positive way and, feel parents are more in charge of this challenging area of modern life.

This event is free, but space is limited - so please email us to reserve a place if you want to come. For anyone who has seen Noël speak before, she's a quietly engaging and inspiring speaker. 

And if you know anyone who you feel would benefit from practical advice – let them know!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Just Read! Help your child become a keener reader with Barrington Stoke

We know that reading opens doors, engages the imagination, builds confidence and stimulates curiosity. But that doesn't mean the path to reading success is a smooth one.

Parents want to help their children develop the skills of reading, yet many are unsure of how best to support their child, and help them overcome barriers to reading.

We've got together with Larkmead School and would love to invite you to an evening with a specialist publisher for more reluctant readers, Barrington Stoke. They will reveal tips, simple strategies and target books that are proven to help support your child and give them the opportunities to become more successful readers.

Mairi Kidd
Barrington Stoke specialises in publishing super-readable children’s books that break down the barriers that can stop kids getting into reading.

Barrington Stoke MD Mairi Kidd will be joined by bestselling author Anthony McGowan to discuss ways of removing barriers to reading, and helping parents to take confident steps to turn reluctant readers into keener readers.

Anthony McGowan
There will be a chance to ask questions, and browse books from Barrington Stoke from some of their most famous authors, including Michael Morpurgo, Tom Palmer, Chris Bradford, Malorie Blackman, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Julia Donaldson, Alexander McCall Smith and Chris Riddell.

The event takes place at 6.45pm on Thursday, May 5 in the LRC at Larkmead School. The event is free and there will be refreshments available. We really hope you can come – particularly if you’re looking for ideas to encourage reading.

If you would like to come along, please email us as soon as possible to let us know you will be attending.

All children can develop their reading skills, and read to succeed. We hope you can join us!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Not of an age, but for all time: Shakespeare Saturday at Mostly Books

His language is at times impenetrable, yet all of us know huge chunks of it off by heart. He can cause teenagers to groan in the classroom, yet set those same adolescent imaginations on fire with tales of jealousy, love and revenge. He’s as recognisable as Albert Einstein, yet we’re not entirely certain what he looked like or what he did for large parts of his life.

There is a whiff of the paradox about Shakespeare. Condemned in his own time for mixing tragedy and comedy, he eventually triumphed to become the ultimate playwright, the third most translated author of all time, and whose stories have seemingly become encoded into the DNA of our greatest literature for centuries.

What is it about William Shakespeare? What makes him the ultimate Elizabethan Bard-ass? Just what is it that makes him so special? Ahead of a weekend of bookshop celebrations both here and around the world a few clues can be found amongst the many books recently published which look at everything from Shakespeare's skill as a writer, to the murky world in which he lived.

Michael Rosen asks ‘What’s so Special About Shakespeare?’ and it's a wonderfully engaging, brilliant introduction to Shakespeare.

Rosen has always been able to look at subjects through the eyes of a child, and with his usual wit, wordsmithery and deep passion for language he answers questions such as 'What do we actually know about Shakespeare' and 'how did he become so famous?' (something a child asked us this week in the shop).

It’s a cracking route into Shakespeare’s world, and the next time someone asks 'What's so special about Shakespeare' you can answer "there's a book for that"...

(And you can listen to Michael enthuse about Shakespeare here)

Another really imaginative route into some of Shakespeare's plays is offered by the wacky and wonderful Pamela Butchart in 'To Wee or Not To Wee'. We love Butchart's school mysteries such as 'Attack of the Demon Dinner Ladies', and again features illustrations with Thomas Flintham.

It features the star of those books (Izzy) whose passion and enthusiasm for Shakespeare (particularly the gruesome bits) spills over into a retelling of four of Shakespeare's most well-known plays to her school friends. It's a really effective and fun device, and we reckon a superb introduction to Shakespeare to young readers 8+

'Shakespeare in Love' may have taken him off his academic pedestal and brought him imaginatively to life, but for a decade now James Shapiro has been quietly fleshing out the real-life Shakespeare, arguing convincingly that it is impossible to understand Shakespeare’s work without understanding the world in which he lived in – one of conspiracy, political intrigue and the ever-present dangers of the Elizabethan world.

His books are as dramatic as Shakespeare's plays (his book '1599' opens with Shakespeare’s actors dismantling a theatre and carrying it across the Thames in a dispute about money), but his latest book '1606 : Shakespeare and the Year of Lear' starts seven years later, the year in which Shakespeare shakes off worries, uncertainty, set-backs and a feverish political atmosphere to write 'King Lear'.

Obviously there's a huge number books about Shakespeare and his legacy, but what about a book written *by* Shakespeare? Aside from getting hold of one of his sonnets or plays (or better still, going to see a production) we recommend 'The Globe Guide to Shakespeare' by Andrew Dickson and published by Profile Books.

It's ultimate guide to his life and work, with full coverage of the 39 plays, including a synopsis, full character list, stage history and a critical essay for each. Use it as a quick reference before nipping off to a play - or a comprehensive primer for theatre goers, students, film buffs and lovers of literature.

You might feel Shakespeare is a bit highfalutin, pretentious and, well, not for you - but for many years he was claimed as a symbol of working-class struggle and revolution. And in 'Shakespeare on Toast' actor, producer and director Ben Crystal knocks the stuffing from the staid old myths of the Bard, revealing the man and his plays for what they really are: modern, thrilling, uplifting drama. The bright words and colourful characters of the greatest hack writer are brought brilliantly to life, sweeping cobwebs from the Bard - his language, his life, his world, his sounds, his craft. Find yourself uplifted and entertained (some Shakespeare would have wholeheartedly approved of!)

Finally, can you ever write like Shakespeare? Mark Forsyth thinks you can. The beginning of his book ‘The Elements of Eloquence’ begins with the words ‘Shakespeare was not a genius’ (controversial stuff). But he shows how Shakespeare sat with tudor history books on one side, and rewrote huge passages using rhetorical devices to make the language sing. Good artists copy, great artists steal – and according to Ben Johnson (England’s the second-greatest playwright) “Shakespeare wanted art”.

So we have some art that you can show off to your friends. To celebrate Shakespeare Saturday, we have some exclusive limited edition tote bags with the ‘The Bard is my Bag’ in glorious orange. 

Yours if you spend £20 or greater on Saturday, strictly on a first come, first served basis.

400 years after his death, the genius tag is firmly stuck. Shakespeare’s plays are performed more than ever, in more places than ever. Many of our favourite authors continue to revisit their favourite plays, having been profoundly affected by them when young. Jeanette Winterson's 'The Gap In Time' is a retelling of 'The Winter's Tale' and Howard Jacobson has retold 'The Merchant's Tale' in 'Shylock Is My Name'.

But our final recommendation is Malorie Blackman's 'Chasing The Stars'. Othello was the book that first inspired her, and although set deep in space, with Othello recast as a teenage girl, it’s Shakespeare through and through.

Shakespeare in space – who’d have thought it?

Well, in 1964, during the world’s first three-man spaceshot by the Soviet Union, the Chief Designer, Sergei Korolev, radioed to Vladimir Komarov that he should terminate the mission immediately. Unbeknown to the crew, there had been a coup and Kruschev had been deposed. Korolev wasn’t allowed to reveal what had happened, but he had to get the men back on the ground. They were reluctant - the mission was going well.

Korolev thinks for a moment, then quotes Hamlet, Scene V:

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
  And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come,

There is a moment’s silence. The words of an English playwright, at the height of the Cold War, transmitted over centuries and through space. Komarov gets the meaning “Pack up boys” he sayd to the crew "it's time to go home".

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Enid Blyton of Murder! Tanya Landman at the Abingdon Joint Author Event

Tanya Landman started off receiving some fantastic career's advice at her school - nurturing, inspirational - which can be summed up as 'if you don't know what you want to do in life, you're doomed!". Luckily for her - and us - she wasn't too freaked out by this mentoring-from-hell experience, and after working in a bookshop, Arts Centre, Bristol Zoo and travelling performer - she became an author.

Her breakthrough book was 'Apache' - shortlisted for the 2008 Carnegie Medal - and the seed of an idea from that book grew, several years later, into 'Buffalo Soldier' which won last year's Carnegie Medal and, quite rightly, elevated Tanya to the Pantheon of contemporary children's authors. It was a huge coup to get her to come to Abingdon, and groups from eight schools in Abingdon came to visit over three sessions.

Tanya is funny, wise and inspirational - and (with the help of a large globe) gave the children a crash course in geo-politics and the history of colonialism in North American. She shared her own journey of understanding of American history, from facts gleaned from the pages of 'Gone with the Wind' and watching Westerns, to the stories of remarkable native americans - and the freed slaves who fought against these brave warriors in the aftermath of the American Civil War.

In her own words she felt that these hidden stories of the American Deep South were "a piece of the jigsaw dropped down the back of the sofa of history" and felt compelled to tell that story.

Along the way, we discovered the real reason Tanya started writing murder mysteries for kids (no spoilers here, but we will say that this story is worth asking Tanya to come to your school all on its own), the inspiration behind the children - and dog - in her Sam Swann books, and why you wouldn't want to be up against her at an award's ceremony...

Tanya enjoys writing about murder (possibly a little too much, according to her publisher). In ‘Mondays are Murder’, her child sleuth Poppy Fields goes on an activity holiday to a remote Scottish island. She is looking forward to a week of climbing, hill-walking and horse riding. But things take a bad turn when their instructor has what appears to be a fatal abseiling accident. When Poppy discovers that his rope was cut, and more of the instructors start to have "accidents", she and best friend Graham suspect foul play and decide to investigate...
Tanya's crash-course in colonialism and
'places not to go if you are
a sailor in the 15th century'...

There are now ten books in the series, so the description of her as the 'Enid Blyton of Murder' may not be too far-fetched...

Tanya also talked about her latest book ‘Hell and High Water’. This is a fantastic book for teens, a thrilling adventure story set against the backdrop of smuggling and conspiracy, and based on research Landman did around the notorious villain Thomas Benson, owner of Lundy Island, corrupt merchant and MP for Barnstaple in the 18th century.

When a body washes up on a beach, Caleb Chappell finds himself involved in a dastardly plot: a plot that places him and his family in mortal danger. With his father falsely accused, it is up to Caleb to save him.

Drawing parallels with modern political corruption, this tells a gripping tale with plot twists galore and strong, believable characters that stay in the memory.

In between sessions, we asked Tanya to tell us a little bit about her writing life...

Five Questions with...Tanya Landman's Writing Life

1.    What are you working on at the moment?
Not telling you!

2.    What is the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
Daydream! Get it all started in your head first, before putting pen to paper. Writing it out is just technique, but you need to get the idea ready in your head. It needs to get you excited – it’s why I didn’t want to tell you about what I’m working on at the moment actually, because I feel if you talk about it too soon when it’s still in your head, you ‘deflate the cake’!

3.    What’s the best thing and the worst thing about being a children’s writer?
Getting out to schools, book events, or the Carnegie Shadowing. It’s incredible how much energy and enthusiasm you encounter. The worst thing? Every author has days when, what you are writing, isn’t just the worst thing you’ve ever written, but the worst rubbish any author has ever written, ever. You have to write through it of course – but those days are really tough.

4.    Do you have a writer’s survival kit, eg a place, thing, or snack essential before you can start work?
Cup of tea!

5.    What was your biggest breakthrough?
With Apache, it was really the moment when an idea was triggered in my head, and my fingers started twitching, and I had an image in my head. This had never really happened before, and was very different to things I had written before.

The Abingdon Joint Author Event has seen some fantastic authors over the years - Caroline LawrenceAlan GibbonsJulia Golding and Marcus Sedgwick - and yesterday's event with Tanya was a splendid addition to this tradition.

As always there is an incredible amount of hard work behind the scenes from the Abingdon school librarians and teachers who accompanied children to and from the event - we honoured to be asked to get involved. We know just how much time, effort and planning goes in to taking children off timetable - but hopefully listening to an inspiring, award-winning author is worth all the effort!

Thanks also to the awesome help from Jo and Sally, and finally, thanks to Tanya for being such an amazingly inspiring speaker, writer (and incidentally passing the Mostly Books "authors-you'd-most-want-to-go-down-the-pub-with' test!)

To discover more about Tanya, come into Mostly Books to discover what she has written - or visit her website to learn more about her writing.