Books: The ‘Undead’ Media

“Printed books have been wrongly declared dead or dying so many times before that I think we can be completely confident of their survival, forever undead.” Lisa Gitelman, What are Books.

 

The book has, in the past few years, evolved beyond expectation and yet remains somewhat behind the idea of the digital age when compared with other forms of entertainment. Because on the surface that is what a book is for – the consumption of content, either fictional or factual, for the purpose of either providing information or for enjoyment. Since various scholars, authors and publishers have had a crack at what they thought about the future of the book, I thought I’d have my say too.
So there are 3 things you need to know before I begin:
    1. The printed book ain’t going nowhere.

 

  • All novels are books, but not all books are novels.
  • Books aren’t undead. They’re alive and kicking.


 

My main concern is not about what is better, the ebook or the physical book, (though if asked, I answer physical book) but the question behind this: Why does it matter? Not only this but what makes the digital vs physical antitheses rather than complementary? And where do audiobooks fit in on this scale?
 
Why should people prescribe to one side of the fence or another? The reason being is that large corporations have no iota of care for the integrity of the book industry. They only want to sell books as vastly, quickly and cheaply as possible. As a result, this means that those who prefer the feel of a hardback cover to slide through fingers as they remove the dust jacket to avoid creasing it will have to pay several pounds extra for the luxury, while those who prefer a digital copy will only have to worry about their screen cracking.
 
In my eyes it is only a matter of time before books do what the visual industry did and combine their sales. ‘Wanna buy a book for a friend? Pay slightly extra and we’ll give you a free ebook copy for yourself!’ Before we know it audio, physical and digital will become the combined sales package, and why not? But will people really want that?
 
If you’re like myself, then you make prefer the physical book. Being able to browse lazily through your shelves until you hear the faint pulse of a hidden gem that you bought several months ago but didn’t have time to read at that moment. But, equally, you may also find the value of having an ebook copy for textual analysis. I buy every single one of my course texts physically, though I can guarantee I’ll be looking for free editions on kindle within a few weeks when I start writing an essay so I can search for keywords.
 
I guess my point is that each medium has its own qualities that make it useful.  I know for a fact if I could buy a book and have the ebook copy included for a slightly higher price, than I would definitely choose that option, knowing I could buy gifts for friends and have to book myself to discuss later. Reading is an equally solitary and communal act, depending on how you choose to partake in the experience.
 
Scholarly retention of information suggests that to have a functioning archive everything must be written down and recorded, though the web through a kink in that. So if we can store all information online, what is the need to rip down trees and print the words again? There is every reason. Backups, upon backups upon backups. Printing is the archaic backup.  Though it would be a great loss to have all digital only books washed from existence at the touch of a button, it would be a far greater loss if we did not have physical backups for scientific innovations and historical events.
 
By no means are books the undead. They are living, functioning and better than ever. Because books don’t just exist on pages. They exist on our computers, in our libraries, and most importantly in our minds. As long as people are reading, why should it matter which medium they decide to do it through?
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Mortality and a Car Crash

Happy new year all. This will be my first post in 2015, sorry it’s not totally book related, I want to branch out this year!
Tonight I find myself blogging about something entirely un-book related.  On Friday 16th Jan night  at roughly 7:30pm, I was driving along and suddenly I felt my body float across the road. My car had skidded on black ice. I felt my car move as if it were my own body; wheels sliding like feet across the ice and the complete loss of physical stability. My fingers powerless at the steering wheel as it turned in one direction while the car glided the other. Everything from that moment instantaneously slows but despite the damage to the car, both I and my boyfriend walked away unscathed.
I keep replaying the moment. What I could have done differently. I could have let me boyfriend drive, but then what’s to say that it wouldn’t have happened anyway. I could have driven slower, but I was already driving way below the speed limit. I could have done a multitude of things but looking back in retrospect isn’t going to disappear the experience or the mounting bill for car repairs. Thankfully the car still worked and was minimally damaged so we spent three hours warmly watching BBC iPlayer while we waited for recovery.
The entire thing left me thinking about mortality and the reality of how anything can happen to anyone at any moment. I’m not trying to up play the incident. Yes – it was terrifying. Yes – I will be driving with a lot more apprehension but I still know there was little I could do with something that I had no control over. And it’s a far better outcome than many people could hope for.

 

But it does make me think about the verisimilitude that comes with the mantra Carpe Diem. Though I will always be a worrier, I’m hoping I’ll worry a little less because I know first-hand that even if you take all the precautions and try to live to the letter not everything is going to work out how you expect. You can be prepared for a wreckage and you may never see one coming, you may get a few dints along the way but ultimately all you can hope for is a smooth ride.
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New Year’s Resolutions of 2013

Happy New Year everybody! Here are my new years resolutions:

Misc:
  • Take more pictures
  • Learn more technical information about photography

Reading:

  • Read 50 Books (5 classics, 5 debuts, 5 of a genre I wouldn’t normally read)
  • Review Every Book I Read  (Blog or Video)

Writing:

  • Write one blog a week
  • Finish my novel
  • Write 5 short stories

Misc:

  • Lose another Stone
  • Draw More
  • Learn to play the guitar

 

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A Community of Writers

Howling Reviews Emma PetfieldLast weekend I experienced something very surreal for me. I never thought at the age of nineteen I would be attending The Brit Writer’s Awards 2012. I would like to start this blog by saying thank you to everyone involved in the organisation of the event because I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I feel so much gratitude to those that invited me and worked to make the event a success.
I was lucky enough to be granted a behind the scenes look at the event arriving slightly earlier than other guests. I filmed some of the preparation from sound checks to last minute dance practices. It was very fun to see everyone rushing around making sure all the last minute details were fixed and, after a slight reception panic, I found myself meeting all of the guests in turn.
This was a pleasant way to start the event because it eased my nerves and everyone was very lovely to meet.
After this, we were all lead into the dining area and I loved the table settings they were simple with a three piece candle set in the centre that reminded my fondly of Lumière from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Everything was pristine and beautifully set out. I was actually sat with Maia Walczak another blogger from this site and you can see her account of the night here.
The event began and people from all ages, cultures and continents joined together in celebrating the craft of writing and what it means to write. The development of writers is key and I discovered just how enabling Brit Writers are as a company but also as a community. Everyone was supportive of the winners. I was just upset that I couldn’t hearany of their work. I’m sure i twill be available at some point.
Winners were presented with opportunities as well as recognition, but in my eyes all of the finalists were winners.
This event was mostly a chance for me to connect with other writers and network because it was the first exposure I’ve had to writing as a profession rather than a hobby. I must say that I was thrilled with the diversity of people I had the opportunity to speak to and I look forward to speaking to again.
Writers are often portrayed as solitary souls in previous centuries and I think that writing has become a tighter community in the past few decades. Especially with the innovation of the internet enabling writers to communicate easily across countries.
I also attended my first creative writing workshop today. I was so nervous because I had never had my writing critiqued in front of strangers before. It’s different when you read a comment on a screen, but I’m so glad I did. The nausea subsided when people started discussing my work in a constructive way and I feel that I came away from the workshop feeling confident and inspired to edit and review my work.
That is something that Brit Writers has created for me. A community.

 

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NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I have only participated in National Novel Writing Month once (which was 2 years ago now) and I did
thoroughly enjoy taking the time to do so. There was a feeling of elation as I hit 50,000 words that
cannot be compared to any other achievement.

For those unaware, NaNoWriMo is a challenge set to people, who may or may not consider
themselves to be writers, to write a novel in 30 day. For the purpose of the challenge, a novel is
distinguished as 50,000 words, which works out at around 1667 words a day.

NaNoWriMo is a good way to break the barriers of writer’s block, not having time or not being
focused enough and I learnt from it that if I really focus on something that I could actually write a
novel if I wanted to. And I do want to.

On the other hand, I do find that NaNoWriMo can give people a sense of false hope, insofar as they
believe having written a novel in 30 days they are publishable. This is highly unlikely. I’ll be the first
to admit that even though NaNoWriMo was a milestone for me and I’m proud to have completed it,
I wouldn’t dare show anyone the novel that I’d written.

I chose to go over my novel a few months ago to see if it was something that I could pick back up,
because I loved the idea and did think that I could produce some good work with it, if I started from
scratch and really worked through the plot. What I didn’t realise was that I had walked into a 17
year old mind with a somewhat dubious grip of complex grammar and even the odd spelling mistake
(even though I’m an English student, I’m far from excellent and I’ll never be a grammarian). It was
quite an experience.

What I can say is that, looking back on my NaNoWriMo novel has helped me to realise how far I have
progressed as a writer in that period of time and that I now have the ability to go over my work and
edit it to a degree that makes me happy. I also wonder if 21 year old me will go back to the novel
again and wonder what on earth the present me was writing, but I’ll have to wait to find out.

I do advise that you try out NaNoWriMo, they run a ‘camp’ all year round if you can’t participate
in November. I think it is a useful for understanding yourself as a writer. It helps you find out what
makes you tick and motivates you to keep going, because having the motivation to write can be just
as important as the words themselves.

‘This post can also be read at Brit Writers

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Let the Bell Toll

The first poem I’ve written in over four months. I didn’t actually mean for the poem to come out as a concrete/visual poem but I guess luck just was in my side of the court. Anyway, I hope you like it and I will be posting a video soon as a Spoken version so keep an eye out!

Let the Bell Toll

Time.
It’s such an odd thing time.
Ever constant, yet ever changing.
And it makes me wonder, if at the chime
Of every hour, we were to think about time.
The origin of the tick tock, the too and fro.
The rhythm that you unconsciously step to and fro
As you walk down the pavement to your destination.
Be it work, school, or the swimming class where the teacher
Tries to get you to do lengths to a clock that spins with such a
Distinct speed that you find yourself watching it complete
A track of its own. Start to finish. Twelve to twelve. 360 degrees.
No matter how you say it, it still accomplishes the same thing.
And that’s the beauty about time you see. You find with ease
That the clock with tell you the truth about your place in all that is.
The clock that sits above your fire place or your chest of drawers.
The grandfather clock that proudly rings with delight at the coming
Of each new hour and with it new opportunities. Striking awe
Into the grandchildren who run down the corridor,
not yet grasping the magnitude
Of his helping hands.

Ciao for now! x

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Spoken Word: How different is it?

I’ve often debated about the concept of spoken word poetry. I’ve watched a few performances over the past year and become more open to the idea. I had never read any of my poetry aloud or even contemplated it. But the other day I finally decided to change that. I recorded my first attempt at spoken word poetry. Granted the video was of a poem I wrote over a year ago, but I felt the poem had a sense of intimacy from the speaker that didn’t translate as well when read. This is the video:


For my first attempt, I’m pretty happy with it. Though I doubt I’ll be going to any open mic nights any time soon. I really enjoyed getting to add my personal touch to the voice of the poem. As a person who studies English and has a particular interest in speech and voice I really enjoyed considering each line and how to enunciate them.

I’m definitely considering doing more spoken word, but mostly to get feedback on what people think of my … I guess you would call it a performance. So if you would like to give me any feedback I would greatly appreciate it.

Some of the major differences I found between writing poetry and attempting to read it aloud were as follows:

1 – Syllables:
I always knew syllables where important to poetry. Finding you’ve managed to remember the difference between iambs, trochees, dactyls and anapaests, can feel like quite the achievement when writing. Sonnets make this feat particularly evident. I especially found this noteworthy when reading aloud because I had set the poem to a structure of 3 stanzas, 22 lines a stanza and 10 syllables in the first stanza decreasing by one syllable each stanza. I thought this came through very well when spoken because the lines became shorter and more intense as the poem continued. This reflected in my speech as I spoke the stanzas progressively faster.

2 – Syntax:
Some of the lines of the poem seemingly flowed well when written such as “That are embedded
forever, n’er to be shredded;
of a lust so blind that it burns
backstabbing like a branch from firs.”
This section of the first stanza I thought read quite well. However, in reality when I spoke this section it seemed quite irregular. A lot of the time poetry does deviate from regular syntax because it creates an interesting and emotive perspective but I felt this section didn’t really work the way I had hoped it would.

3 – Change of Voice:
In the second stanza we hear a couple of lines for the object of the poem. The male past lover. This is a bit more difficult to pick out when you’re speaking because there’s only really two ways you could go about it; change your appearance or voice. I did neither of these because it was only after I uploaded the video that I really noticed this part.

So I’ve decided I’m definitely going to make more of these videos and I’m looking forward to developing my spoken word style as well as start writing some more poetry because its been quite a while now since I wrote a poem. I went from writing one every day to writing none at all. I think I’ve taken a long enough break now to try and get myself back into a creative mindset. That is, before university comes and stomps all over it again.

Take care people!

Kyra xx

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Short – Death of Fear

This is a short story I wrote for my AS Level Coursework.

Death of Fear

 

The smell.
The sound.
The shadows.
It was enough.
A long, gruelling day at work always left Juliana tired, but today felt even worse as she stumbled up her stairs to get to the bathroom, leaving her front door wide open. Pushing the bathroom door lightly, she walked up to the sink and turned on the hot tap. She sighed, as a tear rolled down her cheek,
“Five years today. Five whole, sluggish years, I worked my tail off, and what do I have to show for it,” She sobbed, slamming her fist on the basin. “No husband. No family, and now no job. No nothing… pathetic.”
She looked up into the mirror, not that she could face herself, but merely to look at the face of a pitiful, plaintive, workless, existence. How she hated that worn-down reflection. She could see the tears streaming down her face; auburn hair mixed with steam and mascara.
                She wondered, ‘Do I really deserve this? Could the old me really have damned the rest of me?’
                But Juliana already knew that answer was yes.
                Staring at the bathtub, memories came flooding by the dozen. Scenes of past experiences like a whirlwind of emotion, floating through her mind within seconds, one moment she saw herself; the next Henry and then again Tracy. Juliana had been sixteen when she moved in. She could remember it perfectly.
She walked over to her bedroom, picking up a cased photograph of a middle aged woman. Short black hair, petite frame, wearing a tracksuit, stood next to a teenager clad in leather trousers; dark corset, and large bulky leather boots and a jacket that draped across the floor.
She opened the wardrobe and pulled out a now withered version, rough and broken, much like herself, that fabric was ripped in places, purposefully, but each left a small tear in her heart. It read ‘Midnight Wolverine’. It had been Henry’s, which he had given to her. It still smelled of fuel and smoke, something that at this particular moment, she craved.
“From tattered teen, to smoking, to sniffing poppers, to marijuana, then ecstasy, before the clean, rehabilitated, seventeen-year-old me. You really did wonders didn’t you Tracy? Then it all went down hill.”
After skipping from foster family to foster family, someone had finally wanted to adopt her. Juliana hadn’t had a good life necessarily, but she lived. She went to school and got, to say the least, decent grades. She wasn’t stupid; she just didn’t see the point. She didn’t make friends well, but when she did, it did nothing for her.
“You helped me get clean, Tracy, but you screwed it up again didn’t you? And you just had to go and have a bath for a change.” Tears poured down her face, running down the photograph.
Before she met Tracy she became involved in drugs and alcohol. Totally indulged her focus became the high and how it was so outlandish to her. It made her feel so unique, yet accepted, which was something she had never quite felt before. Despite her being completely off her head, she’d never been so down to earth.
She remembered that day too well. The day she lost the most important person in her teenage life.
“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this Juliana, but I’m afraid we did all we could to resuscitate her. Unfortunately she didn’t make it.”
‘I can’t breathe, I can’t…’ She began hyperventilating, and in the end managed to inhale after a few minutes, and several failed attempts at breathing.
“Ca… can I … see her?” She spluttered. The paramedic simply replied with a nod.
                Juliana slumped onto the bed. Not bothering to turn on the light, she lay there amidst the sanctuary of darkness. Through the corner of her eye she could see a street light flicker. She slid across the bed and leaned against the window watching the light. On. Off. On. Off.
                “Yes. No. Yes. No! Which is it Juliana?” She always called her by her full name when she shouted.
                “Tracey honestly, I’m still clean! That’s not me anymore!” the seventeen year old screamed, “Hand on heart, I can say, I haven’t seen, let alone touched a needle, since I moved out of The Wheeler’s place. It’s been six months and you still don’t trust me?” And that was the honest truth. She still saw Henry from time to time but they weren’t together anymore, and he certainly wasn’t her dealer. She rolled her tongue piercing, while playing with a small piece of rope that fell from her bag, while she waited for Tracy to speak.
                “Jules, you know that it’s not that I don’t trust you but because of everything you’ve worked for. I’m being careful, because you can’t afford to slip back into your old ways. All of your effort would be wasted in one useless act and I would hate that.”
                Such simple words, yet they drove themselves in so deeply, she couldn’t take it. Tears spilled down her face as she dove into Tracy’s shoulder, desperate for affection.
                “Honestly Tracy, after that one scare, I couldn’t do it to myself, let alone to you!”
A bright light poured onto her face. Juliana was brought back to her surroundings as a silhouette ran past the street light. ‘Probably just a night runner,’ she assured herself, and continued down the stairs. She carried herself gently and sturdily as she meekly returned to the kitchen. She put the kettle on and looked in the fridge for something to eat, before retiring to the living room. She sat, and island amidst the sea of half-lived promises and torn dreams.
After the death, Juliana continued living in Tracy’s house.
Alone.
There were three places left untouched, Tracy’s bedroom, the bath, and a small desk, in what used to be a third bedroom, which had been re-decorated into a studio for Tracy’s art.
Juliana began to fall back into her web of drugs. Henry often visited her trying to prise her from her state, to no avail.
                “Juliana, you can’t keep yourself locked away forever! Tracy would hate what you’ve become, what you’ve lost after all she did for you.” A wisp of smoke escaped as the front door was wrenched open.
                “What she did for me! She left me, that’s what she did. All this…” She emphasized the joint in her hand, “…It’s all because she left me.”
No one could help her.
She was unreachable.
The flickering light of the battered street lamp glimmered. “Something doesn’t seem right?” She whispered “Either I’m losing my vision or is it getting cloudy in here?” she questioned. She talked to herself quite a lot, a futile attempt to banish the solitude she felt she deserved. ‘It smells familiar… like something musty,’
Then it hit her. It wasn’t cloud; it was smoke, crack cocaine smoke, to be exact.
“I haven’t smoked in so long, so why?” she spoke. It smelt like she had had seven or eight in the past hour.
Going back into the kitchen she poured the water into her mug. But … that intoxicating, tantalizing, smell; her hands were shaky and she missed mug catching the back of her hand. She winced in pain as she placed it under the cold tap.
But she managed to pick herself up.
She was miserable. That was fact, but she knew Tracy would have wanted something for her. She got herself some help, and got a job, she wasn’t particularly fussed just something to get money.
Getting off the drugs was on another universe completely, she attained help, yes. However, the battle of the urges was something only she could fight.
It was then it started.
Before Tracy died, Juliana had a near death experience of her own. That was partially why Tracy’s death came as such a horrific shock. It happened not long before, Juliana never admitted it but that was the real reason she even though she’d promised Tracy to stop it wasn’t until that day that she actually did.
It began with a quick visit Henry’s after almost 3 months of not seeing him or any of her old friends.  He opened the door and behind where a living room used to reside now only placed a small coffee table that reminded Juliana of the tables at the Japanese style bistro in town. Around it were four plump pillows and placed on top a lone bong; a size meant to be shared.
“Expecting company are we?” She nodded to the table.
“You could say, to what do I owe the pleasure my dear?” He was already high. Wasting no time, Juliana thrust a box into Henry’s arms.
“Thought you might want your things back, I have no use for them anymore. I kept the jacket though, didn’t think you’d mind since it was too small for you anyway.” She began walking away however Henry grabbed her arm,
“Come in for a bit Jules,”
“Don’t call me that, you lost the right to call me that.” She shrugged his arm off.
“I have some things for you too. Come on, Jules, just for a minute.” Wearily, she stepped in the house.
Subtle at first, but growing louder and more obvious by the moment. Sharp, short, stamps marching across the floor, with no feet to make them. Juliana, confused beyond all recognition, stood listening to the constant. Tap, tap, tap…
 Tracy’s picture, that usually stood proud, shook along with the rest of the furniture in the house. Juliana’s head moved, twitching out of place, as the noise danced about the floor, her hands shaking uncontrollably, a cold, howling creeping in from outside. That; was when she noticed it. The gaping door at the front of her hallway. It was wide open. Anyone could have strolled in. Panicking, she slammed the door shut, and ran. She ran to where she thought most secure and the best shelter, below the stairs.
She couldn’t remember much else after that, as she awoke later in a hospital bed, and after throwing up copious amounts, she began to realise were she was. In taking her surroundings, she realised Tracy sat by her bed. Her expression blank, almost lifeless.
“I’m so disappointed. You have no idea how much you’ve put me through, not only did you lie, but you almost died.”
She gathered what was left of her shattered and disarrayed mind. She couldn’t think for the noise! The sound of feet, tapping on the floor! And then, when the tapping halted, there was something worse, the small creaking of steps above her, coming down the stairs.
‘Theres someone in the house,’ she thought, ‘What if they’ve been here all along? Could they be watching me? Does that mean they know I’m here?’ She couldn’t take anymore anticipation; she would make a run for it.
She breathed heavily, closed her eyes, and prayed she would make it. She opened the door and ran through the living room straight to the door. Pulling at the locked door, she fumbled with the catch. But still it would not open.
“Shit.” She said. She couldn’t get out, and she was going to die. With no where else to hide, she had two options, die or fight. But the truth was she was tired of fighting, something she had done all her life,
‘Huh life, bitch that’s been.’ She thought, as she pulled the chair beneath her lampshade. She braved the hallway once more to grab an object from below the stairs. Trembling, she gingerly walked back into the lounge. Standing on the chair, with rope in hand, she threw it around her neck, hands still shaking, head still twitching, as she listened for the steps, that never came. ‘No more smoke? No steps? No noise? … Why am I doing this?’ he began to step off the chair, just as she did so looking through the front window.
“Who?” She gasped.
The same silhouette from earlier stood, staring straight at her. Eyes, blood thirsty. Juliana was drawn aback so much that she jumped back. Enough to push the chair and send her flying, leaving the noose tight around her lifeless body. With her last moments, slowly withering, she quickly glimpsed out of the window, to find no figure and no silhouette. Not near, not far. Not anywhere.
 
I’d love to know what people think!
Kyra x
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Novel Notions: Reviewing my 17-year-old self.

Novel Progress


Word Count: 54,133
Chapters: 9
Pages: 99
Pages Edited: 15
Aim by 20th July: 25 pages edited and Prologue released.

It’s a bizarre experience to look back at your own work from years previous. I’m sure many writers would agree with the statements I’m about to make. In this case, I started writing a novel in 2010, as part of National Novel Writing Month, and have recently found the time to continue it. I’ve tried several times to continue writing, but I found that I had to concentrate on exams, essays and other deadlines and just didn’t have the time to really commit to working on it. So I decided that while I’m working and I don’t have any University work to do, I would set aside some time to work on it.

I quickly realised that after having such a limited amount of contact with the novel that some of the finer details had escaped my memory so I decided I would re-read what I’d currently written. This was when I realised that the current 19-year-old me and and the then 17-year-old me, had totally different writing styles. So I would have to edit the whole thing before I could even begin to write any further.

This is currently the stage where I’m at with regards to progress, as you can see at the top of this blog. My aim in relation to how my blog will relate to my writing is to update either once or twice a week on my progress and give you guys a bit of information about characters and some snippets of prose too, when I’m feeling generous.

One of the first things that I found that will need some severe hacking and re-wording was my love of run-on sentences and I will endeavour to fix them all within the first draft. It’s mostly odd because, even though I know no-one will read it until I let them, while reading certain parts, I’m almost embarrassed by my writing. I would still say in no way are my grammar and spelling perfect or near that, but I can say with confidence that my progression in the two aspects have improved since I was 17. So its almost like I don’t recognise my own writing at some points.

Another thing I discovered when reading through is that some parts didn’t make complete sense. What I mean to say is that I made sense when I wrote it, though looking back it doesn’t. Meaning that I’m either missing something as my current-self or my then-self just forgot that conveying meaning through writing is an essential skill for a writer. Here’s an example; I started a paragraph with,

“Now I had no idea what would happen,” 

then two lines later, referring to the same thing,  had written this;

trust me, I know what happens.”

The whole thing just confused me. So I deleted it. It wasn’t intrinsic, so I felt a slight cleansing feeling as my finger fixed itself to the backspace button.

So, I will update again with Novel Notions on the 20th if not before, it will depend on my progress. Keep you eye out though because I will be adding some Character Bios and hopefully the Prologue so you can get a sneaky preview of the Novel. Since I realise that I’ve not actually told you anything about it then it should be quite the opening to the world of my writing.

Take care!

Kyra x

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