Friday, 17 June 2011

Sophia Bennett's cover story

Here's the story about how Sophia Bennet's book The Look got it's cover:
About a year ago, I got an email from a girl called Elizabeth, asking if I thought she should try and be an English teacher or a model. My first reaction, of course, was that she should be an English teacher. I'd estimate that 98% of writers have been in love with their English teachers at some stage in their lives. When I was 7, I idolised Miss Grace, with her tumbling auburn curls and sweet, young smile ...
But this didn't seem a proper answer, and I didn't know a better one. Why did I have such an instinctive reaction against modelling, when the only actual ex-model I knew was one of my kindest, most interesting, charming friends? So I did some research and thought about it a lot. A year later, I've just finished The Look.
From very early on I had an idea of what the cover should be. Pointless, I know, because new and new-ish writers aren't generally consulted unless they have a background in graphics or illustration. Covers do such a complex, visual job and we're wordsmiths - what do we know?
However, I might as well tell you what I imagined. It was a close-up of the face of a teenage girl with very short hair, staring boldly into the camera. The title would be big and bold too, like a magazine cover. Mostly, the image would about the girl's eyes, and her arresting gaze.
Yeah, whatever.
Rachel, my publisher at Chicken House, was kind enough to ask me about my ideas when we met up to discuss the first draft in February. She fed them back to Steve, the illustrator, and to my surprise he must have agreed, more or less. His first mock-up of what the cover could look like was this:

Yes - closeup! Yes - bold title! Yay - pink round the edges (Rachel's idea). Liking that. Liking the fact that Steve and I were talking the same visual language. But ...
... the grey tones and creepy eye makeup made it look like a paranormal romance to me. And it's so not. It's actually supposed to be quite funny. And the pink of the title was ... too pink.
So I very quietly asked if it could be a bit more colourful and less creepy. And I sent along some Vogue covers I liked, to give a general idea. One of them was of Aggy Deyn. Looking at it closely, I loved the way they'd brought out her eyes and matched the pink of her lipstick to the magazine title.

I felt a bit guilty sending it. I mean, Steve knows what he's doing. But I love the whole ideas-sharing thing, and I thought it was worth a try. After a bit of fiddling about, Steve came back with this:

This is the cover we're going with.
I can't begin to say how happy I am with it. It's got the colour. It's got the gaze. I wasn't completely sure about the font, which is a bit like the Louis Vuitton graffiti fonts you see on bags sometimes, but I love it now. I can't wait to see it in bookshops. If I was a fifteen year-old girl, I would so buy it, and so far the girls I've asked agree. I just hope the text lives up to the promise of this fab design.
*happy author face*
And that's my cover story.
Steve, thank you. You are the Man.

It's interesting how she got the idea for the story isn't it?
Untill next time,
Beccy xox

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Look!

Sophia Bennett's new book The Look's cover has been released! And here's the description:
Ted is fifteen, and...oh yes...tall. When she's spotted by a model agency, she can't believe it.
At the same time, Ted's fashionista sister, Ava, is diagnosed with cancer. With her world turned upside down, Ted has a lot of growing up to do, some of it in five-inch platforms. Should she be the model sister for Ava? Life in front of the camera is harder than it looks. And will they still be smiling when it’s over?
From the award-winning author of the Threads series comes a bittersweet story about what brings family together, looking beyond what’s skin-deep and two sisters brought together by love and looks, Burberry and baldness.
It'll be released in March 2012. Here's the link to find out more:
Untill next time,
Beccy xox

Saturday, 4 June 2011


On Girls Heart Books, Sophia Bennett posted a list of where she gets her ideas from, here they are:
  • Out of nowhere. My idea for a girl who was a secret fashion designer just hit me one day, while I was sorting out the laundry. OK, so not ‘nowhere’, exactly – my bathroom. I occasionally get ideas from my bathroom.

  • My childhood. Writing gives me the chance to live out all the fantasies I had while I was growing up. To be honest, I get more ideas from remembering when I was little than from my bathroom. A few more, anyway.

  • Radio and TV, newspapers and Twitter. Big news stories, small ones, crazy things that happen to people … it all goes in and comes out again later as character or a scene in a book. I mostly listen to the radio in my kitchen, so that ends up being a good place for ideas too.

  • The London Underground. Crow’s story in Threads was a direct result of seeing a poster about the Night Walkers of Uganda and not being able to get it out of my head. Public transport can be very useful.

  • Things that annoy me. There’s a truly awful magazine advert for a posh watch that drives me crazy every time I see it and one day I’ll write a big, fat novel based on the irritating people in it. Bad things will happen to them. I can’t wait.

  • My family. Shh. Don’t tell them. They haven’t worked it out yet.

  • Schools. I visit. I look. I learn. If I visit your school – beware. If you’re particularly interesting, you might end up in a book one day. So, for example, might your school hall, your teacher’s haircut and the view from the library windows.

  • Emails from fans. My next book, The Look, is inspired by an email I got last June from a girl called Elizabeth. She asked a simple question. My initial answer was ‘no’, but that didn’t seem to do it justice, somehow. The extended version is 80,000 words long and counting.

  • Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    You'll love this

    There's a new blog that Sophia Bennett's a part of, you'll definetly want to check it out, since not only is Sophia a part of it, these female writers are too:
    Anna Carey, Anne-Marie Conway, Cathy Cassidy, Cathy Hopkins, Diane Messidoro, Fiona Dunbar, Griselda Gifford, Hilary Freeman, Jo Cotterill, Joan Lennon, Joanna Nadin, Judi Curtin, Julie Sykes, Karen King, Karen McCombie, Kate Maryon, Kay Woodward, Keris Stainton, Leila Rasheed, Linda Chapman, Lisa Clark, Liz Kessler, Luisa Plaja, Maggi Gibson, Rosalie Warren, Sarah Webb, Sue Mongredien, Susie Day, Tamsyn Murray, Wendy Meddour.

    Sounds great, right?
    It's called Girls Heart Books and here's the link:

    I'm sure you'll love it, it's absoloutley brilliant and it's a great idea.
    Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    Yay! Threads is on audiobook!

    Sometimes nothing can be better than the Threads book right? Well now there is! You can now get Threads on audiobook. Here's what it looks like:

    Looks brilliant, doesn't it?
    Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    Funny post

    This is a really funny and imaginitive post from the one and only Sophia Bennett and her blog
    Here's the link to the post if you want to read it on the blog:

    Or, if you're to lazy to do that I have it right here for you:

    A writer imagines …

    By sophiabennett
    I have no idea if the following is true (at least from the editor’s perspective – it is from mine), but this is what I imagine happens after an author submits a rewrite. The imagining keeps me going, anyway, while I wait to find out what happens next …
    Author: After two months of intensive work the story has changed shape, two of the characters have been merged the new ending is in place, and every comment in the margins is addressed. If I fiddle with my latest masterpiece-in-the-making any more, I’m more likely to do harm than good. It’s not perfect yet, but I hope it’s in a good enough place that my editor will be thrilled with what I’ve done, and will agree that a few minor tweaks will raise it to children’s classic status. Attach to email. Press send. Wait.
    Editor: Oh look – 1 pm. Anyone going for lunch?
    Author: I sent the manuscript off a full five minutes ago, so presumably she’s on page 20 by now, and completely gripped. I feel a bit guilty that she’s going to get home late to her family tonight because she’ll be so engrossed by the text. Can she see the makings of a children’s classic yet? Is she shouting round the office how fabulous it is? I hope she’s not disturbing too many people in her crazed excitement.
    Editor: I see my inbox has gone up from 112 to 113 unread emails . Must check … when I get back from the sales meeting.
    Author: She’s had the book for 4 hours! She’s a fast reader. Has she finished it yet, I wonder? What does she think?
    Editor: Wow, this sales meeting is going on a bit today, isn’t it?
    Author: She’s had it for nearly 18 hours. Or has she? Did she actually receive it? Maybe it got lost in the internet. Or – wait – maybe she’s trying to tell me something. Perhaps her silence means that she’s gently preparing me for the worst. Perhaps, instead of being a children’s classic in the making, it’s actually worse than it was before. Perhaps I’ve gone backwards. Perhaps she’s just trying to work out the kindest way of telling me.
    Editor: Dear Sophia, just to let you know your MS arrived safely. Can’t wait to read it!
    Author: Oh no! My editor has a life. She has other things to do and – I’ve just remembered – other people’s books to edit. Books with deadlines sooner than mine. But that’s fine. I can deal with this. I just have to do all those tasks that were piling up while I was madly finishing the rewrite and that will take my mind off things. Oh, and I must make a note about that change I want to make to chapter 43. And the shift in the main character’s motivation. And the ending. The ending is still wrong. Why can’t I sleep? Why is it four in the morning? Why is it Saturday? That means I have to wait until Monday for a reply. Unless she emails me over the weekend, of course. Editors work over the weekend, don’t they?
    Editor: Thank god it’s the weekend.
    Author: It’s 09.14 on Monday morning. The kids are safely at school. It’s not too early to check my emails yet, is it? Would she have replied to me first thing? Yes, she probably would.
    Editor: Anyone want coffee?
    Author: She hates it. I’ve done the whole thing wrong. I should have left out chapter 3 – that was my fatal mistake. They’re now having meetings round the office to work out who should let me down gently, and who will explain that actually, they can’t publish it after all. And now it’s 09.20! Unless they’re in those meetings what can she possibly be doing?
    Editor: Three sets of line edits signed off. Goodness, that was intensive. Oh look – a gap in the diary. Might get round to starting some of those unread manuscripts today. I wonder what authors do after they’ve submitted a manuscript. Must be wonderful. All that shopping and cake …
    And so on, until the editor finds time in her diary to give 80,000 carefully crafted words her full attention, and to compose a suitable reply.
    Eventually the author learns to sit back, relax and take it all in her stride.
    Doesn’t she?
    (I’m having serious second thoughts about chapter 3.)

    It's pretty good right?
    Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    If you didn't already know

    If you didn't already know there was a Wedding dress design competition that Sophia Bennet set up, well you can now see all the entries here:

    Mine are the dress designs by Beccy Harris, they're not amazing and I didn't win but I'm still pretty proud of them, one's a dress for the bride and one's a dress for a bridesmaid. There were some great entries so you should definetly check them out.
    Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    Check this out

    And not literally as in out of a library this time, but still check it out. On Nonie's blog ( there's a new post about and their new The 10 Best Tumblrs By Fashion Industry Insiders, which you can check out here:
    It's really interesting, definetly check it out if you're into fashion blogs and fashion sites.
    Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    Safety pin bracelets

    Another thing for all you Crow like fashion designery people out there, and it can be made out of re-used safety pins! Edie would be proud. So, anyway, on Wednesday I went shopping and I bought a book about how to make safety pin bracelets! It's from the same company who make those paper fashion books I mentioned in a previous post.
    Here's where you can order it for $19.99 if you live in America or somewhere similar:

    Here;s where you can buy it from Waterstones if you live in England, it's where I bought it from for £9.99:

    Safety Pin Bracelets - Klutz S.

    It's really interesting and a great way to pass the time.
    Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    Forgot to mention

    Hayley Long (author of the Lottie Biggs series) also has her own blog on Blogspot:
    No need to thank me, but maybe you should, because it's polite and you know, nice.
    Untill next time,
    Beccy xox

    Lottie Biggs is NOT Mad, or Desperate, or Tragic.

    You must be wondering what on earth I'm on about, unless you've read the books that is.
    The first one in the series is Lottie Biggs is NOT Mad.
    It's a great book and is for anybody really, I recommend it, it's really funny! Here's a bit about the book I got from the website (I'll give you the link later):
    My name is Lottie Biggs and in three weeks time, I will be fifteen years old. At school, most people call me Lottie Not-Very-Biggs. I’ve never found this particularly funny...My current hair colour is Melody Deep Plum which is not as nice as Melody Forest Flame but definitely better than the dodgy custard colour I tried last week...
    And this is my book – it’s about important things like boys and shoes and polo-neck knickers and rescuing giraffes and NOT fancying Gareth Stingecombe (even though he has manly thighs) and hanging-out with your best friend having A BLATANTLY FUNNY TIME. It is definitely not about sitting in wardrobes or having a mental disturbance of any kind!
    Lottie Biggs is about shoes and boys and English Coursework and selling tights, and dyeing your hair and fancying Neil Adam and hanging-out with your best-friend and detesting poetry and loving art and having a seriously funny time! It’s definitely not about being mad…
    A heart-achingly honest and utterly hilarious voice - about the life of a teenage girl and so much more.

    So yeah, you should definitely check it out as well as the next book in the series, which is Lottie Biggs is NOT Desperate. And here's some info I also found on the website:
    Why am I edgy as an eggshell? Am I doomed to be a tragic desperado my whole life? Am I normal? Or am I mad? If not, why am I being kept awake at night by a hyperactive geriatric chinchilla and indecent visions of Gareth Stingecombe wearing his dad's BRITNEY SPEARS BOXER SHORTS?
    What it all comes down to is this...will I, ever actually have a passionate experience?
    The next one in the series is Lottie Biggs is NOT Tragic. I haven't read that one yet because it's not out until August. And once again, a bit from the website:
    Just when things were starting to look up for Lottie her life's gone a bit pear-shaped, wonk-ways and downside up again. Her mum's all soppy over a bloke with a horrible shemo* daughter, her best pal Goose has disappeared in a cloud of nerd-gas and Lottie's in the midst of an existential crisis. There's only one thing to do - get the hell out of Cardiff and go on the road with the gorgeous Gareth Stingecombe (and his manly thighs). But things don’t go to plan, and Lottie starts to realise she might have been a bit me me me lately. . .

    *a female emo, obviously

    Now, what you've all been waiting for (probably since I keep giving you bits from it), the Website! Well the link to it anyway. You should definitely check it out because it lets you know all about Hayley Long, the author.
    So there's the link, happy now? Hopefully.
    Until next time,
    Beccy xox

    Love Letters

    You must think I'm absolutely crazy about Katie Fforde but her books really are good, the one I've just finished reading is called Love Letters and it's great, believe me. It's even got some of the characters from Wedding Season in it, they're not the main characters but they're in it. Here it is:
    I got it out from the library but I will definitely be buying it so I can read it again and again!
    Here's the blurb:
    With bookshop where she works about to close, Laura Horsley, in a moment of uncharacteristic recklessness, finds herself agreeing to help organise a literary festival deep in the heart of the English countryside. But her initial excitement is rapidly followed by a mounting sense of panic when reality sinks in and she realises just how much work is involved – especially when an innocent mistake leads the festival committee to believe that Laura is a personal friend of the author at the top of their wish-list. Laura might have been secretly infatuated with the infamous Dermot Flynn ever since she studied him at university, but travelling to Ireland to persuade the notorious recluse to come out of hiding is another matter.

    Determined to rise to the challenge, she sets off to meet her literary hero. But all too soon she’s confronted with more than she bargained for – Dermot the man is maddening, temperamental and up to his ears in a nasty case of writer’s block. But he’s also infuriatingly attractive – and, apparently, out to add Laura to his list of conquests

    When I next get the chance I'll definitely be buying it, I'll also be buying Summer of Love because it sounds really interesting and I just can't get enough of Katie Fforde's books.
    Here's a list of the books she's written and whether I've read them or not:
    Living Dangerously - Not read.
    The Rose Revived - Not read.
    Wild Designs - Not read.
    Stately Pursuits - Not read.
    Life skills - This one I have read, it's the first one I read actually and it got me hooked on her books!
    Thyme Out - I have read this book, it's great, really interesting.
    Artistic Licence - Super brilliant, I would definitely read it if I were you.
    Highland Fling - Not read.
    Going Dutch - Not read.
    Wedding Season - I have read this one, as probably know by now since I've already mentioned it twice!
    Love Letters - You know I've read this one because I was just talking about it.
    A Perfect Proposal - I have read it and I may have mentioned it before, I'm not sure, but it is great and you should definitely have a look.
    Summer of Love - Not read.

    So there they all are, I'm sure there'll be many more to come. If you like more adult romance books (and they are definitely not for too young readers) then you should definitely check them out (literally, as in out of your library).
    Well I hoped you like this post, and don't worry, I'll definitely be posting more about Threads stuff later.
    Until next time.
    Beccy xox