Brown paper packages

Oh, all right – white Post Office jiffy bags tied up with parcel tape. They just don’t make packages like they used to. Still, it’s nice when they arrive, whatever they’re wearing.

Having said that, I’m at the stage of the rewrite of the new book where even post is a distraction. Even lovely post with presents inside. My head is full of characters who need to change their motivation, move from A to B via a completely different route, and keep the comedy while hanging out with a new set of friends. It’s complicated. Every now and again my poor husband gets handed a new draft (via email) and told to give me a report on it, pronto. He then points out the new holes I’ve introduced into the plot, I go back to the drawing board and on we go. The children are lucky, frankly, if they get toast for tea at this stage. Luckily, they know it and keep their heads down.

However, when I eventually summon up the energy to park my characters for five minutes and open a parcel, it’s so worth it.

On Saturday, those nice people at Chicken House sent me the new Threads covers they’ve been working on, to bring the first two books into line with the loveliness of the third. I was expecting pictures of covers, but what I got was actual covers, on real books. They  look like this now.

Pretty, huh? A matching set. I particularly like what Steve, the designer, has done with Threads itself. They’re small changes, but good ones. The overall effect is more delicate and detailed, but it still stands out.

I really like the bag he picked to go on the back, too:

It’s a simple clutch in my favourite shade of almost-Sciapparelli pink. Nonie would approve. (I never did like that green one that was there before. This is one I would happily use myself.)

So if you have the set already, I’m afraid you’re going to have to go out and replace the first two copies. There really is no choice. They you’ll have a lovely set of matching spines on your bookshelf, like this:

Worth it, no? Clever Steve.

In two separate packages, I also got a necklace and a bracelet, which go rather well together. The bracelet was from a fan of Threads called Sophia (sic – great name), and I wear it often, especially when I’m visiting schools. It means a lot to me that she was inspired by the book to do what Crow did and actually make something herself.

The necklace was from a teacher at one of the schools I visited recently – Douay Martyrs. She mentioned that she gets these from Uganda, where they are made out of shredded paper and cardboard, which is then twisted, painted and varnished. My necklace is quite beautiful and a very vibrant turquoise – another favourite colour of mine. But the best thing is that the money she raises from selling the jewellery goes to help a pay for a boy and girl to go to school in northern Uganda (where Crow is from). The girl is starting secondary school and the boy is doing A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Agriculture.

In Sequins Stars & Spotlights, Crow and her sister Victoria get involved in fashion accessories to raise money to fund education in their country. In real life, people do it all the time. The necklaces cost £4. They are the exact opposite of the tee-shirts made by slave labour that I got so cross about in Beads Boys & Bangles. Instead, they fund freedom. If you ever get the chance, do buy one. It may arrive in a lovely parcel, but better still is what happens at the other end.

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