Author: Joanna Olney

Become a kindness ambassador

A group dedicated to making the world a kinder place. Every small act of kindness makes a small difference. So join us and change the world with  us. Because, together, snowflakes create avalanches.

Because kindness is contagious, and Holly Bourne wants to show you how.

BBC Young Writers’ Award

Whenever I visit schools, I’m always telling you that your voice matters and your experience matters and that you don’t need permission to shout from the rooftops. With that in mind, I’m so SO excited to be judging the BBC Young Writer’s Award. Guys, this is going to be EPIC!

Joining me on the judging panel will be Nikesh Shukla, editor of youth
magazine Rife and the amazing anthology The Good Immigrant, and the awesome Alice Levine, BBC Radio 1 DJ, as chair extraordinaire.  


Open to all young people aged 14 to 18, who
live in the UK, entrants are asked to create stories of up to 1000 words on any
topic with the judges eager to see stories that show real imagination and
creativity; high quality writing that can capture and hold the reader.  The shortlist of the top five stories will be
announced Saturday 30 September 2017 (subject to change) with the finalists invited to attend the exclusive BBC National Short Story Award 2017
ceremony in London on Tuesday 3 October
, where the winner will be announced.

The talented winning writer of the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2017 will have
their story broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and receive a personalised mentoring
session with an author to help develop their writing skills. All five shortlisted
writers will be given a guided visit to BBC Broadcasting House and have the
chance to meet high-profile authors, publishers, agents and broadcasters. The
shortlist will also have their stories published on the BBC Radio 1 website and
receive a copy of the BBC National Short
Story Award 2017

deadline for receipt of entries is 5pm (BST) Friday 21 April 2017.
The Terms & Conditions and Entry Form, along with a host of resources to
help writers get started with their stories, are available at

Good luck everyone and get writing! Holly x


Holly Bourne appearances this summer

A few of you have been asking where you can see Holly this summer,
so we’ve pulled together a handy list below for you. Let us know if you’re
going to any!


Welcome to Camp Reset: an origami workshop

Be kind to
yourself today and start your Sunday at a slower pace at Usborne YA’s Camp
Reset. We’ll teach you how to create messages of kindness in a laid back
origami workshop based on Holly Bourne’s brand new – and exclusively available
at YALC! – book Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? Because
Kindness is contagious, and Holly Bourne wants to show you how.

Sunday 29th July

11.00 – 11.45

Real World, Real Me

Sunday 29th July

13.00 – 13.45

Edinburgh Festival

Holly Bourne & Cat Clarke: Finding Resolve

Thursday 16th August, 17.30

Holly Bourne: Writing for Resilience Workshop

Friday 17th August 10.30am

Looking forward to seeing you out there!

What’s a Girl Gotta Do…to make a book?


Being one of the first people to read a brand-new Holly
Bourne book is, quite frankly, one of the best parts of my job. Getting drawn
back into Amber, Evie and Lottie’s lives is like gossiping with old friends.
What have they been up to? Any new disasters or triumphs? Any new crushes?

In October 2015, the first draft of Lottie’s story landed in
our inboxes here at Usborne towers and the anticipation was electric. But what
happens between first draft and publication date? Ten months might seem like a
long time, but there are plenty of stages we work through to make sure everything’s

Stage 1: the edit
We editors read the manuscript (which was – as you’d expect – awesome from the start!) and then consulted closely with Holly, tossing around suggestions and ideas – and flagging our favourite bits (as you can see below)…


We repeated this process over the next few months with the second edit (January) and the third (March) until it was time for…

Stage 2: the copyedit (April)
The edited manuscript was given to copyeditor Hannah to make sure there were no inconsistencies left in the text and note if there were any elements for our designer to look out for.


Stage 3: design (May)
Our brilliant designer Sarah transformed the Word document into actual page proofs (this is the stage when a manuscript starts to look like a real book) – in time for us to send them out for…

Stage 4: the proofread (May)
Two proofreaders read the page proofs to check for any last

spelling errors etc…


…before we made our final checks and sent the book to production in June:


Finished copies arrived in July – here’s Holly signing some (*hand cramp*):


And the book officially hit the shops on 1st August – woohoo!


Ta dah! So now you know.


“Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political, and economic
equality of all genders, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class,
religion, ability and sexual orientation.”

I am a feminist because I am too scared to walk alone at night.

I am a feminist because I got lined up in a classroom in order
of who had the nicest arse, aged thirteen, by all the boys in the class.

I am a feminist because everyone asks me if I’m feeling OK on
the days I don’t wear makeup.  

I am a feminist because a man I was managing was paid the same as me.

I am a feminist because every girl I know was sexually harassed
before the age of sixteen.  

I am a feminist because women write insightful and beautiful
books about relationships and they’re labelled chick lit. I am a feminist
because men write insightful and beautiful books about relationships and get
longlisted for the Booker prize.  

I am a feminist because 50% of the films nominated for Best
Picture Academy Awards did not pass the simple Bechdel test.

I am a feminist because whenever I watch a movie, music video,
or open a magazine, I feel instantly insecure about my body.

I am a feminist because my two-year-old niece pointed to a
picture of a blue hat in a book and said, “Boy’s hat”.

I am a feminist because I am regularly interrupted by men
whenever I dare to open my mouth.  

I am a feminist because when I do mixed-sex school visits, the
girls never, ever put their hand up to ask a question. But, when it’s just
girls, we usually have to leave extra time for questions.

I am a feminist because I feel I need to hide my tampon up my
sleeve on the way to the toilet.

I am a feminist because teenage boys come up to me at events
and ask if they’re “allowed” to read my books.

I am a feminist for all the boys I supported, working at a
charity, who would rather harm themselves than cry.

I am a feminist because my wonderful, caring, brilliant
feminist father has still never cleaned a toilet in his life.  

I am a feminist because this is only the tip of it. The tip of
it in my privileged, first-world, pale-skinned, straight, fully-abled

I am feminist for all the women for whom it is unimaginably
harder than it is for me.

I am a feminist because I am angry and exhausted and terrified
and frustrated and confused. And even though it’s so much harder to fight, so
much easier to roll over, I am a feminist because… how can you not be a

I am a feminist for all the things I’m damaged by that I don’t
want to share here today.  

I am a feminist. And I’m not saying that to make you feel
guilty and defensive. I’m not saying that because I think you’re a bad person.
I’m not saying that because I hate half of the human population and want them
all punished.  

I am saying that because I believe every human being should
have an equal shot at a healthy and happy life, no matter what body they are
born into. And that’s not going to happen unless we fight, unless we speak up,
unless we occasionally make people feel uncomfortable, unless we – at the very
freaking least – TRY.

That’s why #IAmAFeminist. Now, how about you?


Since, Am I Normal Yet? was published, I’ve had so many of you asking if you can make your own Spinster Club. And my answer is always ‘YES OF COURSE!’ In fact, that was what I hoped my books would inspire. So I’m delighted to introduce the Spinster Club Hub – providing you with everything you need to set up your own club.

Because you really can change the world by sitting around with your friends, eating cheesy snacks, and talking about the all the weirdness that you have to put up with by being a girl. In fact there’s a posh word for Spinster Clubs. They’re called ‘consciousness raising groups’ and historically a LOT of world-changing stuff has come out of them. You’ve got to know about a problem before you can solve it. You’ve got to name it, got to talk about it, got to accept that it’s there. And where better to do this than surrounded by friends you love, and sharing your stories somewhere you feel safe?

Talking and sharing leads to campaigning and protesting. So, please go nuts! Get the cheese in. Download the AMAZING Spinster Club resources here and go forth spinsters and start spinstering! And please, please, do tweet me/Instagram me all your Spinsterly movements. I cannot wait to see all the amazing stuff you do. 

What’s A Girl Gotta Do? COVER REVEAL and giveaway

We’re super excited to reveal the cover of What’s A Girl Gotta Do?, the third title in Holly Bourne’s Normal series, this week. 

What’s A Girl Gotta Do?

is Lottie’s hilarious and heart-rending story about the sacrifices you have to make to fight for what’s right …

To celebrate the news, we’ve given Maximum Pop three early proofs to give away! That’s THREE SUPER EARLY COPIES OF WHAT’S A GIRL GOTTA DO?!

All you need to do to be entered is: follow @maximumpopbooks, RT the competition tweet and fill in the easy form!

ENDS 28/5, 9PM. UK ONLY.

Good luck!

What’s A Girl Gotta Do? publishes in August, and we can’t wait for you all to read Lottie’s story.

It’s World Book Night week!


It’s World Book Night week and we are EXCITED! Holly’s novel Am I
Normal Yet?
is one of 15 amazing books on the list by authors and poets
such as Jonathan Coe, Carol Ann Duffy and Matt Haig. You can see the full list
on the WBN website – and what a list it is!

On Saturday, volunteers
across the UK and Ireland will be armed with 16 copies of their chosen book to give out in
their community to encourage reading for pleasure, and to reach those who don’t
regularly read or own books.

Reading for pleasure, particularly for young
adults, is something we are seriously passionate about, and Holly feels the

“Stories are there to be
enjoyed, not slogged through. That’s why I’m so passionate about reading for
pleasure and so delighted to be on the World Book Night list. I was always told
growing up that’s it’s not what you read that matters, but that it’s great to
be reading anything. So I devoured comedy books like Roald Dahl and Louise
Rennison, and now try to write books that are as engaging and hilarious as they

So we want
to hear from YOU!
Do you have 16 copies of Am I Normal Yet? to give out on
Saturday 23rd April? How will you be gifting them? We’d LOVE to see
your photos from the night and hear all about the people you meet! Tweet or
Instagram your photos and stories using #AmINormalYet and #WorldBookNight – we’ll be online
sharing all your posts and we’ll also collect all the photos and do a round-up
right here on Holly’s tumblr.


On Saturday
evening Holly will be at the flagship event and celebration at the British
Library where she’ll be speaking alongside Matt Haig, Dreda Say Mitchell, S. J.
Parris, Sathnam Sanghera and chaired by Cathy Rentzenbrink. Tickets are still
available via the British Library Box Office.

The #BestMovieKiss shortlist

You voted. You agonised. You sent me ANGRY tweets about the poll results. And here we have it…the ultimate shortlist of Best Movie Kisses. 



The quarter-finalists:

– Bridget Jones’ Diary 

– Spiderman

– Romeo and Juliet

– Brokeback Mountain

– 10 Things I Hate About You

– Moulin Rouge

– Ron and Hermione in Harry Potter

– A Room With A View

– The Princess Bride

So, where do we go from here?

We’re battling it out again. I’ll upload a new Twitter poll using the #BestMovieKiss hashtag, this time only once a day. It’s sudden death. If the kiss doesn’t win, it’s not through. 

And there’s a twist!

You will realise there is NINE kisses on the shortlist and nine is an odd number. So one vote will be between THREE kisses. 

This will whittle us down to four – the semi-finals. 

Then the biggie – The Final. 

Keep checking out the hashtag to vote, and thanks so much for your enthusiasm and opinions and voting so far. It’s really helping my book research and I LOVE YOU ALL