Phew! That's a mouthful of a title. But I wanted to say that this post is part of Shooting Stars Mag's YA Book Carnival. Yay! Go check out all the contest links over there (after you read this post, of course). :)The winner of last week's Win-It Wednesday for Serena Robar's Giving Up the V is... Tammy! Send me your address, T. Today I'm hosting the awesome Sarah Ockler for another combo Win-It Wednesday + Cover Story. Take it away, Sarah! "I love sea glass. I've always been fascinated with the idea that something whole and purposeful could be shattered and then utterly transformed by the magic of the sea into beautiful little gems, and that these gems could then wash up on shore somewhere else, years or even decades later. Think about that. Really. Isn't it amazing?! "My own sea glass collection has been growing for more than twenty years, treasure-hunted from beaches along both coasts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the shores of Lake Erie here in Buffalo, NY. Like Anna in Twenty Boy Summer, I keep the glass in mason jars -- a colorful reminder of the waves shushing against the sand. "For me, sea glass is highly symbolic of life's transformations. It's featured throughout Twenty Boy Summer to represent the beauty and rarity of true love and the cycle of loss, healing, and change that we endure when someone close to us dies. Because of the symbolism in the story and my own love of sea glass, I'd always secretly hoped that it would appear on the Twenty Boy Summer cover. "When Little, Brown began the jacket design, my editor sent me several rounds of concept photos used to generate ideas -- beach landscapes, girls walking along the shore, summer-themed objects, boardwalk scenes -- all sorts of summer vacation-y goodness. I was grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the ideas and watch them evolve. My editor is amazing, and she was diligent in her efforts with the designer and marketing team to find the best imagery to convey the story. "Over the next several weeks, we saw almost 20 different concepts before reaching the final choice between two images with equal support from the Little, Brown team: a girl in the water and a still-life concept that would require a photo shoot with sea glass (OMG, sea glass!). My agent and I shared our thoughts and later that week, the jacket committee convened to consider the options and seal my cover fate. "The final decision? Sea glass photo shoot! Sea glass photo shoot! Yay! There was cheering! There was clapping! There was... thankfully no video evidence of my celebratory dancing! ;-) "A few weeks passed before we received the email with the cover. Since the initial idea was based only on a concept, I didn't know exactly how the final image would appear. I had butterflies in my stomach as I waited for the file to open and ultimately reveal... a lovely sea glass heart on the boardwalk. <3 "*Insert more celebratory dancing!* "Well, it turns out the photo shoot was quite an adventure. Who knew that sea glass would be such a challenging model? :-) One of the assistant editors brought sea glass from home, which didn't work, and then had to run out and buy a new batch. Once they had the right glass, they went through dozens of different shots and setups and ideas and backdrops, looking for a perfect shot that just wasn't happening. Finally, at the very end of an all-day photo shoot, the cover designer suggested arranging the glass into a heart shape on a boardwalk prop, just to try something completely different and spontaneous. "Sea glass. Heart. Boardwalk. "The rest is cover history. ;-) "I love love LOVE my cover. It so perfectly captures the symbolism of Anna and Frankie's journey in Twenty Boy Summer. And the coolest part? They sent me some of the glass from the photo shoot, so now I have an awesome memento from my first novel, and a few more special pieces of sea glass for my collection. "Thank you, Melissa, for asking about the story behind the cover of Twenty Boy Summer!" I think I need to start a sea glass collection (that's Sarah holding hers next to her bookshelf)! This is such a great story and I love that there was a sea glass photo shoot! What do you guys think? One lucky commenter (in the US or Canada only) will win a signed copy of the book, courtesy of Sarah herself. Also, what books can you spot on Sarah's shelf? I see Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten, which I loved, and I can also spot the gorgeous spine ofIf I Stay by Gail Forman... I love seeing people's shelves! Oh, and I see What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell at the very left corner.