ewein2412: (osprey hair)
For the past 18 years, Scottish Friendly Assurance have sponsored a series of week-long book tours in cooperation with the Scottish Book Trust, bringing authors and illustrators directly into schools: four per year in Scotland and two each year throughout the rest of the UK. I was lucky enough to be asked to tour as a Scottish author in Norfolk, England, this year.

Old school selfie – camera on timer! Beth, E Wein & Tom in King’s Lynn

With a pair of phenomenal representatives from the Scottish Book Trust, Beth Goodyear and Thomas Jefferson, I visited nine schools throughout Norfolk and managed to squeeze in a presentation to three more at the University of East Anglia’s FLY Festival of Literature for Young People in Norwich in the middle of the tour.

To start with, though, I got to meet with and enjoy a relaxed meal with Calum Bennie, the communications manager with the tour’s sponsor, Scottish Friendly. He is a dedicated supporter of the tour himself and stayed on to attend my first event. Later in the week we shared another evening and much book talk with the vibrant Mandy Steel of the Norfolk School Library Services, who was responsible for organizing and coordinating the events. It is fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and effort made to encourage young readers in these VERY TRYING TIMES. I was hugely impressed with Norfolk’s libraries – the old one at King’s Lynn is grand. But the
Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library
, where the FLY Festival was held – WOW! So many events and services, including a Polish club for children and being home to the 2nd Air Division USAAF Memorial Library – a beautiful working space well used.

King’s Lynn Public Library

Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

Our Monday visits included a virtual tour of Ethiopia for enthusiastic participants at Cottenham Village College and a workshop on structure for the eager and diligent writing students at Downham Market Academy; Tuesday’s visit to Iceni Academy’s keen readers in Thetford combined aspects of both. I was so pleased with the students’ interest, their intelligent questions, and their hunger for books! This enthusiasm couldn’t have manifested itself more appropriately than it did on Tuesday afternoon, when we were surprised to see a familiar cover featured in the promotional banner for St. Clement’s High School:

St. Clement’s High School banner

Close-up of that banner… presumably taken during the Carnegie Shadowing 2013!

Beth and Tom had researched venues for both lunch and the evening meal each day, and on the drive between schools I basically sat in the front passenger seat taking pictures of windmills, pointing out items of interest with the aid of 25-year-old Ordnance Survey maps, demanding side-trips to places like Oxburgh Hall and Norfolk Lavender, and being stuffed with an apparently limitless assortment of comfort food that Beth had stashed in the back of the Scottish Book Trust minivan.

Lunch in King’s Lynn

Alderman Peel High School in Wells-next-the-Sea was a large group – ninety strong - who were focusing on heroism and its ramifications, and clearly just as eager to get stuck into a story of spies and pilots as the more intimate gathering in the lovely bright library at Dereham Neatherd High School in East Dereham. We couldn’t believe how many copies of Code Name Verity got snapped up that day. They were all gone by the end of the trip.

This bucket was full of books before our visit to Sprowston!

It was at Sprowston Community High School on Thursday morning where I learned that Edith Cavell, one of the heroic women mentioned in Code Name Verity, is a Norfolk native. The ensuing discussion of “famous last words” turned about to be an unusual way to hook new readers.

After the FLY Festival Event at the fabulous Millennium Library on Thursday afternoon, we finished the week with a visit to Caister Academy in Great Yarmouth, and had an entertaining and animated discussion with the year 9 English students at Thorpe St. Andrew School (I made the mistake of telling them not to blow their noses in my silk escape map. A lot of fake sneezing ensued). The Caister year 7s had all done amazing research projects on the women of the Special Operations Executive and put together a fantastic display of the results. I was disappointed I didn’t have time to read them all.

Caister Academy SOE project

Caister Academy readers

I ended up the week by myself in Peterborough, overflowing with images, names, faces, scenery, libraries, and youthful enthusiasm as I waited for my train home the following morning. What a lot of preparation went into this tour by so many different people, and how lucky I am to have been able to participate in it! It was hard not to feel a bit blue now that it was all over. I spent the evening glued to the BBC and Twitter as the results of the EU referendum were discussed all around the world.

I had one last outing before catching my train: Peterborough Cathedral. It turns out to be the first burial place of Mary Queen of Scots, before her body was moved to Westminster Abbey by her son James I (James VI of Scotland). It made me feel curiously at home to see the Saltire hanging there so unexpectedly after a week in deepest England.

Former burial place of Mary Queen of Scots in Peterborough Cathedral

What we didn't indulge in:

ONLY because it was closed.

And this is probably the best of the 420 pictures of the moon I took early in the week. Unretouched!

Note to Americans: almost all British kids wear school uniforms.
ewein2412: (cessna shadow)
This was our Sunday afternoon excursion on 8 May. I was kind of charmed by the pictorial record including our flight path! I did most of the actual flying, but not the take-off or landing – or indeed, any of the radio work. We were amused by the French accent that called in to let Edinburgh know they were going to put “a wing” into their airspace. (Just one!)

We took off from Glenrothes in Fife and headed for the Forth bridges. We followed the M90 and the M9 nearly the whole way. The plane’s path tracks to the right of the motorway going out and back on the flight map! And see how nicely I can hold my altitude?

It was a very hazy day and I’ve had to touch up the photos for brightness and contrast, but you’ll get the idea.

Here are the bridges from the ground, taken on our walk across the Forth Road Bridge last January:

And here they are from the air, two weeks ago. The Queensferry Crossing is really starting to look like a bridge! It is scheduled to open to traffic later this year.

It’s not all scenic, but it’s jolly impressive even when it’s not scenic. Here’s Grangemouth, a bit further inland:

And what’s a tour of the M9 without a glimpse of the Kelpies, “the largest equine sculptures in the world”?

The water visible in the photo is where the Forth & Clyde Canal meets the River Carron, just before the Carron enters the Forth.

A couple of minutes (by air) beyond the Kelpies, the Forth & Clyde meets the Union Canal via the Falkirk Wheel – “the only rotating boatlift in the world.”

(I LOVE THE WAY SCOTLAND ALWAYS HAS THE BIGGEST OR THE ONLIEST THING IN THE WORLD OF ITS KIND: “World’s narrowest hotel” “Fastest mascot dressed as fruit” “Largest open air salt water Art Deco heated swimming pool in the world.”) (NOT MAKING IT UP.)

We headed back the way we’d come, but as we approached Fife Airfield we were informed that there was a parachute drop going on. You don’t really want to come anywhere near that in a small plane, as humans are actually very difficult to see in mid-air. So we set the GPS for Dollar and took a detour to find Castle Campbell. We’d been there in October:

And this is what it looks like from the air – it’s the shining roof in the center of the wooded valley, right in the middle of the photo. The castle was originally known as Castle Gloom, apparently from an old word meaning “chasm.”

That killed exactly the right amount of time. We flew back over Loch Leven, which is just the other side of Vane Hill from Fife Airfield, and buzzed Loch Leven Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner in 1567/1568, during the time she was forced to abdicate.

Last October (not quite 550 years after Mary Queen of Scots escaped dressed as a servant girl) I had my birthday picnic here with my friend Kathryn.

This could have been a Mary Queen of Scots tour if we’d thought about it, as she once stayed at Castle Campbell, and we also flew right over her birthplace at Linlithgow Palace. But we were distracted by poor visibility and Edinburgh air traffic control at that point and forgot to look down!

ewein2412: (e Wein)

It’s been a couple of weeks since our trip to Dorset, and I am a lame blogger. So here’s kind of a photo essay to give you a taste of the highlights.

The trip was Sara’s idea. Apparently she is a dinosaur fanatic and has always wanted to see the Jurassic Coast. The Jurassic Coast, FYI, is a World Heritage Site of 95 miles’ worth of coastline in southern England boasting an amazing amount of geological cross sections and fossil remains. It’s been noted by geologists and palaeontologists for about 200 years. This was not a very organized holiday for us (like we are ever organized, um), and we planned it very quickly, and it was great.

Cut for many pics )
ewein2412: (maddie as WAAF)
Our children have been embroiled in a school production of Fiddler On the Roof, meaning they were out of the house at 8 a.m. and not home till 10.30 p.m. all week long, so we’ve been taking advantage of a relatively empty nest. Also, IT IS SUMMER, all glorious three days of it, with cloudless skies and temps hovering around 20-25C – or as the Guardian called that in 1969, “The sizzling seventies.” Tim and I went flying yesterday afternoon. Tim flies a lot more than I do, mostly during the week when he’s in Kent – I still don’t have a current rating, so have to take an instructor and do some training. Anyway, yesterday we hired a plane together from Tayside Aviation in Fife.

“Where do you want to go?” Tim asked. “To the Bridges, to the Kelpies, along the Fife Coast?” All twenty-minute jaunts and very pretty.

I said, “How about Bamburgh?” Because I know it isn’t far, especially in the air, and the coastline is wonderful and it is my favorite holiday destination. We have now had a week-long winter holiday there three years running.

“Great idea!”

So that’s what we did, Tim doing the flight planning and the radio calls and all the hard work getting around Edinburgh’s airspace, me doing nothing. As we approached Berwick-on-Tweed, twenty miles north of Bamburgh, he handed me the controls and said, “You can fly us there.”

And as I took the controls I remembered this, from Code Name Verity.

Maddie on fabric wings flew low over the long sands of Holy Island and saw seals gathered there. She flew over the great castle crags of Lindisfarne and Bamburgh to the north and south, and over the ruins of the twelfth-century priory where the glowing gospels were painted, and over all the fields stretching yellow and green towards the low Cheviot Hills of Scotland.

Holy Island and Lindisfarne

the causeway to Holy Island... tide is out

That passage is, I think, the most oft-quoted of length from all of Code Name Verity – to my utter surprise and delight, as when I wrote it I worried it was going to be considered such hooptedoodle that I’d be asked to edit it out. And then I remembered that Maddie also dreams about flying over the sands at Holy Island, later in the book, with Julie. And then I got kind of choked up.

Fly the plane, Maddie.

So I did. I let Tim take all the pictures, because he takes better pictures than me anyway. This meant that I did all the flying the rest of the way down and all the way back. Afterward Tim said, “I’m sorry you were doing all the flying – you didn’t get the best view!” and I was like… “DUDE. I DID ALL THE FLYING. I flew over Holy Island and Lindisfarne Priory and Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands. I was HAPPY.”

Bamburgh, looking north toward Budle Bay

(I mean, a little bit of choking up is manageable in flight. I honestly didn’t think about the CNV connection until I was approaching Holy Island with my hands on the controls.)

Nothing to be afraid of, nothing to battle against, just the two of us flying together, flying the plane together, side by side in the gold sky.

the cottage we stay in is at the right of the little square near the center - Sandham, Armstrong Cottages

PS At least one reader on my twitter account connected flying to Bamburgh with Code Name Verity FASTER THAN I DID.

ewein2412: (maddie in headset)
This is what. I went to the 60th Anniversary conference of the British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA). That is such an understatement in terms of the emotional roller coaster the event put me through. It was held at White Waltham airfield, the home of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), and where the BWPA was founded by half a dozen ex-Air Transport Auxiliary pilots in 1955.

Clubhouse at White Waltham

The thing is, White Waltham airfield is also the home of the West London Aero Club, and long before I’d ever heard of the ATA, for five years this was my flying club. My husband kept a plane at White Waltham. I had my first flying lesson here. I took a flight in a Tiger Moth from White Waltham, and looped the loop in an open cockpit over Henley-on-Thames. I was on the airfield at White Waltham when I went into labor, ten hours before giving birth to my daughter, my first child. She had her first flight five weeks later, also from White Waltham, in an Antonov AN-2.

That's me and Sara on the right! Tim is next to me. He flew this thing under instruction from the pilot in the pink shirt in the center - an ex-Concorde pilot. As a result of this flight Tim has a taildragger rating. 0.o

It is more than 15 years since I last set foot on White Waltham airfield, so just being there was a huge nostalgia trip for me. But of course, since then, I have written two novels about ATA pilots. I know the names and faces of the women who flew there seventy-some years ago. When people use photos of ATA pilots to make Code Name Verity fan art, I can identify “Maddie” as played by Pauline Gower, or Joan Hughes, or Maureen Dunlop.

Original ATA flag in the West London Aero Club clubhouse. The flag is on permanent loan from the ATA Museum in Maidenhead.

The West London Aero Club logo incorporates a pair of ATA wings with the ATA’s motto – “Aetheris Avidi” – eager for the air. I didn’t notice this on the souvenir mugs in our kitchen until after I’d written Code Name Verity, ten years after we’d left White Waltham. Now I have this whole other level of historical interest and association with White Waltham – in many ways, just as emotional as the personal association for me.

The BWPA conference this weekend was a delight, inspirational and informative and convivial. I met one of the first members, Muriel Tucker, which was a thrill; I caught up with people I knew from other aviation events; I met older women who have achieved dizzying firsts and younger women struggling to build hours. Pilots, poets, historians, adventurers, astronomers – men and women both – all turned out in their evening wear for the gala dinner on Saturday night. I was SO glad I went!

We got a display from a visiting Spitfire!

And Saturday was just so darn gorgeous, with unlimited visibility, that it would have been ridiculous not to go flying. So I paid for what was essentially a “trial lesson,” but was really part sightseeing and part familiarization – my last logged flight in control of an aircraft was three years ago. Highclere Castle – aka Downton Abbey – was definitely the highlight of the trip. I said to the instructor, “OK, you have to fly so I can take pictures. You have NO IDEA what this is going to do for my street cred back in the States.”

Highclere Castle

Greenham Common and Berkshire

The highlight of the conference, for me, was probably Candy Adkins’s talk about her ATA pilot mother, Jackie Moggridge (nee Sorour). Candy had brought along a ton of her mother’s memorabilia – her original logbook was amazing. For fans of Code Name Verity, here’s the page where she first flies a Lysander – there are “Puss” flights (as in Puss Moth) also on the page! (I took a ton of pictures of entries in this log book.)

Candy told a wonderful story of how her mother used to give her “Spitfire flying lessons” under the duvet before bed. “Now hold the controls and close your eyes – just think you want to turn right. Just think it, and you’ll turn.” When her mother died, Candy – not a pilot herself - was given the opportunity by Carolyn Grace to scatter Jackie’s ashes from the Grace Spitfire, which has dual controls. Halfway through the flight, Carolyn said to Candy – “Hold the stick now – you have control! Just turn her gently right – ” Candy said, “I thought of those lessons under the duvet, and I just held the stick and thought… I want to turn right. And I did.” When they landed, Carolyn said to her, “You certainly are your mother’s daughter.”

It was much, much later in the day that I remembered why the name “Jackie Sorour” – Jackie Moggridge’s maiden name – is so familiar to me. She inspired an accident and an incident in Rose Under Fire. She is the ATA pilot who, while ferrying a Tempest, encountered a V1 flying bomb in mid-air and went after it – though she failed to get close enough to tip it before it detonated and destroyed a village.

Jackie Moggridge, nee Sorour

ewein2412: (Dancing Creme Egg)
[The giveaway connected with this post ended on 5 April 2015. The lucky winner was Sophie Jordan.]

Hi there from your itinerant online friend E Wein! And for those of you coming here from other blogs who don’t know me, I’m Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, and just this month, Black Dove, White Raven. I'm reviving my half-dead blog so I can participate in an online treasure hunt organized by author Teri Terry to introduce readers to a wide range of Young Adult authors writing in the United Kingdom.

Our lucky winner has received a fabulous grand prize of signed books by over thirty young adult authors[ who write and live in the United Kingdom. As a participant, I’ve donated a set of the UK editions of all three of my recent books, signed and personalized.


Although the egg hunt is now over, you should still be able to follow the links at the end of our posts for the blog hop and explore a variety of UKYA authors.

I’m American by birth, but I’ve been living in the UK for over 20 years, and in Scotland for the last fifteen of those. I have been here so long that I now qualify not only as a UK writer, but technically and specifically as a Scottish writer. I really love this. In times of yore, when I was a more dedicated blogger, I did a lot of posting about what it’s like to be an American living in Scotland. So just as a taster, here are some photos taken this month. It really is this beautiful. (Even when it's raining.)

Glen Quaich

Glen Quaich

dead phone box

Abandoned phone box, Kenmore

crannog on loch tay

Crannog on Loch Tay

snowdrops at scone palace

Snowdrops, Scone Palace, Perth

snowdrop cookies

Snowdrop Tea at Cambo House, Fife

The UKYA Egg Hunt closed at noon (UK time) on Sunday, 5th April 2015 (yeah, Easter day), but here’s the link to the next UKYA blog if you're interested in exploring – meet Clare Furniss, author of The Year of the Rat, which has just been shortlisted for the prestigious UK Literary Association Book Award. The UKLA book award is fondly known as the “teachers’ Carnegie” and honours excellence in literary fiction aimed at children. Jump to Clare's blog at clarefurniss.com/blog.

You can find out more about me and my books on my website at www.elizabethwein.com. I tweet far more regularly than I blog. My Twitter handle is @ewein2412.

So enjoy meeting some awesome UKYA authors and their books!

ewein2412: (osprey hair)
Sara (the 16 year old) is making fun of me because I am sitting here wearing my Twilight Sparkle Stealth Bronie hat as I type. ’Cause she spent all summer watching My Little Pony on her iPod and decided that I needed to watch it too, and as a sort of cultural phenomenon it is curiously addictive, and while Pinky Pie is my favorite, I relate most to Twilight Sparkle – the writer, the scholar, the resident alien. (On the other hand, I really detest Spike, her hideous sidekick house elf slave baby dragon.) Sara said, “You should write, ‘Today what I’ve learned about friendship!’” – as though I were filing a report to Princess Celestia … and you know, I feel like that is kind of what I am doing.

It is really a half-baked report on my weekend at the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Midwinter conference in New York. I helped run a day-long “Plot Intensive” workshop, including 16 synopsis critiques and a session on alternative plot structure, and I gave a keynote speech (my first!) on Authorial Responsibility, because I am pompous earnest like that. Lee Wind wrote a very nice summary of that speech for the SCBWI Midwinter blog, here. In a surprising aside that really delighted me, Susan Brody also gave a riff on my speech called “Practice What You Preach” on her own blog, “The Art of Not Getting Published.”. I’d met Susan last September at Children’s Book World in Haverford PA, and I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say hi to her again at this conference. But MY GOSH it was big! There were over a thousand participants. I don’t think I’ve EVER given a speech to a thousand people before.

So, that was the working part of the event, but the really wonderful part was the networking (hence “Friendship is magic!”). First there was the Illustrator’s Showcase cocktail party on Friday night, then the Gala dinner party on Saturday, and trust me to find myself a sort of afterparty event on Sunday night, hanging out with a small group of extremely kind and welcoming Regional Advisors and the stellar Ellen Hopkins (who has the dubious honor of being the most-censored author in America). In fact, it feels to me like I spent the entire weekend crashing parties, including being taken to lunch at the Yale Club. This is what the SCBWI is all about, people – making these wonderful connections. If you have any aspiration to writing children’s books whatsoever, I highly recommend joining this vibrant and helpful organization. Here’s their website: www.scbwi.org. And here’s their website in the British Isles: britishisles.scbwi.org. Conference recaps are here.

I also went to see a wonderful exhibit of Antoine de St. Exupéry’s manuscript pages for The Little Prince at the Morgan Library. This is terrifically curated and made me sob for a number of reasons. I highly recommend it for WWII buffs, pilots, and children’s book writers, and fans of The Little Prince! It’s on till 27 April 2014. Alas, there is no printed catalogue for the exhibit, but there are a number of related lectures coming up (details on the website) which I would go to hear if I were in New York. Being a desperately adoring admirer of St. X as I am.

I should also mention my visit to the Bank Street Center for Children's Literature, where I received possibly the warmest welcome I've ever been given in a literary context. I spent three hours chatting, eating lunch in the school cafeteria, drinking coffee and tea and eating more lunch with members of the Bank Street Children's Book Committee, and then had a tour of the Bank Street Library. PEOPLE. If you ever get a chance, GO VISIT THIS LIBRARY. It is totally devoted to children's literature and contains a subcollection of elderly classic children's books that have been pulled from the main shelves for various reasons. "Do you recognize any of these?" they asked. "Do I recognize these!" It was like time travel. It was like being transported back to 1976 and standing in the beautiful old Walnut Street library in Harrisburg. EVERYTHING I read as a child was there.

When I looked up the library link I was charmed to see that they have mentioned my visit in their website notes.

And I went ice skating in Rockefeller Center.

I spent my last two days stateside visiting Gramma in Mt. Gretna. It was extremely picturesque in the snow. (I might have sung “Let It Go” till the Frog Pond echoed… literally… hoping I was alone in the woods… Just sayin’.)

mt gretna dining room 2014

Dining room in Mt. Gretna cottage with Gramma at the table!

mt gretna former ghost house 2014

Maple Lodge in Campmeeting (formerly The Ghost House) (not our cottage)

mt gretna frog pond 2014

Frog Pond

mt gretna lake 2014

Mt. Gretna Lake (that is our very own canoe, the Millennium Flocken, on its side)

mt gretna library 2014

Mt. Gretna Library! (to end where I began, on a literary note)

And finally. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed how I keep boasting that Eve Muirhead, the captain of the British women’s curling team, is a local girl? Well now I have the photo to prove it. EVE MUIRHEAD AND MARK. She and her coach came to show off their Olympic bronze medal at Dewar’s Ice Rink in Perth!

eve and mark
ewein2412: (osprey hair)
We had our bank holiday early and are working today, but on Friday we drove a couple of hundred miles across the country to see THIS PLANE in flight.


It is a Catalina, a flying boat (you pronounce that like one word, with the emphasis on the first syllable: “FLYingboat”), the oldest airworthy amphibian plane in the UK. It can land on water or land. This one was built in Canada in 1943 – it spent part of its life as a waterbombing firefighter! (Full details of its history here). It was in Oban on Friday as part of a five-day tour around Britain to commemorate, and indeed to recreate without incident, the 100th anniversary of the Circuit of Britain Race flown by Harry Hawker in 1913. (More on its progress here.)

I once had a lesson in a seaplane – this Piper PA-18 Super Cub, which also happens to be the oldest aircraft I have ever flown, built in 1954 – I flew it from Loch Earn to Loch Tay and back again, and used the experience (with added spice) in my short story “Chain of Events” (in Rush Hour: Reckless, edited by Michael Cart). I have a secret desire to become an accomplished seaplane pilot, buy my own amphibious aircraft (possibly a Teal), and spend the rest of my days loch-hopping. So when I heard the Catalina, one of a dying breed, was coming to Oban, I put the date in my diary and Tim and I took the day off work to go see it.

We arrived at Oban Airport just as the Catalina was finishing its flying display and coming in to land!

catalina in flight

There were a ton of people out taking pictures (where did they hear about this, anyway?), and there was a little craft sale going on in the hangar. The flight school was open and… well, one of the instructors, Graham Dawson, used to work at Perth so we knew him, and Tim had brought his flight bag and his license is current, so we hired the school’s Cessna 172 and went for a flight around the Inner Hebrides.

catalina and cessna 172

Like you do. Because you’re there and the plane’s available.

Guys, it was just unbelievably beautiful, and one of the coolest spontaneous days off we’ve ever had. We flew over the grass airstrip on Mull.

glenforsa airfield

We saw Staffa


and Fingal’s Cave

fingals cave

[cue Mendelssohn] all from the air. We flew over Iona and saw the abbey.


iona village

iona abbey

There is a whole lot of nothing out there, just sea cliffs and inaccessible white beaches and green mountains and ruined castles.

beaches on mull

castle on island

And all within a hundred miles or so of home—accessible if you know how and if you are careful.

I was so glad we had Graham along, partly because he was extremely conscious of where the good fields were to glide to if the engine failed and which passes to avoid in case the clouds closed in, but mainly because he knew this landscape like the back of his hand and could point out things like the Dutchman’s Cap and the Atlantic Bridge.

We landed just as the rain started and then stood in line for about forty minutes to get a look at the interior of the Catalina. The “blisters” are an original feature (though the glass has been replaced) and were used for loading and unloading crew when the plane was parked on water. We climbed in just as a pair of nonagenarian former Catalina crew were climbing out. They were awesome. (Very agile, too.)

Bonuses: Catalina and pipe band.

bagpipes and catalina

Also, I just love this shot of them refueling - so many caring hands crawling all over this old plane.

refueling catalina

We got home just in time for me to make supper for Mark before driving out to Jane Yolen’s house in St. Andrew’s for Bob Harris’s book launch—his hilarious The Day the World Went Loki has just been released by Floris Books.

A pretty darn awesome day of skiving.
ewein2412: (osprey hair)
I can't believe how much I posted last year, cause I haven't posted a THING this year. So here's a happy announcement - last week Code Name Verity won the Edgar Award for best young adult mystery/thriller for 2013. I have never, ever felt so much like I was at the Oscars. Actually, in my gold dress I felt like an Oscar... XD

gold dress

Here's the full list of nominees in the YA category:

Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things, Kathryn Burak

The Edge of Nowhere, Elizabeth George

Crusher, Niall Leonard

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, Kat Rosenfield

Code Name Verity, E Wein

And here are the authors who turned up for the awards banquet. WE ARE SO GLAM!

edgar teen queens

Kat Rosenfield is in the middle and Kate Burak on the right. They were SO NICE and you should go read their excellent books, too. (sorry the photo is blurry!)

And here are the delighted editor (Catherine Onder, in eau-de-nil) and agent (Ginger Clark, in evening black), with the pallid bust of Poe himself:

im just a poe boy

In other news! This was waiting for me back in Scotland when I got home. IT IS A BOOK.

a book

This was also waiting. It is a hanky. Amanda sent it. Astonishingly, it is an actual souvenir of Paris in 1945. See the Eiffel Tower? For so many reasons, it is *perfectly* representative of Rose Under Fire. When I realized what it was, I started to cry.

rose hanky


and this is out today in the US!

cnv paperback US

ewein2412: (christmas)
IrnBru seems to be inextricably linked to Christmas here for some reason, and ice rinks, so my holiday photos run in an endless loop of ice and light and bubble-gum flavored soda. Or whatever the heck that flavor is.

The supermarkets are ready!!


And the ice rink at Dundee. Every. Single Item. on this menu just cracks me up.

dundee hockey menu

If the ice rink cafe is closed (which it often is at 7.30 a.m. when we turn up for Sara's lesson), you can still get IrnBru in the vending machines:

irnbru machine

We spent a lot of time at the Dundee ice rink in December, because the Ice Skating Club was gearing up for their winter extravaganza, Shrek on Ice (Sara was a soldier). Here's the background. I stared at it for a long time, trying to figure out which mythical country it was supposed to be, till suddenly I recognized the castle. It's EDINBURGH.

shrek on ice backdrop

OK, moving on then? Here we are back at home. I have ordered old-fashioned glass bulb Xmas lights from Noma, the oldest worldwide distributor of Xmas lights, est. 1926. These lights are so freaking beautiful they make me cry. Not a single picture I can take does them justice. But anyway here's our tree with just the lights on:

xmas lights

... And here it is fully decorated:

xmas tree dark

... And here it is in daylight, with Playmobil Christmas Tree Village added by Mark (at my request):

xmas tree & village

It is a SCOTTISH Christmas Tree Village, with a CURLING POND. Surely someone is drinking an IrnBru in that chalet.

xmas tree village

... Interior of chalet:


AND THE CURLING POND. (though the figure in the back is an ice skater):

curling pond

Sara's contribution, created in Home Ec. Even our gingerbread house is Scottish - yes, that is a Saltire!

gingerbread house

Have a happy holiday season - don't worry, we're enjoying it without IrnBru despite the pressure.
ewein2412: (snowicon)
I am compelled to report on our participation, because Mark was marching with the Scouts in the 1000 Pipers Parade in Perth (which culminated in an ACTUAL PERFORMANCE by all 1000 of them).

PKC info re 1000 Pipers Parade
(I've decided not to subject you to the videos.)

We did not participate in the Kilt Run which followed, and so you can blame MARK for being one of the 16 kilted non-participants who caused this race to fall short of being the LARGEST EVER KILT RUN. The record is currently held by Perth, Ontario, with 1089 participants. Only 1074 crossed the finish line in Perth, Scotland. I AM ASHAMED.

PKC's Kilt Run info

Most of our Jubilee weekend was pretty low-key, but on Monday I started getting beacon-itchy. I mean, I kept hearing how they were lighting all the beacons and then some, and starting them on the other side of the globe, and I thought… wouldn’t it be cool to go see a beacon alight?

So I did a little web-surfing. And I found the most wonderful, ridiculous website EVER - The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons website.

(To fully appreciate true nerdy amazingness of this website, I have to give you a little background here. I call myself the Queen of Google. Even my geeky kids acknowledge that if I can’t find it, it’s not on the Internet. But when I first started hunting for Jubilee beacon info I actually used too many search terms. It turns out you only need One. Beacons. That’s it. If you do a Google search simply for "beacons," this website is your number one hit! I seriously recommend you poke around on this site. It includes a flame-covered interactive map, insurance forms, a PDF guide that shows you how to construct a beacon, and the wonderful, mysterious "Lighting Times" schedule. It is so slick and yet so specific - an expensive, user-friendly, beautifully designed site that’s good for ONE DAY.)

Well, using their Beacon Locator, I figured out that the nearest beacon whose site-location I actually recognized was East Lomond Hill in Fife. Sara was at music camp and Mark had no school the next day because of the Jubilee, so even though Lighting Time was after 10 (it doesn’t get DARK till after 10), it didn’t matter if we were going to be up late… (also, we had champagne to drink when we got home, for reasons unrelated to the Queen’s Jubilee).

So we drove up to East Lomond Hill not really knowing what to expect, but kind of figuring on sitting in the car and watching a bonfire from a distance. ([livejournal.com profile] katranides, you were there with us on Christmas Eve once - do you remember?)

What we GOT was a trail of 60 pairs of fire baskets marking the path to the summit, minor fireworks, and a procession of 200 people (including us!) carrying lighted flambeaux. And a very jolly bonfire on top.

Our Lighting Time was 10.26 (the Lighting Times are specific and appear to be extremely random), which means that the East Lomond beacon was one of those run by "All other charities, organisations and individuals etc, including hospitals, clubs, pubs, Lions, Round Table and Rotary Clubs, Masonic Lodges, Caravan Club, Trinity House, commercial companies, Private Households and others etc." I don’t know which of these was running the show, but there was some historic connection with the mining communities of Fife, because one of the tableaux fireworks they set up was a Davy lamp - a safety lamp created in 1815 specifically to reduce the risk of explosions in coal mines.

There was also one guy carrying an actual Davy lamp - Tim, who grew up in the coal mining part of Kent, was quite excited about this. Fife, too, is coal mining country - since the 16th century. They still do open cast coal mining in Fife (I love Fife. The county is still called the Kingdom of Fife, you know).

The Davy Lamp... now you know.

The torchlight procession to the beacon site is quite possibly the most pagan event I have ever participated in. Nobody sang "God Save the Queen."

The tune stuck in my head was "Sumer is icumen in," although it was freaking FREEZING (note how everyone is wearing winter coats). From the top of the hill we could see 7 other beacons and some distant fireworks. (It was fun trying to guess where they were. "Crieff Knock! Berwick Law! Arthur’s Seat!" Clearly, we have gone native.)

The poem stuck in my head was A.E. Housman’s "1887." Yes, HONESTLY, I had Housman’s "1887" stuck in my head as we watched the Jubilee beacons burning all around us. From Sound and Sense in Randy St. John’s 10th grade English class back in Harrisburg, PA in 1979. Nothing is wasted. So it seems entirely appropriate to finish with it here.


From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,
The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
And beacons burn again.

Look left, look right, the hills are bright,
The dales are light between,
Because ’tis fifty years tonight
That God has saved the Queen.

Now, when the flame they watch not towers
About the soil they trod,
Lads, we’ll remember friends of ours
Who shared the work with God.

To skies that knit their heartstrings right,
To fields that bred them brave,
The saviors come not home tonight:
Themselves they could not save.

It dawns in Asia, tombstones show
And Shropshire names are read;
And the Nile spills his overflow
Beside the Severn’s dead.

We pledge in peace by farm and town
The Queen they served in war,
And fire the beacons up and down
The land they perished for.

"God save the Queen" we living sing,
From height to height ’tis heard;
And with the rest your voices ring,
Lads of the Fifty-Third.

Oh, god will save her, fear you not:
Be you the men you’ve been,
Get you the sons your fathers got,
And God will save the Queen.

- A.E. Housman

ewein2412: (snowicon)
No doubt a bunch of you will remember that my friend Amanda had a double mastectomy last year - quite a few of you very generously made contributions to a 5k run, Race for Life, in which I participated on Amanda’s behalf to raise funds for cancer research. ACB’s operation was so successful she is considered completely cured - she’ll never even have to have another mammogram. But the battle itself won’t be over for some months yet, as she’s in the first stages of reconstructive surgery now. A bit like rebuilding your ruined cities after the bombing stops… or something like that.

Anyway, I’m dedicating Code Name Verity to her. Because more than anything else, it is a story about friendship. But I have to say, the friendship in the book isn’t just based on my friendship with Amanda - there’s a bit of everybody in there, and if you’ve ever bicycled twenty miles in the rain with me or asked me to read or sing or ring at your wedding or be your bridesmaid or hold your chuppah, or driven me to the airport (or asked me to drive you to the airport), or helped me move, or come along on a punting picnic, or taught me to ski, or played recorder duets with me, or come along with me for a ride in a small plane, or - dare I say it - Worn the Socks - well, you know who you are.

Happy new year, everybody - I hope from the bottom of my heart that it’s exciting and GOOD.


On a lighter note, here's me and Sara practicing for next Christmas, since we weren’t home for this one…

sand tarts and...

gingerbread whoopie pies.


Also, look what appeared in Perth while we were in the States over the Christmas holidays - the sign says ‘Curiositeaz… Vintage Tea Room - Bringing the Past to Life - Vintage Curiosity and Gift Shop’

I have not yet been inside. I MAY HAVE TO GO IN COSTUME.
ewein2412: (harriet smile)
my christmas present from ACB just arrived. This time it is Harriet Vane.

more of her gear. Note the picnic! (The sandwich is wrapped in wax paper.)

of course she comes with an academic gown and also the HAT. (But what I really love is the button for the hood on her back.)

nightie & kimono.

...um... (the lace! I wanted to show off the detailing.) (right)

ready for a car journey, I think...

the fur collar is monogrammed on the inside!

last week

Nov. 28th, 2011 03:59 pm
ewein2412: (harriet writing (text))
I give you guys so little of how I actually work, and I would really like to do a better job. But I am just so darn disorganized. Here is an actual page (two pages, really) of text that I wrote last week. It is from the middle of what is kind of an unrelated sequel to Code Name Verity, with a fresh main character who doesn’t appear in CNV.

ETA: It has been pointed out to me that this picture ought to come with a spoiler warning. So: SPOILERS EXIST in this picture. If you zoom in and get out your magnifying glass and your decoding pen, a determined reader may find it possible to read this. And then you will wish you hadn't. (Now you will all be tantalized. I can't win. RANDOM ANNOYING SPOILERS! just admire it from a distance! I'm sorry.)

The bit in the middle of the right-hand page says, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I was capable of writing in the CONVENTIONAL WAY - from left to right and top to bottom down ONE SHEET OF PAPER??

This page is making me laugh.

I bet that’s the last time this particular part of the story makes anyone laugh!

I went flying last Tuesday. I had a real flying lesson for the first time in FOUR YEARS, which is really too long. Time and money have been scarce and the local flying club has become more expensive and less convenient, and although I have renewed my license and kept my medical up to date, I just haven’t logged any hours.

Part of the “sell” for CNV is connected to my own authenticity, if you will, as a pilot, and with the publication date looming (6 Feb 2012!) I am starting to feel a bit fraudulent. So I decided I was determined to start fitting in at least one flight a month. Three weeks after I’d made this decision I still hadn’t done anything about it and November was beginning to creep away… Got to get some kind of motivation going. If you were an Air Transport Auxiliary Pilot, you were given a 2 oz bar of Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate for every successful aircraft delivery you made. So I am rewarding myself with a Dairy Milk every time I go flying.

I am doing 2 things - going over all the handling and emergency drills with an eye to taking a test to get my "certificate of experience" up to date (my license is valid but not my certificate of experience), and I am doing it in a different plane (slightly bigger and more powerful, a 4-seater PA-28 rather than a 2-seater Cessna 152) to get a new "type rating." Unlike Perth, where I trained, Dundee has got actual commercial flights operating out of it from time to time, so it is a bit busier and more professional and I hope will help me build my ridiculously low radio confidence.

It should take me about 5 hours' flying to get the type rating and pass the test, and then I can rent a plane and go where I like and take passengers (ahahahaha).


Also last week was Thanksgiving, of course, and many whoopie pies were consumed:

These are vanilla. They are a lot like homemade Nilla wafers, so we don't bother with filling. Pumpkin whoopie pies were also available.

I thought people might also be entertained by these Evacuee Day photos... one of me and my boy, and one with fellow mad mums:

And finally, Mark’s Junior Brass Band won the Scottish Youth Brass Band Championship on Sunday. He plays trumpet. I am very proud of them!
ewein2412: (e Wein)
Thanks for all the good wishes this weekend! Sara and I are now back home having successfully completed our 5 k fundraising run for cancer research. The total contributions made by YOU, family and friends, amounts to over £600 -- about $1000 USD. THANK YOU!

It was pouring, as usual… I don't think I've ever participated in any kind of fundraising event in Scotland when it hasn't been pouring. Sara and I ran together for the first 4 k, at which point Sara sprinted ahead of me to finish in about 32min 45 sec. I followed behind at 34.48 (I was timing myself with a stopwatch, but Sara had to rely on the clock at the finish line). Tim says Sara was in the top 40 finishing and I was in the top 70, out of about 1200 participants, so we are VERY PLEASED WITH OURSELVES!

Kate told us the distance was the length of the Boardwalk plus back to Wonderland… So every kilometre or so we'd go, "OK, now we're eating popcorn… Now we're at the water park… Now we're at the shuffleboard courts…." However, North Inch in Perth is a beautiful place to run along the River Tay, so I had no complaints about the scenery.

Thanks again for all your support!

Lots of love,

E wein


Race for Life raises money for cancer research in the UK.

The Fundraising page for me and Sara:

ewein2412: (stella potens et mira)
A frustrated Sara, not finished wrapping her presents, complains tearfully at 10.15 p.m. on Christmas Eve (as we rush out to Dunkeld to ring the bells for the Watchnight church service): "I should have started earlier and I've run out of paper!"

E. Wein, without sympathy: "WELCOME TO MY WORLD."

Mark: "That sounds like Sara's quoting from Code Name Verity!"


truth to tell, our garden has looked like this for a solid month now.

CNV is a theme we cannot escape. Among my presents I have received a wind-up toy that flies little die-cast Allied aircraft, a book about the SOE and another about how to make "Allied Sabotage Devices and Booby Traps," and a thing called The Black-Out Book which has all kinds of exciting games to play with your family when you're sitting in an Anderson shelter with nothing to do. Here is a close-up of this year's gingerbread "men":

It is *wonderful* ringing for the watchnight service at Dunkeld--could not be more magical, this nearly 1000 year old cathedral all lit by candles, and the moon shining on the snow which is now regrowing itself as crystallized hoarfrost. But it was -6 C / 21 F in the ringing room!
ewein2412: (verity no text)
I feel fairly confident that I would get A LOT MORE WORK DONE if I were shut in a room for nine hours with paper and ink and my ankles tied to my chair.

But since I am a free woman, I have spent the past hour making extremely diddy WAAF accessories. AMANDA I BLAME YOU.

(the cigarettes were fun, but the lipstick was INSPIRED)
ewein2412: (Default)
last weekend Perth was invaded by waxwings. Mark and I first spotted them on Sat. 30 October, in a rowan tree in a garden a few doors down from us (apparently their preference is for rowan berries). We recognized them right away because they look so much like the cedar waxwings that we see all summer in the trees and shrubs around the Mt. Gretna Lake in Pennsylvania. We were actually in the process of working on a "nature diary" project for Mark so we took pictures:

And then we realized that there were about 100 of them all hanging out together. I'd seen about 3 waxwings in Perth several years ago, so it was kind of unusual, and we looked them up in the bird book--it turns out that usually about 100 or so are seen in Britain in a year. They breed in Scandinavia, but sometimes the population "erupts" because there is not enough food to sustain it, and then a thousand or more come foraging south. So that is what is going on this year! (The bird book also said there have been more "eruptions" in the past 20 years.)

The following morning there were easily 200 of them in the linden (lime, to you Brits) trees in our front garden, and they devoured our rowan berries, too.

These were taken through our bedroom window:

And this one was taken through Sara's window:

Having stripped bare every rowan tree in Perth, I think they have now moved on--they have to eat some ridiculous amount of food a day to keep going--10 times their own body weight or something like that (I made that number up, but you get the idea. It is some multiplication of their body weight. Maybe only 2 or 3 times, but there were a LOT of them).
ewein2412: (E Wein age 7)
I put this project on hold 9 months ago because I couldn't find any 3x3 inch frames that cost less than £40 each. Today, in my neverending quest for ancient ballpoint pens, I came across a couple of vintage frames EXACTLY the right size, in the Dog Shelter Charity Shop, and they cost 30 p each (about 45 cents). So now I am inspired to post the pictures here, too. This is Gramma and Grampa in, I believe, the summer of 1959, which makes them 43 years old. My age (actually, a little bit younger).

I have 2 comments:

1) I have not been able to hula hoop since I was about 25. Gramma is amazing.

2) My grandfather was the HANDSOMEST MAN IN THE WORLD.

I am sure he is drinking a gin & tonic and reading the New York Times Magazine.

At the same time I scanned these photos I also did this one:

This was taken in 1943. It is four generations of Saylor/Berger women. The baby is my mother, Carol. Gramma is on the left, at 27. Next to her is Rosie, her grandmother. Gramma's mother, Mae, is on the right.

I love love love this picture.


when I showed it to my brother-in-law, the first question he asked was, "Where are the men? Are they all at war?" In fact none of them are at war. I come from a family of draft-dodgers on both sides, although to be fair to my grandfather and great-grandfather, etc., most of them were way too old to be going to war, and my grandfather was a minister. He applied for his army chaplaincy a bit too late to actually have to go. My brother-in-law's comment: "Well, he should have done it 5 years earlier when the war started, shouldn't he?"

I smiled sweetly. We are AMERICAN, after all.

God's truth, I HADN'T MENTIONED THE WAR. I don't go LOOKING for these fights.


ewein2412: (Default)

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