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E Wein
28 February 2014 @ 11:30 pm
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
 
 
E Wein
14 January 2014 @ 03:06 pm
this is actually a test... pay no attention to that kid behind the curtain.

New pinterest board set up for my kid, called Mark Gatland aka Mark the Mushroom or markthemushroom... we are trying to resolve a private issue involving his use of Steam.

http://www.pinterest.com/ewein2412/mark-gatland-aka-mark-the-mushroom-or-markthemushr/
 
 
E Wein
21 December 2013 @ 10:11 am
If I were going to make a new year's resolution, which I don't often do, it would be to update this journal once a month instead of never.

Part of the reason I have been so unproductive here is because I've written a LOT of guest posts on other blogs throughout the year. And now Chachic of Chachic's Book Nook is hosting a weeklong celebration of my books (!), beginning today - not that I have to do any blogging for it. I just get to sit back and enjoy the show! I love that 21 December is the opening day of "EWeinSpecialOps"!

ewein-special-ops

This is all coinciding with my upgraded website going live at www.elizabethwein.com, courtesy of my friend Tina Stoecklin and YogaWebs - AND with Open Road Media reissuing ALL FIVE of my early books - The Winter Prince, A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom, as e-books!

Here's the link to the e-books on Open Road.

So - after all that self-aggrandizing, best wishes for a warm and bright midwinter season (you know the words):

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!


- Susan Cooper for the Revels
 
 
E Wein
22 October 2013 @ 12:04 pm
I get challenged again and again: “Why is Code Name Verity considered young adult fiction? The characters are too old. The writing is too literary. The situation is too harsh.” And that is all true. Sometimes these challenges are polite, and made directly; sometimes I encounter them, more hurtfully, online. “Nothing happens in the first 200 pages, it’s so boring.” “There are too many technical details.” “I can’t imagine a teen reader engaging with this book.” “My whole freshman class has to read this and we all hate it.” Oh, man. Author nightmare, your book turned into a school assignment that everybody hates!

I have very little idea how many teens actually read and enjoy Code Name Verity. When I speak to school groups, they usually haven’t read it yet. When I speak at bookstores, the audience is almost always overwhelmingly composed of grown-ups. But every now and then I get a hint that there are target audience fans out there too. In Politics & Prose in Washington, DC, I met a 12-year-old girl who had read Code Name Verity five times (when she was eleven). She said it was her favorite book. She had forced it on her best friend, who had read it twice. I remind myself about these kids whenever I feel down. And also of the occasional amazing school visit like Heart of England, which read CNV for the Carnegie Shadowing scheme. And also of the occasional evangelistic readers my daughter (now 16) meets online. These are the opposite of the nightmare scenario.

I knew that Code Name Verity was one of the 28 titles in the running for the YALSA Teens Top Ten list for 2013, but I totally, totally did not expect it to make the final cut. Last night I was flabbergasted to learn that it came in as Number One.

Here's a congratulatory tweet I received from Jenn Calder which really encompasses what this means to me:




Okay? Okay! People! It doesn’t prove anything about CNV so much as it proves that teens are intelligent, discerning readers. The whole fabulous list does. I’d have been proud to be anywhere on it. Heck, I was proud to be one of the 28 nominees.

Here it is in full.

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Disney/Hyperion)
2. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books)
4. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen)
5. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (Simon & Schuster)
6. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
7. Crewel by Gennifer Albin (Macmillan/Farrar Straus Giroux)
8. Every Day by David Levithan (Random House/Alfred A. Knopf)
9. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Egmont)
10. Butter by Erin Jade Lange (Bloomsbury)

Thank you, YALSA teens. I am going to stop doubting myself now.

http://www.ala.org/yalsa/teens-top-ten
 
 
E Wein
12 September 2013 @ 12:10 pm
cover banner small

From 14-26 September I am going on tour to celebrate the launch of Rose Under Fire in the USA and Canada - and for once I have got it together enough to post a list of public appearances more than 24 hours before I make them (just)! Please spread the word if you know anyone who might be interested.

USA: 14-21 September

Sat. 14 September Montrose, CA (Los Angeles)
7.00 p.m. Once Upon a Time Bookstore; 2207 Honolulu Ave., Montrose, CA 91020; tel 818-248-9668 More details here.

(This is my first day Stateside since the Rose Under Fire release, so in my head it’s the launch party: please come!)


Tues. 17 September Decatur, GA (Atlanta)
7:00 pm Little Shop of Stories, 133A East Court Square, Decatur, GA 30030; tel 404-373-6300 More details here

(Famous as the folks who gave the Obamas a copy of Code Name Verity!)


Wed. 18 September Coral Gables, FL (Miami)
7:00 pm, Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134; tel 305-442-4408 More details here


Thurs. 19 September Washington, DC
2:00-4:00 pm International Spy Museum, Museum Shop, 800 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004; tel 202 393-7798 More details here

(this is primarily an informal signing, but. THE INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM!!!)


Thurs. 19 September Washington, DC
7:00 pm Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008; tel 202-364-1919 More details here

(My second event for this hugely supportive indy bookstore – was there in May. Hope they don’t get bored with me.)


Fri. 20 September Fairless Hills, PA (Philadelphia)
7:00 pm Barnes & Noble 2697, 210 Commerce Blvd, Fairless Hills, PA 19030; tel 215-269-0442 More details here

Sat. 21 September Haverford, PA (Philadelphia)
1.00 pm Children’s Book World, 17 Haverford Station Rd., Haverford, PA 19041; tel 610-642-6274 More details here

(I was here in July, but so pleased to be back… they had cake!)


CANADA: 22-26 September

Sun. 22 September Toronto: Word on the Street Festival
12.15 – 1.00 p.m. In Conversation at The Word on the Street with Toronto Star’s Small Print columnist, Deirdre Baker, Remarkable Reads Tent, Queen's Park Toronto, ON. More details here

Tues. 24 September Ottawa
7.00 p.m. Ottawa Public Library event, Sunnyside branch, program room 1049 Bank St. Ottawa, ON; tel 613-730-1082 More details here

Thurs. 26 September Vancouver
7.00 p.m. Kidsbooks (note off site location:) West Point Grey United Church Sanctuary, 4595 West 8th Ave., Vancouver, BC; tel 604 738 5335. Tickets can be purchased online at www.kidsbooks.ca More details here


-------------------------

If you’re interested, I’ve done several interviews and guest blog entries in connection with Rose Under Fire – links appear below.


Bearing Witness: An Interview with Playing by the Book, 12 Sept. 2013

Interview and Review for Sarah Laurence’s blog, 5 Sept. 2013. ILLUSTRATED! This interview includes a really lovely picture of me at Rose’s age feeding a sparrow from my hand and looking all Edna St. Vincent Millay-ish.

Interview with Audiofile Magazine, 1 Aug. 2013. Also includes the skinny on casting the Code Name Verity audiobook.

Guest blog for The Hive, 31 July 2013 : "Poetry and Survival."

"Ask the Author" Blog interview for The Independent, 26 July 2013. More about the use of poetry in Rose Under Fire.

SchoolZone (Reading Zone) interview, 17 June 2013. In which I reveal a lot of the background for the creation of Rose Under Fire.

First Look with Sue Corbett for Publishers’ Weekly, 13 June 2013
 
 
E Wein
26 August 2013 @ 10:05 am
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.

catalina

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

staffa

and Fingal’s Cave

fingals cave

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

iona

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.
 
 
E Wein
21 August 2013 @ 08:25 pm
The question isn’t, “Is there any young adult fiction out there that doesn’t have romance in it?”

The question is, “Where the heck did the all that romance come from?”

Here is my suggested reading list – a taking off point - if you’re looking for something different. OH, WAIT. THIS IS ALL CLASSIC YA. What? Why? How? WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO MY YA???

This Star Shall Abide – Sylvia Engdahl http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/715920.This_Star_Shall_Abide
A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K LeGuin http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13642.A_Wizard_of_Earthsea
The House in Norham Gardens – Penelope Lively http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/688099.The_House_In_Norham_Gardens
Memory – Margaret Mahy http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47893.Memory
Jacob Have I Loved - Katherine Paterson http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/337058.Jacob_Have_I_Loved
Prove Yourself a Hero – K.M. Peyton http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4973399-prove-yourself-a-hero
Eagle of the Ninth – Rosemary Sutcliff http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/149405.The_Eagle_Of_The_Ninth

Oh, and if I do say so myself, The Winter Prince. Which, incidentally, is on sale in the foyer in e-book form as part of Open Road Media's "Back to School" promotion: http://www.openroadmedia.com/backtoschool?tab=featured-sale

(Sorry about them all being white female authors. I don't know how that happened - I was just scanning the shelves. I'm afraid it's still pretty common in the field (guilty as charged).)
 
 
E Wein
11 June 2013 @ 07:57 pm
This time it's a character from Rose Under Fire and by gosh it isn't Rose - it's IRINA. I'm pretty sure that if you haven't read the book there won't really be any spoilers here, but if you have, let me just say: RED BATHING SUIT WARNING. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry, really.

Irina arrived today and I got all excited and worried just looking at the customs label.


irina customs declaration
Excited because, well, Amanda has actually already made me four other literary action figures. Worried because, um, Ravensbrueck. You will have to leave some of Irina's accessories to your imagination. But don't worry, she is the BEST EQUIPPED BARBIE I HAVE EVER OWNED.

I bring you the experience of opening the package! This is what lay on top:irina storch



It is a diagram of a Storch. Fieseler 156. Not Irina's aircraft, but hey. Significant for other reasons.

And when you lift the paper, here she is. Look! she even comes with a pretty civilian summer dress so she can go dancing or something:
irina in box


And here is her marvelous gear. Escape kit - maps, Russian spam, compass -irina escape kit



And parachute, of course. I hope she knows how to get it on.


irina parachute
She also happens to be a decorated Hero of the Soviet Union.
irina with medals


Close-up of those medals:irina medals closeup



FEEEELLLLS :'(


irina swimsuit


-----------------------------------

THANK YOU AMANDA, I AM NOT WORTHY!!!!! :P


She also sent me a scissors. Best. Eiffel. Tower. Tat. EVER.


irina eiffel tower scissors
The instructions are worth reading, too.irina scissors caution
 
 
E Wein
06 June 2013 @ 06:10 pm
I’m back from my first Book Expo America at the Javits Center in New York City. I didn’t even scrape the tip of the iceberg. I have this weird personal viewpoint which is entirely based on the number of engagements I had to fulfil: the School Library Journal ‘Day of Dialogue,’ the pre-BEA art auction, the Disney dinner on Thursday night, and a full day on Friday including the Children’s Author Breakfast, a signing, an interview with Publishers’ Weekly (holy cow!!!), then the Children’s Author Tea. The Tea was undoubtedly my favorite event of the whole thing and THAT was because everybody at my first table had read Code Name Verity and we had an excellent All Spoilers, All the Time discussion which began with one woman leaning over the table and gasping passionately, “WHY???? WHYWHYWHYWHYWHY????!!!” To which I responded, “I’m sorry!” XD

The panel at the Day of Dialogue, “Real World Horror,” was cathartic –I think for audience and panellists alike. We dug deeper than usual. It was a great panel – fortunately it’s summed up very handily here, and there’s even a picture of the panellists (Elizabeth Scott, Julie Berry, Matthew Quick, Adele Griffin and me) and moderator (Karyn Silverman), who were all scarily intelligent and just wonderfully nice. (And also, they are all very slick dressers. I felt quite inadequate on all fronts, but so welcome that it didn’t matter.)

I did not go to any panels that I wasn’t shepherded to by my publisher – I didn’t even have a schedule until I stole one from a kind person, but I never got a chance to look at it, either. I saw Holly Black and Kareem Abdul Jabar, Octavia Spencer and Mary Pope Osborne and Rick Riordan and Veronica Roth, by virtue of their speaking at events at which I was expected to be present – but I didn’t get near enough to get anything autographed (except Riordan, at the Disney dinner). I saw Dr. Ruth from very close by and had my picture taken next to a placard with Bill Bryson’s name on it, on someone else’s camera (I forgot mine), but couldn’t go to his event because I had an event of my own scheduled at the same time. I feel like I did so much and yet I really didn’t see much of anything! AND, despite not actually going around collecting books on purpose, I ended up with TWENTY-SIX POUNDS' worth of books to drag home with me. That is weight, not worth. It is an accurate number – that was my checked baggage.

I can’t believe how many people I met that I actually know – not all from the Internet, either. And I also can’t believe how many people I know were there and whose paths never crossed with mine. There really is not enough time and space in the universe.

When it was all over I got to eat Ethiopian take-away in Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman's amazingly wonderful 1908-era apartment on Riverside Drive (first time I'd seen it), and we went to see a marvelous play called Nikolai and the Others in Lincoln Center. And on my last morning in NYC I bicycled around Central Park.

Oh my goodness, my READERS, they are SO WONDERFUL. Becky, for example, who turned up at Politics & Prose last month and again at BEA, and whom I’ve been meaning to thank for this lovely little card – CNV by becky (Becky is the one responsible for this sketch)

And Jessica from Read My Breath Away, who turned up in the signing line with a CNV-inspired charm bracelet including a tiny gold Eiffel Tower (gold-colored, anyway) such as Maddie mentions, and which I have to admit Maddie mentions because Eiffel Tower charms constitute my very favorite tourist tat ever. bracelet by jessica

I have a story to tell about the bracelet. I was wearing it for the first time in the elevator on my way to check out of my hotel on Saturday morning. I was carrying five bags, and I moved to avoid braining the other occupant of the elevator, a very pretty and well-dressed woman. She said apologetically, “I hope you’re not allergic to my perfume!”

I said to her, “Listen, you should never apologise for your perfume.”

She answered, “Why, thank you! Thank you! It’s always a little strong when I first put it on, and I worry.”

I said, “Well, for goodness sake. What’s the point in wearing it if you go around apologising for it?”

“You are so kind!” she said, and then pointed to my new CNV charm bracelet. “And I can tell that you mean it, because you’re wearing that cross. A lot of people might wear a cross, but they don’t always remember what it means. You are putting into practice the kindness you believe in.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the “cross” she was pointing to on my wrist was, in fact, a B17 Flying Fortress bomber. Or something like that.
 
 
E Wein
07 May 2013 @ 05:34 pm
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

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781423152880