Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, Diana Gabaldon!

Wishing a very happy birthday to Diana Gabaldon, author of the OUTLANDER series, who turns 65 years old today!

Diana, I hope you have a wonderful birthday, and thank you so much -- again! -- for creating this AMAZING story!!

If you're on Twitter, please use the hashtag #HappyBdayDG. If you want to send birthday wishes directly to Diana, her Twitter id is @Writer_DG, or you can post on her Facebook page.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Season 2 marathon on STARZ Jan. 8th!

To those of you in the US:

STARZ will be running an OUTLANDER Season 2 marathon on Sunday, January 8, from 9:20 am to 10:30 pm.

If you don't already have Season 2 on DVD/Blu-ray or on your DVR, this is a good opportunity to record all 13 episodes!

Please help spread the word to anyone else you know who may be interested.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

REPOST: ABC's of Roger

Happy Birthday to Richard Rankin, who plays Roger Wakefield on the OUTLANDER TV series! Richard turns 34 years old today, January 4th. In honor of his birthday, and in tribute to one of my favorite OUTLANDER characters, I am reposting these "ABC's of Roger". 

I borrowed this idea from a writer's exercise that was posted on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community a few years ago. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. Here's my alphabet for Roger.

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright © Diana Gabaldon, of course.

*** S P O I L E R  W A R N I N G!! *** 

If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.









ABC's of Roger Jeremiah (Wakefield) MacKenzie:

A for Roger's beloved daughter, Amanda, also known as Mandy.

B for Brianna, of course. Also Bodhran, the ancient Celtic drum that Roger plays on occasion.

C for his Calm demeanor, especially in contrast to Bree's fiery temper. "It isn’t freaking true!” “No, of course not.” Roger watched his wife warily; she was exhibiting the general symptoms of a large explosive device with an unstable timing mechanism, and he had the distinct feeling that it was dangerous to be in her vicinity. (ABOSAA chapter 81, "Benefit of the Doubt")

D for Determination. Roger's determination to overcome whatever obstacles life throws in his way has been a part of his character since he was a small boy. He wouldn’t throw a fit--he hardly ever did--but he wouldn’t give up, either. ("A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows")

E for Eyesight. Roger lacks binocular vision, which makes it difficult for him to learn to shoot with a musket.

F for Family and Father. "I swear to ye, Bree,” he said. “Whatever I’m called to now--and God knows what that is--I was called to be your husband first. Your husband and the father of your bairns above all things--and that I always shall be. Whatever I may do, it will not ever be at the price of my family, I promise you." (ABOSAA, chapter 52, "M-I-C-")

G for the Gloriana, the ship on which Roger traveled to America in DRUMS OF AUTUMN.

H for the Hanging in FIERY CROSS, which took Roger's singing voice and changed his life forever. Also for Historian. If it weren't for Roger's skill at historical research, Claire might never have been reunited with Jamie, and everything that followed might never have happened.

I for Inverness, where Roger grew up.  Also for the feelings of Insecurity and Inferiority that Roger had for a long time after he came to live on Fraser's Ridge, constantly comparing himself to Jamie. I hope he's finally moved beyond that stage.

J for the two Jeremiah MacKenzies: Roger's father Jerry and his son Jem.

K for Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland, where Roger was born.

L for Learning the skills he would need to survive in the 18th century, from sword-fighting to girdling trees to butchering a hog. It's not always easy!

M for Morag, wife of William Buccleigh MacKenzie, and Roger's direct ancestor. Roger saved her baby's life on the Gloriana in DRUMS, but his impulsive decision to kiss her in FIERY CROSS was a mistake with devastating consequences.

N for Nicknames. Jamie addressed him impartially as 'Wee Roger,' 'Roger Mac,' or 'MacKenzie' -- more rarely, by the Gaelic nickname Ronnie Sinclair had given Roger, a SmeĆ²raich, in honor of his voice. Singing Thrush, it meant. (FIERY CROSS, chapter 13, "Beans and Barbecue")

O for Oxford University, where Roger studied and later worked as a history professor.

P for Presbyterian and Predestination. Roger's religious faith is very important to him. I was fascinated by his discussions with Jamie about predestination and whether the future can be changed.

Q for Quick-Witted. Roger is a quick thinker in times of crisis. One of my favorite examples is the scene in ABOSAA where the boys put baby Henri-Christian in the creek, and Roger manages to rescue him and stop the miscreants before they get away. "I baptize thee, Henri-Christian,” Roger had bellowed, in his hoarse, cracked voice. “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost! D’ye hear me, wee bastards? His name is Christian! He belongs to the Lord! Trouble him again, ye lot of scabs, and Satan will pop up and drag ye straight down screaming--TO HELL!” (ABOSAA chapter 64, "I am the Resurrection, Part 2")

R for the Reverend Reginald Wakefield, Roger's late adoptive father. The Reverend had a major influence on his life.

S for Singing. Roger had such a beautiful singing voice, and the loss of it breaks my heart. It's so difficult now to read lines like this: "I always sing for you, hen." He came behind her, drew her back against him, so that her head rested on his shoulder, her hair cool and live against his face....."No matter what," he whispered, "no matter where. No matter whether you’re there to hear or not--I’ll always sing for you." (FIERY CROSS chapter 16, "On the Night That Our Wedding is On Us")

T for Time-Travel. Not just for Roger's ability to travel through the stones, but also for his "Hitchhiker's Guide" in ECHO, the notebook where he wrote down everything they knew about how the time-traveling works.

U for Uxorious. According to Diana Gabaldon, this word refers to "a man who was clearly and obviously in love with his wife". Roger once called Jamie "deeply uxorious", but I think the word applies equally well to Roger himself.

V for Vrooms. The little wooden cars that Roger carved for Jemmy and the other children on the Ridge were a big success!

W for Wakefield. Roger's mother's surname, and the name by which Brianna and Claire first knew him.

X for the X-shaped cut he made on Jamie's leg to draw out the rattlesnake's venom, saving Jamie's life.

Y for "Yesterday". Roger played this Beatles song on his guitar for Brianna on their wedding night. The lyrics are very appropriate!

Z for Zero. The number of times that Roger has traveled through the stones without the use of gemstones for protection.

I hope you enjoyed these! Here are the other posts in this series:

ABC's of Jamie Fraser
ABC's of Claire Fraser
ABC's of the OUTLANDER TV Series

Finally, for those of you who don't know, today is also Graham McTavish's birthday. (Graham played Dougal in Seasons 1 and 2.) If you want to send birthday wishes directly to them, their Twitter ids are @RikRankin and @GrahamMcTavish.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

December poll results

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here are the results of the December poll, which asked the question, "Have you ever been to Scotland?"
  • 34.59% - No, but I'd love to visit there some day!
  • 16.13% - I visited Scotland long before I knew Diana Gabaldon's books existed.
  • 12.28% - I visited Scotland after I discovered the OUTLANDER books.
  • 10.39% - Yes, I've been there more than once.
  • 5.38% - I'm making plans to go to Scotland in 2017.
  • 3.94% - I visited Scotland as a result of seeing, or hearing about, the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 3.58% - I've lived in Scotland all or part of my life.
  • 3.41% - No, but I'd like to see some of the locations shown in the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 2.60% - I went on an OUTLANDER-themed tour of Scotland.
  • 1.43% - No, it's too far away and/or I can't afford it.
  • 1.43% - I'd like to visit, but I can't travel due to age or health reasons.
  • 0.81% - No, I like reading about Scotland or seeing it on TV, but I don't have any desire to go there myself.
  • 4.03% - Other
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • Visited when I was young. AlwYs loved Scotland and now even more after books
  • Making plans to go to Scotland in 2018
  • yes 45 years ago
  • Have wanted to go since I was little but could never afford it.
  • I visited over 30 years ago but when back because of the Outlander.
  • Planning to visit in 2018!
  • I'm planning on going in 2018.
  • Not yet - I have a mad plan for 2018, trekking from Nairn to Fort William
  • Scotland is amazing!!
  • business trip
  • Would love to go again tho
  • I have plans to live there part time in the next 10 years
  • Yes, on a British Isles cruise.The harbor was so rough,couldn't get to Edi.
  • 2015 spent two weeks in Scotlsnd and loved it
  • I am Scottish but have lived in Astralia since I was 25 and am the person who s
  • I'd like to visit Scotland again when finances let me to see Outlander locations
  • Went two Summers ago. Party of our prep was watching the first episode in Germin
  • Hoping to take family in2018. Visit ancestors land
  • My daughter received a grant to study at the university and loved SCotland.
  • Visited my daughter in Findhorn for an international studies class.
  • Visted Scotland LONG before the books exsisted
  • No. why would I want to go to Scotland. Nothing I want to see.
  • I LONG to go there, but will never afford it.
  • would go in a heart beat if I could afford it and there was a handicap option
  • Always wanted to visit Scotland.
  • Discovered my Scottish ancestry via 1st book.
  • both #2 & #4
  • I went to Scotland before I knew about the books, then I went after reading
  • I'd love to go, but I could never afford it.
  • More than once, before Outlander was published
  • visited 2016 for genealogy and outlander.
  • The Head Office of my employer was in Scotland. I often visited.
  • I've been to Scotland twice and before I read the books.
  • Went after reading book but not because of in 2009
  • No, but i want to move there
  • My late Mother was a Scot, Ann Douglas.
  • Went to find my family heritage!
  • Outlander was the final shove to make it happen.
  • I visited Scotland long before Diana wrote her books.
  • I visited Scotland for my daughter's wedding.
  • Yes, I've been more than once and I'm going again in 2017.
  • for sports - will revisit for outlander.
  • Yes, '78, '86, '10, '12, '14, '16, & hopefully '17
  • Books & show made me go!
  • Want to but it will probably never happen. :-(
There were 1116 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated! I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I have been to Scotland twice, in 2012 and 2016.

Please take a moment to vote in the January poll, which asks the question, "Which of Diana Gabaldon's books are you currently reading or listening to?" Thanks!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

As we prepare to ring in 2017, I thought it would be appropriate to have an old-fashioned Hogmanay celebration, as they might have celebrated it on Fraser's Ridge 240 years ago.

This picture shows a cabin built around 1820 near Grandfather Mountain, NC (very close to where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located).  This is very much the way I picture the original cabin on the Ridge.
A firstfoot was to bring gifts to the house: an egg, a faggot of wood, a bit of salt--and a bit of whisky, thus insuring that the household would not lack for the necessities during the coming year.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Hogmanay". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I can't participate in a first-footing myself, even if I lived in Scotland (redheads being considered extremely bad luck on such an occasion), but I'd like to share these small tokens with you anyway.

Here's an article about Hogmanay Traditions in Scotland.  From what I can tell, the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh are an even bigger deal than New Year's Eve in New York's Times Square.

My mom and I plan to toast the New Year with a bottle of Glenfiddich that I bought in Scotland last summer. <g>

Happy New Year, and best wishes to all of you in 2017!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Year in Review

2016 has been an unforgettable year for OUTLANDER fans all over the world!  Here are some of the highlights of the past year:

January 7 - The People's Choice Awards are announced. Caitriona Balfe wins the Favorite Actress in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category, and OUTLANDER wins Favorite Cable TV Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show.

January 28 - Sophie Skelton is cast as Brianna!

February 25 - Entertainment Weekly publishes a cover story on OUTLANDER, featuring a provocative (and controversial!) photo of Sam and Cait. Diana Gabaldon's response to this photo is definitely worth reading.

March 31 - STARZ releases a video recapping the highlights of all 16 episodes of Season 1 in only six minutes. I thought they did an excellent job with it. Well worth watching!

April 8 - Diana Gabaldon's novella, "Virgins", is published as a standalone e-book in the US and Canada. For more information about "Virgins", see my FAQ page here.

April 9 - Season 2 premieres on STARZ!

April 9 - mid-July - I call this period "The Great Thread Explosion of 2016". Keeping up with all of the discussion of the Season 2 episodes on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (which is the online forum where Diana Gabaldon hangs out) was quite a challenge for me personally.  Diana refers to what I do on the forum as "herding the bumblebees", which is an image that always makes me smile. It turned into a full-time job for a while, and by the time the season came to an end, I was quite exhausted. But I'm delighted with the way it all worked out.

If you want to see the episode discussions on Compuserve, look here for the complete list.

Here are my Season 2 episode recaps:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...
Episode 207: Faith
Episode 208: The Fox's Lair
Episode 209: Je Suis Prest
Episode 210: Prestonpans
Episode 211: Vengeance is Mine
Episode 212: The Hail Mary
Episode 213: Dragonfly in Amber

May 25 -  STARZ announces that all of their original programming (including OUTLANDER) will be moving from Saturdays to Sundays. (Yes, this means that Season 3 will be shown on Sunday nights in the US.)

May 31 - Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (Book 8 in the OUTLANDER series) is released in mass-market paperback format -- that's the small size paperback -- in the US and Canada.

June 1 - In celebration of World OUTLANDER Day, and the 25th anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication, STARZ announces that OUTLANDER has been renewed for Seasons 3 and 4!

June 18 - Episode 211, "Vengeance is Mine", premieres on STARZ. This is the episode that Diana Gabaldon wrote. She described that process in detail on her website here. Diana spent three weeks in Scotland in November 2015 on the set of OUTLANDER, watching the filming of her episode. Here's her detailed account of what it was like. (Hint: cold and wet, most of the time!)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

July 1-10 - I visited Scotland for the second time, along with my brother and sister-in-law. Getting there turned out to be quite an adventure in itself, but I made it, and we had a wonderful time! (Here I am at Glencoe, one of my favorite places in Scotland.)

Here's my detailed account of the trip:

My trip to Scotland (Prologue)
My trip to Scotland (Part 1)
My trip to Scotland (Part 2)
My trip to Scotland (Part 3)
My trip to Scotland (Part 4)

July 4 - Diana Gabaldon announces the title of Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series: GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE.

August 5 - Inspired by the Summer Olympics in Rio, I posted a collection of quotes on the theme of OUTLANDER Olympics. I was really pleased with the reaction to it!

August 16 - Diana Gabaldon's non-fiction e-book on how to write sex scenes, titled I GIVE YOU MY BODY... is published. For more information, please see my FAQ page. 

August 21 - Filming begins on OUTLANDER Season 3!

September 16 - My dad, Chuck Henry, passed away at age 79, after a two-year battle with multiple myeloma. I miss him so much!

October 18 - THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER: The Official Guide to Seasons One & Two, by Tara Bennett, is published. This is a terrific book, packed with behind-the-scenes details, photos, and interviews with cast members. Highly recommended!

October 22 - November 18 - The 2nd Annual Droughtlander Photo Contest was a big success, with 266 entries submitted! Thanks so much to everyone who participated. You can see the slideshow of the contest entries here.

November 1 - OUTLANDER Season 2 is released on Blu-ray and DVD!

November 21 - Diana Gabaldon's story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, now has an official publication date of June 27, 2017. The collection will include:

"The Custom of the Army" (originally published in 2010)
"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" (originally published in 2010)
"A Plague of Zombies" (originally published in 2011)
"The Space Between" (originally published in 2012)
"Virgins" (originally published in 2013)
"A Fugitive Green" (new story about Hal and Minnie in 1744)
"Besieged" (new story about Lord John and his mother Benedicta)

Look here for more information, including pre-order links.

November 23 - In honor of the 10th anniversary of my discovery of the OUTLANDER books, I posted my Top 10 OUTLANDER Moments.

December 14 - My Outlandish Observations Facebook page now has more than 9,000 followers!!

December 26 - My blog has a new custom web address:!

What an incredible year this has been! I'm delighted to see all the new people who've found their way here in recent months.  Thanks to ALL of you who take the time to visit Outlandish Observations, and I wish you all the best in 2017!

Monday, December 26, 2016


I'm pleased to announce that Outlandish Observations now has a new custom web address!

If you have this site saved in your Favorites or Bookmarks, please make a note of the new URL. All of the links should automatically redirect from the old location at

The change may take a few hours to go into effect worldwide, so if you have any problems, please try again later.