Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year to all of you!

And Happy Hogmanay to those of you who celebrate it! I had never heard of Hogmanay before I read Diana Gabaldon's books.

Here's an article I found about Hogmanay Traditions in Scotland. It's probably just as well that I don't live in Scotland. Redheads being very bad luck for the first-footing and all that. <g>

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!

By comparison, the New Year's celebrations where I live are pretty low-key. I live in Raleigh, NC, where they drop a giant acorn every year -- no, I'm not kidding! -- in honor of Raleigh's reputation as the "City of Oaks". Kind of a silly tradition, but it makes me laugh.

And finally....there are lots of renditions of "Auld Lang Syne" out there, but I love both the pictures and the music in this one. (You'll want to watch it with annotations turned off! Click on the caption button at the bottom of the YouTube player to get rid of the annoying pop-up messages.)



Wishing all of you the best in 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 10 OUTLANDER moments of 2010

As 2010 draws to a close, this seems an appropriate time to look back at what turned out to be a very eventful year for OUTLANDER fans, and also for me personally. Here are my top 10 OUTLANDER moments from 2010:

1) January 7 - AN ECHO IN THE BONE is finally published in the UK, nearly four months after it was released in the US. I still don't understand why the publisher made such a stupid decision. Delaying publication of the book in the UK accomplished nothing but a) to annoy and frustrate thousands of OUTLANDER fans, and b) to persuade many of them to acquire ECHO by other means, which can only have resulted in reduced sales for Orion, the UK publisher. Let's hope they don't do that again!



2) March 16 - Diana's latest Lord John story, a novella titled "The Custom of the Army", is published in the WARRIORS anthology. (If you haven't yet read this story, go here for the details.) It's a fun story, and a very enjoyable read.



3) Early May - Diana posts some very controversial comments on her blog, on the subject of fan-fiction. A huge firestorm ensues. A few days later, Diana issues an official fan-fiction policy on her web site, and deletes the blog posts.

4) July 9 - I attended the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, in western North Carolina. I'd never been to a Highland Games or any other type of Scottish festival before, and I had a wonderful time! My homemade sign was a big success, and I won't hesitate to use it at future gatherings and book-signings.



5) August 1 - The "OUTLANDER: The Musical" CD is released. I love most of the songs, and I played it in my car for months (literally) without getting tired of it. What a wonderful tribute to Diana by songwriters Kevin Walsh and Mike Gibb! If you haven't yet heard the CD, I highly recommend it. You can go to OutlanderTheMusical.com to listen to free samples.


6) September 11 - I had lunch with Diana and a group of other OUTLANDER fans in Winston-Salem, NC, prior to her appearance at the Bookmarks Book Festival. It was just ten days before THE EXILE's release. At one point during the luncheon, Diana reached into her bag and handed me a copy of the book. I let out a yelp of surprise and amazement, and she said, "Not to keep. Just to look at." <g> I was thrilled to get a sneak preview of the book. And the luncheon was a wonderful experience; thanks so much to Shirley Williams (pictured below, right) for her efforts in organizing it!



7) September 21 - The OUTLANDER graphic novel, THE EXILE, is released. The next day, Diana went off on a five-week book-tour of the US and Canada, leaving me to handle the flood of posts on Compuserve about the new book. <g> At the very last minute (late in the evening before release day), I was informed that THE EXILE has no page numbers. "Oh, no!" I thought. "What are we going to do now? How can we talk about a 192-page book with no page numbers to use for reference? This could get complicated!" But we managed very well without them, and I was very pleased with the way the discussions went on Compuserve. I really enjoyed THE EXILE, and I would recommend it to any OUTLANDER fan, if you haven't already read it.



8) November 16 - Diana's short story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", is published in the SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH anthology. This is the story about Roger MacKenzie's parents, and I loved it! If you haven't yet had a chance to read it, I would really encourage you to do so. It answers one question from ECHO, and in the process, opens up a whole new set of questions and things for us to speculate about. <g>



9) December 13 - Diana sent me a Chanukah present! Needless to say, I was delighted. <g>

10) December 25 - Diana posted the following message to me on Compuserve: "And a very Merry Christmas to our beloved Czarina of Traffic! <g> Without whom, we would all be Hopelessly Muddled. (Instead of just Partially but Pleasantly Distracted.)" Wasn't that sweet of her?! That title, "Czarina of Traffic", never fails to make me laugh.

Wishing all of you the best in 2011!

Pictures from the snowstorm

Here are some of my pictures from the snowstorm in Raleigh, NC. It started about 8 pm on Christmas night and continued most of the day on Sunday. We got at least 7 inches at my house, which is a LOT for this area!

The first picture was taken about 9:30 pm on Christmas Day, when the snow was just beginning to stick. This is my proof that we did indeed have a white Christmas, technically. The official total was 0.4 inches on Christmas Day, tying the previous record set in 1947.



Here's the view out my front door the next morning. If you look closely, you can see the snow falling. <g>



View of my street. I love the look of my round shrub wearing a cap of snow.



My front walk, buried in snow.



Back yard view.



Another view of the back yard.



It's so rare for us to get enough snow to make a decent snowman, I just couldn't resist. <g> This little guy is about 20 inches tall, and he's wearing a Carolina Tar Heels cap. Isn't he cute?



I hope you enjoy the pictures. Good luck to everybody in the Northeast as this storm heads your way!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A little Christmas music



The Pipes of Christmas (thanks to Diane Mahaley Brooke on Facebook for the link!)



Enya (and chorale) performing Silent Night in Gaelic (here are the lyrics in Gaelic and English). I think this is just beautiful, even though a) I'm Jewish <g> and b) I don't speak or understand Gaelic. (And yes, I know Enya is Irish, not Scottish, but surely the differences between Scottish and Irish Gaelic are not that great.)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

REPOST: Christmas quotes

I posted this collection of Christmas-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books last year. It got a very positive response back then, so it seems appropriate to repost it now. Hope you enjoy these!

1) It's hard to imagine, from our 21st-century perspective, anyone losing track of the date this close to Christmas. But Roger had a lot of other things on his mind....

"What's the occasion? For our homecoming?"
She lifted her head from his chest and gave him what he privately classified as A Look.
"For Christmas," she said.
"What?" He groped blankly, trying to count the days, but the events of the last three weeks had completely erased his mental calendar. "When?"
"Tomorrow, idiot," she said with exaggerated patience.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33 ("Home for Christmas"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) Here's a quote from one of my favorite scenes in DRUMS, when Claire comes to find Jamie in the snow:

"What if I tell you a story, instead?"
Highlanders loved stories, and Jamie was no exception.
"Oh, aye," he said, sounding much happier. "What sort of story is it?"
"A Christmas story," I said, settling myself along the curve of his body. "About a miser named Ebenezer Scrooge."
"An Englishman, I daresay?"
"Yes," I said. "Be quiet and listen."
I could see my own breath as I talked, white in the dim, cold air. The snow was falling heavily outside our shelter; when I paused in the story, I could hear the whisper of flakes against the hemlock branches, and the far-off whine of wind in the trees.

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21 ("Night on a Snowy Mountain"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) I think it's interesting--and rather sad--that Lord John should seek out Nessie, rather than the company of his own family, on Christmas Eve:

“Aye, well, it is Christmas Eve,” she said, answering his unasked question. “Any man wi’ a home to go to’s in it.” She yawned, pulled off her nightcap, and fluffed her fingers through the wild mass of curly dark hair.
“Yet you seem to have some custom,” he observed. Distant singing came from two floors below, and the parlor had seemed well populated when he passed.
“Och, aye. The desperate ones. I leave them to Maybelle to deal with; dinna like to see them, poor creatures. Pitiful. They dinna really want a woman, the ones who come on Christmas Eve--only a fire to sit by, and folk to sit with.”

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24 ("Joyeux Noel"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) The next quote is a reminder that Christmas was viewed differently back then than we think of it today. But of course many of today's Christmas traditions date from the 19th century or later:

Catholic as many of them were--and nominally Christian as they all were--Highland Scots regarded Christmas primarily as a religious observance, rather than a major festive occasion. Lacking priest or minister, the day was spent much like a Sunday, though with a particularly lavish meal to mark the occasion, and the exchange of small gifts.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34 ("Charms"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) I love this quote, even though things didn't turn out the way Roger had expected:

She'd wanted to go to the Christmas Eve services. After that...
After that, he would ask her, make it formal. She would say yes, he knew. And then...
Why, then, they would come home, to a house dark and private. With themselves alone, on a night of sacrament and secret, with love newly come into the world. And he would lift her in his arms and carry her upstairs, on a night when virginity's sacrifice was no loss of purity, but rather the birth of everlasting joy.

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17 ("Home for the Holidays"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Wishing all of you the best in this holiday season!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Books that are hard to re-read

I finished my latest "re-listen" of the OUTLANDER books at the end of November, and decided to listen to some of the Lord John stories again, just for a change of pace, before I dive back into OUTLANDER.

So, this week I've been listening to LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER. And finding it very tough going, as usual. There are occasional bits that I like:
  • the long flashback of John's experiences at Culloden
  • all of the scenes involving Tom Byrd or Harry Quarry
  • the confrontation between Lord John and Trevelyan where John tells him he can't marry Olivia
But overall, I have always had a very hard time getting through this book. I'm not normally a reader of mystery novels, and this one has so many different characters and so many different plot-threads to keep track of, it's really hard to follow what's going on. Lord John doesn't really have a personal stake in solving most of the mysteries in this book, so it's hard to see why I should care about any of them.

So anyway, I was just wondering, do the rest of you have any particular book in the series (or part of a book) that you don't like to re-read? Whether because of the subject matter (Wentworth, or Claire's miscarriage, or the abduction/rape in ABOSAA) or because of the way the book is structured (the Paris section of DRAGONFLY, the Very Long Endless Day in FIERY CROSS, etc.), or because you just don't care for it?

I'm not trying to be negative here. Diana has often commented that "not all books are for all readers", and I think PRIVATE MATTER is one of those, for me. Just wondering what the rest of you think about this?

Interesting interview with Diana

Remember the scene in VOYAGER where Jamie and Claire are eating rolls stuffed with "pigeon minced wi' truffles"? (Chapter 28, "Virtue's Guardian", p. 356 in the hardcover)

A fan named Theresa Carle-Sanders interviewed Diana Gabaldon for her food web site, IslandVittles. Check out Diana's latest blog post. Then go read the interview here. Among other things, Theresa has this to say:
The meal of hot rolls stuffed with minced pigeon and truffle that Jamie and Claire, and eventually Jamie’s nephew, Young Ian, share at the beginning of Chapter 28 in Voyager is, for me, the most memorable of the dozens of meals that I have savoured while reading Outlander and its 6 sequels. From the royal table of Louis XV, to a barbecue for hundreds on the expansive lawn of a North Carolina plantation, Jamie and Claire have literally eaten everywhere.
I agree, this is one of the most memorable meals Jamie and Claire have had. (With the possible exception of the infamous "turtle soup" scene later in that book. <g>)

Theresa has included her version of the recipe here (using quail as a substitute for pigeon). I'm not nearly ambitious enough of a cook to try this myself, but it looks delicious! <g>

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sex scenes in the OUTLANDER books

For those of you who don't normally follow the discussions on Compuserve, here's something I thought you might enjoy.

Vicki Pack, on Compuserve, has put together a very comprehensive listing of every single sex scene in the OUTLANDER books, in an Excel spreadsheet, with page numbers from the books so you can easily find the scene you're looking for.

The original post with the announcement is here. (Vicki has since posted a corrected file here. Keep watching that thread in case there are further updates to the file.) The file is in an attachment to a forum message. Just right-click on the attachment and click Save Link As, or Save Target As, if you want to keep a copy for yourself.

It's in Excel 2007 format, so you'll probably need Office 2007 or later in order to view it.

Thanks very much to Vicki for taking the time to do this! I thought it was particularly appropriate that she chose to post this on a Wednesday, because the Quote of the Day on Wednesdays on the LOL Books Board usually comes from one of these scenes. <g>

If you have any additions or corrections to the list, feel free to post in the thread on Compuserve to let Vicki know. I had nothing to do with putting this list together, I'm just helping to spread the word. <g> Feel free to share this with anyone else you know who might be interested.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A present from Diana!

I got a Chanukah giftie from Diana Gabaldon in the mail yesterday!

It's a delicious-looking assortment of dates, nuts, and chocolate-covered treats <g>, from the Sphinx Date Ranch in Diana's home town of Scottsdale, Arizona.

I was going to take a picture, but my 5-year-old digital camera has apparently given up the ghost this morning, and it won't turn on. Great timing, huh? Oh, well. Just what I needed -- an excuse to go camera-shopping! I love electronic gadgets, so I'm not really complaining too much.

Anyway, since I can't take a photo myself, here's the picture from the company's web site.

Doesn't that look yummy? <g> Arranged in the basket like that, they're almost too pretty to eat. (Almost. I'll try some of them today.)

Some of you may have seen Diana mention these gift boxes from the Sphinx Date Ranch on her blog recently:
the boxes of dates that I send to the various publishers, editors, and other professional acquaintances around the world at Christmas time
I'm thrilled to be counted among those recipients, believe me! <g> Thanks so much to Diana for thinking of me!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Diana on OUTLANDER, Jamie, and Wentworth

Check out Diana Gabaldon's latest blog post, which is a VERY interesting analysis of the structure of OUTLANDER, and why it was necessary to put Jamie through such an intense physical and emotional ordeal at Wentworth.

I found this post utterly fascinating <g>, and would really encourage the rest of you to take the time to go and read it.

Diana's post actually originated on Compuserve, in a very interesting discussion here about the craft of writing the ending to a novel. She's made other comments in that thread that will be of interest to OUTLANDER fans. For example:

1) Diana's thoughts on story arcs, trilogies, and whether there will be a book 9:
Given that I have only the vaguest idea as yet what happens in Book Eight (other than that if ECHO is a four-pointed caltrop, B8 is an octopus), it seems premature to think there's a Book Nine--but looking back at the overall shape as I've laid it out here...well, there might be.
We certainly hope so! <crossing fingers> A "trilogy of trilogies" would be just wonderful, and very satisfying to those of us (like me) who like to see symmetry in the books.

2) How readers would react to the Claire/Lord John subplot in ECHO:
I was, for instance, dead sure what the general reaction would be to the Claire/Lord John encounter in ECHO <g>. I.e., even though I figured some folk would be fine with it (or even delighted), and others would be emphatically Not Fine with it--they were _all_ gonna scream.
Indeed we did! There have been several thousand posts on Compuserve (no, I'm not exaggerating!) on this subject alone, just in the 15 months since the book came out. <g>

As I told Diana a few days after I read ECHO myself for the first time, "screaming and hopping up and down" is exactly the reaction you'd expect to see when somebody steps on a caltrop. Those things are PAINFUL! <g>

Even if you are not a writer, take the time to read through the discussion on Compuserve. (There's also a related thread, geared more toward Diana's fans, here, if you don't feel comfortable participating in a discussion among writers.)

Very interesting stuff!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter pictures

Yes, I know, it's nearly two weeks yet until the official start of winter, but considering that many parts of the US and the UK are suffering unseasonably cold temperatures this week, I thought it might be a good time to share a few winter pictures that remind me of the OUTLANDER books.

(Please note, I didn't take any of these photos! I just looked around the web for the best ones I could find.)

A Dangerous Bit of Trail - 5550'
Snow on Grandfather Mountain, NC (near where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located)

Le fleuve St-Laurent, vu de la terrasse Grey, Plaines d'Abraham
View of the St. Lawrence River and the Plains of Abraham, Quebec (where William spent the winter of 1776-77)

Cairngorm mountains Scotland
Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland


Icicles in Boone, NC (in the vicinity of Fraser's Ridge)

Valley Forge Winter
Soldiers' quarters at Valley Forge, PA (this picture makes me cold just imagining what it must have been like!)


Ashness Bridge, the Lake District, England (near where Helwater is supposed to be located)

Hope you enjoy these!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Interesting discussion on Compuserve

We have been having a very interesting discussion in Diana Gabaldon's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community in the last few days.

The thread is titled "Why we like or dislike some characters", and it's turned into a very wide-ranging discussion of a number of different characters from Diana's books: Black Jack Randall, Frank, Laoghaire, and Lord John, to name just a few.

Diana has contributed several very interesting posts, including this one (on the difference between intent and planning in her writing):
I really don't think out scenes and relationships in advance and then execute them. I just kind of wade into them, and see what's going on, and relate that as best I can. That said, I'm fully aware that in most such instances, the mere choice of viewpoint will influence what people see as the emotional weight resting more with one character than another. Now, if they see a later scene in which the viewpoint comes from another angle, or in which the viewpoint is the same, but the POV character suddenly sees something that would cause _them_ to change their opinion--well, that might or might not alter the readers' feelings about the balance between the characters. Kind of depends on how heavily invested the reader is in a particular character or situation (and that depends as much on the reader as on the text; again, background, experience, perception, prejudice, all affect how a reader responds), and/or how flexible the readers may be in either changing to or experiencing another character's inner life.
I think this is an interesting point. Take Frank, for example. Most of what we see of him comes from Claire's (understandably biased) point of view, and it's not until the later books that we start to see him through Brianna's memories, and to get a more balanced view of his character. The same goes for Laoghaire.

At one point in the discussion, Diana made this comment:
Um....y'all do realize that I _am_ Black Jack Randall, don't you? <g> I don't make people like Jack and Stephen Bonnet up, I mean; I excavate them.
When someone questioned whether she really meant that, she replied:
I know exactly what happened in Wentworth Prison, and--from that point of view--enjoyed it immensely. It's just that I was also on the other side of that equation, and thus experienced Jamie's pain, desolation, grief and rage, too. And that's the side of it I showed you, for obvious reasons.
There's more, but I won't attempt to summarize the rest of it here. Go read it for yourselves! The thread is growing fast, but don't mind that, just jump in anywhere, if you have something to say. I really enjoy seeing everyone's different opinions about the characters, and Diana likes to hear from her readers.

Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, December 3, 2010

FAQ has been updated

I've updated the main FAQ page for this site to include the most recent information about Diana's new and upcoming releases, and to add more details about the OUTLANDER movie, based on what we've learned in the last couple of months.

At the top of this page, click on the tab that says "Frequently Asked Questions" to see it.

If you have any suggestions for things to add to this FAQ, please let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology

Here is the list of authors and stories for the upcoming anthology, DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (the same editing team who brought us WARRIORS and SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH).

THE BASTARD STEPCHILD (introduction), by George R.R. Martin
DEATH BY DAHLIA, by Charlaine Harris (a True Blood story)
THE BLEEDING SHADOW, by Joe R. Lansdale
HUNGRY HEART, by Simon R. Green
STYX AND STONES, by Steven Saylor (a Gordianus story)
PAIN AND SUFFERING, by S.M. Stirling
IT’S STILL THE SAME OLD STORY, by Carrie Vaughn
THE LADY IS A SCREAMER, by Conn Iggulden
HELLBENDER, by Laurie R. King
SHADOW THIEVES, by Glen Cook (a Garrett story)
NO MYSTERY, NO MIRACLE, by Melinda Snodgrass (an Edge story)
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PUZZLE AND A MYSTERY, by M.L.N. Hanover
THE CURIOUS AFFAIR OF THE DEODAND, by Lisa Tuttle
LORD JOHN AND THE PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES, by Diana Gabaldon (a Lord John novella)
BEWARE THE SNAKE, by John Maddox Roberts (a SPQR story)
IN RED, WITH PEARLS, by Patricia Briggs
THE ADAKIAN EAGLE, by Bradley Denton (novella)

Please note, the information above comes from George R. R. Martin's blog. He says, "No word yet as to when the book will be released, but I'll be sure and let you know once it's scheduled."

I think "Plague of Zombies" is going to be a fun story, judging from the bits we've seen so far! Click here to see the thread about this story on Compuserve, including excerpts.

December poll, CORRECTED!!

Thanks to several people who noticed a rather glaring factual error in one of the options in the poll I posted yesterday, I have deleted the first draft of the December poll and started over.

I've added a few more choices -- Hector Cameron's dirk, the poison-ivy bouquet, and Adso the kitten -- and changed the problematic one to say simply, "The boar's-tusk bracelets", to eliminate the confusion. (I mean the ones Jenny gives to Claire in OUTLANDER, chapter 31, "Quarter Day".)

My sincere apologies to anyone who was confused by the wording in the previous poll! Also, unfortunately, all of the votes cast in the last 24 hours have been wiped out. If you have already voted, please take a moment to vote again. And if you haven't yet voted, there's still plenty of time!

I don't intend to tinker with this poll again. It's meant just for fun, and I hope you will take it in that spirit. Again, I'm very sorry for not checking more carefully before I posted it the first time.

Wishing all my Jewish friends out there a happy Chanukah!

UPDATE 12/2/2010 9:55 am: The FINAL version of this poll has now been posted. I really mean it this time; I'm not changing it again! Sorry for all the confusion.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November poll results, and a little news

November Poll Results

Here are the results of the November poll:

What do you think about the new graphic novel, THE EXILE?

  • 19.0% - I liked seeing a different perspective on familiar events from OUTLANDER.
  • 17.4% - The artwork is uneven. Difficult to tell the male characters apart.
  • 17.4% - I missed the depth and complexity of Diana's usual writing.
  • 15.2% - I loved it! The artwork is gorgeous and the story is entertaining.
  • 11.4% - I was disappointed by the story, the artwork, or both.
  • 4.9% - I want to see more graphic novels based on the OUTLANDER books.
  • 4.9% - I didn't like it.
  • 4.3% - I'm not interested in graphic novels.
  • 1.6% - I wish the book had been longer.
  • 0.5% - The artist did a good job in conveying emotion.
  • 3.3% - Other

There were 184 votes in this month's poll. I didn't vote in it myself, but I would have gone with "I loved it!", because I thoroughly enjoyed THE EXILE, despite all the nitpicking over the artwork.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated, and I hope you'll take a moment to vote in the December poll. With the holidays approaching, I thought it would be a good time to revisit one of the very first poll topics I used, back in 2008: What is your favorite gift from the OUTLANDER series? (I tried to include most of the memorable ones, but if I left out one of your favorites, please leave a comment and let me know!)

New Diana Gabaldon web site coming soon!

As some of you may have heard, Diana Gabaldon's official web site has been completely redesigned, and will be unveiled sometime in the next few days.

No, I don't know when! Soon, though.

Diana has been busy this week typing up content for the web site, and I'm sure she'll announce the launch of the new site on her blog and on Compuserve as soon as it's ready. In the meantime, keep checking www.dianagabaldon.com. I will, of course, post an announcement here as soon as I see for myself that the new site is up and running.

Before you ask, no, I haven't seen any of it in progress. <g> But I am delighted to hear that it's being revamped, because I think the existing site is very poorly designed and organized. I hope to see a vast improvement with the new one. I'll post my impressions here, in detail, as soon as the site goes live and I've had a chance to absorb everything.

Diana's plans for 2011

It sounds like Diana is determined to spend much of 2011 staying home and writing, which is great news for all of us! Here's a comment she posted on Compuserve the other day (it's in the discussion of "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", so don't click on the link if you haven't read the story yet and you're sensitive to spoilers!):
I won't take any other anthology offers that involve delivery next year (unless it's something Really Irresistable, because I'm working on SCOTTISH PRISONER and Book Eight _and_ the OC II, and thus trying as hard as possible to keep everything else off my calendar for 2011.
The OC II is, of course, the second volume of the OUTLANDISH COMPANION, covering THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, the Lord John books, and who knows what else. <g>

I'm sure Diana is relieved not to have to travel so much in the coming year. She really did spend quite a lot of 2009 and 2010 on the road! And I have to say, as wonderful as it is to see Diana in person at one of her book-signings or other public appearances, I think it will be much better for all of us, in the long run, if she can stay home for a while and get back to a regular writing routine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canadian EXILE giveaway - 11/30 ONLY!

Canadian fans take note!

I just saw this link on Facebook and wanted to pass it on quickly:

Win a signed copy of THE EXILE

From the site: "TO ENTER: Email your name and address to onlinemarketing@randomhouse.com. A valid mailing address is required. One entry per person. Open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec."

Apparently this is being run by Random House Canada.

This contest is TODAY, 11/30, only (through midnight) so if you're interested, better act fast! <g>

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Four years!

This week marks the 4th anniversary of my discovery of the OUTLANDER books. People talk about how these books have changed their lives. Well, in my case, it really is true! If you're interested, here is the story of how I found OUTLANDER. Unlike many of you, I didn't know anyone else who had read the books. I had never heard of Diana Gabaldon. And I really did find OUTLANDER completely by accident, browsing in a Barnes & Noble bookstore in 2006.

I ripped through the series much too fast the first few times, reading all six books (ECHO hadn't yet been published) in only five weeks, then immediately starting over with OUTLANDER. I was already thoroughly addicted by the spring of 2007, when I discovered the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. I still remember very well what it felt like the first time I got up the nerve to ask Diana a question on Compuserve. "Nervewracking" does not begin to describe it! <g> And how thrilled I was to get an answer back from her! That was in March, 2007. Sometimes that seems like a lifetime ago, but I haven't forgotten the feeling.

Then, in September, 2008, I was stunned and delighted to be named Section Leader of Diana's section of the Compuserve forum. I'd never been in a leadership role online before, and really had no idea what to expect. It's been more work than I bargained for in the beginning, but the results have been very, very gratifying -- to put it mildly!

You can imagine how delighted I was when Diana signed my copy of the ECHO paperback, "To Karen, Czarina of Traffic and a great friend!" Great friend?! Wow. I'll treasure that for a long time to come.

And this blog, too, has succeeded far beyond my initial expectations. Thanks to all of you for your continued support!

"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" was a wonderful early birthday present for me this year. <g> I'm looking forward to much more OUTLANDER-related discussion and speculation -- not to mention, many more of those entertaining Monday-night OUTLANDER chats with the Outlander Purgatory gang! -- in the year to come.

Wishing all of you in the U.S. a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Leaf" speculations

We have been having a very interesting, in-depth discussion on Compuserve about Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", and I thought I'd share a few of the more interesting speculations, as well as point out a few hints that Diana has dropped in the course of that discussion.

* * * SPOILER WARNING * * *

Don't read below unless you have finished "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows"! Major spoilers below!


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1) What year is it, when Jerry arrives in the past?

We don't know precisely, but we can make some educated guesses. Pay close attention to the "Author's Note" at the end of the story, about the calendar change! Diana says (here):
Well, it's a) for people who notice that it's Samhain when Jerry goes back--and Samhain again when he goes _back_ , and b) it's a Clue as to when he traveled to--i.e., it has to be sometime before the calender changed, i.e., prior to 1752.
By the way, if you want to find out more about the calendar change Diana refers to in that Author's Note, look here. It's a real historical event.

So, what does this mean for the characters in the story?

We know from Roger's experience in DRUMS (when the portal spat him out on his first attempt) that a time-traveler can't cross his own life-line. William Buccleigh MacKenzie was born in December 1743 or January 1744 -- the dates are a little uncertain -- and therefore he was conceived sometime in the spring of 1743. So they had to travel back to a time prior to that, before "Buck" existed.

My theory is that October 1739 would make a certain amount of sense, being 202 years prior to the time Jerry left, in October 1941. But I could certainly be wrong about this! They might have ended up even earlier than that. The only thing we know for certain is that they traveled to a year before 1752.

2) Why did Roger and Buck end up in the same time as Jerry, when they traveled from 1980 and he traveled from 1941?

Diana said (here):
Well....they went into the stones _looking_ for Jeremiah MacKenzie, didn't they? But the one they were looking for wasn't in the past. Might they have found Jem's nearest genetic equivalent, instead? <g>

[Edited to add that Jerry is the same genetic "distance" from Roger that Jem is--and he's actually _closer_ genetically to Buck than Jem is.]
I think this is a really intriguing thought, that they might have been pulled toward Jerry accidentally, so to speak.

3) How and why did Roger and Buck end up in Northumbria in the first place?

Northumbria is 250 miles or more from Craigh na Dun, and it would take a while to travel that distance on foot or horseback. Is it possible that they entered the "time vortex" at Craigh na Dun, but emerged at the other end in the stone circle in Northumbria?

I'm speculating here, of course, but if this sort of portal-to-portal traveling is indeed possible, it seems to me that it opens up a great deal of scope for additional time-travel storylines in the future. Very intriguing! (We should note, however, that Diana has not actually commented on this idea, in the discussion so far on Compuserve. So don't take this as set in stone! It's just a theory.)

4) Where did Roger get the gemstone he gives to Jerry?

We have no idea. It can't have been a "spare" gemstone that Roger brought with him, though. Diana said, when someone suggested this on Compuserve, "So far, all gemstones that have gone into a vortex have been consumed, regardless of type or size." So it's not possible (apparently) for a traveler to bring extras with him (or her) to be used on the return trip.

Therefore, Roger must have found that gemstone after he arrived in the past. I hope we'll find out more about that in Book 8.

5) Where have we heard about Jerry's story before? Or Roger's version of what happened when his mother was killed?

I would highly recommend re-reading the following relevant bits from the OUTLANDER books:

FIERY CROSS chapter 98 ("Clever Lad"), starting p. 859 in the hardcover - this is the scene where Roger tells Bree the story of what happened when his mother was killed.

ECHO chapter 21 ("The Minister's Cat"), starting on p. 227 - this is Claire's story about what happened to Jerry.

Feel free to come and join us in the discussion about "Leaf" on Compuserve. We're always happy to welcome new people there, and Diana likes to hear from her readers. Don't be intimidated by the size of the thread (discussion); if you don't have time to read the whole thing from the beginning, just jump in and comment whenever you want. <g> Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

OUTLANDER Reader's Guide

Check out the very interesting and detailed OUTLANDER Reader's Guide that Cathy MacGregor put together. Even if you don't belong to a book club, it's worth reading.

Diana says this guide will be posted on her new-and-improved web site eventually, but in the meantime, you can download it from Compuserve here.

UPDATE 11/18/2010 - Diana mentioned on Compuserve last night that Cathy is working on similar Reader's Guides for the other books, but she didn't give any estimate for when they might be available. If I find out anything further about this, I'll post it here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows

Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon on the publication of her latest story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", in the SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH anthology.



This is a wonderful story, and I would highly recommend it to OUTLANDER fans.

Feel free to post your comments and reactions to the story here.

*** SPOILER WARNING ***

Major spoilers below! Don't read below unless you've finished the story!


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Here are a few of my reactions:

-- Jerry is a great character. I like the way he thinks. And his approach to dealing with balky machinery makes me laugh. <g>

-- I loved the scene with Marjorie and her mother and Frank. Heartbreakingly sad. It was great to get a glimpse of wee Roger, too. "He wouldn't throw a fit—he hardly ever did—but he wouldn't give up, either." (p. 450) I love the way Roger's temperament is evident here, even as a toddler.

-- Frank seems much more sympathetic in this story -- the first time we've seen him through impartial eyes, so to speak -- and I wonder if anyone's opinion of him will change as a result. "Most of them—of us—we're just…there, and we do our best. Most of the time." (p. 454) I love that line. Frank's not a hero, either, nor especially brave. But he did his best -- most of the time <g> -- after Claire came back. (IMHO, at least.)

-- It's awfully damn lucky for Jerry that he happened to be carrying a gemstone in his pocket when the plane went down!

-- The ending is a miracle. Tragic, heartbreaking, but at the same time....a miracle. (Well, there are two miracles, really. First, that Roger got the chance to say, "I love you" to his dad, and second, that Jerry was there to catch him.) And if Roger hadn't been there to send him back, Jerry wouldn't have been there in the tube station to catch him and thereby presumably save his life. (Thinking about time-travel paradoxes at this time of day just makes my head hurt <g>, but I'll be very interested in what the rest of you have to say about this.)

-- And now I really want to know two things: a) What the heck are they doing in Northumbria, and how did they get there? (Presumably it's a long way on foot or horseback from Craigh na Dun.) b) What year is it when Jerry arrives in the past?

I really enjoyed this story, and it definitely raises at least as many questions as it answers. We'll be speculating about what it all means for some time to come, I'm sure.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" FAQ



We're just three days away now from the release of Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", in the SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH anthology. I can't wait to hear what the rest of you think about this story!

I have put together a FAQ for "Leaf", which you can see by clicking on the tab that says "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" at the top of this page. I hope it's helpful to you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some people have started to receive their pre-ordered copies of the book already, even though the release date isn't until November 16. If you are one of those people who were lucky enough to get an early copy of the book, I would ask you not to talk about Diana's new story here until Tuesday. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: LADY OF THE GLEN



LADY OF THE GLEN, by Jennifer Roberson

I just finished reading Jennifer Roberson's novel LADY OF THE GLEN, a historical novel which takes place in late 17th century Scotland, and tells the story of the events leading up to the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692, in which the MacDonalds of Glencoe were slaughtered by government troops led by their longtime enemies, the Campbells.

This is a richly detailed, thoroughly enjoyable book, with lots of period historical detail (including men in kilts!) and characters who are every bit as flawed and complex as those in Diana Gabaldon's books. Although it follows the structure of a romance novel, the relationship between Catriona ("Cat") Campbell and Alasdair Og ("Dair") MacDonald is not always at the forefront of the story. Roberson gives at least as much attention to the complex inter-clan rivalries, the political machinations behind the scenes, and detailed descriptions of what life was like in the Scottish Highlands in the late 17th century.

I liked the character of Cat Campbell a great deal. She's one of those strong female characters of the type that readers of the OUTLANDER books will recognize right away: outspoken and stubborn and unconventional (preferring to dress in men's clothes rather than long skirts, for example), and not willing to be ignored, whether by her father, laird of Glen Lyon, or by her elder brothers. Cat reminds me a great deal of Claire and Brianna, in that she's not willing to be messed with.

Dair is a handsome young Highlander, one of the few truly decent and honorable men to be found in the whole book. I liked his relationship with Robbie Stewart of Appin, and with his father, leader of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, a giant of a man known as MacIain. Dair is gentle and kind to Cat from the moment they first meet, which is such a contrast to the way she's treated by her father and brothers that it's no wonder Cat falls for him right away. But her love for him seems at first to be doomed, in a Romeo-and-Juliet sort of way, because she is a Campbell and he is a MacDonald, and their clans have been enemies for generations.

I thought the descriptions of cattle-raiding in this book were interesting, showing how the practice was so widespread in the Highlands that it was treated almost like a game, but one with potentially deadly consequences, if you were unlucky enough to be caught at it.

The last part of the book, dealing with the massacre at Glencoe and its aftermath, is absolutely riveting. Action-packed, emotionally intense, horrifying, and frightening -- all the more so because it's based on a real historical event. Even by modern standards, the massacre at Glencoe in 1692 was shocking in its brutality, and the author doesn't attempt to sugarcoat any of it. I found myself unable to put the book down for the last 70-80 pages.

I would highly recommend LADY OF THE GLEN to OUTLANDER fans, especially if you're looking for more stories set in the Scottish Highlands. The book is a little hard to find (it was published in 1998) but definitely worth looking for, in my opinion.

If you've read this book, I would be interested to hear what you thought of it.

Finally, on a related note, here's a song about the Glencoe Massacre that you might enjoy. I like the scenery shown in this video.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reactions to THE EXILE

The November poll is about (what else?) your reactions to THE EXILE. I think it's been long enough now since the book was published that most people here have read it. I tried to include a wide variety of options in the poll, but let me know if you have any others that didn't make this list.

Feel free to post your comments about THE EXILE here, either pro or con. Diana does not read my blog, as far as I know, and I promise not to pass your comments on to her unless you specifically ask me to do that.

October poll results

Here are the results of the October poll:

Have you listened to the OUTLANDER audiobooks?

  • 24.9% - I own one or more of the unabridged audiobooks, on CD or downloaded from audible.com or elsewhere.

  • 15.9% - I have them loaded onto an iPod or similar device so that I can listen wherever I happen to be.

  • 15.9% - I own the whole set, and listen to them regularly.

  • 15.9% - No, I would rather read the books than listen to them.

  • 13.9% - I've listened to one or more of them, but I don't own any of them myself.

  • 7.0% - Not yet, but I'm planning to do so soon.

  • 1.5% - I have listened to all of them except for FIERY CROSS, which isn't available for purchase where I live.

  • 1.5% - What are the OUTLANDER audiobooks, and where can I get them?

  • 3.5% - Other

  • There were 201 votes total. Thanks so much to everyone who participated! I didn't vote in this poll, but I have been addicted to the OUTLANDER audiobooks for about 3 1/2 years now, and I'm currently listening to ECHO.

    If you have not listened to any of the OUTLANDER or Lord John audiobooks, I would highly recommend them! At this time, THE FIERY CROSS is available only through Recorded Books, due to licensing restrictions, and there is not yet an mp3 version of that book. (We hope this will change next year when the abridged license for that book expires.) ABOSAA is available on CD from Recorded Books, Amazon, and possibly other places -- make sure you get the UNABRIDGED version read by Davina Porter! -- but will not be available in mp3 format for a few more years. All of Diana Gabaldon's other books are available in both CD and mp3 format; you can download them from audible.com, which also has free audio samples that you can listen to.

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    "Leaf on the Wind" excerpt



    Diana Gabaldon has posted an excerpt from the upcoming story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", on her blog. This is not a new excerpt (I believe it was first posted on Compuserve about a year ago), but I wanted to mention it, in case you haven't seen it before.

    Just a little more than two weeks to go until SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH comes out. If you haven't pre-ordered yet, there's still time!

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Historical figures in the books

    Here are some pictures of historical figures mentioned in Diana Gabaldon's books. Hope you enjoy these!



    Charles Stuart (I love the way the artist caught the haughty, disdainful expression on his face)



    Denis Diderot (French author, whom Lord John meets near the beginning of BOTB)



    Governor William Tryon (colonial governor of North Carolina)



    King Louis XV of France (as he looked in 1748, only four years after Jamie and Claire met him)



    Lord George Germain (Secretary of State for America during the Revolution), whom Lord John goes to see near the beginning of ECHO



    Andrew Bell, co-founder of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (the nose is unmistakable, isn't it?)



    Flora MacDonald (pictured here as a young woman)



    The Comte St. Germain (apparently dressed in the robes of an occultist)

    If you like these, check out my blog post from October, 2009:

    Historical Figures Mentioned in ECHO

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    A Halloween treat

    I just saw this and could not resist passing it along.

    A Pumpkin Homage to The Exile

    Really, the creativity of OUTLANDER fans never ceases to amaze me! My mind boggles at the amount of effort and skill it must have taken to do that. <g> And this is just hilarious, especially if you've seen page 5 of THE EXILE.

    Thanks to Blue Moon for putting that together, and to Carol at My Outlander Purgatory for the link.

    Enjoy!

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Shoals of Herring

    I have been listening this week to a collection of Alex Beaton's songs that I bought at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in July. The album (actually a 2-CD collection) is called Beaton's Personal Favorites.

    One of my favorite songs on the album is called "Shoals of Herring". Look here for the lyrics. Every time I hear this song, I think of Roger's memories of the summers that he spent on a herring boat as a teenager.
    "Come the summer I was fifteen, the Reverend signed me up on a fishing boat, and sent me to sea with the herring fleet. Couldna just say whether he did it to improve my character, keep me out of jail, or only because he couldn't stand me round the house any longer, but it did work. Ye want to meet hard men sometime, go to sea with a bunch of Gaelic fishermen."

    (From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6 ("Ambush"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    Anyway, I just wanted to share this, because I can't get the song out of my head. <g> Here is a version I found on YouTube, sung by Robert Lawrence. I like the photos interspersed with the video -- imagine Roger, circa 1955, on one of these herring boats.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Happy Birthday Claire!

    Happy Birthday

    Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser would be 92 years old today, October 20th. Happy Birthday to Claire, and many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an unforgettable character!

    If you're on Twitter, you can help celebrate Claire's birthday by tagging your tweets today with #Happy92Claire.

    In honor of the occasion, here are some of my favorite Claire moments from the OUTLANDER series. It wasn't easy to limit myself to one per book. I hope you enjoy these!

    1) After the "wife-beating" episode:
    I whipped my hand from the concealed pocket in my skirt, and the dawn light struck sparks from the blade of the dagger pressed against his chest.

    "If," I said through my teeth,"you ever raise a hand to me again, Jamie Fraser, I'll cut out your heart and fry it for breakfast!"

    (From Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22 ("Reckonings"). Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    2) On the eve of Culloden:
    Then all at once, the fear left me. I could not leave him, and I would not.

    "Jamie," I said, into the folds of his plaid. "I'm going back with you."

    He started back, staring down at me.

    "The hell you are!" he said.

    "I am." I felt very calm, with no trace of doubt. "I can make a kilt of my arisaid; there are enough young boys with the army that I can pass for one. You've said yourself it will all be confusion. No one will notice."

    "No!" he said. "No, Claire!" His jaw was clenched, and he was glaring at me with a mixture of anger and horror.

    "If you're not afraid, I'm not either," I said, firming my own jaw. "It will...be over quickly. You said so." My chin was beginning to quiver, despite my determination. "Jamie--I won't...I can't....I bloody won't live without you, and that's all!"

    (From Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46 ("Timor Mortis Conturbat Me"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    3) After she finds out about Jamie's marriage to Laoghaire:
    The thought of Laoghaire turned shock and sorrow to rage in a moment. I rubbed a fold of green wool savagely across my face, leaving the skin red and prickly.

    Damn him! How dare he? If he had married again, thinking me dead, that was one thing. I had half-expected, half-feared it. But to marry that woman--that spiteful, sneaking little bitch who had tried to murder me at Castle Leoch...but he likely didn't know that, a small voice of reason in my head pointed out.

    "Well, he should have known!" I said. "Damn him to hell, how could he take her, anyway!"

    (From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34 ("Daddy"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    4) Arguing with Jamie about the fact that he didn't tell her the overseer, Byrnes, was dying:
    "I am not a young girl who needs protection, nor yet an idiot! If there's some reason for me not to do something, then tell me and I'll listen. But you can't decide what I'm to do and where I'm to go without even consulting me--I won't stand for that, and you bloody well know it!"

    (From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13 ("An Examination of Conscience"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    5) After Roger's hanging, when she inserts the breathing tube that will save his life:
    The cartilage here was U-shaped, the esophagus behind it soft and vulnerable; I must not stab too deeply. I felt the fibrous parting of skin and fascia, resistance, then the soft pop as the blade went in. There was a sudden loud gurgle, and a wet kind of whistling noise; the sound of air being sucked through blood. Roger's chest moved. I felt it, and it was only then that I realized my eyes were still shut.

    (From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 69 ("Hideous Emergency"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    6) After her rescue in ABOSAA:
    "I have lived through a fncking world war," I said, my voice low and venomous. "I have lost a child. I have lost two husbands. I have starved with an army, been beaten and wounded, been patronized, betrayed, imprisoned, and attacked. And I have fncking survived!" My voice was rising, but I was helpless to stop it. "And now should I be shattered because some wretched, pathetic excuses for men stuck their nasty little appendages between my legs and wiggled them?" I stood up, seized the edge of the washstand and heaved it over, sending everything flying with a crash--basin, ewer, and lighted candlestick, which promptly went out.

    "Well, I won't," I said quite calmly.

    (From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29 ("Perfectly Fine"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    7) Saying goodbye to Adso the cat:
    I cried until my throat hurt and I couldn't breathe, then sat in the grass, curled into myself like a dried leaf, tears that I couldn't stop dropping on my knees like the first fat drops of a coming storm. Oh, God. It was only the beginning.

    I rubbed my hands hard over my eyes, smearing the wetness, trying to scrub away grief. A soft cloth touched my face, and I looked up, sniffing, to find Jamie kneeling in front of me, handkerchief in hand.

    "I'm sorry," he said, very softly.

    "It's not--don't worry, I'm...He's only a cat," I said, and a small fresh grief tightened like a band round my chest.

    (From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 12 ("Enough"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    Happy Birthday Claire!

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    New scriptwriter for the OUTLANDER movie

    I just saw this and wanted to pass it on: According to an article in today's Variety, the OUTLANDER movie has a new scriptwriter, Ann Peacock. Anybody know anything about her?

    I started a thread on Compuserve about this, so please feel free to post there if you have comments or questions about the choice of Ann Peacock. I personally don't have any opinion about her, yet.

    Thanks to Tracey from My Outlander Purgatory for the heads-up! <g>

    Announcements

    Attention Twitter users!

    The lasses from My Outlander Purgatory have suggested that we tweet #Happy92Claire on Wednesday, October 20, in honor of a certain Sassenach's 92nd birthday. <g> So, if you'd like to participate, just tag your tweets on Wednesday with #Happy92Claire. Let's see how many people will join us.

    By the way, if you are interested in following Diana Gabaldon on Twitter, she's Writer_DG. You can follow me on Twitter here.

    SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH is coming soon!



    By request, I've added a countdown widget for SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH to the top left corner of my blog. It's counting down until 8 am ET on Tuesday, November 16. Hope you like it!

    For those of you who don't know, SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH is the anthology containing Diana Gabaldon's story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", about Roger MacKenzie's parents. Look here for more information about this story, including links to excerpts.

    Please note that the Kindle edition of the book is also available for preorder.

    *** WARNING ***

    The Amazon description of "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", as brief as it is, contains a major spoiler! Don't read the description on that site if you are sensitive to spoilers! (It didn't bother me, because I already knew about it, but some of you may not want to know yet.)

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    A suggestion for the Methadone List



    ROOM, by Emma Donoghue

    Jack is five years old, a lively, intelligent, curious little boy who lives with his mother in a place they call Room. He can count to 100, he knows how to read, and his favorite TV show is "Dora the Explorer".

    At first Jack seems like a completely normal child, until you realize: he has never seen a car, or a tree, or a telephone, or a house, or a window, or a child his own age -- except on television. He has never felt the wind on his face, never jumped in a puddle of rainwater, never walked up a flight of stairs. Everything he has ever known in his entire life is right there in the eleven-foot-square confines of Room, where he and his Ma eat and sleep and bathe and play. This is Jack's reality. The world of Outside is so foreign to his experience that he doesn't even believe it actually exists.

    ROOM is told entirely from five-year-old Jack's point of view. Seeing everything through his eyes, the horrific nature of their predicament is not apparent at first, but gradually the reader becomes aware of many small details that have added significance when viewed through adult eyes. There's no explicit sex and very little violence in this book, but it is still very chilling, even terrifying, in an understated sort of way.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes the depiction of children in the OUTLANDER books. Emma Donoghue has created a very memorable character in Jack, and an unforgettable story.

    If any of you have read ROOM, I would be interested to hear what you thought of it.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Diana Gabaldon's Canadian book-tour



    Diana Gabaldon has just posted updated information on the Canadian book-tour for THE EXILE on her blog. The dates are October 20-25.

    I sincerely hope that this Canadian trip doesn't turn out to be as grueling as the last one!! Let's all hope that Diana stays healthy and doesn't end up catching the flu as she did last year on the Canadian tour for ECHO.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Videos for Diana Gabaldon's YouTube channel

    The following message was posted yesterday on Compuserve by Nikki Rowe, who manages Diana Gabaldon's YouTube channel.
    Hi Everyone,

    Could you guys do me a favor? New videos seem to come in bunches shortly after Diana goes on tour. If you upload a video to YouTube, please be sure to tag it with Diana's name or the words Outlander or Exile so I can find it on a simple search and link it to Diana's YT channel.

    Someone sent me a link today to a video that despite being properly tagged has been up for several weeks but did not show up in my daily search. In order to keep the channel fresh and interesting, I need to know about every new video. Sometimes even if a vid had the proper tags it gets lost in the YT shuffle. Videos with Diana's name in the title get seen 100% of the time. If a video is properly tagged, I should be able to find it, but things do slip through the cracks.

    If you or someone you know has uploaded a video and you don't see it in the favorites playlist on the right side of the screen on Diana's YT channel, please send me a note so I can get it linked into the channel.

    Thanks for your help!

    Nikki
    The thread on Compuserve is here, if you want to contact Nikki directly. If you are not a Compuserve member and you need to let Nikki know about a video that's tagged improperly, please post the link to the video here and let me know, and I'll be happy to pass it on to her.

    Meanwhile, please keep the videos coming! Did any of you who were at ComicCon get anything interesting on video that you'd like to share with the rest of us?

    And speaking of ComicCon, and YouTube, apparently one of the videos in which the MyOutlanderPurgatory lasses discuss THE EXILE was shown during Diana's talk on Friday at ComicCon. Congratulations to Carol and Tracey! (I'm not positive which video it was; if somebody can let me know, I'll put the link to it here. Thanks.)

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    A little entertainment

    I hope all of you who went to ComicCon yesterday in New York had a wonderful time seeing Diana. Sounds like the dinner for 45 Compuserve forum members and friends was a big success -- apparently both Diana and her husband Doug were there as well? -- and I can't wait to hear all about it.

    Here's a little entertainment with a Scottish theme to start off your weekend. Enjoy!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    If you live outside the U.S.

    Diana Gabaldon's latest blog post explains why the various special offers that Random House has been running lately (the free OUTLANDER book giveaway, and the free Kindle edition of OUTLANDER) are not available to readers outside the U.S., and why THE EXILE hasn't been published in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany.

    I would really encourage you to go and read what Diana has to say. Please pass the word to anyone you know outside the U.S. who might be interested.

    If you have any questions about this, don't ask me -- I really don't know anything at all about international publication of Diana's books! Post your question on Diana's blog, or in the thread on Compuserve here. Thanks.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Facebook group: Cast UK actress as Claire!

    I just noticed that someone has started a Facebook group, Cast UK Actress as Claire Fraser, presumably in reaction to the recent rumors about American actress Katherine Heigl being considered for the role of Claire in the OUTLANDER movie.

    "Description: We believe the part of Claire Fraser in the forthcoming film of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander should be played be a UK actress."

    (Yes, I joined this group. Even if ultimately it makes no difference.)

    Please feel free to pass this along to anyone you know on Facebook who might be interested.

    Oh, and speaking of Facebook, I saw the new movie, "The Social Network", today, and I really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend it to Facebook members, but it's also very enjoyable for people who don't participate in social-networking sites at all. (Or so says my brother, who wouldn't be caught dead on FB, Twitter, or similar sites, but emailed me last night with an enthusiastic recommendation after seeing this movie.)

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    OUTLANDER on Kindle....FREE!

    Diana Gabaldon's latest blog post mentions a special offer that Random House is running in honor of the 20th anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication.

    The Kindle edition of OUTLANDER is now available on Amazon.com absolutely free!



    I'm not sure how long this offer will last. If anybody knows for sure, please let me know and I'll update this post with that information.

    This Kindle edition comes with "bonus content", which includes a reader's guide suitable for book-club discussions, and possibly other items as well. If you've seen this bonus material, please post here and let us know what it is, and whether you think it's worth reading.

    I don't have a Kindle myself, but I just wanted to pass along the information in case you're interested. It sounds like a great opportunity for Kindle owners!

    UPDATE 10/4/2010 6:26 am: Unfortunately, the Kindle offer is only valid in the U.S. But there is a similar free offer for OUTLANDER on the Sony e-reader.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Katherine Heigl as a possible Claire?

    Some of you may have seen the NY Times article where Katherine Heigl is mentioned as a possible candidate to play Claire in an OUTLANDER movie.
    If all goes well, Ms. Heigl will then turn toward sharply dramatic work, starring as a Scottish heroine in an adaptation of "Outlander", the novel by Diana Gabaldon. “Scotland? 2012? What do you think?” she said.
    This news broke last night and has, quite understandably, caused an uproar among OUTLANDER fans online. (You can see my own initial reaction here.)

    UPDATE 10/2/2010 8:31 am: Diana has posted her reaction on her blog. Her initial comments have been deleted from Compuserve -- and before you ask, no, I didn't do it, she did. Look here for the explanation in Diana's own words.

    I won't attempt to repeat most of what she said here. Go read it for yourselves! But I will say this:
    • I suppose we can discount the "Scottish heroine" reference above as sheer ignorance on the part of the person who wrote that NY Times article. <shrug>
    • OK, so Heigl's mom is a huge fan of the series, and Heigl herself is also a fan. That doesn't mean she is the best choice to play Claire. (In my opinion, of course.)
    • On the question of an American actress playing Claire, Diana said, "They assured me that Claire _is_ English and stays English." (I'm personally relieved to hear that, but still very skeptical that Heigl can pull it off.)

    • For those of you who doubted what I said the other day about Diana's opinion of Allan Scott-Douglas, look at item #6 in Diana's post. [UPDATE 10/2/2010 8:31 am: This part of Diana's post has since been deleted. Let's just say she had some positive things to say about him, and leave it at that.]
    Opinions? What do you all think of this latest development, and/or Diana's comments?

    Poll results, and more

    September Poll Results

    Here are the results of the September poll:

    What do you think about "OUTLANDER: The Musical"?
    • 20.48% - I like some of the songs, but not all of them.
    • 13.81% - I love it! I've listened to the CD more than once.
    • 13.33% - It's a silly idea. Jamie can't sing!
    • 9.52% - I'm not interested in musicals.
    • 9.05% - I like what I've heard so far, but I don't want (or can't afford) the CD.
    • 9.05% - I want to see it made into a full-length musical.
    • 8.57% - I've ordered the CD or plan to do so soon.
    • 5.71% - What's that? Never heard of it.
    • 4.29% - I'd like to order the CD, but I don't have a PayPal account.
    • 3.33% - I don't like any of the songs.
    • 2.86% - Other
    There were 210 votes in this month's poll.

    I didn't vote in it myself, but I would have gone with the second group myself. I still listen to the CD frequently, both at home and in the car, and I'm enjoying it quite a lot.

    If you were one of the people who said they wanted to order the CD but didn't have a PayPal account, please note that "OUTLANDER: The Musical" is now available on Amazon.com. (It says "temporarily out of stock", but they can take orders, and my understanding is that the stock has been sent to Amazon, so it's just a matter of time before they'll have the CDs available there, too.)

    I think the results of this poll are very interesting. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

    The October poll is a reprise of one that I did in March, 2009, all about the audiobooks. Please take a moment to vote.

    Katherine Heigl as Claire?!?

    And now I'd like to address a rumor that surfaced online yesterday as a result of a New York Times article on actress Katherine Heigl:
    If all goes well, Ms. Heigl will then turn toward sharply dramatic work, starring as a Scottish heroine in an adaptation of "Outlander", the novel by Diana Gabaldon. “Scotland? 2012? What do you think?” she said.
    What do I think? As I said on Compuserve this morning, I really, really, REALLY hope this is just a rumor and not a done deal! An American Claire would be SO wrong, on so many levels. I have insisted for a long time that I don't want to hear ANY American accents in an OUTLANDER movie, period.

    And as for "starring as a Scottish heroine" -- I really hope that was just ignorance on the part of the person who wrote this NYT article, because I would much rather see this movie NOT get made at all, than turn Claire into a "Scottish heroine".

    Judging from Diana's comments on Twitter last night ("Nope. Hadn't seen that! #blinking" and "No! Are you sure about that?"), she seemed just as surprised as we are to hear about this. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on Heigl's part. I certainly hope so! I am hoping that Diana will respond to it on Compuserve when she gets a chance -- she's in the middle of her book-tour for THE EXILE, and has very little free time -- just to keep the rumor mill from blowing this completely out of proportion.

    Don't anybody panic, that's all I'm saying. Unless and until we have confirmation from Diana that Katherine Heigl has indeed been cast as Claire, this is all just speculation!

    UPDATE 10/1/2010 12:42 pm: Diana has now posted her reaction on her blog. Very interesting comments, and I would urge you to take a look at them!

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    THE EXILE is #1!



    Diana Gabaldon just made the following announcement on her blog:
    "I'm thrilled beyond measure to report that THE EXILE debuts at

    #1


    on the New York Times Graphic Books Bestseller List for Oct. 10!"
    This is wonderful news! Congratulations to Diana and Hoang!

    Thursday Thirteen: THE EXILE

    Thursday 13 Books

    Thirteen Things I Liked about THE EXILE:

    In no particular order:

    S

    P

    O

    I

    L

    E

    R

    S

    1) The "wedding kiss" portrait of Jamie and Claire.

    2) Gorgeous landscapes!

    3) Jamie's Butt (along with the rest of him <g>) on page 5.

    4) We finally learn what happened to Claire's shoes.

    5) The white owl and its symbolism.

    6) Jamie's face in the early pictures, especially in Chapter 1, is just as I imagined it.

    7) "And if one of those effing sparrows sh!ts in my tea...." (I love that line.)

    8) How Murtagh and Rupert acquired a wedding gown. ("Force, or bribery?")

    10) The story of the nameless girl in France.

    11) The wedding-night sex scene -- even if it IS "expurgated" <g>

    12) Ned Gowan, who looks very dignified in beard and spectacles.

    13) The very last panel on the last page, with Jamie and Claire literally riding off into the sunset, the standing stones in the background, and Murtagh looking at Ellen's picture. I love that.

    You will notice that I didn't include the Geillis-Kenneth storyline here. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it, but aside from the mystery factor on the first reading -- "Who the hell IS that?!? And what's he doing here?" -- it wasn't one of my favorite aspects of this book.

    Feel free to add your own favorites to this list. I have more things that I liked, but there wasn't room to include everything above.

    *** NOTE ABOUT SPOILERS ***

    You don't need spoiler warnings to discuss THE EXILE on my blog. But if you're commenting about this on Facebook, please be careful not to reveal major spoilers. People can't avoid reading the comments. Please comment here on the blog directly if you want to talk about the specifics of the story or artwork. Thanks!

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    Allan Scott-Douglas as a possible Jamie?

    Diana Gabaldon has been very enthusiastic lately about the idea of Allan Scott-Douglas (who sings the part of Jamie Fraser on the "OUTLANDER: The Musical" CD) as a possible candidate to play Jamie in any future OUTLANDER movie or miniseries.

    This is a really interesting development. For years Diana insisted she had no interest in movie-casting, that she'd never seen any actor who was capable of pulling off the role of Jamie. Now, ever since she met Allan Scott-Douglas on a recent trip to Scotland, she seems very much impressed with him. To the point that she has started showing his picture (in kilt, below) at her public appearances, to gauge the fans' reaction.





    What do you think? He's 6'4" (I think, or close to it anyway), Scottish, with red hair (I do wish he'd grow it out some so we could see it as Jamie would wear it <g>), an impressive singing voice (well, OK, yes, Jamie can't sing, in the books, so this is not a qualification for the movie), and he can convey an amazing range of emotion, judging from the songs on the CD.

    So....could he be a possible Jamie? Or is Diana Gabaldon just encouraging him because he reminds her of her son? Allan Scott-Douglas is 27, which I think is close to Diana's son Sam's age. Diana likes this young man a great deal, judging from her interactions with him on Twitter. (She's Writer_DG, and he's Actor_Allan, if you want to follow them to see what I mean.)

    I don't normally participate in the endless movie-casting debate, but I'm curious to know what the rest of you think about this. All opinions (pro or con) welcome!

    It would be particularly interesting to hear from those of you who were at the performance in Aberdeen at the end of July, and got to see him in person. (Shona? Anybody else?)