Sunday, August 29, 2010

More flair, and a Gaelic dictionary


I'm still having fun playing with OUTLANDER flair on Facebook. Here are my latest creations:

If you have any suggestions for SHORT but memorable quotes that you'd like to see made into flair, let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

Gaelic/English Dictionary

Thanks to Carol at My Outlander Purgatory for finding this terrific Gaelic dictionary! I've only just browsed through it very briefly, but it looks like a wonderful resource. (I don't speak Gaelic at all, so I can't say whether it's accurate or not.) I wish it came with a pronunciation guide! Or a native Gaelic speaker to pronounce the words for us? <g>

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My blog is two years old!

Today is the two-year anniversary of the launch of Outlandish Observations! I started this blog for two reasons: to learn about blogging, and to provide a central repository of OUTLANDER-related news and information, particularly for people who don't visit the larger fan-sites like LOL and Compuserve. And this blog has succeeded far beyond anything I could have imagined two years ago.

I am still having a lot of fun with it. I've learned a lot about blogging, and I'm very, very gratified by all the kind comments I've received from those of you who visit here. I'm delighted that the information I post here has been useful to so many people!

The number of visitors to this site keeps growing steadily, which is also very gratifying! (In the past month, it's averaged almost 240 visitors per day.) And I was thrilled to see in recent days that the Outlandish Observations page on Facebook now has more than 200 followers!

In celebration of this milestone, I've set up a Linky list. Please leave a link here if you have a blog or web site -- whether it's related to OUTLANDER or not!


Friday, August 27, 2010


Here are my first attempts at creating OUTLANDER flair.

Again, for those of you who aren't on Facebook, sorry for the digression! I can't help it, I think this is a lot of fun.

And for those of you who are wondering, the "coup de foudre" quote comes from ECHO, chapter 68, "Despoiler", p. 602 in the hardcover. It's one of my favorite Jamie-moments in the whole book.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pieces of Flair on Facebook

I've just been playing around with the Pieces of Flair application on Facebook. You can display "flair" (buttons with pictures or slogans on them) on your Facebook profile.

A quick search for OUTLANDER flair turned up eight pages of buttons to choose from! Here are a few of my favorites:

I don't have much artistic talent, but I bet it's not too hard to put these together. If you have any ideas for brief quotes or sayings that you'd like to see made into OUTLANDER flair, let me know. In the meantime, you can see the existing OUTLANDER flair by searching here. (You have to be logged in to Facebook in order to do this.)

The "Outlandish Observations" Facebook page is here, by the way, if you're interested.

And if you like these, check out Diana Larson's wonderful (and very addictive!) "Outlandish Gifts" Facebook app. Details here.

Apologies to those of you who aren't on FB, but I couldn't resist sharing this!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Outlander Book Club contest

April (aka twilighttink) at Outlander Book Club asked me to pass along the following announcement of a contest that they're running in celebration of the site's one-year anniversary:

Fast Facts:
The contest: enter a 250+ word essay on one of the topics listed below.
The winner: will be chosen at random from one of the essays entered.
The prize: a signed ~ and personalized! ~ copy of The Exile!

Contest ends September 16. The topics are:

1. Who is your favorite character? Why?
2. Which is your favorite book? Why?
3. What is your favorite scene? Why?
4. Why do you love the Outlander Series?
5. What is a question you most want answered? Why?
6. How has Outlander changed the way you view your world?
7. How has Outlander changed your life?

If you have questions about the contest, please post in the thread on OBC, not here. I am not affiliated with their site, I'm just passing along the information for those who may be interested.

And no, I don't think I'm going to enter the contest. I do more than enough thinking and talking and writing about OUTLANDER on a daily basis as it is, and I would have a hard time limiting myself to 250 words on any of these topics. <g>

Good luck to those of you entering the contest!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jeff Woodman interview

Here's a very interesting interview with Jeff Woodman, narrator of the Lord John audiobooks.

Thanks so much to Laura P. on Compuserve for the link! I never would have known this interview existed if she hadn't mentioned it.

I think it's fascinating to see how these audiobook narrators work. Some highlights from this interview:
Q. I would think that keeping voices consistent would be a challenge, especially with a book that has a lot of different characters. Is there a trick? Does it just come naturally?

Jeff: It's easier than you'd think, because ultimately you're not playing voices, you're playing characters. [....] If you can latch onto character qualities and act them consistently, your listeners will know who's speaking without major changes in pitch or vocal quality.
How does he make the characters come alive for the readers?
Jeff: First of all, it has to be on the page. If the author hasn't written clearly delineated characters then you have to resort to vocal "tricks." "OK, since the characters are undefined and there's nothing to act, this guy is breathy, this one's nasal, this one's from Massachusetts, etc..." If the author hasn't done his job, I feel free to take whatever liberties necessary to do mine. There's a wonderfully accurate saying in the audiobook world, "A good book needs a good narration, but a bad book needs a great narration."
How long does it take to do one of these books?
Jeff: I generally put an hour in the can in just under 90 minutes, so a 10 hour book will usually take me two full days in the studio.
And I suppose that means the Lord John books take something like 2-3 days each to record.
Q. Do you have a kind of book that you prefer working with? Maybe one that makes you more happy to go to work than others?

I like books that are heavy on dialogue, because a really well written dialogue scene is so much fun to play. [....] When I'm going in to record one of Chris' Ceepak stories, I can't wait to get in there and play Danny! Chris has written the characters so well, and writes such great dialogue scenes, that my job is actually fun! Ditto any of Diana Gabeldon's [sic] Lord John series.
I would really encourage you to go read the full interview for yourselves. And if you haven't seen it already, check out the two-part YouTube interview from 2009 with Davina Porter, narrator of the OUTLANDER unabridged audiobooks. I thought it was really interesting to compare the way the two of them speak about their work.

If you have not listened to any of the OUTLANDER or Lord John audiobooks, I highly recommend them! Look here for some of my thoughts on the subject.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New blog posts from Diana

Diana Gabaldon has posted a couple of new blog entries today on Voyages of the Artemis.

The first is a long account of her recent travels. Very entertaining!

The second is a new excerpt from "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies".

I haven't yet decided if I'm going to read this excerpt or not. If you want to comment on it, please post in the "Zombies" thread on Compuserve, or on the LOL Excerpt Board. Thanks.

UPDATE 8/21/2010 7:22 pm: And here's a third blog post from Diana, which includes a link to a new video featuring the audio clips from the "OUTLANDER: The Musical" CD:

I like the pictures on this video very much. Michelle Moore (aka M&M) did a great job putting this together. Congratulations, Michelle!

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Lord John story

Diana Gabaldon announced on Compuserve yesterday that her latest Lord John story, "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies", is finished!

When I asked about the length of this story, Diana said:
This one's about 25,000 words--close to the length of "Succubus", I think, and maybe a hair shorter than "Custom of the Army."
There is an excerpt from "Plague of Zombies" here. Feel free to post in that thread on Compuserve, if you want to tell Diana what you think. (For those of you who are wondering, yes, I did read this excerpt <g>, so it's fine if you want to discuss it here, too.)

Diana says this story takes place in 1761, by the way.

UPDATE 2/11/2011:  The publication date for the DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology (in which "Plague of Zombies" will appear) has been confirmed: October, 2011.  (No, I don't know the exact date.  I'll post further updates as the pub date gets closer.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Men in Kilts!

Just for fun.....hope you enjoy these!


The very tall young man on the right in the photo below is Simon Fraser, clan chief of the Frasers of Lovat.

If you like these, please check out my previous Wordless Wednesday posts:

Wordless Wednesday: Places in the Books

Wordless Wednesday: Standing Stones

Wordless Wednesday: OUTLANDER Places

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

THE EXILE countdown clock

Some of you may have noticed that I've added a countdown clock to this site, counting down the days until THE EXILE (the OUTLANDER graphic novel) is published on September 21.

This is definitely an "unofficial" countdown clock, not sanctioned by Diana Gabaldon, her publisher, or anyone else. I just thought it might be fun. It's set to expire at midnight ET on September 21.

If you haven't done so already, you can pre-order THE EXILE from Amazon here. Autographed copies can be pre-ordered through the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ. (Rumor has it that they are trying to arrange for both Diana and Hoang Nguyen, the artist, to sign those copies, but I don't know if that will be possible or not.)

Let me know what you think of the countdown!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Highland Clans" on BBC TV

Here's a very interesting BBC documentary from 2007 about the history of the Highland Clans. Thanks very much to Liz Raney Horn on Facebook for letting me know about this!

The Frasers:

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

The MacKenzies:

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Apologies to those of you who may have seen these before. They're completely new (and very interesting!) to me, at any rate, and I thought others might also want to know about them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology

Here are some examples of science and technology mentioned in Diana Gabaldon's books. I hope you find these interesting.

1) A video showing how to use a froe to make roof shingles:

2) Printing press, James Ballantyne and Company, Edinburgh, 1796. This is maybe not exactly what Jamie Fraser's printing press looked like, but I like to think that it's pretty close.

3) White phosphorus was used to make matches, starting in 1831, but it was so toxic that its use was banned by many countries by the end of the 19th century. Here's a very interesting video showing what it can do.

4) How to fire a flintlock:

5) How to use an astrolabe:

6) How to make whisky:

7) "Zugunruhe" - the restlessness of birds preparing to migrate does indeed have a scientific basis, as shown by a 2006 study. And here is an experiment that sounds very similar to the one Jamie describes to Claire in THE FIERY CROSS (Chapter 107, "Zugunruhe").

8) Fish falling from the sky (as Lawrence Stern describes in VOYAGER, Chapter 62, "Abandawe")
- Here's an article from the Daily Mail from 2 March 2010, describing an incident in Australia
- And here is a video from the Animal X TV series explaining the phenomenon:

9) How to make handmade paper:
- Step by step guide
- Here's a video showing the basic steps:

10) Electric eels, as shown in the Lord John story, "The Custom of the Army", published in March 2010 in the WARRIORS anthology. According to Wikipedia:
The electric eel generates its characteristic electrical pulse in a manner similar to a battery, in which stacked plates produce an electrical charge. In the electric eel, some 5,000 to 6,000 stacked electroplaques are capable of producing a shock at up to 500 volts and 1 ampere of current (500 watts). Such a shock could be deadly for an adult human.
If you find these links interesting, check out my previous "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing
OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs
OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones
OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry
OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events
OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine
OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones
OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife
OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces
OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans
OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish
OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina
OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden
What Do These Things Look Like?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I was browsing on Amazon just now, and decided to check the page for SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH (the anthology due out on November 16 with Diana Gabaldon's story about Roger's parents, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", in it) to see if the cover picture had been updated yet. It hasn't, but I did notice that they are now showing the Kindle edition of the book available for pre-order.

The link for the Kindle edition is here. Current price says $12.99. (Please note, this information is subject to change. There were issues with the availability of the Kindle version of WARRIORS when it came out in March, and I hope that won't happen again.)

I have no idea about the availability or pricing for other e-book versions. And no, I don't actually own a Kindle. <g> Just passing this information along, for what it's worth.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My reaction to "OUTLANDER: The Musical"

I got my "OUTLANDER: The Musical" CD in the mail today!

My reaction to the songs is below (I'll leave a little spoiler space, just in case people don't want to know yet):









The Way That Life Was - I like this one. As Diana commented on her blog, they've picked up on the idea that Frank and Claire are not the same people they were before the war. "Now we're different people to the ones that marched away", etc. The singer who played Frank has a nice voice, IMHO.

Falling - I love the instrumentals in this song, which capture very well the eerie, supernatural, frightening feeling of going through the stones.

I am Ready - Terrific song, one of my favorites in the collection. I like Jamie's Scots accent ("my ain clan", etc.), and I think the lyrics reflect his personality extremely well.

The Message - Dougal's line, "nay at this time", made me laugh. And that last line, "to protect you from that Black Jack, I'd lay down my very life" made me shudder, knowing what's coming later.

Could I Surrender My Heart - This is a very sweet song, maybe my favorite of the whole album. I love it! I imagine this taking place at that moment where Claire comes face-to-face with Jamie in his Highland finery, immediately before the wedding.

Is tu fuil.... - I love it! I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating. <g> This is a keeper for sure, and perfectly captures that moment. Just lovely.

Such a Fool - I like this song very much because it mirrors my own reaction on re-reading, when I always want to grab Claire and give her a good shake ("You IDIOT, can't you see he's desperately in love with you?!") "How could I have been such a fool", indeed. <g> I love that line about "that giddy Laoghaire-girl", too.

Perhaps I am a Witch - This is my least favorite of the songs. But I like the way Geillie seems oddly...cheerful....when describing how she poisoned Arthur Duncan. <g>

Farewell - I liked the reprise of the "I am Ready" song, especially Claire's part. Nice touch to include Jamie's line from the book, "I prayed all the way up that hill" etc.

Why Did I Marry a Fraser - This song is a lot of fun. I laughed out loud in several places. ("Apologize!" "Never!!")

Say the Words - I was not prepared for the abrupt transition from the light-hearted teasing and humor of the last song, to the heartbreaking sadness of this one. Wow. Very intense. It really captures the essence of that Wentworth experience, without being at all graphic about it. (I was half-expecting to hear the crack of a whip somewhere in the background, but glad they chose to focus on the psychological aspects of the ordeal instead.) The idea that BJR kept the image of Claire always before him, Jamie's stubborn refusal to say "I love you"....everything in this scene "feels" just right to me. Well done!

Ellen's Son - I'm sort of ambivalent about this one. MacRannoch's part was well done, very touching, but IMHO not much of Claire's personality comes through in this song. She's begging for help to save Jamie's life, the situation is desperate, and yet the music is so slow-paced that you don't really get the sense of urgency at all. And I don't want to nitpick, but it isn't a "castle wall", of course, it's a prison wall.

Safe - this song captures Claire's feelings very well, I think. And I didn't mind the slow pace of this song at all, unlike the previous one, because this one has the feel of a lullaby to it.

The Right Road - I think Claire's voice is MUCH too high-pitched at times in this song, but the lyrics are very good. "I've no fear of what lies ahead....We'll live as one, the two of us, and find the right road through all we face." I like that very much. This song touches on another of those major themes running through the series (and one that appeals to me a great deal): that it doesn't matter what lies ahead, as long as they have each other, they will get through it.

I really enjoyed listening to this, and I'm sure I will play the songs many times in the days and weeks to come. Congratulations to Kevin and Mike, and to the performers. They did a great job. And what a wonderful tribute to Diana and to this unforgettable story! I can see now why Diana is delighted with the results. <g>

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Compuserve Forum Manual has been updated!

For those of you who are familiar with the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, which is the online community where Diana Gabaldon hangs out, I have an announcement to make:

We have just released a new edition of the Books and Writers Community User's Manual. John S. Kruszka and I have been working on this new version for about a month, and we're delighted that it's finally finished!

This version of the manual is NOT just for newbies. Even if you have been a member of the forum for a while, please take a few minutes to look through it. The manual contains a lot of useful information, and has been extensively updated.

What's New:

  • Pictures! <g> We have added screenshots of many of the most commonly used windows, menus, etc.

  • An updated list of folders and forum staff in Section 2. This list is current as of August, 2010.

  • A new section about spoilers (section 3.10)

  • A new section describing the Message Options menu (section 3.11)

  • Revised instructions for pasting text into a message (section 1.11) and formatting private messages (section 3.6.2)
Many thanks to John S. Kruszka for his meticulous attention to detail in reviewing this document, as well as for his advice, suggestions, and gentle editing. <g> This was very much a collaborative effort between myself and John, with both of us contributing ideas and proposing text for the new sections. As some of you may know, I'm a software developer; the only technical writing I've ever done has been fairly informal in nature. I'm not used to having my writing edited (by anyone, for any reason), but John's suggestions were very helpful and we worked well together.

Thanks also to all of the staff members who offered their input, especially Ron Wodaski, who gets credit for suggesting the addition of screenshots to this version of the manual.

There's a thread here if you want to post your comments on the forum.

If you've never posted on Compuserve before, I would really encourage you to read through the manual before you post for the first time. But do feel free to post there if you have a comment or a question about the books. Diana likes to hear from her readers, and we're always happy to see new people there. Hope to see you on the forum soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

National Book Festival "favorite author" poll

The Library of Congress is running a poll of favorite authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC.

As of right now, Diana Gabaldon is in the lead. <g> (You can see the results here.) Please take a moment to vote, and help spread the word to any other OUTLANDER fans you may know.

Thanks to Lynne Perednia on Compuserve for the link!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Owning a piece of Fraser's Ridge

I got a brochure in the mail yesterday advertising land for sale (very cheap -- these are foreclosure properties, being liquidated in the next couple of weeks) in Linville Falls, NC, in the mountains, very close to the area where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located.

Among other things, they're advertising a "wooded property on a mountain stream with a 1,200 square foot log cabin package" for $59,900. (The "package" apparently means they deliver all the building materials for said log cabin to the site, and you build it yourself. <g>)

Unfortunately, the only web site I found is this one, which looks like just a scanned-in copy of the front of the brochure. But if you take a close look at the pictures, it really does look just like the Ridge, complete with trout stream nearby. <g> (If you want a better view, look at this site, which is offering similar deals on land in the same area, and has some very nice pictures.)

I'm very amused by the idea of the do-it-yourself log cabin. Not that I would actually build one myself, not in a million years! But I can't help wondering what Jamie would think of the idea of assembling a cabin from pre-fabricated parts like that. (No doubt it would save a LOT of work, not having to cut your own logs and all.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pictures from "OUTLANDER: The Musical"

The official web site for "OUTLANDER: The Musical" has been updated to include a gallery of photos from the recent performance in Aberdeen, Scotland.

So, have any of you heard the CD yet? (I'm still waiting for my pre-ordered copy.) If you have, are there any songs you particularly like?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Diana's comments on the performance

Diana Gabaldon has posted a new blog entry with her reaction to the live performance of "OUTLANDER: The Musical" yesterday in Aberdeen. (No, she wasn't there; she's leaving for Scotland in a couple of days, though.)

Click here to see her comments.

July poll results

July Poll Results

Here are the results from last month's poll.

What is your favorite animal from the OUTLANDER series?

  • 63.5 % - Rollo
  • 11.6 % - Adso
  • 10.6 % - The white sow
  • 6.5 % - Clarence
  • 3.4 % - Gideon
  • 2.7 % - Donas
  • 0.7 % - Judas
  • 0.7 % - Lucas
  • 0.3 % - Other
There were 293 votes in this month's poll. I think that's a new record for this site! Thanks so much to everyone who participated.

I didn't vote in the poll, but I like Rollo, too. <g> Diana gave him a really hard time in ECHO, and I hope he lives through Book 8, considering that he's something like eleven years old at the end of ECHO. Ian will no doubt be devastated when Rollo dies, but at least he'll have Rachel there to comfort him. I like the fact that Rachel seems to love and appreciate Rollo as much as Ian does.

The August poll is all about Diana's book-tours and public appearances. Have you ever seen Diana in person? Do you have a favorite story from one of her appearances that you'd like to share with us? Please take a moment to vote in the poll. Thanks!

Pictures from "OUTLANDER: The Musical"

Check out the pictures from the July 31 performance of "OUTLANDER: The Musical" in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Thanks, Shona, for posting them so quickly!) I wish I could have been there, and I really think it's a shame that Diana wasn't able to see it in person. If I hear anything about videos from the performance being posted on YouTube, I'll let you all know.

If you have seen the performance or listened to the CD, please let us know what you thought of it! The CD officially goes on sale today, August 1. You can order a copy via PayPal here.

UPDATE 8/9/2010 4:50 pm: You can see my comments on the songs on the CD here.