Friday, December 31, 2010
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
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!
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
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.)
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
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
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
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?
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
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.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
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 timeI'm thrilled to be counted among those recipients, believe me! <g> Thanks so much to Diana for thinking of me!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
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
(Please note, I didn't take any of these photos! I just looked around the web for the best ones I could find.)
Snow on Grandfather Mountain, NC (near where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located)
View of the St. Lawrence River and the Plains of Abraham, Quebec (where William spent the winter of 1776-77)
Cairngorm Mountains, Scotland
Icicles in Boone, NC (in the vicinity of Fraser's Ridge)
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
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?When someone questioned whether she really meant that, she replied:
<g> I don't make people like Jack and Stephen Bonnet up, I mean; I excavate them.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.