Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

As we prepare to ring in 2012, I thought it would be appropriate to have an old-fashioned Hogmanay celebration, as they might have celebrated it on Fraser's Ridge two hundred years ago.

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

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



Finally, here's a video I found last year with wonderful pictures of Scotland. Enjoy!

Happy New Year, and best wishes to all of you in 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Here's a new OUTLANDER quiz that someone posted a link to on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page:

(Please note the hyphen at the end of the URL!  If you leave it out, the link won't work.)

This one is 50 questions in 15 minutes.  There are a handful of errors and misspellings in it (the clue that says "The Horse" should read "Master of Horse", for example), but for the most part, it's reasonably accurate.

My highest score so far is 48 out of 50. :-)

The clues appear in random order each time you take the quiz, but there seems to be only this one set of questions.

Have fun! :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

THE EXILE is available for the Nook!

Diana Gabaldon's graphic novel, THE EXILE, is now available for Nook Color and Nook Tablet e-readers!  (Thanks to CherylT on Compuserve for letting me know.)

I just downloaded it this morning, and it looks great!  The colors come through extremely well.  Of course it's a little small, reading it on a 7 inch Nook screen, but you can tap to zoom in as close as you want.

The link to the Nook version is here.  Please note, you have to be running version 1.4.1 of the Nook software (just released a couple of weeks ago) in order to see it.

THE EXILE is unfortunately not viewable on the Nook for PC app (I tried that and it said it wasn't available), but if you are a Nook Color or Nook Tablet owner, give it a try; I think you'll like it. <g>

I have no idea if there are plans to make THE EXILE available on Kindle or any other e-readers.  (The German version of THE EXILE is available for Kindle, according to Barbara Schnell, Diana's German translator, but I don't have any information other than that.)  I think they should, for all e-readers capable of displaying images in full color, but that's just my opinion.

Please pass this information on to anyone else who may be interested.  Thanks!

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Year in Review

2011 was a very eventful year for Diana Gabaldon fans, and for me in particular.

Some of the highlights:

January - Diana Gabaldon unveils her new-and-improved website at  I think it's a HUGE improvement over the old site!  And I was just delighted to see my picture (and a mention of this blog) on the Links page. <g>

February - I started my new job! (No, this has nothing to do with OUTLANDER, but it was the best thing that happened to me in 2011, by far, so I have to include it on the list.) Also, I bought a Nook Color, which I quickly became addicted to.  I have found that the e-books are very handy for searching for a specific quote in one of Diana's books, and it sure beats having to carry around a 900-page book! <g>

March - David McNicoll volunteers to write a series of three guest posts for my blog, about the events surrounding the Jacobite Rising of 1745-46, and its aftermath.  Thanks, David!

ABOSAA Unabridged Audio

April - The unabridged audiobook of ABOSAA finally becomes available on, more than three years ahead of schedule, thanks to a special deal that Diana's agent worked out with Bantam Audio.  If you haven't yet listened to Davina Porter's narration of ABOSAA, I would highly recommend it!

May - Diana starts posting "Daily Lines" (brief bits from her current writing) on Twitter, under the tagline #DailyLines.  In a very short time, a great many fans become addicted to their daily "fix". <g>

[Please note:  recently Diana has stopped posting #DailyLines on Twitter, now that it's more difficult to post tweets that are longer than the usual 140 characters, but let's hope she will resume if the technical issues can be worked out.]

May-June - The OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest.  This was my first attempt at holding a contest of any kind on my blog, and it was a tremendous success!  Thanks again to everyone who participated!  (Just as a side note:  the contest resulted in Diana's very first comment on this blog!)

June - My interview in RT Book Reviews Magazine is published!  I was thrilled to be asked to do this, and extremely pleased with the way the article came out.

July - The special 20th Anniversary Edition of OUTLANDER is published.  I love the "feel" of this book, with the faux-leather cover, and I really enjoyed the extras that were included in it.

September - Diana announces the title of Book 8 of the OUTLANDER series:  WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  (See the Book 8 FAQ for more information.)  And Diana's official Facebook page is launched, attracting more than 150,000 fans (!) in just the first three months.

October - "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" is published in the DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology.

November - The unabridged FIERY CROSS finally becomes available on; I start making plans to go to Scotland in July 2012 on the Celtic Journeys OUTLANDER tour; and THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is published! <vbg>

December - Diana sends me a special gift: a silver necklace and locket engraved with "Czarina" on one side, "of Traffic" on the other.  (Click on the photos to enlarge.)  For those of you who don't know, that's the nickname she gave me in the Acknowledgements of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, in recognition of my efforts on Compuserve.

It's been a wonderful year for me personally, and I'm looking forward to a lot more discussion of All Things Outlander in 2012.  Happy New Year to all of you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

Here are some Christmas-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books. I hope you enjoy them!

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) Speaking of Christmas traditions, here's a quote from Diana Gabaldon's latest novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.  (No spoilers here, I promise!)
They’d brought down the Yule log to the house that afternoon, all the household taking part, the women bundled to the eyebrows, the men ruddy, flushed with the labor, staggering, singing, dragging the monstrous log with ropes, its rough skin packed with snow, a great furrow left where it passed, the snow plowed high on either side.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 43 ("Succession"). Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) And what would the holidays be without sweets? <g> Check out The Outlander Kitchen's recipe for molasses toffee, as described in this scene from THE FIERY CROSS:
With a certain amount of forethought, Mrs. Bug, Brianna, Marsali, Lizzie, and I had made up an enormous quantity of molasses toffee, which we had distributed as a Christmas treat to all the children within earshot.  Whatever it might do to their teeth, it had the beneficial effect of gluing their mouths shut for long periods, and in consequence, the adults had enjoyed a peaceful Christmas.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34 ("Charms"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) 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!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chanukah gifties from Diana Gabaldon!

Look at what Diana sent me for Chanukah!

Chanukah gifts from Diana

The package was waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday -- great timing, as last night was the first night of Chanukah. <g>  (Click on the picture for a better view.)

This is the second year in a row that Diana has sent me a package of dates from the Sphinx Date Ranch.  They're locally grown in Arizona, and they are delicious, as I found out last year!

The necklace is gorgeous -- a silver chain that almost looks white.  Very striking, and I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of it.

And the card reads, "Dear Karen, Have a wonderful time in Scotland this summer!  Diana"  I was so happy to see that.  (Our plans for the Scotland trip are coming along well so far, and we're all very excited about it.)

Thanks VERY much to Diana Gabaldon for these gifts, and Happy Chanukah, to all of you who are celebrating this week!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

SCOTTISH PRISONER discussions on Compuserve

We have been having some very interesting in-depth discussions of Diana Gabaldon's new novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, in the Diana Gabaldon folder on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community.  (For those of you who don't know, this is the online forum where Diana hangs out, and I have been Section Leader in Diana's section of the forum since 2008.)

To see the discussions, go here.  You need to log in to post a message, but it's free.  (If you are having technical problems logging into Compuserve, look here for some troubleshooting tips.)

Here is an overview of the way the discussions are organized.  If you have a comment about something specific, you can post in one of the "chapter threads".  For example, if you want to talk about a scene in chapter 9, just post in the thread titled SCOTTISH PRISONER: Chapters 7-10.

The SP: General Discussion thread is where you can comment on the book as a whole, or talk about broader topics that don't fit in a single scene or chapter.  We had some very lively and interesting discussion in that thread last week -- lots of insightful comments! -- and it's well worth reading from the beginning.  (If you haven't yet finished the book, you may want to be cautious about reading this thread, especially if you are sensitive to spoilers!)

Feel free to jump into any of these discussions.  Diana always likes to hear from her readers, and she has been participating actively in the discussions, answering questions, responding to comments, and clarifying things.

I'm really pleased with the way the discussions on Compuserve have been going so far, and I would encourage any of you who have a question or a comment about THE SCOTTISH PRISONER (or about anything else related to OUTLANDER) to come and join us.

Hope to see some of you on the forum soon!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Live Chat with Diana Gabaldon on 12/20 will be hosting a Live Chat with Diana Gabaldon at 3:30 pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, December 20.  This will be Diana's last public appearance in 2011.

[UPDATE 12/21/2011 6:41 am: If you missed the live chat, you can see a recording here.]

Do you have a question or a comment for Diana?  RSVP to if you would like to join Tuesday's chat.

PLEASE NOTE:  You must be registered at in order to participate in the chat.

They are giving away 10 copies of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER to people who participate in the chat.

I won't be there myself -- it's the middle of a work day -- but this sounds like a great opportunity to chat with Diana in "real time".  I was happy to be asked to sponsor this event.

For more information, or if you have questions about the event, please check out the event page here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"The Space Between" is done!

Diana Gabaldon announced on Facebook today that her latest story, a novella called "The Space Between", is completed!  I'm delighted to hear this.  Diana has been working on this story for a long time, and it's good to know that it's finally done.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, "The Space Between" is a story about Young Ian's brother Michael and Marsali's sister Joan (both characters we met for the first time in AN ECHO IN THE BONE), as well as the Comte St. Germain, Mother Hildegard, and doubtless a number of other interesting characters that we haven't encountered before. <g>

Diana says "The Space Between" is about 37,000 words.  Just by way of comparison, "The Custom of the Army" was about 30,000 words, so this story looks to be significantly longer than that.  (Naturally, I think that's a good thing. <g>)

Here is what Diana had to say on Facebook today about this story:
‎"The Space Between" is commissioned for an anthology--the anthology is titled THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, edited by John Joseph Adams. I don't think the anthology has a pub date scheduled as yet, but Mr. Adams tells me the book will be around 150,000 words (I expressed the hope that he'd still have room for a few other stories _besides_ TSB <cough>). My guess is that you'll get the book sometime in 2012, though--I hope so!
I will certainly post here as soon as I hear anything more definite about a publication date for the anthology.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can go here for discussion of the story (including excerpts) on Compuserve.

I would expect that with "The Space Between" completed, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (Book 8 of the OUTLANDER series) will move back up into the #1 spot on Diana's work pile, and probably stay there through the end of 2012.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Diana in Mallard Fillmore comic strip!

Diana Gabaldon was mentioned in today's (December 12) Mallard Fillmore comic strip!  (Click on the picture for a better view.)

Very cool!  And this is not the first time Diana has been mentioned in this particular comic.  Some of you may recall this one, from February 2009. <g>

Thanks to Diana for mentioning this on Twitter; I'm sure I would never have seen it otherwise.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

OUTLANDER Reading Challenge 2012

If you're looking for an excuse to (re)read the OUTLANDER books, check out the 2012 Outlander Reading Challenge hosted by Literary Escapism.

Here are the details (copied from the announcement):
  1. The challenge will run from January 1st through December 31st.
  2. The goal is to read all 7 Outlander novels as well as all 4 Lord John novels, or as many as you can or want to do. (I don’t like inflexible reading challenges, so don’t stress out if you don’t think you’ll be able to get through them all).
  3. Once a month, we’ll get together and chat about where and what we’ve read (more details about this to come).
  4. After reading one of the novels, write your review and then come back to the main challenge page and add your link to Mr. Linky.  Make sure you include your name and which title you’ve read.
  5. Bloggers or Non-Bloggers alike are welcome.  You don’t have to have a site to participate. You can link up via Facebook, GoodReads or even Amazon if you’d like.
I didn't ask whether audiobooks count for this challenge; I'm just going to assume that they do. <g>

If you are participating in this challenge and you want to put a button on your blog or website, look here (scroll down until you see "Grab the Button!", just above the list of participants).  I like this logo quite a bit; it's colorful and very attractive. <g>

Good luck!  And please help spread the word to anyone else you know who may be interested.  Thanks!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Diana's inscription in my book

My signed copy of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER arrived yesterday, and I'm just delighted with the inscription!

In case you can't quite make it out (click on the picture to see a bigger version), it says:

"For Karen, my most thoughtful and generous Aedile Curule!"

What's an Aedile Curule?  That was a title bestowed on me by Birdie on Compuserve in September, 2011:
I move that Karen be elected Aedile here and now....I was sitting with the Oxford Latin Desk Dictionary within arm's reach and here's the nitty-gritty on "aedile" specifically, "aedile curule", which I think fits Karen's role to a T.
"aediles curules...held joint responsibility for the care of the fabric and the people of the city, its corn supply and its public games."
Not every [forum] is so fortunate to have someone as dedicated and capable as is Karen to serve as its Aedile Curule.
Diana has been jokingly referring to me as Aedile, or Aedile Curule, ever since.  I like it, even if it's difficult to say.  It really does fit my role on the forum very well.  I'm told, by the way, by my friend Zan Marie (who used to teach Latin), that it's pronounced "eye-dih-leh ku-ru-leh".

I hope all of you are enjoying THE SCOTTISH PRISONER as much as I am!  I started my second re-read on Thursday and I intend to spend quite a bit of time reading this weekend.

If you'd like an autographed copy of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, either for yourself or as a gift for the OUTLANDER fan on your list, just contact the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ.  The Poisoned Pen is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore, and they ship all over the world.

Friday, December 9, 2011

SCOTTISH PRISONER is #1 in Canada!

Diana Gabaldon announced today that THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is #1 on Canada's bestseller list!  Here's what she posted on Facebook:
I am Utterly Delighted to announce that THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is now a genuine, gold-plated "#1 International Bestseller"! I.e., the Canadian publisher just let me know that SP debuts on the Globe and Mail bestseller list at....#1. Which is Totally Cool, if you ask me. <g> Thank you, les Canadiens!
Woohooo!!  Congratulations again to Diana, and GO CANADA! <g>

Thursday, December 8, 2011

SCOTTISH PRISONER on the NYT Bestseller List!

I just saw this announcement on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page:

THANK YOU! Thanks to all of you who've bought and been enjoying THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, I've just been told that the book debuts at #8 on the New York Times Bestseller List!!!

Moran Taing! (that's Gaelic for "Thank You"!)
When I commented on this on Compuserve, Diana said,
I'm delighted, and the publishing people are beside themselves. <g>  They also told me that the first print run has sold out and the book's already gone back to press.  Also excellent news!
This is fantastic news!!  Congratulations to Diana, I think it's well-deserved, and I'm thrilled for her that the book is doing so well! <vbg>

If you want to offer your congratulations to Diana, you can post on Compuserve here, or on Facebook here.

UPDATE 12/9/2011 3:00 pm:  See Diana's latest blog post for her reaction, plus information on ordering autographed copies of SP in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm going to Scotland in July!!

I'm thrilled to announce that I've made plans to go to Scotland in July 2012, on Judy Lowstuter's Celtic Journeys OUTLANDER tour!  Going to Scotland has been a dream of mine since I first read the OUTLANDER books five years ago, and we finally decided that this is going to be the year for it.

My sister Alice will be joining us on the tour, coming from Israel.  She's also a fan of Diana's books, although she doesn't have a lot of spare time for reading.  I'm delighted that I'm going to be able to share this special experience with her.  And my mom is also coming along, for the sightseeing and to help with the logistics of travel and accessibility.  (She is not a fan of the books but has promised to at least give OUTLANDER a try before we go in July. <g>)

I can't tell you how happy I am to finally be able to do this.  As some of you may know, I have cerebral palsy and use an electric scooter for long distances.  I don't travel a great deal, and I really wasn't sure I'd ever be able to go to Scotland.  But this tour seems just right for us, and Judy has been amazingly responsive and willing to go out of her way to address all of our concerns about accessibility, etc.  I'm looking forward to this so much!  I'm sure it's going to be a fantastic experience. <g>

If you have been on this tour or know someone who has, please let me know.  (Here is an article from 2008 about a group of fans in Florida who went on this tour.) 

And of course if you have any tips for a first-time visitor to Scotland, please share them!

Diana's reaction on Compuserve, when I posted about this last night, was, "Judy is fabulous, and I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time!"

By the way, Judy is mentioned (along with Judie Rousselle and Elenna Loughlin and the rest of the Ladies of Lallybroch) in the Acknowledgements to THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, for "the bench in the eighteenth-century walled garden at Culloden House, kindly dedicated to me and my books".  You can see a slideshow with photos of the bench and Diana here.  (In case you're wondering, yes, this is the same garden where Elenna Loughlin took that gorgeous photo of Diana that appears on the back cover of SCOTTISH PRISONER.)  I'm excited that I'll get to see that lovely garden, and the bench, for myself next summer!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Here is my review of Diana Gabaldon's new novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.









THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is at least as much Jamie Fraser's story as Lord John Grey's.  It takes place in 1760, during the time when Jamie was at Helwater, and it fills in many of the details of a time in Jamie's life that readers of the OUTLANDER series know very little about.

THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is very much a character-focused, character-driven book, but there's plenty of action, and the story seems very well-paced. The structure of the book, with the alternating points of view between Jamie and Lord John, reminds me in some ways of VOYAGER (and I think it's effective for the same reason).  Just as in the parts of VOYAGER that deal with the search for Jamie, and Claire's decision to go back, we as readers have some idea what's coming, we're rooting for it to happen, and when it finally does, it's enormously satisfying.

As a reader, I want to see John and Jamie reconcile and resume their friendship, and although that's not the whole focus of the plot, it makes me hypersensitive to the smallest gesture that indicates progress is being made there.  ("They're smiling at each other!"  "He said, 'Call me John'!  FINALLY!" etc.)  There is a sense of the pieces of their relationship falling into their rightful place, particularly in the last part of the book, and that's very satisfying to me as a reader.

John and Jamie's adventure in Ireland was highly entertaining, and kept my attention throughout.  I see now why it was necessary to take both of them out of their normal environment before they could begin to re-establish any sort of relationship.  Clearly they couldn't do that at Helwater, let alone on Hal and John's turf in London.  Ireland is neutral territory, so to speak; it gives them a way to begin to interact as equals, and once that happens, once Jamie starts to let go of the hostility, anger, and depression, and begins to relax a bit and let down his guard around Lord John, the chemistry between the two of them really starts to shine through, and that makes the story even more fun to read.

The scenes with Jamie's young son Willie are terrific -- all of them.  Diana Gabaldon has a real gift for writing about young children in a way that's quite natural and believable.  We see Jamie's relationship with Willie evolve very gradually over the course of the book, and by the end of the story, it's hard to imagine how Jamie will ever be able to leave his son. Seeing them together in SCOTTISH PRISONER makes their eventual separation, in VOYAGER, even more heartbreaking.

And speaking of separation....

The constant reminders of Claire's absence, the way she is never far away from Jamie's thoughts (or dreams), are just heartwrenching.  I kept wanting to assure him, "Don't worry, she's fine, you'll see her in a few years."

There's plenty for Lord John fans to enjoy in this book, too.  Many of the major characters from the Lord John novels appear in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, including Tom Byrd, who is one of my favorites.  It's interesting to see how Jamie interacts with all these characters.  His reactions to seeing John's brother Hal and Harry Quarry were particularly memorable.

(Just as a side note:  Diana Gabaldon has said that you don't need to have read any of the Lord John books and stories in order to enjoy THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, but I think the story will have a lot more depth if you've read LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, at least.)

I really wish I could think of a way to communicate to the fans at large, especially those who don't normally read the Lord John books, how much I think they're going to want to read this book.  There's so much in this story that will appeal to even casual OUTLANDER fans.  I think it would be a real shame for people to dismiss this book on the basis that they don't like Lord John, or don't want to read gay sex scenes, or whatever.

In my opinion, Diana Gabaldon has done everything she possibly could in SCOTTISH PRISONER to make the point that

a) This is all one immense, interrelated story,

b) The boundary between "the OUTLANDER series" and "the Lord John books" is largely an artificial one, created by the publisher or the marketing people or whoever. 

c) People who choose not to read the Lord John books (for whatever reason) are missing important pieces of both the overall story, and the relationship between Jamie and Lord John in particular.

I think it's going to be really interesting to see how readers react to this book, and I honestly do think that readers who dismiss it because they think it's going to be "just another Lord John book" are going to be missing out, big time.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Interview with Diana at the Debutante Ball

There's an interesting interview with Diana Gabaldon on the Debutante Ball site.

If you leave a comment on that interview, you could win a copy of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER!

Thanks to Linda Grimes on Compuserve for letting me know about this.

Friday, December 2, 2011

THE FIERY CROSS unabridged on

Here's some good news about the FIERY CROSS unabridged audiobook that was released last month on

Diana Gabaldon's THE FIERY CROSS (the unabridged version, narrated by Davina Porter) is one of five audiobooks in audible's Best of 2011:  Long Awaited category .  The other books in the category are THE GRAPES OF WRATH, THE WINDS OF WAR, DELIVERANCE, and HELTER SKELTER.

It's also #1 on audible's list of Monthly Customer Favorites for November

I'm not at all surprised, considering how long fans have been waiting for the unabridged FIERY CROSS, but still, it's exciting to see it doing so well, barely a month after audible made it available.

I'm listening to FIERY CROSS unabridged at the moment myself (will probably finish it up this weekend) and I would highly recommend it to any of you who haven't had the chance to listen to it yet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November poll results

I hope you're all enjoying THE SCOTTISH PRISONER!  Here are the results of the November poll:

Are you planning to pre-order THE SCOTTISH PRISONER?
  • 41.02% - Yes! I can't wait to read it.
  • 18.26% - No, I will buy it on or after the release day.
  • 7.19% - No, I will get it from the library.
  • 6.89% - I'm waiting for the audiobook.
  • 4.49% - No, because I don't want to risk it not arriving on November 29.
  • 4.19% - No, because someone else is buying it for me as a gift.
  • 3.89% - I haven't yet, but I intend to put in an order soon.
  • 3.89% - No, I'm not interested in this book.
  • 3.59% - No, I will wait for the paperback.
  • 2.40% - I haven't decided yet.
  • 4.19% - Other
There were 334 responses to this poll.  (I didn't vote, but I fall into the first category.)  Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

The December poll is all about your favorite way(s) to read or listen to Diana Gabaldon's books.  Please take a moment to vote.

Happy reading, everyone!!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011


    Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon on the publication of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER!

    I was DELIGHTED to see the following in the Acknowledgements page:
    Karen Henry, Czarina of Traffic and Aedile Curule of the Diana Gabaldon folder (in the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum), without whom I would have a lot more distraction and fewer words on paper, both for herding the bumblebees and for her detailed and helpful manuscript comments...
    The reference to "Aedile Curule" comes from this post on Compuserve.  I know very little about ancient Rome myself, but I found this on Wikipedia: "Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order."  And that definitely fits my role as Section Leader of the Diana Gabaldon folder in the Compuserve Books and Writers Community.

    And I'm also mentioned a bit later in the Acks, but the context for that second mention won't make any sense to you until you read Section 5 of SCOTTISH PRISONER, so I won't talk about it here, yet.

    It really is a wonderful book, and I hope the rest of you enjoy it as much as I have.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    One more day!

    Here's Waiting for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, which I created this morning on the Random Art site.

    I really like this one, and it's appropriate for the book, too.  Half Jamie, half Lord John, and the part on the left that ties them both together. <g>

    One more day!!

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Thinking of reading the last page first?

    Here's a comment from Diana Gabaldon on Compuserve, in response to someone who said she intends to skip to the end of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER and read the last page first:
    If you do, you'll be sorry.   I don't write in a straight line, but I build the books to achieve particular effects, and you'll sacrifice a lot of the impact of the book if you read the last scene first.  (I do _not_ understand people who do this, and always have a strong urge to beat them on the head, but it _is_ your book...)
    It's worth noting that Diana said similar things, repeatedly, before ECHO was published in 2009.

    I'm not going to comment on the final scene in SCOTTISH PRISONER until Tuesday, but I do agree with Diana that it will be much more meaningful if you see it in context.

    Ultimately, though, it's a decision that you'll have to make for yourself.

    Diana Gabaldon interview in Entertainment Weekly

    Check out Diana Gabaldon's interview in Entertainment Weekly.  (Thanks to Tracey of My Outlander Purgatory for the link!)

    Very interesting interview.  And there's a small reference to SCOTTISH PRISONER at the end. :-)

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    In honor of the holiday, here are some Thanksgiving-themed quotes from the OUTLANDER books.  I originally posted these in 2008.  Hope you enjoy them!

    1) Roger and Brianna, hunting turkeys:
    "What a thing," he said. He held it at arm's length to drain, admiring the vivid reds and blues of the bare, warty head and dangling wattle. "I don't think I've ever seen one, save roasted on a platter, with chestnut dressing and roast potatoes."

    He looked from the turkey to her with great respect, and nodded at the gun.

    "That's great shooting, Bree."

    She felt her cheeks flush with pleasure, and restrained the urge to say, "Aw, shucks, it warn't nothin'," settling instead for a simple, "Thanks."

    (From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20 ("Shooting Lessons"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    I love this scene, both for what it reveals about Brianna's childhood (did Frank really find evidence that she would travel to the 18th century some day?) and for Roger's reaction. He's a little taken aback by her shooting skills, but his ego doesn't seem to be threatened by the fact that she's better at hunting (providing food for the family) than he is.

    2) Jocasta and Duncan's wedding feast:
    "Can ye not decide where to begin, Sassenach?" He reached down and took the empty wineglass from her hand, taking advantage of the movement to come close against her back, feeling the warmth of her through his clothes.

    She laughed, and swayed back against him, leaning on his arm. She smelled faintly of rice powder and warm skin, with the scent of rose hips in her hair.

    "I'm not even terribly hungry. I was just counting the jellies and preserves. There are thirty-seven different ones--unless I've missed my count."

    He spared a glance for the table, which did indeed hold a bewildering array of silver dishes, porcelain bowls, and wooden platters, groaning with more food than would feed a Highland village for a month.

    (From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46 ("Quicksilver"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    Most major holiday dinners give me this same feeling, although I can't say I've ever seen thirty-seven different varieties of *anything* at one meal before. <g>

    3) The "hearth blessing" on Fraser's Ridge:
    We blessed the hearth two days later, standing in the wall-less cabin. Myers had removed his hat, from respect, and Ian had washed his face. Rollo was present, too, as was the small white pig, who was required to attend as the personification of our "flocks," despite her objections; the pig saw no point in being removed from her meal of acorns to participate in a ritual so notably lacking in food.

    (From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19 ("Hearth Blessing"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    Considering how successful that little homestead on the Ridge would prove to be, I think there must have been something extra-powerful in that blessing. <g> And I love the mention of the little white piglet, who will grow up to become the infamous White Sow. If this blessing was intended to ensure fertility on the part of that sow, it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

    4) The Selkirk Grace:
    [Hamish] glared round the table to insure that everyone was in a properly reverential attitude before bowing his own head. Satisfied, he intoned,

    "Some hae meat that canna eat,
    And some could eat that want it.
    We hae meat, and we can eat,
    And so may God be thankit.

    (From Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6 ("Colum's Hall"). Copyright © 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    Happy Thanksgiving! (And to those of you outside the U.S., best wishes for the holiday season.)

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    20th Anniversary edition of DRAGONFLY?

    Diana Gabaldon posted the following question on Facebook today, and I thought it was only fair to give everyone here a chance to comment, too:
    Well, now here's a question: If you bought (and liked <g>) the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition, would you be interested in possibly having a similar 20th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER? We're just beginning to think about such things, but the publisher is not sure there's enough demand for it--so I thought I'd ask the only people who know. <g>
    I'm not sure what to think about this.  DRAGONFLY IN AMBER is my least favorite of the OUTLANDER books (I always find the Paris section difficult to get through), and I already have a signed hardcover.  Still, it would give us something to look forward to in 2012, while we wait for Diana to finish writing WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  And I did like the look (and feel!) of the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition very much.

    What about the rest of you?  All opinions, pro or con, welcome!  If you want to tell Diana what you think, you can post on her Facebook page, or in the thread on Compuserve, here.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Getting SCOTTISH PRISONER before release day

    There have been several reports in the last few days of people seeing THE SCOTTISH PRISONER in bookstores before the release day.  I've heard from fans in Germany and the Philippines who have the book already.  Someone on Compuserve reported yesterday that she was able to buy the audiobook (CD version) in a bookstore in the Charlotte, NC, area.

    If you're lucky enough to get an early copy of the book, I would just ask you PLEASE not to reveal any details about the plot (in your comments here on my blog, on Compuserve, or on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page) until the official release date, which is Tuesday, November 29.

    I can understand the urge to share your reactions once you've read it, but it's not fair to everybody else who has to wait eight more days.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Book Review: 11/22/63, by Stephen King

    BOOK REVIEW: 11/22/63, by Stephen King

    Here's my latest recommendation for the Methadone List: Stephen King's new time-travel novel, 11/22/63.

    It's a long book, well over 800 pages (comparable in size to AN ECHO IN THE BONE), and just as in Diana Gabaldon's books, there's plenty of time to get to know the characters and to explore the world of the past in great detail.









    The premise of this book is very simple.  Jake Epping, a high school English teacher living in present-day Maine, travels back in time in an attempt to prevent JFK's assassination.  But for reasons that are never explained in the book, the time portal in this story can only transport people to a specific point in time:  September 9, 1958, more than five years before Kennedy's ill-fated trip to Dallas.

    The novel is told from Jake's point of view, and it starts off rather slowly, showing how Jake adjusts to living in the Eisenhower era, which seems at once a more innocent time (where people in small towns didn't bother to lock their doors, and you could buy a car or rent a room in a hotel with cash, no questions asked) and a much less tolerant one than our own (the description of Jim-Crow toilet facilities at a gas station in North Carolina was particularly shocking).

    Jake settles into life in 1958 with relatively little difficulty, and following an initial "trial run" where he attempts to change history by preventing the brutal murder of a Maine family, he eventually makes his way to Texas, where he finds a job as a schoolteacher in a small town called Jodie, where he intends to wait out the few years until Oswald returns to the U.S.  There Jake meets and falls in love with Sadie Dunhill, the school librarian, and their relationship affects everything else that happens in the last half of the book.

    This book explores many of the same themes common to all time-travel stories:  Can the past be changed?  (In Jake's world, at least, the past is "obdurate", and seems at times to actively resist even small changes.)  Does the time-traveler who knows something awful is about to happen have some moral responsibility to try to stop it?  What are the consequences of interfering (or attempting to interfere) with historical events, whether they are large-scale (like Kennedy's assassination) or smaller things that affect only a few people?  I thought the parts of the book that dealt with these moral questions were very thought-provoking.

    Jake is a likeable character, and I liked his cynical but humorous outlook on life.  He starts out playing the role of an outside observer, almost a tourist from the year 2011 (much as Claire reacts in the early part of OUTLANDER), looking around with interest at everything going on around him but seeming not to be all that affected by it on a personal level.  By the end of the book, it's clear that his whole life has been profoundly affected by his time in the past, and he's not the same person he was before.

    Stephen King's writing is excellent, all of his characters are realistic and vividly portrayed, and although the story unfolds very gradually, there's enough action to keep things moving, and I never felt bored.  It's clear that King did a lot of research into the events leading up to the Kennedy assassination, but he does a good job of weaving those details into the story so that readers who are not familiar with the historical figures (like Oswald's wife Marina, or his friend George de Mohrenschildt) can understand where they fit in.  I was born a year after JFK's assassination, I know relatively little about the events leading up to it, and I had no trouble following what was going on.

    Note:  There is some violence in this book, but only a tiny handful of scenes with the sort of blood and gore you might expect from Stephen King.  This is very much a character-focused book, and in my opinion, it's not the sort of story that will give you nightmares.

    I really enjoyed this book, and I would definitely recommend it to OUTLANDER fans.

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Update to Diana Gabaldon web site

    It looks like Diana Gabaldon's official web site has been tidied up a bit in preparation for the release of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER on November 29.

    Changes include:

    - The WRITING section links have been updated to give WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD and SCOTTISH PRISONER their correct titles. <g>  (I was really glad to see this.  It's long overdue, in my opinion.)

    - The SCOTTISH PRISONER page has been updated to include all the latest information, including details about the launch party on the 29th (see Diana's blog here if you'll be in the Phoenix, AZ, area that day and you'd like to attend), and a link to the new book trailer video that was just released by Random House.

    Take a few minutes to explore the site, if you haven't done so recently.  There's a lot of useful information there.

    (Oh, and speaking of useful information....I've updated my SCOTTISH PRISONER FAQ page again.)

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Another SCOTTISH PRISONER book trailer

    Here's the official book trailer for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, from Random House, Diana Gabaldon's US publisher.

    I like it, except for the part where the announcer mispronounces "Fraser" as "Frasier". <sigh>

    By the way, that's Eilean Donan castle in the background, or so I'm told.


    DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS (the anthology containing Diana Gabaldon's story, "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies"), has finally been published in the UK!

    If you want to tell Diana what you think of "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies", there's a thread on Compuserve here.

    For more information about "Plague of Zombies, see the FAQ here.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    SCOTTISH PRISONER book trailer

    Here's a new SCOTTISH PRISONER book trailer, from Diana Gabaldon's Canadian publisher.

    BookLounge, who posted this video, also posted three different OUTLANDER book trailers earlier this year, which are worth watching if you haven't seen them already.

    Diana's comments on this latest video should be reassuring to anyone who is still under the impression that this is primarily a Lord John book.
    "[Jamie] has at least half the book, and it is, in fact, focused on him, which is why it's called THE SCOTTISH PRISONER."
    Two weeks and counting!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Birthday party on Compuserve!

    You're all invited to come and join in the BIG November Birthday Celebration in Diana Gabaldon's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community.

    A group of us on the forum with November birthdays (mine is on the 23rd) got together several weeks ago to organize this virtual birthday party.  Please feel free to stop by and join the fun!  Start here and be sure to look at all the attachments, especially the first one, Birthday_Party.rtf, that tells the story.  I personally think it's hilarious.

    (Note to those of you who don't hang out on Compuserve:  a "big" is forum slang for a request to Diana for an excerpt. <g>) 

    Diana was thrilled with this, and we're delighted to see that she has posted not one but TWO new excerpts in response!  One from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (which she calls "Moby" for short), and the other from THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.  Just click on the attachments at the bottom of Diana's message to read the excerpts.

    It's fine to talk about either of those excerpts here, if you want to.  But do feel free to post on Compuserve and tell Diana (or the birthday party organizers) what you think.

    Here's the present that the others gave to me, a bookplate.  I love it!

    Many thanks to the rest of our November Birthday Bigging Group, especially Sandy and Leslie, who organized the whole thing, and Deniz, who put the story together.  Hope you all enjoy it!

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Jamie, Fergus, and Penn State

    The more details I hear about the sickening abuse of young boys by Penn State's Jerry Sandusky -- particularly the story of "victim number 2", the ten-year-old whose rape Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed -- the more I'm struck by the contrast between this story and what happened to Fergus in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER.
    "He said, 'You.  Come along,' and took me by the arm.  I held back, Madame--I told him my employer was above, and that I couldn't--but he wouldn't listen.  Madame Elise whispered in my ear that I should go with him, and she would split the money with me afterward."  Fergus shrugged, and looked at me helplessly.  "I knew the ones who like little boys don't usually take very long.  I thought he would be finished long before milord was ready to leave."

    (From Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28 ("The Coming of the Light"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    And Jamie's reaction:
    "Milord Tuarach rushed down the stairs, seized the Englishman by the throat, and shook him like a rat!"

    "Non! Ce n'est pas vrai!"

    "Oh, yes!  It took three of Madame's servants to restrain him--such a wonderful big man, isn't he?  So fierce-looking!"

    "Yes, but then what?"

    "Oh--well, Jacques said the Englishman gasped for a bit, then straightened up and said to milord Tuarach, 'That's twice you've come near killing me, Fraser.  Someday you may succeed.'  And then milord Tuarach cursed in that terrible Scottish tongue--I don't understand a word, do you?--and then he wrenched himself away from the men holding him, struck the Englishman across the face with his bare hand"--Louise gasped at the insult--"and said,'Tomorrow's dawn will see you dead!'"

    (From Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24 ("The Bois de Boulogne"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    That's the difference, I guess, between a fictional hero, a man of action, and a modern-day coward (at least in my opinion) who not only did nothing to interfere when he saw a child being raped, but didn't even call the police to report what he'd seen.

    The whole story makes me sick.  I hope the Penn State students who rioted the other night in support of Joe Paterno will eventually come to their senses and realize that there are more important things in this world than football.  Like making sure that young children are safe from rapists and sexual predators.

    A friend of mine (who happens to be a Penn State graduate) posted this link on Facebook and I thought it was worth sharing: Omelas State University

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Jamie Fraser, "My Book Boyfriend"

    Check out this blog post at the Hardcover Harlequin site: My Book Boyfriend: Jamie Fraser.

    I saw the link on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page and couldn't resist passing it along.  Enjoy! :-)

    Visit to NC Museum of History

    I went to see a new permanent exhibit at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh on Sunday, called "The Story of North Carolina".  It was very interesting, the sort of place where there are so many interesting things to see that you can't take it all in at once.

    Here are a few of the artifacts that I saw there (from the museum's web site, because their pictures are better than mine <g>). 

    Tuscarora cap in the style of a Scotsman's bonnet

    This was labeled as being from the early 1700's, showing how the Tuscarora Indians traded with the Scots in the area.  Click here for some more pictures of it from different angles.

    Branding iron in the shape of an "M" for murder

    This was labeled as being from the 19th century, but it caught my attention because it looks just like the one that was used to brand Bobby Higgins for his role in the Boston Massacre.  The "M" is very small, maybe the size of my thumb nail.

    Photo of memorial to Regulators hanged after the battle of Alamance, 1771

    I thought the engraving of the hanged man was very striking.

    Silver shoe buckles belonging to Flora MacDonald, circa 1770

    The accompanying description in the exhibit stated that Flora MacDonald had given these shoe buckles to a friend in North Carolina shortly before she returned to Scotland.

    I will definitely go back for another look at this exhibit.  Fascinating place!

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    SCOTTISH PRISONER preview on Scribd

    For those of you who read excerpts:  Random House has posted a preview of the first 19 pages of SCOTTISH PRISONER on Scribd.

    I think Diana has already posted some parts of this on Compuserve and possibly other places, but it's exciting to see it in what appears to be the same typeface, page layout, etc., as the actual finished book.

    If you want to talk about the preview here, that's fine.  Enjoy!

    P.S. If the link above doesn't work for you, try Diana's blog here.  Or this.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Outlander Kitchen

    I found out today that there's a brand new OUTLANDER blog, Outlander Kitchen, featuring recipes for some of the foods found in Diana Gabaldon's books.

    Some of you may remember Theresa's recipes for pigeon rolls with truffles, or Brianna's bridies.  They're here on this site, along with a brand new recipe for Mrs. Fitz's parritch

    Congratulations to Theresa on the launch of the new site!  The food looks yummy and I look forward to even more recipes in the future!

    FIERY CROSS unabridged audiobook update!

    Diana Gabaldon posted the following update on her blog today about the unabridged audio version of THE FIERY CROSS, narrated by Davina Porter:
    OK, I talked to my agent (who talked to Recorded Books–who made and owns the Unabridged audiobook). The license for the ABRIDGED recording has now expired, which means that Recorded Books _can_ go ahead and sell the recording through and other retail outlets. However, they couldn’t do a contract with for this _until_ the other license expired–which it did, yesterday. So they’ll do the contract as quickly as they can, and as soon as that’s done, THE FIERY CROSS will be on Audible “within a matter of hours,” they said.
    This is wonderful news for OUTLANDER audiobook fans!

    UPDATE 11/3/2011 7:43 pm:  Here's the link to the FIERY CROSS download page on audible.

    I happen to be listening to FIERY CROSS unabridged on CD myself at the moment -- will probably listen to the hanging scene tomorrow or the next day -- and I'm delighted to hear that it's going to be more widely available very soon.

    By the way, don't be alarmed if you hear about changes at Recorded Books (the company that produces the OUTLANDER and Lord John audiobooks).  It's true that they have officially gotten out of the business of selling audiobooks to consumers, as they wrote in this email I received yesterday:
    Due to a broad change in strategic direction, we have decided to exit the “direct to consumer” audiobook market and concentrate exclusively on our institutional and digital business lines. This was not an easy decision for Recorded Books, which was founded over 30 years ago as a direct to consumer audiobooks rental business. We have enjoyed bringing the world of audiobooks to our dedicated customers/listeners and are proud of how our efforts have helped the audiobook industry grow. However, we recognize that we are no longer competitive in the consumer space and it is time for a change. As of 10/31/11 Simply Audiobooks will begin servicing our customers needs.
    But before you panic or jump to conclusions, please note that it appears this decision only affects how the audiobooks are marketed and sold to consumers.  You will still be able to get the OUTLANDER and Lord John audiobooks from other retailers (Amazon, B&N,, etc.)  You just won't be able to buy or rent the audiobooks directly from Recorded Books anymore.  I asked about this on Compuserve yesterday and Diana said that was her understanding as well.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    October poll results

    Here are the results of the October poll:

    How do you feel about the idea of an OUTLANDER movie or miniseries?
    • 36.89% - A miniseries would be better than a movie.
    • 18.06% - Very excited! I can't wait!
    • 14.95% - I'm worried that they will butcher the story or the characters.
    • 6.99% - Skeptical, but if a movie is made, I'll probably go see it anyway.
    • 6.21% - Cautiously optimistic.
    • 4.66% - Not sure yet. It depends on who they pick to play Jamie and Claire.
    • 4.47% - It's a terrible idea. How can a movie possibly be as good as the book(s)?
    • 2.72% - Disappointed that Diana Gabaldon is not going to be writing the script.
    • 1.36% - I'm not interested in a movie.
    • 3.69% - Other.
    There were 515 responses to this poll, which is a lot by my standards. <g>  Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

    As usual, I didn't vote in this poll, but I count myself among those who are worried that the movie-makers will butcher the story or the characters.  I much prefer the images in my head and the story as Diana Gabaldon tells it, and I wouldn't be upset if a movie never actually gets made.

    The November poll is about THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.  Four weeks and counting!  Please take a moment to vote.  Thanks!

      Sunday, October 30, 2011

      Halloween quotes

      Here are some Halloween-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books and stories.  I first posted this collection of quotes two years ago, and I thought it would be appropriate to share it again this week (updated to include a couple of quotes from Diana's recent stories).

      This is one of my favorites from AN ECHO IN THE BONE:
      Now there was nothing out there but the black of a moonless Highland night. The sort of night when Christians stayed indoors and put holy water on the doorposts, because the things that walked the moors and the high places were not always holy.

      (From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 72 ("The Feast of All Saints"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      Claire and Roger on Halloween night, 1968:
      "No, I never could sleep on All Hallows'. Not after all the stories my father told me; I always thought I could hear ghosts talking outside my window."

      She smiled, coming into the firelight. "And what did they say?"

      "'See'st thou this great gray head, with jaws which have no meat?' " Roger quoted. "You know the story? The little tailor who spent the night in a haunted church, and met the hungry ghost?"

      "I do. I think if I'd heard that outside my window, I'd have spent the rest of the night hiding under the bedclothes."

      (From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22 ("All Hallows' Eve"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      Roger's thoughts, on the eve of Claire's departure through the stones to find Jamie:
      Hallowe'en had always seemed to him a restless night, alive with waking spirits. Tonight was even more so, with the knowledge of what would happen in the morning. The jack o'lantern on the desk grinned in anticipation, filling the room with the homely scent of baking pies.

      (From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22 ("All Hallows' Eve"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      I couldn't resist including a bit of Duncan's ghost story here:
      "He said it was a figure like a man, but with no body," Duncan said quietly. "All white, like as it might have been made of the mist. But wi' great holes where its eyes should be, and empty black, fit to draw the soul from his body with dread."

      (From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1 ("A Hanging in Eden"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      Even wee Jemmy is affected by stories of "things that go bump in the night".
      "Scared? Of what?" A little more gently, she pulled the shirt off over his head.

      "The ghost."

      "What ghost?" she asked warily, not sure yet how to handle this. She was aware that all of the slaves at River Run believed implicitly in ghosts, simply as a fact of life. So did virtually all of the Scottish settlers in Cross Creek, Campbelton, and the Ridge. And the Germans from Salem and Bethania. So, for that matter, did her own father. She could not simply inform Jem that there was no such thing as a ghost--particularly as she was not entirely convinced of that herself.

      "Maighistear arsaidh's ghost," he said, looking up at her for the first time, his dark blue eyes troubled. "Josh says he's been walkin'."

      (From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 99 ("Old Master"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      Here's one of the creepiest moments in the whole series, in my opinion:
      "We should go before moonrithe," she said softly. "She cometh out then."

      An icy ripple ran straight up my spine, and Jamie jerked, head snapping round to look at the darkened house. The fire had gone out, and no one had thought to close the open door; it gaped like an empty eye socket.

      "She who?" Jamie asked, a noticeable edge in his voice.

      "Mary Ann," Mrs. Beardsley answered. "She was the latht one." There was no emphasis whatever in her voice; she sounded like a sleepwalker.

      "The last what?" I asked.

      "The latht wife," she replied, and picked up her reins. "She thtands under the rowan tree at moonrithe."

      (From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29 ("One-Third of a Goat"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      Jerry MacKenzie, on a long-ago Halloween night:
      “Damn,” said the fair one, softly.  “There’s a light.”  

      There was; a single light, bobbing evenly over the ground, as it would if someone carried it.  But look as he might, Jerry could see no one behind it, and a violent shiver ran over him.

      Uisge,” said the other man under his breath.  Jerry knew that word well enough—spirit, it meant.   And usually an ill-disposed one.  A haunt.

      “Aye, maybe.”  The dark man’s voice was calm.  “And maybe not.   It’s Samhain, after all."

      (From "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", by Diana Gabaldon, in the SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH anthology. Copyright© 2010 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      I don't care how many times I've read this, it still sends a chill up my spine, every time.
      "You asked me, Captain, if I were a witch," I said, my voice low and steady. "I'll answer you now. Witch I am. Witch, and I curse you. You will marry, Captain, and your wife will bear a child, but you shall not live to see your firstborn. I curse you with knowledge, Jack Randall--I give you the hour of your death."

      (From Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35 ("Wentworth Prison"). Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      Lord John's encounter with a zombie:
      Bloody hell, where was the man?  If it was a man.  For even as his mind reasserted its claim to reason, his more visceral faculties were recalling Rodrigo's parting statement:  Zombie are dead people, sah.  And whatever was here in the dark with him seemed to have been dead for several days, judging from its smell.

      He could hear the rustling of something moving quietly toward him.  Was it breathing?  He couldn't tell, for the rasp of his own breath, harsh in his throat, and the blood-thick hammering of his heart in his ears.

      (From "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" by Diana Gabaldon, in the DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology. Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
      And last but not least, here's Bri's Pumpkin Homage to THE EXILE. I think this is truly hilarious (particularly if you've seen page 5 of THE EXILE), not to mention extremely creative.  Can you imagine the amount of time and effort it took to do that?  Amazing!

      Happy Halloween!

      Thursday, October 27, 2011


      Diana Gabaldon posted on Compuserve today that she finally received her very own first-off-the-presses copy of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER!

      I asked her how many pages the story is, and here's her response:
      The story itself is 507 pages.  The Author's Notes run from 509-518, and the previews from MOBY [she means WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD], from 521-534.  
      I'm really happy to hear that, because at 507 pages, SCOTTISH PRISONER will be even longer than BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE.  It's going to be a substantial book -- not the size of one of the OUTLANDER novels, to be sure, but still, long enough that it will take a while to absorb all the details.

      In other news....the audiobook of SCOTTISH PRISONER is now available for pre-order at sites like and Barnes & Noble.  B&N is actually offering a very good deal on the CD version right now, only $30.36 (about 1/3 off the list price).  I couldn't pass that up, so I pre-ordered from B&N last night.  (Thanks to Sandy on Compuserve for the tip!)  Release date for the audio CDs says November 29, the same day the hardcover and e-book versions will be published.

      The picture above, from, lists both Jeff Woodman and Rick Holmes as narrators.  In case you haven't heard, Jeff Woodman will be reading Lord John's parts of the book, and Rick Holmes will be reading Jamie's.  I really hope this works out well.  I've never listened to an audiobook with dual narrators before, but in this case it makes sense, as the book is told half from Jamie's point of view and half from Lord John's.

      Oh, and in case you're wondering about availability of the audiobook on, Diana said on Compuserve today, "The audiobook _should_ be available pretty much simultaneously with the print version.  <crossing fingers>  _Really_ looking forward to hearing it!"

      UPDATE 10/27/2011 7:12 pm: Random House has released an official SCOTTISH PRISONER countdown widget, to help you keep track of the days remaining until the November 29 release date.

      If you want to put this widget on your own site, just click "Get Widget" at the bottom, and follow the instructions to get the proper embed code for your platform.

      (Please forgive the way the widget cuts off at the right side of my blog; it's just a bit too wide to fit in the sidebar, and I didn't have time last night to resize the whole blog just to make the widget display properly.  Might work on it this weekend, if I get a chance.)

      P.S.  This site had a staggering 1400 page views on Wednesday, well over twice the usual number on a really good day.  Whoever was exploring all the nooks and crannies of Outlandish Observations yesterday, I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to look around!  Thanks, whoever you are, and leave me a comment if you want to.

      Wednesday, October 26, 2011

      A note from Diana about the #DailyLines

      Those of you who have been enjoying Diana Gabaldon's posting of "#DailyLines" (brief bits from her writing) on Facebook and Twitter, please read this message from Diana, posted on Facebook this morning.  (I think you have to be logged in to Facebook to see it.  Be sure to click on "See More" at the bottom to see the whole thing.)

      I thought Diana's comment at the end of this message was worth passing along, even to those of you who aren't on Facebook:

      Now, I am not a machine <g>, nor do I have anyone posting these things for me, let alone a random quote-generator. Ergo, if I'm traveling, tired, ill, or hideously #DailyLines. (I've been in Canada for the last five days at a writers conference, for instance.) But when I can--and most days, I can--I'm delighted to share them with you. Hope you enjoy them!

      Tuesday, October 25, 2011

      "Leaf" quotes

      In honor of today's release of the paperback edition of SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, here are some of my favorite quotes from Diana Gabaldon's story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows".

      If you haven't yet read "Leaf", I highly recommend it!  It's really a wonderful story, and a must-read for OUTLANDER fans.

      All quotes below are copyright (c) Diana Gabaldon, of course.  Page numbers refer to the hardcover edition.
      "He wouldn't throw a fit—he hardly ever did—but he wouldn't give up, either." (p. 450)
      I love that. Roger's calm temperament, his determination and refusal to give up, have been demonstrated so often over the course of the series. No surprise to me that these traits were evident even when he was only a toddler.
      "You're right; they're not all brave. Most of them—-of us—-we're just…there, and we do our best. Most of the time." (p. 454)
      I think this applies REALLY well to the Great Frank Debate <g>, because it's more evidence in favor of my argument that all of these characters, Frank included, are flawed, fallible human beings. Frank wasn't a hero, or a saint, or a villain, just a human being who did the best he could (most of the time <g>) with an impossible situation, after Claire came back.
      "F*CK!" he bellowed, and ripping the strap free of his leg, he picked up the box and hammered it on the edge of the seat, then slammed it back onto his thigh—-visibly dented, he saw with grim satisfaction—and pressed the balky button.
      Clunk, the camera answered meekly.
      "Aye, well, then, just you remember that!" he said, and puffing in righteous indignation, gave the buttons a good jabbing.
      (pp. 442-443)
      Jerry's approach in dealing with balky machinery makes me laugh, because it's exactly the sort of thing I would have done.
      "What d'ye think you are?" she whispered, leaning over him. "A gorilla?"
      "Yeah," he whispered back, taking her hand and pressing it against him. "Want to see my banana?" (p. 435)
      I love that line. <g>

      Friday, October 21, 2011

      Learning Gaelic

      I saw the following link on Compuserve this morning and wanted to pass it on.

      This looks like a wonderful resource for learning the Gaidhlig language!
      Welcome to LearnGaelic, a one-stop shop for anyone and everyone interested in learning Scottish Gaelic. Whatever stage you are at, and whatever age you are, all the help you need is just a click away.
      The site includes a Gaelic/English dictionary and thesaurus, and more than 400 video clips from a television series called "Speaking Our Language", designed to teach useful words and phrases in Gaelic.

      There are resources on the site for kids as well as adults.

      I haven't had time to do more than glance at it yet, but it looks like the sort of site that would be fun to explore.  (Thanks very much to Kevin Fulton on Compuserve for the link!)

      Thursday, October 20, 2011

      Happy Birthday, Claire!

      Happy Birthday

      Happy 93rd birthday to Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser!  If you're on Twitter, you can help us celebrate by tagging your tweets today with #Happy93Claire.

      In honor of the occasion, Diana Gabaldon has posted an excerpt on her blog from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (aka Book 8) that she says is Claire's first scene in that book.

      (Please note, I don't read excerpts!  So if you want to comment on the excerpt, please post on Compuserve, or Diana's blog, or the LOL Excerpt Board.  Not here on my blog or on my Facebook page.  Thanks.)

      ABC's of Claire Fraser

      A few weeks ago, I posted the ABC's of Jamie Fraser.  I thought it would be appropriate to do the same for Claire, in honor of her birthday. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation.

      All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright (c) Diana Gabaldon, of course.

      A - Adaptability.  This is one of Claire's greatest strengths, in my opinion.  Many of us would have a great deal of difficulty adjusting to life in the 18th century.  Claire adapts relatively quickly, and we rarely see her thinking about missing the conveniences of the 20th century.

      B - Bravery. "Ye were always bolder than was safe; now ye're fierce as a wee badger." (A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, Chapter 20, "Bees and Switches")  Whether it's killing a wolf with her bare hands in OUTLANDER, or surviving the ordeal of being abducted and raped in ABOSAA, Claire never, ever gives up, and I find much to admire in that.

      C - Cat.  Adso, to be precise. <g>  Claire loved that wee cheetie, and the scene in ECHO where Claire says goodbye to Adso was just heartbreaking.

      D - Diagnosis.  Joe Abernathy called her the "best diagnostician I ever saw".

      E - Eyes.  One of Claire's most striking features.  "They're the color of verra fine whisky, wi' the sun shining through them from behind.  I thought this morning they looked like sherry, but I was wrong.  Not sherry. Not brandy.  It's whisky.  That's what it is." (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 6, "Making Waves")

      F - Face.  Claire's "glass face" -- her inability to hide what she's thinking or feeling from other people -- often gets her into trouble.

      G - Garden. "Daddy always used to say it, when he'd come home and find Mama puttering in her garden--he said she'd live out there if she could.  He used to joke that she--that she'd leave us someday, and go find a place where she could live by herself, with nothing but her plants." (DRUMS OF AUTUMN, Chapter 43, "Whisky in the Jar")

      H - Hair.  Claire's wild, unruly hair could almost be considered a character in its own right.  It reflects her personality extremely well, and it's one of the things Jamie likes best about her.

      I - Intelligence.  Claire has a quick mind, and doesn't suffer fools gladly.  (She's much like Diana in that respect, actually.)

      J - James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. <vbg>

      K - Knitting.
        One of the very few things that Claire does not do well with her hands.

      L - Lallybroch.
        Claire felt she'd found a home there, for the first time in her life.

      M - Mother.
        Not just to Bree, but also to Faith, her stillborn first child.  "You are my baby, and always will be.  You won't know what that means until you have a child of your own, but I tell you now, anyway--you'll always be as much a part of me as when you shared my body and I felt you move inside.  Always."  (VOYAGER, Chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon")

      N - Nurse. 
      Also surgeon, midwife, physician, herbalist, conjure-woman -- Claire is a healer, first and foremost.

      O - Outlander
      , or, as the Scots say, Sassenach.  "He liked the strangeness of her, the Englishness.  She was his Claire, his Sassenach." (FIERY CROSS, Chapter 18, "No Place Like Home")

      P - Practicality.
        Claire is perfectly willing to cast aside society's conventions of what is considered proper attire for a woman, in favor of something more practical.  "I am improvising a brassiere," I said with dignity.  "I don't mean to ride sidesaddle through the mountains wearing a dress, and if I'm not wearing stays, I don't mean my breasts to be joggling all the way, either.  Most uncomfortable, joggling."  (DRUMS OF AUTUMN, Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience")

      Q - Quentin Lambert Beauchamp.
      Claire's beloved Uncle Lamb, who raised her from the age of five.

      R - Ruthlessness. 
      I think this is one of the qualities that makes Claire a good surgeon:  "[The] detachment of mind in which I could balance on that knife-edge between ruthlessness and compassion, at once engaged in utmost intimacy with the body under my hands and capable of destroying what I touched in the name of healing." (AN ECHO IN THE BONE, Chapter 62, "One Just Man")

      S - Stubbornness. 
      Claire is at least a match for Jamie in this respect, and gives as good as she gets.

      T - Time-travel.
        The catalyst for this whole amazing adventure. <g>

      U - Unladylike language.
        Claire's use of expressions like "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" and "bloody f*cking hell" frequently scandalizes the 18th-century people around her, but to me, this is an integral part of her character.

      V - Vitamins. 
      "Well-nourished, is what I am," I retorted.  "Half the people on your estate are suffering from mild scurvy, and from what I've seen on the road, it's even worse elsewhere.  It's vitamin C that prevents scurvy, and apples are full of it."  (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 36, "Prestonpans") 

      W - White
      .  Claire's Indian name is White Raven, and she's been called many similar things over the years, including the White Witch and La Dame Blanche ("White Lady").  I'm intrigued by Nayawenne's prediction that Claire will come into her full power when her hair turns white, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see about that. <g>

      X - eXperiments. 
      From home-grown penicillin to gallberry ointment for the treatment of malaria, Claire is always experimenting with new ways to help her patients.

      Y - Youthful.
        Claire looks much younger than other women her age in the 18th century, owing to the influence of genes, hygiene, and good nutrition.

      Z - Zero.
        The number of times Claire has traveled though the stones using gemstones for protection.

      Happy Birthday Claire!  And I hope the rest of you enjoyed these. :-)