Saturday, April 30, 2011

Help us celebrate Jamie's birthday!

As many of you know, Sunday, May 1, is the 290th birthday of our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. <g>

If you are on Twitter, you can help us celebrate Jamie's birthday by tagging your tweets on May 1 with #HappyBdayJamie.

We did something similar for Claire's birthday in October, and Diana's in January, and it was a lot of fun.  Let's see how many people will participate this time.

Thanks very much to Carol and Tracey of My Outlander Purgatory, who came up with the idea for these Twitter birthday campaigns in the first place.

Please help us spread the word!

By the way, in case you're interested, Diana Gabaldon's Twitter id is Writer_DG, and mine is karenh3a.

Friday, April 29, 2011

ABOSAA unabridged on!

Great news today for fans of the unabridged OUTLANDER audiobooks.  A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES is finally available for download in unabridged format on!

This is the 57 hour version, read by Davina Porter, which until now has been impossible to obtain in MP3 format.

Thanks to Maria V. on Compuserve for letting us know about this.

I just went and looked. It's easy to find if you search on "gabaldon" and sort by release date (April 27). Or you can go to the ABOSAA download page on, here.  (Please note, I don't know if this link will work if you are not logged in to

Thanks very much to Diana for getting this done for us! I know she's wanted very badly for a long time to make the unabridged versions of ABOSAA and FIERY CROSS more widely available.  (FIERY CROSS is supposed to be available on audible in November, 2011, from what I understand.)  I'm delighted to see this, finally!

I hope all of you enjoy Davina Porter's narration of ABOSAA as much as I have.  Please help spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Will Book 8 be the last one?

Someone made a comment recently on Compuserve to the effect that they were very sad to hear that Book 8 would be the last in the OUTLANDER series.

Diana's verbatim reply was:
What makes you think the next book is the last one?  I didn't _say_ it was the last one, did I?  (I won't know myself, until I finish the next one.)
And a little later in the same discussion, she said:
I can't think _what_ makes people do that.  Every single time a new book comes out, I get rashes of email from people moaning about how sad they are that it's the last one.  Did I ever _say_ it was the last one?  No!  Never.  Where do they _get_ this stuff?
I am personally hoping that there will be a Book 9; I like the symmetry of a "trilogy of trilogies" very much, and I think there's too much time left to cover and far too many loose ends to wrap up for Book 8 to be the last in the series.

But the reason I mention this is that many of you are in contact with other OUTLANDER fans, and I'm sure that Diana would appreciate it if her fans would

a) spread the word that Book 8 is not necessarily going to be the last book (emphasizing that even Diana doesn't know the answer to that yet), and

b) try to quash any rumors to the contrary, by pointing to Diana's own words on the subject.

The link to the discussion on Compuserve is here, if you want to see it for yourself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Goodreads OUTLANDER giveaway

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

Goodreads OUTLANDER giveaway

It says they have 50 copies of OUTLANDER to give away.  Contest ends May 1.  (US residents only.)

Please pass the word to anyone you know who may be interested!

Update from Mike Gibb

I got an email newsletter over the weekend from Mike Gibb, co-creator of Outlander: The Musical, with some OUTLANDER-related news, and I thought I'd pass it along:
A 20th anniversary special edition of the first book of Diana Gabaldon's hugely successful series of books will be published in early July. Additional material in this edition will include a four track sampler CD, three songs being taken from the "Outlander the Musical" CD together with a bonus new song ("Claire's Message").

I am also delighted to report that Diana has accepted an invitation to come to Aberdeen on 30 July for Tartan Day. In addition to attending a performance of Red Harlaw, Diana will be touring other Tartan Day events and doing a book signing in the City Centre.
Please pass this information along to anyone you know who might be interested.

Hmmm...."Claire's Message" -- any speculations on what that song will be about?  I can think of a couple of possibilities.

If you haven't yet heard Outlander the Musical, I highly recommend it.  My detailed review is here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I've been interviewed!

Well, this is a first for me!  I was contacted earlier this week by an editor for RT Book Reviews magazine who'd seen my blog.  She said, "We wanted to do something to cover the 20th anniversary of Outlander and thought that since it has such a huge fan following, covering a fan site would be a lot of fun."

She sent me some questions by email, and I just replied back this morning.  I have no idea when this article is scheduled to appear, or whether they're also interviewing Diana for this 20th anniversary feature, but I'm flattered that she wants to include my comments. <g>

I'll post more about this when I find out the details.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in some of the questions I was asked for this interview:
1) What do you think it is about OUTLANDER that inspires such devoted fandom?

2) What is the most fun or satisfying part of participating in OUTLANDER/Gabaldon fandom for you?
I'm not going to share what I told the interviewer; I'd rather wait and see how the article comes out first.  (Those of you who've known me for a while, especially on Compuserve, can probably make a pretty good guess at what I said, anyway. <g>)  But I thought it might be fun to see what the rest of you have to say about these two questions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A new OUTLANDER-related blog

I'm always happy to find new and interesting OUTLANDER fan sites.  Check out this brand-new OUTLANDER blog, TheOutlanderMovie, which I just discovered a few days ago.

From the introductory post:
My aim is to provide a blog to keep everyone up to date with any film news and at the same time to ask the all important and much speculated questions such as ....

.... Who will play Jamie Fraser?
But it seems this blog will feature more than just movie-casting discussions and casting videos.  For example, I thought her recent post about Outlander From a Man's Perspective was interesting.

I would encourage you to take a look at this new site.  I think you'll enjoy it.  The author of this blog, Louise, posts on Twitter as @JamieFraserFan.

Monday, April 18, 2011

When is the next book coming out?

I just saw the following exchange on Twitter between Diana Gabaldon (@Writer_DG) and one of her fans, and thought I'd pass it along:
@Writer_DG when is book 8 of the Outlander series coming?
Writer_DG Diana Gabaldon
@ChryssaW Well, sometime after I finish writing it, I reckon. 2013 would be the safest bet, though I _might_ manage sooner.
For those of you who were hoping we'd see Book 8 in 2012, it does seem unlikely at this point.  Sorry.  But this seems consistent with Diana's pattern in the last 15 years, of publishing one of the "big books" every four years.  (Why does it take so long?  Look here for Diana's explanation in her own words.)

In the meantime, Diana is making progress on LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, which she hopes to finish in the next couple of months.  As she commented on Compuserve over the weekend,
I'm not yet _quite_ to the point of Final Frenzy (there are still two or three important things I don't yet know about the fourth section), but getting there.
We still don't know the exact U.S. release date for SCOTTISH PRISONER (Diana says it will probably be around September or October of this year) but I'll post here as soon as it's announced.  (Check the Release Dates FAQ for the latest updates.)  And until then....

(That's "wait and see" in Gaelic. One of Diana's favorite phrases.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

GUEST POST: The Failure of the '45

I'm very pleased to announce that David McNicoll has agreed to do a second guest blog post, a follow-up to his article, The Road to the '45, which was posted here in March.

David McNicoll was born and bred in the Scottish Highlands, but now lives in New York where he runs Highland Experience USA, a travel company specializing in Scottish vacation packages, including an Outlander-based tour.

I think it's entirely appropriate to post this very interesting article on the eve of the April 16 anniversary of Culloden.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!   And thanks very much to David for taking the time to share his knowledge and his love of Scottish history with us.

If you have any comments or questions about either of these articles, please feel free to post them here.

So Near and Yet So Far: The Failure of the '45
by David McNicoll

A just and loyal cause

During the summer of 1746 a dark apprehension hung over the Highlands; a sense of foreboding that clung to every village and community from Mull to Strathspey. Thirty years before the government had warned the wayward clans in the north to expect a swift, brutal and fundamental punishment if they ever again dared to threaten the crown by supporting the exiled Stuart Princes’ claim to the throne. The soldiers were coming and it was going to be bad; very bad.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A secret history of the kilt

Check out this article in The Independent (UK) on the tradition of kilt-wearing in Scotland.

(Thanks to Mairghread Murray for posting the link on Facebook.  I never would have seen it otherwise.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Silvia's drawings

For those of you who don't normally follow the discussions on Compuserve, I wanted to mention that an OUTLANDER fan -- and very talented artist! -- named Silvia has been posting some wonderful drawings on Compuserve recently, featuring various characters and scenes from Diana Gabaldon's books.

Speaking as someone who can't draw at all -- I like to joke that my artistic ability peaked in the first grade <g> -- I'm just in awe of what Silvia has been able to do.  She really makes Diana's characters come alive.  I hope you enjoy her work as much as I have.

With Silvia's permission, I've included a couple of her more recent drawings here, so you can get an idea of why those of us on Compuserve have been enjoying them so much.

Here's Brianna:


Diana's reaction to the drawing of Percy:
Amazing!  It's not only an excellent drawing, it actually _is_ very close to what Percy looks like!
In addition to these portraits, Silvia has also posted a number of more <cough> explicit drawings in the Erotic Writing folder on Compuserve.  Some of them are drawings of sex scenes between Jamie and Claire (or others), and some of them are just "intimate moments" (the octopus picture, for example, is hilarious, and has to be seen to be believed <g>) -- but they're all considered too risque to post in the public folders on Compuserve.

I won't link to any of the more explicit pictures.  As Silvia says, they're in "pretty good taste", nothing beyond what you might see in an R-rated movie, but just to be on the safe side, I'd rather not link directly to them from here.  (In any case, a link wouldn't work for people who don't have access to the private Erotic Writing folder on Compuserve.)  And I would ask the rest of you not to post them on other sites, either.

If you want to see the more explicit drawings, please follow these instructions:

1) If you're not already a Compuserve forum member, the first thing you need to do is sign up for an account so that you can post on Compuserve.  (It's free.)  Look here for more information about logging in to Compuserve for the first time.  It's easier if you use Firefox or Internet Explorer as your web browser, and make sure all cookies are enabled, including third-party cookies.  If you have any trouble logging in to the forum, leave me a comment here or email me at and I'll try to help.

2) Once you log in, you will need to ask Margaret Campbell for access to the Erotic Writing folder, if you don't already have access.  This is a private folder, and access is limited to those who are 21 and above.
  • Post a message here (in the thread titled "erotic folder--request access HERE!"), addressed to Margaret Campbell.  Be sure to state your age.
  • Please don't create a new thread (discussion) when requesting access to the Erotic Folder.  That just creates more work for me as Section Leader, because I have to merge it into the existing request thread.  Simply go to the message you want to reply to (choose any message in this thread that was posted by Margaret Campbell), and click the Reply button below that message.
  • When Margaret responds that you have been given access (and it may take a few hours for her to get back to you), log out of the forum and back in, and you should see the Erotic Writing folder in the list of folders in the sidebar on the left.
3) When you click on the Erotic Writing folder, look for the thread (discussion) titled "Outlander: Unexpurgated Edition".  (There may be more threads added later, but this is the main one.)

If you want to address a comment to Silvia about her pictures, look for posts by "Bluesquint", which is Silvia's forum nickname.  And of course, feel free to join in any of the discussions on Compuserve, whether OUTLANDER-related or not.  If you're new to the forum, I would highly recommend reading through the Forum User's Manual.

Many thanks to Silvia for sharing her remarkable talent and love for Diana Gabaldon's books and characters with the rest of us.  I hope she keeps drawing these pictures for a long time to come!

UPDATE 4/12/2011 7:12 am:  Silvia has posted a new drawing of Jamie here.  I like this one very much.  If you want to tell her what you think about it, there's a thread on Compuserve here.

UPDATE 4/16/2011 6:22 am: Silvia has posted a new drawing of Claire.  As I told her on Compuserve, "This version of Claire is just amazing.  She's beautiful, and very, very close to the image in my head."

UPDATE 6/3/2011 7:11 am:  Check out Silvia's drawing of Frank, here.  I love it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

REPOST: Wordless Wednesday: Men in Kilts

In celebration of Tartan Day, I'm reposting this collection of pictures related to men in kilts.  Hope you enjoy them!


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

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

Wordless Wednesday: Places in the Books

Wordless Wednesday: Standing Stones

Wordless Wednesday: OUTLANDER Places

Monday, April 4, 2011

DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS now available for pre-order!

I just found out that the DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology, with Diana Gabaldon's novella "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" in it, is now available for pre-order on Amazon, here. Release date says October 4, 2011.

There's more information about "Plague of Zombies" here, including links to excerpts.

No word yet on when Kindle or other e-book editions will be available for pre-order, but I'll post here as soon as I find out anything about that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs

I've always found the descriptions of plants, herbs, and their medicinal uses in Diana Gabaldon's books very interesting.  Here are a few of the more memorable, colorful, or useful ones mentioned in the OUTLANDER books.  Hope you enjoy these!

Rowan berries

I looked down and saw a layer of fallen rowan berries, gleaming red and black among the grass.  Very appropriate, I thought, vaguely amused.  I had fallen down under a rowan--the Highland protection against witchcraft and enchantment.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24 ("A. Malcolm, Printer"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Mullein leaves

Brianna fizzed with laughter. "I'd hate to see what they used for toilet paper then," she said.

"Actually, it wasn't bad," Claire said, surprisingly.  "Mullein leaves are really very nice; quite as good as two-ply bathroom tissue."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 2 ("The Plot Thickens"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Comfrey - one of Claire's most useful herbs

Boneset - so-called because it was thought to help mend broken bones

I threw several cloves of peeled garlic into the boiling water with some of the witch hazel, then added the cloth strips to the mixture.  The boneset, comfrey, and cherry bark were steeping in a small pan of hot water set by the fire.  The preparations had steadied me a bit.  If I didn't know for certain where I was, or why I was there, at least I knew what to do for the next quarter of an hour.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4 ("I Come to the Castle"). Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

"What are you doing, Mr. Fraser?" Grey asked, in some bewilderment.
Fraser looked up, mildly surprised, but not embarrassed in the slightest.
"I am picking watercress, Major."
"I see that," Grey said testily.  "What for?"
"To eat, Major," Fraser replied evenly.  He took the stained cloth bag from his belt and dropped the dripping green mass into it.
"Indeed?  Are you not fed sufficiently?" Grey asked blankly.  "I have never heard of people eating watercress."
"It's green, Major."
In his fatigued state, the Major had suspicions that he was being practiced upon.
"What in damnation other color ought a weed to be?" he demanded.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 9 ("The Wanderer"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Stinging nettles

Still holding my eyes with his own, he reached out his free hand, fumbling over the rocks ntil he touched a bunch of nettles.  He drew in his breath as his fingers touched the prickly stems, but his jaw clenched; he closed his fist and ripped the plants up by the roots.

"The peasants of Gascony beat a faithless wife wi' nettles," he said.  He lowered the spiky bunch of leaves and brushed the flower heads lightly across one breast.  I gasped from the sudden sting, and a faint red blotch appeared as though by magic on my skin.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29 ("To Grasp the Nettle"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Claire advised Marsali to take tansy oil to keep from getting pregnant, but somehow I don't think she actually did. <g>

Ginseng root

I had been fortunate enough to find four large ginseng roots the week before.  I fetched all four from my medicine chest and pressed them into her hands, smiling.  [Nayawenne] looked back at me, then grinned, and untying the cloth bag from her belt, thrust it at me.  I didn't have to open it; I could feel the four long, lumpy shapes through the cloth.

I laughed in return; yes, we definitely spoke the same language!

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20 ("The White Raven"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And finally, here's an 18th century book of herbal remedies, from lowland Scotland.  It's fully digitized and indexed.  You can browse through the pages to see the actual 18th century handwritten text, or use the index to go directly to the topic you're interested in. 

For example (from page 193):
"things which strangthens the heart: ar saffron: Rue: borrage: buglosse: herthorn mustard: red roses: violets: mace: good wine: and spirits of wine moderately taken"
The spelling is inventive, to say the least, but it's a fascinating read.  I think Claire would have examined this book very carefully.

If you find these links interesting, check out my previous "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing
OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones
OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology
OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry
OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events
OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine
OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones
OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife
OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces
OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans
OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish
OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina
OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden
What Do These Things Look Like?

Friday, April 1, 2011

March poll results

Here are the results of the March poll:

Have you ever been to Scotland?
  • 56.01% - No, but I'd love to visit there some day.
  • 17.87% - I visited Scotland long before I knew Diana's books existed.
  • 7.90% - I visited Scotland after I discovered the OUTLANDER books.
  • 5.50% - I'm making plans to visit this year.
  • 3.44% - No, it's too far away, or I can't afford it.
  • 3.09% - Yes, I've been there many times.
  • 2.75% - I've lived in Scotland all or part of my life.
  • 1.03% - I went on an OUTLANDER-themed tour of Scotland.
  • 2.41% - Other
There were 291 votes in this month's poll, which is a pretty high number by my standards.  Thanks very much to everyone who participated!  I didn't vote in the poll, but I'm in the majority on this one.  I've never been to Scotland, but I'd love to visit there some day.

The topic for the April poll -- "What is your favorite location in the OUTLANDER books?" -- was suggested by several people at a recent Monday-night chat on My Outlander Purgatory (which is a terrific site for OUTLANDER fans; be sure to check it out if you haven't already).  I tried to keep the choices down to a reasonable number, but please feel free to suggest other locations that are not on the list.  (You can leave a comment on any of my blog posts, or on the Outlandish Observations Facebook page.)

And no, before you ask, you can't vote for more than one choice at a time.  Sorry.  I realize that makes it more difficult for some people to decide, but just do the best you can.  Thanks in advance for taking the time to vote!