Monday, May 30, 2011

Another OUTLANDER TV ad!

Check out the latest in the series of OUTLANDER TV ads by Random House:

A few of my immediate reactions:

1) I can't imagine myself actually talking on-camera (succinctly, coherently) about why I like the books. These women did a great job! <g> (I wonder where this was filmed?)

2) I'm not sure how successful this ad will be in bringing in new fans. It seems designed to appeal mostly to the hardcore fans who have been addicted for years. But maybe I'm wrong; I've only watched it once so far.

3) Note the red OUTLANDER 20th anniversary cover, prominently featured in this ad. It looks great!

If you want to see the other two OUTLANDER TV ads, look here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

20th Anniversary Contest Update

The OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest is continuing to go very well.  I've received 23 entries so far, and there's still a full month to go before the deadline.

Just a reminder: if you have trouble posting on my blog, or you'd rather not post your entry in public, you can email it to me at  Be sure to put "OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest" or something similar in the subject line.

Let me know if you have any questions.  And please keep those contest entries coming! <g>

I hope all of you in the U.S. have a wonderful Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Visit to Guilford Courthouse battlefield

I had a very interesting day today, visiting the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro, NC, with my parents.  It's only an hour and a half from my house, but I'd never been there before.

For those of you who don't know, the battle of Guilford Courthouse was one of the major battles in the Southern campaign of the Revolutionary War.  It took place in March, 1781, so it's still nearly three years in the future as far as Jamie and Claire are concerned, but I very much hope that Diana will eventually include it in Book 8 (or 9? <g>)

We arrived just in time to see a pair of re-enactors giving a demonstration of an 18th century musket (below, left) and rifle (below, right)

Here is a video I made that shows one of the re-enactors firing a musket.  (I hope the quality is OK; that was my very first attempt at uploading a video to YouTube. <g>)

I also got a good close-up look at a rifle, possibly similar to the one Jamie and the other riflemen carried in ECHO.  When I asked about the accuracy of the rifle, I was told it can hit a man-sized target at 300 yards, in good conditions (humidity in the air would cut that down, for example).  The man with the rifle said he wore a red cap to identify himself as a Canadian who'd come to join the American army.

I saw the bayonet affixed to the musket but didn't manage to get a picture of it in that position.  You can see the bayonet in the man's belt in the picture below.  Wickedly sharp blade!

Here are a few pictures of the artifacts in the visitor's center. The first is a selection of powder horns and bullet molds.  The flat spatula-like object at lower left is a "molding ladle" -- I assume this would be used in pouring lead into the mold to make musket balls.

The smaller round objects beside the cannonballs in the picture below were labeled, "Grapeshot, found at Yorktown Battlefield in August, 1891."  So that might have been something similar to what cost Ian his leg?  I can see now where the name comes from, as they really are about the size of a large round grape.

We had a great time and I would definitely encourage any OUTLANDER fans in the vicinity to stop by Guilford Courthouse if you get the opportunity.

Friday, May 27, 2011

About the release date for SCOTTISH PRISONER

Many of you are probably wondering why the US and Canadian publication dates for LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER have not yet been announced.  We were hoping to see the book in September or October of this year, but I'm afraid that looks unlikely at this point.

Diana commented on Twitter this morning that "The UK and US publishers are locked in mortal combat over pub date for PRISONER. UK wants November, US, spring 2012."

What exactly does that mean?

Many of you will recall that we went through the reverse scenario when AN ECHO IN THE BONE came out, with a four-month delay before it was published in the UK.  I thought that was grossly unfair to UK readers at the time, and I would really hate to see a similar situation occur with SCOTTISH PRISONER.  There would no doubt be a lot of upset, frustrated, and angry fans in the US if that happened, and I'm sure that many of the die-hard fans would simply order the book from the UK.

Now, keep in mind that nothing has been decided yet!  The publishers are still debating the issue.  Before you panic, or start screaming about how unfair it would be for US readers if the book came out first in the UK, please take a look at this post by Diana on Compuserve, from May 3, 2011:
The two editors (and I) are discussing the matter, though.  It's not actually all a matter of the fans' desire for immediate gratification, oddly enough. <g>  The two main complicating factors here are a) promotional travel and activities for SCOTTISH PRISONER, and b) delay of Book Eight.   As in--I'm going to be traveling much of the summer, as it is (promotion for the 20th-anniversary OUTLANDER, plus personal stuff (which always has a promotional component to it, like the Fergus Highland Games; I do that because I like the people, but it's four days of heavy-duty work--plus two of travel--equalling a week without significant work)).  I'd really rather not then immediately spend the whole fall on the road doing book-tours--aside from the physical wear and tear, it _would_ take about three months out of my writing schedule, thus pushing Book Eight back.
You can see that from Diana's point of view, there are advantages to a bit of a delay in the US publication date.
Another factor is that only the US (and, I suppose, Canada) are doing the fancy 20th-anniversary edition of OUTLANDER.  They'd rather have that be the focus in 2011, and spread out the release of books by having PRISONER in 2012, while the UK publisher rather obviously would like it sooner, since they don't have a Gabaldon book this year, otherwise.
So, there are a lot of issues yet to be worked out.  I'm confident that Diana will let us know as soon as a definite publication date (or dates) is announced, and I'll post here as soon as I hear anything further.

UPDATE 7/16/2011 12:23 PM:  The various publishers have resolved their differences, and the official release date for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER in the US, Canada, and the UK will be November 29, 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Diana's "Daily Lines" on Twitter

Diana Gabaldon made the following announcement on Twitter yesterday:
I think I will start something new: posting my favorite line from my day's work each day. Not everyone wants to see such things, so...will title such tweets #DailyLine, to give the avoiders warning. How's that sound?

I told her, "As long as you give us [meaning the excerpt-avoiders] fair warning, sure, why not?"

Most of these quotes on Twitter will probably come from LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, since Diana is in the middle of the Final Frenzy of writing that book at the moment.  (She says on Compuserve that the writing is going very well, by the way.)  But I notice that she's also posting bits from Book 8.

So, if you like to read excerpts, check out Diana on Twitter!  (She's Writer_DG.)

I am also on Twitter, as karenh3a, if you want to follow me.

Please note:  As many of you know, I don't read excerpts myself.  So please don't comment on the actual content of those "daily lines" from unpublished books here on my blog.  If you want to discuss them, please post on Compuserve, or on the LOL Excerpt Board.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My favorite ECHO quotes

In honor of today's release of the mass-market (small size) paperback of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, here are some of my favorite quotes from ECHO.  Hope you enjoy these!  And feel free to contribute your own favorites, if you want to.

All of the quotes below are taken from AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon. Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.  (Page numbers refer to the hardcover edition.)
“Would you care to explain to me exactly which aspects of plant inspection require a penis?” (Chapter 16, "Unarmed Conflict", p. 148)
I love this line. Go Bree!
"I am the son of a great man."
The hook touched Jamie’s hand, hard and capable.
“I wish for nothing more.”
(Chapter 18, "Pulling Teeth", p. 182)
One of the best Fergus moments in the entire series. Just wonderful!
"Ah.  Now, where was I?  Oh, aye--ye wanted to hear what I was thinking of."
"I've changed my mind."  I was panting shallowly, as much from the weight on my chest as from desire.  Both were considerable.
He made a Scottish noise indicating deep amusement and tightened his grip on my wrists.
"You started it, Sassenach--but I'll finish it."  Whereupon he put his lips to my wet ear and told me in a slow whisper exactly what he'd been thinking.  Not moving an inch while he did so, save to put his hand back over my mouth when I began to call him names.
(Chapter 50, "Exodus", p. 478)
I love this whole scene in the Commandant's garden.  One of the best in the whole book, in my opinion.
“Be careful, Sassenach,” he said, still grinning. “Ye dinna want to knock off any more pieces; ye’ll only have to stick them back on, aye?”
“Don’t bloody tempt me."
(Chapter 62, "One Just Man", p. 549)
I love it when Jamie teases Claire. But it's her reply that makes me laugh out loud.
“Ever heard of coup de foudre, Sassenach? It didna take me more than one good look at you.” (Chapter 68, "Despoiler", p. 602)
This is a terrific line. I hadn't heard the term before I read ECHO, but having looked up the definition, now I'm sure I won't ever forget it. Boy, is that ever appropriate!
“If you find out who she’s sleeping with and don’t tell me, I will kill you.”
(Chapter 78, "Old Debts", p. 671)
A reminder (as if we needed one!) that Claire is not a woman to be messed with, ever.
“Where d’ye think he is now?” Jenny said suddenly. “Ian, I mean.”
He glanced at the house, then at the new grave waiting, but of course that wasn’t Ian anymore. He was panicked for a moment, his earlier emptiness returning—-but then it came to him, and, without surprise, he knew what it was Ian had said to him.
On your right, man.” On his right. Guarding his weak side.
“He’s just here,” he said to Jenny, nodding to the spot between them. “Where he belongs.”
(Chapter 84, "The Right of It", p. 712)
I just LOVE this bit, with the deliberate "echo" of Ian's line in DRAGONFLY, which has long been my favorite Ian quote of the whole series.
"Like forgiveness, it was not a thing once learned and then comfortably put aside but a matter of constant practice—-to accept the notion of one’s own mortality, and yet live fully, was a paradox worthy of Socrates."
(Chapter 94, "The Paths of Death", p. 774)
Diana has said, on Compuserve, that the one-word theme of this book is "mortality". I don't think that theme is stated as succinctly, or as eloquently, anywhere else in the book.
Fuirich agus chi thu.”
“What?” He stared at me.
“Gaelic,” I said, with a small, deep twinge. “It means ‘Wait and see.’”
(Chapter 98, "Mischianza", p. 794)
This is an inside joke that few people outside of Diana's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community will understand. The explanation goes like this: One of Diana's favorite phrases, in response to questions, is "Wait and see."  Back in 2008, Cathy MacGregor posted the Gaelic translation of this phrase, and a number of us, including Diana, have been using "fuirich agus chi thu" in the discussions there ever since. I was delighted to see it in print!
"Something like a geyser rose up inside me and burst in my head, the spray of it sparkling with sunlight and diamonds."
(Chapter 102, "Bred in the Bone", p. 809)
I love this description.
“Thee is a wolf, too, and I know it. But thee is my wolf, and best thee know that.”
(Chapter 103, "The Hour of the Wolf", p. 814)
How wonderful for Ian that he's found a woman who loves and appreciates him for who he is! I thought this was just the right note on which to end the book.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Update on 20th Anniversary Contest

Thanks very much to all of you who have sent in your entries for the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest!  I'm very pleased by the response so far:  18 entries and counting!  I'm sure that Diana will be delighted to read all of your stories.

If you haven't yet sent in your entry, there's still time.  The contest will run through the end of June.  You can post your entry here on my blog, or email me at with the subject line "OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest".

Thanks, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

18th century cooking

I found a very interesting site today on the subject of 18th century cooking and recipes.   The site, History is Served, is affiliated with the Historic Foodways program at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

The main part of this site is a blog featuring many different 18th century recipes (along with their 21st century equivalents, so you can try them at home).

From the FAQ page:
The recipes we have chosen are presented in the original language and measurements of the colonial era. Our modern translations are intended to be as accurate as possible to the original recipes using modern ingredients and equipment. Our job is to recreate 18th-century food as genuinely as possible. In some cases we will indicate items that can be omitted or substituted in order to make the recipes healthier.

There are also a number of videos showing how cooking was done in the 18th century, featuring everything from how to roast a leg of lamb, to how to make chocolate.

Here's a video from the Historic Foodways program giving a brief overview of 18th century cooking (or at least, how it's done at Colonial Williamsburg):

Colonial Williamsburg is a fabulous place for OUTLANDER fans to visit, by the way.  I highly recommend it!  You can see pictures of my 2008 visit here.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Check this out!

I heard about this TV commercial for the OUTLANDER books from someone on the My Outlander Purgatory chat a couple of weeks ago, but hadn't actually seen it myself until today, when I saw the link on Facebook.  (Thanks very much to Diana Manganaro for finding this on YouTube!)

I think this looks great!  Very cool.  Please spread the word to any other OUTLANDER fans you may know.

UPDATE 5/20/2011 6:26 am:  According to Diana, on Twitter:  "Random House did three versions of that, aimed at men, older women, and younger women. That's the 'man' one. <g>"  (If you want to see her comments, she's Writer_DG on Twitter.)

Here's the second version:

UPDATE 6/1/2011 5:57 am: Here's the third one:

Diana's Final Frenzy

Diana mentioned on Compuserve earlier this week that she's now in the Final Frenzy phase of LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.

This is great news for us, as it means that SCOTTISH PRISONER is getting closer to completion! <g>

What does "Final Frenzy" mean?  Look here for Diana's explanation in her own words, from 2008:
Oh, that's just what I call the last two-thee months of work on a novel--it's where I know pretty much where/what all the pieces are--but still have 100,000 words to write. <g>   Knowing so much, though, I can pretty much work flat-out, without having to stop and wait for the brain to generate links and kick up ideas out of the compost; it's all _there_, and I'm just digging it out.
It sounds as though Diana is going to be very busy writing in the next few weeks.  Sending her lots of positive writing vibes and best wishes for the Final Frenzy!

Before you get too excited, though, please consider this:  Even after Diana finishes writing SCOTTISH PRISONER, it will still be a while before it's in print.  Diana posted a very long and detailed explanation of the steps in the publishing process on her old web site in 2008, and I thought it was worth mentioning again.  Look here, and scroll down to the update dated 28 September 2008.

In case you're wondering, no, we still don't have any information on an exact publication date for SCOTTISH PRISONER in the US.  If I find out any more specific information, I'll post it here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Update on OUTLANDER: The Musical

I got an email newsletter yesterday from Mike Gibb, co-creator of OUTLANDER: The Musical, with some interesting news:
Delighted to announce that New York based writer Jill Santoriello is to join Kevin Walsh and myself in developing the libretto for a stage version of Outlander The Musical, based on the hugely successful series of books by Diana Gabaldon. Diana is also very happy to welcome Jill aboard.

Jill Santoriello is best known as the writer of the book, lyrics and music for the Award winning musical A Tale of Two Cities, which was staged at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Broadway in 2008 and which recently enjoyed a two month run at the Hale Centre Theatre in Salt Lake City
That's all I know about this.  If anyone has any further information on Ms. Santoriello, please post it here.

UPDATE 5/17/2011 6:20 pm:  Diana's reaction on Twitter: "I think it'll be very cool. Looking forward to seeing what Jill and Mike do with the libretto!"

Also, in case you weren't already aware of this, the 20th Anniversary edition of OUTLANDER, due out July 5th in the US and Canada, will include a sampler CD of songs from the musical, including one new song that isn't on the original CD.  I can't wait to hear it!

If you're not familiar with OUTLANDER: The Musical, I highly recommend it.  See the musical's official web site,, for more information, including previews of all the songs on the CD.  My reaction to the songs is here, and my Amazon review is here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Contest update

Just a quick note to say, I'm very pleased with the response to the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest so far!  I've had 14 responses back in less than a week, which is very gratifying.  Thanks so much to those of you who've taken the time to put your thoughts down in writing and send them to me.  I know it's not easy.

Please keep the responses coming!  If you haven't yet sent in your contest entry, or if you don't know what I'm talking about, please click the picture below for all the details.

You can post your entry here on my blog, or email me at  Thanks!

ECHO mass-market paperback coming soon!

For those of you in the U.S. and Canada, please note that the mass-market (small size) paperback of Diana Gabaldon's AN ECHO IN THE BONE will be released on Tuesday, May 24.

From the cover picture, it appears they may have toned down the infamous Green Slime color from the trade-paperback edition to something a little easier on the eyes.  If that's the case, I'm glad.  Personally I think the Green Slime is a hideous color, even if it does stand out vividly on a bookstore shelf.  (But then again, I'm biased, because I loved the gold-on-black of the ECHO hardcover.)

[UPDATE 6/4/2011 11:52 am: I saw the book in Barnes & Noble this morning.  The Green Slime color is exactly the same on the mass-market paperback as it was on the trade paperback edition.  And there are no excerpts from upcoming books included in this book.  Oh, well.]

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

Saturday, May 14, 2011

GUEST POST: The Aftermath of Culloden

I'm pleased to present the third and final installment of David McNicoll's series of guest posts about the Jacobite Rising of 1745.  This final piece deals with the aftermath of Culloden. 

Thanks again to David for sharing these very interesting articles with us!  I'm always fascinated to learn more about the historical background of the OUTLANDER books.  If you find this article interesting, be sure to check out the previous posts in this series, The Road to the '45 and The Failure of the '45.

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.

The Aftermath of Culloden
by David McNicoll

The mist rises fast from the calm waters of the Moray Firth below and is soon swirling amongst the clan stones of Culloden Moor, casting an eerie scene over the site of the last battle ever fought on British soil. Here among the gravestones and memorials you can almost hear the ghosts of the past – the last charge of the Highlanders, the last roll-call of the Celtic world. The Battle of Culloden in April 1746 was a line in the sand: it ushered in a period of unparalleled change to the Highlands, but also had some remarkable consequences, which are still being felt across the world today.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest

In celebration of OUTLANDER's 20th anniversary, I've decided to have a contest here on my blog.

The Prize:  An autographed copy of the 20th Anniversary Edition, signed by Diana Gabaldon (and inscribed with the winner's name, if you like).

The Rules:

1) Write a short (no more than 500 words, please!) description of what OUTLANDER means to you.  Topics may include:
  • How did you find the series?
  • What's the most interesting, amusing, or unusual experience you've had as a result of reading the books?
  • What are some of your favorite scenes?
  • How many times have you read the books?
  • Have you tried to get other people to read the books?
  • What do you like best about the OUTLANDER fan community?
  • And anything else you'd like to say to Diana in honor of this 20th anniversary.
Feel free to add your own ideas, if you think of something I've left out.

2) Submit your contest entry:
  • You can post your entry here on Outlandish Observations, by leaving a comment on this blog post.  (Please make sure to include your name and email address so I can contact you if you win!)


  • By email, to  Please use the subject line "OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest".  (And don't forget to sign your name.)
Please don't post contest entries on Facebook.  It's too difficult for me to keep track of them there.

Contest Ends:  June 30, 2011 at midnight Eastern Time.  The winner will be chosen at random on July 1, 2011.

Who is eligible?

Anyone can enter this contest, even if you live outside the US.  (One entry per person, please!)  I will arrange with the Poisoned Pen bookstore to ship the book directly to you if you win.  (The Poisoned Pen is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.  She says they ship all over the world.)

For Diana

If there is enough interest in this contest, I plan to collect all of the entries and send them to Diana as a 20th-anniversary gift.  (Please don't mention this on Compuserve.  I'd like to keep it a surprise if I can.  Thanks!)


If you have any questions about this contest, please feel free to post them here, or contact me.

This is the first time I've ever run a contest like this.  I hope you'll take the time to participate.  I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has to say.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

More info on OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary edition

Diana Gabaldon's latest blog post gives some more information about the special 20th Anniversary edition of OUTLANDER, due out in the US and Canada on July 5, 2011.  (Why not in the UK?  Look here for Diana's explanation.)

There is a close-up picture on her blog of the front and back covers of the special edition, if you're interested.

Here's what Diana had to say a few months ago on Compuserve about what's going to be in it:
I think the 20th-anniversary edition will be Very Cool.   Let's addition to the text <g>, it will include (at least at last discussion) a Letter from me (not that I think _that's_ very cool, but they asked for it), and a very luxurious back-matter section, containing a) a map of the locations in OUTLANDER (a more accurate one than the one from the COMPANION), b) a timeline of historical and fictional events, c) the bibliography from the COMPANION, d) something else I forget from the COMPANION, e) an essay by me on "The Shape of Things," which is all about how I write this stuff.  Oh--and a "sampler" CD from OUTLANDER:The Musical, including three songs from the regular CD and one "bonus" song from the complete libretto that _isn't_ on the regular CD.

The whole thing to be bound not only in hardcover, but in a rather cool faux-leather binding _and_ slipcase, with a ribbon bookmarker.
Please note that Diana is not going to be doing a lengthy book-tour to promote the book when it comes out in July, just a few public appearances (check her web site here for the details).  If you won't be able to attend one of those signings but you'd like an autographed copy of the 20th Anniversary edition, you can contact the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ.  (Look here, and scroll to the bottom of the page.)

I've had very good results ordering Diana's books from the Poisoned Pen by phone (1-888-560-9919).  The staff there are friendly and very knowledgeable about Diana's books.  And Diana says they ship all over the world.

Please spread the word to anyone else you know who might be interested.  Thanks!

UPDATE 5/7/2011 6:40 am: Wondering when the books will be shipped from the Poisoned Pen?  Here is what Diana said on Compuserve on Friday:
I'll be in New York/Laramie/New York, from June 27th to July 10th, so unavailable to sign books 'til the 11th--when I'll be doing a sort of launch event <g> for the book at the Poisoned Pen.  I'll sign everything then (plus a bunch of stock for later orders) and they'll ship it out over the next couple of days.  So you should get it mid-month-ish, depending on how fast the mail/UPS is.
So, if you order from the PP, don't expect to get the book the first week it comes out.  Fairly soon thereafter, though.  (I put in my pre-order by phone on Thursday.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Diana's latest blog post

Diana Gabaldon's latest blog post has some interesting information on a couple of topics that have come up in recent days:
  1. Why exactly is Jamie's birthday on May 1?  Is there some special significance to the fact that he was born on Beltane?  (Judging from her reaction, by the way, the #HappyBdayJamie campaign was a resounding success! <g>)

  2. Why is the unabridged version of ABOSAA available on now, when the license for the abridged version doesn't expire for several more years?  ("We (me and my agent) did them a deal" is the way Diana put it.)
I would encourage you to go and take a look at what she says.  And if you live in Arizona, there's some information in that blog post about Diana's upcoming appearances for the month of May.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jamie Fraser!

Happy Birthday, Jamie Fraser!
Happy Birthday

Wishing a very happy birthday to our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, who celebrates his 290th birthday today!  If you are on Twitter and you'd like to help us celebrate Jamie's birthday, please tag your tweets today (May 1) with #HappyBdayJamie.

And if you're not on Twitter, I'm sure you can think of some suitable ways to mark the occasion. <g>

April Poll Results

Here are the results from the April poll:

What is your favorite location in the OUTLANDER books?
  • 36.45% - Lallybroch 
  • 30.32% - Fraser's Ridge 
  • 26.13% - Anywhere Jamie and Claire happen to be 
  • 2.90% - Paris 
  • 1.94% - Edinburgh 
  • 0.65% - River Run 
  • 1.61% - Other (please leave a comment!)
There were 310 votes in this poll, which is a very high number by my standards. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

I really didn't have any preconceived notions of what the results would be, so it's interesting to see how this ended up.  I didn't vote in the poll, but I probably would have gone with Fraser's Ridge.  I love their time in North Carolina.

This month's poll is a reprise of one that I did two years ago, about the various ways that readers have found the OUTLANDER books.  Please take a moment to vote.  Thanks!

Wishing you all a happy Beltane. <g>