Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is here!



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.
Amen."

(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.

S

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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 in the UK



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 Audible.com and other retail outlets. However, they couldn’t do a contract with Audible.com 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, audible.com, 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!