Friday, June 27, 2014

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #8

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books. This is a collection of some of my favorite items from previous FFF posts. I hope you enjoy them!

1) I'm sure many of you will remember Phillip Wylie's Friesian stallion, Lucas, from THE FIERY CROSS.  What you may not know is that Diana Gabaldon's German translator, Barbara Schnell, owns several Friesian horses. The photo above comes from Wikipedia (and no, that's not one of Barbara's horses, but I like the wild, untamed look of the stallion in that photo).

This photo, which Barbara was kind enough to share with me from her personal collection, shows one of her Friesians, a stallion named Apollo. Click on the picture for a bigger view.
These black horses had great floating masses of silky hair--almost like women's hair--that rose and fluttered with their movements, matching the graceful fall of their long, full tails. In addition, each horse had delicate black feathers decorating hoof and fetlock, that lifted like floating milkweed seed with each step. By contrast to the usual rawboned riding horses and rough draft animals used for haulage, these horses seemed almost magical--and from the awed comment they were occasioning among the spectators, might as well have come from Fairyland as from Phillip Wylie's plantation in Edenton.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 39, "In Cupid's Grove". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
You can see more of Barbara Schnell's photos of her Friesians, Apollo and Talisker, in this photo gallery.  (Barbara says, "Lucas, Talisker's sire, inspired Lucas in the book.")  And here's a video showing a young German equestrian, Jessica Süss, riding a Friesian named Zorro at a competition in 2010.  Zorro died in 2012, but he was a beautiful horse.  Thanks very much to Barbara for sharing the pictures and links with us!

For more information about Friesians, visit the website of the Friesian Horse Association of North America.

2) Until I read THE FIERY CROSS, I'd never heard of people writing letters both horizontally and vertically to save paper, but apparently this was a common practice in the 18th century.
Mama writes in tiny letters when she does her case-notes, and when Da writes to Scotland he writes on both sides of the page, and then he turns it sideways and writes across the lines, so it looks like lattice-work.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 74, "The Sounds of Silence". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The photo above shows an example of a "crossed letter" from Robert Ker Porter to Anna Maria Porter, dated 4 April 1806.  Click on the photo to enlarge it, and you'll see the writing going from bottom to top across the page.  You can clearly see the "sideways" signature near the right-hand side of the photo.

According to this site, where I found the photo:
Crossed letters began to decline in use after 1840, when the “Uniform Penny Post” was established in England, allowing letter-writers to send domestic mail a rate of a penny per 1/2 ounce (thus the name “penny post”), regardless of distance, payable in advance by the sender.

3) This is an example of a pottery dish from the 18th-century Moravian settlement at Salem, North Carolina, dating from 1775-1785, during Gottfried Aust's tenure as master potter.  (Click on the photo for a bigger view.)  I like to think that it might be the very one that Roger and Bree saw in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES:
"Aye, but what about clay?” [Roger] interrupted. “Did ye see that plate at Hilda’s wedding? The big brown and red one, with the beautiful patterns?”

“Yes,” she said. “Why?”

"Ute McGillivray said someone from Salem brought it. I dinna recall the name, but she said he was quite the big noise in potting--or whatever ye call making dishes.”

“I’ll bet you any amount of money she didn’t say that!”

“Well, words to that effect.” He went on, undeterred. “The point being that he made it here; it wasn’t something he’d brought from Germany. So there’s clay about that’s suitable for firing, eh?” 

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Ambush". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)

My mom and I saw an exhibit in 2013 at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh, NC, featuring many examples of 18th and early 19th century Moravian and Quaker pottery from the area around Salem and Bethabara (near what is now Winston-Salem, NC).  Some of the pieces are really quite beautiful!  Here's a PDF file with more information, including photos of many of the pieces we saw in that exhibit.

4) In the 18th century, a pocket was a separate, removable item of ladies' clothing, tied about the waist.  (The pair of pockets shown above are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

Ladies' skirts and petticoats had slits on the sides to allow access to the pockets underneath, as shown in this diagram of an 18th-century petticoat:

Here's a scene in which Claire demonstrates the usefulness of the removable pocket:
Roger paused to wipe his face with the large handkerchief Brianna had provided for the purpose, and under cover of this, saw Claire reach into the slit of her skirt and draw out a large calico pocket.

She appeared to be arguing with Jamie in a whisper; he was shaking his head, looking like the Spartan with the fox at his vitals.

Then the snake’s head appeared suddenly under Jamie’s chin, tongue flicking, and Jamie’s eyes went wide. Claire stood instantly on tiptoe, seized it by the neck, and whipping the astonished reptile out of her husband’s shirt like a length of rope, crammed the writhing ball headfirst into her pocket and jerked shut the drawstring.

"Praise the Lord!” Roger blurted, to which the congregation obligingly chorused “Amen!” though looking a little puzzled at the interjection.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 58, "Love One Another". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a site that explains how to make your own 18th-century-style pocket. For more about 18th-century pockets, look here.

5) The photo above shows what a nannyberry bush (Viburnum lentago) looks like in the autumn, around the time of year that the Gathering in THE FIERY CROSS took place.
"Is there a difficulty, Mr. Wemyss?”

Mr. Wemyss was delayed in answering, having become inextricably entangled with the nannyberry bush, and I was obliged to go and help release him. A onetime bookkeeper who had been obliged to sell himself as an indentured servant, Mr. Wemyss was highly unsuited to life in the wilderness.

“I do apologize for troubling ye, sir,” he said, rather red in the face. He picked nervously at a spiny twig that had caught in his fair, flyaway hair.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 12, "Virtue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Every article I could find about the Viburnum lentago mentions the suckers that form at its base.  Evidently those are what trapped poor Mr. Wemyss. <g>

I hope you enjoyed this 8th installment of the Best of the Friday Fun Facts! Here are the previous collections:

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #1
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #2
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #3
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #4
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #5
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #6
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #7

Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

OUTLANDER premieres August 14 in Australia!

The OUTLANDER TV series will premiere in Australia on Thursday, August 14, at 8:30 pm AEST, on Foxtel's SoHo channel.

You can see the official announcement here.

Please note: as of right now, only the US, Canada, and Australia have announced plans to air the series. We have no information yet about other countries!  Keep watching my OUTLANDER TV Series FAQ page for the latest updates.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Q&A with Diana Gabaldon's editor

Diana Gabaldon's US editor, Jennifer Hershey of Random House, will be holding a Q&A session on Thursday, June 26, from 4pm - 5pm ET.
The Suvudu Q&A is a unique opportunity for Gabaldon fans to ask her editor about Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the newly released eighth novel in the series; the forthcoming Outlander TV series, premiering in August; and all about the Outlander universe.
The Suvudu Q&A is a unique opportunity for Gabaldon fans to ask her editor about Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the newly released eighth novel in the series; the forthcoming Outlander TV series, premiering in August; and all about the Outlander universe. - See more at:
If you have a question about WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, what it's like to work with Diana Gabaldon, or anything else OUTLANDER-related, you can post here.


Some of the questions that people have posted on that page contain SPOILERS for MOHB.  If you haven't finished the new book, you may want to avoid reading other people's comments!

I posted the following question.
Personally I think that being an editor working with Diana during the Final Frenzy stage of finishing a book must be quite nerve-wracking. Diana has described that stage as "mainlining rocket fuel", "holding the ends of a high-voltage cable", etc. What is it like from your end?
We'll see if it gets an answer.
The Suvudu Q&A is a unique opportunity for Gabaldon fans to ask her editor about Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the newly released eighth novel in the series; the forthcoming Outlander TV series, premiering in August; and all about the Outlander universe. - See more at:
The Suvudu Q&A is a unique opportunity for Gabaldon fans to ask her editor about Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the newly released eighth novel in the series; the forthcoming Outlander TV series, premiering in August; and all about the Outlander universe. - See more at:

Friday, June 20, 2014

OUTLANDER Premiere July 25 at SDCC!

STARZ has announced that the world premiere of the OUTLANDER TV series will take place on July 25, 2014, at Comic Con in San Diego, CA.

Diana Gabaldon and Ron Moore will be there, along with Sam Heughan (Jamie), Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Tobias Menzies (Frank/BJR), Graham McTavish (Dougal), and Lotte Verbeek (Geillis).

If you are a legal US resident, you can enter a contest to win tickets to this event. But be sure to read the fine print!  Contest ends at 5pm ET on Friday, June 27.

I'm not going to attend the premiere myself, but it sounds like it will be quite an experience!  Good luck to those of you trying for tickets!

For more about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#1 on the NY Times Bestseller List!!

Diana Gabaldon just posted this announcement on Twitter:


That's fantastic news, and well-deserved!! We hope it stays on top of the list for a good long time!

For more information about WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, see my FAQ page here.

WhisperSync and OUTLANDER audiobooks

If any of you use WhisperSync, I'm told that it's now available for WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.

I don't use WhisperSync myself, but I loved this video showing how it works.  If you're a fan of the OUTLANDER audiobooks read by Davina Porter, I promise you'll enjoy it!

Thanks to Bev C. on Compuserve for the link! <g>

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A brief TV series update

As many of you know, the first season of the OUTLANDER TV series will consist of 16 episodes.  Many of us had assumed that would mean 16 consecutive weeks (starting August 9th on STARZ in the US, August 24th on Showcase in Canada), but it turns out that may not actually be the case.

Diana Gabaldon was asked about this yesterday on Compuserve, and here's what she said:
They'd talked about showing the first eight episodes and then having "a brief hiatus" before showing the second eight, but that's the sum total of the information I have.
I have no further details, but I'll post here as more information becomes available.

Also, check out the latest STARZ newsletter, all about Sam Heughan and his transformation into James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser!  (Thanks to OUTLANDER TV News for posting it.)

For more about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!  In honor of the day, I thought I'd post a selection of my favorite quotes about fathers and fatherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books.  Hope you enjoy them!

"I hadna realized until I saw him just how alone I’d felt there--or how scairt. The soldiers would not give us any time alone together, but at least they let me greet him.” He swallowed and went on.

“I told him I was sorry--about Jenny, I meant, and the whole sorry mess. He told me to hush, though, and hugged me tight to him. He asked me was I hurt badly--he knew about the flogging--and I said I’d be all right. The soldiers said I must go then, so he squeezed my arms tight, and told me to remember to pray. He said he would stand by me, no matter what happened, and I must just keep my head up and try not to worrit myself. He kissed my cheek and the soldiers took me away. That was the last time I ever saw him."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Reckonings". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

“I wondered a bit,” he said thoughtfully, “whether my father was the sort of father he was because of the way old Simon treated him. I didna realize it at the time, of course, but it’s no so common for a man to show his feelings for his sons.”

“You’ve thought about it a lot.” I offered him another flask of ale, and he took it with a smile that lingered on me, more warming than the feeble autumn sun.

“Aye, I did. I was wondering, ye see, what sort of father I’d be to my own bairns, and looking back a bit to see, my own father being the best example I had. Yet I knew, from the bits that he said, or that Murtagh told me, that his own father was nothing like him, so I thought as how he must have made up his mind to do it all differently, once he had the chance."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 40, "The Fox's Lair".  Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)

Willie knew how an earl should behave; he was making a masterful effort to subdue his tears, sniffing ferociously and swiping at his face with a sleeve.

“Allow me, my lord.” Jamie did kneel then, and wiped the little boy’s face gently with his own coarse handkerchief. Willie’s eyes looked at him over the cotton folds, red-rimmed and woeful.

“Have you really got to go, Mac?” he asked, in a very small voice.

“Aye, I have.” He looked into the dark blue eyes, so heartbreakingly like his own, and suddenly didn’t give a damn what was right or who saw. He pulled the boy roughly to him, hugging him tight against his heart, holding the boy’s face close to his shoulder, that Willie might not see the quick tears that fell into his thick, soft hair.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 16, "Willie".  Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)

“You me Da,” he said. His voice was husky; he stopped and cleared his throat. “If--if ye want to, I mean,” he added diffidently.

“Da,” she said, and felt the smile bloom easily this time, unmarred by tears.

“Da. Is that Gaelic?”

He smiled back, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly. “No. It’s only...simple.”

And suddenly it was all simple. He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she’d imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 41, "Journey's End".  Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)

Roger had sworn an oath to take Jemmy as his own, no matter what the little boy’s true paternity might be; he was an honorable man, Roger, and he meant it. But the speech of the heart is louder than the words of any oath spoken by lips alone.

When I had gone back, pregnant, through the stones, Frank had sworn to me that he would keep me as his wife, would treat the coming child as his own--would love me as he had before. All three of those vows his lips and mind had done his best to keep, but his heart, in the end, had sworn only one. From the moment that he took Brianna in his arms, she was his daughter.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 13, "Beans and Barbecue".  Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

Jem was heavy in his arms, and groggy. He stirred, lifted his head, and blinked, blue eyes glassy with sleep.

“It’s okay,” Roger whispered, patting his back. “Daddy’s here.”

Jem sighed like a punctured tire and dropped his head on Roger’s shoulder with the force of a spent cannonball. He seemed to inflate again for a moment, but then put his thumb in his mouth and subsided into that peculiarly boneless state common to sleeping children. His flesh seemed to melt comfortably into Roger’s own, his trust so complete that it was not necessary even to maintain the boundaries of his body--Daddy would do that. 

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine".  Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

"For a long time,” he said at last, “when I was small, I pretended to myself that I was the bastard of some great man. All orphans do this, I think,” he added dispassionately. “It makes life easier to bear, to pretend that it will not always be as it is, that someone will come and restore you to your rightful place in the world.”

He shrugged.

“Then I grew older, and knew this was not true. No one would come to rescue me. But then--” He turned his head and gave Jamie a smile of surpassing sweetness.

“Then I grew older still, and discovered that, after all, it was true. I am the son of a great man.”

The hook touched Jamie’s hand, hard and capable.

“I wish for nothing more."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 18, "Pulling Teeth".  Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

Finally, on a personal note:  My dad, Chuck Henry (pictured above in December, 2012), was diagnosed last week with a form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.  (It's treatable with chemotherapy, but unfortunately not curable.) He's 77 years old and until very recently had been in excellent health all his adult life.  This has been quite a shock for our whole family, to put it mildly, but we're determined to give him the best possible quality of life, for as long as we can.  As the only one of my siblings who lives close by, I am doing my best to support both him and my mom as we try to get through this. All prayers and healing thoughts appreciated!

Happy Father's Day to the best dad in the world!  I love you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

MOHB is here at last!!

It's here!!


to Diana Gabaldon on the publication of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD!!

This is an immensely entertaining, suspenseful, funny, breathtaking, emotionally intense, non-stop roller-coaster ride of a book, and I enjoyed it TREMENDOUSLY!! <vbg>

I was thrilled to see my name mentioned in the Acknowledgements at the end of the book.  (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

"Bumblebee-herding" is Diana's term for what I do on Compuserve.  And for those of you who may not be familiar with my Friday Fun Facts, look here.

As for "Eyeball-Numbing Nitpickery", I was delighted to be able to help.

I hope all of you enjoy this book as much as I have. Happy reading, everyone!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

"The Space Between" audio version is out!

The audiobook of "The Space Between" is now available for download from!

It's 4 hours and 13 minutes long (by far the longest audiobook of any of the novellas so far), and it's narrated by Davina Porter, who does the narration for the OUTLANDER audiobooks. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm really looking forward to it!

You can hear a sample here.

(For those of you outside the US: I have no idea if it's available where you live.)

For more information about "The Space Between", see my FAQ page here.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

New OUTLANDER trailer!

Here's the latest OUTLANDER trailer, with commentary from Ron Moore, Diana Gabaldon, and the cast of the TV series.

I think it's terrific! What about the rest of you?

For more information about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Taking a break from the FFF

As I mentioned last week, I will be taking a break from the Friday Fun Facts for a few months.

Between the publication of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (only four days away now!) and the TV series premiere on August 9, I'm going to be extremely busy trying to manage the discussions on Compuserve, and I just won't have the time to do the research that the FFF requires.

However, I do intend to post occasional "Best of the FFF" collections, as I've done in the past. (You can see the previous collections here.)

I'm not necessarily stopping for good; I'm sure that the new book will provide lots of entertaining bits that would make good FFF topics, and eventually, when things calm down online, maybe I'll do a post or two focusing on MOHB.  But for now, I really need a break from it.

In the meantime, if you are looking for your weekly FFF fix, here's the list of previous Friday Fun Facts posts, organized in three different ways:
Thanks very much to all of you for your support and encouragement over the past 28 months!  It's immensely gratifying to me to see how much everyone (including Diana Gabaldon) enjoys my Friday Fun Facts.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Canadian series premiere August 24th!

According to the official Twitter page of Showcase Canada, the OUTLANDER TV series will premiere on Showcase in Canada on August 24th!

I have no further details at this time.  (And before you ask, no, we still have no information about premiere dates for Australia or anywhere else outside the US and Canada. Keep watching this site for further updates!)

Please spread the word to any Canadian fans you may know. Thanks!

For more information about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

One more week!

Just one more week until the publication of Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD!

The long, long wait is almost over!

I have been busy in recent days with final preparations for the MOHB discussions on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (where I'm Section Leader of the Diana Gabaldon folder).  I plan to open up discussion of the new book on Compuserve on Saturday, June 7, so that people who will be attending the Fan Retreat in Seattle (and getting early copies of the book) can begin posting their reactions right away if they want to.  Managing those discussions over the next few weeks will be a full-time job in itself <g>, so I'm trying to rest up as much as I can in the next few days, before the deluge begins.

What are your plans for release day?  (I will be taking the day off, because I'll be far too distracted to concentrate on work.)  How many of you will be up at midnight on June 10 to download the e-book? <g>

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Happy World Outlander Day!

Happy World Outlander Day!!  If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets today (June 1) with #WorldOutlanderDay.

In celebration of the day, I'd like to offer a few things....

Here's a collection of photos from the 2nd Annual OUTLANDER Photo Contest that I held last year.

And here is an essay I wrote for Diana in 2011, on the occasion of OUTLANDER's 20th Anniversary.

HUGE thanks to Diana Gabaldon, for creating this amazing story! These books really have changed my life, in many ways.

Poll results

Here are the results of the May poll. There were 726 responses. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Have you attended any of Diana Gabaldon's public appearances?
  • 29.48% - Not yet, but I would like to see her in person some day.
  • 23.00% - Yes, I've been to one or more of her book-signings or other public appearances.
  • 21.07% - No, I live too far away.
  • 12.67% - I'm planning to attend the book-launch or one of the book-tour events for WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.
  • 2.07% - Yes, many times!
  • 1.93% - I'm planning to see her on June 7 at the Fan Retreat in Seattle.
  • 1.65% - What public appearances? When and where?
  • 1.52% - No, I'm not interested in attending a book-signing.
  • 1.24% - I would like to, but I'm too busy with family, work, or other commitments.
  • 5.37% - Other.
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • Just missed her in Australia last time
  • Nope. Two closest sold out before I even knew about them.
  • Sold out!!
  • Tickets were sold out before I could get one.
  • sold out before I could get tickets
  • I don't think she has been in Sweden so far...
  • If she comes to Australia I will try and attend
  • can't afford them
  • won an opportunity to have lunch with her, along with a signed copy of BOSA
  • I would love to, but they tickets have always sold out before I could buy them
  • She is the only famous person I'd like to meet she makes her books come alive
  • No. She is a fantastic author, but the books are good enough for me
  • Yes, and plan to attend another (in TC)
  • No, I live too far away, but hope one day she may come to Regina, SK.
  • If Diana comes to Australia, I will do my very best to go and meet her!
  • Hoping to catch her at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August!
  • usually not close enough or I don't hear about it until too late
  • I live in Scotland
  • She doesn't do them in the UK
  • Poor Health
  • Any change Herself may find her way to the Antipodes???
  • I would love to but I live in Australia and there aren't as many opportunities!
  • I would like to, but it was too expensive and anyway, it is sold out.
  • Hoping for San Antonio or Austin someday
  • yes to previous signing and for MOBY
  • No. I would love to meet and listen to Diana, but cannot afford the expense.
  • I am creeped out by some of the fandom, would hate to be associated with crazy.
  • Plan on seeing her at Dragoncon sept. 2014
  • abq
  • I would like to attend but can't stand the crowds!
  • She has never appeared anywhere near me, that I know of.
  • Answers 5 & 8 above. I've heard everything already
  • I'd like too but I live in Europe (France) so...difficult !
  • She has never had an appearance anywhere near where I am, otherwise I would go.
  • 10 yrs ago she visited my children's school to speak about being an author.
  • I live in Florida. These events are never in the area.
  • Was planning to but the local event was sold out before tickets were available.
  • I met her (and Jenny) at the Historical Novelist Society Conference in London
  • I live in Australia-west coast.Hope to see you soon, Diana!
I didn't vote in this poll myself, but my mom and I will be attending Diana's June 17 book-signing in Philadelphia. This will be my fourth time seeing Diana in person, and I can't wait! <g> Please take a moment to vote in the June poll, which is all about your favorite way(s) to read or listen to Diana Gabaldon's books.