Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon on the publication of her story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL!

I was thrilled to see the following in the Dedication:
This book is dedicated with the greatest respect and gratitude to Karen Henry, Rita Meistrell, Vicki Pack, Sandy Parker, and Mandy Tidwell (collectively known as “the Cadre of Eyeball-Numbing Nitpickery”) for their invaluable help in spotting errors, inconsistencies, and assorted rubbish.
Also, the first story in this collection, "The Custom of the Army", is dedicated to me personally:
This story is for Karen Henry, Aedile Curule, and Chief Bumblebee-Herder.
I've known about the latter since the e-book edition of "Custom" was released in 2012, but it's still definitely a thrill to see it in print, not to mention a great honor!

Thank you, Diana!!

This book contains some wonderful stories. "A Leaf in the Wind of All Hallows" and "The Space Between" are two of my favorites.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of the two new stories, "A Fugitive Green" and "Besieged".

For more information about SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, see my FAQ page here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day quotes from the OUTLANDER books

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


If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

"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 can...call 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.) 

Seized by an urgency greater than any he’d ever known, he turned and ran. Ran heedless of footing, of dark, of Buck’s startled cry behind him.

Jerry heard his footsteps on the grass and whirled round, startled himself. Roger grabbed him by both hands, squeezed them hard enough to make Jerry gasp, and said fiercely, “I love you!”

That was all there was time for--and all he could possibly say.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 101, "Just One Chance".  Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

And finally, on a personal note.  This is my first Father's Day without my dad, who passed away in September 2016. I miss him so much!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Last day of filming on OUTLANDER Season 3!

Today (June 16) is the last day of filming on OUTLANDER Season 3! Congratulations to the whole cast and production team! From everything I've heard so far, it sounds like this is going to be a terrific season, and I can't wait!

In case you're wondering, no, we still don't know the exact premiere date in September, but I will post here as soon as it's announced.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why you should read "Past Prologue"

I just finished reading Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "Past Prologue", co-written with Steve Berry, which was published on June 13 in an anthology called MATCHUP, edited by Lee Child.

Without getting into spoilers at all, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I think it's a must-read for OUTLANDER fans!  This post is my attempt to get the word out to fans everywhere that you're going to want to read this story.

Just like "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", this story packs a lot of action and a great deal of intriguing fodder for speculation into a small space, and I thought it was a very entertaining ride.

And yes, Jamie Fraser is in it. <g>

If you're a little nervous about the fact that this story was co-written with another author, really, don't worry about it!  From the very first lines of "Past Prologue", Diana Gabaldon's "voice" comes through very clearly.

Note to those of you who are new to the OUTLANDER books:  If you haven't read VOYAGER (book 3 of the OUTLANDER series), I would recommend waiting until you do, before reading this story. You'll appreciate "Past Prologue" a lot more if you've read VOYAGER.

For more information about "Past Prologue", including ordering information for the MATCHUP anthology in which the story appears, look here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

OUTLANDER is coming to UK TV at long last!

Big news today for UK fans: After a three-year wait, the OUTLANDER TV series will finally be shown on TV in the UK, on the More4 channel.

Look here for more details. Please help spread the word to any OUTLANDER fans you may know in the UK.

Diana Gabaldon's new story, "Past Prologue", is now available!

Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "Past Prologue", co-written with Steve Berry, is now available in an anthology called MATCHUP, edited by Lee Child.

This story features both Steve Berry's character Cotton Malone, and....Jamie Fraser!

I was wondering how much of the story Diana Gabaldon actually wrote, so I asked her for more details. As she explained on Compuserve on June 12, 2017:
Steve and I brainstormed a bit over the phone as to what kind of scenario might work as the general premise and circumstance of the story.  Then I actually wrote it, engineering the plot and action, defining/creating all the minor characters, and doing all of the dialogue involving Jamie.  (For Cotton Malone, I roughed in dialogue and/or put in things in square brackets, like "[witty remark indicating that he doesn't believe her but is sexually attracted to her.]".)    Understanding being that Steve would adjust any of Cotton's dialogue or action in accordance with the character--so essentially, we each did our own character's dialogue.  I did the original dialogue for the other characters, and Steve tweaked it where necessary.

     So I drafted the whole story, then Steve went through and refined/tightened the plot, did Cotton's dialogue and action, and moved the narrative writing slightly more toward a thriller style (though you'll still see my voice throughout).

      I went through Steve's version and tweaked a few things, and then he did the final pass--in which he decided to shift the whole thing into the present tense.  I'm fine with that--but it's probably the biggest change people will see from my style, as I don't think I've ever written anything in present tense.

     But you'll see Jamie as written by me alone (bar the tense <g>), and Cotton as per Steve.  (Now, I will warn you that we constructed the story with Cotton as the main protagonist, because Jamie doesn't time-travel, so you'll see more of him--but you will get an interesting addition to Jamie's part of the Outlander story.)
There is a brief excerpt from this story on Diana's Facebook page here.

For more information about the other stories in this anthology, look here.

You can order MATCHUP from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and it's also available from Amazon UK for those of you who live outside the US.  If you want an autographed copy, you can order the book from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Poisoned Pen is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore; they stock all of her books, and they ship all over the world.

The audio version of MATCHUP is available for download on audible.com here.

And no, in case you're wondering, the fact that Diana Gabaldon has a story in this anthology is not slowing down her progress on GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series! Diana often says that she likes to work on multiple projects at once, to keep from getting writer's block.

Have you read this story?  If so, please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page, and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Visit to the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown, VA

My mom and I just returned from a trip to Yorktown, VA, to see the newly renovated and expanded American Revolution Museum (formerly known as the Yorktown Victory Center). I had a fabulous time, and I would definitely recommend it to OUTLANDER fans, especially if you like seeing what the 18th-century items mentioned in Diana Gabaldon's books actually looked like.

The highlight of our trip was the "living history" part of the museum.  They have recreated both a Revolutionary War army encampment and a typical farm homestead from the period, so you get a good look at the way ordinary people lived. The museum itself was very interesting. They have artifacts and exhibits spanning the Colonial period, the war years, and the aftermath of the Revolution. It's well done for the most part, though we thought the lighting was too dim in places, making it difficult to see some of the items in the display cases.

Here are some of the highlights of our visit to the museum, including many items that I think anyone who's read the OUTLANDER books will appreciate.

First, we visited the army encampment. As we entered the area, an officer at the first table we saw asked if I wanted to enlist in the Continental Army. I said, "Sure, why not?"

This was my first experience writing with a quill. It was fun. After I signed the paper, the man sprinkled a bit of sand on it to make the ink dry faster.

I was delighted to find that the whole museum complex, including the outdoor areas, was wheelchair-accessible, and I had no difficulty in getting around. We were very lucky with the weather!

This is an abatis, which you may recall from AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

Communal army kitchen. For more about these kitchens, look here.

Each group of soldiers sharing a tent had their own individual food-preparation area around the perimeter of the circle, basically just a small pit dug in the ground, barely big enough for a small fire to cook whatever food they had.

Soldier's kit, including eating utensils, razor, a deck of cards, and other miscellaneous items. The bag at the right contains beans, which were part of the soldier's rations.

Soldier's rations, and the 18th-century equivalent of a hot-plate on which to cook them.

Laundry area. This would have been run by "camp followers", women who traveled with the army. Click on the photo for a view of the price list.

The re-enactors are very good, and we particularly liked the man who did the musket demonstration. He stressed the fact that 18th-century muskets were not very accurate, even at a distance of 100 yards, but that didn't lessen the danger for the troops at all. "Suppose the enemy soldier aims his weapon at you. He might hit the man standing next to you instead." Using mass volleys of musket fire increased the odds that some shots would hit their targets.

Imagine trying to load, aim, and fire a musket (a pretty complicated series of steps) in 15 seconds, in the midst of all the smoke and confusion of battle, while enemy soldiers are rushing toward you with bayonets. It sounds terrifying!

Cooking on the open hearth, very much as Claire, or Mrs. Bug, would have done on the Ridge.  When I asked what they were making, one of the women lifted the cover of the small Dutch oven shown here, revealing a delicious-looking loaf of cornbread.

Herbs hung to dry in the rafters of the farm kitchen.

Barrel of salt, used for preserving food.

Demonstrating the use of a bed-key to tighten a rope mattress, like the one Claire used in ABOSAA:
I piled up the pillows at the head of the bed—pausing to remove the dirk—then began to climb onto it. I paused again, though, and instead bent to wind the bedkey, tightening the ropes that supported the mattress until the bedstead groaned and the ropes gave a creaking twang.

“Verra canny, Sassenach,” Jamie said behind me, sounding amused.

“Experience,” I informed him, clambering over the newly tautened bed on hands and knees. “I’ve waked up often enough after a night with you, with the mattress folded up round my ears and my arse no more than an inch off the ground.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7, "James Fraser, Indian Agent". Copyright ©2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Spinning wool.

Army surgeon's supplies. The device shown at bottom left is used for trepanation (boring a hole into a patient's skull), as Dr. Fentiman did for Lord John in DRUMS.

More medical and surgical supplies. The big bottle in the foreground contains laudanum. Notice the bleeding bowl in the center of this photo, with several fleams, and consider that the army surgeons at the time probably didn't clean their instruments between uses.

This medical chest is very much like the one Jamie gave Claire in DRUMS.

Soldier's canteen.

The Declaration of Independence, set in 18th-century type just like Jamie would have used.

Silver shoe buckles.

Portable lighting kit: flint, steel, and candle holder.

Brazier. This was used as a small portable stove.

Naval cannon. It's surprisingly small, maybe four feet long.

Naval weapons.  The long rod with a sponge on one end is used for cleaning the barrel of a cannon.

Siege cannon used in the siege of Yorktown in 1781. It's enormous (with 24-pound cannon balls!) and must have taken a tremendous effort to transport.

This statue of George Washington and French Admiral Fran├žois de Grasse, who commanded the French fleet at Yorktown in 1781, is located in a small shopping district near the museum.

My mom and I, relaxing at the end of a long (but very satisfying) day.

We had a wonderful time exploring the American Revolution Museum. It definitely lived up to my expectations, and I would highly recommend it for OUTLANDER fans!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May poll results

Here are the results of the May poll, which asked the question, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?"
  • 28.14% - A friend or family member recommended the books to me.
  • 23.53% - I started reading the books as a result of watching, or hearing about, the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 21.08% - I stumbled across them while browsing in a bookstore or library.
  • 8.33% - A friend or family member gave me a copy of OUTLANDER, saying, "Read this, you'll love it!"
  • 2.35% - Someone on Facebook, Goodreads, or another online site recommended them.
  • 2.35% - A librarian or bookstore employee recommended them.
  • 2.25% - I read a review in a newspaper, magazine, or online.
  • 2.16% - I found a used copy at a garage sale, second-hand bookstore, etc.
  • 1.08% - I found the audiobooks before reading the print version.
  • 1.08% - I haven't yet read any of Diana Gabaldon's books, but I've watched the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 0.39% - Someone at my book club mentioned them.
  • 7.25% - Other
There were 1020 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated! I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I was one of those people who stumbled across OUTLANDER completely by accident, browsing in Barnes & Noble in 2006.  You can see the full story of how I found OUTLANDER here.

Please take a moment to vote in the June poll, which asks the question, "What do you think of the Lord John books and stories?" Thanks!