Friday, August 17, 2018

Interview with Diana Gabaldon coming soon!

A couple of months ago, I asked Diana Gabaldon if I could interview her for Outlandish Observations, and she said, "Sure! I'm sure you'd have great questions."

Yesterday afternoon I got an email back from her with very detailed answers to my questions! I am just delighted with her responses, and I can't wait to share them with all of you! It's going to take some time to organize the material in a format that's suitable for posting -- I'll probably have to split it into several parts -- but I'm planning to post it the week of August 28th, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Outlandish Observations. Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL is out in paperback!



Diana Gabaldon's story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, is now available in trade paperback format (that's the large size paperback) in the US!

You can order here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Poisoned Pen (autographed copies)

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL is a collection of seven novellas that take place in the OUTLANDER universe:

"The Custom of the Army"
"A Plague of Zombies"
"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows"
"The Space Between"
"Virgins"
"A Fugitive Green"
"Besieged"

The first five of these stories were previously published in other anthologies and as standalone e-books, but "A Fugitive Green" and "Besieged" are available only in this collection.

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

Saturday, August 4, 2018

OUTLANDER Season 4 premieres November 4!



STARZ released a new promo video on Facebook yesterday, similar to the Season 4 trailer we saw a few days ago. At the very end of the video, it clearly shows a premiere date of November 4.

We have known for a long time that Season 4 would premiere in November, but the exact date has been a matter for speculation until now.  I should point out that this date has not yet been confirmed in a press release or any other official announcement by STARZ, and nothing has been announced on the official OUTLANDER Facebook or Twitter accounts. The only evidence we have of this date is in the video on the STARZ Facebook page.

But assuming that this does turn out to be the real premiere date, that means we only have three more months to wait until #Droughtlander will finally be over!

Friday, August 3, 2018

STARZ TV tie-in paperback edition of DRUMS OF AUTUMN will be out Oct. 16

The STARZ TV tie-in paperback edition of DRUMS OF AUTUMN will be released in the US on October 16, 2018.

Like the previous STARZ tie-in editions, this paperback will presumably feature the actors from the TV series on the cover, but the text of the book will be the same.

They haven't released the cover art yet -- I expect that will come with a suitable amount of fanfare sometime in the next few weeks, when they announce the Season 4 "key art" and begin advertising the show all over the place -- but the pre-order links are available if you're interested.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Poisoned Pen (autographed copies -- this is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore, and they ship all over the world)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?

The August poll on Outlandish Observations asks the question, "Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?"

Please note, by "favorite", I don't necessarily mean the one you like the best. It could be a character you love to hate, or the character who makes the most effective antagonist in the story, or the one who makes you mutter, "Go AWAY!" when you see him on the screen in the TV series. (That last reaction is how I feel whenever Black Jack Randall appears.) You get the idea, I'm sure.

Please take a moment to vote, and feel free to leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page explaining your choice. Thanks!

July poll results

Here are the results of the July poll, which asked the question, "What do you think of the Lord John books and stories?"

There were 604 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!
  • 30.79% - I love them!
  • 17.72% - I enjoy them, but I prefer to read about Jamie and Claire.
  • 11.26% - They add a lot of depth to his character.
  • 11.09% - They're an integral part of the overall series.
  • 6.95% - I started reading them after seeing what a major role he played in the main OUTLANDER series.
  • 5.46% - I'm not interested in reading them.
  • 5.13% - I haven't read any of them yet, but I'm planning to.
  • 3.31% - I think they're boring.
  • 2.81% - I like seeing a different side of 18th century life than we get in the OUTLANDER books.
  • 0.99% - I wish Diana would quit writing about him.
  • 0.99% - I'm not interested in reading about a gay character.
  • 0.66% - I'm new to OUTLANDER and haven't encountered Lord John yet.
  • 2.84% - Other
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • I want to finish the outlander series before i'll consider lord johns series
  • He and Jamie are my favs.
  • They add depth to all of the characters and their relationships
  • 3, 4, 5, 6
  • I haven't read them and don't know if I will.
  • I love them/him AND they add a lot of depth to his character.
  • I loved Scottish Prisoner but the others are just a soso like.
  • liked some, not others as much
  • I LOVE HIM !!!! Way better than Jamie and Claire. He's outstanding! The Best!!!
  • Read some, don't care for them
  • another view into choices of human sexuality
  • insight into his character...and integral part ❤️
  • Fell in love with the character from the get-go.
  • Just never picked them up.
  • Absolutely love them! Wish there were more!!!
  • I love them, the added depth & want more LJ!
  • I only read the ones with Jamie in them.
Please take a moment to vote in the August poll, which asks, "Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?"

Monday, July 30, 2018

New Season 4 trailer! (SPOILERS)



At long last, here's a brand-new OUTLANDER Season 4 trailer!

There are SPOILERS in this trailer if you haven't read DRUMS OF AUTUMN (Book 4 of the OUTLANDER series).



I think it looks great, very intriguing, promising plenty of action and suspense. I liked seeing Otter-Tooth's skull.

Season 4 premieres in November and I can't wait!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Finished the series...again!



I finished listening to the audiobook of Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD last night, wrapping up my latest "re-listen" of the OUTLANDER series.

This is approximately my 20th time through the OUTLANDER books since November 2006.  I mostly listen to the audiobooks rather than reading print or e-book editions, because the audio versions force you to really slow down and pay attention to the details. I pick up new little details on every re-listen.  And besides, Davina Porter is a wonderful narrator! She does a terrific job with all the voices and accents.

It takes me a long time to get through the whole series, but this last re-listen took much longer than usual.  Looking through my iTunes library, I see that I started listening to OUTLANDER on August 4, 2016, so it's taken me almost exactly two years.

I took a long break from late August-November 2016 (my dad passed away in September of that year), and again in the fall of 2017 while Season 3 was in progress, but otherwise I maintained my habit of listening for 30 minutes to an hour most days.

In between the Big Books, I also listened to THE SCOTTISH PRISONER and all of the stories in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL.

That's at least 400 hours of listening, spread over two years.

I will probably take another break from the audiobooks before I start over again with OUTLANDER. I always need some time to decompress after I finish the series.

What about the rest of you?  Any other audiobook-addicts or compulsive re-readers of the OUTLANDER books out there?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Costume designer Terry Dresbach is leaving OUTLANDER after Season 4



OUTLANDER's costume designer, Terry Dresbach, announced on Twitter today that Season 4 will be her last on the show.

Her replacement has not yet been announced, but...

I'm sorry to hear this, but Terry's health and well-being come first. Life is just too damn short to kill yourself making a TV show, no matter how dedicated you are!

UPDATE 7/16/2018 6:01 am: Here's Diana Gabaldon's reaction to the news, on Facebook.

UPDATE 7/19/2018 7:50 am: And here is Terry's response to the fans. Definitely worth reading!

Many thanks to Terry for her hard work and dedication! She will definitely be missed.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Emmy nomination!



Congratulations to OUTLANDER's costume designer, Terry Dresbach, and her team for their Emmy nomination in the category of "Outstanding Period Costumes", for Episode 305, "Freedom & Whisky".

Terry does a wonderful job with the costumes and I'm glad to see her recognized for her efforts.

So, why did they choose this particular episode?  I suspect it was because this was the episode that introduced Claire's "batsuit", the multi-layered outfit that she wore, in one form or another, for the rest of the season.



I thought the "batsuit" was a very clever idea, even if Claire seemed to magically put it together overnight. On re-watching Season 3, it's interesting to watch the way that costume evolves, changes, and eventually disintegrates, over the course of Claire's adventures -- first in Edinburgh, then on the Artemis, the Porpoise, and in the Caribbean. By the time Jamie and Claire wash up on that Georgia beach at the end of Episode 313, there's almost nothing of the original costume left.

Congratulations, Terry! I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with the costumes in Season 4.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

BBC Alba tells the story of OUTLANDER (in Gaelic!)



My friend Cathy MacGregor sent me the link to this very interesting hour-long video from BBC Alba that tells the story of OUTLANDER, in Gaelic! (With English subtitles, of course.)  It's fascinating to hear the rhythms and sounds of the Gaelic language, even if you don't understand most of the words.



If you're in the UK, use this link instead.

The program, filmed in 2016, features interviews with Diana Gabaldon, herbalist Claire MacKay, the Earl of Cromartie (current chief of Clan MacKenzie), and others, discussing the history, customs, and folklore of the period -- everything from changelings to witch-trials to the infamous Black Watch. And there are lots of gorgeous views of Scottish scenery!

At about 48 minutes into the video, Diana Gabaldon talks about walking battlefields. "Most of them are not haunted. One is." And then she visibly starts to choke up, saying she can't talk about it or she'll cry.

I thought this program was very well done and I would definitely recommend it to OUTLANDER fans!

UPDATE 7/12/2018 12:34 pm: If you're having problems with the video, all I can tell you is that it worked for me in the US. Some people have reported that the link goes to a porn site, but that didn't happen for me. If you're having issues like that, I'm sorry to hear it!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Last day of filming for OUTLANDER Season 4!




It's the last day of filming for OUTLANDER Season 4!

Here's a tweet from Executive Producer Maril Davis:

It's been a long nine months since filming began on October 9, 2017, but they finally did it!

CONGRATULATIONS to Sam, Caitriona, and the entire cast and crew of OUTLANDER! Thanks very much for your hard work and dedication! Enjoy the well-deserved break, and we'll look forward to seeing Season 4 starting in November!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

REPOST: "1776", the Musical



Wishing all of you in the U.S. a very happy Fourth of July!

As I do every year, I'm taking this opportunity to put in a plug for my favorite Revolutionary War movie: "1776", which is a musical about the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

If you've never seen "1776", I highly recommend it. It came out in 1972 (based on the Broadway musical of the same name) and I think I've seen it almost every year since I was nine or so. That tradition continues to this day; my family always watches it on DVD every July 4th, and we will do so again this year.

Diana Gabaldon likes it, too; I've heard her describe it as "hilarious, moving, and very singable". I asked her specifically about the costumes, because I'm fascinated by the details of the 18th century clothing in this movie, and she said they're pretty accurate.

Evidently Matt Roberts, executive producer and one of the writers on the OUTLANDER TV series, is also a "1776" fan. If you've seen Episode 303 ("All Debts Paid"), you may recall Frank's line in the breakfast scene near the beginning of this episode about "Tudors, Stuarts, and Plantagenets". Matt has said that he added that line as a deliberate homage to the very similar phrase used by John Dickinson in "1776".

Here are a couple of my favorite songs from the movie:

1) "The Egg" - Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson choose America's national bird.



2) "Sit Down, John" - This is the movie's opening number.



If you're a fan of "1776", what's your favorite song?  Mine is the one where they argue about who's going to write the Declaration of Independence.

You can get "1776" via Amazon. If you're in the US, it will be shown on TCM at 10:15pm today, July 4th.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

June poll results

Here are the results of the June poll, which asked the question, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?"

There were 686 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!
  • 29.88% - I started reading the books as a result of watching, or hearing about, the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 26.53% - A friend or family member recommended the books to me.
  • 21.57% - I stumbled across them while browsing in a bookstore or library.
  • 5.25% - A friend or family member gave me a copy of OUTLANDER, saying, "Read this, you'll love it!"
  • 2.62% - I read a review in a newspaper, magazine, or online.
  • 1.60% - Someone on Facebook, Goodreads, or another online site recommended them.
  • 1.46% - Someone at my book club mentioned them.
  • 1.46% - I haven't yet read any of Diana Gabaldon's books, but I've watched the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 1.17% - A librarian or bookstore employee recommended them.
  • 0.87% - I saw OUTLANDER on a "Recommended for You" list on Amazon or elsewhere online.
  • 7.58% - Other
I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I fall into the third category above.  I found OUTLANDER completely by accident, browsing in Barnes & Noble in 2006. The full story of how I found OUTLANDER is here.

I think it's interesting to see how the percentage of people who found the OUTLANDER books as a result of the TV series has been increasing, as the show has become more popular. Here are the results from polls I've done in 2015-2018 where I included that as an option. (Click on the image for a bigger view.)



If you're one of those people who found Diana Gabaldon's books as a result of watching the TV series, or hearing about it, I'd like to hear from you!  Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I've been interviewed!



A few weeks ago I was contacted by Roma Sars, a fan in the Netherlands who runs the OUTLANDER Home Page fan site. She's doing a series of posts on "the fans who make it", taking a closer look at people who devote a lot of time and effort to OUTLANDER fandom, and she asked if I'd be willing to do an interview.  Naturally I agreed, and the interview was posted today.

http://blog.outlanderhomepage.com/2018/06/outlander-fans-who-make-it-series-by_27.html

All the answers are in my own words. So if you want to know more about me, how OUTLANDER has affected my life, why I created Outlandish Observations in the first place, what I think about the books and the TV series, and much more, check it out here.

You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks, Roma!

What are you most looking forward to in Season 4?



The cast and crew of OUTLANDER are currently filming the last block of Season 4. As they prepare to wrap up filming for the season, I thought this would be a good opportunity for the rest of us to look ahead to the new season, which is scheduled to start in November 2018.

What are you most looking forward to in OUTLANDER Season 4?  Are there specific scenes, incidents, or new characters that you're really eager to see on TV?

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read DRUMS OF AUTUMN (Book 4 of the OUTLANDER series), there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

I really want to see:

- Jamie and Brianna meeting for the first time!

- The "strawberry fields forever" scene where Jamie and Claire discover the site of Fraser's Ridge.

- Jamie fighting the bear.

- Claire coming to find Jamie in the snow on the night his back went out.

- Roger and Bree's handfasting night.

- Bree's reaction to the news that Roger has been sold to the Indians.

I'm also looking forward to meeting the new characters, like Jocasta.  (Stephen Bonnet, not so much....)

What about the rest of you?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's 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!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


OUTLANDER
"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.) 

DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
“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.  Allrights reserved.)

VOYAGER
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.)

DRUMS OF AUTUMN
“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.  Allrights reserved.)

THE FIERY CROSS
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.) 

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

AN ECHO IN THE BONE
"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.) 

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD
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.)
What about the rest of you? Are there other quotes or scenes about fathers in Diana's books that you particularly like?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

TheLitForum.com is six months old!



Today marks six months since the launch of TheLitForum.com!  For those of you who don't know, this is the new home of the former Compuserve Books and Writers Community, which was shut down in December 2017. This online forum, in its various incarnations, has been Diana Gabaldon's main online hangout for more than thirty years. I've been hanging out there on a daily basis since 2007, managing the discussions (aka "herding the bumblebees") in Diana's section of the forum.

TheLitForum.com is a community of readers, writers, book-lovers, and fans of All Things OUTLANDER. We have a thriving and very active online community there (more than 39,000 posts in six months, which I think is pretty impressive), and you're welcome to come and join the discussions! Diana Gabaldon is there most days, participating in discussions and answering questions -- sometimes in great detail -- just as she always has.

Please come and check out the forum at https://thelitforum.com.  You'll need to register in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.  Keep in mind that the username you choose when you sign up will be the name that appears beside your posts on the new forum.  

When you visit the forum, please be sure to check out the other sections, too.  TheLitForum.com is much more than just a place to talk about All Things OUTLANDER.  If you're a writer or an aspiring writer, check out our Research & Craft section, The Critique Café, and Writing Exercises. If you want to talk about what you've been reading during #Droughtlander, or your favorite movies, feel free to post in Literary Reading, Genre Reading, or Stage & Screen. Take a look around and jump into any discussion that interests you, or start a new one.

If you have questions after you've signed up, please post on the forum (rather than leaving a comment here), and we'll do our best to try to help. Hope to see some of you there soon!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

MATCHUP anthology is now available in paperback!



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

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

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! 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. Highly recommended!

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.

I was wondering how much of the story Diana Gabaldon actually wrote, so I asked her for more details. As she explained on Facebook on June 13, 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.)
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!  For one thing, this story was completed more than a year ago. Also, Diana often says that she likes to work on multiple projects at once, to keep from getting writer's block.

Have you read "Past Prologue" or the other stories in this anthology?  If so, please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page, and let us know what you think.

Friday, June 1, 2018

How did you discover the OUTLANDER series?



Today (June 1) is World Outlander Day, celebrating the 27th anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication in 1991. Congratulations, and many thanks, to Diana Gabaldon for creating this amazing story! If you're on Twitter, please join the celebration by using the hashtag #WorldOutlanderDay.

The June poll on Outlandish Observations asks the question, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?" Please take a moment to vote, and if you'd like to share your story, feel free to leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

Here's the story of how I found Diana Gabaldon's books.

Diana often says that these are "word-of-mouth" books, but that's not true in my case. I had never heard of the series or its author, I knew no one else who had read the books, and I knew nothing at all about the plot or the characters in advance.  I found OUTLANDER completely by accident, browsing in a Barnes & Noble bookstore sometime in the fall of 2006.



It was the small-size (mass-market) paperback edition. I remember it was on a rack at the end of one of the aisles, or I probably would never have noticed it. My eye was caught by the striking blue color of the cover, and I picked it up (a little startled by the size of it, but not at all put off -- I like Big Fat Historical Novels, and always have) and briefly glanced through it.
Time-travel...that's good, I'm always up for a decent time-travel story. Hmm...Scotland? That could be interesting. BUT...it starts in 1945, and the main character is an Englishwoman. Is the author British too? Probably.* I often find British novels hard to get into, especially if they take place that far in the past [and by that I meant the 1940's, not the 18th century!]. Am I going to be able to, you know, relate to these characters? **
And so I put it back on the rack. Walked out of the store, and promptly forgot the author's name (quite unintentionally) ***. But I hadn't forgotten about the book, by any means, and I promised myself that if and when I ever saw it again, I'd give it a closer look.

A couple of months went by, and then I finally did find OUTLANDER again. I still hesitated. My thought at the time was, it's an awfully big book to buy if you're not sure ahead of time if you'll like it or not. So I went home without buying it, again, and with the name of the book and the author firmly fixed in my memory this time, looked up the Amazon reviews. Lots of talk in there about the Wentworth scenes, but I'd already had a bit of warning about that, having flipped through the book in the bookstore. The first bit of a scene I read was the part where Jamie tells Claire about the fortress inside him, so I knew something awful was going to happen to him. But I had no idea just how devastating it would be. Not a clue.

I was still wavering, undecided, and then I got a B&N gift card for my birthday. And I figured, why not? <g>  Within a few pages, I was hooked! I devoured the first six books (ECHO and MOHB hadn't yet been published) in only about five weeks, then immediately started over, and I have been in a more-or-less continual state of re-reading or re-listening to the books ever since.

HUGE thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating this amazing story, and for her support and encouragement over the last few years! Finding OUTLANDER really has changed my life, in more ways than I can count.

* It took me a LONG time to learn otherwise. For those of you who don't know, Diana was born and raised in Arizona, and currently lives in Scottsdale, AZ.

** Mea culpa #1. This particular thought makes me want to go back in time and slap myself. <g>

*** Mea culpa #2. I would have been hooked several months earlier if I'd just bought the darn book the first time I saw it! <wry g>

So that's my "How I found OUTLANDER" story. What about the rest of you?

May poll results

Here are the results of the May poll, which asked the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books, or watch the TV series?"

There were 503 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!
  • 24.85% - Many times!
  • 22.07% - I got one or more of my close friends or family members addicted.
  • 9.34% - Of course! I enjoy being an OUTLANDER ambassador.
  • 7.36% - I've tried, but so far without success.
  • 4.17% - I've given copies of OUTLANDER to my friends or coworkers.
  • 3.78% - I've been spreading the word about the TV series and trying to get people to watch.
  • 2.19% - I've recommended OUTLANDER to strangers in the bookstore or library.
  • 1.19% - I've recommended the books on Facebook, Goodreads, or other online sites.
  • 1.59% - No, I haven't tried.
  • 0.20% - I got my book club to read OUTLANDER.
  • 22.47% - All of the above.
  • 0.80% - Other
Please take a moment to vote in the June poll, which asks, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?"

Thursday, May 31, 2018

June 1st is World Outlander Day!



June 1st is #WorldOutlanderDay! Please join Diana Gabaldon's fans all over the world in celebrating the 27th anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication in 1991.

Congratulations, Diana, and many thanks (yet again!!) for deciding to write that "practice novel". These books truly have changed my life, in more ways than I can count.

Two years ago on June 1, STARZ announced Seasons 3 and 4. I wonder what they'll come up with this year?  The exact premiere date, perhaps? Season 4 key art? Or maybe a new trailer? <g>

If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets on Friday with #WorldOutlanderDay. Thanks!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

As we observe Memorial Day today in the US, here are some quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books honoring those who fell in battle.

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***
 
If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

1) The first is from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, after the battle of Prestonpans:
I found them at length some distance up the hill behind the church. Jamie was sitting on a rock, the form of Alexander Kincaid cradled in his arms, curly head resting on his shoulder, the long, hairy legs trailing limp to one side. Both were still as the rock on which they sat. Still as death, though only one was dead.

I touched the white, slack hand, to be sure, and rested my hand on the thick brown hair, feeling still so incongruously alive. A man should not die a virgin, but this one did.

"He's gone, Jamie," I whispered.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Prestonpans". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


2) The next quote is also from DRAGONFLY, from the scene in the beginning where Roger and Brianna visit the battlefield at Culloden:
"Heather," Roger said. "It's more common in the summer, when the heather is blooming--then you'll see heaps like that in front of every clan stone. Purple, and here and there a branch of the white heather--the white is for luck, and for kingship; it was Charlie's emblem, that and the white rose."

"Who leaves them?" Brianna squatted on her heels next to the path, touching the twigs with a gentle finger.

"Visitors." Roger squatted next to her. He traced the faded letters on the stone--FRASER. "People descended from the families of the men who were killed here. Or just those who like to remember them."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


3) Here is a bit from the battle of Moores Creek Bridge, in ABOSAA, a reminder that men do terrible things in battle. I can't even imagine what Jamie felt like, killing a man he once considered his friend.
Major Donald MacDonald floundered, rising halfway in the water. His wig was gone and his head showed bare and wounded, blood running from his scalp down over his face. His teeth were bared, clenched in agony or ferocity, ther was no telling which. Another shot struck him and he fell with a splash--but rose again, slow, slow, and then pitched forward into water too deep to stand, but rose yet again, splashing frantically, spraying blood from his shattered mouth in the effort to breathe.

Let it be you, then, lad, said the dispassionate voice. He raised his rifle and shot MacDonald cleanly through the throat. He fell backward and sank at once.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 113, "The Ghosts of Culloden". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) And this is from Lord John's visit in "Haunted Soldier" with the parents of a lieutenant killed at the battle of Crefeld.  Regardless of the circumstances, there's no easy way to deliver news like that:
"I saw your son for the first time only moments before his death," he said, as gently as he could. "There was no time for talk. But I can assure you, sir, that he died instantly--and he died bravely, as a soldier of the king. You--and your wife, of course--may be justly proud of him."

(From LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Part I, "Inquisition". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)



5) The next quote comes from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  Just before the Battle of Monmouth, Claire is thinking about the soldiers who died on D-Day.
I spared a thought for the graves of Normandy and wondered whether those rows upon rows of faceless dead were meant to impose a sort of postmortem tidiness on the costs of war--or whether it was meant rather to underline them, a solemn accounting carried out in endless rows of naughts and crosses.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 74, "The Sort of Thing That Will Make a Man Sweat and Tremble". Copyright ©2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) This next quote comes from AN ECHO IN THE BONE, from William's first taste of combat. This is one of our first glimpses of William's character, and I like the fact that he goes out of his way to treat this dead enemy soldier with dignity.
To his left, though, he caught sight of the American who had tried to shoot him, still lying in the wet grass. With a wary glance at the house, he crawled to the man, who was lying on his face, unmoving. He wanted to see the man’s face, for what reason he couldn’t have said. He rose on his knees and took the man by both shoulders, pulling him over.

The man was clearly dead, shot through the head. Mouth and eyes sagged half open and his body felt strange, heavy and flopping. [....] Gently laying the man back in the grass, he rose and went to fetch his sword. His knees felt peculiar.

Halfway to the spot where his sword lay, he stopped, turned round, and came back. Kneeling down, cold-fingered and hollow-bellied, he closed the man’s dead eyes against the rain.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Long Island". Copyright ©2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)



7) And finally, here's a quote from THE FIERY CROSS that seems especially appropriate for Memorial Day:
"Many of us died in battle," he said, his voice scarcely audible above the rustle of the fire. "Many died of burning. Many of us starved. Many died at sea, many died of wounds and illness." He paused. "Many died of sorrow."

His eyes looked beyond the firelit circle for a moment, and I thought perhaps he was searching for the face of Abel MacLennan. He lifted his cup then, and held it high in salute for a moment.

"Slàinte!" murmured a dozen voices, rising like the wind. "Slàinte!" he echoed them--then tipped the cup, so that a little of the brandy fell into the flames, where it hissed and burned blue for an instant's time.

He lowered the cup, and paused for a moment, head bent. He lifted his head then, and raised the cup toward Archie Hayes, who stood across the fire from him, round face unreadable, fire sparking from his silver gorget and his father’s brooch.

"While we mourn the loss of those who died, we must also pay tribute to you who fought and suffered with equal valor--and survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "The Flames of Declaration". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New cast members for OUTLANDER Season 4!



Here are the latest additions to the cast of OUTLANDER Season 4!



Scottish actor Billy Boyd will play Gerald Forbes. Many of you will remember him as Pippin in the LORD OF THE RINGS movies.



Simona Brown will play Brianna's best friend, Gayle.  I think it's interesting that they've chosen to cast a black actress. My first thought on seeing her photo was, "Well, why not?" We know from the books that Bree had black friends in college, but we haven't seen them in the TV show until now.



Caitlin O'Ryan will play Lizzie Wemyss. I'm looking forward to seeing her in the show! Lizzie is an important part of the Fraser's Ridge community, and I love watching the way her character evolves gradually over the course of the series.



And finally, Natalie Simpson will play Jocasta's slave, Phaedre. She's a beautiful young woman, with lovely eyes and an intelligent expression. I'm looking forward to seeing her on TV!

For more information on the new cast members, look here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Alamance Battleground needs your help!



This week marks the 247th anniversary of the Battle of Alamance, featured in THE FIERY CROSS.

Here's part of an email that Diana Gabaldon posted on her Facebook page this morning:
The [North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources] has a unique but time-sensitive opportunity to purchase historically valuable land adjacent to our current Alamance Battleground State Historic Site (http://www.nchistoricsites.org/alamance/). The tracts of land for sale include the actual epicenter of where the Battle of Alamance was fought in addition to the lands utilized by the Regulators during the lead up to this pre-Revolutionary War Battle and their triage and retreat afterwards. Because these lands are already on the real estate market, the Department needs to raise funds quickly and has launched a crowd funding campaign (www.GoFundMe.com/SaveAlamance).
Many of you will recall how important the Battle of Alamance, and its aftermath, was in the lives of Jamie, Claire, Roger, and Brianna.  Please consider donating to the #SaveAlamance campaign through their GoFundMe page. Thanks!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books



Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Here are a few of my favorite quotes about motherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books. Hope you enjoy them!

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

1) Marsali, in an advanced state of pregnancy, and five-year-old Germain:
She leaned back a little and pushed a hand firmly into the side of her mound. Then she seized Germain's hand and put it on the spot. Even from where I stood, I could see the surge of flesh as the baby kicked vigorously in response to being poked.

Germain jerked his hand away, startled, then put it back, looking fascinated, and pushed.

"Hello!" he said loudly, putting his face close to his mother's belly. "Comment ça va in there, Monsieur L'Oeuf?"

"He's fine," his mother assured him. "Or she. But babies dinna talk right at first. Ye ken that much. Félicité doesna say anything but 'Mama' yet."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Malting Floor". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) I like the realistic depictions of breastfeeding in these books, even though I've never had kids of my own. Here's Claire with Brianna, age three months:
Brianna burrowed into the front of my red chenille dressing gown making small voracious grunting noises.

"You can't be hungry again," I said to the top of her head. "I fed you not two hours ago." My breasts were beginning to leak in response to her rooting, though, and I was already sitting down and loosening the front of my gown.

"Mrs. Hinchcliffe said that a baby shouldn't be fed every time it cries," Frank observed. "They get spoilt if they aren't kept to a schedule."

It wasn't the first time I had heard Mrs. Hinchcliffe's opinions on child-rearing.

"Then she'll be spoilt, won't she?" I said coldly, not looking at him. The small pink mouth clamped down fiercely, and Brianna began to suck with mindless appetite. I was aware that Mrs. Hinchcliffe also thought breast-feeding both vulgar and insanitary. I, who had seen any number of eighteenth-century babies nursing contentedly at their mothers' breasts, didn't.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Frank and Full Disclosure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Jamie lost his mother at a very young age, but he hasn't forgotten her:
I had heard what he said to the plover he released. Though I had only a few words of Gaelic, I had heard the old salutation often enough to be familiar with it. “God go with ye, Mother," he had said.

A young mother, dead in childbirth. And a child left behind. I touched his arm and he looked down at me.

“How old were you?” I asked.

He gave me a half-smile. “Eight,” he answered. “Weaned, at least."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) Bree's reaction on the night before Claire goes back through the stones, when she thinks she'll never see her mother again:
"It's like--there are all these things I don't even know!" she said, pacing with quick, angry steps. "Do you think I remember what I looked like, learning to walk, or what the first word I said was? No, but Mama does! And that's so stupid, because what difference does it make, it doesn't make any difference at all, but it's important, it matters because she thought it was, and ... oh, Roger, if she's gone, there won't be a soul left in the world who cares what I'm like, or thinks I'm special not because of anything, but just because I'm me! She's the only person in the world who really, really cares I was born, and if she's gone..." She stood still on the hearthrug, hands clenched at her sides, and mouth twisted with the effort to control herself, tears wet on her cheeks. Then her shoulders slumped and the tension went out of her tall figure.

"And that's just really dumb and selfish," she said, in a quietly reasonable tone. "And you don't understand, and you think I'm awful."

"No," Roger said quietly. "I think maybe not." He stood and came behind her, putting his arms around her waist, urging her to lean back against him. She resisted at first, stiff in his arms, but then yielded to the need for physical comfort and relaxed, his chin propped on her shoulder, head tilted to touch her own.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Mother Hildegarde is very perceptive:
"I have noticed,” she said slowly, “that time does not really exist for mothers, with regard to their children. It does not matter greatly how old the child is--in the blink of an eye, the mother can see the child again as it was when it was born, when it learned to walk, as it was at any age--at any time, even when the child is fully grown and a parent itself.”

“Especially when they’re asleep,” I said, looking down again at the little white stone. “You can always see the baby then.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "I Shall Go Down to the Sea". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Claire, in her farewell letter to Bree:
You are my baby, and always will be. You won’t know what that means until you have a child of your own, but I tell you now, anyway--you’ll always be as much a part of me as when you shared my body and I felt you move inside. Always.

I can look at you, asleep, and think of all the nights I tucked you in, coming in the dark to listen to your breathing, lay my hand on you and feel your chest rise and fall, knowing that no matter what happens, everything is right with the world because you are alive.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rightsreserved.)
7) Roger's mother saved his life in the moments before she died in the Bethnal Green tube station collapse in March, 1943.
"She let go my hand,” he said. The words came more easily now; the tightness in his throat and chest was gone. “She let go my hand ... and then she picked me up. That small woman--she picked me up, and threw me over the wall. Down into the crowd of people on the platform below. I was knocked mostly out by the fall, I think--but I remember the roar as the roof went. No one on the stair survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 98, "Clever Lad". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) This is my favorite quote about motherhood from the whole series:
“Did I ever think to thank ye, Sassenach?" he said, his voice a little husky.

“For what?" I said, puzzled. He took my hand, and drew me gently toward him. He smelled of ale and damp wool, and very faintly of the brandied sweetness of fruitcake.

“For my bairns," he said softly. "For the children that ye bore me."

"Oh," I said. I leaned slowly forward, and rested my forehead against the solid warmth of his chest. I cupped my hands at the small of his back beneath his coat, and sighed. "It was ... my pleasure."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, “Beans and Barbecue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I hope you enjoyed these quotes. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Exciting news about the OUTLANDER TV series!



Very exciting news today from STARZ!

OUTLANDER Season 4 will premiere in November, 2018 (we don't yet know the exact date)

And.....

The series has been renewed for Seasons 5 and 6!! 

From the official press release:
Starz will continue to partner with Sony Pictures Television on this multi-book, 24-episode pick-up for “Outlander.” Seasons five and six will each play out over 12 episodes respectively and will be based on material from the fifth book in the Outlander series, entitled The Fiery Cross, as well as the sixth book in the series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
This is fantastic news, and I'm very happy that the series will continue through ABOSAA.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Diana Gabaldon's upcoming releases



Diana Gabaldon has several upcoming releases in the next few months!



1) The paperback edition of the MATCHUP anthology, edited by Lee Child, will be published in the US on June 5, 2018. For those of you who don't know, this is the anthology that contains "Past Prologue", a wonderful short story co-written by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry.

For more about "Past Prologue" and why I think this story is a must-read for OUTLANDER fans, here's a blog post I wrote when the story was first published last year.

You can pre-order MATCH-UP here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Poisoned Pen (autographed copies) - this is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore in Arizona, and they ship all over the world



2) Diana Gabaldon's story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, will be out in trade paperback format (that's the large size paperback) in the US on August 7, 2018.  You can pre-order here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Poisoned Pen (autographed copies)

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL is a collection of seven novellas that take place in the OUTLANDER universe:

"The Custom of the Army"
"A Plague of Zombies"
"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows"
"The Space Between"
"Virgins"
"A Fugitive Green"
"Besieged"

The first five of these stories were previously published in other anthologies and as standalone e-books, but "A Fugitive Green" and "Besieged" are available only in this collection.

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



3) A special 25th Anniversary hardcover edition of VOYAGER will be published on October 23, 2018.

From the publisher's description on Amazon:
A beautifully designed collector's edition of the third book in Diana Gabaldon's blockbuster Outlander series featuring a brand new introduction and bonus material to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its original publication.
This will be similar to the Anniversary Editions of OUTLANDER and DRAGONFLY IN AMBER (pictured below) -- deluxe hardcover editions, complete with "faux-leather" binding and a ribbon bookmark -- and I think they'll look terrific as a matched set!



You can pre-order the 25th Anniversary Edition of VOYAGER here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Poisoned Pen (autographed copies)

4) Last but not least, I'm sure there will be a "TV tie-in" paperback edition of DRUMS OF AUTUMN published at about the same time that OUTLANDER Season 4 premieres later this year -- but I have no information beyond that.  Check back later for further updates!

And finally, no, I have no information about when GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series, will be published.  Not this year, at any rate.  Diana is still busy writing!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Happy Birthday, Jamie Fraser!



Wishing a very happy birthday to our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, who turns 297 years old today! He was born on May 1, 1721.

If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets today (Tuesday, May 1) with #HappyBDayJAMMF, in celebration of Jamie's birthday.

In honor of Jamie's birthday, I'm reposting the "ABCs of Jamie Fraser" list that I originally posted here in 2011. I hope you enjoy them!

ABCs of Jamie Fraser

I borrowed this idea from a writer's exercise that was posted on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now TheLitForum.com) a few years ago. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. Here's my alphabet for Jamie Fraser.

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright © Diana Gabaldon, of course.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * * 

If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, you will find spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

A - Ardsmuir. As difficult as those three years in prison were for Jamie, caring for the other men gave him something to live for.

B - Boats. Sheer torture, for someone who suffers from seasickness as acute as Jamie's. "I hate boats," Jamie said through clenched teeth. "I loathe boats. I view boats with the most profound abhorrence." (DRUMS, Chapter 6, "I Encounter a Hernia")

C - Claire
, of course. And his children -- all of them, whether they're born of his blood or not.

D - Duty.
Jamie takes his duty seriously, even when it means doing things he doesn't want to do, like raising a militia company to fight against the Regulators in FIERY CROSS.

E - Eloquence.
Jamie's way with words takes my breath away sometimes. "And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire--I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you." (DRUMS, Chapter 16, "The First Law of Thermodynamics")

F - Finger.
Jamie's much-abused fourth finger on his right hand, which caused him so much pain and trouble for years, and now lies buried at Lallybroch, with Ian. "I'll keep it safe 'til ye catch me up." (ECHO, Chapter 81, "Purgatory II")

G - God.
Jamie's Catholic faith is very important to him, even if he's rarely in a position to go to Mass or have a priest hear his confession. And sometimes God answers his prayers. ("Lord, that she may be safe. She and the child.")

H - Humor.
I love Jamie's sense of humor, especially when he teases Claire. "I'll gie ye the rest when I'm ninety-six, aye?" (FIERY CROSS, Chapter 40, "Duncan's Secret")

I - Intelligence.
Jamie is a very smart man, and a logical thinker. And he learns very fast!

J - Jenny.
Say what you will about her, but Jamie loves his sister as deeply as he does Claire.

K - Killing.
Jamie kills when he must, in self-defense or in defense of his family or loved ones. But it bothers him. "I am a violent man, and I ken it well," he said quietly. He spread his hands out on his knees; big hands, which could wield sword and dagger with ease, or choke the life from a man. (DRUMS, Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience")

L - Lallybroch.
I don't think you can fully understand Jamie's character without appreciating how much Lallybroch influenced him. It's sad to think that he might never go back there.

M - Memories.
Will Jamie ever recall more of Culloden, and what happened with Jack Randall?

N - Nephew.
Jamie bonded with Young Ian when he was only minutes old, and they've been through quite a lot together.

O - Outdoors.
Jamie has lived a good part of his life outdoors, as a farmer, hunter, outlaw, and soldier -- not to mention living in a cave for seven years!

P - Prestonpans.
The location of Jamie's fateful encounter with the sixteen-year-old Lord John Grey.

Q - QED.
Three letters that symbolize Jamie's short-lived career as a printer in Edinburgh.

R - Red-heided.
All teasing about "the nameless and abominable colour of his hair" aside, this is one of the things I liked best about Jamie from the beginning, because I'm also a left-handed redhead. :-)

S - Stubbornness.
"Jamie was a sweet laddie, but a stubborn wee fiend, forbye." Jenny's voice by her ear startled her. "Beat him or coax him, it made no difference; if he'd made up his mind, it stayed made up." (DRUMS, Chapter 34, "Lallybroch")

T - Tone-deaf.
One of Jamie's more endearing traits, in my opinion, and proof that he's not perfect.

U - Uxorious.
Roger refers to Jamie as "deeply uxorious" in ABOSAA. It's an archaic word that according to Diana Gabaldon means "a man who was clearly and obviously in love with his wife."

V - Vows.
The blood vow at Jamie and Claire's wedding, for one. Jamie's promise never to beat her again, for another. "I don't make idle threats, Sassenach," he said, raising one brow, "and I don't take frivolous vows." (OUTLANDER, Chapter 22, "Reckonings")

W - Will-power.
Jamie has an amazing strength of will. Whether it's submitting to rape and torture at the hands of Jack Randall without fighting back, or not reacting to the presence of a pair of naked Indian girls in his bed in ABOSAA, his self-control is impressive.

X - eXample.
Jamie doesn't lead by sitting back and giving orders. He leads by example, as when he takes the punishment for Angus MacKenzie's possession of a scrap of tartan at Ardsmuir. No wonder his men will follow him anywhere.

Y - Youthful.
It's hard to remember just how young Jamie was in OUTLANDER, barely 22. Even in his mid-50's, he still looks remarkably good for his age. As Claire remarks, "Do you know, you haven't got a single gray hair below the neck?" (ECHO, chapter 8, "Spring Thaw")

Z - Zippers
, and other oddities of 20th-century life that Claire has had to explain to Jamie over the years.

Happy Birthday, Jamie, and Happy Beltane to all of you!  Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an amazing character, and to Sam Heughan for bringing him to life on TV.

Here are the other posts in my "Character ABC's" series:

ABC's of Claire Fraser
ABC's of Roger
ABC's of Brianna
ABC's of Lord John Grey
ABC's of the OUTLANDER TV Series

April poll results

Here are the results of the April poll, which asked the question, "Which of Diana Gabaldon's books are you currently reading or listening to?"
    There were 812 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!
    • 4.43% - OUTLANDER / CROSS STITCH
    • 3.45% - DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
    • 4.56% - VOYAGER
    • 19.33% - DRUMS OF AUTUMN
    • 13.18% - THE FIERY CROSS
    • 9.24% - A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES
    • 7.39% - AN ECHO IN THE BONE
    • 8.00% - WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD
    • 1.11% - LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER
    • 1.60% - LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE
    • 0.62% - LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS
    • 2.34% - THE SCOTTISH PRISONER
    • 1.72% - THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION (Volume 1 or 2)
    • 6.03% - SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL
    • 14.78% - I'm reading other things right now.
    • 2.22% - Other
    I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I recently started listening (again!) to WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.

    Please take a moment to vote in the May poll, which asks, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books, or watch the TV series?"

    Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    What would you ask Diana, if you could?

    So this happened today, on TheLitForum.com, which is the new online home of the former Compuserve Books and Writers Community....

    Diana Gabaldon was talking about the questions she's been asked by interviewers over the years, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to mention something I've been thinking about for a long time:  I'd love to interview her myself some day.  And I was thrilled to see this response from Diana. (Click on the image for a bigger view.)



    Wow! "Extremely Perceptive and articulate" is high praise indeed, coming from Diana, and the sort of comment I'll treasure for a long time.

    So, clearly she'd be happy to answer any questions I can come up with, within reason. <g>  As for what to ask...?  That's the hard part, and I plan to spend some time thinking about it.  I have a few ideas, but I'm not going to share them ahead of time.

    Instead, I thought I'd ask the rest of you:  What would you like to ask Diana Gabaldon, if you could?

    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Happy Birthday, Mandy!



    Wishing a very happy birthday to Amanda Claire Hope MacKenzie, aka Mandy, who was born on April 21, 1776.

    That would make her 242 years old, which is rather mind-boggling to contemplate, considering that she was only a toddler when last seen in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.

    Here are some of my favorite quotes by and about wee Mandy.  Hope you enjoy them!

    * * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

    If you haven't read all eight of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, up to and including WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, there are Major Spoilers below. Read at your own risk! 

    1) Roger holds his baby girl for the first time.
    Roger had never felt so terrified as he did when his newborn daughter was placed in his arms for the first time. Minutes old, skin tender and perfect as an orchid’s, she was so delicate he feared he would leave fingerprints on her--but so alluring that he had to touch her, drawing the back of his knuckle gently, so gently, down the perfect curve of her fat little cheek, stroking the black cobweb silk of her hair with an unbelieving forefinger. 

    (From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, "Amanda". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    2) We get our first hint that baby Mandy may have inherited her parents' time-travel gene:
    Jamie Fraser took his father’s ruby ring, and held it over the face of his granddaughter. Amanda’s eyes fixed on it at once, and she stuck out her tongue with interest. He smiled, despite the heaviness of his heart, and lowered the ring for her to grab at.

    “She likes that well enough,” he said, skillfully removing it from her grip before she could get it into her mouth. “Let’s try the other.”

    The other was Claire’s amulet--the tiny, battered leather pouch given to her by an Indian wisewoman years before. It contained assorted bits and bobs, herbs, he thought, and feathers, perhaps the tiny bones of a bat. But in among them was a lump of stone--nothing much to look at, but a true gemstone, a raw sapphire.

    Amanda turned her head at once, more interested in the pouch than she had been in the shiny ring. She made cooing noises and batted wildly with both hands, trying to reach it.

    (From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, "Amanda". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    3) Roger and Claire, not long before the MacKenzies returned to the 20th century.
    "Mandy's got my mother's hair."

    "Oh, good," Claire said dryly. "I'd hate to think I was entirely responsible for it. Do tell her that, when she's older, will you? Girls with very curly hair invariably hate it--at least in the early years, when they want to look like everyone else."

    Despite his preoccupation, he heard the small note of desolation in her voice, and reached for her hand, disregarding the fact that she still held a plant in it.

    "I'll tell her," he said softly. "I'll tell her everything. Don't ever think we'd let the kids forget you."

    (From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "The Minister's Cat". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    4) Jemmy and Mandy at Lallybroch:
    "But Mama! Mandy hit me!” came an indignant report from the top of the stairs. Looking up, she could see the top of his head, the light from the window glowing on his hair.

    “She did? Well—”

    “With a stick!”

    “What sort of—”

    “On purpose!”

    “Well, I don’t think—”

    “AND …”--a pause before the damning denouement--“SHE DIDN’T SAY SHE WAS SORRY!”

    [...]

    “MANDY,” she bellowed. “Say you’re sorry!”

    “Non’t!” came a high-pitched refusal from above.

    “Aye, ye will!” came Jem’s voice, followed by scuffling. Brianna headed for the stair, blood in her eye. Just as she set her foot on the tread, Jem uttered a piercing squeal.

    “She BIT me!”

    “Jeremiah MacKenzie, don’t you dare bite her back!” she shouted. “Both of you stop it this instant!"

    (From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, Epilogue I, "Lallybroch". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    5) This scene from ECHO hit me like a gut-punch the first time I read it. Mandy may be only a toddler, but I think she does an amazing job of telling her parents what's wrong and communicating the urgency of the situation. Thank God Bree and Roger took her hysteria seriously!
    He made it to Amanda’s room a half step before Brianna and scooped the child out of her bed, cradling her against his pounding heart.

    “Jemmy, Jemmy!” she sobbed. “He’s gone, he’s gone. He’s GONE!!” This last was shrieked as she stiffened in Roger’s arms, digging her feet hard into his belly.

    "Hey, hey,” he soothed, trying to rearrange her and pet her into calm. “It’s okay, Jemmy’s fine. He’s fine, he’s only gone to visit Bobby overnight. He’ll be home tomorrow.”

    “He’s GONE!” She squirmed like an eel, not trying to get away but merely possessed by a paroxysm of frantic grief. “He’s not here, he’s not here!”

    "Aye, like I said, he’s at Bobby’s house, he—”

    “Not here,” she said urgently, and thumped the palm of her hand repeatedly on the top of her head. “Not here wif me!”

    (From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 85, "Son of a Witch". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    6) Many of you will recall that Diana Gabaldon said repeatedly that she wanted an octopus on the cover of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. She didn't get that, but I knew there would be an octopus reference in the book somewhere:
    Mandy unbuckled her seat belt and popped up on her knees. She’d pulled her arms out of her sweater so they flopped around, and now just her face was poking out of the neckhole.

    “I’m an ottopus!” she said, and shook herself so the sweater’s arms danced. Jem laughed, in spite of himself. So did Mam, but she waved Mandy back down.

    “Octopus,” she said. “And put your seat belt back on right now. Octo means eight in Latin,” she added. “Octopuses have eight legs. Or arms, maybe.”

    (From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 99, "Radar". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    7) In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Mandy's counting makes me laugh.
    "Go, Mandy. Right now. Mummy will be there before you can count to a hundred. Start counting now. One...two...three..." She moved between Cameron and Mandy, motioning firmly with her free hand.

    Reluctantly, Mandy moved, murmuring, "Four... five... six... seven..." and disappeared through the back kitchen door.

    [....]

    "Think fast,” he shouted up at her. “Your wee lass will hit a hundred and be back any second!”

    Despite the situation, Brianna smiled. Mandy had very recently been introduced to the idea that numbers were infinite and had been enchanted by the concept. She wouldn’t stop counting until she ran out of breath or someone stopped her.

    (From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 26, "A Step Into the Dark". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    8) I love the way Jem is so protective of his little sister.
    There was a lot of screaming and crying going on inside the Buchans’ house, and he felt his chest go so tight he couldn’t breathe.

    “Mandy!” He tried to call, but her name came out in a whisper. The front door was hanging open. Inside, there were girls everywhere, but he picked Mandy out of the muddle in the lounge instantly and ran to grab her. She wasn’t crying, but she latched on to him like a leech, burying her black curly head in his stomach.

    “It’s okay,” he told her, squeezing the stuffing out of her in relief. “It’s okay, Man. I gotcha. I gotcha."

    (From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 38, "The Number of the Beast". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    9) I don't have words to express how relieved and grateful I am that the MacKenzies found each other at last.
    "Think ye might have lost something,” Buck said gruffly, and handed Mandy carefully down to him. She was a heavy, lively weight in his arms--and smelled of goats.

    “Daddy!” she exclaimed, beaming at him as though he’d just come in from work. “Mwah! Mwah!” She kissed him noisily and snuggled into his chest, her hair tickling his chin.

    [....]

    Roger was crying again, couldn’t stop. Mandy had burrs and foxtails stuck in her hair and in the fabric of her jacket, and he thought she might have wet herself somewhere in the recent past. Buck twitched the reins, as though about to turn and go, and Roger reached out a hand and grabbed his stirrup.

    “Stay,” he croaked. “Tell me it’s real.”

    Buck made an incoherent noise, and, looking up through his tears, Roger could see that Buck was making an inadequate attempt at hiding his own emotion.

    “Aye,” Buck said, sounding almost as choked as Roger. He looped his reins and, sliding off into the road, took Jem very gently into his own arms. “Aye, it’s real."

    (From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 108, "Reality is That Which, When You Stop Believing in It, Doesn't Go Away". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
    Happy Birthday to our favorite time-traveling toddler and "feisty wee baggage", Mandy MacKenzie!