Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What a nice surprise!



The last week or so has been very tough for me, with a lot of stress and upheaval in my personal life, for reasons I'd rather not go into right now.  So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I got home yesterday and saw a new thread (discussion) on TheLitForum.com titled "A Salute To Karen, Bumblebee Herder Extraordinaire" (!)

Diana Gabaldon refers to what I do on the forum (where I have been Section Leader, aka moderator, of the DG section since 2008) as "herding bumblebees", an expression that always makes me smile.

So I was reading through the replies to that post this morning, and I saw this:



Wow!  Wasn't that sweet of her?  I will treasure this comment. It means so much to me that she values and appreciates everything I do on the forum and for the OUTLANDER fan community.

Thank you, Diana!!

Friday, November 1, 2019

October poll results



Here are the results of the October poll, which asked the question, "What do you think of the Lord John books and stories?"
  • 41.15% - I love them!
  • 18.29% - I enjoy them, but I prefer to read about Jamie and Claire.
  • 7.55% - They're an integral part of the overall series.
  • 7.16% - I haven't read the Lord John books, but I enjoy watching David Berry play him on the TV show.
  • 6.76% - They add a lot of depth to his character.
  • 6.16% - I started reading them after seeing what a major role he played in the main OUTLANDER series.
  • 3.38% - I haven't read any of them yet, but I'm planning to.
  • 2.19% - I like seeing a different side of 18th century life than we get in the OUTLANDER books.
  • 2.19% - I think they're boring.
  • 1.39% - I wish Diana would quit writing about him.
  • 0.80% - I'm not interested in reading about a gay character.
  • 0.20% - I'm new to OUTLANDER and haven't encountered Lord John yet.
  • 2.78% - Other
There were 503 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the November poll, which asks, "How long have you been reading Diana Gabaldon's books?"

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween!



Happy Halloween! Here are some Halloween-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books and stories. Hope you enjoy them!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, there are SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.

1) Roger's thoughts, on the eve of Claire's departure through the stones to find Jamie:
Hallowe'en had always seemed to him a restless night, alive with waking spirits. Tonight was even more so, with the knowledge of what would happen in the morning. The jack o'lantern on the desk grinned in anticipation, filling the room with the homely scent of baking pies.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) This is one of my favorites from AN ECHO IN THE BONE:
Now there was nothing out there but the black of a moonless Highland night. The sort of night when Christians stayed indoors and put holy water on the doorposts, because the things that walked the moors and the high places were not always holy.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 72, "The Feast of All Saints". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Claire and Roger on Halloween night, 1968. If you're not familiar with the story Roger is referring to, look here.
"No, I never could sleep on All Hallows'. Not after all the stories my father told me; I always thought I could hear ghosts talking outside my window."

She smiled, coming into the firelight. "And what did they say?"

"'See'st thou this great gray head, with jaws which have no meat?' " Roger quoted. "You know the story? The little tailor who spent the night in a haunted church, and met the hungry ghost?"

"I do. I think if I'd heard that outside my window, I'd have spent the rest of the night hiding under the bedclothes."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) I couldn't resist including a bit of Duncan's ghost story here:
"He said it was a figure like a man, but with no body," Duncan said quietly. "All white, like as it might have been made of the mist. But wi' great holes where its eyes should be, and empty black, fit to draw the soul from his body with dread."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "A Hanging in Eden". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Roger's father, Jerry MacKenzie, on a long-ago Halloween night:
“Damn,” said the fair one, softly. “There’s a light.”

There was; a single light, bobbing evenly over the ground, as it would if someone carried it. But look as he might, Jerry could see no one behind it, and a violent shiver ran over him.

Uisge,” said the other man under his breath. Jerry knew that word well enough--spirit, it meant. And usually an ill-disposed one. A haunt.

“Aye, maybe.” The dark man’s voice was calm. “And maybe not. It’s Samhain, after all."

(From "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", by Diana Gabaldon, in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL. Copyright© 2010 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Even wee Jemmy is affected by stories of "things that go bump in the night".
"Scared? Of what?" A little more gently, she pulled the shirt off over his head.

"The ghost."

"What ghost?" she asked warily, not sure yet how to handle this. She was aware that all of the slaves at River Run believed implicitly in ghosts, simply as a fact of life. So did virtually all of the Scottish settlers in Cross Creek, Campbelton, and the Ridge. And the Germans from Salem and Bethania. So, for that matter, did her own father. She could not simply inform Jem that there was no such thing as a ghost--particularly as she was not entirely convinced of that herself.

"Maighistear arsaidh's ghost," he said, looking up at her for the first time, his dark blue eyes troubled. "Josh says he's been walkin'."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 99, "Old Master". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Claire meets Otter-Tooth's ghost:
He was tall, and he was naked. Beyond a breechclout, he wore nothing but paint; long stripes of red down arms and legs and torso, and his face was solid black, from chin to forehead. His hair was greased and dressed in a crest, from which two turkey feathers stiffly pointed.

I was invisible, completely hidden in the darkness of my refuge, while the torch he held washed him in soft light, gleaming off his hairless chest and shoulders, shadowing the orbits of his eyes. But he knew I was there
I didn’t dare to move. My breath sounded painfully loud in my ears. He simply stood there, perhaps a dozen feet away, and looked straight into the dark where I was, as though it were the broadest day. And the light of his torch burned steady and soundless, pallid as a corpse candle, the wood of it not consumed.

I don’t know how long I had been standing there before it occurred to me that I was no longer afraid. I was still cold, but my heart had slowed to its normal pace, and my bare toes had uncurled.

“Whatever do you want?” I said, and only then realized that we had been in some sort of communication for some time. Whatever this was, it had no words. Nothing coherent passed between us--but something passed, nonetheless.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23, "The Skull Beneath the Skin". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) Lord John's encounter with a zombie:
Bloody hell, where was the man? If it was a man. For even as his mind reasserted its claim to reason, his more visceral faculties were recalling Rodrigo's parting statement: Zombie are dead people, sah. And whatever was here in the dark with him seemed to have been dead for several days, judging from its smell.

He could hear the rustling of something moving quietly toward him. Was it breathing? He couldn't tell, for the rasp of his own breath, harsh in his throat, and the blood-thick hammering of his heart in his ears.

(From "A Plague of Zombies" by Diana Gabaldon, in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL. Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) And finally, on a lighter note, here's Mandy, age three:
Mandy bounced a little on her booster seat, leaning to peer out the window. She was wearing the Halloween mask Bree had helped her make, this being a mouse princess: a mouse face drawn with crayons on a paper plate, with holes pierced for eyes and at either side for pink yarn ties, pink pipe cleaners glued on for whiskers, and a precarious small crown made with cardboard, more glue, and most of a bottle of gold glitter.

Scots celebrated Samhain with hollowed-out turnips with candles in them, but Brianna had wanted a slightly more festive tradition for her half-American children. The whole seat sparkled as though the car had been sprinkled with pixie dust.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Warmer, Colder". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Halloween / Samhain / All Hallows' Eve to all of you! If you happen to go near any stone circles in the next couple of days, be sure to carry a wee gemstone with you, just in case! You never know what might happen....

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Happy Birthday, Claire!



Wishing a very happy 101st birthday (believe it or not!) to our favorite time-traveling Sassenach, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser!  She was born on October 20, 1918.

If you're on Twitter, please join fans worldwide in celebrating Claire's birthday with the hashtag #HappyBdaySassenach.
"Happy Birthday, Sassenach,” he said.

It took me completely by surprise and I just stared stupidly at him for a moment. “What?” I managed at last.

“I said ‘Happy Birthday.’ It’s the twentieth of October today."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And for this year in particular, some of you may recall this quote from THE FIERY CROSS:
“When I am a hundred and one, and you’re ninety-six, I’ll invite you to my bed--and we’ll see which one of us rises to the occasion, hmm?”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "Duncan's Secret". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
In celebration of Claire's birthday, I'm reposting my "ABC's of Claire Fraser", which I first posted here in October, 2011. I got the idea from a writing exercise posted a few years ago on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now TheLitForum.com), which is the online forum where Diana Gabaldon hangs out. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. 

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright (c) Diana Gabaldon, of course.

*** SPOILER WARNING!!  

If you have not read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will find SPOILERS below. Read at your own risk!

A - Adaptability.  This is one of Claire's greatest strengths, in my opinion.  Many of us would have a great deal of difficulty adjusting to life in the 18th century.  Claire adapts relatively quickly, and we rarely see her thinking about missing the conveniences of the 20th century.

B - Bravery. "Ye were always bolder than was safe; now ye're fierce as a wee badger." (A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, Chapter 20, "Dangerous Gifts")  Whether it's killing a wolf with her bare hands in OUTLANDER, or surviving the ordeal of being abducted and raped in ABOSAA, Claire never, ever gives up, and I find much to admire in that.

C - Cat.  Adso, to be precise. <g>  Claire loves that wee cheetie, and the scene in ECHO where Claire says goodbye to Adso was just heartbreaking.

D - Diagnosis.  Joe Abernathy called her the "best diagnostician I ever saw".

E - Eyes.  One of Claire's most striking features.  "They're the color of verra fine whisky, wi' the sun shining through them from behind.  I thought this morning they looked like sherry, but I was wrong.  Not sherry. Not brandy.  It's whisky.  That's what it is." (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 6, "Making Waves")

F - Face.  Claire's "glass face" -- her inability to hide what she's thinking or feeling from other people -- often gets her into trouble.

G - Garden. "Daddy always used to say it, when he'd come home and find Mama puttering in her garden--he said she'd live out there if she could.  He used to joke that she--that she'd leave us someday, and go find a place where she could live by herself, with nothing but her plants." (DRUMS OF AUTUMN, Chapter 43, "Whisky in the Jar")

H - Hair.  Claire's wild, unruly hair could almost be considered a character in its own right.  It reflects her personality extremely well, and it's one of the things Jamie likes best about her.

I - Intelligence.  Claire has a quick mind, and doesn't suffer fools gladly.  (She's much like Diana Gabaldon in that respect, actually.)

J - James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. <vbg>

K - Knitting.
  One of the very few things that Claire does not do well with her hands.

L - Lallybroch.
  Claire felt she'd found a home there, for the first time in her life.

M - Mother.
  Not just to Bree, but also to Faith, her stillborn first child.  "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."  (VOYAGER, Chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon")

N - Nurse. 
Also surgeon, midwife, physician, herbalist, conjure-woman -- Claire is a healer, first and foremost.

O - Outlander
, or, as the Scots say, Sassenach.  "He liked the strangeness of her, the Englishness.  She was his Claire, his Sassenach." (FIERY CROSS, Chapter 18, "No Place Like Home")

P - Practicality.
  Claire is perfectly willing to cast aside society's conventions of what is considered proper attire for a woman, in favor of something more practical.  "I am improvising a brassiere," I said with dignity.  "I don't mean to ride sidesaddle through the mountains wearing a dress, and if I'm not wearing stays, I don't mean my breasts to be joggling all the way, either.  Most uncomfortable, joggling."  (DRUMS OF AUTUMN, Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience")

Q - Quentin Lambert Beauchamp.
Claire's beloved Uncle Lamb, who raised her from the age of five.

R - Ruthlessness. 
I think this is one of the qualities that makes Claire a good surgeon:  "[The] detachment of mind in which I could balance on that knife-edge between ruthlessness and compassion, at once engaged in utmost intimacy with the body under my hands and capable of destroying what I touched in the name of healing." (AN ECHO IN THE BONE, Chapter 62, "One Just Man")

S - Stubbornness. 
Claire is at least a match for Jamie in this respect, and gives as good as she gets.

T - Time-travel.
  The catalyst for this whole amazing adventure. <g>

U - Unladylike language.
  Claire's use of expressions like "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" and "bloody f*cking hell" frequently scandalizes the 18th-century people around her, but to me, this is an integral part of her character.

V - Vitamins. 
"Well-nourished, is what I am," I retorted.  "Half the people on your estate are suffering from mild scurvy, and from what I've seen on the road, it's even worse elsewhere.  It's vitamin C that prevents scurvy, and apples are full of it."  (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 36, "Prestonpans") 

W - White
.  Claire's Indian name is White Raven, and she's been called many similar things over the years, including the White Witch and La Dame Blanche ("White Lady").  I'm intrigued by Nayawenne's prediction that Claire will come into her full power when her hair turns white, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see about that. <g>

X - eXperiments. 
From home-grown penicillin to gallberry ointment for the treatment of malaria, Claire is always experimenting with new ways to help her patients.

Y - Youthful.
  Claire looks much younger than other women her age in the 18th century, owing to the influence of genes, hygiene, and good nutrition.

Z - Zero.
  The number of times Book Claire has traveled though the stones using gemstones for protection.

As you can see just from these brief examples, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser is a remarkably complex, multifaceted character.  Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an unforgettable character, and also to Caitriona Balfe, who is doing an AMAZING job bringing Claire to life on TV!

Happy Birthday, Claire!

Here are the other posts in my ABC's series. Hope you enjoy them!

ABC's of Jamie Fraser
ABC's of Roger
ABC's of Brianna
ABC's of Lord John Grey 
ABC's of Young Ian

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER: The Official Guide to Seasons 3 and 4



THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER: The Official Guide to Seasons Three & Four, by Tara Bennett, is now available!

Just like the first volume, published in 2016, this is a "coffee-table" size book, offering a detailed behind-the-scenes look at Seasons 3 and 4 of the OUTLANDER TV series.

From the publisher's description on Amazon:
Picking up where The Making of Outlander: Seasons One & Two left off, this lavishly illustrated collectors’ item covers seasons three and four, bringing readers behind the scenes and straight onto the set of the show. You’ll find exclusive interviews with cast members, including detailed conversations with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan (on-screen couple and real-life friends), as well as the writers, producers, costume designers, set decorators, technicians, and more whose hard work and cinematic magic bring the world of Outlander to life on the screen.
You can order it here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

It's a great way to pass the time during #Droughtlander, and I'm sure it would make a wonderful holiday gift for fans of the TV show.  Please help spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Diana Gabaldon has written an episode of Season 5!



Diana Gabaldon announced yesterday that she has written an episode of OUTLANDER Season 5!

She will not be going to Scotland for the filming of her episode, though.

This will be the next-to-last episode of Season 5, and I can't wait to see it!

What do you think might be included in it?

Saturday, October 5, 2019

New Season 5 trailer!



Here's the latest OUTLANDER Season 5 trailer. I think it looks great!

OUTLANDER panel at NY Comic Con



There will be an OUTLANDER panel at NY Comic Con TODAY (Saturday, October 5th) at 5:30 pm ET.

Diana Gabaldon will be there, along with Ron Moore, Maril Davis, Sam, Cait, Duncan Lacroix, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and David Berry.

UPDATE 10/8/2019 7:08 am:

Here's a video of the panel discussion, which runs about an hour. There is a new Season 5 trailer shown near the beginning of the video.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

September poll results



Here are the results of the September poll, which asked the question, "What are you doing to pass the time during #Droughtlander?"
  • 15.67% - Reading (or re-reading) Diana Gabaldon's books.
  • 10.07% - Reading books by other authors.
  • 5.22% - Listening to the OUTLANDER audiobooks.
  • 4.85% - Reading #DailyLines from BEES.
  • 4.48% - Watching Seasons 1-4 again.
  • 4.10% - Pursuing other hobbies or interests not related to OUTLANDER.
  • 3.54% - Following various OUTLANDER fan-sites, including Outlandish Observations.
  • 3.17% - Devouring any information I can find (trailers, photos, interviews, etc.) about Season 5.
  • 1.31% - Focusing on family, work, or other commitments.
  • 42.91% - All of the above.
  • 4.66% - Other
There were 536 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

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

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Favorite quotes from AN ECHO IN THE BONE



Today is the 10th anniversary of the publication of Diana Gabaldon's novel, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, Book 7 of the OUTLANDER series, which was released in hardcover on September 22, 2009.

In honor of the occasion, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of my favorite quotes from that book.

All of the quotes below are taken from AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon. Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

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

Chapter 5, "Morality for Time-Travelers"
“You can teach kids not to cross the street alone,” Bree had pointed out. “Surely you can teach them to stay the heck away from standing stones.”

He’d agreed, but with substantial mental reservations. Small kids, yes; you could brainwash them into not sticking forks in the electric outlets. But as they became teenagers, with all that inchoate yearning for self-discovery and things unknown? He recalled his own teenaged self much too vividly. Tell a teenaged boy not to stick forks in the outlet, and he’d be off rifling the silverware drawer the minute your back was turned. Girls might be different, but he doubted it.
Raising kids who happen to be time-travelers poses unique challenges, to say the least! I think Roger is right to be concerned about it.

Chapter 16, "Unarmed Conflict"
“Would you care to explain to me exactly which aspects of plant inspection require a penis?”
I love this line. Go Bree!

Chapter 18, "Pulling Teeth"
“For a long time,” [Fergus] 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.”
One of the best Fergus moments in the entire series. Just wonderful!

Chapter 32, "A Flurry of Suspicion"
I’m not dead. Wish I were. Bath is vile. I am daily wrapped in canvas and carried off like a parcel to be sunk in boiling water that smells of rotten eggs, then hauled out and forced to drink it, but Minnie says she will divorce me by petition in the House of Lords on the grounds of insanity caused by immoral acts if I don’t submit. I doubt this, but here I am.
This is one of my favorite Hal quotes. He really has a way with words!

Chapter 62, "One Just Man"
“How dare you do that to me? You think I haven’t got anything better to do with my life than trot round after you, sticking pieces back on?” I was frankly shrieking at him by this time.

To my increased fury, he grinned at me, his expression made the more rakish by the half-closed eye.

“Ye’d have been a good fishwife, Sassenach,” he observed. “Ye’ve the tongue for it.”

“You shut up, you f*cking bloody—”

“They’ll hear you,” he said mildly, with a wave toward the party of Continental soldiers making their way down the slope toward us.

“I don’t care who hears me! If you weren’t already hurt, I’d—I’d—”

“Be careful, Sassenach,” he said, still grinning. “Ye dinna want to knock off any more pieces; ye’ll only have to stick them back on, aye?”

“Don’t bloody tempt me," I said through my teeth, with a glance at the sword I had dropped.
I love it when Jamie teases Claire. But it's that last line that makes me laugh out loud.

Chapter 68, "Despoiler"
“Ever heard of coup de foudre, Sassenach? It didna take me more than one good look at you.”
This is a terrific line. I hadn't heard the term before I read ECHO, but having looked up the definition, now I'm sure I won't ever forget it. Boy, is that ever appropriate!

Chapter 79, "The Cave"
“Have ye ever been in the slightest doubt that I need ye?” he demanded.

It took roughly half a second of thought to answer this.

“No,” I replied promptly. “To the best of my knowledge, you needed me urgently the moment I saw you. And I haven’t had reason to think you’ve got any more self-sufficient since."
This is one of my favorite exchanges between Jamie and Claire in the whole book. It's impossible to read this without thinking of their first meeting in OUTLANDER, when Claire tended his dislocated shoulder.

Chapter 84, "The Right of It"
“Where d’ye think he is now?” Jenny said suddenly. “Ian, I mean.”

He glanced at the house, then at the new grave waiting, but of course that wasn’t Ian anymore. He was panicked for a moment, his earlier emptiness returning--but then it came to him, and, without surprise, he knew what it was Ian had said to him.

On your right, man.” On his right. Guarding his weak side.

“He’s just here,” he said to Jenny, nodding to the spot between them. “Where he belongs.”
I just LOVE this bit, with the deliberate "echo" of Ian's line in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, which has long been my favorite Ian quote of the whole series.

Chapter 94, "The Paths of Death"
Like forgiveness, it was not a thing once learned and then comfortably put aside but a matter of constant practice--to accept the notion of one’s own mortality, and yet live fully, was a paradox worthy of Socrates.
At the time ECHO was published, Diana Gabaldon suggested that a possible one-word theme of this book is "mortality". I don't think that theme is stated as succinctly, or as eloquently, anywhere else in the book.

Chapter 103, "The Hour of the Wolf"
“Thee is a wolf, too, and I know it. But thee is my wolf, and best thee know that.”
How wonderful for Ian that he's found a woman who loves and appreciates him for who he is! Rachel is a terrific character, and I thought this was just the right note on which to end the book.

What about the rest of you?  What are your favorite lines or scenes from AN ECHO IN THE BONE?

Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon on ECHO's 10th anniversary!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Vote for OUTLANDER in the People's Choice Awards!



OUTLANDER has been nominated as "The Bingeworhty Show of 2019" in the 2019 People's Choice Awards!

Voting ends October 18. Go here to vote.

You can see the full list of nominees here.

Monday, September 2, 2019

What are you doing to pass the time during #Droughtlander?



Waiting for Diana Gabaldon's next book, or the next season of the OUTLANDER TV series, is always hard. For many fans, this #Droughtlander can seem endless, and we all have different ways to cope with it.

I'm curious about what you've been doing to pass the time while we wait. Are you reading (or re-reading) the OUTLANDER books? Watching the DVDs? Constantly scanning social media for the slightest mention of Season 5 news? Or are you taking a break from OUTLANDER fandom for a while?

I've been relaxing and focusing on other things, but of course I'm still "herding the bumblebees" in Diana Gabaldon's section of TheLitForum.com (formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community).

What about the rest of you? Please take a moment to vote in the September poll, and feel free to leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page, letting us know how you voted or sharing your favorite coping strategies for getting through #Droughtlander. Thanks!

The Gaelic expression shown above, "Fuirich agus chi thu", means "Wait and see", and it's one of Diana Gabaldon's favorite phrases.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

August poll results



Here are the results of the August poll, which asked the question, "What's your favorite way to enjoy OUTLANDER?"
  • 15.07% - Reading the books in hardcover.
  • 13.89% - Reading the e-books.
  • 12.84% - Reading the books in paperback.
  • 11.01% - Watching the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 9.70% - It depends on the situation, or what mood I'm in.
  • 9.57% - Listening to the audiobooks.
  • 1.57% - Listening to the audiobook and following along in the text at the same time.
  • 21.63% - All of the above.
  • 4.72% - Other
There were 763 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the September poll, which asks, "What are you doing to pass the time during #Droughtlander?"

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Season 5 will premiere on Feb. 16!



It's official: Season 5 of the OUTLANDER TV series will premiere on STARZ on Sunday, February 16, 2020!

Season 5 will be 12 episodes long, so it will run from mid-February until early May.

Please note, this announcement is for the US only. I have no information about premiere dates in other countries.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Outlandish Observations is 11 years old!



Outlandish Observations turns 11 years old today!!

Wow. That's hard to believe, even for me. Eleven years?! But it's true.

I started this blog on August 28, 2008, with two goals in mind. The first was simply to learn about blogging. The second was to create a central repository for news and information for OUTLANDER fans, a place where people could go to find answers to commonly asked questions, links to other OUTLANDER-related sites, and the latest information on Diana Gabaldon's new and upcoming releases.

To say that this blog has succeeded far beyond my wildest imaginings is a severe understatement! In the beginning, I never expected anyone to visit my site except a few dozen of my friends from the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now TheLitForum.com) and the Ladies of Lallybroch fan-site.  I didn't talk about it on Compuserve for the first couple of years, because I was very reluctant to draw attention to it where Diana Gabaldon could see -- which seems silly in retrospect, but it's true.  Suffice it to say that I did get over that shyness, eventually. <g>

Special thanks to all of my followers on the Outlandish Observations Facebook page! Last year at this time I had 10,876 followers on Facebook. Today that number is 11,345, an increase of 4.31%. I'm delighted that so many new people have found my site over the past year. Welcome! I hope you take some time to look around and see what else is available here.

Outlandish Observations was one of the first successful OUTLANDER-related blogs. These days there are innumerable fan-sites, Facebook groups, and so on. The more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned! <g> I'm proud to be a part of such a thriving, creative, and enthusiastic worldwide community of fans, united in our passion for these books and characters and this amazing story Diana Gabaldon has created, that is now being brought to life on TV.

Speaking of which...I'm delighted to see so many new people discovering OUTLANDER as a result of the TV series!  Thanks to all of you who've enjoyed my episode recaps for Seasons 1-4. I plan to continue posting them for Season 5 when the time comes.

And of course I can't wait for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series. We don't yet have a publication date, or cover art, or pre-order links, but as soon as I hear anything definite, I will post it here.

Many, many thanks to all of you who've visited Outlandish Observations over the past eleven years. It's been an amazing journey, and I'm so glad you've come along for the ride.

THANK YOU ALL!!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Diana Gabaldon talks about the shape of BEES



As some of you may know, Diana Gabaldon says all of her books have a "shape" to them.
All my books have an internal geometric shape that emerges in the course of the work, and once I’ve seen it, the writing goes much faster. I may have no idea exactly what happens, what’s said, etc.--but I do know approximately what the missing pieces look like (e.g., I need a scene here that involves these three people, and it has a sense of rising tension and a conclusion that will lead into that scene over there …).

These internal shapes are normally invisible to the reader--who isn’t looking for them in the first place--but if pointed out, the reader can certainly see them.

(From THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION Volume 1 (Revised and Expanded), Copyright© 2015 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you have access to the OC Volume 1 (Revised and Expanded Edition) or the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition, you can read the full explanation in an essay called "The Shape of Things". If not, you can read a version of it that Diana posted on her blog in 2008.

Naturally, as Book 9, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, gets closer and closer to completion, many fans are curious about what the shape of BEES will turn out to be. For some time now, Diana has described it as a honeycomb, a six-sided structure, because there will be six major storylines.

Well, today she said something completely new and unexpected on Twitter, when someone asked about the shape of BEES.

A snake?? My first reaction on reading that was, "What an intriguing image!"  And it is. But then someone asked about it on TheLitForum.com (formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community), the online forum where Diana hangs out.

Diana made the following comment:
"Honeycomb" refers to the six main characters (or pairs) whose stories we're following through the book; the internal, cellular structure, if you will.   "Snake" is the overall shape of the book. It glides, it coils, it slithers, it climbs (and then drops out of a tree on you), it turns back on itself at the same time it goes forward, it has occasional bulges where it's swallowed something large...and it has fangs.
I love this description on so many levels, but that "it has fangs" strikes me as a warning to all of us, in much the same way that the painfully sharp spikes on the caltrop on ECHO's cover (representing its shape) were a warning, of sorts, to her readers.  Snakes are dangerous and unpredictable and sometimes deadly, and I think we'd all do well to keep that in mind. <g>

This description of the shape of BEES is making me really excited about this book! It sounds like it's going to be a very entertaining and suspenseful roller-coaster ride, with plenty of twists and turns -- but watch out for the snakes!

If you'd like to join in the discussion on TheLitForum, you can find it here. You have to sign up to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

OUTLANDER fan art contest!



If you create OUTLANDER fan art or know someone who does, check this out!

STARZ is running a fan art contest on Twitter through August 30, and the prize is a trip to NY Comic Con!

The contest is open to US residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter.

Look here for more information and contest rules. Good luck!

Friday, August 2, 2019

What's your favorite way to enjoy OUTLANDER?



This month's poll asks, "What's your favorite way to enjoy OUTLANDER?"

What do you prefer? Hardcover, paperback, e-book, audiobook, or watching the TV show? Or some combination of all of those?

I'm a longtime OUTLANDER-audiobook-addict myself (since 2007), and that is my preferred method most of the time. For new releases, I collect the hardcovers, but I prefer to read the e-books on my tablet. (The photo above shows part of my OUTLANDER collection.)

What about the rest of you? Please take a moment to vote, and then come back and leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

July poll results



Here are the results of the July poll, which asked the question, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?"
  • 37.32% - I started reading the books as a result of watching, or hearing about, the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 25.02% - A friend or family member recommended the books to me.
  • 18.62% - I stumbled across them while browsing in a bookstore or library.
  • 7.02% - A friend or family member gave me a copy of OUTLANDER, saying, "Read this, you'll love it!"
  • 1.95% - A librarian or bookstore employee recommended them.
  • 1.81% - I read a review in a newspaper, magazine, or online.
  • 1.67% - Someone on Facebook, Goodreads, or another online site recommended them.
  • 1.32% - I saw OUTLANDER on a "Recommended for You" list on Amazon or elsewhere online.
  • 0.76% - I haven't yet read any of Diana Gabaldon's books, but I've watched the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 0.49% - Someone at my book club mentioned them.
  • 4.03% - Other
There were 1439 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I discovered OUTLANDER completely by accident, browsing in Barnes & Noble in 2006. The full story is here if you're interested.

I've done variations of this same poll about once a year since 2009, and this is the first time that the "I found the OUTLANDER books as a result of the TV series" option got the most votes. Even though this wasn't a scientific poll by any means, I think that's interesting.

Please take a moment to vote in the August poll, which asks, "What's your favorite way to enjoy OUTLANDER?"

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

"Past Prologue" standalone e-book is now available!



Diana Gabaldon's story, "Past Prologue", co-written with Steve Berry, is now available as a standalone e-book in the US and Canada!

This story, originally published in 2017 in an anthology called MATCHUP, features both Steve Berry's character Cotton Malone, and....Jamie Fraser!

You can download it here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

The e-book costs only 99 cents in the US, $1.99 in Canada. Well worth it, in my opinion, for a terrific story with plenty for OUTLANDER fans to speculate about.

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.)
I'm glad more people will have access to this story now. Please help spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

OUTLANDER quotes to cool you off

Considering that many parts of the US are suffering a brutal heat wave this week, I thought it might be a good time to share a few winter pictures that remind me of the OUTLANDER books, in an attempt to help us stay cool.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

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



1) Grandfather Mountain, NC, near where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located.  (Photo credit: akunkle99, on Flickr.)
The snow was falling thicker and faster, and I felt some uneasiness. If it covered his tracks before I found him, how would I find my way back to the cabin?

I looked back, but could see nothing behind me but a long, treacherous slope of unbroken snow that fell to the dark line of an unfamiliar brook below, its rocks poking up like teeth. No sign of the cheerful plume of smoke and sparks from our chimney. I turned slowly round in a circle, but I could no longer see the falls, either.

“Fine,” I muttered to myself. “You’re lost. Now what?” I sternly quelled an incipient attack of panic, and stood still to think. I wasn’t totally lost. I didn’t know where I was, but that wasn’t quite the same thing. I still had Jamie’s trail to guide me--or would have, until the snow covered it. And if I could find him, he presumably could find the cabin.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Night on a Snowy Mountain". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


2) Ashness Bridge, the Lake District, England, near where Helwater is supposed to be located. (Photo credit: Mark & Sue, on Flickr.)
It was so cold out, he thought his cock might break off in his hand--if he could find it. The thought passed through his sleep-mazed mind like one of the small, icy drafts that darted through the loft, making him open his eyes.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "April Fool". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)  


3) This picture shows a cabin built around 1820 near Grandfather Mountain, NC (very close to where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located).  This is very much the way I picture the original cabin on the Ridge. Just imagine trying to stay warm in a little cabin like that through the bitter winters of the 1770s, with a small child to care for:
[W]hen I got up this morning, the water in the basin was so cold I had to warm water in a pan on the fire before I washed Jemmy.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 18, "Vroom!". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


4) The photo above shows Corrimony Cairn, where General Simon Fraser of Balnain was buried. (Photo credit: Jock Watson on Trover)
It was a long walk from the farmhouse at Balnain. As it was early January in Scotland, it was also wet and cold. Very wet. And very cold. No snow--and I rather wished there had been, as it might have discouraged Hugh Fraser’s insane notion--but it had been raining for days, in that dismal way that makes hearths smoke, and even clothes that have not been outside grow damp, and drives the chill so far into your bones that you think you’ll never be warm again.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 75, "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


5) Icicles in Boone, NC, in the vicinity of Fraser's Ridge. (Photo credit: eightylbs, on Flickr.)
January 21 was the coldest day of the year. Snow had fallen a few days before, but now the air was like cut crystal, the dawn sky so pale it looked white, and the packed snow chirped like crickets under our boots. Snow, snow-shrouded trees, the icicles that hung from the eaves of the house--the whole world seemed blue with cold.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "January Twenty-First". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


6) Soldiers' quarters at Valley Forge, PA. (Photo credit: paulbradyphoto, on Flickr.)
Valley Forge looked like a gigantic encampment of doomed charcoal-burners. The place was essentially a wood lot, or had been before Washington’s soldiers began felling everything in sight. Hacked stumps were everywhere, and the ground was strewn with broken branches. Huge bonfires burned in random spots, and piles of logs were stacked everywhere. They were building huts as fast as possible--and none too soon, for snow had begun falling three or four hours before, and the camp was already blanketed with white.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 86, "Valley Forge". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Hope all of you in the US stay cool over the next few days!

P.S. to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere: No, I haven't forgotten about you! Here's my collection of OUTLANDER Quotes to Keep You Warm.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

ABC's of Young Ian



ABC's of Young Ian Murray

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 Young Ian Murray.

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

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

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

S

P

O

I

L

E

R



A for Adventurous. Ian has never been the sort of person who is content to stay at home. He's always been a wanderer, and evidently was from an early age, as his father recalls:
“Aye, well, he’s always been forward,” Ian answered resignedly. “Learnt to walk before he could stand, and was forever tumblin’ into the fire or the washpot or the pigpen or the cowbyre.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "Up in Flames". Copyright ©1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
B for Bruja, the ship that took him to Jamaica, where he was held captive by Geillis Abernathy.  Also for Brianna, his beloved cousin.

C for the Conflict between the Mohawk and Scottish sides of his nature.
“They took me to the stream, scrubbed me wi’ sand to take away the white blood. They gave me my name--Okwaho’kenha--and said I was Mohawk. But I wasna, not really.”

He sighed deeply again, and she put a hand on his back, feeling the bumps of his backbone press through the leather of his shirt. He didn’t eat nearly enough, she thought.

“But I wasna what I had been, either,” he went on, sounding almost matter-of-fact. “I tried to be what they wanted, ken? So I left off praying to God or the Virgin Mother, or Saint Bride. I listened to what Emily said, when she’d tell me about her gods, the spirits that dwell in the trees and all. And when I went to the sweat lodge wi’ the men, or sat by the hearth and heard the stories ... they seemed as real to me as Christ and His saints ever had.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 70, "Emily". Copyright ©2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


D for his beloved Dog, Rollo, whom he won in a game of Dice. Rollo was Ian's constant companion for so many years, it's still hard to believe that he's gone.

E for Emily, Ian's nickname for his Mohawk wife, Wakyo’teyehsnonhsa, or Works With Her Hands. She was the first woman he ever truly loved, and he felt her loss deeply, long after he had left Snaketown forever.

F for Neil Forbes, whose ear he cut off in ABOSAA, in revenge for Forbes having kidnapped Brianna.

G for the Guilt he felt when he thought he'd killed the intruder in the printshop in Edinburgh, and later when he killed Mrs. Bug by accident.
“It wasn’t your fault,” I said gently.

“I know,” he said, and swallowed. “But I dinna see how I can live.” He wasn’t dramatic about it at all; his voice was simply bewildered. Rollo licked his hand, and his fingers sank into the dog’s ruff, as though for support.

“What can I do, Auntie?” He looked at me, helpless. “There’s nothing, is there? I canna take it back, or undo it. And yet I keep looking for some way that I can. Something I can do to make things right. But there’s … nothing.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Life for Life". Copyright ©2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
H for his "half-homely" features. Also for his skill as a Hunter, which saved Roger and Jemmy's lives when they faced a wild boar near the end of THE FIERY CROSS:
Then the boar’s front legs gave way and it fell to its knees. It wobbled, eyes glazing, and collapsed onto its side, the shaft of an arrow poking up, looking frail and inconsequential by comparison to the animal’s bulk.

Jemmy was squirming and crying underneath him. [Roger] sat up slowly, and gathered the little boy up into his arms. He noticed, remotely, that his hands were shaking, but he felt curiously blank. The torn skin on his palms stung, and his knee was throbbing. Patting Jemmy’s back in automatic comfort, he turned his head toward the wood and saw the Indian standing at the edge of the trees, bow in hand.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 108, "Tulach Ard". Copyright ©2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I for Iseabeil, Ian's stillborn first daughter, and also for his father, Ian the Elder.

J for Ian's mother, Jenny Fraser Murray. Owing to circumstances beyond their control, Ian had little contact with his mother as a teenager and a young man, and I was glad to see them reunited.

K for the Kahn'yen'kehaka, or Mohawk. The time Ian spent living with them changed his life profoundly, in many ways.

L for Lallybroch, where he grew up. Also for Latin. Ian wasn't much of a student of languages as a teenager, but he recalled enough to be able to communicate with Lord John when they were being held prisoner by the British army in MOHB.



M for the Mammoth skeleton that Ian takes Brianna to see in ABOSAA. If the one Ian found was anything like the specimen pictured above (from Wikipedia), no wonder they were awestruck by its sheer size! I liked the fact that Ian chose to share this discovery with Brianna; the journey to see it added a lot of depth to their relationship. Ian confides in Bree when he cannot share what he's thinking or feeling with anyone else.

N for Nephew. Jamie bonded with his youngest nephew in the middle of a life-and-death crisis when the Redcoats burst into the house not long after he was born.
[Baby] Ian gave evidence of his living state by kicking his legs with considerable vigor against his uncle’s ribs and emitting a series of small snuffling grunts, which fortunately went unheard in the commotion outside.

[....]

Jamie rather thought the Captain was inquiring as to the location of the infant’s body. He clutched the body in question closer, joggling it in an attempt to prevent any disposition on its part to cry. His other hand went to the hilt of his dirk, but it was a vain gesture; it was doubtful that even cutting his own throat would be of help, if the wardrobe were opened.

Baby Ian made an irascible noise, suggesting that he disliked being joggled. With visions of the house in flames and the inhabitants slaughtered, the noise sounded as loud to Jamie as his elder nephew’s anguished howls.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 5, "To Us a Child is Given". Copyright ©1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
O for Okwaho, Rollo's Mohawk name, and also for Oggy, the nickname Ian and Rachel gave their unborn son.

P for Perceptive. Even as a teenager, Ian helped to mend Jamie and Claire's relationship more than once, as when they first arrived in Snaketown in DRUMS:
“But you think he thinks I’m angry at him?”

“Oh, anyone could see ye are, Auntie,” he assured me earnestly. “Ye dinna look at him or speak to him save for what ye must--and,” he said, clearing his throat delicately, “I havena seen ye go to his bed, anytime this month past.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 53, "Blame". Copyright ©1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Q for Questions. Newly arrived in the Colonies, Ian was intensely curious about everything he saw.

R for Rachel Hunter. I think Ian and Rachel were very lucky to find one another. Rachel is a strong-willed woman with a mind of her own, just like Ian's mother Jenny, but she also makes it very clear that she accepts Ian for who he is, even when he's committed acts of violence that go against everything she believes as a Quaker.
“I think we can’t wait any longer to be married, Ian,” she said softly. “I will not have thee face such things alone. These are bad times, and we must be together.”

He closed his eyes and all the air went out of him. When he drew breath again, it tasted of peace.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 92, "I Will Not Have Thee Be Alone". Copyright ©2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
S for Swiftest of Lizards, Emily's eldest child, whom we met in AN ECHO IN THE BONE. According to Tewaktenyonh, the old Mohawk woman, the boy is the child of Ian's spirit, meaning that the Mohawk consider him Ian's son, no matter who his biological father might be. I was very moved by that, and I hope we'll see Swiftest of Lizards again some day.

T for the Tattoos on Ian's face that mark him forever as one of the Kahn'yen'kehaka, even after he returns to the Ridge.

U for his beloved Uncle, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Jamie's relationship to Ian runs much deeper than uncle to nephew. In the Highland tradition, they are foster-father and foster-son, and they have a close and loving relationship. I really enjoy watching their interactions over the course of the series, as Young Ian grows into manhood.

V for Violence. When he or his loved ones are threatened, Ian tends to react with startling violence, as when he killed "Mr. X", the would-be blackmailer, in ECHO.
“Don’t--” I began, turning to Jamie, but never got to finish. I saw the expression change on Jamie’s face, saw him leap toward the man--and whirled just in time to see Ian materialize out of the darkness behind the blackmailer and put a sinewy arm round his throat.

I didn’t see the knife. I didn’t have to; I saw Ian’s face, so intent as almost to be expressionless--and I saw the ex-overseer’s face. His jaw dropped and the whites of his eyes showed, his back arching up in a futile attempt at escape.

Then Ian let go, and Jamie caught the man as he began to fall, his body gone suddenly and horribly limp.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 68, "Despoiler". Copyright ©2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It will be interesting to see if his marriage to Rachel makes him less willing to use violence in such situations.

W for Wolf's Brother, or Okwaho’kenha, Ian's Mohawk name. I like the fact that the name they gave him reflects his very close relationship with Rollo.

X for eXile. Kidnapped from Scotland at the age of fourteen, forced to give up all contact with his white relatives during the time he lived as a Mohawk, and then settling on Fraser's Ridge, an ocean away from Lallybroch, Ian has spent much of his life apart from his family and loved ones.

Y for Youngest. Ian is the youngest of Jenny and Ian Murray's seven children. Also for Yeksa'a, his stillborn daughter.

Z for Zero. The number of times Ian had encountered a skunk before coming to America. He learned the hard way that it's better to leave them alone!
“Ian,” I said, taking refuge behind Jamie. “Call off your dog. Skunks are dangerous.”

“They are?” Jamie turned a look of puzzlement on me. “But what--”

“Polecats only stink,” I explained. “Skunks--Ian, no! Let it alone, and come inside!” Ian, curious, had reached out and prodded the skunk with his poker. The skunk, offended at this unwarranted intimacy, stamped its feet and elevated its tail.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 10, "Jocasta". Copyright ©1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I hope you enjoyed these! Are there other aspects of Ian's character, or other incidents in his life, that you'd like to add to this list? I'm sure there are things I left out. What do you think of Ian's character, in the books or show? Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

Here are the other posts in this series:

ABC's of Jamie Fraser
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 

Monday, July 1, 2019

June poll results



Here are the results of the June poll, which asked the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books, or watch the TV series?"
  • 24.24% - Many times!
  • 22.59% - I got one or more of my close friends or family members addicted.
  • 20.94% - All of the above.
  • 10.12% - I've tried, but so far without success.
  • 8.00% - Of course! I enjoy being an OUTLANDER ambassador.
  • 4.47% - I've been spreading the word about the TV series and trying to get people to watch.
  • 3.53% - I've given copies of OUTLANDER to my friends or coworkers.
  • 2.35% - No, I haven't tried.
  • 2.12% - I've recommended OUTLANDER to strangers in the bookstore or library.
  • 1.18% - I've recommended the books on Facebook, Goodreads, or other online sites.
  • 0.47% - I got my book club to read OUTLANDER.
There were 425 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the July poll, which asks, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?"

Sunday, June 16, 2019

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!

*** 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 Diana Gabaldon, 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 5, 2019

"Past Prologue" standalone e-book will be out July 23!



Diana Gabaldon's story, "Past Prologue", co-written with Steve Berry, will be released as a standalone e-book in the US and Canada on July 23, 2019! This story, originally published in 2017 in an anthology called MATCHUP, features both Steve Berry's character Cotton Malone, and....Jamie Fraser!

Look here for pre-order links:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

The e-book costs only 99 cents in the US, $1.99 in Canada. Well worth it, in my opinion, for a terrific story with plenty for OUTLANDER fans to speculate about.

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.)
I'm glad more people will have access to this story now.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

It's World Outlander Day!



June 1st is #WorldOutlanderDay! Please join Diana Gabaldon's fans all over the world in celebrating the 28th anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication in 1991. (Credit for the idea goes to a German blogger in 2014.)

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.

In celebration of #WorldOutlanderDay, please take a moment to vote in the June poll, which is all about spreading the word about OUTLANDER (books or show) to other people.

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

May poll results



Here are the results of the May poll, which asked the question, "Which of Diana Gabaldon's books are you currently reading or listening to?"
  • 23.48% - THE FIERY CROSS
  • 10.61% - A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES
  • 9.24% - WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD
  • 8.33% - AN ECHO IN THE BONE
  • 6.21% - OUTLANDER / CROSS STITCH
  • 5.91% - VOYAGER
  • 4.39% - DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
  • 3.94% - DRUMS OF AUTUMN
  • 3.94% - THE SCOTTISH PRISONER
  • 3.64% - SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL
  • 2.27% - THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION (Volume 1 or 2)
  • 1.36% - LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE
  • 1.06% - LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER
  • 0.45% - LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS
  • 15.15% - I'm reading other things right now.
There were 660 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

I'm not really surprised that THE FIERY CROSS got the most votes in this poll. Obviously a lot of people are reading, or re-reading, this book in anticipation of Season 5 of the TV show!

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

OUTLANDER Season 4 Blu-ray and DVD now available!



The OUTLANDER Season 4 Blu-ray and DVD are now available in the US!

You can find them wherever DVDs are sold, or order from Amazon here:

Blu-ray
DVD
Collector's Edition

Look here for more information about the extras available on the Blu-ray and the Collector's Edition, including deleted scenes.

In case you're wondering, I have no information on the availability of the Blu-ray or DVD in other countries.

I'm looking forward to binge-watching Season 4 in the coming days. I haven't re-watched any of the episodes from this season, and I'm sure I've forgotten many of the details.

Monday, May 27, 2019

OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2 now available on Netflix in the US!



OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2 are now available on Netflix in the US!

Check it out here: https://www.netflix.com/title/70285581

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

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) Lord John, remembering his friend and first lover, Hector, who died at Culloden:
“He made me go and look at the body--Hal did, my brother,” Grey blurted. He looked down at his hand, where the deep blue of Hector’s sapphire burned against his skin, a smaller version of the one Fraser had reluctantly given him.

“He said that I must; that unless I saw him dead, I should never really believe it. That unless I knew Hector--my friend--was really gone, I would grieve forever. If I saw, and knew, I would grieve, but then I should heal--and forget.” He looked up, with a painful attempt at a smile. “Hal is generally right, but not always.”

Perhaps he had healed, but he would never forget. Certainly he would not forget his last sight of Hector, lying wax-faced and still in the early morning light, long dark lashes resting delicately on his cheeks as they did when he slept. And the gaping wound that had half-severed his head from his body, leaving the windpipe and large vessels of the neck exposed in butchery.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 11, "The Torremolinos Gambit". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) This 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.)


8) 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.)