OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest

In celebration of OUTLANDER's 20th anniversary, I've decided to have a contest here on my blog.

The Prize:  An autographed copy of the 20th Anniversary Edition, signed by Diana Gabaldon (and inscribed with the winner's name, if you like).

The Rules:

1) Write a short (no more than 500 words, please!) description of what OUTLANDER means to you.  Topics may include:
  • How did you find the series?
  • What's the most interesting, amusing, or unusual experience you've had as a result of reading the books?
  • What are some of your favorite scenes?
  • How many times have you read the books?
  • Have you tried to get other people to read the books?
  • What do you like best about the OUTLANDER fan community?
  • And anything else you'd like to say to Diana in honor of this 20th anniversary.
Feel free to add your own ideas, if you think of something I've left out.

2) Submit your contest entry:
  • You can post your entry here on Outlandish Observations, by leaving a comment on this blog post. (Please make sure to include your name and email address so I can contact you if you win!)


  • By email, to contact@outlandishobservations.com. Please use the subject line "OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Contest".  (And don't forget to sign your name.)
Please don't post contest entries on Facebook.  It's too difficult for me to keep track of them there.

Contest Ends:  June 30, 2011 at midnight Eastern Time.  The winner will be chosen at random on July 1, 2011.

Who is eligible?

Anyone can enter this contest, even if you live outside the US.  (One entry per person, please!)  I will arrange with the Poisoned Pen bookstore to ship the book directly to you if you win.  (The Poisoned Pen is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.  She says they ship all over the world.)

For Diana

If there is enough interest in this contest, I plan to collect all of the entries and send them to Diana as a 20th-anniversary gift.  (Please don't mention this on Compuserve.  I'd like to keep it a surprise if I can.  Thanks!)


If you have any questions about this contest, please feel free to post them here, or send me an email. This is the first time I've ever run a contest like this.  I hope you'll take the time to participate.  I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has to say.


Raina said...

What a great idea!!!! I think it'd be really great to give all the entries to Diana, so she can hear all of our personal stories about how the books have affected us. Look for my entry via email :)

Janell Cleveland said...

Lovely idea Karen. You're great to do this. And the idea of sending on the statements to Diana makes it very special. I'll be working on mine soon.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I'm game!

I had a most embarrasing Outlander moment happen to me! I know some of you will appreciate this little story that happened about five years ago.

Here in NJ where I live, it's required to have your car inspected. There are always long lines and lots of waiting at the inspection stations. Well, I had been listening to the unabridged recording of Dragonfly in Amber in my car and it's close to the end. In fact, it's the part just before Claire has to go back through the stones before the battle of Culloden. Their last night together. Needless to say, it gets pretty racy...

"He was slow, and careful; so was I. Each touch, each moment must be savored, remembered-treasured..."

This is where it left off when I had to get out of the car (still running) and let the guys at the inspection station drive my car in to inspect it. I thought I had turned off the tape...

I casually watch from a distance as the car is inspected (it passed!) and the guy comes up to me and asks in sort of a scandalized way.

"Is that a book!?"

I look down at the book I had been reading while waitng for the car to pass inspection (I always have a book handy) and think he's referring to the one I'm holding.

He clarifies the question.

"In the car."

I freeze, certain I'm blushing all over. He raises his eyebrows and gives me such a look.

I was mortified!

I emailed DG back then when it happened, but the story was too good to pass up for your contest. Please enter me, thanks Karen for holding it, I think it's a great idea!

ktleyed at comcast dot net

Jo said...

Just mailed you mine. Its a lovely idea. I'm happy for you to share mine if its not too awful....just felt a bit worried about posting all 500 words straight here :D

Jo Harp

Karen Henry said...

Raina and Jo - I got your emails, thanks so much!

Janell - glad you like the idea! Will look for your entry soon. :-)

Julie - I had a very similar (and similarly mortifying) experience last year, over the phrase "pustulent @rseholes" in DRAGONFLY. Look here for my post on Compuserve telling the story. (Note Diana's response in post #12 of that thread, which applies to your situation, too.)

The contest is off to a great start! Thank you all.


Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Karen, yes, your experience was very funny and DG is so right. To say the least I'm very careful now. Back then I had the CD's in the car, now I'm listening to Echo on my iPod, so I can take it out of the car with me, no chance of anyone hearing but me!

Amede said...

Karen, just sent mine via e-mail... fyi Amede

Karen Henry said...


Got it, thanks so much!


Jari Backman said...

Dear Karen,

That was such great idea. I'd wish we could get her reactions in July. :)

Karen Henry said...


I'm glad you like the idea! I hope you'll participate. And yes, definitely, I'll post Diana's reaction here when she sees all the comments.

You may have noticed that I posted about the contest on Compuserve today. It's VERY difficult to post something on the forum that I don't really want Diana to know about, but I think I managed OK.


Anonymous said...

Posted mine to you today. I am not a writer but do love the books and have been reading them since the first book. Thanks for this contest, great idea.

Karen Henry said...

JoAnn - I got your entry, thanks so much!


Anonymous said...


Here is my entry. Thanks for holding the contest!

Deborah Bishop bishopd@bedford.k12.pa.us

When I was 8 years old, my teenaged brother brought home from the library a book called Have Space Suit- Will Travel by Robert Heinlein. After reading a couple of pages he threw it down and said it was the most stupid book he had ever read. Well, nosey little sister had to find out why. So, I picked up Have Space Suit- Will Travel and fell in love with it. I didn’t understand the science, but loved the action and the idea of space travel. (Hey, it was the early ‘60s.)

It took me years to find another book of that type. At that time I didn’t realize science fiction was a genre. When I finally could buy books, my shelves had some of the strangest covers you ever did see on them. (Yes, I am getting to Outlander!)

What was definitely missing from my bookshelves were the book covers with bare-chested men with long flowing hair clutching scantily clad, buxom blondes. Romance stories did not hold my interest. Heck, I figured knowing my luck with men, I had a better chance of meeting an actual space alien. (Hold on, I’m getting there.)

Flash forward 30, (cough,) ish years and now I have finally made it to the age of the internet. I stumbled upon a group of fans from the TV show “The Highlander” which was a favorite show of mine at the time. (Adrian Paul, yum! Just because I have no luck with men, doesn’t mean I don’t look!) Anyway, the ladies kept talking about the Outlander series, but they kept calling it a romantic fiction type of book. I totally ignored it until more and more people kept talking about Outlander. Then, while at the library one time, I came across Outlander. I had room for one more in my bag, so I figured why not see what all the fuss was about.

Best snap decision of my life! I devoured it and went back to the library for the other 2 in the series. Then I waited with baited breath for each new addition to arrive. Since then I have found online Diana sites, and to my surprise, future book excerpts!!! I snap those up as well and enjoy speculating on how this will interact with that.

I couldn’t begin to say how often I have read the series. I often pick up one to read just a few pages to find myself, again, absorbed in those fascinating characters. Next thing I know, I have read 2 or 3 hundred pages. And it just isn’t the main characters that keep my attention; so many minor characters have their own interesting stories to tell. And, it is always interesting to see where they will pop up again in a future story line. I am sure Diana has been told many times how fabulous her books are. Well, add my voice to that chorus.

Karen Henry said...

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for sharing your story! I've entered your name in the contest. Good luck! :-)


April L. Bonner said...

My contest entry:
I stumbled upon the Oulander series when Voyager had just been released, I had not heard of it at all; but judging a book by it's cover (and the title) I burned a birthday gift card on the hardback and took it home. When I settled down to start reading my new purchase, I again read the cover flaps and realized that it was mid way in a series. I didn't want to start mid way--so back to the bookstore I went. I never regretted that trip; these books are by far, my most favorite. The characters are like part of my family--I feel like I know them. I don't even mind that it takes years for another book to come along because it ensures that the entire experience will be prolonged.
We recently added a new built-in bookcase in my living room which in addition to open bookshelves, has two lighted glass door sections. As we admired our new addition, my husband asked, "So I suppose the glass door section needs a light to illuminate the Gabaldon library?"
He knows me soooo well!

Karen Henry said...

Hi April,

Thanks for sharing your story! I can relate to this, because I bought OUTLANDER originally using a Barnes & Noble gift card my mom had given me for my birthday.

I've entered your name in the contest. Please send me an email address where I can contact you if you win. Thanks, and good luck!


Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

May I re-post this on my blog to spread the word?

Karen Henry said...

Hi Romantic:

Yes, of course! That would be great. Please send me the link to your blog post when it's published.

Thanks for helping to spread the word about this contest; I really appreciate it. :-)


Anonymous said...

Great contest Karen! I like to write things in the form of letters, so I'm writing to Outlander itself. Yeah, that's Noraml. :)

Dear Outlander,

Having always been a lover of all things Scottish (sheep, tartans, kilts,… rain), it's no wonder you owned me from the time I began you last September through April, when I finished "Echo." I won't gush about how much I love, and got upset with you, and threw one of your volumes, or two, and then picked them up and hugged them, again. We've all done that. I'll just share with you some of the more "Normal" things I have done in the name of you.

• My last name is one letter of from "Innes", I considered remedying this. Normal.

• Since I co-author a blog (about supernatural series'), we have numerous Outlander posts. One in which we cast all the popular vampire actors as “Outlander” characters. Normal.

• I considered changing my tribal flower tattoo into a Scottish thistle with "Tulach Ard" written in a banner around it. Normal.

• My "daughter" owns a Twilight pocket Edward. I kilted him because my head version of Roger Mac resembles Robert Pattinson (http://talksupe.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/kilted1.jpg) Normal.

• I have a bizarre Dougal fascination, because I picture him as Viggo Mortensen with sword skills.

• I purchased items for myself from M.A.C. Cosmetics’ "A Tartan Tale Holliday Collection" and addressed the gift card, "To: Sassenach". Normal

• Making and wearing a tee that says "Sassenach" to our highland games/ Scotsfest. Normal.

• Reading you while out to lunch, when server says, "Oh I forgot your..." I replied with, “Dinna Fash yourself." Normal

• "Mmmphm" has now replaced "dude" as my favorite exclamation. Normal.

• I own 3 kilts. Normal. Espically for a SoCal resident.

• Named my iPhone “MacDubh” and my iPad “Fergus.” Normal.

• Lightened my brown hair to red. I am now my own Jamie.

• Wondering why if Mitsubishi has an “Outlander”, and Toyota has a “Highlander”, why Jeep can’t have a “JAMMF”? I’d get it in red, just so I could say, “I’m going to wash my big red “JAMMF”.”

• I replay the “Angry Scot” iPhone app just to hear them pronounce, “dinna”, “canna” and “bairns”. Normal.

• I compared “Narnia: the Voyag(er) of the Dawn Treader” to “Voyager” because Ben Barnes is my Fergus. Normal.

• I watch SF Giants games because the pitcher, Tim Lincecum, is my version of young Ian. Normal.

• I also now have an “acute fondness” for mohawks and facial tattoos. Normal.

• And finally, I'm not ashamed to say what happened sometime during "A Breath of Snow and Ashes", I went Cougar4Ian.

So there you have it, Outlander.

Keeping it "Normal" in California,


(West Coast Stacey (SWD) from Talksupe)

Karen Henry said...

Stacey, that's hilarious! Thanks for sharing it in public. I got your email and I've entered your name in the contest. Good luck!


Lolkate said...

I was told to read a book called Crosstitch at the high school library where I was one of the teacher/librarians . "Ïts Scottish" said the boss lady, "so you read it and see if its suitable to be in the library. Its a donation." Said High School library being in Perth Western Australia adn it was 1993 or 4 Ithink. Anyway I read it and brought it back in and said "Ïts TERRIFIC! but ye can't put it on the shelves for the studënts, ye'll have to keep it in the workroom for the staff." So that started my other career of recommending this book to dozens of staff at that school and hundreds at other schools so altogether its probably in the thousands by now - to all friends here and ralatives and friends in Scotland.
I was so pleased when I found Lallybroch.com in September 2000 and soon Lally-quilters where I mostly hang out, being a quilter as well. My ordinary quilting friends here think I'm truly mad as I buy fabrics that are "Hosed" to use in our Lally-quilter projects. That is blocks and quilts to do with the Books. Being Hosed is some quaint Canadian expression that wsas put upon us at Lallybroch in the very early days.
My DD Alison in her early twenties at the time, on seeing the gifts I was getting at Christmas time from two lots of Secret Santas said "Its a cult you're in but they seem to be very nice people for a cult!"
Being in lallybroch.com and Lally-quilters changes you whole life. I now buy anything with dragonflies on it or just are dragonflies. tartan, Celtic things, Scottish things of all sorts and early American settler things that might have featured in the books. A large pig, horses, goats, kilts, herbs, chessboards and chessmen, Scottish castles, scenery, MIKs!
I picture Jamie in my car and he is always very impressed with the technology, my driving and my current choice of Scottish music "Runrig" which he likes for the Gaelic in it.

I can't imagine my life without the Books in it - and Lallybroch.

Kate aka Lolkate - Lady of Lallybroch Kate

Karen Henry said...

Thanks, Kate, this is great! I love your daughter's quote about the cult, and I think she's quite right. :-) (I wouldn't call us a "cult", exactly, but "addicted", "obsessed", definitely!)

I've entered your name in the contest. Good luck!

Please send me your email address so I can contact you if you win. If you don't want to post it in public, you can email me at Karen.L.Henry@gmail.com.


Carla ~ Lady Oliver said...

Hi Karen, I'll post my entry here since I'm having e-mail issues today.
The OUTLANDER Novels have made a big impact in my life. About eight years after I had read the fifth book, I rediscovered the series while browsing at a bookstore. In those eight years there had been many changes in my life; I had gotten married, started a family and changed my religion (just to name a few). When I picked up A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, I found old friends in the pages. It also reminded me of who I was when I had started reading the series. Although the changes I had made in my life had been for the better, I realized that I had lost some good things too; The OUTLANDER Novels helped me get those back.

I have also gained a whole new social life due to this series. After becoming addicted to the books, I found a couple online communities where I could find like-minded individuals (Ladies of Lallybroch and the Books and Writers Community). One of my most interesting experiences came about through the Books and Writers Community. I attended the NYC Comic con in October of 2010 in order to see Diana. I had never been to an event like it. Afterwards I was lucky enough to be able to attend a dinner with Diana and about 45 others. Although these events were fun and interesting, they were not the best part of joining these communities. The best part is the fun and supportive group of people that I am proud to call friends. They are more than just words on my computer screen; they are real people who care about one another. When my sister died recently, there was an outpouring of support for me and my family that meant the world to me.

Carla ~ Lady Oliver

Karen Henry said...

Thanks, Carla, this is great! I've entered your name in the contest. Good luck!

And if you or anyone else reading this is attending the NYC get-together tonight, PLEASE don't say anything about the contest to Diana. I'm still hoping this essay collection will come as a surprise.


Carla ~ Lady Oliver said...

No worries Karen. My lips are sealed about the essay contest. I am so exited to see Diana again tonight!


Jari Backman said...

Dear Karen,
Did a Diana! Could not put in 500 words.
Here is Part I:
About ten years ago, a fellow member in the Jean Auel forum recommended the Outlander series. She told that it was a fascinating story about a nurse, who goes back in time and finds a man there. And unlike Auel, she really is active in the web answering to readers' questions and ponderings. Although, it sounded romance and unreal science fiction, I decided to look at it, but soon I found out that books weren't translated in Finnish. I had mainly read in English various war and detective stories, so I figured to have a pass here.

A few years later I saw an advertisement announcing a new book translated in Finnish and the author's name sounded familiar. So I bought the book.

In the beginning it turned out to be just like I had imagined, but the vision I got from the whole environment kept me going. And when Claire started searching around Beaton's room with medical specimen, I was starting to like the book. After reading the goose bump inflicting scenes at Wentworth, I was amazed that a woman can relate so utterly to the male POV. After closing the covers, I was really happy with the book.

Then a year later the second book came along. After reading the first pages, as everybody else, I thought that I must have missed a book in between. But slowly I realised that this just was the way with Diana, surprise when you don't expect one. And what did I do after the second one at St. Kilda's cemetery? I knew I was hooked and went to the local bookstore to look if they have the following books in English. I knew that already three more books were there, and having the Finnish translations coming at the pace of one a year at the best, I wasn't going to wait years to get to know what is happening.

The vacation that year was all fireworks! I got to read the three books and I still remember singing together with Roger during TFC.

After reading all the books published, I felt myself ready to check also CompuServ, and there I have been regurlarly for more than five years. What a great feeling it was to have an answer from Diana and to find her generosity in excerpts from the upcoming books. Also, there has been so many unforgettable discussions relating to the events and persons within the series.

After getting the Outlandish Companion, we used to have evening sessions with my wife in the bath room. Doing what? I was reading the synopsis from the first four books, while she was soaking in the bath tub. Of course the live translation didn't go without constant mistakes, but the amount goose bumps, tears and laughter between us surely transferred the Story.

Jari Backman said...

part II
But despite my many efforts, she still didn't start reading the series. This was changed one day as she promised to read the Outlander, if I consented to read the latest Maeve Binchy novel. And I felt like taking a candy from a baby. She has now read the whole series three times, and she's read them you know where, and the books really look consumed.

Another 'world changing' thing for me has been the audio books. Some years ago we got the iPod to get our music collections easier to the cottage. Then soon I discovered that the books were also available as read by somebody. I still didn't have the first two books in English, so I ordered the audio books. It wasn't easy at all in the beginning as you got many, many new words quickly read without any hint of the written form, and compared with reading it wasn't easy to take slower or to get back. I used to follow the Amazon Book Search, where you could read part of the book, at the same time as I was listening. But then gradually it got easier.

Soon I found another problem that turned out to be a blessing.
While listening to a part of the text that I already was familiar with, I kept dozing off. At that same time I had started to have stress difficulties. I too often woke up during the night, and was awake several hours pondering the work related problems. Although it sometimes also gave results, it really was winding me down. But then I started to listen the audio books all night long. If I woke up in the middle of the night, instead of thinking of anything, I just concentrated on the familiar voice of Davina Porter and on the story. And gradually went back to sleep. It surely may sound weird, but it does help me. Fortunately I also have found ear plugs that are comfortable and will stay in my ears.

And now I am looking for the next stories and novels coming out in the fall/winter, which I know I am receiving on the publication date to my Kindle.

The distance between the author and reader is getting narrower.

If the 500 is limit, Part I is the one.

Karen Henry said...


Parts 1 and 2 together are too long to fit. (I'm trying to be fair to the other people who entered.) I'll email you with a suggestion for cutting it down a little.

Great story, though! I love the bit about you and your wife. :-)


Jari Backman said...

Dear Karen,

I agree that it is just fair for everybody. Can only see the email after Midnigth your time, so take Part I.

Although mobile phones are good to do some correspondence, they are still too awful for bigger tasks. Had i had the word processor word calculator, it would have been easier to stop in time. And the blogger software just said that there were more than 4096 characters, but didn't say how much I had. Luckily I am on vacation :).

Choosing the text afterwards on a small display surrounded with mosquitous turned out to be too much and I decided to send it in two parts.

Karen Henry said...


What I suggested in my email is this: What if I use all of part 1, plus the first paragraph of Part 2? I would love to include the end of your wife's story. It made me laugh. :-)

That's 535 words, which is certainly close enough for my purposes. Is that OK with you?


Jari Backman said...

Dear Karen,

A good suggestion and OK by me.

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