2021 Year in Review

2021 started out as a pretty quiet year in OUTLANDER fandom, but it ended with a huge celebration, as GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE was published at long last! Here are some of the highlights of the past year.

January 18 - The year begins much as 2020 left off, with the world's attention focused on the pandemic. As the death toll from COVID-19 passes 400,000 in the US, details emerge about a COVID testing center at the OUTLANDER studios in Cumbernauld, Scotland, constructed at a cost of more than £150,000 ($203,833), designed to keep the cast and crew as safe as possible during the filming of Season 6.

February 9 - Great news for fans of the OUTLANDER TV series: Filming has begun on Season 6, at long last!

March 14 - STARZ announces that there WILL be a Season 7!! Here's the announcement video.

March 19 - We have our first casting announcements for OUTLANDER Season 6! Meet the Christies, who will play an important role in the story this season.

Malva Christie, played by Jessica Reynolds.

Tom Christie, played by Mark Lewis Jones.

Allan Christie, played by Alexander Vlahos.

March 27 - Diana Gabaldon announces that she has FINISHED writing Book 9, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE!!!

Of course, as she has said many times, "'Finished' is a relative term to a writer." There are many steps in the production process that need to be completed before the book is actually published. Look here for Diana's detailed explanation of how the process works.

April 15 - We have a publication date for BEES at long last: November 23, 2021!!  And we get our first look at the cover art. I think it's gorgeous!

By a total coincidence, November 23 happens to be my birthday, and I really can't imagine a better present this year!

April 18 - I launch my Book 9 FAQ page on Outlandish Observations, a place where fans can find answers to questions about GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE. I hope it's been helpful to you.

May 1 - OUTLANDER fans worldwide come together online to wish a very happy 300th birthday (believe it or not!!) to our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser! He was born on May 1, 1721.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word for a 300th anniversary is tercentenary. I thought our tercentenary celebration on Twitter, using the hashtag #Happy300JAMMF, was a lot of fun.

May 16 - The 250th anniversary of the the Battle of Alamance. It's amazing to think of the huge numbers of people (myself included!) who learned about the Battle of Alamance, and the Regulator movement in colonial North Carolina, from Diana Gabaldon's books and/or the OUTLANDER TV series.


June 1 - OUTLANDER fans worldwide celebrate #WorldOutlanderDay, the anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication in 1991.  For this 30th anniversary, I posted a special collection of 30 of my favorite "quick quotes", from all of Diana Gabaldon's books and stories. 

Unfortunately, owing to the other Big News on that day (see below), my post essentially sank like a stone to the bottom of the ocean, with very little reaction. I was really disappointed by that, as I put a lot of time and effort into picking those quotes. So here it is again, in case you missed it. I hope you enjoy it!

June 1 (continued) - Lots of Big Announcements, in celebration of #WorldOutlanderDay!

First, the TV series news:

- Season 6 filming has wrapped!

- Season 6 will be a shorter season than we were expecting, only 8 episodes.

- Season 7 will be 16 episodes long (the longest since Season 1!) and will begin filming in 2022.

- The premiere episode of Season 6 will be 90 minutes long.

And finally, Diana Gabaldon adds to the #WorldOutlanderDay festivities by announcing the launch of the Official Outlander Book Group on Facebook, run by her US publisher, Penguin Random House.

This is a Facebook group for book fans, where readers can come together and participate in the Official Outlander Read Along, kicking off on 6/14. This will be a community where you can re-read the series before the new book comes out with other readers, and while my publisher is launching the group, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions about the books as you read through. There will also be ongoing giveaways, exclusive content shared with the group, and more.

July 15 - On a personal note that has nothing to do with OUTLANDER: I was laid off from my job as a data analyst for a small non-profit company, a position I'd held for more than ten years. It was definitely a shock, but I decided to take the opportunity I'd suddenly been handed, to treat it as early retirement, three or four years earlier than I had planned.

I have no regrets about that decision at all. Five months later, I'm happier than I've been in a long time, and I've had no trouble finding things to occupy my time. After spending the first 16 months of the pandemic working from home, by myself all day every day, with little contact with other people, I love having the freedom and flexibility to go out in the middle of the day whenever I want to. I found a volunteer position where I can make use of my technical skills, a few hours a week, supporting a cause I believe in. And I try to do something every single day that makes me happy. So far so good!

August 18 - Congratulations to Caitriona Balfe and her husband Tony on the birth of their son!

August 28 - Outlandish Observations turns 13 years old! Thank you all for your support!

September 25 - Diana Gabaldon announces on her Facebook page

Oh--and I started work on Book Ten yesterday....

As far as we know right now, Book 10 is expected to be the last in the main OUTLANDER series. But that's not written in stone! Diana doesn't plan the books out in advance, and she likely won't know for sure whether it is indeed the last one until she gets pretty far into the writing.

October 9 - Lots of OUTLANDER Season 6 buzz at NY Comic Con, including a new Season 6 teaser video. I think it looks great!


The image above is the official Season 6 key art, which will be used in all the promotional materials leading up to the premiere of Season 6.

October 27 - Congratulations to Caitriona Balfe on winning a Saturn Award for "Best Actress on Television" for her work on OUTLANDER! I think she really deserved it, especially for her performance in the final episode of Season 5 (Episode 512, "Never My Love"), which was some of her best work on the show, in my opinion. See my detailed recap of that episode here.

November 1 - December 5 - I really enjoyed this series of free OUTLANDER-related virtual presentations (via Zoom), sponsored by the Wake County, NC, Public Libraries. Wake County is home to Raleigh, NC, where I live, and I'm very proud that my local library put on such an interesting and informative series, on a wide range of topics relevant to OUTLANDER fans. Well done and thank you, WCPL!

November 2 - The 25th Anniversary hardcover edition of DRUMS OF AUTUMN is now available!  This book is similar to the Anniversary Editions of OUTLANDER, DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, and VOYAGER -- deluxe hardcover editions, complete with "faux-leather" binding and a ribbon bookmark -- and I think DRUMS will be a terrific addition to the matched set!

Mid-November - Diana Gabaldon begins signing at least 20,000 pre-orders of BEES for the Poisoned Pen. It's a HUGE undertaking that will take weeks to finish.

November 22 - Diana Gabaldon holds a virtual book-launch event for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE via Zoom. I thought it was very well done, a fun way for fans all over the world to celebrate the publication of BEES.

Diana announced during the live event celebrating the release of BEES that Season 6 will premiere on Sunday, March 6, 2022!  That's 34 years to the day since Diana started writing the "practice novel" that eventually became OUTLANDER.

November 23 - BEES is here at last! And what an incredible birthday present for me!


to Diana Gabaldon on the publication of GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, the long-awaited ninth book in the OUTLANDER series!

BEES is an immensely entertaining, suspenseful, funny, emotionally intense, occasionally terrifying book, and I enjoyed it TREMENDOUSLY!!

I was thrilled to see my name mentioned in the Acknowledgments at the end of the book.

"Lo, these many years" made me laugh. I've been "herding the bumblebees" on TheLitForum.com (Diana Gabaldon's longtime online hangout) for more than 13 years now. As for "Eyeball-Numbing Nitpickery", I'm delighted that I was able to help!

Diana was generous enough to send me a copy of the book with a personalized inscription.

It reads:

For Karen, a good friend and the HUGEST help ever!!!
Thank you so much for all your comments!
Love, Diana

What a lovely, heartfelt message! Thank you, Diana!! I will treasure this.

It really was the best birthday I've had in a long time. 

November 23 - present - The "Great Thread Explosion of 2021" (aka the post-book-release discussion of BEES) gets underway on TheLitForum.com. It's always a huge challenge for me to handle the flood of posts whenever Diana has a new book out, but it's going well so far. Feel free to come and join in the discussions! We'd love to hear what you thought of the book. You have to sign up to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

November 26 - STARZ releases the opening credit sequence for Season 6! I think it looks great, and I like the arrangement of the song much better than what they did for Season 5.

December 2 - Audible.com releases this 8-minute video:  Every Major OUTLANDER Location, Mapped. This is a sort of whirlwind tour of as many of the major locations as possible (and quite a few of the minor ones as well) that were featured in the first 8 OUTLANDER books.

I was the official researcher and fact-checker on this project, providing the list of locations used in the video along with most of the descriptions. I was really pleased to be asked to help. Hope you enjoy it! Look here for more details.

December 12 - GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE debuts on the NY Times Bestseller list for the week of December 12, 2021, at #1 in both the Hardcover Fiction and Combined Print & E-Book Fiction categories! Congratulations, Diana!

December 19 - Diana Gabaldon sent me some gifties! A bottle of Sam Heughan's Sassenach whisky, and an assortment of dates from the Sphinx Date Co. in Arizona, near where she lives. Huge thanks to Diana for these gifts!!  It means a lot to me to know how much she appreciates my efforts.

As we prepare to close out 2021, let me just say this. In a year when the pandemic continued to spread around the world, killing hundreds of thousands of people and disrupting all of our lives, it's been a relief, in some ways, to escape into the world of OUTLANDER for a while. Let's hope for better things in 2022!


Yukon said...

Lovely recap and some great personal touches. Excited for you for your recognition and all you have done to support this forum and DG in the process. Agreed, the real world has been fraught and the escape, conversations, thinking, speculations, observations and debates have been a wonderful respite.

Here's to endurance as we await book 10!

Sally Hinkebein said...

What an enormous amount of work you accomplish in all of your Outlandish activities! Thanks so much! I really appreciate the fruits of your labor as it were!

Laura C said...

Great recap! How awesome are your gifts from Diana! Outlander has definitely helped me get thru the last few years. I listen to the books on Audible daily.

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