Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Birthday, Claire!



Happy 96th birthday to Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser!



If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets today (October 20th) with #HappyBDayClaire, especially between the hours of 8-10 pm in your local time zone.  We are going to try to send this hashtag around the world, as we did with #WorldOutlanderDay a few months ago.

In celebration of Claire's birthday, here are some of my favorite "Claire moments" from the OUTLANDER books.  It wasn't easy to pick just one per book, but I tried to choose quotes that highlight the many different aspects of Claire's personality.  I hope you enjoy them!


OUTLANDER
Twenty-seven years of propriety were no match for several hundred thousand years of instinct. While my mind might object to being taken on a bare rock next to several sleeping soldiers, my body plainly considered itself the spoils of war and was eager to complete the formalities of surrender.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 18, "Raiders in the Rocks". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
"Cut me,” I said urgently. “Deep enough to leave a scar. I want to take away your touch with me, to have something of you that will stay with me always. I don’t care if it hurts; nothing could hurt more than leaving you. At least when I touch it, wherever I am, I can feel your touch on me."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


VOYAGER
I ached desperately; my head throbbed, my back was stiff and my feet swollen, but none of these was of any significance, compared to the deeper ache that knotted my heart.

Any doctor hates to lose a patient. Death is the enemy, and to lose someone in your care to the clutch of the dark angel is to be vanquished yourself, to feel the rage of betrayal and impotence, beyond the common, human grief of loss and the horror of death’s finality. I had lost twenty-three men between dawn and sunset of this day. Elias was only the first.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 48, "Moment of Grace". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


DRUMS OF AUTUMN
"What, exactly, are ye doing, Sassenach? And what in the name of God are ye wearing?” Jamie, arms crossed, was leaning against the door, watching me with both brows raised.

"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."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


THE FIERY CROSS
As for sweeping the floor, polishing the windows, dusting, and general drudgery of that sort...well, if women’s work was never done, why trouble about how much of it wasn’t being accomplished at any given moment?

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 96, "Aurum". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES
"I have lived through a fucking world war,” I said, my voice low and venomous. “I have lost a child. I have lost two husbands. I have starved with an army, been beaten and wounded, been patronized, betrayed, imprisoned, and attacked. And I have fucking survived!” My voice was rising, but I was helpless to stop it. “And now should I be shattered because some wretched, pathetic excuses for men stuck their nasty little appendages between my legs and wiggled them?!” I stood up, seized the edge of the washstand and heaved it over, sending everything flying with a crash--basin, ewer, and lighted candlestick, which promptly went out.

“Well, I won’t,” I said quite calmly.

(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
I had picked up Jamie’s sword before. It was a cavalry sword, larger and heavier than the usual, but I didn’t notice now.

I snatched it up and swung it in a two-handed arc that ripped the air and left the metal ringing in my hands.

Mother and son jumped back, identical looks of ludicrous surprise on their round, grimy faces.

“Get away!” I said.

Her mouth opened, but she didn’t say anything.

"I’m sorry for your man,” I said. “But my man lies here. Get away, I said!” I raised the sword, and the woman stepped back hastily, dragging the boy by the arm.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 62, "One Just Man". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD
A trained surgeon is also a potential killer, and an important bit of the training lies in accepting the fact. Your intent is entirely benign--or at least you hope so--but you are laying violent hands on someone, and you must be ruthless in order to do it effectively. And sometimes the person under your hands will die, and knowing that...you do it anyway.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 117, "Into the Briar Patch". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Birthday, Claire! Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an amazing character, and to Caitriona Balfe for bringing her to life on TV!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Help celebrate Claire's birthday on Monday!

As many of you know, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser's birthday is coming up on Monday, October 20.  She will be 96 years old, believe it or not!



I thought it would be fun to have a worldwide celebration of Claire's birthday. <g>  We've tried to do this in the past, with limited success, but now that OUTLANDER is getting so much attention, I hope we'll get a lot more fans to participate!

If you're on Facebook, Twitter, or other social-media sites, please take the opportunity to wish Claire a happy birthday on Monday.

If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets on Monday with #HappyBDayClaire, especially between the hours of 8-10 pm in your local time zone.  We are going to try to send this hashtag around the world, as we did with #WorldOutlanderDay a few months ago.

We're also asking those of you with OUTLANDER-related blogs or fan-sites to please post something Claire-related (favorite quotes, photos of Caitriona as Claire, memes, etc.) on October 20th, in honor of her birthday.  If you're looking for ideas, here are a few suggestions:
  • What do you like best about Claire as a character?
  • What are some of your favorite Claire moments from the OUTLANDER books?
  • What do you think of Caitriona Balfe's portrayal of her in the TV series?
Look for my special "Happy Birthday, Claire!" post on Monday.  And please spread the word to any other OUTLANDER fans you may know. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Unusual words in Diana Gabaldon's books



I have always been fascinated by Diana Gabaldon's use of obscure or unusual words in her writing.  Here are a few of my favorites, in alphabetical order:

absquatulation (A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES)
amplexus (THE SCOTTISH PRISONER)
borborygmi (THE FIERY CROSS)
castrametation (WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD)
coccygodynia (DRUMS OF AUTUMN)
extravasated (LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER)
frenulum (WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD)
fridstool (THE SCOTTISH PRISONER)
horripilation ("A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows")
oenomancy (AN ECHO IN THE BONE)
poltroon (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER)
stultiloquy (AN ECHO IN THE BONE)

What about the rest of you?  Is there a particular word or phrase that you encountered for the first time in one of Diana Gabaldon's books or stories?

Diana makes no secret of the fact that she loves unusual words. Look here for a discussion on Compuserve from 2008 in which she talks about it in some detail.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Fun Facts - 10/10/2014



Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books. This is a collection of some of my favorite items from Diana's latest novel, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  I don't think any of these items are very spoilerish, especially since the book has been out four months already, but read at your own risk!



1) This is a Scots Dumpy chicken, like the ones Claire saw in Savannah. (Photo credit: oshea76, on Flickr.)
“What remarkable chickens those are,” I said, stifling a small belch. The beer, of Mrs. Simpson’s own production, was tasty but strong. The chickens in question were more than remarkable: they appeared to have no legs but to be trundling round the yard on their bottom sides, pecking at their corn with cheerful imperturbability.

“Oh, aye,” said Mrs. Simpson, nodding with pride. “My mother brought those--well, their great-great-grandmothers--with her from Scotland, thirty years a-gone. ‘Creepies,’ she always called them--but they’ve got a true name. Scots Dumpy, it is, or so a gentleman from Glasgow told me.”

“How very appropriate,” I said, taking another sip of beer and peering at the chickens. They did after all have legs; just very short ones.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 126, "The Oglethorpe Plan". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
According to this site,
The short legs of the Scots Dumpy come from a dwarfism gene that will stunt growth of legs and wings. When doubled, the gene is lethal in 25% of chicks. This is a common problem with short legged chicken breeds as chicks may be unable to maneuver inside the egg to hatch.
Scots Dumpy chickens were saved from extinction by a group of dedicated breeders in the 1970's.  The breed is still considered endangered. For more information about this breed of chickens, visit the Scots Dumpy Club website.



2) Many of you will recognize the famous "Spirit of '76" painting, by 19th-century artist Archibald Willard (1836-1918).  Click on the picture for a bigger view.

Willard painted the original version for the U.S. Centennial in 1876, but he also did a number of similar paintings, like this one.  The original painting is on display in a museum in Marblehead, MA.  Claire was obviously very familiar with it:
“Right, then. Sit up--carefully! Yes, that’s it. Close your eye and hold this to catch the drips.” And, handing him a clean handkerchief, I unrolled a length of gauze bandage, thumbed a pad of lint carefully into the eye socket, and rolled the bandage round his head a few times, tucking in the ends. He strongly resembled a figure in an old painting titled The Spirit of ’76, but I didn’t mention it.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 63, "An Alternate Use for a Penis Syringe". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The idea of Lord John, the staunch Loyalist and British army officer, as one of the figures in this iconic American painting makes me giggle.

Look here for more information about "The Spirit of '76".



3) I had never heard of a frenulum before I read MOHB.  The illustration above, from WebMD, shows where the frenulum is located. As Claire explains:
The frenulum is a very thin band of elastic tissue that tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth, and in most people it is exactly as long as it needs to be to allow the tongue to make all the complex motions required for speaking and eating, without letting it stray between the moving teeth, where it could be badly damaged. In some, like Fanny, the frenulum was too long and, by fastening most of the length of the tongue to the floor of her mouth, prevented easy manipulations of that organ. She often had bad breath because, while she cleaned her teeth nightly, she couldn’t use her tongue to dislodge bits of food that stuck between cheek and gum or in the hollows of the lower jaw below the tongue.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 138, "Fanny's Frenulum". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
For more information about ankyloglossia, the medical term for tongue-tie, look here and here.  I particularly like the list of exercises on this page. It's easy to imagine Claire, and even Germain, encouraging Fanny to try some of them after her surgery.



4) This is Old Tennent Church near Monmouth Battlefield, in present-day Manalapan, NJ. (Photo from Wikipedia.)  Click on the photo for a bigger view.  As we saw in MOHB, this Presbyterian church was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth, on June 28, 1778.



This photo from findagrave.com shows the gravestone of Gilbert Tennent (1742-1770), which Claire took note of on the day of the battle:
I gave my burnt artilleryman water, then helped him to his feet. As he stood up, I saw behind his legs the epitaph carved into Gilbert Tennent’s headstone:

O READER HAD YOU HEARD HIS LAST TESTIMONY YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN CONVINCED OF THE EXTREME MADNESS OF DELAYING REPENTANCE.

“I suppose there are worse places to be doing this,” I remarked to the artilleryman, but, unable to hear me, he simply raised my hand and kissed it before swaying off to sit down on the grass, the wet towel pressed to his face.

(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.)
Here's a brief video about the Old Tennent Church, and the ghost of a soldier who was killed there during the battle in 1778.  You can read more about this story here.

For more about the Old Tennent Church, look here.



5) This photo, from Wikipedia, shows a pokeweed plant (scientific name, Phytolacca americana).  I think it looks very much like the one Claire saw in her old garden on Fraser's Ridge.
A monstrous pokeweed rose from the center of the patch, nearly ten feet high, its thick red stem supporting a wealth of long green leaves and hundreds of purplish-red flower stalks. The nearby trees had grown immensely, shading the plot, and in the diffuse green light the long, nubbly stalks looked like nudibranchs, those colorful sea slugs, gently swaying in currents of air rather than water. I touched it respectfully in passing; it had an odd medicinal smell, well deserved. There were a number of useful things one could do with pokeweed, but eating it wasn’t one of them. Which was to say, people did eat the leaves on occasion, but the chances of accidental poisoning made it not worth the trouble of preparation unless there was absolutely nothing else to eat.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 143, "Visit to a Haunted Garden". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Here's another example. (Photo credit: EarthMotherMosaics, on Flickr.)

According to the American Cancer Society,
All parts of the pokeweed are poisonous, particularly the roots....Thoroughly cooking the plant reduces its toxicity. The effects of eating the uncooked or improperly prepared plant can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches, blurred vision, confusion, dermatitis, dizziness, and weakness. Convulsions, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, heart block (a blockage of the electrical impulses that stimulate the heart to contract), and death may occur.
Boiling the leaves reduces their toxicity.  To make poke salad, a traditional food in some parts of the South, you boil the young leaves three times or more, discarding the water each time.

For more information about pokeweed, look here.

I hope you enjoyed this week's collection! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Diana Gabaldon's comments on Episode 108

Diana Gabaldon made some very interesting comments on her blog yesterday about OUTLANDER Episode 108, "Both Sides Now".  This is a fairly lengthy post, but definitely worth reading!

If you haven't yet seen Episode 108, there are SPOILERS in Diana's post. Read at your own risk!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"Virgins" will be out in paperback on October 28th!



Diana Gabaldon's novella, "Virgins", will be available in paperback on October 28, 2014, as part of the DANGEROUS WOMEN 2 anthology, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

This is the same story that was published in hardcover last December as part of the original DANGEROUS WOMEN anthology. It's being released now in paperback for the first time.

For those of you who don't know, "Virgins" tells the story of Jamie Fraser and his friend Ian Murray as very young mercenaries in France in 1740, before Jamie met Claire.  It's a very entertaining story, and definitely worth reading!

See my FAQ page here for more information about "Virgins".

Friday, October 3, 2014

Diana Gabaldon signs book deal for 9th OUTLANDER book!



Exciting news in today's (October 3) New York Times: Diana Gabaldon has signed a book deal for Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series!
Ms. Gabaldon recently signed a multimillion-dollar book deal for the ninth novel in the series, with Ballantine Bantam Dell. Ms. Gabaldon’s literary agent, Russell Galen, said he waited more than a year to negotiate her new contract so that he could leverage the increased interest from the TV show. Mr. Galen wouldn’t disclose the exact amount of the deal, but said that the novel sold for more than $6 million -- more than twice the amount Ms. Gabaldon received for Book 8, in 2010.
Congratulations, Diana!!

Please keep in mind that Diana has just barely started working on Book 9, and it takes her at least three or four years to write one of the Big Books.  It will most likely be 2018 or 2019 before we see Book 9 in print.  In the meantime, there's always time for another re-read of the series. <g>

(I created the image above about two years ago on keepcalmandcarryon.com.  If you're on Pinterest, you can see the pin here.)