Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Diana Gabaldon posted this on Twitter a few minutes ago.


Please note, this means Diana is done with the writing, but there are still a LOT of steps remaining in the production process, between now and the publication date in June. Copy-editing, reading galley proofs, etc., etc. Still, this is a HUGE accomplishment for Diana, to say the least -- and very exciting for all of us who are eagerly waiting for the book!

For more information about WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, see my FAQ page here.

Culloden anniversary

Today is the 268th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.

I like this video very much. (The song is "The Ghosts of Culloden", performed by Isla Grant.)

Diana Gabaldon noted in her blog post about her 2008 visit to Culloden that she saw the place where Jamie woke after the battle, thinking he was dead.  When I asked her on Compuserve if she recalled where that was, exactly, she said,
Jamie made it almost to the second government line.  He woke in a little swale or dip (you recall he was lying in water), about forty feet off the path that leads from the Visitors Centre--maybe a couple of hundred yards beyond the VC itself.
The photo below shows the area where the government lines were, marked with a red flag.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Culloden in 2012.  It's an amazing place, and the Visitors Centre is very well done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"The Space Between" e-book is now available!

Diana Gabaldon's novella, "The Space Between" (the story of Young Ian's brother Michael, Marsali's sister Joan, and the Comte St. Germain) is now available as a standalone e-book in the US and Canada!  It's only $1.99, and it's available for Kindle, Nook, and probably other e-readers as well.

Please note, if you live outside the US and Canada, this standalone e-book may not be available, due to the complexities of international publishing rights.  If you're wondering whether it's available where you live, the best thing to do is check the usual online sites where you purchase e-books.

This is the same story that was previously published in THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION and A TRAIL OF FIRE.  For more detailed information, see "The Space Between" FAQ page.

"The Space Between" is a very enjoyable story, with lots of potential for speculation, and I'm glad that more people will have access to it now!

If you have comments or questions about the story, or if you want to tell Diana Gabaldon what you thought about it, there's a thread on Compuserve here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Final Frenzy update!

Diana Gabaldon is getting very close to the end of the Final Frenzy of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD!

This is the stage where she's spending pretty much ALL her waking hours writing.  She says she expects to be done with Section 7 (the last section of the book) later this week!!  As for what happens next, she described it on Compuserve this way:
Actually, the writing will be succeeded by two weeks of Further Frenzy, but composed of the last bits of answering copy-edits (of the stuff I'm writing right now) and reading the first-pass galleys (which have to be completely done and returned on the 26th).  After which, I'm on call for jury duty for a week. <wry g>  Should be relaxing...

Then several things happen in May--a luncheon on the 6th, a Conversation with George RR [Martin] on the 10th (in Albuquerque), a book festival in Shuswap <g>, followed by a week of promotional Stuff (that I can't talk about, but no, it's not the start date for the series) for Sony.  _THEN_ we get to go to Disneyland. <g>  Can't wait!

But yes, having the writing finished will be a Big, BIG Thing.
Sending her lots of positive writing vibes and plenty of virtual Diet Coke to get her through these last few days of the Final Frenzy!

(And yes, she will certainly announce it publicly when the book is DONE. <g>  Stay tuned!)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Two new videos, and some exciting news!

Check out this new book trailer video about WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD!  I think it's very cool.

Here is Lesson #7 in the "How to Speak OUTLANDER" video series from STARZ. This week's phrase is the Fraser clan motto, "Je suis prest".

Finally, on a personal note: I'm delighted to announce that my mom and I got tickets yesterday to Diana Gabaldon's appearance in Philadelphia on June 17!  We were very lucky; the auditorium seating sold out about ten minutes after tickets went on sale at 10 am.  (They have an overflow seating area where they will be doing a video simulcast of the event, and tickets for that may still be available. Look here for more information.)

This will be my fourth time seeing Diana in person. I can't wait! Hope to see some of you there. <g>  For more information about Diana's book-tour schedule, look here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #6

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.  This is a collection of some of the most popular items from the contest I held recently.


1) Looking at the spines covering this European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), it certainly seems as though mating would be uncomfortable, to say the least!
"If you’ll not let me be spiritual about it, you’ll have to put up wi’ my baser nature. I’m going to be a beast.” He bit my neck. “Do ye want me to be a horse, a bear, or a dog?”

“A hedgehog.”

“A hedgehog? And just how does a hedgehog make love?” he demanded.

No, I thought. I won’t. I will not. But I did. “Very carefully,” I replied, giggling helplessly. So now we know just how old that one is, I thought.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a brief BBC video about the mating habits of hedgehogs, narrated by David Attenborough.

For more about hedgehogs, look here.

2) The objects shown above are gaberlunzie badges, like the ones carried by Jamie's friend Hugh Munro. The one on the left is from Huntly Parish, Scotland, and the one on the right comes from Old Aberdeen. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)
At one point, Jamie jabbed a thumb at the rectangular bits of lead that adorned Munro's strap.

"Gone official, have ye?" he asked. "Or is that just for when the game is scarce?" Munro bobbed his head and nodded like a jack-in-the-box.

"What are they?" I asked curiously.


"Oh, to be sure," I said. "Pardon my asking."

"A gaberlunzie is a license to beg, Sassenach," Jamie explained. "It's good within the borders of the parish, and only on the one day a week when begging's allowed. Each parish has its own, so the beggars from one parish canna take overmuch advantage of the charity of the next."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Here's a video showing how to put on a great kilt, or belted plaid.  And here are step-by-step instructions, with pictures.  (Please note, I can't vouch for the accuracy or the authenticity of either of the methods shown!)

Even Roger seemed to have some difficulty with this:
"All right," he said with resignation. "Laugh if ye must." Getting into a belted plaid wasn't the most dignified thing a man could do, given that the most efficient method was to lie down on the pleated fabric and roll like a sausage on a girdle. Jamie could do it standing up, but then, the man had had practice.

His struggles--rather deliberately exaggerated--were rewarded by Brianna's giggling, which in turn seemed to have a calming effect on the baby. By the time Roger made the final adjustments to his pleats and drapes, mother and child were both flushed, but happy.

Roger made a leg to them, flourishing, and Bree patted her own leg in one-handed applause.

"Terrific," she said, her eyes traveling appreciatively over him. "See Daddy? Pretty Daddy!" She turned Jemmy, who stared openmouthed at the vision of male glory before him and blossomed into a wide, slow smile, a trickle of drool hanging from the pouting curve of his lip.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23, "The Bard". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Diana Gabaldon has said that the actors in the OUTLANDER TV series will be wearing this type of belted plaid. And if you look closely at Pocket Jamie, you can see that very clearly.

4) The photo above, from Wikipedia, shows what a bodhran looks like. And here is what a bodhran sounds like, when played by an expert.

Thanks very much to my sister Alice, who found this video several years ago. The performer's name is John Joe Kelly, and I think he's terrific!
I sat up, listening hard.  It was a drum with a sound like a beating heart, slow and rhythmic, then trip-hammer fast, like the frantic surge of a hunted beast.

I could have told them that Indians never used drums as weapons; Celts did.  It was the sound of a bodhran.

What next? I thought, a trifle hysterically, bagpipes?

It was Roger, certainly; only he could make a drum talk like that.  It was Roger, and Jamie was nearby.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) Here's an astrolabe from the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. Click on the photo to see a bigger view.
It was a flat golden disk, about four inches across. Goggling in astonishment, I could see that the rim was slightly raised, like that of a plate, and printed with tiny symbols of some kind. Set into the central part of the disk was an odd pierced-work arrangement, made of some silvery metal. This consisted of a small open dial, rather like a clock-face, but with three arms connecting its outer rim to the center of the bigger, golden disk.

The small silver circle was also adorned with printed arcana, almost too fine to see, and attached to a lyre-shape which itself rested in the belly of a long, flat silver eel, whose back curved snugly round the inner rim of the golden disk. Surmounting the whole was a gold bar, tapered at the ends like a very thick compass needle, and affixed with a pin that passed through the center of the disk and allowed the bar to revolve. Engraved in flowing script down the center of the bar was the name "James Fraser."

"Why, whatever in the name of Bride will that be?" Mrs. Bug, naturally, recovered first from her surprise.

"It's a planispheric astrolabe," Jamie answered, recovered from his surprise, and sounding almost matter-of-fact.

"Oh, of course," I murmured. "Naturally!"

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 77, "A Package From London". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's some more information about astrolabes, including how to tell time using an astrolabe and instructions on how to make your own astrolabe.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts, and please come back next week for more.

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #1
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #2
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #3
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #4
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #5

Thursday, April 10, 2014

OUTLANDER Casting: Steven Cree as Ian Murray!

Scottish actor Steven Cree has been cast as Jamie Fraser's best friend, Ian Murray, in the OUTLANDER TV series!

Here's the official press release from STARZ.

The casting people have done an excellent job, as usual.  I think Steven Cree will do just fine as Ian.  He has a gentle voice, and a good-humored face.  And Sam Heughan commented on Twitter that he's known Steven for years.  I think it's good that Sam and Steven already know each other; that's bound to help them make Jamie and Ian's friendship even more real and convincing on-screen.
In spite of the limp, he moved youthfully. In fact, as he drew near to the arbor,  I could see that he was only in his twenties. He was tall, nearly as tall as Jamie, but much narrower through the shoulder, thin, in fact, nearly to the point of skinniness.

He paused at the entrance to the arbor, leaning heavily on the lattice, and looked in at me with interest. Thick brown hair fell smoothly over a high brow, and deepset brown eyes held a look of patient good humor.

The voices of Jamie and his sister had risen while I waited outside. The windows were open to the warm weather, and the disputants were quite audible from the arbor, though not all the words were clear.

"Interfering, nosy bitch!" came Jamie's voice, loud on the soft evening air.

"Havena the decency to..." His sister's reply was lost in a sudden breeze.

The newcomer nodded easily toward the house.

"Ah, Jamie's home, then."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 26, "The Laird's Return". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I can't wait to see that scene on TV! <g>

You can see Steven Cree's showreel on Vimeo here. And here's an audio recording of his voice.

For more information about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.