Thursday, December 1, 2016

November poll results

Here are the results of the November poll, which asked the question, "What's your favorite way to enjoy OUTLANDER?"
  • 17.62% - Reading the books in paperback.
  • 14.61% - Reading the books in hardcover.
  • 12.75% - Reading on my Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader.
  • 8.74% - Listening to the audiobooks on my iPod, smartphone, or other portable device.
  • 7.16% - Watching the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 7.02% - It depends on the situation, or what mood I'm in.
  • 3.01% - Reading on my iPhone, iPad, or similar device.
  • 1.58% - Listening to the audiobook and following along in the text at the same time.
  • 1.29% - Listening to the CDs.
  • 23.21% - All of the above.
  • 3.01% - Other
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • Reading the books #1 but watching is a verra close 2nd!
  • Reading the books and watching it on tv and dvd
  • Read real paper book first, then audio
  • first reading was hardback, second was paperback, now listening on CD
  • All - except for audiobooks
  • DVD Of the television series
  • love read the books and watching the series
  • Reading the books, watching the series, following online
  • reading the print books, all formats, and watching the TV series
  • Books, Kindle, Audible
  • Hardcover, paperback, television, all three,love it and get it any way I can.
  • I enjoy the books and the TV series equally.
  • Sam Heughan reading it aloud to me, just 2 of us
  • At the moment, my favorite way is "On Demand" along with milk & cookies!
  • Watching the show and listening to Ronald D. Moore's podcast at the same time.
  • Hard cover, paperbacks and tv series
  • Read the hardcover book then listen to the audio
  • Combination of books &show
  • The big paperbacks cuz I write & underline.
  • Rereading on my e-reader between episodes
There were 698 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated! I didn't vote in the poll myself, but my favorite way to enjoy OUTLANDER is listening to the audiobooks, especially in the car on the way to and from work.

Please take a moment to vote in the December poll, which asks the question, "Have you ever been to Scotland?" Thanks!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Favorite chapter titles in Diana Gabaldon's books

What are some of your favorite chapter titles from Diana Gabaldon's books, and why? What is it about them that makes some titles especially noteworthy?

Some of them stand out on re-reading because you know the chapter contains a wonderful scene. "The First Law of Thermodynamics", from DRUMS, or "Hearthfire", from FIERY CROSS, for example.  Just seeing those chapter titles can put me in a good mood, knowing what's coming. <g>

Some of them are allusions to 20th-century pop culture.  "Strangers in the Night" from FIERY CROSS, for example; I always get the Sinatra song stuck in my head for days after I listen to that chapter. <g>  Also "Bottom of the Ninth", from DRUMS (the chapter where Jemmy is born), and "Brought to You By the Letters Q, E, and D", from MOHB (which is a reference to Sesame Street).

Some send chills of foreboding up my spine just seeing the title.  "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me", from DRAGONFLY, always has that effect on me, especially since I looked up the translation of the Latin phrase. <shudder>

Some are just funny, or unexpected plays on words. "Three-Thirds of a Goat", from FIERY CROSS, with the reference to the "ghost" chapter titles in DRUMS, always makes me smile.  I also like "Squid of the Evening, Beautiful Squid", from MOHB.

I love the titles that expand my vocabulary, even if I find them baffling on the first reading.  "Oenomancy" (divination by wine), from ECHO, made no sense at all to me until I read the chapter.  Ditto for "Amplexus", in SCOTTISH PRISONER.  And "Absquatulation", from ABOSAA, is a cool word, that I hadn't encountered before I read that book. <g> For that matter, so is "Amphisbaena", from MOHB.

What about the rest of you?  Do you have a favorite chapter title or two?  And what is it that makes them so memorable?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of the upcoming holiday, here are some Thanksgiving-themed quotes from the OUTLANDER books. This has become an annual tradition here on Outlandish Observations, and I hope you enjoy them!


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

1) Roger and Brianna, hunting turkeys:
"What a thing," he said. He held it at arm's length to drain, admiring the vivid reds and blues of the bare, warty head and dangling wattle. "I don't think I've ever seen one, save roasted on a platter, with chestnut dressing and roast potatoes."

He looked from the turkey to her with great respect, and nodded at the gun.

"That's great shooting, Bree."

She felt her cheeks flush with pleasure, and restrained the urge to say, "Aw, shucks, it warn't nothin'," settling instead for a simple, "Thanks."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "Shooting Lessons". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I love this scene, especially for Roger's reaction. He's a little taken aback by her shooting skills, but his ego doesn't seem to be threatened by the fact that she's better at hunting (providing food for the family) than he is.

2) Claire and Jamie receiving gifts from the local Native Americans, very much in the spirit of the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving:
Once the official introductions were over, Nacognaweto motioned to Berthe, who obediently brought out the large bundle she had carried, and opened it at my feet, displaying a large basket of orange and green-striped squash, a string of dried fish, a smaller basket of yams, and a huge pile of Indian corn, shucked and dried on the cob.

“My God,” I murmured. “The return of Squanto!”

Everyone gave me a blank look, and I hastened to smile and make exclamations--thoroughly heartfelt--of joy and pleasure over the gifts. It might not get us through the whole winter, but it was enough to augment our diet for a good two months.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "The White Raven". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Jocasta and Duncan's wedding feast:
"Can ye not decide where to begin, Sassenach?" He reached down and took the empty wineglass from her hand, taking advantage of the movement to come close against her back, feeling the warmth of her through his clothes.

She laughed, and swayed back against him, leaning on his arm. She smelled faintly of rice powder and warm skin, with the scent of rose hips in her hair.

"I'm not even terribly hungry. I was just counting the jellies and preserves. There are thirty-seven different ones--unless I've missed my count."

He spared a glance for the table, which did indeed hold a bewildering array of silver dishes, porcelain bowls, and wooden platters, groaning with more food than would feed a Highland village for a month.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Quicksilver". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Most major holiday dinners give me this same feeling, although I can't say I've ever seen thirty-seven different varieties of *anything* at one meal before. <g>

4) The "hearth blessing" on Fraser's Ridge:
We blessed the hearth two days later, standing in the wall-less cabin. Myers had removed his hat, from respect, and Ian had washed his face. Rollo was present, too, as was the small white pig, who was required to attend as the personification of our "flocks," despite her objections; the pig saw no point in being removed from her meal of acorns to participate in a ritual so notably lacking in food.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "Hearth Blessing". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Considering how successful that little homestead on the Ridge would prove to be, I think there must have been something extra-powerful in that blessing. <g> And I love the mention of the little white piglet, who will grow up to become the infamous White Sow. If this blessing was intended to ensure fertility on the part of that sow, it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

5) The Selkirk Grace:
[Hamish] glared round the table to insure that everyone was in a properly reverential attitude before bowing his own head. Satisfied, he intoned,

"Some hae meat that canna eat,
And some could eat that want it.
We hae meat, and we can eat,
And so may God be thankit.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Colum's Hall". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Thanksgiving! (And to those of you outside the U.S., best wishes for the holiday season.)  If you're looking for OUTLANDER-related food ideas, check out this OUTLANDER Thanksgiving Feast posted by Theresa Carle-Sanders, author of the OUTLANDER Kitchen cookbook.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My top 10 OUTLANDER moments

Ten years ago this week, I read OUTLANDER for the first time, and my life changed forever.  That's not an exaggeration! These books have had a profound impact on me, in many ways.

Here are my Top 10 OUTLANDER Moments of the past ten years:

1) November 23, 2006.  I bought my first copy of OUTLANDER with a Barnes & Noble gift card my mom had given me for my birthday. (I've always thought it was hilarious that I got so thoroughly addicted without spending a penny of my own money!)  You can see the full story of how I discovered OUTLANDER here.

2) In April, 2007, I discovered the OUTLANDER audiobooks, read by Davina Porter.  I've been a skim-reader all my life, but I discovered very quickly that you just can't do that with Diana Gabaldon's books, or you miss too much. <understatement!>  Then I started listening to the audiobooks, and was astounded by the amount of detail that I'd missed the first few times.  I've been listening to the OUTLANDER audiobooks on a continuous rotation (with occasional short breaks) ever since, and I never get tired of them!

3) On August 28, 2008, I started this blog, Outlandish Observations.  It's succeeded far beyond my wildest imaginings, and I'm very grateful to all of you who take the time to read and comment. It means a lot to me!

4) In September, 2008, I became Section Leader (moderator) of the Diana Gabaldon folder on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, which is the online forum where Diana hangs out. This has been a tremendous opportunity for me, and a lot of fun, but it's not without its challenges, especially in the last several years! Diana refers to what I do on the forum as "herding the bumblebees", which is an image that always makes me smile. The trick to herding bumblebees is to do it without getting stung. <g>

5) In September, 2009, I met Diana Gabaldon for the first time, at a book-signing in Columbia, MD.

6) November, 2011. The character of Keren-happuch in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER was named after me.  That was a thrill, no question about it! (Though I hasten to add that she doesn't resemble me in the slightest, either physically or in terms of personality. <g>)

7) May, 2012.  When the standalone e-book edition of Diana's story, "The Custom of the Army", was published, I was stunned and delighted to discover that it was dedicated to me. (Click on the picture for a bigger view.)

8) July, 2012. I visited Scotland for the first time, on the Celtic Journeys OUTLANDER Tour, along with my mom and my sister Alice. We had a wonderful time! You can see my blog posts about the trip here.

9) April, 2013. I attended one of Diana Gabaldon's public appearances, in Annandale, VA. (Here I am with Carol and Tracey of My Outlander Purgatory.) At the point in Diana's talk where she mentions how she got involved with the online forum that is now the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, Diana looked right at me and said to the audience of about 1200 fans, "The fabulous Karen Henry manages my folder on Compuserve. She's the bumblebee-herder." And I turned around and waved to the crowd. <g>

10) August 9, 2014. The OUTLANDER TV series premiered on STARZ. I was apprehensive at first, worried that they would mangle the storylines, or change the characters beyond recognition, but thank God, my fears were unfounded. I really couldn't be happier with the way the TV show has turned out so far! The acting, the writing, the costumes, the music, the meticulous attention to detail -- it's everything I could have hoped for!  OUTLANDER fandom has grown tremendously, and changed quite a lot, in the two years since the TV show began, and I think it's wonderful that so many people around the world are discovering Diana Gabaldon's books as a result of the TV show.

Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an amazing story, and for her support and encouragement over the last few years. It means a tremendous amount to me!

Monday, November 21, 2016


Diana Gabaldon's story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, now has an official publication date of June 27, 2017.

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL will be a collection of seven novellas. Some of these stories have been previously published in anthologies or as standalone e-books, but two of the stories are brand new.

The collection will include:

"The Custom of the Army" (originally published in 2010)
"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" (originally published in 2010)
"A Plague of Zombies" (originally published in 2011)
"The Space Between" (originally published in 2012)
"Virgins" (originally published in 2013)
"A Fugitive Green" (new story about Hal and Minnie in 1744)
"Besieged" (new story about Lord John and his mother Benedicta)

For more details about all of these stories, see Diana's announcement here.

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL will be available in hardcover and e-book format. I will post pre-order links as soon as they become available.

In case you're wondering about the title, I asked Diana about it on Compuserve, and here is part of her response:
I wanted a title that at least suggested that there were a number of elements in this book (hence the "Seven") and "Seven Stones" just came naturally, and was nice, ("stone" is always a weighty word <g>) but not a complete poetic thought (or rhythm).

[The] "stand or fall" has to do with people's response to grief and adversity:  to wit, if you aren't killed outright by whatever happened, you have a choice in how the rest of your life is lived--you keep standing, though battered and worn by time and elements, still a buttress and a signpost....or you fall and return quietly to the earth from which you sprang, your elements giving succor to those who come after you.
I'm looking forward to adding this book to my collection in June!

(In case you're wondering, yes, of course Diana is still working on GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series. She often says that she likes to work on multiple projects at once, because it keeps her from getting writer's block.)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Contest results!

The 2nd Annual Droughtlander Photo Contest is officially over, and I'm delighted with the way it turned out!  I received a total of 266 photos from OUTLANDER fans in 30 different countries, all over the world, as far away as Australia and the Philippines.

Here are the contest winners:

17) Cristina W. (Netherlands): "This is my favourite place to read Outlander on a (partly) cloudy autumn afternoon. The photo has been taken in Alphen aan den Rijn, my hometown in the Netherlands. Since we have a lot of water in the Netherlands, I enjoy reading in a beautiful silent place with only boats passing by."

71) Jessica R. (US): "I am an avid reader and truly love the Outlander series.  I have traveled to LA quite a few times to see the costumes and other events.  However, some of my favorite moments while visiting was being able to get close to the huge billboards for Season 2.  I always travel with the book I am currently re-reading.  So I felt that this spot was the perfect place to have a quick read, most likely the closest I will ever get to the stars of the show.  It was a perfect moment captured, one I won't ever forget!"

158) Daniela M. (Germany): "I am from Germany and started the Outlander books this march 2016. Meanwhile I have read the first 7 books of the main series. The currently last one (MOBY) will be my christmas present, so I have to wait until then to continue, which is really hard, but probably not so hard, than waiting for book 9. Nevertheless there are still the stories of Lord John to read, which you can also see in the picture. So in the picture are all my (german) copies of the books so far, in the middle in my bookcase and around again with their beautiful covers."

Congratulations to all three of you! Please contact me at as soon as possible so I can arrange to have your prizes mailed to you.

The link to the slideshow with all the contest photos is here.  Be sure to take the time to read the captions! There are a lot of wonderful stories behind the photos in this collection, and reading the captions adds immeasurably to the experience!

If you can't see the captions on your mobile device, or if they only display part of the text, try it on a desktop computer.  From the slideshow, click on the little "info" symbol at the top of the page (it looks like an i inside a circle) to open up a side panel on the right that will display the entire text of the photo caption.

MANY thanks to all of you who shared your photos and your love of All Things OUTLANDER! I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I have.

Next week is my 10-year OUTLANDER anniversary. Finding these books has changed my life in so many ways!  This contest is my way of spreading that OUTLANDER love around.  It's also a reminder that no matter how much things change in the years to come, the OUTLANDER fan community will always have one thing in common: our love for these books and characters, and this amazing story that Diana Gabaldon has created, that is now being brought to life on TV.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Three more days!

Only three more days to send in photos for the 2nd Annual Droughtlander Photo Contest! The deadline for entries is midnight Eastern Time on Friday, November 18.

I've received 75 entries so far, from eight different countries, and I'm hoping for many more before the contest ends on Friday.  It's been fun to see what everyone comes up with. I can't wait to share the photos with all of you!

You can see the contest announcement here. All you have to do to enter is email a photo containing one or more of Diana Gabaldon's books (in any format, including e-books or audiobooks) to, along with your name and a brief caption or description of the photo.

Please come back on Saturday to see the contest results, along with a slideshow of all of the photos!