• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

“Did he speak?”

Whew… just back from a working cruise down the Danube (and getting up in the middle of each night on the river in order to write a script for the Prequel, needed in two weeks. Luckily, I made it. <g>). So—just in time for a brief excerpt in honor of Jamie’s birthday tomorrow (and a quick “Happy Birthday!” to Sam Heughan, whose birthday is/was today):

EXCERPT from BOOK TEN (UNTITLED), Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon

[Jamie and Roger sitting outside the malting shed, discussing Jamie’s imminent departure to find Lord John.]

raven-copeterson“Are you afraid?” he said. Jamie gave Roger a sharp look, but shrugged and settled himself before replying.

“Does it show?”

“Not on you,” Roger reassured him. “On Claire.”

Jamie looked astonished, but after a moment’s contemplation, nodded slightly.

“Aye, I suppose it does. She sleeps wi’ me, ken?” Evidently Roger’s expression didn’t show complete comprehension, for Jamie sighed a little and leaned back against the wall of the malting shed.

“I dream,” he said simply. “I can mind my thoughts well enough whilst I’m awake, but… ken, the Indians say the dream world is as real as this one? Sometimes I think that’s true—but I often hope it’s not.”

“You tell Claire about your dreams?”

Jamie grimaced briefly.

“Sometimes. Some….. well, ye’ll maybe ken that sometimes it helps to open your mind to someone, when ye’re troubled, and some dreams are like that; just saying what happened lets ye step back from it. Ye ken it’s only a dream, as they say.”

“Only.” Roger said it softly, but Jamie nodded, his mouth relaxing a little.

“Aye.” They were silent for a few moments, and the sounds of the wind and the local birds kept them company.

“I’m afraid for William,” Jamie said abruptly. He hesitated, but added, in a low voice, “And I’m afraid for John. I dinna want to think of the things that might—might be done to him. Things I may not be able to save him from.”

Roger glanced at him, trying not to look startled. But then he realized that Jamie didn’t avoid things, nor the mention of them. He had simply accepted the fact that Roger knew the things that had been done to Jamie, and exactly why he might fear for his friend.

“I wish I could go with you,” he said. It was impulsive, but true, and a genuine smile lighted Jamie’s face in response.

“I do, too, a Smeoraich. But the folk here need ye—and they’ll need ye a good deal more, should I not come back.”

Roger found himself wishing that Jamie would avoid some things now and then, but reluctantly conceded that things must be said now, no matter how uncomfortable. So he answered the question Jamie hadn’t asked.

“Aye. I’ll mind them for ye. The family; the weans. And all your bloody tenants, too. I’m not milking your kine, though, nor yet looking after that damn sow and her offpsring.”

Jamie didn’t laugh, but the smile was still there.

“It’s a comfort to me, Roger Mac, to ken ye’ll be here, to deal wi’ whatever might happen. And things will.”

“Now I’m afraid,” Roger said, as lightly as he could.

“I know.” Luckily Jamie didn’t expand on this, but turned to practicalities.

An Deamhan Gael can mind herself,” he assured Roger, referring—Roger thought—to the White Sow. “And wee Frances will take care for the kine. Oh— as for Frances herself— ”

“I won’t let her marry anyone until you come back,” Roger assured him.

“Good.” Jamie let out his breath and his shoulders slumped. “ I think I will. But the dead ha’ been talking to me.” He caught Roger’s lifted eyebrow. “Not—well, not only—my own dead. That’s often a comfort to me, should my Da or Murtagh or Ian Mor come by. Once in a long while… my mother.” That made him shy; he looked away.

Roger made a small noncommittal sound and waited for a moment, then asked, “you said, not only your own dead…?”

“Ah.” Jamie straightened up and set his feet solidly in the dirt. “The others. Men I’ve killed. Sometimes killed for cause. Others—in battle. Strangers. Men who—” he broke off and Roger saw his whole body tighten. Jamie looked away, down the path that led to the lake, as though something might be coming. The feeling was so strong that Roger looked too, and was relieved to see no more than a small covey of quail dust-bathing under a bush.

“Jack Randall came to me, two nights ago.”

Roger’s stomach contracted so suddenly that he said “Oof!” out loud. Jamie stared at him, then laughed.

“Aye, that’s what I said, too,” he assured Roger. “A few other things, besides, but I wilna repeat them wi’ Jemmy in earshot.”

There was a long pause, filled with birdsong from the trees that shaded the malting shed, punctuated by the distant cries of ravens.

“I suppose,” Roger said at last, “that it doesn’t matter what you said to him—but what did he say to you? Did he speak?”

Jamie looked down at the ground, and Roger could see the pulse beating at the side of his neck.

“No. He just laughed.”

[end section]

Visit my official Book Ten (Untitled) webpage for more excerpts from this book.

And Many Thanks to CO Petersen, who made this photo of a flying raven and allowed it to be used under a Wikimedia Commons license!

If you like, please leave a comment below. Note that your text will be public on the web. Comments are moderated, which means that myself or my Webmistress have to approve them, which may take a few hours or a few days. Thanks!

EASTER EGG! “A Battle’s Not A War”

2024-04-01-SpringCitrus-DG-cropA Happy and Blessed Easter (or other spring festival/contemplative occasion or feast involving eggs…) to you all!


[Excerpt from (Untitled) BOOK TEN, Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon]

They stopped for the night near a small creek, having passed the afternoon in silence, and made camp and ate, with no more than the occasional grunt of inquiry and acknowledgement while sharing out the last of the cheese, hard-cooked eggs, and soaking the last of the rock-hard journeycake in the last of the cider.

Finally, William cleared his throat, and Fraser looked at him, one bushy brow cocked.

“We’re following them, aren’t we?”

“There’s only the one road,” Fraser pointed out. “I’d prefer they not be following us. And they’ve at least a day’s head start, thank God.”

“True. But still.”


2024-04-01-Spring-citrus-DGabaldon“That prayer,” William blurted. “To Saint Michael. ‘Defend us in battle.’ That wasn’t for the—the dead man and his sons; you said a prayer in Gaelic when we buried them.”

“Aye. It’s called “Soul Leading”— ye say it for a person who’s killed unexpectedly and maybe didna have time to consider his soul and set his mind for the journey onward.”

“Oh.” William found that oddly… not reassuring; there was nothing reassuring in the events of the day—but perhaps… consoling? The notion that one might actually be able to do something for a dead person, other than merely disposing of their remains, was novel, but somewhat comforting. Still…

“So the prayer to St. Michael. Was that for the family, too?”

Fraser made one of his subterranean noises, with what William thought was a tinge of humor.

“No, that one was for us, a bhalaich.

It was nearly dark, and Fraser picked up one of the sticks they’d gathered, broke it in pieces and added them carefully to the fire. The flames swarmed the dry wood and flared high, throwing the man’s face into planes of light and shadow, tinted red.

“I ken ye’re a bonny fighter,” Fraser said casually. “Saw ye on the battlefield, aye? And I’ve seen the way ye move, and handle your sword.” He shoved the last piece of wood into its place and straightened up, turning to William.

“A battle’s not a war, ken?” he said quietly. He turned his head and lifted his chin, indicating the silent ruin in the darkness high above. “That’s war.”

[end section]

Visit my official Book Ten webpage to read other excerpts that I have released so far, plus information about this new book that I am currently writing and researching.

Photo above and its cropped version are mine, of bees working in my citrus trees. You can see the tiny oranges already forming at the base of the flowers’ pistils. (Click on either version to enlarge and see the details.)

This blog entry was also posted on my official Facebook and X/Twitter pages on Monday, April 1, 2024.

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The Vigil of Easter

2023-03-30-easter-AZ-DGTonight is the Vigil of Easter, a service where we hear readings from the Bible regarding God’s deliverance of His people (e.g., the flight from Egypt and the path through the Red Sea), the reading of the Passion (the description of Jesus’s condemnation and crucifixion), and the Resurrection. Catechumens (the people who wish to become Catholics and have been taking instruction) will be baptized, and others confirmed. It’s a time of mingled sorrow, hope and joy—the coming of Easter.

For the moment, I thought I’d post the following snip from BEES (the chapter titled “Metanoia”), as it’s rather apropos. (Tomorrow, I’ll post a new excerpt as an Easter egg. <g>)

[Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright © 2021 Diana Gabaldon]

A stack of these broadsides had been left on the breakfast table; he’d caught a glimpse of one headline as Germain had gathered them up and tapped the pages tidily into order before putting them in his bag:

THE TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF HENRY HUGHES Who Suffered Death on the Twelfth of June, Anno Domini 1779 At the County Gaol, Horsemonger Lane, Southwark For violating EMMA COOK, A Girl Only 8 Years Old

No stranger to the excesses of the daily press—the things Fergus printed were in fact not that different in character or intent from the tabloid papers of his own time—he had been struck by one factor peculiar to this time: to wit, the fact that the condemned men (and the occasional woman) were always accompanied by a clergyman on their journey toward the gallows. Not just a private pre-execution visit to give prayers and comfort, but to climb Calvary alongside the condemned.

What would I say to him, he wondered, if I should find myself called to accompany a man to his execution? He’d seen men killed, seen people die, certainly; much too often. But these were natural—if sometimes sudden and catastrophic—deaths. Surely it was different, a healthy man, sound of body, filled with life, and facing the imminent prospect of being deprived of that life by the decree of the state. Worse, having one’s death presented as a morally elevating public spectacle.

It struck Roger suddenly that he’d been publicly executed, and the milk and French toast shifted at the sudden memory.

Aye, well… so was Jesus, wasn’t He? He didn’t know where that thought had come from—it felt like something Jamie would say, logical and reasonable—but it flooded him at once with unexpected feeling.

It was one thing to know Christ as God and Savior and all the other capital-letter things that went with that. It was another to realize with shocking clarity that, bar the nails, he knew exactly how Jesus of Nazareth had felt. Alone. Betrayed, terrified, wrenched away from those he loved, and wanting with every atom of one’s being to stay alive.

Well, now you know what you’d say to a condemned man on his way to the gallows, don’t you?

Be sure to check out “Ticks and Things,” my Easter blog post from 2023. It contains an excerpt (with a minor spoiler) from Book Ten.

Photo of thunderstorm in the desert copyright © Diana Gabaldon.

If you like please leave a comment using the entry box below. Know that these comments are public, i.e., can be read by anyone on the web. Comments are moderated* to weed out spam, so it may take a few hours or a few days for your comment to appear. (*Moderated means that my Webmistress or I have to go through the comments manually and approve them.)

“Ticks and Things…”

Originally posted on April 7, 2023.

A VERY HAPPY EASTER, RAMADAN MUBARAK, and CHAG KASHER VE SAMEACH! I hope everyone (of whatever belief) has had a wonderful time this weekend/season with family, friends and rejoicing in the spirit of life.

I was of two minds about posting this particular excerpt—it is a slight spoiler—but it seemed particularly appropriate for Easter.

[Excerpt from UNTITLED BOOK TEN, Copyright © 2023 Diana Gabaldon]

In which Jamie and William are crossing a patch of wild land. I’m not telling you where they’re going or why. <g> (NB: Things in square brackets are places where something—like a particular bit of Gaelic—will be filled in later.) And “crined” is not a typo; it’s a Scots word, meaning “shrunken” or “crumpled”.

32023-04-ticksJamie felt the crawling and slapped a hand hard over his ribs. The slap numbed his flesh for a moment, but the instant it passed, he felt the tickle again—and in several places at once, including his—

“[Gaelic curse]! Earbsa!

He ripped the flap of his breeks open and shoved them down over his legs, in time to catch the tick crawling toward his balls before it sank its fangs in him. He snapped it away with a flick of a fingernail and jerked the collar of his sark up over his head.

“Dinna go through the bushes!” he shouted from inside the shirt. “They’re alive wi’ ticks!” William said something, but Jamie didn’t catch it, his head enveloped in the heavy hunting shirt. His skin was afire between the sweat and the crawling.

He yanked the sark off and flung it away, scratching and slapping himself. Ears now free, he heard the next thing William said. Clearly.

“Oh, Jesus.” It wasn’t much more than a whisper, but the shock in it froze Jamie with realization. By reflex, he bent, arm stretched out for his shirt, but it was too late. Slowly, he stood up again. A tick was trundling over the curve of his breast, just above the cutlass scar. He reached to snap it off, and saw that his fingers were trembling.

He clenched his fist briefly to stop it, then bent his head, picked off three more of the wee buggers on his neck and ribs, then scratched his arse thoroughly, just in case, before pulling up his breeks. His heart was racing and his wame was hollow, but there was naught to do about it. He took a deep breath and spoke calmly, without turning around.

“D’ye see any more of them on my back?”

A moment’s silence, and a let-out breath. Crunching footsteps behind him and a faint sense of warmth on his bare back.

“Yes,” William said. “It’s not moving, I think it’s dug in. I’ll—get it off.”

Jamie opened his mouth to say no, but then closed it. William seeing his scars close to wasn’t like to make matters worse. He closed his eyes instead, hearing the shush of a knife being drawn from its sheath. Then a large hand came down on his shoulder, and he felt his son’s breath hot on the back of his neck. He barely noticed the prick of the blade or the tickle of a drop of blood running down his back.

The hand left his shoulder, and to his surprise, he missed the comfort of the touch. The touch came back an instant later, when William pressed a handkerchief below his shoulder blade, to stop the bleeding.

A moment, and the cloth lifted, tickling his back. He felt suddenly calm, and put on his shirt, after shaking it hard to dislodge any hangers-on.

“Taing,” he said, turning to William. “Ye’re sure ye’ve none on ye?”

William shrugged, face carefully expressionless.

“I’ll know soon enough.”

They walked on without speaking until the sun began to touch the trees on the highest ridge. Jamie had been looking out for a decent spot to camp, but William moved suddenly, nodding toward a copse of scrubby oaks near the top of a small hillock to the right.

“There,” he said. “Cover, we’ll have good sight of the trail, and there’s water coming down the side of that gravelly bit.”

“Aye.” Jamie turned in that direction, asking after a moment, “So, was it the army taught ye castrametation, or Lord John?”

“A bit of both.” William spoke casually, but there was a tinge of pride in his voice, and Jamie smiled to himself.

They made camp—a rudimentary process involving naught more than gathering wood for a fire, fetching water from the rill and finding stones flat enough to sit on. They ate the last of the bread and cold meat, and a couple of small, mealy apples pitted with the knots of insect chewing, and drank water, as there was nothing else.

There was no conversation, but there was an awareness between them that hadn’t been there before. Something different to their usual polite awkwardness, but just as awkward.

He wants to ask, but doesna ken how. I dinna want to tell him, but I will. If he asks.

As the dark deepened, Jamie heard a distant sound and turned his head sharply. William had heard it too; rustling and shuffling below, and now a chorus of grunting and loud guttural noises that made it clear who the visitors were.

He saw William turn his head, listening, and reach down for his rifle.

“At night?” Jamie asked. “There’s a dozen o’ them at least. And if we killed one without being torn to bits by the rest, we’d leave most of it to the crows. Ye really want to butcher a hog just now?”

William straightened up, but was still listening to the pigs below.

“Can they see in the dark, do you know?”

“I dinna think they’d be walkin’ about now, if they couldn’t. But I dinna think their sight is any better than ours, if as good. I’ve stood near a herd o’ them, nay more than ten yards away—upwind, mind—and they didna ken I was there until I moved. There’s naught amiss wi’ their ears, hairy as they are, and anything that can root out trubs has a better sense o’ smell than I have.”

William made a small noise of amusement, and they waited, listening, ‘til the sounds of the wild hogs faded into the growing night sounds—a racket of crickets and shrilling toads, punctuated by the calling of night birds and owl-hoots.

“When you lived in Savannah,” William said abruptly. “Did you ever encounter a gentleman named Preston?”

Jamie had been half-expecting a question, but not that one.

“No,” he said, surprised. “Or at least I dinna think so. Who is he?”

“A… um… very junior undersecretary in the War Office. With a particular interest in the welfare of British prisoners of war. We met at a luncheon at General Prevost’s house, and then later that evening, to discuss… things… in more detail.”

“Things,” Jamie repeated, carefully.

“Conditions of prisoners of war, mostly,” William said, with a brief wave of the hand. “But it was from Mr. Preston that I discovered that my father had once been governor of a prison in Scotland. I hadn’t known that.”

Oh, Jesus…

“Aye,” Jamie said, and stopped to breathe. “A place called Ardsmuir. That’s where I first became acquainted—” He stopped, suddenly recalling the whole truth of the matter. Do I tell him that? Aye, I suppose I do.

“Aye, well, I met your father there, that’s true—though I’d met him some years before, ken. During the Rising.”

He felt a sudden prickle in his blood at the memory.

“Where?” William asked, curiosity clear in his voice.

“The Highlands. My men and I were camped near the Carryarick Pass—we were lookin’ out for troops bringin’ cannon to General Cope.”

“Cope. I don’t believe I recall the gentleman…”

“Aye, well. We—disabled his cannon. He lost the battle. At Prestonpans, it was.” Despite the present situation, there was still a deep sense of pleasure at the recollection.

“Indeed,” William said dryly. “I hadn’t heard that, either.”

“Mmphm. It was your uncle, his grace, that was in charge of bringin’ the cannon, and he’d brought along his young brother to have a, um, taste of the army, I suppose. That was Lord John.”

“Young. How old was he?” William asked curiously.

“Nay more than sixteen. But bold enough to try to kill me, alone, when he came across me sittin’ by a fire with my wife.” Despite his conviction that this conversation wasn’t going to end well, he’d started, and he’d finish it, wherever it led.

“He was sixteen,” Jamie repeated. “Plenty of balls, but no much brain, ken.”

William’s face twitched a little at that.

“And how old were you, may I ask?”

“Four-and-twenty,” Jamie said, and felt a rush of such unexpected feeling that it choked him. He’d not thought of those days in many years, would have thought he’d forgotten, but no—it was all there in a heartbeat: Claire’s face in the firelight and her flying hair, his passion for her eclipsing everything, his men nearby, and then the moment of startlement and instant rage and pummeling a stripling on the ground, the dropped knife glinting on the ground beside the fire.

And everything else—the war. Loss, desolation. The long death of his heart.

“I broke his arm,” he said abruptly. “When he attacked me. He wouldna speak, when I asked where the British troops were, but I tricked him into saying. Then I told my men to tie him to a tree where his brother’s men would find him… and then we went to deal wi’ the cannon. I didna see his lordship again until—” He shrugged. “A good many years later. At Ardsmuir.”

William’s face was clearly visible in the firelight, and Jamie could plainly see interest war with caution, while the lad— Christ, he’s… three-and-twenty? Older than me when…

“Did he do it?” William asked abruptly.


William made a small movement of one hand and nodded toward him.

“Your… back. Did Lord John do that… to you?”

Jamie opened his mouth to say no, for all his memory had been focused on Jack Randall, but of course…

“Part of it,” he said, and reached for his canteen on the ground, avoiding William’s eye. “Not that much.”


Jamie shook his head, not in negation, but trying to organize his thoughts.

“I made him,” he said, wondering What’s the matter wi’ me? It’s the truth, but—

“Why?” William asked again, in a harder tone of voice. Jamie sighed deeply; it might have been irritation, but it wasn’t; it was resignation.

“I broke a rule and he had me punished for it. Sixty lashes. He didna have any choice, really.”

William gave his own deep sigh and it was irritation.

“Tell me or don’t,” he said, and stood up, glaring down at Jamie. “I want to know, but I’m not going to drag it out of you, God damn it!”

Jamie nodded, his immediate feeling of relief tainted by memory. His back itched as though millions of tiny feet were marching over it, and the tiny wound burned. He sighed.

“I said I’d tell ye whatever ye wanted to know, and I will. The Government outlawed the possession of tartan. A wee lad in the prison had kept a scrap of his family’s tartan, for comfort—it wasna likely that any of us would see our families again. It was found, and Lord John asked the lad was it his. He—the lad, I mean—was no but fourteen or fifteen, small, and crined wi’ cold and hunger. We all were.” Memory made him stretch out his hands toward the fire, gathering the warmth.

“So I reached over his shoulder and took the clootie and said it was mine,” he finished simply. “That’s all.”

Please visit my official Book Ten webpage to read more excerpts from this book.

Photo courtesy of the Center for Disease Control.

This excerpt from Book Ten was originally posted on my official Facebook page on April 7, 2023. And on Twitter/X.

Many thanks to Donna Andrews for letting my Webmistress, Loretta, know that this excerpt was missing from my website! In Loretta’s defense, April 2023 was a during a difficult time for her (healthwise).

Two Excerpts to Celebrate March 6th

Diana-Outlander-cover-with-quoteOn March 6th, 1988, I began writing a novel. For practice. I didn’t intend to show it to anybody, and had no idea what it might turn out to be about. I just wanted to learn how to write a book.

And I did. <g>

So, here are TWO brief excerpts from the tenth offspring of that line, to mark the 36th <cough> anniversary of the beginning of OUTLANDER.

[Excerpt from Book Ten (Untitled), Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon]

[Excerpt One]

How to pack for a rescue operation in which one has no idea where one may be, for how long, or under what circumstances?

Clothes… well, the possibility of having to hob-nob with the sort of people who would be disaffected by my normal wardrobe was remote, but couldn’t be totally discounted, either. We might need the good will of someone with influence.

I had two gowns that might be called decent, one of which needed mending… but the thought of someone with influence ineluctably switched my mental gears to thoughts of Hal.

Where was the bloody man? William thought his uncle was headed to New York, with the intent of finding his errant eldest son, dead or alive and…. doing what?

I’d had sufficient acquaintance with his Grace, the Duke of Pardloe, as to think that while he was nearly as pig-headed as Jamie, his feelings for his family were also nearly as exigent. Given the choice between being shot for desertion or leaving his eldest son in a dangerous position, Hal would most likely have written Sir Henry Clinton a letter declaring his immediate intent to depart the army upon a personal errand, and followed this with a terse note headed “To Whom it May Concern” stating that he would be happy to attend a court-martial at the army’s convenience, upon his return.

What was the bloody man going to do if he had another bad asthma attack, on the road? Well, I’d taught him how to breathe through one, so he might survive…

I sighed, said a brief prayer for Harold, Duke of Pardloe, fathead and father, and reached for the small packet of Ephedra sticks on the second shelf. I heard the swiff of the old quilt that hung over my doorway. Damn. And just as Jamie was getting strong enough to make me a real door. Oh, well, I’ll be gone anyway…. I turned to see Germain and Jemmy, side by side, shuffling their feet and looking deeply criminal.

What have you been doing?” I asked, giving them a narrow look.

“Nothing, Grannie!” Jem said, attempting a look of wounded innocence.

“C’est vrai, grandmere,” Germain assured me. “We are pure as—er… as…”

“Babes unborn?” I suggested, putting a bottle of laudanum into my kit. “Or the driven snow, perhaps?”

“I don’t know about babies before they’re born,” Germain said doubtfully. “Maman curses a lot when they kick her in the liver.”

“I don’t blame her in the least.”

“Mrs. Cunningham told Germain he was born guilty,” Jem offered.

“Guilty of what?” I asked.

“She didn’t say.”

I sighed and straightened up, looking down my nose at them.

“Well, if you haven’t done anything… what are you planning to do?”

They looked somewhat happier at that.

“We’re coming with you and Grand-da and Uncle William,” Jem said confidently. “To help find Lord John.”

“We thought we would tell you first,” Germain said, looking cunningly up from under his long black lashes. Not that far up, I noticed. Now that I was looking at them directly, I saw that both stood well above my shoulder. In fact, were bloody near to being able to look me straight in the eye.

“Oh?” I said. “And you expect me to persuade your Grand-da—and doubtless your parents—that this would be a good idea?”

Both of them nodded vigorously.

Grandmere Jenny told the Sachem that Grandpere would tie himself in a knot if you asked him to.”

“Indeed,” I said, diverted. “What did the Sachem say to that?”

“He said he wasn’t sure why a woman would want a man tied in knots, as it would prevent him being of much use to her in bed, but if Grandmere desired this of him, he would try.”

I decided to let that one alone, and returned to the point at issue.

“I don’t think…” I began, but was interrupted by both of them.

“But we can go places you can’t!”

“We can steal food!”

“I have a knife!”

“So do I!”


A deep Scottish noise from the hall stopped them as though they’d been turned to stone.

“What are ye plaguing your Grannie about, ye wee gomerels?”

[Excerpt 2, from Book Ten (Untitled), Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon]

Hal gave up the notion of neatly folding his uniform coat—it looked simple enough when his valet did it, but as with many things, practice evidently mattered—and rolled it into a sort of thick sausage, which he folded in half and crammed into his saddlebag, moleskin breeches, clean neckcloth and gold-laced epaulets stuffed in on top. Anything else?

“Shirt, God damn it,” he said aloud, clutching the front of the one he was wearing. Cursing under his breath, he pawed through the armoire in search of a clean frilled shirt. The search not only resulted in a shirt—already folded, too!—but focused his mind to a sufficient extent as to remind him of stockings, dress boots and… what? Something else was missing…

“Oh, gorget, yes. Can’t forget that.” ‘That’ was on his dressing table, as usual. He picked it up, weighing it in his hand as he usually did before putting it on, for the tactile pleasure of it. Solid, smooth silver-gilt, gracefully made, with his regimental insignia embossed upon it. He reached to drop it into the saddlebag, then impulsively put it on instead, tucking it down inside the rough shirt he’d put on for the journey.

He took a deep breath, and with it, found the last scrap of courage that he needed.

He closed the flap of the saddlebag, set it with its fellow by the door, and sat down at his desk to write to his wife.

I had hoped to surprise you with an early return to England, but Things have fallen out otherwise. Ben is alive—but I forget, you likely don’t know he was supposed to be dead. He’s not. He has turned his Coat, though, and I must go and—

He broke off and eyed the paper, twiddling the quill between his fingers.

“And what?” he said aloud. Reproach Ben? Kidnap him? Kill him?

“God knows,” he muttered, and wrote, “mend Matters. I love you.”

His stomach growled; he hadn’t eaten anything yet today, he hadn’t been hungry. He glanced at the case that lay on the desk, and the hunger pangs disappeared.

He knew everything was in order, but flipped the case open anyway, unable not to check yet again.

The brace of duelling pistols lay gleaming somberly in their lambskin beds, facing each other like the men who would hold them.

Please visit my Book Ten webpage for more information about and excerpts from this book.

These two excerpts were also posted on my official Facebook page on March 7, 2024.

Asteroid 28890 Gabaldon

2024-I-heart-Pluto-logoMANY thanks to the Lowell Observatory (in Flagstaff, Arizona) for including me in their wonderful “I (heart) Pluto” Festival this weekend!

Everyone had a wonderful time, including State Representative Justin Wilmoth, who is introducing a bill to the Legislature declaring that “Pluto is the State Planet of Arizona.” (As the Representative noted in his remarks, “No other state has discovered a planet!”)

(Yes, we know that Pluto is dismissed as a “planetoid” by the uninformed; (most of) the good people of Flagstaff decline to accept that designation.)

The text and image below shows (most of) the certificate the Observatory folks gave me, commemorating their naming one of “their” (as in, they discovered and registered it) asteroids after me. Quite an honor!

(28890) Gabaldon = 2000 KY65
Discovery: 2000-05-27 / LONEOS / Anderson Mesa / 699

Diana J. Gabaldon (b. 1952) is an American author. After earning a PhD in behavioral ecology and working as a university professor, she became a full time writer and is known for her bestselling Outlander series of novels. Her great-grandfather, Stanley Sykes, built the telescope used to discover Pluto.

(Text above about asteroid 28890 Gabaldon is from IAU’s WGSBN Bulletin, Volume 4, No. 2, released on Feb. 5, 2024.)


Click on the illustration above to view a larger version. Credit: Lowell Observatory.

More About Asteroid 28890 Gabaldon

28890 Gabaldon is an asteroid which orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it takes 4.34 Earth years for it to orbit the Sun. Its distance from the Sun is about 2.5 times the distance from the Sun to the Earth. The first diagram below shows a plot of asteroid Gabaldon looking down at an angle on the plane of the Solar System:


Click on the images above and below to view an enlarged version.

The orbit of the asteroid is tilted in respect to the plane of the Solar System. Below is a plot looking at the Solar System’s major planets and asteroid Gabaldon from the “side”:


In the two diagrams above, the numerous objects in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter are not shown. Credit: IAU Minor Planet Center (MPC).

Stanley Sykes Interview

Stanley-Sykes-DG-cropNot to bore everybody with my family history, but this is kind of neat: there’s a voice recording of a 16-minute interview with my great-grandfather, Stanley Sykes, made by a researcher for a collection at Northern Arizona University. The recording is dated 1949, so the sound quality isn’t crystal-clear, but it’s pretty good. He’s telling about his arrival in Flagstaff (from England—that side of the family is from Yorkshire) in 1886, and what happened thereafter….


In 1928-1929, Stanley Sykes designed and built the telescope which astronomer Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto, a magnificent scientific achievement. Almost a hundred years old now, the Pluto-discovery telescope is still in operation, and you may visit it at Lowell Observatory. More about the Lawrence Lowell 13-inch telescope.

Notes on Naming Minor Planets

The person or persons who discover a new minor planet in the solar system are given the privilege of naming it. It was members of the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth-Object Search project who discovered this asteroid at their Anderson Mesa facility in northern Arizona. It usually takes years, even decades, to verify that an object is new and orbiting the Sun, and then to officially name it.

The Working Group for Small Body Nomenclature (WGSBN) is part of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and is responsible for assigning official names to minor planets and comets in our Solar System.

Do you like astronomy and the Solar System? Did you attend the I (heart) Pluto event on February 17? Are you looking forward to the total eclipse in the U.S.A. on April 8, 2024?

Leave a web comment below with your story, if you like. These web comments are moderated, so it may take a day or two for it to appear. Your approved comment is public so please don’t post sensitive private information. Love to hear from you!

An Excess of Eyes

papa-johns-heart-shaped-pizzaWell. First, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! I hope you all had plenty of chocolate, and a nice day filled with warm breezes and spring flowers!

Weirdly enough, today was also Ash Wednesday—some of you will likely have seen the occasional person going about their business with a smeary black thumbprint in the middle of their forehead; this is the application of ashes, which Catholics take as a sign of the beginning of Lent, a season of penitence and preparation for Easter.

The combination of Ash Wednesday (when Catholics commonly fast) and Valentine’s Day (when people commonly eat chocolate) is a trifle disconcerting.

I thought I’d offer you a small, non-food-related valentine, to mark the day:

heartsA few days ago, a writer friend asked (in the LitForum) what to do about an excess of eyes. <g> She explained that she’d noticed, reading some of her work, that there seemed to be eyes and mouths all over the place — eyes narrowing, lips pressing together, etc. — and asked if there was a way of describing emotions without constantly having the characters grimacing or bugging their eyes out, etc. (I paraphrase…)

I think this may be a common concern, going by the sorts of examples people post. As it was, I’d just been reading through a chunk of Book Ten, and there was a passage of conversation in which—purely by accident; I didn’t write it for illustration <g> — the emotions and responses of the characters are apparent, but there is no description of their facial expressions.

So I thought I’d post it as a small writing exegesis. (You may have seen this, or bits of it, before; I post it here just as an example of technique.)

[Excerpt from BOOK TEN (Untitled) Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon]

Rather to William’s surprise, Fraser appeared for departure clad in a faded kilt with a ragged hem, this worn with a hunting shirt shadowed with ancient blood-stains, and a belt from which depended an assortment of weaponry and a small goatskin bag whose purpose was a mystery. Tartan stockings and a cartridge box that hung from a strap over his shoulder completed the ensemble.

“Camouflage,” Fraser said with a shrug, answering William’s look.


“Oh.” Fraser was evidently taken aback for a moment, and his face reflected an extraordinarily rapid series of uninterpretable thoughts. “It’s, ah… from the French, I think. Camouflet, ye ken that one?

“I don’t, no. What does it mean?”

“Aye, well— camouflet is a whiff of smoke that ye blow in someone’s face. Camouflage just means ye want folk not to notice what ye are or ask what ye’re up to.”

“And… that is camouflage, is it?” William asked skeptically, gesturing at Fraser’s kilt. “You look like a bandit.”

Fraser smiled.

“Aye. And what would ye do, if ye met a bandit on the road? Stop and ask him his business?”

“I take your point.”

As he spoke the words, he had a sudden odd qualm and a coldness down his jaw.

Fraser’s smile changed to a look of mild concern.

“What is it, lad, are ye taken queer?”

“I—no,” William said abruptly. “I’m fine. And what, may I ask, am I meant to be, if you’re a bandit? Your accomplice?”

“If necessary,” Fraser said, “but I suppose ye could be my prisoner, in case of need. There’s a bit o’ rope in my saddlebags.”

“Jesus,” William muttered, and Fraser laughed. The man was in bloody high spirits, for someone snatched away from hearth and home to go off on what anyone might legitimately call a crackbrained venture.

OK. See what’s going on? I’m showing you the emotional response each of the men has to the other, not describing the details of their expressions. (Not that there isn’t a place for things like, “… he said, narrowing his eyes,” or “she bit her lip and looked down, lest he see what she thought of what he’d just said.” But if you feel overwhelmed by body parts in your writing <g>, this is one simple technique for dealing with the problem.)

If William asks something “skeptically,” I don’t have to describe what his face is doing; you know. Ditto, “a look of mild concern” doesn’t need physical detail — you know what that looks like. It’s evocation, rather than explication. Hope this may be of help, sometime.

[Many thanks to Papa John’s, for their lovely heart-shaped pizza!]

Prequel TV Series Begins Production


The Outlander Prequel tv series, “Blood of My Blood” (aka “BOB” for short…) is underway!

Filming began on January 22nd (and I”m liking everything I’m seeing!), with Episode 101, and here is a quick look at four main characters:



Curious about Jamie’s parents? Click here to read “A Bird In The Hand,” the first excerpt I released from my prequel novel.

Recent Interview Podcast – Storycentric

dg3_origJust for general interest…(if you have any, I mean <g>)… here’s the an interview/podcast (in two parts) that I did with/for Andrew Buckley (The Storycentric Podcast):

Thanks, Andrew!


There are multiple ways to listen to podcasts, on different apps/services, so choose whichever you prefer below. Don”t subscribe to any of them? Well, some of these services apparently will allow you to listen to a podcast or two on a trial basis without signing up and paying for a new subscription.

Part 1 of Interview with Diana Gabaldon – Episode 24 of The Storycentric Podcast:

2024-01-interview-Andrew-BuckneyAndrew’s Description: “This week, I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming to the show Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series! We talk about the Outlander prequel show, Diana’s origin story in Arizona, the art of voracious reading, Diana the scientist, non-linear writing, character driven storytelling, and more! Don your kilt, and join us for this glorious conversation!”

Click on your choice to listen to Part 1
of Andrew’s Storycentric interview podcast
(will open in a new browser window):

amazon-music-icon Listen to Part 1 via Amazon Music.
apple-podcasts-icon Listen to Part 1 via Apple Podcasts.
1200px-Google_Podcasts_icon.svg_-370x370-4061999907 Listen to Part 1 via Google Podcasts.
iheart-podcast-icon Listen to Part 1 via iHeart.
spotify-podcasts-icon Listen to Part 1 via Spotify

Part 2 of Interview with Diana Gabaldon – Episode 25 of The Storycentric Podcast:

2024-01-interview-Spotify-part2Andrew’s Description: “Is that bagpipes I hear? Part 2 of my conversation with the delightful Diana Gabaldon has us discussing (and shattering) the concept of thinking in straight lines, working with editors, her research process, the early days of the internet, landing an agent based on excerpts alone, working as a consultant on the Outlander TV show, and more!”

Click on your choice to listen to Part 2
of Andrew’s Storycentric interview podcast
(will open in a new browser window):

amazon-music-icon Listen to Part 2 via Amazon Music.
apple-podcasts-icon Listen to Part 2 via Apple Podcasts.
1200px-Google_Podcasts_icon.svg_-370x370-4061999907 Listen to Part 2 via Google Podcasts.
iheart-podcast-icon Listen to Part 2 via iHeart.
spotify-podcasts-icon Listen to Part 2 via Spotify.

February 2024 Events in Arizona!

heartsOooookay….moving right along here…



Well, February looks pretty interesting, event-wise. It has our 47th wedding anniversary, but beyond that….

Monday, Feb. 5th – The Poisoned Pen – 7:00-8:30 PM

fourteen-days-cover(Ticketed Event – $35 to $45, which includes a copy of FOURTEEN DAYS signed by myself and Doug Preston. See below for buy links.)

I’ll be doing a live (but also available online) event with Doug Preston (half of the Preston and Child team that produces the Very Entertaining (if slightly gruesome…) Pendergast suspense novels, among others, and the writer of the non-fiction LOST CITY OF THE MONKEY GOD. We’ll be promoting (and signing) a Truly Weird Book called FOURTEEN DAYS, on February 5th at the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Click here to buy a $35 ticket for this event, which admits one person and includes one signed hardcover copy of FOURTEEN DAYS.

Or… if you’re coming with someone…

Click here to buy a $45 ticket for this event, which admits two persons and includes one signed hardcover copy of FOURTEEN DAYS.

poisoned-pen-logoFOURTEEN DAYS is the brainchild of someone (don’t ask me who, because I don’t know) connected with the Author’s Guild, who in the midst of the pandemic, conceived the notion that a number of professional authors should contribute stories that could be blended into a novel (of sorts) in which the residents of a New York apartment building, unable to go out in public, gather on the roof and exchange tales in the manner of the Decameron. (Just in case you’re not instantly familiar with the Decameron, (per Google) “The Decameron (c. 1351) is an entertaining series of one hundred stories written in the wake of the Black Death. The stories are told in a country villa outside the city of Florence by ten young noble men and women who are seeking to escape the ravages of the plague.”) If it’s been in print since 1351, it’s probably a good book; we’ll hope FOURTEEN DAYS is a worthy imitator… [Reviews below]*

Actually, I can’t yet tell you how the project turned out, because—while they did send me a copy of the final book—I haven’t had a free second to read it, between working on three (at a minimum) books at once (yes, Book Ten is on top!), plus two (count ‘em, TWO…) TV shows. (I’m a Consulting Producer and a screenwriter, for both BLOOD OF MY BLOOD (Season One)—which starts filming… um…. well, now—and the final (alas) season (Season Eight) of OUTLANDER, which starts a couple of months later.)

My guess is that it’s pretty readable, given the number of Excellent Authors involved. I gave them two stories, both true (i.e., not fiction); we’ll see how it all came out!

Publisher’s Description: Set in a Lower East Side tenement in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns, Fourteen Days is an irresistibly propulsive collaborative novel from the Authors Guild, with an unusual twist: each character in this diverse, eccentric cast of New York neighbors has been secretly written by a different, major literary voice—from Margaret Atwood and Celeste Ng to Tommy Orange and John Grisham.

*“These stories introduce a theme of diversity that’s one of the joys of the book. There are ghost stories, a war story, many tales of betrayal and revenge, and a report on Shakespeare’s plague experience by scholar James Shapiro…. A multicultural tribute to the New York lockdown experience…. moving and funny…” — Kirkus Reviews

“Putting a bold new twist on the plague novel, this bountiful, unpredictable, witty, and affecting tale-of-tales is made all the more intriguing by the fact that it’s a collaboration by 36 exceptional North American writers…. This enthralling novel of many voices and moods dramatizes the transformation of isolation into community via stories and explores a grand spectrum of human experiences.” — Booklist (starred review)

“beguiling…. fans of literary puzzles will find this worthwhile.” — Publishers Weekly

Annnd…. moving from art to science:

Saturday, Feb. 17th – Orpheum Theater, Flagstaff, 7:00 PM

“A Night of Discovery” at the I Heart Pluto Festival (Also a ticketed event. See below for buy links.)

OK. You may (possibly) know that the (dwarf) planet Pluto was discovered at Lowell Observatory, in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1930.

2024-I-heart-Pluto-logoProbably you don’t know that the dome of the Observatory’s main telescope was built by a pair of brothers, Godfrey and Stanley Sykes, who had immigrated from England and set up business in Flagstaff, with a shop whose front window bore a notice: “WE MAKE AND MEND ANYTHING.” As the story goes, Percival Lowell (founder of the observatory) walked past this window, and (presumably on impulse) went into the shop and said, “Can you build me a telescope dome?” To which the Sykes brothers replied, “Why not?” And they did. (The dome, still in use, rotates on motorcycle tires.)

So. Stanley Sykes was my great-grandfather, and his brother Godfrey my great-great-uncle. Which is why the Observatory has invited me to come and speak (about what, I have No Idea, but we’ll find out when we get there…) at the I Heart Pluto Festival this year. (The Festival itself will be held at the Observatory, over several days, I believe…)

night-of-discovery-bannerThe event “A Night of Discovery” at which I’ll be speaking (there are other people on the program, too) will be held at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Flagstaff (you won’t have any trouble finding it; it’s a small downtown). More details.

Doors open at 6 p.m. (general-admission seating, first-come, first-seated) at the Orpheum Theatre, and the event begins at 7 p.m.

Click here to buy general admission tickets to “A Night of Discovery” (which range from about $17 to $26 per person, including fees).

VIP Experience tickets are another option available for $125 per person, which include some exclusive events earlier in the day, a VIP goodie bag, and dinner with me and other VIP Experience ticketholders. And, of course, a ticket to “A Night of Discovery” is included. The VIP tickets must be ordered by February 10, and a limited number are available. Click here to purchase VIP Experience tickets for “A Night of Discovery” during the I Heart Pluto festival on February 17.

And a final Valentine—

Thursday, Feb. 22nd – Scottsdale United Methodist Church – 6:00 PM

hibridean-baker-coverBack to the Poisoned Pen, where I’ll be talking to Coinneach MacLeod, who is from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and authors beautiful Scottish cookbooks that include stories of growing up in the Scottish Hebrides in between the recipes. (This is a ticketed event, but the $35 entry fee entitles you to one copy of Mr. MacLeod’s new book, THE HEBRIDEAN BAKER AT HOME—and you may also (if you like) bring one of my books to be signed. (If you want to buy books at the store, naturally that’s fine, too…)

Note that this event is hosted by the Poisoned Pen bookstore but the venue (where the event will take place) will be the Scottsdale United Methodist Church.

Click here to buy a $35 ticket for this Feb. 22 event, which includes a ticket for one persons to attend and one signed hardcover copy of THE HEBRIDES BAKER AT HOME.

Or… if you’re coming with someone…

Click here to buy a $40 ticket for this Feb. 22 event, which includes tickets for two persons to attend and one signed hardcover copy of THE HEBRIDES BAKER AT HOME.

See you there! (Whichever “there” it happens to be…)

Detailed information on all of my February events (and others as confirmed) are always available on my appearances webpage at: