• “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.”
    —ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

Happy New Year – 2024!


2024-01-01-Happy-New-YearHappy New Year to one and all!

‘Tis the season for new resolutions and perhaps the odd spot of bibulousness….

So it’s New Year’s Eve— a time to sit down and breathe, sip something to aid contemplation (be that hot tea or cold gin…) and let the peaceful night surround you. (Unless you’re a party animal, in which case I don’t need to suggest anything to you…) Do you look to the past and see what the last year has held—and what you did or thought about it? Or to the future, with hopes and dreams—and possibly a few more concrete plans?

My own list for the New Year is fairly short:

Take care of husband, family, dogs, friends, etc.

Prune deadwood from the four citrus trees that didn’t get done last winter. Fertilize ALL the citrus, as well as the ancient pomegranate tree out back (I did manage to saw all the dead limbs off that one over the last two or three months. Vide previous replies to questions about why we have an Enormous Dumpster (from a conversation on my official Facebook page)… we can’t burn outdoors inside the city limits, and only rarely indoors).

Pull out the big California laurel tree and VERY thorny ex-rose-bush that perished during the Hotspell from Hell last summer. (It stayed over 115 degrees EVERY DAY for nearly two months.) Contemplate what the heck to do with the ex-grapevines, which have grown through and pulled over the chunk of iron fence they’d been using to climb on before they became ex (died of old age, aided by heat-stroke). (I need either an ax or a small, maneuverable chain-saw… I’d just dig up the stumps, but I can’t get near enough to do so, as the collapsed/entangled fence is in the way.)

Work on Book Ten. (NO, it’s not going to be finished this coming year (let us not be ridiculous…), but I think we’ll get a good deal further. It’s in a good place.)

Finish writing first Prequel Novel. (These will be about the size of one of the Lord John novels; those, I can finish within 9-10 months, so we hope for the best.)

Consult on Prequel show.

Consult on Season Eight.

(Consulting basically means reading all the iterations (average 6-8) of each script, plus—when filming starts—watching the dailies.)

Write script for Prequel show.

Write script for Season Eight.

(FYI – writing a script takes me roughly three weeks (not counting revisions, which tend to be quick). Writing one of the Big Books takes a minimum of three years.)

Do public appearances (VERY limited this year!).

Make curtain (FINALLY) for kitchen in old family house (I’ve had the fabric for the last fifteen years… a print of tiny Highlanders and Redcoats on a white background).

So that’s me in 2024. <g> How about you?

(If you like, please share your plans and thoughts in a web comment below. Note that due to ever-present robotic web spam clogging up the works, my Webmistress or I have to go through and approve each comment to make sure it’s written by a human being. Spam filters don’t catch everything. So it takes time, sometimes a few few minutes, sometimes a few days, for your comment to appear, unlike Social Media.)

42 Responses »

  1. Happy New Year Diana!
    I’ve started my “re listen” of the series (not sure how many times I’m up to) and Davina Porter and I get lots of laundry and yard work done together! Next up pruning and fertilizing my blueberry bushes. I see you plan to get out to your citrus trees, do you have a small rechargeable reciprocating saw? I find it very handy and just put it to good work cutting magnolia leaves to decorate our church for Advent through Epiphany.
    My husband Pat and I will be traveling to Japan in February to ski, tour and see the snow monkeys!!! He just turned 60 and now that all 5 boys are flown or away studying, we decided to GO BIG!
    The rest of the year will be full of family, beekeeping , volunteering and some sort of raquet play, as much as I can organize.
    Wishing you and your family a healthy productive year enjoying all the little things in life which are ultimately the greatest gifts.

    Kind Regards
    Regina F

  2. Dear Diana,

    I first discovered Outlander while I was researching my own genealogy. Thank you so much for sharing your writing talent with the world!

    I’ve traced my roots back to the second Mayflower voyage and Deacon Richard Masterson in 1629, and would like to ask you some questions about writing historical fiction. In my case, I am trying to do the opposite – “novelizing” my family history, but I think the same principles might apply to both scenarios.

    Here is a snippet of some of my family’s history: I have a great grandmother who survived the Johnstown flood when she was five years old, and great-great grandparents who settled 30 miles south of Laura Ingalls’ little house on the prairie, only it was five years later, and the government was now “giving away” land to Civil War veterans to encourage homesteading. (It is interesting how the government can be so capricious, isn’t it?) Just a couple generations further back, my Scottish and Irish ancestors settled in western Pennsylvania in Westmoreland County. Three of my ancestors were in the Pennsylvania Militia during the Whiskey Rebellion, and had to stand up against their neighbors, friends, and relatives who were involved. I have found out that Deborah Sampson (our own US version of Mulan during the Revolutionary War) was a cousin of mine, and if I can trust someone else’s genealogical research, I am descended from the Cameron’s, Stewart’s, Robert the Bruce, and Kevin McAlpine, back to the ancient High Kings of Ireland. It seems my ancestors have given me quite a bit of material to write about, ha ha!

    I loved reading about your descriptive writing process, but my questions center around transforming historical facts into something that resembles a novel. I am a pretty good researcher, but I don’t want to just narrate – I want to create something that folks can’t put down, something that sticks with them, niggling at their thoughts, filling them with a desire for more of the story.

    This book would only be for future generations of my family, but I would like to influence them to become as captivated as I have regarding my family’s experiences – I want them to feel passionate about how our family’s history has intertwined with many of the formational events in our nation’s history.

    As a fellow researcher of the time period your books cover, I can only imagine the effort that it takes to confirm the historical accuracy of the detail of the events in the 1700’s. How do you translate and tie together those dry facts into such a compelling description of life at that time? I know imagination plays a large part, but what is your process beyond that? I would be deeply grateful for any guidance you could share.

    Oh dear, I didn’t mean to be so verbose – thanks for reading my novella!

    With blessings for the New Year,
    Sharon Renner

    • Hi, Sharon,

      Diana reads all the web comments and email sent her way and loves to hear from readers. However, with her current work load of writing and researching Book Ten, two prequel novels, and two television series (Outlander and Blood Of My Blood, the new one), as well as spending time with her hubby, family, and regular life stuff, she can’t answer them all. Or even a few right now. So I pipe up if I know an answer.

      Years ago Diana created her “Writer’s Corner – What I Do” webpages for the aspiring authors who ask for her help and advice:

      https://dianagabaldon.com/wordpress/resources/what-i-do/

      Scroll down to “How To Write – Tips for Aspiring Authors.” There Diana says “Writing is an active skill; the only way to learn is to do it, to actually sit down and write every day. Learning to write takes a lot of work.” And she goes on to suggest how to get started from writers’ groups online or in person to writing conferences to taking a course in fiction writing at a local college or university.

      This is the key… “Sit down and write every day.”

      Links on her Writers’ Corner pages go to to various essays about how her writing process works, topics such as dialogue, plot, and other essentials.

      You asked, “How do you translate and tie together those dry [historical] facts into such a compelling description of life at that time? I know imagination plays a large part, but what is your process beyond that?”

      In fiction writing, the crux of the biscuit is character development. In your imagination, put yourself in the shoes, clothes, time period, and situation of a viewpoint character. What does he or she see? Hear? Experience? Where is she? When, what time period? Writer’s Digest has a blog post about creating characters at:

      https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-fiction/my-6-point-character-building-process

      That’s the ‘meat’ in the translation of historical facts into a good story, fiction or not… creating an interesting character that the reader wants to get to know, and who the reader learns to care about, like a real person. Or despise, as in the case of villains.

      With Diana and a lot of fiction authors, there isn’t a conscious “process” for creating characters. The folks in novels are burped up from somewhere in their subconscious and seem real to the author, like an old friend or enemy. Conversely, some writers have to create characters in the here and now, intentionally thinking up attributes for them and listing them. Whatever works for you is the best way for you to do it!

      In “My Writing Process:”

      https://dianagabaldon.com/resources/what-i-do/my-writing-process/

      Diana describes how she does what she does, how she classifies characters, etc.

      Sounds like you have a lot of interesting ideas (and perhaps characters!) already percolating in your noggin, inspired by your family history. :-)

      Happiness and success to you in 2024,

      Loretta
      Diana’s Webmistress

      P.S.: I think you might enjoy the Outlander/Diana-Gabaldon forums at The Lit Forum. Some aspiring authors discuss Diana’s novels and also share advice with one another about their own work. It is a writer’s group online in many ways, and you can ask any question you’d like, pretty much. Diana pops in when she can, too. Set up an account and join, all for free, at: https://thelitforum.com

  3. I’m a recent admirer, having binge-watched all 6.5 seasons of Outlander over Christmastide. I marveled at your narrative skill in creating such authentic and compelling characters, as well as your integrity with historical sources. I usually don’t venture into historical fiction due to my skepticism about the latter.

    Might you consider giving Boudicca, the Celtic Warrior Queen of Britain, the benefit of your talents? She has so many of the traits you and your readers admire: courage, ferocity, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty to family and kin. She almost defeated the Roman Empire, for good measure, and set Nero on his heels. The story has such incredible details: The widow of a king, she is flogged and her daughters raped to force her to submit, but raises an army to destroy 70,000 Roman conquerors. Then she disappears into the mists, almost like Arthur at Avalon.

    I think only an author of your skill could do her justice.

    Thanks for your imagination, creativity, and historical veracity.

    Best wishes for 2024,

    Linda R. Monk, JD

  4. The plan this year is to live with great intention in building up friendships (book club and champagne and friend trips). Life gets so busy, it’s easy to put friendships on hold.
    Included is more mom and daughter dates with my mother, and to learn new routines as a parent with adult children (hence the above).
    Thanks for sharing, Diana! Love to see other folks’ annual goals.

  5. It was by chance I learned about your books. I was reading a People Magazine and a celebrity recommended your Outlander Series. No other book or series has interested me since. I have watched the television shows many times and read your books numerous times, including your Lord John Series. The classics have been important to me. I consider Outlander a classic. Thank you for energizing the imagination of your readers! Good luck in any future endeavors.

  6. Dear Diana,
    And yes, I do know how to pronounce your last name, as I used to work with a lady with the same name. I think I have read everything you’ve written, and I have completely worn out and had to replace both Outlander and Dragonfly.
    I enjoy reading excerpts from your books, and hopefully I will still be around to read book 10 (I am 77.)
    I don’t usually like to watch a movie after I’ve read the book, because I’ve seen the characters in my mind’s eye, and the movie doesn’t live up to my expectations. However, the casting in the Outlander tv series has been remarkable.
    Yours truly,
    Eileen McLaughlin

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