• “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

In Case You Thought All A Writer Does is Write…

Home again, after DragonCon, with different kind of work to hand: The publisher sent _both_ the copyedited ms. _and_ the first-pass galleys to my hotel in Atlanta, with the request that I process them simultaneously (ak!), to save time. Which means, theoretically, reading the copyedit and responding to queries, checking marks, etc.–then transferring all markings to the first-pass galleys, and in the process, proof-reading the galleys, in case of errors introduced by the typesetting. _And_ in the process, filling in any still-missing square brackets/additional bits.

The kicker here being that this is my first AND ONLY chance to read and correct the ms. before it goes to the printer. And it needs to be done by Sept. 20th.

Oooookay. So my plan is:

1. Proof the galleys first. Read with no distraction, fix any errors, mark anything (like empty square brackets or questionable bits) for later fill-in.

2. Read the copyedited ms., side by side with galleys (mind, the pages don’t _match_, as the copyedit was done on a printout of the revised ms., not on a printout of the galleys), answer all queries, and transfer all approved markings to the galleys. This will be the slowest part.

3. Paste in/append insertions of Gaelic–these are numerous, and owing to the fact that Gaelic is unfamiliar to typesetters (i.e., they can’t tell what a Gaelic word is _supposed_ to look like, and can therefore easily misspell them), the bits need to be provided _in type_, rather than handwritten (know from bitter experience that typesetters routinely mistake “r” for “v” and “n” for “m” when reading Gaelic insertions done by hand). I’ll print the pieces (on separate pages) and staple them to the relevant galley pages.

4. Write, print, and append auxiliary material: Dedication, Acks, Author’s Notes, and Glossary. (The Author’s Notes are mostly written already, and the Acks roughed out. Dedication is the work of a few moments–but the Glossary needs to be compiled _from_ steps one and two, above, words being added as I go through the ms.) These then need to be proofed, as well.

5. Consult all notes from beta readers and be sure all errors and questions have been addressed.

6. If time, read Whole Damn Thing again when complete. Also if time, make copy of WDT and have assistant proof-read, too, extra eyes being useful (but not all that useful during preliminary phases, as many errors will have already been caught and new stuff hasn’t been added yet).

That’s the Major Thing that needs to be done over the next weeks. On the other hand, really don’t want to go without writing for that long (and wanting very much to dig into WRITTEN); likewise, doing too much proofing at a stretch is counter-productive, because you start reading too fast and imagining–rather than really seeing–what’s on the page. So goal is to proof for an hour or so at a time, with a goal of processing 150 pages a day (I can effectively proof/process about 30 pages an hour), and during breaks, write stuff. (Besides WRITTEN, I have an essay on “Dr. Who” for a small anthology, and the novella about Michael and Joan, due in November. And, of course, there’s always stuff for OCII…). Also resume regular exercise routine (can’t usually keep this up while traveling, particularly not if doing constant events)–walk five miles a day, regular stretches and weights in the morning, half-hour stationary bike or swim in evening.


Which is….


(I still want an octopus on the cover, but we’ll deal with that later.)


Now home from DragonCon!! Had a good time, but good to be back. Further info on title, pursuant to questions:

Y’all are assuming I _know_ everything about that title, which is not the case. {g} I do know a _few_ things, though:

First off, it has to do with the printing trade, the written word, and its effect on the American Revolution (and the effect of the Revolution on the printers and writers, for that matter). That’s why it specifically needs the “written with…”–

Though that part has also to do with Roger, but I’m not going to tell you why.

And as I said (I think) earlier, it has to do with the Gaelic term “A chuisle,” meaning, “my heart’s blood”–to refer to a beloved child. (You recall that Jamie uses it of his adopted grandchildren as well as those who really _are_ of his physical blood.) Ergo, possibly—you think?–to do with family relationships, of which there are One Heck of a Lot in this book.

I can’t think why some folk assume there’s anything ominous about the title. It just means that something’s done–e.g., written–with passion, not that someone’s stabbing themselves in the chest with a quill and going GAK! on their desk. Have we never heard of imagery or metaphor, for heaven’s sake?

And no, it certainly doesn’t give any intimation that this is the last book. What about it sounds like “THIS IS THE END?” IF it should turn out to be the last book, I’d tell you straight out. At the moment, I’m thinking the odds are against it being the final one, but I won’t know that for a few months yet.

As for the person who thought someone was going to die in this book….well, I can give you pretty good odds on that one. I’ve never written a book that didn’t have anybody dying in it. (And fwiw, Jamie’s _been_ dead for at last part of every single book in the series. It isn’t necessarily fatal, you know. {g})

And as for not sounding like the other books in the series–it has the same number of words, the same number of syllables, and the same rhythm as A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES. Most of the books are paired, in terms of title structure: OUTLANDER/VOYAGER, DRAGONFLY IN AMBER/DRUMS OF AUTUMN, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES/WRITTEN WITH MY HEART’S OWN BLOOD (I’m leaning toward “Heart’s Own,” if only because “HOB” is easier to pronounce). Only THE FIERY CROSS and AN ECHO IN THE BONE are unlike the others. (I didn’t do this on purpose, btw, with the exception of DRUMS OF AUTUMN–that one _was_ chosen specifically to echo DRAGONFLY (and is subsequently the weakest title of the bunch).)


Gonna be a busy weekend!

First off–I’m not doing the Decatur Book Festival this year, only DragonCon. I _will_ be doing a signing in Decatur, though, for those who don’t want to brave the zoo (I walked through the lobby of one of the five host hotels for DragonCon last year, and remarked to a friend, “It doesn’t just _look_ like the cantina scene in “Star Wars”–it _is_ the cantina scene in “Star Wars.”), or pay for the privilege of rubbing shoulders with Darth Vader, young girls with pink, blue, and yellow hair, and hundreds of steampunk explorers.

Now, if you _are_ going to DragonCon, here’s my schedule:

Saturday, 1 PM – signing in the Autograph area, Marriott M301-304. I’m happy to sign whatever you have, but don’t know whether there will be books available for sale, there.

Saturday, 8:30 PM – Title: Whiskey, Haggis, & Madmen: Myths & Reality of the Scottish Highlands
Time: Sat 08:30 pm Location: International BC – Westin (Length: 1)
Description: The stories that made Scotland famous: why kilts, why Braveheart was an inspiring fairy tale, and how the Scots invented everything. Yes, everything.
Panel (with other people). I’ll be available to sign books afterward, but we might have to do it in the hall, depending on whether there’s another panel scheduled afterward.)

Sunday, 3PM – talk/reading/signing at Eagle Eye Books. There _will_ be books available for purchase; definitely the 20th Anniversary OUTLANDER, plus others.

2076 North Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033-5306
(404) 486-0307

Sunday, 7:00 PM – DragonCon – solo reading/talk

Title: An Hour with Diana Gabaldon
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: International BC – Westin (Length: 1)
Description: The best-selling author discusses her time-traveling Outlander series, and more!

It’ll be busy, but it’ll be fun! {g}

See you there!

[Photos courtesy of Loretta McKibben - from BuboniCon 2011]

Bubonicon, DragonCon – and an Excerpt

Ooookay. THIS weekend (August 26-28) is Bubonicon, which takes place in Albuquerque, NM, at the Airport Sheraton Hotel. I’ll be there from Friday evening through Sunday, and will be doing several different appearances:

8:30 PM on Friday night—a panel on “Beyond Goddess/Whore”

1:00 PM Saturday–a panel on Jules Verne

4:00 PM – Mass Autographing (with other authors) – I _think_ this is open to the public, but can’t swear to it, and

10:00 AM Sunday – a 70-minute talk/reading (with Sam Sykes)

I’ll also be taking part in the Sunday afternoon tea, and will just be generally around most of the time. See you there!

Or if not at Bubonicon….

NEXT weekend (Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3-4), I’ll be at DragonCon in Atlanta. I’m doing two appearances there:

Title: Whiskey, Haggis, & Madmen: Myths & Reality of the Scottish Highlands
Time: Sat 08:30 pm Location: International BC – Westin (Length: 1)
Description: The stories that made Scotland famous: why kilts, why Braveheart was an inspiring fairy tale, and how the Scots invented everything. Yes, everything.

Title: An Hour with Diana Gabaldon
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: International BC – Westin (Length: 1)
Description: The best-selling author discusses her time-traveling Outlander series, and more!

Now, I’m _not_ doing the Decatur Book Festival this year, but with due regard for Atlanta-area folk who might want to see me and get a signed book, but don’t want to fight their way through the DragonCon zoo {g} (or pay for the privilege of doing so)….I _will_ be doing a talk/reading/signing event in Decatur (about three miles from downtown Atlanta):

3 PM Sunday – Talk/reading/Q&A/signing
Eagle Eye Book Shop
2076 N. Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033

This is a free public event, so for any of y’all that can’t make it to DragonCon (or turn pale at the thought {g})—I’ll see you in Decatur!


Righto. Now, with business out of the way, I did promise to post the excerpt that made tents full of people gasp in Fergus last week. {g}





(still with me?)

(OK, then….)

Excerpt, Book Eight: Roger in the Past
Copyright 2011 Diana Gabaldon

[You may recall that at the end of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, we left Roger embarked on a quest through the stones to find his son Jem, whom he believed had been taken into the past. From Craigh na Dun, Roger goes immediately to Lallybroch, figuring that if Jem had managed to escape from his captor, he’d head for home.]

His heart rose in spite of his anxiety, when he came to the top of the pass and saw Lallybroch below him, its white-harled buildings glowing in the fading light. Everything lay peaceful before him; late cabbages and turnips in orderly rows within the kailyard walls, safe from grazing sheep—there was a small flock in the far meadow, already bedding for the night, like so many wooly eggs in a nest of bright green grass, like a kid’s Easter-basket.

The thought caught at his throat, with memories of the horrible cellophane grass that got everywhere, Mandy with her face—and everything else within six feet of her—smeared with chocolate, Jem carefully writing “Dad” on a hardboiled egg with a white crayon, then frowning over the array of dye-cups, trying to decide whether blue or purple was more Dad-like.

“Lord, let him be here!” he muttered under his breath, and hurried down the rutted trail, half-sliding on loose rocks.

The dooryard was tidy, the big yellow rose brier trimmed back for the winter, and the step swept clean. He had the sudden notion that if he were simply to open the door and walk in, he would find himself in his own lobby, Mandy’s tiny red galoshes flung helter-skelter under the hall-tree where Brianna’s disreputable duffel-coat hung, crusty with dried mud and smelling of its wearer, soap and musk and the faint smell of her motherhood: sour milk, fresh bread, and peanut butter.

“Bloody hell,” he muttered, “be weeping on the step, next thing.” He hammered at the door, and a huge dog came galloping round the corner of the house, baying like the bloody hound of the Baskervilles. It slid to a stop in front of him but went on barking, weaving its huge head to and fro like a snake, ears cocked in case he might make a false move that would let it devour him with a clear conscience.

He wasn’t risking any moves; he’d plastered himself against the door when the dog appeared, and now shouted, “Help! Come call your beast!”

He heard footsteps within, and an instant later, the door opened, nearly decanting him into the hall.

“Hauld your wheesht, dog,” a dark man said, in a tolerant tone. “Come in, sir, and dinna be minding him. He wouldna eat you; he’s had his dinner.”

“I’m pleased to hear it, sir, and thank ye kindly.” Roger pulled off his hat and followed the man into the shadows of the hall. It was his own familiar hall, the slates of the floor just the same, though not nearly as worn, the dark wood paneling shining with beeswax and polishing. There was a halltree in the corner, though of course different to his; this one was a sturdy affair of wrought iron, and a good thing, too, as it was supporting a massive burden of jackets, shawls, cloaks and hats that would have crumpled a flimsier piece of furniture.

He smiled at it, nonetheless, and then stopped dead, feeling as though he’d been punched in the chest.

The wood paneling behind the halltree shone serene, unblemished. No sign of the saber-slashes left by frustrated redcoat soldiers, searching for the outlawed laird of Lallybroch after Culloden. Those slashes had been carefully preserved for centuries, were still there, darkened by age but still distinct, when he had owned—would own, he corrected mechanically—this place.

“We keep it so for the children,” Bree had quoted her uncle Ian as saying. “We tell them, ‘This is what the English are.””

He had no time to deal with the shock; the dark man had shut the door with a firm Gaelic adjuration to the dog, and now turned to him, smiling.

“Welcome, sir. Ye’ll sup wi’ us? The lass has it nearly ready.”

“Aye, I will, and thanks to ye,” Roger bowed slightly, groping for his 18th-century manners. “I—my name is Roger MacKenzie. Of Lochalsh,” he added, for no respectable man would omit to note his origins, and Lochalsh was far enough away that the chances of this man—who was he? He hadn’t the bearing of a servant—knowing its inhabitants in any detail was remote.

He’d hoped that the immediate response would be, “MacKenzie? Why, you must be the father of wee Jem!” It wasn’t, though; the man returned his bow and offered his hand.

“Brian Fraser of Lallybroch, your servant, sir.”

[end section]

Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games: Dingbats and Whale Penises

Had a wonderful (if very busy!) time at Fergus last weekend! Thanks to everyone who came, and my apologies to all the Very Patient People who waited in line for _hours_. (Not that I was slow signing, but there were a heck of a lot of people, and many of them took me at my word when I said I’d sign anything they felt like lugging through the fairgrounds. {g})

And speaking of such Patient People, here’s a charming blog post from MichelleK’s anotherlookbookreview, on her own Fergus Experience. {g}

I had a good time speaking to y’all–and for those who asked about the whale penises {cough}–

I was explaining about what-all goes on with a book _after_ I deliver the manuscript (and why the book doesn’t appear instantly on the shelves the moment I finish writing it), and had got to the part about the book designer–that wonderful person who decides what the pages will look like, what typeface will be used, how wide the margins are, how the lines are spaced, where the page number appears….and what dingbat to use to delineate one scene from another. A dingbat is a symbol that’s used generally as a spacer or placeholder in the text; you might see asterisks, curlicues, or some other scenic bit–there are a lot of them, but the same dingbat has been used in all my books as a spacer between scenes. It’s a graceful sort of thick curvy shape, which my beloved first editor invariably referred to as a “whale penis.”

That’s because, around the time the first book was being laid out, I happened to tell her the story of what happened when my eldest daughter’s fourth-grade teacher asked me to come and talk to the class–not about writing, but about marine biology. (I used to be a marine biologist, briefly, at one point in my scientific incarnation.)

Well, we were getting along nicely, the fourth-graders and me, talking about pelagic (free-swimming) and sessile (fixed in place) organisms, when one intelligent lad asked me, “If barnacles are stuck in one place, how do they mate?” So I explained–they shed their gametes into the water, where they fertilize and develop into free-swimming forms, which then settle down and stick to the substrate. This evidently started a train of thought, though, because the kid’s next question was “Do whales have penises?”

“Indeed they do,” I said. Which led naturally to the next question. (About six feet) And the next–why don’t you ever see a whale’s penis at Seaworld? “Well, they’re retractable,” I said. “You know–drag.”

At this point, I observed the teacher in the back of the room, who had evidently turned into a pillar of salt. Oddly enough, I was never invited back to talk to the students about marine biology.

But that’s the story of the whale penises.

And yes, I _will_ put up the excerpt that made a tent full of two hundred people gasp out loud–but not tonight. {g}

One nice gentleman took a brief video of me signing, and I’ll _try_ posting a link to that here, but no guarantees. (I have my laptop working momentarily and wanted to take advantage of the ability to upload pictures.)

Thanks to Lynn Boland Richardson, Warren Trask, and the other amazing people who organize the Fergus Festival–this was their 66th anniversary, and a great time had by all!

And many thanks also to Iwona, who sent me the photos here, of me with her son’s fiancee, Natasha, her daughter, Farida, and herself–in the bottom photo, with me and my husband, Doug.

Yes, I’ll be at DragonCon!

Title: Whiskey, Haggis, & Madmen: Myths & Reality of the Scottish Highlands
Description: The stories that made Scotland famous: why kilts, why Braveheart was an inspiring fairy tale, and how the Scots invented everything. Yes, everything.
Time: Sat 08:30 pm Location: International C – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: An Hour with Diana Gabaldon
Description: The best-selling author discusses her time-traveling Outlander series, and more!
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: International C – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)

I will be at DragonCon, appearing on Saturday (Sept. 3), and Sunday (Sept.4).

If my cut and paste worked, details are above! (hardware difficulty has me doing this on an iPad–not ideal.)

Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games

Made it to Canada last night! Getting ready for the Tattoo tonight at the Fergust Scottish Festival and Highland Games (I’m not performing at the Tattoo–this is mostly pipes and drums, “heavy” event exhibitions (like caber-tossing), the calling of the clans, and singing, none of which I’m qualified to do), and for the various talks/readings and signings I’ll be doing tomorrow.

Thought I should post the times–now that I have them–for the talks/signings:

I’ll be in what they call the Geneaology Tent (this is the biggest tent–other than the whisky tent–on the grounds; hard to miss), doing talks at 9:30 AM and 2:00 PM on Saturday, and at 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM on Sunday. All talks will be followed by book-signing (usually I just sign madly until it’s time for the next talk).

I’m happy to sign any books you want to bring, but there will also be an onsite bookstore selling books–they told me last night that they’ve stocked 2000 copies of the 20th anniversary edition of OUTLANDER–I kind of hope they brought a few other titles, too–but that’s pretty cool. Not much chance of a shortage, I mean. {g}

Check out the Festival website at http://www.fergusscottishfestival.com/ and if you’re in driving distance, I’ll see you there tomorrow!

(Yes, I will have excerpts to read, from SCOTTISH PRISONER and BOOK EIGHT. Just figuring out which ones I can safely read over a microphone to an audience of several hundred innocent passersby…)

ABERDEEN = Sex Capitol of Scotland (who knew?)

Which is to say that our hotel was apparently _the_ hotel in Aberdeen for wedding nights, anniversaries, and less-licit occasions. The wallpaper in the halls is hot pink, with black-lace flocked appliques–it looks like naughty underwear–and the rooms are done in a tasteful mixture of dark tartan and black velour, with a suggestive tray holding two goblets and a bottle of wine (with a label reading “L13.95″ round the neck. (In case this is insufficient stimulus, Reception sends a fresh bottle of champagne upstairs to the rooms every ten minutes or so.) The bar downstairs runs “Superman” on a continuous loop, and people loll in the couches in couples, thumb-wrestling and fondling each other’s thighs (whilst the strait-laced Americans sit primly sipping white wine and watching the debauchery in fascination).

Beyond the entertainment of our accommodations, we had a great time in Aberdeen. Got to have dinner with Mike Gibb (lyricist and playwright for OUTLANDER: The Musical) and his lovely wife, Norma, and take part in Aberdeen’s Tartan Day. I got to walk in the parade with a lot of people dressed up in suits of armor and/or costumed as the Archbishop, carrying a scroll purporting to be the Declaration of Arbroath, whose most famous line I’m sure you’ve all seen:

“For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

Also did a book-signing, courtesy of Waterstone’s, who are always hugely gracious and kind to me—so nice to meet so many readers, not only from Scotland, but from Poland, the Netherlands, and even Brazil!

In the interstices of all this frolicking, I also got to watch Mike’s new short play—commissioned for the occasion—“Red Harlaw,” commemorating the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Harlaw, fought in July of 1411.

It was a great piece—very powerful and moving; kudos to Mike, and to the cast: Mark Kydd, Michelle Bruce, and Allan Scott-Douglas (you’ll recognize Michelle and Allan as singers on the OUTLANDER: The Musical CD). That’s them above, in St. Nicholas’s Church, where the show was performed.

In re Mr. Scott-Douglas, I’d promised him that if he could get a new photograph of us together next time we met, I’d replace the infamous one of him as Big Bird in an earlier blog post {g}—and am happy to report that he seized the opportunity (nothing like motivation) at the reception held by the Lord Provost at Aberdeen’s amazing historical Townhouse (aka City Hall, but much posher, with paintings of previous Lord Provosts, red and gold wallpaper, and crystal chandeliers). Many thanks to the Lord Provost, who was entirely charming!

We bade Aberdeen—and the hot-pink wallpaper—adieu day before yesterday, though, and via planes, trains, and automobiles, made our arduous way to London, where we are at present. Spent the day at the City of London Museum, St. Paul’s cathedral, and out having a wonderful dinner with my delightful UK editor and his wife. More about London (and more bits of Scotland) anon—but now it’s the middle of the night, and I need to sleep.

Good night!

Loch Ness, Naked Man

I don’t know why _I_ never see naked men emerging from bodies of water. Not looking at the right moment, I suppose.

Doug and I had a lovely dinner on the 19th at Castle Stuart (which sort of has to be seen to be believed), with Alastair Cunningham and his merry tour group of Australians, all of whom _had_ been looking at the right moment, earlier in the day, when they paused to have a look for Nessie and instead beheld a local gentleman emerging from the loch “in all his glory,” as one lady put it. “I couldn’t believe it; it was only _that_ long!” (fingers held about two inches apart). (Well, Loch Ness _is_ very cold, after all.)

The one drawback to Castle Stuart is its internet connections; as the castle was built in 1625, it’s rather impervious to modern wiring (though they did somehow manage to do remote-controlled fires. Really—you point a little box at the fireplace and poof! Fire. Push the button and it burns higher, push the other one and it burns lower. Click again, and poof! It goes out).

After leaving Castle Stuart, we took up with independent tour guide Hugh Allison (whom I met many years ago, when he was working at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre) for a four-day journey around the north and west of Scotland, to places we’d never been. And _what_ places!

[Isle of Stroma - image from Wikipedia]

Orkney, for one. We took the ferry from the mainland, going past the Isle of Stroma—where the entire population emigrated en masse in the 1960′s, leaving their houses deserted. Eerie place, but well populated with puffins, who whirled off the island like a hurricane of fish-eating autumn leaves, some couple of thousand of them wheeling round the ferry, close enough to see their amazing bills.

[Image courtesy of The Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds - www.rspb.org]

I’ll tell you more about all the cool things we’ve seen—Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe, etc.—but right now it’s the middle of the night at Culloden House, and we’re leaving in the morning to drive to Edinburgh (pausing to walk the battlefield at Sheriffsmuir on the way), and I wanted to post the information about Tartan Day in Aberdeen, coming up THIS SATURDAY!

Tartan Day, Aberdeen, Scotland Saturday 30 July

RED HARLAW Premiere of Mike Gibb’s new short play (with music) with a cast that includes Allan Scott-Douglas and Michelle Bruce from the Outlander The Musical CD.
Performances at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm in the historic Drum Aisle of St Nicholas Church. Admission is free

DIANA GABALDON BOOK SIGNING Courtyard of St Nicholas Kirk between 12.00 and 1.00pm

I’ll be around most of the day, so hope to see lots of you there!