• “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

New Season Six Trailer and Art from NYCC

New York Comic Con 2021 - Day 3

Left to right: Myself, Maril Davis, and Sam Heughan at NYCC on October 9. (Image Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for ReedPop)

I had a great time at New York Comic Con (NYCC) in the Big Apple on October 9!

An exciting new trailer for Season Six of the Starz Outlander TV series was unveiled during a special Outlander panel discussion with Maril Davis (executive producer), Sam Heughan (the actor who portrays Jamie Fraser) and myself in person. Joining us virtually were stars Caitriona Balfe, Sophie Skelton, Lauren Lyle, Cesar Domboy, and John Bell. Please scroll down to view the new trailer.

2021-come-what-may-crop New tidbits about the TV series discussed included:

  • Come What May… New graphic art for season six was released at NYCC (see below and at right). It features snow, which is appropriate since these new episodes are based on A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, the sixth book in my OUTLANDER series of major novels.
  • “They’re such a weird little family,’ Sam Heughan teased about the Christie family joining the show. If you’ve read my books, you know that the trio will be causing trouble in North Carolina.
  • Season Six of the Outlander TV series will be released by STARZ in early 2022. Season Seven will begin filming next year with a future release date to be announced. And,
  • Check out the article by TV Insider for more of what was discussed at this panel.

Here is the new Season Six trailer released at NYCC:

If you are having difficulty viewing the trailer above, click here to view it on the Starz website.

The Outlander TV series is produced by the STARZ network, and is based on my OUTLANDER series of novels. It is shown in the U.S.A. on the STARZ network, and on multiple cable and streaming channels around the globe.

Links and References:

‘Come What May’

Below is a new Season Six graphic for Outlander released by STARZ earlier this month at NYCC. Click on it to view the full-sized image.

Season Six graphic for Outlander released by STARZ in October, 2021.

GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, the ninth book in my OUTLANDER series of major novels, will be released in the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K., and Germany on November 23, 2021 or soon after.

Late-breaking: Appearance at NYCC with Maril and Sam!

Outlander-Starz-NYCC-panelLATE BREAKING NEWS: Are you going to New York Comic Con (NYCC) in a few days?

I’ll be there in person for a panel and autograph session along with Maril Davis and Sam Heughan from the Starz Outlander television show!

On Twitter, NYCC recently announced:

Diana Gabaldon, Maril Davis and Sam Heughan are joining us IN-PERSON for the “OUTLANDER Season Six Takes NYCC” panel… & they want to meet YOU.

Joining virtually will be Caitriona Balfe, Sophie Skelton, Lauren Lyle, Cesar Domboy, & John Bell.

This panel will take place on Saturday, October 9, 2021 from 11 a.m. to noon on the Empire Stage.

Outlander Panel Description: “Travel through the stones of Craigh na Dun and go back in time with the cast and executive producers of OUTLANDER as they take on New York Comic Con in support of the sixth season, premiering early 2022. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to get you back to your own time.”

A paid membership is required to attend the panel in person or digitally via virtual membership. To buy in-person badges and passes or digital passes, go to the NYCC webpage at:


and click on the blue “Badges” button. Information on other guests attending the convention, including William Shatner, George Takei and many others is on the NYCC webpages.

An additional charge and separate advance reservation is required for the Outlander in-person autograph session. Fans who already have in-person passes for October 9 may register for autograph passes for Outlander (with Maril Davis, Sam Heughan and me) at http://NYCC21.com/Reservations.

NYCC in 2021: In-person and Virtual

New York Comic Con, an annual convention for fans of comics, movies, science fiction and fantasy will be held from Thursday, October 7 through Sunday, October 10, 2021 in New York, New York. This year NYCC will be a hybrid in-person attendance and also can be enjoyed virtually at home. The Javits Center will allow a limited capacity due to COVID-19. Those without in-person passes are able to purchase a digital ticket to enjoy the Outlander panel and other events.

Please consult the NYCC webpage for COVID-19 health guidelines for in-person attendees.

(Sorry that this was not organized and announced farther in advance by NYCC, likely due to the pandemic. Note that I as of October 5, I am not yet listed as a literary guest at NYCC.)

Signed Books, Tip Sheets, and Trolls…

2021-09-17-Diana-office-tipsheetsIt must be a dull week in Trollsville. I went by the Poisoned Pen (that’s my local independent bookstore, for those unfamiliar) yesterday afternoon to sign the latest pile of backlist titles (the Pen handles all my autographed books, and has done so for the last twenty-odd years) and while chatting with Patrick, the manager, was surprised (and displeased) to hear that some folk with too much time on their hands were posting intemperate messages on tumblr, claiming that the Poisoned Pen is a scam outfit, that they don’t really provide signed books, and that people who have pre-ordered BEES won’t get their copies signed.


This is a shot of my small office tonight (above image). I’m up in Flagstaff, in my old family house, just for the day. And what am I doing, in the middle of the night?

2021-09-17-tipsheet-DGSigning tip-sheets. A tip-sheet (see image at left) is a loose sheet of paper, which will eventually be bound into a book as it’s produced. It’s a method of dealing with huge numbers of books, where shipping the actual books to and fro would be both expensive and laborious. I do this now and then—on request—for some of my publishers (in the US, the UK (including Australia and New Zealand(, and Canada, on this go) when a new book is coming out.

Normally, I might sign something like a thousand tip-sheets for a publisher. This time…

The UK asked for 8,000 tip-sheets.

Canada asked for a modest 2,000.

The US asked for 17,000.

(That’s 27,000 signatures, for those who are adding them up.)

This is NOT what I do for the Poisoned Pen. The Pen is an old-fashioned bookstore, that caters to people who truly love books, and to whom it makes a substantial difference as to whether a book was personally handled and signed by the author, rather than having a tip-sheet bound in ex post facto, so to speak.

I generally go by the Pen once or twice a month, and sign (and personalize, if requested) their orders. This usually amounts to 4-500 books at a time.

When I have a new book out, it’s all hands on deck, because I’m signing several thousand copies, and doing that requires a team of five people helping me:

Pen-signing-3Person 1 opens the cartons of books, dumps them and stacks the books at one end of the table.

Person 2 takes a book from the stack, opens it and finds the second title page (the one with both the book’s title and my printed name and a small, evocative photo). They then fold the dust jacket over the copyright and first title pages, so the jacket serves as a book-mark, allowing

Person 3 to open a book immediately to the right page. (This is called “flapping.” ) The flapped books are restacked next to—

Person 3. This person grabs a flapped book, opens it, turns it at a ninety-degree angle (because I sign uphill, not side to side) and sets the open book in front of me.

I sign it (fast), shut it and shove it toward—

Person 4, who grabs the hurtling book (you want a smooth surface for this, preferably wood, because plastic-topped tables build up a terrific charge of static electricity if you send books whizzing across them in large quantities, and people get shocked) and places it neatly on a growing stack.

Person 5 takes the stacks and puts them back into the original cartons (having run down to the other end of the table every other minute in order to retrieve said cartons), tapes the cartons shut and stacks them. There’s limited room in the backroom of a bookstore, and if you’re dealing with huge quantities, it’s lots easier to move the cartons from place to place than it is to load the books onto a cart and drive them to distant shelving, unload and come back. (This is also how you move a lot of books to an offsite signing/event venue.)

I can sign roughly 500 books per hour, doing this with help.

Awright. That’s how it works. Now—thanks to you all who’ve been ordering the book!—BEES is going to be kind of a big thing, apparently, in terms of copies needing to be signed, moved, etc.

Pen-signing-2-crop-fixedI don’t know how many copies of of BEES have so far been ordered from the Poisoned Pen (let alone how many they’ll eventually sell), but they had 20,000 pre-orders by August (thank you!!), and at that point, the Pen’s owner put out word that while I will sign all the books people want signed, there’s a limit (physically) to how many I can sign by December 10th— that being the latest shipping date on which you might reasonably expect the book to be delivered by Christmas 2021. That limit is 20,000. (See, I can’t sign books until they arrive at the bookstore, which won’t be until November.) Ergo, if you want a signed book, handled by me personally <g>, you can certainly have it—but if you order it now, I might not be able to sign it in time for it to be shipped for Christmas delivery (especially not this year, when shipping and delivery is a lot bigger and more complex in every area of business). And I can’t personalize them, sorry. (If you really want a personalized book, just wait until January or February, when we’re not working under a shipping deadline.)

As for the tip-sheets… those are sent back to the publisher when they’re done [after I sign them]. The publisher decides which bookstore accounts will get the books with signed tipsheets; I have no control over that and no idea where the books may end up.

But if you see a dump (that’s what the cardboard stands set up by the cashier’s desk are called) or other display of BEES in a chain bookstore that says, “Signed Books”—that’s what they are. Books with a signed tipsheet bound in.

2014-05-Diana-Pen3-smNow, to some people, it won’t make the slightest difference whether their signed book has a tipsheet (signed by me en masse), or was signed by me on the second title page (if you want to tell the difference easily, that’s how; the tip-sheets are blank, aside from my signature), as a complete book. To some people, it does make a substantial difference, and these are the Poisoned Pen’s book-loving customers.

I’ve known the Pen and its proprietor and managers for more than thirty-five years; I’ve been coming by to sign books for them for more than twenty of those years. (And no, there’s no extra charge for an autographed book.)

So, if you should happen to see any nasty little trolls grumping away to each other under some dank bridge… don’t bother dropping garbage on them; they make plenty of their own.

P.S. If you were keeping track…. 27,000 tip-sheets, plus 20,000 books is 47,000 signatures. Just for fun, try signing your name 25 times on a sheet of paper and see what it feels like… <g>

P.P.S. In the photos above with me in them, I am signing DRAGONFLY IN AMBER in hardcover and WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD when they came out in hardcover in the past. As I say, I do it pretty much all the time.

Pen-Signing-1 The image at left shows many copies of my books waiting to be signed by me in the storeroom at the Poisoned Pen.

Congratulations, Caitriona!

C-Balfe-2021-08-babyHUGE congratulations to Caitriona and her husband Tony on the birth of their lovely little boy! (Said little boy, along with Covid, is one of the reasons why Season Six of OUTLANDER has eight episodes, rather than the originally planned twelve—don’t worry, though, the last four episodes are not lost; they’ll just be pushed forward into Season Seven (which–God willing and everybody’s not down with the Zeta variant or something–will start filming early in 2022) which will end up with sixteen episodes!)

Caitriona posted the image at right on her official Instagram account after the baby’s birth, according to an online article in Parade magazine in August, 2021.

“Freedom Has Many Costs” (BEES)

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE, #Book9, #YES, #ItsDONE, #PubDate #November23rd, #YesThisYear, #HappyFourthOfJuly, #FreedomHasManyCosts, #LetUsNotForgetThem

2021-07-04-Tordjman-beesIt wasn’t God Roger found with him, but the next best thing. The memory of Major Gareth Everett, one of his father’s friends, an ex-military chaplain. Everett was a tall, long-faced man who wore his graying hair parted down the middle in a way that made him look like an old hound dog, but he’d had a black sense of humor and he’d treated Roger, then thirteen years old, as a man.

“Did you ever kill anyone?” he’d asked the Major when they were sat around the table after dinner one night, the old men telling stories of the War.

“Yes,” the Major replied without hesitation. “I’d be no use to my men, dead.”

“What did you do for them?” Roger had asked, curious. “I mean—what does a chaplain do, in a battle?”

Major Everett and the Reverend had exchanged a brief look, but the Reverend nodded and Everett leaned forward, arms folded on the table in front of him. Roger saw the tattoo on his wrist, a bird of some kind, wings spread over a scroll with something written on it in Latin.

“Be with them,” the Major said quietly, but his eyes held Roger’s, deeply serious. “Reassure them. Tell them God is with them. That I’m with them. That they aren’t alone.”

“Help them when you can,” his father had said, softly, eyes on the worn gray oilcloth that covered the table. “Hold their hands and pray, when you can’t.”

He saw—actually saw—the blast of a cannon. A brilliant red flowering spark the size of his head that blinked in the fog with a firework’s BOOM! and then vanished. The fog blew back from the blast and he saw everything clearly for a second, no more—the black hulk of the gun, round mouth gaping, smoke thicker than the fog rolling over it, fog falling to the ground like water, steam rising from the hot metal to join the roiling fog, the artillerymen swarming over the gun, frenzied blue ants, swallowed up the next instant in swirling white.

And then the world around him went mad. The shouts of the officers had come with the cannon’s blast; he only knew it because he’d been standing close enough to the Lieutenant-Colonel to see his mouth open. But now a general roar went up from the charging men in his column, running hell-bent for the dim shape of the redoubt before him.

The sword was in his hand, and he was running, yelling, wordless things.

Torches glowed faintly in the fog—soldiers trying to re-fire the abatis, he thought dimly.

The Lieutenant-Colonel was gone. There was a high-pitched yodeling of some sort that might be the general, but might not.

The cannon—how many? He couldn’t tell, but more than two; the firing kept up at a tremendous rate, the crash of it shaking his bones every half-minute or so.

He made himself stop, bent over, hands on his knees, gasping. He thought he heard musket-fire, muffled, rhythmic crashes between the cannon blasts. The British army’s disciplined volleys.



“Fall back!” An officer’s shouts rang out sudden in the heartbeat of silence between one crash and the next.

You’re not a soldier. If you get killed… nobody will be here to help them. Fall back, idiot.

He’d been at the back of the rank, with the Lieutenant-Colonel. But now he was surrounded by men, surging together, pushing, running in all directions. Orders were being barked, and he thought some of the men were struggling to obey; he heard random shouts, saw a black boy who couldn’t be more than twelve struggling grimly to load a musket taller than he was. He wore a dark blue uniform, and a bright yellow kerchief showed when the fog parted for an instant.

He tripped over someone lying on the ground and landed on his knees, brackish water seeping through his breeches. He’d landed with his hands on the fallen man, and the sudden warmth on his cold fingers was a shock that brought him back to himself.

The man moaned and Roger jerked his hands away, then recovered himself and groped for the man’s hand. It was gone, and his own hand was filled with a gush of hot blood that reeked like a slaughterhouse.

“Jesus,’ he said, and wiping his hand on his breeches, grappled with the other in his bag, he had cloths… he yanked out something white and tried to tie it round… he felt frantically for a wrist, but that was gone, too. He got a fragment of sleeve and felt his way up it as fast as he could, but he reached the still solid upper arm a moment after the man died—he could feel the sudden limpness of the body under his hand.

He was still kneeling there with the unused cloth in his hand when someone tripped over him and fell headlong with a tremendous splash. Roger got up onto his feet and duck-walked to the fallen man.

“Are you all right?” he shouted, bending forward. Something whistled over his head and he threw himself flat on top of the man.

“Jesus Christ!” the man exclaimed, punching wildly at Roger. “Get the devil off me, you bugger!”

They wrestled in the mud and water for a moment, each trying to use the other for leverage to rise, and the cannon kept on firing. Roger pushed the man away and managed to roll up onto his knees in the mud. Cries for help were coming from behind him, and he turned in that direction.

The fog was almost gone, driven off by explosions, but the gun-smoke drifted white and low across the uneven ground, showing him brief flashes of color and movement as it shredded.

“Help, help me!”

He saw the man then, on hands and knees, dragging one leg, and splashed through the puddles to reach him. Not much blood, but the leg was clearly wounded; he got a shoulder under the man’s arm and got him on his feet, hustled him as fast as possible away from the redoubt, out of range…

The air shattered again and the earth seemed to tilt under him, he was lying on the ground with the man he’d been helping on top of him, the man’s jaw knocked away and hot blood and chunks of teeth soaking into his chest. Panicked, he struggled out from under the twitching body—Oh, God, oh, God, he was still alive—and then he was kneeling by the man, slipping in the mud, catching himself with a hand on the chest where he could feel the heart beating in time with the blood spurting, Oh, Jesus, help me!

He groped for words, frantic. It was all gone. All the comforting words he’d gleaned, all his stock in trade…

“You’re not alone,” he panted, pressing hard on the heaving chest, as though he could anchor the man to the earth he was dissolving into. “I’m here. I won’t leave you. It’s gonna be all right. You’re gonna be all right.” He kept repeating that, kept his hands pressing hard, and then in the midst of the spouting carnage, felt the life leave the body.


He sat on his heels, gasping, frozen in place, one hand on the still body as though it was glued there and then the drums.

A faint throb through the rhythmic sounds of gunfire. His bones had absorbed that without his noticing; he could feel the ebb when the first rank of muskets fell back and the surge when the second rank reached the edge of the redoubt and fired. Something in the back of his head was counting… one… two…

Created with GIMP“What the hell,” he said thickly and stood up, shaking his head. There were three men near him, two still on the ground, the third struggling to rise. He got up and staggered over to them, gave the live man his hand and pulled him up, wordless. One of the others was plainly dead, the other almost so. He let go of the man he was holding and collapsed on his knees by the dying one, taking the man’s cold face between his hands, the dark eyes bleared with fear and ebbing blood.

“I’m here,” he said, though the cannon fired then and his words made no sound.

The drums. He heard them clearly now, and a sort of yell, a lot of men shouting together. And then a rumbling, squashing, splashing and suddenly there were horses everywhere, running… Running at the fucking redoubts full of guns.

A crash of guns and the cavalry split, half the horses wheeling, back and away, the rest scattering, dancing through the fallen men, trying not to step on the bodies, big heads jerking as they fought the reins.

He didn’t run; he couldn’t. He walked forward, slowly, sword flopping at his side, stopping where he found a man down. Some he could help, with a drink or a hand to press upon a wound while a friend tied a cloth around it. A word, a blessing where he could. Some were gone and he laid a hand on them in farewell and commended their souls to God with a hasty prayer.

He found a wounded boy and picked him up, carrying him back through the smoke and puddles, away from the cannon.

Another roar. The fourth column came running through the broken ground, to throw themselves into the fighting at the redoubt. He saw an officer with a flag of some kind run up shouting, then fall, shot through the head. A little boy, a little black boy in blue and yellow, grabbed the flag and then bodies hid him from view.

“Jesus Christ,” Roger said, because there wasn’t anything else he could possibly say. He could feel the boy’s heart beating under his hand through the soaked cloth of his coat. And then it stopped.

The cavalry charge had broken all together. Horses were being ridden or led away, a few of them fallen, huge and dead in the marshy ground, or struggling to rise, neighing in panic.

An officer in a gaudy uniform was crawling away from a dead horse. Roger set the boy’s body down and ran heavily to the officer. Blood was gushing down his thigh and his face, and Roger fumbled in his pocket, but there was nothing there. The man fell and doubled up, hands pressing his groin, and saying something in a language Roger didn’t recognize.

“It’s all right,” he said to the man, taking him by the arm. “You’re going to be all right. I won’t leave you.”

“Bòg i Maryla pomò&zring;cie mi,” the man gasped.

“Aye, right. God be with you.” He turned the man on his side, pulled out his shirt-tail and ripped it off, then stuffed it into the man’s trousers, pressing into the hot wetness. He leaned on the wound with both hands, and the man screamed.

Then there were several cavalrymen there, all talking at once in multiple languages, and they pushed Roger out of the way and picked the wounded officer up bodily, carrying him away.

Most of the firing had stopped now. The cannon was silent, but his ears felt as though fire-bells were ringing in his head; it hurt.

He sat down, slowly, in the mud and became aware of rain running down his face. He closed his eyes. And after some time, became aware that a few words had come back to him.

“Out of the depths I cry unto you, O, Lord. O, Lord, hear my voice.”

The trembling didn’t stop, but some little time later, he got up and staggered away toward the distant marshes, to help bury the dead.

[end section]

Click here to visit my webpage for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, which features more excerpts (“Daily Lines”), news, and information about this new book.

Excerpt from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright © 2021 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved. Please do not copy and repost this excerpt elsewhere; instead share the link to this blog post. Thank you.

And many thanks to Yolande Tordjman for the beautiful collage of bees on lemon blossoms!

This excerpt was also posted on my official Facebook page on July 4, 2021.

Happy Flag Day!

2021-06-15-excerpt-BEES-cropA Happy Flag Day to all! (I don’t seem to have any notable flag scenes in BEES, but one is at least mentioned here…)

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE, #pubdatenovember23rd, #minorspoilerspossible

“My name is Roger MacKenzie. I’m a Presbyterian minister, and I’ve brought a letter to General Lincoln from General James Fraser, late of General Washington’s Monmouth command.”

Sergeant Bradford’s brows rose out of sight beneath his hat.

“General Fraser,” he said. “Monmouth? That the fellow that abandoned his troops to tend his wife?”

This was said with a derisive tone, and Roger felt the words like a blow to the stomach. Was this how Jamie’s admittedly dramatic resignation of his commission was commonly perceived in the Continental Army? If so, his own present mission might be a little more delicate than he’d expected.

“General Fraser is my father-in-law, sir,” Roger said, in a neutral voice. “An honorable man—and a very brave soldier.”

The look of scorn didn’t quite leave the man’s face, but it moderated into a short nod, and the man turned away, jerking his chin in an indication that Roger might follow, if he felt so inclined.

US_Flag_Day_poster_1917General Lincoln’s tent was a large but well-worn green canvas, with a flagstaff outside from which the red and white stripes of the Grand Union flag fluttered in the wind off the sea.

Sergeant Bradford muttered something to the guard at the entrance, and left Roger with a curt nod.

“The Reverend MacKenzie, is it?” the guard said, looking him up and down with an air of skepticism. “And a letter from General James Fraser, have I got that right?”

Christ. Did Jamie know of the talk about him? Roger remembered the moment’s hesitation when Jamie had handed him the letter. Perhaps he did, then.

“I am, it is, and you do,” Roger said firmly. “Is General Lincoln able to receive me?”

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

Visit my official BEES webpage for links to more than ninety excerpts from my new novel, listed by temporary titles in order of their release.

Image of the flag day poster from 1917 is from Wikipedia. Caption: 140th U.S. Flag Day poster. 1777-1917. The birthday of the stars and stripes is June 14th, 1917. ’Tis the Star Spangled Banner, oh, long may it wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! (Library of Congress)

And many thanks to Vikki Brush for the lovely bee photo! (Posted with permission.)

Please do not copy and paste the text in whole or in part from this excerpt and post or print it elsewhere, since it is copyrighted material. Ditto for all of my other excerpts, aka “Daily Lines.”



This excerpt was also posted on my official Facebook page on Monday, June 14, 2021.

BEES (Book 9) Publication Date!

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #GoTELLTheBEESThatIAmGONE, #YESYESYESYESYES!!!!, #WeHaveAPubDate, #And #It #Is… #NOVEMBER23rd #2021 #AndYesThisYear #YesInTimeForChristmas! #Hooray!!!

2021-04-15-BEES-PRH-US-coverFor those cavalier souls who don’t read hashtags—Penguin Random House has decided on a publications date for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE. (That’s it, right there in the Social Media Hashtags banner overhead.)

The book will be released on November 23rd (yes, this year, yes, in plenty of time for Christmas), which is tidings of great joy, to be sure, but also—

You can pre-order the book now, should you want to!

Check out the announcement in an exclusive Entertainment Weekly’s aritcle:


And YES, of course there is a link for ordering information for our U.K. readers:


(No, I don’t have pub dates yet for the non-English editions; those will be set by the individual publishers in each country.)

Visit my webpage for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE to access excerpts (aka “Daily Lines”) that I have released from this new book:


Links to other vendors who are accepting pre-orders, including new hardcover ediitons signed by me, are also on my BEES webpage.

I’ve Finished Writing BEES…!

Important Update: Just a few weeks after I posted this blog entry below, a publication date of November 23, 2021, was announced for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE by my publisher, Penguin Random House.

Please read my newer blog entry about the publication date announcement, or visit my BEES webpage for current information about this new book.

2021-03-29-what-finished-means-DGI’ve finished writing GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, as of March 27, 2021! Now this new book enters the publication process, outlined below, which will likely take months (a guesstimate only).

Please keep in mind that I do not set the publication date, the day when you can buy the book at a bookstore. That date will be decided by my publishers. Stay tuned!


What Finished Means To An Author

As my husband often remarks, "‘FINISHED’ is a relative term to a writer."

This is true! <g> I thought y’all might be interested in Just What Happens to a book after the writer is “finished” writing the manuscript:

(NB: This is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Owing to the tight Production schedule—such as there was for MOBY (Book 8) and THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, Volume 2—a lot of these steps have been done concurrently, rather than sequentially, and a few repetitive steps have been skipped. But by and large, this is how it works.)

  1. Books don’t go directly from the author to the bookstore.
  2. Books go from the author to the editor, who
    1. reads the manuscript
    2. discusses the manuscript with the author, and
    3. suggests minor (we hope) revisions that may improve the book
  3. The book goes back to the author, who

    1. re-reads the manuscript
    2. considers the editor’s comments, and
    3. makes whatever revisions, emendments, or clarifications seem right.
  4. The book goes back to the editor, who

    1. reads it again
    2. asks any questions that seem necessary, and
    3. Sends it to
  5. The copy-editor. This is a person whose thankless job is to

    1. read the manuscript one…word…at…a…time
    2. find typos or errors in grammar, punctuation, or continuity (one heck of a job, considering the size not only of the individual books, but of the overall series), and
    3. apply “house style” to things like numbers (e.g. do we write “two” or “2”?), and
    4. write queries to the author regarding anything questionable, whereupon
  6. The book comes back to the author—yes, again— who

    1. re-reads the manuscript
    2. answers the copy-editor’s queries, and
    3. alters anything that the copy-editor has changed that the author disagrees with, and
    4. adds things inspired by the copy-editor’s comments that seem like a good idea. After which, the author sends it back to
  7. The editor—yes, again!—who

    1. re-re-reads it
    2. checks that all the copy-editor’s queries have been answered, and sends it to
  8. The Typesetter (aka Compositor, these days), who sets the manuscript in type, according to the format laid out by
  9. 2021-03-29-the-end

  10. The Book-Designer, who

    1. decides on the layout of the pages (margins, gutters, headers or footers, page-number placement)
    2. chooses a suitable and attractive typeface
    3. decides on the size of the font, leading and kerning
    4. chooses or commissions any incidental artwork (endpapers, maps, dingbats—these are the little gizmos that divide chunks of text, but that aren’t chapter or section headings)—or, for something like the OC II, a ton of miscellaneous illustrations, photographs, etc. that decorate or punctuate the text.
    5. Designs chapter and Section headings, with artwork, and consults with the

      (NB: People always want to know how many pages the book will be. This depends entirely on the Book Designer’s decisions, so there’s no telling ahead of time. The font, leading, kerning (leading and kerning are, respectively, the amount of space between lines and between letters) and page layout will all affect how many words fit on a page.)

  11. Cover Artist, who (reasonably enough) designs or draws or paints or PhotoShops the cover art (this often happens earlier in the process, but I put it here for convenience), which is then sent to
  12. The Printer, who prints the dust-jackets—which include not only the cover art and the author’s photograph and bio, but also "flap copy," which may be written by either the editor or the author (I usually write my own), but is then usually messed about with by
  13. The Marketing Department, whose thankless task is to try to figure out how best to sell a book that can’t reasonably be described in terms of any known genre <g>, to which end, they

    1. try to provide seductive and appealing cover copy to the book (which the author normally approves. I usually insist on writing it myself).
    2. compose advertisements for the book (author usually sees and approves these—or at least I normally do).
    3. decide where such advertisements might be most effective (periodicals, newspapers, book-review sections, radio, TV, Facebook, Web)
    4. try to think up novel and entertaining means of promotion, such as having the author appear on a cooking show to demonstrate recipes for unusual foods mentioned in the book.
    5. kill a pigeon in Times Square and examine the entrails in order to determine the most advantageous publishing date for the book.
  14. OK. The manuscript itself comes back from the typesetter, is looked at (again) by the editor, and sent back to the author (again!), who anxiously proof-reads the galleys (these are the typeset sheets of the book; they look just like the printed book’s pages, but are not bound. (NB: of recent years, galleys are often provided in electronic form)), because this is the very last chance to change anything. Meanwhile

    (Somewhere in here, recording begins on the audiobook, which is normally released at the same time as the hardcover. Ideally, the narrator is given a version of the manuscript that’s pretty close to the ultimate printed form, but they may get earlier or partial versions from which to prepare their performance (choosing accents and pacing for different characters, for instance).)

  15. A number of copies of the galley-proofs are bound—in very cheap plain covers—and sent to (NB: This is SOP, but we haven’t been doing it for the last few books, owing to the fact that the book itself is coming out on the heels of Production; there’s no time to distribute ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies).) (NB: These days, it’s often PDFs, though paper ARCs are still used, too.))
  16. The Reviewers, i.e., the bound galleys (or PDFs) are sent (by the marketing people, the editor, and/or the author) to the book editors of all major newspapers and periodicals, blogs, websites, and to any specialty publication to whom this book might possibly appeal, in hopes of getting preliminary reviews, from which cover quotes can be culled, and/or drumming up name recognition and excitement prior to publication. Frankly, they don’t always bother with this step with my books, because they are in a rush to get them into the bookstores, and it takes several months’ lead-time to get reviews sufficiently prior to publication that they can be quoted on the cover.
  17. With luck, the author finds 99.99% of all errors in the galleys (you’re never going to find all of them; the process is asymptotic—vide the typo in the very last line of MOBY…), and returns the corrected manuscript (for the last time, [pant, puff, gasp, wheeze]) to the editor, who sends it to

    (The ebook coding happens somewhere in here.)

  18. The Printer, who prints lots of copies (“the print-run” means how many copies) of the “guts” of the book—the actual inside text—are printed. These are then shipped to
  19. The Bindery, where the guts are bound into their covers, equipped with dust-jackets, and shipped to
  20. The Distributors. There are a number of companies—Amazon is the largest, but there are a number of smaller ones, and the large publishing houses have their own warehouse facilities, too—whose business is shipping, distributing, and warehousing books. The publisher also ships directly to

(1. Arrangements are made in this phase for ebook distribution through retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.)

  21. Bookstores, but bookstores can only house a limited number of books. Therefore, they draw on distributors’ warehouses to resupply a title that’s selling briskly, because it takes much longer to order directly from the publisher. And at this point, [sigh]… the book finally reaches
  22. You, the reader.

And we do hope you like it when you get it—because we sure-God went to a lot of trouble to make it for you. <g>

Click here to visit my Writer’s Corner (What I Do) webpage…

Images are by Diana Gabaldon. The top image shows printed book manuscripts. The bottom image shows a screen from her word processing software.

This blog post includes an updated version of “What Finished Means To An Author,” an essay that I have posted several times in the past. This new version was also posted on my official Facebook page on Monday, March 29, 2021.

BEES: “Beetles” and “Horse Drills”

Two new bits of BEES…



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[ This excerpt is from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE. Copyright © 2021 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.]

William found Moira, the cook, in the kitchen garden, pulling spring onions. She was talking to Amaranthus, who had evidently been gathering as well; she carried a trug that held a large mound of grapes and a few pears from the small tree that grew near the cook-house. With an eye for the fruit, he strode up and bade the women good morning. Amaranthus gave him an up and down glance, inhaled as though trying to judge his state of intoxication from his aroma, and with a faint shake of the head, handed him a ripe pear.

“Coffee?” he said hopefully to Moira.

“Well, I’ll not be saying there isn’t,” she said dubiously. “It’s left from yesterday, though, and strong enough to take the shine off your teeth.”

“Perfect,” he assured her, and bit into the pear, closing his eyes as the luscious juice flooded his mouth. He opened them to find Amaranthus, back turned to him, stooping to look at something on the ground among the radishes. She was wearing a thin wrapper over her shift, and the fabric stretched neatly over her very round bottom.

She stood up suddenly, turning round and he at once bent toward the ground she’d been looking at, saying, “What is that?”, though he personally saw nothing but dirt and a lot of radish tops.

2021-02-01-BEES-Beetles3“It’s a dung beetle,” she said, looking at him closely. “Very good for the soil. They roll up small balls of ordure and trundle them away.”

“What do they do with them? The, um, balls of ordure, I mean.”

“Eat them,” she said, with a slight shrug. “They bury the balls for safekeeping, and then eat them as need requires—or sometimes they breed inside the larger ones.”

“How… cozy. Have you had any breakfast?” William asked, raising one brow.

“No, it isn’t ready yet.”

“Neither have I,” he said, getting to his feet. “Though I’m not quite as hungry as I was before you told me that.” He glanced down at his waistcoat. “Have I any dung beetles in this noble assemblage?”

That made her laugh.

“No, you haven’t,” she said. “Not nearly colorful enough.”

Amaranthus was suddenly standing quite close to him, though he was sure he hadn’t seen her move. She had the odd trick of seeming to apparate suddenly out of thin air; it was disconcerting, but rather intriguing.

“That bright green one,” she said, pointing a long, delicate finger at his middle, “is a Dogbane Leaf Beetle, Chrisosuchus auratus.”

“Is it, really?”

“Yes, and this lovely creature with the long nose is a Billbug.”

“A pillbug?” William squinted down his chest.

“No, a Billbug,” she said, tapping the bug in question. “It’s a sort of weevil, but it eats cat-tails. And young corn.”

“Rather a varied diet.”

“Well, unless you’re a dung beetle, you do have some choice in what you eat,” she said, smiling. She touched another of the beetles, and William felt a faint but noticeable jolt at the base of his spine. “Now here,” she said, with small, distinct taps of her finger, “we have an Emerald Ash Borer, a Festive Tiger Beetle, and the False Potato Beetle.”

“What does a true Potato Beetle look like?”

“Very much the same. This one’s called a False Potato Beetle because while it will eat potatoes in a pinch, it really prefers horse nettles.”

“Ah.” He thought he should express interest in the rest of the little things ornamenting his waistcoat, in hopes that she’d go on tapping them. He was opening his mouth to inquire about a large cream-colored thing with horns, when she stepped back in order to look up into his face.

“I heard my father-in-law talking to Lord John about you,” she said.

“Oh? Good. I hope they’d a fine day for it,” he said, not really caring.

“Speaking of False Potato Beetles, I mean,” she said. He closed his eyes briefly, then opened one and looked at her. She was perfectly solid, not wavering in the slightest.

“I know I’m a trifle the worse for drink,” he said politely. “But I don’t think I resemble any sort of Potato Beetle, regardless of my uncle’s opinion.”


“Horse Drills”

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[This excerpt is also from GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Copyright © 2021 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.]

[ . . . ] had volunteered to rise early—very early—and make the gallons of brose and parritch to feed the militia. The warm, creamy smell crept up the stairs and eased me into wakefulness like a soft hand on my cheek. I stretched luxuriously in the warm bed and rolled over, enjoying the picture of Jamie, long-legged as a stork and stark naked, bent over the washstand to peer into the looking-glass as he shaved by candlelight. Dawn was no more yet than a fading of the stars outside the dark window.

“Getting all spruced up for the gang?” I asked. “Are you doing something formal with them this morning?”

He drew the razor over his pulled-down upper lip, then flicked the foam to the side of the basin.

“Aye, horse drills. It’ll just be the mounted men today. With the Tall Tree, we’ll have twenty-one.” He grinned at me in the mirror, his teeth as white as the shaving soap. “Enough for a decent cattle raid.”

“Can Cyrus ride?” I was surprised at that; the Crombies, Wilsons, MacReadys and Geohagens were all fisherfolk who had come—by God knew what circuitous and difficult means—to us from Thurso. They were, for the most part, openly afraid of horses, and almost none of them could ride.

Jamie drew the blade up his neck, craned his head to evaluate the results, and shrugged.

“We’ll find out.”

He rinsed the razor, dried it on the worn linen towel, then used the towel to wipe his face.

“If I mean them to take it seriously, Sassenach, they’d best think I do.”

[end section]

The sky was lightening, but it was still dark on the ground and only a few of the men had gathered when Cyrus Crombie came down out of the trees. The men glanced at him in surprise, but when Jamie greeted him, they all nodded and muttered “Madainn math,” or grunted in acknowledgement.

“Here, lad,” Jamie said, thrusting a wooden cup of hot brose into the Tall Tree’s hand. “Warm your belly, and come meet Matilda. She belongs to Frances, but the lass says she’ willing to lend ye the mare until we can find ye a horse of your own.”

2021-02-01-BEES-Beetles1“Frances? Oh. I-I thank her.” The Tall Tree glowed a bit and glanced shyly at the house, and then at the horse. Matilda was a big mare, stout and broad-backed, and with a gentle, accommodating manner.

Young Ian had come down now, in buckskins and jacket, his hair plaited and hanging loose down his back. He glanced round the group of men, nodding, then came for his own brose, lifting a brow in the direction of Cyrus.

“[Tall Tree] will be joining us,” Jamie said casually. “Will ye show him the way of it, to saddle and bridle Matilda, while I tell the men what we’re about?”

“Aye,” Ian said, swallowing hot barley broth and exhaling a cloud of white steam. “And what are we about?”

“Cavalry drills.” That made Ian raise both brows and glance over his shoulder at the group of men, who looked like what they were—farmers. They all owned horses, and could ride from the Ridge to Salem without falling off, but beyond that…

“Simple cavalry drills,” Jamie clarified. “Riding slowly.”

Young Ian looked thoughtfully at Cyrus, standing at eager attention.

“Aye,” he said, and crossed himself.

[end section]

Please visit my official webpage for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, where more excerpts (aka “Daily Lines”) and other information about book nine in my OUTLANDER series of major novels.

2021-02-01-BEES-Beetles4HUGE thanks to Yolande Torjman for the lovely multiple images of bees on lemon blossoms, and to Alison Hawkworth for the lovely photo of a bunch of bees in a magnolia bloom!

These excerpts were also posted on my official Facebook page on Monday, February 1, 2021 and Monday, February 8, 2021.

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“I’m a Doctor, Not An Escalator!”

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2021-01-11-bees-photoThe first floor had now been walled in from the outside, though much of the inside was still just timber studs, which gave the place rather a nice sense of informality, as we walked cheerfully through the skeletal walls.

My surgery had no coverings for its two large windows, nor did it have a door—but it did have complete walls (as yet unplastered), a long counter with a couple of shelves over it for my bottles and instruments, a high, wide table of smooth pine (I had sanded it myself, taking great pains to protect my future patients from splinters in their bottoms) on which to conduct examinations and surgical treatment, and a high stool on which I could sit while administering these.

Jamie and Roger had begun the ceiling, but there were for the moment only joists running overhead, with patches of faded brown and grimy gray canvas (salvaged from a pile of decrepit military tents found in a warehouse in Cross Creek) providing actual shelter from the elements

Jamie had promised me that the second floor—and my ceiling—would be laid within the week, but for the moment, I had a large bowl, a dented tin chamber-pot and the unlit brazier strategically arranged to catch leaks. It had rained the day before, and I glanced upward to be sure there were no sagging bits in the damp canvas holding water overhead before I took my case-book out of its waxed-cloth bag.

“What ith—is that?” Fanny asked, catching sight of it. I had put her to work picking off and collecting the papery skins from a huge basket of onions for steeping to make a yellow dye, and she craned her neck to see, keeping her onion-scented fingers carefully away.

“This is my case-book,” I said, with a sense of satisfaction at its weight. “I write down the names of the people who come to me with medical difficulties, and describe each one’s condition, and then I put down what it was that I did or prescribed for them, and whether it worked or not.”

She eyed the book with respect—and interest.

“Do they always get better?”

“No,” I admitted. “I’m afraid they don’t always—but very often they do. ‘I’m a doctor, not an escalator,’” I quoted, and laughed before remembering that it wasn’t Brianna I was talking to.

Fanny merely nodded seriously, evidently filing away this piece of information.

I coughed.

“Um. That was a quote from a, er, doctor friend of mine named McCoy. I think the general notion is that no matter how skilled a person might be, every skill has its limits and one is well advised to stick to what you’re good at.”

She nodded again, eyes still fixed in interest on the book.

“Do you… think I might read it?” she asked shyly. “Only a page or two,” she added hastily.

I hesitated for a moment, but then laid the book on the table, opened it, and paged through to the spot where I had made a note about using gall berry ointment for Lizzie Wemyss’s malaria, as I hadn’t any Jesuit’s bark. I had told Roger about the need, but so far none had turned up. Fanny had heard me talk about the situation to Jamie, and Lizzie’s recurrent ague was common knowledge on the Ridge.

“Yes, you may—but only the pages before this marker.” I took a slim black crow’s feather from the jar of quills and laid it next to the book’s spine at Lizzie’s page.

“Patients are entitled to privacy,” I explained. “You oughtn’t to read about people that are our neighbors. But these earlier pages are about people I treated in other places and—mostly—a long time ago.”

“I prrromise,” she said, her earnestness giving emphasis to her r’s, and I smiled. I’d known Fanny barely a year, but I’ d never once known her to lie—about anything.

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

Visit my official GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE webpage for access to other excerpts (aka “Daily Lines”) from this book.

Many thanks to Janet Boren Campbell for the lovely bee photo!

This blog entry was also posted on my official Facebook page on Monday, January 11, 2021.