• “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

BEES – More Chapter Titles!


Here’s a bit to enliven your day… the next seven Chapter Titles from BEES!

(The titles for chapters in Section One are listed in a previous blog post.)
[SPOILER SPACE — in case some people think the titles might give anything away. Though somehow, I don’t think so…]
SECTION II: No Law West of the Pecos

   CHAPTER 8: Lightning

   CHAPTER 9: Erstwhile Companions

   CHAPTER 10: What Is Not Good for the Swarm Is Not Good for the Bee (Marcus Aurelius)

   CHAPTER 11: Mon Cher Petit Ami

   CHAPTER 12: The Hound of Heaven

   CHAPTER 13: Reading by Firelight

   CHAPTER 14: Duck, Duck, Goose

Visit my official webpage for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE for more information.

Copyright © 2019 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.

Please do not copy and paste the text of this blog yourself and post it elsewhere. Instead, I ask that you provide a link to this blog page. Thank you.

Image credit: This photo of me was taken by a lovely French journalist/blogger named Victoria Arias (Twitter name: @mangoandsalt), who was one of several journalists who came on a brief tour of Outlander filming locations in Scotland. It was taken in a small room of Falkland Palace, made up to look like an apothecary’s workroom—they said it was used in Season Two, for the apothecary’s where Claire meets Mary Hawkins unexpectedly. Taken on my trip to receive a VisitScotland Thistle Award.

Click here to view the full image.

Scotland Visit and Thistle Award

2019-03-Gabaldon-Thistle-AwardA few weeks ago, I travelled to Scotland to receive a special “International Contribution to Scottish Tourism” award at VisitScotland’s Thistle Awards ceremony, which I was Very Honored (!) to receive for services to Scottish Tourism (VisitScotland being kind enough to credit me with—doubtless single-handedly <cough>—increasing Scottish tourism by 67 percent by means of “the Outlander Effect.”)

Mind you, the Outlander Effect is you guys, my readers and fans of the Outlander TV series, so this is really your award, as well!

Many, MANY thanks to all the great people, from Hamish, Louise, Jennifer and Lord Thurso from VisitScotland, to the staff of Hopetoun House, to Jamie Crawford and Marie from Publishing Scotland, and all the lovely journalists, bloggers and photographers—and, of course, the fans (Viva Barcelona!)—who made the week so memorable—and last but by NO means least—the wonderful people of Scotland!

What Happened In Scotland…

These news media aricles give some details about my recent visit to Scotland, the award, and other events:

“Diana Gabaldon: On Superfans, Whisky and the ‘Miracle’ of Outlander,” by Alison Campsie for The Scotsman. Explores the effects of Outlander on a town, as well as some ‘superfans’ from Barcelona. (Note from Diana’s Webmistress: I LOVE this article!) Published on March 17, 2019.

“JACOBEAN QUEEN: Outlander Author Diana Gabaldon Hits the Tourist Trail and Visits Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe’s Filming Locations Ahead of Season Five,” by Matt Bendoris for The Scottish Sun. “Fans mobbed the American as she visited Scottish locations ahead of season five of the hit telly show.” Published on March 18, 2019.

“Outlander’s Diana Gabaldon: The Story of the First Lady of Lallybroch,” by Lorraine Wilson for The National. Published on March 23, 2019.

“Outlander Author Receives Top Tourism Award, a press release from VisitScotland. Released on March 14, 2019.

“Outlander author Diana Gabaldon to be honoured in Edinburgh,” by Brian Ferguson for The Scotsman. Published on March 13, 2019.

Click here to read/download a copy of “The Outlander Effect and Tourism” by VisitScotland.

“Thistle Be Our Night,” by Anne Sykes for VisitScotland. This article lists the fifteen individuals and businesses that received a 2019 Thistle Award for promoting Scottish tourism. Published on March 15, 2019.

“Outlander author Diana Gabaldon calls for greater protection of Scottish heritage sites,” by Brian Ferguson for The Scotsman. ‘Outlander creator Diana Gabaldon today called for greater protection for Scottish heritage sites from the impact of over-tourism and threats from housing developments.’ Published on March 15, 2019.

VisitScotland and the Thistle Awards

For those not familiar with VisitScotland, it is the official national tourism agency for Scotland, “an executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government,” according to Wikipedia. Tourism is an important part of the Scottish economy, and VisitScotland maintains a network of tourism websites with resources for visitors including the main webpage, VisitScotland.com.

The Thistle Awards are given by VisitScotland to recognize the best businesses or individuals who benefitted Scottish tourism each year.

BEES Update With Chapter Titles!

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #SortOf, #GoTELLTheGEESThatIAmGONE, #comingtogether, #noitsnotdone, #youllhearaboutitwhenitis

2019-02-honebees-on-lacetop-cropWriting a book (for me) has multiple phases. As many of you know (from having heard me talk, or reading THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION books), I write (for a long time) in small, disconnected pieces and scenes. Eventually these start sticking together to form Chunks, and in the latter stages, the Chunks begin to line up along a sort of mental timeline (composed of historical events I want to use and personal events that transpire with one or another of the characters), and—in the fullness of time, I begin to pull together related Chunks and scenes, to write bridges (where needed to connect the pieces, establish a time or place, or provide a quick summary of what’s been happening that I don’t mean to show directly), and… generally, come up with something vaguely resembling a novel.

I begin to see the shape of chapters, and to be able to put them—gradually— into a reasonable sequence and shape (though chapters do move around for awhile before settling into their final place in the story).

That’s where I am now, in terms of writing/assembling the book. I’m still writing it (naturally…), but a good deal of the daily work now includes the pulling together of pieces and the formation of chapters, sections, etc.

So, for your entertainment, here’s the Title list of chapters from Section One of GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE. (NB: Chapter titles do sometimes change—if I think of something better, which I do all the time—so this is by no means a guaranteed final list—but this Section is completely assembled. So is a lot more of the book, but I’m not showing you everything at once…)

Have fun!

SECTION I: A Swarm of Bees in the Carcass of a Lion

   CHAPTER 1: The MacKenzies are Here!

   CHAPTER 2: A Blue Wine Day

   CHAPTER 3: Meditations on a Hyoid

   CHAPTER 4: Home is the Hunter, Home from the Hill

   CHAPTER 5: Dead or Alive

   CHAPTER 6: Visitations

   CHAPTER 7: Animal Nursery Tales

Remember that there are almost fifty excerpts (aka “Daily Lines”) from the book on my official GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE webpage.

[And Many Thanks to Mardi Priest for the honeybees on Lacecap!]

This BEES update also appeared on my official Facebook page.


For those of you wondering how to pass the dreary days of Droughtlander…let me introduce you to the newest addition to my Methadone List.

The List is my reply to people who cry, “So what am I supposed to read while I’m waiting for your next book, huh?”

The Methadone List is a descriptive list of a number of authors whose work I really like—and thus have no hesitation in recommending. The books on the List span a wide variety of genres (as you might suppose, given my eclectic tastes…), so the odds are good that you might find something appealing in there.

I’m about to send my webmistress a new entry, adding TALES FOR GULLIBLE CHILDREN, by Laura Watkins, to the List, so thought I might give y’all a heads up, both to this book and the rest of the list. To buy TALES FOR GULLIBLE CHILDREN on Amazon:


Do any of y’all recall TALES BY THE BROTHERS GRIMM? Well, this book is a collection of stories about what might have happened if the Brothers Grimm imbibed a lot of Cheetos, Red Bull and a few adult substances and moved to Montana. While it can certainly be read by gullible children (with a good vocabulary), the appeal certainly isn’t limited to them.

SAMPLE from “How Grandpa Dave Became the King of France:”

by Laura Watkins

2019-Tales-Gullible-Children-coverUp to now, children, you’ve heard all about the wild adventures and heroic deeds of your Uncle Joey: how he cheated the devil (twice), vanquished a dragon, and stole the secret of fire from the gods. But did you know, children, that Joe’s father, your Grandpa Dave, was just as intrepid, and had just as many brave exploits as Uncle Joey? No? Gather round, then, and hear the story of how Grandpa Dave became the King of France.

It all began, children in the long, long ago, when Dave and his best friend Bill were younger, and they entered the doubles cheese-eating contest at the Missoula County Fair together. The competition was fierce, and in the end it came down to Dave, Bill, a single block of cheddar, and their mad desire to win it all. As the final buzzer sounded, Dave stuffed the last bite of cheese into his face, raised his arms in victory, and then collapsed onto the stage next to Bill like an elephant seal having a stroke. The audience thundered its applause as Bill and Dave were helped into the bed of a waiting pickup truck and trundled off home to recover.

The next day, Dave was lying on his couch, trying to sleep off his horrendous cheese hangover, when he heard a rap on the door. “Could you get that?” he said to Bill, who was sprawled on the other couch across the room.

Bill paddled his arms and legs in the air, trying to regain verticality, but to no avail. “Doesn’t look like it,” he said.

“OK, hang on. I have an idea.” After some deft maneuvering with a pool cue that had been fortuitously lying nearby, Dave managed to open the door without getting up, revealing two elegant men wearing tailcoats and blue silk sashes across their chests. Dave waved them inside, then poked the door closed with the cue.

“Mr. Koontz? I’m John Wallace, the organizer of the cheese-eating contest at the county fair. You and Mr. Farrell left last night without claiming your trophy, so I’ve taken the liberty of bringing it to you.”

“Hey, cool.” Dave extended the cue towards Wallace, hooking the trophy by the handle and passing it over to Bill. “We’re champions.”

“Erm, yes,” said Wallace. “Congratulations. And may I present Monsieur Gerard, the chairman of the French League of Cheesemakers.” The other man, tall and thin with an impeccably waxed mustache, made a courtly bow. Dave waved the cue in welcome, “Howdy.”

“Bonjour, Monsieur Koontz. And may I say, I hope that you will very much enjoy your sojourn in my country.”

“Huh?” Dave rolled sideways off the couch, landing on all fours, and got to his feet with a herculean heave. Gerard produced a blue ticket envelope from his inside his coat.

“Oui, Monsieur Koontz. I am pleased to be your escort on your voyage to France, which you have won through your efforts last night.”

“OK, back up,” said Bill, from the sofa. “We’re going to France? What the hell for?”

“It’s a collaboration between the Montana Dairy Farmer’s Association and the League of Cheesemakers,” explained Wallace.

“We call it Fromage Across the Ocean,” said Gerard.

“Indeed. We’re seeking to inspire the next generation of cheese producers through a series of grants for travel to the world’s cheesiest regions. And since you’ve proved your dedication to the concept of cheese last night, Monsieur Gerard and I can think of nobody more worthy of a free trip to France for a comprehensive cheese-sampling tour.” Wallace dabbed away the sweat that had sprung from his forehead at the mere thought of so much cheese. “You leave tomorrow morning.”

Dave turned to Bill. “Any plans tomorrow?”

“None that I can think of.”

Dave turned back to Wallace and Gerard. “All right, then. See you tomorrow at the airport.”

Gerard bowed again, Wallace shook Dave and Bill’s hands, and in a twinkling, the two were gone. Dave shuffled into the bedroom, and in a moment there came the sound of a zipper unzipping, followed by thumps and rustling. Bill tilted off the sofa, righted himself with an effort, and rolled after Dave. “Whatcha doing in here?”

“Packing. You think I should take the .270, or the .308?” Dave held up a pair of deer rifles for Bill’s appraisal.

“Take ‘em both. Better to have ‘em and not need ‘em.” (This was a time, children, when baggage on plane rides was free, and you could take as many guns as you wanted. Everything is worse now.)

“Good thinking.” Dave tossed the rifles into the duffel bag on the bed. “Two handguns be enough, you think?”

“Better make it three. Don’t forget the ammo.”

SAMPLE from “How Uncle Joey Cheated the Devil:”

by Laura Watkins

“This story is from the mid-1990s, children, after your Uncle Joey stole the secret of fire from the gods and had his mullet singed off by a lightning bolt hurled by Zeus, but before he vanquished the dragon and rescued the maiden fair (which is another story altogether).

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas, and the only thing in the world that Uncle Joey wanted was a Super Rex Mighty Turbo Ultra RC Racer, one of the finest remote control trucks ever to cruise the streets and parking lots of Missoula. It could spin, it could climb, and it came with dual-action aimable pellet cannons. Unfortunately, it also came with a hefty price tag.

Uncle Joey didn’t get a very big allowance, so he couldn’t afford to buy a Super Rex Mighty Turbo Ultra RC Racer, but that didn’t stop him from dreaming. Every day on his way home from school, he’d stop in front of the big window of the neighborhood toy shop and look at the Super Rex, gleaming in its black and silver trim on a pedestal in the middle of the display. The chrome buttons and antenna of the remote seemed to call Uncle Joey’s name, and he would sigh, imagining himself on the playground, popping wheelies and spinning donuts as his classmates groaned with envy. Then, heavy-hearted, he would turn away, and plod home to his chores.

One day, he lingered a little longer than usual in front of the toy shop. As he prepared to pull himself away, though, he felt a hand settle on his shoulder. “Nice car,” a deep, cultured voice drawled. “A bit expensive, though.”

Joey turned to look. The hand was pale, hairless, and smooth, with long, white, well-manicured nails. It disappeared into the sleeve of a thick wool coat, and as Joey’s eyes traveled upward, he took in the wearer’s neat silk scarf, fastened with a gold and ruby pin, and his gleaming black top hat. The man smiled a smile that contained a few too many teeth. “Do you suppose that Santa Claus will bring it to you for Christmas, little boy?”

Uncle Joey shook his head, unable to break the stranger’s gaze. “No. My dad says toys like that are for kids who are a lot better behaved than me.”

“Mmm. On the naughty list, are you?”The stranger sighed, exhaling the scent of dead flowers. “Ah, well. Perhaps you can have one later, when you have a job of your own. Of course, at that point, you won’t have any time to play with it.” His eyes slid sideways, slyly. “Unless…”

“Unless what?””Joey felt himself oddly mesmerized, fascinated by the stranger’s manner.

“It’s possible that I may have access to a limited supply of complimentary Super Rex Racers, to be distributed to the right little boys.” He crooked his finger, and with a whir, a shiny new Super Rex zipped out of a nearby alley and parked obediently at his feet. “Naughtiness is no obstacle, though there is a bit of paperwork to be done. And of course, a small processing fee.”

Joey frowned. “How much?” He only had a few dollars in his piggy bank.

“Just one.”

“One dollar?”

“One soul.” The stranger smiled more broadly, withdrawing a rolled parchment from his sleeve. “Payable on demise, of course. Play now, and pay later.” A fountain pen appeared in his right hand. “All you have to do is make your mark on the line. Two strokes of the pen, and it’s yours.”

SAMPLE from “Uncle Joey and the Secret of Fire:”

by Laura Watkins

This is a story from the early 1990s, children, long before you were born. It was a dark and miserable time. There were no iPads, our telephones were stuck to the walls of our houses, and all of our games were on boards and all our books were on paper. Yes, like you flush down the toilet. SpongeBob had not even been thought of; instead, we watched Ren and Stimpy, featuring a superhero named Powdered Toast Man and a law enforcement agency called the Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen. No, really.

But the worst part of the early nineties, children, was your Uncle Joey’s mullet. Have you ever seen a mullet? It was a hairstyle that seemed to come from the depths of Hell itself: short and spiky on the top, long and greasy in the back. Uncle Joey’s, which he wore with polo shirts and thick aviator-framed glasses, was especially terrible. He looked like a less-hip Jeffrey Dahmer.

Where was I? Oh yes, the nineties. In the nineties, as you may know, fire had not yet been discovered; people ate nothing but cold cereal and, on special occasions, raw hot dogs. These were not very good, but there was nothing else, so people just sucked it up.

Now, back in those ancient days, it was the custom in Missoula to mark the summer equinox with a great festival, the climax of which was a footrace all around the town. The winner would be covered in glory, and would win the lion’s share of the raw hot dogs at that night’s feast. Your Uncle Joey, being a gangly fellow and fleet of foot, had entered the race, and was much favored to win.

Even the gods on Mount Olympus, which, contrary to popular belief, is not in Greece but in the Rockies, bet amongst themselves on the outcome, and by the week of the race, you could not even get two to one on Joey.

What your Uncle Joey did not know, however, was that Bridger, a chubby, bearded young man from Joe’s school, had set his eyes on the crates of raw hot dogs being stacked in the town square, and he had resolved to win both the race and the hot dogs for himself. The night before the race, tiptoeing and cackling softly, Bridger snuck out to the race course and, a hundred yards or so before the finish line, began to dig a hole.

The moon was the only witness to Bridger’s evil deed. Beginning in the center of the path, he dug and dug, down and down, until finally, sweating and exhausted, he saw magma bubble up under his shovel, and he knew that he had reached the earth’s core. He scrambled up and out of the hole, giggling, and proceeded to disguise his handiwork with some branches and leaves.

“Ha ha!” he chortled. “I’ll slip off the course and hide in those trees over there to wait. When Joe comes along, he’ll think he’s won, and he won’t be paying attention to where he steps. He’ll fall in the hole and never be seen again, and I’ll run across the finish line myself. Then all those beautiful hot dogs will be MINE!” Slinging his shovel across his back, Bridger scuttled off back to his mom’s basement, washed his hands, and fell into a sinister sleep.

Now Zeus, the king of the gods, suffered from insomnia, and he was up late on Mount Olympus watching infomercials when his eye happened to catch what the wicked Bridger was doing. “Ho ho!” he said to himself…

Publisher’s Description of TALES FOR GULLIBLE CHILDREN:

It’s the early 1990s, and Missoula, Montana is a town plunged into darkness and chaos. Fearsome bearsnakes slither through the trees, a giant monster swims just below the surface of Flathead Lake, and the actual Devil lurks in an alley downtown, waiting to trick children into selling their souls. Fortunately, Missoula is also home to a young man. A man with a mullet. A man named Joe. (Uncle Joey to his nieces). Together with his family and his best friend Bridger, Joe will cheat the Devil, battle the bearsnakes, and track the lake monster to its lair in a series of hilariously dramatic tall tales. Along the way, they’ll defeat a dragon, rescue a fair maiden, deflate Tom Brady, and even travel to the mystical land of Canada. If you enjoy lying to kids, TALES FOR GULLIBLE CHILDREN is the book you’ve been waiting for.

Warning: book contains some naughty language. But who would you rather they learn it from, the TV, or Uncle Joey?

All excerpts from TALES FOR GULLIBLE CHILDREN are copyright © 2018 by Laura Watkins. All rights reserved. Please do not copy text and paste it elsewhere online or save for your own use. Instead, please share this URL (link) at the top of your browser page. Thanks!

Click here to go to my Methadone List webpage and check out this and other authors that I recommend!

Laura asked me to convey her delight and immense gratitude to all the wonderful readers who have purchased TALES FOR GULLIBLE CHILDREN (and/or read it on Kindle Unlimited), causing the book to briefly achieve the honor of being an Amazon #1 Bestseller, in Myths and Folklore! (My guess is that’s the nearest Amazon could come to describing it, there being no category for Subversive Fiction Set in Missoula, Montana.)

This addition to my Methadone List was originally posted on my official Facebook page on February 26 and 27, 2019,

From Diana’s Webmistress: Note that this ebook by Laura Watkins is sold only in a format for the Kindle reader. But don’t despair if you don’t have a Kindle! Click here to download an app from Amazon for your smart phone, tablet, or computer which CAN convert the Kindle format so you can read it on your device.

“It Could Be Worse”

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #HappyBirthdaytoFellowGoats !, #TheFIERYCross, #thingscouldbeworse

Cover art for THE FIERY CROSS by Diana GabaldonA grasshopper landed on the canvas above with an audible thump. I eyed it narrowly, but it didn’t seem disposed to come inside, thank goodness. Perhaps I should have accepted Mrs. Bryan’s offer to find me a bed in the house, along with a few other officers’ wives who had accompanied their husbands. Jamie had insisted upon sleeping in the field with his men, though, and I had gone with him, preferring a bed involving Jamie and bugs to one with neither.

I glanced sideways, careful not to move in case he was still asleep. He wasn’t. He was lying quite still, though, utterly relaxed, save for his right hand. He had this raised, and appeared to be examining it closely, turning it to and fro and slowly curling and uncurling his fingers—as well as he could. The fourth finger had a fused joint, and was permanently stiff; the middle finger was slightly twisted, a deep white scar spiraling round the middle joint.

His hand was callused and battered by work, and the tiny stigma of a nail-wound still showed, pale-pink, in the middle of his palm. The skin of his hand was deeply bronzed and weathered, freckled with sun-blots and scattered with bleached gold hairs. I thought it remarkably beautiful.

“Happy birthday,” I said, softly. “Taking stock?”

He let the hand fall on his chest, and turned his head to look at me, smiling.

“Aye, something of the sort. Though I suppose I’ve a few hours left. I was born at half-six; I willna have lived a full half-century until suppertime.”

I laughed and rolled onto my side, kicking the blanket off. The air was still delightfully cool, but it wouldn’t last long.

“Do you expect to disintegrate much further before supper?” I asked, teasing.

“Oh, I dinna suppose anything is likely to fall off by then,” he said, consideringly. “As to the workings… aye, well…” He arched his back, stretching, and sank back with a gratified groan as my hand settled on him.

“It all seems to be in perfect working order,” I assured him. I gave a brief, experimental tug, making him yelp slightly. “Not loose at all.”

“Good,” he said, folding his hand firmly over mine to prevent further unauthorized experiments. “How did ye ken what I was doing? Taking stock, as ye say.”

I let him keep hold of the hand, but shifted to set my chin in the center of his chest, where a small depression seemed made for the purpose.

“I always do that, when I have a birthday—though I generally do it the night before. More looking back, I think, reflecting a bit on the year that’s just gone. But I do check things over; I think perhaps everyone does. Just to see if you’re the same person as the day before.”

“I’m reasonably certain that I am,” he assured me. “Ye dinna see any marked changes, do ye?”

I lifted my chin from its resting place and looked him over carefully. It was in fact rather hard to look at him objectively; I was both so used to his features and so fond of them that I tended to notice tiny, dear things about him—the freckle on his earlobe, the lower incisor pushing eagerly forward, just slightly out of line with its fellows—and to respond to the slightest change of his expression—but not really to look at him as an integrated whole.

He bore my examination tranquilly, eyelids half-lowered against the growing light. His hair had come loose while he slept and feathered over his shoulders, its ruddy waves framing a face strongly marked by both humor and passion—but which possessed a paradoxical and most remarkable capacity for stillness.

“No,” I said at last, and set my chin down again with a contented sigh. “It’s still you.”

He gave a small grunt of amusement, but lay still. I could hear one of the cooks stumbling round nearby, cursing as he tripped over a wagon-tongue. The camp was still in the process of assembling; a few of the companies—those with a high proportion of ex-soldiers among their officers and men—were tidy and organized. A good many were not, and tipsy tents and strewn equipment sprawled across the meadow in a quasi-military hodgepodge.

[omitted stuff about what’s going on with the expedition]

Jamie’s free hand rested on my back, his thumb idly stroking the edge of my shoulder blade. With his usual capacity for mental discipline, he appeared to have dismissed the uncertainty of the military prospects completely from his mind, and was thinking of something else entirely.

“Do ye ever think—” he began, and then broke off.

“Think what?” I bent and kissed his chest, arching my back to encourage him to rub it, which he did.

“Well… I’m no so sure I can explain, but it’s struck me that now I have lived longer than my father did—which is not something I expected to happen,” he added, with faint wryness. “It’s only… well, it seems odd, is all. I only wondered, did ye ever think of that, yourself—having lost your mother young, I mean?”

“Yes.” My face was buried in his chest, my voice muffled in the folds of his shirt. “I used to—when I was younger. Like going on a journey without a map.”

His hand on my back paused for a moment.

“Aye, that’s it.” He sounded a little surprised. “I kent more or less what it would be like to be a man of thirty, or of forty—but now what?” His chest moved briefly, with a small noise that might have been a mixture of amusement and puzzlement.

“You invent yourself,” I said softly, to the shadows inside the hair that had fallen over my face. “You look at other women—or men; you try on their lives for size. You take what you can use, and you look inside yourself for what you can’t find elsewhere. And always… always… you wonder if you’re doing it right.”

His hand was warm and heavy on my back. He felt the tears that ran unexpectedly from the corners of my eyes to dampen his shirt, and his other hand came up to touch my head and smooth my hair.

“Aye, that’s it,” he said again, very softly.

The camp was beginning to stir outside, with clangings and thumps, and the hoarse sound of sleep-rough voices. Overhead, the grasshopper began to chirp, the sound like someone scratching a nail on a copper pot.

“This is a morning my father never saw,” Jamie said, still so softly that I heard it as much through the walls of his chest, as with my ears. “The world and each day in it is a gift, mo chride— no matter what tomorrow may be.”

I sighed deeply and turned my head, to rest my cheek against his chest. He reached over gently and wiped my nose with a fold of his shirt.

“And as for taking stock,” he added practically, “I’ve all my teeth, none of my parts are missing, and my cock still stands up by itself in the morning. It could be worse.”

This excerpt from THE FIERY CROSS is Copyright © by Diana Gabaldon, all rights reserved. It was also posted on my official Facebook page on January 11, 2019.

About reposting my excerpts (aka “Daily Lines”) from any of my books and short fiction, I’d appreciate it very much if you would NOT copy my them (word for word—in part or in their entirety) and post the text yourself all over the internet (including web pages and social media accounts) or anywhere else. These are copyrighted works. Instead, please do pass on the links (aka “URLs”) to my website and specific excerpts to anyone you think might be interested.

Best Wishes… and Sad News

Diana's dogs napping on a pillow.My best wishes for a good New Year to everybody.

I’m sorry that I have to begin the year myself with bad news; my lovely dog JJ died this afternoon (complications from a freak accident he suffered two weeks ago) and we buried him next to my garden, where he loved to hunt rabbits and toads with his brother, Homer.

Homer is bereft and so are we.


In the upper-right image, JJ and Homer take a nap together. In the next photo, JJ looks for critters to chase in a prickly pear cactus:

Diana's dog JJ and a prickly pear.


In the photo below, JJ and Homer were not sure of a visitor in 2012 and tried to hide:


The Fourth Sunday of Advent!

4th-Sunday-advent-DianaGabaldonIt’s a short Advent season this year, Christmas coming so soon after the Fourth Sunday, but we are the more expectant in our anticipation, and deeper in our gratitude for the blessings of home and family.

May the blessings of the season be with you and yours!

This excerpt is from the end of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER (aka DIE FACKELN DER FREIHEIT, in German).

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #FourthSundayofAdvent, #Rejoice

It was cold in the loft, and his sleep-mazed mind groped among the icy drafts after the words still ringing in his mind.

“Bonnie lad.”

Wind struck the barn and went booming round the roof. A strong chilly draft with a scent of snow stirred the somnolence, and two or three of the horses shifted below, grunting and whickering. Helwater. The knowledge of the place settled on him, and the fragments of Scotland and Lallybroch cracked and flaked away, fragile as a skin of dried mud.

Helwater. Straw rustling under him, the ends poking through the rough ticking, prickling through his shirt. Dark air, alive around him.

Bonnie lad…

They’d brought down the Yule log to the house that afternoon, all the household taking part, the women bundled to the eyebrows, the men ruddy, flushed with the labor, staggering, singing, dragging the monstrous log with ropes, its rough skin packed with snow, a great furrow left where it passed, the snow plowed high on either side.

Willie rode atop the log, screeching with excitement, clinging to the rope. Once back at the house, Isobel had tried to teach him to sing “Good King Wenceslaus,” but it was beyond him, and he dashed to and fro, into everything until his grandmother declared that he would drive her to distraction and told Peggy to take him to the stable, to help Jamie and Crusoe bring in the fresh-cut branches of pine and fir. Thrilled, Willie rode on Jamie’s saddle-bow to the grove, and stood obediently on a stump where Jamie had put him, safe out of the way of the axes while the boughs were cut down. Then he helped to load the greenery, clutching two or three fragrant, mangled twigs to his chest, dutifully chucking these in the general direction of the huge basket, then running back again for more, heedless of where his burden had actually landed.

Jamie turned over, wriggling deeper into the nest of blankets, drowsy, remembering. He’d kept it up, the wean had, back and forth, back and forth, though red in the face and panting, until he dropped the very last branch on the pile. Jamie had looked down to find Willie beaming up at him with pride, laughed and said on impulse, “Aye, that’s a bonnie lad. Come on. Let’s go home.”

William had fallen asleep on the ride home, his head heavy as a cannonball in its woolen cap against Jamie’s chest. Jamie had dismounted carefully, holding the child in one arm, but Willie had wakened, blinked groggily at Jamie and said, “WEN-sess-loss,” clear as a bell, then fallen promptly back asleep. He’d waked properly by the time he was handed over to Nanny Elspeth, though, and Jamie had heard him, as he walked away, telling Nanny, “I’m a bonnie lad!”

But those words came out of his dreams, from somewhere else, and long ago. Had his own father said that to him, once?

He thought so, and for an instant—just an instant—was with his father and his brother Willie, excited beyond bearing, holding the first fish he’d ever caught by himself, slimy and flapping, both of them laughing at him, with him in joy.

“Bonnie lad!”

Willie. God, Willie. I’m so glad they gave him your name. He seldom thought of his brother; Willie had died of the smallpox when he was eleven, Jamie, eight. But every now and then, he could feel Willie with him, sometimes his mother or his father. More often, Claire.

I wish ye could see him, Sassenach, he thought. He’s a bonnie lad. Loud and obnoxious, he added with honesty, but bonnie.

What would his own parents think of William? They had neither of them lived to see any of their children’s children.

He lay for some time, his throat aching, listening to the dark, hearing the voices of his dead pass by in the wind. His thoughts grew vague and his grief eased, comforted by the knowledge of love, still alive in the world. Sleep came near again.

He touched the rough crucifix that lay against his chest and whispered to the moving air, “Lord, that she might be safe; she and my children.”

Then turned his cheek to her reaching hand and touched her through the veils of time.

[end section]

Want to read more? Click here for my “Fourth Sunday of Advent” blog from 2012, which features an excerpt from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLODD.

Copyright © 2018 and © 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All Rights Reserved.

Please do not copy and paste this text and post it anywhere else including other websites and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

If you’d like to share this passage with others, please copy and paste—and share—this link (URL, text version):




The Third Sunday of Advent

This is the Third Sunday of Advent, when we pause in our serious reflections and take thought and give thanks for the happiness in our lives and souls and the approaching hope and joy of Christmas. This Sunday is also called “Gaudete Sunday,” which means “Rejoicing Sunday.”

(And to add to our sense of rejoicing, a Youtube video of Michael McGlynn’s most recent arrangement/performance of “Gaudete (Christus est natus),” one of my favorite pieces of Christmas music.)

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #ThirdSundayofAdvent, #Rejoice, #ExcerptFromTheFieryCross

2018-ThirdSundayAdvent-GabaldonWE WERE LUCKY. The rain held off, and shredding clouds revealed a silver moon, rising lopsided but luminous over the slope of Black Mountain; suitable illumination for an intimate family wedding.

I had met David Caldwell, though I hadn’t recalled it until I saw him; a small but immensely personable gentleman, very tidy in his dress, despite camping in the open for a week. Jamie knew him, too, and respected him. That didn’t prevent a certain tightness of expression as the minister came into the firelight, his worn prayer book clasped in his hands, but I nudged Jamie warningly, and he at once altered his expression to one of inscrutability. I saw Roger glance once in our direction, then turn back to Bree. There might have been a slight smile at the corner of his mouth, or it could have been only the effect of the shadows. Jamie exhaled strongly through his nose, and I nudged him again.

“You had your way over the baptism,” I whispered. He lifted his chin slightly. Brianna glanced in our direction, looking slightly anxious.

“I havena said a word, have I?”

“It’s a perfectly respectable Christian marriage.”

“Did I say it was not?”

“Then look happy, damn you!” I hissed. He exhaled once more, and assumed an expression of benevolence one degree short of outright imbecility.

“Better?” he asked, teeth clenched in a genial smile. I saw Duncan Innes turn casually toward us, start, and turn hastily away, murmuring something to Jocasta, who stood near the fire, white hair shining, and a blindfold over her damaged eyes to shield them from the light. Ulysses, standing behind her, had in fact put on his wig in honor of the ceremony; it was all I could see of him in the darkness, hanging apparently disembodied in the air above her shoulder. As I watched, it turned sideways, toward us, and I caught the faint shine of eyes beneath it.

“Who that, Grand-mère?” Germain, escaped as usual from parental custody, popped up near my feet, pointing curiously at the Reverend Caldwell.

“That’s a minister, darling. Auntie Bree and Uncle Roger are getting married.”

“Ou qu’on va minster?” I drew a deep breath, but Jamie beat me to it.

“It’s a sort of priest, but not a proper priest.”

“Bad priest?” Germain viewed the Reverend Caldwell with substantially more interest.

“No, no,” I said. “He’s not a bad priest at all. It’s only that… well, you see, we’re Catholics, and Catholics have priests, but Uncle Roger is a Presbyterian—”

“That’s a heretic,” Jamie put in helpfully.

“It is not a heretic, darling, Grand-père is being funny—or thinks he is. Presbyterians are…” Germain was paying no attention to my explanation, but instead had tilted his head back, viewing Jamie with fascination.

“Why Grand-père is making faces?”

“We’re verra happy,” Jamie explained, expression still fixed in a rictus of amiability.

“Oh.” Germain at once stretched his own extraordinarily mobile face into a crude facsimile of the same expression—a jack-o’-lantern grin, teeth clenched and eyes popping. “Like this?”

“Yes, darling,” I said, in a marked tone. “Just like that.”

Marsali looked at us, blinked, and tugged at Fergus’s sleeve. He turned, squinting at us.

“Look happy, Papa!” Germain pointed to his gigantic smile. “See?”

Fergus’s mouth twitched, as he glanced from his offspring to Jamie. His face went blank for a moment, then adjusted itself into an enormous smile of white-toothed insincerity. Marsali kicked him in the ankle. He winced, but the smile didn’t waver.

Brianna and Roger were having a last-minute conference with Reverend Caldwell, on the other side of the fire. Brianna turned from this, brushing back her loose hair, saw the phalanx of grinning faces, and stared, her mouth slightly open. Her eyes went to me; I shrugged helplessly.

Her lips pressed tight together, but curved upward irrepressibly. Her shoulders shook with suppressed laughter. I felt Jamie quiver next to me.

Reverend Caldwell stepped forward, a finger in his book at the proper place, put his spectacles on his nose, and smiled genially at the assemblage, blinking only slightly when he encountered the row of leering countenances.

He coughed, and opened his Book of Common Worship.

“Dearly beloved, we are assembled here in the presence of God…”

Copyright © by Diana Gabaldon. All Rights Reserved.

Please do not copy and paste this text and post it anywhere else including other websites and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

If you’d like to share this passage with others, please copy and paste—and share—this link (URL, text version):




Days of the Dead…

Diana's Jack-o-LanternSocial Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #Prologue, #MasterRaymondsBook, #NOitisntwrittenyet, #HappyHALLOWEEN

In the chilly season, when the air grows cold and the spiders die, comes a thin time. The days are short, so all the light of them is concentrated, squeezed between the dawn and dark. This is why the light is different, and each thing has a Shadow. This is when the other worlds draw close, and the barriers between grow thin. In a thin time, they say, you must be careful, because you might walk through a cobweb unthinking, and find yourself Elsewhere.

There is more than one other world; no one knows how many. Some beasts can see one; the dogs will sometimes stare at a blank space on the wall of a cave, and their hackles rise at what they see.

Sometimes, I think I see it, too.

Los Dias de los Muertos

Lit candleIn the Southwest, for those of us of Hispanic descent (or inclination), today and tomorrow are Los Dias de los Muertos—the Days of the Dead.

Today (Nov. 1) we celebrated the presence in our lives of those who’ve gone before and await us in heaven; the Feast of All Saints. Tomorrow (Nov. 2) is the Feast of All Souls, when we commune with our own beloved dead.

May all your own families be with you in love today, no matter on which side of the veil.

From November 2, 2018. Also posted on my official Facebook page.

What a week it’s been!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2018-10-Roses-PBS-Read-ResultsMAN, what a week it’s been! First off, let me thank ALL of you who did such great work, voting in the PBS “Great American Read” program. I know a lot of you voted day after day, and often multiple times a day; I appreciate that HUGELY—and your votes were not in vain!

PBS filmed the finale on Sunday night (swearing the audience to secrecy, which apparently worked; I didn’t see any leaks), but aired it this evening (Tuesday). It was an interesting format: they invited a number of authors from nominated books to come and introduce segments of the list (with light running commentary)—by “segments,“ I mean they had two writers count down the list from the book that ended up in 100th place, to the book that was #81. Then they did a video about one or another of the five finalist books, shuffled their screen of intriguing book-covers, and called up the next set of authors to comment on books 80-61, and so on.

When they got to the last (or first, depending how you want to look at it) ten books, they counted down to the final five, then called the representatives of those books out on stage for the final countdown. I say “representatives,” because the authors of three of the finalists are dead, and J.K. Rowling, who was in the list, wasn’t there. I was the only author representing my own book. <g>

If you’d like to watch the finale episode yourself, here’s a link to it:


But for those who don’t want to sit through the suspense <g>—OUTLANDER came in second, behind TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (the PBS people noted that MOCKINGBIRD had been #1 on the list from the very first day of voting, and never wavered from that position).

Personally, I was thrilled—we beat PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, LORD OF THE RINGS (!!) and HARRY POTTER! TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a great classic, a wonderful read—and a book that means a lot to a great number of people in the current political climate, owing to its themes of racial and social justice. It totally deserved to win.

Besides, as my lovely editor said in an email to me this morning (retrieved in JFK airport on my way home),

“You are officially the most beloved living writer! … We are so thrilled and proud to be your publisher!”

I’m thrilled and proud to have the support of a great publisher—but most of all, to have the support of so many wonderful readers! MORAN TAING! (that’s “Thanks a lot” in Gaelic)

And if you’d like to see the final results of the “Great American Read”here’s the complete list: