• “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
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    —ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
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Days of the Dead and Ginger Rodents

Hope y’all had a happy All Saints Day! Here in New Mexico, today and tomorrow are Los Dias de los Muertos—the Days of the Dead. Today we celebrated the presence in our lives of those who’ve gone before and await us in heaven. 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.

And for a change of mood….

Got the following message yesterday from a British (and half-Scottish) friend [g]:

Light the Fiery Cross Diana,
An insult beyond bearing has been flung down at the feet of all things red and hairy!

At the Labour Party’s annual Scottish Conference yesterday Harriet Harman MP (Dep. Leader of the ousted Labour Party) declared Scottish MP Danny Alexander a “ginger rodent”, adding that while she was all for conservation she didn’t want to see one in the Highlands again. And this from the former Equality Minister, who has previously been known for being so politically correct that she more usually goes under the name of Harriet Harperson.

Said rodent, Danny Alexander, came back fighting Tweeting “I am proud to be ginger and rodents do valuable work cleaning up the mess others leave behind.”
I know, not exactly pistols at dawn is it?

So on behalf of our beloved gingers, I’m inviting you to lead the call to arms. (I would have asked Allan SD, but typically, where’s the Big Yin when ye need him? Likely basting himself on a Madeiran beach, probably resembling a smoky bacon crisp by now if I know Scotsmen in the sun.)

Is it to be borne that the English seek to rubbish Scots Pride once more with impunity … I think not (although it has to be said that Danny Alexander is more usually likened to Beaker from the Muppets and may therfore prefer this comparison)

Jamie wouldn’t stand for it … Claire would have her guts for garters

Light the Fiery Cross and gather the Clans!
Declare yourselves …The McDowall’s are here!

Sorcha

(Here’s a link to the full story should anyone be interested http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-11658228)

*********

Dear Sorcha–

As soon as I get up off the floor, I’ll go dig through the woodpile for a couple of suitable sticks. [G] Though as it’s Halloween, were I to march down San Antonio Street tonight with a fiery cross, people would likely just applaud and shout “EEEha!”, rather than inquiring into the just cause of such an incitement to riot.

As for the Big Yin, he tweeted once to say he’d survived the flight, wasn’t so sure about his job–and wouldn’t have internet until next week. You’re likely right about the beach, though I just went and looked, out of curiosity as to just how warm Madeira _is_ in almost-November. It’s 68 degrees F. as of 6 PM today, so probably quite toasty enough for a basking Scot. (It’s about that on my back patio in Santa Fe just now at noon; I’m wearing a sweatshirt and calf-high Uggs.)

May I have permission to quote your rallying call to arms on my blog, though? Would hate anyone to miss such eloquence.

Ginger rodents of the world, UNITE!!

--Diana

********************

And another friend, Ron Wodaski, helpfully supplied this Uncyclopedia page on the subject.

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Samhain

PROLOGUE

Copyright 2010 Diana Gabaldon


“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.”



Happy Samhain!


A LEAF ON THE WIND OF ALL HALLOWS

Oookay. For those of you who’ve already read THE EXILE several times (and _thank_ you, btw! The editor tells me that the book is still hovering around the top of the NYT list–at #2 next week–and we’re still beating the author of Captain Underpants, which gratifies me deeply), and are beginning to write me, wanting to know When Is The Next Book Coming Out….

Well, not immediately. It does take me 2-3 years to write one of the big OUTLANDER novels, and about a year to write a Lord John novel (and I do work on more than one project at once; keeps me from having writer’s block, and makes me much more productive. So I’ve been working on both Book Eight _and_ LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER). It’ll be a little while.

However, I do have a suggestion to offer. A new anthology titled SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH (edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) is coming out on November 16th (i.e., in a little over two weeks). This includes a story of mine titled “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows.” It’s a little unusual, in that it’s about Roger MacKenzie’s parents–but it does fill the interesting hole regarding Roger’s father that I opened up in AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

Here’s a brief sample:

A LEAF ON THE WIND OF ALL HALLOWS

It was two weeks yet to Hallowe’en, but the gremlins were already at work.

Jerry MacKenzie turned Dolly II onto the runway–full-throttle, shoulder-hunched, blood-thumping, already halfway up Green leader’s arse–pulled back on the stick and got a choking shudder instead of the giddy lift of takeoff. Alarmed, he eased back, but before he could try again, there was a bang that made him jerk by reflex, smacking his head against the perspex. It hadn’t been a bullet, though; the off tire had blown, and a sickening tilt looped them off the runway, bumping and jolting into the grass.

There was a strong smell of petrol, and Jerry popped the Spitfire’s hood and hopped out in panic, envisioning imminent incineration, just as the last plane of Green flight roared past him and took wing, its engine fading to a buzz within seconds.

A mechanic was pelting down from the hangar to see what the trouble was, but Jerry’d already opened Dolly’s belly and the trouble was plain: the fuel line was punctured. Well, thank Christ he hadn’t got into the air with it, that was one thing, but he grabbed the line to see how bad the puncture was, and it came apart in his hands and soaked his sleeve nearly to the shoulder with high-test petrol. Good job the mechanic hadn’t come loping up with a lit cigarette in his mouth.

He rolled out from under the plane, sneezing, and Gregory the mechanic stepped over him.

“Not flying her today, mate,” Greg said, squatting down to look up into the engine, and shaking his head at what he saw.

“Aye, tell me something I don’t know.” He held his soaked sleeve gingerly away from his body. “How long to fix her?”

Greg shrugged, eyes squinted against the cold wind as he surveyed Dolly’s guts.

“Half an hour for the tire. You’ll maybe have her back up tomorrow, if the fuel line’s the only engine trouble. Anything else we should be looking at?”

“Aye, the left wing-gun trigger sticks sometimes. Gie’ us a bit o’ grease, maybe?”

“I’ll see what the canteen’s got in the way of leftover dripping. You best hit the showers, Mac. You’re turning blue.”

He was shivering, right enough, the rapidly evaporating petrol wicking his body heat away like candlesmoke. Still, he lingered for a moment, watching as the mechanic poked and prodded, whistling through his teeth.

“Go on, then,” Greg said in feigned exasperation, backing out of the engine and seeing Jerry still there. “I’ll take good care of her.”

“Aye, I know. I just—aye, thanks.” Adrenaline from the aborted flight was still surging through him, thwarted reflexes making him twitch. He walked away, suppressing the urge to look back over his shoulder at his wounded plane.

^^^

Jerry came out of the pilots’ WC half an hour later, eyes stinging with soap and petrol, backbone knotted. Half his mind was on Dolly, the other half with his mates. Blue and Green were up this morning, Red and Yellow resting. Green flight would be out over Flamborough Head by now, hunting.

He swallowed, still restless, dry-mouthed by proxy, and went to fetch a cup of tea from the canteen. That was a mistake; he heard the gremlins laughing as soon as he walked in and saw Sailor Malan.

Malan was Group Captain and a decent bloke overall. South African, a great tactician—and the most ferocious, most persistent air fighter Jerry’d seen yet. Rat terriers weren’t in it. Which was why he felt a beetle skitter briefly down his spine when Malan’s deep-set eyes fixed on him.

“Lieutenant!” Malan rose from his seat, smiling. “The very man I had in mind!”

The devil he had, Jerry thought, arranging his face into a look of respectful expectancy. Malan couldn’t have heard about Dolly’s spot of bother yet, and without that, Jerry would have scrambled with A flight on their way to hunt 109’s over Flamborough Head. Malan hadn’t been looking for Jerry; he just thought he’d do, for whatever job was up. And the fact that the Group Captain had called him by his rank, rather than his name, meant it probably wasn’t a job anyone would volunteer for.

He didn’t have time to worry about what that might be, though; Malan was introducing the other man, a tallish chap in army uniform with dark hair and a pleasant, if sharp, look about him. Eyes like a good sheep dog, he thought, nodding in reply to Captain Randall’s greeting. Kindly, maybe, but he won’t miss much.

“Randall’s come over from Ops at Ealing,” Sailor was saying over his shoulder. He hadn’t waited for them to exchange polite chat, but was already leading them out across the tarmac, heading for the Flight Command offices. Jerry grimaced and followed, casting a longing glance downfield at Dolly, who was being towed ignominiously into the hangar. The rag-doll painted on her nose was blurred, the black curls partially dissolved by weather and spilled petrol. Well, he’d touch it up later, when he’d heard the details of whatever horrible job the stranger had brought.

His gaze rested resentfully on Randall’s neck, and the man turned suddenly, glancing back over his shoulder as though he’d felt the stress of Jerry’s regard. Jerry felt a qualm in the pit of his stomach, as half-recognized observations—the lack of insignia on the uniform, that air of confidence peculiar to men who kept secrets–gelled with the look in the stranger’s eye.

Ops at Ealing, my Aunt Fanny, he thought. He wasn’t even surprised, as Sailor waved Randall through the door, to hear the Group Captain lean close and murmur in his ear, “Careful—he’s a funny bugger.”

Jerry nodded, stomach tightening. Malan didn’t mean Captain Randall was either humorous or a Freemason. “Funny bugger” in this context meant only one thing. MI6.

[end section]

Fake Hair-Product Review

Hm.  Someone just emailed me to ask whether I had posted a fulsome review of a hair product online.  I hadn’t (as should be obvious to anyone who’s read my books.  As IF I would write run-on sentences…!), but the name on the review was Diana Gabaldon.

Now, in all justice, I’m not the only person in the world with that name. [g]  I’ve met at least two others, and there may be more.  But I definitely didn’t make positive comments about any sort of hair product, ever.  Just so you know.

Pictures?

Just a general question, to anybody who might know:

Where has the image-importing capability gone? When this site changed (ahem, “improved”) its posting software, the little icon that allowed you to add images to your postings disappeared from the toolbar at the top of the post box. Boldface, italics, strikethrough, Link, and Quote (which seems of dubious use, but who knows?) are there, but no image icon.

So–is it still possible to attach images to postings or not? And if so…how?

Many thanks for all suggestions!

Back From the Road – new excerpt!

I’m Baa-aack!

Had a lovely time in Canada, despite losing one (luckily inessential) bag, that followed me faithfully from city to city like a dog, but never caught up. With luck, it’ll come home tomorrow. Of course, I’m leaving home again tomorrow morning…(but for New Mexico, where I propose to hide out for the next couple of weeks, not speaking to anybody but husband and dogs, peacefully eating green chili, and picking up the threads of Book Eight and SCOTTISH PRISONER).

Speaking of SCOTTISH PRISONER…I recently posted a longish excerpt from that book (during the 24 hours I was home, between the West Virginia Book Festival and whatever happened next (things tend to blur when you’re book-touring)) on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum. Since I know not all of y’all go there, I figured I’d also post it here.

Now, a word about excerpts. I love for people to read them, but I do have an agreement with my publisher about how much of a book is up on the internet at any one time—which means that I need to control said excerpts, and try to make sure they aren’t reposted elsewhere. So excerpts from my books appear (with rare exceptions), only in three places: the Diana Gabaldon folder in the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (community.compuserve.com/books — NB: _no_ “www” on that), on my website (www.dianagabaldon.com –and btw, we hope to have the All New Spectacular Cool New Website up and working by the end of November, very exciting!), and here.

So if you want to share or discuss with your friends, please just give them the link to this page, my website, or the Compuserve folder.

Thanks!!

SCOTTISH PRISONER excerpt
Copyright 2010 Diana Gabaldon

He was carrying a huge basket of rotted manure up to the kitchen garden when Robert, one of the footmen, appeared from behind a wall and hailed him.

“Hoy, MacKenzie! You’re wanted!”

He was surprised; it was mid-morning, not a usual time for visiting or errands. He’d have to catch that wee bitch Venus, presently enjoying herself in the back pasture. And the thought of driving the pony-trap, with Lady Isobel’s slitted eyes burning holes in his back, was less than appealing. It wasn’t as though he had a choice, though, and he set the basket down, safely off the path, then straightened up, dusting his hands against his thighs.

“Aye, I’ll have the trap round in a quarter-hour.”

“Not the trap,” Robert said, impatient. “I said you’re wanted.”

He glanced at the man, startled.

“Who wants me?”

“Not me, I assure you.” Robert had a long nose, and he wrinkled it ostentatiously, looking at the greenish-brown crumbles and smears on Jamie’s clothes. “If there was time, I’d make you change your shirt, but there’s not. He said at once, and he meant it.”

“Lord Dunsany?” Jamie asked, ignoring the footman’s barb.

“Who else?” Robert was already turning away. He looked back over his shoulder and jerked his head. “Come on, then!”

[end section]

He felt strange. The polished wood floor echoed under his tread and the air smelt of hearth-ash, books, and flowers. He smelled of horses, horse-shit, and his own bitter sweat. Since the day he’d come to Helwater, he’d only once been further into the house than the kitchen where he took his meals.

Lord Dunsany had received him and John Grey in the study on that first day, and now the butler—back stiff with disapproval—led him down the corridor to the same door. The wooden panels were carved with small rosettes; he had noticed them so intensely on his first visit that seeing them again recalled his feelings on that day—and gave him now a feeling as though he had missed the bottom step of a flight of stairs.

His immediate assumption on hearing the summons was that somehow Dunsany had discovered the truth of William’s paternity, and his heart was in his throat, his mind filled with half-formed notions between outright panic and…something else. Would Dunsany cast the boy out? If he did….a faint, breath-taking vision of himself stealing away from Helwater, his son in his arms, came to him—but vanished at once as the door opened.

There were three men in Lord Dunsany’s study. Soldiers, in uniform. A lieutenant and two private soldiers, he thought at once–though it had been a long time since he’d troubled with the distinctions of English uniform.

“This is MacKenzie,” Lord Dunsany said, with a small nod at him. “Or
rather…Fraser.”

The officer looked him up and down, assessing, but his face gave nothing away. A middle-aged man, with a sour look. He didn’t offer his name.

“You’re to go with these men, MacKenzie,” Dunsany said. His face was old, his expression remote. “Do as they tell you.”

He stood mute. Damned if he’d say “Yes, sir,” and double-damned if he’d knuckle his forehead like a servant. The officer looked sharply at him, then at Dunsany, to see whether this insubordination was to be punished, but finding nothing but weariness in the old man’s face, shrugged slightly and nodded to the privates.
They moved purposefully toward him, one taking him by each arm. He couldn’t avoid it, but felt the urge to jerk loose knot the muscles of his arms and spine. They led him into the hall and out the front door; he could see the butler smirking from his pantry, and two of the maids hanging wide-eyed and open-mouthed out of the upper windows as the men emerged onto the drive, where a coach stood waiting.
“Where are ye taking me?” he asked, with what calmness he could.
The men glanced at each other; one shrugged.

“You’re going to London,” he said.

“To visit the Queen,” the other said, and sniggered.

He had to duck to enter the carriage, and in doing so, turned his head. Lady Isobel stood in the window, mouth open in shock. William was in her arms, small
head laid in sleep on her shoulder. Behind them, Betty smiled at him, maliciously triumphant.

[end section]

They gave him a serviceable cloak to wear, and food at the taverns and inns, shoving it indifferently across the table toward him, ignoring him while they talked, save an occasional sharp glance to be sure he wasn’t getting up to something. What, exactly, did they think he might do? he wondered. If he’d ever meant to escape, he could have done it much more easily from Helwater.

He gathered nothing from their conversation, which seemed mostly regimental gossip, bawdy remarks about women of a sort indicating that they’d seldom touched one, and low jokes. Not a word as to their destination.

At the second stop, there was wine—decent wine. He drank it cautiously; he hadn’t tasted anything stronger than small-beer or the occasional glass of ale in years, and the lush flavor clung to his palate and rose like smoke inside his head. The soldiers shared three bottles—and so did he, welcoming the slowing of his racing thoughts as the alcohol seeped into his blood. It would do him no good to think, until he knew what to think about.

He tried to keep his mind off their unknown destination, and what might await him there, but it was like trying not to think of a—

“Rhinoceros,” Claire said, with a muffled snort of amusement that stirred the hairs on his chest. “Have you ever seen one?”
“I have,” he said, shifting her weight so she rested more comfortably in the hollow of his shoulder. “In Louis’s zoo. Aye, that would stick in the mind.”

Abruptly, she vanished and left him sitting there, blinking stupidly into his wine-cup.

Had it really happened, that memory? Or was it only his desire that now and then brought her so vividly to life, in snatched moments that left him desperate with longing, but strangely comforted, as though she had in fact touched him briefly.
He became aware that the soldiers had all stopped talking and were staring at him. And that he was smiling. He looked back at them over his cup, not altering his expression.

They looked away, uneasy, and he went back to his wife, for the moment tranquil in his mind.

[end section]

They did take him to London.

He tried not to gawk; he was aware of the soldiers casting covert glances at him, sly smiles. They expected him to be impressed, and he declined to give them the satisfaction—but he was impressed, nonetheless.

So this was London. It had the stink of any city, the narrow alleys, the smell of slops and chimney-smoke. But any large city has its own soul, and London was quite different than either Paris or Edinburgh. Paris was secretive, self-satisfied; Edinburgh solidly busy, a merchants’ town. But this…it was rowdy, churning like an anthill, and gave off a sense of pushing, as though the energy of the place would burst its bonds and spill out over the countryside, spill out into the world at large. His blood stirred, despite his fears and the tooth-jolting ride.

The Jacobite soldiers would talk about London, early in the campaign, when they were victorious and London seemed a plum within their grasp. Wild tales—almost none of them had ever seen a city, before they came to Edinburgh. Talk of gold plates in the taverns, streets with gilded carriages thick as lice …

He remembered Murdo Lindsay, bug-eyed at the description of the London boozing-kens, where the poor clustered in dark cellars, drowning the misery of life in Holland gin.

“Whole families!” Murdo exclaimed. “All of them, dead drunk! If even the poor folk can afford to stay drunk for days at a time, what must the rich ones be like?”

He’d smiled then, amused. He smiled now, bitter.

As the campaign had turned, withering in the cold, when the army camped at Derby, shivering while the commanders argued whether to push on or not, the soldiers had still talked of London. But they talked in whispers, and not of gold plates and Holland gin. They talked of the gallows, of the famous Bridge, where the heads of traitors were displayed. Of the Tower.

That thought sent a qualm through him. Christ, could they be taking him there? He was a convicted traitor, though paroled these past three [ck] years. And he was the grandson of Lord Lovat, who had met his death on the block at that same Tower. He hadn’t been fond of his grandfather, but crossed himself and murmured “[Gaelic]” under his breath. [May your soul be with Jesus.]

He wondered what the devil the Tower of London looked like. He’d imagined it, of course, but God only knew what the reality was. It was big, though, he thought, it had to be big. So he’d have a bit of warning, seeing it. He’d be prepared.
Aye, prepared for prison? he thought. The thought of it, of cold stone and small spaces, endless days, months and years in a cage as life and body dwindled inexorably away, shriveled his heart. And William. He would never see William again. But they might kill him instead. At the moment, that was his only hopeful thought.

But why? Had his parole been revoked? That last, disastrous conversation with John Grey…his fists curled up without thought, and one of the soldiers started, looking at him hard. With an effort, he unclenched his hands and pulled them inside his cloak, gripping his thighs under its cover hard enough to leave bruises.
He hadn’t seen—or heard from—Grey since that day. Had the man been nursing a grudge all this time, and finally decided to put paid to Jamie Fraser’s account, once and for all? It was the most likely explanation—and unforgivable things had been said on both sides. Worse, both of them had meant the things they said, and both of them knew it. No excuse of hot blood speaking—though in all justice, his own blood had boiled, and…

There it was. He gasped, couldn’t help it, though it made all the soldiers look at him, conversation interrupted.

It had to be. He knew the look of a prison well enough. Huge, round towers set in a grim, high wall, and the filthy brown water of a broad river flowing past, flowing under an iron-barred gate. The Traitor’s Gate? He’d heard of it.
All of them were grinning at him, maliciously enjoying his shock. He swallowed hard and tensed his belly muscles. They wouldn’t see him cower. His pride was all he had left—but he had enough of that. Enough to last until he was alone again, at least.

But the carriage didn’t leave the road. They bowled past the grim bulk of the moated Tower, the horses’ hooves ringing suddenly on cobbles, and he blessed the sound because it drowned the wrenching gasp when he realized he’d stopped breathing and started again.

It wasn’t a warm day, but he was drenched in sudden sweat, and saw the private behind him wrinkle his nose and glance sideways at him. He reeked of fear; could smell himself.

Could ha’ been worse, a allhamarach borb, he thought, coldly meeting the man’s eye and staring ‘til he looked away. I might have shit myself and ye’d have to ride into London smelling that.

[end section]

What with the tangle of foot-traffic, barrows, carriages, and horses that thronged the narrow streets, it was more than an hour before the coach finally pulled up outside a massive house that stood in its own walled grounds at the edge of a huge open park. He stared at it in astonishment. If not the Tower, he’d certainly expected to be taken to a gaol of some kind. Who the devil lived here, and what did whoever it was want of him?

The soldiers didn’t tell him, and he wouldn’t ask.

To his amazement, they took him up the marble steps to the front door, where they made him wait while the lieutenant banged at the knocker, then spoke to the butler who answered it. The butler was a small, neat man, who blinked in disbelief at sight of Jamie, then turned to the lieutenant, plainly about to remonstrate.
“His Grace said bring him, and I’ve brought him,” said the lieutenant impatiently. “Show us in!”

His Grace? A duke. God…Cumberland? His heart had already been in his throat; now his wame tried to follow it. He’d seen the Duke of Cumberland just once. When he’d left the battlefield at Culloden, hidden under a load of hay in a wagon. The wagon had passed through the edge of the Government lines, just at evening, and he’d seen the big tent, a squat, vigorous figure just outside it, irritably waving away clouds of smoke with a gold-laced hat. The smoke of burning bodies.

He felt the soldiers jerk and glance at him, startled. He froze, fists at his side, but the chill and the fear were gone, burnt away by the sense of rage that rose abruptly, drawing him upright with it.

His heart beat painfully, eager, for all at once, the future had a shape to it. No more long days of mere survival. He had purpose, and the glow of it lit his soul with a smoky flame.

The butler was falling back, reluctant, but unable to resist. Aye, fine. All he need do was behave circumspectly until he got within grip of the Duke. He flexed his left hand, briefly. There might be a knife, a letter-opener, something…but it didn’t matter.

The lieutenant jerked his head, and he moved, just in time to keep the privates from grasping his arms. He saw the butler’s eyes fix on his feet, mouth twisted in a sneer of contempt. A door opened in the hallway and a woman’s face appeared for a moment. She caught sight of him, gasped, and closed the door.
He would in fact have wiped his sandals, had they given him time; he’d no desire either to foul the house nor to look like the barbarian they plainly thought him. The men hastened him along, though, one on either side, and he had even less wish to give them an excuse to lay their hands on him, so he went, leaving dusty prints crumbled with dry mud and caked manure along the Turkey carpet.

The door to the room was open and they propelled him inside without ceremony. He was looking everywhere at once, gauging distances, estimating the possibilities of objects as weapons, and it was a moment before his eyes met those of the man seated at the desk.

For a moment longer, his mind refused to grasp the reality, and he blinked. No, it wasn’t Cumberland. Not even the passage of years could have transformed a stout German prince into the slender, fine-featured man frowning at him across the polished wood.

“Mister Fraser.” It wasn’t quite a question, nor was it quite a greeting, though the man inclined his head courteously.

Jamie was breathing as though he’d run a mile, hands shaking slightly as his body tried to burn away anger that now had no outlet.

“Who are you?” he asked rudely.

The man shot a sharp glance at the lieutenant.

“Did you not tell him, Mr. Gaskins?”

Gaskins. It was a minor relief to know the bugger’s name. And a distinct pleasure to see him go red and then white.

“I…er…I…no, sir. He…er…didn’t ask.”

“Leave us, lieutenant.” The man didn’t raise his voice, but it cut like a razor. He’s a soldier, Jamie thought, and then, I ken him. But where…?

The man stood up, ignoring Lieutenant Gaskins’s hasty departure.

“My apologies, Mr. Fraser,” he said. “Were you mistreated on your journey?”

“No,” he replied automatically, scrutinizing the face before him. It was remarkably familiar, and yet he would swear he didn’t know this man. “Why am I here?”

The man drew a deep breath, the frown easing, and as it did, Jamie saw the shape of the man’s face, fine-boned and beautiful, though showing the marks of a hard life. He felt as though someone had punched him in the chest.

“Jesus,” he blurted. “Ye’re John Grey’s brother.” He groped madly for the name, and found it. “Lord…Melton. Jesus Christ.”

“Well, yes,” the man said. “Though I don’t use that title any longer. I’ve become the Duke of Pardloe since we last met.” He smiled wryly. “It has been some time. Please sit down, Mr. Fraser.”

[end section

Guest Post! (to entertain you as I wing my way North)

I’m sitting in an airport on my way to Vancouver, bound for the Last Week of formal book-touring (insert maniacal laugh). Blogging may be summat spotty–but for today, you have a special treat: a guest blog from a young time-traveler. [g] Welcome Darby–take it away!

Hello Intrepid Artemis Voyageurs!

My name is Darby Christopher, and I’m massively excited to be here. See — my latest book is out, and I’m on a mondo-blog tour to celebrate, but this is the FIRST time I get to visit someone who is an expert in time travel.

If you’re here, I’m guessing you might have read about some of the adventures of Jamie and Claire. Most particularly Claire’s interesting proclivity for stepping through time.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I have had a few experiences of my own along those lines. Since the adventures in my very first book, A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW, I learned I’ve got a bit of a talent. Not really like Claire’s ability with standing stones, though. I’m more inclined to surf up close to the time-space continuum on a skateboard, and I’ve come to learn that walking through windows is something to be approached with extreme caution…

Anyway, today, I’m here to celebrate the launch of my new book. It’s called FACING FIRE.

FACING FIRE picks up the story of what happened to me after the magical summer that you may have read about in A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW. And if you haven’t read it, you can find out more about both the books – at www.kcdyer.com

Or better still, would you like to win a copy as a prize? If you leave comment on this post, Diana will put your name into a draw to win a signed copy of FACING FIRE. And if you actually link to this post somewhere else [like in another blog, or facebook post or even a tweet] we’ll put your name in for the draw for BOTH of my books.

Why not?

By the way, if you’re into looking for prizes, [especially if you like making videos], check out my blog HERE at Darby Speaks. I have an AMAZING contest going with some totally fantastic prizes. And if you like twitter, you can follow all the latest on the contest and the blog tour and launches @DarbyWalking.

See you there.

Thanks for having me, Diana!

~Darby

CRUDO y CREDO y Muchas Gracias!

I had an absolutely wonderful time with a lot of y’all at Comics-Con (nearly went _deaf_, but had a good time) in New York last week! (And if I could figure out what blogger has done with the image-adding facility, I’d put up a few pictures taken by kindly folk there, but as it is, I can’t find anywhere to add a picture to postings anymore.)

Then had a _delightful_ few days with my delightful husband [g]—amazing what sleeping for ten hours a night instead of five will do for you (well, that, plus great food, walking miles and miles, excellent wine, and the sort of thing that happens after a certain amount of excellent wine…[cough]…).

As part of this, a kindly friend with connections got us a reservation at ESCA, one of New York’s premier sea-food restaurants, and we had a memorable evening, starting with an exquisite flight of “crudo”—this being (I’m told) Italian for “raw seafood” (aka sashimi, in this case). We thought this hilarious (well, we’d already had _some_ wine), since in Spanish, “Yo tengo crudo,” means “I have a hangover.”

Now, I hope y’all know the basic rule of drinking—one glass of water to each one of wine, _two_ of water if you’re drinking Scotch or hard likker. In case you’re wondering why that works…the pituitary glan produces a hormone called ADH (Anti-Diuretic Hormone). Diuresis means peeing, basically (well, the filtering of blood by your kidneys and excretion of excess water, along with various waste products, but you get the idea), so the ADH keeps you from just draining water out through your kidneys nonstop, and thus maintains a proper fluid balance in your body.

OK. Alcohol _inhibits_ the production of ADH. (This is where it gets mildly confusing, because we’re inhibiting something that’s already inhibiting something else…so the first thing _isn’t_ inhibited anymore) That means your hypothalamus doesn’t produce as much ADH as usual—and you pee more. (Surely you’ve noticed this side-effect of drinking a lot.)

Right. Your body is trying to get rid of the alcohol, which is a toxin (and hard likker is more toxic than wine—just ask someone who’s been drinking gin or vodka all night) and that’s why this happens. BUT, if you don’t replace the extra water that’s being used to wash out the alcohol, you _do_ get dehydrated, your fluid balance is no longer balanced, your blood vessels constrict, and a lot of other physiological things happen as a result that make you feel, well….crudo.

So mind what I say, and always order water along with your drink.

Anyway—next morning we went (_sans_ hangover) to church at St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue, and happened to hit High Mass, said by the Archbishop, attended by three visiting bishops, and generally sporting a good deal of the ceremonial appurtenances that the Catholic Church is Really Good at. The feature I most liked, though, was that the Credo (this is the Nicene Creed, which contains a recitation of the various things Catholics believe—btw, papal infallibility is not one of ‘em) was sung in Latin.

I haven’t sung the Credo in Latin in…oh, thirty years at least. Was very pleased to find it came right back to me, though—and very moving to hear it again.

Had a quick breakfast after Mass, and then watched a couple of hours (Lord only knows how long it actually went on) of the Hispanic Day Parade up Fifth Avenue, which was only a block from our hotel. I tell you what; I never realized there were that many Bolivians in the _world_, let alone in New York City. A few small groups from Galicia (with bagpipes. Galicia is, as y’all doubtless knew, one of the seven Celtic nations. Also—we think—where Los Gabaldones originally came from. As I tell people, I’m not Scottish—but I am an Iberian Celt! [g] (I have the stubby feet to prove it, too…)), Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, etc.—but rank upon rank, row upon row of Bolivians, in between _everything_, all the ladies wearing bowler hats and very short skirts (displaying either satin panties or buttocks, depending on size of latter relative to former, with each gyration; they wiggled their heinies all the way up Fifth Avenue, which must have taken amazing endurance), the gentlemen either wearing something resembling a super-hero costume with a lot of embroidery and boots studded with bells, or attired in a costume like a cross between the Main Street Electrical Parade and a particularly depraved bumblebee—possibly they were meant to be demons, judging from the expressions on the masks—and whirling noise-makers. All I can say is, they must have a lot of fun in Bolivia on public holidays.

Ended up with a much less adventurous but still delicious dinner (a really good lobster risotto is the only thing I remember with any clarity), and then packed for Boston, where we spent the next couple of days wallowing in clam chowder (and good wine), tootling around on trolleys, and enjoying the actual sensation of chilliness (it’s 91 in Phoenix today).

Returned after all this lovely R&R to the news that THE EXILE is once more #1 !! on the New York Times bestseller list—for the third week in a row! To which I can only say, MUCHAS GRACIAS to all of you for the kind reception of this book, and I hope you’re enjoying it !

So I’m off again tomorrow, to the West Virginia Book Festival:

I’ll be talking/reading/whatever at 2:00 PM, signing books afterward. I’m sorry—I’d intended to bring OUTLANDER: The Musical CDs with me, as well as taking some to Canada next week, but it’s a good news/bad news kind of thing: I don’t have any to bring, because we’ve sold all I had (and thank you all kindly for _that_, too!!). We do have a new batch coming in early next week, but not, alas, in time for me to ship them to Canada.

The good news is that you _can_ get CDs easily; they’re available here , through Amazon.com, or if you want one signed by Mike Gibb (the lyricist who wrote the songs) [g], you can order one directly from him in Scotland via Paypal. See the OUTLANDER: The Musical website for details.

And I think I’ve already put up the schedule for Canada. So see y’all there! Muchos besos! (or, as Hobbs—of Calvin and Hobbs—would put it, “Muchas Smoochas!”)

CHANGES! CANADIAN Book-Tour Appearances

Oookay. To the best of my present knowledge, THIS is the present lineup of appearances in Canada. See y’all there!

October 20, 2010

6:00pm EVENT: Chapters / Indigo, Victoria
1212 Douglas Street / (250) 380-9009
Contact: Mary Lynn Hanson / (604) 749-4797
This is a speaking event: 20 minutes followed by a short
Q & A, and book signing

October 21, 2010

6:30-9:00 Chapters/Indigo, Strawberry Hill, Surrey
12101 72nd Avenue, Suite 100
Surrey, British Columbia
(604)501-2877

This event isn’t just me; it’s a mult-author gala event
put on as part of the Surrey International Writers
Conference(where I’ll be working over the weekend).
You get five or six additional authors , all presenters
from the conference, talking or reading as well as signing
books.

October 23, 2010

5:30-7:00 Mass Autographing – Surrey Intl. Writers Conference
Sheraton Guildford Hotel
Fraser Room

This is another SiWC event, open to the public. All the
published authors attending the conference will be signing
their books this evening. Yes, local book-sellers will be
present with books for sale (some authors will be selling
their own books, so you might want to bring cash, just in case).

October 24, 2010

4:00pm EVENT: Black Bond Books
#344 – 32555 London Ave., Mission
604-814-2650

October 25, 2010 – Edmonton

7:00pm EVENT: Greenwoods Bookshoppe
Old Timer’s Cabin, 9430 – 99 St.
Tickets will cost $5
This is a speaking event: 20 minutes followed by a short
Q & A, and book signing

After which, I go HOME (o, frabjous day) to WORK (calloo, callay)! Not that I don’t like y’all Up North, but flesh, blood, and time all have their limits. See you in the west this time–Toronto next summer (Fergus Games, and who knows? Maybe Halifax, etc. in the fall. We’ll see!

THE EXILE abroad and Other Tales

The Beauties of Multi-national Publication, or “Why Can’t I Get That in Germany?!?”

With the recent publication of THE EXILE, the debut of OUTLANDER: The Musical, and the giveaways of OUTLANDER paperbacks and ebooks, I’m getting a number of queries/complaints from people who live in other countries—all to the effect of, “I tried to get this, but it’s not available in the UK/Australia/NewZealand/Germany, etc.!”

Well, see, the way that publishing works is that a publishing company buys certain specific _rights_ to a book. If you have a decent agent, you _don’t_ sell “worldwide rights” to your manuscript; the agent makes separate deals with individual publishers in different countries. Each publishing contract defines exactly which rights you’re selling—and the “exclusive territory” in which the book can be sold.

Which means that not all publishers buy all books at the same time—and not all publishers choose to promote the books they have in the same way, either.

Right. Now, with respect to THE EXILE, only three countries have so far bought that book: the US (Random House), Canada (Random House Canada), and the Netherlands (De Boekerij) (their translation is not yet released).

You aren’t getting it in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand because Orion—my UK publisher (whose “exclusive territory” _includes_ Australia and New Zealand) is not yet convinced that there’s any market for graphic novels. Ditto Blanvalet Verlag, the German publisher. They doubt many people in their countries would buy it—so they haven’t made an offer for it—and you don’t get it, unless you order it from the US, via Amazon.com, The Poisoned Pen, or some other way.

As for the giveaway of free OUTLANDER paperbacks and ebooks—that’s something that Random House (US) has chosen to do, so those offers are only available _in_ the US. If any of our other publishers choose to do likewise, we’d be very pleased—but I can’t –make- them do it.

Now, the OUTLANDER: The Musical CD’s are a little different, because those are not being distributed by a publishing company, but rather by the producers themselves—that being Mike Gibb and Kevin Walsh, in Scotland. I’ve got them an Amazon.com account, to facilitate the CD’s being more easily available in the US, and _should_ have an iTunes account going pretty soon here. Next step [g] is to see about getting an Amazon.de account, for those German fans who’ve been having to order CDs from Scotland. But that, we _can_ do without it having to be done through a publishing company; it’s just a matter of me or Mike having time to establish all the different avenues of distribution—and I’m on a book-tour, and Mike’s up to his eyeballs in writing the libretto for the stage production of OUTLANDER: The Musical. So it may take us a little while, but we’ll get there. [g]

Meanwhile, if you’d like to let the UK/Australian/NZ/Germany publishers know that there _is_ a market for this particular graphic novel, at least…

I hesitate to put down any publisher’s personal email address here, but here’s some general contact information:

Orion (UK, Australia, and New Zealand – you might want to tell them which one you’re from):

http://www.orionbooks.co.uk/about-orion/contact-us

or possibly

salesinformation@orionbooks.co.uk

Blanvalet Verlag (Germany):

http://www.randomhouse.de/blanvalet/index.jsp (there’s a link for “Kontact/Service” on the left