• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
    —ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

Fan Event in New York – Behind The Scenes Video


Ron-Diana-ComicCon2013Thought you all might enjoy a glimpse of what’s going on with the new cable-tv show (at least those of you in the US; this video was produced and posted by Starz, who are the US distributors of the show, and I’m afraid the video isn’t viewable by other countries–yet. I’m hoping they’ll figure out how to do that shortly, but it’s not in my hands, sorry).

This video is a Fan Event put on by Starz while I was in New York last weekend at Comic Con, promoting the new show with Ron D. Moore, the executive producer and show-runner. You’ll get at least a glimpse of the sets and characters and preparation going into the show–followed by 45 minutes of detailed Q&A with me and Ron. (At the upper right is a captured image of Ron and me from the video.)

And a little later this week, I’ll be posting a round-up of the actors who have been announced so far, along with such photos and information as I have. _That_ will be available to everybody! Hope you enjoy it!

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FERGUS (Ontario) SCOTTISH FESTIVAL AND HIGHLAND GAMES

JOIN ME IN FERGUS, ONTARIO NEXT WEEKEND!

I’ll be at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games next weekend, August 9-11! (Well, I’ll actually be in evidence only on the 10th and 11th, but there are public events on Friday—the “Heavy” competitions, and the Tattoo—that you may be interested in as well.) The official website is here, but the part of the schedule that applies specifically to my own appearances is listed below:

Saturday, August 10

Doors Open: 8:00am
8:30am- Fergus Scottish Festival, Diana Gabaldon & the Ladies of Lallybroch through the ages. ~ Lynn Boland Richardson
9:00am-10:00am – Diana Gabaldon
10:00am- Booksigning and Photo Opportunities

1:30pm- Fergus Scottish Festival, Diana Gabaldon & the Ladies of Lallybroch through the ages. ~ Lynn Boland Richardson
2:00pm-3:00pm- Diana Gabaldon
3:00pm- Booksigning and Photo Opportunities
Sunday, August 11
Doors Open: 9:00am
9:30am- Fergus Scottish Festival, Diana Gabaldon & the Ladies of Lallybroch through the ages. ~ Lynn Boland Richardson
10:00am-11:00am – Diana Gabaldon
11:00am- Booksigning and Photo Opportunities

2:30pm-3:30pm- Diana Gabaldon
3:30pm-6:00pm Booksigning and Photo Opportunities

[I'll also be doing the Opening Ceremonies onstage at the field, mid-day on Saturday. The bookstore is open Friday from 4-6 PM, but there are no formal events on Friday, bar (I think) a ceildih in the evening. Check the official website for more details: http://www.fergusscottishfestival.com/

NO, you won’t get advance copies of MOBY—I haven’t finished writing it yet [g], and it doesn’t come out until next March, in order to coordinate with the (hoped-for) launch of the STARZ TV series. BUT…you _will_ get free (yes, FREE!! [g]) copies of the advance Excerpt Booklet, which includes the first seven chapters of the book. Random House Canada said they’re printing several thousand, so there should be plenty for everyone who wants one.

(And no, sorry—Sam Heughan will _not_ be joining me.)

It’s Official!

STARZ GREENLIGHTS NEW ORIGINAL SERIES “OUTLANDER”

FROM “BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” EXECUTIVE PRODUCER RONALD D. MOORE

Network Will Team up with Sony Pictures TV

Series Based on Diana Gabaldon’s International Best-Selling Novels

Beverly Hills, Calif., June 25, 2013 – Starz Chief Executive Officer, Chris Albrecht, announced today that Starz will partner with Sony Pictures Television to greenlight “Outlander,” an original series adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s international bestselling books. The network has ordered 16 episodes of the series which will begin filming in Scotland this fall. It is slated to premiere in 2014.

The series adaptation for “Outlander” will be written by Ronald D. Moore (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation”). Moore is best known for his work on “Battlestar Galactica,” which won him a Peabody Award in 2006. Ronald D. Moore and Jim Kohlberg are executive producers of “Outlander,” which is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining and Supply Company and Left Bank Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television.

“We were drawn to ‘Outlander’ because it centers on a complex heroine who becomes immersed in an epic time-traveling tale,” said Starz Chief Executive Officer Chris Albrecht. “Ron Moore is the perfect showrunner to bring the rich world created by Diana Gabaldon, which generated a global fan following, to life. We are thrilled to partner with Sony Pictures TV on this project.”

Moore added, “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to bring these books to life. Diana’s created a rich and textured world filled with intriguing characters, and I believe that Starz is the perfect home for her story. I think we’ll make something that the millions of fans of these books will enjoy and recognize as ‘Outlander.’”

Diana Gabaldon’s seven-book series has sold more than 20 million copies and has graced the New York Times best-sellers list six times. The eighth installment of the “Outlander” series is slated to be released March 25th, 2014.
The “Outlander” series spans the genres of romance, science fiction, history, and adventure in one magnificent tale. It follows the story of Claire Randall, a married British combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Starz will retain all domestic multiplatform pay TV rights to the original series.

“Outlander” TV Series Online
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OutlanderTVSeries.starz

Twitter: @Outlander_Starz – join the conversation with #OutlanderStarz

Historical Novel Society Conference this weekend

I’ll be at the Historical Novel Society conference this weekend in St. Petersburg, Fl.–where I will, among other things, be Mistress of Ceremonies at the Saturday Late-Night Sex-Scene Readings. [g]

Now, in previous years, we had only a half-dozen or so hardy souls willing to get up and read their naughty scenes in front of the banquet audience…but _this_ year, we had more than forty volunteers! (Must be the influence of the Fifty Shades books, I suppose. Suddenly it’s fine to read pornography in public, so why not scenes of literary merit with sexual content, hey?)

I could only take a few of the willing applicants, because you really can’t expect people to sit through more than an hour of sex scenes, no matter how well written…but how to choose?

Well, basically, I took the two men who volunteered, because it’s hard to find men who will do that –and then I kind of drew straws for the other slots. This left quite a number of talented sex-scene writers, though, who I thought deserved a chance of…er…exposure. (It’s just not possible to talk about sex-scenes without constant double-entendre, I’m sorry.)

So…I offered those who didn’t make the roster the opportunity to have their scenes posted here on my Facebook page, for the enjoyment of souls of a discriminating nature–who might, should they find the material interesting, go and look for the books of the person who wrote a good scene.

Several bold writers accepted this offer , so I will–over the next couple of weeks–be posting these scenes for your edification and enjoyment.

FOR THE MOMENT, though–here’s a brief taste of the less-rowdy side of the conference, with a Q&A I did with Jenny Barden (last year’s HNS organizer, and a brilliant job she did, too!), whose new book, MISTRESS OF THE SEA, is just coming out in the US in paperback:

Diana Gabaldon takes time out from packing for the HNS Conference in Florida to quiz fellow delegate Jenny Barden about her paperback debut, Mistress of the Sea

DG: What drew you to Francis Drake, Jenny, and why this particular episode?

JB: Sir Francis Drake is one of the best loved English heroes. He spearheaded the attacks against the Spanish at sea which led to the gradual erosion of their global dominance during the Elizabethan era and culminated in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. In the episode that forms the backdrop to Mistress of the Sea, Drake managed to strike where the Spanish least expected and where it hurt most: at their bullion supply from South America. I loved the fact that Drake achieved this feat with so few men; only 15 English mariners accompanied him on the last decisive raid, and he did it in alliance with runaway African slaves whom he honoured as loyal friends. Drake also teamed up with French Huguenot privateers; plainly, he didn’t hold the conventional prejudices of his age! He was patriotic, recklessly brave, and totally determined to the point of ruthlessness. (He scuttled his brother’s ship to stop his men going back to England too soon.) I find that kind of passionate zeal and readiness to go the edge and beyond really fascinating in this age of moderation and compromise. Drake was definitely not pc! But he kept going in the face of successive setbacks and defeats. More than half his crew died during the campaign, including two of his younger brothers, but Drake never gave up. In that respect, if no other, I consider him an excellent role model for writers!

DG: Tell me about the love-interest, Will. What does Ellyn see in him?

JB: Will is a maverick. He’s ruggedly good looking in a Sean Bean kind of way (and if you’re not familiar with Sean Bean then think of a taller, chiseled Brad Pitt!). He’s also a charmer with the ladies, and there’s an immediate physical attraction between him and Ellyn. The rapport between them intellectually takes much longer to develop because of their social inequality. (Will is a craftsman, disowned by his father, who has run away to sea, while Ellyn is the daughter of a wealthy merchant with high hopes of an advantageous marriage.) Ellyn considers Will to be a bit of an upstart at first, but he also fascinates her with his tales of adventure. He has the allure of the high seas, travel to far flung places, escape and everything she secretly longs for. He’s also a puzzling character with a dark side, driven by bloodlust and a desire for vengeance for the loss of his brother at the hands of the Spaniards (a mirror of the vengeance that motivated Drake as a matter of historical fact). Will is a man of action, and Ellyn is entranced by him to the point at which she takes action herself, steps into her brother’s shoes, and follows Will aboard Drake’s ship…

DG: I found Ellyn’s feelings for her father very touching and well-drawn. What was the inspiration for that relationship?

JB: The inspiration for the relationship between Ellyn and her father came directly from my own experience. My dad died some years ago, alas – long before Mistress of the Sea was published. I was a bit of a tearaway tomboy, and was constantly in a ding-dong battle of wits with my father, determined to have my own way and prove that I could be just as good as any boy. My father had a rather Elizabethan approach to gender which was most definitely not one of equality! He was wonderful, but, in his judgement, girls were never going to achieve as much as men, and it was storing up trouble to extend their aspirations beyond being good wives and mothers. (Though higher education was not to be discouraged, it would probably be a waste in the long run – but that didn’t stop him taking great pride in my achievements!). In this respect, creating the character of Nicholas Cooksley and the tension between him and Ellyn was easy; I simply tapped into my memories, though, both in reality and in fiction, there was much more to the father-daughter bond and conflict. My father and I loved one another deeply but could never quite accept the other’s point of view.
Las Cruces trail – an extension of the Camino Real

DG: It is an exotic setting. What did you most enjoy writing about that?

JB: The Caribbean, and Panama in particular, is a superb location for a story. I adored doing the ‘on the ground’ research, picking up as much of the Camino Real as I could find, by which I mean the old ‘Royal Road’ along which bullion from Peru was transported overland by mule-train, from the City of Panama on the Pacific, to Nombre de Dios leading to the Atlantic. This traffic in bullion went on for well over a hundred years. I found places where the constant passage of hooves had worn hollows in the stones leading to overgrown pathways in the depths of the jungle. From idyllic coral atolls to the summits of forest-clad mountains with precipitous drops and stunning views; from scuba diving off Kuna Yala to traipsing through rainforest in nearly 100% humidity searching for traces now largely lost under the Panama Canal. I loved finding where the adventure actually happened. In those places, in my mind, the characters began to speak and the story came alive.

DG: What do you think you would have found most difficult about living in this time?

JB: Not having a nice hot bath, or even a shower, after a tiring day would have been fairly miserable. I’d have gone to bed each night sweaty, dirty and scratching fresh insect bites (ugh!)

DG: What research materials did you find most useful?

JB: The first hand accounts, both English and Spanish, were the most useful resources for me. The best account of Drake’s raid comes from Sir Francis Drake Revived, compiled by his preacher from the testimony of his crew. On the Spanish side, we have the documents from the Archives of the Indies at Seville, translated by Irene Wright and published by the Hakluyt Society. Of the many biographies about Drake, I found John Sugden’s the most readable. Then I have a few personal favourites in terms of quirky reference material, such as Old Panama and Castillo Del Oro by CLG Anderson with some really good pictures of Panama before the Chagres River was dammed to make the Canal. I also found living history exhibits such as the Golden Hinde reconstruction near London Bridge very helpful. There’s no better way of appreciating how damp, cramped and uncomfortable life would have been on a long voyage aboard an Elizabethan sailing ship than spending three hours in the hold giving talks back to back!

DG: I gather the next book is finished! – congratulations! Is it in the same setting? What are we allowed to know?

JB: Your congratulations are very much appreciated, thank you. The next book moves north quite a bit to the Island of Roanoke in what is now North Carolina. The story is set against the backdrop of the ‘Lost Colony’: the first attempt to found a permanent English settlement in America. I’m sure that, when I first began looking into this, you knew a lot more about it than I did, because everyone in the States seems to have heard of the ‘Lost Colony of Roanoke’, and almost no one has come across it here in England. Whilst we’re taught about the Elizabethan era at junior school, we’re generally not told about this remarkable endeavour and enduring mystery. I’ve really enjoyed the research, particularly since new evidence came to light during the course of writing the novel; I’ve had fun working that in! The story follows my fictional characters, Kit Doonan (Will’s brother) and Emme Fifield, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen, who embarks on the voyage with a secret brief from the Queen’s spymaster, Walsingham, in order to escape the predatory attentions of the son of the Duke of Somerset. (The Lost Duchess will be published in the UK on 7 November.)

DG: It will be great to catch up again at the HNS conference in Florida. What are you most looking forward to?

JB: I can’t wait for the Conference; it’s going to be a ball! I’m most looking forward to seeing you again and catching up with my HNS friends in the US, and particularly to the fabulous *not-to-be-missed* Saturday Night Sex Scene Readings which you’ll be hosting. (I’m still recovering from the San Diego experience 2 years ago!)

Thank you so much for asking me these questions, Diana, and for your interest in Mistress of the Sea. The novel is not yet available in the States, but I will be bringing a few rare advance copies for enthusiasts at the Conference!

Wishing you every possible success with the next Outlander – can’t wait for that either!

ARE YOU FEELING….EXHIBITIONISTIC?

ARE YOU FEELING…EXHIBITIONISTIC?

This year’s Historical Novel Society conference takes place Jun 21 – Jun 23 this year, at the
Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. And once again, I’ve somehow been persuaded/drafted into the job of ring-master…er, Mistress of Ceremonies for the Late-Night Sex-Scenes Reading, a regular feature of these proceedings.

I inadvertently started this a few years ago, when I attended the HNS and was put on a panel discussing sex-scenes in historical fiction (actually, sex hasn’t altered much in the last few thousand years, so this is pretty generally applicable stuff). There were six people on the panel, and we were mutually introduced electronically and left to figure out how we wanted to handle things.

Having done a number of workshops at writers conferences on How to Write Sex-Scenes, I mentioned that I thought it was virtually impossible to discuss the craft of such scenes without using examples to illustrate what you were talking about. General consensus on that point. OK…six people on panel. If each of us read _one_ scene—and a brief scene at that–it would use up all the time, and there’d be no time either for us to make illustrative remarks, or for the audience to ask questions. Quandary.

So—God help me—I suggested that we ask the organizers if we might have use of the hotel’s ballroom for an hour or so following the main banquet (the panel being next day). We might, I said, announce at the banquet that the panel members would be reading examples of their work, in order to reference these scenes in the next day’s panel; anyone who was interested could remain to hear them, and anyone who wasn’t could go to bed or the bar, depending on individual preference. Universal approval.

So we did. And the results were sufficiently entertaining that the Late-Night Sex-Scene Readings have been a regular feature for the last three or four years. Last year, Gillian Bagwell emcee’d the proceedings, doing a lovely job—and providing a popular YouTube video of herself, me, and Bernard Cornwell enacting one of Gillian’s scenes from her novel, THE DARLING STRUMPET.

Now the time approacheth for all good men and women who don’t mind reading their sex scenes out loud in public—and who will be members of this year’s Conference—to step up to the plate. [g] The Late-Night readings are not, alas, open to the public (though if any good YouTube videos result, I’ll be sure to let you know).

The requirements are:

1) The reading needs to be your own original work (unless you’re team-reading someone else’s scene with them).

2) It does _not_ have to be published work; reading from a work-in-progress is acceptable.

3) It should be no more than 5-7 minutes in length.

4) You agree that people who take photos or video of you reading may post these online. (Mind, it isn’t common for people to _do_ this, but it does happen.)

Now, ideally, the scene is short enough to be dramatically complete in 5-7 minutes, but that’s not a requirement, just a suggestion.

Since we want to keep the program somewhere between 45-60 minutes, that means we can manage six or seven readers (to allow time for getting on and off stage, introductions, and hysterics on the part of the audience).

So if you’re interested in doing this, drop me an email at dgabaldon@aol.com, and let me know just a bit about your scene—what period you’re writing in, for instance, and whether it’s a serious or comic scene (or some combination thereof). If we have a _lot_ of volunteers, I may need to ask for more information in order to make a decision, but in recent years, about the right number of people have shown up. I look forward to hearing from you! [g]

Octopus/Octothorpe….there’re eight legs, what else do you want?

EW.com (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s electronic edition) reveals the official cover for MOBY (aka WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD). Here’s the link to their piece, which has a few questions and answers (such as they are [cough]).

While I originally wanted an octopus on the cover–both because I really like octopuses and because of the symbolism (there are eight major characters whose stories I’m telling through this book–and it _is_ the eighth book, after all), there were certain technical issues that made that difficult. My husband–never a big fan of the octopus concept–asked whether I could think laterally; surely there were other ways to get an “8″ onto the cover.

So I thought. And almost at once, the word “octothorpe” sprang to mind. I’ve always liked the word, and it certainly was appropriate (you may or may not recognize it in its Very Artistic form here–but it’s the lowly hashtag, or pound sign), as it not only has eight points (and eight “fields” of empty space surrounding it; one explanation of its origin is that it was a symbol on old English land documents for a farm surrounded by eight fields), but is a printing character–and the content of the book does indeed have a certain amount about the printer’s trade in colonial America during the Revolution.

So I went at once to Google and typed in “octothorpe”–and pretty much the first thing I saw was this. I was so ravished by Conrad Altmann’s beautiful octothorpe that I emailed it at once to my editor, with the suggestion that we use _this_ for the central icon of the new cover design.

Now, frankly, the Art Department was so relieved not to have to deal with any more octopuses that I’m sure they would have fallen on any alternate suggestion with cries of gladness. However, they were as pleased with this lovely octothorpe as I was, and came up with this elegant and striking concept, which I Really Like. Hope you will, too!

AN EASTER EGG

You have Barbara Schnell, my delightful and talented German translator, to thank for this: she asked whether I was going to post an Easter excerpt, in the style of our Advent Candles (which were her idea, too). Those of you who are German speakers will find the German translation of this (and a number of other things) on the German version of the website at http://www.dgabaldon.de/ (or simply click on the German flag icon at the top left of the home page here).

Do be warned: There is a Major Spoiler (not that it will help you in the slightest [g]) in this.

AN EASTER EGG
Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon
#fromMOBY
#MAJORSpoiler
#NotThatItWillHelpYouAny…

Roger hauled his way laboriously toward the summit of the mountain pass, muttering under his breath (as he had been doing for the last several miles),

“_If you had seen this road before it was made,
You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade_.”

The Irish General Wade had spent twelve years building barracks, bridges and roads all over Scotland, and if that bit of admiring verse was not in fact carved into a stone on one of the General’s roads, it ought to have been, Roger thought. He had picked up one of the General’s roads near Craig na Dun, and it had carried him as swiftly as he could walk, to within a few miles of Lallybroch.

These last few miles, though, had not had the benefit of Wade’s attention. A rocky trail, pitted with small mud-bogs and thickly overgrown with heather and gorse, led up through the steep pass that overlooked—and protected—Lallybroch. The lower slopes were forested with beeches, alders [ck.] and stout Caledonian pines, but up this high there was neither shade nor shelter, and a strong, cold wind battered him as he climbed.

Could Jem have come this far, by himself, if he’d escaped? Roger and Buck had cast round in the vicinity of Craig na Dun, hoping that perhaps Cameron had stopped to rest after the strain of the passage, but there had been no sign—not so much as the print of a size-4 trainer in a muddy patch of ground. Roger had come on then by himself, as fast as he could, pausing to knock at the door of any croft he came to—and there weren’t many along this way—but he’d made good time.

His heart was pounding, and not only from the exertion of the climb. Cameron had maybe a day’s lead, at the most. If Jem hadn’t got away and run for home, though…Cameron wouldn’t come to Lallybroch, surely. But where would he go? Follow the good road, left now ten miles behind, and head west, maybe, into the MacKenzies’ territory—but why?

“Jem!” He shouted now and then as he went, though moors and mountains were empty save for the rustling of rabbits and stoats, and silent but for the calling of ravens and the occasional shriek of a seagull winging high overhead, evidence of the distant sea.

“_Jem_!” He called as though he could compel an answer by sheer need, and in that need, imagined sometimes that he heard a faint cry in response. But when he stopped to listen, it was the wind. Only the wind, whining in his ears, numbing him. He could walk within ten feet of Jem and never see him, and he knew that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“_We keep it so for the children_,” Bree had quoted her uncle Ian as saying. “_We tell them, ‘This is what the English are_.’”

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

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

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

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

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

[end section]

Quick Correction!!

My apologies! Evidently I confused this afternoon’s live #Torchat on Twitter for THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, with the live (fleshly) appearance at The Poisoned Pen for that book on February 25th!

The chat this afternoon will be from 4-5 PM EST, and will feature John Joseph Adams, editor of the anthology, Seanan McGuire, Austin Grossman, and me (all contributors of stories in the book). To follow and participate in the chat, when you go on Twitter, search on the hashtag #Torchat; that will show you all the messages with that hashtag. (As the chat progresses, you’ll need to refresh the search from time to time to show new messages, aside from ones that aren’t replies to you.)

On the _25th_, John Joseph Adams and I will be doing a joint talk/booksigning at the Poisoned Pen, at 7 PM. Hope to see you there! (Psst…the Pen tells me they’ve just got a bonus shipment of A TRAIL OF FIRE–a return from the UK publisher–and so now have a hundred or so copies unspoken for.)

Here’s the link for the Poisoned Pen appearance!

Dogs are Pure Love

” Dogs are pure love.”

Diana Gabaldon

I recently agreed to become an Ambassador for Bianca Associacao, the Portuguese shelter that annually rescues, cares for and re-homes 600 dogs and cats, many the victims of severe abuse and neglect, which is also supported by Mike Gibb (Outlander the Musical) through his Scottish charity Friends of Bianca.

Mike writes:

You can check this out at and find out more about this remarkable charity, established by and run by volunteers in a country with no Humane Society, RSPCA or the like, on their website at www.bianca.pt/english.

And even if you can’t take a dog why not, for a mere $4/ £2.50/ Euros 3 per month, become a God Parent to one of the many animals who can never be re-homed but who will be cared for for life by Bianca. You can view them all at “Animals For Fostering”; once you have made your choice send details to Mike at info@friendsofbianca.org and he will do the rest.

And when you are visiting the site why not check out the merchandise? Before long you could also be the proud wearer of a Bianca T-shirt!

Best Before…2013?

You know, I don’t usually _feel_ old, bionic knees notwithstanding. But I got a letter a couple of months back from the “Be the Match” organization that gave me pause for a moment.

“Be the Match” ® is the registry for the National Marrow Donor Program ®, which I’ve belonged to for the last thirty years or so. This is the registry that allows people to volunteer as a potential donor for bone marrow, should their genetics prove a good match for someone in need of a transplant.

I’ve never been asked to donate—evidently I don’t match many people –but have been on their books a long time. So along comes this letter, containing a small Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation, recognizing me “for outstanding commitment to and life-saving support of the Be The Match Registry ®.”

After thanking me, the letter went to say (in boldface type, no less):

“With your 61st birthday approaching, you will soon complete your eligibility for being on the registry as a potential donor.”

So evidently my bone marrow has expired, in terms of shelf-life. [g] The letter went on to ask me to donate $100 (tax-deductible—or at least it _was_, before the latest round of tax-hikes) to the Registry, to help them in recruiting a replacement donor.

Frankly, I thought it might be more effective to mention it here, in case any of you kind folks feel moved to sign up. The letter says further:

“Since 1987, we have facilitated more than 50,000 transplants from unrelated donors to give patients a second chance at life. Last year alone, we helped more than 5,500 people get the transplants they needed. We’re very proud of those accomplishments, but we have much more work ahead of us. Each year 10,000 patients with leukemia, lymphoma and many other life-threatening blood cancers need a marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.”

So. If any of y’all are interested in helping out with this valuable work, you can find out more details at BeTheMatch.org/help. Any of you who haven’t expired yet, I mean…

P.S. You want old? Well, age is relative. The photo above was taken this past August in the park at Castle Leod, Strathpeffer, Scotland. The tree I’m standing in front of was planted by Mary of Guise (this would be Mary, Queen of Scots’ _mother_) when she came to visit the castle back in 15-something. [You can see more about the Castle itself here.] Both the tree and I are doing Just Fine, Thank You.