• “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

Quickie Appearance – Tempe, Nov. 30th

For those who live in the Phoenix Metro area (and have survived Black Friday )…I’ll be doing a two-hour signing at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe tomorrow (Nov. 30th), from 3-5 PM.

This is just a sign-and-chat; not a formal event. (_I_ don’t mind if you bring your books from home to be signed, but you might check with the bookstore to see if it’s OK by them.)

Address and phone:

Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283
480.730.0205

[Google maps link and other information on their website]

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WELL, ALRIGHTY THEN! WE HAVE A NEW PUB DATE!

MOBY official US cover

I’m pleased to announce that WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (aka MOBY) will be published by Random House (US) on June 10th, 2014.

To answer a few questions that I _know_ the answer to:

Canada always publishes on the same date as the US.

UK Cover

UK Cover

The UK (and its territories, Australia and New Zealand) usually publishes very near the US date, but not invariably on the _same_ day. It might be, it might be a few days earlier, it might be later, I don’t know. Will tell you as soon as I do.

Germany will likely publish quite close to the same date as the US, perhaps a little sooner. I don’t know about that yet.

Almost all other non-English publishers will publish about a year after the US/English edition, because they have to allow time for translation, and a Big Book takes a long time to translate. (Germany gets much faster translation because I have a close personal relationship with the German translator, and she works with me while I write.)

The book-tour for MOBY is being rescheduled as we speak. The launch party will be held in Scottsdale, AZ, by the Poisoned Pen bookstore, at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, 6-10 PM, June 10th.

That’s ALL I know for now. As soon as the dates are re-set (spoke to the Random House publicist this morning and she says she thinks most of the dates and events previously scheduled will be the same), I’ll post the list everywhere.

Publication Date Change – Sorry About This…

Well. I _really_ hate writing this, and I do apologize….but the pub date for MOBY is moving.

Two reasons for this:

1. The first—and by far the most important—is that I began to realize about a month ago that I needed a little more time in order to finish the book the way it needs to be done. I could get the necessary wordage on paper by the end of the year—but it wouldn’t be _good_. Good takes more time. And I’m really sorry, but you’re not getting a book that’s less than the best I can do.

2. The second thing has to do with the new Starz tv show. Two things about _that_:

a. While the original guess as to the date for the series release was April, that _was_ only a guess. In New York last month, the Starz people were telling me (and the assorted fans present; it’s not a secret) that it will be (take your pick), “June,” “July,” “August,” or “summer.” So, you know…later.

b. While I don’t have (and don’t want) “control” over anything to do with the show, I actually am (by contract) a consultant. And while I told the production people that I considered my main job to be staying out of their way, they are amazingly generous about including and involving me. And I am actually required to do promotional things for the PR side of the production. Sooo….am I going to say, “Sorry, I can’t be paying attention to all this fascinating stuff going on, and I’m not going to New York Comic Con, because I have to stay home and finish my novel?” Errr….no. (I mean, really—would _you_?)

So. I would have told you this a week or so ago, but once I’d made the decision that I needed an extra two months to do the book properly, all of the publishers needed to be officially informed. (Publishers hate finding out important things on Twitter or Facebook.)

Now, it’s up _to_ those publishers now to decide on a new pub date. They need to take into consideration all kinds of things, including the new date for the tv show’s release (not that there is an _official_ date as yet—and even if there was, it could move. Stuff Happens, as I’ve told you before), plus the usual considerations—where they can find a good slot in their existing schedule, what’s a good time of year for it, and so on.

I don’t have any idea what the new pub date might be. I’ll tell you the minute we know. But my immediate concern is for all the people I’ve seen this week excitedly making plans to come and see me in Portland or wherever.

Since the pub date is moving….I’m afraid (and my Deep Apologies to the poor publicists) all the tour events will have to be rescheduled, once a new date is chosen.

Now, I know a lot of you have been ordering tickets to the Portland event on April 6th. I’ll talk to the Random House people and the Portland people, and see what can be worked out. I’m happy to go and do that event, even if it’s not part of the official book-tour, if the organizers want that. But that’s up to them. I _will_ do my best to make sure you aren’t harmed by the change, though.

I’m sorry about this, and I thank you for your patience and understanding.

Casting Commentary

Sam Heughan and Friend at Outlanderworld

Sam Heughan and Friend at Outlanderworld

Goodness, can’t leave you lot to your own devices for long, can I? [g] Given the amount of traffic I see in the stats for this blog and my Facebook page, I conclude that the Casting Wars are still boiling along.

Well. Look.

1) People are entitled to their own opinions. Naturally, I’d prefer these opinions to be expressed—and received—civilly, but up to you, of course. I believe in the virtues of free discourse.

2) I—of course—am likewise entitled to an opinion. [cough]

Now, my opinion is based on rather more information than most others expressed here, because

a) I created Jamie Fraser and thus—presumably–have a pretty good idea of what he really looks and acts like.

b) While I haven’t yet met Sam Heughan, I’ve seen Rather a Lot of him (about 95%, at a rough guess), both in terms of

a. Photographs, and

b. Film, and

c. Bits and pieces, like audition tapes

Naturally, everyone forms mental images while reading. Everybody. I do it when I read other people’s books, too. Now, I can’t imagine why anyone—having read OUTLANDER—would form an image of Jamie as a 7-foot tall Bozo the clown on steroids, but you know….whatever floats your boat.

Why anyone should expect a film company to a) telepathically extract your personal vision of a character and b) try to replicate that onscreen is one of the Great Mysteries of the Universe, and I’m not about to try to solve it here—I got a book to write, among other things, and there are only so many hours in the day.

So I’m just going to say This about That:

Y’all have not seen Sam Heughan “be” Jamie Fraser.

I _have_.

Now, when they told me who they’d chosen and that they were sending me the audition tapes, I was in the car, driving from Phoenix to Santa Fe with my husband. Unable to get to my computer until we got to Santa Fe, I was madly googling “Sam Heughan” on my iPhone (my husband was driving, I hasten to add).

Frankly, I thought he looked bizarre. He’s 6’3”, that’s fine…very chiseled face, but oddly chiseled, and what’s with the large forehead and cleft chin?!? Jamie doesn’t have a cleft chin and his nose is not all that long, though it _is_ straight…and good grief, I know we wanted somebody who could play a 22-year-old virgin, but this guy hardly looks like he has hair on his behind, let alone the dangly bits…but…

But.

But you know, I _do_ understand what it is that actors do.

(Do you know that, btw? What they do is magic. They can become somebody they aren’t—and their physical outline is just Really Not That Important. (Within limits. Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is a long way outside those limits…).)

So I sat down at my computer, sort of looking warily through my fingers. Willing to suspend disbelief if I could, but kind of dubious, you know?

So here he is, dark-haired, in a long-sleeved gray T-shirt, and I’m thinking, “Boy, he doesn’t look _anything_ like his IMDB photos, he actually looks pretty human, that’s a relief…”

And five seconds later, Sam Heughan was GONE, and it was Jamie Fraser right there in front of me. True. No costume, no makeup, no props, nothing but cues from an offstage casting director, and…it was him.

He did two scenes. First, a confrontation with Dougal, right after Dougal’s ripped his shirt off in the tavern.

“Devil take ye, Dougal MacKenzie! I dinna owe ye that!” Blazing blue eyes, swelling shoulders, and…bam. Showed this small bit to a (male) friend recently, who blinked at the screen and said, “Man, he’s powerful!” He was.

Second scene was even better; it’s the scene where Jamie explains to Claire exactly why he’s about to punish her. [g] And he had it all: patience, seriousness, annoyance, patience, humor, menace, humor, and…enough sex to drop anyone with functioning ovaries in their tracks.

Now. In the months since then, the production people have been kind enough to show me the occasional glimpse of this or that. I _have_ seen the red hair in its full glory (it took seven tries—and 27 hours in a salon chair, I was told by the victim), and speaking as someone married to a red-head (himself Jamie’s original body model) and with two more in residence…it’s definitely the right kind of red.

Red hair—as I notice a few red-heads have been mentioning—looks Way Different, depending on the light. Unless it’s truly carroty (and Jamie’s is Definitely Not), sometimes it looks almost brown, sometimes it’s red-gold and sometimes it’s all different colors and sometimes it has almost-blond highlights and sometimes…well, let’s put it this way: it doesn’t look like Bozo the clown or Shamus the Wrestler, it looks like Real Hair, just red. (And if you really worry about this, do go and google “red deer images” and _see_ what the heck a red deer’s pelt looks like.)

But beyond the physical details (which are, um…Really Good, and decency prevents me going further, save to say that while Jamie certainly doesn’t look like Thor (gag me with a spoon), he—and Mr. Heughan—look Very Nicely Muscled indeed)….Sam Heughan can _act_. And he totally nailed it.

So. Feel perfectly free to express your own opinions. (I don’t know quite what people expect as a result. Surely they don’t figure that Starz will say, “Oh, no! Robyn MacGillicuddy Stimson thinks Chris Hemsworth should be Jamie! Get Hemsworth’s agent on the phone!” Or at least I hope they don’t think that…) You’ll change your mind in due course.

Or I’ll pay you a dollar. [g]

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!

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!