• “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

Nice New Resources

TIMELINE

Barbara Schnell, who maintains the German version of this website (to go there, just click on the German flag at the top of the Home page), has compiled an elegant and helpful timeline of historical and fictional events from the books, and has helpfully provided an English version as well!

In addition, she has a link to a constantly-updated list of interesting interviews and reviews, which you can find here.

Danke, Barbara!

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TRAVELOGUE: VILNIUS, Part 2 – Diplomacy in Action

Andrius, the nice Almalittera publicist who organized my appearance at the Vilnius Book Fair, met me at the airport and drove me into the city to my hotel, the Radisson in the Old City (there’s a New City, too, but I saw very little of this). Vilnius is an old (founded in 1527) Eastern European city, only twenty years free of Soviet occupation; it’s a little worn around the edges. At the same time, there’s a lot of evidence of vitality; a lot of new shops, and a large number of Extremely Well-kept churches. Vilnius has a lot of churches—at least fifty, Andrius told me—and a number of these are Russian Orthodox, some with onion domes. We passed one of these on the way in from the airport—with about a dozen large domes, all newly upholstered in brilliant kelly-green weather-proofed panels; it looked like a patch of Irish toadstools.

The Soviets had closed down all the churches during the occupation, I was told, using them for storage, stabling, and other purposes. Most of the churches had been re-opened and restored, with one exception: we passed a huge building on the crest of a hill, surrounded by a tall fence topped with barbed wire, and a big central dome protruding above this. I asked what this was, thinking that perhaps it was a church still being restored, but was told it was a prison. That is, it was originally a church, but the Soviets had used it as a prison, and it was still used for that purpose—until a new prison could be built elsewhere.

Having just about survived the trip to Vilnius, I got to my hotel and had about four hours before the first official event—dinner at the residence of the US Ambassador to Lithuania!

OK. So far I’ve been in a lot of interesting situations, but a diplomatic dinner has not been among them. What the heck does one wear to dine with an ambassador?

I applied logic to the situation and deduced that I was probably not the only guest; the Ambassador must be hosting whatever other American authors were coming to the Book Festival—all of whom had the same limitations of luggage that I had. Also, the dinner was at her residence, not at the embassy…ergo, probably a more casual affair. Aha. Black pants should meet the case, with my good boots (yes, I still have the German bondage boots with the chains, but hadn’t brought them on this trip) and something dressy on top. That was a lovely hand-painted, fringed velvet jacket, given me by a group of fans some years before. (When he first saw it, my husband paused for a moment, then said, “Why have they given you a jacket covered with sperms?” [ahem] It is, of course, covered with peacock feathers, but I will admit a passing resemblance to multicolored spermatozoa. Luckily, if the ambassador noticed this, she was too diplomatic to mention it.)

Andrius picked me up, along with the other two American authors, Ruta and Ina, Ruta’s editor, and another person named Ruta who was from the publishing company (Ruta is a very popular Lithuanian name; it means “Ruth”), and delivered us to the Ambassador’s residence on the banks of the Neris River. Two weeks before my arrival, temperatures had been thirty degrees below zero, and there was a fair amount of snow on the ground. Now the weather had warmed up considerably, and the evening was punctuated by frequent thundering crashes as mini-avalanches cascaded off the roof.

The US Ambassador to Lithuania is the charming and impressively competent Ann Derse, who—with her husband and her dog (a black Lab retired drug-sniffer from Customs named Tracy)–made us all welcome. “Us all” included the three American writers (me, Ruta Sepetys, who is the elegant blond lady in the photo above, and another woman whose last name I unfortunately didn’t catch, but her first name was Ina, which I’m sure helps a lot), several hosting publishers, and several members of the local intelligentsia (really, they were introduced that way, which caused me to wonder if a single one is an intelligentsium or merely an intelligentsi, and what people would think if you put that on your business card…), including a very nice journalist from a Lithuanian magazine on current affairs, a Swedish film-maker (who lives in Vilnius part-time), a writer with several nonfiction books about the Holocaust to his credit, and a gentleman with the impressive title of Executive Director for the Commission on Nazi/Soviet War Crimes. Obviously, this was going to be a Serious-minded Occasion.

It was, too. After wandering around a bit with wine-glasses in hand, introducing ourselves to each other (several guests came up to me and began talking in Lithuanian—something that happened throughout my visit. Evidently I look like a Lithuanian; who knew?), we all processed in to dinner—very elegant, with diplomatic white and gold china, stamped with the US shield-and-eagle logo, and little menu cards explaining what the food was going to be. (Explanation not really needed; salad with brie and sliced almonds, roasted salmon with capers and kalamata olives (in a divine butter sauce—this was Utterly Delicious—and quite fortunate, as it was Ash Wednesday and I couldn’t have eaten meat (had slight trouble with deciding when to start fasting for Ash Wednesday, owing to the air travel crossing time zones, but I was pretty hungry by the time we got to dinner)—and fruit salad (which nobody ate) for dessert).

Before the food, we each introduced ourselves, and told a bit about what we did. Ruta Sepetys has written a wonderful book (BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY), a YA novel based on the experiences of her relatives during the Soviet occupation. (When the soldiers came round to arrest her grandfather and found him gone, they promptly arrested the rest of the family and deported them to Siberia, where a good many of them died), Ina is a journalist who’d written up a collection of Holocaust accounts from Lithuanian survivors, the rotund gentleman across the table (whose name I didn’t catch) had also done both books and movies dealing with genocide and related subjects (“I couldn’t sleep more than one night in three while working on [a particular book],” he told us), the Swedish film-maker had done a film called “The Forest Brothers,” about Lithuanian fugitives hiding in the woods during the occupation, and the Executive Director of the Commission on Nazi/Soviet War Crimes didn’t really require a whole lot of explanation. It was an Extremely Interesting dinner, and I learned more about the recent history of Lithuania in a couple of hours than I would have in several years of independent study. Emerged _very_ impressed at the determination and resilience of the Lithuanian people.

Oh, me? I was the comic relief. Not that I was _trying_ to be funny, but when I explained what I wrote and how I began writing—i.e., about “Dr. Who” and the man in the kilt, they rolled on the floor. (N.B.: I did _not_ tell the companion anecdote about the German journalist and the appeal of a man in a kilt; didn’t seem the time or place [delicate cough].)

And the evening was still the (Very Long) first day. I don’t usually have bad jet-lag, partly because I sleep at the drop of a hat, so snooze on and off through the flights, but also because I just keep my normal rhythm upon landing—I may collapse in a heap come bedtime, but I’ll feel fine the next day. So that’s what I did. And in Part 3, we’ll hear about Vilnius University, being made up in a foreign language, Vilma the interpreter, Lithuanian shopping malls, the Book Fair, basketball mania, and more amber than you could shake a stick at. Also, if I can figure out how to get it out of my Flip-it, a grossly inept video travelogue of Piliesas Street, main drag of the Old City of Vilnius.

• The photo above was _not_ taken in Vilnius, but in a hotel room in Tucson, Arizona, during the Tucson Festival of Books, earlier this month. I included it because it has both me and Ruta Sepetys in it, she having also come to the TFOB. The other ladies present are (from left to right) Kristina McMorris, Sarah McCoy, and Jenna Blum, and we were gathered together in order to do a Skype appearance for a church book-club, because we all had written things having to do with WWII (my modest claim to this historical period being a (more or less) short story titled “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows,” which is to do with Roger MacKenzie’s parents, Jerry and Dolly.

• I did tell the church-people the anecdote about the German interviewer and the appeal of a man in a kilt—but only because they asked.

Travelogue: Vilnius (Lithuania), Part I

Now, normally I travel Business Class only when someone else is paying for it [g], or when conditions seem to warrant the extra expense. In this case, it was the latter.

Vilnius is one of those places where you can’t get there from here–wherever “here” is. It takes a minimum of three flights (and 22 hours) to get there, and two weeks before I left, the nice person who was making my travel arrangements apologized for the delay, saying that it was -30 degrees F., and “too cold for anybody to do anything.” Nothing daunted, I put gloves and wooly hat in the pockets of my big down coat, loaded three new novels onto my Kindle (Deborah Crombie’s NO MARK ON HER, Kim Harrison’s PERFECT BLOOD, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE–all really good books, btw), put three Russell Stover Coconut Cream Easter Eggs and a hairbrush into my book satchel, with an ARC of Louise Penny’s THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY for takeoffs and landings, and set off into the wild blue yonder.

The adventure started off in typical fashion–which is to say that the first flight of this carefully-arranged hegira was cancelled (thus ruining all the other connections). You don’t do a lot of this kind of travel without developing a certain philosophical outlook, though, so I merely ate an easter egg (with Diet Coke; you don’t get through this kind of thing without some source of caffeine, either) and spent a tranquil three and a half hours in the Phoenix airport (flying Biz Class helps the philosophical outlook, since you can go hang out in the airline’s lounge on these occasions; the bathrooms are better, and they usually provide daily papers, snacks, and alcohol), reading NO MARK ON HER, before flying off to Newark (rather than Washington Dulles, as originally scheduled). Began THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, which is very good, though somewhat different from Penny’s usual, in that it involves Chief Inspector Gamache, but is not set in the magical town of Three Pines. Returned to NO MARK, though, as I didn’t want to finish the ARC too soon–a lot of takeoffs and landings still to come.

Well. The connection in Newark to the next leg—to Frankfurt—was only 40 minutes to start with—a long shot, considering that it takes about ten minutes to get to the gate and _off_ the bloody aircraft before even beginning the dash to the next gate (and Newark has roughly 175 gates). But the plane was put in a holding pattern, and by the time we finally landed and taxied _for miles_, my connection time had shrunk to nine minutes, and I was resigned to spending the night in Newark, rebooking _again_, and emailing Vilnius from my iPad to let them know I’d be a hair late.

BUT, what to my wondering eyes should appear, the instant I came out of the jetway, but a nice young gentleman in a suit and a German accent (I was technically on a Lufthansa flight, even though operated by Continental), who seized me, stuffed me into a waiting electric cart and—assuring me that my suitcase was being hastily excavated and would make it, too—dispatched us on a wild career down the terminal, the iron-lunged young lady at the wheel shouting, “BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!” at the oblivious walkers, several of whom avoided instant death only by an adroit leap sideways as we shot past.

I dived into the plane to find the whole German cabin crew standing in the doorway, impatiently glancing at their watches, and thirty seconds after I fell into my seat (leaping over the supine body of my seatmate, who had already put on her sleepmask and reclined at full-length under her blanket), we took off for Frankfurt. Another perk of flying Biz Class is that they offer more or less nonstop alcohol, and a good thing, too. White wine doesn’t really go with easter eggs, but you know, what the heck.

Lufthansa is really just about my favorite airline—insofar as it’s possible to contemplate the word “airline” without shuddering. The food was excellent, the service both amiable and efficient (beyond the alcohol and the warm nuts, one of the little amenities I like flying Biz is the napkins, which are cloth, dazzlingly white, and feature a buttonhole in one corner, so you can button it onto your shirt rather than laying it across your lap and dropping bits of arugula and glazed walnut into your décolletage, or tucking it into your collar and looking like you wuz born in a barn), and the seats really cool: each one was sort of sequestered in its own little cocoon of plastic, within which it adjusted everywhichway, so it doesn’t make any difference whether the person in front of you reclines or not.

I’m so accustomed to random sleeping that I don’t bother trying to readjust my metabolism when flying; I just take homeopathic No-Jet-Lag tablets and sleep when I’m tired. I wasn’t tired at this point, so went through the available movies—new to newish releases, but a pretty dismal looking crop—and watched Part I of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Boringly incoherent, with indifferent acting and good special effects. Let us just say I now have zero desire to see Part II. After all, I read the book; I know how it ends.

Astonishingly enough, we landed in time for me to make the connection with my _original_ Frankfort-to-Vilnius flight, in spite of having to go through Passport Kontrolle in Frankfort and make my way from one end of the place to the next—pausing _en route_ to purchase a small bottle of Cola Light (this is supposed to be Diet Coke, but it really isn’t; it’s Coke Zero. Still, it works, and I’m not inclined to be fussy after twenty hours on the road) for the extortionate price of three euros (one small benefit to constant travel is that I have small amounts of all kinds of odd currencies on hand, emptied out of my pockets after trips, and therefore usually have enough on landing to get me a snack and a cab-ride before I have to change money–_really_ useful, if landing at a small airport in the middle of the night. Frankfurt is _not_ a small airport, btw. It’s about like O’Hare in terms of size and complexity, but much, much better run. They were having a ground strike at the time—this is what caused my first flight to be canceled; the plane I was scheduled to be on couldn’t get _out_ of Frankfurt—but were moving people with great dispatch, little congestion, and no public riots. Or maybe they just don’t let members of the public abuse the staff).

And so I landed in Vilnius pretty much on time, to find that the temperature had risen, the snow was slushy, the skies gray—i.e., much like February in Flagstaff (where I grew up), as I kept reassuring my apologetic hosts—and the baggage claim area sported a large poster proudly informing all and sundry that Vilnius is “the Gender-Equality Capital of Europe!”

And the morning and the evening and the morning again and part of the afternoon were the First Day. _Now_ I was tired.

P.S. Where the Short Pieces Are (aka Chronology of the novellas and short stories)

P.S. WHERE ALL THE SHORT PIECES ARE:

“Lord John and the Hellfire Club” (short story—14,000 words) – originally published in the anthology PAST POISONS, edited by Maxim Jakubowski. Also published in the collection titled LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. This story _precedes_ the novel LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER.

“Lord John and the Succubus” (novella – it’s around 25-30,000 words) – originally published in the anthology LEGENDS II, edited by Robert Silverberg. Also published in the collection titled LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. This story _follows_ the novel LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER, and comes _before_ the novel LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE.

“Lord John and the Haunted Soldier” (novella – 25-30,000 words) Written for and available _only in_ the collection titled LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. This story _follows_ the novel LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE.

LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS is a _collection_ of three stories/novellas: “Hellfire Club,” “Succubus,” and “Haunted Soldier. It is available in hardcover, trade paperback, and mass-market paperback, and in an ebook version. (The Poisoned Pen bookstore can provide _any_ of my books in _any_ format, autographed/inscribed, and will ship anywhere in the world. www.poisonedpen.com .)

“The Custom of the Army” (novella – 28,000 words) Written for (and so far available only in) the anthology WARRIORS (NB: The paperback edition of this book was published in three volumes; “The Custom of the Army” is in the third volume, “WARRIORS 3”), edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. This story _follows_ “Lord John and the Haunted Soldier,” and _precedes_ the novel THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.

“A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” (short story – approx. 18,000 words) originally published in the anthology SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, October 2010. Now available in hardcover and mass-market paperback. This story deals with Roger MacKenzie’s parents, Jerry and Dolly, during WWII.

THE SCOTTISH PRISONER (novel – 150,000 words). Published in US and Canada by Random House (and Random House Canada), available in hardcover and ebook versions. Will soon be released in trade paperback. Published in the UK by Orion; available in hardcover and trade paperback (and, I hope, ebook, but don’t know for sure). This book _follows_ “The Custom of the Army”, _precedes_ “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies,” and is a _hybrid novel_, using both Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey as main characters.

“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” (novella – about 24,000 words) originally published in anthology titled DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. This story _follows_ THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, chronologically.

“The Space Between” (novella – about 40,000 words), to be published in an anthology titled THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, edited by John Joseph Adams. It will be published by Tor, presumably later in 2012, but there is no pub date set yet. This story concerns Michael Murray (Ian’s elder brother), Joan MacKimmie (Marsali’s younger sister), the Comte St. Germain (naturally he’s not dead, what are you thinking?), Mother Hildegarde, and a few other people. Jamie and Claire are there in spirit.

“Virgins” (short story (theoretically) – no idea how long it is, because I’m still writing it). To be published in the anthology DANGEROUS WOMEN, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. No pub date, but quite possibly later in 2012. This one is about Jamie (aged nineteen) and his friend Ian (aged twenty) as young mercenaries in France.

Yes, eventually some of these pieces will very likely be published as e-shorts, collected into a single volume, or both. When they are, I’ll tell you; stay tuned!

P.S. That green book up there is the Dutch edition of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER

The State of the Wicket – February 2012

The State of the Wicket – February

Now, we’ve been getting a lot of mail, Facebook comments, tweets, and so on, asking about the status of Book Eight, the short stories, etc. So I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of what-all I’ve been doing, where it all is at the moment, a short peek at everything, and—most importantly [g]—when things will be published.

For starters, I’m very pleased to announce that The Scottish Prisoner was released on November 29th, 2011. This release also includes a “teaser” chunk from Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (aka Book Eight, or MOHB (aka “Moby,” which is how I refer to it for convenience. I don’t _think_ it will be white, but it will certainly be a whale of a book [cough]). The teaser includes several scenes about different characters.

Now, I do normally work on multiple projects at once; it keeps me from getting writer’s block, and makes me generally more productive. I also think it’s entertaining to write the occasional short piece (novella or short story) that fills in a missing part of someone’s story and/or provides more depth to the overall tale.

The most recent of these short pieces to be published was “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies,” which was published last October—and which gratified me extremely by recently being nominated for an Edgar Award (for best mystery short story of the year—though it’s not all that short, really…)—in an anthology titled DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS. The anthology is edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois. http://tinyurl.com/Plague-Zombies

I’m presently writing a short story for another anthology (this one titled DANGEROUS WOMEN)—the story is called “Virgins,” and is about Jamie and his not-yet-brother-in-law Ian, as very young mercenaries in France. I don’t have a pub date for this anthology yet, but expect it will be out sometime later this year. I do post occasional brief snippets from “Virgins” (as well as other works-in-progress) on my Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/AuthorDianaGabaldon.

OK– on to Book Eight, which is probably what most people want to know about.

1) WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth volume in the main Outlander series. (It’s the sequel to AN ECHO IN THE BONE, where allll the cliffhangers will be picked up. [g])

2) I don’t know yet if WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the last book in this series!!

3) I am still writing WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD!!!

A) I hasten to say that most of the mail I get is wonderful, and Much Appreciated! However, I do get a small amount of idiotic email accusing me of having already finished the book, but “hiding” it from the readers, or keeping it off the market “just to be mean” or (of all insane notions) “to drive the price up.” (It ain’t pork bellies, people; the cover price is the same whenever it comes out, and I don’t set it.) I don’t mean to be impolite here, but…geez, guys.

i) Look. Books are

a) written in order to be read, and
b) published in order to make money.

ii) Publishers do not make money from books that are not in bookstores. Ergo….

iii) Publishers want to sell books as soon as the books are ready.

iv) So do authors. What do you think I live on, while I’m supposedly keeping a book off the market to be mean? And why do you think I’d want to be mean to the people who read my books? Sheesh.

4) Right. Now, I hope to finish writing the book around the end of this year.
OK, pay close attention now….

5) The book will not—repeat not—REPEAT NOT!!!—be published on December 31st, even if I finish writing it on December 30th. Why not? Well, because…

A) Books don’t go directly from the author to the bookstore.
B) Books go from the author to the Editor, who

i) reads the manuscript
ii) discusses the manuscript with the author, and
iii) suggests minor revisions that may improve the book

C) The book goes back to the author, who

i) re-reads the manuscript
ii) considers the editor’s comments, and
iii) makes whatever revisions, emendments, or clarifications seem right.

D) The book goes back to the editor, who

i) reads it again
ii) asks any questions that seem necessary, and
iii) sends it to

E) The copy-editor. This is a person whose thankless job is to

i) read the manuscript one…word…at…a…time
ii) find typos or errors in grammar, punctuation, or continuity (one heck of a job, considering the size not only of the individual books, but of the overall series), and
iii) write queries to the author regarding anything questionable, whereupon

F) The book comes back to the author—yes, again—who

i) re-reads the manuscript
ii) answers the copy-editor’s queries, and
iii) alters anything that the copy-editor has changed that the author disagrees with. After which, the author sends it back to

G) The editor—yes, again!—who

i) re-re-reads it
ii) checks that all the copy-editor’s queries have been answered, and sends it to

H) The Typesetter, who sets the manuscript in type, according to the format laid out by

I) The Book-Designer, who

i) decides on the layout of the pages (margins, gutters, headers or footers, page number placement)
ii) chooses a suitable and attractive typeface
iii) decides on the size of the font
iv) chooses or commissions any incidental artwork (endpapers, maps, dingbats—these are the little gizmos that divide chunks of text, but that aren’t chapter or section headings)
v) Designs chapter and Section headings, with artwork, and consults with the

J) Cover Artist, who (reasonably enough) designs or draws or paints or Photo-Shops the cover art, which is then sent to

K) The Printer, who prints the dust-jackets–which include not only the cover art and the author’s photograph and bio, but also “flap copy,” which may be written by either the editor or the author, but is then usually messed about with by

L) The Marketing Department, whose thankless task is to try to figure out how best to sell a book that can’t reasonably be described in terms of any known genre [g], to which end, they

i) try to provide seductive and appealing cover copy to the book
ii) compose advertisements for the book
iii) decide where such advertisements might be most effective (periodicals, newspapers, book-review sections, radio, TV, Facebook, Web)
iv) try to think up novel and entertaining means of promotion, such as having the author appear on Second Life to do a virtual reading, or sending copies of the book to the armed troops in Iraq, or booking the author to appear on Martha Stewart or Emiril Lagasse’s cooking show to demonstrate recipes for unusual foods mentioned in the book.
vi) kill a pigeon in Times Square and examine the entrails in order to determine the most advantageous publishing date for the book.

M) OK. The manuscript itself comes back from the typesetter, is looked at (again) by the editor, and sent back to the author (again! As my husband says, “to a writer, ‘finished’ is a relative concept.”), who anxiously proof-reads the galleys (these are the typeset sheets of the book; they look just like the printed book’s pages, but are not bound), because this is the very last chance to change anything. Meanwhile

N) A number of copies of the galley-proofs are bound—in very cheap plain covers—and sent to

O) The Reviewers. i.e., the bound galleys are sent (by the marketing people, the editor, and/or the author) to the book editors of all major newspapers and periodicals, and to any specialty publication to whom this book might possibly appeal, in hopes of getting preliminary reviews, from which cover quotes can be culled, and/or drumming up name recognition and excitement prior to publication. Frankly, they don’t always bother with this step with my books, because they are in a rush to get them into the bookstores, and it takes several months’ lead-time to get reviews sufficiently prior to publication that they can be quoted on the cover.

P) With luck, the author finds 99.99% of all errors in the galleys (you’re never going to find all of them; the process is asymptotic), and returns the corrected manuscript (for the last time, [pant, puff, gasp, wheeze]) to the editor, who sends it to

(1. The ebook coding happens somewhere in here.)

Q) The Printer, who prints lots of copies (“the print-run” means how many copies) of the “guts” of the book—the actual inside text. These are then shipped to

R) The Bindery, where the guts are bound into their covers, equipped with dust-jackets, and shipped to

S) The Distributors. There are a number of companies—Ingram, and Baker and Taylor, are the largest, but there are a number of smaller ones—whose business is shipping, distributing, and warehousing books. The publisher also ships directly to

T) The Bookstores, but bookstores can only house a limited number of books. Therefore, they draw on distributors’ warehouses to resupply a title that’s selling briskly, because it takes much longer to order directly from the publisher. And at this point, [sigh]…the book finally reaches

U) You, the reader.

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

6) As it happens, Random House (who publishes my books in the US and Canada) prefers to publish my titles in the Fall quarter (between September 1 and December 31). That’s because this is traditionally the biggest sales period in the year, what with the run-up to Christmas, and therefore all the publishers normally release their “big” titles in the Fall. I’m flattered to be among them.

However, if I do finish the manuscript around the end of this year, Random House (and the UK publisher, Orion, and the German publisher, Blanvalet) _may_ decide to release the book earlier in 2013. They probably won’t set a pub date until I deliver the manuscript—which I _HOPE_ (no guarantees, mind you. Stuff Happens) to finish by the end of 2012.

(The other foreign editions—I think we’re now up to 29 countries, including Israel, Croatia, Russia, Greece, and Korea, which is pretty cool—will be out whenever their respective editors and translators finish their production processes, but I’m afraid I can’t predict that at all.)

So—that’s why the English and German-speaking readers will almost certainly get Written in My Own Heart’s Blood _sometime_ in 2013.

When I have a specific publication date, rest assured—I’ll tell you. (Webmaster’s note: WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD has an official publisher release date of June 10, 2014.)

[Amended to add that the photo above is of me sitting down to a well-earned glass of wine at the end of all this...no, really, it's of me at a dinner at Culloden House last summer. Thanks to Judy Lowstuter, who took it!]

METHADONE LIST – THE SECRETS OF PAIN

METHADONE LIST – THE SECRETS OF PAIN, by Phil Rickman


I’ve been just _wallowing_ in this book for several days. Rickman is one of my favorites; he has the sort of characters you know and treasure, who have reality and depth and get deeper as they go along. To say nothing of flat-out wonderful, evocative writing, terrific plots, and a marvelously creepy strand of the supernatural twining like smoke through the story.

THE SECRETS OF PAIN is the latest in his Merrily Watkins series. The Reverend Watkins is an Anglican priest, widowed, with an unpredictable teenaged daughter—and is the official Exorcist (though the Church now prefers to refer to her discreetly as a “Deliverance consultant”) for the Diocese of Hereford. Merrily smokes like a chimney, is having an affair with the emotionally-damaged rock musician across the road, and wrestles constantly with the knowledge that most of the world thinks what she does is irrelevant at best and at worst, insane.

THE SECRETS OF PAIN involves—as one might expect—secrets of various kinds. The Official kind—Hereford is the homebase for the SAS, one of the most elite and secretive regiments in Her Majesty’s armed forces—the political kind (wherein the forces of commercialism and modernity threaten the increasingly fragile tradition and history of a very old part of the country)—and the supernatural kind, where “men with birds’ heads walk out of the river mist” and a _very_ old and bloody religion proves not to be quite gone.

Besides the wonderful characters and story-telling, what I like best about Phil’s work is the ongoing conversation throughout the series between religion and secular society, the subtle questions about the nature (and power) of belief. These are beautifully layered books, that can be re-read periodically—and the release of a new one is always a great excuse to go back and start all over with the first volume, THE WINE OF ANGELS. Which I propose to go and do, directly I finish work tomorrow.

Why, Yes, We Had a Very Nice Christmas

Hope y’all had a happy holiday, too!

A Very Merry to You!

From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER
Copyright 2011 Diana Gabaldon

It was cold in the loft, and his sleep-mazed mind groped among the icy drafts after the words still ringing in his mind.
“Bonnie lad.”
Wind struck the barn and went booming round the roof. A strong chilly draft with a scent of snow stirred the somnolence, and two or three of the horses shifted below, grunting and whickering. Helwater. The knowledge of the place settled on him, and the fragments of Scotland and Lallybroch cracked and flaked away, fragile as a skin of dried mud.
Helwater. Straw rustling under him, the ends poking through the rough ticking, prickling through his shirt. Dark air, alive around him.
Bonnie lad…
They’d brought down the Yule log to the house that afternoon, all the household taking part, the women bundled to the eyebrows, the men ruddy, flushed with the labor, staggering, singing, dragging the monstrous log with ropes, its rough skin packed with snow, a great furrow left where it passed, the snow plowed high on either side.
Willie rode atop the log, screeching with excitement, clinging to the rope. Once back at the house, Isobel had tried to teach him to sing “Good King Wenceslaus,” but it was beyond him, and he dashed to and fro, into everything until his grandmother declared that he would drive her to distraction and told Peggy to take him to the stable, to help Jamie and Crusoe bring in the fresh-cut branches of pine and fir. Thrilled, Willie rode on Jamie’s saddle-bow to the grove, and stood obediently on a stump where Jamie had put him, safe out of the way of the axes while the boughs were cut down. Then he helped to load the greenery, clutching two or three fragrant, mangled twigs to his chest, dutifully chucking these in the general direction of the huge basket, then running back again for more, heedless of where his burden had actually landed.
Jamie turned over, wriggling deeper into the nest of blankets, drowsy, remembering. He’d kept it up, the wean had, back and forth, back and forth, though red in the face and panting, until he dropped the very last branch on the pile. Jamie had looked down to find Willie beaming up at him with pride, laughed and said on impulse, “Aye, that’s a bonnie lad. Come on. Let’s go home.”
William had fallen asleep on the ride home, his head heavy as a cannonball in its woolen cap against Jamie’s chest. Jamie had dismounted carefully, holding the child in one arm, but Willie had wakened, blinked groggily at Jamie and said, “WEN-sess-loss,” clear as a bell, then fallen promptly back asleep. He’d waked properly by the time he was handed over to Nanny Elspeth, though, and Jamie had heard him, as he walked away, telling Nanny, “I’m a bonnie lad!”
But those words came out of his dreams, from somewhere else, and long ago. Had his own father said that to him, once?
He thought so, and for an instant—just an instant—was with his father and his brother Willie, excited beyond bearing, holding the first fish he’d ever caught by himself, slimy and flapping, both of them laughing at him, with him in joy.
“Bonnie lad!”
Willie. God, Willie. I’m so glad they gave him your name. He seldom thought of his brother; Willie had died of the smallpox when he was eleven, Jamie, eight. But every now and then, he could feel Willie with him, sometimes his mother or his father. More often, Claire.
I wish ye could see him, Sassenach, he thought. He’s a bonnie lad. Loud and obnoxious, he added with honesty, but bonnie.

*****

MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHAG SAMEACH, JOYFUL KWANZAA, BLESSED SOLSTICE and/or a DELIGHTFUL EID-AlUdha to all of you!

“Auld Lang Syne” – A Season’s Greeting from Kevin Walsh

This lovely arrangement of the traditional Scottish song (words by Robert Burns) is by Kevin Walsh, the wonderful composer who did the music for OUTLANDER: The Musical. Kevin thought you might enjoy this, and I certainly agree!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aCZQhwkSwk&feature=feedu#

If you’d like to keep the song with you for a little longer, it’s available here on iTunes.

Happy Solstice!

Quick Update on Christmas Shipping!!

I got the following message from the Poisoned Pen late this afternoon (the 13th):

“We’ve looked at the influx of new orders and even with working in double shifts
I see no way we can accept any more orders for Christmas delivery.

I’d rather be up front than make your fans angry by creating an expectation
we can’t meet.

If you agree, then would you change your website to make the cutoff date midnight
tonight for Christmas, but assure them they can continue to order any of your books
for delivery soon after the holidays.

Will will note this information on the auto response the system generates to those
placing orders, so they will get it from us as well as on your site.

We’ve got over 500 to process with more coming in by the hour and realistically
we can’t ship more than 100 a day, regardless of when the shipping systems shut
down. We’re going to end up shipping some on Monday and eating the extra priority
expense ourselves in our best effort to get orders in place to their destinations.”

[me again]

I’ll be going into the store on Thursday to sign books–and will do more early next week. So you _will_ get your signed/inscribed books, even if not by the 25th. Thought of giving a signed book as a New Year’s gift? Ground Hog’s Day, or Valentine’s?

Our apologies, and we hope you’ll enjoy the book(s), as soon as can get them to you. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, a Jolly Kwanzaa, and a Blessed Winter Solstice to you all!