• “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

The Third Advent Candle

GAUDETE – The Third Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday,” from the Latin word meaning “rejoice”:

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

This may be translated as

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.

— Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85 (84):1

A traditional Advent wreath has three purple candles and one pink one: on Gaudete Sunday, we light the pink one! We pause on our spiritual journey to lift up our eyes and see joy approaching—hence we rejoice (before settling back into penitence for the last haul toward Easter).

And the “candle” for today was chosen as an illustration of hope and the promise of joy, emerging from mourning. Hope you enjoy it!

Excerpt from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD
Copyright 2012 Diana Gabaldon
[Please don’t repost or reproduce this, but you’re more than welcome to link to it if you like.]

[A conversation in the woods between Ian Murray and his (more or less) betrothed, Rachel Hunter.]

He squared his shoulders and gave a great sigh, then met her eyes directly.

“D’ye want to hear about every woman whose bed I’ve shared? Because I’ll tell ye, if so. I’ve never taken a woman unwilling—though they were mostly whores. I’m no poxed, though,” he assured her. “Ye should ken that.”

She considered that for a moment.

“I think I need not know the details,” she said finally. “But should we ever meet a woman thee has bedded, I wish to know it. Thee does not mean to continue fornicating with prostitutes once we are wed, though, does thee?”

“No!”

“Good,” she said, but rocked back a little on the log, hands linked around her knees, holding his gaze. “I do wish to hear more about thy wife. Emily.”

He could feel the warmth of her leg, her body, close beside him. She hadn’t moved away from him when he’d said about sleeping with whores. The silence grew around them, and a jay called, somewhere in the wood beyond.

“We loved each other,” he said at last, softly, eyes on the ground. “And I wanted her. I—could talk to her. Then, at least.”

Rachel drew breath, but didn’t say anything. He took his courage in his hands and looked up. Her face was carefully expressionless, her eyes intent on his face.

“I dinna ken how to say it,” he said. “It wasna the same way I want you—but I dinna mean to make it sound as though…as though Emily didna matter to me. She did,” he added, very softly, and looked down again.

“And…she does?” Rachel asked quietly, after a long pause. After a longer one, he nodded, swallowing.

“But,” he said, and stopped, looking for the way to go on, because now they were coming to the most perilous part of his confession, the thing that might make Rachel stand up and walk away, dragging his heart behind her through the rocks and brush.

“But?” she said, and her voice was gentle.

“The Mohawk,” he began, and had to stop for a breath. “It’s the woman’s choice, about being married. If a woman should take against her husband for some reason—if he beats her, or he’s a lazy sot, or smells too bad when he farts…” he stole a glance, and saw the corner of her mouth twitch, which heartened him a little. “She puts his things out o’ the longhouse, and he has to go back to live wi’ the unmarried men—or find another woman who’ll have him at her fire. Or leave altogether.”

“And Emily put you out?” She sounded both startled and a little indignant. He gave her a wee smile in return.

“Aye, she did. Not because I beat her, though. Because…of the bairns.”

He felt the tears come to his eyes and clenched his hands in frustration on his knees. Damn, he’d sworn to himself that he wouldn’t weep. Either she’d think he made a show of his grief to win her sympathy…or she’d see too deep; he wasn’t ready…but he had to tell her, he’d started this on purpose to tell her, she had to know…

“I couldna give her children,” he blurted. “The first—we had a wee daughter, born too early, who died. I called her Iseabail.” He wiped the back of his hand viciously under his nose, swallowing his pain. “After that, she—Emily—she got wi’ child again. And again. And when she lost the third…her heart toward me died with it.”

Rachel made a small sound, but he didn’t look at her. Couldn’t. Just sat hunched on the log like a toadstool, shoulders drawn up around his ears and eyes blurred with the tears he couldn’t shed.

A small warm hand settled on his.

“And your heart?” she asked. “Yours died, too?”

He closed his hand on hers and nodded. And then just breathed for a bit, holding onto her hand, until he could speak again without his voice breaking.

“The Mohawk think that the man’s spirit fights wi’ the woman’s, when they…lie together. And she willna get with child, unless his spirit can conquer hers.”

“Oh, I see,” Rachel said softly. “So she blamed you.”

He shrugged.

“I canna say she was wrong.” He turned a little on the log, to look at her directly. “And I canna say that it would be different—with us. But I did ask Auntie Claire, and she told me about things in the blood…well, perhaps ye should ask her to explain it, I wouldna make a decent job of it. But the end of it was that she thought it might be different wi’ another woman. That I maybe could. Give ye bairns, I mean.”

He only realized that Rachel had been holding her breath when she let it out, a sigh that brushed his cheek.

“Do ye—“ he began, but she had risen a little, into him, and she kissed him softly on the mouth, then held his head against her breast and took the end of her kerchief and wiped his eyes and then her own.

“Oh, Ian,” she whispered. “I do love thee.”

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A Second Advent Candle

Happy Second Sunday of Advent! This particular excerpt is one that some of you may recognize; it was published as an “extra” in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER. I wanted to use it here, though, because of the spiritual theme of reconciliation and forgiveness, which seemed very appropriate to the season. (Last Sunday, we had an excerpt dealing with mourning and contemplation. Next Sunday is Gaudete Sunday—“Rejoicing” Sunday [g]—and we’ll have an excerpt dealing with joyful anticipation.) A Blessed Christmas (or Chanukah/Winter Solstice/Kwanzaa, etc.) season to all of you, and I hope you enjoy this.

William had left the house like a thunderclap, and the place looked as though it had been struck by lightning. I certainly felt like the survivor of a massive electrical storm; hairs and nerve endings all standing up straight on end, waving in agitation.

Jenny Murray had entered the house on the heels of William’s departure, and while the sight of her was a lesser shock than any of the others so far, it still left me speechless. I goggled at my erstwhile sister-in-law—though come to think, she still was my sister-in-law…because Jamie was alive. _ Alive_.

He’d been in my arms not ten minutes before, and the memory of his touch flickered through me like lightning in a bottle. I was dimly aware that I was smiling like a loon, despite massive destruction, horrific scenes, William’s distress—if you could call an explosion like that “distress”—Jamie’s danger, and a faint wonder as to what either Jenny or Mrs. Figg, Lord John’s cook and housekeeper, might be about to say.

Mrs. Figg was smoothly spherical, gleamingly black, and inclined to glide silently up behind one like a menacing ball-bearing.

“What’s this?” she barked, manifesting herself suddenly behind Jenny.

“Holy Mother of God!” Jenny whirled, eyes round and hand pressed to her chest. “Who in God’s name are you?”

“This is Mrs. Figg,” I said, feeling a surreal urge to laugh, despite–or maybe because of–recent events. “Lord John Grey’s cook. And Mrs. Figg, this is Mrs. Murray. My, um…my…”

“Your good-sister,” Jenny said firmly. She raised one black eyebrow. “If ye’ll have me, still?” Her look was straight and open, and the urge to laugh changed abruptly into an equally strong urge to burst into tears. Of all the unlikely sources of succor I could have imagined… I took a deep breath and put out my hand.

“I’ll have you.” We hadn’t parted on good terms in Scotland, but I had loved her very much, once, and wasn’t about to pass up any opportunity to mend things.

Her small firm fingers wove through mine, squeezed hard, and as simply as that, it was done. No need for apologies or spoken forgiveness. She’d never had to wear the mask that Jamie did. What she thought and felt was there in her eyes, those slanted blue cat-eyes she shared with her brother. She knew the truth now, of what I was—and knew I loved—had always loved–her brother with all my heart and soul–despite the minor complications of my being presently married to someone else.

She heaved a sigh, eyes closing for an instant, then opened them and smiled at me, mouth trembling only a little.

“Well, fine and dandy,” said Mrs. Figg, shortly. She narrowed her eyes and rotated smoothly on her axis, taking in the panorama of destruction. The railing at the top of the stair had been ripped off, and cracked banisters, dented walls, and bloody smudges marked the path of William’s descent. Shattered crystals from the chandelier littered the floor, glinting festively in the light that poured through the open front door, the door itself cracked through and hanging drunkenly from one hinge.

“Merde on toast,” Mrs. Figg murmured. She turned abruptly to me, her small black-currant eyes still narrowed. “Where’s his lordship?”

“Ah,” I said. This was going to be rather sticky, I saw. While deeply disapproving of most people, Mrs. Figg was devoted to John. She wasn’t going to be at all pleased to hear that he’d been abducted by–

“For that matter, where’s my brother?” Jenny inquired, glancing round as though expecting Jamie to appear suddenly out from under the settee.

“Oh,” I said. “Hm. Well…” Possibly worse than sticky. Because…
“And where’s my Sweet William?” Mrs. Figg demanded, sniffing the air. “He’s been here; I smell that stinky cologne he puts on his linen.” She nudged a dislodged chunk of plaster disapprovingly with the toe of her shoe.

I took another long, deep breath, and a tight grip on what remained of my sanity.

Mrs. Figg,” I said, “perhaps you would be so kind as to make us all a cup of tea?”

[end section]

Excerpt from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (will probably be published in Fall 2013). Copyright 2012 Diana Gabaldon (Please do not repost or otherwise reproduce—though you’re more than welcome to link to this page!)

An Advent Candle

Today is the first Sunday of Advent! As many of you may know, Catholics observe a four-week season of spiritual contemplation, preparation and anticipation of Christmas, called Advent. (Yes, I’m a Roman Catholic. Surely you knew that, if you’ve been reading my books. ) As a symbol of this season, we have Advent wreaths and calendars, marking the weeks and/or days ’til Christmas. An Advent wreath has four candles; you light one candle on the first Sunday, two on the second, and so on.

Barbara Schnell, who runs the German-language version of this website, suggested to me that it might be nice to share the season with all of you, by posting an excerpt from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD for each of the four Sundays of Advent. I thought that was a great idea–so whether in English or German, we hope you’ll enjoy this small Advent gift–and may the season find you blessed.

A HUNDREDWEIGHT OF STONES

June 16th, 1778
The forest between Philadelphia and Valley Forge

Ian Murray stood with a stone in his hand, eyeing the ground he’d chosen. A small clearing, out of the way, up among a scatter of great lichened boulders, under the shadow of firs and at the foot of a big red-cedar; a place where no casual passerby would go, but not inaccessible. He meant to bring them up here—the family.

Fergus, to begin with. Maybe just Fergus, by himself. Mam had raised Fergus from the time he was ten, and he’d had no mother before that. Ian himself had been born about that same time, so Fergus had known Mam as long as he had, and loved her as much. Maybe more, he thought, his grief aggravated by guilt. Fergus had stayed with her at Lallybroch, helped to take care of her and the place; he hadn’t. He swallowed hard and walking into the small clear space, set his stone in the middle, then stood back to look.

Even as he did so, he found himself shaking his head. No, it had to be two cairns. His Mam and Uncle
Jamie were brother and sister, and the family could mourn them here together—but there were others he might bring, maybe, to remember and pay their respects. And those were the folk who would have known Jamie Fraser and loved him well, but wouldn’t ken Jenny Murray from a hole in the—

The image of his mother in a hole in the ground stabbed him like a fork, retreated with the recollection that she wasn’t after all in a grave, and stabbed again all the harder for that. He really couldn’t bear the vision of them drowning, maybe clinging to each other, struggling to keep—

A Dhia!” he said violently, and dropped the stone, turning back at once to find more. He’d seen people drown.

Tears ran down his face with the sweat of the summer day; he didn’t mind it, only stopping now and then to wipe his nose on his sleeve. He’d tied a rolled kerchief round his head to keep the hair and the stinging sweat out of his eyes; it was sopping before he’d added more than twenty stones to each of the cairns.

He and his brothers had built a fine cairn for their father, at the head of the carved stone that bore his name—all his names, in spite of the expense—in the burying-ground at Lallybroch. And all the family, followed by the tenants and then the servants, had come one by one to add a stone each to the weight of remembrance.

Fergus, then. Or…no, what was he thinking? Auntie Claire must be the first he brought here. She wasn’t Scots herself, but she kent fine what a cairn was, and would maybe be comforted a bit, to see Uncle Jamie’s. Aye, right. Auntie Claire, then Fergus. Uncle Jamie was Fergus’s foster father; he had a right. And then maybe Marsali and the children. But maybe Germain was old enough to come with Fergus? He was almost eleven, near enough to being a man to understand, to be treated like a man. And Uncle Jamie was his grandsire; it was proper.

He stepped back again and wiped his face, breathing heavily. Bugs whined and buzzed past his ears and hovered over him, wanting his blood, but he’d stripped to a loincloth and rubbed himself with bear-grease and mint in the Mohawk way; they didn’t touch him.

“Look over them, O spirit of red cedar,” he said softly in Mohawk, looking up into the fragrant branches of the tree. “Guard their souls and keep their presence here, fresh as thy branches.”

He crossed himself and bent to dig about in the soft leaf-mold. A few more rocks, he thought. In case they might be scattered by some passing animal. Scattered like his thoughts, that roamed restless to and fro among the faces of his family, the folk of the Ridge—God, might he ever go back there? Brianna. Oh, Jesus, Brianna…

He bit his lip and tasted salt, licked it away and moved on, foraging. She was safe with Roger Mac and the weans. But Jesus, he could have used her advice—even more, Roger Mac’s.

Who was left for him to ask, if he needed help in taking care of them all?

Thought of Rachel came to him, and the tightness in his chest eased a little. Aye, if he had Rachel…she was younger than him, nay more than nineteen, and being a Quaker, had very strange notions of how things should be, but if he had her, he’d have solid rock under his feet. He hoped he would have her, but there were still things he must say to her, and the thought of that conversation made the tightness in his chest come back.

The picture of his cousin Brianna came back, too, and lingered in his mind: tall, long-nosed and strong-boned as her father…and with it rose the image of his _other_ cousin, Bree’s half-brother. Holy God, William. And what ought he to do about William? He doubted the man kent the truth, kent that he was Jamie Fraser’s son—was it Ian’s responsibility to tell him so? To bring him here, and explain what he’d lost?

He must have groaned at the thought, for his dog Rollo lifted his massive head and looked at him in concern.

“No, I dinna ken that either,” Ian told him. “Let it bide, aye?” Rollo laid his head back on his paws, shivered his shaggy hide against the flies and relaxed in boneless peace.

Ian worked a while longer, and let the thoughts drain away with his sweat and his tears. He finally stopped when the sinking sun touched the tops of his cairns, feeling tired but more at peace. The cairns rose knee-high, side by side, small but solid.

He stood still for a bit, not thinking anymore, just listening to the fussing of wee birds in the grass and the breathing of the wind among the trees. Then he sighed deeply, squatted and touched one of the cairns.

Mo gragh, a mathair,” he said softly. My love is on you, mother. Closed his eyes and laid a scuffed hand on the other heap of stones. The dirt ground into his skin made his fingers feel strange, as though he could maybe reach straight through the earth and touch what he needed.

He stayed still, breathing, then opened his eyes.

“Help me wi’ this, Uncle Jamie,” he said. “I dinna think I can manage, alone.”

[end section] — Copyright 2012 Diana Gabaldon (no reproduction or reposting please–though you’re certainly welcome to post links to this, if you’d like to.)

CHRISTMAS BOOKS

1. I’ll be doing the _last_ personal appearance of the year at CHANGING HANDS bookstore in Tempe, AZ, on Dec. 11th, at 7PM. Will sign anything. (I think they allow you to bring your own books, but make you wait ’til the end of the line, so people who bought theirs at the store can get signed first.)

CHANGING HANDS bookstore:
6428 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283
480.730.0205

2. If you can’t make that date, or live somewhere inconvenient –THE POISONED PEN always has _all_ my books (including graphic novel and audiobook CD’s) available in _all_ formats (hardcover, trade paperback, mass-market paperback), and I sign them all. I go by the store every week (or oftener, in December) to sign their orders, and they ship anywhere in the world.

3. The Poisoned Pen did ask me to tell you that since A TRAIL OF FIRE has to be imported from the UK, they can’t guarantee before-Christmas arrival to you (since they’ve almost run out of their current stock and can’t tell exactly when they’ll get their next order), but will be happy to give you a pre-Xmas gift certificate to present to someone if you wanted to give this particular book as a gift.

AUTOGRAPHED BOOK ORDERS

Well, THIS oughta take your minds off the election for a little while…

“Well, THIS oughta take your minds off the election for a little while….(don’t forget to vote, though!)….

7-Book E-book Bundle!

Random House announces a Halloween Treat! They’re offering all seven of the extant OUTLANDER novels AS E-BOOKS, in a 7-book bundle for $49.99. Which is pretty good, I think.

Here’s the link for the Nook version at barnesandnoble.com and

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-outlander-series-7-book-bundle-diana-gabaldon/1112927368?ean=9780345541109

Here’s the link for the Kindle version at amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Outlander-Series-7-Book-Bundle-ebook/dp/B009C9C77E/ref=sr_1_9?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1351598745&sr=1-9&keywords=outlander

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION on Availability of the SHORT PIECES

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION on the SHORT PIECES

Well, it’s like this. Over the last few years, I’ve written several novellas for various anthologies. (An anthology is a set of stories on a common theme, written by a number of different authors.) The thing is, anthologies don’t usually stay in print for a long time, so the stories will revert to the writer after some period of time—and then the writer can sell them again through other publishers or publishing venues.

My old stories are starting to come back to me (that sounds mildly sinister, doesn’t it? Like ghosts…), so I’m figuring out how to make them freshly available, since some anthologies are less easy to find now, and some readers don’t want to buy an anthology for the sake of one story by a favorite author.

Now, because publishing rights are Just Plain Weird, I have back the rights to publish some stories in some territories, but not (yet) in others. Basically, I have back the rights to four stories that can now be published in the UK (and Australia and New Zealand), but not all of these can yet be published in the US and Canada.

However, the US/Canada rights _are_ coming back, one at a time. So what I’ve done is to arrange to publish these four stories together IN BOOK FORM in the UK/Commonwealth this fall, and to publish each story separately as a stand-alone (i.e., “cheap” ) e-novella in the US/Canada, as each one becomes available. When I’ve got back _all_ the rights to the US/Canada, then the book-form with all four stories will be published in the US/Canada, too. [NB: When I say “Kindle” or “Ebook” below, I really mean _any_ e-reader: Kobo, Nook, Sony, whatever. You’d just have to consult your usual ebook source to see what the specific price is for anthologies—but the price for the standalone e-books is always $1.99, regardless.]

So below, I’ve listed each story, and with it, the various forms in which you may be able to get it. If you’re interested in any of these, pick the easiest/most interesting/most economical option—and have fun!

The novellas are:

“The Custom of the Army”

[This is a Lord John novella, set in 1759, involving an electric eel party, an ill-fated duel, and the Battle of Quebec. Originally published in the anthology WARRIORS, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. (Later this anthology was published in _three_ paperback volumes; “The Custom of the Army” is in WARRIORS 3. Evidently, people didn’t care for that approach, though; I see a new single paperback is being released in early 2013.)]

OK. You can get “The Custom of the Army”

1) as a stand-alone e-book (in the US/Canada, but _not_ in the UK/Commonwealth) for $1.99 through Amazon.com:

2) As part of the original anthology—hardcover, paperback, and Kindle edition—at Amazon prices ranging from $18.47 to $11.55 (you can likely find it used for less, as well).

3) Or (in the UK/Commonwealth, but _not_ (yet) the US/Canada) as part of A TRAIL OF FIRE—this is the book-length collection of “Four Outlander Tales,” as they put it.

Now, you _can_ order this book from Amazon.co.uk (or the Book Depository), even if you live in the US/Canada—but you can’t get the Kindle version of it unless you live in the UK/Commonwealth territory.

So these are your choices:

Stand-alone e-book ——– Original anthology ————- A TRAIL OF FIRE

$1.99 ————————- $18.47-$11.55 (later) ————— £10.44 – £7.99 (later)

US/Canada only ————- Anywhere (plus s/h) ————– Anywhere (plus s/h)

—————————–(Kindle only in US/C) ———— (Kindle UK/Com. Only)

“A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows”
[This one is the story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents, Jerry and Marjorie (aka Dolly) during WWII. Events in this story tie in (briefly) to AN ECHO IN THE BONE. Originally published in SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, edited by George R.R. Martin and Garder Dozois.]

This will be released as a stand-alone e-book in October (we hope), and will be included in A TRAIL OF FIRE. Your choices are:

Stand-alone e-book———-Original anthology———-A TRAIL OF FIRE

$1.99————————-$10.40 – $8.99—————£10.44 – £7.99

US/Canada only————–Anywhere (plus s/h)———–Anywhere (plus s/h)

————————— Ebook only in US/Can.———-Ebook only in UK/Com.

“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies”

[This deals with Lord John’s first journey to Jamaica, in charge of a battalion of soldiers meant to put down a slave rebellion. If only rampaging slaves were all he had to deal with… Originally published in DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, ed. George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I won’t have the publication rights to this one back until April of 2013, so that’s when the standalone ebook will be available.]

Your choices:

Standalone E-book Original anthology A TRAIL OF FIRE

$1.99 $17.79 – $13.98 £10.44 – £7.99

US/Canada only Anywhere (plus s/h) Anywhere (plus s/h)

(Available 4/13) Kindle in US/Can. only Kindle UK/Com. Only

“The Space Between”

[This is a long—40,000 words—novella that takes place in 1778 (right after the events in AN ECHO IN THE BONE) and deals with Michael Murray (Young Ian’s older brother), Joan (Marsali’s younger sister), the Comte St. Germain, Mother Hildegarde, and a few others. This one was also written for an anthology—THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION—but the anthology is not due for publication until Jan/Feb of 2013. That being so, I won’t get back the reprint rights for a year, so won’t be able to offer it as a standalone ebook before January of 2014.]

Your choices:

Original anthology (US _or_ UK)—————– A TRAIL OF FIRE

$15.25 – $10.98————————————£10.44 – £7.99

(No ebook listed yet)

OK. So—

IF you’re only interested in these stories, and not in anthologies, then you want the standalone ebooks if you’re in the US, and A TRAIL OF FIRE if you’re in the UK (though you can order the book in the US).

Price for all four as standalone ebooks is about eight bucks—but you’d have to wait a bit for the last two stories. If you’re not in a hurry, want to sample one before buying all of them, or are buying these to fill out your collection, probably your best bet if you live in the US.

If you’re interested in sampling other authors, the anthologies are the way to go.

And if you only want these stories, but you WANT THEM ALL _NOW_!!! –and don’t mind whether it’s a print book or ebook, then you probably want to order A TRAIL OF FIRE.

I know it’s confusing—I hope this helps!

THE METHADONE LIST – THE SKYBOUND SEA

THE METHADONE LIST: THE SKYBOUND SEA

To answer a frequently-asked question of late: No, I’m not going to DragonCon. (I got home from Younger Daughter’s wedding and a short recuperative stay in the UK just day before yesterday. I have to stay home and write!)

BUT….Sam Sykes, epic fantasy author (and brother of the bride) came home from the wedding much earlier, has already recovered from the festivities (in spite of being struck in the face with a handful of rice thrown by an inebriated guest shouting “Viva los Novios!”), and _will_ be attending DragonCon, at which he’s launching his third novel, THE SKYBOUND SEA (published in the US by Pyr Books; UK publication happens a little later this fall, published by Orion/Gollancz).

[Pyr booth, #709 at DragonCon, Marriott Marquis Hotel]

Scott Lynch says of Sam’s books:

“Sam Sykes does blood and noise in the liveliest tradition of contemporary fantasy, with all the brash vigor of youth, and with a sly, penetrating sensitivity all his own. Not many writers can give you fireworks and subtlety at the same time like he can.”

Which is a great quote, and pretty accurate—though my favorite of Sam’s cover quotes is this one:

I do not wish Sam Sykes dead.

–John Scalzi*

THE SKYBOUND SEA is the third book in the “Aeon’s Gate” trilogy, which began with THE TOME OF THE UNDERGATES and continued with BLACK HALO. And as always, the best illustration I can give you of the virtues of the book is to provide a brief excerpt [with permission of the author]:

THE SKYBOUND SEA [excerpt]
Copyright 2012 Sam Sykes

And his foe, all seven green feet of him, stared back.

Another pointy-eared human, he recognized. A pointy-eared green human. A pointy-eared green human with hands for feet and what appeared to be a cock’s crest for hair.

There had to be a shorter word for it. What had the other pointy-eared human called it? Greenshict? She had carried their scent, too.

This one was taller, tense, ready to spill blood instead of teary emotions. The greenshict’s bones were long, muscles tight beneath green skin, dark eyes positively weeping scorn as he narrowed them upon Gariath.

He liked this one better already.

At least until he looked down to his foe’s hand and saw, clenched in slender fingers, a short, stout piece of wood.

“A stick?” The fury choked his voice like phlegm. “You came to kill me with a stick?”

The shict snarled, baring four sharp teeth. Gariath roared, baring two dozen of his own. The stones quaked beneath his feet, the sky shivered at his howl as he charged.

“I WAS EATEN TODAY AND YOU BROUGHT A STICK?”

He lashed out, claws seeking green flesh and finding nothing as the greenshict took a long, fluid step backward. He flipped the stick effortlessly from one hand to the other, brought it up over his head, brought it down upon Gariath’s.

It cracked against his skull, shook brain against bone. But this was no cowardly blow from behind. This was honest pain. Gariath could bite back honest pain. He grunted, snapped his neck and caught the stick between his horns to tear it from the greenshict’s grasp.

The stick flew in one direction, his fist in the other. It sought, caught, crushed a green face beneath red knuckles in a dark crimson eruption. Bones popped, sinuses erupted, blood spattered. A body flew, crashed, skidded across the stones, leaving a dark smear upon the road.

Therapeutic, Gariath thought, even as the blood sizzled against his flesh. It hurt. But he couldn’t very well let the greenshict know that.

“I AM RHEGA!”

Yelling hurt, too. Possibly because his teeth still rattled in their gums. A trail of blood wept from his brow, spilling into his eye. The greenshict had drawn blood—with a stick.

Impressive, he thought. Also annoying. He snorted; that hurt. Just annoying.

The greenshict did not so much leap as flow from his back to his feet like a liquid. He ebbed, shifting into a stance—hands up, ears perked, waist bent—with such ease as to suggest that he had simply sprung from the womb ready to fight.

Suggestions weren’t enough for Gariath. He needed more tangible things: stone beneath his feet, blood on his hands, horns in the air, and a roar in his maw as he fell to all fours and charged.

And again, the greenshict flowed. He broke like water on a rock, slithering over Gariath, sparing only a touch for the dragonman as he leapt delicately over him and landed behind him. Gariath skidded to a halt, whirled about and found his opponent standing.

And just standing.

He didn’t scramble for his stick. He didn’t move to attack. He just stood there.

“Hit back,” Gariath snarled as he rushed the greenshict once more. “Then I hit you. Then you fall down and I splash around in your entrails.” His claw followed his voice, twice as bloodthirsty. “Don’t you know how this works?”

The greenshict had no respect for Gariath’s instruction or his blows, leaping away, ducking under, stepping away from each blow. He never struck back, never made a noise, never did anything but move.

Slowly, steadily, to the floating corpses.

The next blow came and the greenshict flew instead of flowed. He leapt away and up, hands and feet finding a tether and scrambling up. Hand over foot over foot over hand, he leapt to the fresh netherling corpse and entangled himself amongst its limbs, staring down at Gariath.
Impassively.

Mocking him.

“Good,” he grunted, reaching out and seizing the tether. “Fine.” He jerked down on it. “I’ll come to you.”
Hand over hand, claw over claw, he pulled, drawing his prey and the corpse he perched upon ever closer.

One more hard pull brought him within reach and Gariath seized the opportunity. His claws were hungry and lashed out, seeking green flesh. That green flesh flew again, however, leaping from the corpse. The flesh his claws found was purple and wrapped around a thick jugular.

That promptly exploded in a soft cloud of blood.

Engulfed in the crimson haze, he roared. His mouth filled with a foul coppery taste. His nostrils flared, drank in the stench of stale life. No sign of the greenshict, no scent of the greenshict. Annoying.

But merely annoying.

At least, until the shark.

He saw the teeth only a moment before he felt them as they sank into the flesh of his bicep. He had seen worse: steel, glass, wood. That was small com- fort when this particular foe was hungry, persistent. Its slender gray body jerked violently, trying to tear off a stubborn chunk.
Gariath snarled, struck it with a fist, raked at it with a claw. The beast tightened its grip, snarled silently as it shredded skin, growing ever more insistent with each attempt to dislodge it.

It was only when he felt the stick lash out and rap against his skull that he remembered there was a reason for trying to fight off a shark on dry land. He staggered out of the cloud, his writhing parasite coming with him, his suddenly bold foe right behind him. The corpse went flying into the sky and the rest of the sharks flew for the easy meal. Not his. He would have to get the only shark with principles.

The greenshict leapt, stick lashing out like a fang. It struck against wrist, skull, leg, shoulder, anywhere that wasn’t a flailing claw or a twisting fish. The pain was intense, but it wasn’t as bad as the insult of being beaten with a stick. Gariath fought between the two, dividing his attention between the shark and the shict and failing at fending off either.

A choice had to be made.

And the shark was only acting out of hunger.

Here is a link to Pyr’s DragonCon author signing schedule (though please note, it is Booth 709, not 209):

For those not lucky enough to be attending DragonCon this weekend, you can get the book at
http://www.amazon.com/Skybound-Aeons-Gate-Book-Three/dp/1616146761/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346351906&sr=8-1&keywords=the+skybound+sea *]

*(We hope this sentiment survives DragonCon, as I understand Sam will be accompanied once again by Mr. Scalzi’s stand-in, “John Spudzi”.)

**Anyone wanting a signed copy of THE SKYBOUND SEA (or any other of Sam’s books) can get one from The Poisoned Pen bookstore. Email Patrick@poisonedpen.com and tell him what you’d like inscribed in your book. The Pen ships everywhere in the world.

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD

A couple of publishers asked me this week to write a brief bit of catalog copy for them, describing MOBY–so I did. For those of you wondering What to Expect from the eighth book in the OUTLANDER series:

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel _and_ a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed.

Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.

The best of historical fiction with a Moebius twist, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD weaves the fibers of a family’s life through the tapestry of historical drama.

NB: I’m still _writing_ this. With luck, it will be published in fall of 2013. (Update from the webmaster: This book will be released by the publisher on June 10, 2014, in the U.S.A.) Hope you enjoy it! (In the meantime, if you’re the sort of reader who likes to see bits and pieces as we go along, I do post brief snippets–from this book and other works in progress or coming up for release–most days, on both Twitter (my ID there is @Writer_DG) and Facebook.

NB2: I told my editor I want an octopus on the cover of this book. (There are eight main characters whose stories are told–and they’re all linked together.)

NB3: I call the book MOBY for short. My Own Heart’s Blood = MOHB = MOH-B = Moby. Geddit?


From the webmaster: Visit the MOBY home page for the latest information.

A Chronology of the OUTLANDER series

Chronology of the Outlander series

The Outlander series includes three kinds of stories:

The Big, Enormous Books that have no discernible genre (or all of them);

The Shorter, Less Indescribable Novels that are more or less historical mysteries (though dealing also with battles, eels, and mildly deviant sexual practices);

And

The Bulges—These being short(er) pieces that fit somewhere inside the story lines of the novels, much in the nature of squirming prey swallowed by a large snake. These deal frequently—but not exclusively—with secondary characters, are prequels or sequels, and/or fill some lacuna left in the original story lines.

Now. Most of the shorter novels (so far) fit within a large lacuna left in the middle of VOYAGER, in the years between 1757 and 1761. Some of the Bulges also fall in this period; others don’t.

So, for the reader’s convenience, here is a detailed Chronology, showing the sequence of the various elements in terms of the storyline. _However, it should be noted that the shorter novels and novellas are all designed suchly that they may be read alone_, without reference either to each other or to the Big, Enormous Books—should you be in the mood for a light literary snack instead of the nine-course meal with wine-pairings and dessert trolley.

OUTLANDER (novel)—If you’ve never read any of the series, I’d suggest starting here. If you’re unsure about it, open the book anywhere and read three pages; if you can put it down again, I’ll give you a dollar. (1946/1743)

DRAGONFLY IN AMBER (novel)—It doesn’t start where you think it’s going to. And it doesn’t end how you think it’s going to, either. Just keep reading; it’ll be fine. (1968/1744-46)

VOYAGER (novel)—This won an award from EW magazine for “Best Opening Line.” (To save you having to find a copy just to read the opening, it was: “He was dead. However, his nose throbbed painfully, which he thought odd, in the circumstances.”) If you’re reading the series in order, rather than piecemeal, you do want to read this book before tackling the novellas or the Lord John novels. (1968/1766-67)

LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS/”Lord John and the Hellfire Club” (novella)—Just to add an extra layer of confusion, The Hand of Devils is a collection that includes three novellas. The first one, “Lord John and the Hellfire Club,” is set in London in 1757, and deals with a red-haired man who approaches Lord John Grey with an urgent plea for help, just before dying in front of him. [Originally published in the anthology Past Poisons, ed. Maxim Jakubowski, 1998.]

LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER (novel)—Set in London, in 1758, this is a historical mystery steeped in blood and even less-savory substances, in which Lord John meets (in short order) a valet, a traitor, an apothecary with a sure cure for syphilis, a bumptious German, and an unscrupulous merchant prince.

LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS/”Lord John and the Succubus” (novella)— The second novella in the Hand of Devils collection finds Lord John in Germany in 1758, having unsettling dreams about Jamie Fraser, unsettling encounters with Saxon princesses, night-hags, and a really disturbing encounter with a big, blond Hanoverian graf. [Originally published in the anthology Legends II, ed. Robert Silverberg, 2004.]

LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE (novel)—The second full-length novel focused on Lord John (but it does include Jamie Fraser) is set in 1759, deals with a twenty-year-old family scandal, and sees Lord John engaged at close range with exploding cannon and even more dangerously explosive emotions.

LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS/”Lord John and the Haunted Soldier” (novella)—The third novella in this collection is set in 1759, in London and the Woolwich Arsenal. In which, Lord John faces a court of inquiry into the explosion of a cannon, and learns that there are more dangerous things in the world than gunpowder.

“The Custom of the Army” (novella)—Set in 1759. In which his lordship attends an electric-eel party in London and ends up at the Battle of Quebec. He’s just the sort of person things like that happen to. [Originally published in Warriors, eds. George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, 2010.]

THE SCOTTISH PRISONER (novel)—This one’s set in 1760, in the Lake District, London, and Ireland. A sort of hybrid novel, it’s divided evenly between Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey, who are recounting their different perspectives in a tale of politics, corruption, murder, opium dreams, horses, and illegitimate sons.

“Plague of Zombies” (novella)—Set in 1761, in Jamaica, when Lord John is sent in command of a battalion to put down a slave rebellion and discovers a hitherto unsuspected affinity for snakes, cockroaches, and zombies. [Originally published in Down These Strange Streets, eds. George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, 2011.]

DRUMS OF AUTUMN (novel)—This one begins in 1766, in the New World, where Jamie and Claire find a foothold in the mountains of North Carolina, and their daughter, Brianna, finds a whole lot of things she didn’t expect, when a sinister newspaper clipping sends her in search of her parents. (1968-1969/1766-67)

THE FIERY CROSS (novel)—The historical background to this one is the War of the Regulation in North Carolina (1767-1768), which was more or less a dress rehearsal for the oncoming Revolution. In which Jamie Fraser becomes a reluctant Rebel, his wife, Claire, becomes a conjure-woman and runs into a ghost. Something Much Worse happens to Brianna’s husband, Roger, but I’m not telling you what. This won several awards for “Best Last Line,” but I’m not telling you that, either. (Mid-1760s)

A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES (novel)—Winner of the 2006 Corine International Prize for Fiction, and a Quill Award (this book beat novels by both George R. R. Martin and Stephen King, which I thought Very Entertaining Indeed). All the books have an internal “shape” that I see while I’m writing them. This one looks like the Hokusai print titled “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.” Think tsunami—two of them. (Early to mid-1770s/1970-71)

AN ECHO IN THE BONE (novel)—Set in America, London, Canada, and Scotland. The book’s cover image reflects the internal shape of the novel: a caltrop. That’s an ancient military weapon that looks like a child’s jack with sharp points; the Romans used them to deter elephants, and the Highway Patrol still uses them to stop fleeing perps in cars. This book has four major story lines: Jamie and Claire; Roger and Brianna (and family); Lord John and William; and Young Ian, all intersecting in the nexus of the American Revolution—and all of them with sharp points. (1777-1778/1972)

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (novel)—The eighth of the Big Enormous Books, this will probably be published in 2013. It begins where An Echo in the Bone leaves off, in the summer of 1778 (and the autumn of 1973—or possibly 1974, I forget exactly).

“A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” (short story (no, really, it is))— Set (mostly) in 1941–43, this is the story of What Really Happened to Roger MacKenzie’s parents. [Originally published in the anthology Songs of Love and Death, eds. George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, 2010.]

“The Space Between” (novella)—Set in 1778, mostly in Paris, this novella deals with Michael Murray (Young Ian’s elder brother), Joan MacKimmie (Marsali’s younger sister), the Comte St. Germain (who is Not Dead After All), Mother Hildegarde, and a few other persons of interest. The space between what? It depends who you’re talking to. [To be published in early 2013 in the anthology The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Dominiation, ed. John Joseph Adams.]

“Virgins” (novella)—Set in 1740, in France. In which Jamie Fraser (aged nineteen) and his friend Ian Murray (aged twenty) become young mercenaries. [To be published in late 2012, in the anthology Dangerous Women, eds. George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.]

NOW REMEMBER . . .

You can read the short novels and novellas by themselves, or in any order you like. I would recommend reading the Big, Enormous Books in order, though.

P.S. There are a couple of other books to note here, though they don’t fit conveniently into the Chronology above:

THE EXILE (graphic novel) – written by me, and illustrated by the delightful artist Hoang Nguyen, this is OUTLANDER from Jamie’s point of view. Since there are lots of things that Claire (the outlander) didn’t see, didn’t understand, or was purposely left out of, this book shows you some of what she missed.

THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION – This is a non-fiction book, supplying background, trivia, commentary and general Stuff on the first four novels of the series. There are detailed synopses (for those who don’t want to re-read the whole series when a new book comes out, but would like to refresh their memories), articles on how I work, do research, develop characters, etc., a detailed bibliography of the main references I used while writing the first four books, a Cast of Characters listing—in case you don’t recall immediately who someone is—a Gaelic pronunciation guide and glossary, appendices on Poetry and Quotations used in the books, and so on. [There is a second COMPANION in the works, this one meant to cover the next four books in the main series, as well as the shorter novels and stories listed above. With luck, this will be out shortly after WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is published.]