All the world’s a stage….our author becomes an actor!

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imageFor Outlander fans, this year has been wonderful.  I’ve told anyone who will listen ( my children actually time how long it takes me to mention Outlander) that this has been a singular experience.  I’ve had my favorite book turned into a TV series and I’ve had a chance to feel a part of things from casting to costumes.  Thanks to all involved who were so generous with their time; Ron, Terry, Maril, Matt, Sam, Caitronia, Starz, and many more.  It’s been a thrill to discuss the process with other fans and get glimpses from behind the scenes.  It’s been thrilling for me, but I can only imagine how thrilling it’s been for Diana.  Talk about falling down the rabbit hole! Despite her fame as an author and quite a few public appearances over the years, I’m pretty sure she has to be feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

First, I’m not sure she could have believed this was ever going to happen.  The rights to the story have been sold for many years. She’s never said exactly how many scripts she’s looked at over that time, but I get the feeling…a lot.  She told us that quite a few talented scriptwriters have ” had a go”  at adapting her book.  We’ve all heard how disastrous those attempts (anybody remember the turn white or burst into flame comments) were.  She had to be afraid someone would actually go ahead and film anyway.  I believe she said she couldn’t have stopped them because the rights were sold.  How scary!  Thank God no one ever did or I’m not sure Ron would have gotten his chance.  How do you pitch that one?

I wonder if she knew Ron had been trying and planning for three or more years, to get permission to pitch a TV series. When I heard it was being made into a series, I was so relieved.  How relieved was Herself when they came and pitched their ideas? I could only compare the feeling to sending your young adult child into the world and having them bring home a series of not so suitable prospective mates.  Finally, they bring “home” the right one to meet momma!

What a weekend that must have been! What was she thinking when she closed the door on that visit? I have this little mental picture of her being folded into Doug’s arms with a sigh of relief. And since then….they involved her!  I know she has said over and over that they are kind to listen to her and are under no obligation to take her advice, but they appear to be smart people who recognize a good thing when they see it!  Why would they not want to take advantage of such a valuable resource?  As Ron said in one of the trailers, ” the experience with Diana has been delightful”.

I know it’s silly. We are not best buds, but I feel protective of Diana.  Her books have become an important part of they my life and as a result, so has she. I get excited that she got a tour of the set, that they ask her advice, that she has relationships with the actors, and that she’s being filmed and interviewed everywhere!  I’m happy for her! I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  A reporter, who attended one of the San Diego events, wrote that she was surprised that even though the actors received warm welcomes from the fans the largest applause was reserved for the author.  I’m not surprised. I was proud of my fellow fans. Seeing our characters come to life is lovely and exciting, but we love Diana because she wrote _books_ that mean something to us.

Diana herself has expressed how odd and wonderful it is that one of the off shoots of her writing these books are the connections people have made with each other.  There are Facebook groups and Twitter groups that range from a shared  interest in knitting to sharing how Diana’s books have changed lives.  Some folks have even been inspired to write a blog (tee hee). She means a lot to a lot of people so, yeah, we are excited for our favorite author!

Tell me how thrilled we all were to see Diana’s moment in the sun on national morning TV and to see her resplendent and smiling on the red carpet!  So, this weekend we are sharing another “fallen down the rabbit hole experience” with Diana.  Herself is going to be an actress!  Millions of fans will be glued to their TVs hoping to catch a glimpse.  What a wonderful experience. We love you Diana and we are so excited for you and proud of your success.  Break a leg!

 

 

 

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Looking for “kernels”….writing about Outlander.

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imageI’m fascinated with Diana Gabaldon’s wrting process.  As she has said before, she doesn’t write in a straight line or with an outline.  She writes scenes as they occur to her. At some point she has written enough scenes to be able to see a direction for the plot or as she puts it “a pattern”. In a recent twitter conversation with another aspiring writer, I was discussing this writing process when guess who commented on the conversation! She sees everything! She’s omnipotent! Actually, I’m not sure she sleeps. Her point was to do whatever it takes to get words on the page. Do what works for you; whatever it takes be that outline or no line.

I am so appreciative of her generous interaction with her fans and especially with those who aspire to write. Her insight is invaluable.  Her explanations are always clear and make total sense. She is a great teacher and I learn. This particular conversation revolved around the idea of revisiting written scenes to look for “kernels” that will lead to new insight into the characters and their actions. Often these kernels then lead to plot twists or direction.  This discovery process fascinates me and I set about to see if I could apply its principals to my own writing.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I already do! (How could I not know this?)

I fact, this is how I choose what to write about. I reflect on conversations, perhaps something I’ve seen or often, very often what I’ve read in the Outlander series.  I find “kernels” of truth about life in the pages and story that Diana has written.  Her work is my muse.   Her stories are my “cornfield” to harvest!  I’m hoping that someday soon my writing will move beyond my obsession with the series, but for now…it works. I’m writing and learning.

I’m amazed that I haven’t run out of things to write about Outlander.  As of this post, I have 29 blog posts all Outlander related. I think my ability to find new things to appreciate or write about the series are a testament to the richness of her story. Her characters are fleshed out to the point of being able to walk off the page. Her settings and story immerse the reader.  I truly feel I’m there when I read. The dialogue is engaging and real.  And, as I’ve expressed before, there is truth about the wonder and irony of life in the conflicts her characters strive to overcome. I always find something new to write about. Recently, I joked that all questions could be answered with an example from Outlander! It is my point of reference, along with the Bible and my own life experiences!  LOL!

My latest blog post was inspired by comments Diana made at the Comic Con screening panel.  She spoke about choosing to write about a love that lasts for fifty years.  I was inspired to look for the “kernels” of truth about a fifty year love in the story.  What I found was another truth about life. I found something new to appreciate. I found something new to write about.  It hasn’t  been my most read blog, but it is one of my favorites.  People are sharing with me their love stories. They are telling me I am expressing what they feel about Diana’s work. I’m moved by what they write and wonder if I’m getting a little taste of what she must experience when people tell her what her writing means to them.  I know she has said she  is always interested in hearing what people see and get from the books. Well, I can share that my readers get affirmation about what they believe to be true about life from her story of a man and woman and their everyday and not so everyday adventures.

Thank you Diana for sharing your gift and time and “kernels” of truth.

Taking Diana’s advice…..I’m writing!

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So….as so many days this winter, I am sitting here snow bound. This winter seems endless and has caused some real upheaval in my professional life. I teach. And, this winter has resulted in nineteen and counting snow days that will have to be made up somehow. In addition, the time away from my classroom and students has played havoc with my ability to teach and get my students ready for high stake testing. Teach…re-teach…teach…re-teach…
As the old saying goes, “it is a rare wind (or snow storm) that blows no one good”. All of this down-time has caused me to write. In the past, I always felt I should write, but was stopped by the idea I needed to write, I don’t know, a NOVEL. I still might, but you’ve got to start somewhere and this blog seems to be working.
Diana (how sad is it that you all know which Diana I’m talking about) recently gave advice to fans who wanted to become writers. She said,”write, read and don’t stop”. So, I’m sitting here with another snow day and I’m writing. I’m told I have a lot of stories to tell, so…I guess I’ll tell them.

WHY DIANA GABALDON MIGHT BE THE COOLEST WOMAN ON THE PLANET

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imageBy Beth Wesson

What you’re about to read is my very first blog article.  When a particularly bad winter gave me lots of unexpected time, my nieces encouraged me to start a blog for writing practice.  I had no idea how to start, but they encouraged me to write about my interests.  My then current and so far enduring interest is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  So, I wrote about meeting her.  Unbeknownst to me, the little devils sent this to Diana and …she responded.  The rest as they say is history.  Because Diana wrote a book, I found out I’m a writer and I will be forever grateful. 

I recently read a love letter to the Outlander series and it got me to thinking. I love the series. In fact, they have ruined me. I read other things, I just don’t enjoy them as much as Outlander. I’m still surprised at the depth of emotion these characters and their stories wring out of me. My husband often catches me laughing out loud at a Jamie or Claireism. I love the series, but I gotta admit that I’m just as fascinated with the author. This being a fan thing is a new experience for me. I’m really not sure how to act without coming off as well…creepy. It’s a concern, but here I go anyway. I found myself curious about the creator of what have become my favorite books…..I started reading about Herself. I found Compuserve and her sites on Facebook,etc. The woman is just as fascinating as her books! At least, I think so. So, here is my list compiling reasons why Diana Gabaldon might be the coolest woman on the planet:
1. She’s been married for a long time to the same man. And, as far as I can see, she is still in love with him. To me this says a lot about her character.
2. She has passion. She seems to have the ability to chase after those things she wants and get them. She knew she was meant to be an author, so she became one. How much do I respect the fact that she did this without ever being concerned about being published? A lot!
3. She’s really smart; PhDs, college professor, researcher, knows her way around a sentence.
4. She can laugh at herself. In fact, she often cracks herself up. I witnessed this at a book signing to which she wore a clown nose.
5. She writes really hot sex scenes. Really hot sex scenes with characters in their 50’s in a committed relationship.
6. Her writing process. I find her approach fascinating. I’m not sure it could be taught, but wow I wish I could learn to handle ideas and words with her backward forward sideways methods.
7. Despite having fans and being called Herself, she shares her pictures and family/daily life. I’ve seen her hikes in the desert, her office in various states of being, her dogs ( I have a pug and two mini doxies) and her family. Remember the Christmas people played with their remote control life-like shark balloons? Diana shared a picture of the shark moving through her house. I’ve seen her with her very tall children and I’ll never forget how touched I was by her recipe for enchiladas and the reflection about her father. She seems genuine and I don’t believe fame will change her. I think she just adapts to all that it brings, good and bad.
8. She is very patient with her “fans”, but even she has limits. She writes some of the best comeuppances I’ve ever read. When she tells you, you’ve been told!
9. Those flowy caftans, kimonos, shawls and capes she wears. Personally, having watched her speak, I think there is probably a very practical reason for wearing them. However, they lend her some dramatic flair that fits the writer/professor/artist image. My husband had a theater teacher that came to class every day with his giant French poodle while wearing his full length red cape. Memorable.
10. She shared Outlander with the world.
Now, as my grand kids would tell you, I couldn’t be cool if I was sitting on an iceberg, but I think I can recognize someone who is cool. I wrote this in appreciation of the only “famous” person I have ever cared enough to meet. I’d love the chance to talk with her and tell her how delighted I was to find Tuscora Indians, Quakers and Moravians in her books. I grew up in a town called Tuscarawas in Tuscarawas county, attended events in the local Moravian churches and shopped in New Philadelphia the home of the Fighting Quakers (how is that for an oxymoron). I’d like to ask her if she knows about Zoar or the Indian massacre in Gnadenhutten and Schoenbrunn. But, when I had the chance to say something, anything, all I managed was, “it is so nice to meet you”. And even though it was obvious I was a star-struck, book-signing virgin, she smiled and said thank you and wrote me my very first autograph.
Stay cool Diana.