Saturday, August 9, 2008

Travels and Travails

Sorry to have taken so long to update here! Having declared that I meant to stay home as much as possible this year, in order to Get Things Written, I have in fact done so—but that meant that _all_ this year’s public appearances (almost) were crammed into July.
I had a wonderful time, doing the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina, the Flagstaff Celtic Festival (in Flagstaff, natch), and CONestoga, a great sf/f con in Tulsa—plus all the less-public things I did in those places (I took two extra days to do research in North Carolina, since Grandfather Mountain is smack in the middle of Fraser’s Ridge country [g]—and am now in a position to tell you (if you are one of the people who obsesses about such things, and judging from the mail, many of you _are_…) that Fraser’s Ridge probably lies within about ten miles of Blowing Rock, NC. Couldn’t tell you which way, though, I having no particular sense of direction unless the sun happens to be setting flagrantly in front of me with full technicolor effects—then I know that way is West).

It rained like Noah and the ark during the opening ceremonies at the Grandfather Mountain Games, but I had been assured that it usually _does_, and the participants would conduct their complete program, including the famous Calling of the Clans. Which indeed they did, the various clan chiefs and representatives being thoughtfully equipped with kerosene-fueled tiki torches. [G]
The kindly people at Black Bear Books in Blowing Rock, who had invited me, had told me that it was likely to rain (“That mountain is a weather-maker,” they said—a phrase I carefully filed away for later use), and also informed me that I should bring a blanket to sit on the grass, as there were not really any bleachers as such; merely a grassy hillside next to MacRae Meadow, where the games are held.
I did bring a small blanket, but instead of hunting for a perch on the grass, elected to stroll casually down Clan Row, where the tents of all the clan societies are located, and see whether anyone recognized me. [Cough] (I do a fair number of Highland Games, what with one thing and another, and the nice people who support the clan societies do, too. You get to know people.)
Fortunately, I was spotted by a hospitable bunch of Buchanans, and kindly invited to come and sit in the shelter of their tent for the ceremonies. And a good thing, too; had I been sitting on the grassy knoll, I would have been washed right down the mountainside, rather than allowed to enjoy the events while peacefully eating meat pies and Diet Coke. (Was also royally entertained by the Frasers, the next day, who gave me shelter in which to eat my hot dog in peace—and the odd dram of whisky. I signed 73 _cases_ of books (at 24 trade paperbacks per case) that day, and had my picture taken with just about every single person who bought a book, too. I needed that whisky.)
Unfortunately, neither clan Fraser nor clan MacKenzie had arrived in time to have a representative take part in the Calling of the Clans, because I was all ready to shout “Tulach Ard!” or “Caisteal DHUUUUUUN!” as required, but just as well, as this might have startled the Buchanans.
I also drove down to Greensboro, where I spent a delightful afternoon wallowing in the Guilford Courthouse Battlefield and Visitors Center. Walking battlefields and listening for the echoes is one of my favorite things, and the Visitors Center there is excellent, with a really good film explaining the battle (they used very talented re-enactors for it, and they did a great job. I will note for the record, though—I see a lot of these kinds of films, what with one thing and another—that while the actors’ clothes and uniforms are artfully daubed with mud, blood, and powder-smoke, they still have a sense of unreality about them, because the clothes stand away from the actors’ bodies, having been freshly made and put on for the occasion. To have an actual sense of reality, the people would need to have been living and sleeping in those uniform for weeks, so the fabric goes limp and clings to the contours of the body. But I admit that there are limits to what one can expect an actor to do for his or her art (or the National Park Service), and these people did a fine job).
More tomorrow, perhaps, about CONestoga and Just What Goes on at a Con, Anyway (if anyone invites you to “get fuzzy,” don’t do it, is all I can say).

I did mention travails, though. I’m sorry we haven’t been able to update the website of late; my webmistress, Rosana, has recently lost her father after a short illness, and has been spending time in New Mexico, taking care of her mother and settling things. Our profound sympathies to Rosana and her family—and our prayers are always with them.

In the meantime, I’ll put update stuff here on the blog, to be posted to the website later.

27 comments:

  1. It sounds like you had a lot of fun in July.
    I've been to England in June and July and had a lot of fun,too.I've visited Stonehenge but I always thought it to be a bit bigger.

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  2. Thank you for the Games update! I like the part about not startling the Buchanans :) It is so cool for this NC native to hear you talk about local places.

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  3. Welcome back :) I've never got to attend any faires or festivals and now the closest one to me (St. Louis) has canceled their's. :( bummer. I am currently revisiting Jamie and Claire so am extra glad to see a post or two from you :) I've recently discovered that you can search the web and see these youtube videos that fans have put together regarding the books and who should play them, montages set to music. Very cool stuff LOL.

    You need a prettier blog, I can do basic headers and colors, if you drop by my blog you can see a basic example. Let me know should you require my services (free of course).

    xoxo melzie

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  4. Hello, Diana:

    You had mentioned in your previous post that Rosana's father was not well; I figured, since there had been no update on the website, that things were not in his favor. I am saddened to hear of his passing. I've had the pleasure of emailing a bit with Rosana and she's a lovely person. I will send my condolences.

    So, with that in mind, you take care, too. How is Doug's ear? (Not even sure what the problem was in the first place!!!)

    Midge

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  5. Just love this:
    "Walking battlefields and listening for the echoes is one of my favorite things..."

    I have to say your talking about going to the Guilford Courthouse Battlefield put a smile on my face. I also enjoyed going there while growing up - riding my bike on the trails, feeding the ducks and walking around "listening for the echoes." Did you get a chance to visit Alamance?

    Glad you had a good time on the mountain.

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  6. Dear Karen--

    I'd seen (and walked, to the extent possible; it isn't a "preserved" battlefield, with trails and such) Alamance before, while I was writing FIERY CROSS. It's also a little farther (I think--see remark re sense of direction) from where I was than Greensboro.

    Mind, I'm not getting as far as the battle of Guilford Courthouse in ECHO [g], but eventually I might.

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  7. Dear Meizie--

    I appreciate the offer! I'm up way past mid-eyeball for the next couple of weeks (just finished "The Custom of the Army," a Lord John novella for an anthology titled WARRIORS, which will be out sometime next year (btw, there's an excerpt from this posted on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum, in my folder, under a thread titled "Custom Excerpt." [g] I'll fetch a link and see if I can post it in another comment), and have to revise a short story for another anthology (PHOENIX NOIR) tonight, then plunge headfirst into a "rush" project (top secret [g]) that has to be done in a week. [pant, gasp, wheeze] _Then_, I can go back to ECHO full-time.

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  8. My husband and I just happen to have had a farm give or take 10 miles from Blowing Rock a couple of decades ago. It was at about 4000 feet altitude.

    Holey moley. Sometime after we left, and the shack would have been somewhat like the first one on Fraser's Ridge, the local fire department burned it down to teach the fire fighters how to fight fires. I doubt they used ether or yellow phosphorus.

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  9. Regarding Alamance - yes, it's less than an hour away. Deep roots in that area... I used to love going to the re-enactments growing up. Also enjoyed visiting the little cabin.

    I had been wondering if you had visited because I thought you were quite accurate with your descriptions of the area and such in the Fiery Cross. :)

    As for Guilford Courthouse, I was wondering about that. [g]

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  10. Glad to hear from you again. Missed you.

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  11. When I was a student at ASU (that would be APPALACHIAN State U. not Arizona *g*) we had a little saying. "If you don't like the weather in Boone...wait 10 minutes." That mountain is indeed a weather maker.

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  12. Just wondering if you will be heading to Scotland next summer for the gathering of the clans??

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  13. I lived in Boone and subsequently Beech Mountain for a few years, and after having read the series, I thought that I may have been close to Fraser's Ridge - but I didn't realize how close! Wow, I lived in Claire and Jamie's country for a little while. It is beautiful up there, and the locals always called it "God's country". Makes me feel a little more connected to the series now!

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  14. Busy Diana means happier readers that much sooner!

    So sorry to hear about Rosana's dad. No matter how old we are, we're never ready to lose a parent.

    Hope you get to put your feet up for awhile after the podcasts are recorded. Looking forward to hearing them.

    Bedelia

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  15. Kind thoughts and prayers to Rosana and her family.

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  16. Dear Penny--

    I don't know yet. I have a graphic novel coming out (in the US) mid-summer, and will need to be doing some promotion for that, but don't yet know how much.

    At the same time, I have a new UK publisher (Orion), who are excited about the new book(s) and might want me to come Do Stuff there--though probably not until ECHO comes out. But then again, there's the Edinburgh Literary Festival, which has asked me to read twice--wouldn't mind doing it again. [g]

    So I don't know; but I'll let you know for sure if I do!

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  17. Thanxs for the quick reply, were heading to the gathering next summer and am super excited for all sorts of reasons, it would be great to sit in on a reading which would just top off the trip. I'll keep an eye for confirmation! take care....

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  18. But what about Doug's Ear?!?!?

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  19. I was in your neck of the woods this past week, Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Cave Creek, Arizona and thought about you. Scottsdale is absolutely beautiful. Of course it's also a little bit hot too:-)

    I'm so glad you were able to fit in a little bit of traveling and research between writing all those books. Please place "Echo" at the top of the list to finish first! Just a thought. . .

    I think it is interesting that my two favorite book series take place in the same area. Your series and Jan Karon's, Mitford series are both centered near Blowing Rock, NC.

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  20. DG -

    I was in the Beech Mountain/Blowing Rock area two weeks after the Games at Gfather Mtn. Friends and family were hiking along Linville Falls and my mom (who is a HUGE fan) mentioned about the area where we were would be in the same territory as Fraser's Ridge.

    Growing up in NC and taking vacations to the mountains instead of the beach, the landscape of Fraser's Ridge is never too far from my imagination. It is beautiful country and will always have a special place in my heart.

    Now I get to go visit up there even more as my little brother is starting his freshman year at App. State. :) YAY!!

    Good to hear from you.
    Glad everything is going so well for you.
    My condolences to Rosana and her family.
    -s

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  21. Diana,

    Do you travel with a troupe of minions to carry all the boxes of books you sign at these festivals? God, I can't imagine signing so many in 6 months, never mind 1 festival. I'm going with clan Donnachaidh Saturday to the Maine Highland Games. I'll be smiling foolishly if I walk out having signed and sold 20 of my books!

    All the power to you, girl! Perhaps someday we'll meet at one of the Games. I'd be smiling foolishly then, too. For now I seem to be confined to New England.

    Cheers!

    Mary

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  22. Diana,
    I'm planning on submitting a non-fiction piece! My first crack at anything of the sort. Perhaps you'll have a look, even though you won't be a judge.
    Was is difficult to write in the Scot/Gaelic? It was difficult reading Outlander, but now I'm used to it. It must have been the same for the writing? How do you remain consistent?
    I know you had come to Kingston (Ont., not Jamaica)last year for a signing, but I hadn't gotten into the books then...shucks!

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  23. Dear Mary--

    _I_ don't supply the books I sign at events. [boggling at the thought] Normally, the organizers of the event make an arrangement with a local bookstore, who supplies both books and minions [g]. I show up with my Sensa pens and a smile. The bookstore makes a profit, the event gets more (we hope) and happier attendees, the readers get their books signed, and I (eventually) get royalties on those books. It's all good. [g]

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  24. I followed a link posted by Lizabeta on Compuserve today and was interested to see your account of visiting Guilford Courthouse Battlefield. I'm so glad you got to visit there! We lived in Greensboro for one year, only a few blocks from the battlefield and it was our favorite place to walk, picnic, attend all the events and see the reenactment. Imagine my surprise a few years later to learn that I had an ancestor in that battle. So Guilford Courthouse is where my interest in the southern campaign started. I was particularly interested in the role of the sharpshooters in the battle. You can especially see it in the reenactment as the actors are careful to make the work of the sharpshooters clear and distinct from the rest of the soldiers

    Karen (aka wynnleaf)

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  25. I've been (re)reading my Outlander series lately as I finally just purchased A Breath of Snow and Ashes (yes I know, I'm behind). I was looking up areas in NC out of curiosity when I found this. I was wondering where Fraser's Ridge might be ~ and I am delighted to hear that you think it's near Blowing Rock. We have family that live very near there and visit every couple of years. Even considered moving there for a while (to Blowing Rock). That's the area I always envision while reading the books. I've also always wanted to visit Grandfather Mountain during the Highland Games but we are never there at the right time. One of these years perhaps. It's worth the visit to the mountain even without the games, but that would be a bonus.

    Absolutely love your books, and adore Jamie and Claire!

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  26. Diana,
    As Chief's Seannachaidh, I do a Bardic Oratory at the Pacific Northwest Highand Games (one of the largest in the NW).
    Jamie inspired me to finish up my own family quest in Lyon Court!
    William Shaw of Easter Lair
    www.theclanshaw.org

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