Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year, differential nostrillation, and Facebook

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all! My personal idea of a great New Year's Eve celebration is a nice nap, after which I get up, go up to my office, and light a new pillar candle to work by (the new one is white, scented with—it says on the bottom—Japanese Cedarwood. A very subtle and unobtrusive scent. The old one—which expired the night before, with excellent timing—was dark blue and reeked of cinnamon.)

(I learned something Extremely Interesting recently, btw, speaking of smells. You know how sight can vary between your two eyes, with one being, say, 20/40 and the other 20/200? Or how your hearing may be more or less acute in one ear than the other? Apparently the same thing is true of nostrils.

I was somewhere on a book-tour (believe me, the only way I know where I am, after the third day or so, is to look at the schedule), had escaped momentarily for a quick walk, and came across a huge tree that was dropping fruiting bodies the size of small green baseballs. (Think it may have been a chestnut of some kind, but can't swear to it, as I didn't have a knife with which to open one—thanks to the evil machinations of the TSA.) I picked one up and brushed it under my nose, noting that it had a really unusual, pungent fragrance—not like anything else I've ever smelled. So I took it along with me, back to the hotel….ah, OK, I was in Lexington, Kentucky. I recall the hotel, because it was under construction, and I couldn't get a knife from Room Service, either, because there wasn't any—sniffing it periodically along the way.

At one point, I changed the hand I was carrying it in—and consequently, next time I sniffed it, noticed that the smell was different. "Well, that's weird," I said, surprised, and proceeded to experiment. I could certainly smell it with either nostril, but much more strongly, and with a great deal more complexity, on the right than on the left.

I'd forgotten about this—you forget most things on a book-tour, including your name (no, I'm not kidding)—but remembered while doing the Christmas cooking, when I went outside to pick fresh herbs. Sure enough, I can smell rosemary, basil, and sage all just fine on the left—but I pick up a much richer melange of aromatics on the right, while I'm getting mostly basic volatiles (turpenes and the like) on the left. Truly interesting. Something to think about, next time you hit the perfume counter; if you normally test perfume on one wrist, be sure to pass that wrist under the opposite nostril, too.)

But I digress. [g]

One of the things on my New Year to-do list is to do something about my (putative) Facebook page—which you may notice has apparently disappeared.

Why? I have _no_ idea. See, I don't personally "do" Facebook. At all. (Had we but world enough, and time...) BUT, when ECHO came out, Borders invited me to come do a two-hour chat on _their_ Facebook page, and in order to get to said page, I was obliged to open a Facebook account.

Naturally, I asked my youngest daughter how to go about this. [g] She told me that I should start a "celebrity" page, rather than a plain individual page, so I did that when I signed up, and the software asked me if I wanted to link my page to my blog. I shrugged and said, "Yeah, why not?" So that's where the original listing came from. Mind, there was never anything _on_ my Facebook page, save my picture.

Promptly departed on two months of book-touring, and somewhere in there, the page I'd started apparently disappeared (or so I gather, since the link from my blog no longer works; I haven't been back on the Facebook site since the Borders interview). Have had _no_ time to worry about it since, though one kindly person who'd noticed it mentioned to me that there are other "Diana Gabaldon" pages on Facebook, and one of these might have complained about my page on "intellectual infringement" grounds and had it removed. [rolling eyes]

Anyway. I have a whole list of Promotional Things that need to be addressed, from correcting idiocies on my Wikipedia page to re-registering an official Facebook page (preferably with a little content on it [cough]), updating the website (well, that one's a little easier; at least I know _how_--I just didn't want to send my long-suffering webmistress more Stuff until the holidays were over [g]), etc.

_That_ stuff all starts on Monday, along with a return to a regular writing routine, now that a) all the kids, in-laws, guest dogs, etc. are or shortly will be gone (hallelujah. Not that I don't love them all dearly, but seven dogs and nine people in one house is pushing it, even for me), b) I will have finished the last revisions to "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" (may actually finish that one tonight, though I'll read it through again tomorrow before sending it on to the anthology's editors), and c) I finally (in spite of guests, double-Christmas, etc.) managed to dig through the piles that had accumulated in my office during my absence, put things away, sweep the floor [g], and deal with (mostly) everything that had been neglected for the two-plus months I was away, and d) have managed to prune all the roses, grapevines and fruit trees, as well as rip tons of dead grass and mint-stalks out of my garden. Tomorrow, with luck, I'll be able to turn over a few square feet of soil (removing the _roots_ of said grass and mint) in order to plant nasturtium seeds, which have to be put in no later than the first week of January, if you want good bloom before the heat hits and kills them.

So anyway, I _should_ maybe have something in order about the Facebook thing sometime next week. If and when, I'll announce it here, as well as on the website (which, for those as may not know, is



  1. hmmm, I happened to have my Firefox open on Facebook when I read your post, Diana, and so I searched on your name. Two links came up, but the first didn't go anywhere or do anything (which I agree is weird). The second one, however, came up with this (don't know if links work here or not, but it's worth a try) where you are wearing the most gorgeous blue/purple top (similar to the colours of the scarf I made for you, perhaps?) in the profile photo.
    Hope that helps, a little!
    Jen in Sunny Melbourne

  2. I enjoyed your nos(e)y piece. I mean, the idea that our sense of smell could differ from one nostril to the other never occurred to me.

    I love having a house full of people for the holidays, because it reminds me of childhood times. Although, when it is over it's time for them to leave.

    Cheers, Happy New Year, Diana

  3. I do know that once you become a Facebook member you have to actually DO certain things to become a full member. Someone who understands more than I do can tell you but it involves basic tasks like friending people, posting things, etc.
    Maybe this is the reason?

  4. Wonder if this will be used in future with Claire [g]. Happy New Year!

  5. Hmm. Went and checked my FB account and I'm a fan of 2 DG pages - one DG Outlander Series and the other DG Fans. For some reason I thought one of them was really you.

    Then found this one:

    Something tells me it's not you either.

    But one things for sure, a lot of people really, really love you and your wonderful books!

  6. If that green fruit was wrinkly like a small alien brain, then you've experienced the seed-pod of the Osage orange tree. :)

  7. Dear mehmet--

    No, it was a big, smooth, hard-skinned thing--that's why I thought it was likely a nut of some sort. And chestnuts are the only thing I know of that might have hulls _that_ big.

  8. Was it a walnut? Lexington isn't too far from me, I'm thinking we have the same trees. *g*

  9. I hope your book gets to #1 it well desrve it

  10. I know have you feel, we also have the whole family for the holidays all 14 of them with cat and dog, we have a great time, but is also nice to go back to normal house and work .
    Have a great and happy year!

  11. Dear M&M--

    Yes! That's it--an English walnut! (We only have black walnuts in Arizona--much, much smaller and not as interestingly smelly, though they _do_ smell.)

  12. Diana,
    First...Happy New Year! Second, I am a new reader and absolutely love your books. I am just finishing my second cyle of reading the Outlander series, and as is everyone else, am depressed to know 8 will be a while! I honor the work you do, however and will try to patiently wait without going mad:). I love your writing and am passing you through friends and family. Third...I love looking at this webpage. Personally I do Facebook only when I am feelilng a little "snoopy"! I would be perfectly content with just this page to follow your work. That is just my opinion however. I wish you a wonderful 2010 and will patiently wait for the next installment of Claire and Jaime!

  13. Ms. Gabaldon, I finally convinced my sweet husband to read your first book. He is now on the third book. I am enjoying him looking up from his electronic book to tell me what has just happened in the story!

  14. Didn't know that about the nostrils. Leave it to Diana to give me an interesting fact to start out the new year! May your 2010 be blessed, enjoyable, and productive!

  15. I could run your facebook page for you since I'm already on there way too much! Ha! But it is one of my resolutions to cut back on computer time. Happy New Year! (Have you tried Woodwick candles? ~ they are lovely.)

  16. Ha! I just caved and with the start of the new decade decided to join Facecbook yesterday, so sweet timing for me that you're taking care of this now! The whole FB thing is a tad on the scary side...rather like a cult..I suppose if I avoid the kool-aid it should be fine ;)

  17. I am still looking for a source for wax myrtle candles without having to grow the wax myrtles and make them myself (and be accosted by Stephen Bonnet in the process)!

    Kathryn Schultz
    Germantown, TN

  18. I just wanted to comment on your Marvell quote.....I have been known to say that one a little more often than my husband prefers, but it's a good one and so it stays =)

    Can't wait for the graphic novel, I've been talking it up to aforementioned husband for months and months.
    Good luck in the UK and safe travels to you!

  19. Interesting about the nostrils thing - I heard the other day on QI that if you block one nostril, the corresponding side of your brain works differently. Something like: if you block your left nostril, you think more creatively, and if you block the right one your scientific 'brain' kicks in. Weird!

  20. Diana,
    As a former non-reader, I have to thank you for my conversion. My sister turned me on to Outlander, and I've fallen in love. My last semester of nursing school starts tomorrow, and I'm heartbroken that I have to put down the Fiery Cross in lieu of my med-surg textbook, but at least I'm following in Claire's footsteps. Thanks for the olfactory may come in handy one day.
    I must also say that I am amazed and impressed at your vast knowledge of plants, and hope that reading so much about it in the series will force some of it to memory.
    Have a wonderful new year, and keep up the amazing work.

  21. Hi Diana,

    Happy New Year! I hope you find all the time you need! I adore you!!

  22. Cally (Kathryn): Wax myrtle candles! It never ceases to amaze me how Diana's fans can remember and comment on the most minute details! I love those little reminders that take me back to the thoroughly enjoyable storyline. Thanks!

  23. Diana, my mother was from Texas, and when my sisters and I once all got a case of ringworm, she crushed green walnut skins and applied it to our skin. It quickly rid us of the problem. So I guess it has anti-fungal properties -- something Claire would likely be interested in, no? I love all of your books. Am waiting for my sister to finish Echo so I can finally read it!

  24. I have left a message on Facebook only to read here that you don't think it is working, man I hope I can get this through somehow- I've never blogged before either. I am just a desparate to tell you how much a part of my life your whole clan is. I have soooo much praise and soooo many many many questions but just know that they are all in your exceedingly and amzing hands and will just have to wait in the mists of the characters until the next book. :( 3 years omg that is a long time for them all to be on hold. I've read all books and Lord John - love him and worry for his happiness, 3 times now and have taken short notes on EVERY chapter so that I can easily flip to which ever juicey, relevant bit I am obsessing over at the moment. Your talent is outstanding, your details and connections breathtaking.
    Love this site, I just hope I can make it send and come back to it as you write more. Man I hope they get the casting right for the movie they better stick to how they are supposed to look like and not just make it pretty actors - if they need a hand and you are busy just let me know :)).
    Interesting about the nose maybe it is a right and left brain thing too and whether you are right or left handed??
    Cheers Eva

  25. A very health conscious person I know always raves about the green hulls of black walnuts?? Very good for ridding the body of all sorts of ills. I've just looked them up and the'English' walnut is actually Persian by species, and have a thiner hull?? The black ones aren't quite as edible . . apparently?? They were introduced into England by the Guals and were often referred to as the Gaulic Nut, interesting. I didn't know they were native to America. Being an Australian with English ancestory I have never been interested in America but have learnt so much from your books Diana, very interesting. I've even looked things on maps and such, just to get my bearings in the book.Maybe a map could go in your Outlander Companion II also Family Trees maybe some of the names can't be added until the end of the next book (cos I am sure it is all going to get very juicy) Beauchamp, Fergus, the Murrays,Mckenzies, and Fraser's and those Cameron's- all of them, yes family tree would be very helpful.
    Hey HAPPY BIRTHDAY and you are a fellow Capricorn you are even more endeared to me now . . silly I know.
    Cheers Eva

  26. Sounds like you found a walnut--we had one in my back yard growing up, and the outside of the fruit had a strange almost lime-y smell. Mmm... But they're certainly impossible to get into without a knife (unless you're a squirrel, of course, but I don't think they'd let you bring a squirrel through Airport security either. ;-).

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