She committed Bigamy and Adultery and enjoyed it….Ep. 7 Outlander

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I have decided that it takes me three viewings before I can truly enjoy an episode of Outlander. I find that the first time I watch I’m waiting for particular dialogue and scenes from the book. After this first viewing,  I am usually left with a vague feeling of disappointment because it isn’t the book, even though I  KNOW it is an adaptation. The second time I watch the same episode, I find myself watching with a critics’s eye looking for what’s been added or how things are different. The third time, I just watch and enjoy the show for what it is. Despite missing some desired dialogue and humor from the book, I thought all the crucial elements were there.  It was tender and sexy. The dress, the regalia, the vows, the consummation, the highlander’s chaf, the pearls and the lovemaking were perfect.  And….her confusion…as an audience, we could feel another layer being added to Claire’s already difficult problems.  I certainly felt that Claire was on the precipice of falling into life altering action.

One of things I most admire about Claire is her inability to lie to herself.  Despite knowing that she was _forced_ to commit bigamy and adultery, she refuses to give herself an excuse or to be in denial.  She owns her feelings. She may not like what she is feeling, but she allows herself to feel it anyway.  “Well, that’s it then, I’ve committed bigamy, and adultery and I enjoyed it “, our Claire thinks. Thanks to Outlander Starz and Caitriona Balfe’s performance, I too felt Claire’s trepitation, confusion and enjoyment.

We start the episode with a reminder that Claire is already married and we are introduced to her fear that time and circumstance are eroding her memories and interfering with her ability to withstand change.  Valuable pearls that fall off a string and roll away to dark corners to be forgotten is a powerful metaphor for what she fears is her vulnerability and reality.  She is afraid her reality is living in 1743 and the dream…1945.

I have to admit the lack of a chronological order was a bit disconcerting.  However, I pretty quickly got over the change  and found it to be an effective way to tell this story. There was a lot of story to tell in one hour AND bring to life sex-scenes fans have only been able to dream about. The flashbacks broke-up what would have been a lot of talk, talk, talk.  It also allowed their intimate relations to progress in three obvious phases, consummation, exploration, and  love-making. It worked.

In a recent interview, Sam Heughan expressed his surprise at the little details the fans notice.  He remarked that in the stable scene, during Claire’s escape attempt, he touched the back of his head.  He explained this was part of his technique of immersing himself in the character.  As he said his lines he was thinking of Jamie and Dougal’s back story.  Fans noticed and remarked on the significance of his small action.  Love his technique and the fact that this episode was full of small significant guestures, expressions and actions. In fact, way too many to list!  But, there were a few that are very much worth discussion. Let’s start with Claire’s glass face.

For most of the first six episodes, Claire has been forced to lie to protect herself.  For the most part, she has been pretty good at it (she really struggles to not show her disdain or frustration for what she perceives as ignorant or unjust behavior). Folks suspect there is something she’s not telling them.  However, even after constantly being confronted with their speculations, Claire has managed to keep her identity and body safe. In this episode, everything is showing on Claire’s expressive face and I love it.  Her anxiety, fear, vulnerability, confusion, resignation and desire are there for the world to see. As a result, we feel for her and with her.  As I predicted, Claire is a woman the viewer has grown to care about. Jamie wants to keep her safe and so do we.

The extras. The ancillary characters have added so much to the telling of this story. The little vignettes of the highlanders fulfilling Jamie’s wedding conditions were priceless. Ned and the “hoors”, Rupert and Angus and the wedding ring, and the “Scripture Showdown” were endearing and entertaining.  They also helped advance the story-line that Claire is becoming an accepted and valued member of the clan.

There was symbolism. In addition to the pearls, I felt there were interesting symbolic moments.  Even though he wasn’t discussed, Frank was like the shadow you thought you saw out of the corner of your eye. Like the ring tucked away, forgotten and almost lost. It was an interesting twist  to have Claire and Frank also marry quickly, but not in a church.  I _think_ they are trying to make a point with Jamie’s insistence on “properly” wedding… not sure yet. I guess I’ll wait and see how that plays out.  And, Claire staring at hands with two weddings bands. But, my favorite symbolic moment was Claire wrapping the two of them together in Jamie’s plaid as they “rode”. It harkened back to that first dark rainy night they rode together wrapped in Jamie’s plaid.

And, the moments that made you awwww and ohhhhh.  Murtagh speaking of Jamie’s mother. I want to reach through the screen and give the man a hug.  Jamie stating that he’ll only marry once. The big reveal of the dress and Jamie in his Fraser plaid telling Claire his full name.  The blood vow. The first kiss. My brown hair lass.  So, many moments to move the heart.

I was worried that seeing Jamie and Claire, “people” I know, having sex would feel a little weird, a bit voyeuristic. But, although it was exciting to see our couple consummate their vows it was done tastefully and beautifully.  I laughed and cried and sighed. It was sexy, but moving. Bravo.

Finally, Jamie was charming, kind, earnest, sexy and honorable. Hard  combination to resist.  Damn. I think our girl is in danger again…of falling in love.

 

 

Dear Outlander fan …I’ve been invited to a wedding!

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Dear Outlander fan,

I got an invitation to a wedding yesterday.  One James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser will be marrying Claire Beauchamp. It’s this Saturday at 9 o’clock! I’m so happy I got invited. Thanks to Starz hosting this event, I’m sure it’ll be just wonderful!

I know who the dress designer is and she does beautiful work! So, I’m expecting to be dazzled by the wedding dress. And, the groom is a very resourceful Scot, so I’m sure he’ll come up with something to wear that will impress his bride!

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds because rumor has it that the bride is a bit reluctant.  I also heard she’s a bit of a tippler. She likes a dram or two of Scotch and has been know to drink upwards of three glasses of Rhenish!  I know! Shocking! I wonder if she’ll be sober walking down the aisle? Mmmmph. Sorry, I shouldn’t be gossiping, the poor girl is in a bit of a fix with Black Jack Randall. The lass doesn’t really have a choice, so I shouldn’t judge.

It looks like Dougal McKenzie will be giving the bride away.  Claire, the poor lamb, is a widow and doesn’t have any family near, so he’s standing up for her. Which is kind of odd because I kind of thought he was interested in Claire. Hmmmm, oh well, Jamie is a nice lad. Although, I hear he has a price on his head…for murder no less.  Wonder if they’ll be staying at Leoch? I think it’s the only safe place for them really. I’m sure Claire’s healing skills will be welcomed and Mrs. Fitz sure is fond of her even if she is a Sassenach.

Speaking of Leoch, I wonder what that bonny little blond lass, Laoghaire will think of Jamie marrying Claire?  She seemed to  be looking at the lad out the side of her big baby blues every time I saw her. I thought for sure after he took that beating for her that he liked her too! And…I could have sworn I saw them in an alcove together.  Well… anyway…Claire better watch her back nothing like the wrath of a woman scorned, especially when she’s a teen living under the same roof!

Enough with the speculating, I’m sure everything will work out fine as long as they stay out of Black Jack’s reach. I’m looking forward to the reception. Dougal’s arranged for a nice little spread back at the Inn. And….you know they are worried about this marriage being legal, so we’ve been asked to hang around as witnesses to the consummation.  You know normal 18th century wedding customs and all.

Well, gotta go. I’m shopping for a new Claire cowl on Etsy and some waulked wool for a wedding gift. Hope I see you there!

Yours truly,

An Outlander fan who has been waiting a VERRA long time for this day!  Bottoms up! Slainte!

 

Black Jack remains in darkness and we remain enthralled….Episode 6

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imageOk…last week, I wrote off the cuff my first impressions of episode 5.  And, a lot of you know how that went! So, I, of course, decided I might as well continue cuff writing for episode 6.  (You’d think I’d learn, but evidently…no)

I had heard this episode was going to be good, so I purposely avoided watching previews and reading cast interviews in an effort to increase my viewing pleasure. It was more than pleasurable, good Lord that was intense. Tobias and Cait’s performance was worthy of every award appropriate adjective I can muster. Bravo! Brava! Bellisimo!  You dun good!  I usually watch the episode back to back, but I couldn’t muster the emotional energy! I feel spent. I feel like I need a cigarette and I don’t smoke!

Last week, some of my readers pointed out how the show fleshes out scenes and situations that they just couldn’t “see” in the books. I agreed that there was some merit to this point and commented that I too appreciated seeing the nuance of a look or the power of body language.  Despite Ms. Gabaldon’s considerable skill at writing these details, the acting does a lot to enhance the story. However, tonight the show truly helped me understand a couple of situations that had alluded me despite multiple (and I do mean multiple) readings of the book.

First, Black Jack Randall looks like Frank.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear you all saying, we already knew that. Me too. I thought. Before tonight, I don’t think I truly understood what Claire must feel when she is in Black Jack’s presence. Claire has been on the front-lines of one the bloodiest wars in history and she has seen first-hand the devastation war can conflict on a man.  She may not have the psychological terms to identify the emotional trauma soldiers were often left with, but she recognizes it when she sees it.  She saw it in Frank, her gentle, intelligent, moral husband and she sees it in Black Jack.  Sitting before her is a man confessing to her a personal tale of war and it’s aftermath. And…he looks like her husband.

The depth of this man’s damage was made obvious.  In an earlier interview, Tobias Menzies, the actor who plays both roles, commented that Ron Moore had made an impression on him when discussing the portrayal of these two men.  It wasn’t their differences that interested Ron as much as the similarities. These were two men who were shaped by war.  This departure from the book, in my opinion, was a powerful and evocative choice.  They let us “see” beneath the cruelty and glimpse the ravages of war on a man’s soul. It was mesmerizing. I couldn’t look away.

It certainly is quite a challenge to play two roles in a movie and be able to effectively distinguish the difference between the two characters for an audience.  Tobias had commented that sometimes that difference can be found in the eyes.  The  eyes. The window to man’s soul.  Mr. Menzies, I saw Black Jacks’ war tortured soul in your eyes. And, so did Claire.

If we were treated to a horrifying glimpse into Black Jack’s soul tonight, courtesy of the writers’ room and Tobias’s performance, we were also treated to a glimpse of Claire’s soul via Cait’s considerable acting skills. Claire wants to see the good in this man for the sake of her beloved Frank.  I saw the roller coaster of emotions on Claire’s face and felt her empathy for this cruel man.  For the first time, I think I truly understood her confusion.  She knows the stories of this man and his infamous cruelty and yet, …we see her move from disdain and condemnation of his actions to a tearful plea that he save his soul.  I believe for a moment, the man sitting in front of her isn’t Black Jack, it’s Frank. And, her tender, kind and moral heart bleeds for him.

It would be a wonderful story-line if Claire’s plea and obvious empathy had worked and Black Jack began a journey to redemption….Thank goodness that isn’t how this story rolls. Black Jack remains in darkness and we remain enthralled. It would be wonderful to think that the loving heart of a woman could indeed rescue a man’s soul. But, the reality is that sometimes love is not enough.  Instead, darkness rules, love is twisted and the world becomes ironic.

Tonight, I understood Jack’s unnatural attachment to Jamie.

In the telling of Jamie’s flogging, we are able to see the moment it all changed for Jack and exactly when his world turned black. This man has been placed in charge of keeping order in what he considers a wild and barbarian place full of superstition and ignorance. This is not what he expected. In lieu of a history lesson, just believe me when I say that the road to becoming an officer would not have been an easy one for Jack.  He has reached beyond his station and means to become Captain of his Majesty’s Eighth Dragoons.  I’m sure many of us can relate to the situation in which he now finds himself embroiled.  He is surrounded by lesser men of higher social and political rank. The dumping of the claret was very symbolic. Nice touch that. He isn’t invited to the dinner table literally and metaphorically.  He must be seething with impotent rage.  So, what does a man do in his situation? What do you do with these feelings?  Maybe you express those feelings in displaced anger.  Maybe you take out your frustration at your “superiors” on the innocent.

Our Jamie, an innocent, as a result of his own proud and honorable nature, unwittingly becomes the proverbial straw that broke the back of Jack’s soul. Jack tells the tale of feeling sorry for the young man with the raw back.  But, his own pride and his position of power and responsibility compel him to continue with the slated punishment.  He must not look weak to the locals and his men.  He tells Claire that he intended to take his time because he fully expected Jamie to cry for the mercy that I believe Jack would have granted.  But…instead, a series of events triggered the black monster that invades Jack’s soul.  One of his soldiers faints, the crowd begins to laugh and Jamie will not cry out.  The pressure, the anger, the disappointment, the shame at what he’s been forced to do collide.  Jack can only survive the collision by changing how he views the world. He tells Claire that the bloody mangled flesh was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  In a moment, Jack slipped into insanity and Jamie and his mutilated back become impossibly entangled in Jack’s new world view.

I finally “get it” thanks once again to the producing, writing and acting choices.

There has been a lot of buzz about a possible Emmy for this episode and it’s performances.  I know nothing about what would constitute an Emmy winning performance, but I will say I was impressed. For what that’s worth! ( I’m sure everyone at Outlander Starz had been waiting to hear what I think, LOL) There was a lot more to appreciate in this episode, but I think I’ve said enough. Except, that I know Ron Moore has said that by episode 5 they had a really clear idea of where the story was headed. Off the cuff, <g> I’d say it’s headed in the right direction!

 

Finding myself in awe of Outlander fans tonight! You guys rock!

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imageSometimes when I write a blog, I spend a lot of time in reflection and research. Sometimes I don’t. This past week I wrote my first impressions and feelings about episode 5.  I had issues with what I perceived as a failure to develop Jamie’s character as a strong young man.  What resulted was a lot of discussion! I had the chance to interact with fans that felt as I did and those that DIDN’T. This could have been a mess of strong opinions that hurt feelings and caused divisions. It wasn’t. In fact, I’m still shaking my head in delighted disbelief at the respectful discourse.

April Steele, an admin at Caitriotnation, posted a very level headed plea to their members encouraging them to be respectful of others’ view points. She acknowledged that fans can be a bit zealot, but that doesn’t have to be reflected in a lack of respect to those who disagree with your point. I was glad to hear someone espousing the need to just chillax a bit! I hope Caitriots will be as kind to each other as my readers have been. I know there has been some nastiness out there, but if you want to read some great respectful discussion check out the responses to “what is going on here…where is Jamie?” on my site. I found Outlander fans to be intelligent, articulate….and polite!

imageSpeaking of April Steele and the Caitriots, did you see what they did this week? _Amazing_  Sept. 11th was the anniversary of Caitronia Balfe being cast as Claire. To celebrate, the Caitriots got together and brainstormed a most excellent present to send Cait.  They decided to create a tartan shawl/scarve in her honor. Susan Targrove, a fan and weaver, offered her expertise to the group.  After reading an April written article  about this process, I am even more impressed with this gift. The planning, time and effort that went into this project was staggering. You can feel the love that went into the tartan that was designed and weaved specifically for Cait with ties to her home and heritage. They made a gift for her with substance and significance. They included a beautiful Sassenach pin designed by another fan, Janet Casdawn, and a book full of photos of the premier created by another fan.

I saw a post on the fan page today from someone who grew-up in the “show biz”  industry. She wanted to let the Caitriots know that she had never seen a fan group make an effort like this to show their appreciation. She said she was proud to belong to such a group!

And, Cait? All indications are that she was surprised and moved by the token of the Caitriots’ esteem and their assurance that she was worth the wait.  Overall, been a good week in the fandom.  I’m so proud of all of you and proud to be called an Outlander fan!

 

Because Diana wrote a book….Outlander impacted lives.

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imageI woke this morning to a tweeted response from Diana that cracked me up! She does that a lot. Witty lady is Herself. However, the response back from the man who wrote the post caused me to put my hand over my mouth to swallow a sob. His response was a perfect example of how much Diana’s books can impact people’s lives.

His story was similar to many others I’ve heard.  He said he began watching the show with his wife. He enjoyed it and added that he had begun to read the books. He was amazed there were eight. Diana laughingly responded that he could take his time reading because it takes her awhile to write a new one. I chuckled, but then I read his response. He shared that he suffered from PTSD and watching the show and reading the books have kept his mind busy. He then added that as a result, he didn’t have nightmares last night….I can still feel the lump in my throat. _Amazing_.

People have shared so many of these stories with the fandom. Luanne Uttley and her Outlander found friend from across the sea, Lori Renfro began a Facebook page as a place to collect and share stories of how Outlander has impacted lives. Lori and Luanne’s story is one of those special gifts that the universe can sometimes throw your way.  These two met while discussing their shared love of Outlander on social media. But, they soon discovered that they shared much more than fandom.  Because Diana wrote a book, these two found a support system and a real-life friendship.  To their amazement, they found that they shared a very unique and special sisterhood.  They both were the mothers of daughters who suffered a similar and rare disability.  From half-way around the world they found comfort and kinship. And, maybe the most rewarding thing that happened was that their daughters connected.  The girls share a disability that makes social interaction difficult, but, to their mothers’ amazement and delight they talk on the internet….for hours!

You can read story after story of people who found comfort and distraction from the illness and tragedy in their lives because they read Diana’s books. People who found the courage to stand up to an abuser. People whose marriages were saved or enriched because of the relationship they saw shared between Jamie and Claire. People who actually changed the course of their lives because what they read inspired them to take a risk.

Personally, these books inspired me to begin writing. I’m constantly finding some new truth about life in Diana’s stories to expound on! And, I’m learning a lot because Diana is wonderful at sharing her accumulated knowledge, especially about the craft of writing! Writing has brought me a lot of joy and a social life! Love talk and share ideas with other fans.

Because Diana wrote a book, I have gained real-life friends who share a love of Outlander and writing. I want to emphasize the “real-life” part of that statement because I didn’t expect it.  I was enjoying talking with other fans on social media , but I never expected that interaction to lead to real relationships.  One particular fan has become a particular friend, Connie Hertsenberg.  We actually got to meet at an Emulsion screening in Columbus. She gave me the best hug I’ve ever had! No really! Great hugger that Connie. We found we had so much in common that we decided to meet up for dinner with husbands in tow.  They got along too! She has been a constant supporter and a loyal friend. Truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And, when I was sick all the #cgng girls and other folks from around the country and world were so supportive. I got cards, phone calls, messages and I even got a bouquet of flowers from “Jamie” with a card expressing his desire that I be the last girl he kissed! (Still don’t know who sent that).  This has been an unexpected, but enriching experience.

If you’d like to read some stories about how Diana and her books have affected people’s lives go to Luanne and Lori’s web page on Facebook; All Because Diana Wrote A Book.  Believe me they are well worth the read. You might even be inspired to write your own story about how Diana’s books have affected your life.  You might even want to send Diana a thank you note <g>.

 

 

What’s going on here?….where is JAMIE!!!

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imageI know I risk being called an Outpouter by writing this, but here goes. If I was Claire I’d be more interested in Dougal.  At least the Dougal in Outlander Starz.  That guy is interesting, complex and sexy.  Certainly, Claire finds him irritating, but he definitely is a strong principled man.  Jamie? Who? Oh, the kid. Yeah, he’s cute.

Within minutes of episode 5 credits rolling across the screen, I tweeted my confusion and concern. I don’t understand!  How could you screw up THIS relationship? Right now I’m not believing Claire could love this guy.  The show has taken all of this time to develop Claire as this smart self-assured woman and now she is going to fall in love with THIS Jamie.  Not that Claire, not this Jamie. Unless something drastically changes, I’m not buying it.  Being a cute gallant puppy dog wouldn’t be enough to catch this Claire and make her choose to stay in the past.

Where did this go wrong? Where is Jamie’s personality? More importantly, where is his spirit?  I can’t help but feel that this Jamie needs to get a spine. While reading, I always had the sense that Jamie was an extremely mature young man who indeed picked his battles, but enough is enough!  I miss the scene where Jamie confronts Dougal RIGHT AFTER he rips off his shirt. I also miss the scene that follows.  There was friendship that happened in that scene between Jamie and Claire and appreciation for Jamie’s skills. Claire got to see Jamie in a different more interesting light.  How did we go from steaming hot self-assured “je suis prest” Jamie to “he’s my uncle” just go to bed Jamie?

Ok, so…all the folks who have seen episode 6 rave about it.  My understanding is that the two men featured in this episode will be Dougal and Black Jack. I’m sure I’m going to continue to fall in love with these performances. But, here’s the rub. The wedding is episode 7.  Is there going to be enough time to fix this? It’s my hope that Dougal’s “reference” scene really is.  Maybe some of Jamie’s strong character can be restored by explaining the flogging. I’m scared that every character in the series Claire, Dougal, Black Jack, Murtagh, Rupert, Ned,….will be developed to perfection (and they have) and  Jamie  will remain the cute kid who Claire has sex with! Arrrgh!

Episode 5 had some wonderful exposition, Culloden, the Black Watch, the Redcoats.  And, Scotland indeed became a character. But, I was left disappointed because of the sorely missing fix of Jamie’s guts, spirit and wit. I need to believe this is a guy Claire can’t help but fall in love with.  There is nothing wrong with Sam’s performance. He’s doing the best with what he’s been given. But, that’s my point! What are they giving him! I want book Jamie! He’s a man to be reckoned with and…love.

So, here is what is saving me from going into deep dark fangirl depression. Diana likes it.  I know it’s an adaptation and not my book and there is a new episode next week. So, I’m holding out hope that the King of Men arrives…soon!

 

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!