Hey guys! I know it has been quite some time without some sort of regular postings from me - sometime like mid April! That is the longest hiatus I have ever had from this blog, but it ended up being MUCH needed. I was starting to feel burned out and really I wasn't excited about anything I was reading. And that wasn't the fault of the books I was reading - I just had too much going on and by the time evening rolled around, all I wanted to do was go to bed. And so I did - and I didn't feel one bit guilty about it. Sometimes you just need a break and to get yourself back mentally. And one of those things that did that was the Historical Novel Society Conference this past weekend in Denver. Honestly, in the weeks leading up to the conference, I was excited to see some friends, but I wasn't in the blogging mood. I thought that it might be the last conference I attended, didn't really know what direction I wanted to take. But I knew it would be a fun weekend anyway.
My husband and I headed out to Denver at the beginning of the week - we decided to make it a week long vacation - he had vacation days to use and it was right after our wedding anniversary, so we thought we could get some mileage out of this conference trip. We made some day trips to: Rocky Mountain National Park (Bear Lake), the Denver Zoo, the Molly Brown House (I was insistent on getting some history in - more on this stop later), the Denver Art Museum, and ate at some AMAZING restaurants! I highly recommend Fruition Restaurant if you happen to be in the mood for a creative meal. They had such good food and amazing customer service - we celebrated our anniversary in style there. We also had a not-so-fun tornado scare while there. For those of you that don't know, I was directly involved in a tornado in 2011 that hit Massachusetts, so I get a tiny bit freaked out by warnings - and there did end up being a tornado touch down in east Denver that day.
Then Thursday rolled around and people started trickling in for the conference. We had just walked in the door to our hotel room following dinner when I got a text from Amy from Passages to the Past/Historical Fiction Virtual Books Tours. She had arrived at the hotel and did I want to hang out? Ummm, Yeah! So I went over and hung out in her room until Erin from Flashlight Commentary showed up and the 3 of us stayed up late into the evening talking about everything! My HF mojo was back, at that very minute!
Friday evening was the start of the conference - the meet and greet, opening speech, and dinner. There were over 400 people there, so there were a lot of people to see! I was thrilled to finally meet Stephanie from Layered Pages and Jenny Q from Historical Editorial and catch up with Meg from A Bookish Affair and Sarah Johnson from Reading the Past again. Love all of these ladies!! And caught up with some of my author friends as well! C.C. Humphreys gave the opening speech and was WONDERFUL! He has such a stage presence. If you want to read his opening poem, he put it online based on the many requests. So far, his speech and that of C.W. Gortner in previous years, have topped my list of conference speeches. During and after dinner I got to catch up with Marci Jefferson (SO looking forward to Enchantress of Paris!), C.W. Gortner, Amalia Carosella (we actually chatted thru much of the conference! Love me Herc butt magnet!), Leslie Carroll, and some I know I'm forgetting (the conference is a total blur of activity)! Following dinner I hung out with the "blogging girls" at the bar where it was hopping with conference attendees. So much fun.
Saturday was the day of panels. I attended some fascinating ones and among my favorite was the discussion on the gender divide in the genre. From the topics that are perceived to be of interest to women vs men, the types of covers that draw certain attention, and the topics pitched by authors for books that have been shot down that we as readers in the room would LOVE to see! Honestly, I would love to see something set in a court other than England or France and would LOVE some male protagonists - regardless of what agents/publishers/etc think!
The lunch speaker was Karen Cushman, whose book Catherine, Called Birdy, was among the very first historical fiction books I have read. I was excited to see her in person, just for nostalgia sake. Just before dinner was the author signing - and it was like slightly organized chaos. I would have loved to have been able to purchase a few more books at the book shop, but they had a minor (read that as major!) ordering snafu. There was a HUGE line for Diana Gabaldon, so my husband was wonderful and waited in that line for me while I scurried around collecting signatures and chatting with authors. I picked up another copy of Day of Fire and had all of the authors of the book (minus Ben Kane, who wasn't there) sign it. That was a special treat. Then I also got Anne Girard (Diane Haeger) to sign Madame Picasso (another book I loved) and Sharon Kay Penman signed A King's Ransom. This was also the time I finally caught up with Donna Russo Morin - and we got to chatting about setting up a local HNS chapter for the New England area (which I am in progress of doing). During the dinner, Diana Gabaldon gave a short speech about what we all wanted to know, the Outlander show of course!! Then there were the evening festivities - awards, historical fashion show, sex-scene readings and then it was off to an early bedtime because we had to catch a flight VERY early Sunday morning.
Thanks to some awesome recommendations from Erin, Amy, and Stephanie, I purchased and dove into The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah on my flight home and am LOVING it so far. I so much love attending these conferences and sharing some delightful conversations with book-minded people (and we talked about so many other things too!). My husband even picked up a couple HF books for himself and got one signed too! Thank you to the conference planners for putting on this conference and I look forward to the next one! And I'm looking forward to getting back into a more regular blogging pattern. I appreciate you all!!!
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