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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Suddenly Sunday–HNS 2013 Summary

Suddenly Sunday

Good-morning everyone! Hope you are all having a great weekend. Mine started out with an absolutely miserable Friday (with nothing going right). Saturday we went to Lake Compounce (a smaller Six-Flags type theme park) and baked out in the hot sun. I’m so glad that they have free fountain soda and water all day because we needed it. Today we will be having out with my parents whom I haven’t seen in forever while my dad does some maintenance on my car. All in all not a bad weekend.

I thought today would as good of a time as any to recount my experience at the Historical Novel Society Conference (over 2 weeks ago now! Where has the time gone?).

I left Hartford, CT around noon on Friday, June 21st and the flight was uneventful – just the way I like them. I arrive at Tampa around 3:30ish and caught my shuttle to the beautiful Hotel Vinoy in St. Petersburg. I had several other ladies going to the conference on my shuttle and we immediately started talking books. It was funny, as I was getting checked in for the shuttle, the lady behind the desk asked if I was going to the book conference, because she had so many people coming through who were and she wished me a fun time (which it was of course!).

As stated above, the Hotel Vinoy is gorgeous! Very Florida in every way- from the colors, the blown glass, veranda, etc. I was very pleased with the choice of venue for the conference. I had a large room all to myself that looked out the front entrance toward the bay – loved it!

Upon arrival at the hotel I quickly rushed up dropped off my stuff and changed because it was time for the meet and greet – and something to drink. It was great seeing old friends again, meeting new ones, and finally meeting people I feel like I have known forever! For the first time I met in person Audra from Unabridged Chick and Amy from Passages to the Past, although I have known these wonderful ladies virtually basically since I started blogging. We hit it off immediately and they are so awesome in person. Buffet dinner followed (I was STARVING by that point) and we had our first guest speaker – Anne Perry. I have to say that I know absolutely nothing about what she writes and I really couldn’t hear anything she said (I was sitting near the back and was having a horrible time with my ears still being pressurized from my flight) – but from what I have heard from others, she was great. After hanging out for a little while it was off to sleep sort of early because I was just exhausted.

Christy English, Myself, and Donna Russo Morin
Photo Credit: Amy @ Passages to the Past

Saturday was the day of panels – including my own, which due to my arrival time I hadn’t had a chance to go over with everyone, but received a quick rundown. I attended the following sessions: Depicting Religion in Historical Fiction; Writing about Women in History; and To Trump or Trumpet the History Police all before lunch. They were all fabulous – however I think I most enjoyed the History Police one. Lunch brought us C.W. Gortner as the guest speaker and he stole the show. For me, he was the best speaker of the bunch. He brought his witty nature to give a little insight and inspiration to up-and-coming authors.

After lunch it was my panel (eek!) – and of course I’m now in a panic! It got even worse when we went into our room and there was no table – just a projector, which wasn’t going to help us any. I started seeing visions of having to stand up like in high school to give a presentation. They hotel staff got us a table so we were able to start on time and we could all be nervous while sitting down. Oh, I forgot to mention that our panel was Virtual Salon: The Historical Fiction Blog. My co-panelists were Julianne Douglas from Writing the Renaissance; Deborah Swift, author and blogger at several blogs including The Riddle of Writing; Heather Webb from Between the Sheets, and Amy Bruno from Passages to the Past. We first covered the “triangle of blogging” – author, blog reader, and reviewer/blogger – then discussed some of the mechanics of blogging. My specific topics were: How to Measure Success of Your Blog and Blogging Etiquette (I will try to summarize my points in an upcoming post). We had a lot of good questions and received great feedback after the panel. I even heard that ours was a favorite! Yay!

HF Virtual Blog Panel
From Left to Right: Julianne Douglas, Deborah Swift, Amy Bruno, Me, Heather Webb
Photo Credit: Audra @ Unabridged Chick

After our panel I attended Off the Beaten Path: Reading and Writing Outside the HF Mainstream. Audra was a panelist on this one and of course had to stay to support her! Their panel was great and they gave us a list of great books “off the beaten path” and they are keeping the list updated online. Following the last panel of the day was an author book signing and I was good in that I only bought 3 additional books (to the 3 I received in the swag bag). I had the chance to talk with author Stella Duffy during this time (and then later on Sunday) and she is just so nice.

Dinner followed (the food all weekend was quite good) and another guest speaker – this time Steve Berry. I have to be honest – this was my least favorite guest speaker – by a long shot – and I think many others felt this way too. While the other speakers had been very inspirational and really knew their audience, Berry used his time more like a book talk at a library about his new book. Oh and don’t forget, he even states that he doesn’t write historical fiction – he writes modern thrillers that have some small historical thread. This time he chose to ply us with the: Queen Elizabeth died as a young woman and a man replaced her on the throne – which you can imagine went over well with this crowd. Following that, was the costume pageant hosted by the indomitable Gillian Bagwell as Lady Rivers (the fashion critic). Everyone went out of their way with the costumes and were all fabulous – but the best was the very pregnant Vestal Virgin (Teralyn Pilgrim) and the comedy that ensued was just hilarious. I stayed for some of the Late Night Sex Scenes readings but by 11 I was again exhausted and went off to bed.

vestal virgin
Winning Costume: Pregnant Vestal Virgin
Photo Credit: Heather Webb

Sunday was a quick breakfast and two more panels (there were three, but I skipped out on the last one to get packed and check out). I attended Historical Fiction: The American Experience (which I very much enjoyed since it is one of my favorite sub-genres and met author Jodi Daynard who chatted with me about her book and our mutual appreciation of Abigail Adams) as well as Foreign Language, Slang, and Dialect in Historical Fiction which I found boring but aspiring writers might have found some useful information. I think my problem was that the panelists all seemed to contradict each other.

As the official conference closed I met up with Audra, Sarah from Reading the Past, and Meg from A Bookish Affair and we had lunch and chatted about blogging, books, etc. Great fun with these ladies! Then just before I left the hotel I grabbed some gelato with Meg, Teralyn, and two others whose name I unfortunately did not get. Great experience, however bad decision for my sometimes lactose intolerance just before a plane ride. I was sad to leave behind these great friends and great fun but I know I will keep in contact with many of them online and see them again in 2015 – because barring a disaster I will be there again!!

And a couple of clean-up things:

  • I want to thank the HNS 2013 committee for deciding to have a panel about blogging – I think a lot of people really took a lot of information away from it. And I want to thank them for inviting me to be a panelist. It was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
  • If you didn’t get to go to the conference, they recorded audio of all of the sessions and you can purchase recordings online.
  • Julianne and Heather Webb both composed summaries of their topics from our panel which you can read by clicking their names above.
  • I wasn’t very good about Tweeting about the conference – there was very spotty wireless service – but Audra has compiled a summary of the conference in Tweets which you might find interesting. You can also use the hashtag #HNS2013 on Twitter to follow all the tweets from the conference.
  • Again, thank you to all the wonderful people that made this conference a wonderful experience. A special shout out to my blogging friends who made the weekend!

My HNS Badge
Photo Credit: Me

Hope you all have a great rest of your weekend!

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Thanks for a great summary for those of us who were not able to make it. I'm definitely purchasing a recording of your panel - it sounds great!

    1. I hope you find some useful information from it!

  2. Great re-cap! I loved meeting you and thought you all did an excellent job with your panel!

    1. I'm not very good at remembering the content of the panels. Last time I took lots of notes and tweeted but felt like I missed some of the fun. This time I wanted to have more fun. Glad you liked our panel!

  3. Heather, I'm really sorry I missed it this year. Hopefully we can both attend in two years so I can finally meet you!


    1. I so do hope that we can meet up! It will be awesome. Hope to see you in 2015!

  4. Your panel was excellent - I've heard many others say as much, too. The blogger lunch on Sunday was a lot of fun!

    1. Thanks Sarah! Lunch was great - I always love the little downtime activities that just spontaneously happen.

  5. Sounds and looks like you had a wonderful time! That is so awesome and to be a panelist too....excellent experience for you :)
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. It was a really awesome experience. First time I have had to really speak in front of so large a group - so it was a little intimidating, but the next time I have to it won't be so nerve-wracking!

  6. Heather, I had contemplated attending in Florida this year but thought I would absolutely roast in June! Also I was launching The Loyalist's Wife and just couldn't take on one more thing. After reading your post today, I am wondering if I made a mistake. Thanks for an upbeat informative piece!

    1. While it was rather humid the first day there, the rest of the weekend was beautiful - however we were inside for most of it in the cold air conditioning so you would have never noticed. I have found that it is a great experience for everyone involved - published authors, those with books in the works, readers, bloggers, etc. Hope you can go next time!


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