This past weekend was the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver, Colorado and I was there. My fellow writers and I arrived Thursday evening in the mile-high city and that was the last I saw of the outdoors until Sunday night when we left the hotel for a dinner out. The interim was filled with workshops, pitches, meals, speakers, coffee klatsches, and dozens of connecting conversations with authors, wannabes, editors, and agents, all united in their desire to talk about historical fiction. Fantastic.
Right out of the gate I found I had made a mistake by not signing up for the sword-fighting extra session before the conference began. My friends raved about it. I spent the time relaxing and discovered I’m not really that good at it. Live and learn. The conference began in earnest on Friday night with a lovely dinner even though we were all packed in like berries in a box and, yes, there was a bit of smushing going on. The conference had over 450 attendees, the most ever.
Saturday morning I was in the conference lobby at 6:40 a.m. to sign up for a coffee klatsch with Sharon Kay Penman (held on Sunday morning.) The next day I got there early, the room was unavailable and SKP and I stood and talked for 15 minutes. Her books have meant so much to me that I had to tell her my joy at reading them all beginning with The Sunne in Splendour. A petite and classy lady, she was delighted with my story and we talked about her other books as well as my writing. Then ten of us sat around a conference table and asked questions of this amazing and prolific writer.
Although I’m very happy being an Indie author, I had signed up to pitch two agents just to investigate the other side. I glanced across the room while I was waiting for my turn to pitch and saw three waiting pitchers sitting side by side outside an agent’s door. Their faces–indeed their whole bodies–were completely frozen in fear. I’m so glad to have reached the stage where I take these things in stride.
My session went well and I’ll have more on that in a later post.
One of the workshops I attended had Sharon Kay Penman, Margaret George and Anne Easter Smith whose treasured books are all on my shelf as mementos of fabulous reads I’ve enjoyed. Imagine a panel with all three of them discussing Damsels to the Rescue: Reviving the Male Protagonist. Ably hosted by author David Blixt of sword fighting fame (pictured below) the session was quite informative although I don’t really worry about whether my protagonists are male or female, just whether they are compelling.
My other Canadian author friends, Sally Moore, Karen Martindale, and Cryssa Bazos were at the conference, too, as well as Hana Samek Norton, who returns frequently to Canada although she now lives in the U.S. Having this group along doubled the fun as we could revel in each other’s success. We were often referred to as the Canadian contingent and one person on the elevator caught me for using the giveaway “eh” phrase. Funny.
Next week’s post will complete the HNS review with more pictures and even Diana Gabaldon. Come back and join me, please. 🙂