A Peek Behind the Curtain: Planning #HNS2025 in Las Vegas!

by Carol Cram, Marketing Chair –

Ever wondered what goes into planning the biennial Historical Novel Society North America Conference? In addition to meeting virtually throughout the years leading up to each conference, the Conference Board meets onsite in the “off” year for a three-day, info-packed and fabulous planning meeting.

To plan for the 2025 HNSNA Conference, the Conference Board met in Las Vegas in June 2024. We had an awesome time discussing all aspects of the conference with the aim of producing a stellar experience for historical novelists—aspiring, established, published, unpublished, indie, trad, and everyone in between.

In this post, I’ll share some of the many highlights of the #HNS2025 Conference Planning Meeting to give you just a taste of what you can expect when you attend the conference from June 26 to 28 at Caesars Palace in 2025.

Left to right: Mary Tilghman, Technology Chair; Christopher Cevasco, Programming Chair; Jenny Q, Conference Chair; Maryka Biaggo, Communications Chair, Mark Schutzmann, Finance Chair; Carol Cram, Marketing Chair; Susan Moynihan, Venue Chair; Michelle McGill-Vargas, Registration Chair

Arrival in Las Vegas

The eight members of the Conference Planning Board arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday evening and met with Dr. Michael Green, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who regaled us with anecdotes about the history of Las Vegas. You may be familiar with him if you watched the CNN documentary on Las Vegas that was aired in early 2024. We are thrilled to be including Dr. Green in our program for #HNS2025. He’s a fount of information.

The HNSNA Conference in 2025 is being held at Caesars Palace right smack dab in the middle of the world famous Las Vegas strip. Walk out the front door and you’re within strolling distance of some of the most iconic hotels in Las Vegas, including the Venetian, the Bellagio, Paris, the Mirage (soon to be rebranded as the Hard Rock Hotel), and a lot more.

Fountains at the Bellagio & a view of Paris Las Vegas
Caesars Palace where #HNS2025 will be held
The incredible exterior of the Sphere event venue

Las Vegas is truly like nowhere else on Earth. It’s vibrant and fun, tacky and luxurious, and, as we discovered, interesting. And as for Caesars Palace, it’s big with lots of restaurants, shops, and cool statues to admire as you navigate your way through the casino to the conference area. In 2025, conference attendees will be staying in the Palace Tower which provides quick access to the seven pools and the conference area. Stay tuned for information about our special conference rates for attendees staying at Caesars Palace for #HNS2025.

Also, a quick shoutout to the many friendly and helpful people we met who live and work in Las Vegas. From guides at the attractions we visited to Uber drivers to servers to shop assistants, people were welcoming and eager to share their attachment to this unique city.

Day One

Bright and early on Thursday morning, the Conference Planning Board met in one of the spacious rooms on Caesars Palace’s conference level. After introductions and an overview of a packed agenda for the next three days, we all went on a walkabout to check out the rooms we’ll have access to during #HNS2025.

Conference Venue

We are delighted to confirm that Caesars Palace offers great spaces for our programming, including a large banquet room, four spacious main session rooms, a beautiful, bright room for our HistFic Hub, two stylish registration areas from which we can efficiently handle conference registration, agent pitches and blue pencil sessions, a large space that will be perfect for our bookstore and author signing area, and lots more. We’re super confident that attendees will have plenty of room in which to learn, connect, and grow.

Menu Tasting

After our tour of the facility, we were treated to a menu tasting session to preview some of the amazing food that will be served during the conference. Seriously, the food was delicious. Here’s a few of the pictures I took of some of the dishes we sampled.

Claytee D. White

Before resuming our afternoon meetings, we met with Claytee D. White, another prominent Las Vegas historian from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who is an expert on Black history in the area. Claytee will be presenting at the Conference, and we know she will be a big hit. Claytee D. White also appears on the CNN documentary on Las Vegas that was aired in early 2024.

Programming for #HNS2025

We met back in the afternoon to continue our planning meeting with an in-depth discussion of the programming vision for #HNS2025. More information about programming will be coming soon, but rest assured that we are confident you’ll be as excited as we are.

The day ended with a discussion about our onsite and virtual master classes, and a preview of our very popular Hooch Through History event.

Hooch Through History

A local bartender and mixologist treated us to a spirited presentation about Vegas-themed cocktails, even providing us with a very tasty sample. We’ll have lots more information about Hooch Through History, a special, paid event that will be held on the Friday evening of the conference and is sure to sell out.

Dinner at one of Caesars Palace’s many restaurants rounded out a very full day,

Day Two

Bright and early on Friday morning, the Conference Planning Board met to discuss marketing strategies for the conference. Ideas for how to reach writers who may be interested in attending #HNS2025 were flying across the conference table, a testament to the passion and commitment of the Board members.

Make sure you’re on our mailing list so you’ll receive quarterly newsletters packed with information about #HNS2025, along with periodic eblasts informing you about key dates such as the Call for Proposals and Early Bird Registration dates.

Vegas On The Ground: Part 1

The Board split up at 10 am and went out to explore Las Vegas with the aim of providing conference goers with on-the-ground info about history-related things to see and do in Las Vegas. We all had a marvelous time, and most importantly, discovered how much interesting history is waiting to be explored in Las Vegas.

Here’s a roundup of where we visited.

Springs Preserve and State Museum

Maryka Biaggio (Communications Chair), Jenny Q (Conference Chair) and Chris Cevasco (Programming Chair) went out to the Springs Preserve and State Museum, where they spent an entertaining few hours learning about local history.

Titanic Exhibit

Carol Cram (Marketing Chair) and Mary Tilghman (Technology Chair) took off for the Luxor Hotel to visit the Titanic Exhibit. This thoughtful and well-curated exhibit was fascinating, and highly recommended for conference attendees interested in one of the world’s most deadly maritime disasters.

Mob Museum

Las Vegas and the Mob go together like, well, the Vegas strip and neon lights. Mark Schutzmann (Finance Chair), Michelle McGill-Vargas (Registration Chair) and Susan Moynihan (Venue Chair) were thoroughly entertained during their visit to the Mob Museum, that even included the opportunity to sample some moonshine.

An iceberg at the Titanic Exhibit
Moonshine at the Mob Museum
General Store at the Springs Preserve

Afternoon Meetings

Back at the hotel in the afternoon, the Board discussed options for the virtual conference, reviewed requirements for registration, and set parameters for diversity scholarships.

But the day wasn’t over yet.

Evening Event

At 6 pm, the Board piled into two Ubers and went for a group dinner at the iconic Peppermill Restaurant, a Las Vegas establishment that’s been feeding customers for over fifty years. The food was excellent.

We then visited the Neon Museum—one of the newer museums in Las Vegas. What an amazing experience! We were all blown away by an excellent guided tour of the “boneyard”, a large outdoor space packed with old neon signs. Talk about history. The stories about the signs really brought to life “Sin City’s” rich and varied past.

Sign for the Yucca Motel in Las Vegas
Neon Museum Sign
Sign for the Flamingo Hotel

Day Three

First thing in the morning, after a brief recap of our conference planning progress so far, we again split up to go explore more of Las Vegas. One thing we all agreed upon is that there is a lot to see in Las Vegas that has very little to do with the glitzy Strip. Yes, there are a wealth of hotels with jaw-dropping décor and intriguing attractions (don’t miss the Bellagio fountains for one), but there are also lots of other places to explore.

Vegas On The Ground: Part 2

Old Las Vegas Fort and Natural History Museum

Michelle and Carol visited the Old Las Vegas Fort, which was established alongside a creek by Morman missionaries in 1855. The very helpful park rangers were on hand to answer questions. After the fort, Carol and Michelle visited the Natural History Museum—a real find with rooms packed with interesting exhibits and even a small zoo.

Atomic Museum

Mark and Chris visited the Atomic Museum where they learned about the history of atomic research in the Las Vegas area. Think Oppenheimer.

Diana Exhibit

Mary checked out the Diana Exhibit, where displays chronicled the eventful life of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Walking Tour of Fremont

Susan, Jenny, and Maryka were delighted with their walking tour of downtown Las Vegas with a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide.

Room in the old Las Vegas fort
Atomic Museum
Maryka, Susan, and Jenny with the million dollars they “won” during the Walking Tour of Fremont

Afternoon Meetings

In the afternoon, the group met for one last planning session. The year ahead is going to be a very busy one for the Conference Board, but that’s okay, because enthusiasm is high.

Conclusion

Keep an eye out for more information about #HNS2025 in the coming months. If you haven’t already, make sure you are subscribed to our mailing list.

We can’t wait to meet again in 2025 to produce a conference that will entertain, inspire, and connect attendees, both onsite and virtual.

See you in 2025!

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