#HNS2023 Full Conference Program

Welcome to #HNS2023!

We are excited to present our full program for the 10th Historical Novel Society North America Conference in San Antonio, TX. Click a day to view sessions and times, or scroll down to view the entire program. View the bios of all our awesome presenters or click the link to each presenter in the session descriptions.

Please note that minor changes may be made before the conference opens. Also, one ocof the mainstage session rooms will be livestreamed on June 9 and 10 from San Antonio. Click here to view which sessions are livestreamed. All mainstage sessions will be available to view on-demand for both virtual and in-person attendees after the conference.

Are you on the fence about attending #HNS2023 Virtually or In-Person? Both are awesome options. Here’s a handy comparison of Virtual vs. In-Person. Note that In-Person Attendees can attend all Virtual sessions and purchase any In-Person or Virtual Master Class!

And if you’re ready to book, here’s information about the Marriott Rivercenter.

Click Here to Register for #HNS2023!

Conference At A Glance: A Handy PDF Guide

Conference Rates

Registration closes May 15 for In-Person and June 4 for Virtual

  • In-Person HNS Member: $589
  • In-Person Non-Member: $639
  • Virtual: $299
  • Student: $350
  • In-Person Guest (meals only): $350


Check our Frequently Asked Questions!

Full Conference Schedule

MONDAY, JUNE 5: Virtual Program

These sessions will be livestreamed into the conference app via Zoom and recorded for on-demand viewing. They are included in both virtual and in-person registration. Additional fees apply for optional master classes. (Note that conversation rooms will not be recorded.)

Monday, 9:00-10:00 AM (CT)


Jenny Quinlan

Welcome (back) to HNSNA. Join Conference Chair, Jenny Quinlan, as she takes you through what can you expect from our first hybrid HNSNA Conference. Let us provide some tips and pointers for making the most of your conference experience.

Monday, 10:00-11:30 AM (CT)

Conversation Rooms

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests—you’ve enjoyed them in the past, so we’ve brought them back! Click the topic below to read its full description.

Monday, 1:00-3:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: Social Strategy for Authors: Platforms & Online Presence, $50

Sarah Penner

Back by popular demand with an expanded edition! The HarperCollins Sales & Marketing team calls Sarah Penner a “social media whiz.” Join her for an interactive session about online social strategy for authors. We’ll cover the pros and cons of today’s most popular social media platforms, as well as establishing your brand online and website must-haves. We’ll also cover the social media content lifecycle and efficiency tools. Sarah will share tips and tricks for using Canva—arguably the most powerful marketing tech tool at an author’s disposal—and leave you with a list of 100+ social media content ideas. Bring your questions and a notebook!

*This master class will be recorded for on-demand viewing.

Monday, 3:15-4:15 PM (CT)

Featured Session: From Deadline to Timeline: What News Reporting Can Teach Historical Fiction

Glen Craney, Nancy Bilyeau, John Jeter, DeAnn Smith Stead

Journalism, it is said, is the first rough draft of history. Several bestselling historical novelists–including Robert Harris, Ken Follett, and Bernard Cornwell–have cut their teeth in newsrooms. Do the skills and experiences gained from daily journalism offer insights for researching and writing historical fiction? Our panelists worked in the news and magazine businesses before launching their careers as novelists. They will share lessons from their stints as reporters and editors and will discuss how their newsroom experiences inform how they recreate the past.

Monday, 4:30-5:30 PM (CT)

Author Spotlight: In Conversation with Vanessa Riley

Vanessa Riley

Vanessa Riley is an award-winning author of historical novels that showcase the hidden histories of Black women and women of color, emphasizing strong sisterhoods and dazzling multicultural communities. Join in to hear about her experiences writing historical fiction, historical romance, and historical mystery.

Monday, 6:00-8:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: Making Your Setting a Character $50

Susan Meissner

Every novel contains certain elements, just like a recipe is composed of certain ingredients. A story needs plot, characters, and conflict. The most memorable stories also include an evocative setting that exudes its own subtle (and sometimes not so subtle!) personality, just like a character. In this master class, we’ll look at how to endow your settings with the hallmarks of character development to add body and depth to your novel.

*This master class will be recorded for on-demand viewing.

Monday, 8:00-9:30 PM (CT)

Conversation Rooms

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests—you’ve enjoyed them in the past, so we’ve brought them back! Click the topic below to read its full description.

TUESDAY, JUNE 6: Virtual Program

These sessions will be livestreamed into the conference app via Zoom and recorded for on-demand viewing. They are included in both virtual and in-person registration. Additional fees apply for optional master classes. (Note that conversation rooms will not be recorded.)

Tuesday, 9:00-10:00 AM (CT)

Featured Session: ChatGPT: Demon or Darling?

Sarah Johnson, Katie Aiken Ritter, Noah Putnam (Moderator: Jonathan Putnam)

We’ve all heard the doomsday predictions of how AI (Artificial Intelligence) has the potential to disrupt content creation but so far, most of the talk has been hype and conjecture. Until now. The new AI software tool called ChatGPT terrifies English teachers, writers, and content generators the world over, but is it a menace, or an asset? Today’s mimeograph or 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL, poised to control and diminish the power of creative writing? From eloquent poems to full-fledged novels, ChatGPT has shown an impressive ability to tell a tale–is the tool something to be feared or like other tools, something we can use?

Learn more from a panel featuring an AI technologist, a historical fiction novelist, and a librarian/ researcher to explore how ChatGPT and other chatbot tools might affect historical fiction and other creative writing.

Tuesday, 10:00-11:30 AM (CT)

Conversation Rooms

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests—you’ve enjoyed them in the past, so we’ve brought them back! Click the topic below to read its full description.

Tuesday, 1:00-3:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: The Art of Pacing, $50

Heather Webb

Ever wonder how some authors make their novels so engrossing? Perhaps the key is simpler than it seems. Perhaps it’s all about pacing. In spite of its importance, the pace at which a story moves is often a neglected topic in craft books. In this session, unlock the mystery of perfect pacing within a scene—whether it be brisk or a delicious slow burn—as well as how pacing plays an essential part of structure for the novel as a whole.

*This master class will be recorded for on-demand viewing.

Tuesday, 3:15-4:15 PM (CT)


Melissa Danaczko and Harriette Sackler with Reader Margaret Porter

A perennial favorite, Cold Reads offers authors a real-time critique of their opening pages by two industry panelists. Submit your work for consideration or just listen in as panelists provide feedback on what works and doesn’t work for them and why. Here’s more information about how to submit your opening page to Cold Reads.

Tuesday, 4:30-5:30 PM (CT)

Author Spotlight: In Conversation with Weina Dai Randel

Weina Dai Randel

Weina Dai Randelis the author of “Night Angels,” “The Last Rose of Shanghai,” “The Moon in the Palace” and “The Empress of Bright Moon,” a historical duology about Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor. She is the winner of the RWA RITA Award and a National Jewish Book Awards finalist. Join in to hear about how she brings China’s history to life in her fiction.

Tuesday, 6:00-9:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: Creating Memorable Characters, $75

Sophfronia Scott

Writing a good work of fiction begins with wrestling with this mysterious dichotomy of character: you are giving birth to a person who is deeply a part of you—and yet is not you. If the struggle is a success, the result is a character who lives on and off the page. In this three-hour master class author Sophfronia Scott will guide an exploration of techniques for creating a powerful protagonist with a unique voice. The session will include a study of point of view—how to effectively use first person, the challenge of the second person, and understanding the tricky difference between close third person and true omniscience. What is the best way to tell your story and how do you solve the problem of making the wrong choice? We’ll discuss how to see through your character’s eyes and how that vision can affect the world you build around them.

*This master class will be recorded for on-demand viewing.

Tuesday, 8:00-9:30 PM (CT)

Conversation Rooms

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests—you’ve enjoyed them in the past, so we’ve brought them back! Click the topic below to read its full description.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7: Virtual Program

These sessions will be livestreamed into the conference app via Zoom and recorded for on-demand viewing. They are included in both virtual and in-person registration. Additional fees apply for optional master classes. (Note that conversation rooms will not be recorded.)

Wednesday, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: How to Make a Living as an Author $75

Melissa Addey

This intensive three-hour session is all about letting go of the unhelpful “starving artist in a garret” mythology so endemic in our industry and instead becoming an entrepreneurial author who can make a real income from their writing. We will challenge your working practices and create a positive action plan to move you forward in your writing career.

You will reassess what is needed to make a living as a writer and develop a new, entrepreneurial approach to your writing career. This will include:

  • Changing your author mindset and challenging your money blocks (and those of the writing industry).
  • Understand the publishing choices available to you.
  • Marketing essentials.
  • Identifying multiple sources of writing income and how best to combine these.
  • Understanding the importance of the market (and how to research elements of this).
  • Making a commitment to working in a different way that is more likely to bring you financial success.

This course is aimed at writers of historical fiction who are either close to completion of a novel or who have already published. This session is very positive and practical, we’ll cover a lot of information and you’ll go away with a whole heap of things to get done and some real aha moments!

*This master class will be recorded for on-demand viewing.

Wednesday, 10:00-11:30 AM (CT)

Conversation Rooms

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests—you’ve enjoyed them in the past, so we’ve brought them back! Click the topic below to read its full description.

Wednesday, 1:00-3:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: From Manuscript to Finished Product the Indie Way, $50

Anna Belfrage

Being an independent author requires much more than writing. Finishing your manuscript—and polishing it—is only the first step toward publication. In this master class, bestselling indie histfic author Anna Belfrage offers some insight into the rest of the journey, from formatting, the importance of covers, the dreaded blurb, considering keywords and categories, where to publish, and how to price your book baby. Along the way, we will also touch upon such things as building your author platform, social media, and promotion, and Anna will provide tips for navigating Amazon and Facebook ads, Booksy and BookBub, and blog tours.

*This master class will be recorded for on-demand viewing.

Wednesday, 3:15-4:15 PM (CT)

Featured Session: Food Pathways and How They Impacted History

Amanda Herbert

Food is such a cornerstone of our shared cultures, not just being essential to life but also because the acquisition, preparation, and eating of foodstuffs is a conduit for rituals and many an emotional moment. Looking at food pathways, though, brings to light the story behind the food we eat, whether that be how foods were supplied and transported, who was allowed to eat what and when, and even how food caused wars and slavery gives us new insights into new stories. Join historian Amanda Herbert as she shares her work studying how food has shaped the history of cultures around the world.

Wednesday, 4:30-5:30 PM (CT)

Author Spotlight: In Conversation with Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner

SUSAN MEISSNER is a USA Today bestselling author with more than three-quarters of a million books in readers’ hands and translations in eighteen languages. Her novels have been named to numerous “best of” lists, including Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Goodreads, and Real Simple magazine. Join in to hear about how her talk about what makes her fiction successful.

Wednesday, 8:00-9:30 PM (CT)

Conversation Rooms

One of the best things about a conference is meeting like-minded people who share your interests—you’ve enjoyed them in the past, so we’ve brought them back! Click the topic below to read its full description.

THURSDAY, JUNE 8: In-Person Program

These master classes and sightseeing options are available only to in-person attendees and will not be recorded. Special Guest Libbie Grant’s speech kicking off the conference at the opening reception will be livestreamed for virtual attendees and recorded for on-demand viewing.

June 8 to June 11

River Walk Scavenger Hunt Challenge, Free

Participants will be grouped into small teams to complete the challenge at their leisure. Get to know your fellow attendees and make new friends while exploring the River Walk near the conference hotel to find the items on your list. There will be a prize for the first team to complete the challenge, and we will hold a random drawing for another prize after the conference from all teams who complete the challenge. Participants will receive instructions and group assignments prior to the conference.

Thursday, 8:00-9:30 AM (CT)

Historic Walking Tour, $10

Vincent Michael

Join Dr. Vincent Michael, Executive Director of the San Antonio Conservation Society, on a walking tour through downtown San Antonio. Learn about the River Walk, Alamo Plaza, and San Antonio’s collection of historic buildings, artwork, and scenic views. Though this tour has been scheduled to avoid the worst of the Texas heat, it may still be very warm at this time of day. Wear lightweight clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Bottled water will be provided. Meet in the Marriott Rivercenter lobby. The group will depart promptly at 8:00am. Space is limited to 20 participants.

Thursday, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: Take Off Your Pants!, $75 – Salon J

Libbie Grant

Back by popular demand! If you missed out on this class at the HNS2021 virtual conference, here’s your chance to experience it in-person! In this three-hour outlining master class, Libbie Grant guides you through the entire process of outlining a novel, from loose idea to fully structured story arc ready to be written. Come with a general concept for your own novel, such as an idea, a historical figure, or an event, but clearly defined characters and storylines aren’t necessary. Libbie will show you how to construct a cohesive, compelling, tightly paced novel around a vague concept using the method set forth in her bestselling how-to book Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. Have your laptop or notebook ready! Space is limited to 50 participants.

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: James Scott Bell’s Story Grinder, $75 – Salon K/L

James Scott Bell

It’s time to put your manuscript or idea through its paces. Because competent fiction is not enough in today’s expanding market. We have to write books that are not merely good—they have to be unforgettable.

In this workshop, James Scott Bell will guide you through deepening and widening your book so it turns browsers into readers and readers into fans. You’ll learn:

• What every great plot is about

• Power principles of structure (that even pantsers will love!)

• The keys to unforgettable characters

• Creating momentum through page-turning scenes

• The breakthrough secret of “writing from the middle”

And more. Come prepared with a project and be ready to do some writing. Space is limited to 50 participants.

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: Blacksmithing Workshop with Volundr Forge, $170

J. Alex Ruiz & Tobin Nieto

Ever wanted to try your hand at smithing? Well now is your chance—it’s gonna be on FIRE! Get hands-on with a historical trade in this three-hour blacksmithing workshop taught by two History Channel Forged in Fire champions! Alex Ruiz and Tobin Nieto are true history buffs who will lead students through the forging process from start to finish to create a custom bottle opener from a block of steel while describing different historical tools and techniques and answering all of your questions about the historical role of the blacksmith. And you get to take your bottle opener home with you as a fabulous and functional memento! No previous experience or special physical requirements are needed. Anyone can participate. Wear natural-fiber clothing (cotton, linen, etc.) and closed-toe shoes. Safety equipment and bottled water will be provided. Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver.

Meet in the Marriott Rivercenter lobby at 8:30am. The group will leave for the forge promptly at 8:40 am. Space is limited to 16 participants.

J. ALEX RUIZ made his first home forge in 2015 and was featured in Blade Magazine before going on to compete on Forged in Fire and winning season five episode fourteen: “The Horseman’s Axe.” He has been commissioned to make many historical replicas by various organizations, most recently by the Alamo. He enjoys teaching, demonstrating, competing, making friends, and having fun with this hobby.

TOBIN NIETO has 20 years’ experience in bladesmithing and weapons making. Tobin was the winner of Forged in Fire season two episode eight: “The Pirate Cutlass.” A student of the Neo-Tribal Metalsmiths Movement, Tobin attempts to forge all his creations with just a hammer, fire, and minimal hand tools. His philosophy on forging can be best summed up as “You don’t need a lot to do a lot.”

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: How to Turn a Real Person into a Fictional One, $50 – Salon M

Margaret George

The task of a historical novel is to breathe life into people known only secondhand, by biographical facts. And since they are long gone, there is no chance of sitting down to interview them. Your challenge is to meet them through research and translate that into three-dimensional characters.  

Sometimes there are too many facts, sometimes too few. It is never easy. The trick is knowing what to include and what to leave out, when to start and when to stop, how to bridge gaps in research, and how to translate what you have found into thoughts, dialogue, and actions that ring true to their personalities.  

A major pitfall for avid researchers is forgetting this is a novel, not a biography or an essay, and it must follow the rules of fiction in order to succeed. The research should never overwhelm the story. Together, let’s explore the best ways to shape the story so it captures the time and people you want to bring to life. Space is limited to 50 participants.

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 1:00-2:30 PM (CT)

Briscoe Western Art Museum Guided Tour, $10

Through the preservation of the art, history, and culture of the American West, the Briscoe Western Art Museum inspires and educates the public with engaging exhibitions, educational programs, and public events reflective of the region’s rich traditions and shared heritage. Join your fellow attendees on a docent-led 90-minute tour of this fascinating museum located two short blocks from the conference hotel. Meet in the Marriott Rivercenter lobby. The group will depart promptly at 12:50pm to make the short walk to the museum. Space is limited to 50 participants.

Thursday, 2:00-5:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: The Last Revision Plan You’ll Ever Need: A Comprehensive Roadmap to Revising a Manuscript, $75 – Salon J

Sarah Penner

If there’s anything more intimidating than drafting a novel, it’s revising that first, messy draft. Join Sarah Penner in this 3-hour comprehensive session covering revision techniques. We’ll first cover approaches to a revision, including focus areas for each draft of a manuscript. We’ll talk through high-level story edits, including characterization and key story beats. Then we’ll drill down and discuss missing, misplaced, or unneeded scenes; character arcs; incorporating backstory via in-scene “anchors”; and scene teardown and reconstruction. Lastly, we’ll cover special considerations for historical fiction authors, including revising a dual-timeline novel. Attendees will leave with a helpful “revision roadmap” handout. Space is limited to 50 participants.

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 2:00-5:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: How to Write a Bestseller, $75 – Salon K/L

Libbie Grant

Libbie Grant, who also writes under the pen name Olivia Hawker, is the author of more than 20 historical novels, several of which have been bestsellers. In this three-hour master class, Libbie will teach you how to increase your odds of hitting the lists by planning your books from start to finish with bestsellers’ features built right into the plot, characters, setting, and prose. You’ll learn how to read market trends and the current sociopolitical environment; how to analyze the most popular books to find their similarities; how to determine the “sweet spot” between what you want to write and what’s selling; how to develop a great hook; and how to make your writing stand out from the crowd by adding a little polish to your prose. Space is limited to 50 participants.

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 3:00-5:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: Blacksmithing Workshop with Caylor Forge, $120


Get hands-on with a historical trade in this two-hour blacksmithing workshop. Students will start by learning the basics as they forge a “pigtail” BBQ flipper and then will move on to a second project (time permitting). Options include copper bracelets, bottle openers, and even a small knife among others. No previous experience or special physical requirements are needed. Anyone can participate. Wear natural fiber clothing (cotton, linen, etc.) and closed-toe shoes. Safety equipment and bottled water will be provided. Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver.

Meet in the Marriott Rivercenter lobby at 2:30pm. The group will leave for the forge promptly at 2:40pm. Space is limited to 16 participants.

CAYLOR FORGE is a family-run business with Chad, an army veteran, Marilyn, a counselor, and their children forging, instructing, and running a nonprofit, Reforged, dedicated to helping veterans and first responders with PTSD. Caylor Forge specializes in using recycled and reclaimed materials to make beautiful heirloom-quality works of art. Their store is full of one-of-a-kind pieces forged by the veterans in the program and other local artisans.

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 3:00-5:00 PM (CT)

Master Class: How to Get Out of the Slush Pile, $50 – Salon M

Danielle Egan-Miller & Mitchell Waters

In this master class, literary agents Danielle Egan-Miller and Mitchell Waters will give attendees tips for queries that stand out in a crowd. We will cover such topics as:

•     High concept, hooks, comp titles, word count, genre labels, and keywords

•     Query letter elements and dos and dont’s

•     A checklist of what agents are looking for in your opening pages

•     Elevator pitches, taglines, and tips for pitching in-person

Space is limited to 50 participants.

*This master class WILL NOT be recorded. In-Person attendance only.

Thursday, 5:30-6:30 PM (CT)

First Timers Orientation – Salon G

Not all writers’ conferences are the same! Learn what to expect at an HNSNA Conference and let us provide some tips and pointers for making the most of your conference experience. In-Person Only.

Thursday, 7:00-8:30 PM (CT)

Opening Reception with Special Guest Libbie Grant – Banquet Salon H

Sponsored by The Better-Faster Academy with Becca Syme

We’re back live and ready to connect. Meet and mingle with current colleagues and make new friends and hear remarks from special guest Libbie Grant, bestselling author of historical and literary fiction. We promise it will be a blast!

Libbie is a Washington Post bestseller and a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Willa Literary Award for Historical Fiction. Her work has been translated into six languages; her most recent, One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Willa Literary Award, and was among Amazon’s top 100 bestselling titles of the year in 2020. She lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband Paul and several naughty cats.

FRIDAY, JUNE 9: In-Person/Virtual Program

One room of mainstage sessions will be livestreamed each day from 8am to 5pm for virtual attendees and all mainstage sessions will be recorded for on-demand viewing for both in-person and virtual attendees. Special guest speeches will be livestreamed and recorded. Cozy Chats, after-hours programming, and social events will not be livestreamed or recorded.

BREAKFAST, 7:00-8:00

Friday, 8:00-9:00 AM (CT)

Six Key Decisions in Crafting Dual/Multiple Timeline Novels – Salon I

Tori Whitaker, Denny S. Bryce, Kimberly Brock

Authors who write dual/multiple timeline novels say they often “pull their hair out” with so many moving parts. Decision points include identifying the trigger that propels a story from present to past; deciding where to start and end the story; establishing the sequence of alternating chapters; determining main characters’ point of view, which can vary by storyline; figuring out how best to weave in bits of information—be it through real-time scenes, news clips, diaries, or memories; and grappling with not one, but three, story arcs. Presenters will explore the behind-the-scenes decisions made by many bestselling writers in structuring such novels.

Salty Sources for Seafaring Settings: Researching your Pirate Novel (or Any Story Set at Sea or Along the Coast) – Salon M

Mary Malloy

Will your heroine sail on a schooner, ship, brig or bark? Seafaring trades are among the best-documented historical industries in English-speaking countries and there is a wealth of material to underpin your descriptions of life onboard a ship or in a seaport. The use of correct nautical terminology, and a background context that shows an understanding of how ships work, how ports developed, and what the jobs were of characters in maritime-related businesses, will add spice and veracity to your novel. Mary Malloy will introduce online data bases and finding aids to inform your research into maritime topics.

Page-Turning Secrets of the Pros – Salon G

James Scott Bell

Every novel needs that page-turning momentum because the alternative is a book where readers don’t care what happens next. In this workshop, you’ll learn what pro writers do to keep readers hooked and wanting—needing—to turn the page. From the foundations of a character facing death stakes to the secrets of organic action with no dull parts, this session will give you a tool belt of techniques that you can use for your novel. Because no novelist wants a reader setting their book aside!    

Reading Your Work Before an Audience – Salon J

Joyce Wagner

We’ve all seen it, the author who fidgets, rocks, and mumbles while reading their work aloud. Worse, the writer who, when the subject arises, declares unconditionally, “I could never do that.”

We need to. It’s an important skill for a serious writer.

Undoubtedly, the reluctance on the part of most writers stems from fear. In this workshop we’ll discuss strategies for building confidence and conquering that fear. We’ll talk about preparation, presentation, and formatting your work for easy reading. We’ll experiment with painless exercises to get you up to that lectern. Finally, we’ll explore further resources to continue your journey.

COZY CHAT: Unexpected Allies: Benefits of Genealogist/Historical Novelist Interaction for Research, Storytelling and Readership – Histfic Hub

Mary Smathers

Mary Smathers made a mid-career pivot to writing fiction. During that journey, she discovered that genealogists can be an excellent resource for research techniques. Passionate about history, they too love uncovering stories from the past. By reaching out to genealogy groups, centers, local experts, and online resources, historical novelists can uncover new tools and reach additional readers. Join Mary in a discussion on how interacting with genealogists can enhance your work.

In-Person Only

Friday 9:15-10:15, 10:30-11:30, 1:30-2:30, 2:45-3:45 (CT)

Pitches – Conference Room 16 & 17

Various Agents and Editors

Registrants who have signed up for pitches should report to pitch waiting room (CR 18) 10 minutes before their pitch.

Friday, 9:15-10:15 AM (CT)

Storytelling in the Digital Age: Getting Your Book Into Audio

Traci Odom, Raquel Beattie, Gregory Salinas, Shamaan Casey – Salon I

Audiobooks immerse the reader / listener in a book, transporting them to the time and place the author created. Audiobooks combine the art of oral storytelling with technology, using a human voice to draw the listener in. Audiobook revenue in 2021 was $1.6 Billion, a 25% increase over 2020. For an author, producing and distributing an audiobook can seem a daunting task. We’d like to help you get a piece of that billion dollar pie and take you through the process to make it a great experience. Panelists are all proud members of the Professional Audiobook Narrators Association (PANA).

Writing Desire: Sex and the Historical Woman – Salon J

Julie Gerstenblatt, Heather Webb, Laura Lico Albanese

Women’s intimate lives have long been considered taboo and have remained behind closed doors on the historical record. In fact, during nearly every era, heroines have been punished for acting on their desires. In this session, discuss how today’s historical novelist may restore female desire and sexuality to the narrative in vivid, realistic, and period-appropriate detail that will satisfy 21st Century readers.

World War II Fiction: The Lesser-Trod Corners and Characters – Salon M

Maryka Biaggio, Suzanne Parry

Historical fiction about World War II shows remarkable staying power. Although a majority of novels focus on well-known wartime events or famous historical figures, stories of unique episodes and unknown characters are an important way to keep the era fresh and interesting. Two authors of novels from the untrammeled corners of World War II will discuss how to find off-the-beaten path stories and characters, how to research less well-known people and places, and the unique challenges and choices in the writing process for both those approaches.


Danielle Egan-Miller and Amelia Hester with Reader Brook Allen

A perennial favorite, Cold Reads offers authors a real-time critique of their opening pages by two industry panelists. Submit your work for consideration or just listen in as panelists provide feedback on what works and doesn’t work for them and why. Here’s more information about how to submit your opening page to Cold Reads.danielleeganmillerA perennial favorite, Cold Reads offers authors a real-time critique of their opening pages by two industry panelists. Submit your work for consideration or just listen in as panelists provide feedback on what works and doesn’t work for them and why. Here’s more information about how to submit your opening page to Cold Reads.

COZY CHAT: Writing About Times Your Readers Have Lived Through – Histfic Hub

Heather Moore

Historical fiction is largely understood to be writing about events and settings that are at least fifty years in the past. There was a time when the average lifespan was a lot less than that period, but as we live longer and reach broader audiences, we have to contend with the realities of writing about times readers lived through. Need a gut check? Remember the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr? The Beatles disbanding? How about Nixon visiting China? All of these are fair game for histfic and we want to talk about how that feels. Join us to explore the pros and perils of writing about times your readers remember.

In-Person Only

Friday: 10:30-11:30, 2:45-3:45 (CT)

Query Critique Groups – Conference Room 3

Various Agents and Editors

Registrants who have signed up for query critique groups should bring 8 hard copies of their query letter to the session.

Friday, 10:30-11:30 AM (CT)

Storytelling in the 21st Century – Salon I

Libbie Grant

As technology advances, the ways we consume story are changing. Books are no longer the only game in town—and that means new opportunities for writers to build their audiences, share their ideas, and earn a living from the stories they create. Bestselling author and narrative podcaster Libbie Grant presents exciting new avenues for storytelling, exploring the possibilities of short films, live streaming, web novels, podcasts, audio dramas, and more. Libbie will also look to the near future to discuss how modern writers might utilize emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality to grow beyond the boundaries of the printed word.

Writing About Medieval or Renaissance Europe? Where have all the Muslims gone? Exploring Resources That Will Help You Depict These Critical Eras in a Less Euro-Centric Light – Salon M

Karima Alavi

What did China, India, Persia, and Iraq have to do with the European Renaissance? Just how “European” was the Renaissance? Let’s explore how Medieval scholarship from the east traveled along trade routes to Andalusian Spain where Muslim, Jewish and Christian scholars examined scientific, religious, and medical manuscripts filled with new knowledge and ideas that would challenge and change the European world-view forever. The speaker will share resources that enable authors to present the Renaissance as the Afro-Eurasian event that it truly was.

Navigating the World of Copyright  – Salon G

Emily Lanza

This session will provide strategies for navigating the world of copyright in the United States and abroad. Copyright underpins all parts of the writing process from research to publication. Therefore, an understanding of the global copyright ecosystem assists with maneuvering around the many national copyright regimes as creative works are disseminated throughout the world. As historical novelists in particular encounter a wide range of copyright issues, this session will begin with a foundational knowledge of U.S. and foreign copyright law and then will explore these principles through their application to real-life scenarios.

Supercharge Your Author Event! – The Power of Teaming Up – Salon J

Amanda Skenandore, Connie Hertzberg Mayo

Wouldn’t it be nice if books sold themselves? Until that day, we need to get out there, and author events can be tough. But there are ways to make them less stressful, more enjoyable, and more effective. Come learn from two authors who teamed up to multiply their impact. You will hear practical advice on how to find an event partner, collaborate, set expectations, choose venues, and more. Time and attendance allowing, attendees will form breakout groups to explore these strategies with potential partners. With the right partner, you can create more engaging events and reach more readers.

COZY CHAT: Debuting Debut Authors – Histfic Hub

Constance Hays Matsumoto

Publishing a novel has changed so much since we last met in person in 2019. Longtime authors know how hard it is to launch a new book when they already have readers from past works. What does the experience look like when this book you’re launching is your very first? Is the writing process different? The editing? What does marketing even look like in this brave new world? Join attendees who have recently published or are about to publish their debut novel to explore and celebrate the personal successes of today’s debut authors and learn what to do and not to do!

In-Person Only

LUNCH, 11:30-12:30

Friday, 12:30-1:15 PM (CT)

Meet Special Guest James Scott Bell – Banquet Salon H

Join us for post-lunch remarks from James Scott Bell, bestselling thriller writer, a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award, and the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure (Writer’s Digest Books). 

Jim has taught writing at Pepperdine University and at writers’ conferences in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied writing with Raymond Carver, and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California Law Center.

Friday, 1:30-2:30 PM (CT)                                                                

When Did That Happen? Navigating Your Novel Through the Sea of Time – Salon J

Sophfronia Scott

According to author Joan Silber, “The end point of a story determines its meaning, and one of the main tasks a writer faces is to define the duration of a plot.” That task, whether you’re writing the story of an hour or the epic of a generation, can determine whether your narrative sails to the shore or sinks under the weight of confusion. We get to control time in the writing of our narratives, and that allows us to control matters of structure, tension, intention, and mood. In this talk, we’ll look at how time supports the telling of your story and examine the various ways to develop the motion of time in your fiction.

Reaching Readers Directly: What’s Working Now to Engage Readers of Historical Fiction – Salon M

Laura Morelli, Crystal King

In today’s rapidly evolving publishing environment, it’s more critical than ever for authors to engage their readers directly. But with so many options, tools, and changes, it’s difficult to know where to focus your attention as an author—or if your efforts will work. In this strategy-focused conversation, Laura Morelli and Crystal King discuss what’s working right now—from social media, to advertising, email newsletters and business strategies pulled from other industries—to find the right audience for your books and engage new readers in the world of historical fiction.

Just the Facts, Ma’am: What To Do When the Facts are Poorly Known – Salon G

G. M. Baker, Addison Armstrong, Judith Starkston, Moderator: Mary (M.K.)Tod

Inspiration for a new historical novel can strike in a variety of different ways, but that is almost always the start of a much longer journey researching the historical record. Frustratingly, that record is often sparse or doesn’t represent the totality of what may have happened in the past. What do you do when you know you have to make up what isn’t available and how do you ensure it’s still plausible? Join a panel of historical novelists in discussing strategies for telling a compelling and believable tale when all of the facts just aren’t there.

The Layer Cake Method of Revising Your Novel – Salon I

Robin Henry

Revision is a treacherous business with many twists and turns. It is easy to get bogged down in copy editing your work and not notice the larger structural changes and character development that will make it shine. Kind of like when Paul Hollywood says it looks great, but your flavors are all wrong… In this session we will discuss a method of revision that consists of five layers, beginning with big picture foundations, and moving through polishing. The five layers are: Structure, Intention, Character, Seed Planting, and Details.

COZY CHAT: Telling a Richer Tale Through Ensemble Casts – Histfic Hub

Libbie Grant

We are all familiar with plotting a novel using the standard hero’s journey. Tales of an intrepid hero/ine facing obstacles, recruiting allies, and facing adversity to claw out a win can make for a sweeping tale. So, too, though, are stories when there are multiple heroes, and frankly, much of history tends to be less about individual protagonists and more about a confluence of people, motives, and events. Join award-winning author Libbie Grant as she moderates a discussion on how ensemble casts work best and what happens when they don’t.

In-Person Only

Friday, 2:45-3:45 PM (CT)

Fact, Fiction, and Faith: Where Folklore, Culture, Religion, and History Intersect – Salon G

Nicole Evelina, Elizabeth Bell, Susan McDuffie

Riveting historical fiction resonates with readers because of traits that transcend a fast-moving plot or a marketable era. This indefinable “something” connects us to deeper aspects of the human psyche and the essentials that give purpose to human life. Cultural beliefs, myths, folklore, spirituality, and religious faith are some of these factors. Three historical fiction authors, who have published more than a dozen novels, will explore the intersection of these themes to show how these deeper nuances and levels of characterization create vibrant characters and how their actions can bring both reader and writer to a deeper understanding of themselves.

Historical Fiction Revolving Around Real-Life Crimes – Salon I

Nancy Bilyeau, Mariah Fredericks, Karen Odden, Weina Dai Randel

Whether it’s tragedies like the Lindbergh kidnapping, famous unsolved murders such as the Whitechapel slayings, the actions of Prohibition’s most notorious gangsters, or war crimes committed by the Nazis, these are events and people seared into the collective memory of many readers. This gives a historical novel or mystery a strong hook while imbuing the story with inherent drama and conflict. It also presents several challenges in creating new characters alongside real-life figures, finding a fresh point of view, doing needed research, and exploring subtler emotions. This panel can reveal how authors find a story and chart their course.

Getting Historical Language Right—But Not Too Right – Salon M

Annette Lyon

How do you walk the line between having your language be 100% accurate historically, something that inevitably bogs down the story, and writing what feels realistic even if it isn’t technically accurate? How to avoid slips like a pirate saying, “He pushes my buttons” way before computers existed, or a hero saying, “You’re on the right track” before trains were invented? Such errors are super easy to make. Learn how to avoid–and use–anachronistic language so your story and characters pop off the page instead of bumping the reader out of it.

Marketing Historical Fiction. Tell Me a Story: Defining Your Brand and Reaching Your Readers – Salon J

Joy Callaway, Adele Myers

Stories are what connect us. Stories compel us to learn more, to better ourselves, to reach others. Though most of us are storytellers, perhaps we don’t realize that we’re telling a story through our marketing and publicity efforts, too. Craft a compelling narrative and a reader won’t be able to resist opening the cover and diving into your novel. In this educational session, veteran marketers and best-selling authors Joy Callaway and Adele Myers will share approaches they’ve used with Fortune 500 companies to help you define your brand and reach your readers.

COZY CHAT: Why Historical Novels Are Important in Today’s World – Histfic Hub

Margaret George

Historical novels are the oldest form of storytelling about history, and until pretty recently, this art form had the field all to itself. But we now share the stage with cinema and TV—and not always peaceably. Since visual art is so accessible, as opposed to books that take a while to read, many people get their history through movies and miniseries. Unfortunately, often the history is really off base, but that’s what becomes fixed in people’s minds. Film is generated to be user friendly and easily consumed. That means action, contrived conflicts, and costumes rather than nuanced or subtle storytelling. Let’s talk about why it’s so important that historical novels offer a counterbalance to the mass popular entertainment versions of history.

In-Person Only

Friday, 4:00-5:00 PM (CT)

Toil and Trouble: The Witch in Historical Fiction – Salon I

Alyssa Palombo, Paulette Kennedy, Constance Sayers

Sometimes maligned and sometimes celebrated, witches are a popular subject in fiction of all genres, historical fiction included. Usually women and often targets of persecution, witches can be a powerful figure through which to explore themes of oppression, ostracization, female power, and reclaiming narratives. Join Paulette Kennedy, Alyssa Palombo, and Constance Sayers for a discussion on this fascinating topic. The authors will cover craft items such as how to place witches properly in a historical context as well as marketing considerations such as blurring the line between historical fiction and fantasy (and how far is too far with genre-bending).

Beyond Gatsby: Researching and Writing New Perspectives in the Jazz Age – Salon G

Denny S. Bryce, Tori Whitaker, Liza Nash Taylor

The Roaring Twenties lives in the American imagination as a never-ending party for the rich and glamorous. But what if you want to write about characters who wouldn’t be found in a Fitzgerald novel? Where do you go to learn about the people that history books—and famous fiction of the era—often overlook? Join us as we discuss the processes of researching and authentically writing about new perspectives from the Jazz Age, including the Black, queer, and working-class folks who lived, loved, and danced the Charleston.

Podcasting & You: Why and How to Start a Literary Podcast – Salon J

Carol M. Cram, Diana Giovinazzo

Learn how to create a podcast to build your brand and network with other authors, and how to connect with podcasters to talk about your novel. In this practical session, you’ll explore why podcasting is an awesome marketing and networking tool for the historical novelist, and then learn how to create, upload, and distribute a literary podcast. Come away with a plan to become an author-podcaster.

Weaving Fact and Fiction – Salon M

Madeline Martin, Elise Hooper, Noelle Salazar

Combining fictional characters with real-life historical events can offer the best of both worlds for authors and readers alike. It’s a pairing that allows for imagination and creativity while also offering the opportunity to capitalize on history’s most fascinating and dynamic moments. But knowing how much fact to add and how to make fiction seem real can be a tricky terrain to navigate. Join acclaimed authors Madeline Martin, Noelle Salazar, and Elise Hooper as they discuss their experience with tackling these challenges and others in crafting historical fiction.

COZY CHAT: Let’s Talk About Indie Publishing – Histfic Hub

Donna Alward

Historical fiction has finally joined other genres in accepting works that have been shut out of traditional publishing houses. It’s time to go beyond talking about why indie published books can be the best read you will encounter this year and talk about how to make your indie-published book that read. Let’s talk about topics and setting that readers want even if traditional publishing houses don’t; let’s talk about how to reach those readers; let’s talk about how to get reviews and cover quotes and the best award competitions.

In-Person Only

Friday, 5:30-7:00 PM (CT)

Hooch Through History: A Celebration of North America, $75 – Banquet Salon H

This year, the HNS North American Conference celebrates its 10th conference. What better way to celebrate than a special Hooch Through History event celebrating unusual and fun drinks from North American history? From the berry-based libations of the Creek and Cherokee tribes to the fanciful drinks of the Colonial era to the more “prickly” concoctions originating in Texas and Mexico, you will experience the most unique tasting of your life. The spirit samplings offered will be combined with brief historical descriptions, recipes, and the chance to wow the rest of the room with your own knowledge as we present a Hooch Trivia game. Only 100 seats available. This popular event sells out quickly so make your reservation today.

Please note that drinks and snacks provided in this event are not guaranteed to meet any specific dietary restrictions (dairy, nut, gluten, etc.). Only available for attendees 21 and over.

In-Person Only

Friday, 7:00-8:00 PM (CT)

Private After-Hours Tour of the Alamo, $65

Tour the Alamo without the crowds! The former mission now known as the Alamo has been a crossroads of history. Having existed under five flags of independent nations and served as a garrison for five different armies, the Alamo has a rich 300-year-old history and a heritage to inspire. The Alamo is the most visited site in Texas, but you can retrace the footsteps of the past in the solitude of an after-hours tour with your fellow conference attendees. Your exclusive private visit will include a personalized tour of the Church and the Alamo Exhibit with Alamo historians after normal operating hours. Meet in the Marriott Rivercenter lobby. The group will depart promptly at 6:45pm to make the short walk to the Alamo. Space is limited to 60 participants.

In-Person Only

Friday, 7:30-8:30 PM (CT)

AFTER HOURS: Cozy Chat with Lisa Wingate – Histfic Hub

“Each story begins with an inspiration from life, and after that, the writing is a journey of discovery. I never know where the story will go, or how it will end, or who the characters will become until the last words are written, though as a writer and as a person, my heart always goes to happy endings. So many of today’s sound bites are sensational, and awful, and when you take in all of those things, it is easy to lose faith in the world and in the goodness of people. I want to create books that are not only entertaining, but life affirming. I think we are all called to add something good to the world, to inspire and uplift, to add our colors to the canvas.” –Lisa Wingate

Join #1 New York Times Bestselling author Lisa Wingate for a free-flowing conversation on writing stories that uplift and inspire, even when the subject matter involves darker themes or periods of history. Let’s talk about writing stories of families, friendship, and community, grief, loss, and spirituality, and about what inspires us and how we can in turn inspire others with our stories.

In-Person Only

Friday, 9:00-11:00 PM (CT)

History After Dark: Salacious Stories – Histfic Hub

With Co-host Jamie Ford

Author readings are always a fun time and what better way to pass the night than hearing the latest work from your fellow authors! Dial up the heat with lust, love, and everything lurid. Or move us with murder, share us your spookiness, add a touch of mystery to our night. History After Dark invites you to share your work out loud. Grab your stabbiest sexiest scenes–we’re ready and waiting!

In-Person Only

SATURDAY, JUNE 10: In-Person/Virtual Program

One room of mainstage sessions will be livestreamed each day from 8am to 5pm for virtual attendees and all mainstage sessions will be recorded for on-demand viewing for both in-person and virtual attendees. Special guest speeches will be livestreamed and recorded. Cozy Chats, after-hours programming, and social events will not be livestreamed or recorded.

BREAKFAST, 7:00-8:00

Saturday, 8:00-9:00 AM (CT)

State of the State: Publishing in All Its Forms – Banquet Salon H

Amy Durant, Shannon Hassan, Marcy Posner, Mitchell Waters

The publishing world has gone through massive changes, and we want to check the pulse of the industry. Join our industry guests for a lively conversation about what’s new and what’s not in traditional publication. Indie-pubbed authors may also find some valuable insights and takeaways on trends in the industry.

Saturday, 9:15-10:15, 10:30-11:30, 1:30-2:30, 2:45-3:45 (CT)

Pitches – Conference Rooms 16 & 17

Various Agents and Editors

Registrants who have signed up for pitches should report to pitch waiting room (CR 18) 10 minutes before their pitch.

Saturday, 9:15-10:15, 2:45-3:45 (CT)

Query Critique Groups – Conference Room 3

Various Agents and Editors

Registrants who have signed up for query critique groups should bring 8 hard copies of their query letter to the session.

Saturday, 9:15-10:15 AM (CT)

The Dual Timeline Novel: Artifacts As Inspiration – Salon J

Meredith Jaeger

Dual-Timeline historical novels continue to sell because they have their own special magic. In this presentation, I’ll examine the structures of popular dual-timeline novels like The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner, The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor, The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis, A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner, and more. By starting with the discovery of an artifact, such as an eighteenth-century apothecary bottle, a rare vintage stamp, a painting or a scarf, a present-day protagonist can unravel a mystery from the past. With real-life discoveries like “Jewelry of the Titanic” or “An Untouched Parisian Apartment,” inspiration is everywhere.

Are You For REEL? – How Authors Can Use Visuals & Reels to Spice Up Their Social Streams and Newsletters – Salon G

Eliza Knight, Vanessa Riley, Madeline Martin

Join bestselling authors for a fun and interactive panel on creating engaging, interactive content. Whether you’re traditionally or indie published, writers are required to market their books in fresh and unique ways that will draw viral attention. In this workshop we’re going to explore: Creating Images and Reels that grab a reader’s attention for various Social Streams; Adding visuals for fresh Newsletter Content and Goodreads connections; organic visibility on your social media platforms using images and videos. Be prepared to leave this session with a bucket full of inspiring and interactive new ideas to increase you and your books’ visibility.

 Potions, Pills and Poppies: How to Ease Your Character’s Pain or Put Them Out of Their Misery – Salon M

Georgie Blalock

19th century developments in pharmacology and chemistry ushered in the era of pain-free surgery and true pain relief. Until then, there wasn’t much a person could do to ease their aches and pains or endure surgery. This workshop explains the history of anesthetics and pain relief from ancient times until World War II. Firsthand accounts from medical practitioners and their patients detail how our ancestors dealt with pain and pain relief. Historical writers will learn how to create believable treatments for their characters that possess the flavor of the era while balancing reader expectation with historical accuracy.

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue – Salon I

James Scott Bell

Dialogue is the fastest way to improve any manuscript. You may know the fundamentals of how to write fiction. You may be more than competent in plot, structure, and characters. But if your dialogue is dull, it will drag the whole story down. On the other hand, if your dialogue is crisp and full of tension, it immediately grabs the reader. And if that reader is an agent or editor, sharp dialogue will create instant assurance that you know what you’re doing as a writer. The good news is, the secrets of dialogue craft are easy to understand and put into practice. In this workshop, you’ll learn tips and techniques for “fiction talk” that you can instantly apply.

COZY CHAT: Authors & Libraries: There’s More Than Getting Your Book on a Shelf – Histfic Hub

Janis Robinson Daly

Not all readers will buy your book. But your book on a library shelf can help you reach more readers. An author event at libraries, however, offers several benefits to expand your readership. Join debut novelist Janis Robinson Daly in a discussion of why library directors actively seek out author events for their communities and how authors can leverage those events for marketing activities to create awareness, demand, expanded mailing lists and compelling social media content, while achieving incremental earnings.

In-Person Only

Saturday, 10:30-11:30 AM (CT)

Who Are You: A Historian Writing Fiction or a Historical Fiction Author? – Salon J

Margaret George, Jamie Ford, Lisa Wingate, Alan Winter, Moderator: M.K. (Mary) Tod

It’s an often-quoted observation that history is written by the victors. In fact, history is actually written by those who have the desire and ability to capture an event for others to hear, read, and share. But what happens when scholarship exposes untruths in so-called primary sources, or worse, is censored? When can you embellish on what is known, and when should you absolutely stick to provable facts? Can you give a well-known historical figure unique foibles? Add her to a meeting she isn’t known to have been at? Join a panel of award-winning authors as they share their perspectives on this thorny issue all historical fiction writers must grapple with.

Putting the Arts at the Heart of Historical Fiction – Salon G

Laura Morelli, Carol M. Cram

Historical novels centered around the arts have long been reader favorites. For the historical novelist, the arts can be a fantastic source of information and inspiration, as much a primary source as the written word. How can a painting, a music composition, a play, a dress, or even a dance support character development, setting, and story? Art in Fiction creator Carol M. Cram and art historian Laura Morelli, both authors of several novels centered around the arts, chat about how to put the arts at the center of your next book project.

 Make Sure Your Website Wins Readers and Sells Books – Salon J

Tema Frank

Covid taught us that in-person book marketing opportunities can vanish in an instant. Even social media sites can implode or hide your content. Now more than ever, having a great website is crucial for all authors, even those who haven’t published yet. Yet too many writers still make basic mistakes that turn off potential readers and lose sales. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to put together an effective website. This practical talk will discuss the most important elements of a good author websites, and the most common mistakes to avoid. Tema Frank speaks internationally on website user experience.

Feasting on History: Using the Power of Food to Enhance Your Fiction – Salon M

Crystal King

We live in a world of “foodie” culture, where culinary adventurers are looking for interesting new journeys for their taste buds. You can take advantage of this trend in your own writing, bringing food onto the page in compelling ways that can evoke strong emotions in your readers, whether or not food is a central theme in your writing. Food is crucial to our lives, our relationships, our religions, and even our politics. In this session, we’ll examine how you can use food to create a sense of authenticity and depth in the portrayal of historical settings and characters.

COZY CHAT: Behind the Scenes at HNS: A  Conversation with the Board – Histfic Hub

Attention conference enthusiasts! Want to peek behind the curtain and discover the wizardry that goes into the making of the conference for historical fiction? 

The board will have several openings for the 2025 conference. If you’re interested in joining the board or discovering other ways you can contribute to the conference, please join us for a Q&A session where you can explore the world of programming, logistics, and the magic that goes into making our conference a resounding success.

LUNCH: 11:30-12:30

Saturday, 12:30-1:15 PM (CT)

Meet Special Guest Jamie Ford – Banquet Salon H

Join us for post-lunch remarks from Jamie Ford, a Northwest author most widely known for his bestselling Seattle-based novels.

Jamie’s debut, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and won numerous awards. His second book, Songs of Willow Frost, was also a national bestseller and his third Seattle novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes, was named one of the Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2017 by Library Journal.

Saturday, 1:30-2:30 PM (CT)

Everything Old is New Again: Retellings of Classic Tales in Historical Fiction – Salon I

Kris Waldherr, Alyssa Palombo, Molly Greeley, Heather Webb

From Mary Shelley to fairytales and beyond, retellings of classic tales make popular subjects for novels. There’s lots to consider when tackling a classic story, such as point of view and portraying already familiar characters, among other things—and this is on top of the already considerable research demands of historical fiction. Join authors Alyssa Palombo, Heather Webb, Kris Waldherr, and Molly Greeley, all of whom have written historical retellings of classics, as they draw on their experience to discuss these topics and more in regard to the craft of writing retellings as well as the current market for them.

 Women in Conflict – Salon J

Marianne Monson

Women are uniquely impacted by times of armed conflict, and stories of women in war have given us some of the most memorable female characters of historical fiction from Éponine Thénardier and Scarlett O’Hara to Marie-Laure Leblanc. Creating a compelling work of fiction that navigates times of armed conflict with strong female characters while avoiding tired tropes is the focus of this workshop. We’ll discuss how to find stories of women in conflict in unlikely places, and learn how to present these characters with both freshness and respect.

It’s About Time: Plotting out Historical Events Using the Sun, Moon, and Stars, Plus Some Help from Aeon Timeline – Salon M

Shawntelle Madison, Jeannie Lin

The concept of time is a complex phenomenon that varies across cultures and eras, many of whom don’t use the standard Gregorian or Julian calendars of the Western world. Bestselling authors Shawntelle Madison and Jeannie Lin discuss how to analyze historical events and natural phenomena to construct and track one or more timelines throughout a story. Using examples that combine in-depth historical research with Aeon Timeline, a timeline-editing outlining tool, this workshop covers how to construct authentic timelines that weave together plot, setting, and character in different time periods that span from ancient to modern times.

Writing Real History in a Fictional Narrative: When and When Not to Create Fictional Characters for Your Historical Novel – Salon G

Colin Mustful, Robin Henry, Patricia Bernstein, Alina Adams, F.M. Deemyad

Character development is an extremely important craft element for any fiction novel. But how is the character development affected when writing about real historical figures? And how does the historical novelist decide when they should or shouldn’t create fictional characters to share real history? In this panel, the authors of History Through Fiction will discuss the value and strategies of creating a fictional character to share real history. By discussing their craft, the panelists will provide attendees with insightful, useful strategies about when, how, and why to use or not use fictional characters to portray the lives of historical figures.

COZY CHAT: Crime, Mystery, and Things That Go Bump… Anytime – Histfic Hub

Barbara Wallace

History, crime, and mystery is first and foremost a cat-and-mouse game between the author and the reader. In the modern world, true crime has a strong following of folks who want to figure out a mystery before the details are revealed to them. Historical crime and mystery just add another layer on to the experience, giving readers barriers to gathering information while also educating around the capabilities and processes of the time. Join award-winning author Barbara Tanner-Wallace as she shares both her experiences studying psychology and human behavior, and contribute your own tips and tricks for writing mysteries in any setting.

In-Person Only

Saturday, 2:45-3:45 PM (CT)

The Good, the Bad, and the Bloody: Nineteenth-Century Crime Scenes and Their Forensic Evidence – Salon J

Kerry Cathers

Your crime has been committed now you have to solve it. What physical evidence is available to your sleuth? There was more available than you think. This seminar provides the necessary information to build a foundation for your nineteenth-century crime fiction. It assists both in plotting the crime and the investigation which follows. What evidence was available and when? How was a crime scene processed and by who? Interwoven with the answers are strategies you can use to manipulate the system to assist or hinder your sleuth along with how you can tweak fact to create intriguing fiction.

Creating a Compelling Protagonist Who Will Take Your Story From Good to Great – Salon G

Alana White, Patricia Hudson

What makes a protagonist so compelling that readers will follow them from a novel’s opening paragraph to its final page—or even all the way through a multi-volume series? In this presentation, historical fiction authors Alana White and Patricia Hudson will share tips and techniques for crafting unforgettable characters, whether they are entirely fictional, or based on actual historical figures. Participants will leave not only energized, with new techniques to try, but also with handouts, so when they return home, they can explore which tips they feel work best for them, and then apply them to their own work.

Libel, Slander, Defamation of Character, and the Right to Privacy – Salon M

Rod Sullivan

Writers worry. It’s what we do. One of the things we worry about is getting sued, or worse yet, writing an excellent novel, only to find that the potential liability attached to our work makes it unpublishable. This seminar will discuss the potential liability of a writer when writing about a living person or a person who is deceased but whose name and reputation continue to have commercial value after death; the “actual malice” standard that applies to “public figures;” who is a public figure; the effectiveness of disclaimers; and whether using pseudonyms provide adequate protection.

Writing about Wars in a Time of War – Salon I

Nancy Bilyeau, Michael Cooper, Griff Hosker, Moderator: Annamaria Alfieri

Wartime presents a novelist with all of the elements for creating dramatic and compelling stories. Indeed, the outbreak of war is an accelerant to history, often with dramatic changes in human and natural topography. These panelists have all written books taking place in conflict zones and will discuss how wartime books hold up a mirror to war, putting into context current areas of armed conflict that at this moment are killing combatants and innocent civilians, creating mass migration, hunger, and disrupting supply lines impacting people around the world. They will also discuss iconic examples of wartime fiction and share tips on how to weave fact and fiction, use lesser-known perspectives to provide fresh views, and unearth mysteries or unexplained events to write rich wartime novels.

COZY CHAT: Strong Women in Histfic Hub

Jen Johnson

Writing historical fiction and romance requires precise world-building skills and character development, even for those who lived so long ago. Accurate portrayals of time-period thinking, including motivations and desires, is a real gift in any work of historical fiction. How can women of the past be seen as strong, making their own choices and paving their own way? Was everyone a Joan of Arc? Explore practical research tools and attitudes to aid in accurate and powerful portrayals of women that are also enjoyable to a modern reader.

In-Person Only

Saturday, 4:00-5:00 PM (CT)

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime Novel? The Nostalgic Allure of the Great Depression – Salon G

Glen Craney, Bonnie Blaylock, Elise Hooper, Kristina Makansi

The decade of the 1930s has become popular with novels such as The Four Winds, Where The Crawdads Sing, and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek topping the bestseller lists. What is it about this dark and roiling era that so resonates with modern readers? Does current historical fiction offer a different perspective from that left us by authors who lived through the Great Depression? Our panelists will discuss these issues, explore the relevance for today of the events depicted in their Depression novels, and offer insights for those currently reading, researching, or writing about this period.

Planes, Trains, and Laptops: Researching Your Novel from Home and Away – Salon J

Alison Pittman

A good research trip is every writer’s dream, but traveling to your story’s setting isn’t always practical, possible, or even necessary. Writers have an endless font of information at their fingertips. While nothing beats the feeling of walking where your characters will tread, some story destinations might be more for the soul than the manuscript. Cityscapes change, buildings get repurposed, and no amount of Expedia points will set you down in 1732. This workshop will give tips for choosing when to invest in travel, and how to create an immersive reading experience through primary sources, artifacts, and the web.

When One Name Isn’t Enough: The Logistics of Multiple Pen Names in Historical Fiction – Salon I 

Eliza Knight, Libbie Grant, Sophie Perinot, Kris Waldherr

We all know the reasons authors use pen names. Sometimes it’s to don the mask of anonymity; other times it’s about separating author activities from personal life. But what about authors who write using more than one pen name: how do they juggle multiple literary personas? In this insightful panel, four authors share their experiences with having more than one pen name: their reasons for having them, strategies for choosing one—hint: it’s about genre expectations—as well as discuss noteworthy multi-named authors. Finally, we’ll offer advice on what to do if your pen names get out of hand.


Mitchell Waters and Rayhané Sanders with Reader Joyce Wagner

A perennial favorite, Cold Reads offers authors a real-time critique of their opening pages by two industry panelists. Submit your work for consideration or just listen in as panelists provide feedback on what works and doesn’t work for them and why. Here’s more information about how to submit your opening page to Cold Reads.

COZY CHAT: Pivoting From One Type of Author to Another – Histfic Hub

Renee Ryan

In this candid, interactive discussion with bestselling author Renee Ryan, we’ll delve into the ins and outs of what it took Renee to transition from writing award-winning romance to critically acclaimed historical fiction. Discuss the new skills Renee had to learn to make the pivot herself and which ones she had to unlearn, plus tips and tricks for managing research, reader expectations, voice, longtail marketing and more. Share your own experiences with changing genres or learn from other authors if you’re thinking of making the switch yourself.

In-Person Only

Saturday, 5:00-7:00 PM (CT)

Readers Festival and Book Signing – Pearl 2 & Pearl 3

Join us for our traditional author signing with a special event open to readers from the public. You won’t want to miss this! For information about how to have your books in the festival, check our Bookstore FAQs. Book signing from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. Here is the list of signing authors.

In-Person Only

Saturday, 7:30-9:15 PM (CT)

Closing Reception with Special Guest Lisa Wingate – Banquet Salon H

Sponsored by Abundantly Social

After two days packed with sessions and author events, mingle with friends old and new at the closing reception and get the scoop on HNS2025. Grab your favorite beverage and hear remarks from special guest Lisa Wingate.

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of thirty novels with scores of awards to her name. Her blockbuster hit Before We Were Yours remained on the New York Times bestseller list for ten months, was Publishers Weekly’s #3 longest running bestseller of 2017, and was voted by readers as the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction. Before We Were Yours has been a book club favorite worldwide and to date has sold well over one million copies.

Saturday, 9:15-11:00 PM (CT)

Closing Remarks and Frivolities – Histfic Hub

It’s always hard to say goodbye after another rousing HNSNA conference, but we will be doing it in style with games and music. This is our last chance to celebrate being back in each other’s company!

In-Person Only


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