UPDATE 6/23/19: The 2019 Historical Novel Society Conference is now past. Our next conference will be in 2021. If you would like to see what previous Preconference Academy workshops have entailed, please look at the session descriptions below.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

When you register for the HNS 2019 Conference (which officially commences on the evening of Thursday, June 20), you will also have the opportunity to register for these preconference workshops that take place during the day on Thursday.

This year’s Preconference Academy workshops will be held at the nearby MGM Grand, with shuttles provided for the 5-minute trip to and from the Gaylord. Regular conference workshops will be conducted at the Gaylord.

There are three options for morning session and three options for afternoon sessions. Read the descriptions below and don’t miss out!

TJ Glenn
Photo Copyright: TJ Glenn

MORNING SESSION #1: FIGHTING WRITERS! (9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.)

Instructor: Teel James Glenn

Cost: $60

On your feet and to arms! Using analogs for weapons, author and professional fight choreographer Teel James Glenn will take his students through basic footwork, swordplay and parrying techniques from several periods and cultures of history. From broadsword to saber to backsword, Mr. Glenn will demonstrate vital points, including guards, as well ‘off hand’ techniques with dagger play. He will relate specific techniques to various time periods and distinguish between ‘movie’ fights and the real deal as they happened on the field! No wallflowers here: everyone will rotate to the floor and gain hands-on experience! Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that allow easy movement.

ScrivenerMORNING SESSION #2: TAMING SCRIVENER (9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.)

Instructor: Alison Stuart

Cost: $60 for participants; $45 for auditors (observers only)**

In this hands-on workshop, award-winning author Alison Stuart, will walk participants through the major components of the Scrivener interface and guide them from starting a new project through to compiling a project to a manuscript format in Word.

The workshop will cover:

  • Starting a new project (or importing a project you are already working on)
  • Working with Binder to set up your characters, setting and research files
  • Creating folders (chapters) and documents (scenes)
  • Using synopsis cards and Corkboard view
  • Compiling a Scrivener document to Word for editing

By the end of the workshop the participants will have a basic working knowledge of the main tools Scrivener has to offer and the confidence to use and adapt the program for your next bestseller.

Note for Participants: You will be expected to bring your own computer to the workshop preloaded with Scrivener and ready to go! The workshop will focus on the latest version of Scrivener for computers. It will not touch on Scrivener for IOS. At the conclusion of the workshop, every participant will be given access to downloadable step by step guides (and videos) covering the subject matter of the workshop.

** auditors may attend the workshop to observe the process; but will not be permitted to actively participate in the class; and therefore, will not receive direct feedback from the instructor.


Instructor: David Ebershoff

Cost: $60 for participants; $45 for auditors (observers only)**

What makes a good book-to-screen adaptation? How does the process work? Have you ever thought about adapting your own book, or someone else’s? In this workshop David Ebershoff will discuss the page-to-screen journeys of his novels The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife, and his recent work writing for television and film.

We’ll also be doing some adapting ourselves in order to learn more about structure, dialogue vs. scene description, and to be or not to be faithful. For this session, please read in advance Alice Munro’s short story “A Wilderness Station.” The story is available in Ms. Munro’s collections A Wilderness Station or Open Secrets and can also be downloaded from The New Yorker’s online archives if you have a subscription to the magazine. Please bring your copy of the story to our session.

Homework assignment for participants: Prior to the class please read the short story “A Wilderness Station” by Alice Munro. 

** auditors may attend the workshop to observe the process; but will not be permitted to actively participate in the class; and therefore, will not receive direct feedback from the instructor.

WhyAFTERNOON SESSION #1: ASK AN EDITOR: Everything you’ve Always Wanted to Know (But Might Have Been Afraid to Ask) about the Editor-Author Relationship (1:00-3:00 p.m.)

Instructor: David Ebershoff

Cost: $60

David Ebershoff worked at Random House for twenty years, starting as a summer intern and becoming Vice President and Executive Editor. While there he became known in the industry for helping literary writers win major prizes and become bestsellers. He edited more than 20 New York Times bestsellers, winners of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, history, and biography, a winner of the National Book Award, and an Oprah Book Club selection. He focused on fiction, history, biography, memoir, and poetry, and always loved discovering new voices. But he’s just as familiar with the publishing world from the other side of the desk, as the author of several bestselling works of fiction, including The Danish Girl, The 19th Wife, Pasadena; and Rose City, a short story collection.

Now’s your chance to ask him anything about the editing process, what’s really going on inside a large publishing house, and what authors should know about their editors. David will be in conversation with HNS2019 Program Chair Leslie Carroll; and then we’ll open it up to you and your many questions — we know you have them!


Instructor: Karen A. Chase

Cost: $60

As historical novelists, each of you needs an author-centered (not book-centered) marketing plan, regardless of how you are published, how many books you have written, and in which sub-genre. This includes a brand or image that authentically connects you, the author, with a specific audience of historical fiction readers. That plan also defines the tools necessary to build engagement through each subsequent book. While reviewing a case study for an historical novelist, participants will work through four simple questions:

  • What is my author brand? We’ll shift the novelist’s focus to building an authentic platform and marketing plan based on themselves, not on a book. What is it that every author brings to their readers that is unique? What is this book about? What will they write about in the future? Is there a genre or over-arching theme to their specific approach? Perhaps they write Tudor novels with witch-related elements. Or they write WWII fiction with time traveling Stoics from ancient Rome.
  • How are my network and audience similar? Historical novelists don’t write alone. Participants will make a list of the resources or beta readers that helped build the book, then look at them as potential readers and foot soldiers. Beginning with those existing connections, they’ll expand their network and niches, thereby defining a targeted audience of readers who will be loyal to their specific author brand.
  • What platform tools are best for my readers? Based on the specific author brand and audience, we’ll outline which tools––website, newsletter, blog, podcast, or social media channels––are best for those loyal readers. Those readers want to engage with authors––not their publishing house––and buy subsequent books. Consequently, readers need specific tools to receive book news and event info from authors, to communicate with them, and to share their excitement.
  • Where can I hang out or best communicate with those readers? It’s more than simply bookstores or online retailers; authors need to define the places and groups that will allow them to engage with readers.

With guidance, students will define aspects of their own plan to include: a unique author brand, a network/audience, a platform tools list, and marketing outlets.

Pencil SharpeningAFTERNOON SESSION #3: WRITING FIGHTS! (1:00-4:00 p.m.)

Instructor: Teel James Glenn

Cost: $60 for participants; $45 for auditors (observers only)

Join Teel James Glenn as he takes you on a journey through the process of creating believable and dramatic action scenes in every kind of fiction. Using wit and personal experience, he dissects action scenes for what makes them work. You will benefit from his combat experience, including eastern martial arts, physiology and kinetics, and dramatic story telling from film and stage acting. Part lecture, part demonstration, he not only outlines and explains the whys and wherefores of literary violence, he also explores techniques that allow you to create them yourself with various small arms.

For more information on the instructors for our Preconference Academy workshops, go here.

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