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Friday, June 28, 2013

Literary Locale: The HNS Conference Edition

Literary Locale is a meme here at A Bookish Affair on Fridays where I talk about where I've been reading lately or any other bookish locations that I feel like talking about. Feel free to grab the logo and play along!

So as you all may remember, I attended the Historical Novel Society Conference in gorgeous St. Petersburg, Florida last weekend. It was a really, really amazing event and I'm so happy that I went. I'm still bathing in the afterglow of the conference but I figured that it was time to tell you all about my experience at the conference. Sharing is caring, you guys!
I spent the entire weekend like this (or at least trying to be like this; sometimes I just sunk into total fangirl-dom and you know, I'm totally okay with that):
I got down to St. Pete's a day early as I wanted to prolong this vacation a little bit. It's been awhile since I've really gotten to go on vacation so I figured I should enjoy St. Pete's a little bit. And I did! I visited the Dali museum, which I will talk more about in the next edition of Literary Locale next week. I also walked a 4 mile roundtrip to CVS, which I will not tell you about because it made me very sad to be walking so far to someplace so un-glam in the hot, sticky humidity.
The conference was held in the gorgeous Hotel Vinoy, right on the gorgeous Tampa Bay. It was an awesome hotel and it was pink! I loved that the hotel was on the bay because it meant getting to see a lot of pelicans, which I find ridiculously adorable!

Pensive pelican.
Thursday night, I was sitting in the lobby (this hotel had a fabulous lobby with a lot of comfy places to sit. Sharman Burson Ramsey came up to me and asked me if I was here for HNS. I said yes and we started talking. She is incredibly nice and this little interlude just illustrates how amazing all of the attendees of the conference were. I know that HNS is supposed to be for everyone and not just authors but the majority of people in attendance were authors and I was a little worried about feeling like the odd man out. This was totally not my experience at all though! Everyone I met (and I met a ton of people) was absolutely amazing and just so awesome.

 The real fun started on Friday night. First I went to the Tweet and Greet for those of us that planned to tweet during the conference (if you follow me on Twitter, oh you know how much I tweeted). I got to meet awesome people like Julie Rose, Heather Domin, Kate Michael, and Amanda Orr for the first time.  I won a pack of awesome HNS stationary just for tweeting on Twitter (I wish I won more stuff that way). Then it was time for dinner. I sat with several people from my local HNS Chesapeake Bay chapter including the lovely Stephanie Dray, Sophie Perinot, and Kate Quinn.  Anne Perry spoke at the dinner. I really liked her speech. She sort of talked about the art of storytelling and historical fiction's role in that realm. She had a very strong and commanding presence.
Oh and the highlight of my evening personally was that The Margaret George (whose name must always be spoken in bold and italics due to her queenly status within the literary community) was at our table. She was sitting about two people away from me and I could not speak to her. This is what I did during dinner to her (I'm almost sure of it; I'm a creeper):
Saturday was when all of the seminars started. There were a lot of really interesting ones and many of them seemed to be happening at the same time as each other and I was sad to miss out on some of them. 
Here is what I ended up attending:
  • Depicting Religion in Historical Fiction
  • Is ‘Genre’ a Dirty Word? Commercial v. Literary Historical Fiction
  • The Feisty Heroine Sold into Marriage Who Hates Bear Baiting: Clichés in HF and How to Avoid Them
  • Virtual Salon: The Historical Fiction Blog
  • HF Set in the Ancient World: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
 We broke in the middle of the sessions to have lunch. C.W. Gortner was the speaker at lunch and definitely gave my favorite speech of the weekend. I have been a big fan of his books for awhile and even merely from that perspective, I was excited to see him speak. He gave a really inspiring speech about why it's so important to not give up your writing even the road to getting your writing published can be long and more than a little arduous.
After the sessions, it was time for the book signing. Many of the authors that were in attendance also signed books. There was a little book shop at the conference and I must tell you that I went absolutely wild with getting books to be signed. I could not help myself! I will show you all what I got soon. It's going to be like Christmas when I open that box!
Then it was time for dinner. The keynote speaker was Steve Berry, who writes a lot of thrillers that have a tiny bit of history thrown in the mix. His speech ending up being sort of a strange one for the audience. He spoke about a very small legend about Elizabeth I dying in childhood and being replaced by a man. Okay, and to point out what may perhaps be an obvious fact, he said this in a room full of people who take research pretty seriously. I'm not sure why he was chosen but I think that there were many other people already at the conference that could have been chosen to speak. I'm trying to be very diplomatic about this part of the conference but it is not quite working. I just have a lot of feelings about this speech so I will quit while I'm ahead!
After dinner, there was a costume contest that was so much fun. People got really creative with their costumes. Gillian Bagwell did an amazing job hosting the contest. She was in character the whole time! Teralyn Pilgrim (who I loved meeting) was a Vestal Virgin with a visibly pregnant belly. It was very, very funny! History has never seen such a thing!
Me with the lovely Teralyn!
After the costume pageant and Steve Berry's speech, it was time for the Sex Scene readings hosted by The Diana Gabaldon (whose name must also be in bold, italic font). This session was a blast. Let me just say that the readers are much braver than I would be! They all did a great job!

On Sunday, I woke up a little tired but still raring to go to more sessions. Here's what I attended on Sunday:
  • Historical Fiction: The American Experience 
  • Foreign Language, Slang and Dialect in Historical Fiction
Then I met up with the lovely Audra (Unabridged Chick) and we had to go upstairs to the lobby to rehash the Steve Berry speech as we were both so fired up about it! We had ALL OF THE FEELINGS and had to discuss them post haste! We ended up having an impromptu blogger lunch with Sarah (Reading the Past) and Heather (The Maiden's Court), which was super nice.
I had an opportunity to hang out with a lot of people after the conference technically ended. Sunday night, I dragged Sarah, Marie Parsons, Jessica Brockmole, and Alison Atlee to this sushi place called Rollbotto. Guys, this place was life changing. It's like Chipotle for sushi. All of these ladies were good sports and indulged me by going to Rollbotto. Between Thursday and Sunday night, I went to that place three times. If you ever find yourself in St. Pete's, I certainly have a restaurant suggestion for you!!!
I absolutely loved this conference! This was the first book conference that I had ever really been too. I can be a little shy when I first meet you and I was a little bit worried about meeting authors and whether or not they would want to talk to me because I'm not a writer, just a lowly book blogger. It wasn't at all like that. Everyone was so darn nice and social and sweet and amazing! It was so cool to be surrounded by so many people who have the same interests and passions that I do! I had nothing to fear and I actually had a lot of people that complimented my little blog here (you know how to make a girl feel good). I came back from Florida feeling really happy that I went and very sad that the HNS conference is only held here in the States every other year! I know that I will be back for 2015 though!  

20 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful HNS experience! I wish I had been able to go. Being in such awesome company brings out the fan girl in me, too! However, I get tongue-tied and look like a deer in the headlights. (When I met Diana Gabaldon and shook her hand I couldn't get a coherent word out of my mouth. ha! I'm sure she's accustomed to awe-struck fans.)

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    1. I'm sure they are used to people being awe-struck but I still felt bad I couldn't say any intelligible words to some of the authors!!! Eek!

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  2. It was great to meet and hang out with you at HNS, and the sushi place was awesome! Great choice :) Book bloggers and readers in general are an integral part of this conference even though most of the other attendees are authors... I always feel right at home too.

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    1. I was amazed at how warm everyone was (although I should not have been surprised; the hist fic community is wonderful)!

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  3. I'm going to have to copy that picture of us! Thanks for posting it. I enjoyed meeting you too and look forward to seeing you again 2015!

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    1. I loved, loved, loved meeting you as well! Your costume was amazing!

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  4. Great post, Meg. We are all in awe of Diana and Margaret. They both read, liked and blurbed my book, and I still get tongue-tied in front of them. I titled my own post on the conference 'Afterglow' but I didn't copy you, honest! I think we were just feeling the same thing.

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    1. It's a week later and I am still very sad that we are not still at HNS!

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  5. First of all, I was sitting next to THE MARGARET GEORGE and also wanted to gape and stare like that. Secondly, I love you more and more every time we meet. Third, I love this recap. Fourth, why was I not included in the discussion where we discussed ALL THE FEELINGS?

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    1. omg, Stephanie, it would have been epic then!

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    2. I would have absolutely died if I had been sitting next to The Margaret George. Thank you for taking one for the team ;)

      Audra and I had to go upstairs really, really quickly because 1. we had ALL THE FEELINGS right then and there and 2. we were getting yelled at by the grumpy people at the help desk. Also, you were probably being good and attending the last session. Audra and I were not good and did not go to the last session!

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  6. Meeting you was one of the best parts of the weekend! I hope we get to hang out in person again some day. You are too awesome and funny and generally fabulous. :D

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    1. *Blushing and more blushing* I loved meeting you so much too! Hopefully we'll see each other sometime before 2015! If you are ever come to D.C., you have a tour guide, lady :)

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  7. Meg, it was so great meeting you -- I'm grateful you were there to process with me on Sunday! ;) Looking forward to seeing more of you -- hopefully sooner than 2015. Loved this recap -- so sad I missed out on the sushi!!

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    1. I loved meeting you so much! And oh my gosh, I am still processing (especially because I'm seeing that a lot of people actually liked the Berry speech on the HNS FB group. Really now?).

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  8. What an awesome experience! I totally get the rock star silly quietness when I meet authors too. I would have NOT been able to talk to Margaret George either.

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    1. I just could not do it! And the sad thing is that from the conversations that I listened in on, she is an incredibly warm, kind, amazing person but I still could not make words come out of my mouth. Next time!

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  9. Great re-cap, Meg, the HNS is a wonderful, friendly organization. Thanks for sharing your photos via fb. So glad you captured the pelican sculpture at the airport, I thought that was fantastic.

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    1. I felt kind of silly being the one in the airport taking pictures of the statues but I love that statue so much!!! It was way cool!

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  10. I'm still processing which is why I haven't yet wrote my recap! Its coming this week I promise! It was great to meet you Meg. It was such a blast and I can't wait for 2015. Once it gets in your blood it calls you back each time it seems.

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