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Monday, July 1, 2013

Diana Gabaldon, Steve Berry and two Vestal Virgins at the HFS Conference

   The 5th annual Historical Novel Conference in St. Petersburg last month had it all!   Foremost proof that the genre' is vibrantly alive and kicking. Held in the Vinoy Hotel on the edge of Tampa Bay, over 300 attendees mingled with agents, editors, and authors with small, medium and some very large credentials.
   Besides offering two Friday workshops, there were 31 sessions scheduled Saturday through Sunday morning.  Among others, sessions titled "Is Genre' a Dirty Word, The History of Weaponry, Sex in HF, Building a Platform, Indie Presses, Slang & Dialect, Poisoners & Poisons, and The Witchcraft Window" were interspersed with Cold Reads and Agent/Author panels. Too many choices, but a great solution on hand!
Diana & her biggest MN fan
   Reps from VW were busy taping all sessions and guest speakers to CD's and DVD's that could be purchased before--and after--the Conference ended. They are still available online.
   Offering books written by attendees, there were also too many great choices in the bookstore and at the book signing reception. Though I've read all her lengthy Jamie/Claire books, I was thrilled to have my favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, sign a copy of her 20th Anniversary hardcover edition of "Outlander," her first novel. A definite bonus for her biggest fan in Minnesota was the preview booklet she gave me, with the first seven chapters of her 8th book in the Outlander series, due to be published in early 2014. Already an international best selling author, I'm sure DG's fame will skyrocket once the Outlander movie is completed. I felt like a groupie, angling to sit at the table next to hers at mealtimes, and sneaking ipod photos of her.

   Other best selling authors--Anne Perry, C.W. Gortner, and Steve Berry were guest speakers at sumptuous meals in the hotel's grand ballroom, serving up personal stories and inspiration for dessert.
Lady Rivers
   Berry's books are often compared to Dan Brown's, and his newest book raises some intriguing questions about the first Queen Elizabeth. "The King's Deception" is sure to drive up his royalties.
    Joan, Lady Rivers--aka author Gillian Bagwell--emceed a hilarious Costume Pageant interviewing women in history, followed by Late Night Sex Scene Readings Saturday night. Both events were repeated by popular demand.  A very PG "budding" author, Teralyn Pilgrim, won the costume contest depicting a Vestal Virgin with biting wit.

Vestal Virgins?
   The readings were emceed by Diana Gabaldon, who always
sets the bar high-in my mind-for inventive and romantic fictional trysts; always classy, sassy, but never crassy.
    Does my 3rd Conference in 8 months make me a Conference Junkie? I could get addicted to networking with success, inhaling the creative mists, posing with celebrity and tasting the local fares. Every Minnesota writer needs a change of weather and a working vacation, away from laptops and too many emails. There are distractions...and attractions in every writer's life. Conferences are always pure inspiration. I'm looking forward to this Conference next September in London!  But first...Kansas City, here I come!     (Women Writing the West Conference in October.)                                           

Want to see more pictures?... Click here.