Friday craft and publishing workshops – which one will I choose?

By Christa Ludlow

We all want to improve our writing, research and publishing skills, don’t we? I certainly do. So I’m excited about the series of nine – yes, nine – craft workshops at the HNSA conference on Friday 26 October. 

But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? I’m facing a dilemma over which workshops to attend.  

Here’s the situation. There are nine workshops divided into three sessions. Each session features three workshops, so you can choose one from each session times which start at 9 am, 11.30 am and 2.30 pm. Each workshop is led by a presenter who is highly qualified in their field.

The 9 am sessions

If I want to get a head start in the historical romance genre, I could hear Kate Forsyth teach how to introduce “spice” into any romance story line in historical fiction in her workshop Spice and Swashbuckle. Kate weaves fairy tales into her historical romances such as The Wild Girl and Beauty in Thorns. Internationally renown, she was the winner of the 2015 American Library Association Award for Best Historical Fiction.

On the other hand, my novel will never be written if I don’t make the most of my research. That’s something Pamela Hart can help with.  Her workshop, Making Research work for you, is for writers who are about to start their historical research in earnest, or who have trouble managing and controlling their research.

Professional book designer Evan Shapiro advises authors on Self Publishing Essentials. According to Evan, successful self-publishers must take a professional approach and use the traditional processes of editing, design, publishing, marketing and distribution to maximise the impact of their books.

Evan Shapiro and Pamela Hart

11.30 am sessions

This session starts with a bang – Meg Keneally talks about Writing Crime Fiction. This will be an entertaining and engaging session from a prolific and expert crime writer.

Up against Meg are two sessions on practical skills. Writing Family History is not something I’ve tried, but the outline for Paula Morris’ workshop sounds intriguing – according to Paula, family historians require the skills of a researcher, the investigative talents of a journalist, and the imaginative empathy of a creative writer.

Alternatively there’s a workshop on Scrivener for Beginners by author Kelly Gardiner  – I’m not a beginner but it’s always helpful to hear how other authors use writing and publishing software, particularly successful authors of historical fiction like Kelly. She’s bound to have some useful tips.

Paula Morris, Kelly Gardiner, Meg Keneally

The 2.30 sessions

How do I choose between Writing Historical Fantasy with Alison Goodman, Writing Historical Fiction for Children and Young Adults with Sophie Masson, and Trove for the Historical Novelist, by Rachel Franks?

I have a few ideas for a historical fantasy set in Victorian Sydney – so Alison’s workshop sounds ideal, as she has written a best-selling historical fantasy series. On the other hand Sophie Masson is the author of many popular historical novels for children and young adults, including the award-winning The Hunt for Ned Kelly, so she knows her stuff too. 

Rachel Franks, from the State Library of NSW, will be introducing participants to the wonders that await researchers in the world of Trove – the national digital database of newspapers, pictures, and much more. Getting someone to guide you through the labyrinth sounds like a good idea. 

Sophie Masson, Rachel Franks, Gillian Pollack, Alison Goodman

And then if that’s not enough, there are still tickets left for the individual Research and Writing Masterclass with Dr Gillian Pollack, and the opportunity for a manuscript assessment by Irina Dunn or Claire Halifax.

Too much of a good thing? There is only one way to find out!

Christa A. Ludlow is the author of Taken At Night, a historical mystery about photography, medicine and murder, set in Sydney in 1900. A sequel is planned for publication in 2019. More information about Christa’s research and writings is at 

HNSA 2019 Conference

HNSA Sydney 2019 will be held on the weekend of 25-27 October 2019 at Western Sydney University Parramatta.

Once again, historical fiction writers and readers can gather for a three stream program on the weekend of 26-27 October including our extended Academic stream on Sunday 27 October. This time there’s also a Craft & Publishing program on Friday 25 October with craft workshops, masterclasses and manuscript assessments with top class tutors. Our Guest of Honour is Jackie French. Keynote speaker Paula Morris will address our theme: History Repeats. 

Among the 60 acclaimed speakers are patrons Kate Forsyth and Sophie Masson, Catherine Jinks, Ali Alizadeh, Marie Munkara, Lucy Treloar, Robert Gott, Pamela Hart, Nicole Alexander, Jane Caro, Alison Goodman, Kelly Gardiner, Michelle Aung Thin, Meg Keneally, Majella Cullinane and so many more. 

Our signature First Pages Pitch Contest returns with $200 prize money on offer. They’ll also be a sword fight or two with our Historical Re-enactments & Weapons display!

Enjoy a delicious meal at our conference dinner on Saturday 26 October where Anna Campbell will entertain us. You’ll also hear who’s won this year’s ARA HNSA Short Story Contest with a $500 prize.

Visit our website to purchase your early bird tickets now!

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