Panel Spotlight – We need to Talk about Bette and Joan versus Connecting with Readers

I’m stuck. I’ve purchased my early bird ticket to #HNSA2019 so I have plenty of time to peruse the program. I didn’t factor in having to decide between panels on at the same time. 

Now I’m in a quandary and I’m not sure that having time to think is going to help at all!

I printed out the program, grabbed my favourite orange highlighter, and sat down with a nice cup tea. Everything was going well until I reached 12:20pm Saturday 26th October. Yes, that’s right. I didn’t even get through the first day without having to make major decisions.

The two panels I want to attend are:

We Need to Talk about Bette and Joan – writing about famous figures

Connecting with Readers – the post publication journey.

I enjoy hearing about famous women from history: Queen Elizabeth 1 and Joan of Arc are two of the most well-known. I’d be interested in hearing about their lives outside of the positions they held. I also use historical figures in my own writing so this panel could tick a few boxes for me.

Even with three books published, I’m still finding my way in the area of effective publicity. What happens after publication of a first book is a grey area for most new authors. It takes a lot of persistence and patience to navigate the jungle that is book-marketing.

Jane Caro and Ali Alizadeh

Jane Caro is an interesting woman. I’ve seen some great feedback on her talks (as well as her writing). Ali Alizadeh teaches creative writing. I’m sure he’d have a lot of knowledge to impart. I want to hear the wisdom they have to share!

Marketing tips and reshaping strategies is a major interest of mine. I love creating content for social media and coming up with new plans. Discovering new techniques and sharing ideas is a great learning opportunity. I will get a lot out of this session.

Oh, dear.

Let’s come at this from a different angle. 

If I haven’t got a novel then I won’t have anything to market, and I need to have solid research behind me to write a novel. I’m a keen researcher and amateur historian. Anything I can learn about researching and writing historical figures will help. It could also inspire me to read and write more and faster (my publisher would be happy with that).

Debbie McInnes and Lucinda Brant

Also, my current writing is around female historical figures, real and fictional. Women are not always easy to research so I could be picking up some good tips and ideas at this panel.

The journey after publication can be a minefield for the uninitiated. Confusion has the potential to stymie the creative flow of writing. I could walk out of this panel with a new foundation for future marketing strategies. Relationships are key and connecting with audiences is an area I’d like to concentrate on. The panel line up shows some depth. Publicist Debbie McInnes from DMCPRMedia has a lot of experience. So too does Melanie Prosser from Berkelouw Books. Connecting with booksellers is not easy. Author Lucinda Brant is a powerhouse on Pinterest (this is a platform I’m trying to break into).

If I want to sell books then this panel is a must.

It’s no good. I can’t decide.

Half and half?

Early bird registration ends on 31 July. Don’t forget to take advantage of a great discount.

Patricia Leslie

Patricia Leslie is a member of the Social Media Team for HNSAustralasia. Her novels mix known and hidden history with magic and myth. Her 2018 release, Keeper of the Way, mixes it up in Sydney 1882 exploring social history, magical traditions brought to the Colony from Scotland and Ireland, and the destruction of the Garden Palace. Learn more at

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, Lucy Treloar, Pamela Hart, Nicole Alexander, Jane Caro, Alison Goodman, Kelly Gardiner, Michelle Aung Thin, Meg Keneally, Majella Cullinane and so many more.

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, and the HNSA Colleen McCullough Residency.

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