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Happiness is…Working Together on a PLW Conference Panel

By Ana Brazil
December 14, 2021

Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (ruled by Mercury, Roman god of communications), but I love to write: novels, short stories, List Links, tweets, and sometimes, technical documentation. And maybe because Gemini is the sign of twins, I love partnering: working together on projects with family, friends, and other writers.

I love partnering because I am convinced that when talented, thoughtful, and engaged people collaborate, they come up with something better than any of them could alone. And I like to come up with the best something that I can, which is also why I belong to a critique group, work with an editor, engage Beta readers, etc.

One of my favorite writer partnerships—and one that brings me great Happiness (hey look! I’m staying on theme!)—is creating and delivering Paper Lantern Writer (PLW) panel talks for conferences.

PLW was fortunate—and delighted—to present multiple panel talks at Jolabokaflod-PDX 2020 (Finding Women’s Voices and Charm City: Historical Settings that Transport the Reader) and the Historical Novel Society Conference (Starting an Author Collective, Setting The Scene: Exploring Historical Settings Through Genres, and Finding Women’s Voices In Ancestor Stories) .

And next year in early February, PLW is thrilled to present two panel talks (Promotion Loves Company: Maximising Promotional Efforts Through An Author Collective and End With The Beginning In Mind: Hooking Readers With Your Chapter Endings) at THE HISTORY QUILL’s Writers Convention 2022. (Early-bird registration for this online conference ends on Dec 22! You’re very welcome to use our affiliate link to register.)

Everything about our PLW panels makes me happy, and—in case you’re considering organizing a conference panel sometime in the future—here’s the rundown on what it takes to make a panel happen:

  • Come up with an idea
    • We ask ourselves…is this a panel for historical fiction readers, writers, or both, what are we excited to explore and talk about, and would a historical fiction audience also be excited about it? 
  • Decide which of our seven members wants to participate; who will manage the panel.
    • Who is most excited about this topic? Who is most qualified to discuss it?
  • Write the proposal
    • This usually falls to the person most excited about the panel, with the rest of us providing feedback.
  • Accept the proposal!
    • We love writing those “Yes, we’re excited to accept your invitation” letters.
  • Craft Youtube panel teasers.
    • When the HNS Conference organizers asked for Youtube teasers, ours came together very quickly. They were a blast to write and perform, but our favorite teaser might be the Blooper Reel that C.V. Lee put together.
  • Craft the content
    • Hands down my favorite part of the process! This is where the collaboration magic happens, as we share and blend our individual writing, reading, and editing expertise.
      • TBH, at our first meeting about content, we pull out our proposals and make bullet points of everything we’ve promised. Then we make sure that we make good on our promises. 
      • Decide on a slide template: Maps? Historic buildings? Greenery? (We have only been able to present on ZOOM, so our panel talks are slideshows.)
      • Put together bio slides.
      • Decide what to include and who’s going to present it.
      • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! We pull out our stop-watches and see if we’ve got too much, too little, or just the right amount of content. We refine our content so that the words flow better. We correct inaccuracies. We remove duplications. We rehearse no more than 3-4 times before presenting, so that we don’t take the fun out of it.
  • Finally, we present!

As the list above shows, crafting a panel talk takes a lot of work. But it also provides a lot of information to conference attendees, gives us all new perspectives on our own love of writing and historical fiction, and, personally, it fills me with Happiness!


Ana Brazil
Written by Ana Brazil

Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s latest historical mystery is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, which features murder, mayhem, and music in 1919 San Francisco. Her award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans.

View Ana’s PLW Profile

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