By Peter H. Green
Kudos are due Clay Stafford, founder, Beth Terrell-Hicks, author and executive director, their staff and over 40 volunteers, for hosting some 300 writers and guests from across the country at the smash-hit seventh annual Killer Nashville mystery conference. I have seldom attended such a good one. In addition they cooked up many great things for me to do.
Based on a successful experiment conducted at a recent Backspace conference, the event’s planners tried out a new method for handling agent pitches: Agent/Editor Roundtables. A dozen writers with projects to pitch assembled in each seminar room, passed out their first two pages and each in turn was read out loud by a reader or the author. The agents or editors, two of whom were present in each room, as well as the writer participants, made comments. The new technique went smoothly and was a success, as far as I was concerned—Jill Marr had suggestions to change my genre and fix my pitch, so I fixed it, writing like mad while listening with one ear to an interview with author and filmmaker Heywood Gould. In the next hour’s session, Victoria Lea of Aponte Agency liked the way I fixed it and asked for a submittal. Can’t beat that!
A panel I led, entitled, “The E-Explosion: The Impact of the E-Revolution on Traditional and Self-Published Authors,” was well-attended and evoked strong opinions and new directions from each of the panelists. While the comments reinforced the message that each author must jump in and publicize his or her own book, the panel not only seemed to gain good attention, but I also became fast friends with the panelists. This industry picture was later filled out in a summary panel by the guests of honor. Its members, Jeffrey Deaver, C.J. Box, Peter Straub, Heywood Gould and agent Jill Marr concluded that the author’s main job is still to produce good content while the industry absorbs this sea change and finds new directions.
Other panels covered a myriad of craft topics—including a film-making track—, law enforcement presentations and business subjects. At Saturday night’s banquet, Toastmaster Jeffrey Deaver, multi-published international bestselling author and folksinger, warmed up the audience with droll and embarrassing quotes about awkward author moments from his personal journal. Nashville welcomed each of its three honored guests with a gift of a fabulous guitar as a symbolic key to Music City. Accompanied by Clay Stafford’s Nashville-quality six–piece soft rock band, Treva Blomquist presented sensitive renditions of Jeffrey Deaver’s original songs from his new multimedia novel XO, also simultaneously issued as a singing book for I-Pad. Stafford capped the evening by presenting the Silver Falchion award, for the attendee-voted best published novel, to C. Hope Clark for Lowcountry Bribe, and the Claymore Award, for the best unpublished novel, as judged by Five Star Publishing Editor Deni Dietz, to Jonathan Stone, for his new novel Again. Since Jon and his lovely wife Susan were among my dinner companions, there was great joy at my table.
I can’t wait to see what they plan for Killer Nashville next year.
Till next time, good words to you,