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  • Donald J. Bingle, Writer on Demand

Observations from Killer Nashville

Just got back the other day from a long weekend in Nashville, Tennessee with Jean Rabe (my mentor and co-author of The Love-Haight Case Files) attending Killer Nashville, a conference for writers of mysteries and thrillers. I've been to plenty of conventions before as a gamer and a writer, including thirty-seven GenCons (featuring the ever-glorious GenCon Writer's Symposium founded by Jean Rabe and now run by Marc Tassin), a bunch of Origins Game Fairs, local gaming and scifi cons by the score, and an occasional World Con. I've listened to bunches of seminars and panels, pitched a project or three, and been a reader and panelist. Killer Nashville was a bit different, however, because it was all about writing. No gaming. No media stars (other than authors). No cinema, cosplay, or tournaments. Just seminars, panels, inspirational speeches, and sessions with agents. (Even the one diversion, an escape/puzzle room, had as its goal a "publishing contract," rather than actually escaping the room. Our team completed the puzzles with more than fifteen minutes to spare.) The various keynote addresses by Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford and by the various guests of honors were, by all accounts, excellent. I attended several, but missed others due to conflicts with other events. The guests of honor and the attending agents and publishers all mingled often and extensively with the three hundred or so participants, too, and never seemed to be put-out by the attention. Happy to report that Anne Perry has a lovely accent and Janet Evanovich has a good sense of humor and is happy to pose for photos. Kevin O'Brien is a fun, clever fellow who apparently doesn't even bother titling his books at this point, since the publisher always picks their own anyways, and produces a hundred page outline which is critiqued by his editor before he even starts to write a book. I'll admit, though, that the interview/address that surprised me the most was with Robert J. Randisi. Despite the fact that his Wikipedia page is even shorter and more out-dated than mine (some enterprising and helpful soul should update both of them), Randisi is a prolific writer ... no a hyper-prolific, compulsive writer with well more than 700 (yes, seven hundred) books to his credit under a plethora of names, including ghosting for other prolific authors. Many of his novels are westerns (he has over 400 (yes, four hundred) books in his series about a western gunsmith and gunfighter), but he has a fondness for private eyes above all else. That's why he founded The Private Eye Writers of America, created the Shamus Awards, and founded and edited Mystery Scene Magazine in his spare time. Yes, even someone who has had a least one book published every month since 1982 and works on two different books every day (on either side of a nap) while watching television has spare time to help other writers. Think about that the next time you are posting your sub-1000 word-count for the day. The panels with forensic experts from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or with established writers and agents were generally strong, while those panels with small-time authors tended to meander off-topic and spend too much time on self-promotion. Learned some good things about agents, submissions, marketing, and more, though. There was a mock crime scene you could try to solve, but I didn't take the time to do it. Also met many other fun, fine writers from all over. In addition, the festivities included an awards dinner--the same one at which Jean Rabe was runner-up last year for the Claymore Award for best work-in-progress (for The Dead of Winter, coming out soon from Imajin). Neither Jean or I was a finalist for the Claymore this year, but our novel The Love-Haight Case Files (WordFire Press, 2015) won 3 (yes, three) Silver Falchions: Best Fantasy (peer-voted); Best Urban Fantasy (judges' award); and Best Multi-Genre (judges' award). Jean was too shy to talk, so that meant I got to ad lib three times during the ceremony. A fine band and a nice (but overpriced) dinner accompanied the awards. Feel free to quiz Jean or me about any of the particulars of Killer Nashville in person, by email, or by posting a comment. Aloha, Don

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