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Killer Nashville: Elbow Patches

Early on, Paul and I hoped some day we'd be worthy of the elbow patches we fantasized successful authors always donned. We dreamed of sitting in our leather club chairs, scotch in hand, in front of a crackling fire creating Hemingwayesque prose from whole cloth. In our view, the suede patches adorning our sweater and sport coat respectively, would not only be de rigueur, but would also be required.

This year, we made what we thought was a bold move and decided to attend one of the premier writer’s conferences in the country, Killer Nashville. As the name would imply the conference is sited at Nashville, Tennessee, and it attracts some of the top crime and mystery writers from around the world.

This year's conference headliners

two authors
Charlie Donlea and Hank Phillippi Ryan

This being our first writer’s conference we didn’t quite know what to expect, but we’ll try to summarize briefly here.

Almost all of the 300-plus attendees were writers, many published, some not so much. One thing we all shared was the immediate bond of struggling over the right phrases to make a scene tick, self doubt, the nagging "what if's and the list goes on."

Regardless of the attendee’s status, published or unpublished, all were welcoming to us. We felt a deep connection after the first day. For us, it was pretty amazing.

Owing to our backgrounds in law enforcement, both of us were fortunate enough to be panelist for some of the seminars where crime writers could ask us questions about the realities of police work and conducting investigations. By the end of day two we had made a lot of connections and even a few new friends.

empty bar and bar stools
38 seconds before classes let out!

Following our panel appearances, it was on to the bookstore set up by the conference. It was open to the public so we had the opportunity to meet more Killer Nashville attendees and local folks who dropped by to chat and buy books. Both of us truly enjoyed the event, and we had the opportunity to sign copies of our first book, THE NIGHT POLICE, BEYOND THE LINE OF DUTY.

Besides the chances for writers to learn from various experts in the field, there were opportunities for fledgling authors to meet with, and be critiqued by literary agents, a most essential step in the journey to publication. Scary yes, but interesting as hell.

The cherry on top for us was being named finalists in the Claymore Award competition, our category—Best Investigator. Months ago, we submitted the first portion of our manuscript for our second book, THE BLEEDING.

The awards dinner was on Saturday night with Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford as Master of Ceremonies. Tension built as the winners of the various categories were called to the microphone to accept their award. Finally, Clay announced the category—Best Investigator.

Chris and I felt the room shift when Clay said, “I haven’t met these guys yet”… and knowing we were the only team of authors among the finalists who also happened to be "guys"... we were speechless. And yes, that is apparently possible. Improbable but possible.

After receiving our award, returning to our table and being congratulated by some of the best in the business was unbelievable for a couple of rookies.

Great spending time with retired Portland Maine, Detective Sergeant and best-selling author Bruce Coffin

Here we with Baron R. Birtcher, another best selling author (among his many other career achievements in the entertainment industry) who was so generous with his time. Such a pleasure learning from an industry leader.

Unfortunately we don't have photos but we sure as heck did enjoy our time with other best selling authors including Mike Faricy, Jeffrey James Higgins, and James L'etoile Thanks so much guys, for making us feel included.

And we have to say thanks to Clay Stafford, his very hard working staff and the other attendees for a terrific event.

You can bet we will be at Killer Nashville in 2023!

elbow patches for a sweater or sport coat
Apply liberally to elbows. Voila!

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