Thursday, August 14, 2008

Killer Conference

By Beth Terrell

Wednesday. Time to write the blog entry, because I am the Thursday person and I positively promised Chester that I would not wait until midnight of "the day of" to post my offering.

I wracked my poor cluttered brain for a topic of interest: How can we create riveting plots that keep readers on the edge of their seats? What makes such diverse characters as Jack Reacher and Stephanie Plum beloved by readers? Will Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the handsome actor from the ill-fated T.V. show New Amsterdam, ever call to option my book for the movie in which he plays my Nashville-based private detective? Oops, sorry. A soupcon of fantasy crept in.

What about Amazon's new plot to take over the world? Everybody's talking about that, right?

Then the distractions begin their assault.

Oh, my gosh! Did I remember to pick up the name tags?
Did I send out the emails with directions to the Guest of Honor dinner?
Did I remember to update the database and send out the last batch of confirmation letters and...

Well, you get the gist of it. The reason for all this angst is also the highlight of my summer--and maybe some of yours. I've been helping producer Clay Stafford and Assistant Producer Phillip Lacy coordinate the 2008 Killer Nashville Mystery and Thriller Conference. Clay even gave me my very own title: Associate Producer. It makes me feel all warm and important. And if that sounds like sarcasm, it's not.

I never realized what went into the making of a conference. I've been to some great ones: Sleuthfest, Cape Fear, Bouchercon, Harriett Austin, and the Lost State Writer's Conference. Events magically occurred, and I went to and enjoyed them. But thanks to Killer Nashville, I have a much better idea of what it takes to attract a Guest of Honor (world-renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass), contact agents and editors (there will be one of each available for pitches at the conference), get panelists assigned, answer questions from attendees, arrange critiques and pitch times and schedules, assemble conference materials, contact sponsors, and the host of other tasks it takes to get a thing like this up and running. Not that I did all those things myself. We all did them: Clay (whose vision it is), Phillip, PJ Parrish, me, and an army of wonderful, dedicated volunteers (including our beloved Chester Campbell, author of the Greg McKenzie mystery series and the Tuesday writer for this blog). For months, we've eaten, drunk, and breathed Killer Nashville. Our to-do lists have gone from scribbles on Post-its to page-long treatises.

Even so, I know we've probably overlooked some things, that minor things will go awry, and that, in spite of this--or even because of it--this is going to be an incredible conference. With Body Farm creator Bill Bass, a killer schedule (see it at, and authors like PJ Parrish, Mary Saums, Don Bruns, Edgar-nominee David J. Walker, and two of our own (Chester Campbell and Ben Small), how could it not be?

So if you're in the neighborhood and would like a chance to hobnob with fellow mystery and thriller lovers, hone your writing and marketing skills, vote on the first annual Silver Falcion Award (best novel written in 2007-2008 by a registered attendee), or just say hi, we'd love to have you hurry on over to the website and register. Besides, Don has promised to play his guitar, and Ben just might be persuaded to tell us where the bodies are hidden.

(And Nikolaj, if you're reading this, please stop by. There's a movie option I'd like to discuss.)

1 comment:

Jean Henry Mead said...

I wish I could attend the Nashville conference, Beth. I would also like to talk to Nikolaj. :-)