Author goes from unpublished and unrepresented to a dream agent and two-book deal as a result of the first 50 pages submitted to Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award – Deadline for the next Claymore Award competition is April 30, 2014.

Terry Shames came to Killer Nashville four years ago full of dreams. She left Music City with so much more – two nominations for the prestigious Claymore Award, an agent, a two-book deal, and her nomination for a Lefty Award (the 2014 Left Coast Crimes Award). All as a result of the Killer Nashville Claymore Award.

How influential is Killer Nashville and the Claymore Award? Publisher’s Weekly has recognized the Killer Nashville writers’ conference and its founder Clay Stafford as playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” throughout “the nation’s book culture.” (PW 6/10/13) Terry Shames had heard of Killer Nashville’s success stories and became one herself.

“I got a two-book contract for my Texas mystery series. Both of them were finalists for the Claymore Award,” said Shames, a native Texan who now resides in California. This doesn’t include the other perks that separate Killer Nashville from other writing contests: over $1,500 in prizes to winners, getting a dream agent, getting an advance, getting a book published through a traditional publisher, maybe even a movie deal.

“That’s what Killer Nashville is all about,” says Clay Stafford, the founder of Killer Nashville International Thriller, Mystery, and Crime Literature Writers’ Conference. “It’s about making connections for authors.”

THE DEADLINE FOR THE NEXT COMPETITION IS APRIL 30, 2014. Rules and registration are available at Winners will be announced during the award ceremony at Killer Nashville on Saturday, August 23, 2014.

“The first book, MURDER AT JARRETT CREEK (now A KILLING AT COTTON HILL, July 2013) was a 2010 finalist. Shortly after the announcement I got an agent I really wanted. Right after Killer Nashville made the announcement of my being a finalist again in 2012 for THE LAST DEATH OF JACK HARBIN, my agent called to say that I had an offer for the first book.”

All it takes is the first 50 pages of an unpublished manuscript not currently under contract. The manuscript does not even need to be complete.

“I asked my agent if the publisher might be interested in a two-book deal. She sent them the 50 pages that I had sent for the contest, and they loved it and offered the contract for both books. Thank you Killer Nashville!”

Not everyone’s Killer Nashville success story will match Terry’s, but there’s always that dream — and that possibility! Since its inception in 2009, the writing contest has led to publication for many authors and to agent representation for still more.

Judges will consider any subgenre of mystery, thriller, and suspense, including action, adventure, children’s, comedy, cozy, CSI, detective, dystopian, erotica, faith-based, fantasy, gangster, historical, horror, legal, literary, middle grade, paranormal, police procedural, political thriller, private eye, romantic suspense, science fiction (sci-fi), spy, steampunk, urban fantasy, western, women’s fiction, and young adult (YA).

The Killer Nashville International Thriller, Mystery, and Crime Literature Writers’ Conference, held annually on the fourth full weekend in August, was created in 2006 by author/filmmaker Clay Stafford to bring together forensic experts, writers, and fans of crime and thriller literature. The conference has drawn attendees from as far away as Portmahomack, Scotland; Rome, Italy; and Hadano, Kanagawa, Japan. For interviews or more information:,, 615-599-4032.