Friday, August 30, 2013

Killer Nashville Ate My Blog Post

I am scheduled to post my blogs on The Stiletto Gang every fourth Friday. Now, those among you who are very on top of things may have noticed that this is the fifth Friday of the month. Those of you with indecently strong memories may recall that no new post went up on the fourth Friday of the month just past (I have always maintained that a faulty memory is a kindness to others). Yes! *hangs head in shame* I missed my scheduled blog post this month, and this is a make-up post. But I have a good excuse. Killer Nashville ate my blog post.

I have my blogs scheduled on my Google calendar, which sends me reminders a day ahead of time to write and post a blog for that fourth Friday, and the calendar keeps good track of this, even when there are five Fridays in a month.  I, on the other hand, tend to imprecisely think of my post as due on the last Friday of the month, which it usually is. So when I left at the crack of dawn with my husband and a good friend from Border Crimes, my local Sisters in Crime group, to drive from Kansas City to Nashville for the conference, I left behind all possible reminders that I had a blog post due. It was only earlier this week when I was home again and cleaning out the overflowing email inbox that I encountered that reminder of a long-past-due post and had to throw myself on the mercy of my blog sisters. “But if you had been there having all that fun and learning things and meeting people—did I mention that Anne Perry and D.P. Lyle were guests of honor?—you’d have forgotten the doggone blog post, too.” So my blog buddies said to tell them and you about Killer Nashville to redeem myself—and as a writer, I’m all about redemption.

Vinnie Hansen and Julie Tollefson

In the beginning was the drive—and in the end, as well—and it was a drive of biblical dimensions. Billed by Mapquest as an 8 ½-hour drive, it was stretched to 12 hours each way when we encountered severe road construction all across the states of Illinois and Kentucky. Ben and I were glad we had our friend, Julie, along to help with the driving and keep the atmosphere light. When we finally burst through into Tennessee, it quickly became a favorite state among us for its notable dearth of orange barrels, closed lanes, and gridlock traffic standing still for miles and miles.

Nashville is a lovely city set in the midst of beautiful forested mountains. Our raveled nerves healed and reknit as we drove through such peaceful vistas. Soon we were at the conference hotel, and Julie was checking in while Ben and I picked up registration materials and then found our way to a writer friend’s house where we were staying twenty minutes from the hotel. While our friends fed us healthy, delicious, homemade food, Julie was getting snockered at the wine-tasting where she’d arrived late and tried to make up time on an empty stomach. She gave that first program high honors next day, though.

Molly Weston

What can I say? The panels and programs were great. I cherry-picked ones featuring my good friends Chris F. Holm and Hilary Davidson right off the top—and they were superb on writing the short story and on writing dark. Then, Ben and I had lunch with Julie and our dear friend, Judge Debra Goldstein, where much fascinating discussion and flat-out hilarity ensued. Back at the conference, I checked in with Molly Weston who was in charge of the Sisters in Crime table and reception later that evening. Throughout the conference, I tried to take time to spell Molly at the table or keep her company. I felt this was my responsibility as a local chapter president—and I just love the chance to spend time with Molly. That evening, we all helped with the Sisters in Crime reception, which was full of good food and drink and lots and lots of great people. After which, Ben and I adjourned eight blocks to meet our hostess, who runs the MFA in creative writing program at a local university, and a handful of her students at Nashville’s Shakespeare in the Park for the funniest, best version of Midsummer Night’s Dream we’ve seen (and with Ben’s Ph.D. in theater and film, we’ve seen a lot of versions of that play).

Saturday offered workshops with law enforcement professionals (one of the great features of Killer Nashville—tons of chances to work with and meet ATF, TBI, and other law enforcement pros). We even had a wonderful presentation by a former federal black ops agent who offered great detailed explanations of how he was recruited and trained and how he operated in the field—and the human toll it took on him and his family. D. P. Lyle, a forensic consultant for major crime writers and crime TV shows and movies, gave a great presentation, and bestseller Anne Perry gave such great and inspiring presentations that she warranted a standing ovation. (I’m still resonating from her talks and finding more and more to return to all the time.)

Sunday, I was scheduled on a panel, but first I had to attend Debra’s panel, “Order in the Court,” with her (a federal judge), a state judge, and a prosecuting attorney.  I knew it would be excellent, just by virtue of Debra’s  presence on it, but it was fun and funny and full of useful information for writers. Right after hers came my panel, “Fiction on the Fringes: Writing Other Cultures, Closed Communities, Countercultures.” (I’ve written in more detail about this great panel and the remarkable audience we had on my blog here )

Then, it was goodbyes all around and drive into and through the night (or stand still for miles at a time in Illinois and Kentucky). We finally arrived exhausted in the wee hours of Monday morning, and poor Julie had to get in her car at my house and drive another hour to her own. Valiant and stalwart woman that she is!

It was worth the horrible drives, and I had the chance to see folks I missed at Malice this year and made new friends. And Anne Perry’s  remarkable, passionate presentation is going to keep unfolding inside me until I write something about it, I’m sure. If you have the chance to go to Killer Nashville, I’d advise you to take it. It was worth even twelve hours of driving with 3 ½ of those pretty much standing still.

And that’s how Killer Nashville ate my blog. I promise I won’t do it again. Have I redeemed myself?

(Thanks to Kaye George for the top two photos and to Julie Tollefson for the last one.)


  1. It's amazing how much we get attached to smaller conferences! I think I got a chance to talk with about two-thirds of the attendees at Killer Nashville—totally worth it after those long drives.

    Ours weren't as long as yours, but about three hours of ours was through the mountains, where I tried to keep my eyes closed most of the time (Noel was driving then).

    Like you, I hope I can return to Killer Nashville soon!

    1. Yes, Molly, that's one of the nice things about the smaller conferences and even Malice. I love Bouchercon, but you can totally miss people you want to see there.

  2. Consider yourself redeemed, Linda! I hope to be there next year, too.

    1. Yay! Thanks, Kaye, for the use of the photos, too. See you at Malice next year!

  3. Fabulous review of the conference, Linda. Would you believe I ran into MORE construction between your house and mine? I thought I'd never get home, but it was worth it for such a terrific conference.

  4. Oh, Julie, no!!! YOu must have been the walking dead by the time you got home. Zombie author crashes into home. Hope you've finally rested.

    It was a great conference. I'll carpool with you anytime, mujer.

  5. You were busy doing wonderful things -- and now you have written of it. Perfection!

  6. Thanks, Mary! You're always so supportive. I felt terrible about missing my deadline and letting down my blog sisters. I hope I've redeemed myself.


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