As far as I know, this is a new competition for aspiring authors. I received a press release, so I'm passing it on. I know Killer Nashville is a reputable crime fiction event, but don't know more about the competition than what I'm relaying below.

Contest Pairs Nashville Conference and New York Publisher
to Offer Mystery & Thriller Authors a Quick Shot at Publication

For aspiring mystery and thriller writers, the long road to publication may have gotten shorter. This coming August, the Killer Nashville Mystery and Thriller Conference will announce the winner of the first annual Claymore Dagger Award. The Claymore Dagger will be given to the author with the best beginning (as defined by the first 50 pages) of an unpublished mystery or thriller fiction manuscript. The winner will receive an engraved replica of a Claymore dagger and publication consideration by longtime New York publisher Avalon Books.

Killer Nashville, held annually on the third weekend in August, was created in 2006 to bring together forensic experts, writers, and fans of crime and thriller literature.

Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford states, “Our goal in creating the Claymore Dagger Award is an extension of one objective of Killer Nashville: To help authors get out of the slush pile and perhaps expedite what can often be a long and arduous process. Several authors have already found publication by attending our conference alone. We are hopeful that this award will open the door for many more. It is an honor to join with Avalon as a publishing partner with Killer Nashville in this endeavor.”

Avalon Books, established by Thomas Bouregy, has been providing readers with quality books in a variety of fiction genres since 1950. Faith Black, Avalon’s acquisitions editor, says, “Avalon Books is delighted to partner with Killer Nashville in the presentation of the Claymore Dagger Award. We look forward to receiving and evaluating your submissions and hope in this way to become acquainted with many promising new authors.”

Although unpublished writers would benefit the most from winning the award, published authors who are “between publishers” and would like to create buzz about their new works would also benefit.

Submissions must be received no later than May 5, 2009 to be considered for the 2009 competition and will be evaluated through a blind judging process to ensure fairness.

The winner will be announced at Killer Nashville 2009, held on August 14-16 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs Hotel and Convention Center in Franklin, Tennessee, ten minutes south of Nashville. The author need not be present to win and is under no obligation to accept a publishing contract should he/she be offered one by Avalon. Winner will be determined at the sole discretion of editors of Avalon Books from the top ten submissions as chosen by Killer Nashville readers in a blind judging process. All decisions are final.

For interviews or more information:,, 615-599-4032.

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Sandra, A contest for unpublished work is always welcome. I'll pass this info on to Sisters in Crime Guppies, many of whose members are seeking publication. I do have a question about Avalon. I just checked their writers' guidelines, and as I remembered, they say:
"Under its AVALON BOOKS imprint, Thomas Bouregy & Co., Inc., publishes hardcover secular romances, mysteries, and westerns for the library market. Our books are wholesome adult fiction, suitable for family reading. There is no graphic or premarital sex or sexual tension in any of our novels; kisses and embraces are as far as our characters go. It is the author’s responsibility to heighten the romantic atmosphere by developing love scenes with tenderness, emotion, and perception. The heroines of our romances should be looking forward to marriage at the end of the book. There is never any profanity in any of our books."
I'm wondering if the contest guidelines make the same stipulation.
Good question. I posted exactly what I was sent, so I don't have the answer myself. Perhaps if some people e-mail with that question they'll put the answer on the Killer Nashville website with the contest info.
Thank you, Sandra, for the post about the Claymore Dagger. As Killer Nashville's Associate Producer, I can answer Elizabeth's question.

The Claymore Dagger Award may be awarded to any manuscript in which a crime is a central event (e.g., mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal mystery, etc.). A manuscript that does not follow Avalon's guidelines could still win the competition, but Avalon is within their own rights to publish it only if they think that the manuscript meets their criteria.

In the event that the winning manuscript did not meet Avalon's current needs, the winner would still receive the physical award, and the manuscript would still be read by an Avalon acquisitions editor, but no publishing contract would be given.

I'll ask our webmaster to add this question to the FAQ's on the Claymore Dagger Award page of the Killer Nashville website. The URL is:

If anyone has further questions, I'd be happy to answer them:

Again, thank you.
Sounds like Barbara Cartland. :) I always thought that was tough thing to pull off.
I've always thought that too. :)
I think I just read that Penguin is also running a competition.
You're right. I checked on that. The deadline for the Penguin competition is February 8, for anyone who's interested in entering.
Did I understand this? It is an unpublished novel, not an unpublished author, that may participate?
Yes, it's an unpublished novel, but it can't be under contract. So if a published author is between publishers or has a book his/her publisher isn't interested it, he or she would be eligible to enter.
Kool. I was planning on attending this year's Killer Nashville.
Great! We always have a good time.

J.A. Jance is going to be the Guest of Honor, and Lucienne Diver (of THE KNIGHT AGENCY) is the agent who will be accepting pitches. Oceanview Publishing will be accepting pitches as well.
I had a house built in the Upper Cumberlands, Beth. It was finished a little over a year ago so I am planning on spending time there this summer for landscaping, etc. I want to plant some apple trees, and a cherry tree.

It's outside of Sparta, a little over an hour from Nashville. I see that Kelly Nichols is going to be there, and I'm sure I'll see other familiar faces.


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