Despite its title, Killer Nashville was one of the most benign conferences I've ever attended. There were only about 300 attendees, all Southerners except for a San Francisco agent and me. At dinner, the two of us wondered when mac 'n cheese and Jello had become “vegetable side dishes.” Welcome to Tennessee!
I went to see Jeffrey Deaver. It amazed me that such a small conference managed to get him as keynote. I told him that he was much more fun in person than his books led me to believe. He says he likes to write in complete darkness—perhaps that explains his dark plots.
Surprisingly, most of the participants were unpublished authors looking for agents and publishers. I turned out to be one of the “big” names on the program. Pitch sessions were constantly going on but my publisher and I had side-stepped that obligation. I'm an acquisitions editor and we did pitch sessions on the fly. I picked up three promising authors and several others emailed me query letters.
My panels were short story writing and “Lightening in a Bottle,” which was marketing. I talked about the “posse” idea of promotion, which is simply leading a pack of beginners to sites and teaching them to blog and set up personal pages (I'm on 35 such sites). That became a buzz word used throughout the conference.
There was little humidity for August and I never got to actually see Nashville. The city is still recovering from the floods and the Grand Ol' Opry isn't open. The hotel was “a good piece aways” as they would say in the South. I may never get out that way again, but it was a terrific, homespun conference to experience.