Monday, 19 July 2021

We all know what a tough year 2020 was—no need to go into detail.

But we may be bounding back with in-person conferences, starting with Killer Nashville International Writers' Conference, scheduled Aug. 19 through Aug. 22 in Franklin, Tennessee. And, yes, safety measures will be in place.

This is a game changer in terms of mystery writers’ conferences, which, I think, readers and authors want and need.

It was necessary that in-person events such as Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards went virtually for 2020 and 2021.

Malice Domestic’s 2020 conference was virtual and the conference just wrapped up its expanded More Than Malice 2021 conference with an exciting array of authors who don’t usually attend this event.

Left Coast Crime’s 2020 conference was shut down after one day when it opened that March; it was a stunning moment when, after a day of great panels, the city of San Diego was forced to stop the conference from going forward. I know, I was there. Left Coast Crime rebounded in 2021 with a terrific virtual conference and is on point for a live event in Albuquerque in 2022.

Bouchercon had to cancel its 2020 conference, which was scheduled for Sacramento, but plans are going forward for an in-person 2021 event with the gathering to be in New Orleans at the end of August.

But before the in-person Bouchercon, we will have Killer Nashville International Writers' Conference, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

And Killer Nashville is coming in with a bang with featured keynote speakers Walter Mosley, left, J.T. Ellison, and Lisa Black.

Mosley is the author of the Easy Rawlins novel; his latest is Blood Grove. A Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America, he has won numerous awards, including an Edgar Award for best novel, the Anisfield-Wolf Award, a Grammy, a PEN USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and several NAACP Image awards.

Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 critically acclaimed novels, including Tear Me Apart and All the Pretty Girls. In 2012, Ellison teamed up with New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter to co-write a new FBI series, the first of which was The Final Cut.

Black introduced characters Maggie Gardiner and Jack Renner in her acclaimed suspense novel That Darkness and continued their story in Unpunished, Perish, and Suffer the Children. As a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she is a latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.

In addition, Killer Nashville will include more than 60 panels and workshops on the craft of writing, business, trends and forensics and law enforcement presentations.
The conference also will include agent roundtable sessions and manuscript critiques, a mock crime scene, and a “ready, set, pitch” workshop. A bookstore also will be at the location.

Registration is $419 for the four-day conference; scholarships are available.

Killer Nashville also hosts several award contests with the winners and finalists recognized during the awards dinner.

These include:

The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award: To honor the best books published in North America

The Claymore Award: Looks for new authors to assist being publishes.

 The John Seigenthaler Legends Award: Given to an individual who has championed First Amendment Rights. The 2021 award will be presented to Walter Mosley.

Killer Nashville was founded by author, playwright and actor Clay Stafford, who is the CEO and president of the conference. He also is Writer in Residence and Creative Writing Instructor at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn.

Photo Walter Mosley; photo by Marcia Wilson

Killer Nashville on Schedule
Oline H Cogdill
Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is honoring the memory of its 2020 Grand Master, the late Barbara Neely, with a scholarship to new Black writers.

What a terrific idea to encourage new writers that also honors Neely, a trailblazing Black crime novelist, short story writer, and activist.

MWA will annually present two scholarships of $2,000 each. One scholarship will be for an aspiring Black writer who has yet to publish in the crime or mystery field, and another for Black authors who have already published in crime or mystery.

According to MWA, these two scholarships are intended to assist the winner with writing craft or progress in their crime writing career. At the discretion of the winner, the scholarship can be used for such tools as writing classes or professional conferences, computer equipment or appropriate software, writing retreats or working weekends away from the cares and distractions of home. MWA requires only that the scholarship apply to writing in the crime and mystery genre, which includes both fiction and nonfiction.

The award also includes a one-year membership in Mystery Writers of America, including membership in the winner’s local chapter and all member benefits listed at:

Applications are being accepted now through Sept. 30, 2021. The applications will be reviewed by the Barbara Neely Scholarship committee, including Black crime writers, and the winner will be announced in the late fall.

Neely created the distinctive amateur sleuth Blanche White. The series includes Blanche on the Lam (1992), which won the Agatha Award, Anthony Award, and the Macavity Award for best first novel, as well as the Go on Girl! Award from Black Women's Reading Club; Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994); Blanche Cleans Up (1998); and Blanche Passes Go (2000).

Her novels have been reissued by Brash Books.

Neely’s series was a personal favorite. Blanche made her living as a domestic, a job she was proud of. Her work allowed her to use her invisibility to find the truth. The novels delved into violence against women, racism, class boundaries and sexism
“She was named a Grand Master not only for the high quality of the work she produced during her career, but also for being an inspiration to an entire generation of crime writers of color,” according to MWA.
Neely passed away at age 78 in March 2020, before the Edgar Awards and Grand Master honors were presented, although she did know she was named a Grand Master before she died.

Her sense of humor never failed her. According to MWA, Neely's reaction on learning of the award: "MWA Grand Master! I hope this doesn't mean I have to relinquish my position as Empress Regnant of the Multiverse."

Here’s tribute to Neely written by Katherine Hall Page.
And here is my previous tribute to Neely.

Applicants must be Black, American citizens, and age 18 or older. They must submit a brief biography, competed application form, and 300-500-word statement on their interest in the mystery genre and in general terms (class, conference, equipment, etc.) how they would use the scholarship funds. Prior membership in MWA is not required.
The Barbara Neely Scholarship will be awarded on the basis of writing ability, interest in the crime/mystery genre, and likely benefit from the scholarship funds and MWA membership. The committee’s decision is final.
The application is available here

Questions can be addressed to MWA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Barbara Neely photo by Zamani Flowers

MWA Scholarship in Honor of Barbara Neely
Oline Cogdill
Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Anyone who has attended the Malice Domestic conference knows what a great event it is—focusing on the amateur sleuth mysteries.

But as we all know, things have changed a lot during the past year and a half.

Normally held during the first week of May, the 2020 Malice had to be, of course, canceled. As was the live 2021 conference.

But the tradition of Malice must continue—for the readers and the authors.

So the organizers and board have come up with a different kind of Malice—virtually, of course—with another name.

More Than Malice is being billed as is a festival-style crime convention. It launches July 14 to 17.

More Than Malice is “specially designed to fill the void left when the 2021 live Malice Domestic had to be canceled.

It is a new entity designed to entertain a large audience by bringing together a unique collection of authors exploring every avenue on the crime fiction map,” according to the organizers’ emails.

What’s the difference between the Malice conference and a festival-style crime convention?

According to the Malice website, “The festival format is popular in the United Kingdom. On the surface, a festival works much like most other crime fiction events: there are panels of authors discussing . . . myriad . . . topics, interviews between authors, and special events with wide appeal. The primary difference is that panelists are invited to participate by the organizers.”

The organizers added: “This is not a recreation of the Malice in-person convention in virtual format. The authors, panels, and events offered will be different than a typical Malice, while also incorporating some of the elements and authors you are familiar with.”

Indeed the authors who will be at More Than Malice are a combination of those who regular attend and those who normally would not attend.

This should make for an exciting “festival” as authors of amateur sleuths, cozies, mysteries, thrillers and more will be represented.

Authors attending include C.J. Box, Rhys Bowen, Jasper Fforde, Lisa Gardner, Abir Mukherjee, Peter Robinson, Laura Lippman, Brad Thor, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Linda Castillo, Marcia Clark, William Kent Kruger, Sujata Massey, Lisa See, Victoria Thompson, PJ Vernon, Tasha Alexander, Mia P. Manansala, Laura Joh Rowland, Kate White, and DM Whittle, among others.

There will be about 20 or so panels and special events spread out through the weekend. These have been pre-recorded but the plan is to have some of the participants on hand during the initial airing of the panels to answer questions from readers.

The Agatha Awards will be presented during a live event on Saturday evening.

More Than Malice kicks off at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 14th, with opening ceremonies followed at 6:30 p.m. with a conversation between Louise Penny and Verena Rose. Then Author Speed Dating (Round 1) begins at 7 p.m.

But as a bonus, the Agatha Nominee Panels will begin at 3 p.m. June 30 that can be accessed from the Malice website. These are widely available for viewing and not limited to registrants of More Than Malice.

The nominee panels are June 30th:  Best Contemporary Novel; July 1st:  Best Short Story; July 2nd:  Best First Novel; July 3rd:  Best Nonfiction; July 4th:  Best Children's/YA; July 5th:  Best Historical Novel.

Registration for More Than Malice is $60—considerably less than for an in-person, live event.

And of course, no airfare, hotel or other expenses to worry about. Any money raised helps Malice Domestic deal with the financial hit from cancelling two live conventions, and the costs of filming the panels.

(Frankly, I can't wait to have to pay for airfare, restaurants, hotels, etc. I am so ready to see people in person! Though Zoom events have been great.)

I am moderating the panel “It Takes a Village: A Cast of Characters” in which we discuss those secondary and supporting characters the authors use to build a series.

And I was so pleased with the panel’s authors: Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Elly Griffiths, Michael Nava and Peter Robinson.

We had a great time, and I am sure the readers will have a great time at all the carefully thought-out panels.

I think we all hope we can again meet in person next year. But for now, we have More Than Malice.

More Than Malice Offers Much More
Oline H Cogdill