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The Claymore Award
The Claymore Award -
Sponsored by Killer Nashville


Jessica Ferguson"When I took my novel apart, did away with backstory and the first two chapters, gave the dialogue punch, picked up the pace, deep down I wondered if I’d just destroyed my story. Positive validation came in the email announcing that A Bad Guy Forever was a 2011 Top Ten Claymore finalist. Yes! I can write a mystery! Now I send query letters with pride. A special thank you to the judges that read my 50 pages and thought them worthy. What an honor and what encouragement—when I most needed it!"

- JESSICA FERGUSON, author of A Bad Guy Forever


Judy Dailey"Killer Nashville was a wonderful experience. I have attended many writers’ conventions and, at the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, they were either too big or too small. Killer Nashville was just right. The staff and volunteers were kind and helpful. The breakout sessions were the perfect size for meaningful interaction between the audience and the presenters. The panel about why agents and editors reject manuscripts was both terrifying and incredibly helpful. I took advantage of having the first ten pages of my WIP critiqued by a real writer, and I implemented her suggestions right away. Because of Killer Nashville, I now have a contract with Five Star Publishing for my cozy, Animal, Vegetable, Murder. I couldn’t be happier." (Judy Dailey won the Claymore Award for Animal, Vegetable, Murder in 2011.)

JUDY DAILEY, author of Animal, Vegetable, Murder


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The Prestigious Claymore Award




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What You Win

Over $3,000 in prizes, plus possible book advance and book publication, plus possible agent representation

What Manuscripts Will be Considered

Judges will consider any subgenre of mystery or thriller. Enter the first 50 pages of any unpublished literature in the following genres:

Action Drama Literary Spy
Adventure Dystopian Middle Grade Steampunk
Children’s Erotica Mystery Suspense
Comedy Faith Based Paranormal Thriller
Cozy Fantasy Police procedural Urban Fantasy
Crime Gangster Political thriller Western
CSI Historical Private eye Women’s Fiction
Dark Fantasy Horror Romantic Suspense Young Adult (YA)
Detective Legal Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)  

What It Must Have

The story must have a mystery, thriller, or suspense element: a crime must have been committed that needs detecting, a crime is about to be (or threatened to be) committed, or foreboding danger must be in place.

Who Would Publish my Book

Only publishers appearing on the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers approved publishers list are recommended. We will not connect you with a publisher not appearing on one of these lists.

How it Works

Any author may enter (published or not); however, the contest is limited to only unpublished manuscripts not currently under contract.

Ten finalists are chosen through a blind judging process. The winner will receive an engraved replica of a Claymore Dagger, free admission to the current year's Killer Nashville, and more. The top ten finalists also receive prizes. Any manuscript of exceptional merit deemed ready for submission will be recommended by Killer Nashville to agents, editors, and publishers regardless of placement in the contest.

The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony during the Guest of Honor dinner & Awards Banquet on the Saturday evening of the conference. After the conference, those who requested a critique will receive one from the judges.

To attend the awards ceremony, you must purchase tickets for the Guest of Honor Dinner. Register for Killer Nashville and the Guest of Honor Dinner here. The top three finalists will be reimbursed the cost of his/her ticket.

The History

In 2006, the Killer Nashville Conference was formed with one of its primary objectives to be helping writers advance their careers. In 2009, Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford created the Claymore Award to further that goal by offering aspiring authors a path to publication. Click here to read more about Killer Nashville – A Conference for Thriller, Suspense, & Mystery Writers and Lovers.



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Killer NashvilleSince 2006, Killer Nashville® has become THE conference for mystery, thriller, and crime fiction authors and fans. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Killer Nashville Writers' Conference is held the third full weekend of every August. Killer Nashville® attracts bestselling authors from across the U.S., Canada, and beyond, plus scores of fans and budding authors. Sponsored by numerous national organizations, attendees have included authors, screenwriters, playwrights, filmmakers, fans, attorneys, editors, agents, and publishers.  > Learn more
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