LynDee Walker just came home from the Killer Nashville writers’ conference, where she was serving on panels and promoting her books.  I asked if she would sum it up for us.  What was the conference like?  What was it like to be a panelist?  What was the best thing to happen?  Keep reading to find out!


Killer Conference

by LynDee Walker

Best moment of Killer Nashville 2013: I rushed down from lunch on Friday to get set for my panel appearance, and while I was fussing with the mic and getting water, an adorable lady walked up and totally made my week.

“LynDee, I just have to tell you that I read your book before I even knew you’d be here, and I loved it,” she said. “I can’t wait for the new one to come out!”

Amazing, right? I grinned and thanked her. “Only fifty-something more days!” I said.

“I’m so glad. And what’s after that one?” she asked.

When I floated back down and could focus, I said, “well, there’s a Nichelle novella (DATELINE MEMPHIS) coming up in a Christmas anthology (HEARTACHE MOTEL) in December and then the third novel will be out in the spring.”

She was very excited about that. I, of course, gave her one of every kind of Headlines in High Heels swag I had with me and thanked her for reading.

It was a great kick off to the weekend.

This was my first trip to Music City in *cough*almost 20 years*cough* and I had a blast. Killer Nashville is a mystery writers and readers conference held every summer at the Hutton Hotel in Downtown Nashville. Let’s talk about this hotel for a sec: it’s posh. One of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. In fact, it’s where the cast of the TV show Nashville stays when they’re in town, if that gives you an idea. Big, gorgeous rooms, comfy beds, plush robes, turndown service. It’s … nice.

I got in Thursday and hung out on the room, trying to write. For months, I’ve been talking about how much progress I’d make on my new book in Nashville because it would be quiet and I’d have a room all to myself. Guess what? It was too quiet. I ended up turning the TV on the Disney channel. I worked until the conference registration opened, and then I went down to register and found the fabulous Terri L. Austin in the lobby. She is just as funny in person as she is in her Rose Strickland mysteries, and we had a great dinner and gabfest. Romance author Shannon K. Butcher was incognito, just hanging out for the weekend (she had two massages. I was so jealous.) But it was lovely to meet her, too. She’s awesome.

Friday started with the most amazing blueberry muffin I’ve ever had (this weekend was almost as much about the food as the books) and the rest of my Hen House friends arriving: such fun to hang out with Larissa Reinhart and Gretchen Archer all weekend! My panel was up first, and it was great. Edgar-winning author (and former journalist) Steven Womack was the leader, and we were joined by three-time Pulitzer nominee Gwen Florio (she’s Nichelle’s new hero), along with Tom Wood, a 36-year veteran of the Nashville Tennesseean’s sports desk, and Eugenie West, a reporter-turned-fiction writer from Pennsylvania. The discussion spun from favorite stories to the rapidly-changing news industry to why we all decided to write fiction instead of true crime (1: too much research. I get a headache just thinking about it. 2: if there’s anything in the publishing industry that’s harder to get a deal for than novels, it’s true crime. Steve wrote one, and even with his resume, he said “I couldn’t give it away.”)

LynDee Walker (far right) and her Henery Press compatriots at Killer Nashville.
LynDee Walker (far right) and her Henery Press compatriots at Killer Nashville.

In the midst of the conference fun, I was also participating in a fundraiser for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society on my fab friend Colby Marshall’s blog. This cause, and this event, are both very close to my heart, so I dashed up to the room after my panel to reply to comments on my guest post. I was amazed to find more than 50 waiting. I took five pages of notes so I could answer everyone, wrote a long post, lost my wifi connection (thank heavens I’d copied the post) finally got it posted and dashed back down for a writing workshop and dinner.

We made a new friend, the fantastically talented Kourtney Heintz, who joined us for the rest of the week and is so smart, and such fun to hang out with, too.

We walked to a Mexican food place with dancing frogs on the roof and an Elvis shrine in the lobby and decided that with Terri, Larissa, and my Elvis-centric anthology due out for Christmas, it was a sign the place had good food. We were right. They had particularly good salsa, and this Texas girl knows good salsa.

More chatting ensued, and then I went back to the room and wrote some more. A really fun scene with Nichelle’s favorite sweet bad boy that I can’t wait for y’all to read. (I know. That’s mean. But I promise it’s worth waiting for.)

I spent Saturday morning learning so much about publishing and craft at various panels and workshops. Kourtney, Gretchen and I snuck away for lunch and sightseeing Saturday afternoon. We had a blast touring the legendary Ryman auditorium and walking along Nashville’s famed Broadway.

Saturday night I had the best dinner date: Larissa Reinhart, who is the only woman I’ve ever met who can snort gracefully, and is just as genuine and funny as her Cherry Tucker mysteries. We ate pasta and drank wine and talked until too late.

Sunday morning I got waylaid on the way to Kourtney’s cross-genre fiction panel by Tom, who regaled me with an awesome story of his early-80s interview with Stephen King. Talk about a writer’s dream! I’ve been a fan since I was in sixth grade. Definitely the experience of a lifetime.

In Kourtney’s panel I learned a ton about marketing and selling books that don’t fit into a niche, which might be very useful information someday. I laughed my way through Terri and Larissa’s panel, Funny Business, and scrambled to get last-minute signed books from the wonderful authors I met.

Ris and I capped the weekend with lunch and another gabfest, about our mystery heroines and story arcs and where it’s all going. It was great fun.

I’m glad to be home with my babies (where I can actually write!), but it was definitely a weekend to remember. Many thanks to the readers and friends old and new who made it special.