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The Claymore Award
The Claymore Award -
Sponsored by Killer Nashville


Terry Shames

"I got a two-book contract for my Texas mystery series. BOTH of them were finalists for the Claymore Award. The first, MURDER AT JARRETT CREEK (now A Killing At Cotton Hill, July 2013), was a finalist two years ago. Shortly after the announcement I got an agent I really wanted. Two weeks ago, right after Killer Nashville made the announcement of my being a finalist again, for THE LAST DEATH OF JACK HARBIN, my agent called to say that I had an offer for the first book. I asked if they might be interested in a 2-book deal. She sent them the 50 pages that I had sent for the contest, and they loved it and offered the contract for both books. Thank you!"

- TERRY SHAMES, author of A Killing At Cotton Hill


Jayne Ormerod"There are two classes of writers, those who write until their fingers are calloused, and those who write until their fingers are calloused and get paid for their efforts. Thanks to the Claymore Award contest, I have advanced to the second class, and all I can say is WOW, what a feeling!"

JAYNE ORMEROD, author of The The Blond Leading The Blond


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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 Enter the first 50 pages of any unpublished literature in the following genres: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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