|Kathleen Donnelly…Photo by Piper’s Pix|
twist or a pivot point. For me one of those moments was the phone ringing as I
took the dogs out on a cold, drizzly Colorado morning. The number was from
Tennessee. I was juggling three dogs so thought I’d see if the caller left a
voicemail. That number did leave a message and that person was Jacqueline
Stafford calling to say I’d won the Lisa Jackson Scholarship. From that moment
on my life changed and went in a new direction.
At that conference John Gilstrap gave a beautiful speech about dreams and how
someone being called a dreamer can be seen as negative, but he saw it as a
positive. That speech touched me and gave me more inspiration to push forward.
That whole conference inspired me and helped fuel my dream of writing. I
wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it hadn’t been for Lisa Jackson. Since
that time, there are now more scholarships—the Jimmy Loftin scholarship and the
Kris E. Calvin scholarship. Thank you doesn’t even seem to cover what these
scholarships provide because this is more than just attending a conference;
this conference is a stepping stone to our dreams as writers. Writers that
might not otherwise have the means get the chance to come and learn from the
best in the industry.
gave me that nudge to keep going. Persevere. Keep writing. Attending the
conference gave me the knowledge, information and connections. I knew I would
learn from the best, but what I didn’t know was that I would walk away with a
writing family. To nourish a dream you need a community of support and that is
what Killer Nashville provided.
work incredibly hard each year to put together the best conference and once
again, they have achieved that goal. Two years ago I realized that there was so
much more to this conference. As I watched writers win the Claymore Awards and
the Silver Falchion awards, I made it a goal to submit to the Claymore Awards.
I took the writing advice from the manuscript critique Baron Birtcher provided,
the roundtable feedback helped me realize what was or wasn’t working. I asked
questions in classes that only mystery and thriller writers can appreciate
about guns and types of bombs. Then I returned home and I worked on my outline.
I tweaked it. I wrote. I edited. When I was stuck I looked back at my notes or
I thought about the inspiration and confidence this conference gave me. I
continued to work and in April I submitted to the Claymores.
pivot point. I received the notification that I was one of the Claymore Top 20
finalists. Another dream come true, but this dream was fostered by this
conference. I wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for Lisa Jackson
providing a scholarship. I wouldn’t be here if Clay, his family and the
American Blackguard staff didn’t work so hard to provide these opportunities,
and I know I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t have this community of
writers that I now think of as a family.
about being a new writer and the odds of someone taking a chance on one of us. When
I hear about the odds of making it in the publishing industry, I remind myself
that every best-selling author was once a new author. If those authors hadn’t published,
there are many great characters we would have never met. Without those great
characters I wouldn’t have had someone to help me through obstacles in my life
because sometimes, when you have a tough day, you want to read and escape and
see how your favorite character is going to get out of a bind.
we can change one life then that can eventually change our communities, our
country, even our world. Two years ago, Lisa Jackson took a chance and gave a
Colorado writer a scholarship to come to this conference. Now once again, my
life has changed and thank you never seems like enough so I’ll continue to work
towards my promise I made two years ago. I will keep writing. I will pursue my
dreams and in doing so I’ll support the community around me and give back in
any way I can to my fellow writers, my writing family and my fellow dreamers.
animals and the outdoors, all of Kathleen Donnelly’s interests end up in the written
form one way or another. Her experiences being a part owner and
handler for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines, a private pro-active drug dog
service that works primarily in schools, has been the subject of much of her
writing. She is currently working on a book with a female protagonist who’s a
K-9 handler for the U.S. Forest Service. In 2015, Kathleen was the recipient of
the Lisa Jackson scholarship to Killer Nashville. In 2017, her novel was a
Claymore Top 20 Finalist. Kathleen lives in Berthoud, CO with her husband and
all their four-legged friends.