Stories have arcs. Characters have arcs. Writers have arcs. We write, we get better at our craft. We read, we get better at our craft. We interact with other writers and our readers, we get better at our craft. Whether you are a professional writer or just starting out. Hobby or career. We are all in this together. Welcome.

Contact: Elena Hartwell - elenahartwell@gmail.com and visit me on the web at www.elenahartwell.com

Honoring Jimmy Loftin at Killer Nashville

Killer Nashville was a great conference. It was fun being back in the south. So many terrific writers there, whom I'll write more about in the next post. 

But first I wanted to talk about a wonderful Scholarship created by my friend and fellow writer, Bryan Robinson and his sister Glenda Robinson Loftin.  

So grateful to Bryan for his friendship and the time I got to spend with him, his husband, and his family on my trip to Nashville and North Carolina. Please take a moment to learn about this terrific opportunity to help in a writer's journey.

The Killer Nashville
Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship
Jimmy Loftin’s family members have been writers their entire lives. Jimmy’s mother, Glenda Robinson Loftin, is a retired award-winning journalist. Uncle Bryan Robinson, a long-time supporter of Killer Nashville, is author of 35 nonfiction books and several mystery/thriller novels, including the award winning, Limestone Gumption. Bryan’s spouse, Jamey McCullers, is cousin of the illustrious writer, Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
Tragedy struck the Robinson/Loftin family when Jimmy was violently murdered in the prime of his youth—the result of the senseless gun violence sweeping our country. It was only natural that this family of writers wanted a memorial befitting Jimmy so his memory lives on. The Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship is the result of that wish. Jimmy’s parents, James and Glenda Loftin, his brothers, Scott and Blake Loftin, and their Uncles Bryan Robinson and Jamey McCullers wish to assist writers struggling financially, who want to attend the Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference—one of the best author-supportive conferences in the world. The family chose Killer Nashville because it is one of the most writer supportive conferences in existence.
Jimmy Loftin was kind-hearted, considerate, and generous. He brought out the best in everyone around him. Even as a child, he was sensitive to special needs children his age, and he befriended and protected them. Whip-smart with a wicked sense of humor, Jimmy was recognized and rewarded for his creative and money-saving ideas in the workplace.
In memory of Jimmy’s loving generosity, the Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship is awarded to aspiring scribes or debut authors who demonstrate need in an essay format. The money pays for full registration at the Killer Nashville Conference, along with travel, and lodging on a case-needed basis.

Bryan, Glenda, and the 2016 Winner of the Jimmy Lofting Scholarship at Killer Nashville.

If you or someone you know would like to apply for the scholarship, here are the guidelines:
-Write an essay that illustrates your financial need and why you want to attend the Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference.
-Entries should be about 500 words long, double-spaced, and in 12-point Times New Roman or Courier with at least 1-inch margins.
-Email entries to contact@KillerNashville.com, and include your first and last name, address, and phone number.
-Winners are announced annually at the August Killer Nashville banquet.

No donation is too small. If you would like to contribute to the Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship Fund, please make checks out to THE JIMMY LOFTIN SCHOLARSHIP FUND and send donations to:
                                                     Bryan Robinson
                                                     31 Clayton Street
                                                     Asheville, NC 28804


Magna Cum Murder, Maureen Jennings, and a horse named Radar

Getting back into the swing of things, I'm going to report on my summer and fall activities in reverse. Stay tuned for updates on Bouchercon, Killer Nashville, and the Decatur Book Festival.

The Magna Cum Murder Crime Writing Festival is a fantastic writers conference put on by Ball State in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 22nd year of the festival brought two major headliners. Natasha Cooper, the 2016 International Guest of Honor, has published multiple series under multiple names, including the Trish Maguire mysteries.  And the 2016 Guest of Honor, Maureen Jennings, author of numerous books including the Murdoch Mysteries, famously made into the television series by CBC.

Both authors were inspirational. I wasn't familiar with Natasha Cooper - though I certainly know the woman who introduced her, Sara Paretsky. You know you are about to hear an amazing author, when that person is introduced by the creator of the V.I. Warshawski novels.

Natasha spoke passionately about how she found her voice as a writer. She began her career writing fairly light and fun novels, but she realized she wanted to tap into something deeper.

She was brought up to be "a good girl" and good girls don't feel anger. "We can feel ill and we can feel sad, but we cannot feel rage," she said, in her beautiful London accent.

Then she found her rage and her writing career took off.

Maureen Jennings was also a marvelous speaker. She told of her experiences moving from England to Toronto at the age of seventeen. Born in 1939, she says she always felt vaguely responsible for the outbreak of World War II. I was already a fan of Maureen Jennings the author, both for her novels and the television show currently entering its 10th Season on CBC. Now I am also a fan of Maureen Jennings the person. I had the great good luck of sitting next to Maureen during the last signing time of the conference. A quieter period, as most people had already gotten autographs (and I think Maureen's books had basically sold out), so I had the opportunity to talk to her for about thirty minutes. She was funny and gracious and very generous with her time. I'm looking forward to seeing her again at other conferences in the future.

The biggest highlight of the conference for me was hanging out with fellow Camel Press author, Mary Angela. Mary's first novel, An Act of Murder launched this month, so she has just started her journey as a debut author. She's off to a great start, she was terrific on two panels and her books sold out at the bookstore. I had the pleasure of reading Mary's book and writing a blurb before it came out. It's a wonderful cozy that will have you waiting impatiently for book two.

It was a whirlwind weekend in lovely downtown Indy. The Columbia Club is a great old hotel, dedicated  in 1925 and added to the historical register in 1983.

Full of marble floors, carved wainscoting, leaded and stained glass, and lovely chandeliers, it was a delight to spend three days there. Especially with two Starbucks, one candy shop, a towering monument,
and several horse and carriages right outside the front door.

It has been an incredible couple of months since my first novel, One Dead, Two to Go launched in April. I have been all around the country, met readers and other authors, signed books, been on panels, taught workshops, finished Two Heads Are Deader Than One, and am hard at work on Three Strikes, You're Dead.

But it's very nice to be home.

As many of you know, I lost my beautiful Arab gelding Chance a few months ago.

So Jasper has had to do double duty, as my husband's and my horse. He's a character and a delight. And I love spending time with him.

But, I'm also very pleased to introduce our latest family member.

I'm looking forward to spending quality time with our new kid, Radar. He's very different from Chance. Will he ever come running when I whistle? I can't answer that right now, but I can tell you it does my heart good to see Chancey's once empty paddock filled with this sweet boy.