Sunday, March 29, 2009


I’ve been doing several press interviews recently for Killer Nashville and, basically – as anyone who does interviews regularly can tell you – the same questions keep coming up. One, particularly vital one is, “What makes Killer Nashville different?” The answer, quickly, can be summed up in what I call “The Five Pivots” contained within our mission statement.

Not surprisingly, many people on the organizing level of Killer Nashville are educators or past-educators. Myself, I’m a former college professor who also served time as a teacher’s assistant in two high schools. Attempting to provide access to knowledge and wisdom mixed with a steady dose of encouragement in the times of success and failure are all part of the job. The educators or past-educators on the Killer Nashville team, I think, share that mission. It is something that comes from within and something, honestly, that those of us who have it can’t seem to get rid of. We find ourselves in teaching moments where we constantly want to reach out and share or encourage. That’s the heart of Killer Nashville.

Killer Nashville is not about who we bring in, what topics are discussed, who the guest of honor is, how many people attend, or how big we can grow. As everyone who volunteers for Killer Nashville knows because we say it over and over: Killer Nashville is about our attendees, each individual one, whether reader, writer, or curious onlooker. Each person who attends Killer Nashville is vitally important, not to the bottom line, but to the success of the concept of Killer Nashville period. If we can’t play a strategic part in the success of each of our attendees through “The Five Pivots” – especially addressing the objectives of our writers, published or unpublished – then we as a conference have failed. That’s how seriously we take it. When the conference is over, my questions to the volunteers run the gamut of how can we make it better, where did we fail, how many writers found consideration with an agent or publisher, how is the material offered going to be used by the attendees for their benefit over the next year, and – probably just as important – what was offered that just plain fizzled? Everything we evaluate is based against the criteria of “The Five Pivots.” It’s our reliance on and adherence to “The Five Pivots” that has made our conference grow as quickly as it has.

What are “The Five Pivots?” They are found in our mission statement: “To provide a place for the growth and encouragement of pivotal education, pivotal relationships, pivotal discipline, pivotal purpose, and pivotal circumstances.” Over the next several months leading up to this year’s conference, I’ll be addressing the individual components of the mission statement of Killer Nashville, how writing lives have been changed by these five pivots, and how these five pivots will benefit you during your attendance at Killer Nashville 2009. After the conference August 14-16, 2009, I’m sure I’ll have even more success stories to share, possibly even yours.

Until next month when we discuss the first in our five-part series – Pivotal Education – keep writing!

To register for Killer Nashville, go to

Clay Stafford is the founder of Killer Nashville. You can read more about him at or