*** News From The 2014 Killer Nashville Conference
** The Kind Of Review That Authors Dream About Receiving **
Received Sept.16th 2013, The Spectrum
5 Literary Awards, 53 five-star
"Wow, what a
book! It's a wild, white-knuckle ride, pedal to the metal
right from page one, never letting up. I'm very impressed by your book's ambition and scope, by
the intricacies of your plotting, by your relentless pacing, your handling of action, and by
your grasp of the technical and procedural details that bring such authenticity to the story.
Your writing shows real authority and bravura risk-taking.
Congratulations on this outstanding
thriller, and thanks for so kindly sending me a
-- Ted Tally, Academy Award Winning Screenwriter of The Silence of the Lambs who also won the Writers Guild of America Award, Chicago Film Critics Award and an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. After
declining to write the screenplay for the sequel, Hannibal, Tally returned to the Hannibal Lecter franchise
to write Red
Dragon. His other scripts include White Palace, Before and
After, The Juror and All the Pretty Horses. Tally is also credited as an associate producer for Mission to Mars , as well
as creative consultant for Madagascar and story consultant for Shrek 2.
Tally is originally from North Carolina and educated at Yale College and the Yale
School of Drama, where he has taught at each of them.
**Feedback from the judges 2012 Killer Nashville Claymore
I received this email Jan 8th containing feedback from the
Claymore Award judges.
The comments below are unedited.
Title: The Spectrum Conspiracy
Author: Craig Faris
The Spectrum Conspiracy had a very strong
opening. Using the word "loomed" immediately added to the anticipation for the unsettling phone
call. This story reads like a thriller. It was a bit of a cliché to begin with a telephone call in
the night waking up the character. One judge said, “I'd rather the senator be on the senate floor
or in some other situation and be approached by a human being.”
Another said, “Although the opening is a phone call, which many claim is overused,
the suspense was well crafted and immediately grabbed me as a reader.”
Special Agent Devrin Crosby has backstory and flaws and is
sympathetic. We want to root for him to succeed. You introduced a lot of characters in these 50
pages, but there was no confusion. Each character was distinct. One judge mentioned that Crosby
would've had an (inward) moment of concern and wonder at the White House press secretary looking
for a mailbox.
One judge found Kathryn a bit unrealistic
not especially likable, but this seemed to be a matter of personal preference, since others had no
problems with her.
Your setting was realistic. There was just the right amount of
detail to create realism without bogging down the pacing. The level of detail for each scene rang
with authenticity. Washington is a well covered backdrop in many stories, so there doesn't need to
be volumes written about the locale. The descriptions here are just enough to put the reader into
the action, and you do a good job with this. One judge said, “There have been a million thrillers
set in Washington DC, so the author has a tough row to hoe here. I think he (or she) can get it
This was good. It moved the story along and sounded like “real
talk.” The characters have definite changes in their speech patterns, making it easy to identify
who is speaking without having to use tags. Judges loved the line; "they think a hot date is a
five-mile run to a firing range."
The Spectrum Conspiracy had action and high stakes. Even more,
the stakes mattered. To protect their patriotism, the Spectrum group assassinates the President of
the U.S., framing and killing an innocent man. Special agent Crosby is just the underdog to ferret
out all the details of the case.
One judge said, “I'm not sure what the plot is at this point,
but this is a long thriller, so that's okay.”
Another said, “I may have needed to read more to discover what will be different
about this plot, wherein the president is assassinated.” Since this idea has been used so often,
maybe introduce a few ideas earlier that show what makes this story
Suspense and tension are used to good effect in Spectrum
Conspiracy. The suspense is created right from the beginning and keeps building. The scene in which
the poor camera man is duped into becoming the assassin and sacrificial lamb was harrowing. One
judge said, “With such high stakes, I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened
The tire changing incident (for example) is one that shows that every scene in the
manuscript shows menace and foreboding.
strong characterization, even the minor characters had story arcs and inner conflicts. The layered
conflicts worked well together.
One judge said, “Conflicts are all over the place. We don't know exactly who is doing
what or what side who is on!” As handled, this is a positive, since the reader is kept in suspense,
but never confused.
Another said, “There are numerous conflicts emerging among the characters, and
internal conflict concerning alcohol addiction presents early in the
Well done. You
effectively sped the story up and down so that an average reader would be unaware of that story
dynamic. Readers are pushed and pulled through the story. One judge said, “Excellent. I'd buy this
Your style and voice were distinctive and engaging. You made
great use of 3rd person POV. One judge said, “It's rather Ludlum-like. That's a compliment. But it
also means that this has got to be more than the ordinary, stereotypical political
Exceptionally well done. Few errors in grammar, punctuation,
spelling, or mechanics were detected. Two minor examples: "...where it will lay in state..." should
be “lie in state.” Also, one judge mentioned that it's a lectern, not a podium. Since most people
would call it a podium, this may not be an issue.
One judge said, “A compelling read. I don't read many thrillers,
but this one held my interest.”
Another said, “This book would sell. It needs editing. There are a few grammar and
vocabulary slip ups. The formatting is off in places. The beginning could be strengthened. Having
the black President be a conservative (my take) is an excellent ploy. I don't know what the rest of
the book is like, but I would be disappointed if it is a KKK killer of a black president. I'd love
to see a really nasty and complex conspiracy of some kind. I'm a sucker for these kinds of
Another said, “The writing is crisp, and the plot moves without a lot of unnecessary
words. My only concern at just fifty pages is that I didn't get to read enough to see how this
story, although well written will be different than another Ludlum type of suspense thriller about
a presidential assassination.”
This was a strong
Killer Nashville Claymore Award is a contest for unpublished mystery and thriller manuscripts. At
the time I entered this contest in May of 2012, my novel, The Spectrum Conspiracy was not yet
published or under contract.
Ten finalists were announced in July 2012, chosen from 223
entries through a blind judging process. Each MS was read by two author/readers to move out of the
first round. Then by a third and, in case of a tie, a fourth to move into the final
finalists were read by Killer Nashville's 2012 publishing partner, Five Star Press/Tekno Books. The
publisher then chose the winner and two runners up and the winners were offered publishing
Spectrum Conspiracy was NOT chosen as a winner or a finalist in this competition, however I was
notified that is fell just outside the final ten and some of the agents requested my contact
information. But by that time it was already under contract with Bella Rosa